cahwyguy’s Ballot Analysis: Part 1 – The Propositions

This is the first of a multiple part post looking at the issues on my
sample ballot. In this first part, I’m going to be looking at the propositions,
and giving you my thinking. Of course, you are free to try to convince me
otherwise, so do your best.

Statewide Measures

  • Proposition
    1A: High Speed Rail Bonds
    : Leaning No Yes
    . This is a proposition I would
    really, really like to support. After all, I’m the highway guy. I like
    highways, I like transit, I like rail. Having high-speed rail between Los
    Angeles and San Francisco would be a good thing. So why am I against this?
    Well, first, I think now is the wrong time for the state to be selling
    $9,950,000,000 in bonds, espectially when it has no guaranteed funding for the
    entire system, which would be $45,000,000,000. Perhaps after the economy
    recovers, it will make sense. But not now.
    provides more background
    . The
    official support
    argues that this will create jobs, and
    an extremely large list of endorsers
    . The No
    notes that it is extremely unlikely this will be completed, but
    doesn’t have a broad list of opponents. So I really do want to support this,
    but I just can’t get over the “bonds in a recession” factor. Couldn’t we have
    funded this differently? Couldn’t this have waited a year for the economy to
    recover? This one is truly: convince me to vote yes.

    ETA: The discussion with elasticity and the reading of the entries (this, this, and this) in rydot’s Journal, in particular this entry that looks at the economics, has changed my mind on this one.

  • Proposition 2:
    Treatment of Farm Animals
    : Leaning No.
    . This is a hard one. In
    researching this, I’ve looked at
    Ballotpedia page
    , which notes there would be a major impact on the state
    poultry industry. Newspaper endorsements are split, with the NY Times in favor,
    and the LA Times opposed. The Yes
    veterinary and environmental groups in favor
    , but the
    No Website shows
    an equally broad coalition
    with similar groups
    . What do I think? On one hand, I’m all for humane
    treatment of animals, even those that will be used for food. Does this mean
    everything needs to be free range? Possibly not. It is clear this initiative
    will hurt California industry, based on the estimate of a loss of tax revenue.
    Further, it will only apply within California. So if the inhumane treatment of
    animals in other states results in lower costs, and the economy is bad, people
    will put feeding their family over humane treatment when we are at the stores.
    The net effect will be the movement of the poultry business (which is what this
    primarily affects) to other states, which will add to the trucking burden,
    lower our tax revenues, take jobs from the state, etc. I can’t see this helping
    the people of California. If we want humane treatment of animals, let’s have a
    law that simply awards products some special label if they have humane
    treatment. Then we can let the market decide how much of a premium it

  • Proposition
    3: Children’s Hospital Bond Act
    : No.
    This is another one I would like
    to support.
    that a similar measure was approved in 2004. The
    Yes Website (which has that
    horrible Jamie Lee Curtis commercial with the bad rendition of Imagine)
    shows a large number of
    , and notes that Ms. Curtis actually wrote the measure. There
    appears to be no organized opposition, other than the
    National Tax Limitation Committee. Now,
    children’s hospitals are a good thing, and they do good work. But as I said for
    Prop 1A, now is not the right time to be doing it. The state will have
    trouble selling these bonds, they will have higher interest rates, and they
    will make our budget processes worse. If you really want to help children’s
    hospitals, eliminate the middleman: donate to
    Hospital of Los Angeles
    directly. But I can’t see added to bonded
    indebtedness in the current economy.

  • Proposition
    4: Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s
    : No.
    Now, I have a teen daughter. Would I want to know if she
    was pregnant? Yes. If she wanted to terminate her pregnancy, would I want to
    know? Yes. So on the surface this seems like a good idea (although
    ballot arguments pro and con seem like a bunch of hyperbole
    ). So I dug a
    little deeper on this one.
    to Ballotpedia
    , this is the third time this has been up to voters. The
    primary supporters are religious groups and “pro life” groups. The opposition
    are groups I respect more, such as Planned Parenthood, pediatric and obgyn
    groups, and teacher’s groups. The LA Times and SF Chronicle are against, and
    the Chronicle indicates
    goal of this is to undermine abortion rights
    . That article shows how this
    is yet another attempt to make abortion harder to get, and an attempt to have
    the government force what should have been instilled by the parents from the
    start: a good parental-child relationship.

  • Proposition
    5: Non-Violent Drug Offenses
    : Leaning Yes.
    This proposition proposes to
    expand treatment for non-violent drug offenses, shortens parole for other drug
    offenses, and reduces penalties for MJ possession. Some of this is good stuff:
    treatment is generally more cost effective, and I do think there should be
    legalization and taxation of things like MJ vice criminalization. However,
    there are some problems with the measure. First, the measure does some stuff
    that appears unneded, such as dividing the Department of Corrections and
    Rehabilitation authority between two Secretaries, one with six year fixed term
    and one serving at pleasure of Governor. It also creates a 19 member board to
    direct parole and rehabilitation policy. This seems unneccesary. It is also
    very convoluted. I read through
    Ballotpedia pages
    , and looked at the pro and
    con websites. I took a look at
    the full list of
    and opponents. In
    general, many liberal organizations are for; the opposition is heavily law
    enforcement and substance abuse related groups. The
    League of Woman Voters
    is in favor of this
    . I think right now, based on the endorsers primarily,
    I’m leaning in favor.

  • Proposition
    6: Police and Law Enforcement Funding
    : No.
    This proposition requires a
    minimum of just under $1 billion (0.965) be spent annually for police and
    prison services. Minimum spending laws make it harder to balance the state
    budget. The measure doesn’t identify a funding source, meaning the draw is from
    the general fund, resulting in an impact on other state services. It is also
    using state money for local law enforcement, adding the state as a middleman,
    making the funding less effective. I looked at
    Ballotpedia on this
    . Again, a primary point is that this adds to state
    costs. Right now is not the time to be doing this.

  • Proposition
    7: Renewable Energy Generation:
    This measure is an attempt to force
    utilities to move to renewable energy. It increases state administrative costs.
    More significant to me, however, is the large number of papers opposing this,
    and the fact that
    environmental groups, renewable energy providers, consumer groups, business,
    labor, etc. all oppose this. I don’t see
    equivalent power behind the
    . My conclusion is that this falls into the “good idea, bad
    execution” category.

  • Proposition
    8: Eliminate Right to Same-Sex Marriage
    : Hell No!
    If you need a good
    argument to vote against this measure, again, I think
    Rabbi Brown
    summed it up the best

    Of all the groups within American society whose struggle
    for equal rights found a renewed voice in the ‘60s and ‘70s,
    homosexuals are alone in still suffering widespread, socially accepted
    discrimination. Make no mistake: racism, sexism, anti-semitism continue to
    exist in this country. But all are now seen as utterly beyond the pale in
    America, officially forbidden from government policy by law, and almost
    universally condemned in society at large. Only homophobia continues to be
    tolerated, even embraced, not only by large numbers of private citizens, but in
    law and public policy as well. This November, we California voters have the
    opportunity to either take a step toward ending this shameful record of
    discrimination and denial of equal rights, or to take a giant step backward,
    denying others the basic rights and dignity we take for granted for

    But I should be fair, right? So who is in favor of Proposition 8.
    gives lots of information
    , but makes it clear that the primary supporters
    of the measure are faith-based groups who are against homosexuality. Looking at
    the specific list of
    endorsing groups
    , there are precious little non-faith based groups there.
    This is a clear attempt to impose a religious position into law. I don’t think
    it is right.

  • Proposition
    9: Criminal Justice System. Victim’s Rights:
    This is primarily a
    victim’s rights bill, with lots of notification provisions. This expands
    payment of restitution and reduces early release, and changes parole
    procedures. However,
    it does
    some odd things
    , such as giving restitution payments priority over fines
    and penalties. It also requires that restitution must always be ordered.
    that the primary support comes from an individual, and that many
    provisions of this are already law. It is opposed by a large number of papers.
    The Yes website is skimpy, and
    doesn’t have a list of supporters. The No
    shows a broad
    coalition against
    . Again I draw the conclusion that this is a good idea,
    badly written.

  • Proposition
    10: Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy:
    This measure
    the sale of bonds, and uses that money to fund alternative fuel vehicles. As
    I’ve noted before, I don’t think bond sales should be encouraged in this
    that the primary funding is from T. Boone Pickens, whose company
    would significantly benefit from this. Looking at the
    Yes Website, one sees
    few specific companies and individual supporters
    . The
    No Website shows
    a broader coalition
    of environmental, consumer rights, and business organizations, across the
    spectrum. This looks like a measure that benefits the few playing on the fears
    of global warming.

  • Proposition
    11: Redistricting.
    This measure attempts to correct the
    redistricting problems, but only at the level of state assembly and senate
    districts, not congressional districts. It attempts to be evenly divided
    between the major parties.
    a good mix of supporting organizations, but an equal mix on the
    negative side (including both of California’s senators). The
    Yes Website expands on the supporters list,
    bipartisan support
    . The No Website
    (which has annoyingly bad graphics) shows
    a smaller list in
    , and they appear to be more of the traditional special interest
    groups. I think the approach is flawed in that it doesn’t include congressional
    districts, nor does it require that districts be compact or evenly balanced.
    The assumption is that the commission would do that, but there is no balance.
    But I do think we need to do something, and almost anything is better than
    letting the legislature do it.

  • Proposition
    12: Veterans Bond Act of 2008:
    This is about the only no-brainer
    out there. These are housing bonds for veterans, which are paid back by the
    veterans, not the state. There has never been a default in the history of these
    it was placed on unanimously, and there is no organized

Local Measures

  • LAMTA Measure
    R: Traffic Relief, Rail Extensions
    : No.
    OK, I know I should support
    this. The Yes Website notes that
    it has numerous supporters, including local newspapers. It builds roads. It
    builds rail. It does the good stuff, and saves the city from transit gridlock.
    But it also raises sales taxes in a declining economy, and is uneven in its
    application. It also exhibits MTA’s major problem: a focus on getting people
    downtown, failing to recognize LA’s transit patterns aren’t that simple. Where
    is a complete non-downtown light rail system, one that considers alternate
    approaches between the valley and the westside, one that serves the south bay
    well. But again, the primary reason I’m against is economic: I just can’t see
    increasing the sales tax now. Bad timing.

    Measure J: Community College Classroom Repair
    : No
    . This is another bond
    initiative, this time to repair community college classrooms. Support is mixed:
    Times is in favor
    , Daily News opposed.
    The bonds would be repaid by a property tax increase—not the thing that
    strapped homeowners need. I agree with the Daily News here: good idea, bad

    Measure Q: “Safe Healthy Neighborhood Schools”
    : No.
    I put the title in
    quotes because this is just a school construction bond in disguise. We’ve had a
    number of these bonds in the past few years, and LAUSD has been on a
    construction binge. But the economy is bad now, enrollments are dropping, and
    they haven’t been spending the money (cough, Belmont Roybal Campus)
    wisely (cough, Broad Performing Arts Campus). Nor have they been cutting some
    of the overhead downtown, or fixing the payroll system. The
    Daily News notes this
    . This would also increase property taxes, again at a time when
    homeowners are strapped. LAUSD: Show us you can fix the system, and perhaps
    after the economy approves, you’ll get more bonds.

  • LA
    Measure A: Gang and Youth Violence Prevention:
    . This would add a $3
    parcel tax on each property to fund gang and youth violence prevention efforts.
    Times opposes
    , as does the
    Daily News. The
    problem is that this money doesn’t guarantee it will do what it says. There is
    one sure way to reduce gang and youth violence: parental responsibility. But I
    don’t see that being funded here.

  • LA
    Measure B: Update of Low Rent Housing Authorization:
    . This measure
    fixes the law to remove some height restrictions on low rent housing that
    prevented other programs from providing funding. Yet another no brainer.

In another post, I’ll attempt to go through the politicians and judges on my
ballot. Stay tuned.