Monday, November 3, 2008

Summary of Recommendations on State Propositions, November 2008

This is a summary of my current thinking on state propositions on the November 2008 ballot. I'll add links as I write up remaining conclusions.

A separate post provides my recommendations on local candidates and measures, including Berkeley, relevant special districts, and selected races in Oakland, San Francisco, El Cerrito, and Marin-Sonoma.

YES YES YES on 1A: High Speed Trains to connect California and combat global warming

Yes on 2: Ethical standards for confining farm animals (see comments: Mariana's and mine)
No on 3: Children's Hospital Bond (see my comment)
NO on 4: No means No. No to Legislating Family Communication
A reluctant No on 5: Nonviolent drug offenses (see also John's comment)
No on 6: No ballot-box budgeting for new criminal justice programs
NO on 7: Don't Set Energy Policy by Initiative

NO NO NO on 8: Don't take away my sister's rights

NO on 9: A Bad Constitutional Amendment
NO on 10: Oilman's giveaway pretending to be "green" measure
Yes on 11: Reform Redistricting in California
Yes on 12: Veterans' Housing Bond (see my comment)

As always, comments are welcome, particularly on ones above where I haven't posted a link yet.

A Reluctant No on Prop 5 re: Nonviolent Drug Offenses

This was my toughest decision on this election. I waffled until the moment that I actually filled out my ballot tonight. And it wasn't for lack of data - I even had opposing emails from a public defender (Yes on 5) and a district attorney (No on 5) with lots of details about the measure.

I agree entirely with the policy intent. We should not be locking people up for non-violent drug offenses. If that was all this initiative did, I'd vote yes for sure. I'd be joining LOTS of people I respect.

But that's not all this initiative does. Prop 5 also requires that a certain amount of money be dedicated to specific programs from the state budget, in perpetuity. That is ballot-box budgeting and is exactly the kind of thing that makes it super hard for the legislature to negotiate the budget every year. Did you notice how late the budget was this year? That delay is in large part because the budget is structured to be VERY difficult to pass.

Now I know that the "No" campaign is mostly people I disagree with. And it is likely that if Prop 5 fails, it will mostly be interpreted as a "tough on crime" vote. I'm unhappy about that. But I think I'd be more unhappy, the next time the budget is super-late, if I knew I'd voted for an initiative that made the problem worse.

So I just voted NO, but I'm still unsatisfied. If you're torn like me, I recommend you send a contribution to the Drug Policy Alliance Network and ask them to pursue the same policy change without the ballot-box budgeting.

Yes on Prop 11: Reform Redistricting for State Legislators

I waffled for awhile but decided to vote Yes.

First: this is something that HAS to go through the initiative process. Legislators themselves will not succeed in rewriting the rules for how they get elected. Note the number of FORMER state legislators who are supporting Prop 11. These are people who saw the flaws in the existing system, and now that they're no longer in it, are willing to support change.

Prop 11 was written by the League of Women Voters and Common Cause after a couple years negotiation in the state legislature. This is NOT just some millionaire's crackpot idea. They worked out the kinks.

That's why LOTS of newspapers have endorsed it.

Why not wait 'til a better plan comes along?

Good question, glad you asked :-)

If Prop 11 passes now, it will influence the redistricting done based on the 2010 census. But if it doesn't come back again until 2010 (or 2012, more likely, to be on a presidential ballot), it won't have any influence until the 2020 census. I think that's too long of a wait.

Vote Yes on 11.