Ken’s California (and L.A.) Election Picks for November 2010

Convinced that the people are the only safe depositories of their own liberty, and that they are not safe unless enlightened to a certain degree, I have looked on our present state of liberty as a short-lived possession unless the mass of the people could be informed to a certain degree. –Thomas Jefferson

Who the hell am I, and do you want to take my election advice? I am a liberal, an atheist, a skeptic, a fan of science, reason and compassion, and anti-teabagger. I try to help others and refrain from being a douche whenever possible.

I made my choices based on the official voter info guides from the state, candidate websites, and my own strong google-fu.

(Presented in the order they appear on my sample ballot.)

Governor: Jerry Brown (D)

I met him once when I was a kid. He was a nice guy, and he didn’t talk down to me. Back then, in the ’70’s, his terms as Governor were know for three things: He didn’t stay in the Governor’s Mansion (and didn’t use limos,) he dated Linda Ronstadt, and he had the misfortune of being in office when Prop 13 passed. He did the best he could, he cares about people as people – not resources, and I think age has made him a bit mellower and a lot smarter.

Lieutenant Governor: Gavin Newsom (D)

I think he might be a rising star in the state Democratic Party. While one typically doesn’t get to do a lot as Lt. Governor, this could be a good chance for him to show he’s got the chops for something bigger.

Secretary of State: Debra Bowen (D)

She kept buggy electronic voting machines out of polling places. That’s a good enough reason to re-elect her.

Controller: John Chiang (D)

The Controller is the one who has to actually handle the money and/or IOU’s when the Governor and legislature can’t reach a consensus. By all accounts (that matter,) Chiang has done well under pressure.

Treasurer: Bill Lockyer (D)

Lockyer is an experienced politician, and, along with John Chiang, is trying to tackle the issue of cities like Bell paying exorbitant salaries to their council members.

Attorney General: Kamala D. Harris (D)

This is a relatively hard choice for me. But her opinions are a little more in line with mine than her opponent’s.

Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones (D)

Unlike my Attorney General choice, this one is a slam-dunk. When it comes to a position that has to hold large corporations accountable, you want a Dem there. Especially for this next term, when more and more of the health care reform bill will come into force.

Member State Board of Equalization, 4th District: Jerome E. Horton (D)

He’s Vice-Chair of the Board, and doesn’t even have a Republican challenger.

U.S. Senator: Barbara Boxer (D)

She’s one of the more liberal members of the Senate. While I can’t agree with everything she’s done, choosing her is a no-brainer given her competition.

U.S. House, 28th District: Howard L. Berman (D)

He’s the Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and has voted for the health care overhaul, Wall Street reform, and is a fan of sanctions against Iran (which seems like a good idea right now.)

State Senate, 26th District: Curren D. Price, Jr. (D)

Seems like a nice guy. No obvious dirt on him. No reason not to vote for him.

State Assembly, 42nd District: Mike Feuer (D)

Oh! Oh wow! He co-authored a bill to allow cities to ban mobile billboards! Yes! Yes! 1,000 times yes!

California Supreme Court and Court of Appeal: Yes to all

The judges at this level are approved by the Governor as well as a panel that includes the Attorney General (currently Jerry Brown.) I can’t find a (relevant) word against them.

Superior Court, Office 28: Mark K. Ameli

He has a ton of endorsements, everyone from the county Dems to the Sheriff.

Superior Court, Office 117: Alan Schneider

Again, lots of endorsements, and his opponent is rated as “not qualified” by the L.A. County Bar.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Torlakson

Both candidates have tons of endorsements. I think Torlakson may get more done, owing to his relationships in the legislature.

County Assessor: John R. Noguez

Everyone seems to like him, and he’s already a Deputy Assessor.

Propositions

If I ever become rich and famous, one of the first things I’ll do is fund a proposition to do away with propositions. There’s a reason we have two rooms full of people in Sacramento trying to work stuff out: it’s their job. We sent them there to do it. Propositions are just a way for fringe groups and corporations to get their pet issues on the ballot. More often than not, this can lead to troubling results (c.f. prop 8, prop 13, etc.)

But, since I am not yet rich enough to bankroll an anti-prop prop, here are my props for this year’s props.

Proposition 19 (Pot Legalization:) Yes

I hate smoking. However, I hate having a significant fraction of our population in prison for a drug that appears to be less harmful than alcohol. There’s a show on the National Geographic Channel called “Border Wars.” It documents the trials and tribulations of working along the U.S./Mexico border. To my surprise, most of the drug busts they document are for pot. So it seems to me that decriminalizing pot may put a big dent in the cartels running northern Mexico. That seems like a good thing, too. Okay, but still, I hate smoking. So please, if this passes, show at least as much courtesy as you would (or should) with tobacco smoke.

Proposition 20 (Redistricting, Part 1:) No

This seems unnecessary and has the support of a number of conservative groups, which always sets off alarm bells for me. It would remove the state legislature from the redistricting process altogether, and give it to a group created by Prop 11. Again, we send people to Sacramento for a reason: to handle this kind of thing. There’s no need to give even more power to Prop 11’s random commission.

Proposition 21 (State Parks Fee:) Yes

I am more than happy to spend $18 a year to support our state parks. And in exchange, all California vehicles get free admittance and parking to the parks. This might encourage a few people to get out of the city once in a while and experience a bit of nature. Win/win.

Proposition 22 (No Borrowing of Local Funds:) No

This seems like a bad idea. When emergencies arise, I want the state to be able to manage them the best way they know how. This prop limits their options.

Proposition 23 (Suspension of Air Pollution Law:) No

Oh, yikes. This is a prime example of a couple of companies trying to dupe the electorate into giving them a break – one diametrically opposed to the interests of said electorate. Climate change is a huge problem. Every little step we can take to reduce it (and we’re “the 8th largest economy in the world”) is a good thing.

Proposition 24 (Repeal Corporate Tax Break:) Yes

What this boils down to for me is the fact that without this prop, multi-state businesses will be able to decide how much of their income they actually made in California (i.e., “none.”) Rather than assume that giant corporations will just magically do what’s right, we should probably close this loophole.

Proposition 25 (Remove 2/3rd Majority for Budget:) Yes

This one is a big deal. The anti-tax right-wing doofuses managed to pass a prop a few years ago that forced the legislature to muster a 2/3rd majority to pass a budget. What’s happened since then? Later and later budgets, with horrible compromises just to get a small minority to vote to remove the deadlock. This prop would mean a budget could be passed with a simple majority. It’s entirely possible that this might lead to budgets getting out on time, and it might also eliminate the kind of deal-making that created the need for Prop 24.

Proposition 26 (Add 2/3rd Majority for Fees:) No

This is another example of corporations using the proposition system to get their way. It makes it harder for the state to impose fees on companies that are actively harming the environment and/or the general public good. Does that seem like a good idea?

Proposition 27 (Redistricting, Part 2:) Yes

This prop eliminates the “Citizens Commission” on redistricting and gives the authority back to the legislature. It’s sort of an anti-Prop 20. Again, we send people to Sacramento for a reason. This lets them do the job we sent them there to do.

So there they are. My choices and brief reasons for each. If you don’t agree with one, I’d like to hear why. I made a point of limiting the number of times I used the terms “teabaggers” or “right-wing doofuses.” I’d like you to show the same courtesy towards me.

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