Who to Vote for on November 6: A Progressive’s Opinion
Every election Attorney Eric Kirk puts out a list of ballot recommendations. Here are his recommendations for our midterm elections.
Would allow the state to sell 4 billion dollars in bonds for several affordable multi-family housing programs. About half of it goes for low interest loans to construct housing near public transportation – “in-fill” housing (so no requirements for building parking to accommodate increased residency – I have a problem with this, but not enough of one to oppose the measure) with assistance to public and private projects for which the housing must remain low income for 55 years. The measure allocates money for home loan/down payment assistance, for construction of infrastructure (again near public transportation, and some money for farm worker housing both rental and owner-occupied (I’m really skeptical that much of the latter would be generated).
Its what bonds are for. The opposition is all about the problems with bond-indebtedness and taxes.
It won’t solve the problem by a long shot. It’ll benefit about 50 thousand families, but it could also have some derivative positive effects for others in terms of stimulus and keeping home prices and rents down in a state in which homes are 2.5 times the national average in price and rent is about 50 percent higher than average.
Proposition 2 – Bonds to fund housing program for mentally ill homeless – Yes
Apparently, the science says that the best way to combat homelessness is to provide homes. Seems obvious, but really getting someone off the street and into a safe place has apparently worked wonders for the long term. It doesn’t solve all problems, but is effective as a game changer in the lives of mentally ill and it’s not just a liberal pipe dream. The data says it’s effective.
2 billion in bonds would be sold to go into the “No Place Like Home Program” which arose out of Proposition 63 which allocated money for mental health programs. Currently there is a court decision pending as to whether the program is what voters had in mind when they funded mental health programs. This measure would decide the matter for the courts.
It is supported by Mental Health America of California. It is opposed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness which argues that it will divert money from actual treatment and fails to address systemic problems of zoning restrictions against such housing. It also argues that counties are already required to provide housing and (by implication) that it should be covered by the general fund.
These points are well taken, but it’s one thing to argue that counties are required to provide housing. It’s another to bring the housing into existence. This should have been instituted years ago, but an attorney has hogtied it all in courts. We need the housing. We can fight for funding for the accompanying treatment.
Proposition 3 – yet another bond measure for water – No
This is a bond measure which was unfortunately cooked up behind closed doors by a coalition of lobbyists who ensured that the bulk of the money goes to very specific projects in what was basically a “pay to play” process. The almond industry was heavily represented. The Sierra Club is opposed.
California would sell about 9 billion in bonds for a long list of water related projects – all of which are needed. Yes, we just passed one in June. And we’ve passed a bunch of them – almost reminiscent of the never-ending prison bonds we passed in the 80s and 90s when the voting public was more reactionary. But that’s the new reality. We will probably have to pass a bunch more as climate continues to change, population here continues to grow, and as long as we continue to indulge water-intensive crops like rice, alfalfa, and almonds. It’s the new reality, and even with these bond measures we are probably going to experience water crisis for the foreseeable future.
Unfortunately, the opposition ballot statement was submitted by tax posse types who want more dams. Proposition 3 is supported by conservative environmental groups like the California Wildlife Federation and Ducks Unlimited (hunting organizations – they do some good, but they have very specific agendas and earmarked Prop 3 projects support these jurisdictions). The projects are concentrated in the Central Valley and it takes money from the Cap and Trade revenues for these limited purposes.
On the positive side, about a fourth of the money would be allocated for watershed restoration, and this is where the opposition, which doesn’t understand the science, misses the point when it says that the measure won’t add a drop of water. Restoration would involve prevention of “sheeting” which happens after decades of clearcutting where the soil hardens at the surface for lack of trees and the water runs into the river and straight to the ocean instead of the “sponge effect” with the presence of trees in which the water is held and released more slowly throughout the year. It would also help restore habitat and forest health to lessen risk and intensity of forest fires.
There are about 50 categories of grants with geographic specificity. The Proposition was not generated in transparency. It bypasses spending oversight processes. It all but eliminates the “beneficiary pays” principle. And very little of the money would be spent in coastal regions or the mountains – fixated on agricultural and other special interests.
Another 2 billion goes to conservation, rainwater retrieval, water recycling, etc. It would include assistance with installation of low flow toilets and replacement of lawns with more water saving landscaping. And there would be money for habitat restoration (particularly fish in the central valley), infrastructure upgrade (including the Oroville Dam, which almost came apart a few years ago), groundwater protection, and flood protection. Yes, it probably tries to do too much, but it’s all necessary.
Yes, it would add to the bonded debt, and we just went to the well in June, but honestly if the provisions were more balanced and not so invested in the benefit of Central Valley special interests, I could get behind it. I can’t.
Proposition 4 – bonds for children’s hospitals – Yes
Authorizes 1.5 billion in bonds for improvements and upgrades to a specific list of mostly nonprofit children’s hospitals with specific goals in mind as to expansion of services for underprivileged kids and with some money dedicated to education and research facilities. Yes, much of the money will go to private non-profit hospitals, but it will expand services for underprivileged children – net effect.
It’s how building construction gets done.
Proposition 5 – Allows elderly to transfer their home tax rate to a purchased home – No
For anyone over 55 this would allow you to carry your current tax rate with you from your current home to your next. So let’s say your home is assessed at $200,000.00 (reassessment is almost always lags behind market rate increases the way it’s calculated) and you manage to sell your house for $400,000 and you purchase a new home for $400,000. You would carry your old assessment rate of $200,000 with you and only be taxed for that amount.
It makes sense to make it easier to move, but this was written by Realtors with profit motive and isn’t thought through in terms of fiscal impact or whether we really want to increase speculation and moving into larger homes at retirement. And it contains no caps on applicable home values. Elderly shouldn’t be trapped in a home which may be far away from family, adequate medical care, etc., but the answer is to press for policies generating affordable housing for everyone. This is basically regressive and it’s kind of a new Prop 13 focusing most of its benefit towards rich baby-boomers.
Also, I don’t really like passing Constitutional amendments by ballot. Sometimes we have to, but it’s too easy to change California’s Constitution. It should be done sparingly.
Proposition 6 – Repeals gas tax – No
Would essentially repeal SB1 which puts a 12 cent tax per gallon on gasoline, 4 cents on diesel, and establishes a fee for non-emission vehicles (varies according to model – I have mixed feelings about it as I think we should have policies which facilitate the proliferation of non-emission vehicles, however, as it stands only wealthy people can afford them so it seems unfair that they don’t contribute to transportation costs and the imposition of the fees makes the gas tax just a little less regressive).
The proponents have made Prop 6 the anti-tax rallying call for Republicans struggling as they are losing any grip on California politics. They are crying fowl over the recently passed Prop 69 which ensured that all gas taxes be devoted to transportation costs (makes common sense but I oppose earmarked funds as I believe the legislature should determine spending priorities), which deprived them of a key talking point.
I’m not generally in favor of sales taxes. Unless they’re on luxury items they tend to be regressive. But the 5 billion which the tax raised is essential, and it’s not all about roads, but also for public transportation development and improvement. It encourages reduction in driving and therefor emissions, and promotes fuel efficiency purchases.
Prop 6 would also make it more difficult to raise revenues in the future, which is the “prop 13 element” selling point for the proponents in the red counties. I think they make a mistake by evoking that association given the carnage of the extreme elements voters passed way back in 1978.
I also want to discuss economics here. Both left and right do this. They adopt simplistic economic views when it’s in their interests, and gloss over the complexities. The proponents, some of whom should know better and probably do, imply that if the tax is repealed there will be a 12-cent reduction in gas prices and 4-cent reduction in diesel. But suppliers will charge “what the market will bear.” The market currently bears prices which include the tax. If suppliers can take that amount and convert it to dividends, they will. This is not to accuse them of greed per se. This is what they do.
On the demand side, “passing the tax on to the consumers” doesn’t work when the supply-demand curve is flexible. In the 1990s when Californian’s passed a 25-cent cigarette tax it was assumed that addiction would render the demand curve almost entirely inflexible. But the tax did lower consumption of cigarettes, and according to one study about 17 cents was absorbed by consumers while the shareholders had to accept 8 cents per pack less in dividends. Gas consumption is actually more flexible. Yes, everyone has to commute, but price increases do lead to more use of public transportation and fewer unessential drives.
Humboldt County traditionally has some of the highest fuel prices in the state, probably due to our remoteness. Years ago when a local radio station aired complaints about the ridiculous prices, when local station owners were contacted about perceived price gauging, a prominent fuel distributor stated, “It’s what the market will bear.” One gas station owner had promised to lower prices, it didn’t happen and he refused all further media calls. Reporters and others suspected that he had been contacted by the larger distributor and everyone suspected collusion, but it couldn’t be proven for lack of direct evidence. Assuming this was a natural occurrence, and there are other examples, it suggests that competition is not a huge factor in prices. Therefore, one gas station will not take advantage of the 12-cent difference to undercut the competition – partly because it’s set by the supplier, and we have decades of evidence that suppliers do not compete with each other. Collusion is one theory, but there are other very complex factors in fuel pricing. Assuming they haven’t colluded, then consumers have nothing to gain by repealing the tax. If they have colluded, they will continue to collude.
By the way, don’t be fooled by the names of the organizations listed in support of Prop 6. The Latino American Political Association and California Women’s Leadership Association are conservative political organizations.
Proposition 7 – Permanent Daylight Savings – No
It would make Pacific Daylight Time official California time and I’m amazed that it’s taken so many decades before anyone bothered to do this. It would not automatically make Daylight Savings Time permanent – it would be contingent upon federal action and require a two-thirds legislative vote. But it would probably happen.
In my social circles I seem to be in the minority, but I like the switch twice a year. I find the stroke and heart risks studies questionable. I find the loss of productivity studies even more questionable. There are studies which differ with both.
Right now my daughter has to be in Arcata at 7:00 am. Getting her up when it’s dark is a chore.
I think it would be silly to be out of synch with the rest of the states (excepting Arizona and half of Indiana). Will it take root in other states as California’s “right on red” policy did?
I don’t know. Maybe. But I remember walking to my baby-sitter’s home in the dark in the 4th grade to watch Jack LaLane until school time in November, and I was relieved when I could walk in daylight. I honestly don’t remember Nixon’s energy crisis-inspired experiment a year later, but according to my fellow Prop 7 opponents, people didn’t like it.
I would rather deal with an early sunset than a late sunrise. And I like getting the extra hour on the switchover weekend. I don’t care as much about losing it in the spring, although it did stress me out in high school when I had less time to get my homework done as I invariably procrastinated until Sunday evening…
Point of information – if we were to simply do away with daylight savings time that would not violate federal law. We need to wait for federal law to change in order to have year-round daylight savings.
Proposition 8 – Kidney Dialysis Price Control – Yes
Limits dialysis treatment prices to 115 percent of costs (includes costs of education, training, etc.). Requires refunds and fines for violations. Mandates reporting to confirm costs. Prohibits refusal of treatment based upon source of payment including Medi-Cal and Medicare.
Endorsed by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, senior/retirement organizations, and veterans organizations, but opposed by the American Nurses Association (though notably the very progressive California Nurses Association is silent as of the date I’m typing) and CMA. I don’t take this lightly. They argue that it will result in clinic closures, in the absence of additional funding, and could increase drive lengths for patients. But we cannot have a system where dialysis patients can be refused treatment. We just cannot do that. So if the clinics need more money, then pols are going to have to figure out some funding. Patients cannot be expected to pay 350 percent of costs, assuming that’s necessary. Patients have died for the lack of ability to pay for care.
I mean, we should have similar regs for other life-threatening conditions, but we have to start somewhere until we have socialized medicine. Not single payer which is merely socialized insurance, but socialized medicine.
Somebody forwarded an article to me claiming that the measure is intended punish non-union entities. I don’t agree, but there’s nothing wrong with punishing entities which resist collective bargaining – sorry.
Proposition 9 – no longer on the ballot
It was a silly attempt to divide California into three states, and had it been allowed and passed, it wasn’t even the proper path to accomplish something like that. California would have to cede two of the states (whichever two do not contain Sacramento I assume) which would become territories. Congress would then decide the fate of those territories. They may keep them as territories or make both into one state.
So it was going to be a waste of time no matter what the outcome.
Proposition 10 – Repeal of statewide anti-rent control law – Yes!!
I’ve just about had it with biased documents/wording coming out of government, but the official Election Guide describes the proposition as “expands local government’s enact rent control…” Technically speaking this is true, but anyone who doesn’t know the history or read the analysis carefully will fail to understand that was this does is to dial back overreach from Sacramento in the horrific Costa-Hawkins law passed by developer and Realtor lobby-pressured pols to impose statewide restrictions on rent control. Costa-Hawkins prohibits rent control for single-family homes. It prohibits vacancy rent control. And most egregiously it prohibits rent control of anything built from 1995 on – which was purely a gift to developers.
This is exactly the kind of legislation conservatives claim to hate – that which saps local control. It puts a premium on tearing down older homes. For the lack of vacancy rent control it assures gentrification and the destruction of working class communities.
It’s backed by a slew of progressive organizations (Including California Nurses Association, curiously not silent on this one). But there is opposition from Alice Huffman of the NAACP who insists that the restriction is necessary to guarantee choices and encourage the construction of low-cost housing. I’m not clear if she’s speaking for the organization, or simply noting her affiliation for identification. But the rest of the opponents are conservative organizations (yes, including United Latinos Vote) and the tax posse.
Proposition 11 – Exempts Private EMTs/Paramedics from Labor Code pertaining to Meal Breaks; Some Benefits for Employees – Sure, with reluctance
Prop 11 has no organized opposition, but I’m a little put off by the privatization of ambulance/paramedic services. Isn’t the whole point to privatization premised on the notion that the private sector delivers certain services with more economic efficiency? Then why are we being asked to provide special exemptions to make their industry more profitable?
Basically, the Labor Code requires uninterrupted meal breaks. A lawsuit filed on behalf of employees established that it’s a violation to force employees to give up their meal break for an emergency. The businesses lament that they are forced to serve anyone regardless of ability to pay and that Medicare and Medi-Cal patients generate compensation at below cost. 75 percent of all ambulances in California are private. They are complaining about having to pay for extra employees to be on call while others are on their meal breaks. Apparently, this is very expensive since you can’t just call someone in for a half hour to sit around waiting for someone else to eat. It does seem like this requirement is a bit onerous since unlike most other industries they have no control over when their services will be of use.
But the proponents have thrown in some benefits which are intended to off-set the potential loss of breaktime, and the unions appear to be okay with it. The benefits include crisis training (dealing with violence at emergency sites, etc.) and mental health treatment. Some of it could be offset by charging private insurance companies more for their patients.
Proposition 12 – Increases Living Space for Chickens, Pigs, and Veal Cows – Yes
Humane Society proposal to increase the living space of the three types of livestock – laying hens, pigs, and cows to be killed as calves. Currently all livestock in the state must have the space to “lie down, stand up, turn around, and fully extend limbs.” Prop 12 would increase the space for egg hens from .8 of a foot to a full square foot per hen until 2022. The cows would get 43 square feet which is about 7 by 6 feet. As of 2022 the hens and pigs would be cage free – which can still be confined to indoors and I think hen space would be increased to 1.5 square feet, which is more than it seems – does allow for space between birds. Pigs would get 24 square feet which is about 5 by 5 feet. They would be “cage free” in that they could freely move about in a large building, but no guarantee of sunlight.
The opposition comes primarily from an organization entitled “Californians against Cages, Cruelty, and Fraud,” which the HSUS claims is a front group for farmers who have found loopholes around the existing anti-cage laws. That’s pretty cynical if true, especially since in their ballot argument they fault the Humane Society for failing to negate those loopholes. And over half of the rebuttal to the yes argument is dedicated to attacking HSUS for some sexual harassment issues which are probably true (quoting the National Organization for Women and creating the impression that maybe NOW also opposes Prop 12), but also wholly irrelevant to Proposition 12. The opposition statements are really bizarre actually, reading more like Internet forum trolling than ballot statements.
In the meantime, it’s a step – backed not just by HSUS but also veterinarian organizations. It’s opposed by corporate farm interests which curiously stood back and let CCCF write the opposition.
Did some research and apparently PETA is involved with CCCF.
US Senator – Kevin De León
I’m just going to drop my thoughts from the June primary. The two main Democrats made it to the runoff. Nothing in my opinions have changed since June.
First, I want to say that I find the argument against Feinstein that she should retire on the bases of her 84-year age to be ageist and sexist. There is no indication that she is losing cognition and this kind of pressure was never put on segregationist Strom Thurmond who persisted as Senator past 100 years old. It’s a double standard applied to older women.
But my choice of De Leon as the standard bearer of more progressive politics has more to do with her politics. She is a military hawk, a consummate moderate on domestic issues, and a party functionary. I blame the current Manhattanization of the SF skyline on her opposition to growth control in the 1980s when as Mayor of the City she never met a high rise she didn’t like.
De León is far from perfect. His press conference for gun control in which he demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge of the weapon in his hand is an embarrassment which will follow him around for his entire career. It also appears that the company behind the Cadiz Water Project (diverting water from San Bernadino to Orange County against many environmentalist and other concerns) bought his support with large donations. And he is a bit of a suit.
But he supports single payer, has pledged to vote for Bernie’s Medicare for All bill, and has taken stands against aggressive foreign policy and for Palestinian rights which distinguishes him from the incumbent. And he relies on grassroots support which makes him vulnerable to grassroots pressure.
Comparisons have been made to the HRC/Bernie race, but De León is no Bernie.
I expect that Feinstein will collect the bulk of the Republican vote and win, but I wonder if she will take the majority of Democrats.
Governor – Gavin the Suit
Gavin Newsom will probably be President someday. He’s basically Bill Clinton, complete with charm and third way vagueness to is politics. I’m not enthralled.
But Cox is a Trumpster complaining about rivers being allowed to run into the ocean and the gas tax.
Both are clichés. One is much worse than the other.
Lt. Governor – Ed Hernandez
Neither of the Democrats was my first choice for this largely useless office, but Elen Kounalakis is endorsed by the mainstream of the Democratic Party, the National Organization for Women and the California Federation of Teachers, while Ed Hernandez is endorsed by the California Teacher’s Association, Planned Parenthood, and a slew of unions. She’s not as centrist as HRC, but Hernandez is not as progressive as Bernie. But he is more progressive than she.
Secretary of State – Alex Padilla
Padilla is a boring semi-progressive technocrat, but is Republican opponent’s big issue is “bloated voter rolls” with veiled accusations of voter fraud committed by them. I’m not for bloated voter rolls, but enfranchisement doesn’t even appear to be in his vocabulary. Padilla will probably win and run laterally next time around – maybe for Attorney General. He’ll be just as boring then.
Controller – Betty Yee
Betty Yee is another of those names you will only see every four years as she runs for statewide office for a living. She’s boring too, benefitting from her Republican opponent, who is, surprise, for the gas tax repeal and against high speed rail. Oh, and he’s also against rivers reaching the ocean. None of this has anything to do with the Controller’s job of course. She’s for… I’m not sure what she’s for. Does anybody know what she’s for? I guess she’s against climate change, although even that’s not completely clear in her statement. She’s “managed your cash” well, or so she says, and I guess that’s what a controller is supposed to do. I guess maybe she’s supposed to be boring.
Treasurer – Fiona Ma
You know I actually kind of like the Republican Greg Conlon. He talks about his qualifications, which are substantial. His backing from former Secretary of State George Schultz who was ecumenical enough to join the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in the unveiling of the Herman Plaza VALB monument. He’s the only statewide Republican candidate not ranting about the gas tax or the rivers. If he manages to win, it won’t be the end of the world, as moderate Republicans are kind of a dying breed.
But Fiona Ma, though fairly conservative by SF standards when she was on the Board of Supervisors, is a bona fide progressive for the most part once she was no longer representing old SF Sunset District culture. She worked hard to detoxify children’s toys. Who wants toxic children’s toys?
Attorney General – Xavier Beccera
First, the Republican Steve Bailey comes right out as “dangerous experiments” against Props 47 and 57, and AB 109 – all attempts at criminal justice reform with mixed success. His answer is, of course, to reclaim California’s status among the highest incarceration rates in the country and world which has done so well for us over the past few decades.
But Beccera isn’t all that much better when it comes to “law and order.” He defeated his primary Democratic challenger David Jones by pressing on Jones’s opposition to the death penalty, suggesting that a prosecutor who takes that position is unfit for the office. On the positive side, Beccera has taken on white collar crime more aggressively than his predecessors and he has taken legal actions against Trump initiatives, and on behalf of the Dreamers. He has so far defeated Trump with regard to the latter’s attempts to weaken air quality standards and restrict access to birth control. He is aggressively defending SB 54.
The choice seems pretty clear.
Insurance Commissioner – Ricardo Lara
One of the few candidates I endorsed who made it into the runoff. Again, these are my comments from June.
Lara is the son of undocumented immigrant parents who is a bona fide progressive. Supports single payer. Authored the Super Pollutant Reduction Act which enacted the nation’s toughest restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. He passed legislation aimed at restorative justice and protecting children from abuses in the criminal justice system. Helped pass the bill ensuring medical care to undocumented children. Introduced a bill which would prohibit state contracts with companies helping to build Trump’s border wall. Seems like a good advocate for consumers and possibly a future contender for Governor, Senator, or the Presidency.
I will just note that his opponent Steve Poisner does warrant an honorable mention. He did a decent job as Insurance Commissioner a decade ago, when he was Republican. And his reasons for leaving the GOP seem honorable.
But Lara is the real thing, and may be more willing to buck the insurance industry on key issues.
Superintendent of Public Instruction – Tony Thurmond
Again, I’m just going to recycle my June thoughts.
Progressive in all the right ways, though a bit of a suit when it comes to politics. He was part of the progressive coalition in Richmond, but didn’t get support from the Richmond Progressive Alliance because he took corporate donations. Still he’s done well by at-risk students, immigrants, the environment, and other progressive constituencies. Known for establishing funds for effective needle-exchange program and HIV prevention. Also, he’s black, Latino, and Jewish which I think gives him an exceptionally broad range of experience and perspective.
Board of Equalization District 1 – Malia Cohen
Malia Cohen seems cool enough. Her Republican opponent rides with the tax posse. I’ll vote for her, but I really don’t care because the Board of Equalization is a zombie body.
I wish I could vote for the Democrat in District 2 – Tom Hallinan. He has one platform pledge – to close the Board of Equalization down.
There’s a guy running in District 4 who say he’s worked for Bob Hope, Frank Zappa, and Debbie Reynolds. I’m assuming as a lawyer. He’s a Democrat, but also a member of the tax posse. Weird.
Okay, I guess I have to explain – the Howard Jarvis (prop 13) group is the tax posse and they vote against everything tax. They seem to want to take over the Board of Equalization. Whatever.
Associate Supreme Court Justices
The way this works is that each Supreme Court seat has to be confirmed every 12 years. If a resignation and replacement takes place before such a term expires, there is an initial confirmation at the next election for a Governor which will confirm for the remainder of that term (either 4 or 8 years). There are eight up for confirmation this election.
Leondra Kruger – yes to confirm – the second youngest Supreme Court Justice in California history – she came on and I think threw the balance in favor of a decision which was decisive in my appellate win! And yes, progressive consumer issues were involved. It turned around a bunch of cases in which personal injury plaintiffs against health care providers were caught unwary of landmines in the law – I’ll be happy to tell the story to any who wants to hear. She was appointed by Brown in 2015 and I certainly appreciate most of her decisions given my legal and political philosophies. She has made a couple of law and order decisions which concern me, but she’s mostly progressive. Example – she sided with conservatives on the court who upheld a law which make it difficult for arrestees who were not convicted to have their DNA removed from the database. I did look more closely at the decision and her decision was based more on procedure than substance. But she did side with the conservatives against the liberals. It happens sometimes.
Carol Corrigan – yes to confirm – Not the worst Justice I’ve seen. She was appointed to the Appellate Court by Governor Pete Wilson in the 90s and later to the Supreme Court by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, but passed through Democratic Party run legislatures with ease. She upheld a plastic bag ban, and wrote a decision which held that emails with public officials are subject to sunshine laws. But a couple of decisions have irked me. In one, a kid threw some fireworks into some dried vegetation which led to a fire which burned a home. But instead of merely being charged with criminal negligence, he was charged with arson, and the Supreme Court, with Corrigan’s vote, upheld the arson conviction on the basis of “intent.” Federally, “intent” actually means to start a fire. The Supreme Court ruled that “intent” means to intend to do the act which starts the fire, even if you didn’t mean to start a fire. I see that as result-oriented activism. Another decision she was a part of reduced equitable relief by eliminating quantum meruit (unjust enrichment) as a cause of action. It runs against centuries of common law eliminating a major tool of justice when a formal contract wasn’t reached. She also dissented against the Supreme Court decision which ruled sexual orientation a suspect class for discrimination.
However, it’s considered bad form to oppose confirmation on the basis of disagreement on particular cases. So I had to consider whether these disagreements amount to an opinion that she is unfit for her position as Justice. Although there are other people I would prefer to have in her place, I just can’t say that she’s unfit to serve.
We also have two Associate Judges of the First District Appellate Court to confirm.
Justice Sandra Margulies – Yes
I’m in receipt of a progressive activist’s recommendation of “no” based upon the expansion of warrantless blood draws, and although I find the decision problematic, it’s not really an “expansion.” It simply allows a cop to testify to meet an “expert” threshold of admissibility so that they don’t have to call the drawing techs themselves, and I don’t know that it’s going to make a huge difference. Plus, a defense attorney can still raise doubt. It’s really a technical issue.
But her decisions are consistently pro-consumer, and the First District with her decisions have upheld progressive Insurance Commissioner decisions and liberalized the interpretation of the five-year statute of limitations to prevent unjust dismissals of consumer cases.
In any case, I find no evidence of incompetence.
Justice James Humes – Yes
Doesn’t seem to be any controversy from a progressive point of view.
Justice James A. Richman – Yes
Nobody has written anything about this guy. I had to include the “A” to have him come up on my google search. He was appointed by Schwarzenegger in 2006. So no reason not to confirm him. I guess.
Something called “progressive California” says he ruled against protecting public pension plans, but I can’t find the case.
Justice Marla Miller – Yes
“Progressive California” is also advising a “no” vote on her for protecting the governor in the CPUC corruption issue – so I researched and it does appear that she was involved in trying to reverse a Superior Court order granting a document production request, but the Judge had retired and nobody else at the Superior Court wanted to follow the order or buck the retired judge’s order and it looks like it was a mess. There is no rational for her order, but it was an extraordinary writ and it’s really impossible to judge based on the media accounts.
She did, along with Richman, uphold a major fine against PG&E for reporting failures.
She was appointed by the Governor in 2014.
Justice Peter John Siggins – Yes
Progressive California likes that he was the Judge who made the ruling against the California Prison System re overcrowding – ordering the release of prisoners. He was just appointed by Brown in July, so no real record to consider.
Justice John Streeter – Yes
Apparently advocated well for immigrants while in private practice. He also signed off in my favor on my recently decided appeal – and it was a very pro-consumer decision.
He was appointed in 2014 straight from private practice – never served as a judge.
Justice Alison Tucher – Yes
Also just appointed in July of this year. Apparently did a lot of pro bono work in private practice.
Justice Barbara Jones – Yes
Is supported by Progressive California despite being appointed by Governor Pete Wilson because she made a good labor decision favoring the Raiders Cheerleaders for wage theft. Apparently, the cheerleaders were paid a fixed sum per game and she ruled that the Raiders had to pay minimum wage hourly for games, practice, and community appearances. Seems like a good decision and I find no controversy.
US Congress – Jared Huffman
Not always impressed with Huffman’s mainstream positions, and very dissatisfied with his endorsement of Ryan Sundberg over Stephen Madrone. But Madrone won in the end and Huffman is about as progressive as can be elected in our district at this time – and he only has one opponent at this time. I like Dale, but he’s not fit for Congress.
State Senate – Veronica Jacobi
Much more progressive than Mike McGuire. McGuire’s okay too. He’s done pretty well by the North Coast. Except for the Sundberg endorsement. McGuire will win, but she presents an opportunity to make him feel less secure in his office. No pol should feel secure.
Assembly – Jim Wood
Again, my thoughts for June. Add to this the Sundberg endorsement.
I really wish there was a progressive alternative as Wood was instrumental in blocking California’s chance at a single payer system. He’s basically a moderate party functionary. But there is a Republican in this race and he’s obsessed with the usual – opposes the gas tax and supports deregulation. You go to his website and the home page has a big red sign which reads “Freedom,” and it makes me think of the final scene in Braveheart with Mel Gibson raising his fist to the cry… It was a bad movie and Heath is a horrible candidate. And Wood is more vulnerable to movement pressure.
Eureka Mayor – Susan Seaman
She is the most progressive of the three candidates (though Heidi Messner has been good on the council). She announced in August and was at my door before I even knew who she was. I’m really impressed with her ever since.
Eureka City Council Ward 3 – Natalie Arroyo
Really smart, really passionate, and really together, and up against two very conservative opponents. I’m listing her first because I live in her ward and will actually get to vote for her.
Eureka City Council Ward 1 and Ward 5 – Leslie Castello and Kim Bergel – Normally I don’t endorse candidates or causes not on my ballot, but I’m actually working hard for a progressive sweep in Eureka. Both Leslie and Kim are phenomenal. I haven’t agreed with everything Kim has done, and probably I won’t agree with Leslie all the time.
But this is an election about realistic economic vision and how we address social problems of homelessness and drug addiction. The opposition is obsessed against needle exchange because of some rough edges which have resulted in some errors, but which are being addressed, and the fact is that the needle exchanges save lives just about everywhere it’s implemented.
The other big topic of emotion is the current plan to convert one of the three lanes on each of H and I Streets into bike lanes, slow down traffic a bit, and make it safe for the high school students to cross while improving the aesthetics and desirability of homes on both streets. As Jana said, “We don’t need boulevards through that part of town.” As we both drive the streets nearly every day we also have a stake, and we are pro-bike lanes.
And I get to vote on three local ballot measures.
Measure I – .25 percent sales tax increase
20 years unless renewed. Specifically, for roads, and the roads are a very pronounced problem right now as Public Works is years behind due to limited resources. There would be an oversight committee. Even Marion Brady voted to put it onto the ballot.
I don’t like sales taxes. They’re regressive. But it’s the only revenue tool the city has other than parcel taxes which are also regressive.
Measure K – Yes.
I wrote it. Here’s one of my pieces submitted to the papers or blogs.
This November, Humboldt County voters will have the opportunity to pass Measure K, which will remove any active involvement by county authorities in federal immigration enforcement. Sanctuary is a much misunderstood and misrepresented concept. It does not interfere with immigration enforcement. It simply prohibits the dedication of local resources to unfunded mandates which serve only to prop up scapegoating national politics. The threat by ICE, the President, and other aspects of the federal government to punish Sanctuary jurisdictions violates the spirit and letter of the 10th Amendment and state sovereignty. The “voluntary” Joint Task Forces being pushed by federal statute and politics become mandatory if states and local jurisdictions are forced to participate either due to threats of funding cut-offs or claims that laws which refuse the cooperation are illegal. And to date, all attempts to mandate local involvement in immigration enforcement have been ruled unconstitutional.
It is true that the federal government has Constitutional primacy when it comes to immigration law. States and local jurisdictions cannot interfere with lawful federal immigration enforcement. But as established by court case in the 19th century pertaining to the Fugitive Slave Laws, states are under no obligation to participate in the task forces. ICE has its job and local authorities have theirs.
Moreover, the very federal statutes which establish the Voluntary Task Forces explicitly state that no reimbursement shall be made to local jurisdictions which expend local resources to those efforts. The price tag is often significant. The conservatives of our communities have often lamented the centralization of political power in Washington DC (and Sacramento) which requires actions of local governments sans funding. Nothing in a Sanctuary ordinance prevents local law enforcement from consulting with ICE if separate crime is involved.
But Measure K offers much more than most Sanctuary ordinances. There are numerous families which include non-citizen parents with naturally born citizen children. Among other things, the Sanctuary Measure would mandate parental decision-making rights for those parents separated from their children by arrest and/or deportation. Whatever feelings one may have about the parents’ choices in entry to the country, these families are now integral to local communities and the welfare and successful upbringing of the children are of paramount importance. Preventing the break-up of families is essential as a matter of values, but also community interest.
The media and certain political figures have placed ridiculous emphasis on “criminals, drug dealers, and rapists” to quote one famous politician. But this refers to an extremely small subset of the undocumented immigrant population as statistically speaking a foreign-born non-citizen resident, whether documented or undocumented, is less likely to commit any crime – probably because they have much more to lose than a citizen. Most undocumented residents are here to work. You do business with them directly or indirectly every day. They are your coworkers. Your neighbors. They may be your friends. Their children attend school with yours. You have cheered at school and youth sport events alongside undocumented parents of your children’s teammates. Some of your friends may be undocumented – it’s not something people talk about. They may be Latino, Asian, European, or Canadian. They each have an individual story which accounts for their undocumented status, and their explanations may change hearts as to whether they are people who disrespect the law. Necessity, dreams, children, and other individual circumstances often generate difficult choices.
In the meantime, it is important to your own interests that every member of a community feel safe to contact the police to report a crime, fire, or other emergency. It is important to your health that everyone obtain medical evaluation and treatment when ill. It is important that the millions who live here undocumented obtain education, job training, and feel they have a stake in the communities of which they are a part.
Conservatives locally have objected to local regulations and general plans because they do not pertain to “the reality on the ground.” Whether you support the choices these millions of individuals have made, the “reality on the ground” is that they are here and integral to your community. If they were to disappear tomorrow, you would feel the consequences of the loss – to economy, society, and community.
And they are part of your community. When one part of a community is compromised, the whole community is compromised. Please vote yes on Measure K as an affirmation of community.
Measure O – Half-cent sales tax renewal – Yes
Renews a sales tax which raises about 12 million a year for general purposes and is essential. Yes it comes without a sunset clause and I’m not a fan of the way the Measure Z advisory committee was stacked with stakeholders, but we need the money – bottom line.