Decision 2006 Musings – Part III: Los Angeles County Propositions, Statewide Officeholders

As I noted in Part I and Part II, yesterday I began a closer read of my ballot information. The following is a continuation of those musings. I welcome honest attempts to sway my position: I’m always open to convincing arguments.

Statewide Officeholders:

  • Governor: The Governator (R). So far, I think Ahnold has done a pretty good job. He has learned from his mistakes, and is being a reasonably moderate Republican. He should get better when Bush administration goes and he doesn’t have to cowtow quite a much to get any federal funding. Phil-boy, on the other hand, has some problems. I didn’t like his attack ads that effectively said: A vote for Ahnold is a vote for Bush. That’s just misleading. I also haven’t seen evidence of leadership ability or managerial skills. He has great investment skills, but I don’t think that translates into state leadership.
  • Lt. Governor: Garamendi (D). This is less a vote for Garamendi as it is a vote against McClintock. McClintock has been a thorn in the side of California’s transportation advocates for ages, taking active legislative action against HOV lanes. Garamendi has been a reasonable insurance commissioner, and Lt. Governor is a good place for learning and observation, without a lot of power.
  • Secretary of State: Bowen (D). In the upcoming years, secretary of state will grow in importance due to electronic voting. We need someone committed to ensuring there are appropriate safeguards in place. We also need, as S of S, a strong consumer advocate, and someone pushing for open government. Bowen seems to be doing this. Bruce McPherson has been OK as Secretary of State, but I think we need someone stronger.
  • Controller: Chiang (D). I’ll likely support John Chiang, but that’s more because I’m not a Tony Strickland fan than for any other reason. C’mon, look at Strickland’s website… that can’t be his real face.
  • Treasurer: Claude Parrish (R) I was originally for Lockyer, based primarily on endorsements and name recognition. However, reading Claude Parrish‘s statement in the ballot pamphlet resonates: He seems to be saying a lot of reasonable things. Parrish is also an accountant, one who knows money and financial markets. Lockyer, on the other hand, is a lawyer and top-cop — his expertise is criminology, not finance. He’s good for government, but perhaps not right for treasurer. He should have run for Insurance Commissioner.
  • Attorney General: Brown (D). Jerry Brown is an interesting fellow. Former governor, former mayor, someone who has dedicated his life to public service, and has a family tradition (Governor Pat Brown, Kathleen Brown) of doing so. He’s not angling for governor; as he says, “been there, done that”. He’s also been honest throughout his political life. This is a good thing for atty. general. I believe his interest will be enforcing the state’s laws and doing good. Poochigian, on the other hand, doesn’t impress me. He opposes abortion rights except in the cases of rape, incest or saving the life of the mother. He’s been doing attack ads (something I don’t like) quoting positions later repudiated by Brown. I also don’t think Poochigian has the drive necessary to be a good Atty General: His “role model,” he says, is George Deukmejian, the former governor, attorney general and legislator. Not a stellar role model. I think Brown will do better for the state.
  • Insurance Commissioner: Poizner (R). Again, this is less a vote for Poizner as a vote against Cruz. Cruz has never impressed me as Lt. Governor, and I don’t believe a candidate for Insurance commissioner should be accepting any corporate money from companies in the insurance field–it creates too much of an apparant conflict of interest. Poizner has a number of reasonable positions and seems to be reasonably honest.
  • Board of Equalization #4: Undecided. This is an area where I really have no strong position between Judy Chu (D) and Glen Forsch (R). I’m likely to support Chu, but that is more for party lines and getting minorities into government than for any other reason.

Los Angeles City Propositions

  • Prop. H: Affordable Housing General Obligation Bonds. This measure would authorize $1B in bonds to provide safe, clean affordable housing for the homeless and those in danger of becoming homeless, such as battered women and their children, veterans, seniors and the disabled; assist first time homebuyers; provide low income working families safe and affordable rental housing.

    Analysis and Position: Leaning Against. I said in past posts that housing is more a local concern. I still believe that. But I’m also worried about high property taxes, and bonds such as this do increase property taxes. This will have the effect of making housing less affordable. So it is a double-edged sword. The best solution, I believe, to the housing problem is (a) increasing the economy of California, therefore providing more jobs; (b) seeing real growth in wages, making things more affordable. I don’t see this bill doing that.

  • Prop. J: Technical changes for Proposition F Regional Fire Stations. This measure would change Proposition F (voter approved November 7, 2000) to allow regional fire stations to be built on one or more sites totaling less than 2 acres, instead of requiring a single 2 +acre site, if the Fire Department decides that the station can be built to fully meet operational needs.

    Analysis and Position: For. This one makes sense. If multiple nearby sites can serve the needs as well as a single site, why not use them? In this era where finding large contiguous plots is increasingly difficult, we need to provide LAFD with flexibility.

  • Prop. R: Councilmember Term Limits of Three Terms; City Lobbying, Campaign Finance and Ethics Laws. This bill would amend the city charter to change Councilmember term limits to three terms; restrict lobbyists from making campaign contributions, gifts and becoming commissioners; revise lobbyist registration thresholds; require contractors certify compliance with lobbying laws; extend elected officials’ post-employment restrictions; require ethics training; and revise requirements for independent expenditures and campaign communications.

    Analysis and Position: Leaning against. Yes, this makes changes in ethics laws. But I don’t think that’s the deciding factor: term limits is. I think the restriction of councilcritters to two terms is reasonable. This doesn’t mean they can’t serve the city, they just need to do so in different capacilities. When one serves too long in a position, one gets too comfortable with the way things are, and things deteriorate. This is why term limits are good: it brings in new thoughts and new ideas. I don’t think we should part with that just yet.

So there you have it. My current thinking on the ballot, except for judges. How does one decide those, anyway? In any case, I do welcome opposing arguments, and I promise not to broadcast them at midnight!