Voting in California takes some effort. Not necessarily to drive to the polls, wait in line, or fill out the mail ballot and find the post office, but to simply wade through a pile of initiatives, everyone's favorite tool of democracy, in a timely fashion.
Every year people call me and ask how to vote on these things - and every year it seems we not only get more of these initiatives, but we get dumber and dumber ones as well. So as a public service to my fellow Californians, here's the Schadelmann.com All-Star No-Nonsense Guide to the 2004 Election, with notes as needed:'
President: John Kerry. Yes, I know he isn't perfect. Guess what? I don't care! At least he doesn't think he's perfect, like the guy in office does now. (I'm waiting for the press conference where Bush says he's "better than Jesus" like John Lennon did...)
US Senate:Is there a race for Senate? Sure there is. I'm voting for Barbara Boxer, mostly because she autographed a newspaper I had from a rally I ran for her in Santa Cruz, and got her picture taken for free with my mom and dad when they visited Washington DC in 1994. What have you done for me lately, Mr. Jones?
US Congress:I can't imagine there's a district in Southern California where the person they drew the district for is going to lose. So you can pretty much vote for anyone and the "right" person will still win.
Rep. Jane Harman lives just a few blocks away from me, so I'm voting for her so I can tell people a Member of Congress lives just a few blocks away from me. And she seems nice. Her campaign is actually running a credible effort too, which is rare these days. Good job!
California State Legislature: The same reasoning applies here - the person they drew these districts for is going to win, barring some bizarre circumstances, so again, you can pretty much vote for whomever you want, and the "right" person will win. Have fun with it. Write in me for State Senate somewhere. Or your dog. Whatever.
Proposition 1A - Local Taxes and The State - NO: This is one of those initiatives I'd like to believe does what it says, since it's in line with something I believe - that the State shouldn't be taking locally collected property taxes away from local authorities. It's wrong, and it denies local authorities, and the citizens who elect them, control over their own money.
That said, it's unclear that this will accomplish a worthy goal: keeping local money local. After reading so many analyses that aren't clear as to the details (where the Devil usually resides) I can't really endorse this as a result. Which sucks, because I don't know if anything better will come along, but I'm tired of voting for good-intentioned, hastily written laws that end up not working.
Proposition 59 - Open Government - YES: This is an easy call. When you pick up the newspaper and have to read yet another scandal involving Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, or another example of how people who work for the public want to keep the public uninformed as to what they're doing, it's clear that this law, which would clarify and codify the concept of open government, is needed.
Proposition 60 - Equal Ballot Access - YES: This is a simple law - it asserts the rights of people to nominate candidates of their party, and see the winner of the party's primary appear on the fall ballot. This allows all parties to compete for your vote on the November ballot. You'd think such a simple, open, and small-d democratic concept would be a slam dunk for passage - but the People Who Know Best are slamming this concept with Proposition 62. Vote "yes" and stick it to The Man.
Proposition 61- Children's Hospital Bonds - YES: Normally I despite "bonds" because they're sold to the public as "more money for (fill in the blank here)" but no one ever talks about the huge interest payments that make these things cost way more than what they give to (fill in the blank here). At the same time it is really hard to say "no" to children's hospitals, which serve anyone, and if you've ever met someone whose kid had heart trouble or leukemia, you know the work they do is great. So vote yes, despite the bond's inherent weakness as a funding mechanism.
Proposition 62 - Special Interest Primary Elections - Hell NO: Longtime readers know full well what I think of this special-interest funded nonsense, designed to rig elections and allow political consultants and their pals in wealthy industries to play shenanigans with the political system.
Vote "no" and stick it to The Man. You can read back issues on this topic here, here, and here.
Proposition 63 - Funding for Mental Health - YES: The state of California, in one of its stupider moves, decided to dismantle our mental health system and devolve it back to the counties, and the effects are pretty clear.
We've traded any sort of system for getting people the help they need so they're not shouting at a wall somewhere on the street for one that doesn't work - in our state's case, letting everyone loose on the street where many mentally ill people now live. This initiative, like most, isn't perfect, but at least it tries to get some money where it's needed, and help cut down the cost of other problems, like homelessness, and crime, in the process.
Proposition 64 - Make Large Companies Unaccountable for their Misdeeds - NO: This piece of special interest funded legalese portrays itself as something that will help small business defend itself from "frivolous" lawsuits. As a small business owner myself, I'm sure I could be persuaded to support such a concept.
Too bad this is just an attempted to weaken the laws in California that keep large companies accountable when they pull shenanigans. But rather than go on and on about this noise, check out this amusing video which does a far better job than I, mostly because they're riffing on the old Schoolhouse Rock videos from the 1970s.
Proposition 65 - Local Taxes and The State II - YES: This was the initiative local authorities drafted before the compromise 1A was created. Just to have a little fun, vote "yes" and see what happens. Reading through the analysis is long, complicated and not a lot of fun. Don't we pay people to do this for us in the Legislature?
Proposition 66 - Reform Three Strikes - YES: In the clamor for "tougher laws" California came up with the cutely named "Three Strikes and You're Out" law. There wasn't a whole lot of reasoning as to why three felonies merited life imprisonment, versus two, or four, or 3.1416. It polled well and we passed it.
Since then we've had plenty of violent felons go on to commit lots of crimes, while some idiot who shoplifts beef jerky at a 7-11 gets a life term. This law would fix some of the problems with the law so that it makes more sense and gets more real criminals behind bars.
Proposition 67 - Telephone Taxes for Emergency Care - NO: This is one of those laws I don't like, since they're taxing telephones to pay for emergency care service, when that should be paid for in a more sensible way, but when I read who's opposing this, I don't like them either. I'd rather vote "no" and force the Legislature and the Governor, who are paid to solve these problems, come up with a more stable plan.
Proposition 68 - The Larry Flynt Gambling Initiative - NO: The card clubs and racetracks who were paying for this campaign have pulled their support, since their own polling showed this poorly-created law going down to defeat.
Like good gamblers, they decided to leave the table and not keep putting their money down on a bad bet. California needs to realize that gambling money is not "free" money, and getting our government addicted to the expansion of gambling in the long run is a bad idea, especially since California has no law-enforcement system comprable to Nevada's to police gaming in this state.
Proposition 69 - The DNA Database Act - NO: I'd like to believe that a massive database of every person who's gotten a traffic ticket's DNA would help law enforcement. But when you consider that this is the same government that finds new and exciting ways to screw up records and files, you have to wonder if this is such a great idea.
Proposition 70 - Yet Another Gaming Initiative - NO: Despite the fact that I'm generally very sympathetic to Indian gaming, I'm voting "no" on this one. The concept overall is very good - the tribes would voluntarily pay the same top tax rate California's corporations pay, on their profits.
But until there's a more sensible and powerful enforcement of gaming law on and off Indian lands, and until the State gets serious about being a gambling state and building up the infrastructure needed to keep gaming clean, like they do in Nevada, I'm not supporting this or any other initiative for a while.
Proposition 71 - That Stem Cell Thing - NO: Far be it from me to cast my lot with the Holier Than Thou crowd, or for being against research that would help people in the future. That said, I'm not wild about having a lot of money given to a few biotech companies who can spend this as they please, without a lot of oversight. Plus this uses the much-maligned "bonds" to fund this activity. We need a better way to fund real research in this state and this country, and this doesn't fix the "big picture" problem we continue to have. Vote "no" and force them to come up with a better idea.
Proposition 72 - Health Care Reform, Part 1 - YES: We've given private business a chance to do things their way, and frankly it's no longer working. More people pay a lot more and get a lot less for what they spend on health care. The Usual Suspects are trotting out tired catch-phrases like "rationed health care" and "bad for business" but we already have a system that's doing both.
When people can't afford to go to the doctor and let their problems get worse, that's rationing. And how is it good for business when you have employees that have to take their kid to the emergency room instead of a regular doctor? It's not perfect, but it's a start. Vote "yes" and once again, stick it to The Man.
That's all for now. Have fun!
© 2003-2006 Greg Dewar | All Rights Reserved | Originally Published at www.schadelmann.com