The Crazifornia Propositions Voter Guide

Uglies, Goodies and Don’t Bother Me’s make the Crazifornia Proposition Voter Guide a Must!

When I was interviewed by The Weekly Standard for an upcoming article about this November’s flock of Crazifornia ballot initiatives, that’s how I categorized them: “Five uglies, four goodies and two don’t bother me’s.” (I’m still not sure how to spell that last one!) Coming up with that summary took hours of research, which you can save yourself with The Crazifornia Propositions Voter Guide.

Here are my recommendations, in ballot order, with those in red being the most critical:

Prop 30 – Ugly

It’s hard to even get by the name of this one – Temporary  Taxes to Fund Education, Guaranteed Local Public Safety Funding – without uttering that most common of election season bromides, “How stupid do they think we are?”

This proposition’s position at the top of the ballot is the result of Gov. Jerry Brown’s strong-arming of the system to gain advantage, and that pretty much sums up this initiative. Its advertising campaign is basically strong-arming, too; picture an image of a sweet classroom teacher with a gun to her head and the slogan, “Pay up or the teacher dies!” Brown could have linked passage of his tax  hike to the jobs of bureaucrats, regulators and tax-collectors instead of teachers, but we know how that would turn out.

If Proposition 30 passes, California will have the highest income taxes of all 50 states, and its already secure ranking as the state with the highest sales tax will become more secure.  California spends three times more per capita on social welfare programs than it should, based on national per capita averages. It doesn’t need more revenue, it needs more disciplined spending. Vote NO.

Current Around the Capital Polling Average: Closing steadily at 50.8 yes, 39.9 no. We might still defeat this one!

Prop 31 -  Goodie

If the LA Times is against it, we must be for it. This latest effort from California Forward would create a two-year budget cycle for the state in order to reduce end-of-the-session craziness (I doubt the craziness would disappear, but still like the idea of taking more time with budgeting), require the legislature to find off-setting cuts for any new expenditure of $25 million or more, require performance reviews of all state programs, plus a few other good ideas.

The LA Times doesn’t like it because “it could only be revised by another vote of the people.” Exactly! Leave it to the legislature and they’ll be back to their old tricks in no time.  Vote YES, but note that OC Supervisor John Moorlach, a leader in the fight for fiscal responsibility let me know he’s voting no because it “forecloses on the Laffer curve” by limiting the legislature’s ability to enact tax decreases. Like all things from California Forward, 31 is a mixed bag.

Current Around the Capital Polling Average: About one-third are still undecided so this one could still flip. Yes: 30.7, no 37.8

Prop 32: Goodie

Here’s another run at “paycheck protection” or curtailing the power of unions (and corporations) to mandate paycheck deductions used for campaigning and lobbying. Of course, corporations don’t do mandatory payroll deductions for lobbying, so clarity demands saying that this is an effort to curtail union power.

And it needs to be curtailed if California is every going to gain the fiscal sensibility it must gain to become healthy once again. Public employee unions own Sacramento now, as just the two biggest public union funders of lobbying in Sacramento spend more than the pharmaceutical industry, PG&E, Chevron and ATT&T combined.

The unions are spending really big to stop Prop 32, contributing nearly $60 million thus far. Until Charles Munger responded with a $23 million contribution in support, opponents had outraised supporters five to one. They’re still up by about $13 million.Vote YES

Current Around the Capital Polling Average: A long-running dead heat, with 44.4% yes and 43.8% no.  The 11.5% undecided are going to be barraged with ads from both sides.

Prop 33: Don’t bother me

This is Mercury Insurance CEO George Joseph’s second run at insurance regulation tweaking via the ballot box. Last time around (Prop. 17, 2010), Mercury spent about what they’ve spent this time – $17 million – trying to accomplish the same thing, which is to blah, blah, blah, zzzzz.  I figure they figure they’ll make more than $17 million off higher premiums if it passes.

One reason to vote for it is that Harvey Rosenfield is against it. This is a guy who has milked propositions for millions in personal gain, so I lean toward supporting what he opposes. But this kind of junk shouldn’t be clogging our ballots, so Don’t Vote.

Current Around the Capital Polling Average: Holding at 54.8% yes, 33.6% no.

Prop 34: Ugly

Propositions, as you’ll learn in Chapter 1 of Crazifornia, were the Progressive’s wet dream of the early 1900s. Prop 34 shows why, as it would take capital punishment off the table in California, thereby moving the state closer to Europe.

Arguments fly on both sides of this longstanding and controversial issue, but here’s one that works for me: If the death penalty is no longer in a prosecutor’s bag of tricks, the number of plea bargains and confessions will drop dramatically. Even with delays that are far too long before sentencing and execution, the chance of taking up residence on death row remains the penultimate bargaining chip. I don’t want it taken away, and neither should anyone else who puts victims and justice ahead of criminals and legal technicalities. Vote No.

Current Around the Capital Polling Average: Steady and unbelievably tight at 43.9 yes, 44.9 no.

Prop. 35: Don’t bother me

Don’t bother me, but don’t get me wrong. I’m no fan of human trafficking, a subject I wrote passionately about quite frequently in my Cheat-Seeking Missiles days. It’s the sinful side of the human nature played large and its perpetrators will need Christ’s forgiveness; they’re certainly not getting mine.

But why is it on the ballot? Even the inept California legislature has done enough law-passing to discourage the practice and incarcerate the perpetrators. Since it won’t make any difference in the results, Don’t Vote.

Current Around the Capital Polling Average: Yes 79.7%, no 12.3%.

Prop. 36: Goodie

I was all for the first three-strikes proposition, but it turns out that it had unintended consequences, as so many propositions do. Prop 36 corrects this while keeping the intent of the original proposition intact.

Basically, it separates truly heinous offenders from run of the mill bad guys, with the former still subject to life in prison without parole on their third strike and the others not. California spends way too much on prisons for a lot of reasons, one of which is that we simply have too many prisoners. Let’s save some money by letting some bad but not too bad guys do their crime and serve their time. Vote Yes.

Current Around the Capital Polling Average: Yes 71.5%, no 17.3%. It looks like even Californians can agree on this one.

Prop. 37: Ugly

If California’s recent voting trend holds, Prop. 37 will pass because it has a lot of corporate money against it. Yes, a big majority of Californians are anti-business and it shows on proposition votes (and when rich Republicans run for state office, right Meg?). And this one has a lot of corporate money flooding the opposition.

But the current Around the Capital Polling Average indicates that might not happen this time. The yes vote is strong at 56.2%, but the no vote is climbing at 32.7%, and a lot of money will be spent on NO ads in the next two weeks.

It made my ugly list because Prop. 37 is the new Prop. 65.  In other words, it was written by trial lawyers for trial lawyers. Like 1986′s Prop. 65, it has a seed of a good idea. Then it was that people shouldn’t be exposed to carcinogenic chemicals without knowing it; now it’s that they shouldn’t be exposed to genetically engineered foods without knowing it. But like 65 was an elaborate ploy to funnel millions of dollars to trial lawyers (almost $500 million to date, in fact), so is Prop 37.

Don’t be fooled. Prop 37 is not about informative labels for you. It’s about label regulations that are so complex that farmers, processors, manufacturers and retailers are bound to make mistakes. And when they do, they’ll be sued by a pack of legal mutants. Vote NO.

Prop. 38: Ugly

Prop. 38 is another tax increase, but with this one the money is earmarked for schools. Why, if 1988′s Prop. 98 guarantees they’ll get over 40% of the general fund anyway? And why, since all that money has done nothing to lift our schools out of the cellar?

Well, it turns out the state legislature routinely steals Prop. 98 money from schools and rarely pays it back. In Crazifornia, I put the current IOU at $3.6 billion. Surprised?

But what good would even $3.6 billion do? At a luncheon yesterday, political mastermind Dan  Schnur quoted a Harvard study that found it would take $1 trillion a year to raise California schools to mere mediocrity if nothing is done beyond money to improve the system.

So let’s force the schools and the legislature to fix education by not giving the schools more money. Let’s force Sacramento to drop regulations that cost school districts $400 million a year to keep up with. Let’s let classrooms get bigger again because we’ve learned that all we’ve gotten from small classrooms is more mediocre teachers. Vote NO.

Current Around the Capital Polling Average: Yes 42.1%, No 47.0%

Prop. 39: Ugly

This one will pass for sure because it taxes the other guy, and Californians don’t mind taxing the other guy, as they do regularly with smokers, drinkers and millionaires. (Hm, strange company there!)

Be that as it may, there are two things wrong with Prop. 39 that definitely make it ugly. First, it taxes business. Yes, they’re out of state businesses, but Californians are more addicted to taxing business than smokers are to cigarettes, drinkers are to booze and millionaires are to … success. They’ve hit bottom. It’s time for an intervention, not another hit.

Second, about half the money raised – a stunning $500 million a year – will go to “create energy efficiency and green energy jobs” in California. Haven’t we had enough Solyndras and A123′s? Vote NO.

Current Around the Capital Polling Average: No surprise at 54.2% yes and 30.7% no.

Prop. 40: Goodie

Here’s something more rare than a California gnatcatcher eating an elderberry beetle: A GOP-sponsored proposition that’s polling very favorably. But that may be because it’s just the precursor to the really big vote that will follow.

Prop. 40 would subject the California senate district lines drawn by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission to a vote of the people, with interim boundaries for the next state-wide election set by court-appointed officials. California Democrats smartly and unethically took over the Citizens Redistricting Commission so the boundaries need to be redrawn. This proposition will make that vote possible. Vote YES.

Current Around the Capital Polling Average: 44.2% yes and 25.8% no. It should win, but with 30% undecided, it could still go south.

Daily Caller: Brown’s Hand Is Union Made

As California Budget Battle Sequel XXXVIII (Or is it LXXIX?  I get so confused.) heats up, I actually got so ballistic I wrote a Daily Caller op/ed just one day after the one you see in the post below.  Note the headline – they’ve agreed to brand my pieces with the “Crazifornia” moniker. Very cool.

 

CRAZIFORNIA:  JERRY BROWN SHOWS HIS HAND – AND ITS UNION-MADE

California’s 32,000 prison guards and parole officers — notorious for enjoying political clout wildly exceeding their meager numbers — tried to negotiate a new contract with former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for four years but got nowhere. After just three months of negotiations with Jerry Brown, they got their contract, and hapless Californians got the clearest signal yet that Brown is not going to deal responsibly with the state’s unfunded public employee pension liabilities of as much as $500 billion.

The details of the new California Correctional Police Officers Association contract haven’t yet been made public and haven’t yet been analyzed by people who, unlike me, can tell a POFF from a PLP. (If you’re curious, POFF II contributions are suspended for two years under the new contract and one PLP will be granted every 12 months.) Still, it’s easy to read the net result.

In a letter yesterday to his board of directors, CCPOA executive director Chuck Alexander wrote, “The majority of the rights and protections that exist in our old MOU have been carried forward in this new MOU.”

Any objective California governor would realize the state can’t afford to do that. It’s not like this is a union that needs more coddling. It has grown at a rate of almost 1,000 members a year since its formation in 1980. It has a 70-person staff that includes 20 lawyers.  Even that’s apparently not enough, since Brown’s new contract with the union includes even more new positions. You’d think California was a state that’s not in a fiscal crisis. [Continue reading]

I particularly liked the last paragraph of this one.  Give it a look.

Niki and the Nurses

The sordid tale of rancid electioneering is out and no one should be surprised: The California Nurses Association, one of the most powerful and selfish unions in the state, brought down Meg Whitman by master-minding housekeeper Niki Diaz’s actions against her former boss.  Carla Marinucchi of the San Francisco Chronicle broke the story today:

One of the most tantalizing mysteries in California’s 2010 gubernatorial election involved the connection between one of the state’s poorest women and one of its wealthiest.

How did an undocumented, Mexican-born housekeeper, Nicandra Diaz Santillan, end up in the national spotlight, boldly confronting her former boss, billionaire GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman?

The short answer: with the help of a union.

The longer answer is that at the height of the gubernatorial race, as campaign ads blared on Spanish-language television, the aggrieved housekeeper was determined to tell Californians her story of being abruptly fired by Whitman after nearly a decade on the job.

In early September, Diaz turned to a friend who knew a member of the powerful, Oakland-based California Nurses Association, The Chronicle has learned.

The union called in two lawyers for Diaz: Marc Van Der Hout, a longtime immigration attorney in San Francisco and celebrity feminist attorney Gloria Allred, a fierce workplace rights litigator who arranged for Diaz to tell her story in a live-webcast news conference.

Besides lining up the lawyers and paying for Diaz vs. Whitman campaign hit-ads on Spanish-language media, the union also sent 1,500 nurses to a rally where Diaz was speaking.  Didn’t they have bedpans to empty – or was the sh*t all on the airwaves and newspapers that day?

It’s typical CNA action. This is the union, after all, that’s made it hideously expensive and frustrating to actually graduate a new nurse in California.  Why? Because the health of the union members’ bank accounts is more important to CNA than the health of Californians, and too many young, eager nurses could bring down the pay and benefits and muss up the cushy work rules of more senior nurses.

A Smokin’ Take-Away from the Midterms

I heard plenty of commentators pass off the defeat of Proposition 19, the marijuana legalization measure on the November 2010 ballot, with a condescending, “Even California isn’t that crazy.”  You would think these professional pundits would know by now that it is never a good call to underestimate the craziness of California.

Which leads up to my favorite election fact from the 2010 election:  More Californians voted to legalize pot than voted for Meg Whitman for governor. So we really are that crazy!

With the final votes yet to be tallied, Meg got 4,027,661 Californians to vote for her  while nearly half a million more, 4,502,657, voted to legalize pot.  You could almost double the population of North Dakota with the difference between the two tallies.  The Whitman campaign spent $163 million on her failed effort ($141 million of her own money and a mere $22 million in Meg-free campaign contributions), so each vote she collected cost her $40.47.  The much-derided Prop 19 supporters, in contrast, spent $4 million on their campaign, or $1.13 per vote.

More significant, though, is what running a social-reform proposition in California means to the rest of the nation, even if the proposition loses.  Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance, put it this way, “California’s Proposition 19 may not have won a majority of voters yesterday, but it already represents an extraordinary victory for the broader movement to legalize marijuana.  Its mere presence on the ballot … elevated and legitimized public discourse about marijuana and marijuana policy.”

Students for Sensible Drug Policy, another pro-legalization group, added, “One of the greatest hidden victories of the Prop 19 campaign was that it trained the emerging generation of marijuana reformers on how to run a legalization campaign, and left virtually all of them wanting to win on this issue in 2012.”

Colorado is a likely target, underscoring California’s continuing ability to influence American society, even if the state’s voters continue to vote as strangely as they did in 2010.