From the Publisher / Arnold G. York
Whereas I normally wait to just before Election Day to make endorsements, this year I’m going to change the procedure because so many people (30 to 40 percent of voters) are casting their ballots absentee and voting early. There are one dozen state ballot propositions and, as always, most represent the position of one special interest or another, trying hard to grab a piece of the state budget or to make an end-run around the legislative process. The state is looking at major budget shortfalls running into the billions, so this, I believe, is the year to be conservative in making large allocations of future state monies.
State Ballot Propositions
Proposition 1A, High speed rail bonds: Recommend a No vote
With interest, this bond will cost $20 billion over its lifetime. It would be a bad decision in this tight fiscal year. It would be nice to have rapid transit linking the state, but it’s not essential and can wait for a better economic climate.
Proposition 2, Not confining farm animals: Recommend a No vote
This proposition seeks to make it a crime, punishable by a fine or jail time, for confining an animal in a way that some animal rights activist think is unfair. It has no standards and would lead to farmers being prosecuted for raising livestock. It’s a bad proposition, badly drafted and badly thought out, and being pushed by a bunch of animal rights people, vegetarians and vegans who believe that eating animals is cruel and think we should all be eating celery. There are already numerous laws on the books to prevent cruelty to animals.
Proposition 3, Children’s Hospital Bonds: Recommend a Yes vote
It’s strange to be saying that this $2 billion bond is relatively modest. I believe we should support it because the Children’s Hospital treats the most grievously ill children in California, and this is one bond that will directly save young lives and is well worth the cost.
Proposition 4, Parental Notification: Recommend a No vote
You would hope that the first person a pregnant teenager would want to talk to is her parents. If she doesn’t, it’s because their relationship is already strained and dysfunctional. The state has no business getting in the middle of an already dysfunctional parent-child relationship to try and fix it. It can only cause more grief.
Proposition 5, Nonviolent Drug offenses: Recommend a definite Yes vote
This proposition is long overdue. We have an inmate population of 171,000 in California and 80 percent are there because of drug-related crimes. It costs us an average of $46,000 per year for each inmate. Do the arithmetic. Most drug addicts generally give up drugs in their late 30s or 40s or are dead by then. It is in our interest as Californians to keep these addicts out of the prison system unless they’re dangerous to others. This proposition will actually save us money.
Proposition 6, Law enforcement penalties: Recommend a No vote
Every election sees another “get tougher on crime proposition.” This is such a typical proposition and would increase the current state spending level on law enforcement from $600 million per year to $965 million per year, a jump of 60.8 percent. Budgeting by initiative is a disaster, which is one of the reasons why the state is in such fiscal trouble. The passage of this kind of proposition only encourages every other group to come back with their own proposition to grab a piece of the state budget without having to go through the legislative process.
Proposition 7, Renewable energy: Recommend a No vote
This one is a bit of puzzlement. This proposition sets targets for renewable energy goals, which would appear to be environmentally friendly. Yet, all the main-line environmental organizations, including National Resources Defense Council, California League of Conservation Voters, Union of Concerned Scientists and many others, are against it. I have to assume there is something in the small print they’re all afraid of, so I would have to go along with their collective judgment and say vote no.
Proposition 8, Prohibits same sex marriage: Recommend a No vote
If this passes it would eliminate the right of same sex couples to marry. I have never been able to understand why some see this as a great threat to marriage and family. I know that same sex marriages sound strange to some people, but there was a time when interracial marriage was looked at in the same way. Time changes attitudes and I see no reason to go backwards.
Proposition 9, Criminal Justice / Parole changes constitutional amendment: Recommend a No vote
This is another let’s get tough on crime propositions that couldn’t pass legislative scrutiny. So it ended up as a ballot proposition and wants to enshrine this “get tough, essentially no parole” policy into the Constitution no matter what the cost and the cost is enormous. The cost of this, which virtually shuts down the parole system, could run into the hundreds of millions of dollars annually, according to the independent legislative analyst’s summary.
Proposition 10, Renewable energy: Recommend a No Vote
This is a $10 billion bond for alternate fuel vehicles and renewable energy that T. Boone Pickens is pushing and is, in the main, paying for the campaign. The difficulty is that Pickens makes some sense with this one, but it also may be a giveaway and more than we can afford this year. Reading about it doesn’t seem to clarify anything so I’m following my general rule. When there is an unresolved doubt, vote no.
Proposition 11, Redistricting: Recommend
a Yes vote
I believe that politicians should not be allowed to draw their own district lines, which is what happens now and is why almost every district in California is a lock for one political party or the other. Incumbents are almost never defeated because of the way the district lines are drawn. This proposition puts the line drawing into the hands of an independent commission. It’s not perfect but it’s a great deal better than the current method.
Proposition 12, Veterans Bonds: Recommend
a Yes vote
This would continue to fund low interest loans for the Cal-Vet program. We owe it to these young men and women who have made sacrifices for the rest of us. Even though this could cost up to $2 billion, historically the program has paid for itself.
On the individual candidates I endorse
Henry Waxman for Congress
Fran Pavley for the State Senate
Julia Brownley for the Assembly
I’ll make endorsements for the school board races and local propositions next week.