Friday, October 24, 2008

Endorsements: CA propositions

Here are my endorsements for the California state ballot propositions for November 4, 2008:

1A. Yes. High-speed rail bonds
2. No. Standards for confining farm animals
3. No. Children's hospital bonds
4. No. Parental notification for underage abortion
5. Yes. Reform drug crime sentencing, parole, and rehab
6. No. Increase prison terms
7. No. Renewable energy — hopelessly flawed
8. No. Eliminate right of same-sex couples to marry
9. No. Victims' rights, reduces parole
10. No. Alternative fuel vehicles — self-serving
11. No. Redistricting — fatally flawed
12. Yes. Veterans housing bonds

NOTE: the original state "official voter information guide" listed information for Proposition 1, regarding high-speed rail bonds, but Prop 1 was replaced by Prop 1A, which is covered in the supplemental guide.

Prop 1A would build a high-speed rail corridor running most of the length of the state. The alternatives are to add another bazillion lanes to I-5 or build an airport every 3 miles. YES

Prop 2 sets the commendable goal of ensuring humane treatment of farm animals, but the fatal flaw is that it would only shift more egg and meat production to Mexico, where health standards and animal care standards are even more lax than they are now in California. In other words, humans get more salmonella and E. coli, and the animals live in even worse conditions, plus the California economy suffers. It's a classic "lose–lose" situation. No

Prop 3 provides bonds for children's hospital facilities. The problem is that, contrary to proponents' assertions, it will lead to higher taxes or larger spending cuts in other areas — the money has to come from somewhere. Most tellingly, there is still money left over unspent from a similar measure 4 years ago. The hospitals should use the money we've already given them before they ask for more, especially when they lie about where the money comes from. No

Prop 4 is yet another attempt to curtail abortion rights in California by requiring a waiting period and parental notification before a minor can get an abortion. If a girl is getting an abortion without her parents' knowledge, it's a pretty good bet that she has a good reason, and that decision should not be made by politicians. NO on Prop 4!

Prop 5 reduces sentences for non-violent drug offenses and offers rehab as an alternative to prison for some criminals, at the judge's discretion. It also reduces possession of less than one ounce (28.5 grams) of marijuana from a misdemeanor to an infraction, like a traffic ticket. Our jails and prisons are dangerously overcrowded with non-violent offenders. In many areas of California, it's easier to get crystal meth than to get food; prison isn't the solution, treatment is the answer. Yes

Prop 6 is a grab-bag of misguided "tough-on-crime" measures. It requires massive new spending, especially on prisons. We already send far too many people to prison, and the prison guards' union wants more. It is far cheaper in the long run to invest in schools, job training programs, and drug rehab than to invest in prisons. Lastly, making this kind of policy by initiative is utterly insane. NO!!

Prop 7 aims at the commendable goal of increasing the use of renewable energy sources. It's true that it is opposed by PG&E, SoCal Edison, and SDG&E, but it's also opposed by environmental groups, renewable energy groups, and the Union of Concerned Scientists. When you see groups like that lined up against a measure like this, you know it's bad. Prop 7 would actually set back clean energy in California. NO!

Prop 8 seeks to overturn the California Supreme Court's decision earlier this year that required the State to allow people to marry a person of the same sex. The Supreme Court ruled that it was impermissible to discriminate based on sexual orientation in access to one of the most fundamental rights in our society. The proponents of Prop 8 also have been telling bald-faced lies about their amendment. They say that same-sex domestic partnerships already have the same rights as married opposite-sex couples, but that is absolutely untrue. Your spouse has the right to ride in the ambulance with you to the hospital; your domestic partner does not — and there are at least 8 other significant legal differences between the two. The arguments about "teaching homosexual marriage" have been thoroughly debunked by every education group in the state and every major newspaper. The bottom line is that Prop 8 is motivated by Hate and Bigotry and Intolerance, and nothing else. Many Seventh-Day Adventists — hardly the most gay-affirming religious group — have come out against Prop 8 as a matter of religious liberty: Adventists know firsthand what it means to face discrimination based on your personal beliefs, right here in America. Don't take away the rights of real people to protect against a purely hypothetical threat. NO ON PROP 8!!

Prop 9 is another draconian "law and order" measure. Among other things, it would allow crime victims to refuse to cooperate with the defendant's lawyer in preparing for trial. That right there is flat-out unconstitutional. Prop 9 would also reduce early releases from prison, even when the early releases are required due to prison overcrowding. Locking up every criminal and throwing away the key is not the way to protect society, and it's certainly not the most cost-effective way. NO!

Prop 10 is "the other" fatally flawed alternative energy program. It would provide state money to convert vehicles — mostly in commercial fleets — to natural gas or other non-oil-based fuels. Thing is, its main sponsor owns a company that retrofits cars to run on natural gas; does that sound like a conflict of interest to you? How about if I tell you that the same billionaire also financed the "Swift Boat" ads in 2004? The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV), Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), and The Sierra Club — all major supporters of the concept of clean energy — oppose the deceptive Prop 10. NO!

Prop 11 is Governor Schwarzenegger's second attempt at redistricting reform, after voters shot down the first one. Sadly, in the intervening years, the Democratic Party has balanced Schwarzenegger's pro-Republican plans with ... diddly squat. The current system is badly in need of being scrapped and rebuilt from scratch, and I'm almost tempted to vote yes on 11 just to take a stand that redistricting is an important issue and then hope that the major problems with Prop 11 will be fixed before the 2020 census, but I can't do that. This redistricting proposal is still all about protecting the interests of the political parties, not the people. Further, it inexplicably exempts Congressional redistricting, leaving it in the legislature. Vote NO on Prop 11, but write a letter to your Assembly member and your state Senator, urging them to push for real redistricting reform. In particular, we should keep Prop 11's goals of creating "geographically compact" districts that preserve "communities of interest," and we should divide each state Senate district into two Assembly districts — we just shouldn't do it with this arcane and bizarre method of selecting the panel to draw the maps. NO

Prop 12 provides bonds to help military veterans buy homes in California. Set aside your feelings about the Iraq War; our veterans have laid their lives on the line to protect our nation, even fighting in misguided and misbegotten wars when ordered by our idiot President. Aside from that, the previous bond measures have been wildly successful, with the veterans themselves repaying the entire cost of the program, including interest and overhead expenses. YES!

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