Every election, I toss up my thoughts on how I am going to vote, and try to point out some little tidbits that may interest you (especially when it comes to California's assinine proposition system.) This time we have a hotly contested (in other states) Presidential election, 2 dueling energy propositions, one attempt to write discrimination into the State Constitution, a beautiful FU to Shrub and several really random ballot propositions that still have me wondering how I should vote. Let's work this out together, shall we?
Let's get the easy stuff out of the way. For President, I'm voting for Obama. Now, I am not his biggest fan (not taking public financing was particularly scummy, if massively effective) and I really dislike the whole "hope" thing. However, that being said, to me he will make a much better President than McCain (who has shamefully and disastrously destroyed any sort of "maverick" reputation he might have had in a vain attempt to run to the right) or any of the other candidates. So, I vote Obama, but man do I wish John Edwards hadn't out Clintoned Clinton. I want a President who talks about the issues facing the poor in America, and Edwards was really the only one. If I were to make a protest vote, I would vote for Alan Keyes. It's one of the luxuries of living in California, my vote counts for nothing in the Presidential race.
A few important local races to comment on. Congressman Pete Stark drives me crazy. I am almost tempted to vote for his opponent (a Republican Insurance Broker) except his campaign website has some of the worst writing I have ever seen on it. Here's a sample: "Affirmative Action: Affirmative action for disadvantaged children only and a person's skin color should not be taken into consideration. What is this obsession about race?" He also compares marijuana to bacon, and posts his personal resume. Come to think of it, maybe I should vote for him…
Now a random note. A friend of mine, Susi Ostlund is running for our local water board, and I am proud to vote for her. It's also the first time I have ever been educated on the issues facing a water board, and I have learned a surprising amount. If you live in Alameda County, and are reading this please consider voting for Susi!
OK, enough with that. Let's get to the real reason for this whole thing. The Propositions. As a reminder for those of you who live in sane states, anyone can get a ballot measure up for a vote if they provide enough signatures. There are firms whose only job is getting these signatures. This leads to a lot of crazy things being thrown at the wall to see if they stick. I hate the system, and wish we could get rid of it.
Proposition 1A High Speed Rail – This massive bond issue will begin to finance a high speed rail line between SF & LA. They estimate that the trip will take 1-2 hours and cost $50. It's like a west coast Acela. I'm a huge fan of rail travel in Europe, it's just never been nearly as good here in the States. Almost a billion dollars of the bond would go to other transit agencies throughout the state to try to create a more cohesive transit network. All good things! Should be an easy yes, right? The problem is in a key word above "begin." You see the 9 billion this would raise is only the seed money for the rail. It is contingent on a ton of matching and Federal monies, and that well is looking sort of dry. Still, for me the possibility of creating a rail network in California is too good a chance to pass on (although, if Amtrak weren't involved this would be an easy yes vote.) I think this fascinating article about how the new rail would require a "lifestyle change" is what swayed me to vote for it in the end. Well that and the fact that I am for almost any sort of spending on our crumbling infrastructure. So, Prop 1A – YES
Proposition 2 Standards for Confining Farm Animals – Great title there. This is essentially trying to raise the standards for chickens and cows on large farms in California. It rules that the animals may only be kept in cages that allow them to lie down, stand up and fully extend their limbs. Man, is that so much to ask? The people campaigning against Prop 2 have run some pretty offensive "we'll have to get our meat from Mexico" scare ads that turned me off to them pretty quickly. I realize that it will raise the cost of doing business for the farms, and could raise food prices but I think it's worth it to raise the conditions these animals are kept in. Prop 2 – YES
Proposition 3 Children's Hospital Bond – This bond would authorize almost 1 billion dollars for expansion and renovation of children's hospitals throughout the state. 20% of the money would go to UC hospitals and the rest would be for 8 other hospitals throughout California. I'm slightly biased against this measure because Children's Hospital Oakland has a bad habit of being a bully. Last year, they ran all these ridiculous "won't someone think of the children" ads to try & get a ballot measure passed to give them money to expand. They also threatened to use eminent domain to acquire the property from their (mostly lower middle class working families) neighbors. Mainly because of that.. Prop 3 -NO
Proposition 4 Parental Notification of Abortion – This is the 3rd time since 2005 that the anti abortion crowd has tried to push this through. They failed the first two times, and brought back almost the exact same law with a few minor changes. Most notably, a minor can have a family member other than a parent approve the procedure, but only if there is a documented history of parental abuse or a court order. No way. Prop 4 – NO
Proposition 5 Nonviolent Drug Offenses Sentencing – The Republicans are jumping all over the "soft on crime" label for anyone who supports this measure. Among other things, this measure would reduce parole time for nonviolent drug offenders, offer more rehabilitative sentencing options for those offenders and create a new board and Secretary to direct parole and rehabilitation programs. I am sort of on the fence with this one. I am all for alternative sentencing and reducing our prison population, especially when it comes to nonviolent drug offenders. However, I am not a fan of creating this whole new bureaucracy to run it, and I am not sure how I feel about limiting the courts options to punish parole violators. Then again, Martin Sheen and Pete Wilson are both against it. Still the weird fact of seeing the Bay Guardian (one of the more liberal papers) and the Orange County Register (not one of the more liberal papers) supporting it offsets that. I think at the end of the day, being able to reduce our prison population and redirect many offenders to rehabilitation programs is enough to get my nod. Prop 5 – YES
Proposition 6 Police and Law Enforcement Funding. Criminal Penalties and Laws – If your title is two sentences, you may be trying to do too much, and that is definitely the case here. I'm pretty much against this one from the get-go, because it is another earmark from the general fund, which is one of the reasons the state is in the budget mess we are each year. Not only does it ear mark almost 1 billion a year to law enforcement funding, it also increases penalties for many crimes (some gang-related offenses and car theft, strangely enough..) There is nothing about any rehabilitation here, just locking more people up for longer times. Prop 6 – NO
Proposition 7 Renewable Energy Generation – This is one of the most confusing measures on the ballot. I mean, if PG&E is against it, it must be good, right? I'm not so sure. The measure would require that all utilities in California (including government owned) generate at least 20% of their power from renewable sources by 2010. Alas, I tend to agree with the opponents that the measure is so poorly written that there is nothing to keep utilities from passing the increased costs of business on to their customers. I am also concerned by the total omission of small energy producers from the new requirements. There are a lot of small companies doing cool, innovative stuff in this field that would be left out in the cold. I just don't think Prop 7 is ready for prime time, despite Danny Glover's endorsement. Prop 7- NO.
Proposition 8 Eliminates Rights of Same Sex Couples to Marry – I am fundamentally opposed to any measure that seeks to circumvent the 2/3 majority required to alter the State Constitution, and that is just what Prop 8 wants to do. So, even if it weren't an ugly discriminatory statute backed by religious conservatives, I would probably vote No. Since it is, that just makes the No that much sweeter. An interesting side note on this one. The official name of the measure above is the source of much controversy, as it is definitely weighted language against the measure. Prop 8 – NO
Proposition 9 Criminal Justice System. Victim's Rights. Parole – Again, if you have multiple sentences in your title, it's likely a bad sign. This one is scary. Right off the bat, it seeks to limit the number of parole hearings criminals receive. Yikes! It also establishes victim safety as a consideration in bail and parole hearings. I'm against it just based on the limiting of parole. I also don't think it would be constitutional even if it passed. Prop 9 – NO
Proposition 10 Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy – This is the T. Boone Pickens backed proposition that seeks to ..um.. make T. Boone Pickens a lot of money. It's a 5 billion dollar bond. Most of that money (roughly 3.5 billion) goes to incentives and rebates for purchasing certain alternative fuel vehicles (mostly natural gas ones, strangely..) and another 1 billion for research into renewable energy sources (and natural gas, strangely..) The proposition is worded to heavily favor natural gas vehicles over hybrid and other vehicles, and the lions share of the money goes to natural gas. There is also no requirement that the companies buying these trucks stop using their old polluting trucks. In fact, there is no requirement that the companies reduce emissions at all. Oh, by the way, T. Boone Pickens company is a natural gas company, strangely.. Prop 10 – NO
Proposition 11 Redistricting – This one is a mess. It seeks to create a board that will decide all state districting issues. They pretend like it will be non-partisan, but the appointees will be political operatives, and creates a ridiculous bureaucracy around it. The selection of the board is almost ancient Rome level of wackiness. There are 2 rounds of random selections to decide who can then be chosen. And yet, even with multiple levels of randomness, the board must still be 5 from each party and 4 independents. This is way too confusing, and not a great idea. Prop 11 – NO
Proposition 12 Veterans Bond Act of 2008 – This Bond has been re-approved since 1921, and it has been fully paid off each time. This is not only an ultimate no brainer, it is also almost impossible to vote against. It's that beautiful rarity, a great program that is well run. Prop 12 – YES
Whew, so there it is. Please, if you bother to read this, take the time to get out and vote tomorrow. Voting is the most important thing we can do for our country. And, I think I am talking myself into voting for Raymond Chui. I really liked his resume…
Last 5 posts by Ezra
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