I have two rules when it comes to weighing the propositions on the California ballot.
The first is to be very suspicious of the motives of people who sponsor these things and give them really tempting titles aimed at bleeding heart liberals such as myself or tax-hating conservatives on the other side. On this premise, I am automatically predisposed to vote “no” on all of them (though you have to be careful, because a “no” vote is sometimes really a tricky “yes” vote).
My second rule is to check the endorsements of the League of Women Voters. This is a non-partisan group which has no ax to grind and which is my gold standard on these obscure ballot choices whether you are Democrat or Republican. This year the League says to vote for Props 30, 34, and 40. They are against Props 31 and 32.
Their pro recommendations may be tough ones for my conservative neighbors. Prop 30 is the governor’s tax initiative. All I can say on Prop 30 is the taxes are temporary and, remember, the quality of our kids’ education ranks just behind the weather when it comes to why we live in California. The schools need the money now.
Prop 34 would repeal the death penalty, another though decision for conservatives. I’d just remind them that it doesn’t seem to deter any crimes and we flush $100 million down the drain each year supporting it. If there’s a better example of wasteful government spending, please please please write in and tell me what it is. I was delighted to see the League of WomenVoters agree with me on this one.
I’ll take the League’s word and vote for Prop 40 (Senate Redistricting) and against Props 31 and 32 (Budgets and Campaign Contributions). That leaves six others where my usual rule tells me to just vote no. I must say I’m tempted by Prop 35 (Against Sex Trafficking) and Prop 36 (Limit Three Strikes Law to Serious Crimes). The silence of the League of Women Voters on these is neither a condemnation nor an endorsement, so I’ll have to rely on my own judgement here. I’m leaning yes, but probably will wait till the last minute, as usual.
Then there’s Measure EE in Newport Beach. Here my rule of thumb tells me to vote no. This measure would make 25 changes to the Newport Beach City Charter. Some say it’s more like 38 changes, which in itself is a bit of a red flag.
Ironically, the ultimate turnoff for me was a ban on the use of red light ticket cameras in our town. I suspect the authors threw this one in there precisely to appeal to the Tea Party mentality against government intrusion. So I probably am working against my own liberal leanings by drawing your attention to it. More of you will probably run out and vote for it now. But to my mind, embedding such trivia in the City Charter is a prime example of why I am suspicious of these ballot initiatives.