Saturday, November 1, 2008

How I'm voting on the CA Propositions and why

Here's a review of the California propositions and how I'm choosing to vote. If you haven't voted yet and you'd like some input about the various propositions, read ahead.

WARNING: I'm giving my opinion. I tried to make them short, but I may have failed ... I encourage you to read the voter information guide for more info and for other arguments on both sides of the issue. This is how I'm voting and why. I hope you find it helpful or, at the very least, entertaining :)

PROP 1A - SAFE, RELIABLE HIGH-SPEED PASSENGER TRAIN BOND ACT. Yay! This is that fast train :) It's expensive, and will probably take forever to build, but I'm a HUGE fan of public transportation. Even the snobbiest car driver would probably give this train a whirl. There are a lot of propositions asking for bond money, and for most of them I'm opposed. Our economy sucks, and it just doesn't seem like a good idea to be accumulating more debt. However, I'm a fan of this one. If you really want to reduce dependency on foreign oil, create jobs, and help the environment, we need to take a chance on new public transportation options. I'm voting yes. (Note: It's sort of worth it to read the first page of the Prop 1A supplement - those against it call it "boondoggling". HA! Great word.)

PROP 2 - STANDARDS FOR CONFINING FARM ANIMALS. Yes! If this proposition passes, it means egg-laying hens, pregnant pigs, and calves raised for veil will have the simply ability to stand up, lie down, and turn around freely. (Note: Based on my knowledge of how veil is "made", I'm not entirely sure how giving the calf room to turn around can still be "veil", but since I think veil is a barbaric practice anyway, I'm not entirely worried about it.) Opponents are worried about bird flu and the increased cost, but I believe both of these are only speculation at this point. The reality is that these animals are currently being treated horribly. Voting Yes.

PROP 3 - CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL BOND ACT. Just the name of this proposition sort of screams "vote yes!". Sick kids? Who's not going to want to vote yes?? Well, voters passed Prop 61 in 2004, approving $750 million in bonds, and thus far, only $403 million has been paid out to eligible hospitals. Why has it taken 4 years to pay out just a little over half the money? The fiscal impact of this bill is expected to be $2 billion when interest is taken into consideration and Californians will be paying for this for 30 years. The economy sucks right now. I'm probably voting no. But 99% are probably voting yes, so it will all come out in the wash.

PROP 4 - WAITING PERIOD AND PARENTAL NOTIFICATION BEFORE TERMINATION OF MINOR'S PREGNANCY. To be clear, this proposition is seeking to amend the California Constitution. That alone should put people on guard - amending the constitution is a big deal, and should be undertaken carefully. A similar proposition failed just two years ago. Sadly, groups that are interested in this sort of thing can continue to add it to the elections (wasting time and resources) so long as they get enough signatures. I'm voting NO. Not all girls can tell their parents about an unplanned pregnancy. This would require them to - or to have a physician first report the parent to the authorities OR get a judge involved. It's probably horrible enough being pregnant at 14 and having abusive and/or unsupportive parents. We shouldn't make it harder. I'm voting NO.

PROP 5 - NONVIOLENT DRUG OFFENSES, SENTENCING, and PAROLE/REHABILITATION. Okay, this one does good things and bad things for criminal defendants, a.k.a. my people. On the plus side, it recognizes that drug crimes usually stem from a person's drug addiction and thus, creates more drug rehabilitation programs. Also, the argument against states "county prosecutors overwhelmingly oppose", which in and of itself is enough of a reason for me to vote no. (just kidding) Seriously, this prop has potential to really deal with drug crimes. It also extends parole for more serious felonies, so if you're afraid voting yes makes you soft on crime, don't worry - all the really scary criminals will get extra punishment under this scheme. So it's a win, win! VOTE YES!

PROP 6 - POLICE AND LAW ENFORCEMENT FUNDING, CRIMINAL PENALTIES AND LAWS. No!! I'm voting no, but NOT because I don't support cops. I do. (NOTE: This prop also gives money to district attorney's offices, but not public defender officers - go figure. Here in San Diego, the DA is hiring 20 new attorneys. The PD is hiring none because of a hiring freeze.) What bothers me about this proposition are the changes to criminal laws. There are ALREADY harsher crimes for gang members ... this proposition just piles it on some more. For example, just attempting a crime (whatever that means) and being suspected of being a gang (which, in real life, is a really low threshold of proof for the DA) = 10 extra years. That's just crazy. Also, this would allow the police to impound a car if a gun was found in it and the gun was linked to a crime. My guess is that the car would be allowed to be impounded while WAITING to see if the gun was connected to a crime - that's no good. Please vote no. I'm guessing this one will pass because it's lumped in with funding for police officers, which we all know they need anyway. But stand up and be a dissenting voice anyway!

PROP 7 - RENEWABLE ENERGY GENERATION. Okay, I tried my best to read this one. It uses a lot of acronyms and I admittedly got lost. It seems like there is already a renewable energy requirement in place right now - this prop would increase it. There do seem to be some problems - the price of electricity could increase (and there doesn't appear to be any regulation contemplated to keep it at a minimum) and it eliminates the current requirement that any electricity provider that failed to meet renewable targets compensate by adding more in subsequent years. On the other hand, when is more renewable energy a bad thing? And in the long run, it probably could bring down the cost of electricity. I'm probably voting yes. If you know more about this proposition or know someone who does, I'd ask them. Sorry I can't be more helpful.

PROP 8 - ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. (Everyone already knows about this one and is probably already decided) Just keep in mind that this is the another proposition that seeks to amend the constitution. I already discussed this above, so I won't do it again. I'm voting no. I don't see any reason to have discrimination actually written out in our Constitution. I don't care if two women or two men marry each other. It has absolutely no impact on me, but likely means a great deal to them. Voting no.

PROP 9 - CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM, VICTIM'S RIGHTS. Also seeks to amend the Constitution. Right off the bat, I'm against this one. As you all know, I have some experience with the prison system. Victims already get to testify at sentencing and at parole hearings. In fact, it is usually ONLY the victims who testify at parole hearings. So don't necessarily be swayed by that reasoning. The worst part about this proposition is that it won't allow inmates to be paroled early due to overcrowding. This applies to ALL inmates, regardless of the reason for their incarceration. To be clear, serious crimes and serious prisoners don't usually get out early. So this proposition appears to affect lesser criminals - people in jail over drugs or theft type crimes or people who were already on parole and picked up any sort of new criminal case. The prisons are already over crowded. I do believe people who commit crimes should be punished - but overcrowding, when you actually see it, is inhumane. Don't let them make the jails and prisons even more crowded - the jails, Department of Corrections, and guards are doing the best they can with a horrible situation and we shouldn't make it worse. NO!

PROP 10 - ALTERNATIVE FUEL VEHICLES AND RENEWABLE ENERGY. Alright, this one isn't as tough to read as Prop 7, but it's still no cake walk. Essentially, it seems to give rebates for the purchase of alternative fuel vehicles. There's not a whole lot of detail as to HOW these will be distributed (though it does say how much will be given for different types of vehicles). The estimated payout - in the form of bonds - is $5 billion, with an additional $5 billion in interest. Like I said before, the economy sucks. I'm all for alternative energy, but I'm somewhat disappointed that the lion share of the money here would go to encourage people to buy new cars and a much lesser portion would go to research. (Note: Buying a used car, so long as it isn't a polluting P.O.S., is actually better for the environment than manufacturing and selling new cars.) Ask someone else, but I'm probably voting no. (I'm a horrible person).

PROP 11 - REDISTRICTING. Man, just the title is boring. Apparently, this is another constitutional amendment and would change how the legislature determines redistricting. I guess they want some voters involved, but right now just the elected officials pick the districts. Here were some questions that popped to mind: 1) can anyone apply to be a "voter district picker"? 2) when drawing up the districts, can the "voter district picker" use a crayon? If the answers are both yes, I'm totally applying. Seriously, I don't know much about this proposition. The League of Women Voters appears to be in support. That's a horrible reason to vote for something, but hey. Like I've said before, if you know someone more informed, asked them. I'm probably voting yes (crossing my fingers for crayons!)

PROP 12 - VETERANS' BOND ACT OF 2008. Okay, if you're feeling guilty and actually want read the voter information guide on one whole proposition, this is the one to do it - its so short! Looks like the legislature wants us to approve 900 million dollars so that veterans can buy homes and cars. This apparently goes well for the taxpayers in the long run because the veterans actually end up paying the cost of the bonds. The taxpayers would only be left with the bill if the difference between the amount of the bonds and the amount paid by the veterans wasn't equal. Since it probably won't affect me, I say let them have homes/cars. I'm voting yes.

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