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California voting recommendations 
1st-Nov-2005 08:23 am
If you are a California voter and a progressive liberal, you might be interested in the recommendations of a friend of mine who works in Mark Leno's office. He's been doing these election cheat sheets for years, and I always find them useful.

Don't forget to vote next Tuesday!

Bart's Unsolicited Election Advice

Hi everyone,

As every election approaches, my friends ask me to seek out my recommendations. Well, here they are for the upcoming November 8th special election called by Governor Schwarzenegger. This election will cost the state tens of millions of dollars, and Republican strategists are counting on two things:

1. Turnout is low in special elections
2. Right wing Republicans will turn out in large numbers to vote for Prop 73, the abortion restriction.

Even if you are going to vote NO on everything, you must vote or see the Democratic Party severely weakened by this Republican power grab.

I have included my recommendations for the San Francisco ballot. If you live elsewhere in California, you will find only the State Proposition relevant to you. If you live outside of California, well... I must have my reasons for sending this you.

Thanks for your attention.



Assessor- Recorder
Phil Ting - 1st Choice (Phil is a professional assessor and a really nice man.) (He also spoke at the Castro protest rally in support of the gay marriage bill last month, and impressed me with his energy and attitude. - sotm)
Gerardo Sandoval - 2nd Choice
Ronald Chun - 3rd Choice

Jose Cisneros - 1st Choice (Gay man currently in office and doing a good job.)
Manuel B. Valle - 2nd Choice
Calvin Louie - 3rd Choice

City Attorney
Dennis Herrera - 1st Choice (He da bomb!)


73 - No - Waiting Period and Parental Notification for Teen Abortions. (The overwhelming majority of teen girls already tell their parents. Those who don't tell usually have a compelling reason. Don't put this in our State Constitution.)

74 - No - Teacher Probation. (We have a hard enough time hiring teachers. This measure doesn't improve public education. It makes it easier for suburban and rural districts to fire gay teachers for no reason.)

75 - No - Public Employee Union Dues. (Public employees can already opt out of political giving. I'm all for getting affirmative permission from members of large groups before contributing money. But this measure limits only Democratic supporters while leaving Republican funders untouched. Shareholders in corporations should also be able to vote NO to political contributions.)

76 – No – State Funding and School Funding Limits. (California ranks 43rd in education spending. This measure would take us even lower. Still worse, it would give Governor Schwarzenegger, who already has the line-item veto, power to lower spending without Legislative approval. Let's see what would Republican governors cut? …Education, AIDS Drug Assistance Program, health care for poor families, and the Governor could do it without a single public hearing. This is a power grab.)

77 - No - Schwarzenegger's Republican Redistricting. (OK gerrymandering has existed since the beginning of this nation and if proposition 77 becomes law, district lines will be gerrymandered by 3 old white guy retired judges instead of the 120 people elected to the Legislature. Even worst, the provisions of prop 77 are functionally impossible because it requires that the people approve district lines and the people elected from those new districts all in the same election. What happens if the people reject the lines drawn by 3 old white guys? Political crisis that's what. The state would have no elected legislature and no elected congressional representatives. Idiots drafted this measure because they simply assume the people will approve of the lines drawn.)

78 - No - Drug Company Effort to Confuse Voters (The drug industry is afraid that if they don't stop Prop 79 from raiding their obscene profits, other states will follow. So they cooked up an initiative to confuse voters. They want voters to say, “I don't know which one to vote for so I'm just going to vote no on both drug initiatives.” Don't be fooled by the best commercials money can buy. Prop 79 will work.)

79 - Yes - Forces Drug Companies to Discount Drugs for Low Income People (I have personally worked on 3 bills in the Legislature to set up programs similar to Prop 79. They all failed because drug companies make huge political contributions and because they scare advocates for the poor with threats that they will pull their drugs out of California rather than sell them at a fair price. Canada has 10 million less people than California and they have successfully reduced their drug prices without losing access to pharmaceuticals. Drug companies are bluffing. They will never walk away from the massive sales the State of California provides them. Don't forget, the drug industry is 5 times more profitable than the next most profitable industry in America which is banking. They are offering a product that people must buy in order to stay alive and the United States does not regulate their price. Other products that people must have such as water and electricity have been price regulated for nearly a century. Yes on 79 because it is not possible to do in the Legislature.)

80 - No - Energy Re-regulation. (I really like what this proposition does, but I can't endorse doing it at the ballot box. In order to change or tweak this complex new law, the Legislature would have to get a 2/3 vote. That is virtually impossible on any issue and gives huge power to the minority party which is currently the Republicans. I have lots of respect for the organizations supporting this measure, but energy policy needs to be changeable as demand, customers, and modes of generation change.)


A - Yes - Community College District Bonds. (Build it and people will learn.)

B - Yes - Street and Sidewalk Improvement Bonds. (This is a tax increase. Property taxes will be increased by an estimated $9.49 per $100,000 of assessed value. It is true that the Board of Supervisors has repeatedly chosen to under fund our street and sidewalk infrastructure. However, with decreasing funds coming from the state and federal governments, maintaining local services has become extremely difficult. I support this measure because it will leave more funds available for programs I really care about like health care, police and fire protection, homeless programs, and street cleaning.)

C - Yes - Ethics Commission Budget and Outside Counsel
D - No - Municipal Transportation Agency Board Appointments
E - Yes - Election Date for Assessor and Public Defender
F - Yes - Neighborhood Firehouses - Decrease Response Time
G - Yes - Two Lanes, Not Four, on MLK in GG Park

H - Yes - Ban Possession and Sales of Handguns in SF (Believe it or not, I had a tough time deciding this one. Banning handguns is a good idea, but it should be done on a state or national level. However, it takes local action first on controversial issues. If other Bay Area counties follow our lead, it could become very difficult to get a handgun in our region. That will not stop everyone who wants a handgun, but it will stop some of them. Remember, you are more likely to be killed with your own gun than someone else's.)

I - Yes - Ban Military Recruiting In SF Public Schools. (Kids get enough exposure to their option to join the military though TV, Radio, Print, and Online advertising. The U.S. military even has free online video games that simulate war for teenagers looking for a cheap thrill. Why make them endure high pressure tactics in school?)
1st-Nov-2005 05:40 pm (UTC)
OK, my personal "cheat sheet" disagreed with this on three counts. However, I know I'm not as informed as I could be on these issues, so I would love to hear from you (or anyone) some discussion of these points, and I'm open to changing my mind on them.

74: You say it makes it easier to fire gay teachers, others say it makes it easier to fire bad teachers. I expect both of these claims are true. I guess it comes down to the question, which of the following is contributing more to the poor quality of education in California: the lack of new teachers coming into the system, or the fact that it's almost impossible to remove incompetant or corrupt teachers that are already in the system. I'm not convinced that the former is a vastly larger portion of the problem than the latter.... so I say YES to Prop. 74.

77: What the T.V. ads claim about this one sounds really, really good. The ads tell me that the politicians who are trying to get elected to the legislature are not the ones who get to draw district lines, and that we (the people) can vote to approve (or not) any changes. That sounds like separation of powers, that sounds like a good thing. Just saying that it "won't work" doesn't convince me, because I trust voters: if they see district lines they don't like, they'll vote them down, and we'll see what happens next. Saying "political crisis" will ensue is vague, and sounds like a scare tactic, to be honest. That's why I say YES to Prop 77.

80: I don't have my heart set on this one by any means, I just have a sense that Prop 80 is a good first draft. It sounds like Bart thinks it's a good first draft, too, but he seems to feel that that isn't good enough, because it will be hard to make changes later. I, on the other hand, feel like we should get something in place, instead of doing nothing until we think it's "perfect"... because that day may never come. That's why I say YES to Prop 80.

I'd love to hear comments / feedback about this.
1st-Nov-2005 05:50 pm (UTC)
77 is the only one I've read about enough to have an informed opinion of, and it scares me, a lot.

There are some big problems with 77. The biggest is that it sets up a preference for creating districts that don't split cities or counties. This means fewer urban districts and more rural districts. Translation: fewer Democratic districts, more Republican districts. It is an explict Republican power grab disguised as a way to make things fairer. There is nothing in the proposition to make districts competative, balance them, or make them represent the state's electorate. While I'm strongly in favor of redistricting reform, this is not the way to do it.

I've also got to say that a panel of 3 retired judges, who statistically speaking are going to be white, xian men who don't care about finding a job, don't really represent the diversity of California. Our elected representatives do. Also, the myth that judges are apolitical is a big canard. Every judge is either appointed by a Governor or elected in a local election. How is that not political?
1st-Nov-2005 05:58 pm (UTC)
Judges are apolitical in the sense that they don't have to worry about re-election, so they can't be pressured by interest groups. They are at liberty to rely solely on their own discretion.

The "3 Blind Mice Retired Judges" thing obviously isn't perfect...
For example, redistricting to avoid splitting cities is simply illogical. Cities are exactly the places where you are likely to have large populations on both sides of any given issue; therefore, it makes sense that large cities should be able to have two representatives, one for each portion of its population.

However, I'm not entirely certain that our current system of redistricting is better than the "3 Retired Judges" scheme. I mean for real: having the district lines redrawn by the very people who depend on district votes to get elected? That's a bad kind of closed loop to have, that seems to actively discourage objectivity and fairness.
1st-Nov-2005 06:04 pm (UTC)
Oh yes, the current system sucks. I just think Prop 77 would suck more. I'm in favor of laws that limit gerrymandering, and would like to see something that speaks to the shape of disctricts - 77 does an ok job on that front, but the rest of it would assure that Republicans pick up a few seats from the CA delegation.
1st-Nov-2005 06:17 pm (UTC)
I think it's so funny that you evaluate how good the law is based on who gets more seats out of it, Republicans or Democrats.

Shouldn't the standard be, instead, whether the rules are sensible and fair?

I say, if someone comes up with a system that is fair and sensible, then screw it if it happens to decrease the number of democratic seats in the next election. In the long run, it will be better for the state.
2nd-Nov-2005 05:58 pm (UTC)
It's not so much that I'm evaluating it based on who gets more seats, as that the change favors one party over the other. I'd be just as opposed if it was a Democratic power grab. As I've said, the proposed rules are not sensible or fair - they are crafted to favor one side over the other.
3rd-Nov-2005 07:06 am (UTC)
I just changed my mind on #77!!!!

You want to know why?

I saw an ad on T.V., and JUDGE WAPNER (from the original People's Court) is against it!!! LOL

If he doesn't like it, it can't be any good. <smirk>

(when I was a little kid, my mom and dad watched People's Court every day, at 5:30pm, right before the 6:00 news.
3rd-Nov-2005 01:27 pm (UTC)
Well, if Judge Wapner's personal gravitas isn't enough to keep you convinced, you might want to read this recent article in the Washington Post.
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