My combined list of recommendations on the propositions
then you may already be familiar with my take on some of these; I'll link to the more detailed article when appropriate.
Before I get underway, I wanted to point out this wonderful guide: The Courage Campaign's 2008 Progressive Voter Guide. It is a compact chart of many progressive groups and their takes on the state propositions. They neglected the Green Party's recommendations, which I think are also an interesting point of view to consider as well.
So for the state propositions, I'm going to assume that something is a NO unless there is a good case to make it a Yes. And this year's YES recommendations are: 1A, 2, 5, and 12. All the rest are NO - many of them are "reruns" of defeated initiatives from the last couple of years.
First, the few affirmatives:
YES: 1A - High Speed Rail. Think about how much energy is spent in air and motor transportation between Northern and Southern California. This is a long-term investment in California. It's green and will create 160,000 jobs. As you know I'm a big proponent of alternative transportation and reducing carbon emissions; this is a great step toward that. It has been smartly planned in conjunction with the Transportation and Land Use Coalition that Lucy and I have been involved with. YES to 1A.
YES: 2 - Stop Animal Cruelty. Many good groups endorse this; I've also checked with advocates of safe food production and they are on board as well. This is a no-brainer YES.
YES: 5 - If you've read Eric Schlosser's "Reefer Madness" you are probably familiar with how many people are in our prisons for minor, nonviolent drug offenses. This measure is about nonviolent offender rehabilitation, and will save California $2.5 Billion. This is about solving the problem rather than just throwing more people in already crowded prisons. I can't recommend this strongly enough.
YES: 12 - Veteran home loans - this is a renewal of an existing program for veterans that dates back to 1922. Ideally this kind of support should be coming from the Federal Government, but instead they are cutting Veterans' benefits so Californians need to pick up the slack.
And now for my negatives:
NO: 3 - Children's Hospital Bonds. This is one measure that I'm disagreeing with many "liberal" organizations like the California Democratic Party. While on the surface this looks good, it has some serious flaws. First off, apparently only a bit more than half of the $750 million allocated from 2004's Prop 61 has been actually used up. Why ask for more now? And eighty percent of the money is actually going to *private* hospitals; this reminds me of the recent measure B which was diverting taxpayer money to Oakland's Children's Hospital, a private entity which pays its executive gigantic salaries. I know that our health care system is badly broken but this seems to just make things worse in the long run.
NO: 4. Parental notification undermines teen safety -- It's baaaa-aack! NO again for the same reasons as previous years!
NO: 6 & NO: 9: Massive Prison Expansion. Arrrrrgh!!!! (See my Yes on 5 above)
NO: 7 (and NO: 10): Prop Seven seemed like a good idea but it's OPPOSED by so many environmental groups: Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists, The Natural Resources Defense Council, and The California League of Conservation Voters. A proposition that supposedly increases alternative energy, and yet is opposed by the groups that are fighting the Climate Crisis every day? No way!
NO: 8: Another attempt to remove Californians of their rights. Yes, the "marriage ban" is back, pushed by the far-right extremists who feel threatened by people who are not like them. This is by far the most offensive proposition out there. It's about taking away hard-fought rights for committed couples. Not only do I recommend a NO vote, I also suggest that you make a contribution to the fund to knock down this horrible proposition ... it's going to be a close call this time around. Go to http://www.noonprop8.com/ to donate please!
NO: 11. This one is getting a bit of local support, probably because it seems like a good thing on the surface, and because it is heavily backed by the League of Women Voters, who generally have their hearts in the right places. Our status-quo districting system isn't perfect (and if anything it gives the Democrats a slight edge) but at least the process is transparent. A districting reform would, in my mind, need to improve on the status quo by offering more transparency/acccountability, and give a better shot at representation by third parties and independents. This "reform" does neither. The 14-member commission in this proposal makes decisions for all 58 counties, and at each step of the way, there is no opportunity for public input, no opportunity for appeal, and all decisions are final. Proposition 11 is a political "shell game" masked under the guise of Reform. It's opposed by minority groups, for its lack of diversity. It's heavily funded by big business, especially oil companies, and backed to the tune of 2.4 Million by Schwarzenegger, though you wouldn't know it. It's opposed by labor groups all around the state, by the California Democratic Party, by the California Green Party. The list of reasons to vote NO just keep piling on, and I have yet to hear a truly convincing argument in its favor.
So ... to recap: only Yes on 1A, 2, 5, and 12. NO on the rest of 'em.
I've already filled out my ballot, and I'll be up in the Sacramento area tomorrow helping to get out the vote for Congressional candidate Bill Durston.
Good luck to all of us! And even if we have some good wins, we can't give up the fight!