Auros (auros) wrote,
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the Auros Endorsements: General Election, November 2, 2010

For many of these, you can refer to the Primary endorsements for more details. If I don't provide any explanation here, it's because what I have to say would pretty much be a copy-paste from that previous post. (I suppose I could rant about how awful Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina are, but really, don't we all know that by know?)

Governor: Jerry Brown

Lieutenant Governor: Gavin Newsom

Secretary of State: Debra Bowen

Controller: John Chiang

Treasurer: Bill Lockyer. This race didn't get discussed in the primary, since it was uncontested. The CA Treasurer gets to manage the gigantic state employee pension funds. Under Phil Angelides, CalPERS and CalSTRS started applying Socially Responsible Investment principles. (Angelides had been involved in the successful South Africa Divestment movement, many years ago.) SRI is an evolving field, as reported in this excellent NYT article from this past Saturday (which features a cameo by my consulting client, HIP Investor). I think it's important that our Treasurer be somebody who will continue taking an interest in this. The Republican candidate is a standard-issue anti-tax zealot.

Attorney General: Kamala Harris. Aside from the fact that I very much like Kamala, the alternative, Steve Cooley, who used to be regarded as a moderate, has turned himself into an extremist over the course of this campaign. He pledged to join other GOP A.G.'s in a frivolous case against health care reform, and to fight to make sure gays are denied the right to marry. He's refused to state support for defending AB 32 (the California global warming law) against Prop 23 (the proposition bankrolled by Texas oilmen that would kill AB 32). Note that our Republican Gubernator has provided a ringing defense of AB 32 and condemnation of Prop 23. Full audio should be available at the Commonwealth Club website. If Cooley wants to call himself a moderate, let him stand with Arnold. Given that he has explicitly said he will seek to support Prop 8, his silence on AB 32 suggests that he has no plan to support it, or is at least happy to let his base think that. Cooley also significantly cut funding from L.A.'s environmental crime task force, while increasing funds for death penalty prosecutions, which cost taxpayers many times the amount required for seeking a life-without-parole sentence. He is quite proud of his record of death penalty convictions, and I imagine will remain so even if one of his convictions turns out to be a false one, as many of them have since the Innocence Project got going.

Insurance Commissioner: Dave Jones

State Board of Equalization, District 1: Betty Yee

U.S. Senator: Barbara Boxer

U.S. Representative, District 14: Anna Eshoo

State Assembly, District 21: Rich Gordon. He beat Josh Becker in the primary. I always thought all three candidates in that race were excellent (I just liked my candidate better than the others), and I'm happy to support him.

State Assembly, District 22: Paul Fong. Has done a good job in his first term. He's particularly expert on issues relating to our community college system, which is critical during a period in which a lot of people are out of work and seeking to improve their skills an retrain for new professions.

Judicial Retainments: Supreme Court (Carlos Moreno, Ming Chin, Tani Cantil-Sakauye), and Court of Appeals, District 6 (Conrad Rushing). I looked up each of the candidates on my ballot, and didn't find anything controversial about any of them, so I'm voting Yes to retain all of them.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Torlakson

Council Member, City of Mountain View: Margaret Abe-Koga, Ronit Bryant, and Jac Siegel. These are all folks I've met; I campaigned for them when they were running for their first terms, in '06, and I'm happy to vote to retain them as incumbents. Margaret was, years and years ago, a staffer for Anna Eshoo. She's an expert on energy efficiency and environmental issues, public transit, and the institutional relationships between our city and { other cities, the county, and the state }. Ronit is an expert on our urban planning process -- she led a full review and update of the General Plan (which hadn't been updated since '92). Jac is an expert on the city budget, and has taken an interest in making sure our city park system is maintained and improved.

Santa Clara Valley Water District, Division 7: Brian Andrew Schmidt. He stopped by our house, and seemed like a good candidate -- knowledgable about both the technical and legal issues he'll need to deal with in the job. (He has a lot of experience as an environmental lawyer.) He also got the endorsement of the county party.

Prop 19: Yes. Legalize and tax marijuana.

Prop 20: No. This proposition would bring our Congressional districts under the authority of the Rube-Goldberg-esque commission that they're currently struggling to get organized to do the Assembly and Senate districts. I opposed the creation of this commission (see comments on Prop 11 here). I even more vigorously oppose extending it to Congressional districts. This is a problem that must be addressed nationally. If we were going to put the entire nation under this system, I'd consider it -- while I dislike the commission, putting all states under the same, not-great system might be better than what we've got. But just California, while Texas stays with its Tom-DeLay-drawn districts? No. F***ing. Way.

Prop 21: Yes. This will add a small ($18/year) fee to your vehicle license fee, in exchange for which your California license plate (with its annual renewal sticker) will become a free pass into all of California's state parks. This has been heavily endorsed by a lot of moderate-to-conservative newspapers in the state. For instance.

Prop 22: No. So, this one is a little complicated. There are a number of revenue streams that get collected by the state on behalf of cities, counties, transportation districts, etc. The gas tax is one example. These revenue streams are generally supposed to be dedicated to particular local needs -- like, the gas tax goes to maintaining roads and public transit infrastructure. When the budget is in crisis, the state can "borrow" these funds; it has been doing this with increasing frequency. There is a reasonable argument to be made that we should alter this pattern. However, Prop 22 does it in a very ham-handed way, and also engages in some new ballot-box budgeting, locking in something like $13B a year for redevelopment agencies, which are in serious need of reform before we go inundating them with cash. Overall, while this is addressing a real problem, it does so in an unacceptable way. As PeteRates.com concludes on this one, "Prop 22 amounts to a bonanza for redevelopment agencies (read: developers) and transit agencies (read: construction industry), at the expense of everything else our government funds." (It'd be nice if our state legislators were not so deadlocked on just getting each year's budget written, that they could take the time to work on thoughtful reforms in this kind of area.)

Prop 23: HELL NO! Prop 23 would kill our global warming efforts. (It claims to only suspend AB 32 temporarily, but the conditions for ending the suspension require unemployment to be held down to the level it was at during the very peak of the last boom, for two full years. That's insane.) This would wreak havoc with the clean tech companies that are currently creating thousands of jobs a month in our state, while benefitting the Texas oil companies, Valero and Tesoro, that have bankrolled Prop 23 (and who would probably like to suspend all our environmental laws, given their patterns of violation).

Prop 24: Yes. Over the course of budget negotiations, the Republican minority in the legislature has forced us to give their corporate backers a variety of tax breaks, which of course make the next budget cycle even worse. In the most recent round, there was a "tax acceleration" concept (collecting one year's taxes early). This isn't just a gimmick -- collecting the money early means we save on interest costs, and the company either has to borrow or loses interest on cash it could've kept invested. However, when the companies paid their taxes early, they didn't just get a rebate of the same taxes they would've paid later -- they got a permanent cut, for every year from now on. Prop 24 will unwind this entire crummy deal. It's particularly worth noting that the tax cuts involved collect the lion's share of their revenues from multistate and multinational companies -- small businesses based in California are minimally affected. See PeteRates.com for some more detailed comments on this one.

Prop 25: YES! Changes our budget process so that a simple majority can pass a budget. Although it does not give a simple majority the ability to raise taxes, it would at least let the legislature pass a budget and move on, rather than spending half the year, every year, bogged down in stupid arguments. The late budgets disrupt the delivery of critical services (like healthcare, policing, teaching) because agencies don't know how much money they have, so they don't know if they can keep paying people's paychecks, hiring where needed, etc. (It's become commonplace for almost every teacher in CA to get pink-slipped, and then re-hired right before classes start, on an annual basis.) Prop 25 also denies legislators their paychecks whenever the budget is overdue. Not that I think this would matter to the GOP obstructionists we have to deal with in Sacramento, but it's a nice little detail.

Prop 26: NO! The opposite of 25, Prop 26 would impose the two-thirds supermajority requirement on a new class of revenues. (Currently you need two-thirds for a tax, but only a majority for a fee. What's the difference, you ask? A fee is charged directly for the use of a state-provided service. For instance, when you pay the DMV for renewing your vehicle or driver's licenses, those are fees. Taxes are levied on the general public, unconnected to any particular person's use of any particular service.) In any case, this is yet another effort by anti-government zealots to make the state ungovernable.

Prop 27: Yes. Eliminates the redistricting commission, reversing Prop 11.

Measure A: Yes. Parcel tax to fund Santa Clara County's children's health program, to ensure delivery of inexpensive preventive care to all eligible kids. Providing preventive care is generally less expensive than giving folks emergency care when they show up at the county hospitals in critical condition.

Measure B: Yes. Adds $10 to vehicle license fees to fund roads and transit.

Measure C: No. This is a term limit for the Santa Clara County Water District. I oppose term limits, on all but the highest offices (state governors and U.S. President, and that's about it), on principle. As the classic line goes, "We have term limits. They're called elections." (I'm fairly sure this line gets delivered by President Bartlett in a West Wing episode, though I have a recollection that the writers may've been parroting somebody from real life who said it during the '94 discussions of Gingrich's Contract On America, which promised, but of course failed to deliver, Congressional term limits.)

Measure E: Yes. Parcel tax to support the Foothill-DeAnza Community College district. As mentioned earlier, I think supporting the community colleges is currently very important. I'm a student at DeAnza myself, and I've seen firsthand that they desperately need the funding -- they keep having to cut back services like access to the gym, their health center, even campus security.

Measure T: Yes. There is a utility tax on phone lines. Measure T clarifies that this tax should be applied to all phone lines, even if they're not delivered on the traditional copper-wire network. So, you can't evade the tax by, say, getting your phone line from Comcast. The tax level will remain unchanged.
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