Deceptive Bookends: 83 and 90
So let's look at Proposition 90. This is one of these propositions that looks nice on the surface, protecting people from eminant domain. In fact, this is part of the California Democratic Party's platform (PDF):
[To promote sustainable communities, California Democrats will] Protect existing homeowners’ property rights by limiting eminent domain to reasonable public uses, and oppose the practice of using eminent domain to take private property without the consent of the owner and conveying it from one private person to another or to any corporation merely to increase its tax revenue
Sounds great! But Proposition 90 is really a trojan horse, or a wolf in sheep's clothing — take your pick of the metaphor.
This is one of these extremely complex issues that I'm having trouble wrapping my head around. There's a good analysis of it by an attorney with some juicy tidbits, though, that point out some serious flaws and discusses some terrible problems that have happened in Oregon, where a similar law has passed. I've heard the proposition called "A developer's wet dream." (I would hope that the "anti-development" folks in Alameda are on-board with opposing Proposition 90!)
Usually when I don't understand an issue, I see who is opposed and against an issue. The robo-call I got mentioned a few organizations I had never heard of, one along the lines of "for smaller government" which of course is Right-winger code-words for "reduced services but higher military budget". Needless to say, the Republican Party endorses this. So do a whole bunch of organizations I don't feel any love for. And opposed to 90? A huge list of public interest, environmental, business, labor, civil rights, and other organizations on various sides of the political spectrum, such as Sierra Club, California Chamber of Commerce to League of Women Voters, California Teachers Association (headed by Barbara Kerr, no not of Alameda), AFL-CIO, ACLU, California Nurses, etc. In other words, not fringe groups.
If you can't understand the details of this proposition, take a look at what the groups you know are saying. And chances are they are saying No on 90.
Now let's look at Proposition 83. This one is deceptive, but I don't know if it's on purpose. It's called "Jessica's Law" and it says it's about restrictions on convicted sex offenders. Hey, everybody wants to do right and keep track of those nasty people, and protect our children, right? Who would be against this?
In this case, it's a proposition that looks good on the surface but is full of unintended consequences; it will do more harm than good. Many victim's groups are against it; the The California Coalition Against Sexual Assault is against it, as is the California Coalition on Sexual Offending. Think about it — tightening the restrictions so much will cause convicted offenders to "slip through the fingers" of the system and go underground — in Iowa, the number of sex offenders gone unaccounted for has doubled since 2005.
Picture this: Offenders are restricted from areas near parks and schools, and forced to live elsewhere. I didn't find a map of the East Bay, but here's one of San Francisco (PDF) showing no nearly no place to live. So they'll be forced to live in rural areas (see this PDF of the delta area) where law enforcement is sparse.
A few other points: Residency restrictions like those proposed here don't make communities safer. GPS monitoring will not actually prevent any crimes from occurring. Children are far more at risk from abuse from adults they know than strangers.
So what can we do about this problem? Well, it turns out that two bills were recently signed into law that actually take care of a couple of the good part of Prop 83, so passing this proposition isn't needed to improve things. (Alas, I didn't get the bill numbers!)
There's a great set of resources about this proposition here.
So there you have it: No on the bookend propositions, 83 and 90.