Good, bad and ugly: the November propositions by Kevin Akin

After detailed discussion, the California Peace and Freedom Party State Central Committee adopted positions on the November ballot propositions at its Convention meeting in early August. The SCC voted to recommend a "yes" vote on two propositions, a "no" vote on eight, and not to make a recommendation on two others.

Two good ones: 2 and 5

Only two propositions rated a "yes" recommendation, both by overwhelming votes: 2 and 5. Proposition 2, "Treatment of Farm Animals," is intended to reduce animal cruelty and improve food safety.

Proposition 5, "Nonviolent Offenders: Sentencing, Parole and Rehabilitation," would require more drug treatment and provide alternatives to incarceration. It would save money now wasted on inprisonment of non-violent offenders.

Neutral on 1 and 12.

The Central Committee chose not to take positions on two propositions, both bond measures. While the Peace and Freedom Party normally opposes bond measures, because the financing method doubles or triples the cost of each project to the taxpayers, these two have some arguments in their favor.

Proposition 1 is the High-speed passenger rail bond measure. On the one hand, it is financed by expensive bonds that would double the price, and some of the route details were not clear at convention time (and even at press time a month later), but on the other hand, the party supports both ordinary passenger rail alternatives to inefficient and polluting automobile transit, and high-speed rail that can reduce fuel-intensive air transport.

Proposition 12, the "Veterans' Bond Act of 2008," is also a bond measure, but all the Veterans Bond Acts of the last half-century have not cost taxpayers a cent. For this reason, this bond measure for housing for veterans is not opposed by the party.

No: 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

The other propositions range from useless to needlessly expensive to just plain evil. The Peace and Freedom Party recommends a "no" vote on all of them.

Proposition 3 - Children's Hospital Bond Act. While this is a worthy cause, the combination of bond financing and private medical care corporation involvement means that only 25% to 40% of the money would actually go to the promised programs.

Proposition 4 - Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor's Pregnancy. This is the third try of the sponsors, whose first two initiatives have been defeated by the voters. This poorly-drawn, overreaching, backhanded end-run around Roe v. Wade should be defeated again. Just one example of its effects if enacted: If an abusive father rapes and impregnates his daughter, either the father must be told that she wants an abortion, or the daughter must go to court and go through a complex procedure to avoid having him notified. Most kids clearly can't manage this.

Proposition 6 - Criminal Penalties and Laws, Public Safety Funding. The "Runner Initiative," named after its fanatical right-wing proponents, would put more people, especially young people, in jail for lesser and lesser crimes, and take money away from schools and hospitals. This is the opposite of what California needs.

Proposition 7 - Renewable Energy. This plan, apparently written to benefit a few companies, is so badly drawn that almost all environmental groups oppose it.

Proposition 8 - Limit on Marriage. This one is just plain bad. It would take away the legal right of same-sex couples to marry, and throw into legal limbo existing same-sex marriages. It would enact bigotry, and must be defeated.

Proposition 9 - Criminal Justice System, Victims Rights, Parole. This one is designed to further increase the prison population, in part by cutting the already-slim chance that prisoners who pose no further risk to society can be paroled. It would be a remarkably bad law.

Proposition 10 - Bonds, Alternative Fuel Vehicles and renewable Energy. The bond financing would more than double the cost of this program, that is not well-targeted in the first place. It mainly is meant to further enrich one billionaire. The Peace and Freedom Party supports alternative energy, but not through this expensive bond program.

Proposition 11 - Redistricting. This scheme would slightly rearrange how the wealthy control the state legislature, but would do nothing to challenge their stranglehold on power. We need proportional representation through multiple-member districts, and an end to big-money control of politics. This one is not worth our support.

Kevin Akin is the 2008-2010 State Chair of the Peace and Freedom Party.
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