Welcome to the election issue of City on a Hill Press. On the doorstep to a crucial and historic election, voters face an important and long ballot, each piece greatly affecting our personal lives, our communities and our state as a whole. As young Santa Cruzans, we at CHP recognize that this election may be the very first time that many of you vote, particularly in Santa Cruz. For people registered in Santa Cruz, beyond the highly publicized presidential race, we are facing a ballot of 12 statewide propositions, a local measure, 10 city council candidates, and much more.
CHP has compiled information on the Santa Cruz city council candidates, all state propositions and the one local measure in order to create a guide for voters who may still be in the dark in these few days before the election. We have given our impressions of each, supporting and opposing some.
We at CHP urge you to go out to the polls on Nov. 4 and exercise your right to vote in one of the most important elections we may ever be a part of.
The decision to endorse at CHP is reached with a vote from the entire staff. We endorse a proposition or candidate only when the collective reaches a two-thirds majority. Our decision to endorse only two city council candidates came because the field was split after the collective vote.
For more information about candidates, propositions and where and when to vote, visit SmartVoter.org.
Samantha Thompson & Daniel Zarchy
Editors in Chief
Proposition 1A – Yes
Proposition 1A proposes the construction of a $40 billion high-speed rail to link San Francisco to Los Angeles by 2030 with a travel time of about 2 hours and 40 minutes.
The proposition will issue $9.95 billion worth of bonds with matching funds promised. Taxpayers will pay $19.4 billion over 30 years to cover bond costs.
Opponents say that the project will adversely impact parks and wildlife refuge and that there is still no concrete plan for completion of the project.
Despite the costs, this would be the first step in a long-term investment that would be beneficial to the state and be better for the environment in the long run. The high-speed rail will reduce congestion on the freeways, help California reduce its emission by removing 12 billion pounds of carbon dioxide, expand transportation options and create in-state jobs.
Proposition 2 – Yes
Proposition 2 would mandate higher standards of living for farm animals. The proposition, which deals with venal calves, pregnant pigs and egg-laying hens, would set a minimum standard such that these animals must have room in their cages to spread their limbs, or wings and turn around.
Opponents of the measure warn that the increased mobility could lead to greater outbreaks of disease, including salmonella, and that the increased standards would lead to a spike in the cost of food. Because there are relatively few venal calves in the state and the largest pork producer in the state has announced his willingness to comply voluntarily, the measure would apply mainly to the price of eggs.
We support a “yes” vote on this proposition. It is the morally right decision to make, and the economic impacts would be minute. Should Proposition 2 pass, the cost of eggs from caged chickens will go up less than 1 cent per egg, a figure derived in separate reports from both UC Davis and UC Riverside.
California may start importing eggs from other states, which could cost Californians jobs. Still, Arizona has already implemented a similar law, and we hope that our state, and its role as an agricultural leader, can lead a national campaign to increase farming standards.
Proposition 3 – Yes
Proposition 3 would authorize $980 million in bonds, repaid from the state’s General Fund, to fund the construction, renovation and equipment of children’s hospitals. Eighty percent of these bond proceeds would go to nonprofit hospitals that specialize in children with illnesses such as cancer, leukemia, heart defects, diabetes, sickle anemia and cystic fibrosis.
Proposition 3 requires that the qualifying children’s hospitals provide extensive services to a high volume of children eligible for governmental programs and that the hospitals meet other requirements. It guarantees that 20 percent of the bond proceeds go to University of California general acute care hospitals.
Despite the colossal sum of money going towards this proposed act, we support Proposition 3. Children’s hospitals provide necessary treatment and need these funds to meet increasing demands for their services, as well as keeping up-to-date with the latest medical technology. Children are the leaders of our future, and their wellbeing should be a priority for every American.
Proposition 4 – No
Proposition 4 seeks to amend the California Constitution by requiring physicians to notify parents or legal guardians before providing an abortion to an unemancipated minor. In this proposition, parents are to be notified by a personal written letter or certified mail of their minor’s abortion 48 hours prior to the procedure, although the proposition does not require the legal guardian’s consent to the abortion.
Several circumstances provide exception to parental notification, such as a medical emergency, prior parental permission, or if minors go to court to waive the notification mandate given that the court determines the minor as “sufficiently mature” and “well-informed.” Minors can notify an adult family member instead of their parents, but this requires physicians to contact law enforcement or child protective services.
CHP opposes Proposition 4 because it takes away a minor’s right and privacy to an abortion. Ideally, communication should occur between parents and minors, but legislation cannot force this. This proposition puts minors in risk of abuse from parents, and increases their chances of obtaining illegal, unsafe abortions and other dangerous acts. California made the right choice in defeating similar proposals in 2005 (Proposition 73) and 2006 (Proposition 85).
Proposition 5 – Yes
Passing this proposition would allocate $460 million annually toward improving and expanding treatment programs for certain nonviolent drug crimes and offenses. The proposition would also limit the authority of the court to incarcerate offenders who have committed certain drug crimes, violated parole or broken drug treatment rules. It would shorten the parole for certain nonviolent drug offenses while increasing parole for serious or violent felonies and would divide the current California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation into two separate authorities. One, the rehabilitation authority, would have a 19-member board that would direct all parole and rehabilitation policy for the state.
California state prisons are extremely impacted and Proposition 5 would relieve some of that impact by shortening parole and limiting sentences for people who commit nonviolent crimes. Opponents point to the annual cost of passing the proposition as a deterrent. However, the estimated long-term savings gained by the state thanks to decreased costs of operating parole and prison are expected to exceed $1 billion. This is a vital long-term commitment that we need to make. Passing this proposition would also represent a much-needed move away from a system of corrections that focuses primarily on punishment rather than dealing with the underlying causes that result in certain types of drug-related crimes. The 19-member board represents a straightforward means of overseeing and developing rehabilitation programs proven to significantly reduce recidivism rates, creating an additional long-term payoff that extends far beyond possible monetary gains.
Proposition 6 – No
California Proposition 6, also known as the Safe Neighborhoods Act and the Runner Initiative, is an initiative that would set aside money for police agencies, prosecutors, probation officers, jails and juvenile justice facilities and increases penalties for some street crimes, particularly gang-related offenses. Proposition 6 prohibits bail for undocumented immigrants who are charged with violent or gang crimes.
In the current California state budget, $600 million dollars is set aside to assist with local law enforcement. If the initiative passes, $350 million will be added to the current $965 million a year already spent.
Utterly clueless and misguided about where California is in 2008, this supposed anti-gang measure would add new spending mandates — nearly $1 billion to start. It diverts billions from schools, hospitals and childcare centers by funding failed prison and policing policies. Proposition 6 targets youth for adult incarceration by deeming any youth 14 years or older who is convicted of a “gang-related” felony to be tried as an adult. It targets poor people by requiring recipients of public housing subsidies to submit to annual criminal background checks and withdrawing the housing subsidies of people with recent criminal convictions. Vote no on Proposition 6.
Proposition 7 – Neutral
The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and Proposition 7 has some very good intentions. Proposition 7 would force California utilities to generate 50 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2025, based on 2 percent growth every year between 2010 and 2025. Failure to do so would result in heavy fines to force compliance.
The problem? Proposition 7 has attracted one of the most unusual coalitions in opposition: the Democratic and Republican parties, Big Energy, environmental groups including the Sierra Club, big business and labor unions. It is also opposed by most of the major newspapers in the state, including the SF Chronicle, LA Times, Sacramento Bee and Santa Cruz Sentinel. The opposition campaign has a heavy war chest, including almost $27.5 million from PG&E and Edison.
Opponents say it could destroy California’s small energy producers and reduce the clean energy market to only large corporations, as well as virtually eliminating wind and solar industries from practical use.
The City on a Hill Press staff could not come to a conclusion on this measure, because the future under Proposition 7 is hard to gauge. Clean energy must be a large part of any future plans, and perhaps our utilities need a shot in the arm to get started. Whether to take that risk is up to you, the voter.
Proposition 8 – No
Proposition 8 aims to change the California constitution to specify that only marriage between a man and a woman would be valid in California, therefore eliminating the legal recognition of same-sex marriages.
On May 15, the California Supreme Court voted 4-3 that denying marriage rights to same-sex couples was unconstitutional, thus overturning Proposition 22, approved by California voters in March 2000, which defined marriage as being only between a man and a woman. The ruling held that same-sex couples have the right to marry under a clause in the state constitution, allowing same-sex couples to legally marry since June 2008.
CHP opposes Proposition 8 because it calls for the insertion of a 14-word clause that will exclude same-sex couples from the fundamental civic right of marriage — a huge step backward in the progress that California and the country have made in the fight for equality. All American citizens, regardless of sexual orientation, deserve freedom and fairness.
Proposition 9 – No
The rights of victims are important. California Proposition 9, or the Victims’ Rights and Protection Act of 2008, also known as Marsy’s Law, would alter laws governing victims’ rights in California. If it passes, it will amend the California constitution to add new provisions regarding victims of crimes.
Estimated fiscal impact includes the unknown potential increases in state prison and county jail operating costs due to provisions restricting early release of inmates. To the extent that such costs are incurred, they could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars annually. However, parole judges could increase the number of years between parole hearings to 15 years, saving money.
Proposition 9 duplicates many of the victims’ rights laws that voters approved decades ago. It has drawn opposition from several California sheriffs and county board supervisors because it will limit the release of low-risk inmates to relieve jail overcrowding — even in the face of a federal court order. California’s prisons are already 200 percent overfilled. Vote no on Proposition 9.
Proposition 10 – Neutral
As with Proposition 7, CHP could not reach a conclusion on this measure. Proposition 10 would set aside $5 billion (roughly $10 billion, counting interest) to provide tax breaks for people and companies that buy high-fuel-economy vehicles, particularly compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, and to invest in green energy and building.
Still, Proposition 10 was almost entirely funded from the pocket of T. Boone Pickens, a Texas oil billionaire who has turned over a new leaf with his Clean Energy Fuels Corp., a company that would stand to win big in Proposition 10 cash. This conflict of interest throws a wrench in what would otherwise be a great notion: investment in alternative fuels.
In addition, CNG technology serves as a bit of a red herring in the alternative energy future of our state. If anything, a shift to CNG would help reduce our “dependency on foreign oil,” but not necessarily be the save-all green technology we’ve been waiting for. Investment in alternative fuels is a great step in the right direction, but a tricky one.
A yes vote on Proposition 10 would make one rich man a whole lot richer, that much we know. Beyond that, it’s hard to tell how much it would help besides starting an expensive experiment.
Proposition 11 – No
A reincarnation of a proposition that has appeared five times in as many decades, Proposition 11 would take redistricting out of the legislature’s hands and form a new 14-member multipartisan commission for the task. The new structure, proponents say, would prevent the current practice of politicians drawing their own district lines, forming legislative areas where they cannot lose. These “safe” districts are undemocratic and make the primary race the most important, where a group of Democrats or a group of Republicans try to outpartisan each other, knowing they cannot lose the November general election. As a consequence, the legislature is made up of extremists who do not know how to work together.
Still Proposition 11 is not the answer. The very geography of the state forms safe districts that will never be overcome: a Democrat will always represent Berkeley and a Republican will always represent Orange County. There are few clear details about the 14-member commission, and the added bureaucracy could make a mess of the whole process. A similar program in Arizona failed, and though nobody denies the dysfunction of the California system, the best plan is to hold our elected officials to a greater degree of accountability rather than pulling the rug out from under them.
Proposition 12 – Yes
Proposition 12 represents the least controversial of the measures on this year’s ballot. It would set aside $900 million in bonds to help provide California veterans with affordable loans on homes and farms. The state uses the money to purchase farms and homes, which are then sold to the veterans. The bond is an extension of the Cal-Vet Home Loan Program, which has existed for over 85 years, during which time the state has always recouped its investment from the veterans without costing taxpayers.
In this time of economic crisis, we need the government to help step in and assist with loans and mortgages, particularly as soldiers try to re-assimilate into our society. These bonds in the past have always been paid back, and even if they are not, it’s a good use of our money.
Measure E – Yes
Measure E, an initiative that will introduce a new local tax to raise funds for water cleanup in the city of Santa Cruz, would collect fees from property owners in order to finance community projects. Every Santa Cruz homeowner would pay one of three flat rates, depending on the size of property they own. The stipend ranges from $28 to $94 for single-family and other developed parcels, respectively. The city would generate only $10 in revenue from undeveloped parcels.
New regulations from the state require that local communities meet higher environmental standards with regard to beach cleanup and pollution. Storm water management will be financed from Measure E.
An independent citizens’ oversight committee will manage and allocate all of the funds.
Measure E is an initiative for the environment. Help make Santa Cruz a cleaner and more beautiful place to live, work and visit. Support Measure E to preserve our local beaches.
Note: An endorsement for or against represents a two-thirds vote by the CHP staff.