Election Section

How I'm Voting on the State Propositions

By Stu Flashman
Monday October 04, 2010 - 01:56:00 PM

[Editor’s Note: Stu Flashman is a Rockridge-based environmental attorney and an avid follower of local and state politics. He’s a normal East Bay progressive, but just to keep you confused, here’s also a link to the web site of a Los Angeles progressive organization, which differs with Stu on some propositions.]

My sample ballot came today, which says to me it’s time for me to share my opinions on the ballot measures and candidates. It is, as it usually is in a statewide November election, a pretty long ballot. I’m going to start with the ballot measures. This year, they’re a pretty easy group for me to decide on. Maybe not so much for you. For the first time I can remember, I’m 100% in agreement with the positions of the California League of Women Voters, where they’ve taken a position. You can find their analysis here: I go beyond the League, however, by sticking my neck out on the other ballot measures as well. 

Proposition 19 — Marijuana Legalization – Prohibition didn’t work in the 1920s and 1930s. Marijuana prohibition hasn’t worked either. All it’s done is provide extra income to drug dealers and made it easier for people to transition from MJ to harder drugs. I think we’d do far better to legalize, regulate, and tax MJ. That’s not to say that I think MJ is a great thing. I know some people who went overboard on MJ and got really messed up; butnothing like what happens with hard drugs, and not as badly as some people I’ve known have gotten messed up on alcohol or cigarettes. YES 

Prop. 20 — Congressional Redistricting Commission — I agree with LWV on this one. While in principle having congressional redistricting done by an impartial redistricting commission would be a big improvement, we haven’t even seen whether it’ll succeed for the state legislature. Let’s give the new system a chance to work and see how it does before we jump in with both feet. (I should at this point disclose that I’m one of the sixty finalists for the redistricting commission, of which fourteen will be chosen. Consequently, I’ve spent a fair amount of time pondering the issue. It’s not going to be easy, but I am hopeful that the commission will do a good job.) That having been said, I’m not ready to go “double down” on it yet. — NO 

Prop. 21 — State Parks Vehicle License Fee — The League is also neutral on this measure, but I’m giving it a “thumbs up”. Like the League, I generally don’t like ballot box budgeting. However, this measure matches new income to an existing need. that’s very different from, for example Prop 98′s earmarking a set proportion of the state budget for schools or Oakland’s “Kids First II” measure, which locked a percentage of the city’s general fund for child-oriented services. I think those kind of measures are a big mistake, because they pit one expenditure against another. However, I have nothing against voting in a special tax to fund a special need. It seems particularly fitting to use the vehicle license fee, because most people access state parks with their car, and the fee will be tied to allowing free park admission for California registered vehicles. — YES 

Prop. 22 — Local Funds Protection — I have mixed feelings about this measure. Having served on a local agency (the county mosquito abatement district), I’m well aware of the havoc a state “funds transfers” can wreak on local budgets. However, there’s one budget I wouldn’t mind having havoc wreaked on — redevelopment agencies. While redevelopment agencies can do some good — Emeryville’s agency being a notable example — they also can do a lot of mischief, and Emeryville has provided just as good examples of that too. They also take money away from other local agencies, so when they complain about a state takeaway, it’s the pot calling the kettle black. As I said in an earlier post, I don’t buy it. — NO 

Prop. 23 — global warming suspension — If we could actually suspend global warming by a ballot measure, I’d be 100% for it, but this measure is to suspend AB 32, the California legislature’s recently-enacted measure to try to reduce CO2 emissions and limit global warming impacts. This measure is funded almost entirely by out of state big oil and big coal interests, who want to keep fiddling while the whole world burns (or at least gets way too hot). If this measure passes, it’ll tell the whole world that Californians can’t see beyond the nose on their face. I will be extremely embarrassed; almost as badly as when Nixon won 49 out of 50 states in 1972. At least then I was living in Massachusetts. — NO!NO!NO! 

Prop. 24 — Repeal of corporate tax breaks — So, part of the 2008-2009 budget “deal” that the legislature passed was a set of corporate tax breaks that were supposed to stimulate the economy. Are you feeling particularly stimulated yet? Neither am I. If I was going to stimulate California’s economy, I’d do it by keeping teachers, firemen, police, and other public employees from getting laid off. That means giving government enough money to keep running. You don’t do that by handing out corporate tax breaks to your friends at the expense of state revenue. Maybe the Republicans, with a little more than 1/3 of the legislative seats, can extort this kind of crap out of our weak legislative leadership, but we, the voters, don’t need to let it continue. — YES!YES!YES! 

Prop. 25 — majority vote on state budget — Speaking of extortion and the state budget, the reason a Republican minority is able to exercise disproportionate control is largely because passing a budget requires a 2/3 vote in both houses. Aren’t you just a little bit tired of having to wait until October for the state to have a budget, and learning about all the horse trading that happened to get one (often at our expense)? ENOUGH! — YES!YES!YES! 

Prop. 26 — 2/3 vote for all fees — This is another one of those deceptive special interest sponsored ballot measures, like Prop.23 on this ballot and PG&E’s measure on the June ballot. This one’s sponsored primarily by the tobacco and alcoholic beverage industries, who don’t like having fees placed on their products to help pay for the health damage they cause. This measure would also protect polluters from fees intended to clean up the damage they cause. If you don’t mind living in a toilet, go ahead and vote for this measure, because that’s what you’re asking for. NO!NO!NO! 

Prop. 27 – send redistricting back to the legislature — So, How much confidence do you have in California’s legislature? If you’re like most Californians (including me), the answer is, “Not much!” This measure would kill the California Citizens’ Redistricting Commission before it even gets fully formed. All the money spent thus far on getting it set up would be wasted, and instead we’d hand the control back to the legislature so they can re-gerrymander the districts and continue to get themselves re-elected. How stupid do they think we are?! (Please don't answer that question.) NO