Sunday, October 21, 2012

My Recommendations on California's Propositions

These are my recommendations on California Propositions:  You can go get all the basic information on them at 

Proposition 30.My recommendation: No  (more taxes to Sacramento).  

Ignore all the flim flam.  Whenever we give Sacramento more money they use it to come up with new expensive projects like the so-called High Speed passenger rail between Madera and Bakersfield which is projected to cost 4 Billion dollars.

Proposition 31: My recommendation: NO

This proposition is an attempt to return power to the local level by returning money to the local level. Under certain circumstaces, money collected by the state must be sent to local governments to allow them to administer state programs.  Generally, I am in favor of the idea, but the devil is in the details.  As I read it is complicated and will result in lots of lawsuits and litigation over whether the details have been followed.  While I like the idea, I am generally opposed to complicated schemes and when in doubt I vote No.  So here it’s too complicated and seems to be an excuse for lawsuits.  So, I will vote no.

Proposition 32:  My recommendation : Yes

This proposition prohibits direct political spending by both Corporations and Unions.  It also limits the ability of public employees unions to collect dues from public employees without their consent and it requires them to obtain the consent of employees to the deduction annually.   Under present law, if the majority of employees voted for a union 30 years ago, all have to pay dues of as much $700 or $800 a year.  Public employee unions in California are the are one of the  biggest interest groups contributing to poltiical campaigns in California elections.  I am frankly uncomforatable with any prohibition on political spending but I am more distressed that public employee unions have, through the use of mandatory dues checkoff, become the single most powerful political group in California.  They elect their bosses and then negotiate sweetheart deals that leave other taxpayers  on the hook for pensions and health benefits that far exceed what is available in the private sector.  

I was a charter member of SEIU local 535, at the time a Social Worker’s Union.    At the time I believed that Unions were necessary for public employees.  But over time, the unions  have become professionalized institutions in which the union reps are paid far more than the rank and file and where contracts are negotiated that public entities cannot afford by threatening action at the ballot box.  California is nearly broke.  We can’t afford a system that pays police officers in some cities more than a hundred thousand a year when the average worker in California makes around $45,000 a year.  

Contrary to what the ads on TV say, there are no exemptions in the Act.  It applies only to state elections but it applies to all corporations and all unions.  If we are going to balance the state’s budget, we need to break the stranglehold the unions have on too many state elected officials.  

Proposition 33  My Recommmendation: yes

What you have to understand about this proposition is that insurance rates and the way in which they are set is highly regulated in California, as it is in most states.  One of the great concerns of any state in doing this is to make sure that insurance companies remain sufficiently solvent that they can pay claims.

This proposition allows auto insurance companies to offer you a discount if you had auto insurance with a different insurance company. Insurance companies are currently allowed to give you a long term discount if you have been with them for a long time.This proposition would allow them to offer you a discount for having had insurance with another carrier. I plan to vote for it because it increases competition in a responsible way allowing other auto insurers to compete for your premium dollars in a responsible way.

Proposition 34:  My recommendation: no

This proposition would do away with the death penalty.  I don’t think society will fall apart if the death penalty is eliminated but, on balance, I think it needs to be on the table as an option especially in dealing with career criminals who have already been sentenced to life in prison.  There needs to be something further for them to lose to allow some measure of control over them.  I don’t have strong feelings, but the balance is tipped toward No.

Proposition 35:  My recommendation: No

The intent of this law is to give law enforcement more tools to combat human sexual trafficking.  I am all in favor of preventing human sexual trafficking but the text of the law makes me really uncomfortable.  It reads too much like I can’t define human sexual trafficking but I can tell it when I can see it law.  As a lawyer that makes me uncomfortable.  When someone’s liberty is at stake, i. E. The person accused of trafficking,  I tend to like statutes that are well defined so that even minimally intelligent people know when they are violating the law.  This one leaves me too uncomfortable in that respect, so, a no.

Proposition 36:  My recommendation:  yes

This act amends the Three strikes law.  When I voted for the three strikes law, I was troubled that the “strikes”, i. E. Criminal convictions did not have to be violent or serious felonies.  But on balance, the tendency of too many courts to allow repeat felons out on the streets to prey on society was so great that I voted for what I thought was an imperfect law.   This act fixes that problem. The final strike ( i.e. The third conviction) has to be a serious or violent crime.  No law is ever perfect, but I think, on balance, the reason for a three strikes law is to keep people who present a threat to the physical safety and possessions of others.  There is a listing of serious crimes and I think it is sufficient to assure that most repeat felons who pose a danger to others will be behind bars.  At the same time, those who have poor impulse control but have no tendency to really harm others will not.  I am sure there will be some people who will get out that I won’t be happy about and others who are not dangerous in my opinion will be kept behind bars.  It is a human system and perfection eludes us.  But I think this makes the law more focussed. So I will vote yes.

Proposition 37: My recommendation: NO

This is the proposition that would require the labeling of genetically modified food.  Whatever that means.  This is a boondoggle which will primarily benefit a small group of litigation attorneys who    specialize in filing consumer lawsuits often raising issues that don’t affect anyone or cause any harms.  It will cost businesses billions of dollars in compliance and lawsuit defense costs and not provide any real benefit.  It’s a boondoggle for the benefit of litigation attorneys.  I’m voting No.

Proposition 38: My recommendation : No.

This is another tax increase proposition that has lots of potential for driving more businesses and rich people out of California and will have no long lasting benefit for California.  We don’t need more tax revenue in this state.  We need fewer legislators willing to vote 4 billion dollars for a railroad to nowhere.  We need to cut out fat subsidies for the friends of Jerry Brown and the state legislators  Then we can balance our budget.

Proposition 39: My recommendation : No

This proposition attempts to increase corporate income taxes by eliminating one of the options they now have for calculating what percentage of their profits comes from California.  AT present they have two options and can choose the one that benefits them.  This proposition takes away one of the options.  It promises to fund “green energy” projects with the increased money.  Woohoo.  More Solyndras.  NO. NO NO.
We need to pay off our debts and balance our budget.  This is another boondoggle that spends money we don’t have while we drive more businesses out of the state.

Proposition 40:  My recommendation: a reluctant Yes

I have looked at the proposition. What it will do is clear.  It has to do with redistricting.  I do not buy for one minute that the Citizen’s Commission is apolitical.  I applied to be on it and discovered that the vast majority of ordinary people where held not to be qualified.  Hey dude, I have been practicing law for more than 30 years and I am not qualified to sit on a commission that draws redistricting lines?  No, this was a cover to appoint their hand picked ringers who are still political hacks.  Having said that, I think this requires a different political solution like getting rid of the Citizen’s commission altogether.  If a bunch of political hacks is going to decide our districts we might as well have them operating in the open and be labeled as such.  On the other hand, it saves a million dollars to vote yes.  I’m in favor of saving money, but I am not fooled.

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