2018 California Initiatives – Cutting Through the Campaign Crap

The upcoming 2018 general election in California poses 11 statewide initiatives, along with another dozen initiatives on the San Diego City and County ballots.   We’ve attempted to cut through the complexity and crafty convolutions in order to offer nonpartisan recommendations for each of these 30 initiatives.  Many of these initiatives are not what they claim to be.  Most of them are “pay to play”, meaning that the sponsors and opponents of the initiatives have a vested financial interest in the outcome.   So understanding the initiatives often means “following the money”. We’ve a fair amount of experience doing this kind of tracking.  So if you plan on voting on or before November 6th, it may be worth taking a look at our analysis (along with that of other nonprofits) in coming up with your voting decisions.

But first, let us confess to a bias against the initiative process.   An initiative option for voters is supposed to serve as an option when elected officials have failed to act upon an important issue.   It’s designed to be a last resort option.   Instead, the initiative has evolved into a means for special interests to bypass elected officials and to tie the hands of legislators.   That’s not why the initiative process was created.   This state of affairs has led us to apply a high degree of skepticism to any initiative.    With that disclosure, we turn to the matters before California and San Diego voters in 2018.

2018 CALIFORNIA BALLOT RECOMMENDATIONS

STATEWIDE

Prop 1Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond – Yes.  This measure helps with state’s housing crisis by making low-cost monies available for affordable housing projects.

Prop 2: Homeless Housing Bond – Yes.  A quarter of the nation’s homeless reside in California–over 130,000 people. This allows the use of unspent money, originally allocated through a 2004 measure to fund mental health services, to be used to address the problem.

Prop 3: Water Bond – No. This bond measure shifts the cost for water from the end users to California taxpayers, reduces money available for other critical state programs like education, affordable housing, and healthcare and has other fatal flaws.  Nasty wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Prop 4: Children’s Hospital Bond – No.  Uses $1.5 billion in public, general obligation bond money to support privately-owned children’s hospitals, along with five children’s hospitals in the University of California system.  However, state funds should not be used to support private facilities.   There are better solutions and this initiative isn’t well considered.

Prop 5: Property Tax – No!  Property taxes are the major source of funding for schools and local services. This would reduce funds for schools and local services by $1 billion per year.

Prop 6: Gas Tax Repeal – No, no, no!  California is in critical need of highway and local street repairs and maintenance, and improvements to mass transit and transportation. It also adds a constitutional amendment requiring any fuel or diesel taxes to be approved by voters, limiting the legislature’s ability to address California’s serious infrastructure needs. Nasty!

Prop 7: Daylight Savings TimeNo.  Refusing to sync with the rest of the country will prove costly. Coordinating deadlines and conference calls with people in other states would be a hassle and that is saying nothing of the time the Legislature would spend debating this non-issue.

Prop 8: Dialysis Clinics –  NoUnions are using this measure as leverage in negotiations with DaVita and Fresenius Medical Care, the two big for-profit dialysis companies that dominate the California market.  It is a very complex initiative that while well-intentioned is one of the reasons why we shouldn’t use initiatives to craft complex law.

Prop 9: Withdrawn from ballot.

Prop 10: Repeal Costa Hawkins – Yes.  This rent control measure turns out to have hindered affordable housing in the state.  It needs to be evicted so that better policy can be formulated by the state.

Prop 11: Emergency Medical Workers –  Yes.  This would allow the companies to continue their longstanding practice of requiring their paramedics and EMTs to stay on duty during meal and rest breaks in case of 911 calls.  It is necessitated by a screwy court decision which interpreted labor laws very strictly.   Patients need to come first!

Prop 12:  Cruelty to Farm Animals  –  No!  Attempts to reverse the 2008 initiative that requires cage-free chickens.  In exchange, it protects baby calfs and pigs.  Sorry, not buying this “deal”.   Nor do the folks at PETA.  Estimated cost of enforcement:  $10 million annually.  Besides, we shouldn’t be eating veal or pork products in the first place – environmentally horrible.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY

Measure A: Charter Fixes – Yes.  Looks harmless enough.

Measure B: Redistricting Tweaks – No.   Locks in some gerrymandered county districts.

Measure C: Lockboxing Pension Funds –  Yes.  Seems fiscally responsible.

Measure D: General Election Mandate – Yes.  Adopted by City of San Diego in 2016 and should be adopted by the County.  Forces county candidates to run in general elections rather than allow candidates to win outright in the primary.

CITY OF SAN DIEGO

Measure E: SoccerCity – No!    Offers fully privately funded development, but the City gets very little benefit.  And lots of side deals not in the initiative itself.   This “deal” should never have been put on the ballot.

Measure G: SDSU West –  Yes.   San Diego gets more from an expansion of SDSU than a soccer stadium.  Plus, lots of environmental reviews and mitigation tied to the plan.   Has garnered lots of endorsements from thoughtful people.

Measure H: School Board Term Limits  – No.  Imposes term limits on school board members.  A poorly thought-out, unsatisfying attempt to improve the school board.

Measure J: Business Interest Transparency – No.  More than 25 years ago, San Diego voters approved Proposition E in hopes of requiring these detailed disclosures of business ownership, but it turned out to be unforceable.  This initiative fixes the problem.

Measure K: City Council Term Limits – No.  A petty term-limit measure.   I’m not a fan of term limits and view this as not worth supporting.

Measure L: New Pay-Setting and Ethics Rules for Elected City Leaders – Yes. Ties City Council and other elected officials’ salaries to the state judicial salary, eliminates longstanding car allowances and expand restrictions on lobbying and the use of city funds for constituent mailings.  In this way, it removed politics from salary setting and it also attracts high-quality elected officials who can’t justify substantially reduced income for the ‘honor’ of serving the public.

Measure M: Reappointment of Audit Committee Members – Yes. This is a noncontroversial clean-up measure to ease the appointment process.

Measure N: Reinstatement of Police Disability Benefit – Yes.  Reinstate a disability benefit for members of the city’s police union who suffer a violent attack that leads to significant mental health challenges, rendering the officer unable to return to normal duty.  Have a heart!

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