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Author: Grant Henninger

2016 California Voter Election Guide

During past elections I had written brief voter guides, medications mostly for my friends. I have fallen out of the habit of preparing these over the past few elections, read primarily due to being more busy, my friends being better informed, and fewer complex propositions that need to be explained. This year, however, with 18 initiatives on the ballot, I felt this would be a useful guide. So here are this elections 18 California propositions, and why I’m either supporting or opposing each one.

Proposition 51 — School Construction — YES — This $9 billion bond issuance provides for the construction and modernization of K-14 schools throughout California. Specifically, it provides for $3 billion for construction of new schools, $3 billion for modernization of existing schools, $2 billion for community colleges, $500 million for charter school facilities, and $500 million for career technical education facilities. These bonds will cost California approximately $500 million per year over the next 35 years. In order to access these funds, school districts will need to provide matching funds, such as through local bond measures such as Measure S in Orange Unified School District or Measure K in the Brea Olinda Unified School District.

A lot of the money from Proposition 51 and its local counterparts will go towards deferred maintenance. This is simply not how we should be funding and maintaining our public schools. However, since we have chronically underfund our schools over the past four decades, this infusion of cash is absolutely necessary. This isn’t the best solution for improving our schools for the long term, but it’s the best solution that’s politically feasible right now. Until we can convince people to raise their taxes to fund schools from current revenue, we’re going to be left with funding school facilities by bonding against future revenue.

Proposition 52 — Hospital Fees — NO — Proposition 52 would require voter approval for the State to make changes to the fees hospitals are charged in order for the State to raise the funds necessary to receive Federal Medicare money. This is adding a requirement for ballot-box governing, instead of allowing California’s legislature and governor do their jobs. We are a Republic, and should not be engaging in additional direct democracy, it has not served us well in the past.

Proposition 53 — Revenue Bonds — NO — Just like for Proposition 52, this creates a requirement for additional ballot-box governing. Proposition 53 requires that the voters must approve any State bond issuance over $2 billion. This is an effective curb to large-scale infrastructure projects, such as High Speed Rail and upgrades to the California State Water Project.

Proposition 54 — Last-minute Lawmaking — YES — Proposition 54 requires that all bills in the legislature be available for public review at least 72 hours before being voted on, and that recordings of legislative sessions be posted online within 24 hours. Often times, many bills that are negotiated late in the sessions are voted on just hours after being written. This 72 hour delay ensures that legislators (or their staff) have enough time to read and understand the bill before voting on it.

Proposition 55 — High-earner Tax — YES — In 2012, California voters approved a temporary supplemental income tax on individuals earning more than $250,000/year. Proposition 55 would extend those supplemental income taxes for an additional 12 years, expiring in 2030 instead of 2018. Since 2012, this tax has raised approximately $6 billion/year in additional revenue, with 89% going to K-12 schools and 11% going to community colleges.

Proposition 56 — Tobacco Tax — YES — Raising the taxes on smoking will decrease the number of smokers. The current state tax is only $0.41, one of the lowest in the nation, and hasn’t been raised since 1997. The additional money raised will go to MediCal, allowing more low income individuals to be able to get affordable healthcare.

Proposition 57 — Criminal Sentencing — YES — Proposition 57 increases non-violent felons ability to get out of jail on parole, and allows judges, instead of prosecutors, to determine if juveniles should be tried as adults. This is an interesting proposition because it tackles two different problems. Thankfully, I support both of them independently of the other, making this a relatively easy yes vote.

Overall, I think it’s a good idea to let people in jail earn their way back into society. The more paths they have to do so, the better off we all are. For people to respect the laws we as a society impose, they must feel they are a member of that society. Overall, jail does more to alienate people from society than to make them feel a part of it. We have gone so far down the road of using jail for punishment and to serve as an example that it has become counter-productive, evidenced by the high rate of recidivism.

The second part of Proposition 57 is even easier to support. Most of the time, prosecutors are more interested in appearing tough on crime than doing what’s appropriate for the citizens they serve. Judges, on the other hand, often are much more impartial, charged with taking both sides of a trial into account. Until this proposition was put on the ballot, I didn’t realize that this was something left up to prosecutors, and once I knew I found it fairly horrifying.

Proposition 58 — Bilingual education — YES — Proposition 58 undoes Proposition 227, which was approved by voters in 1998. Proposition 227 requires that schools only use English in the classroom. Proposition 58 will allow teachers to use whatever language is most suitable for teaching their students.

Proposition 59 — Campaign Money — YES — Proposition 59 doesn’t change the law, it simply encourages California officials to use the power of their office to overturn the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, up to and including a Constitutional Amendment. Citizens United is the court case that allowed for corporations and wealthy individuals to spend unlimited amounts of money influencing the political process. Money in politics is not the most pressing issue we face, but it is an issue that must be addressed before we can begin to address many of the other issues that are pressing. Overturning Citizens United, and ratifying a Constitutional Amendment to do so, is the only way to get money out of politics.

Proposition 60 — Condoms in Films — YES — Proposition 60 requires that actors in adult films wear condoms. Condoms are basic health and safety equipment for adult film actors, no different than gloves for people handling food or hard hats for construction workers. In addition, increasing the prevalence of condoms in adult films will increasing the willingness of young men to wear condoms themselves.

Proposition 61 — Prescription Drugs — YES — Proposition 61 is a clear example of why we should not have ballot-box governing. This is a law that is far too complex and has too much potential for unforeseen consequences to leave up to mostly uninformed voters. That being said, I support Proposition 61 one primary reason, drug companies have contributed nearly $85 million towards defeating the proposition. Merck, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson have each contributed over $7 million, with a number of other drug manufacturers contributing millions more each. If they are that concerned about Proposition 61 passing, it’s probably a good law.

Proposition 62 — Repeal the Death Penalty — YES — Proposition 62 repeals the death penalty in California, simple as that. People currently on death row would have their sentences commuted to life without the possibility of parole. I’ve been an opponent to the death penalty since the execution of Timothy McVeigh in 2001. When he was executed for blowing up the Oklahoma Federal Building, the viewing room adjacent to the execution chamber wasn’t large enough for all of the people who lost family members in the bombing and wanted to watch his execution. To accommodate everyone who couldn’t fit in the viewing room, they put McVeigh’s execution on closed circuit television so everyone could watch from an adjacent room. This made me realize that much of the impetus behind executions is related to revenge, not any form of justice. Revenge does not have any place in the justice system. The justice system should be about keeping society safe, and helping criminals repay their debt to society. The justice system should be able to keep society safe without killing criminals, if it can’t there are other more pressing problems than the crimes themselves, and once a criminal has been executed there is no way for them to repay their debts. At least with life imprisonment, there is some chance that they can make a positive contribution to society later in life. The death penalty is no better than revenge killings by gangs, it’s only given the veneer of morality through legality, but it is no more virtuous.

Proposition 63 — Gun Control — NO — This is another law towards a piecemeal approach to gun control. The law will do nothing to reduce gun violence in California. If we want to reduce the number of people killed using guns, we need to have a comprehensive approach to gun control, and that needs to start with a serious discussion about the merits of the Second Amendment in modern America.

Proposition 64 — Legalizing Marijuana — YES — Proposition 64 legalizes recreational marijuana in California. Colorado and Oregon have been able to earn substantial taxes by legalizing pot without substantial negative side-effects to society. California should follow suit and help lead the charge to the decriminalization of marijuana use.

Proposition 65 — Plastic Bag Ban Money — YES — Proposition 65 and Proposition 67 both deal with the ban on single-use plastic bags that was approved signed into law by the Governor in 2014. Proposition 65 and 67 are in conflict with one another, and if they both pass, whichever one gets more votes will be put in place. Proposition 65 was championed by the plastic bag industry to penalize the grocery industry, which supported the initial plastic bag ban. Proposition 65 diverts money that grocery retailers collect to a special fund administered by the California Wildlife Conservation Board. While I do not love the motives behind Proposition 65, I do think that it’s a good diversion of money.

Proposition 66 — Death penalty procedures — NO — If both Proposition 62 and Proposition 66 pass, the proposition with more votes will go into effect. Proposition 66 keeps the death penalty in place, and puts statutory limits on how long death penalty cases can be appealed. The goal of Proposition 66 is to speed up the execution of people sentenced to death, thereby saving the state money. Interestingly, the largest donors opposing this initiative are tech millionaires, including Reed Hastings, Laurene Powell Jobs (Steve Jobs widow), and Paul Graham.

Proposition 67 — Ban Plastic Bags — YES — In 2014, the California legislature passed SB 270, which banned single-use plastic bags in California. Proposition 67 is a referendum on that law, sponsored by the plastic bag industry. It is clear that single-use bags are harmful to the environment, and that reusable bags are more efficient. Many people simple do the easiest thing possible in life (myself included), and right now when going to the grocery store using single-use plastic bags is the easiest thing. It’s not much more difficult to use reusable bags, and it would greatly help the environment by reducing the amount of waste, litter, and energy needed to produce the bags.

Using Dropbox to Automatically Backup Files in OS X

In recent weeks, see I’ve seen a lot of friends sign up for Dropbox. Dropbox is an online server that lets you store files that are then retrievable from any computer with an internet connection. They also provide the ability to share files with friends or the public.

The great thing about having an easy to use file storage service online is that it enables you to create a backup of your files available from any computer on the internet. Unfortunately, Dropbox doesn’t provide you with a way to automatically back up your files without manually copying them to your Dropbox folder.  This little how-to will guide you through the process of automatically backing up your files using Cron and Dropbox. (NOTE: These instructions are for Mac users running OS X.  The instructions will be very similar if you are using *nix. If you are using Windows, you can use Windows Scheduler instead of Cron to accomplish the same thing.)

The first thing that you’ll need to do is get Dropbox set up and working.  If you already have a Dropbox account and the software installed, feel free to skip over this part to the next section.

  1. To get Dropbox working, you’re going to need to do is to create a Dropbox account.
  2. Once your account has been created, download and install the Dropbox software.
  3. Once the Dropbox software is installed and configured, it will create a new folder in your user directory.  For me, the folder is /Users/Grant/Dropbox.  Any files in this directory will be uploaded to Dropbox’s server and available online.

Now that Dropbox is set up, it’s time to get it to back up your files automatically.  We’re going to do this with a cron job that will copy whatever files you want backed up into the /Dropbox folder.

  1. For purposes of this tutorial, I’m going to assume we want to back up your Documents folder every hour.  Please note, however, that Dropbox limits how much free space they provide.  If your Documents folder is larger than the space they provide, you will either need to purchase more space or be more selective about what you’re backing up.
  2. Go into your Applications folder and start Terminal.app.
  3. In Terminal, type crontab -e, a new file will open up that is most likely blank with every line showing a ~, this is your list of cron jobs.  Cron jobs run specific commands at predetermined intervals. We’re going to add a new cron job to the list.
  4. First, we must determine how often to run your backup script.  As I said earlier, we’re going to assume we want it backed up every hour.  To do this we start the line by typing in 0 * * * *. This says that when the minute says 0 (i.e. at the top of the hour), on every hour, every day, every month, and every day of the week, run this command.
  5. Now that cron knows how often to run the command, we need to tell it what command to run. This is a very basic copy command. On the same line that we have 0 * * * *, add cp -r /Users/<USERNAME>/Documents /Users/<USERNAME>/Dropbox/Backup. This says that we’re going to recurrsively copy (cp -r) our source directory (/Users/<USERNAME>/Documents) and place it in our destination directory (/Users/<USERNAME>/Dropbox/Backup). Of course, you’ll have to replace with whatever your login name is on your computer. For me it’s Grant, for you it’s probably something different.
  6. You should end up with a single line in cron that reads 0 * * * * cp -r /Users/<USERNAME>/Documents /Users/<USERNAME>/Dropbox/Backup.
  7. Now, the final step is saving your cron job.  In your Terminal window, hit esc and type :wq. This will write the cron job to a file and then quit out of crontab.
  8. Quit out of Terminal.app.

Now, all of the files in your Documents folder should be being copied to the Dropbox folder and uploaded to Dropbox’s website.  If you want to backup multiple directories, not just your Documents folder, or a subset of your Documents folder because of size constraints, just add additional lines to crontab, changing the source directory location.

I hope this short tutorial helped you create an automatic backup of all of your documents.  If you have any questions or problems, feel free to leave a comment.

2010 General Election Voter Guide

The number of people that have asked me for this is a bit scary. Until I was way late in posting this, visit I didn’t realize how much people listened to what I had to say on these propositions. This year, viagra sale I’m only reviewing the propositions and my local city council and mayoral races. As far as the state-wide offices go, I’m voting party line this election. I’m not thrilled with all of the Democratic candidates, but the Republican candidates scare me. They are running on a platform of having no experience in politics, and I simply can’t think of any job where not having any experience would be an asset.

City of Anaheim Elections

Mayor Tom Tait I’ll be voting for Tom Tait for Anaheim Mayor on Tuesday. I’ve met both candidates a number of times, and I simply think Tom will be able to serve the city better. I think Shirley McCracken is a good person that has served the community well in the past and is running for all the right reasons. However, I think that Tom is a bit more savvy and will be able to get better deals for the city when negotiating with powerful interests like developers, Disney and our two sports teams. Also, I like how he views leadership and management. He wants to push the decision making as low down the totem pole as possible, empowering our city staff to make a difference in our community.

Councilwoman Kris Murray One of my two votes for City Council will go to Kris Murray. She has been actively working in government and our community for many years. She has been instrumental in getting Anaheim to apply for an Enterprise Zone, which I would expect we’ll get approved in the next couple of months. This will be a great benefit to Anaheim by encouraging additional investment and job growth within the city. I support Kris for City Council so strongly that I’ll be walking for her campaign on Saturday.

Councilman John Leos My second vote for City Council will be going to John Leos. I’ve had the opportunity to talk with John on numerous occasions over the past few months. He is a bit of a rarity, in that he is a Republican that’s also a union guy. In a fairly Republican city with a lot of union activity, I think John is well placed to be an effective city leader able to navigate between the residents and the unions.

State-wide Ballot Initiatives

Proposition 19 – Legalizes Marijuana Under California but Not Federal Law. Permits Local Governments to Regulate and Tax Commercial Production, Distribution, and Sale of Marijuana. Initiative Statute.
YES. I’ve been going back and forth on this proposition for weeks now. I support the legalization of marijuana. However, Prop 19 has some problems with the way it goes about that. The drug war against pot costs the state and our cities untold millions of dollars to arrest and prosecute people that are doing something that is harmless to society as a whole. I’m sympathetic to MADD’s argument that Prop 19 doesn’t do enough to define what driving while high means. However, there are already laws on the books that say you can’t drive while under the influence of drugs, whether they are legal drugs or not. Prop 19 also doesn’t define how cities are to regulate the sale of marijuana, but thinking about it, the State doesn’t define how cities regulate the sale of alcohol either. Yes, there will be a period of time where cities have wildly different regulations, but as time progresses, cities will get more or less in line with one another and things will work out. After thinking about Prop 19 for a good long time, I think the long-term benefits of legalizing marijuana now outweighs the short-term disruptions we might see while holes in the law get filled in.

Proposition 20 – Redistricting of Congressional Districts. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
YES. In 2008, Californians passed Proposition 11 which created the Citizen Redistricting Commission to determine the district boundaries during the next round of redistricting for California Senate and Assembly Districts. Prop 20 will also have the Citizen Redistricting Commission redraw the California congressional districts. I’m not 100% sure of the outcome of the Citizen Redistricting Commission, it’s a big and complex issue for part-time volunteers to wrap their arms around. For the most part, I think the districts will be drawn by the staffers assigned to the commission. However, I think it’s an interesting experiment that has great potential to create some competitive races within California. If we’re going to make this change for the state house, we should do it for Congress as well.

Proposition 21 – Establishes $18 Annual Vehicle License Surcharge to Help Fund State Parks and Wildlife Programs. Grants Surcharged Vehicles Free Admission to All State Parks. Initiative Statue.
YES. Personally, I’m a big believer in preserving open space and making it available for people’s use. This proposition will provide more money for California’s State Parks while freeing up monies currently being used for the parks to be used for other state services.

Proposition 22 – Prohibits the State From Borrowing or Taking Funds Used for Transportation, Redevelopment, or Local Government Projects and Services. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
YES. Earlier this year, the State of California took over $2 Billion from cities throughout the state to balance the budget. This proposition would prohibit the state from doing that again. Most Californians receive the basic government services through the city they live in, not through the State itself. Just like that State, cities are having a hard time balancing their budget during these difficult economic times. We can’t allow the State to continue increasing the burden on our cities and making it harder for them to provide the essential services we use every day.

Proposition 23 – Suspends Implementation of Air Pollution Control Law (AB 32) Requiring Major Sources of Emissions to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions That Cause Global Warming, Until Unemployment Drops to 5.5 Precent or Less for Full Year. Initiative Statute.
NO. In 2006, Governor Schwarzenegger signed the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32) into law. AB 32 is intended to reduce California’s greenhouse gas emissions to the levels they were in 1990 by 2020. Prop 23 suspends AB 32 until California has a 5.5% unemployment rate for a full year. Unfortunately, California has only had an unemployment rate that low for about seven of the last forty years. Prop 23 essentially ensures AB 32 will not be implemented for another five or more years. Prop 23 represents very short-term thinking, trying to address current economic concerns, while ignoring the long-term consequences of inaction. Global warming is a pressing issue that needs to be addressed now, it can’t wait another five years.

Proposition 24 – Repeals Recent Legislation That Would Allow Businesses to Lower Their Tax Liability. Initiative Statue.
YES. Recently, as part of state budget agreements, California has changed the laws surrounding taxation of businesses. One of the changes that was made was that businesses were given the ability to carry back their current losses to future years. That means that if a company was taxed on money they made last year, but lost money this year, they could apply those losses to last year and be given money by the state for not being profitable. There is no guarantee that this company will ever make money or create jobs again. At least companies need to make a profit this year to see a benefit from carrying forward their losses. This is simply a handout to businesses that were competitive in the good times but are getting squeezed out of the market during the lean times.

Proposition 25 – Changes Legislative Vote Requirement to Pass Budget and Budget-Related Legislation From Two-Thirds to a Simple Majority. Retains Two-Thirds Vote Requirement for Taxes. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
YES. Clearly, California has had a budget crisis for the past decade, even when the economy was booming. The majority of the problem with California’s budget woes comes down to the fact that a two-thirds majority is required to pass the budget. A two-thirds majority vote is undemocratic and leads to a tyranny of the minority. Our budget system currently enables a small number of legislators to dictate far reaching changes to the budget that the majority of people wouldn’t agree with. This one change to the process will vastly improve the way California functions.

Proposition 26 – Requires That Certain State and Local Fees be Approved by Two-Thirds Vote. Fees Include Those That Address Adverse Impacts on Society or the Environment Caused by the Fee-Payer’s Business. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
NO. As in my argument for Prop 25, a two-thirds majority vote is undemocratic and leads to a tyranny of the minority. Prop 26 would ensure that taxes will not be increased or added. The unfortunate fact is that we’re already underpaying our taxes and experiencing a reduction in services because of it. At some point, if we want to maintain the important services that government provides such as quality education, roads, clean water, sanitation, and innumerable others, we will have to raise taxes again. This is just another measure designed to starve government of funding and bankrupt the state.

Proposition 27 – Eliminates State Commission on Redistricting. Consolidates Authority for Redistricting with Elected Representatives. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.
NO. Two years ago, California voters created the Citizen Redistricting Commission through Prop 11. The Commission hasn’t even been selected yet and hasn’t had a chance to do their work. Let’s give the process a chance to work its way through at least once before we abolish it and try something different. In fact, this is one of the things I hate the most about California’s initiative process. If people don’t like the turnout of a vote, they just continue trying until they get what they want. That’s hardly a democratic process.

2010 Primary Election Guide

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.

Victory Garden: Phase 1

Before the Garden

Today, more about the wife and I started planning our Victory Garden. Between buying everything we needed, website like this preparing the soil, eczema repairing the pipe I broke, and planting our plants, it took about eight hours.  We decided to do this for a couple reasons: we needed to do something with our backyard, since it’s been just sitting there for the past year or so; we thought it would be nice to grow some of our own food so we could eat more healthy and save some money.  And I have one other motivation that I don’t think Wifey shares, and it goes to reason I’m calling it a Victory Garden, growing our own food increases our household’s resiliency.

Why am I calling it a Victory Garden?

First, a brief history lesson.  During both World Wars, the government encouraged people to grow their own food in an effort to reduce the demand on the food supply.  These gardens were called Victory Gardens.  During the wars, many things that we take for granted were being rationed, including food.  By supplementing their rations, people were able to have more to eat and eat healthier.  Additionally, these gardens were thought of as a moral booster, as people felt like they were contributing directly to the war effort.

In the 1970s, Victory Gardens once again became popular, even spawning a PBS show The Victory Garden, due to the Arab Oil Embargo.  Once again, people were able to supplement their food supply with home-grown produce since there was a shortage of many different goods, not just oil.  This is more more closely related to my motivation for building a Victory Garden.

Using my new Plaski

In today’s world, our lives run on a just-in-time delivery system that is incredibly efficient. Nearly everything we buy, whether it’s through the internet or in a store, gets to the store just before we go to buy it. There simply isn’t much reserve of any given item. Either something is being produced, being transported, or being sold and used. Nowhere in there are goods sitting in a warehouse waiting to be demanded.

When this system is working, it works wonderfully. Everybody gets what they need, and the producers, distributors and sellers make more money than they would otherwise. However, this system is very fragile, and if it stops working for any length of time, people stop getting what they need. We have replaced resiliency with efficiency. Not necessarily a bad thing, but if that system ever stops working, we’re all going to be in a world of hurt.

By growing our own food, we’ll always have something to eat if for some reason, there are food shortages and we can’t get what we need at the grocery store.

Planting our new Victory Garden

We have a 30 foot long retaining wall running along one side of our yard, with a small, 15 inch wide planter in front of it. We decided to use this area for the first phase of our Victory Garden. Our plan was to till the soil, add in a bit more, higher quality dirt, and then plant a handful of different crops down its length.

Thankfully, I was allowed to buy a Pulaski.  Normally, Pulaskis are thought of as fire fighting tools.  They are very efficient when it comes to clearing brush and building a firebreak.  For the same reason, they are useful for clearing plants and roots in a garden, which was exactly the job I needed to do.  So now I have a new garden tool that can double as a survival tool if the need ever arises.

Broken Pipe

One downside to using the Pulaski is that I broke an irrigation line. I thought I was digging out a root, but I quickly found out that a section of my sprinkler system wasn’t buried as deeply as most of it was. The Pulaski is very good at digging and cutting, and quickly went right through the pipe.

Fixed pipe

Thankfully, Home Depot is right around the corner. I went down, picked up a pipe cutter, a length of pipe, some connectors and some PVC cement. With some quick measuring and a couple swift cuts, I had that broken pipe repaired in no time. I even got to add another new tool to my toolbox, so I’ll be able to mend any other pipes I might break in the future.

The Final Victory Garden

Once we repaired the broken irrigation line, we filled in the planter with some new soil, smoothed everything out, and started planting. We bought three each of tomato, cucumber and bell peppers, along with various herbs and garlic. I also planted some corn from seeds. We were mainly going for tall or climbing plants to grow along that back wall. Phase 2 of the Victory Garden will involve constructing a raised planter bed so we can grow more low-lying plants. We’re thinking some berries, squash, zucchini, and carrots. Whatever we think we’ll actually eat.

The finished product of our Victory Garden: Phase 1
The finished product of our Victory Garden: Phase 1