Proposition Me

Our modest take on the tuesday ballot

Proposition 21: Juvenile Crime

HELL, NO. California crime statistics show youths already serve more time behind bars for most offenses than do adults for the same crimes. The situation for minority youths of color is even worse. Meanwhile, state prisons already gobble $6 billion per year, starving education and every other humane state enterprise. What's the best scheme to make all three crises worse? Prop. 21, the badly misnamed "Juvenile Justice Initiative" championed by Pete Wilson and Gray Davis. The legislative fiscal analyst estimates the measure would cost $5 billion by 2010 by greatly expanding definitions of "gang" offenses, ballooning prosecutors' powers, and forcing 37,000 more youths through adult courts—many for nonviolent offenses. It would do all this to attack a youth population whose crime rate has been plummeting—and which commits a measly 7 percent of California's murders.

WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1). MAGIC 8-BALL PREDICTION: "It is certain."

Proposition 22: Limits on Marriage

HELL, NO. You have to hand it to the Republican Party. After six consecutive elections in which the party used Latinos as their top campaign wedge issue, the stubborn GOP boys finally turned elsewhere for a political scapegoat. And what better to drive Aunt Betty, Uncle Henry and their Christian Right friends into the fetid embrace of the GOP on Election Day than homophobia? If passed, this proposition—a.k.a. the Knight Initiative —would basically outlaw same-sex marriage. Of course, same-sex marriage is already outlawed in California. But that's not the point, is it? The only real question is: What ridiculous anti-gay initiative will Republicans put on the ballot in 2002?

WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? "While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. 'Your daughter is dead,' he said. 'Don't bother the teacher any more'" (Luke 8:49). MAGIC 8-BALL PREDICTION: "My source says no."

Proposition 23: None of the Above Ballot Option

NO. This sounds great at first but actually does more harm than good. Prop. 23 would place a "none of the above" (NOTA) ballot option at the end of every list of candidates. For a true NOTA option to be effective, it must, if it wins, kick out the entire slate of candidates and force a new election. But this measure is non-binding, which means even if NOTA wins, the human being with the most votes still takes office. In any case, a far better solution to the rotten list of candidates we get every season is to install a proportional representation system, where parties take seats in assemblies on the basis of their percentage of the popular vote. That would bust up the two-party system and usher in better representation (Greens, Libertarians and even the nuts who make up the Reform Party). It'd also bring a wider variety of issues to the fore beyond simply handing big corporations everything they want.

WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? "I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me" (Philippians 4:10). MAGIC 8-BALL PREDICTION: "It is certain."

Proposition 25: Public

Election Financing

NO. Don't get us wrong. Campaign reform is desperately needed. However, this attempt by Republican businessman Ron Unz and former Democratic Secretary of State Tony Miller would fail miserably. Meaningful reform must include reasonable contribution limitations and prohibitions and heightened disclosure provisions. While we're fine with the proposed contribution limits ($3,000 to a local candidate and $5,000 to a statewide candidate), we're perplexed that Unz and Miller did nothing to restrict or end the notorious bipartisan abuses of soft money (large and often impossible-to-trace contributions that evade limitations and prohibitions). The proposition rightly mandates Internet disclosure of certain campaign records, but it also increases the amount of contributor information a candidate can withhold from the public. For example, federal campaigns must report contributor information on anyone who gives in aggregate more than $200 in an election cycle. Sadly, Unz and Miller would raise that threshold to $1,000—a move that would make it much harder, if not impossible, to track special-interest influence on candidates. The proposition's public-financing provision (candidate and initiative campaigns that meet certain standards would receive taxpayer-funded matching funds) potentially would have sane taxpayers paying part of the costs of the next anti-gay or anti-Latino initiative. No, thanks.

WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? "Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance" (Jude 1:2). MAGIC 8-BALL PREDICTION: "My reply is no."

Proposition 26: School Facilities/ Local Majority Proposition

YES. So now the World War II generation was the greatest ever. But the boys who beat Hitler came home to forge a socialism for themselves and a savage free market for everybody else. Evidence? Consider Proposition 13, which limited property taxes for 1978 homeowners to their then-current values (leaving the rest of us to pick up the slack) or laws requiring an almost-impossible-to-achieve two-thirds majority to raise local taxes in support of schools; schools (the logic goes) serve kids, and kids didn't fight the Nazis, so kids don't deserve a goddamn thing. Prop. 26 would repeal the two-thirds requirement in favor of the simple majority—and restore a measure of funding to public schools.

WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? "In the same way, the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. 'He saved others,' they said, 'but he can't save himself!'" (Mark 15:31). MAGIC 8-BALL PREDICTION: "It is decidedly so."
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