For those of you who vote absentee — which these days means more than 50% in Malibu — you will soon be receiving your absentee ballots from the Registrar of Voters. It’s a long ballot of individual candidate races, ballot propositions, judicial races and local county and School Board races. So, I’m going to give you my thoughts and endorsements throughout the next couple of weeks, and also give you an explanation about my own inclinations and how I arrived at the recommendations. As most of you know, I’m a Democrat, living in a Democratic state and my inclination, if I were a Republican — I would probably call it my prejudices — are to go with the party ticket, unless there is good reason not to. Although I must admit, this year there were a couple of Republican surprises.
We make the following endorsements:
State Constitutional Offices
For Governor – Jerry Brown: Jerry is an excellent governor — hardworking, knowledgeable, thrifty and tough, when he needs to be. Jerry is more than thrifty — he’s actually cheap. He’s always been that way, both in his own personal spending and he’s equally as cheap with the people’s money. That makes it difficult for the Republican candidate, who has to run against regulations and for austerity. I doubt if there is a Republican alive that is more austere than Jerry.
For Lt. Gov. – Gavin Newsom: Able, articulate, ready and willing — if only Jerry would give him something to do.
For Secretary of State – Senator Alex Padilla: This is an interesting race. Alex Padilla is a very effective Senator. He has ambitions and could be Governor some day. I understand from those who know him well, Pete Peterson is also a very able, bright and effective individual who, if he could take a statewide office, could also be on the same Governorship track. Peterson is light-years better than the typical Republican sacrificial lamb and may indicate that the California Republican party has decided to get back in the game.
For Controller – Betty Yee: A good Sacramento reputation for brains and competence. The Republican candidate Ashley Swearengin, the mayor of Fresno, is also above the usual Republican cloth and this could be an interesting race.
For Treasurer – John Chiang: Chiang is a big favorite of mine. He’s a real advocate of open government and has been very aggressive in working to open up the workings of government to the public. He’s also future Gubernatorial timber.
For Attorney General – Kamala Harris: I’ve heard her speak several times and know some of her staffers. Kamala is a very bright, articulate, hardworking attorney general and also has ambitions.
For Insurance Commissioner – Dave Jones: This office will grow significantly in power if Proposition 45 passes. Jones is a former legislator — able and tough.
For Superintendent of Public Instruction – Tom Torlakson: Torlakson has spent his life, both as a legislator and administrator, working to further public education. He well deserves reelection.
State Ballot Propositions
People have asked me how I go about making recommendations. There is a protocol I generally follow. First, I read the Official Voter Information Guide and the attorney general’s official title and summary, which are usually fairly accurate. Next, I read the analysis by the legislative analyst, which is always non-partisan, objective and fair. Typically, in the past, their fiscal impact predictions were very good and the legislature — both sides of the aisle — rely on the objectivity of the legislative analyst. Next, I look to see if there was a legislative vote put on the ballot and how the vote fell. Then, I look at the signers of the arguments, for and against. After that, I call my son Anthony, who lives in Sacramento and has been covering Sacramento for close to 20 years, currently in business as a political communications consultant, to check out the back stories and the talk around the capitol. Last, I check out the Internet to see what others are saying.
Proposition 2 State Budget Proposal – “Yes” — actually an emphatic “Yes.” It creates a rainy day fund, had full bipartisan support in the legislature without a dissenting vote and hopefully will get us off the merry-go-round of spending too much money in the good years and not having enough in the bad years. We are very reliant on income tax and capital gains taxes and both are very susceptible to the vagaries of the business cycle.
Proposition 45 Health Insurance Rates – A strong “Yes”
California health insurance is regulated by two, sometimes conflicting, agencies. The Department of Managed Health Care is run by a governor-appointed director and the California Department of Insurance, which is run by an elected commissioner, currently Dave Jones. I’ve seen them both in action and it always seemed to me that the elected Insurance Commissioner model was better, if there was a good commissioner serving. This proposition would give the Insurance Commissioner power over the rates. The insurance companies, of course, hate it. The last thing they want is someone looking over their shoulders at rates, which I guess is reason enough to vote for it.
Proposition 46 Medical Malpractice Act – Recommend a “Yes”
The Medical Malpractice Act was passed in 1975 and, despite inflation, has pretty much not been updated in 39 years. It is time to take a new look and recommend making some necessary changes.
Proposition 47 Crimes Sentences – Recommend a strong “Yes”
In the 1970s, 1980s and the 1990s, we went through a bidding war to see who could increase criminal penalties the most. The result was we have state prisons filled with low value offenders, serving long sentences, usually related to drugs. It costs about $50,000 per year to keep a person in state prison, and that number is climbing, as the prisoners get older. Typically, crime is a young man’s business and finding alternatives to state prison makes humanitarian sense and also fiscal sense.
Proposition 48 Indian Gaming Compacts-Recommend a “Yes”
This one was difficult. It allows for ratification of a contract for a new Indian casino in Madera. It’s a vey complicated deal, which includes covering local costs, money to the state and localities, mitigating impacts and setting up revenue sharing trusts between competing tribes. Madera County wants and needs the revenue and neighboring Fresno County is not at all happy about it. It boils down to who do you trust, and since the legislature passed the compacts, the Governor signed the compact and the Federal government also approved the compact, I’ve got to assume they gave it a careful look, weighed the alternatives, and signed on, so I would recommend a “Yes.”
Judicial – “Yes” on all three
All three candidates for the California Supreme Court — incumbent Goodwin Lui, incumbent Katherine Mickle Werdegar and newly nominated Mariano-Florentino Cuellar — are stellar individuals and should all be voted “Yes.”