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Journal of No. 118


October 18th, 2006

Ballot @ 06:51 pm

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Spurred by the non-voting but opinion-holding britgeekgrrl's tiptoe through the ballot, I'll slowly put together my own, providing me with an unwanted reason for participating in the inevitable Scott-instigated kerfuffle on enigmachat.



Prop 1A: reluctant NO. I like the idea of the gas tax applying strictly to roads and transportation. However, I think the restrictions of the previously passed prop 42 are strong enough. Prop 1A seems to be a reaction to the raiding of these funds for other purposes that happened in 2003-2005. In fact, CA's state economy was in shambles at the time, and this provided some much-needed flexibility.

Prop 1B: reluctant NO. I love infrastructure and ours is falling apart, but $20billion is too much too soon. Take a look at the graph on p.97 and see the mountain that ensues if all the bond issues pass. Prop 1B is responsible for almost half of that mountain.

Prop 1C: reluctant YES. It's $3B in debt, and I doubt it will make a significant difference in any of the things it's attempting (adding low-income housing, unblighting our urbs), but one chunk of the argument against is so retarded, my brain wants to punish the anti-side. I'm so sure the invisible hand of economics will push developers to create low-income housing -- after all, there's such demand for it. I'm sure Kaufman and Broad are working on their new line of crackhead and old folks homes.

Prop 1D: NO. Fuck education. I got mine; that's all that matters. No, it's just too much ($10B) and all over the map. Also, there are still $3B in previous bond funds available for K-12 projects - ask me again next year after you've spent all that. As for higher ed... not everyone has to go to college. When half the students coming into the CalState system fail either the math and english placement exams, maybe we don't need to "construct new buildings and related infrastructure."

Prop 1E: reluctant NO. Katrina Katrina Katrina, omigod floods! Again, I hate to vote down infrastructure, but if we're going to play games with risk assessment, let's run the numbers.
Northridge quake - $25B
Loma Prieta - $5.9B
New Year's Eve Flood of 1997 (what?) - $1.8B
So is it worth $4B? I say no. This is not wilfully ignoring the problem -- a law passed earlier this year provides $500 million for levee repairs. (Though that's far short of the $7-12B estimate of the total repairs and upgrades needed.)

Prop 83: NO. I love child-molesters about as much as the next guy, but this doesn't help. If you want them locked up forever, then increase the jailtime. Make it life. See if I care. But if they serve their time, they're out. There are already plenty of onerous laws they have to follow. Do we really need to increase the safe school zone from 1320 feet to 2000 feet? Is it fair to GPS monitor these people when they've done their time... and make them pay for it?

Prop 84: reluctant YES. More bond spending. And even more randomly cobbled together than 1D, but drinking water is good infrastructure and nature conservancy protects fluffy bunnies. And, whaddyaknow, there's even another $800M for flood control. Makes me feel better about shitcanning 1E.

Prop 85: Reluctant(!) NO. As much as I think parents ought to know about and have a say in their kids' lives and medical procedures, we need to protect kids from wacko parents. It's not the average kid and average parents we need to worry about, it's the kids in trouble and the parents who ARE trouble. Abortions for everyone!

Prop 86: reluctant NO. I'd like to say, "Smokers? Fuck 'em." But I can't. If all the money went to anti-smoking efforts (broadly construed) then I could get behind it, but the major beneficiary of this is emergency rooms and trauma centers. Very worthy causes, I agree, but not the way to fund them. I don't mind paying to educate other people's brats, but wouldn't it be weird if school funds came only from taxes on left-handers? Or beer? Sweet, sweet beer. They came for the smokers, and I said nothing because I don't smoke.

Prop 87: reluctant YES. Unforeseen consequences loom large, but I'll give it a whirl. Apparently, Texas takes a "4.5% cut from it's [sic] oil fields". On the other hand, Texas' taxes are 0%, while CA's corporate tax rate is 8.8%. On the gripping hand, do oil companies actually pay any state taxes? [non-Answer: "Oil companies won't say how much they pay and those tax records aren't public."]
The requirement that evil oil overlords cannot pass on the extra costs to us is laughable, and in the end, we may blow a lot of money on research that produces zilch.

Prop 88: YES. Being a relatively new homeowner (and having just paid the first of two bigger-than-my-mortgage-payment property tax installments) I'm not keen to add to property taxes. But wait... what's this? "The measure exempts any parcel owner who resides on the parcel." Woohoo, anyone feeling sorry for the landlord or people who own more than one home? Not me. I worry that some of the money goes preferentially to above-average performing schools, but overall I think this is a win. ETA: Scott may have convinced me against this one. It is kludgy and would require a new apparatus to collect this new state parcel tax.

Prop 89: YE... huh, waitasec. NO! I really like public financing of campaigns (as opposed to corporate financing). You agree to limit your intake from the capitalist pigs, you get a certain number of $5 contributions from citizens to prove you're not nobody, and we'll open the public coffers for you. Sounds great. However, "Under the measure, candidates from minor parties and independent candidates are eligible to receive smaller amounts of public funds." Fuck you very much! Particularly since candidates that don't participate are still affected by lowered contribution limits. Oh, and there's probably all sorts of 1st Amendment issues about how one can speak with one's money in an election. Not that I care that much.

Prop 90: NO. Unforeseen consequences are one thing, but foreseen ones are another. I foresee lawyers... lots of lawyers. The eminent domain stuff sounds great, but the Paying Property Owners for Economic Losses stuff sounds like a recipe for disaster. It applies to virtually all (new) laws and "to all types of private property ... and 'intangible' property (such as ownership of a business or patent)". Somehow, the Mouse would use this to sue the state for damage to its copyrights. I just know it.

All right, that's my thoughts so far. I'm open to conversion.
 
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From:rsheslin
Date:October 18th, 2006 07:57 pm (UTC)

Prop 86

(Link)
I'm going to vote YES on 86. If you read the arguments for it, it's not supposed to fund anti-smoking activities. The purpose is to make it too expensive for people to be able to afford cigarettes.

Is it a fascist attempt to legislate morality? Maybe, but I don't care. I don't like cigarettes, I don't like being around people who smoke, I don't like the way it makes my throat close up so I can't breathe, I don't like kids getting addicted while they're still kids, I don't like my taxes funding smoking-related diseases, and I most definitely don't like cigarette companies who profit from killing people.

BTW, did you notice that one of the main sponsors funding opposition to this is Phillip Morris? That, in and of itself, is almost enough for me to vote for it.

PS. It looks like you have a ' instead of a " starting your Prop 87 Texas link, and it's messing up your entry.
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From:rsheslin
Date:October 18th, 2006 09:39 pm (UTC)

Re: Prop 86

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And, of course, as soon as I post my "re-post," this comment re-appeared along with what looks to be your corrected blog.

*shakes head*

:P
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From:essentialsaltes
Date:October 18th, 2006 09:53 pm (UTC)

Re: Prop 86

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The purpose is to make it too expensive for people to be able to afford cigarettes.

I sympathize, but I can't blithely support this 'fascist' measure.
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From:rsheslin
Date:October 19th, 2006 01:17 am (UTC)

Re: Prop 86

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I respect your choice and, knowing you, am unsurprised.

:)
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From:jimkeller
Date:October 18th, 2006 11:08 pm (UTC)
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For those who are curious, I put my positions on my website.

I'm in favor of 90 because despite what the fear-mongers say, this only actual change to the law is the prohibition on transfering ownership to private parties, and the fact that the existing rules will now be in the Constitution instead of a complex series of laws and court holdings (which means only people with expensive lawyers enjoy these protections today).

Will it be more expensive? Well, only if cities and the state decide to keep seizing property or to pass new laws that devalue your property. Of course it's more expensive to pay for what you take instead of stealing it, but you always have the option of not taking it at all.
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From:essentialsaltes
Date:October 18th, 2006 11:29 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for the link and reasoning. In re: 90, the election phonebook has this to say (my emphasis): "Under current law and court rulings, a government usually is required to compensate property owners for losses resulting from laws or rules if government's action deprives the owners of virtually all beneficial use of the property. By contrast, this initiative specifies that a government must pay property owners if a new law or rule imposes "substantial economic losses" on the owners. While the initiative does not define this term, dictionaries define "substantial" to be a level that is fairly large or considerable. Thus, the initiative appears to require government to pay property owners for the costs of many more laws and rules than it does today, but would not require government to pay for smaller (or less than substantial) losses."

So my reading is that there is a real change in the law, the extent of which depends on how substantial 'substantial' is.
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From:jimkeller
Date:October 19th, 2006 05:16 am (UTC)
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Yeah, I read that, too, and rolled my eyes. If you or I tried to get money because our property was downzoned, had a prison put in behind it, or had new building restrictions slapped onto it, the city would cite "virtually all beneficial use" and we'd get dick, because that's what the law says on paper. The city's lawyers would argue something like "but he can still enjoy the trees on the land" and the court, anxious to not cost the city money, would agree.

However, due to a series of holdings here in California (mostly to do with water redistricting) and nationwide (mostly to do with environmental regulation), for people with lawyers who can cite the right precedent "virtually all beneficial use" has morphed to mean "can't do what I originally intended to do." If you were planning a huge housing development and the city changes a zoning law requiring you to build sewers as well, if you're rich enough you can make a "virtually all beneficial use" claim and win.

As with all holding-based laws, the application is very scattershot, and heavily favors the wealthy and well-connected. It's not fair (or, as we Libertarians like to say, "it fails the 'single standard of conduct' test).

(On a related note, one lawyer I know has made it his personal crusade to find people whose homes have been taken by eminent domain and point out to them a court holding that most cities conveniently "forget" over and over again, stating that the owners need to be compensated for the seized property based on the higher value of its new use or its previous use.)

I like this Prop. 90 because it's equalizing.
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From:rizwank
Date:October 19th, 2006 01:51 am (UTC)
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Tried to link to this while going over my political despair rant, but its protected... I'll read and reply later this week, but thanks for starting the conversation.

Journal of No. 118