Thursday, October 9, 2008

Irwin's California Proposition Voting Guide

I did the reading so you don't have to...

State: 1A-Yes, 2-No, 3-No, 4-No, 5-No, 6-No, 7-No, 8-No, 9-No, 10-No, 11-No, 12-No

LA County: R-Yes, J-No, Q-Yes

LA City: A-No, B-Yes

Statewide Propositions

Prop 1A - Funding for High Speed Rail - Vote YES

What will it really do: Sell bonds ($9.95 billion) to fund construction of high speed rail (HSR)

Why: Anyone who has been to Japan or Europe knows that HSR is fantastic way of getting around. Yes, it will cost a lot of money but this is an important investment in California's future and we need to think long term. Here are some of the benefits:

1. Job creation in a down economy - During the Depression, the State of California had the foresight to invest in a bunch of infrastructure projects, including most famously, the Golden Gate Bridge. All these public works project paid off handsomely when the economy recovered. We may be on the brink of another depression and this public works project is going to be the most important investment in California for years to come. Edit: Someone pointed out to me that Shasta Dam and the California Aqueduct were the other 2 major Depression era bond-financed public works project along with Golden Gate Bridge.

2. Reduce carbon footprint - Electric trains has far less carbon footprint than airplanes. Most of the departures in our regional airports (Burbank, Ontario, Oakland, Santa Ana, San Jose, San Diego, Sacramento) and a big chunk of flights at major hubs (LAX, SFO) are for flights within California. This is a huge waste of valuable urban land and create all kinds of pollution. If HSR exists today, demand for most of the flights within California would disappear, thus greatly reducing California's carbon footprint.

3. Free yourself from the Homeland Security thugs at the airport security check.

For more information, check out the CA-HSR website

Prop 2 - Farm Animal Cage Regulation - Vote NO

What will it really do: Increase the size of animal pens

Why: It sounds great... who wouldn't want our farm animals to have bigger cages before we slaughter them for meat. But here is my reasoning for why you should vote no: California has no hog or cow farms. We have some dairy farms and dairy cows for the most part are free range. This law really only will apply to chickens - and as anyone who studied the ODI case in their MBA class can tell you, giving chickens more room is a death sentence because they will peck each other to death. The small cages for hens are there to protect them from being peck to death by another chicken. The unintended consequence of this proposition if it becomes law is that a lot more chickens will die and egg farms will simply move to Mexico.

Prop 3 - Children's Hospital Bond - Vote NO

What will it really do: Sell bonds ($1 billion) to fund children's hospital construction

Why: I oppose Prop 3 on principle. We need more hospital bed for everyone, not just children. Also, we need better health care system, period.

Prop 4 - Parental Notification For Abortion - Vote NO

What will it really do: Force young girls to notify potentially abusive parents before getting abortion

Why: We have voted NO 3 times on this same exact proposition in the last 3 election. Enough is enough.

Prop 5 - Nonviolent Drug Offenses Sentencing - Vote NO

What will it really do: Allow convicted non-violent criminals to enter drug rehab instead of jail

Why: Sounds good in principle but won't work in practice. We already passed a similar Prop 36 in 2000 and the results were poor. Most criminals that enrolled in drug treatment never finish it. Prop 5 will expand that failing program and provide no safety measure against people claiming to have a drug problem to escape jail sentence. Prop 5 is also bankrolled by Henry Nicholas, co-founder of Broadcom, who is currently under indictment for felony drug possession, conspiracy, and securities fraud. Say no to billionaires who tries to buy himself an out of jail card.

Prop 6 - Police Funding and Various Minimum Sentencing Revisions - Vote NO

What will it really do: It's hard to say because the proposition is so vaguely worded and confusing. But at the very minimum, it compels the State of California to spend $965 million a year on "fighting crime" regardless of our other budget priorities.

Why: We don't need more straight jackets limiting how the State can allocate our limited funds. California is not suffering a crime wave and our jails are already overcrowded. This is another proposition bankrolled by Henry Nicholas (see Prop 5) so it is very suspect.

Prop 7 - Renewable Energy Generation - Vote NO

What will it really do: Force utilities to buy 20% of their power from renewable source by 2010

Why: Prop 7 sounds like a good idea but the early deadline in 2010 means utilities will be forced to lock in long term energy contracts with existing technology, which stands mainly to benefit existing solar and wind farm owners, at the expense of new and developing technologies. We need funding to develop more efficient solar cells and wind turbines and other renewable energy technologies, not be forced to buy something that exists today.

Prop 8 - Constitutional Amendment to Ban Same Sex Marriage - Vote NO

What will it really do: Strip citizens of civil rights to marry and amends California constitution to ban same sex marriage.

Why: Look, even if you are against same sex marriage, you should vote NO for this proposition. This is the first time in US history that we are voting to repeal a civil right to a certain group and it sets a really bad precedent. Bigotry has no place in our constitution.

Prop 9 - Victim Notification of Parole - Vote NO

What will it really do: Nothing that already exists. Supposedly improved "victims' rights" so a crime victim will receive notification for pending parole hearings. Also restricts the number of people who can testify for parolee at hearing.

Why: This proposition is again bankrolled by Henry Nicholas who is under indictment. Prop 9 is a "rider" with Prop 5 and Prop 6 designed to gain sympathy from low-information voters. If you are convinced Prop 9 is good (who can say no to poor crime victims!), you are most likely going to vote for Prop 5 and 6 as well. The only problem is the main point of Prop 9 (notification of parole hearing) is already law.

Prop 10 - Alternative Fuel Vehicle Bond - Vote NO

What will it really do: Sell bonds ($3.425 billion) to help pay for State tax credits for vehicles using natural gas.

Why: I'm sure you've seen those natural gas ads with T Boone Pickens on TV. This proposition was bankrolled by Pickens. What his ads don't tell you is that he wants our State to pay for adopting natural gas vehicles, which will benefit his company if demand for natural gas goes up. I have nothing against natural gas but it is not the solution to our transportation and energy problem. Our reserve of natural gas in the US will last approximately 7 years if we use it at the same rate we use oil - it's not a sustainable source of energy. But the fundamental problem with Prop 10 is that it is funded by Picken and will benefit his company. It is a text book case of conflict of interest and an abuse of our proposition system.

Prop 11 - Redistricting Reform - Vote NO

What will it really do: Take away State legislature's power to redistrict State Assembly and Senate districts and give it to a "citizen commission".

Why: The theory behind Prop 11 is that State legislature will set up districts to protect incumbents and make election less competitive so we must take away their right to redistrict. I have no beef against this line of argument. In fact, it is probably true. However, Prop 11 is HUGELY flawed in several ways. First, there is no guarantee who will make up the "citizen commission" and how accountable they are to the public. With the legislature, at least they face election every couple of years... even if the district is safe for each party you still get new legislators. Which brings me to the second point: In California, the most competitive elections are the party primaries. It's not true that incumbents always win. This coupled with the fact that we have the most draconian term limit laws in the country means that while districts are not necessarily competitive, they do turn over quite rapidly. In another word, Prop 11 is addressing a problem that doesn't exist by creating a non-elected body unaccountable to the voters. It's about as anti-democratic of an institution as one can get. The funding for Prop 11 comes from a variety of special interest groups, both left and right. You might ask yourself why they got together to support this anti-democratic proposition? The answer is they are tired of having to bribe a new legislator every 3 or 4 years as they termed out so they are going all the way to the source... by getting themselves influence over redistricting. This way, special interest groups welds an even bigger power in the State. Think carefully through this one... it is very insidious.

Prop 12 - Veterans' Bond - Vote NO

What will it really do: Sell bonds ($8.4 billion) to help veterans' buy homes.

Why: Veterans' doesn't deserve any special treatment in this depressed economy when other groups do not receive any special Government assistance to buy homes. While the bonds authorized by Prop 1A for high speed rail will pay dividends for California for year to come, helping a few veterans buy a house does nothing for the state at large. It's another "feel good" special interest bond initiative that sucks money away from real needed investments in our State.

LA County Propositions

Measure R - LA County Traffic Relieve - Vote YES

What will it really do: Increase sales tax in LA County by 0.05% for 30 years to fund a variety of rail projects and freeway improvements. Amongst the most important projects to be funded are Purple Line subway extension from Wilshire/Western in Koreatown to Wilshire/Westwood in Westwood; and the Expo Line light rail extension from National Blvd in Culver City to Downtown Santa Monica. This is the most important vote you will make as a resident of LA County. We need the money from the sales tax so we can get matching Federal funding from President Obama and Congress.

- Imagine being able to commute from San Gabriel Valley to Century City by subway and light rail.
- Imagine getting to USC football game from Santa Monica with a 30 minute train ride on the Expo Line.
- Imagine getting to UCLA from San Fernando Valley via subway.
- Imagine dinning in Santa Monica, then going Downtown to a concert at Nokia Center, then going the San Gabriel Valley for some yummy Chinese food after midnight, then going back to the Sunset Strip for some clubbing, then go home... all without driving your car - it could happen if you vote for Measure R.

The net impact of the sales tax hike is estimated to cost each LA County resident $25 a year for the next 30 years. Would you pay $25 a year to make sure we have a working transportation system?

Measure J - Community College Bonds - Vote NO

What will it really do: Sell bonds ($3.5 billion) to pay for repairs and facility upgrades at 3 community colleges located in LA County: LA City College, East LA College, LA Harbor College.

Why: This is the pie-in-the-sky "wish list" for these 3 community colleges. I'm all for expanding education opportunities to everyone but $3.5 billion for 3 community colleges seems excessive don't you think? We are not talking about UC needing money to build research facilities... the $3.5 billion will go towards things such as administration building, parking garages, student gym, restoration of soccer fields etc. These community colleges will survive without lavish new buildings.

Measure Q - LAUSD General bond fund - Vote YES

What will it really do: Sell bonds ($7 billion) to pay for general operations and school building repairs and upgrades.

Why: I know it sounds strange... I say no to a $3.5 billion bond for community colleges but yes to a $7 billion bond for LAUSD. But here is the bottom line: LAUSD needs the money due to our failed property tax scheme while our community colleges are doing ok.

LA City Propositions

Prop A - Gang Prevention Tax - Vote NO

What will it really do: Assess an annual $36 special tax on each property. Proceeds goes towards funding gang prevention programs.

Why: The tax will fund a program that was found to be mis-managed by LA Times. The City was basically handing cash over to gang members for anti-gang programs. Yes, you read that right, the City gave cash to gang members that claimed to run anti-gang programs. They got lots of balls to put up a tax increase in the ballot to continue funding that program.

Prop B - Low Rent Housing - Vote YES

What will it really do: Reauthorize the City to regulate affordable units within City's zoning and land use laws. The authorization will allow the City to receive State funds for housing assistance.

Why: We need this vote so we can continue to receive State funds. The people against Prop B are wingnut crazy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As stated in proposition 5. Even though the drug offenders didn't finish the treatments, we can't just say that they haven't learned something from the programs. Maybe somehow the treatments like counseling and detoxification have made some impact to their lives.