Wednesday, October 27

Sixteen Propositions and Nothing's On - I should be ready to send in my absentee ballot, because the Presidential and senatorial races are no brainers. But there are sixteen ballot propositions facing California voters next week, and that's a lot of material to sort through. I feel like I should have my own legislative staffer to brief me on the issues. Direct democracy is hard work! Look at what I've got to consider:
A new method for financing local government, impose the cost of health insurance on employers, ease the state's fabled "three-strikes" law for criminal sentencing, decide whether to alter the primary election system, curtail the potential for lawsuits against businesses, broaden the use of DNA testing in criminal cases, enhance the open-meeting law and expand gambling to an Olympian magnitude.

If that load isn't enough, voters also will be asked to relieve the Legislature (and the governor) of responsibility for portions of the state budget. They will (or won't) allocate funding for stem-cell research, emergency rooms, children's hospitals and mental-health programs. They also will be asked to stash away money from the sale of surplus state property.

No wonder some people think California is ungovernable, these propositions often stifle actual, concrete change and easily confuse voters. Luckily, I've got some trusty old friends who can give me sound advice: celebrities.

That's right, if Michael J. Fox tells me to vote for stem cell research or Jamie Lee Curtis tells me to vote for children's hospital facilities, I'm gonna support it! No matter that the measures require bond financing to come up with the money the state doesn't have, we've got a tradition of supporting celebrity proposition endorsements.

Okay, not really. Sure, everybody loves stem cell research but even a flaming liberal Democrat like me has to question the need to spend six billion dollars on it, even if it means an FU to the Bush Administration. The issues have been framed to make voters think about helping dying kids or assisting the paralyzed to walk again? Even the Governator supports it. I'm not quite sure how I'll side on these measures, but I'll continue to to frame the initiatives by asking myself these questions: Is the cost really worth it? Is this the best use of our funds? Are there more effective ways to reach the goals of the proposition? And I'll probably end up with a column full of "nays."