Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Proposition 1A

What it does: Authorizes $9.95 billion in bonds to build an electric train to get people from Los Angeles to San Francisco in just over 2 1/2 hours.

Propositions Precincts reporting: ~100.0%
  • 1A: High-speed rail Yes 52.1% No 47.9%
  • 2: Farm animals Yes 63.1% No 36.9%
  • 3: Children’s hospitals Yes 54.8% No 45.2%
  • 4: Abortion notification Yes 48.0% No 52.0%
  • 5: Drug offenses Yes 40.1% No 59.9%
  • 6: Criminal justice Yes 30.8% No 69.2%
  • 7: Renewable energy Yes 35.2% No 64.8%
  • 8: Gay marriage ban Yes 52.5% No 47.5%
  • 9: Victims’ rights Yes 53.5% No 46.5%
  • 10: Alternative fuels Yes 40.3% No 59.7%
  • 11: Redistricting Yes 50.6% No 49.4%
  • 12: Loans for veterans Yes 63.5% No 36.5%

Back story: This is the governor's and the Legislature's baby, years in the making. They pulled similar measures off ballots in 2004 and 2006 because the stars didn't align for a win. An earlier version (Proposition 1) also got pulled from the 2008 ballot, this time for a revise (that's why it's now designated 1A). Lawmakers were arguing about, among other things, whether the train would run through Altamont Pass (the site of a deadly 1969 Rolling Stones concert) or Pacheco Pass (site of the hokey but fun tourist stop Casa de Fruta). They went with Pacheco.

Dude: I don't think people really understand that voting for all these bond measures will result in a tax increase. I always vote against tax increases, so I voted no on this. Sure, high speed rail is the future of transportation, but we can't afford the future just yet. Come back in better times. It passed nonetheless.

Proposition 2

What it does: Bars use of pens and cages that don't give farm animals room to turn around, stretch, stand or lie down.

Back story: This is all about chickens. The language on veal calves and sows tugs on voters' heartstrings, but it's moot; California produces virtually no commercial pork or veal. Chief opponents -- egg producers -- argue that without tight cages, their chickens will eat each other and their own droppings. No matter what, the caged chickens are doomed: After a short life laying eggs, they are too spent even for the soup pot.

Dude: I don't own a farm, so who am I to legislate how the farmers treat the chickens before the slaughter? Although it sounds utopian in theory to let chickens stretch, I didn't wish to put any undo burdens on farmers who might in turn need to raise the price of eggs, only to lose business to farmers from Mexico who get by with cramped chickens and lower prices. No matter, people would feel heartless voting against this so it passed easily.

Proposition 3

What it does: Authorizes the sale of $980 million in bonds to upgrade and expand children's hospitals in California.

Back story: With interest, the measure would cost about $2 billion over 30 years. Backers are (no surprise) the state's children's hospitals. California voters authorized $750 million in bonds for this cause in 2004; just under half of those bonds have yet to be sold. But how can voters say no to sick kids?

Dude: Who loves children's hospitals more than the Seegers? All the same, I am a reliable no vote on bond measures and this is no different. The hospital builders can't spend the money fast enough and can always rely on another bond measure passing because who is heartless enough to deny the sick kids? It passed as expected and we will no doubt see another prop like it in four years.

Proposition 4

What it does: Amends the state Constitution to require a physician to notify a minor patient's parent or other adult family member 48 hours before performing an abortion.

Back story: Déjà vu. Californians defeated parental consent or notification for abortion measures in 2005 and 2006, but had last year off. (There is no limit on how often failed ballot measures may be resubmitted to voters.) Proposition 4 adds the "other adult family member" alternative to answer critics of earlier propositions. It also would require a girl who chooses that alternative to allege parental abuse. The Legislature passed a parental consent law in 1987, but it never took effect. The state Supreme Court upheld it in 1996, but on rehearing -- after court membership changed -- struck it down. Which is why Proposition 4 is a constitutional amendment.

Dude: I'm always on the opposite side of every issue, so I voted yes on this even though it ultimately failed. I don't think doctors should be in the business of operating on minors without parental consent. Could you imagine discovering that your preteen just had all of her teeth pulled or donated a kidney and this is the first you're hearing about it? Abortions are a political hot button, but I side with the parents on this issue. Minors fall under parental jurisdiction until age 18 so it's my opinion that doctors shouldn't go around doctoring on them without parental consent.

Proposition 5

What it does: Mandates probation with treatment instead of jail or prison for many drug crimes and diminishes sentences and shortens parole for many nonviolent property crimes when drugs are involved.

Back story: This measure pits two well-known liberals against each other -- activist and actor Martin Sheen and billionaire philanthropist George Soros. Sheen, whose son Charlie had high-profile drug problems in the 1990s, leads the opposition because, he has said, "successful rehabilitation requires accountability." Soros and former Soros executive Jacob Goldfied are Proposition 5's top financial backers. If voters pass Proposition 5 and Proposition 6, they would simultaneously loosen and stiffen penalties for drug offenses.

Dude: I remain winless by voting yes on this proposition only to see it fail, which surprises me. California is such a "progressive" state and this prop wanted to quit sending drug addicts to prison. Sure, it will cost money to counsel the perps and some of them are going to do bad things and go to prison anyways, but there is a ton of savings in clearing the prisons of cokeheads whose only crime is their penchant for narcotics. I'm not fervently against the decriminalization of drugs but I know that law enforcement will always fight against it because of the thousands of jobs created by the war on drugs.

Proposition 6

What it does: Commits close to 1% of the state's annual general fund budget for anti-crime programs. The state Legislative Analyst's Office estimates costs of $500 million for additional prison space.

Back story: This is the Son of Three Strikes and Jessica's Law. It's sponsored in part by Mike Reynolds, author of the 1994 Three Strikes Initiative, and state Sen. George Runner (R- Lancaster), whose anti-sex-offender Proposition 83 -- Jessica's Law -- won 71% of the vote in 2006. The top donor is Henry T. Nicholas III, who gave $1 million (see Proposition 9).

Dude: Blah blah blah, costs half a billion dollars. That's a no and the first time the electorate agrees with me.

Proposition 7

What it does: Increases the clean-generation requirement on investor-owned utilities and extends them to municipal companies, like the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Back story: The primary backer (with a donation of $3 million) is Peter Sperling, son of University of Phoenix founder, cat-cloner and octogenarian liberal proposition-meister John Sperling (who in 2000 gave California Proposition 36, mandating treatment instead of prison for drug convictions, a failed initiative to soften three strikes, and several others besides). Caveat for green voters: This measure is intended to advance green power and improve the environment but is opposed by a host of high-profile environmental groups, who say it will undermine many green-power efforts.

Dude: My default position on all props is no unless I find good reason to vote yes. I gave this a cursory look over breasfast and figured it would make my utility bill increase, so I voted against it. The electorate agrees.

Proposition 8

What it does: Outlaws same-sex marriage by adding the following words to the state Constitution: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

Back story: More déjà vu. Californians expressly outlawed same-sex marriage in a voter initiative in 2000. But that was mere law, which the state Supreme Court struck down earlier this year in a case that found that the right to marry is fundamental -- the state can't deny marriage to a couple based on their sex. Proposition 8 opponents tried (but failed) to get the court to also strike the measure from the ballot on the argument that voters cannot strip citizens of their state constitutional rights. If the initiative passes, they will be back.

Dude: This was the most controversial initiative on the ballot. The yes vote won the day which pleases homophobes for reasons I don't quite understand. I always vote with two prime directives in mind: keep taxes low and give power to the people. I am not a religious person so I have no strong feelings either way about homosexual unions, but if it is important to them that they are allowed to marry just as heteros may, then I say power to the people. I won't vote to legalize discrimination, but my no vote was overruled.

Proposition 9

What it does: Amends the state Constitution to give enforceable rights to the families of crime victims.

Back story: This is the centerpiece of a law-and-order campaign by billionaire businessman and engineer Henry T. Nicholas III and is called "Marsy's Law" in memory of his murdered sister. It qualified for the ballot on June 6 -- the day after indictments were unsealed against Nicholas for a variety of drug charges and for allegedly violating securities laws. Nicholas gave $4.8 million to the campaign but distanced himself after the charges against him were reported. Among other things, Proposition 9 would limit the number of chances for parole for many convicted criminals.

Dude: Remember when the Goldmans got to tell OJ what they thought of him at the sentencing? There are laws on the books that allow victims and their kin to face the accused in the courtroom and to be present at parole hearings. This proposition amends the rules a bit in favor of victims' rights. It seemed to me like additional bureaucracy, so I voted nay, but the ayes took it.

Proposition 10

What it does: Authorizes the sale of $5 billion in bonds ($9.8 billion when interest is included) to provide rebates to buyers of natural gas and other alternative fuel vehicles.

Back story: Uncle T. Boone Pickens wants you: The Texas oilman is underwriting Proposition 10, which will likely drum up buyers for cars that run on natural gas. His company, Clean Energy Fuels Corp., produces and markets ... natural gas.

Dude: Ten billion bucks so Pickens can line his pockets. No thanks. The general populace saw through this ruse and agreed.

Proposition 11

What it does: Strips the Legislature of its power to draw the lines of Assembly and Senate districts (every 10 years, after new census figures come out) and turns the job over to a 14-member citizens' commission.

Back story: Do Californians care that most of the time district boundaries are drawn to consolidate incumbent power? If they do, why did they reject reform in 2005 and eight times before that? In a political sop to Nancy Pelosi, this measure leaves out congressional districts -- a fact that has alienated some Republicans. Minority advocates are alienated because there is no guarantee that anyone on the commission will speak for their constituents.

Dude: I knew this would pass but I voted against it anyways. We elect politicians to do this sort of thing, and even if it is not a perfect system, why build on to it another layer of bureaucracy, which in turn will need an oversight committee, which will of course be accused of being biased, bringing lawsuit after lawsuit. Why not just let the politicians take care of it and leave it at that?

Proposition 12

What it does: Authorizes a bond to extend a state program allowing veterans access to low-interest mortgages.

Back story: The 27th time's a charm: Voters have already approved bonds for Cal-Vet mortgages 26 times since the program was established for World War I veterans in 1921. Opposition is hard to come by -- the "con" ballot argument was written by Gary B. Wesley, a Mountain View lawyer who for many years has taken for himself the task of writing against measures when no one else will. The current Cal-Vet program only covers veterans who served before 1977.

Dude: I voted yes as did most everyone. It's the GI Bill, which has been nothing but good for our country and rewards soldiers for facing gunfire so I don't have to. Besides, it's self-funded by the interest on the loans. If only all government worked this well.

3 comments:

Sir Saunders said...

Wow! That's some nice commentary. To quote E, "you don't get paid enough for this kind of analysis" Genius!!

E said...

Thanks Dude for the report from the bellwether. You folks love your props, no wonder the state is broke.

I remember long ago, Tom noted one time that the Word Verification security measure on his post was an actual word that related to the post. Funny, then, that the Word Verification for this here comment to your Prop 8 post is REARIN.

Bonus: Tom, do you remember what your word was?

Tom said...

I wish I remembered the word. It made me laugh out loud when I saw it.

Good work on the breakdowns Dude. Just to see what California is up to and how Dude views his world is a pleasure to read.

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