Individual candidate and party preferences are based on a complex mix of reason, emotion, assumption, prejudice, ignorance, conviction, self interest, selflessness, philosophy, love, hate, fear, and hope. Given that uncrackable code, I prefer to stick to ballot propositions. So without further adieu, for the great state of California and the great City of San Francisco, Pacificvs thus endorses…
Proposition 30 – Yes
For 35 years California has been engaged in a radical two-step experiment. Step one: divest state resources from public education. Step two: repeat. Proposition 30 would authorize tax increases which would bring in about $6 billion to reverse the devastating cuts to education, and is supported by labor and business. Half the money would be raised by increasing income taxes on the 1% by 1% while the other half would be paid for by everybody else through a modest increase in the sales tax. Everybody pays, the wealthy a bit more, but everybody wins. Yes on 30.
Proposition 31 – Yes
California’s state government is plagued with too many institutional problems to list, and Proposition 31 doesn’t come close to solving all of them. But it does offer some sensible solutions to some of them, including moving to two-year budget cycles, devolving state decision making to local governments, and requiring lawmakers to identify new funding for new spending. Yes on 31.
Proposition 32 – No
It is the worst type of proposition that forces you to ask of its proponents “what do you take me for”? Proposition 32 is one of those. Recall the Citizens United Supreme Court decision that obliterated all political spending limits for corporations and unions? And remember how you’ve heard about corporate profits soaring to unprecedented heights, while the America’s unions spiral into oblivion? Proposition 32 would cement the imbalance of capital over labor by eliminating the ability of unions to raise money, and you can’t spend money you can’t raise. What’s insulting: Proposition 32 “offers” to limit corporate political fundraising by outlawing corporate practices that are already illegal. What a joke. Vote no on 32.
Proposition 33 – No
As a general principle I’m deeply skeptical of proposals put forth by single interests. Prop. 33 was written and put forward by the Mercury Insurance group, and allows auto insurance companies to engage in price discrimination against folks (like myself) who for several years have given up car ownership, regardless of your driving record. Vote No on 33.
Proposition 34 – Yes
Until the day government can guarantee it will never accidentally execute an innocent citizen, everyoneshould be opposed to the death penalty. Proposition 34 would end capital punishment in California, and transmute the sentences of all prisoners so condemned to life-without-parole. Which, by the way, would save California a lot of money because government-murder is expensive. It’s also obscenely racist. Vote yes on 34.
Proposition 35 – No
Sex trafficking is a crime against human dignity and should be severely punished. That’s why it’s disappointing that the backers of Proposition 35 squandered an opportunity to do just that, and opted instead to present voters with an hysterical overreach. In addition to increasing sentences on sex traffickers (a good thing) Prop 35 would turn an 18 year old who is dating a 17 into a registered sex offender, eliminating said 18 year old’s chance to amount to anything in this life. Besides, we don’t need an initiative to increase sentences on sex traffickers: there is a thing called the legislature, and they tend to enjoy passing tough-on-crime laws, and can do so without criminalizing high school kids. Vote No on 35.
Proposition 36 – Yes
Voters should be wary of any public policy that appears too tailor-made for a catchy slogan. Voters passed just such a law in 1994 called “Three strikes, you’re out” (get it?). It forces mandatory life-sentences on third-time felons, no matter how banal the crime (the famous example is of the guy sentenced to life-in-prison for shoplifting $150 bucks from K-Mart). While carting-off assholes sounds nice, it’s actually really, really expensive (about $60,000 per inmate, per year) and is money best saved for criminals who are actually dangerous. That’s exactly what Proposition 36 does, by reserving the life-sentence for third-offenders who’ve committed a violent or serious offense. Vote Yes on 36.
Proposition 37 – Yes
No issue has been more fear-based and unscientific than the campaigns for-and-against Proposition 37, which would force most food products sold in California to prominently label whether or not the product contains genetically modified organisms (GMOs). What irks me about this campaign is that Yes-on-37 is driven almost entirely by ignorance and paranoia of precisely the same caliber as vaccine denialism. Let’s be clear, when a paleolithic farmer decided to plant his largest crops next to each other in the hopes that they’d produce even larger crops, that’s GMO. Far from being the harbinger of a Brave New World, artificial selection is among our species’ most primitive useful talents. The difference is that today science allows us to pinpoint very specific genes–like ones for drought resistance–and artificially select for them with great accuracy. As such, GMOs could provide extraordinary benefits to drought prone and poverty stricken locales across the globe. I am further annoyed by Yes-on-37’s stupid campaign point that we should label GMOs because Europe does, as if European civilization (of all places!) has never enacted bad public policy. Alas, I am resigned to vote yes. Why? First, because the labels would apply to all food sold in California, it wouldn’t discriminate against food grown in California, and therefore renders the No-on-37 fears of economic hardship to farmers moot. Apart from that key point, there’s this: more than anything else, I believe Proposition 37 is the public’s reaction to the general understanding that US food policy is no longer serving the public interest, and that we’re through ignoring it. My hope is that if Proposition 37 passes, I will wake up the next day in a world where subsidies, pesticides, and hormone abuse (in short, actual problems) are treated as serious matters of public health rather than as the boutique concerns of the rich. If that world requires some labels that will cost little, hurt no one, and humor some harmless paranoiacs, I think we should go for it. Vote Yes on 37.
Proposition 38 – Yes
Most people don’t mind taxes per se, what they do mind is unfairness. It’s not fair that one group should pay for the second, when the second provides nothing to the first (or so it goes). Proposition 38 is no such proposal. In an era of 1 percent vs 99 percent vs 47 percent, Proposition 38 would raise income taxes on just about everybody to pay for an elemental public services that benefits everyone: public education. Yes, Proposition 32 would also increase taxes to pay for public education. Is it too much? No. Taxes today are at their lowest levels in three generations, that’s because we’ve spent the last generation cutting them. If we want a civilization, we have to pay for it. Yes on 38. (NOTE: If both 38 and 30 pass, then the one with the fewer votes will actually fail, even if it passes. I support the Governor’s Proposition 30 over 38, so if you can remember Yes on 30, No on 38, then go for it. Otherwise, I’d rather blast yes on both into the interwebs to avoid confusion. We definitely need one to pass).
Proposition 39 – Yes
Proposition 39 closes a loophole that allows out-of-state businesses from paying in-state taxes on their in-state profits. It would raise about $1 billion per year to close our budget hole. Opponents claim it will kill jobs, as if Arkansas-based Wal-Mart won’t want to sell goods to Californians because it’s profits won’t be a fraction of a percent as high. No brainer: Yes on 39.
Proposition 40 – Yes
Here we go, one of those yes-means-no propositions. As a “referendum”, Proposition 40 is asking voters to validate a law they already passed. The law in question created a non-partisan Citizen Redistricting Commission that takes the job of redistricting legislative districts away from politicians. A ‘yes’ vote means you think the law should stand and that the citizens commission should stay. Vote Yes on 40.
San Francisco Measures
Proposition A – Yes
Proposition A would enact a modest parcel tax of $79 a year on every lot in San Francisco. The tax would raise $16 million for SF City College, which is facing $25 million in cuts from the state government. A modest tax, a big gain. Yes on A.
Proposition B – Yes
A yes vote would authorize $195 million in bonds for the much needed upgrades of San Francisco’s public parks. As a member of the Pacific Coast Hardball League’s Sunset Nobles (of the Mission), I have hard-won proof of the uneven and unkept fields of San Francisco in the form of bruises and lumps all over my body. There are legitimate concerns with the management of San Francisco’s Department of Rec. and Park that have left some unhappy with this deal, but the parks have been neglected too long to ignore this opportunity. Vote Yes on B.
Proposition C – Yes
San Francisco is crazy expensive. One of the reasons why it’s so expensive is that the supply of homes hasn’t come close to keeping up with the demand to live here. Proposition C would authorize the construction of 30,000 new rental units throughout the city and establish a Housing Trust Fund to help offset the rising costs of living here. That’s important, because unless you’re planning on having millionaire’s mop your floors, the City’s working class will be forced to relocate, i.e. commute, outside the city, clogging roadways and contributing to our already horrendous productivity losses due to traffic. Vote Yes on C.
Proposition D – Yes
It’s kinda cool that San Francisco elects its City Attorney and Treasurer in off-year elections. It’s also crazy arcane and expensive. Let’s move their elections to even years, like everybody else’s, and we can vote less often (but don’t worry, being California we’ll still be voting plenty often). Vote Yes on D.
Proposition E – Yes
San Francisco is the only city in California to tax businesses based on the size of their payroll. That means that as businesses grow, they have a powerful incentive to leave. Proposition E would change that, by phasing out the payroll tax and replacing it with a revenue tax, which would generate about $30 million more for the City’s general fund, which is a small–but welcome–move in the right direction following about $1.5 billion in cuts over the past several years. It’s also fairer to small and growing businesses. Vote yes on E.
Proposition F – No
What do you get when you combine unbelievable narcissism with breathtaking ignorance? You get Proposition F: a proposal to force the City to spend millions of dollars on a plan to spend billions of dollars to dismantle its world-class source of pristine drinking water and carbon-free electricity: the Hetch Hetchy reservoir. Why on earth must we consider this proposal? Because for an extreme fringe, avenging John Muir’s legacy is an objective that exists in a plane beyond reason. And yes, this fringe is extreme: the Sierra Club doesn’t even support it. Granted, we probably wouldn’t build Hetch Hetchy today. But it’s already built, and the ingeniously engineered system continues to provide extraordinary economic, environmental, and social justice benefit to millions of Californians inside and outside San Francisco. In a country with scores of useless reservoirs begging to be torn down, Hetch Hetchy is the last one we should dismantle. But proponents of Proposition F say it would only authorize a study to see if it’s feasible to restore the lost Hetch Hetchy valley, what’s wrong with that? Here’s where the breathtaking narcissism comes in. Hetch Hetchy restoration has been studied seven times in the past 25 years, and all the studies say the same thing: it’s not feasible. Why isn’t it feasible? Because it would cost an absurd amount of money. How much money? $10 billion. How much is $10 billion? $10 billion is enough to send every San Francisco child to UC Berkeley for 30 years. $10 billion could provide every California 2012 High School Graduate with a fully funded four-year CSU education. Proposition F would instead have us spend $10 billion on dismantling our largest source of water and carbon-free power, and spew 387,000 metric tons of carbon into the atmosphere trying to replace it, all in the name of building a new campground. Let’s save ourselves billions of dollars for things that matter by saving Hetch Hetchy. Vote No on F.