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Monday, October 27, 2008

Vanguard Ballot Initiative Recommendations

While the Vanguard does not endorse candidates, we do make recommendations on issues. Many of these you can of course glean simply by reading the articles on this site. But since I have had a number of calls and emails over the last wee asking how I would vote and a number of issues, I thought I would put this in one place.

I also attach a sheet at the bottom with a link to the Courage Campaign who have compiled a list of 10 progressive organizations and how they are voting. Although other than on Prop 11 there are no disputes on which way to vote, some groups do not recommend on some of the propositions.

I will start with the local measures and then deal with the statewide issues.


MEASURE N: CHARTER CITY: NO. This measure would determine whether or not Davis would have a charter city enacted. In theory, I would be supportive of such a concept, but I think this charter is too broad. It would allow too much power to future city councils. I would like to see this charter get voted down and a committee formed to draft a new one that is much more specific.

MEASURE W: DJUSD PARCEL TAX: YES. For $120 per parcel voters of the city of Davis can ensure that core programs and teachers remain in tact. We are talking about elementary science, music, some HS athletic programs, as well as keeping class size down. If this does not pass, the district faces a $2.4 million deficit which means that teachers and programs get cut.


PROP 1A: HIGH SPEED RAIL: YES. This would begin construction of a train that connects San Francisco to Los Angeles via San Jose and Fresno. This is a project I have been wanting for at least 15 years. Create a fast and convenient alternative transportation system to get people out of their cars. This is the most important project that we can fund this year.

PROP 2: STOP ANIMAL CRUELTY: YES. Goes without saying humane treatment for farm animals. We're not talking a lot--enough space for animals to beable to move around, stand up and sit down. This seems like a no brainer to me and the arguments against about costs and competitiveness do not make a whole lot of sense.

PROP 3: CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL BONDS: YES. I see no reason not to expand children's hospital facilities around the state.

PROP 4: PARENTAL CONSENT FOR ABORTION: NO. Proponents argue that this will get teens to talk their parents about sex. I do not believe that you mandate parent-teen communications. I think it places teens at risk who fear the response of their parents more than they fear other things. It is just not a good idea. One thing I never see in these proposals is how big a problem this actually is. If it is a problem, I think there are other approaches that would be more effective and starting well before pregnancy and abortion issues arise.

PROP 5: NONVIOLENT OFFENDER REHABILITATION: YES. I am a strong proponet of alternative forms of punishment. I think we put way too much emphasis on incarceration and our prisons are being overwhelmed with non-violent sex offenders. The program has the possibility of saving the state between $1 billion and $2.5 billion per year.

PROP 6: SAFE NEIGHBORHOODS ACT: NO. This basically does the opposite of Prop 5--it extends and expands mandatory sentencing and it also takes money from the rest of the state's beleagured budget and puts it into more prisons and correction spending. This may be the worst initiative on the ballot in my opinion and that includes 4 and 8.

PROP 7: RENEWABLE POWER STANDARD: NO. This bill may be well intentioned putting more resources to solar and wind projects by mandating that we get 50% of our power from renwable sources by 2025. The problem is that opponents believe that the measure is poorly written and would cause more harm than good. When the opponents include Sierra Club and Conservation league, then I tend to believe that statement.

PROP 8: ELIMINATES SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: NO. I believe that consenting adults should have the right to marry the person that they love regardless of gender. To me this is a no-brainer and almost every argument against it is based on fear. For those who suggest that same-sex marriage is a threat to traditional marriage, look at the divorce rate, it seems that marriage is under fire much more by people who do not respect marriage rather than people who desperately want to wed.

PROP 9: Victims' Rights and Protection Act of 2008: NO. Some of these provisions are not bad including notification and participation of victims in criminal justice proceedings. However, opponents argue that these are already in law. They also believe that these provisions would end up costing the taxpayer hundreds of millions. I am not nearly as opposed to this one as the Prop 6, but it does not seem the type of reform we really need.

Prop 10: California Alternative Fuels Act: NO. This is another one of those bills that look good until you realize who is supporting it and what it would actually do. One the plus side: The funding it provides will allow the generation of electricity from renewable sources, and provide consumer rebates for the purchase or lease of "clean alternative fuel vehicles". Th bill is sponsored by Boone Pickens, many have derided Pickens and Clean Energy Fuels for sponsoring this initiative because it may set up the company and Pickens for a financial windfall. Again, League of Conservation Voters and Sierra Club support it. This would take $10 billion out of the state's general fund over 30 years. The proposition was initiated by one person/interest group and as such lacks the vetting that would have come had it gained input from a wider variety of sources.

PROP 11: REDISTRICTING: NO. This sets up an appointed bipartisan commission to handle state redistricting. We already have a bipartisan commission that handles redistricting, it's called the state legislature, they are elected by the voters in California. From what I have seen, voting reforms generally create more harm than good. The system we have now has been in place for over 100 years.

PROP 12: VETERANS' HOMES BOND: YES. Basically renews a home loan program for veterans that dates back to 1922. The bond must be periodically renewed--this would be the 12th renewal. Enables veterans of current wars to get affordable loans and the bonds are repaid by the veterans themselves. Do not see a downside to this one.

---David M. Greenwald reporting