Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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California Progressive Voters' Guides: A Composite

Many of California's ballot propositions this year are unusually confusing this year, and I've been having trouble deciding on several of them. To help sort out the various arguments, I searched for every progressive voters' guide I could find and compiled the information in one place. The guides I found are by the Courage Campaign (which has been heavily active in opposing Propositions 4 and 8), Calitics, the Center for American Progress, and the Peace & Freedom Party. [Edit: I've now included the Alameda County Green Party as well.] Here's what they had to say. (In all cases where there was disagreement, I quoted the minority opinion, because the majority opinions were so well-known that it didn't seem necessary to explain them.)

Prop 1A (High-Speed Rail): The Alameda County Green Party recommends NO, saying that "it is a public works fraud scheme specifically designed to appeal to gullible California environmentalists. If we vote for Proposition 1A, the only guarantee is that billions of dollars will be spent on planning, engineering, land acquisition, demolition, and construction of part of a guide-way. Trains may never run, as the $10 billion bond is only a small fraction of the total amount required!" The Peace and Freedom Party has no position, saying, "The Peace and Freedom Party generally opposes bond measures as increasing the costs of projects while benefiting the rich who buy tax-exempt bonds, but we're generally in favor of improving rail systems to replace inefficient and polluting automobile and air transportation. If it were clear that Proposition 1A would really build a good rail system, we probably would reluctantly support it. If it were clear that Proposition 1A was a boondoggle for real estate and construction interests that built a poor or mediocre rail system as a side product, we would oppose it. Neither is clearly the case." The other three progressive voters' guides all recommend YES.

Prop 2 (Farm Animal Conditions): Everybody recommends YES. Calitics notes, "While there are lots of protests from factory farming interests, this measure could level the playing field for small farmers."

Prop 3 (Children's Hospital Bonds): The Alameda County Green Party and the Peace & Freedom Party both recommend NO. The Peace and Freedom Party explains, "While children's health care is a worthy cause, the combination of bond financing and private medical care corporation involvement means that only 25% to 40% of the money would actually go to the promised programs." But the other three all recommend YES.

Prop 4 (Parental Notification for Abortion): Everybody recommends NO. The Center for American Progress notes, "For young women from abusive families, this measure would only allow a family member other than a parent to receive the notification if abuse had been reported to the authorities."

Prop 5 (Drug Rehab Programs): The Center for American Progress recommends NO, saying, "While Proposition 5 seems to expand resources for progressive treatment alternatives, there is little agreement on how the measure would work and how it would affect existing programs. The measure could undercut progressive reforms, including those enacted in 2000 under Proposition 36. Currently, no first-time drug offender is subject to jail time in California. Proposition 5 would have other negative effects, such as compromising the ability of drug courts to intervene until an individual has committed multiple offenses and restricting the discretion of judges to impose or threaten sanctions, including jail time, when necessary to ensure compliance with drug treatment programs. Issues of this complexity should be vetted and perfected through the legislative process; voters should not be left to wade through this massive, 36-page, single-spaced, fine-print proposal." But the other four all recommend YES.

Prop 6 (Law Enforcement): Everybody recommends NO. Calitics quotes the San Jose Mercury News: "Proposition 6 is another example of ballot-box budgeting that has left the state finances gasping for air. It would require spending $965 million next year - and more every year thereafter - on law enforcement, probation and police programs, with a focus on gangs. That's $365 million - 50 percent more - than last year. And the amount will grow, because the initiative guarantees annual increases for inflation, and higher prison expenses as a result of the new or longer sentences it would impose for 30-plus crimes. Add in $500 million for jails that the initiative requires for more prisoners, and it's a daunting number, at a time that the overall crime rate has been dropping."

Prop 7 (Renewable Power Standard): The Courage Campaign has no position, saying, "Proponents believe it is a bold and necessary step toward more solar and wind projects by mandating we get 50% of our power from renewable sources by 2025. Opponents believe the measure is poorly written and may cause more harm than good. We are not convinced by either side and invite voters to make their own assessment." The other four all recommend NO.

Prop 8 (Eliminates Same-Sex Marriage): Everybody recommends NO. (And they'd better! I sure wouldn't be citing them if they didn't.) The Courage Campaign notes, "Would revoke marriage rights for same-sex couples and enshrine discrimination in the state constitution, the first time in [California] history that a constitutional amendment would rescind human rights." It would also be the first time in American history that anyone's marriage rights were revoked after having previously been granted.

Prop 9 (Victims' Rights): Everybody recommends NO. The Center for American Progress notes that it "would severely impair the defendant's ability to gather information and present a full and unfettered defense."

Prop 10 (Natural Gas): Everybody recommends NO. Calitics notes, "Prop 10 would sell $5 billion worth of bonds to help Californians buy cleaner cars. The problem of course is that clean is defined as to mean natural gas, and not hybrids. Huh? . . . This is simply a boondoggle for Swift Boat Veterans Funder T. Boone Pickens to get his natural gas company a ton of new purchasers and to get the state to build his natural gas highway." The Peace & Freedom Party adds, "The bond financing would more than double the cost of this program, which is not well-targeted in the first place."

Prop 11 (Redistricting): Everybody recommends NO. The Courage Campaign notes that since this proposition would create a commission required to consist of 50% Republicans and 50% Democrats, it "[a]ctually favors Republicans (who have 32% of registered voters) over Democrats (with 43%) and Independents (with 19.5%). Undermines voting rights for Californians of color." Calitics adds that it "would exclude from the commission anybody who has had any experience relevant to the process."

Prop 12 (Veterans' Bonds): The Peace & Freedom Party has no position, saying, "This measure would issue $900 million in bonds, but they would be paid back by the veterans who buy homes with its assistance. The state's role is only to guarantee the bonds, allowing veterans to borrow money to buy homes at lower interest rates, and none of the Veterans' Bond Acts over the last half-century have cost taxpayers a cent. The nature of the program was enough to overcome our general opposition to bonds, but its benefits being limited to military veterans kept us from supporting it." The other four all recommend YES.

As for me, I'm currently leaning toward "No" on everything but Prop 2 (Farm Animal Conditions) and Prop 12 (Veterans' Bonds). However, I remain almost evenly torn on Prop 1A (High-Speed Rail). If you think you can persuade me one way or the other on Prop 1A, I encourage you to try. Efforts to change my mind on the others would be okay, too.
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