Here's Rajiv's Voter Guide. My job in the house is to vote for the 2 of us. This year required a significant amount of research because of California's initiative process. It is fun because you get to wrestle with some of the issues that our elected officials get to deal with. At the same time, people do not have time to research these in any depth, so many decent sounding initiatives may be poorly written or divert resources from other higher priority programs. It would be better if a lot of these were vetted through the legislature where our representatives are supposed to do their job. Most everyone wants to spend money without an offsetting cut or tax. Now you know why California's budget is such a mess.
Some of these were tough, but here goes:
President/Vice President: Obama/Biden
This one was easy especially when McCain picked Palin. I loved him in 2000, but he's a different man in 2008. His desperation has been unnerving.
US Rep, State Rep, other offices: These were fairly obvious as most were performing incumbents against unheard of challengers. I wish our own Rep. Eshoo performed more notably given how she represents the land of incredible innovation. She does have this job locked up for a long time.
So let's start with the Propositions...
Prop 1A - High Speed Rail: Yes. This is one of the most exciting initiatives on the ballot that could radically transform California and hopefully the nation. We are the only major populous industrialized nation without real high speed rail. It is sad that a nation so technologically advanced would be building a system that has been existence for over 20 years in Japan and Europe. Nevertheless, connecting SF to LA with 220 mph rail would be a major competitive advantage for the state. It would reduce greenhouse gases, reduce the need for freeway and airport expansion, and improve the flow of people and goods throughout the state. This would almost literally run through my backyard, so I'm hoping for tunneling the line through the Peninsula. Regardless, it would build grade separations for Caltrain, improving connections and reducing noise. Yes, the projections may be optimistic, but look at the Big Dig in Boston. This is one of those things you just do. Fuel is not going to get cheaper and there's just no room to expand freeways.
Prop 2 - Standards for Confining Farm Animals: Yes. None of the major newspapers are for this, because of the concern for unintended consequences. If California hens get more space, then CA eggs cost more and other states or Mexico will gain share. I hate to say it, but my kids swayed me on this. They want their dinner to come from healthy hens. I love their enthusiasm on this issue. Sometimes taking a leadership position will force others to do the same.
Prop 3 - Children's Hospital Bond Act: Yes. It is a follow-up to a previous bond measure (Prop 61 from 2004) that has not been fully dispersed. However, because of exploding construction costs, more is required. I was swayed the arguments in the SJ Mercury and LA Times. The fact that children are denied care because of the lack of hospital beds is deeply distressing. We should be world class here.
Prop 4 - Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor's Pregnancy: NO. This restriction on abortion is absolutely the wrong way to go. I wonder where these supposedly well-meaning initiative petitioners grew up - in a cave? We all know the realities of this age. Kids get into trouble. Making them jump through hoops for this painful and difficult decision would create even greater problems. People should take care of their own family before exerting their values on others.
Prop 5 - Nonviolent Drug Offences: No. This one was difficult to analyze. It was well meaning, but the notion of spending $460 mil/year in this time just did not make sense without having broad consensus from the Legislature, public safety officials or any of the major papers.
Prop 6 - Police and Law Enforcement Funding: No. This one does have support from police chiefs and district attorneys, but the notion of guaranteeing $1 billion with no offsets puts this in the Prop 5 category. In addition both SJ Mercury and LA Times were against. If this was so important, then I'd rather have the Legislature put this through as a bill.
Prop 7 - Renewable Energy Generation: No. After reading Friedman's Hot, Flat and Crowded, I really wanted to vote for this. However, this was another one that everyone was against - Democrats, Republicans, utilities and environmentalists. That means something is wrong. California is already biased towards renewable energy, so I'd rather have our elected officials figure this out. There's already some momentum with California's renewable energy requirements, upcoming fuel economy standards and Million Solar Roofs Initiative.
Prop 8 - Eliminate Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry: No. This is one of those meant to turn out the conservative base. Times have changed from even 4 years ago. C'mon, this is California.
Prop 9 - Criminal Justice System Victims' Rights: No. Everyone wants victims to have rights. No one wants criminals to get out early on parole or for overcrowding. This one is another that should go through the normal legislative process. Another one that major papers are against because it is not completely thought through.
Prop 10 - Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy Bonds: No. Another alternative energy deal that I'd love to vote for. However, it's not clear why bonds are required for non-infrastructure related expenses. It's well meaning, but another one that does not have widespread support. Let's allow the legislature do its job first.
Prop 11 - Redistricting: Yes. This is Schwarzenegger's second shot at trying to create a less partisan legislature. In California partisanship a special problem because it takes 2/3rd of a vote to pass a budget. If we are going to have reasonable government, we need to stop the gerrymandering silliness. This one has widespread support, except for those who benefit in safe districts.
Here's the local Santa Clara County & Palo Alto stuff:
Measure A - Hospital Seismic Safety and Medical Facilities: Yes. This one is a "no choice" one. Seismic standards will force the closing of half of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center's beds and it's trama and burn center. Without this, people will have to go a long way to get critical services.
Measure B - VTA BART 1/8% Sales Tax: Yes. There are many in Palo Alto against this because of a parochial concern of County allocations, but having BART connect SF to San Jose and Santa Clara via the East Bay is the right thing to do. There's a cost, but mass transit takes cars off the road, reduces the need to build freeways and reduces greenhouse gases. There's the ability for people from wider regions to get to jobs. More importantly, it reduces imported oil. This area is going to grow and having more transit is better than less.
Measure C & D - VTA Advisory stuff: Yes. This one is more procedural. Hopefully, Measure D will take future advisory ballets off cutting the cost for non-essential voter approval.
Measure N - Palo Alto Library Bond: Yes. Years ago, there was a $50 mil. bond to the do the same thing, but it didn't make it by a very small margin. Now the cost is $79 mil due to higher construction costs. Yet, the libaries are as packed and dilapidated as ever. Time to put in facilities that match this world-class city. While Kindles and Sony Readers will have some impact, the space will be put to good use for a long time. It's good for our kids and our community. One side benefit - this one also helps improve our home values.
Check out the following sources for more info:
San Jose Mercury News
Palo Alto Online
Arnold Schwarzenegger site on Prop 11