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.
1A: High Speed Rail Bonds:
Leaning NoYes. 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
website argues that this will create jobs, and
an extremely large list of endorsers. The No
Side 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.
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
3: Children’s Hospital Bond Act: No. This is another one I would like
notes 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
endorsers, 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.
4: Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s
Pregnancy: 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.
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
proponents 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.
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.
7: Renewable Energy Generation: No. 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
support. My conclusion is that this falls into the “good idea, bad
8: Eliminate Right to Same-Sex Marriage: Hell No! If you need a good
argument to vote against this measure, again, I think
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.
9: Criminal Justice System. Victim’s Rights: No. 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
some odd things, such as giving restitution payments priority over fines
and penalties. It also requires that restitution must always be ordered.
notes 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
Website shows a broad
coalition against. Again I draw the conclusion that this is a good idea,
10: Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy: No. 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
notes 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.
11: Redistricting. Yes. 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.
shows 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
opposition, 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.
12: Veterans Bond Act of 2008: Yes. 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
notes it was placed on unanimously, and there is no organized
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 increasenot 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,
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
well. 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.
Measure A: Gang and Youth Violence Prevention: No. 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.
Measure B: Update of Low Rent Housing Authorization: Yes. 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.