Archive for May 2014

Primary election 2014 coverage for the deaf

May 25, 2014

It’s been a busy time in my life, and I really thought these election columns, which now date back 18 years to when I wrote about Prop. 209, among others, would fall by the wayside. But then I realized I was going to do the same amount of research in any case, because I still have to vote. So I’ll find a way to make it work.

Speaking of which, we’ve got kids graduating high school now who will be off to college in the fall. The first group of kids to have never been alive in an age of affirmative action. I’m not sure what exactly Prop. 209 was going to solve, but it seems safe to say that its passage failed to do anything.

California has a jungle primary now, thanks to stupid California voters. The good thing, I guess, is I will finally vote for candidates who win with some regularity. But my Peace and Freedom-loving ass will no longer be getting any love in the fall.

WordPress sure looks different these days. I hope this publishes in the right place. It teaches me that we need to pay more attention to lapsed users at my day job. But enough of this opening monologue, which is just a sign that I need to do more, other, writing.

Governor: Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown

I haven’t received anything in the mail—nor have I seen any ads on TV for this race. But who can blame them? Brown has overcome a lot, such as being named “Edmund,” in his life and is ready for a fourth term as governor. I will take this as more proof that term limits are stupid. (I covered this four years ago, but the reason term limits don’t apply in this case is because the counter reset everyone to zero when voters passed term limits in 1990. Anyway, we have about 4 years to abolish Prop. 140, or California will regress once again.)

My candidate appears to be Cindy Sheehan, and I’m not interested. I get that times are tough for third parties, but such gimmickry can do more harm than good. How many people will really say, “Oh, Cindy Sheehan. I remember her! Yes, that is who I want as governor!”? Well, I hope it works out for them.

The play here may be to pick the second-best candidate, in case something happens to Brown. Otherwise you’re going to be stuck voting for only one candidate in the fall. (Again, jungle primaries are stupid.) I enjoy the cleverly named Rakesh Kumar Christian. He’ll get 1,000 votes from the last name alone. Akinyemi Agbede is probably doing this for a doctoral thesis, considering the ballot states the candidate is a doctoral student. There are 11 other candidates, and I’m not going to do bits on all of them. As bad as these were, imagine how much worse the others would be.

Lieutenant Governor: Amos Johnson

My party has nominated a security guard to be lieutenant governor. That’s perfect. I am happy to play along. In other news, there’s an Americans Elect candidate: Alan Reynolds. Good for them. It’s nice to see democracy at work, even if it amounts for nothing, because, that’s right, jungle primaries are stupid. I remember when I heard about instant runoff voting for the first time. I thought to myself, “Wow. That’s clever. What would be the opposite of that?” Well, we have an answer.

Anyway, Gavin Newsom is the incumbent. If you want to secure a Democrat in this role, I guess go for Eric Korevaar. I’ll be pleased with the rent-a-cop and hope you will be too.

Secretary of State: Alex Padilla

Eight candidates. All dudes. The only name I recognize is Leland Yee, but I didn’t like him when he was a San Francisco Supervisor. I didn’t like him when he threw a fit about the Hot Coffee mod in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. And, I don’t like him now. Of course now no one likes him, but I don’t care about that.

I usually don’t have to guess so much for such an important role, but I do here. My party has no one nominated. There are no women nominated. So all I can do is pick the most ethnically sounding name I can and hope it works out. Ladies and gentlemen, Alex Padilla! When he becomes president in 2032, I’ll pretend I was being prescient. A shout out to Green Party candidate David Curtis, who under profession, put “Dad.”

Controller: Betty Yee

Six candidates, four women. There is probably a joke there. I’m just happy I can vote for a Yee, although I was going to have this whole thing about voting for the right one, and Leland done fucked it all up.

So John Perez is probably going to win. He is the Assembly Speaker, and people care a lot about that sort of stuff. Ashley Swearengin has an awesome name, but I’m not sure why “Mayor, City of Fresno” is something to be proud of.

That takes us to Betty Yee. She is on the Board of Equalization, so this is a logical next step for her. I have always loved the name “Betty,” and perhaps a victory here will help Archies around the world see the light. This is where you should be glad I only have one vote.

Treasurer: John Chiang

Chiang was the Controller for two terms and is now trying something new. It’s the term limits carousel. Everybody get on board.

I will always like Chiang because he stood up to Arnold Schwarzenegger when the governor wanted to pay state employees minimum wage while the budget wasn’t done. I don’t know anything about the other candidates, and I’m ready to just move on.

Attorney General: Kamala Harris

I’ll accept Orly Taitz because the campaign ads will be ridiculous. But with a jungle primary, which, yes, is stupid, you can’t risk a cupcake opponent in case the other candidate dies or wins the lottery. So maybe not. The Libertarians finally get on the board here, with Jonathan Jaech, so if you want an AG who says he doesn’t want to prosecute because government should not get involved, there’s your guy.

Ronald Gold is a prosecutor and stands out in a field of attorneys. Phil Wyman is not only an attorney but a rancher, so there is that. I will stick with Special K.

Insurance Commissioner: Nathalie Hrizi

Can you believe it? A Peace and Freedom candidate will finish third! That’s because there are only three candidates. Dave Jones is the incumbent. Ted Gaines is also getting involved. They should turn these lesser races into reality shows. We would get to know the candidates on a level not seen without the assistance of SuperPACs. Everybody wins.

Member, State Board of Equalization, District 2: Fiona Ma

This is the most pointless item on the ballot. There are only two candidates. But it’s a jungle primary! And in this case, it’s not the jungle primary that’s stupid. It’s that we’ll have to vote twice on the same race, once now, and once in the fall. It’s about as useful as a preseason NFL game.

For those of you out there who refuse to vote a straight Democratic ticket because then you can say you’re “objective,” here is your out. The Republican candidate, James Theis, is an organic foods manager. Keep an eye on this guy. I bet you he is going to lead the backlash against the anti-GMO crowd because he can act as a subject matter expert. And I might support him. But not here.

United States Representative, District 19: Zoe Lofgren

There are only two candidates here as well, and both are Democrats. It makes sense, considering where I live. Lofgren, who should do a photo with Alonzo Mourning, submitted a statement! It’s boilerplate, but she does mention bringing BART to San Jose.

As a Representative, it generally doesn’t matter who we have, because they will vote the same way on everything. However, Lofgren has seniority, which is a big deal in those circles. (Again, term limits are stupid but luckily only at the state level.) Robert Murray will have stories to tell at cocktail parties. I know if I ever met him I would want to know what it was like to run against Lofgren.

California Assembly, District 28: Barry Chang

I really struggled with this one. I’ve read a ton of press on Evan Low. I’m a fan! Which in modern Facebook lexicon means I like him. (Hey, when you only write a column every two years, some of the jokes will be stale. Deal with it.) There’s only one issue with Low. He’s not Barry Chang.

Chang sends me stuff in the mail. He takes risks, like putting his smiling family next to a high-speed rail train. I don’t mean he put his family near a moving one. But just that he would associate himself with high-speed rail! I am convinced I’m the only person left who supports this project, and that all these polls showing 40% support or whatever it is are all doctored.

Now, granted, he doesn’t approve of the Central Valley route, and he uses some polarizing language in his mailers, criticizing the love of my life, Jerry Brown. Like I said, he takes risks. Well, I respect that. And I don’t necessarily want all decision makers to agree on everything before they even debate a topic. This is my point: I trust Brown and Chang to work together to figure things out. I’m not going to let what goes on in other elected chambers sully my understanding of public service.

Chang also has a picture of his dog with his family on one of the mailers he sent, which I don’t appreciate it, but I’ll let it slide. If it turns out Low has 2 cats or something, I’ll reassess.

Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 4: Stuart Scott

I already got the SportsCenter jokes out of my system. Scott is running unopposed. I ain’t sayin’ nothin’, but that ain’t right.

Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 21: Julianne Sylva

I’ll give D. A. Lempert credit: He (the “D” stands for “Dennis”) writes a candidate statement with integrity. The issue is outgoing judge Kevin McKenney endorses Sylva. That’s got to mean something. She’s also bilingual, and her name starts with “J”! Something for everyone.

Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 24: Diane Ritchie

Did you know a lot of people glaze over the length of these pieces but read the shorter ones because they’re shorter? It’s really a shame because I’m just not that funny in these shorter vignettes. Anyway, Ritchie is the incumbent, and when I look at the other two candidates, I wonder why they don’t run for Office No. 4 and give Scott a run for his money. He needs someone to whom he can bust out the whoopin’ stick.

Matthew Harris has a lot of good endorsements, so it wouldn’t be the end of the world if he won. Annrae Angel is also a fine candidate. The problem with voting for judge is, by the time you know whether the judge is any good, it’s too late to do anything about it.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tom Torlakson

I really need something, anything, on these candidates. Voting for the incumbent because he is the incumbent is stupid. But I know nothing of Marshall Tuck and Lydia Gutierrez.

So here is something to think about. In terms of funding, the schools aren’t dealing with the crises they’d been dealing with for, what, the past 10 years? It takes a different mindset to be in charge when you’re prioritizing resources when you have enough of them. Having to cut back isn’t necessarily more difficult, but the conversations are different.

What does it all mean? There is definitely a better qualified candidate because of current budget situation, but I have no way of knowing who it is. And Super Nintendo of Public Instruction is a key office in these times. Do we really want people to vote on these things? Why not ask me to make a souffle while you’re at it?

Member, Board of Supervisors, District 4: Ken Yeager

He’s running unopposed, thus shelving the day-after headline of “Yeager bombs.” Did you know kids aren’t drinking Jägermeister anymore? It’s going to be the new rye. Anyway, I like the guy. His statement talks about his endorsement of the work on the 280/880/17 interchange. Sounds good to me.

Assessor: Larry Stone

Dude is 73 now. And we all know who he is because when that annual assessment of your property’s worth comes in the mail, it’s signed “Larry Stone.” What with the recent real estate history in the area, he was ripe for the picking, yet no one unseated him. This time around, he’s running unopposed. He should include a sticker with his annual love letter, but whatever. It does save taxpayer money not to.

District Attorney: Jeff Rosen

He is another incumbent running unopposed. Similar to judges, by the time you find out how good he is, it’s probably too late for it to matter.

Sheriff: Laurie Smith

Kevin Jensen retired and doesn’t like what he sees, so he’s running against incumbent Smith. I remember her name, so I must have had a strong opinion last time around. But checking my notes is cheating, especially considering the rationalization I use when selecting candidates in the first place.

Both candidates have good statements, although Jensen alleges favoritism without giving examples, which is worthless. Smith, as an incumbent, has a laundry list of endorsements and everyone’s favorite keyword, “bipartisan.”

Mayor, City of San Jose: Dave Cortese

The undercard is so boring this election, but we finally get to what is essentially the main event, even if there are still propositions and a ballot measure remaining. Rather than start off by going through the candidates one by one, I’ll first talk about the issues that are important to me. That way, it will explain why I react the way I do and give you the proper context. Like I usually say, it’s about informing you, not to get you to vote like me, although I do bold my picks for the lazy, and I do appreciate those votes.

So there are a few ways to parse these candidates. Of the eight, five submitted statements. These are the same five that appeared at a debate earlier this spring, which of course I only heard about on the news after it happened. Another way to separate these candidates is whether they publicize their stance on pension reform.

Now, I will go down that rabbit hole, just for a second. Previous readers will recall my disgust with Measure B. I said if it passed it would make recruiting police and fire more difficult. It would make our best leave for greener pastures. And it would make crime go up. That’s exactly what happened. But like Prop. 13, if you poll voters to see whether they would do it all over again, they would line up and vehemently say “yes.” It just feels so good.

At this point, what’s done is done. Now granted, only the specter of Measure B has had an effect. But it’s hard to see the momentum reversing course. Regardless, it doesn’t matter because we still get to pick a mayor, and this topic isn’t one with unanimous support yet. So in that light, let’s move on.

Everywhere I go, I see Madison Nguyen signs. She has a lot of money behind her. She is the current Vice Mayor. And she has other characteristics of my last favored candidate (Cindy Chavez) as well: a) minority, b) woman. But, unfortunately, I’ve lived here for most of my life. So I also know about Ly Tong’s 28-day hunger strike when a neighborhood was to be rechristened “Saigon Business District” instead of “Little Saigon.” I know she was almost recalled. So no thanks.

The guy I am probably supposed to vote for is Pierluigi Oliverio. He is my city councilman. Yet I see so many signs in my neighborhood for other candidates, and I often see Oliverio’s name attached to public events as a form of free advertising. (Or maybe he is sponsoring them, like his Shakespeare in the Park endeavor.) It’s not just semantics. Having it brought by Pierluigi Oliverio for Mayor is a paperwork issue, but that doesn’t make it look any less like cheesy advertising. I will vote for him if the runoff is between him and Nguyen. And then I will move to Colma.

Sam Liccardo went to private school (Bellarmine) and supports pension reform. He talks about spending “smarter” instead of spending “more.” I know what that means, and I don’t want a mayor that preys on telling people things that sound indisputable. Rose Herrera does a lot of things well, but she also supports pension reform. She did go to Overfelt, so I do give her some credit. If she became mayor I wouldn’t leave town.

Who does that leave? Dave Cortese. I keep calling him “Dan Cortese,” which at least now might get me some extra clicks because of search engine optimization. I generally don’t pick the candidate that singles out crime as a top priority, because it’s too easy to do that, and who doesn’t want to stop crime? However, with the recent spike in the murder rate, it does make sense, this time. And he’s an environment and public transit guy. Cortese has a shot, because he has name recognition and has a lot of unique positions. For example, several candidates will split the female vote, the pension reform vote, etc. Yeah, I guess he is splitting the hispanohablante vote with Herrera, but they are so different as candidates that it may not matter.

The other candidates are worth a mention. Bill Chew. Timothy Harrison. Mike Alvarado. There. I mentioned them.

This race will require reassessing after the primary. It’s really going to depend on who faces off for the most part. I think it’s going to be Cortese/Nguyen, but we’ll see. No matter what, the new mayor will be better than Chuck Reed.

Proposition 41: Yes

The VA Hospital scandal could not have happened at a better time for this one, even if it doesn’t directly help the situation. This is a $600 million bond measure for helping prevent veterans from becoming homeless when they get back.

The people against it are the typical “OMG bond measures mean more taxes later!!!1” If the return on investment is higher than the interest rate paid on the bonds, it’s worth it. But why have that argument again?

Even conservative groups favor this one (#supportourtroops), so I am sure this will pass handily.

Proposition 42: Yes

Forty-two is such a great number. It’s really a shame this go-round that it’s being wasted on such an inconsequential proposition.

Right now, public record totally exists, even if your name isn’t Keanu. But that shit costs money. So who should pay for it? Well, if it is a local meeting, then it is locally paid for, except for when it isn’t. Prop. 42 will shift this burden to the state level, which will ensure the records will stay public, accessible, and publicly accessible.

So that’s it. The reason you don’t like this is because you want people to pay for their own stuff instead of making a larger body of government take care of it. If that’s how you feel, you should definitely be voting “no.”

Measure B: Yes

“You’ve reached the end of your journey. Survival is everything.”

I’m getting too old for these columns. That’s probably why I’m using a 20+-year-old pinball reference to express this feeling.

Measure B renews an existing parcel tax on Santa Clara County libraries. So the pro side is using the age-old “your taxes won’t go up!” argument to support their cause. Whatever it takes, I guess. “That’s how we’ve always done it” is a terrible reason for anything, even if it’s the right thing to do.

Look, we know that parcel taxes for libraries raise property values enough such that the parcel owner gets a return on investment, if you will. There is nothing unique about the situation that can lead us to believe that it will be any different this time around. But if you want your libraries to be more self-sufficient or you just don’t think the libraries need whatever newfangled whatnot it is they have now, then you would have to vote no. As for me, I want fewer stupid citizens. If only our libraries were already so good that we didn’t need to have a parcel tax at all.

Perhaps we wouldn’t be voting in a jungle primary on June 3.

Advertisements