You can also view this here: http://web.archive.org/web/20070630032027/www.agouti.com/feature.aspx?id=82 and you used to be able to view it here: http://www.agouti.com/feature.aspx?id=82.
You know that the ballot has a lot of stuff on it when the Voter Information Guide comes in the mail, and it’s 164 pages. That’s an awful lot of stuff to read, and maybe you’re just a little too busy to read it all. Maybe this is enough to keep you from voting. Well, all I have to say to that is “Not on my watch!”
This isn’t going to be as simple as me telling you how to vote on everything, although you could certainly get that information from this column, and I certainly would not mind. The main goal of this column is to serve as a Cliff Notes-style summary of the Voter Information Guide, with some of my invaluable personal opinions thrown in, but fear not. It should be pretty obvious which is which.
One last thing: Obviously, not everyone has the same ballot. For you to get the most out of this, you should live in my neighborhood. Of course, it is unlikely that any of you do, so you’re just going to have to pick your own people for your local school board. With that said, let’s go from front to back on my West San Jose sample ballot.
President and Vice President
This is the least important of everything on the ballot. More than 100 million people vote for president, and you’re essentially joining those ranks because it’s your civic duty, and jury duty is fun. I preface my selection with this because I am trying to point out why you should vote for who you want for president, not who has a chance to win. Even Florida in 2000 was decided by 500 votes. There is not going to be a tie. Vote for who you like, not who will win. Don’t be such a New York Yankees fan. You get the point. I am voting for Leonard Peltier and Janice Jordan, who represent the Peace and Freedom ticket. If you truly feel John Kerry and John Edwards are the best candidates, go ahead and vote for them. I don’t.
I live in District 11. This means I am represented by Joe Simitian. This guy has done a lot over the years, and I don’t see him stopping now. The Democrat annually holds a “There Oughta Be a Law” contest, in which his people (that’s me!) get to write him with things that they think should be laws. Is there no better way to represent the people? My vote goes to him.
Member of the State Assembly
I live in District 24. Only one of the three candidates submitted a statement: Republican candidate Ernie Konnyu. I generally vote for candidates that submit statements because to me it just seems lazy for candidates not to submit a statement. If you’re going to run, why not use every outlet available to you? So Konnyu has the early advantage, but it won’t last long. When people lie, I lose interest. And Konnyu does just that. I need to look no further than the second line. “Hurt by our Legislature voting to triple our car taxes?” Let me explain something to the mathematically challenged. When you reduce something temporarily by two-thirds, before restoring it, you haven’t tripled shit. This reduction was announced as temporary, with the hopes of it being eliminated, but that just didn’t happen. When the state senate could not get income taxes raised, the governor had to find another way to raise revenue. Reversing the vehicle license fee reduction, or car tax as some call it, was one of the only ways to close the gap in the budget. Now before you get so upset about this, remember two things: this was last year, so it’s time to move on, and the elimination of these taxes resulted in the elimination of necessary programs. Don’t believe me? Notice how a lot of these freeway projects still aren’t done? They ran out of money. What a fucking shock. And don’t get me started on when BART will finally make it to San Jose. We’re talking 2030, and that’s no exaggeration. But I digress. Konnyu doesn’t get my vote because he’s a liar. I prefer my politicians to be much more subtle and sneaky with their lies. So that leaves Zander Collier and Rebecca Cohn. I know nothing about either of them, but Cohn is a woman and Democrat, so she gets my vote.
The West Valley-Mission Community College District needs governing board members for Trustee Area 3. I can vote for up to two of the three candidates. This is pretty neat. Most of the candidates will win. That should keep a lot of feelings from getting hurt. Only Chris Constantin filed a statement, and s/he (you never know with those pesky Chrises) says that s/he has lived in the area his/her whole life. That’s important to me. It isn’t like those voters in Wyoming that vote for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney because Cheney says he is from there. Constantin actually lives here. In fact, when he first lived here, his name was Istanb. So now I have to choose between Frank Jewett and Joy Atkins. Well, the Atkins diet is stupid, but Frank is a man, and I like voting for women. So Constantin and Atkins get my votes. Hey, if I had useful data, I would make a better-informed decision, but I have to work with what I have.
Time for a U.S. senator. Barbara Boxer will win. She always wins. Boxer and California are a marriage made in heaven. It could even be a same-sex marriage, because Boxer supports same-sex marriage. For me, it’s time to go Peace and Freedom again. They’re such nice people over there. Who could help but like them? In this case it is Marsha Feinland. I’m sure she would make a “fein” U.S. senator.
United States Representative
I live in District 15. Mike Honda always wins. But there is only one other choice — Raymond Chukwu — and I am certainly not going to vote for a Republican. Sometimes I use lots of hard evidence to make my decisions. Other times I just pick the Democrat.
I did not know that the Judge of the Superior Court had so many offices. It’s time to pick a judge for office No. 7. I have to choose between Enrique Colin and Griffin Bonini. Both candidates submitted statements, but Bonini’s talks about involvement with his church. If you feel the need to mention this in your statement, you’re not going to get my vote. There are more important things you should be talking about in your statement than your religion. Enrique Colin gets my vote by default.
Who designs these sample ballots? Now it’s time to vote for a governing board member for Trustee Area 2 in the West Valley-Mission Community College District. Wouldn’t it make sense to put this before the one for Trustee Area 3? No wonder people don’t vote. At any rate, it is the same story here: Pick two of the three candidates. Robert Owens and Christopher Stampolis have statements. Owens is a church lector. Cooties! So Stampolis and Ronald Stasiak get my votes.
The Campbell Union High School District also needs a governing board member. Of six candidates, two can be selected. This was tough. Three candidates submitted statements: Henri Zander, Diane Gordon and Matthew Dean. And all the statements were good! But it was easy to make the choice. Zander and Dean include their phone number in their statement. That takes balls (which could explain why Gordon didn’t have a statement, although Henri isn’t necessarily a man’s name either). Despite this potential conflict, I am voting for Zander and Dean.
You’re perhaps wondering why there was no heading for the Campbell race. Well, they didn’t put one in the sample ballot. So there. The last people decision is for the Moreland School District. They need governing board members, and they need me to vote for no more than two. No problem, Mr. Ballot! Four people out of five filed statements. Maybe there will be a problem, Mr. Ballot. It’s easy to eliminate Jim MacFarlane after reading his statement. His campaign Web site is a Geocities page! What a loser. I can’t vote for someone that has a Geocities page for his campaign site. That’s just wrong. I have nothing against Dale Barr, but David Roberson and Robert Varich both went to Moreland schools as children. That’s why I am voting for them.
Measures Submitted to the Voters
This is my favorite part. Everything can be decided with a simple yes or no. These are statewide, so if you are anywhere in California, this concerns you. The first proposition is Proposition 1A. 1A? What the fuck? I don’t understand why they gave it that number, but I should not let that influence my decision. Proposition 1A ensures that local tax revenue stays locally. The governor has a history of taking local tax money to pay for other things. This would eliminate that. If you vote no on this, it is because you don’t want the local sales tax rate to never go down again. In other words, if 1A passes, the sales tax rate will never drop below what it is now. Personally, I like that, so I am voting yes on 1A.
Proposition 59 will amend the State Constitution to force more meetings to be open to the public. I consider it a good thing to have these things available for all to see. It is an easy yes for me.
Proposition 60 deals with the rights that political parties have. Sometimes, reading the arguments for and against something is more important than fully understanding what would happen if it passes. In this case, the proponents of 60 are using scare tactics, mentioning things like that backward state Louisiana and the KKK. If you have to resort to such actions, you have to be full of shit. Otherwise you could logically explain what makes your proposition so great. Vote no on 60.
Now what? 60A? What is up with all these lettered numbers? Well, 60A is a band-aid solution to fixing the state’s budget problems. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some band-aids are pretty cool. Some have Spongebob Squarepants on them. Caltrans owns a lot of property in California. The agency buys property when it needs the land to build shit. They use eminent domain and buy it at a fair market value. But sometimes, things go awry, and they don’t need the land anymore. However, because this is the government, after all, they don’t get around to selling the land back. Because we need money to help balance the budget, it would be nice to sell this no-longer-needed land to raise money. All told, about a billion dollars could be raised. This won’t fix anything, but it will help. Like I said, it’s a band-aid. It’s important to understand that 60A does not force the sale of the land. It only says that if the land is sold that the proceeds should go to, as George Carlin said, balancing the stupid fucking budget. This band-aid ain’t no Spongebob, but it is at least a Cookie Monster. Some may see this as unnecessary legislation, but I disagree. I am voting yes.
Proposition 61 is a bond for children’s hospitals. I love these things. There isn’t much to say here. People either like bonds or they don’t. Out of all the bonds out there, this one would result in the administration of steroids, but I promise they will only be used on kids that need them, not baseball players. I am voting yes.
Proposition 62 sure looks familiar. Hey, it’s Proposition 198 in a hot red dress! Well, unlike Elmer Fudd when he sees Bugs Bunny dressed as a woman, I am not fooled. Allow me to refresh your memory. Proposition 198 allowed open primaries. This meant that when primary elections were held, people could vote for candidates from a party that they were not registered with. For example, in 2000, my mom voted for whom she considered the worst Republican candidate for president, because that would make it easier for the Democrat to win. Her strategy did not work, but she was able to do it because of Proposition 198. This is wrong. The electoral system should not be mocked or manipulated. If you are registered for a specific party, you should be using the primary to pick your party’s best candidate! That’s the point of a primary! Don’t be distracted by that low-cut red dress. You can buy it at Ross for $19.95. Vote no on 62.
Proposition 63 will reverse some of the damage caused years ago, when Ronald Reagan let all the crazy people out of the asylums. People with incomes exceeding $1 million will be taxed an extra 1 percent, and that money will cover an expansion of mental health services. This means fewer people talking to themselves when I am at the BART station. Vote yes on 63.
Proposition 64 has had a few ads on TV. It’s pretty easy to sue people in a society as litigious as ours. The point of 64 is to help curtail unfair business lawsuits unless they are legitimate. The purpose is to close a loophole. Most people will never be directly affected by this, but I will vote yes because it seems to make the world, or at least the state, a better place.
Proposition 65 is another state mandate dealing with how to appropriate local tax revenue. The people that made this later made Proposition 1A and are asking us to vote for 65 instead. Well it’s not a risk I am willing to take. I am voting yes on both of them.
Proposition 66 relaxes the “three strikes” law. It is important to understand that this proposition is not as big of a deal as everyone is making it seem. The point is to have people in jail for a nonviolent third strike released. The truth of the matter is that the jails are so full that we need to come up with an excuse to let some people out of jail because there isn’t enough room for all of our criminals. If 66 passes, it will make official what has been happening behind the scenes for years. I’d rather have this sort of thing out in the open so accountability is easier to place. Vote yes on 66.
Some people don’t want to be taxed for anything. I don’t understand how else people would vote no on Proposition 67. For about five cents a day, a tax on your phone bill will fund emergency medical services. I don’t like the proponents’ argument because they underestimate the cost, but $16 per year is still nothing. There’s a reason that they are called emergency services. You don’t really realize how much you need them until you need them. Start keeping the pennies that people throw at you at the bus stop and vote yes on 67.
Proposition 68 has more ads on TV than all others put together, and the people for it have suddenly decided to stop backing their own initiative. But the reason why is because they want to use the court system to get what they want. The point of 68 was to allow gaming to expand to race tracks and other non-Indian places. This means casino gaming in more places, especially in urban areas. The revenue from these would help the state balance its budget. But instead of trying to get voter approval, the people behind this (race track owners and casino companies) decided they would get what they wanted more easily if they went through the courts. Well, the initiative is already on the ballot, and even though they have given up, I am still going to vote yes. This would throw a wrench in the governor’s negotiations with the tribes, and I don’t like what he has done with them so far. This is definitely a defensive vote by me.
Proposition 69 is quite the civil rights dilemma. California is trying to set up this big DNA database, and Proposition 69 would allocate money toward the creation of this, but it isn’t that easy. Besides putting convicts in this database, even people arrested of felonies will be added to this database, even if they are later found innocent. This is why many people are against 69. I am of the opinion that if you have done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about. This is why I am voting yes on 69.
Proposition 70 is another gaming initiative. This one states that only tribal casinos will be allowed, but the compacts last for 99 years. Nothing should last for 99 years. The rest of the information is irrelevant. Vote no on 70.
More controversy is in store with Proposition 71. Stem cells and should we fund them is the issue here. To get the good stem cells you have to destroy embryos. If you think that is destroying a human life, then explain to me why those embryos are not included in the human population. Explain why we don’t have funerals when those embryos are destroyed. So vote yes on 71, right? Well, you can, but I am not going to. Another provision of 71 is that it prohibits the cloning of humans. I don’t think we can outlaw something such as this so early in the game. Just because we don’t understand something doesn’t mean we should make it illegal. And besides, mad scientists will try to clone humans anyway, so we might as well keep everything on the up and up. I will think like The Lemonheads and vote the great big no on 71.
Proposition 72 is pretty simple. It requires healthcare coverage in certain situations, including large and midsize businesses. Let me explain something to you. Preventive healthcare is always less expensive than emergency healthcare. In the long run it saves everyone money to require healthcare for workers. This is a great step in that direction. Vote yes on Proposition 72.
These next three measures are for Santa Clara County only. Measure A makes subtle verbiage changes to the County Charter in terms of paying public workers. Proponents want this to pass so wages can be compared with private workers that do the same thing. Well, government workers are always overpaid. While this would save the county money because it would lower salaries for government workers, it would also make the competence of said workers even lower. You think the people at the DMV are bad now? Wait till their pay gets cut 30 percent. If they even stay, they will find a way to be even less productive. Vote no on Measure A.
Measure B shifts the power of approving the decisions made by arbitrators in labor disputes to the voters. More power for voters is good. Besides, voting more means more “I Voted” stickers. Vote yes on Measure B.
Measure C is a good short-term solution to local labor problems. It would force arbitrators to determine whether a county could afford the demands by the upset laborers. Sometimes arbitrators tell the county to pay workers more, but they don’t have the money for it. Then they need to cut something else to meet these demands. That’s fucked up. So vote yes on C.
Measure H is for the West Valley-Mission Community College District. This is a bond issue to fix leaky roofs and other important campus-related fixings. This is another one where you either like bonds or you don’t. Schools are important because they make students more smarter. I’ll be voting yes.
Measure M is for the Campbell Union High School District. Because of recent cutbacks in education budgets, they would like a parcel tax to make up for it. This way the kids still get their science and other whatnot. The schools in this district are really good. It’s because they spend money on things to make the kids learn. Let’s not fuck with that. Whether they receive funding from the government or a parcel tax, it still comes from us. Let’s make sure the next generation of kids don’t all get stuck working at Jamba Juice for the rest of their lives. Vote yes on M.
Finally, Measure S is a city of San Jose initiative. This is a library measure. It is another parcel tax, and if you have ever been in a San Jose library, you know how great they are, as far as libraries go. The previous parcel tax is expiring, so this isn’t even raising taxes. It is maintaining a tax already in place. Vote yes on S and not just because it rhymes.
I hope this helps you make your decisions this November. Remember: vote early and often!