Props, Candidates, & Commentary

I should be walking a precinct today for one of my favorite candidates, but I seem to have injured my back or pulled a muscle. Now I have more sympathy for folks who are slowed or even stopped by lower back pain, but I’m hoping I can still make myself useful by putting down some thoughts on our local political choices.

To start off, we have lots of propositions and lots of pros and cons already. In my Democratic club we’ve continued debating some of them even after we made our recommendations and mailed them out.

It’s a testament to the complexity of making legislation, organizing our state and local budgets, and designing a constitution by the initiative process-well, it’s a mess. Voters have much less time to devote to deciphering them than legislators do and probably less inclination to make them their daily priority.

Then we have the voter equivalent of lobbyists-campaign consultants well versed in the art of advertising. But once these props get on the ballot, often by way of millionaires or corporations, we have to take them seriously.

You can find lots of organizations recommending the right way to vote based on your interest group. I check out many sources before deciding-including the local papers, labor unions, blogs (Tonya Love’s Lovehealthandadvocacy.com is just one of them), and the local Dem clubs to sort these out.

Here are my thumbnail recommendations:

Prop 30-Yes-Flawed but extremely important to stabilizing, if temporarily, our budget and our school system, some progressive taxes combined with some regressive ones but a necessary fix until we are willing to look at Prop 13 with a clear eye.

Prop 31-No-Another crazy scheme to hamstring the Legislature from making budgets in the guise of cleaning up the mess, gives the governor the ability to change or eliminate programs which the Leg voted to spend money on if he doesn’t think we can afford it. It is a constitutional amendment.

Prop 32-Hell No-It prohibits unions from collecting political donations and contributing to candidates while claiming to do the same for corporations which will still fund political campaigns the way they always did. It might as well be called the “Defund the Democratic Party Act” since it eliminates practically the only source of funding that is not from corporations and CEOs.

Prop 33-Stupid No- Aren’t we tired of Mercury Insurance yet? They should be tired of trying to fool us into voting away our right to some kind of control over car insurance costs. Geesh.

Prop 34-Yes-Repeal the death penalty with all its pitfalls-economic and racial injustice and ridiculous waste of public monies. If you were standing outside of San Quentin while they slowly murdered Stanley Tookie Williams like I was, well, please support this.

Prop 35-No-No, it’s not a no-brainer, it’s a mess of an initiative (or is that redundant)? It just adds another layer of people who will be locked away or not allowed to be part of society who may not be traffickers while not punishing other types of exploitation and does not support the victims. There is a law on the books which needs to be funded that supports the victims. See
http://www.psmag.com/legal-affairs/prop-35-case-act-undermines-victims-rights-48314/

Prop 36-Yes-Duh, this is a no-brainer. Stop spending our limited dollars on jailing people who have not committed violent crimes rather than educating them. Now if we could just end the war on drugs.

Prop 37-Yes-GMO Labels-In spite of all the ads and the blather that it’s not perfect, it’s just a label and might be the beginning of healthy eating or at least a step in that direction. Something civilized countries are already doing.

Prop 38-No-Munger Initiative-There’s lots of theories on how 30 and 38 affect each other. I’m voting no on 38 and encouraging a strong vote for 30 which goes into effect immediately and pays for more than just K-12 education.

Prop 39-Yes-according to the LA times of October 10, 2012, “Prop. 39 would end tax giveaway, raise $1 billion for California” which was granted by Schwarzenegger and the Dems in the Leg during some crazy backroom deal session. End that now.

Prop 40-Yes-In this case yes means nothing changes but if we forget and vote no; everything changes and we have to do redistricting again to the tune of mucho bucks. Even the Repubs who put this on the ballot have abandoned it but remember that, in the perverse language of “initiative speak”, yes is no, kind of.

Prop A1-Yes. We’ve had lots of arguments on our Wellstone Democratic Club listserve on what the zoo needs or what they’ll do with the funds but most ultimately believe that the kids of Oakland will get lots of benefits from a well-kept, nationally recognized zoo with happy animals. It’s a deal at $12 a year!

Transportation Measure B1-Yes-It will double the sales tax that funds transportation improvements including roads, buses, and BART, but it will keep the cost of tickets for seniors, youth, and disabled affordable.

Local Races:

Oakland City Attorney-Barbara Parker is the only candidate who is qualified to run this large public law office. She is even-handed and objective and has been doing the job ably. Ignore the sturm und drang of Larry Tramutola’s protestations on behalf of Jane Brunner. They only serve to embarrass her record for doing good stuff as a legislator.

D1-Rank your votes-Dan Kalb, Richard Raya, and Don Link in whichever order you choose but that is mine.

D3-No order but for now I pick Nyeisha, Alex , or Lynette/Sean. I know that’s chicken shit but it’s as close as I could get to deciding. Since I don’t live there, I don’t have to make 3 of those choices.

D5-Lots of controversy about Mario and some of it worries me, but I choose change over same old, same old. And, for school board-Mike Hutchinson-strong leadership and real change.

D7-Sheryl Walton is running a strong campaign and you should be out walking for her now. District 7 deserves leadership that gets out of the office and shows up where and when you need them.

At Large Rebecca Kaplan- There is no reason to replace a progressive representative for this seat with a 20 year veteran who spends his time blocking change while encouraging vitriol on the Oakland City Council. Retire Mr. de la Fuente now.

18th Assembly District-Abel Guillen is the guy we need to go to Sacramento and keep track of what Oakland students need. He has both a strong education and finance background. Vote Abel. His office is at 19th Street and Broadway, phone banking and precinct walking continue.