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Fellow Californians, tomorrow's the primary, and it's likely to be a fairly low turnout one, especially on our side, given the lack of a race in the Dem's gubernatorial primary (cue the DK's California über alles). Since I bothered to slog through the voter's guide, I figured I'd toss my own two cents out there, in case anyone's interested.

For interests of space and focus, I left off all of the uncontested races on the ballot. Some I voted for, some I left blank, some I wrote in candidates, but in any case neither my vote nor recommendation has much effect on the outcome.

Endorsements below the fold...

Federal:

Senator - Barbara Boxer

This is both a vote for California's good senator, and a vote against the execrable elephant in donkey's clothing that is Mickey Kaus.

State:

Governor - no recommendation

I wrote in Van Jones here. I'll vote Brown in the general, but have not been impressed by him so far. I'm hoping the 1992 populist persona of Brown shows up soon, because right now he does not impress.

Lt. Gov - Gavin Newsom

Not a huge fan of Newsom, admittedly, but there doesn't seem to be much daylight between him and Hahn on issue positions, and he's got a good sense for political theatre, which is a big plus for a more of less useless office such as Lt. Governor. Ceteris paribus, I tend to vote for NorCal over SoCal and against whoever is dumb enough to employ Chris Lehane Garry South at the moment [oops, got my slash and burn consultants mixed up]. Finally, getting Gav out of SF opens up space for a more lefty mayor.

Attorney General - Kamala Harris

This is fundamentally a race between Harris and Facebook privacy officer Chris Kelley. Given Harris' progressive positions on pretty much everything, and the fact that corporate tool Kelley would threaten to do for California what he did to facebook users' privacy, it's a no-brainer.

Insurance Commissioner - Dave Jones

This was a hard call because both candidates looked pretty good, and I like de la Torre's support of single-payer and his adept rhetorical use of his personal experience in our awful health insurance system to drive home the need for reform, but Jones looks to have a better overall grasp on the totality of what Insurance Commissioner can do, not just in terms of Health Insurance. And he's from Sac, which is bonus points.  

Superintendent of Public Instruction - Tom Torlakson

This may be the most important statewide race on the ballot, other than the initiatives. California education is under assault from a wicked combination of decades of perpetual GOP-forced funding cuts (thanks to Prop. 13's 2/3 vote threshold in both chambers to pass a budget or raise taxes), and a right-wing privatization movement with a serious animosity towards teachers and a test fetish that (I am sad to say) has the support of Obama's awful secretary of education. In this race, the three main contenders are all backed by a side in this struggle: Torlakson is backed by the teachers, Aceves by school administrators, and Romero by the right wing privatization group EdVoice, who threw a ton of money and some incredibly nasty flyers at my Democratic assembly primary race two years ago.

How one views the topic of reform in education depends a lot on what you think is wrong with it. Personally, having been a public school student in an era of budget cuts, and a grad student and teaching assistant in an era of rising tuition, I think that if anyone knows what is wrong with our educational system, and what needs to be done to improve it, it is the teachers. I have no love for think tank "experts" who have no experience teaching and don't have to live with he consequences of their experiments, nor for the grifters who privatize public services to skim off the top while they bust unions. There is nothing wrong with California's educational system that restoring our per student funding levels, tuition levels and class ratios to the Pat Brown days won't fix. Of the candidates running, Torlakson is the only one who I trust to stand up for the integrity of public schools, and the only one who values our teachers as a critical part of the process and the solution to its shortcomings. My fear is that anti-union Republican votes will put Romero over the top, so turn out, Democrats!

Prop 13 - Yes

Noone's campaigning against this one, and the general argument makes a fair amount of sense. Assuming the continued existence of California's awful Prop 13-based property tax system, it is worth not discouraging businesses and residents to make improvements to their structures ASAP by refraining from dinging them with a higher tax assessment for fixing things up for safety's sake. Given how many of the structures in the state are in serious danger from major earthquakes, doing whatever is possible to get things strengthened and safer is worth doing. This won't likely make much difference for Yolo County, what with our overall lack of multistory structures and low earthquake risk.

Prop 14 - No

This is a bad idea for several reasons. First, the only reason this is on the ballot is that Republican then-State Senator now-Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado demanded that the State Senate put it on the ballot or else he wouldn't vote to pass the budget, because he knows he'll have a hard time making through a GOP primary as a moderate with a Spanish surname. His hostage crisis demands should not be honored with a vote.

Instead of the current party primary system, this initiative lumps everybody from all parties, plus "independent" candidates who choose not to put their party affiliation on the ballot, into one big pool, and then sends the two top vote-getters in that crowded field into the general election, which will only have two choices. By doing so, this strips rank-and-file party voters of their right to choose their own party's candidates, and allows candidates to drop their party affiliation and feign "independence" when their party is unpopular in a given district, which is what Republicans have done in Washington State where they adopted this system.

Enjoy poring through every "nonpartisan" county race to figure out who is who? You're going to love sorting through the massive block of names on your ballot under this bill. Expect a lot more rich, self-funded independent candidates staying silent about their policy agendas and mouthing platitudes. Minor parties like the Greens and Libertarians will be effectively shut out of future general elections. Party insiders and behind-the-scenes arm-twisting will have more, not less influence on the process, because the party that manages to clear the field for its chosen candidate will not dilute its vote as much as one which allows lots and lots of candidates to run, and thus have a better shot at getting to the general. In a nutshell, this is in my opinion a false reform, designed to aid the same corporate interests that have already bought the system and driven the state into a ditch.

Prop 15 - Yes

A great idea, especially given the importance that the person who runs the state elections be free from corruption. This voluntary pilot program would allow candidates to get a set amount of public funding if they have enough signatures and small donations to prove viability, without having to spend a ton of time begging corporations, unions and rich interests for money. In exchange for the funding, they cannot fundraise outside of that beyond a given amount. Candidates would get the same amount of funding, leveling the playing field and diverting the whole process from a fundraising race to actually campaigning for votes. Stigmatizing candidates who reject public funding would be a side benefit.

Our current system of financing elections is legalized bribery and corruption, and the sooner we see this system expanded the better. Since the supreme court's decision that there can be no limits on corporate "speech" in the form of wads of money handed to candidates, the next best thing we can do to clean up our democracy is to get a public funding system going.

Prop 16 - No

Example A for why we need to seriously reform the initiative process. PG&E got tired of spending massive piles of money to block grassroots attempts to vote for public power (Such as Props H and I in Yolo County a few years back) or even buy their energy from someone other than PG&E (like what Marin County has been doing), so they spent a gazillion dollars in one election cycle to buy themselves an initiative slot to make people pass such votes by 2/3 instead of a simple majority. Oh, and by the way, that's your and my ratepayer dollars financing this overtly antidemocratic campaign.

Prop 17 - No

Example B for why we need to seriously reform the initiative process. Basically, Mercury Insurance is unhappy that a 1988 initiative made it illegal to charge people more for insurance if they switched insurance companies, or had a while where they didn't pay for insurance because they went to college, or ran out of money and so didn't drive the car for a while, or lived for a while in a city with decent transit, or went to war and weren't in a position to be driving a car stateside (one of the reason veteran's orgs are opposing it). Mercury wants to be able to jack up our rates without restriction, so they funded an initiative to rewrite the law in their favor.

Yolo County:

Public Guardian/Public Administrator - Cass Sylvia

Davis:

City Council - Joe Krovoza and Sydney Vergis

Measure Q - Yes

Measure R - Yes

Woodland:

City Council - Bobby Harris

Measures S, T, U, V - Yes

Winters:

Measures W and Y - Yes

originally at surf putah

Originally posted to wu ming on Mon Jun 07, 2010 at 08:47 PM PDT.

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| 137 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Re city council (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wu ming, LV Pol Girl

    I agree and am a little perplexed why the "progressive" vote is for a McCain/Palin supporter.

    •  city politics is weird (4+ / 0-)

      this has been building for a while now, and i suspect may end up reflecting  a major shift in CA politics in the next decade or so, as older white homeowners justify their shift towards more conservative voting patterns with progressive rhetoric. it is decidedly offputting, though, especially the rote denunciations of public service unions as the reason why city finances are shaky, which used to be a GOP line.

      i expect a generational split in the CA dems in the next decade, roughly following the collapse of the state GOP into political irrelevancy.

      surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

      by wu ming on Mon Jun 07, 2010 at 08:58:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Vergis and Krovoza? (0+ / 0-)

      wait, you mean one of these supported McCain/Palin?

      It isn't shameful to vote your own self-interest instead of the interests of multi-national corporations--iceman

      by fumie on Tue Jun 08, 2010 at 12:15:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this, wu ming. n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wu ming, LV Pol Girl
  •  I had no idea Kamala Harris was running for AG (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wu ming

    Wow, how did I miss that one?  I was so involved in the Nevada races that I paid no attention the elections next door.  Rooting for Kamala!

    Happy primary day to all the Super Tuesday states.  It will be late night tomorrow.

    "The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting." -- Milan Kundera

    by LV Pol Girl on Mon Jun 07, 2010 at 09:34:08 PM PDT

  •  jerry brown better step it up (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rolfyboy6, wu ming

    not for his sake.

    for ours.

    witness the GOPRANOS.. rethugs: "If they fuck with me or Shaha, I have enough on them to fuck them too." -Paul Wolfowitz, quoted by the UK's Guardian

    by change the Be on Mon Jun 07, 2010 at 11:28:08 PM PDT

    •  no kidding (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      change the Be

      in terms of tactics, there's something to be said for lying low and letting the whitman v. poizner show disgust the electorate unhindered, but he doesn't seem to have done any of the legwork to build up a grassroots GOTV organization under the radar either.

      i assume jerry figures he's got the CA DTS swing voter mentality pegged, that the democrats will fall in line, and that the unions and local parties will do his GOTV work for him, and that all he needs to do is show up in the last month or two of the race and pound whitman with populist TV ads. i personally think he's making a huge mistake given that a huge % of the voters out there that are favorable to dems were born either during or after his governorship and haven't the slightest clue who the heck he is.

      i guess we'll all see if he bet right. hell of a time to gamble, though.

      surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

      by wu ming on Tue Jun 08, 2010 at 12:22:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Best guv in my lifetime (0+ / 0-)

        I think Jerry Brown was the best governor we've had, in my sentient existence, although he did tend to go off on weird tangents.  I hope he is together enough to stand up to whichever multimillionaire buys the Republican nomination.  One of the things I liked about him was that he wasn't a mindless party hack (can you say Angelides?).

        •  it's not hard to imagine (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          eugene, change the Be

          grey davis is the best guv CA has had in my memory (shudder), since i was 7 when jerry brown left office.

          as for angelides, while i agree that he was a historically pathetic candidate, westly would have been worse IMO. i am less fond of plutocrat centrist dems buying nominations than i am of party hacks.

          of course, i'm least fond of uncontested primaries, which makes this a rather irritating election cycle for me.

          surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

          by wu ming on Tue Jun 08, 2010 at 02:55:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  and look at the alternative (0+ / 0-)

            It looks like (what an amazing coincidence) the two biggest spenders in the Senate and Gov races won the Republican primary.   Lets hope that the general populace isn't quite so susceptible to the advertising dollars.  Though I'm not going to be betting any money on that.

            •  the pot legalization initiative will help turnout (0+ / 0-)

              more than dems realize. hopefully the OfA GOTV organization doesn't skip CA the way they did in the primary, and we get some decent registration and GOTV drives for young and latino voters in the general.

              surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

              by wu ming on Wed Jun 09, 2010 at 01:55:13 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  god i hope so (0+ / 0-)

                plus, think about this: the main obstacle for the pot initiative is that WOMEN are opposed to it by a majority. However, aren't a majority of women voters in CA democrats?

                So even if the pot ballot LOSES, it can bring young men and women who don't always vote to the polls, and help democrats, because some female democrats are gonna vote AGAINST pot but for Brown.

                witness the GOPRANOS.. rethugs: "If they fuck with me or Shaha, I have enough on them to fuck them too." -Paul Wolfowitz, quoted by the UK's Guardian

                by change the Be on Sun Jun 13, 2010 at 09:18:15 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Info on candidates (0+ / 0-)

    for the Democratic Party County Central committees-Yolo county would be appreciated.

    It isn't shameful to vote your own self-interest instead of the interests of multi-national corporations--iceman

    by fumie on Tue Jun 08, 2010 at 12:17:38 PM PDT

    •  yeah, i was at a near-total loss there (0+ / 0-)

      kind of irritating to have an election on something where the people don't campaign or have websites for info or anything.

      here's what i could find:

      jerry kaneko was on the city council in the 90s, cecilia escamilla-greenwald was on the human rights commission during the halema buzayan case and ran unsuccessfully for city council in 2008 (and her husband runs the main blog in town, the davis vanguard, lyle smith is the guy usually involved with GOTV when i've walked precincts in past elections, jack zwald and sam masood are students (according to my google searches), and i don't have the slightest clue who lucas frerichs or terri thorfinnson are.

      as for the policy positions of any of them (or which positions might be salient), or what the heck a central committee even does, man, you've got me.

      surf putah, your friendly neighborhood central valley samizdat

      by wu ming on Tue Jun 08, 2010 at 08:32:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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