So What’s On Your Ballot?

tsgeisel has provided a very interesting link to a list of initiatives currently in the process of qualification for the California ballot. In other words, you may be seeing these in the future. I’d like to highlight a few of these that caught my eye, whilst eating lunch:

  • Elections. Electronic Voting Machines. Prohibits electronic voting in any election, except in counties already operating electronic voting machines if machines generate voting receipts, the software source code is a public record, and local election officials regularly count 10% of paper record. Requires all votes be hand- counted by registered voters summoned for elections duty like jurors. Allows paroled felons to vote. Prohibits peace officers from preventing voters from voting absent suspicion a crime will be committed. Permits voter registration until election day; expands polling hours. Bans restrictions on mail voting. Reduces maximum precinct size to 400 voters. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: This measure would have the following major fiscal impact: Increased local government costs to administer elections, potentially totaling in the tens of millions of dollars annually.

    A number of interesting ideas in this one. I don’t like prohibiting electronic voting, but I do like the idea of mandatory receipts, open source code, and auditing of the paper record. I don’t like reducing maximum precinct size.

  • State Payments to Parents of Public School Children. Standardized Testing. Amends state law to require that a grant of $1,000.00 be awarded to the parent or guardian of each public school student in grades 2 through 11 with a score of proficient or higher on all portions of the California Standards Test administered pursuant to California’s Standardized Testing and Reporting (STAR) Program. Provides that California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction shall determine qualifying scores for grant purposes, and provides for an annual appropriation from the General Fund to the Superintendent of Public Instruction to fund the required payments. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Annual state costs in the hundreds of millions of dollars to over $1 billion to provide grants to families of students performing well on standardized tests.

    I think this would cost the state too much; it might also run into problems with legal vs. illegal immigrants. I do think the incentivizing is a good thing, but it might be better as a tax credit or deduction. However, I could imagine the accounting or reporting would be horrendous. It would also require schools to have SSNs of students; potentially a bad thing.

  • Marriage. Invalidation of Domestic Partnerships. Amends the California Constitution to provide that a marriage between a man and a woman is the only legal union that shall be valid or recognized in California. Amendment bars domestic partnerships from being valid or recognized as legal unions in California. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Unknown, but probably not significant, fiscal effect on state and local governments. The impact would depend in large part on future court interpretations.

    This is just an example, there are three or four in this vein that invalidate or eliminate domestic partnerships, or give exclusive legal status to married spouses. This falls into the “hell no” category: this is government intrusion into religion. Just because a particular religion feels a particular marriage is illegal, immoral or fattening doesn’t mean that those in such marriages shouldn’t be afforded the same *legal* rights: survivorship, hospital visitation, inheritance, court protections. Religion also teaches that we should persue justice.

  • Vote Requirement. Taxes. Redefinition of Fees/Charges. Redefines certain local fees or charges as taxes, which require approval by the electorate. Redefines certain state fees or charges as state taxes, requiring enactment by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature rather than current, majority vote. Requires two-thirds vote of Legislature for any statutory change that results in any taxpayer paying a higher tax. Provides that any state or local tax, fee, or charge adopted after January 1, 2006, which was not adopted in compliance with this measure, is void 12 months after the effective date of this measure. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Potentially significant decrease in state and local revenues from certain fees or charges, depending upon future actions of the Legislature, local governing bodies, and local electorates.

    Again, an example of something of which there are multiple. This is a taxpayer revolt against all the ways that government has figured out to get around the taypayer limitations that have been voted. I think it would be better to do a revision of the infamous Prop 13 that would have an every 10 year value freeze (i.e., property purchased since the last freeze would have the value frozen at the next freeze point).

  • State Holidays. Statewide General Elections. Provides that statewide general election days shall be state holidays. Further provides that public schools and community colleges shall close on statewide general election days, and that certain public employees, including public school and community college classified employees, may be entitled to a paid holiday on statewide general election days pursuant to collective bargaining agreements. Makes other non-substantive changes to renumber certain statutory subdivisions. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local governments: Increased state costs of up to $18 million annually, depending on future collective bargaining negotiations.

    Bad idea. A better approach would be to require up to 2 hours of paid time off for voting, either at the beginning, meal break, or end of the workshift, if that workshift falls during voting hours. This would keep businesses open, yet ensure people vote.

A number of the others are clearly special interest, or clearly unconstitional (restraint on interstate commerce). To give you an idea, there are a number of “wealth taxes”, which typically go along with reducing corporate income taxes. There are extra taxes on cigs or booze for various purposes. There are further restrictions on sexual predators (including lifetime GPS monitoring). There’s a measure that attempts to ban political spending by corporations (which if you think about it, could legally affect only spending on California measures or by California corporations, making it pointless).

The site is fascinating. You really should look on it. You should also think about these when someone shoves a petition in your face to sign for the ballot.


(updated) Do You Have The Initiative?

This is an update of a previous post. Do remember to vote today, and remember that your polling place may have changed. I’ll be voting when I get home from work (I leave before polls are open), so if you have conflicting notions, please let me know.


No. I’ve thought about this one. Although well intentioned, I believe it is a move towards government intruding into private issues. It should not be government’s place to dictate when parents should be informed about things. That’s for the parent child relationship, and parents should be raising their children right so that there is no fear about talking to each other about anything.


No. I’ve thought about this one a lot. Although I like the notion of improved discinplinary procedures, I don’t like the notion of shortening tenure. Tenure exists for a reason, and it is not to protect bad teachers. Rather, it exists to protect our freedom to teach ideas that may disagree with what the schoolboard wants one to teach. Schoolboards have insisted on the teaching of religion, of politics, and it has been brave teachers protected by tenure that have fought that. I don’t want to give up that freedom, even if it protects a few bad teachers. Fix the disciplinary procedures; it is not tenure that is a problem. I also feel that a 5 year probationary period is too long and puts the state at a competitive disadvange. If the proposal was for 3, I might support it. This falls into the good idea, bad implementation camp.


No. This one is too biased. If it was (a) national, and (b) applied equally to corporate contributions, I might consider it. But it puts public employees in California at a distinct disadvantage in having their voice heard. Public employees already have the ability to opt out of the political donations. This is a pure punative measure.


No. This is an end run related to taking money from the school system and not having to pay it back. Our schools are underfunded as it is. It is also punative, allowing the Governer to reduce appropriates of his own choosing, including employee compensation. The legislative analyst also notes this could hurt the state. Although it could smooth out spending if the state is able to set aside large reserves (which tends not to happen), “if the state were not able to accumulate large reserves, the limit would likely result in less spending over time. This is because the state would not have enough reserves available to cushion the decline in revenues during bad times. When this occurred, the reduced level of actual spending during periods of low revenues would then become the new, lower, “starting point” from which the next year’s spending limit is calculated. This could cause the spending limit to ratchet down over time.”


No. I’m not in favor of the gerrymandering that goes on to preserve districts these days. On the surface, this seems reasonable, but it really only works if people vote with their brains, and not just upon party lines. If you have party line votes, I’d rather have districts preserved to keep the good politicians, as opposed to folks just voting for a pretty face. We’ve seen where that gets us.


No. This one is funded by the drug companies. Consumers Union is also against it. I really haven’t seen strong arguments in favor.


No. This one is supported by Consumers Union. Yet I see flaws in the legislation. Safest to vote no.


No. Perhaps I’m lucky being in a DWP area (municipal power), but I think this is overreaction. The electrical problems years ago were due to corporate executives of the power generation companies (read ENRON), not the suppliers in California. I see nothing in this that addresses the crux of the problem: the need for more generation plants. Let’s not tinker with the system again.

LOS ANGELES COUNTY MEASURE Y: $3.985 billion neighborhood school bond measure

No. Much as I’m in favor of new school construction, LAUSD has a poor record in managing construction (can you spell B E L M O N T. I knew you could). I don’t need property taxes raised again. I think LA should move along under its current bonds, and come back at the next election for me to reconsider this. Now it is too soon.

So, what’s your opinion?


Political Internet Animations

As a reaction to the amazing spread of last year’s JibJab animation This Land is Your Land, political animations on the Internet are all the rave, and are speading like wildfire. KPPC 89.3 FM in Pasadena has provided some pointers to some cute animations being used to express opinions on the upcoming November 8 election:

Which one is your favorite?

P.S.: Beware the Tower. Jibjab also has a great animation making fun of Big Box Markets.


Right Idea, Wrong Implementation

A few days ago, I posted my initial take on the propositions on my ballot. A lively discussion has resulted; I do encourage folks to review the discussion and chime in.

During the discussion, I’m realizing that my primary reason for voting no on most of them is “Right idea, wrong implementation.” I’ll note that this is the reason that politicians vote no on bills, even though they are concerned about the subject matter of the bill and they know their vote may come back to haunt them. This gave me an idea.

Instead of our current “yes”/”no” voting, there should be a third option: “Right idea, wrong implementation”. This would count as a “no” vote for the purposes of determining passage, but let the pols know that the populace wants something done on the subject, but done right.

What do you think?