I sent in my ballot on Saturday, after spending Friday evening discussing the propositions with a bunch of people over dinner at our house. There seemed to be broad consensus on them, which isn’t too surprising, given that I avoided inviting people I thought I might disagree with. I did that on purpose. I wanted it to be an analysis of the questions at hand, not a personal policymaking session. Ballotpedia had a lot of information on some of the propositions. I’m guessing it will only improve in future elections, and I think the wiki model is actually close to being perfect for coming up with summaries of contentious political topics. Here’s how I ended up voting:
A surprising amount of information and linkage is to be had at the Wikipedia.
CA Ballot Initiatives:
- (1A) Bond for high speed rail: UNDECIDED (requires federal matching funds, probably will run far over budget because it was priced years ago when commodities were cheaper, won’t be functional for many years, now is a crappy time to take out a loan, but it sure would be nice to have a high speed train between LA and SF… would tickets cost more or less than Southwest?)
- Revised CAFO standards (more space for chickens, pigs, veal): YES? (Seems petty – unclear how slightly more space for chickens will result in fewer antibiotics being used, and better water quality near CAFO facilities… it’s still a hundred million chickens, isn’t it? but it’s a step in the right direction – similar to legislation in the EU, doesn’t fully take effect until 2015… dunno)
- Children’s Hospital Bond: NO (Provides public subsidies for private for-profit hospitals, without also giving public sector a share of the profits, or any control over the organizations they are funding, nearly identical bond measure passed in 2004 – and they’ve only spent half *that* money!)
- Require parental notification and waiting period for abortions: NO
- Reduction in non-violent drug offense penalties, treatment in lieu of incarceration: YES
- Capital expenditure for more prisons: NO (we have enough prisons already! Just let out the non-violent drug offenders if there’s not enough space)
- Renewable energy portfolio standards: NO (based on UCS analysis)
- Outlaw Gay Marriage: NO
- Victims rights and harsher parole requirements: UNDECIDED
- Subsidies for some fuels (esp. natural gas): NO (based on UCS analysis)
- Non-partisan congressional districts for CA: YES
- Measure R (transportation sales tax in LA County): UNDECIDED No bike/ped call outs (does complete streets apply to this?), way too much focus on highway projects.
Dear Senator Scott and Assemblyman Portantino,
I’ve recently come across AB2175, a bill aimed an improving water conservation in California. I am strongly in favor of the provisions it details, especially with the looming $10 billion water bond measure we face this fall. However, I am disturbed to see that it includes no real improvement of agricultural water use. As I’m sure you know, ~70% of the water used in California is used for agriculture, and it is not used efficiently, because it is sold at far below cost to farmers (and at far below the rates that residential and commercial water customers pay). No serious water conservation effort can leave agricultural water efficiency out as this bill does. Instead of a vague and unspecified target for agricultural users to be established in 2009, we need a hard number now, before we start investing tens of billions of dollars in new water infrastructure for our state. Agribusiness has had a free ride on water for long enough. If we really have a water problem now (and I believe we do) it’s time for them to do their part in the conservation effort, and footing the bill for new infrastructure.
On the way out to Bodega Bay yesterday we stopped in Sebastopol at the Luther Burbank Experimental Farm, or what’s left of it anyway – all but three acres of an original 18 have been sold off. It is disheveled, and there are no guided tours, just a few acres of numbered plants, mostly fruit and nut trees, that you can look up on a brochure and map in a box by the barn. That didn’t matter at all. It’s a wonderful place.
We procrastinated until the heat of the summer, imagining that we could get cold, hydrating, beer from Mark at Craftsman if push came to shove. Then it turned out that, pending the brewery expansion, his beer is all spoken for by existing commercial customers. Horror!