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My Shadow Ballot

October 25, 2018

And lo, an election approaches.  Here’s my shadow ballot.

“Since I can’t vote, please allow me to tell you how to vote instead…”

(Needless to say, this will be a long post)

1 – Housing and Veteran’s Loans Bond

Issue bonds to provide funding for affordable housing, loans, grants, and the like for veterans.  The initiative already has a list of exactly where the $ would go and what programs would be developed/funded.  Derives from legislation passed in the house.  Bonds are paid off over 35 years.

I recommend voting yes on this proposition.  Overall, I think bonds are a good way to generate capital (it’s essentially a loan) and this one seems quite on the level and was initiated through regular channels and not some end-run-around attempt.  Plus, especially given the decades+ war that has chewed through so many soldiers who then often find hardship (as well as their trauma) upon leaving their service, and the high costs of housing and the like in the state, this will go to getting people back on their feet and likely reduce the need for additional services in the future.  Seems solid to me.  YES.

2 – “No Place Like Home”

Due to the downsides of ballot initiatives, this is a ballot initiative to authorize and give giving flexibility to adjust things noted in a previous ballot initiative (Prop 63).  Specifically, allowing funds from a ballot initiative back in 2004 earmarked for mental health services to be spent on issuing/administering legislature-approved bonds to provide housing for the homeless who are mentally ill.

I recommend voting yes on this proposition.  There is a bill, AB727, that allows some of funds from Prop 63 be used for housing assistance, but that’s only useful if there is housing to be assisted into.  Rest of the opposition seems to be about efficiency and not necessarily offering any other pathway out.  I spoke about efficiency just a short time ago, and this applies here.  YES.

3 – Water Infrastructure

Another water bond.  Unlike some of the previous water bond measures, however, this one isn’t about creating new dams or tunnels or other consumptive things, but more focused on restoration, habitat protection, groundwater protection, forestry planting to control runoff, and more.

I recommend voting yes.  It kinda sucks that we’re on the hook for past mismanagement of water and being hosed (pun semi-intended) from the effects of global climate change, bearing the cost for past sins.  Yet, here we are.  This is the new reality, and the water situation demands attention.  This should aid the situation without taking on uber-large large projects for further damming or water diversion or other things that tend to exacerbate the situation in order to maintain some unsustainable status-quo or centuries-old water “rights”.  On the whole, what the money is slated for seems sound to me.  YES.

4 – Children’s Hospital Bonds

This is a recurring bond measure, a repeat, of sorts, of 2004 and 2008.  The money will support various hospitals that provide care for children; the same hospitals that are supporting and put this bond on the ballot.

I recommend voting no.  That may seem surprising, and I do indeed do so with some hesitation.  Is there a children’s healthcare crisis in the state?  Are they losing money?  Is there a reason they didn’t go through the legislature?  Will this just continue the cycle of healthcare provider enrichment?  For all that, I’m hesitant.  NO.

5 – 55+ Homebuyers Tax Assesments

This is a bandaid fix for the mess brought on by Prop 13 (and a great example of why propositions are such strange notions of governance, fraught with pitfalls and unintended consequences – compounded by fully intended and sneaky consequences by interested parties such as the commercial property owners who put prop 13 on the ballot).  This proposition allows those over 55 or those who are severely disabled transfer their tax assessments, with a possible adjustment, to a new home if they buy one.

I recommend voting no.  It seems OK at first:  while this may be a baindaid on top of a right mess, it may also still be a very needed bandaid.  One of the big impacts of Prop 13 is that retirees, who usually have more limited income, can be handcuffed to their current home lest they be hit with a much higher tax bill should they want to purchase another home, even if it is to downsize, move closer to services, or their family.  Right now, in order to avoid the increase in prop tax they can use previsions under Prop 60 but can only move to a less-expensive house (good luck finding that in today’s market) AND often only in the same county.  All that said though, this initiative is poorly written and will benefit many who do not need this kind of protection and in fact will gain a windfall from it atop their already big windfalls.  It enriches the richer, while also removing even more revenue from local districts.  Ugh, Prop 13.  NO.

6 – Repeal Gas Tax and Vehicle Fee increase

Sigh.  There’s a lot of politicking that seems behind this one.  This is an attempt to repeal of a measure properly enacted through the legislative process to fund the upkeep of road infrastructure and other transportation measures.

I recommend voting NO.  Even the Chamber of Commerce is against this one.  Like many parts of the country, there is a tonne of deferred maintenance and other things that need doing.  The can’s been kicked down the road so often that the road is no longer smooth enough to kick the can down it.  OK, that was a tortured metaphor.  NO.

7 – Daylight Savings Time

This is an interesting one, for it only applies should the Federal Government choose to establish permanent, year-round, daylight savings time.  And even then, it requires an additional 2/3 vote in the state legislature to go ahead.  If the Federal Government does nothing, or chooses to adopt year-round standard time, or split the difference with a half-hour shift, then this initiative does nothing.  All in all, it’s a very corner case.

That said, by the gods I recommend voting yes on this proposition.  The time changes play all sorts of havoc with our circadian rhythms (with a list of deleterious side effects), saves no energy, and even many farmers laugh and note that you still need to milk the cows at the same (absolute) time, clocks be damned.  There’s some talk about kids walking in the dark during school days, but the state isn’t so far north that the hours of daylight are that short.  There’s even more talk about the difficulty of cross-state line communication, but that’s a red herring as, remember, this only applies if a federally mandated thing comes through, so everyone would be shifting.  There’s much to commend losing the wonky shifting of clocks, and I think it’s high time to put that one into the dustbin of the past.  YES.

8 – Dialysis Clinic Fees

Healthcare in the USA is an expensive mess (that unfortunately doesn’t also translate to proportionally higher effective outcomes).  Dialysis is even worse, with a handful of for-profit companies dominating the dialysis options across the country, leading to run down locations, poor treatment, and billings several hundred percent over actual cost of service.  This proposition seeks to put a cap on those billings, in an attempt to force companies to spend more on improving worker pay, facilities, and access to treatment for patients.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure this proposition would accomplish that, and I recommend voting no.  Ugh, I so want to do something to ameliorate this disgrace, but there’s enough noise clouding this proposition to make me pause.  Rejecting this allows for it to be re-written and/or let things go through the legislature for proper regulation.  NO.

10 – Housing Rent Regulation

Right now, the law in California limits use of rent controls to houses only before 1995 and that aren’t condos or townhomes.  This prop would remove that restriction, letting individual cities choose whether to enact rent control or not, on what properties, or not, while maintaining that landlords need to receive just and reasonable returns on their rental properties.  In many ways, then, this is a local-powers issue.

I recommend voting no.  I think letting local cities determine their rent control policies is proper and a good idea, and I don’t fully buy the bluff that rent control will mean new housing will be greatly diminished.  However, a repeal of an entire act would require me to read the entire act to see if there are unintended consequences.  That alone makes me pause enough, and think this should make its way through the legislature.  NO.

11 – Ambulance Paid Breaks

Requires that EMTs remain reachable and on-call during breaks (like firefighters and police).  And, at the same time, denotes that their break times not be forced upon them by the ambulance company at either the start or end of shifts, or crammed together so they don’t get nicely spaced breaks, and if they do get called on break, they are still owed another break.  Plus requires providers to pay for mental health benefits (befitting of a high-stress job).

Again, I don’t know why this can’t make its way through the legislature, which makes me somewhat wary that there’s an end run going around here.  That said, by the text there seems to be little that’s problematic.  I’m neutral on this one; I’d prefer it to go through the legislature but I’d be fine voting yes.

12 – Humane Livestock Raising

Industrial farming is, in my view, in many ways, both a travesty and unnecessary.  Treating living things in a torturous manner to maximize profit is unethical, immoral, and un-religious in so many ways.  There was an earlier proposition that passed that instituted limits on confinement; this bill seeks to replace those limits (written and influenced by animal behaviour) with specific square footages.

I recommend voting no.  Wait, what?  Me, saying no to this?  Why?  Because these specific square footages, on the whole, seem to be worse than the more poetic values in the existing limitations.  PETA is even against this measure.  I’m all for better protection, almost righteously so, and this doesn’t seem to be it.  Let’s send it back for strengthening.  NO.

Federal and State races

These will depend a great deal on where you are in the state, or if you’re not in California and still reading, the country.  Every race is local, and you will need to see what your candidates are stating.  That said, as a blanket starting point I recommend voting for the Democratic candidates on your ticket as the best chance to create a just, verdant, healthy, equitable, honourable, ethical, thoughtful, considered, and prosperous future.

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