Election ‘08: What’s on the ballot? Part II

Let’s pick up where we left off in reviewing November’s ballot propositions, because the remaining handful of ridiculousness is too entertaining to ignore.


Proposition 7: Renewable Energy Generation

Us California citizens tend to be a hop, skip, and a jump ahead of other Americans with regards to environmental matters & green energy policies, but that means very little in the face of impending global climate change. I believe this realization is at the heart of Proposition 7, which would force government-owned utilities to generate 20% of their own power by 2010 (like privately owned electric companies are already required to do), 40% by 2020, and 50% by 2025. Prop 7 also improves the speed at which state permits to build new renewable energy plants are approved. Sounds pretty good, eh? Every rose has it’s thorn, I suppose, because Proposition 7 has it’s fair share of opponents, including California’s Chamber of Commerce, the Farm Bureau, and the Labor Federation; the League of Women Voters, the Sierra Club, and surprisingly all the major statewide political parties: Green, Libertarian, Democratic, and Republican. Why all the opposition to thinking green with Proposition 7? One argument is that small providers of renewable energy, which currently supply 60% of the state’s mandated enviro-friendly energy, would be shoved out of the market by a “competition elimination” provision in the initiative. Basically, the state would not count any power generated by facilities smaller than 30 megawatts towards the utility company’s mandated renewable energy quota, so why would they even bother buying from the lil’ guys? Another problem dissenters have with Prop 7 is the worrisome 10% cost cap provision that prevents price gouging by privately-owned & investor-owned companies, but does not apply to government-owned utilities. Initially, the cost of generating sufficient solar, water, & wind power will be higher than the costs associated with fossil fuel usage (building facilities & such), so I suppose the state is trying to re-coop the losses by giving themselves free reign on price fixing. But what happens when the price of solar or wind power decreases? Will the state pass the savings on to the consumer? Not likely. Now, Economics is not my strong suit, but as I understand it, Prop 7 would allow certain energy providers associated with the state to set electricity prices, without regard to the actual cost of goods provided, in a state that suffered from rolling blackouts & skyrocketing utility costs as a result of our last great energy plan (what the fuck is a power grid? I still don’t understand that crap.). I’m gonna’ have to side with…well, practically everyone…and oppose Proposition 7. I’m not comfortable with a government re-vamp of energy policy that is hostile to small businesses and California’s consumers so quickly after The Energy Crisis that Sacramento has yet to take responsibility for. After all, PG&E admitted to over-charging Californians for electricity in state hearings without much response or outrage from our legislators & it’s hard to imagine they’d be more pro-active about regulating their own profit margins for our sake.


Proposition 8: Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples To Marry

How anyone can be pro-Prop 8 after reading it’s title aloud is beyond me. It says right there: “Eliminates Right”. California is in a bad way when we start explicitly revoking rights from our citizens. How very un-patriotic. Proposition 8 would amend the state Constitution to specify that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid in California. The initiative is by far the most irrational knee-jerk response-proposition on the ballot, as exhibited by it’s meager three paragraph legislative analysis in the Official Voter’s Guide. Proponents of this gay marriage ban state in the Guide that the issue is about “preserving marriage; it’s not an attack on the gay lifestyle". This should clearly illustrate what type of folks are advocating Prop 8… hate-mongering, fag fearing, gender conformists and religious zealots that haven’t realized how un-Christian exclusion and hate actually are. If we were to define marriage as an institution strictly reserved for one man and one woman, we are gonna’ have a whole lot more defining to do. Who exactly is considered a Woman? What are the qualifications? Correct genitalia? Breasts? Child-bearing capabilities? Is a penis the determining factor for male classification? Or do the balls also count? Since the state Constitution guarantees equity under the law, would a gay marriage ban also eliminate the right of straight couples to marry? The anti-gay crusaders behind Prop 8 also claim the initiative “protects our children from being taught in public schools that ‘same sex marriage’ is the same as traditional marriage”. There are so many things wrong with that statement; I cannot believe I read that shit in the official Argument in Favor. First and foremost, I am sick of these people that mistake California for Texas or South Dakota or some other state in the grasp of Evangelical hysteria. Here in California, we don’t use our state Constitution to label certain residents as second-class citizens. We also don’t aspire to use our educational institutions to promote bigotry and ignorance. Secondly, we don’t cave to panic-stricken moral crusaders in Cali, because unlike states in the Bible Belt, California’s lawmakers do not depend on the religious vote to win elections or the Christian Right to fund campaigns. They have plenty of secular donors and voters to be A-OK without the clergy’s endorsement and are often better off without it. Finally, when proposed legislation is so clearly based on the religious dogma of certain churches (I have yet to hear a secular argument in support of Prop 8. You?), it’s obviously a violation of the separation of church and state that is so important in a free society. That being said, I’d like to ask all of those self-righteous folks that are so concerned with matters like this to move the fuck out of here & quit embarrassing me with your public displays of homophobia. After all, we’ve got a right to protect our children from being taught that state-endorsed inequality is morally sound as long as the person is gay.


Proposition 9: Criminal Justice System. Victim’s Rights. Parole.

Here’s another sneaky initiative that seems great & necessary at first glance, but closer inspection leads me to another opinion altogether. Proposition 9 requires notification to victims of crime and grants them opportunity for input during phases of criminal justice proceedings (such as bail, plea, sentencing, and parole hearings) and mandates that they receive a written copy of their rights as victims. Prop 9 also increases the number of people allowed to speak at such hearings on the victim’s behalf, reduces the number of parole hearings that prisoners are entitled to, and establishes victim safety as a consideration in determining bail or release on parole. Under current law, victim’s rights are laid out in the state’s Constitution, the Victims of Crime Resource Center is funded with tax dollars so that the information is available to those that need it, victims have the right to know about & participate in parole hearings and sentencing, and our parole system is already one of the most strict in the nation. Proposition 9 seems like it was drafted by someone unfamiliar with the current criminal justice system. After reading the literature on both sides of the fence (in print & online), I can’t see why Proposition 9 is necessary.

Proposition 10: Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy

This one allows the state to issue$5 billion in GO bonds for various renewable energy, alternative fuel, energy efficiency, and air emissions reduction purposes. The bond money will provide $3.4 billion for financial incentives to purchase or lease high fuel economy vehicles and dedicated clean alternative fuel vehicles (primarily rebates for trucks and other medium- and heavy-duty vehicles) and $1.6 billion to fund research, design, development, and deployment of renewable electricity generating technology. These bonds will cost the state about $10 billion in principal & interest payments over the next 30 years, plus an additional $10 million per year (for the next 10 years) to operate Prop 10 programs. Since I don’t make nearly enough scratch to purchase a new hybrid or fuel efficient pickup truck and the masses statewide are in a bleak financial state, I’m not sure it’s the time to waste cash on convincing well-to-do car buyers that they should go green. Give them a tax credit on their state income tax returns instead of taking out loans that cost taxpayers billions in interest.


Proposition 11: Redistricting

Gerrymandering is the dirty little secret that all incumbent politicians want us to ignore and as long as they get to preside over redistricting every 10 years without any public scrutiny or independent oversight, we might ignore their naughty ways for many years to come. You see, every decade a census is taken and political districts are reorganized to compensate for changes in the size of the population. In the House of Representatives, the state Legislature, and the State Board of Equalization, representation is based on population size. More people = more representatives. Politicians intent on keeping their jobs are in charge of drawing up these new districts & it’s not uncommon for them to create custom made voter support by drawing their districts in a way that includes lots of their supportive and excludes people likely to oppose their future campaigns. Prop 11 tries to rectify this conflict of interest by establishing an independent panel, the Citizens Redistricting Commission, to draft redistricting plans. To be a commissioner on this panel, you can’t have been a candidate for federal or state office, you can’t have worked as a lobbyist, and you can’t have made a political donation of $2000 or more in a single year to any political candidate. Prop 11 also sets forth rules about dividing cities, counties, and neighborhoods into multiple districts; mandates the preservation of geographically compact districts (rather than those illustrated below); and forces the Commission’s proposal to be presented to the public in the form of open hearings where public comment will be accepted. This initiative is a long time coming, people. Seems dull & unimportant, but if you ever wondered why shitty politicians that do nothing for their constituents always seem to retain their seats for eons, now you know. Vote Hells Yes on Prop 11.


Proposition 12: Veteran’s Bond of 2008

This bond will be $900 million to provide loans to California’s veterans for the purchase of farms or homes. It will cost about $1.8 billion to pay off the principal and interest over a period of 30 years. The current veteran’s assistance organization, Cal-Vet, is financially sustained by the veteran’s that participate in the program without a cent of tax payers money going into their coffers. This loan will be paid back by these same vets, but if their payments can’t cover the $59 million per year payments, the state will assume the remaining debt. This is kinda’ a duh proposition. Vets deserve to have a little TLC from the government they fought for. Apparently, our elected officials agree because no one in either the State Senate or the Assembly cast a “No” vote for Proposition 12. I’m not about to be the dickhead that does! Yes on 12!


So there we have it! Those are the Propositions your deciding on come November, so start forming an opinion one way or another. Complacency is unoriginal and boring, so step up your game a little & think about what’s going on. Next time, we’ll address the candidates running for local office… I’m thinking about donning a trench coat & disguise mustache, so I can avoid detection when tailing Stockton’s mayoral candidates. Until then, dah-lings!


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