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The WitnessLA November 2012 Elections Endorsements

With voting day looming on Tuesday,
a quickie rundown of our thoughts and recommendations.


30 – YES! Jerry Brown’s must-pass initiative is a desperately needed budget patch providing funds for California’s educational system—both K-12 and higher education—while also funneling fiscal aid to other crucial state programs.

Prop 30 looked like it would pass easily, mainly because most Californian’s understand that our schools and other essential programs are in need of $$$, and the governor has devised the least painful way to raise the necessary bucks.

Unfortunately, wealthy Californian Molly Munger muddied the water by floating a competative ballot proposition (Prop. 38) then, along with her brother, using tens of millions of her own money to blast voters with TV ads designed to shake confidence in 30, in the hope of getting voters to embrace 38. Now, while 38 looks unlikely to pass, it has managed to erode just enough of Prop. 30’s support to put it in serious jeopardy.

So here’s the deal: Not only should you vote for Prop 30, but you should threaten, cajole, emotionally blackmail everyone you know, are related to, or pass randomly on the street into voting for it. Otherwise, we’re in for some dark days in terms of public education. (Not to put too fine a point on the matter.)

31 – NO. A messy and badly conceived attempt to reform the way the state legislature behaves. Heaven knows some serious reform is needed, but this ain’t it. Prop 31 will cut money from schools and other vital programs and create a pile of bureaucracy. Read what the Courage Campaign has to say here.

Even CA’s conservative newspapers are fleeing from this badly written item.

32: NO WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE – If you loved Citizen’s United then you’re going to adore Prop 32. Listen, many of us are furious when certain unions (cough) CCPOA, prison guards (cough, cough) swing their weight around to ill effect. But this proposed law is a union-hating, Koch Brother’s special that pretends to rein in corporate campaign spending and special interests. Instead, it favors big corporate interests and hobbles everybody else.

For a humorous (and kinda scary) look at Prop 32 supporters read our own Matt Fleischer’s account of what he heard when he parachuted in behind the lines of Prop. 32 central—namely the Lincoln Club.

33: NO! – This creepy little piece of work is auto insurance bait and switch that is the baby of Mercury Insurance founder George Joseph, and does not have your and my best interests at heart. Run!

34: YES – Replaces the death penalty in California with life without the possibility of parole.

I’ll let Jeanne Woodford (the former head of the CDCR and former Warden of San Quentin who oversaw four executions), plus my friend Frankie Carrillo speak on the topic, as they each are uniquely qualified to do so.

35: NO – The sex trafficking and slavery initiative is extremely well meant but is a morass of unintended consequences. Yes, of course, we must do everything possible to take the predators it targets off the streets and put them behind bars. But this problematically-structured law, the project of former Facebook privacy officer, Chris Kelly (who would like to ride this law into the office of CA Attorney General), causes more problems than it solves—sadly.

The good news is that it opens the dialogue on this pressing issue, where victims remain tragically unprotected.

36: YES – Reforms 3-Strikes so that bad guys get put away, and the people who don’t need to be the guests of the state for the rest of their lives (on our tab) don’t. Even LA DA Steve Cooley & SF DA George Gascon like this prop that fixes the flaws in a well-intentioned but overbroad law.

37: YES– Requires that genetically engineered foods (GMOs) be labeled before being sold in California.. The LA Times is against it. We disagree.

The issue is not whether GMOs are good or harmful. Many likely are not, and may have great benefit. The point is that, as a consumer, I’d like the right to know what’s in my food and whether or not the items I buy contain GMOs. Wouldn’t you?

Alice Waters of Chez Panisse and some of the most famous chefs in America are in favor of GMO labeling.

So is the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.

Monsanto, Dupont, Pepsico and Dow are not and have thrown upwards of 40 million to try to persuade you that their opinion is the righteous one.

For a lengthier and highly informed counter-opinion to that expressed by the LAT and some of the other CA papers that are urging a NO vote, read what NY Times food writer Mark Bittman has to say about Prop. 37—and the missinformation put out by its mega-buck-funded opposition.

You also might want to read this also from the NY Times, by Michael Pollan (one of the gurus of the food movement, and author of the Omnivore’s Dilemma, among other food-related books)

Oh, yeah, and if you don’t believe those guys, you might want to see what Bill Moyers has to say on the topic.

38: NO/YES.or WHATEVER. This prop, which has set itself up as the alternative to Jerry Brown’s Prop 30, is a scheme to raise some taxes in order to fund the state’s ailing public school system. The prop, as mentioned above, has been almost exclusively funded by wealthy civil rights attorney Molly Munger. Munger is the co-head of the Advancement Project, along with the excellent Connie Rice, and we really, really like Munger for that, and for her many other accomplishments as a lawyer and an advocate. However, we are extremely vexed at her I-know-better-than-all-of-them-Sac’to-fools-do attitude in this instance, which could mean that neither prop passes, and that California schools suffer terribly as a result.

Karin Klien, the editorial board writer for education lays the matter out perfectly:

Proposition 30 is a superior measure on several fronts. It would avoid trigger cuts that would cause immediate and drastic harm to schools, which would probably be forced to cut the school year by up to three weeks, as well as $250 million in cuts to the University of California and an equal amount to the California State University system.

Beyond that, one aspect of Proposition 30 that has been little noticed is that it also provides money for community colleges; right now, more than 200,000 students at those colleges cannot find a seat in a single class, let alone enough courses or the courses they need to graduate. There’s little point to rescuing only K-12 schools when the graduates would have nowhere to go.

Polls suggest that Prop 38 doesn’t have a chance. And, yet, Munger’s ads and those of her conservative brother, wrongly claiming, as Klien writes, “…’politicians’ would get their hands on money intended for schools..” are still running. The non-passage of 30, once a sure thing until the Mungers threw tens of millions at the issue, is now hanging by a thread.

So vote for 38, don’t vote for it. Just make sure you vote for Prop. 30.

39: YES – Would remove a tax break that mainly benefits multistate companies based outside of California, a tax loophole that has actually encouraged these companies to take their jobs out of state. As KCET points out, Prop 39 would level the playing field by making multistate companies play by the same rules as companies that employ Californians, and would produce an extra $1 billion for the state coffers.

That’s the short version. If you want more, KCET has the details.

40: YES – Basically re-approves California’s newly redrawn state Senate districts. Every major newspaper in the state, whether conservative leaning or liberal leaning, urges a YES vote. A few disgruntled politicians urge otherwise, but most of them have quietly gone away.


In terms of candidates, we favor Janice Hahn, Howard Berman, Julie Brownley, Henry Waxman, if you’re in an area where they are on the ballot.


We firmly recommend Jackie Lacey.

Look: Alan Jackson is a skilled prosecutor, but he does not appear to have the temperament or the experience to manage the District Attorney’s office effectively. During the campaign, he has consistently tailored his message to the crowd, rather than giving us a clear idea of what his policies would be, if elected.

Lacey is more conservative than we would like, but she’s a listener, and has already appeared to grow in the course of the campaign. In short, she’s up to the job now and we believe would become stronger and better, while in office.

For more, read the very smart LA Times endorsement that I’m guessing was written by our pal Rob Greene.


(But you probably knew that.)

In any case, whatever and whomever you vote for: PLEASE VOTE


  • I for one, will not vote for any ballot measure that increases taxes, period. Every election cycle there is a new initiative for taxes increases for schools, “Do it for the children.” Nope, not a dime, not a nickel, not a penny. Cut our administrative overhead, deport illegals who are sucking our State dry and you will have money to burn. Taxed Enough Already.

    Obama? What a joke, funny, where is the media regarding Benghazi? No where to be found. 4 Americans killed in a terrorist attack, asking for help, Obama goes to Vegas. But, this is California. I expect nothing less from a Pelosi inspired, morally corrupt population. I for one, and a “One percenter’ and proud of it. If Obama is reelected, it will have little impact on me or my family. We will continue to travel and engage in fine dining while we watch this nation turn into Greece and be torn apart from within. You want him, then those in the middle class, you will get what you ask for. Drink the Kool-aid, it will make you feel better.

  • “Monsanto, Dupont, Pepsico and Dow are not”.

    Monsanto, with their trademarked seeds (and gaggles of lawyers as enforcer squads), and Pepsico, with their high fructose corn syrup (it’s the same as sugar, says the commercial, shot in a cornfield), yeah, I’ll trust them.

    A little paraquat on your pot, friend?

  • Read this guide…then do the exact opposite.

    No to tax increases and no to four more years of Hussein Obama destroying our country.

  • You should move out of California mr cut to the chase I heard the south is pretty ignorant to you’ll fit right in

  • Mr. Smith, what are YOU going to do when California goes bankrupt? And we are, “Moonbeam” has us in overdrive for self destruction!

  • Really unfortunate about Prop 35. Lots of good intentions and everybody left, right, and center agrees something needs to be done regarding human trafficking. I think you’re right that a better law could have been passed by the legislature. The traditional path of bringing this up in the state house should’ve been pursued first.
    On the good news front: soon, I will never again have to see Bill Bloomfield on my telly, walking so lonely on the beach…

  • Mr. Smith, why would I want to move out of California? Just because of the corrupt, broken and dysfunctional Sacramento political system? Hardly my good man. I am a “1 percent’er” I own my home free and clear as well as property in Hawaii and Nevada. The weather is quite nice here in Orange County, I eat where I wish, travel when and where I wish, and pay all of my taxes on time. I just choose not to voluntarily donate (tax) one single cent more than I currently am (I am in the highest tax bracket, thank you very much). I just happen to take extreme issue when I see our idiot of a governor trot around the State with the typical Democratic mantra of tax the rich a little more each election cycle, particularly for schools. And then you find the fine print that shows money is allowed to be diverted into the General Fund. Nope, I give enough and care not to give another dime. California is on the flight path of bankruptcy and much sooner than you think. It matters not to me, all of my money is protected and my monies are well invested. When California does break, I will be the first to say to the 47 percent folks, “You sucked California dry with the help and encouragement of our elected officials. Now move on to New York, they are awaiting your arrival.” Meanwhile, I’m heading to Hawaii for a few months until the dust settles.

  • Wow Mr. Smith.
    What an enlightened, progressive, humanistic post. No wonder CA is in such good shape with progressives running things.
    Nobody represents tolerance for diversity of opinion quite like a “progressive”. Nothing like labeling those who disagree with you as “ignorant” to bring folks together.
    That’s the road to progress all right. No doubt about it.
    That’s how you bring people together to accomplish a common goal. By labeling half of them as ignorant, insane, etc.

    Kindness? Tolerance? Acceptance?

    If only Mr. Smith’s brain and heart were half as large as his ego. Then maybe CA would have a chance.

    He knows how brilliant he is, and anyone who thinks differently is ignorant.

    CA is full of “progressives” like him. That’s precisely why we are in such good shape financially and in every other aspect also.
    Mr. Smith, when it all comes crashing down in CA, will you see the error of your ways? Or will your pride and ego cause you to try and place blame on those “ignorant” people who aren’t in charge and are by far the minority in CA?

    Pride goeth before the fall.
    The fall in CA will be a very long, very steep one.

    Remember your attitude, outlook and opinion at the time you posted #4 when you ask yourself how it happened.

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