Proposition 1 – water infrastructure bonds – No

This proposition has the environmental community divided.  On the one hand it provides for substantial funding for river restoration – funds which probably won’t come in similar levels from the legislature.  But the price is too high.

Proposition 1 allocates 2.7 billion for more dams and surface storage.  I’m not opposed to the latter as unfortunately Los Angeles and other southern California communities never bothered to build reservoirs – they would take up space which could be used for more tracts and malls.  Apparently it never occurred to the planners of the time that the Colorado River would be overtaxed and they probably expected that they could muscle through more diversions despite ballot defeats such as the peripheral canal proposition in 1982.

It is opposed by the Center for Biological Diversity and Food and Water Watch on the basis that the proposed projects and diversion policies may lead to the collapse of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta and seriously endanger species including the Chinook salmon, smelt, and steelhead, increase the salinization problems, and feed into unsustainable growth polices.

Leave the dams and diversions out of the mix, and I can support it.

Proposition 2 – Budget “Rainy Day Fund” Stabilization – Yes

I don’t like the provision which deprives local school districts of the ability to maintain the reserves at their desired amounts, and I don’t quite get why the proponents found that necessary.  But other aspects of the proposition strengthen the rainy day fund so that it can maintain schools and colleges – the proposition makes special provision for them so that students aren’t held hostage in every budget crisis – is worth supporting.  It does require that half the fund go to paying pensions and other debts, but it pretty much establishes a mandate for prioritizing education, and that’s a good thing.

Proposition 45 – puts health insurance rate increases into the hands of the Insurance Commissioner – Yes!

The “Independent Commission” set up by California Care hasn’t been very effective.  Yes, this puts the power in a “single Sacramento politician” as the opposition puts it, and when that pol faces re-election the measure of his/her success will be whether premiums and costs have been kept down.  There’s a reason why the insurance industry is spending huge bucks to kill this thing – about 25 million as of the publication of the Voter‘s Guide.  No Insurance Commissioner has accepted campaign donations from insurance companies since 2000, and they’re not happy about it.  They got some sweet deals out of ACA, and this proposition will roll some of that back to the benefit of consumers.  Most other states have taken this route.  And the information to be submitted to the Commissioner in any application for rate changes has to be signed under penalty of perjury, which means that false information can be prosecuted.  It provides for public notice and input regarding any proposals for increases.  And it prohibits health, auto, and homeowner insurance eligibility or rates from being based upon lack of prior coverage or credit rating – which ought to have been incorporated into ACA nationally.  The only downside to the proposition is the exemptions for large corporate group plans, and I don’t get why.

Proposition 46 – drug test doctors and up the MICRA limits – No, unfortunately

MICRA never should have been passed anyway, as juries should not be restricted in awarding damages for medical malpractice.  Why physicians should receive special protection against lawsuits has always been beyond me.  But anyway, in the 1970s MICRA was established which limits general damages in medical malpractice cases to $250,000.00.  It has never been adjusted for inflation, so basically the real dollar amount is about 1/5 what it was then.  The limit shouldn’t be there at all, but certainly in the absence of abolition it should be increased out of fairness.  I could go on about why MICRA has pretty much left malpractice victims without remedy as the defense pretty much takes every case to trial – there is no incentive to settle, they’d just as soon roll the dice.

I would support the proposition but for the other half which is mandatory drug testing for physicians.  I don’t support mandatory drug testing for anyone.  I could maybe understand such a law for surgeons.  I wouldn’t support it, but I could understand it.  But a general practitioner?  Sure, a physician on drugs could give bad advice, but then what about lawyers, accountants, etc.?

The funny thing is that the opposition anrgues that the drug testing part is the offering as a Trojan Horse for the tort “reform” reform, which has failed three times now.  Well, but trying to make it attractive to reactionaries, they’ve lost my vote.

Proposition 47 – Sentencing Reform – Yes

Lowers some crimes from felonies to misdemeanors – some drug possession, petty theft, receiving stolen property, bad check writing, forgery, etc.  It’s aimed at compliance with the Supreme Court order to reduce the prison load.  This will be of benefit to minority and poor who get hit with bigger charges/sentencing than the others, and will save the state considerable money – which will be earmarked for mental health and drug treatment programs, as well as schools and crime victims funds.

Apparently the reductions don’t apply when a previously convicted sex offender or murderer writes a bad check, and that really makes no sense to me – a bad check is no worse if it was written by a convicted rapist, but I suppose it’s to avoid the opposition’s inevitable argument that the proposition would be lessening sentences for rapists and molesters.

It’s hardly a panacea, but it’s an attempt towards some level of sanity in a state which imprisons a larger percentage of its population than most banana republics.

Proposition 48 – Special Agreement to Allow Construction of Casino off reservation – Yes, with reservation

I voted for all the gaming propositions in the 90s because I felt that the tribes deserved a chance for revenues, and as long as someone was going to benefit it might as well be the tribes rather than the legitimized gangsters in Nevada.  But I really don’t like what’s happened with them, as the construction is exempt from too many environmental laws and controls on growth.  Years ago I drove Highway 20 on my way to depositions in Sacramento and saw for the first time the Casino at the big intersection in Lake County, and the thing looked really out of place – lit up like something from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.  I don’t like casinos really.  I find it depressing to even walk through them.

But, it is revenue for the tribes.  It supports the programs and infrastructures which keep the societies relatively intact.  As long as the addiction exists and has to be fed, it might as well be directed to some benefit.

Yes, it’s off tribal land.  No, I don’t think approving it this once will lead to floodgates.  The local governments will benefit with over 50 million dollars in Madera County, which is impoverished and in great need.

And, I don’t quite get the particulars, but apparently in the deal the local Wiyot Tribe will receive revenues since they will forego casino construction in their land near the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge.  That’s good too.

Some of the smaller casinos complain that the precedent will result in more proposals for casinos in population dense areas, at the expense of more rurally located tribes.  But if we have to vote at the statewide level every time such a proposal is made, I think any “trend” will be short-circuited.  I hope I’m right.

I don’t like that a construction project off tribal land is exempt from CEQA.  I don’t like that precedent at all.  But then, it’s kind of an artificial distinction, since it was all their land to begin with; so, convince me of the floodgates and I’ll change my mind.  But otherwise, it doesn’t seem like a significant change in the current state of the law, which allows these things to be dropped into communities all over the state.

Okay, so at the state level that leaves me with the Constitutional Offices.  Since under the new election rules (that I didn’t vote for!) third party candidates are essentially gone from the general elections, I guess I’m just going to vote for the Democrats.  Some of them have done good jobs.  Others are wimps and weasels, but their Republican opponents are as bad, and none of them is even interesting this time around.

I haven’t looked up what a “controller” actually does in years.  I used to know, but I’ve forgotten over the years.  It sounds like something a childhood friend of George W. Bush would have responded with when George, Jr. said, “I’m the Decider.”  His friend, “Well, I’m the Controller!”

Actually, both sound like the Marvel Comics cosmic villains possessing the Infinity Gems.

I guess I should take it more seriously.

Local endorsements to come.

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