Proposition 1A: Gaming on Tribal Lands
SURE, WHY NOT? Proponents (who call themselves "Californians for Indian Self-Reliance") imply by their support of 1A that Native Americans can only kill whales, drink monumental quantities of hooch—oh, yes, and run casinos. 1A will expand their ability to do the latter. Should Native Americans aspire to something greater than card dealing, dice rolling and booze pouring? Who are we to judge—except when it comes to 1A's opponents? They say this measure "will throw open the floodgates of gambling in California." Prop. 1A "will jeopardize the cultural environment in which we live and rear our families." If it passes, "California stands in danger of becoming a 'Las Vegas by the Sea.'" "Cultural environment"? "Las Vegas by the Sea"? We've got two words for you: "Silicon Valley." And two more: "California Lottery." And two others: "Wall Street." And six more: "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" America is awash in gambling, and the reasons are many—the centuries-old dream of making it rich quick, a society in which the lifestyles of the rich and famous are beamed daily into the homes of millions of the poor and middle class, the rise of Wall Street as an alternative to Social Security, online investing, stagnating wages in a booming economy, collapsing savings rates, record-high personal debt, and the legitimate desire of millions of gambling fans to feel the kick-in-the-head rush of adrenaline as they put money on the table. We could go on, but you get the picture: the business of America is gambling. 1A is to America what the Maginot Line was to Nazis, what the Conestoga wagon is to transportation, what spats are to fashion.
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? "It is good for a man not to marry" (1 Corinthians 7:1). MAGIC 8-BALL PREDICTION: "Very doubtful."
Proposition 12: Safe Neighborhood Parks/ Clean Water/Coast Protection
SURE. If Californians pass all five bond issues—totaling a whopping $4.7 billion—on the March ballot, we'll put ourselves billions and billions more than that in debt for the next 20 years. We'd prefer our state tax dollars perpetually fund some of what's included in this park measure rather than, say, further enriching the prison-industrial complex. But since that ain't gonna happen, we're down with this initiative. For 16 years, the state has allowed its once-revered park system to deteriorate so badly that there's now a $1 billion-plus backlog of maintenance and rehab projects. Meanwhile, the population is exploding, but it has been eight years since California opened a new campground. This bond measure would spread $2.1 billion around the state for critical land acquisitions, improvement projects and environmental restoration. A large chunk of the dough would go to neighborhood parks in the state's urban centers. Why should mostly lily-white OC care? Because if we're going to allow ourselves to get suckered into believing those supposedly escalating youth-crime figures, we should gladly open our wallets for places that serve as alternatives to street life. Face it: the kick-ass economy has made the rich so much richer they can jet around the globe for their vacations. The rest of us rely on parks. Those parks deserve to be the envy of the nation once more.
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? "When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him" (Acts 18:27). MAGIC 8-BALL PREDICTION:"Cannot predict now."
Proposition 13: Safe Drinking Water
NO. Water districts say this $1.97 billion state initiative is needed because it will provide and protect safe drinking water. But when concerns are raised about the quality of the product supplied by those same districts, they insist the water's fine. What gives? It seems the Coalition for Safe, Clean and Reliable Water—the front group for this initiative—is looking at a population explosion so vast that we'll be forced to conserve what we're using now and make what's dirty fit for drinking. What we're looking at are unanswered questions: Why do OC taxpayers have to pony up for flood control in northern California, habitat destruction in central California, and water treatment plants in Los Angeles? Why do residents outside OC have to help pay for Santa Ana River flood protection (a problem that has allegedly been solved), habitat restoration along our various creeks, and water reclamation within the Irvine Ranch Water District? And didn't we pass a $995 million bond issue meant to ensure California's water future just four years ago?
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? "Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, 'Go, pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath on the Earth'" (Revelation 16:1). MAGIC 8-BALL PREDICTION: "Outlook not so good."
Proposition 14: Library/Literacy
NOPE. Nothing against improving reading (we've got a vested interest in it, after all), but we just can't swallow this initiative, which would use $350 million in bond sales to construct and renovate local libraries. Not to get all Ronald Reagan on everyone's ass, but shouldn't local libraries be funded by locals? Newport Beach residents not so long ago took it upon themselves to fund what's arguably the best library in the county. This initiative would throw state taxpayer money around for technological upgrading, seismic retrofitting and structural repairs at local libraries. And who chooses who gets what? A new six-member state library construction board, who will have reporting to them a new state librarian. We say keep the state out of it. If Inyo County wants a cool library, let Inyo County fund it. If Tehama County wants fucked-up libraries, so be it.
Proposition 15: Crime Labs
NO. Perhaps the best reason Batman was able to solve so many crimes was because his Batcave contained the world's greatest crime lab. Of course, Batman funded the lab primarily through his own personal fortune. The state of California wants similar crime labs but lacks Batman's huge wealth. So the state came up with Prop. 15—$220 million in taxpayer-backed bonds to build new crime labs and repair old ones. Taking 25 years of interest into account jacks up the cost to $377 million. The bond supporters' main argument is simple and novel: we need new crime labs "so fewer innocent people are charged with crimes." We think there's a better, cheaper idea—simply stop throwing so damned many people in jail.
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? "If you really keep the royal law found in the Scripture, 'Love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing right" (James 2:8). MAGIC 8-BALL PREDICTION: "My reply is no."
Proposition 16: Veterans
NO. This bond measure—authored by Orange County Democratic state Senator Joe Dunn—is supposedly designed to aid 800 military veterans who supposedly need state-run housing. While thumbing through your official voter guide, you might have noticed, as we did, that Prop. 16 proponents failed to offer any evidence of a crisis in housing veterans. That is, of course, because there is no crisis. In fact, the last veterans' home (built in Barstow) was half-filled the last time we checked. Though proponents claim the measure will cost taxpayers just $50 million, the actual price tag will be closer to $180 million after hefty interest is paid to Wall Street investment bankers—the measure's real beneficiaries—and the federal treasury is raided for matching funds. That means we'll be spending a whopping $225,000 per vet. "We do not ask much," three veterans groups stated in support of the proposition. Uh, yeah, you do.
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? "An argument developed between some of John's disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing" (John 3:25). MAGIC 8-BALL PREDICTION: "Don't count on it."
Proposition 17: Private Lotteries/ Charitable Raffles
YES, PLEASE. Writing laws is like cutting off the heads of a hydra, Socrates said. Here's the evidence: some feverish moralist, eager to monitor everyone's behavior, pushed years ago for passage of laws to outlaw gambling. Turns out the raffle ticket you bought from a Cub Scout at a pinewood derby puts you in league with the Mafia, Indian gaming interests and Las Vegas. And Satan. So now we need another law, one that says it's legal to participate in school raffles. Who could oppose such innocence? Take a hint from the name of Prop. 17's chief opponent, the Committee for Moral Concerns ("Your Voice for Moral Issues in Sacramento!"). Here's a Weekly proposal: How about we let people do whatever the hell they want, so long as they don't hurt someone else? And we're not talking hurt sensibilities; we're talking eyes poked out, teeth broken, butts kicked. Meantime, we'll vote for this half measure.
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?"Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David" (2 Timothy 2:8). MAGIC 8-BALL PREDICTION: "Cannot predict now."
Proposition 18: Murder—Added Special Circumstances
NO. Apparently, California wants in on the Bush Bowl now raging across the South. While other states such as Massachusetts long ago banned the death penalty and now enjoy a homicide rate roughly one-third of the Golden State's, the Bush Boys in Florida and Texas are racing to see who can put more criminals in the chair. Prop. 18 expands our vaunted death penalty yet again. It changes the law to say killing someone "by means of lying in wait" is a death-penalty offense, in addition to the already accepted "while lying in wait." Sound stupid? It is. But the measure also provides new special circumstances of murder in connection with kidnapping or arson. Woo-hoo! By the way, did you know it's already a death-penalty offense to kill someone while in the act of "oral copulation," "train wrecking" or "mayhem"? What's up with that?
Proposition 19: BART/CSU Peace Officer Murdered
NO. Keeping with the time-honored tradition of using the state initiative process to put more people in jail, thus forcing massive new jail construction backed by Wall Street bonds that make bond investors disgustingly rich, Prop. 19 expands the punishment for the crime of second-degree murder of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) cops and Cal State University security officers. Where aggravating circumstances are present, criminals doing in these cops will get life in prison without parole. Apparently, this punishment is already in place for University of California cops. Will somebody please place an initiative on the next election ballot banning crime/death penalty measures from all future ballots?
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? "The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas" (Acts 16:29). MAGIC 8-BALL PREDICTION: "It is decidedly so."
Proposition 20: State Lottery for Books
HELL, NO. We're all for gambling—dicing, cards, dancing and drinking, too—but can't stand Prop. 20. If books are important for kids (and we like to think they are), then let's pay for them with real money rather than the leavings of the gaming table. Further, if gambling is a legitimate state function, why can't entrepreneurs get in on the game?
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? "The child's mother and father marveled at what was said about him" (Luke 2:33). MAGIC 8-BALL PREDICTION: "Most likely."
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
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.
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."
Proposition 27: Voluntary Congressional Term Limits
ABSOLUTELY. The latest effort to limit the terms of federal legislators, Prop. 27 would permit congressional candidates to sign a voluntary pledge to limit their terms and would place these pledges on ballots and voter-education material. The logic of Prop. 27 is simple and compelling: voters have a right to know if congressional candidates have pledged to limit their own terms and whether that pledge is kept. It's amazing how many pro-term-limit candidates, once entrenched in office, renege on their pledge to leave office after a promised number of terms. Our own Bob Dornan served nine terms in Congress, all the while raging against "career politicians" and claiming he supported term limits. Perhaps the most infamous pledge-breaker is George Nethercutt (R-Washington), who beat former Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley in '94 by pledging to serve just three terms, in contrast to Foley's opposition to term limits. Surprise: Nethercutt is currently seeking his fourth term in the House. Prop. 27 should and will be passed.
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? "Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good" (Titus 3:1). MAGIC 8-BALL PREDICTION:"Yes, definitely."
Proposition 28: Repeal of Tobacco Surtax
HELL, YES. In 1998, California voters passed Proposition 10, unfairly taxing cigarette smokers in order to pay for well-meaning public-health programs for kids. Two years later, we're still trying to figure out the connection.
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?"When evening came, Jesus arrived with the 12" (Mark 14:17). MAGIC 8-BALL PREDICTION:"Without a doubt."
Proposition 29: Indian
STILL NO, AND DON'T ASK AGAIN OR WE'LL REALLY GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO CRY ABOUT. Remember Prop. 17 above, the one decried by the Committee for Moral Concerns? They're at it again here, supporting Prop. 29 because it attempts to limit gambling to a few California tribes. Why are they afraid of freedom? We're not.
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO? "After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them and baptized" (John 3:22). MAGIC 8-BALL PREDICTION:"Most likely."
Proposition 30: Insurance Claims/ Civil Remedies
YES. This one is a no-brainer, especially in a state with more bad drivers than almost anywhere else. Last year, the Legislature passed the Fair Insurance Responsibility Act, a bill that would allow accident victims to sue the insurance company of a bad driver when it refuses to pay the victim in a traffic accident. Governor Davis signed the bill into law, but moneygrubbing, out-of-state insurance companies are hoping to void it through their usual trickery. To that end, they drafted Prop. 30, which mimics the state law—and then set out to defeat it. The powerful U.S. insurance lobby apparently hopes to confuse California voters with an ongoing blitz of slick television advertisements that suggest the only people who would benefit from the passage of Prop. 30 are trial lawyers and swarthy con artists who commit insurance fraud. Don't be fooled: 350 complaints reach the state Department of Insurance each month, almost all of which stem from cases in which insurers have unnecessarily delayed accident payments out of good, old-fashioned financial greed.
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?"Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh" (1 Peter 3:18). MAGIC 8-BALL PREDICTION:"Without a doubt."
Proposition 31: Insurance Claims/ Civil Remedies Amendments
NO. This one is a little murkier. The insurance companies oppose this initiative, but it's not clear why. In fact, Prop. 31 would benefit insurance companies by allowing only drivers who are physically injured to sue the insurance company of the other driver. Under Prop. 31, if someone rear-ends you on the freeway and you're not hurt but your car is ruined, you won't have any real protection if that driver's insurance company drags its feet on paying your auto-repair bills. The measure would also prevent small businesses—such as pizza-delivery outfits—from suing the insurer of the at-fault driver in cases where that driver's insurance company won't pay up. We never thought it would happen, but we're with the insurance industry on this one.
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" (Philippians 4:4) MAGIC 8-BALL PREDICTION:"It is certain."
Measure F: Safe and
YES. This would require all construction/ expansion of jails housing 1,000-plus beds, toxic-waste dumps and airports to get a two-thirds vote in a special election. Written by the anti-airport crowd, it all but ensures that planning on the county's proposed El Toro International Airport will end. The main argument against Measure F is that it would force police to release criminals early because law enforcement can't find any new jail space. That might be significant if not for the fact that Sheriff Mike Carona predicts jail populations will fall in the next several years.
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?"From this man's descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised" (Acts 13:23). MAGIC 8-BALL PREDICTION:"Without a doubt."
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