Voters Guide to California Propositions

Ballot Proposition #1A
$9.95 Billion for High Speed Rail

Ballot Proposition 1A, or the high-speed passenger train bond act, proposes the construction of a high speed commuter train spanning 800 miles of California. The train would go from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and Anaheim (specifically, to Disneyland). The estimated time for a trip on the tentative train would last a mere two and a half hours, causing many who have business centers in both Los Angeles and San Francisco to save both money and fossil fuels in their transit between the two major hubs of commerce. It would remove 12 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions that would be used in other forms of transporting between the two cities, as well as create thousands of new jobs in California.

The downsides to the potential construction of the rail are few, yet still have weight and must be taken into consideration when casting your vote. First of all, the near $10 billion that would be spent in constructing it is money that could be used for other state programs that could use a remedy in our current financial state. Additionally, the construction of the rail could affect up to 180 parks, wildlife refugees and state protected areas.
So whether you cast a yes or no vote for this ballot proposition, be sure you think long and hard about the possible benefits and pitfalls.

Ballot Proposition #2
State Regulations on Animal Confinement

Proposition 2 is a proposal for the advancement of humane treatment of animals, stating that "calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens and pregnant pigs be confined only in ways that allow these animals to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely." Exceptions are still made for "transportation, rodeos, fairs, 4-H programs, lawful slaughter, research and veterinary purposes," many of which are in themselves questionable practices, and "to a pig during the seven-day period prior to the pig's expected date of giving birth." A "no" vote on Proposition 2 would mean continuing business as usual. Endorsers include the Humane Society of the U.S., California Veterinary Medical Association, Center for Food Safety, Union of Concerned Scientists and the Sierra Club.

Proposition 2 would eliminate certain cruel practices, but it still does not address many animal rights and consumer health issues, such as corn-based animal feed, injecting animals with hormones and antibiotics, genetic modification, overfeeding, slaughter of unwanted animals, lack of medical treatment, unsanitary conditions, and other problems stemming from corporate farms and the capitalization of food production.

The argument for egg prices is however a valid point. Cage-free eggs cost about 25 percent more, according to a University of California Agricultural Issues Center report. Also, as Los Angeles Times editorial against Proposition 2 (Sept. 25, 2008) points out, the measure does not prevent sale of battery cage produced eggs from other states or from Mexico. Nevertheless, many stores in California already carry cage-free eggs and other cruelty-free animal products. Unfortunately those stores, such as Whole Foods, target more affluent consumers, while the poorest have to do with less animal and environment friendly products and suffer the burden of soaring food prices. Green capitalism is still capitalism, a wasp in grasshopper's clothing.

Ballot Proposition #3
$980 Million Bond for Children's Hospitals

Prop 3 is the Children's Hospital Bond Act. The measure, if passed, would give $980 million of California general funds and taxpayer dollars to refurbish and equip children's hospitals with new medical technology. The annual payment on the debt authorized by the initiative would be about $64 million a year. Altogether, the measure would cost about $1.9 billion over 30 years out of California's general fund.

Prop 3 authorizes $980,000,000 to fund the construction, expansion, remodeling, renovation, furnishing and equipping of children's hospitals. The money will also help offer greater bed capacity in hospitals, reducing crowded emergency rooms and recovery wards.

The measure will take over a billion dollars of California funds and taxpaying dollars, initially further hurting our already ugly state deficit. Proposition 3, some claim, is a "misuse of the public ballot system by special interest companies." The same special interest groups initiated Proposition 61 which passed in 2004. Half of the money authorized still remains missing/unspent. The National Tax Limitation Committee, a pro-taxpayer association, has publicly warned voters that the passing of Proposition 3 will be detrimental to taxpayers.

Ballot Proposition #4
Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Minors Obtain Abortions

The "Abortion Waiting Period and Parental Notification Initiative" moves to prohibit an un-emancipated minor from receiving an abortion until a full two days after the physician notifies the parental guardian(s) of the teenager's situation. The minor would have the option of going through the courts and requesting a waiver to avoid going through her parents, if she fears physical or verbal abuse. In this case, an alternative adult would be notified of the abortion, and Social Services would investigate the minor's home life.

This proposition is another attack on women's right to choose and it's another step to take control away from women of their own bodies. Not only does this proposition give the government control on a girl's body but if the minor in question has been sexually abused by his/her parents, it will make it difficult to be reported. Passing this proposition will lead to unsanitary, unprofessional, and/or illegal abortions due to lack of legal options that are currently available.

Parental notification laws have been in place in 34 other states in the U.S. Accoring to the American Civil Liberties Union, "Because these laws put teens' health and safety at risk and do not create better families" The American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Society for Adolescent Medicine, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Public Health Association are all against these notification laws. Tell the government to stay away from women's bodies and their right to choose. Vote NO.

Ballot Proposition #5
Treatment of Non-Violent Drug Offenders

Today's youth need guidance. When a teenager or a young adult is arrested on drug charges, the responsible thing to do would be to get them help with their problem, rather than to just throw them into already overcrowded prisons. The passage of Proposition 5 would provide drug treatment programs for youth, improve treatment for nonviolent offenders, and help with reducing the overcrowded prison populations. It even has the potential to save money as the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst estimates that taxpayers would be spared $2.5 billion, which would come from the reduction of incarcerated individuals of the nonviolent nature. Proposition 5 can start California in a positive direction by guiding its youth and misguided in the right direction.

But while on the surface Proposition 5's intentions seem good, when you delve deeper into what the proposal would allow, the stability and the integrity of the bill is called into question. While eliminating the amount of extended prison sentences stemming from minor drug related charges, it also opens the door for offenders to blame unrelated crimes such as robberies or assaults on drug habits, meaning defendants would have leverage in court arguing to be protected by the law. By doing that it has the potential to put certain offenders back on the street without being fully rehabilitated except for that of drug issues. That means that hypothetically, someone can steal a car, attribute it to a drug problem, go to rehab, and be back on the street as if the charge they faced was a minor drug related charge. On top of a public safety risk, the State of California estimates that the cost of expanded rehabilitation and drug treatment programs could exceed $1 billion annually. And with the current status of the economy and California already requesting federal aid, this is something the state may not be able to afford.

Ballot Proposition #6
Increasing Crime Prevention Programs and Creating Harsher Penalties on Crime

Proposition 6 creates tougher punishments for gang crimes as well as drive-by shootings and meth distribution. It will require convicted gang members to register with local police stations every year for five years after a conviction in order to keep a closer eye on criminals.It prohibits bail on undocumented immigrants who have been charged with violent or gang crimes. Prop 6 would also create intervention programs to educate young children to stop joining gangs. More money is given to help victims who have been threatened or intimidated by gang members to protect them with witness protection programs in different communities. Funding will also be given to local police, sheriff, district attorneys, and probation officers, increasing the police force. People who are receiving housing benefits and have been convicted of buying or selling drugs would be required to an annual criminal background check in order to still get the benefit of housing. Any youth who is 14 or older who has been charged with a "gang-related" felony will be tried as an adult rather than a child.

This is clearly another attempt to continue the prision system and continue the oppression against the poor by tricking the voters into taking money away from education or prevention programs to create more prisons. Charging a 14 year old CHILD as an adult alone should say something about the
intentions of this proposition. The amount of money that will be needed to put the proposition into act would be a minimum of $965 million each year. If passed, the state will also have an additional $350 million cost to enforce some of the provisions of the proposition. Billions of dollars that could be used in California schools, hospitals, and childcare centers will be diverted to fund failed prison and policing policies. The state's budget crisis would be deepened dramatically. Section 8 recepients will be forced to submit criminal background checks, if living with a recently convicted individual occupants will be withdrawn from housing subsidies. Some individuals who are not associated with gangs but are listed in gang databases would be falsely persecuted. Even though half of Californians are in favor of cutting prison spending this proposition would increase the funding to prisons. If passed, more construction would be done to create more prison facilities and not deal directly with the deeper issues at play. Steps have already been taken by the Governor and Legislature to prevent gang crimes, and this proposition would interrupt those plans already in action.

Ballot Proposition #7
Promoting the Use of Alternative Fuels

Proposition 7 would make all electric utility companies, private and government owned, who produce electricity using non-renewable sources like coal and oil, to begin using renewable sources like solar and wind to make electricity. This would slowly take us off our dependence from fossil fuels and all the electric utility companies have to produce 20% of electricity from renewable sources by 2010, 40% by 2020, and 50% 2025. This proposition would also help us limit the dangers of global warming, reduce our carbon footprint and would make those electric utility companies who don't want to join the green bandwagon pay penalties.

However, Proposition 7 increases our state administrative costs by $3.4 million and it is currently unknown if these renewable sources of energy are reliable, so we may vote for something that might not achieve what coal and oil provide for us. Also it is unknown if it is going to increase or decrease the state and local government costs, and if costs do increase how much will taxpayers like you have to pay and for how long? Revenues for the government are also unknown, so it is possible that state and local government may get no profits for a risky proposition.

Ballot Proposition #8
Eliminates the Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

The current controversy whether gay marriage is the doom of the "sanctity of marriage", or the world as we know it -as the current wave of "Vote Yes on 8" commercials lead the public to believe-can all be attributed to conservative religious leaders and their need to impose their morals on the rest of society. This Proposition is nothing more than a continuation on the attacks to the gay community and denial of their equal rights by hateful bigots, I mean "Christians" (Christians, Mormons, Catholics, Jews), that have put aside their differences to fight an enemy bigger than the wars and death they have caused throughout history, homosexuality.

The pro Prop 8 website states that: "It restores the definition of marriage to what the vast majority of California voters already approved and what Californians agree should be supported, not undermined." By this they are referring to a California State Supreme Court ruling that made Proposition 22 unconstitutional. Prop 22 had made gay marriage unrecognized in California since it passed in March 7, 2000.

The proponents also claim that: "It protects our children from being taught in public schools that 'same-sex marriage' is the same as traditional marriage, and prevents other consequences to Californians who will be forced to not just be tolerant of gay lifestyles, but face mandatory compliance regardless of their personal beliefs."

The website counteracts: "Not one word in Prop 8 mentions education and no child can be forced, against the will of their parents, to be taught anything about health and family issues at school. California law prohibits it. A Sacramento Superior Court judge has already ruled that this claim by the proponents of Prop 8 is 'false and misleading.' In fact, the "case" that is cited in the ad is from Massachusetts...the proponents knew what California law said, so they used another state, again to mislead voters."

Prop 8 will change the California Constitution, which now defines marriage as "a personal relation arising out of a civil context, to which consent of the parties making that contract is necessary." the definition will add the words "marriage is between a man and a woman", which will also not recognize any gay marriages taken place outside of California.

Usually, when a proposition wants to change or prevent people from their rights, voters have to be wary of the full ramifications of such change. In this case, this proposition wants to deny gay couples from their equal rights. In the end, even if this proposition of hatred passes, it still can be struck down in the Supreme Court since it violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, as the government must respect all of a person's legal rights.

Ballot Proposition #09
The Treatment of Crime Victims and Parole Procedures

Another attack against the people of color and the working class. This proposition is a wolf in sheeps clothing, as the core purpose of it to keep prisoners in jail by restricting their rights for parole.
This proposition:
Requires notification to victim and opportunity for input during phases of criminal justice process, including bail, pleas, sentencing and parole.
Establishes victim safety as consideration in determining bail or release on parole.
Increases the number of people permitted to attend and testify on behalf of victims at parole hearings.
Reduces the number of parole hearings to which prisoners are entitled.
Requires that victims receive written notification of their constitutional rights.
Es tablishes tim lines and procedures concerning parole revocation hearings.

From "This measure amends the State Constitution and various state laws to (1) expand the legal rights of crime victims and the payment of restitution by criminal offenders, (2) restrict the early release of inmates, and (3) change the procedures for granting and revoking parole."
This proposition will continue the current overcrowding of prisoners by prohibiting the early release of prisoners -including nonviolent drug offenders- denying them legal counsel at parole violation hearings as well as restricting parole hearings, increasing wait to to up to 15 years. What may look like something beneficial to victims of crimes is nothing more than another way to keep the Industrial Prison System alive using millions of dollars from taxpayers.

Ballot Proposition #10
Promoting the Use of Alternative Fuels

Just like the environmentally friendly Proposition 7, Prop 10 is a $5 billion bond which will help with environmental issues like gasoline addiction by using $3 billion as discounts to help consumers purchase alternative fuel cars; including hybrids and fuel efficient vehicles. Prop 10 will also provide grants to cities for their renewable energy projects and to colleges for their research and training in renewable and energy efficient technologies. This proposition will help make California a bigger environmentally friendly state by promoting an alternative to gas guzzling SUVs and hopefully making Hummers unpopular.

On the other hand, Prop 10 is going to cost the state approximately $10 billion to pay off with interest. Annual payments would be $335 millions per year, meaning this bond would be paid by 2019 by estimates. This will put an extra burden on taxpayers for a about a decade. Californians who don't already own a fuel efficient vehicle will not benefit from the discount or proposition, leaving those who do to pay.

Ballot Proposition #11
Independent Commission to Draw Legislative District Boundaries

Proposition 11 proposes to introduce new methods for redistricting in California in a form of a constitutional amendment. Redistricting takes place every 10 years after the federal population census. Normally done by the state Legislature, redistricting was often used as a tool for gerrymandering, manipulating the boundaries of districts for political purposes, done by the party in the majority to suppress its opponent as well as third-party and independent candidates.

Proposition 11 aims to transfer the task of redistricting from the legislature to a group of 14 California voters called "Citizens Redistricting Commission," made up of five members from the two major parties, and four "others" who belong to third parties or declined to state preference. However the redistricting for the U.S. House of Representatives still remains under the charge of the legislature. The process of selecting commissioners is cumbersome and complex. The State Auditor will screen all the candidates for "conflict of interest," such as political lobbying, campaign donations, and other political bias.

The supporters of Proposition 11 include a very diverse group, ranging from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to ACLU of Southern California. The opponents include many labor unions, civil liberties, and Democratic Party groups.

Proposition 11 attempts to remove political bias shown by the legislature from redistricting. The main criticism of the proposition is that it eliminates transparency and accountability from the process, giving the power to the non-elected, unknown group of 14 individuals.
Our current election winner-takes-all process is fundamentally susceptible to political manipulation and staked against third party candidates. Making any decision on redistricting issues is tough for voters, who are often bound to be losers in either case.

Ballot Proposition #12
Financial Aid for War Veterans

From the California Voter's Guide website: "This act provides for a bond issue of nine hundred million dollars ($900,000,000) to provide loans to California veterans to purchase farms and homes." It also "Appropriates money from the state General Fund to pay off the bonds, if loan payments from participating veterans are insufficient for that purpose."

The number of US Veterans from the current Iraq and Afghanistan wars will increase as there seems to be no end in sight for them. Veterans are 23% of the homeless population in the US, as estimated by National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. This bond that will make sure this number won't increase is invaluable.

The only minor drawback about this proposition comes as an observation from "Throughout its history, the Cal-Vet program has been totally supported by the participating veterans, at no direct cost to the taxpayer. However, because general obligation bonds are backed by the state, if the payments made by those veterans participating in the program do not fully cover the amount owed on the bonds, the state's taxpayers would pay the difference." But paying extra taxes to help out those who have mistakenly risked their lives for whatever imperialistic reason their government tells them so, is the least voters can do. These veterans may have been fooled into thinking they're "protecting freedom" or liberating Iraq, but at least they can have a place to live when they come back to the states after finding out they were used for political and financial gain by those in power.

Make sure that you know what you are REALLY voting for. Read carefully what changes are being made, in many cases to the California State Constitution and the effects it will have in this and future generations. Don't let yourself be tricked by intentionally vague and misleading laws, bonds, or amendments. Do your own research if necessary, but remember that voting "No" is better than voting for something that you agree 80-90%.