Larry's Ballot Recommendations for November 2010

Here's how I voted on the California ballot propositions (I vote by mail), and my rationale for each:

Prop. 19 (Marijuana legalization)

I voted yes. I'm no fan of marijuana or the drug culture, but it's about time we admitted the war on drugs is an abject failure. Because we did not learn from our own history (i.e., Prohibition) we have repeated the mistakes of the past. As the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s allowed the Mafia to flourish, the prohibition of drugs has allowed the Mexican and Colombian drug cartels to flourish, as well as gangs like the Crips, Bloods, and others. As the _Economist_ has pointed out, we have treated a public health problem as a criminal law problem, which has had the side effect of filling our prisons with drug offenders at a time when the state is in financial crisis.

It is true that it will not change federal law. Nevertheless, if the experience of medical marijuana is any indication, the federal government will eventually quietly acquiesce. There are also issues with the Tenth Amendment to be resolved. Oh, and did I mention the abject failure of the war on drugs? It's easier for kids to get pot, meth and LSD than it is for them to get beer. This is stupid.

Prohibition doesn't work, period. We should stop banging our heads against the wall. Vote yes.

Prop. 20 (Congressional redistricting)

I voted yes. This measure transfers authority for Congressional redistricting to the redistricting commission that we voted for in a recent election. It will help reduce gerrymandering and districts designed to ensure the re-election of incumbents. Vote yes.

Prop. 21 (Vehicle License Surcharge)

I voted no. This measure adds an additional $18/year to vehicle license fees in order to fund state parks. We all love state parks, but this is the wrong way to fund them. Vehicle license funds should be used for transportation projects and infrastructure. The right way to fund parks is through general taxation and appropriation of the requisite funds by the state legislature. I refuse to do their job for them, and neither should you. Vote no.

Prop. 22 (Prohibition on borrowing of funds by the state)

I voted no. This measure is an initiative constitutional amendment that prohibits the state from taking or borrowing local funds used for transportation, redevelopment, or local government projects and services even during times of severe financial hardship. I have two problems with this measure: 1) It seems shortsighted to tie the hands of the state in times of crisis, tying the hands of the legislature, and 2) it is a constitutional amendment, of which we already have far too many in California. We need to stop micromanaging the legislature. Stuff like this is what has gotten us into the mess we are in today. Vote no.

Prop. 23 (Suspends implementation of air pollution control law)

I voted no. This measure would suspend the implementation of AB 32 until such time as the state's unemployment level drops to 5.5% or less for one full year.

If you're wondering what the hell unemployment has to do with air pollution control, you're not alone. This measure was funded by the companies who would be affected (no surprise there), using the scare tactics of OH MY GOD WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO CUT THOUSANDS OF JOBS AND LEAVE CALIFORNIA AND SEND THE STATE INTO A TAILSPIN JUST BEFORE WE CRASH AND BURN OH MY GOD THE HUMANITY. Oh, please.

Also, just as an aside, given our current circumstances it's likely to be a hell of a long time before our unemployment level drops to that level for a sustained period, and in fact historically it has only been that low in California for brief times on a few occasions.

Like smog? Vote yes. Otherwise, just vote no.

Prop. 24 (Repeals legislation allowing businesses to lower their tax liability)

I voted yes. This measure, which in a perfect world would be called the Corporate Welfare Act of 2010, would repeal recently passed legislation that was part of a budget compromise, which allowed businesses to lower their taxes. I'd like to pass a law that lowers my taxes, too. People in hell want ice water. Sorry, but I'm not feeling it. Despite the all the fear, uncertainty and doubt they're sowing, all this does is restore business taxes to the levels they were previously. That's all. Vote yes.

Prop. 25 (Simple majority to pass a budget)

I voted yes. This should have been done a long, long time ago. If this was already law, we would have had a state budget months ago. California is one of the few states that requires a supermajority to pass a budget, and it's one of the reasons for the annual budget circus of IOUs and so on. This measure fixes the problem and brings us into line with other states that only require a simple majority (50% +1) to pass a budget. I can see no logical reason to oppose this. Vote yes.

Prop. 26 (2/3 vote to approve certain fees)

I voted no. Go back and read what I wrote about Prop. 25\.

OK, got that? Apparently, since the state budgeting process has been so successful over the years (ha!) someone got the brilliant idea to require a two-thirds vote to approve certain fees. No, no, no. Bad idea.

Also, this is a constitutional amendment. Go back and read what I wrote about constitutional amendments in California in my remarks on Prop. 22. Do you have any idea how hard it is to overturn one of these after it's passed? Somebody should go find whoever dreamt this up and force them to spend the next five years listening to Gloria Allred recite the insurance code. Vote no.

Prop. 27 (Eliminates state redistricting commission)

I voted no. This one gets the 2010 Chutzpah Award. This measure would eliminate the nonpartisan state redistricting commission, and give the job of redistricting back to the Legislature, who have done such a sterling job with it in the past. Bloody hell. Just for good measure, this is also a constitutional amendment. Oy.

Look, if you're happy with gerrymandered districts, noncompetitive elections, and the general way things are going in California, then by all means vote yes. But if you're not happy with all of that--and nobody I know is--why would you give the current crop of Sacramento officials this kind of virtually non-repealable authority? This is a bald-faced attempt at subverting the previously expressed will of the people, and should be stomped on and left to die. Vote no.

Afterword on statewide offices

In the races for public office, you can make up your own mind, but as for me, for the first time in my adult life I find myself unable to vote for any Republican. I will simply not be associated with, or cast my vote for, any group, candidate or organization that has even the remotest link to, a partnership with, or which panders to the Tea Party phenomenon, with which I have major and fundamental disagreements on the most basic level. Therefore, I voted a straight Democratic ticket for the first time _ever_.

And that's my take on the election. Happy voting…