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Since its inception in 1972, BART has gone from a sleek transportation system of the future to one with overcrowded trains, aging infrastructure and long-overdue repairs. This November, voters in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties will decide on Measure RR, which proposes $3.5 billion in bonds to address some of the aging system’s problems. BART says the funds are needed to keep the system safe and reliable. Opponents of the measure say the agency has a history of financial mismanagement. In this hour, we’ll hear from supporters and opponents of the measure.

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In 2007, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban single-use plastic bags. California Governor Jerry Brown later followed suit, signing a statewide ban in 2014. But the ban never officially went into effect: the plastics industry stalled it by gathering enough signatures for a referendum to be placed on the November 2016 ballot – Proposition 67 – that could overturn the law by popular vote. Proposition 65, another measure brought forth by the plastic bag industry, proposes using the fees that grocery stores charge for bags to fund environmental programs. Currently, retailers keep the bag fees. Environmental groups claim that the dual propositions are an industry ploy to undermine the ban and confuse voters, while proponents of Prop. 67 say they are fighting to protect bag makers’ jobs. We check in on the issue.

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Four years ago voters approved Proposition 30, Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to raise sales and income taxes to fund schools. Those taxes, which have raised about $6 billion each year, are set to expire in December. Proposition 55 would extend the income tax increases for another 12 years to fund schools and health care programs for low-income families. The measure would levy a 1 percent tax on individuals making $250,000 per year, and a 3 percent tax on those making more than $500,000 per year.

It could soon get a lot more expensive to be a smoker in California. Under Proposition 56, on the November ballot, the tax on a pack of cigarettes would go from 87 cents to $2.87. Health advocates say the measure will discourage smoking and raise money for health care and smoking prevention. The tobacco industry, which opposes the measure, calls the proposition a “tax hike grab” by insurance companies that would divert public funds away from schools and social programs. We’ll hear from both sides of the issue.

 

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The World Health Organization is urgently calling for safe routes to evacuate the many sick and wounded in the city of Aleppo, which has seen the worst fighting in years after a cease-fire collapsed last week.  Tuesday, the U.S. pledged $364 million in humanitarian aid to Syria.  As the conflict intensifies and the refugee crisis grows, debate continues over what America’s role should be in ending Syria’s five year war.

This week’s high temperatures have done nothing to help firefighters battling wildfires across California. On Sunday, the Sawmill Fire broke out just east of Cloverdale and on Monday, the Loma Fire started in the Santa Cruz Mountains. That’s in addition to the Soberanes Fire in Monterey County, which is now the most expensive blaze in American history, with costs exceeding $200 million. We’ll get an update on the state’s fires and containment efforts.

On the surface, Paul English’s story resembles that of many successful tech entrepreneurs: awkward software engineer turned billionaire. But author Tracy Kidder’s “A Truck Full of Money” goes beyond that stereotype and digs into English’s complicated relationship with money and his day-to-day life with bipolar disorder. Nearly 35 years after Kidder’s Pulitzer-Prize winning book, “The Soul of A New Machine,” examined the world of computer hardware, Forum talks to Kidder about Paul English and the new age of tech entrepreneurs.

Many analysts predict that Monday’s night debate could be the defining moment of the presidential election, bringing together for the first time the wildly divergent styles of veteran politician Hillary Clinton and maverick campaigner Donald Trump. Heading into the debate, a Bloomberg Poll has the candidates each receiving 46 percent in a head-to-head competition and Trump edging out Clinton 43 to 41 percent when third-party candidates are included. We’ll check in with political commentators about who performed well and who fell flat during the highly anticipated match up.

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In Mountain View, where nearly 60% of residents are renters, the average monthly rent jumped more than 50% from 2011 to 2015. In response, advocates in many small Bay Area cities, including Mountain View, Burlingame and San Mateo, have put rent control measures on November’s ballot. Forum debates these measures and discusses what it means that campaigns for rent control — normally found in large urban areas — are migrating to the suburbs.

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San Francisco politics are rarely dull,  and this election year is no exception. Voters will weigh in on a whopping 25 ballot measures covering hot-button issues like homelessness, public transit and education. In this hour of Forum, we talk with some local political journalists about the big measures and races. We’ll also discuss what it all means for Mayor Ed Lee, a divided Board of Supervisors and the future of the city.

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S.F. Measure Q Would Ban Tents On City Sidewalks (Forum archives)

In the past six years, 22 states have passed new voting restrictions, including requiring identification at the polls and banning felons from voting. Journalist Ari Berman says voters are about to head to the ballot box with fewer rights than when Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act over 50 years ago. The author of “Give Us the Ballot” talks with Forum about the history of voting rights in America and why the current wave of voting restrictions predominately affects youth, poor people and minorities.

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The stereotypical image of a hula dancer often features a woman in a grass skirt on a beach. But Patrick Makuakāne says that’s a far cry from 21st-century hula. The Hawaii-raised and San Francisco-based hula master’s shows are elaborate stage productions weaving in everything from opera and electronic music to ’90s pop. His newest show, “The Natives Are Restless,” looks at the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy and the native resistance that followed. He and his dance troupe, Na Lei Hulu, are also the subject of a new book by the same title, by local author Constance Hale. She and Makuakāne join us to talk about the evolution of hula and what it means to be Hawaiian in the 21st century.

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As part of KQED’s election 2016 coverage, we discuss California Proposition 51, which would authorize the state to issue $9 billion in bonds for K-12 and community college construction projects.  Proponents say it has been ten years since the last statewide school bond, and that it provides much-needed upgrades to public school facilities. Critics say it’s a giveaway to developers and provides no oversight to ensure the bond money is spent right.

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