Tag Archives: Prop 11

Prop 11 Commission Tries To Pick a Consultant

When Proposition 11 was passed more than two years ago, I was worried that it was so complicated and convoluted that it was inevitable that the lines would end up going to court and be drawn by judges not the commission.  Well the good news is the Commission did get through the Rube Goldberg selection process and is up and running and working very hard to organize itself to adopt maps by the rapidly approaching August 15th deadline.

The bad news is our Republican friends have already launched a concerted effort to blow up the process and make sure the Commission has no chance of finishing their work on time.

What is their latest complaint?  Well apparently they have a problem with the fact the Commission is considering hiring Karin MacDonald, the Director of the non-partisan Statewide Database (swdb.berkeley.edu).  They say Mac Donald is a Democratic operative.  Of course facts are always secondary to their arguments.  In truth, MacDonald is a registered Decline to State, has never done work for Democratic campaigns and rather has worked on a series of other independent redistricting commissions including one in my home town of San Francisco.

Of course they also leave out the fact that who they prefer really is a political operative: A Republican political operative.  They are pushing Doug Johnson who used to work for Republican Congressmember Steve Horn.  Hopefully the commissioners, Democrats, Republicans and Others, will see through this hypocrisy and make decisions based on what is fair, not who complains the most.  If not, I’m afraid my worries of two years ago will be proven all too prophetic.

First 8 Names for Redistricting Panel to Be Announced Tomorrow

Tomorrow morning, we will get the first 8 names of the 14 member redistricting panel.  The state auditor will randomly draw 3 Democrats, 3 Republicans, and 2 DTS/Others to serve on the panel. (Hey…look at that…it doesn’t match registration. Must be good to be a Republican and overrepresented by 20%.)  Those panelists will select the final 6 members.

The redistricting nominees, 36 of them in all, are a pretty interesting bunch.  You can find the all the details of the nominees here and a good summary of some of the notable names from John Myers here.  Myers points out what we had all been saying the entire time: it’s not going to be a very diverse group at all.

Demographically speaking, most remaining applicants are either white or Latino; most are in Los Angeles County; and most have an income between $75,000 and $250,000. (Capitol Notes)

After the first eight are selected, you have to imagine diversity will be a big part of the goals of grabbing the last six members.  But, beyond the question of ethnic diversity, the diversity of incomes is probably the more troublesome matter.  This panel will be a fairly well-off panel that doesn’t have the accountability that comes with having to scour for votes. That’s good and bad of course. However, missing the perspective of those who are not economically comfortable is a gaping whole in this process.

There are other holes to be found as well.  Notably, there is nobody from our largest city, Los Angeles.  Also, there is only one member of a minor party, (the Green Party), and no members of any of the other minor parties.

We’ll see what we come up with, but in the end, this whole process seems to be overblown and ridiculous. We’re spending an order of magnitude more money on this so that we can have “more square shaped districts”.  Seems like a waste of money.

Also, I’ll be waiting on Texas to do this as well.

The 800 Pound Gorilla That the Goo-Goos Ignore

CPPIOver at the San Berndardino Sun, they have what passes for an article on the redistricting situation.  It starts with one premise, other states saw electoral upheavel, and maybe California was the exception with a Democratic surge, but there should have been some seats changing hands. And that’s all the fault of gerrymandering.

“Other parts of the country have experienced electoral upheavals, and we have not,” said Derek Cressman, the Western states operations director for good-government group Common Cause. “Here in California, our Legislature has an approval rating of either 10 percent or 13 percent, depending on which poll you look at, and yet on (Election Day) not a single incumbent in the California state Legislature was unseated.”

Cressman and other political observers say there’s a clear reason California’s congressional and legislative seats seem nearly immune from political swings: gerrymandering, a problem that could disappear in 2012.(SB Sun_

Except, there is one big problem here. The good government groups and the media’s infatuation with the concept of redistricting reform and “gerrymandering” won’t change the simple fact of California’s shifting demographics. The reason only one legislative seat changed hands? Demographics.

Let’s be honest about this, rather than playing with some sort of grand vision about what Prop 11 will do.  First, let’s go back to the ranked criteria of Prop 11:

   * Districts shall comply with the US Constitution, including equal population requirements.

   * Districts shall comply with the Voting Rights Act.

   * Districts shall be geographically contiguous.

   * The geographic integrity of any city, county, or city and county, neighborhoods, or communities of interest shall be respected.

   * Communities of interest shall not be defined as relations with incumbents, candidates, or parties.

   * Districts shall be compact.

   * To the extent possible, after the above criteria have been satisfied, districts shall be nested.

Is competitive in there somewhere?  Did I miss it? Well, one could argue that excluding connections to parties or candidates means that there will be competitive districts, but the the first interest is that they are geographically tight.  And therein lies the rub, and the truth comes out that what some of these players in this movement, Schwarzenegger and the right-leaning Rose Institute really want was more Republicans in the legislature.

But Johnson said voters simultaneously elected Democrats and showed conservative tendencies, approving the Republican-favored Proposition 26, which makes it harder for lawmakers to raise fees.

“I think if we had more competitive districts, there would have been a number of Republican pickups,” Johnson said. “Republicans did better than they usually do, but the districts still protected Democrats.”(SB Sun)

But looking back at reality, voters gave large victories to every statewide Democrat, save one race that is still being processed. More noticeably, they rejected Meg Whitman’s outrageous spending to tell her flat out, her vision might be right for Texas, but California is different.  California voters generally lean progressive, but comparing Prop 26 to actual political leanings is expecting too much out of voters that just don’t have the time to figure out what it means.  Perhaps they might have voted one way or the other had they spent the time to understand what it really meant, but as it was, all the information that they were getting on 26 came from Chevron and Philip Morris.  That is hardly a bellwether of political leanings.

The underlying data just doesn’t support the argument of the Rose Institute’s Doug Johnson, or of Common Cause, or really any of the goo-goos.  The 800lb. gorilla that is being completely ignored is that Californians have clearly sorted ourselves. If you draw tight districts, you get districts that are strongly partisan. That’s the deal.  David Latterman at Fall Line Analytics has done some great precinct by precinct analysis of the state. And as you can see, this is a very iedologically segregated state.  The Progressives dominate the coast (where a majority of the state’s population resides, and it generally gets more conservative as you head east.

The net result will be maybe a few additional tossup seats, maybe up to 5 in the assembly and 3 or 4 in the Senate.  Congress would slot somewhere in between there.  In the net, the Bay Area and LA are going to keep electing progressive Democrats, and the Central Valley is going to keep electing right-wing Republicans.  And on the fringes there, you might make one seat that switches occasionally.  But we’ll continue to see incumbency (of candidate, not party) to reign supreme. Name ID holds great power in these races.  But Common Cause just spent years of its existence to change the composition of a small handful of seats, seats that, in the current political environment won’t make a huge difference anyway.

Congratulations on your big wins on 20 and 27.  I’d like to invite you to celebrate with the world’s smallest cupcake.

Prop 11-ization of Congressional Districts

Because Prop 11 has been such an overwhelming success, the same folks are back with a November measure that will bring Congressional Districts into the Prop 11 commission.  Yup, apparently they are so imressed with an unrepresentative commission to draw borders for millions of dollars more than the Legislature cost that they decided it would be worth another round.  So, get ready for a fight this November:

REDISTRICTING OF CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Removes elected representatives from the process of establishing congressional districts and transfers that authority to the recently-authorized 14-member redistricting commission. Redistricting commission is comprised of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four voters registered with neither party. Requires that any newly-proposed district lines be approved by nine commissioners including three Democrats, three Republicans, and three from neither party. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Probably no significant change in state redistricting costs. (09-0027.)

The proponent of this initiative is Charles T. Munger, Jr.  He can be reached at [email protected].

By the by, Prop 11 was supposed to have no significant costs either. However, the State Auditor has already blown through the amount of money they were supposed to get under the law, which was pegged to the costs under the Legislature. So, yeah, no costs, because we were hoodwinked the first time around.

Anyway, Charles Munger is Warren Buffett’s right-hand man at Berkshire Hathaway, so a very, very wealthy man.  He gives money to some of these misguided goo-goo measures and a few right-leaning causes across the country. UPDATE: This Charles Munger is actually the son of the Berkshire Munger. My apologies for the confusion.

Tom Friedman Loves the Proven Results of Unproven Prop 11

In 2008, for some reason the voters of the state of California approved Prop 11, a measure that takes away redistricting from the Legislature and gives it to an independent commission. Tom Friedman, in a column from a few days ago that greatly pissed off the Tea Partiers on all sorts of fronts, wrote that the “radical center” needs to emulate this everywhere.  

First, let every state emulate California’s recent grass-roots initiative that took away the power to design state electoral districts from the state legislature and put it in the hands of an independent, politically neutral, Citizens Redistricting Commission. It will go to work after the 2010 census and reshape California’s state legislative districts for the coming elections. Henceforth, districts in California will not be designed to be automatically Democratic or Republican – so more of them will be competitive, so more candidates will only be electable if they appeal to the center, not just cater to one party. (There is a movement pressing for the same independent commission to be given the power to redraw Congressional districts.) (NYT)

So, let’s go over the results so far of that measure.  There’s a fancy (for 2006) website. It’s come up with a pool of “qualified” applicants that are disproportionately white, male Republicans. And oh right, it’s massively over budget and won’t look at a map for another year.  Nice that they convinced the legislative analyst to score it on the cheap, but this will end up being about ten times as expensive as the old process. Yay for that, right Tom Friedman.

But the more glaring omission in Friedman’s logic is the absence of any real facts to back up the naked assertion that “districts in California will not be designed to be automatically Democratic or Republican.” I call Bullshit.

It is important to note that competitive elections are far from the primary goal of the commission. Communities of interest, county lines, and, of course, Voting Rights Act concerns come far ahead of competitiveness.  Let’s look at California regionally, rather than district by district, and then apply the Prop 11 standards.  

The Bay Area is overwhelmingly Democratic, no matter how you slice or dice it up.  The only way you break one party rule here is to mix in some Central Valley voters, but that would be breaking the communities of interest rule, and so, we’re back at districts that will be most definitely “automatically Democratic.” The same is true for much of LA County. Yes you could add some upland votes to more Democratic districts, but you’d be running afoul of higher priority redistricting guidelines.  

Other parts of the state, such as the Central Valley and Orange County, face the same issue, only with Republicans holding most of the seats.  You’d have to grab different communities of interest to really make the elections competitive. Now, you could actually argue that you could break up the Democratic core of Santa Ana to make the rest of the OC competitive, but there you would probably begin to discuss Voting Rights Act issues.  The Central Valley already produces Friedman’s radical moderates, and I think the process of blue-ing the Central Valley continues for some time. But over the next 10-20 years, there will continue to be a steady stream of moderates emerging.

The rest of the state is basically the same.  The underlying issue that Friedman totally ignores is that we have become highly self-sorted.  We have chosen where we live in such a way that there is a dominant political leaning in most of our communities.  You can’t just wipe that away by playing with the maps anymore. Perhaps 40 years ago you could draw a map that focuses on competitiveness, but, at least in California, those days are gone.

Instead, we’ll get minor alterations that will change the shape of the districts, but not the political leanings.  Maybe we’ll net five or six competitive districts, but it is hardly the big change that Friedman suggests. But don’t expect the facts in California to change the words in Friedman’s New York Times columns, that might involve him questioning just how large his “radical center” really is.

Color Me Shocked! Prop 11 Commission Pool Leans Heavily White Male

I’ve got nothing against white males. After all, I am one. But when it comes to a panel pretending to represent the state, these are some very disconcerting numbers:

The deadline for Californians to apply for a first-of-its-kind citizens commission to draw districts for legislative elections ended Tuesday night with the field of applicants tilting heavily toward white men. Of the nearly 31,000 applications received, whites submitted 70 percent, far higher than their 41 percent share of California’s population. (SacBee)

Latinos were the most heavily under-represented, with only about 11.5% in the pool despite their 37% share of the state’s population.

During the Prop 11 campaign, minority organizations across the state opposed this nonsense, saying that this exact situation would occur. And sure enough, here we are.  I hope everybody remembers this day when the ballot proposition to use a similar pattern to redistrict Congress comes up.  Well, I’ll do my best to remind, anyway.

Despite these bad numbers, there were still 31,000 applicants. So, we should expect to see a decently representative first cut as the auditor’s office does the work to balance things out. But if you applied, and you are a Latino female? Well, expect a call.

In the end, my best guess of how this works is that we’ll get a map that is perhaps a bit more “blockish”, but still producing similar numbers of similarly partisan Republicans and Democrats. At heart, Prop 11 misses the simple truth that we have self-sorted over the past 50 years. There’s no way to draw a competitive seat in SF or in far Northeastern California.  Just isn’t, no matter how dedicated these people are.

So, maybe we’ll get a map, maybe we’ll just go back to the judges. Either way, not a whole lot changes, and the state is pout $5 million or so.  Sounds like a great plan guys, can’t we emulate this everywhere!

Apply Now for the Prop 11 Commission

One of the reasons that many minority groups opposed Prop 11 in 2008 was because they worried that minority voices would not be heard. The Prop 11 folks offered many reasons why that wouldn’t be the case, yet when you peruse the numbers, there’s not much to be encouraged about there.  Some things that jump out:

* White men are vastly over-represented. Despite the fact that white men represent less than 25% of California, they are over 50% of the pool of qualified applicants. 52.3% to be precise.

* Republicans are also over-represented. They’re nearly 40% of the qualified applicants. Far more than Democrats, despite the registration advantage for Democrats

* Asians, Latinos and African-Americans are also under represented.

This panel is going to end up to be very expensive and be unrepresentative of the state as a whole. Yet, we are stuck with this system until we can repeal it. So, for the time being we need to make sure that we bring a robust and diverse mix of progressives into the application pool. The process for applying is relatively simple, but many activists will find they are disqualified. So, find some progressive friends, and make them apply.

The Deadline has been extended to February 16. That’s ONE WEEK from today!

Here’s the application site. Go there now, and tell all of your friends to go there.  We desperately need more progressives on this panel. And hey Greens, how about it? Apply, it’ll be a blast!

Why YOU should care: Pro-LGBT citizen activists needed for new redistricting commission

(I wrote about this last week, but moving beyond partisanship, this is important.  I would argue that we should be looking for progressives to fill those non-partisan seats, and maybe even a centrist Republican for those seats. – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

Drawing our legislative districts used to be the job of elected officials, but now it’s up to YOU. That’s because of a voter-approved measure last year that called for the creation of a new Citizens Redistricting Commission.  Last Thursday, the State Auditor launched a new website for the effort: http://WeDrawTheLines.ca.gov.

It’s absolutely critical that pro-LGBT citizens apply for the commission to ensure that the new boundaries are drawn to empower our community–not gerrymandered to divide us.  

Thanks to your hard work and support, California has some of the strongest laws in the nation to protect LGBT people–including anti-discrimination laws, domestic partnership, and anti-bullying protections for our youth. However, if we don’t have a strong voice in the redistricting process, there’s a chance we’ll start losing ground. Those who oppose our equality are looking for ways to take over the legislature, build political support and roll back our hard-earned gains. We have to make sure that these laws stay in place.

In 2010, California will be starting the process of drawing new legislative district lines. Thanks in part to the advocacy of Equality California, for the first time ever in our state’s history, sexual orientation will be considered as a factor for how districts are drawn. This change increases the possibility of electing even more pro-equality legislators, provided that sexual orientation is truly taken into account. To make sure our needs aren’t ignored, we need pro-equality people to join the Redistricting Commission. Almost anyone who has voted in two of the last three statewide general elections can apply.

Stand up and use your voice! Starting December 15, you can apply to be on the Redistricting Commission. We must all take action to preserve and keep advancing our equality.

Alice Kessler is the Government Affairs Director for Equality California. www.eqca.org.  

Don Perata Gives a $1.5 Million Middle Finger to California

In a stunning but not too surprising revelation, Josh Richman of the Oakland Tribune is reporting that Don Perata transferred $1.5 million from his PAC to his legal defense fund – one day after the election. Instead of using that money to help defeat Prop 11, which narrowly won, or to help elect more Democrats to the state senate – such as Hannah-Beth Jackson, who lost by 1,200 votes – he took it for himself, leaving California Democrats and the state itself worse off.

Contributors to Don Perata’s political action committee this year might have thought their money would bankroll the attempted recall of state Sen. Jeff Denham or opposition to a legislative redistricting reform measure.

But one day after Election Day and with only a few weeks left as state Senate President Pro Tem, the Oakland Democrat moved $1.5 million from Leadership California into his own legal defense fund, formed to counter a years-long FBI corruption probe.

This sum dwarfs the California Democratic Party’s $450,000 contribution to Perata’s legal fund over the past year, which had caused an outcry from some party activists. It also dwarfs the $555,000 Perata had moved from his Taxpayers for Perata committee – ostensibly created for a 2010 Board of Equalization run – into his legal defense fund in several chunks since 2005.

The transferred amount is more than the entire $1.4 million the committee had raised in this year’s first nine months, and more than half of the $2.7 million it had on hand as of Sept. 30.

Jason Kinney, Perata’s spokesman, is quoted as saying there was nothing illegal here. Even if that is true, it’s beside the point – $1.5 million is a huge sum of money that should have been spent on winning the 2008 election, not pocketed by a termed-out legislator.

Our own David Dayen is quoted in the article making that very point with forceful eloquence:

David Dayen, an elected Democratic State Central Committee member from Santa Monica, blogged angrily this summer about his party’s contribution to Perata’s legal defense fund, contending the money would’ve been better spent on legislative races. The same goes for Leadership California’s money, he said Wednesday; despite a Democratic presidential candidate carrying California by the largest margin since 1936, Democrats netted only three more Assembly seats and none in the state Senate.

“Every time I asked the California Democratic Party about getting more active and involved in local elections, they said the state Senate and the Assembly control those races … and we don’t have a lot of flexibility. So Perata, at that time, and Nunez or Bass had the authority to run those elections,” Dayen said. “Now we see what happens when you vest power in these closed loops – suddenly self-interest becomes more important than the good of the party.”

He believes this is why Perata didn’t step aside as Pro Tem earlier, as Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez relinquished his post to Karen Bass in May: “Darrell Steinberg was sitting there ready to go … and we were all like, ‘What the hell is going on?’

“We speculated it had to be that he still needed the leverage to make the calls to raise money for himself.”

David makes a key point here – this is not just about how Perata screwed California Democrats. It’s about what he called “closed loops” and a party leadership hostile to open accounting. This should become a rallying cry for all Democrats to demand more accountability from their leaders, and a greater commitment to winning elections as opposed to pocketing those funds for your own uses.

Many in the Democratic grassroots, including a large number of CDP delegates, want to build a better, more successful party, using the disappointing results on the state level as a motivating force to produce change. That is made easier by Perata’s long overdue exit from the Legislature. But this should serve as a wake-up call for the CDP as a whole, which must take a strong stand against this kind of action and take whatever steps are within their power to prevent it from happening again.

Surf Putah Election Endorsements

Elected Officials – straight party line this time, all good candidates.

Barack Obama for President of the United States of America

Mike Thompson for US Congress, first district

Lois Wolk for California State Senate, fifth district

Mariko Yamada for State Assembly, eighth district

California Propositions and Initiatives on the flip…

California Propositions and Initiatives

YES on Prop 1A

High speed rail is good for Yolo County, good for California, a good investment for the future. Click the link for the detailed argument.

YES on Prop 2

While I have friends who are moved to support 2 by the whole cruelty to animals aspect of this bill, the bottom line for me is the issue of safe food production. Right now, the crowded conditions in factory farms lead to stressed animal immune systems, a disease-prone environment, massive pollution problems because of the waste issues with that densely packed cage farm environment, higher use of antibiotics to try and control resulting diseases, and thus a much higher risk to the general human population of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Bills similar to prop 2 have been passed in several Western states, and their ag economies have not collapsed as some of the no on 2 ads have claimed. While this would have been a stronger bill had it also held imported eggs and meat to the same standards so as to avoid a race to the bottom undercutting CA farms, as well as some funding to ease the cost of transition, the fact of the matter is that the status quo is a health risk, and giving the animals enough room in their cages to turn around should make things better, both for the animals and (most importantly IMO) the people of California who eat them.

And if you haven’t read any of Michael Pollan’s books on the subject (Omnivore’s Dillemma for the in-depth take, In Defense of Food for the Cliff’s Notes version), I strongly recommend them. This is not like the sentimental “don’t eat horses” prop a few years back (which I opposed on grounds of absurdity – meat is meat), this has implications for the quality of the food we eat, and ultimately of whether we want to further the evolution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria by giving them a perfect environment in our crowded factory farms. When those antibiotics stop working because we bred superbugs in those cramped cages, the cages will have to get a lot bigger anyway (if not outright abandoned), and it’ll hurt our ag economy a hell of a lot more.

Meh on Prop 3 – no recommendation

I’m torn on this one. On the one hand, it’s a vote for local pork, as one of the children’s hospitals the funds would be used for is the UCD med center hospital. And who could vote against sick children? On the other hand, I’m edgy about bonds, given how bad the credit situation is right now, and am less than pleased that public bond money would be used – 80% – to finance private children’s hospitals. Taxpayer money ought to be used for public goods.

NO on Prop 4

I am so sick and tired of having to beat back this stupid anti-abortion trojan horse every other election. Once again, this prop would force teenaged girls to ask their parents for permission to have an abortion, unless they ran through an intimidating and no doubt complex bureaucratic gauntlet by going to a judge and pleading their case. As with the last several times the fundamentalists threw this one up against the wall, the problem here is that the teens who are afraid to tell their parents about being pregnant in the first place often have reason to be, whether it’s because they were victims of incest, or are afraid of being physically beaten by their parents, are afraid of being thrown out on the street in punishment for their “sin,” or are just afraid of their parents forbidding the abortion and forcing the teenager to carry their child to term. Life is not perfect, and while many of us have happy families and adequate communication between parents and children, one does not write laws based on the best case scenario.

Rather, the law needs to be written with an awareness of the complexity of life and difficult situations that people – and yes, even minors – find themselves in. Prop 4, like its predecessors, is so fixated on the questionable “right” of parental authority over their children that it completely ignores the cruel way that this bill would heap suffering on vulnerable people in an already painfully difficult situation. Do we really want to be forcing pregnant teenagers in abusive or disfunctional families, possibly in an incest case, to be reporting their choice to have an abortion to those same people, being forced against their will to carry a fetus to term in their own body?

Prop 4 plays upon the anxieties of parents with teenage daughters, but gives little concern for the well being of those daughters themselves. It is wrong headed and cruel, and should be rejected just as the past two tries were.

YES on Prop 5

The drug war has been a colossal failure on all fronts. We have thrown so many people in prison that the courts have found California to be in violation of basic constitutional standards. Many of those prisoners committed no violent crime, but are in there as part of the “warehouse ’em all and forget about ’em” mentality that has sadly been a part of the fabric of California politics since at least the “law and order” Reagan Governorship. We pay more for prisons than universities in Calfiornia, even though it is far cheaper to send a kid to college than lock them away. Rates of drug use have not fallen, and drug use is common throughout all racial and economic classes, but rates of prosecution are highly racially biased all the same. Locking up nonviolent drug users is a failed solution to what was never a legal problem in the first place. Countries where drugs are not dealt with in this ham-fisted and draconian manner have far lower rates of drug use, ironically enough. Notably, those countries also have far better treatment options than California.

It isn’t working.

Prop 5 seeks to reverse that trend by diverting nonviolent drug offenders into treatment programs instead of prisons. The law and order industry, from police unions to prison workers unions to Yolo County’s very own ignore-state-law-when-he-disagrees-with-it DA Jeff Reisig is adamantly opposed to this because it cuts at their source of funding. That is to be expected, everyone fights for their meal ticket after all, and a lot of people make a lot of money off this costly and counterproductive war against the citizens of California.

But as a taxpayer and a human being, anything that dials back the use of incarceration as a dumb hammer to deal with complex social problems (and some that aren’t problems at all; in my opinion, drug use without antisocial behavior should not even be a crime, although prop 5 does not push things that far) is a good thing, and long overdue. No people that believe that they are, at heart, their brother’s and sister’s keeper have any business locking people away for petty offenses and leaving them to rot in prison.

The “law and order” incarceration-mad approach of the drug war has incontrovertibly failed, in California and nationwide. Prop 5 is a step away from a fiscal and moral abyss. Take it.

NO on Prop 6

The converse of prop 5, prop 6 is yet another in a long line of “tough on crime” initiatives locking in ever-expanding public funds for an ever-more draconian war against the poor and the nonwhite in this state under the guise of fighting crime. This time it’s gangs, with prop 6 increasing the penalty for any crime if the person who did it has been labeled as a gang member (which, as we saw in West Sac not too long ago, can be abused by ambitious DAs to label whole communities as “gangs” and then persecute them collectively for whatever crimes are committed in their midst). This whole “tough” mentality does not work, and is wrecking our budget while producing nothing of value to the state except fat payrolls for the prison workers union. Enough, no more money thrown down that hole, let’s try something different.

YES on Prop 7

Prop 7 would require that all utilities – public as well as private – get a large and expanding % of their power generated by big renewable power projects in the decades to come. The only problem with this proposition is that they stepped on some environmental groups’ toes by not consulting them before they put it on the ballot, so the Sierra Club and others decided to fight against it out of pique. We desperately need big solar and wind projects in this state ASAP, if we are going to turn ourselves around on global warming and insulate us from what looks to be a rise in the price of natural gas in the decades to come. This will not solve all problems – there needs to be a place for small projects, especially solar roofs, in any comprehensive solution – and is not intended as such, but what it does do is serve as one big silver BB that can be used to get us closer to where we need to be with big power projects.

I have read all the criticisms, and they strike me as not particularly valid. We need to think big, and prop 7 does that by gibving us both needed regulation and funding to make it happen.

NO on Prop 8

My marriage and family have been a bedrock in my life. I cannot imagine trying to weather life’s storms alone, without that companionship, trust, and love. How could I ever tell two people in love that they aren’t as good as me, that they should not be treated equally under the law, that their marriage, their companionship, trust and love are inferior to my own, and that they should either divorce or not marry?

Please do the right thing and vote no on 8. Marriage is too precious, too important to be used as a cynical pawn in the culture wars. If you want to protect marriage, work on your own, Lord knows none of ours are perfect anyways.

No on Hate. No on 8. (Click the link for the full argument)

NO on Prop 9

This is yet another of these “law and order” bills, this time sold as a “victim’s rights” initiative. It would give the families of crime victims more grounds to object at parole hearings, make parole harder to get, and generally keep more people in jail for longer period of time.

It’s an effective emotional argument, but it cloaks the very dire financial consequences of continuing to put more and more people in jail for longer and longer periods of time. Something has got to give. If it had a tax hike connected to pay for the damn thing, at least it would be honest, but it doesn’t even go that far. Just another unfunded mandate that doesn’t make anything better for the money spent, except if you’re a prison guard.

NO on Prop 10

This is something that sounds pretty good until you read the fine print. Texas oil zillionaire T. Boone PIckens has funded this one in hopes of making a mint off of the natural gas market by subsidizing a fleet of natural gas-burning cars. This does nothing for global warming or carbon emissions, plays into our unsustainable suburban low density development model, will create a competitor with power plants for natural gas (thus bidding the price up and making electricity and heating more expensive), does little for the common good, and makes a rich Texan oilman even richer. While I have some grudging respect for T. Boone’s efforts to give visibility to the huge issue of Peak OIl, this prop is a total non-starter.

NO on Prop 11

It’s a scam to protect the Republican party and conservative democrats cloaked in good government nonpartisan “reform” language. While there might be a better way to draw districts, prop 11 isn’t it. Don’t fall for it. (Click the link for the extended argument)

YES on Prop 12

CalVet has been around forever, it works, it costs the state next to nothing, and it has helped out generations of Calfiornia veterans. Given the huge number of vets that Bush’s little imperial adventures have produced, and the economic strains the Bush administration’s VA cutbacks, miserly pay, stoploss backdoor draft, and extended tours of duty has posed to veterans and their families, we owe it to them to make it easier for them and their families to buy houses, farms and start businesses. It’s good for California, and it’s the right thing to do. The only way this could be improved as a bill is if it was expanded to the population at large, but even as is, it’s a no-brainer.

Local Ballot Measures

YES on Measure N

Measure N would give Davis an essentially blank city charter that could be amended in the future to adapt city law to whatever sorts of thing we as a community wanted to do. Right now, Davis is a common law city, which means that what we can do on a variety of issues is constrained by whatever the state legislature says we can. Personally, I think the Davis electorate is intelligent, educated and engaged enough to make a charter work, and have not found any of the arguments against a charter to be compelling at all. Besides, just think of all the fun letters to the editor battles in the Enterprise a charter could create!

Seriously, though, from choice voting to district elections to financing solar panels on roofs like Berkeley did to creating a Davis Public Utility to broadening our tax base beyond just property and sales tax, to all other sorts of stuff, the freedom this would give Davis to choose its own path and experiment without asking permission from the utterly useless state government (thanks in no small part to prop 13) makes it a good idea in my opinion.

YES on Measure W

In short, as I say with with every election with a school bond on the ballot, you’re a bad person if you vote against a school bond. This bond would fund a whole bunch of teachers in the Davis Joint Unified School District that will otherwise be cut for a pittance, given the kind of money that flies aroiund this town. If you have the money to buy a house, if you have the money to drive a nice car, if you have a kid in Davis schools, if you plan on getting old and want talented educated doctors and nurses taking care of you, or a thriving knowledge economy keeping those tax coffers full so that you can retire in security with Social Security or your 401K, you have no excuse not to vote for W.

It reality is that simple. If you vote against this thing, your neighbors will be justifiably mad at you for wrecking their kids’ education and property values. Do the right thing, public schools are at the very foundation of modern society, and deliver tremendous value at a very low taxpayer cost.

originally at surf putah