The 2010 primaries are coming up shortly so I thought I’d put together a short voting guide as I’ve done for past elections. In the past when I’ve written up my voter guide, see I’ve included a recommendation for offices and initiatives. This year however, patient I see few choices in most races so I will wait to make a recommendation on candidates until the general election, purchase with a couple exceptions.
One exception I’m going to make is for the job of Public Administrator for Orange County. Normally, I say why I support a candidate; I try to make my recommendations affirmative, instead of voting against a candidate. However, in the case of Steve Rocco, I can’t emphasize enough the need to vote for anybody else. Mr. Rocco is a perennial candidate, having run for Mayor of Santa Ana in 2000 and Santa Ana City Council in 2008. In 2004, he was elected to the Orange Unified School Board. He was a terrible board member. There was even a recall petition that circulated to try to have him removed from the board. This was mostly because he was more interested in railing against the black vans out to get him (no joke, he’s actually that crazy) and talking about his mother’s health problems than in improving the quality of education in OUSD. It’s also good to note that he was convicted of theft for stealing a half-full bottle of ketchup from a Chapman University cafeteria. Do not vote for this man, he is not Andy Kaufman.
Also in Orange County, there is a fairly contentious race for Sheriff. There are three candidates on the ballot, the incumbent sheriff Sandra Hutchens, Anaheim Deputy Police Chief Craig Hunter, and former OC Sheriffs Deputy Bill Hunt. Orange County’s Sheriffs department has had a rocky few years. The previous Sheriff, Mike Carona, was indicted for corruption and convicted for witness tampering. After his resignation, Sheriff Hutchens was appointed to the job with the mandate to clean up the department. She brought a very different style and mentality to the department which has rubbed many people the wrong way. The biggest political issue that she has run into is in changing Carona’s policy on concealed weapons permits, refusing to issue most permits in an effort to reduce the number of guns on the street. Both Hunt and Hunter have latched on to this issue, promising to issue permits to anybody who qualifies and asks for one. While I agree with Hunt and Hunter on this issue and believe that a shall-issue policy is the correct one, I also believe that they are using this issue for political reasons without honest convictions to back it up. Sheriff Hutchens is the only candidate out of the three that doesn’t seem to be playing political games and is more interested in serving the residents of Orange County than being a politician.
Now, on to the state-wide issues.
Proposition 13 – Limits on Property Tax Assessment. Seismic Retrofitting of Existing Buildings. Legislative Constitutional Amendment.
YES. This measure will make it so building owners will not be faced with having their property re-assessed for tax purposes if they make seismic upgrades to their properties. On the one hand, property taxes are too low and it’s bankrupting the state. Anybody that’s worried about the revaluation of their property probably isn’t paying their fair share of taxes so they SHOULD have it re-valuated. On the other hand, that creates a disincentive for property owners to make structural upgrades that would make their buildings safe, which is a bad thing. At the end of the day, it’s probably better for the state and local governments to give up a small bit of property tax revenue in order to improve the seismic stability of California’s older buildings. The cost to cities for first responders if one of these buildings were to collapse in a large earthquake would far outweigh the additional tax revenue the city would receive from re-assessing the buildings.
Proposition 14 – Elections. Increases Right to Participate in Primary Elections.
YES. This measure creates a version of an open primary for state offices. California once had a version of an open primary referred to as a blanket primary, but the courts struck that system down because it violated the people’s freedom of association protected under the First Amendment. Proposition 14 will create a different type of open primary, commonly referred to as a Jungle Primary. This system too has been challenged in court, but in 2008 the US Supreme Court ruled that jungle primaries are constitutional. A jungle primary is different than a blanket primary in one important way: it creates what’s tantamount to a runoff election between the two highest vote getters from the primary during the general election, regardless of party. In the old system, anybody could vote for any candidate on the ballot during the primary election, and the highest vote getter from each party would move on to the general election. In a jungle primary, voters are still able to vote for any candidate on the ballot during the primary, but only the two highest vote getters will be on the ballot in the general election. This makes it so it will be possible, even likely, that we’ll see two Republicans facing off during the general election in conservative areas and two Democrats in liberal areas. This will enable voters in the general election to pick the more moderate candidate and should lead to less extremism in the state house from both parties.
Proposition 15 – California Fair Elections Act.
YES. This measure paves the way for public funding of elections in California. Whether you support this proposition or not all comes down to your views on public financing of elections, and I believe that we should do everything we can to get money out of politics. The current national debate over finance reform is a perfect example of the corrupting influence money has on politics. Senators from both parties are voting against the wishes and best interests of their constituents because they are afraid of Wall Street’s campaign finance spigot being turned off. Publicly funded elections will help ensure our elected representatives are actually representing the voters’ interests and not their donors. Proposition 15 is one small step in that direction.
Proposition 16 – Imposes New Two-Thirds Voter Approval Requirement for Local Public Electricity Providers. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
NO. This measure is designed to limit cities ability to create municipal electric utilities. There are two great things that Anaheim has: Disneyland and the Anaheim Public Utilities. Disneyland brings tourists, which in turn bring money and tax revenue to the city. The Anaheim Public Utilities has enabled the city to provide electricity for about a third less than the rates charged by Southern California Edison for Anaheim’s neighboring cities. In addition, Anaheim Public Utilities has been able to build up the city’s supply of electricity that’s generated locally, helping to ensure the power stays on in the event of rolling blackouts that California has experienced in the past. The money Anaheim has spent on its public utilities has been a great investment for the city over the long run. This proposition will make it much harder for other cities to make similar investments in their communities. The campaign for this proposition is funded in large part by California’s major utility companies, which are trying to limit the amount of competition they face throughout the state. More competition is generally good for consumers, this proposition is being marketed as a way to protect residents when in fact it’s simply trying to protect corporate interests.
Proposition 17 – Allows Auto Insurance Companies to Base Their Prices in Part on a Driver’s History of Insurance Coverage. Initiative Statute.
NO. This measure would enable auto insurance companies to raise or lower your premium based on your history of past auto insurance coverage. This means that drivers will be penalized if they drop their insurance coverage for a period of more than 90 days for any reason. For many people, there are good and legitimate reasons why they don’t need car insurance for extended periods of time that has nothing to do with their quality as a driver or risk posed to the insurance company. This change will lead to people keeping their insurance even if they don’t need it simply to avoid the increase in premium later on. Quite simply, a history of insurance coverage is not a valid indicator of driver risk. This is a proposition funded by an insurance company that would increase their profits, not help California drivers.