Posted by the Mad Propster on May 13, 2014
Mad Props holds that California’s initiative process has more or less evolved into a recurring nightmare. The measures that reach the ballot are all too often funded by (or opposed by) obscenely well-funded special interests, which tend to fill the airwaves with misrepresentations and outright, damnable lies. Couple that with the fact that most Californians know very little about how their government actually works, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster: all too often, We the People, through the initiative process, pass laws and constitutional amendments that only add to the dysfunction of our beloved Golden State. Mad Props does its level-headed best to beat back the forces of ignorance, greed, and hate (yes, hate: remember Prop 8?) by providing straightforward, no-bullshit commentary on statewide ballot measures (with plenty of references, so you can double-check our work), and we start from a stance that any given initiative deserves a NO vote by default unless it is more or less crystal clear that a YES vote will leave us all better off.
All right then, the monologue’s over; let’s get on with the show. Here’s how to vote in June 2014 — or else you’re part of the problem.
Proposition 41: Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond.
(info @ Ballotpedia)
You Should Vote: YES
Why: In 2008, Mad Props urged a YES vote on Prop 12, and the people delivered, providing bond money for low-interest home and farm loans for veterans. That was a great start, but our heroes could use more help, and Prop 41 provides it while costing the state very little. See, Prop 12 focused on loans for veterans, but loans do veterans no good if there’s no affordable housing for veterans to purchase. Right now we’ve got $600 million worth of approved bond debt not being used under Prop 12 because veterans can’t find affordable homes to buy with those loans. Prop 42 would plow that $600 million into creating new, low-income housing. It’s a good, common-sense move. You can call it a “jobs creator” and be a lot more honest than most politicians who use that phrase. And the cost to the state (for 15 years running) will be less than one-tenth of one percent of the state budget. That’s peanuts, folks. To put roofs over the heads of veterans and their families.
Let’s check out the “old media” editorial boards. It’s usually a good sign when a snarky, left-wing weekly like the San Francisco Bay-Guardian agrees with a grouchy, right-wing daily owned by a Mr. Burns-like one-percenter (the U-T San Diego) — if they’re singing the same tune, then maybe we’re onto something. There’s no opposition to speak of or join up with here. (Note that the Prop 42 opposition arguments in your Official Voter Information Guide do not ask you to vote against this proposition.) Do right by our veterans and vote YES on Prop 41.
Proposition 42: Compliance of Local Agencies with Public Records.
(info @ Ballotpedia)
You Should Vote: YES
Why: Children, this here’s about what we call “sunshine laws” — also known as “open records” or “freedom of information” laws. Maybe you’ve heard of the federal government’s Freedom of Information Act? We’re talking here about a local version of the same.
Sunshine, as they say, is the best disinfectant. You want good, clean, unbribed, unbought government in your town? Be not too cynical: it can be so. It’s easier when public records are actually available to the public, and the public can actually attend public meetings. That’s (actually) what Prop 42 requires. It also stipulates that the state will no longer pay localities to abide by these rules — which has some local government officials putting on their crybaby hats, but we find it really hard to sympathize with public officials who complain about the burden of doing their jobs in an open way.
Look, if you lean to the left, you should vote YES on 42 because you believe in government, you believe it can and should be run well and fairly, in a way that moves our society forward, and you’re committed to the public’s right to know what’s really going on. If you lean to the right, you should vote YES on 42 because you think government is just pure shit, and all those public servant bastards are corrupt as hell, and you’re committed to the public’s right to know what’s really going on. As with Prop 41, there’s not much room for principled opposition here. We once again notice that in our Voter Information Guide, the arguments against really aren’t. So vote for sunshine, Californians! Vote YES on 42.
Mad Props hopes to see you all back here again in the fall when you’re ready to get informed for the November elections.
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NatetheGrate replied on
As a general rule, I vote no on ballot propositions that haven’t been adequately explained. Why can’t bond money for affordable mortgages be spent on affordable housing? Are you saying that a $600 million subsidy is not enough to arouse home builders to construct affordable units? Something is wrong with this picture and, unless you can explain it better, I’m voting no. As for the second proposition, we have many, many public interest sunshine laws but it seems the biggest problem is that bureaucrats keep figuring out ways to get around them, including charging prohibitive fees to let members of the public see copies of the documents they paid public employees to create! How does Prop. 42 fix this problem? If you can’t explain that, forget it.
the Mad Propster replied on
Nate: First, we’d like to commend you on your “vote no unless” rule, which is far, far better for our state than the “vote yes unless” rule that so many of our fellow citizens seem to follow. Now then, with respect to Prop 41, you ask, “Why can’t bond money for affordable mortgages be spent on affordable housing?” The answer to that would be, “Because the law [here, 2008’s Prop 12] says so.” When bond money is raised, there’s usually very precise language in the law outlining how the money can be spent. If Sacramento could just decide on its own to use Prop 12’s money in a different way, it surely would, but it can’t, so we get Prop 41. As for Prop 42, you are right to point out that even if the measure passes, bureaucrats might put up other barriers, like fees for accessing public records. No doubt some shenanigans along those lines will arise; no ballot measure is a total panacea. But Mad Props urges a YES vote anytime it seems clear that a proposition will leave us better off, and we believe that’s the case with 42: we will all be better off when it’s enshrined in the law that the public can attend public meetings and access public records. We’ll cross — or help you to burn — the fee bridge when we get to it.
Yael Li-Ron replied on
Keep up the good work. I’ll make sure you go bacterial. This stuff is certainly infectious.
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