Election ‘08:What’s on the ballot? Part 1

Y’all should be getting those Voter Information Guides in the mail that detail the various propositions you will be judging come November. Not exactly a page-turner, I know, but the shit is relatively important. As always, I feel it’s my duty to speak on it with another installment of Ms Maryjane Foxie’s Voting Guide 2008. Feel free to comment or debate my take on things, darlings, because to be completely honest, I don’t know shit. I’m just really good at forming opinions on things. Without further ado, let us talk ballot propositions!

Proposition 1: High Speed Rail Bond

This initiative attempts to fund the construction of a high speed railroad between San Francisco and Los Angeles to the tune of $9.95 billion in bonds ($9 billion for the high speed rail & the remaining $950 million to improve existing public transit systems throughout the state). Interest on these bonds is expected to be around $9.5 billion, making the suggested annual repayment of the bonds $647 million per year for the next 30 years. At first glance, it is easy to see why some legislators are weary about funding such a project. After all, California is in a sorry financial state and taking out such a tremendous loan seems a bit fool hardy. BUT, if one considers the jobs created by the railway’s construction and operation AND the environmental benefits of improved statewide public transit, Proposition 1 starts to look a whole lot better. Personally, I would totally prefer to make the trip from SF to LA by rail instead of driving the entire cursed route. At this point, I’m all for Proposition 1.

Proposition 2: Standards for Confining Farm Animals

Excluding rodeos, fairs, 4-H programs, veterinary transport, and a few select instances, Proposition 2 would require that calves bred for veal, egg-laying chickens, and pregnant pigs be confined in spaces large enough to allow the animal to stand, lie down, turn around, and extend their limbs fully. The penalty for ignoring these standards would be a misdemeanor fine or 180 days in jail. Prop 2 is supported by the Humane Society (duh) and the Center for Food Safety (makes you think?). The opposition insists that such standards will increase the risk of avian flu (I don’t follow their argument) and salmonella (since consumers will supposedly be forced to buy cheaper Mexican imports that apparently carry the food-bourne illness). This one is pretty cut & dry for me. I am disgusted by how our current system, lead by mega agribusiness interests not actually farmers like Old MacDonald, treats the animals that end up on my dinner plate. If I had more will power (and money), I’d go veggie. Until then, I’ll just have to insist that folks cough up the extra dinar for larger animal confinements, so that my conscious can remain relatively clear.

Proposition 3: Children’s Hospital Bond Act

Who can reject funding for sick children? I’m not even that callous! Prop 3 authorizes the sale of $980 million in bonds (80% for kids hospitals & 20% for U of C hospitals). The bonds are expected to generate $933 million in interest payments & will cost about $64 million annually for the next 30 years.

Proposition 4: Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of a Minor’s Pregnancy

It’s baaaack, Parental notification is being sold to Californian’s that have already rejected the concept in the past three (or four?) elections. Prop 4 would prohibit underage girls from obtaining abortion procedures before a 48 hour waiting period and notification of their intent to their parentals. The initiative allows for judicial bypass, meaning a minor can approach a judge & plead her case with the hopes that said judge sees “clear and convincing evidence of minor’s maturity”. Physicians would be required to file reports on the abortions preformed on teenaged women and would face stiff penalties for noncompliance. I’ve argued against this same fucking idea in every Voting Guide, so allow me to re-cap the main ideas & move on. First, the state should not be responsible for raising our kids. They do not need to play gate-keeper to medical services. That is a parent’s job. Second, a government that is hostile to the reproductive rights of all women (as ours very much is) should not be compiling these types of records on young women.Is it really difficult to imagine this information being used against the very women Prop 4 claims to protect? The abortion you had at the reckless age of 17 bites you in the ass years later when the factoid is discovered during a routine pre-employment background/credit check. Forget about holding public office, because some “family values” politician will inevitably label you a baby-killer with public records to prove it! Is this really that hard to imagine? Third, a “waiting period” is the most condescending fucking bullshit ever. The idea is that this 48-hour waiting period is to be used to reflect on the gravity of their decision, think it over, make sure this is what you want to do. I have little doubt that most women seeking to terminate their pregnancies have thought the matter through to their satisfaction before heading to the clinic AND time is pretty critical in such situations, so forcing a state-mandated “time-out” seems like shitty idea. Fourth, the “judicial review” process that would allow teens to petition a juvenile court for a wavier of the notification and/or waiting period is bullshit. A preggo teen has to file a claim, go to court, spill her guts to a judge,who then decides whether this young woman is “mature enough”, then (if successful) seek out medical attention. Think about you at age 16. There’s a PP commercial that illustrates this well. Fifth, we’ve voted the same crap down in waaaay too many consecutive elections! This is fucking ridiculous! Fuck Prop 4, or whatever they want to call it these days.

Proposition 5: Nonviolent Drug Offenses. Sentencing. Parole and Rehabilitation.

I am at odds about the whole substance abuse program vs. jail time policy. On one hand, nonviolent drug offenses do not warrant years of incarceration as penance. It’s cruel, costly, and unjust. Rehab gets folks out of jail & that is fucking great for everyone involved. On the other hand, it’s not the government’s responsibility to dictate when and how a person gets sober. That’s a personal thing. These programs should be available, heavily funded, and viable but not force fed. Besides, it just doesn’t work, as far as reducing drug & alcohol abuse is concerned. Anyhow, Prop 5 allows for $460 million annually to go to treatment programs. It eliminates jail sentences for certain drug crimes, parole violations, and failed rehab stints. Parole terms would be shortened for offenders having been convicted of nonviolent drug offenses or property crime, as long as the offender did not have a serious, violent, street gang-related, or sex crime on their record and lengthened for sex offenders and violent felons. Prop 5 also seeks to clear up eligibility standards by implementing a new three tiered system (there’s a nifty chart in the guide) of guidelines. I’m pro-Prop 5, I guess, since keeping folks outta’ jail is a more pressing matter than the right to get fucked up.

Proposition 6: Police and Law Enforcement Funding.

I swear the police are always bitching about funding! Life in Stockton is a prime example of what happens when law enforcement is financially rewarded for existing, not necessarily policing. Make ‘um hustle a little. If the crime rate is reduced & the citizenry generally approves of their local forces, funding increases to maintain the momentum. If there are noticeable signs of the public good being served, pay up. If not, the Boys in Blue outta’ put their noggins together & figure out what needs to be done. Earn your keep. Plus, I have an intense fear and loathing of police officers. But Prop 6 will pass because everybody loves the illusion of safety!

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