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Primary election 2020 coverage for the deaf

February 17, 2020

I don’t normally read the past 14 years of these pieces on this site, let alone the ones I wrote in college back in the ’90s, but I did notice my observation of California moving its primary up to March this year, and how that would help one of the potential Californian presidential candidates.


Not that it matters for me. Some third parties let their voters vote in any primary they want, but not Peace and Freedom. Everything counts in large amounts with them. It is nice to only have 9 things to write about, though. Something tells me the November ballot will be the largest in state history. More on that later.

I never did receive my sample ballot or county-level guide in the mail, but my non-partisan wife did. Do I feel disenfranchised? No, my privilege covers for that. But I am curious if the other 14 Peace and Freedom voters in the county received their info. You think I’m joking, but in all seriousness there can’t be more than 100 of us.

President of the United States: Gloria la Riva

It’s either her or Howie Hawkins, cofounder of the Green Party. My energy for national politics has never been so low. I usually have paragraphs on paragraphs to write about this, but I will save it for the things that are more likely to be on your ballot.

La Riva is someone I’ve voted for before. I would rather see her run again this fall than have Hawkins, who is already going to be on the ballot as the Green Party candidate anyway, take the party off the ballot because you can’t be on the ballot twice.

Anyway, because I know the demographics of this site, I will touch on the candidates you’re more likely to be considering.

They’re all fine. Some more or less than others. It depends on what you’re into. But they’re all fine.

Joe Biden would be fun to watch debate with the president, and he clearly threatens the president the most, because of his poor attempts to get dirt on him. You don’t exactly see him denying aid to someone to get dirt on Amy Klobuchar.

Speaking of which, Klobuchar is the Goldilocks candidate. She probably has the best value in terms of betting on a candidate. Is she the most likely to get the nomination? If everything stays muddled after Super Tuesday and Michael Bloomberg has a poor debate (he is not a great public speaker), yes.

Bloomberg doesn’t want to be president, but neither did our current one. It doesn’t matter whether he wants it. He wants to be a kingmaker (queenmaker?) and will probably get his wish. Right now he is at the gym working on his ABBS. That’s “anybody but Bernie Sanders.”

Sanders is similar to the current president in terms of his potential to win a lot of states with 30% of the vote. The difference is, in 2016, the president lost head-to-head to every major candidate in his party. But nobody would drop out, so he ended up with the nomination. Sanders does beat every opponent head-to-head, at least for now. If enough candidates drop out, people may “sober up,” although it’s a poor metaphor. A lot of people remember 1972 (and 1984 I suppose), but Sanders’s charisma is quite different from George McGovern’s and Walter Mondale’s. In addition, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, respectively, were quite popular at the time. Anyway, Sanders is most likely to have a plurality of delegates headed into the convention, unless Klobuchar gets Pete Buttigieg out of the race.

Buttigieg may have peaked a smidge too early, and I hope we don’t learn the wrong lesson. If he doesn’t get the nomination, it isn’t because of his husband. It’s because someone had to take Biden’s disaffected followers, the first two primary states were unusually white, Bloomberg hadn’t started advertising heavily yet, and some of Elizabeth Warren’s early rise were tire kickers.

Warren was my early prediction to get the nominee. The Simpsons predicted the current administration, which was followed by a Lisa Simpson presidency. And nobody is more like Lisa Simpson than Warren.  I thought it was destiny. People may at some point make a false equivalency with Klobuchar, but you and I know the truth.

There are other candidates, but I’ve Gabbarded enough to force segues and will Steyer clear of doing any more.

United States Representative, District 19: Zoe Lofgren

Lofgren gives it another go. In her most recent term she was involved in her third presidential impeachment. No one else can say that, which perhaps is simply a damned observation of the past 50 years in politics.

Jason Mallory is an independent who ran for Congress in 2014. He’s an Andrew Yang-style candidate.

Ivan Torres is the other Democrat on the ballot. He’s the Sanders-style candidate.

Justin Aguilera was Lofgren’s opponent in 2018 and is back to try again. As the leading Republican he is probably going to be the second choice in our godforsaken blanket primary.

Ignacio Cruz is the last candidate and is the Trump Republican on the ballot. A Latino Jew who supports the president is an interesting way to stand out.

State Senator, District 15: Nora Campos

This was a toughie. In 2016 I said I would vote for Campos next time, and it’s next time. She will probably learn from her experience trying to primary Jim Beall, who is termed out, and make it to the general against Dave Cortese. More on him in a minute.

Campos was in the Assembly before and was the speaker pro tempore. Because of dogshit term limits she is riding the state legislature carousel and is now aiming for the State Senate. She probably doesn’t need my vote, but it is what it is.

Cortese is the second of three Democrats and my pick for mayor in 2014. He ended up on the Board of Supervisors doing god knows what. I don’t think we have too many public positions out there, but I do think a better job needs to be done with how the work gets split up among them all.

Anyway, I like Cortese as far as those things go, and if he ends up running against Johnny Khamis somehow I’ll definitely vote for him this fall.

Khamis is one of two independents running. He is currently my parents’ city councilperson. I also met him at a civic event last month. He’s definitely in the right line of work, strong handshake and all that. He’s termed out of the city council, so yet another victim of term limits I guess.

Ann Ravel is the last Democrat running. She resigned from the Federal Election Committee in February 2017. Something must have happened on January 20, 2017, but I can’t seem to recall what. I like her and didn’t realize she was local, but she is running into a buzzsaw of candidates. If she has a good network, she could surprise.

Robert Howell and Ken del Valle are the two Republican candidates, and neither has a website.

Tim Gildersleeve is the other independent candidate and a rare left-wing evangelical, although he may disagree. He cares about the environment but also the nuclear family. It’s a good example of how there are not only two types of people in this country.

Member of the State Assembly, District 28: Evan Low

There are only three candidates here. Which one will lose? Probably Sam Ross, so let’s start with him. Ross is trying to be a moderate in a sea of extremes and would make headlines because he’s clearly quite young. I wish him well.

It’s not a guarantee, though. The other opponent to the incumbent is Carlos Rafael Cruz, a Los Gatos realtor. He’s made no effort that I can find for his campaign, and I’ve looked at the ads on shopping carts at at least four different supermarkets. One of them has to lose.

The incumbent is formidable enough not to solicit serious competition perhaps? Low is finally in his 30s and will continue his trajectory to whatever it is he wants. Maybe governor in 2026? We’ll see.

Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 7: Luis Ramos

He’s running unopposed. I will take advantage of this break by brushing the cat.

Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 27: Christina Garcia-Sen

She is also running unopposed. That just leaves three more things to write about.

City of San Jose, Member, City Council, District 6: Jake Tonkel

Incumbent Dev Davis will cruise to reelection, and she hasn’t been terrible. I don’t miss much about Pierluigi Oliverio, but I did appreciate his ability to connect with people. Davis needs someone to do all of her writing so she can come across as more approachable. But as far as the actual work she does? It’s fine. And if Tonkel doesn’t get past the primary, I will vote for her in the fall. She makes an effort, and she hasn’t screwed anything up. That’s pretty good for city council.

Jake Tonkel excites me in a way the other candidates don’t. He has views on housing and traffic that align with my own. He does have an old photo of the 180 on his site that he should replace with one of the 500 or 523, but that’s OK.

To a certain extent, it’s the underwhelming nature of the other candidates that push me toward Tonkel, but even in a more competitive race I might still back him.

Ruben Navarro ran 4 years ago. He was the only candidate against the Lincoln road diet, so I’ve never given him much thought. I try not to be a single-issue voter, but for now there are better candidates for me.

That leaves Marshall Woodmansee. On paper, his candidacy is similar to Ross’s for Assembly. Unfortunately, his mother has used his candidacy to push her own agenda, which I know sounds ridiculous. As a user of Facebook and Nextdoor, I have seen more posts from his mother than just about any other, even more than my own. And unfortunately the eccentric tone and unique punctuation presented in her social media activity is polluting his candidacy. I am pretty green on most issues. One of my great regrets is that I had to buy a car and use it. There is a lot we need to do to address global warming. I also understand how the populace behaves and know that incremental change is the only way we’ll see any change at all. I think you can see where I’m going with that. Anyway, I wish Woodmansee well. I’m sure if we didn’t have such a housing crisis he would feel more incentivized to get his own place.

Proposition 13: Yes

If the NBA is going to retire Kobe Bryant’s number leaguewide, perhaps the state should retire 13, but at least in this case it might help.

This 13 is a bond measure to build and update public school facilities. I honestly don’t know why this is on the ballot now, when the electorate will be more conservative. It will make it harder for this to pass. Unless perhaps there is something better coming along in the fall, or this is a trial balloon or something else?

Anyway, interest rates continue to be low, one of the few benefits of the current administration. The jobs created and improved environment for students that will result make this an obvious positive return on investment.

Measure E: Yes

Another one where the reduced turnout may prevent passage. E wants to raise $70 million via a transfer tax on all properties that sell for $2 million or more. In other words, if a $2 million house sells, $15,000 will be earmarked for the general fund. If a $10 million office park sells, $150,000 would be paid.

A common question is why this money goes into the general fund. It requires a lower percentage to pass, because of the (old) Prop 13. The measure says it will go to affordable housing and helping the homeless. Detractors say it will actually go to cover pension costs. The truth is, we’ll never know. The general fund is a general fund. Money goes in. Money comes out. You can say it went to whatever you want, but there’s no way to know.

When I was a kid (long before Khamis would become my parents’ city councilperson), I would tell my mom there was room in the dessert portion of my stomach, but not the vegetable portion. She knew it didn’t work that way. Anyway, your stomach is like the general fund. Money goes in, shit comes out.

So why vote yes? The city is under too much scrutiny to screw this up too badly. If you want them to spend more money on housing and the homeless, I don’t see how they can do it without E. After all, if it were that easy, they would be doing it already.

General election 2018 coverage for the deaf

October 14, 2018

It’s either write this post or watch the Seahawks and Raiders play in London. That’s an easy decision to make.

Thanks to Californa’s nonpartisan blanket primary, I actually get to vote for candidates than can win, and it is actually easier to decide how to vote, compared with the primary last June. And a heads up: The next primary is scheduled for March 2020. With Eric Garcetti, Kamala Harris, and Gavin Newsom considering runs for the White House, having the primary earlier in the schedule seems like an obvious strategy for fans of that ilk.

Anyway, let’s get to work while the Raiders mismanage the clock yet again. All of the information shared here is from objective sources (voter guides, mostly) unless otherwise noted.

Governor: Gavin Newsom

No one will ever measure up to Jerry Brown. (I’m going to have to stop saying, “Jerry Brown: Governor when I was born; governor when I die!”) And thanks to our primary system, I have to select from the lesser of two evils.

John Cox actually submitted a candidate statement, which I can’t say for Newsom. Whether arrogance or because of how funding works I can’t say, but all that matters is that John Cox is not someone I can get behind, and that leaves Newsom.

Remember: You can’t write people in in California (except for president) because of our primary system, so you really do have to choose between the two candidates, as opposed to other states where people mistakenly think they “have” to choose between two candidates but can actually vote a third party or write someone in.

More on that: As a society we love to shit on those who can’t defend themselves for the purpose of feeling better about ourselves. It’s how we evolved, and you can accept that without agreeing that it’s the classy move.

Our ego tells us that we’re more important than we really are, and in a close race decided by hundreds of votes we still seem to think our one vote has an outsize influence. It doesn’t. But that is why most people vote, as opposed to a sense of civic duty. (I also don’t buy into the “license to complain” argument. People will complain regardless. We probably evolved to do that too.)

Anyway, vote the way you want. Thank you for voting.

So back to Cox. He refers to our water supply as “abundant,” and he says we’re “emptying (it) into the ocean.” I guess he means rivers. It takes a special kind of narcissism to take credit for nature.

In addition, he says our roads are a mess but then wants to repeal the gas tax (aka SB1/Proposition 6, which I’ll get to).

This idea that we have enough tax revenue already—if only we could spend it more thoughtfully is an outdated concept. When you take a position that has no opponent—meaning, nothing could ever happen that would change your mind—you’re just being lazy. I am sure there is a tax rate that is too high, but we haven’t found it yet. I would be willing to say one day that it is too high if it were.

See? That’s the difference. You can’t blindly believe anything. It’s important to think about what could change your mind and see whether any of it is happening.

I will give Cox credit for a statement that has a chance of being well received. It’s not just a Donald Trump copy and paste. Anyway, Lieutenant Governor is a more important race because if Newsom becomes president they are likely to take over, and if California finally enters a recession, Newsom is likely to be voted out, and the current Lieutenant Governor will be in the driver’s seat.

Lieutenant Governor: Eleni Kounalakis

Could she be our next governor after Newsom? Maybe. Not since Al Checchi ran for governor have we had a candidate who could use their hard to pronounce name as a selling point.

Her opponent is Ed Hernandez, also a Democrat. Recognizing his best chance to win is to get votes from disillusioned Republicans, who may not understand why “one of their own” isn’t on the ballot, his statement focuses on healthcare and prescription drug costs. Yet if I’m a red Californian I may just leave it blank.

More than ever people vote straight tickets, regardless of party affiliation, because, face it, voting takes a lot of time. Sure, if the Seahawks and Raiders played in London every week people could make the time, but we’re not always so lucky. So we can expect the total vote counts in these Democrat vs. Democrat races to be lower than inter-party races. That’s not racist. That’s just the truth.

Kounalakis is the Northern California candidate, so I do have some affinity for her because of that. She also served in the Obama administration, has more liberal endorsements, and cares more about equal pay for women and the environment. They are definitely different types of candidates, even if their party affiliation is the same, so this should be an easy choice for you.

Secretary of State: Alex Padilla

Padilla is the incumbent. He autographs the front of every voter information guide, or maybe it’s just a printout. I haven’t inspected it very closely because if I try to sell it on eBay, no one ever buys it.

Mark Meuser is his opponent. As is often the case with an underdog, he uses scare tactics to try to win skeptics. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Meuser insists voter fraud is rampant and refers to “144% voter registration” in Los Angeles County. Why does Meuser, a San Rafael resident, point out this county? Because that’s where Padilla is from, perhaps. Or maybe it is all just a coincidence.

Anyway, voter registration rates can be over 100% if you include inactive voters when comparing it with a county’s adult population. If you change your address, you have to register to vote again. So there is a problem to solve here, but referring to it as “100%+ voter registration rates” is a misnomer.

This is a tricky topic because you have to do something, but we have a lot of evidence that trimming voter rolls is a successful vote suppression technique, especially for minorities, who tend not to vote for Republicans. And the party that drives most purging of the rolls? Republican. Just a coincidence, I am sure.

Anyway, something does have to be done, but it needs to be more thoughtful than this.

Controller: Betty Yee

Yee is also an incumbent and uses her statement to list her accomplishments. It’s … dense, but admittedly she has done a lot so it makes sense. There is some boilerplate, but she does give specific examples as well.

Konstantinos Roditis sounds more like he is running for governor than controller, although that is probably fine because people don’t know what a controller does. Roditis is against high speed rail, so that should help you make your vote if you’re a single-issue voter.

I don’t enjoy the run-on sentence in Roditis’s statement or the hyperbole. I am pretty sure the controller’s doesn’t want to tax my haircut (although if it gave my stylist free healthcare that would be fine with me). Roditis also implies that he is the only controller who wants to make California affordable. Meh.

Treasurer: Fiona Ma

I’ve never been the biggest Ma fan. There’s nothing wrong with her, but she’s always been a bit of a robot to me. She talks about her accomplishments more than she talks about why they are important. That’s fine for someone such as me, but I don’t know how that excites voters. Well, it must have excited them enough for her to advance from the primary.

Greg Conlon is using pension reform as his key issue, so if that’s important to you, it should make for an easy decision. Conlon also ran the California Public Utilities Commission. When your utility bills go up, it is because the utilities asked the CPUC for permission to raise your bills first, and they said yes. Personally, that’s fine, because I would rather make sure my electricity works and my water is clean, but I know that many others feel differently.

Attorney General: Xavier Becerra

Becerra is another incumbent. One fun reason to vote for him is that Rush Limbaugh can’t pronounce his name. It’s pronounced the same way you normally pronounce “Javier,” as opposed to the Division I college of the same name.

I always think of Marco Rubio when I read Becerra’s statement because he repeats himself a lot. They both have a lot of anti-Trump things to say.

Meanwhile, Steven Bailey’s opponent is using what many consider to be racist dog whistles: references to Propositions 47 and 57. He is blaming them for violent crime, which is a switch because normally those two are blamed for property crime. If the shoe fits, report it stolen, I guess.

Anyway, if you voted “no” on those props and have a ’90s, three-strikes view of law and order in California, Bailey is your guy.

Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara

This is a tough one. Lara has a good story, but I think he is running for this office so he can be something else later, whether governor or whatever. I think he has the self-awareness to keep the seat warm.

Steve Poizner wants his old job back, and he is running as an independent. He’s seen the Republican Party brand change since he last held the job nearly 8 years ago, and he wants no part of it.

When Poizner was insurance commissioner before he was fine. California’s Republicans who win tend to be more moderate and less crazy. There’s really only one reason I won’t vote for him and that is because he supports term limits. The irony is that term limits may be the reason he is running for insurance commissioner in the first place. Have to run for something, after all.

Member, State Board of Equalization, District 2: Malia Cohen

I was actually just arguing with Cohen’s opponent (Mark Burns) on the Internet a few minutes ago. Of course Burns is against repealing Proposition 13, which is a safe thing to speak on, because most people agree with him. It is funny that he wants to serve on a board of equalization when he supports tax programs that reduce equality.

Cohen doesn’t seem to worry about appearing too liberal to the electorate. Her key planks include a $15 minimum wage and reproductive rights. She shows off her role in removing flavored tobacco products from San Francisco stores, an issue that admittedly may not move the needle much. It probably just affirms what you already think of her.

Anyway, these two candidates are so different that it should be easy for voters to make a choice they agree with.

United States Senator: Dianne Feinstein

This is one of the weirder races on the ballot. It’s another one between 2 Democrats, but neither candidate is trying to get Republican votes. This may receive the fewest votes of any statewide race.

The California Democratic Party endorsed Kevin de León, which seems like a wasted political move. Why take such a risk vs. an incumbent with Feinstein’s decades of service?

De León ran to the left of Feinstein, and he didn’t suddenly switch to her right to get more votes this fall, so this run is clearly planting the seeds for something else. If you’re into so-called protest votes, de León is a good choice.

As for Feinstein, it is possible that her opponent caused her to work a little harder at her day job, specifically her work on the Senate Judiciary Committee. And as far as Democrats go, she isn’t the most liberal, and being from California especially you can make the case that she is no longer a good fit for the state. But if she wants to keep running, she will keep winning. She has so much power, and it is a shame in some sense that the Senate won’t flip, because she could do much more in a majority.

I think this is her last term, and perhaps de León runs again in 2024 for this seat.

United States Representative, District 19: Zoe Lofgren

Lofgren is the incumbent, and I’ve even said before that there’s not much else to say this time around. It’s still true.

She represents her people accurately. We’re not Berkeley. We’re not the Central Valley. So as a local society we freak out about “unwarranted surveillance,” and she makes voting decisions that respect that. She’s a good fit for us.

The sacrificial lamb running against her is Justin James Aguilera. In the ’80s, Hispanics were reliably Republican because of the relative social conservatism that came with that culture. Aguilera (age 31) was born amid this, and he appears to have ignored everything the Republican Party has done to brown people ever since. He’s still young. He’ll figure it out.

Anyway, he probably would have a good chance to win office in Fresno, but not here. He grew up on the East Side, yet he supports Second Amendment rights. Where did he hang out after school? It doesn’t add up. And you can tell who he is targeting when he disdains the expression “Hope and Change” as “never coming to fruition.” You still have to go out and get it, dude.

Also his statement was one long paragraph, which, juxtaposed next to Lofgrens, makes him look amateurish. Give the city council a try. You’ve got a future in public service if you do a better job of representing the people.

Member of the State Assembly, District 28: Evan Low

Low is an incumbent with an incumbent-style statement. He mentions how he cofounded the Technology and Innovation Caucus, which makes sense, although it is buried toward the end. He should emphasize this more. In a candidate statement he is speaking directly to people who would care about that.

Michael Snyder is an elementary school teacher who falls into similar traps as other candidates. He wants to repair roads but repeal the gas tax. He makes thinly veiled references to his support of Propositions 47 and 57, but at least he gets it right and refers to property crime as opposed to violent crime. There’s something to be said for getting your story straight.

Anyway, this is another one where the candidates are different enough that it is easy for you to make a choice.

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Carol Corrigan: Yes

I don’t usually put a lot of time into the judges. They always receive enough yeses, but here’s one that may give you pause. If same-sex marriage is important enough that it helps make your decisions in the voting booth, you should be voting “no.” In 2008 Corrigan was one of the dissenting voices in making same-sex marriage legal, and this, after 10 years, is your opportunity to do something about it.

So why do I vote “yes”? Because she has addressed other issues that also matter to me, in a fashion that I appreciate. She wrote an opinion that says texts and emails on personal devices of public officials are public record. (This comes in handy later on. You’ll see.) She wrote the majority opinion regarding a plastic bag ban in Manhattan Beach. Those decisions also happened more recently, which tells me she’s open to different ideas.

I respect single-issue voters. For me this isn’t as easy of a decision. I can always change my mind in 12 years if she doesn’t retire.

Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Leondra Kruger: Yes

Six weeks younger than me. What have I done with my life?

Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal, Sixth Appellate District, Mary Greenwood: Yes

She’s an ex-public defender.

Associate Justice, Court of Appeal, Sixth Appellate District, Allison Marston Danner: Yes

Did you notice all the judges on the ballot are women?

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Tony Thurmond

Thurmond uses Betsy DeVos as a weapon and shows off a relatively liberal set of endorsers. He supports STEAM, which is important to me, vs. STEM, because the arts help you get more out of the other letters.

His opponent is Marshall Tuck, and honestly he’s fine. I generally avoid candidates who emphasize “cutting bureaucracy and waste” because it doesn’t mean anything, and it’s to get votes from people I generally disagree with. (Dog whistles work both ways.)

There have been a few TV ads for this race, which shocked me, but they were pretty run of the mill. Where did the campaign funding come from? Stuff like that.

Member, Board of Supervisors, District 4, Don Rocha

From an identity politics perspective, this is a pretty easy one. Rocha has support from unions and all the people I vote for who lose, including Cindy Chavez and Dave Cortese. His focus is on traffic and pedestrian safety and other neighborhood issues.

His opponent is Susan Ellenberg, a classic San Jose politician. We love socially liberal, fiscally conservative politicians. The mayor and the local daily newspaper support her. Her focus is on homelessness and education.

Oddly, both candidates claim endorsements from Supervisor Ken Yeager. No idea what that is about. You really can’t go wrong with either one. It just depends on what matters more to you. They also both have spam texted me, but that is just the way the world works these days.

Sheriff: Laurie Smith

The feather in Smith’s cap is that she was able to get Sierra LaMar’s killer sentenced, despite a not guilty plea. I love conspiracy theories, but even I am convinced they caught the right person.

It’s still weird to me that sheriff is an elected position, but in some cities, so is dogcatcher so whatever.

Smith has a lot of controversy around her. In her most recent term, several inmates escaped, and another was beaten to death by jail guards. You have to think about these things before making a decision.

But of course there is her opponent to think about too. John Hirokawa has been involved in a texting scandal, and one of his key endorsements was pulled. Even Ken Yeager doesn’t endorse him, and apparently he endorses everybody!

Proposition 1: Yes

This is a $4 billion bond for affordable housing. Bonds are generally a good idea if the return on investment is higher than the interest paid. This will become more challenging over time because interest rates are going up, but for now, they are still historically low.

Those against Proposition 1 were also against SB827, which had to do with how land near major transit centers is zoned. It makes sense to me that people’s opinions on these two topics should be quite similar.

Proposition 2: Yes

I really wish we could elect people to make decisions on stuff such as this. The idea here is to use money from Proposition 63 on housing for the mentally ill. 63 doesn’t allow for this, but if the money gets re appropriated as described, it will probably be a better use of the funding.

The reasoning is that getting the mentally ill off the street makes them easier to treat and reduces the chance that they will have problems in life.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness opposes the idea, whereas the National Institute of Mental Health approves it. See? I told you it’s confusing. Best to look at what it does instead of who endorses it.

And if you want to be petty, you could describe NAMI as out of touch because they cling to their acronym brand despite it not meaning anything. The National Institute of Mental Health? There’s no secret of NIMH.

Proposition 3: Yes

This is a standard water bond measure. The people for it want to make sure the water stays clean and existing. The people against it hate bond measures.

Proposition 3 helps get water where it needs to be and clean to boot. Remember the Oroville Dam and the potential for wiping out that entire town? That’s the kind of stuff water bonds take care of.

Proposition 4: Yes

This is a children’s hospital bond measure. Most of the money goes to private nonprofit children’s hospitals, with about 18% going to UC children’s hospitals (UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Davis, UC San Diego, UCSF).

The California Health Facilities Financing Authority determines who gets how much money for what. Or you can decide they all get nothing.

Proposition 5: No

This is a rich-get-richer type of proposition. If you support Proposition 13, you probably support Proposition 5 as well.

The government will get its money one way or another. One of the reasons we have so much trouble funding it now is because many of its primary sources (such as sales and income taxes) have a lot of variance. We used to get a lot more money from property tax, which fluctuates less, but after Proposition 13 passed, the state had to find other ways to raise money.

Look, this isn’t about starving the beast. There are better ways to do that if that is your end goal. (Vote for true fiscal conservatives if that is what you want. The reason we don’t have politicians in office that believe in it is because that isn’t what the electorate votes for.) Changing how we collect taxes is passive-aggressive at best.

Anyway, if you’re over 55 and you move to a more expensive property (something only the rich would do), you won’t have to pay as much in property taxes if Proposition 5 passes. It lowers local revenue, which means state revenue will have to be increased to make up for it, or services will be cut, or both. All so the rich can save on property taxes.

The economy grows when money moves around. If you give rich people tax breaks, the money just sits there. That is not how an economy grows. (P.S. Don’t use “grow” as a transitive verb. You don’t “grow the economy.” You “help the economy grow.”)

Proposition 6: No

This is another one where not a lot of thought is required. You’ve seen those SB1 signs around town, anywhere where road work is being done. It all came from a gas tax passed last year, the first increase in decades because the last increase wasn’t tied to inflation. If Proposition 6 passes, the tax is repealed, and all the road work you’ve seen stops.

Proposition 6 doesn’t stop at repealing SB1. It also makes it so voters must approve any future gas tax. Granted this isn’t as big of a deal as it seems because our dependence on gas will only continue to drop over time, but there’s a reason no one talks about this extra provision.

You know how you feel about tax increases in general, so this is another easy decision for you. Just understand that the gas tax hasn’t kept up with inflation, we only have more roads to deal with, there are other transportation projects at risk, and if Proposition 6 passes we go back to where we were with a tougher path to being able to do anything about it. There’s some irony there somewhere.

Proposition 7: Yes

Proposition 7 would give state legislature the ability to control how daylight saving time works, should the federal government ever allow the states to do so. It could mean no more changing of the clocks twice a year.

Now, that isn’t what you’ve heard, is it? Many people, me included, were expecting California to have year-round daylight saving time (or standard time for that matter). And Proposition 7 could enable that, if Congress ever says we can.

So the cart is before the horse on this one. Because of a voter-approved initiative in 1949, the voters have to decide whether and how state legislature can set the clocks, the daylight saving time strategy if you will. But because of a Congressionally approved bill in 1966, it doesn’t matter what we think.

It’s similar to how states can have marijuana laws even though federally it’s still illegal. The difference is that you may not want to prioritize enforcement of these laws, even if you’re Jeff Sessions, but a state-level law stating what time it is? That’s too high profile to ignore.

So I still vote “yes” because it increases the chance we won’t have to change our clocks twice per year, but I know it’s going to be a while before anything actually happens.

Proposition 8: Yes

So many TV ads for this one. You remember TV, don’t you? You don’t? Well, then you probably don’t vote anyway.

There’s a general concept that if you allow people to cut corners that you can provide more services to more people. It is the argument against having or increasing the minimum wage. This should probably drive how you feel about Proposition 8.

There isn’t regulation today for how much outpatient kidney dialysis clinics charge for treatment. We can fix that with Proposition 8. It also removes the ability for clinics to deny treatment, ostensibly to less profitable patients.

Opponents to Proposition 8 threaten that, if passed, clinics could close because they couldn’t afford to stay open. I don’t see this as an excuse to let them charge whatever they want.

Proposition 8 is likely part of a larger solution to the problem of high dialysis costs. But we have to start somewhere.

Proposition 10: No

This one is probably tough for a lot of people. The purpose of Proposition 10 is to repeal parts of Costa-Hawkins. In other words, the idea is to remove the limits on rent control. If you want more rent control, you should vote “yes.”

Despite the benefits it provides many of my friends, I’m against rent control. It creates an us-vs.-them mentality, where people with rent control are not incentivized to help those who don’t have it or who would like to move into their neighborhood.

Rent control traps people in their rentals because of how much more expensive it will cost them to move. People with unpleasant living situations can’t escape them as easily if they can’t afford to live anywhere else.

For people living paycheck to paycheck, something renters disproportionately do, they aren’t prepared for any sudden shock to their budget (such as a massive increase in rent because they have to move).

Without rent control, all rental housing is potentially on the market, increasing liquidity because it makes it easier for people to move. This can result in more social mobility and lower rents overall because of the increased competition for units, which lowers rents.

Rent control is kind of like Proposition 13, in that it makes sense on a micro level, but when you look at the big picture you can see the damage that it causes. I understand why people vote yes for these types of initiatives, but I don’t see how it benefits society at large.

Proposition 11: Yes

When I was in college I worked at Burger King, among other places, and I always enjoyed it when it would get busy while I was on a break. “Screw them,” Teenage Joel would say. “I’m on a break.”

If you’re an EMT or any other private sector ambulance employee, perhaps you got into that line of work for different reasons than I did. And perhaps you would like to help out in an emergency, even if you were otherwise on your break. That’s what Proposition 11 will do.

No argument against Proposition 11 was submitted, so I guess that will do.

Proposition 12: Yes

I remember 10 years ago when we had Proposition 2, which mainly had to do with whether hens could be confined in small spaces. It passed and finally took effect 3 years ago.

Proposition 12 takes it further in terms of how much space hens get. Now instead of requiring a certain amount of space, they will instead need to be cage-free by 2022. There are more provisions for veal and pigs, but California doesn’t have that many of them. The greatest changes will come from how eggs come to be.

Oddly, the no side claims that Proposition 12 doesn’t go far enough. Maybe. But incremental change is the best we can do as a society. Even if you think the new standards are still inhumane, they are better than what we have now. And, we can finally stop hearing people say “cage free eggs” because it will be redundant.

Measure A: Yes

Measure A continues an eighth-cent sales tax that we pay today. The no side uses the standard fiscally conservative arguments, referring to pension reform (even using bold type—why?) and how often sales tax measures are on the ballot. Well, when a sales tax isn’t permanent, it’s going to have to keep being voted on duh.

This specific part of the sales tax goes toward health services and public safety for the most part. If it fails, technically it would mean that our sales tax would drop by an eighth of a percentage point.

Measure S: Yes

In an effort to be fiscally prudent, we have laws in San Jose that require the cheapest bid to be accepted for public works projects. Sometimes, cheapest isn’t best. Measure S allows the city to consider experience and work quality, in addition to price. It may mean some projects have a higher upfront cost, but in the long term this will save money and prevent a race to the bottom.

No argument against it was submitted, so that should tell you enough.

Measure T: Yes

This is a city bond measure for infrastructure and emergency services. Only the true libertarians are against this one. I wondered whether they copied and pasted their concerns every time, and then, when I read their rebuttal to the argument in favor, I recognized that lots of it was the same as their argument against it.

Even Chamber of Commerce types support Measure T. I rarely see so much bipartisan support, even in San Jose, for bond measures.

Measure U: Yes

This removes the city council’s ability to give themselves pay raises. Unsurprisingly, no one submitted an argument against it.

Measure V: Yes

This is a San Jose affordable housing bond, not to be confused with the statewide proposition. Similar to Measure T, it only has token opposition.

Although I will vote “yes,” I would like to point out that the cities in our county that are north of San Jose need to do more about building housing. Every day hundreds of thousands of people leave San Jose to go to work because it is cheaper to live here. Only South County costs less, and you can imagine what the traffic is like between there and here.


Primary election 2018 coverage for the deaf

May 28, 2018

Savannah just jumped on the couch and started licking her ass, which is the perfect metaphor for this election and what we need to do with it. Seems like the right time to press the words into this WordPress form.

Fortune favors the bold, and my piece on the 2016 general election was like the second cup of tea from a teabag. That a lot of its points ended up being wrong is just, well, unfortunate.

The lesson is that no one remembers when you’re right, especially when you predict what everyone thinks will happen. The other lesson, thanks to the current administration, is, if you get it wrong, just make up your own facts, even if people can easily disprove them.

If I swore up and down that I predicted Trump would win, at least some of you would have believed me, even if the piece immediately preceding this one says the opposite. (The piece immediately preceding this one says the opposite.) That’s because it’s easier to just believe me than it is to see whether I am right. It’s not about trust. It’s about laziness. God bless America.

So we’re all living in this giant case study right now, and we’re going to learn more about psychology as a result. It’s a high price to pay, but at least we’ll learn whatever it is that we’ll then forgot in 75 years when disbelief clouds our vision again.

People used to ask where you were when JFK was shot (or JR). Then it was 9/11. I think the new one will be where you were when you realized Hillary was going to lose. For me, it was when Indiana was decided minutes after the polls closed. She wasn’t going to win, but it should have been closer than that. Two hours later they declared Texas, another state that at one point was within the margin of error. That was when I knew.

So what happened? It’s fun to point the finger. Some say it was the poors, or the uneducateds, or even the third-party voters. No matter the scenario, it’s always fun to blame someone else and throw up your hands (while a finger on each is pointed of course).

None of it made sense to me. I’m a believer in Occam’s razor, but you can’t look for a reason for a problem of this magnitude that doesn’t at least stir a little provocation. And I finally found it: White people with something that they were afraid of losing.

California has been a so-called majority-minority state for nearly two decades. The world hasn’t ended yet. Cats still like people. Restaurants still have 99-cent menus. And the state still plows the roads (perhaps to get rid of that evil white snow—kidding).

Anyway, the rest of the nation isn’t necessarily like California, and the states that flipped in 2016 are especially not like California, largely for the reasons stated in that article. So it makes sense to me. This is my country. I get it. Thankfully I can still vote (although think of all the time I would save if I couldn’t).

Governor of California: Gloria Estela la Riva

There are 26 candidates on the ballot. Twenty-six! I’m just not going to talk about all of them. I’m sorry. I will say that it is a waste of a number because the alphabet isn’t represented evenly. But then this isn’t a Senate race, is it? Stupid Z being all Wyoming and shit. Not today!

I actually saw a la Riva sign in Santa Rosa yesterday. I wonder whether she reuses it every time she runs. Remember, kids: Reusing is better than recycling. Lyndon LaRouche would agree.

There’s no Socialist Party on the ballot this time around, which surprised me. In fact, only Green and Libertarian represent the third parties. La Riva might get 5,000 votes this time, so I’m excited about that. You need to get at least 1% of the votes to stay on the registration form if I remember correctly.

As a way to extend the non-GMO olive branch I guess, la Riva says in her statement to vote Socialist. I’ve always said that Peace and Freedom has a chance because the name uses words that people understand. The other party names all have an established brand. Too many people would never vote for a socialist. But if a third-party candidate can’t be idealistic, who can?

On to candidates of note. Gavin Newsom will win and win again in November. He’s already done the things that cause people to vote against him, and he still wins. He has the same type of Teflon our president has. And he won’t be horrible. But if you miss having scandals in Sacramento, you’re going to get your chance in 8 months.

Antonio Villaraigosa will probably be his opponent in the fall. Stupid California and its stupid jungle primary. This might be the year we get rid of it, because if we have several races with 2 Democrats running, plus some House races with 2 Republicans running, that might be enough to get people to repeal Proposition 14, which only won with 54% of the vote in the first place. Anyway, he is the ex-mayor of Los Angeles and checks a lot of boxes. He also supports high-speed rail because one terminus is scheduled to be in LA. If anyone is going to spend money on boring through the Grapevine, it’s him.

If the two leading Republican candidates get organized, one of them could be Newsom’s opponent instead. Travis Allen has a chance in November to get at least 40% of the vote if he can just get carpetbagger John Cox to drop out now. Instead they will likely split the vote.

John Chiang is the best qualified candidate, but he’s like Gray Davis. Too boring and too qualified. We need a certain type of charisma in our governors, apparently. And that’s a shame.

Delaine Eastin is the most progressive of the candidates but is up against too strong of a field. It’s a shame because, no matter what some may say, Jerry Brown is a bit of a moderate, and sometimes you can overcompensate with someone super-liberal, but no such luck. Newsom sucks all the air out of the room, and that’s pretty much the end of it.

Then there are the rest. Peter Liu is hoping to go viral with his campaign, but for whatever reason we only go crazy when we vote for president, not governor. But watch that video anyway. It’s great.

Johnny Wattenburg says, “Why not!” A great name for a bar. Not the best candidate statement I suppose.

Lieutenant Governor of California: Gayle McLaughlin

McLaughlin was Richmond’s mayor during their turnaround, which admittedly has more to do with gentrification than anything else. But the facts are still impressive. She used the windfall from demographic shifts to push through an increase in minimum wage, which some believe contributed toward the sharp reduction in the murder rate. The city itself will never come all the way back till they get rid of the brain-damaging refineries, but one step at a time, OK?

She is a standard Bay Area politician, wanting to fix Prop 13 and expand Medicare to everyone, the new way to have single-payer healthcare. I still prefer calling it a “National Healthcare Plan” like Maude did in the ’70s, but whatever.

Eleni Kounalakis is probably the frontrunner. She’s the only one sending me shit in the mail. And she has the Obama Administration experience plus a ton of endorsements to get her over the top. I don’t appreciate her use of the extra “L” in “travelled” in her statement, but I guess it is to show how worldly she is, like when people say “euro” as the plural of “euro.” (It’s not, but admittedly it is more commonly used in most of Europe.)

Jeff Bleich is a compelling candidate. He was the attorney that helped defeat Proposition 187. If you’re a single-issue voter, he’s your guy.

David Fennell and Tim Ferreira make false claims to scare you into getting their vote. You can’t keep saying that California is failing after the past 8 years we’ve had. There are plenty of people who are on the short end of the stick, but that is always the case.

Secretary of State of California: C.T. Weber

I have to say that I’m getting tired of voting for the same Peace and Freedom candidates every primary. Maybe I am supposed to run. But then there’d be nobody left to vote for these guys.

Alex Padilla is the incumbent. He’s fine. Who else is there?

Erik Rydberg was a Bernie delegate in 2016 so that should get some of you excited. Mark Meuser is misinterpreting statistics to declare vast amounts of voter fraud. Voter fraud is overstated. It takes so much work to cast one fraudulent ballot, let alone the thousands you may need to tip an election. That’s why there’s no voter fraud. And you just need one person to leak the story. It just doesn’t make sense. Anyway, Meuser is the only legitimate Republican candidate, so he will probably face off against Padilla in November.

Controller of California: Betty Yee

Good job, Peace and Freedom! The candidate is a name I don’t recognize. It’s too bad that a) Betty Yee is the incumbent, and b) there is only one other candidate (Konstantinos Roditis) who will get all the Republican votes because, well, he’s a Republican.

Also, Mary Lou Finley uses Hotmail, and I can’t vote for a candidate who uses Hotmail. Next time.

Treasurer of California:  Kevin Akin

Not Kevin Bacon. Not Todd “legitimate rape” Akin. (Can you believe it’s been 6 years since that happened? You’re all old.) Kevin Akin. Akin says the things I want to hear, such as supporting credit unions and coops. He also uses Hotmail, but I will look the other way because at least his statement says what he stands for.

Greg Conlon uses every conservative’s favorite dog whistle: “unfunded liabilities.” The Internet has already had the argument for and against pension reform. I’m not going to get into it here. That’s your candidate if you’re into it. He will probably face off with …

Fiona Ma. She’s ready for this role, and all her experience leads up to this moment. Why does her name sound familiar? Because she tried to pass anti-rave legislation (but Ma did attend a rave to see what the fuss was about) and change the carpool rules on 80 so she could use the lanes to get to work faster. You don’t get my vote when you mess with things that 22-year-old me really cared a lot about. But in November I bet I will end up forgetting all about these things and vote for her anyway.

Vivek Viswanathan is an intriguing candidate, and I hope he continues in politics. Like gubernatorial candidate Chiang, he seems to have the components to make a good public servant.

Attorney General of California: Xavier Becerra

Becerra is the incumbent and focused on immigration, and he’s been in the news because of the stuff our president does. That might be enough to keep him employed. Dave Jones is spending a ton of money to ensure an all-Democrat general election for this office, and I can’t figure out why.

Eric Early is running on the same “California needs to change” platform many Republicans do in this state. Steven Bailey is running on how tough on crime he was as a judge. He is also from South Lake Tahoe, which for me isn’t necessarily a good thing. I miss it there, but I don’t necessarily miss my fellow locals.

Insurance Commissioner of California: Asif Mahmood

At first glance, this ballot looks promising for Hrizi. No Republicans? Only four candidates? Hot diggity soy-based gluten-free dog!

Steve Poizner ran as a Republican in 2006 and won. He didn’t run in 2010 because he wanted to be governor. He lost in the Republican primary back when we had party-based primaries. Remember those? Oops.

Now Poizner is running as an independent, hoping for name recognition. He had done a good job as insurance commissioner so it makes sense. Who will he face off against?

Asif Mahmood is the Democrat who submitted a statement, so it will probably be him. And his backstory is fascinating. A doctor and a Pakistani immigrant, he would be the first Muslim to hold statewide office. He also never turned a patient away for lack of funds.

Hrizi wants to abolish health insurance companies, which I support, but I want an insurance commissioner who believes in insurance. This isn’t the U.S. cabinet. We don’t put people in power who don’t believe in the office’s purpose.

Member, State Board of Equalization, District 2: Malia Cohen

(Why is it we can’t vote in the primaries for other districts? Let’s truly have a jungle primary, dammit. Tom Hallinan in District 1 talks about “California big shots” who don’t “even know where Atwater (and) Ceres” are. I want to vote for him.

Cohen is your pro-cannabis, anti-tobacco candidate. She’s going to move on to November.

Cathleen Galgiani is the more economically focused of the Democratic candidates. She is using the “$15 minimum wage” keyword.

Mark Burns is the only Republican candidate and hates Proposition 13. Somehow that’s not redundant. Anyway, he will probably face Cohen unless Galgiani splits the vote badly with her.

United States Senator: John Thompson Parker

I don’t like how his statement is written in the third person, but it allows me to avoid a tough decision till November, under the guise of supporting my Peace and Freedom peeps.

The real battle here is between Dianne Feinstein and Kevin de León. Feinstein wants one more term, and honestly she has a lot of power in the Senate. But, the Democratic Party has moved leftward without her, becoming more pacifist to steal those delicious Peace and Freedom votes from us. Put it all together, and is it time? No. But in November it might be.

As far as the other 29 (!) candidates go, if you ever wondered what a Dixiecrat was, we have one in Herbert Peters. If you like a lot of initial-capped words with your candidate statements, Lee Olson’s got you covered.

United States Representative, District 19: Zoe Lofgren

She’s running unopposed. If the Academy Awards were like this, I would at least get one right in my Oscar pool.

Member of the State Assembly, District 28: Evan Low

He’s running against one other candidate so it doesn’t matter who to vote for in the primary. Again, jungle primaries are dumb.

Judge of the Superior Court, Office No. 4: Vincent Chiarello

Also running unopposed. Good thing the judges stuff is always boring on the ballot. Oh, wait.

Judge of the Superior Court: Recall Aaron Persky: Yes

The problem with writing this in the order the ballot is printed is that it isn’t an inverted pyramid. So thanks for making it all the way here.

For those of you living behind SLAC for the past two years, we had a judge sentence a rapist to six months in jail when he had an option to sentence him to 14 years. And then after three months he was released. His father said that even three months was “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20-plus years of life.”

He still has to register as a sex offender, and his life won’t turn out the way he was hoping. You also have to be responsible for your actions. That debate is what it is. The question here is whether to recall the judge who gave the sentence.

Like I do with many propositions and ballot measures, I compare our society based on the possible outcomes to see which way I want to vote. And I don’t want to live in a society where people see a disconnect between what they believe is right and the outcomes they experience.

This is a deceptively populist viewpoint, which is dangerous. Even before our current president won, populism has been derided as letting emotion win and not being in the best long-term interest of a functioning society.

But sometimes you have to sacrifice the benefit of some for the benefit of a larger group. And that’s why I’m voting for the recall.

I have no interest in defending support of Persky to a little girl, effectively sending the message that she can grow up to be raped and that her attacker will largely get away with it. (Being a registered sex offender is provocative, but it’s not going to end life as you know it. He will be fine. Persky will be too.)

I don’t want to have to make this decision at all. But I have to. And I know privilege makes it too hard for me to be objective. But I do know what is easier to mansplain to people.

Judge of the Superior Court: Cindy Seeley Hendrickson

I bet a lot of people will vote no on the recall and then write Persky’s name in. And that’s their right. You shouldn’t look at the new candidates to see whether you would want one of them in office instead, but I did exactly that.

Hendrickson’s background is quite the opposite of Persky’s, and I bet it gets her into the chair or whatever it is judges sit in. She has 12 siblings. She graduated from Stanford, which has got to sting a little.

Angela Storey is fine. Her candidate statement is just more boring than Hendrickson’s. I am sure both would do a fine job.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: Marshall Tuck

He’s the frontrunner so you can pick someone else if you want. Tony Thurmond is a Panamanian immigrant who explicitly calls out Betsy DeVos in his statement. I expect him to be Tuck’s opponent this fall, and I might change my mind and vote for him then. I’m voting for Tuck now because his background is the best fit.

Lily Ploski is fine, but her statement is a bio. I don’t know anything about what she believes in.

Member, Board of Supervisors, District 4: Don Rocha

This is tough. You know Pierluigi Oliverio will make it to the general, based on the volume of mail received both for and against him. He was my city councilperson, and he’s not the type of politician I support. But, if you voted for him before, you will want to vote for him again. And if you’re one of the six remaining Republicans in District 4, you will probably want to vote for him too.

Dominic Caserta was probably the second favorite in this race before he resigned his city council seat for sexual harassment allegations. This is not the year for that, Dom.

These other candidates are pretty good, but none really say anything that stands out for me personally, except for Rocha. I want a true local for this position because I think one would be more likely to care. And of all the candidates, he seems to be the local-est.

Jason Baker calls himself progressive so I guess that’s your Bernie candidate. He’s also the ex-mayor of Campbell so if you live there, there you go.

Mike Alvarado is probably the real progressive candidate based on his statement. I always like to see keywords such as “mass transit” and “prison reform.” Maria Hernandez is a similar candidate but more polished.

I think Susan Ellenberg will end up supplanting Caserta and finishing second. I’ll vote for her then.

Assessor: Larry Stone

Unopposed again. People love that guy.

District Attorney: Jeff Rosen

Another unopposed incumbent.

Sheriff: Laurie Smith

Smith is the incumbent so this is really a battle for who she faces. If you want her to have an easier time of it, vote for a fringe candidate such as Martin Monica. Anyway, she’s done a good job as far as I can tell. It’s kind of stupid that we get to vote on something so important because I don’t know who any of these people are, and I actually try.

John Hirokawa is the outsider candidate and a Japanese American. As a hapa I’m almost racist enough to vote for him. He’s definitely qualified. It’s just hard for me to vote for outsiders. Says the third-party supporter. Go write your own election column.

Joe La Jeunesse has a better chance than he would have before, because search engines have improved to the point that no matter how people spell his last name they will get to what they’re looking for. He is probably the conservative choice. I’m not saying drugs and gangs aren’t an issue. I’m saying using them to scare people is a conservative tactic. So there’s your guy.

Mayor: Sam Liccardo

Thankfully San Jose doesn’t have a strong mayor government.

Quangminh Pham would be kind of cool because we’d have a 74-year-old Vietnamese guy running around as mayor. That would be fun to see. Tyrone Wade has an interesting statement, and he’s your Bernie candidate.

Liccardo of course is the incumbent, and he hasn’t been terrible. I really want to hate the guy, but he does just enough to keep me on board. And sometimes he forgets to lock his Nextdoor posts so then we can all comment on them for a while till someone tells him, and then they get locked. Very human.

Proposition 68: Yes

It’s a park bond. Like any other bond, you probably already know how you feel about them. Interest rates are starting to go up, so you could make the case that it is better to borrow money long term now than later.

Proposition 69: Yes

SB 1 raised the gas tax, which is not indexed to inflation, for the purpose of maintaining and building roads and mass transit. Proposition 69 would let this gas tax money be used for other things instead.

Some people want all the money in the general fund. Others want money raised for something to be used for that something. I generally want to give the state flexibility in how it spends its money (shut up it isn’t your money I can hear you from here it’s our money we are all on the same team except for those on the punctuation team), but I don’t feel that way about transportation related revenue. If anything, we borrow from the general fund to help pay for more transportation stuff as it is.

Proposition 70: No

I’m not sure about this one. California has a cap-and-trade program, and it’s working. I like the program. You can take your climate change debate somewhere else. We’re past that.

Proposition 70 requires a two-thirds vote to spend the money brought in via the program, and I hate two-thirds-vote requirements.

But, my boy Governor Brown recommends a Yes vote. I’m missing something.

None of this takes effect until 2024, and regardless of the outcome, there will be another proposition on the ballot in 2020 either trying again (if it fails) or reversing the decision (if it passes). Again, this is a stupid way to govern. Voters are too busy eating Chipotle to be trusted with these types of decisions.

Proposition 71: No

Today when a proposition passes it takes effect the very next day. If Proposition 71 passes, this changes to 5 days and also lets proposition writers make the “operative date” later than the “effective date.”

There are reasons why having a proposition take effect the next day makes no sense, but the key here is letting the operative and effective dates be different. That’s too confusing for people to understand, and it enables loopholes. No thanks. This will probably pass, though.

Proposition 72: Yes

If it passes, starting next year if you install a rain-capture system you won’t have to have your property tax reassessed. Of course the whole reason this is a problem is because of Proposition 13, but I’m not going to cut off my nose to spite my face. We need people to have rain-capture systems that aren’t giant garbage cans in the backyard with their lids off. Not requiring a reassessment removes this potential discouragement.

Regional Measure 3: Yes

Bridge tolls generally go to $6 next year, $7 in 2022, and $8 in 2025 if this passes. The money goes to all transportation types, just like Proposition 69, but at the Bay Area level.

Quoting the rebuttal to the argument against it, this problem isn’t going to go away. The reason we need to raise tolls is because there’s not another way to pay for the work. The state won’t do it, even if Newsom becomes governor. We have no leverage with that guy.

The reason you vote no is because this is a regressive tax. People that take bridges are more likely to make less money and live farther away from their jobs. This measure is part of a larger solution that may or may not happen.

The demographic breakdown will be fascinating. The anti-tax types will of course vote no, but so will the poor and progressives trying to help the poor. And with Democrats supposedly being more likely to vote this election than normal, it’s going to be close. For those wondering, this only needs a simple majority from the combined votes of all nine counties.

Measure B: No

Getting a ton of mail about this one, too. It’s really quite simple. Putting more housing on the edge of town makes traffic worse because you’re adding to the hundreds of thousands of people who leave San Jose for work every morning and drive back every evening. The county needs more housing, but it needs to be north and west of San Jose.

Voting yes as a knee-jerk reaction to how expensive housing is here is simply irresponsible.

Measure C: Yes

This is essentially an anti-sprawl measure for San Jose. I know, it’s 50 years too late. But you have to start somewhere. San Jose has to build up, not out, and doing so will also meet the needs of the next generation of home buyers. Kids these days. They don’t want yards the way the older folks do. They want to be able to walk around and do shit. They don’t want to have to look for parking all the time.

The people against Measure C are using the time-tested arguments of “poorly written” and “will result in lawsuits.” It means they have no argument of substance to present in opposition.

General election 2016 coverage for the deaf

October 22, 2016

I’m writing this in Beverly Hills, across the street from the Troubadour, where Letters to Cleo will be playing a show later tonight. The first time around we had a Clinton as president, but I couldn’t afford to see them live. I’m rectifying that.

Speaking of Beverly Hills I walked by a sweets shop blaring Weezer, but they were playing “Say It Ain’t So.” Kind of a missed opportunity, I guess.

Anyway, for a lot of people this is probably the most important election in their minds. For me it’s kind of boring. At this point the presidential election appears that it will be the largest blowout since 1984, and despite attempts by the media to make it a real horse race, potentially damaging our ability to interact with other people in the process, it was never close. Even when the national polls were tightening, the electoral college was never in doubt. In 2012 there was a day or two when Romney had 270 if you included certain pollsters. Not the case this year.

Having said all that, it’s my duty to remind you that voting for president is the least important thing you do when it comes to voting, because you’re competing with so many other voters. Your effect on the outcome is 100 times stronger when you’re 1 of a million people voting, vs. 1 of a 100 million.

Also, I encourage you to vote by mail or take advantage or early voting if you can. One of the biggest strategies around Election Day has a huge dependency on it being earlier in the month. When you go vote on the 2nd or 3rd of November, there’s a good chance your precinct will have a bowl of leftover Halloween candy.

This year, Election Day is the 8th. Now, I’m not saying there will be no candy, but all that’s going to be left are SweeTarts and that generic taffy that comes in the orange and black wrappers. What you can count on is that it will be in a dish only meant for candy, and it will cost $90.

Anyway, here we go. Just look for the stuff in bold if you want to know how I’m voting. Nobody’s constipated enough to go through this entire thing at once, and even if you are, nobody wants to hear about it.

President and Vice President of the United States: Gloria la Riva and Dennis Banks

In 2012 it was my first time to be eligible to become president. I figured every 4 years I would write myself in and select a pop culture-dependent running mate (Lance Armstrong in 2012). At a minimum it would provide nostalgia regarding who was popular at the time. And in 2012 it was an easy decision because Peace and Freedom had nominated Ralph Nader, and I was so over it. In addition, Armstrong was big in the news at the time.

This cycle, no one is really standing out the way Armstrong was. Plus, Peace and Freedom has a real candidate. Finally, I don’t really want to be president anymore, and I can’t take the risk of this piece going viral and getting me elected.

I’ve mentioned this before, but political parties need to get a certain number of votes for their party to appear on voter registration forms. Peace and Freedom is always at risk of not making it, and every election concerns me that this is their last chance, kind of like those Adam & Eve mail order catalogs that always say you’re going to stop receiving them in the mail if you don’t buy anything.

Anyway, I voted for la Riva in the primary, and I’m going to vote for her now. And when she ends up with 12,712 votes, I’ll know I was part of it.

Everyone else has already said everything there is to say about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. We also have Gary Johnson and Jill Stein on our ballot. I don’t have a lot to say about the candidates themselves, and I’ve said enough about the parties already. The American Independent party also seem to have nominated Trump, because my ballot says “Republican, American Independent.” I’ve never seen that before. What a great way to recruit new members to your confusingly named party.

United States Senator: Kamala Harris

Speaking of things I’ve said enough about, I fucking hate jungle primaries. But that’s what we approved as voters, so that’s what we have. Brexit-style, many people will look at their ballot, see 2 Democratic candidates for Senate with no option to write someone in, and be annoyed. Well, you shouldn’t have voted yes on Prop 14.

Anyway, Loretta Sanchez recognized her best opportunity to win was to go after disenfranchised Republican voters. The biggest problem with this approach is her last name is Sanchez. The second biggest problem is that her first name is a woman’s name.

The LA ABC affiliate sponsored a debate between the candidates, and I watched it on C-SPAN. You thought Clinton looked more presidential than Trump, you should have seen which of these candidates looked more senatorial. Kamala Harris is a class act, and if anything I think she’s too good for the Senate. I’m curious what her aspirations are, but she has a long track record of success.

As an aside, can we please stop calling Harris black? She’s half Indian, half Jamaican, which is amazing and ought not be overlooked. It makes as much sense as calling Sanchez black because her first name is the same as Cleveland Brown’s first wife on Family Guy. Poor Loretta Swit will never occupy the same space in mind because of Seth MacFarlane. How can he live with himself?

United States Representative, District 19: Zoe Lofgren

It’s a safe blue district, Charlie Brown. G. Burt Lancaster is Zoe Lofgren’s opponent, and he didn’t even submit a written statement. I’ve used up all my “Zoe” jokes because she has to run for reelection for 2 years.

If this article were being rerun on ESPN Classic, this is the section that would be deleted and replaced with the voiceover that tells you we’re moving on to later in the broadcast.

State Senator, District 15: Jim Beall

Nora Campos is fine. She was termed out (again, don’t get me started) of the Assembly so now she’s running for the State Senate. She really should wait for Jim Beall to be termed out. It truly would be the Beall end all at that point. (Some jokes I recycle.)

I will vote for Nora Campos next time. There will be a next time. Beall is 64, so this might be it for him anyway. I can’t believe Chuck Page didn’t come in second in the primary, but no matter.

Member of the State Assembly, District 28: Evan Low

They fixed the typo in the voter guide! Nicholas Sclavos is a family business manager once again. He still didn’t provide a written statement, though.

San Jose Unified School District Governing Board Member Trustee Area 3: Olivia Navarro

There was no primary for this election. I’m sure it’s a very basic civics reason why, but I don’t know what it is. Maybe if I had had a more memorable government class in high school I wouldn’t be in this mess. Oh, if only there were someone running for school board who could help with that!

I think it could be Olivia Navarro. She has an uphill battle facing an incumbent, and she refers to “kindergarten” as “kinder,” something everyone under 40 is doing, and it drives me nuts. This is a rare opportunity for you to use a German word—correctly! And you’re going to talk about chocolate eggs that have small chokable toys inside instead? It’s your loss.

However, she’s actually attended our local public schools and uses one of my favorite dog-whistle expressions: Education is only successful when everyone participates.

She does capitalize a lot of words for no reason, and she uses a lot of spaces after periods, but so does her opponent, Pam Foley, so that’s a wash.

So what don’t I like about Foley? Well, it’s not that she’s bad, but she spends most of her prepared statement talking about what the board has down, rather than what she wants to do. She also talks about teacher evaluations. I don’t oppose them, but when you mention them to people, you’re silently endorsing merit pay, speaking of dog whistles.

Finally, Foley mentions Willow Glen five times in her statement. I know where I live. But is our trustee area really just in Willow Glen? It’s hard to say because the Internet sucks out loud at finding out, assuming the info is out there in the first place.

Anyway, I’m sure Foley will be reelected because of the power of incumbency, but I will say Navarro had a much better statement.

City of San Jose, Member, City Council, District 6: Helen Chapman

This has been quite the race, and I think for everyone the choice is clear, based on endorsements. One exception is my personal primary favorite, Chris Roth, is endorsing Devora Davis, but I think that has more to do with his ability to transcend identity politics. I still think he’s got a big future no matter what he decides to do.

When I think of what I want from a city council candidate, I want someone who will represent its constituents and set personal preferences aside. Kirsten Gillibrand, the New York Senator, is amazing at this. When she was in the House of Representatives, she was much more conservative. Now that she represents the entire state of New York, she has voted more liberally, because her constituents are more liberal. That’s true representation, folks.

Anyway, when I pull the level for Helen Chapman it’s because she represents what I think my neighborhood is. She also looks to lead from the bottom up.

Davis is what many would consider the establishment favorite. The past 2 mayors have endorsed her. The Chamber of Commerce endorses her. San Jose has a history of socially liberal, fiscally conservative politics. If that’s your bag, baby, by all means: It’s Davis time.

In other news, a political action committee sent out a mailer on her behalf trashing Chapman for her role as a volunteer, because the city mismanaged funds for a program she volunteered for. How is that her fault? Now, if the AFL-CIO sends out a hit piece on Davis, I’ll be equally upset about that.

That’s right: The unions support Chapman. So from an identity perspective it all falls into place: If you’re into the Chamber and fiscal conservatism and our mayor, it’s Davis. If you voted for Dave Cortese for mayor and are a union supporter, it’s Chapman.

One last thing, I’ll never understand why statements are written in the third person. It makes you so much more human when you use “I” statements. You can guess, based on my endorsement, which candidate followed this advice.

Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority Director, District 4: Dorsey Moore

Speaking of the city council, our termed out representative (Pierluigi Oliverio) is running for this office now. His written statement talks about himself but doesn’t focus on the open space authority beyond a high-level reference. It feels like this is just something else to do after running for mayor in 2014 didn’t work out for him.

Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of his establishment (read: fiscally conservative) politics, but he does wear it better than the bigger names in town. He always responded to my emails. He practices what he preaches. I won’t be upset if he wins. And he gives out his phone number in his statement, which is gutsy.

Dorsey Moore has a lot of keyword density in his statement, but it’s believable. And his educational background is a better fit for this office. He might be a little more boring than Oliverio, but Al Gore is boring as fuck, and I would have loved for him to have been president.

Proposition 51: Yes

It’s hard for me to vote no on school bonds. I almost did it this time. The governor is against this bond measure because more affluent districts will benefit. I think it’s a fair criticism. But I still think there are enough benefits to justify the cost, especially with interest rates so low.

If you always do or don’t vote on school stuff, you don’t need me to tell you what to do. For those of you who only sometimes vote yes, this is probably one you’ll want to vote no on, unless you take delight in having winners and losers when it comes to schools and funding.

Proposition 52: Yes

I rarely vote against unions, so this makes me feel a little better about myself when it comes to being objective.

We get federal matching funds for the $3 billion in Medicaid fees we collect from hospitals every year. The fee is set to expire, and 52 would make it permanent.

If 52 doesn’t pass, the state legislature could still decide to extend the fee, so you don’t have to vote for it strictly because you don’t want the fee to go away. So why is it on the ballot in the first place? It would make it harder for the legislature to change the fee in the future. The legislature wouldn’t agree to that.

The matching funds argument is enough for me, because I don’t want to have to trust the state legislature to extend the fee itself. And the no argument is kind of stupid, because it talks about how the money could be spent on anything. So what? That’s going to happen anyway.

Proposition 53: No

There’s no way this is going to fail, but I will try. I’m not a fan of legislating from the ballot box, because voters aren’t informed enough to make sensible decisions. That’s why we elect people to make these decisions for us. It’s not a perfect system because corruption, but I don’t have time to deal with this because I’m busy trying to contribute to society.

Anyway, this is what I’m talking about: 53 will require voter approval for any issuance of bonds exceeding $2 billion. We’re too stupid to know whether every bond issuance of this size is important, not to mention all the extra shit that will appear on the ballot because of it. Look at how long the ballot is for this election already!

What 53 is doing on the ballot is another attempt to reduce spending on public services that fiscal conservatives aren’t interested in. The obvious example is high speed rail. If 53 passes, large sales of bonds will be much harder to push through. If we ask voters to provide another $5 billion in bonds for high speed rail, they’re going to vote no. I can’t believe they voted yes the first time!

It also means you’re going to see what technologists call an “agile methodology,” specifically breaking down projects into smaller chunks, each with—surprise—$1.9 billion price tags. So in an effort to get the state to spend less money, we’re going to actually spend more, because of the bureaucracy that will have to be repeated every time we issue almost but not quite $2 billion in bonds.

Having said that, you would vote yes because you want more control over large price tag bond issues, and you probably have some libertarian leanings to accompany them. Or, you just like being able to make decisions. I think those 2 groups add up to about 55% of the electorate. I guess we’ll see.

Proposition 54: No

Like 53, this is another “sounds good” proposition that ignores why we have our government set up the way it is. If 54 passes, any new bill or change to a new bill would start a 72-hour window, during which there would be no vote on it. The idea, proponents say, is it gives people time to read the law before it gets voted on, thus giving you a chance to speak to your state senator or assemblyperson about it before it’s too late.

What I don’t like about this is what happens during an emergency, such as an earthquake, or when Northern California finally secedes and tries to become Jefferson. I’m not exactly a small-government activist, but all 54 does is create another hoop to jump through to get anything done.

If all you can think of is the great Nancy Pelosi Obamacare line, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it,” then this is an obvious yes vote for you.

Proposition 55: Yes

When Governor Brown took office, he did several things to fix the budget. One was Prop 30, which was a temporary tax on the rich to pay for education. Well, it’s been 4 years, and now it’s set to expire. If you want the tax to be made permanent, well, 55 can do that for you. The governor is neutral on 55, which to me means he wants to say he is for it but knows better.

The no side is led by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, natch. “Temporary should mean temporary,” they say. Well, they use a lot of capital letters, but you get the idea. And they’re right that it’s important to have integrity, and it’s true that we all knew they would try to make this tax permanent once it was scheduled to expire. And here we are.

Here’s my response to that: Perhaps the tax should have been there all along. I’m more concerned with where we end up than how we get there. Making a temporary tax permanent doesn’t bother me.

If you’re going to get hung up on semantics, then 55 is a big no for you. For the rest of you, you’ll treat this like any other tax on the ballot.

Proposition 56: Yes

This one raises cigarettes by $2 per pack and also taxes other things, such as electronic cigarettes, for the first time. The money goes to different things, including health programs for poor people.

Sigh. We all know the tobacco companies will spend just enough money to make sure this fails with 51% of the vote, but let’s press on.

This is for people who actually think about cigarette taxes. (Most people will knee-jerk one way or the other.) This time around the money is being used on lots of different things, so if you want the tax to be earmarked for specific programs, it’s not for you.

My rebuttal is that cigarette taxes are designed to reduce smoking, not raise money. And of course if you don’t like fascism like I do, then it’s another reason to vote no. But numerous studies show the amount of healthcare costs in a pack of cigarettes far outweigh the taxes paid by the smoker. If you think auto insurance should be charged by the mile, it would make sense to vote yes.

It’s just not a good use of money to use all cigarette taxes on smoking related programs. You want to talk about pork? That is how it would work.

Finally, our 87-cent-per-pack tax is the lowest in the country. Yep, the one thing that’s cheaper in California than anywhere else is cigarettes.

Proposition 57: Yes

More identity politics here. If you remember Prop 47 in 2014, it freed a lot of people to reduce jail overcrowding. There’s mixed data whether it’s been successful, but it’s probably too early to tell for sure. But of course, any outlier is what we’re going to notice, so someone who gets released early because of Prop 47 and commits a crime is going to become a poster child about why we can’t release criminals early.

There are reasons that transcend the law about why these things happen. A recent Pet Shop Boys video of all things tells the story well. But I digress.

Another way to further reduce prison overcrowding comes in the form of 57. You could say it’s one of many … varieties? In any case it’s only for nonviolent felons, meaning drug-related and grand theft mostly. It makes it easier for them to get parole.

If you voted yes on 47 and don’t have buyer’s remorse, then you’ll vote yes here. And if you voted no on 47 and feel the same way today, you’ll vote no. I’ll remind libertarian types out there that this does save the government money by shrinking the prison population.

Proposition 58: Yes

This will probably pass because of how it’s worded, and that’s OK. The title says “English proficiency. Multilingual education.” I think a lot of conservatives will like the first two words and stop there. That’s fine.

What 58 actually does is make it easier for schools to set up dual immersion programs, which are amazing. They essentially let any kid learn in 2 languages, which when started in kindergarten (see, don’t you feel smarter reading German?) is showing improved critical thinking skills, and it makes sense because your brain is learning multiple ways to communicate the same thing.

I guess the no argument is “everything’s fine,” which is the standard no argument for anything. Ron Unz is behind the no side, and the governor is behind the yes side, if that helps.

Proposition 59: Yes

You don’t normally see advisory measures on the state ballot, but Citizens United got enough people upset to set down their Whole Foods Market cloth bag and sign a petition that will result in absolutely nothing.

Yes, 59 is to formally ask the state to approve a US Constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United. I have a feeling in the quest for 38 states to say yes that California was already going to be one of them.

But if 59 gets at least one person to vote on everything because of this one issue, I guess it’s worth it.

The no side says it’s a waste of money. Sure, but voting no doesn’t keep us from wasting the money. It’s already happened. And I would say voting yes doesn’t exactly encourage people to pull this shit again. When you want to put something on the ballot it comes from within. You don’t need to feel encouraged.

Proposition 60: No

Every family has its crazy. And when you see a family in public, such as in a restaurant or at the mall, they’re often too into themselves to notice what they’re arguing about. That’s passion right there.

Anyway, the state legislature couldn’t get the votes to require the use of condoms in porn filmed in California so they decided to put it on the ballot instead. When I wrote earlier about not letting voters decide everything, this is exactly what I was talking about. How the hell would we know?

I would say these regulations would make sense as part of the decriminalization of prostitution, but that’s not what this is. Here are a couple reasons to vote no.

What is porn? When consenting couples film themselves doing it, and then as an act of revenge one of the people puts it online, is that porn? Can someone be sued if there is no condom? Who knows?

Do we want to make the industry less safe? LA already has this requirement, and it has sent the porn industry underground. This isn’t about you and whether you support pornography. It’s about keeping people safe when they make life choices. You can’t tell me that porn actors will be safer if they have to go underground to work because of the requirement of condom use. It’s a supply-side solution.

Many, specifically social conservatives, will vote no because they will see the word “condoms.” It doesn’t matter what else is said. So that leaves the big government supporters and well meaning but mis-intentioned citizenry to get to 50%. I don’t think they’ll even make it to 30.

Proposition 61: Yes

This one has the most ads on TV up and down the state. You may have heard about the EpiPen and how the price got jacked up because it can be. (There’s your free market in action.) If 61 passes, it will require state agencies to pay the same rate the US Department of Veterans Affairs pays for drugs.

That’s not the same thing as requiring drug manufacturers to match the prices they charge the US Department of Veterans Affairs. But the general understanding is that that will happen. How do we know that? Well, Merck and other pharmaceutical companies are funding the no side, because if they charge less for drugs, they make less money. If they were going to just ignore the law, they wouldn’t care.

In Northern California, Bernie’s logo is on billboards supporting 61, whereas the no side is trotting out a bunch of veterans saying it will cause their medication to cost more.

If pharmaceutical companies could charge veterans more for medication, they would already be doing it. It wouldn’t take 61 passing for that to occur. It makes sense to me that the main reason veterans would get cheaper drugs is because of the economy-of-scale benefits the US Department of Veterans Affairs enjoys because of the number of patients it has.

As an aside, the 60 and 61 yes sides both supply additional information from the same mailing address, so it feels weird to me that I am only voting yes on one of them.

Proposition 62: Yes

This repeals the death penalty. It is also a prime example of idealism vs. pragmatism.

All I’m saying is it costs more to kill people than keep them in prison for life. We know the death penalty doesn’t reduce crime. You’re afraid to die. Criminals are not afraid to die.

Finally, we hardly kill anyone anymore anyway. It’s too fucking hard. And apparently it will save $150 million per year, because of how expensive execution is, etc.

Proposition 63: Yes

Here’s another idealism vs. pragmatism argument: gun control. I really have nothing new to add to this.

This doesn’t authorize Barack Obama (who will be looking for something to do) to come and get your guns, finally. Seriously, he has done such a shitty job of taking people’s guns away. In fact, gun manufacturing is at an all time high. What a terrible president.

Anyway, 63 focuses on stuff like prohibiting large-capacity ammunition magazines, which you definitely don’t read for the articles. And for the other kind of ammunition? It will require background checks and a Department of Justice authorization. It will be done through a new court process.

You already know whether you’re voting for this.

Proposition 64: Yes

Remember in 2000 and 2004 when states would put same-sex marriage stuff on the ballot to increase Republican voter turnout? These days, marijuana legalization initiatives are done to get Democrats out. Never mind that it’s still illegal federally.

Yes, 64 makes marijuana legal at the state level, similar to what’s happened in Washington and Colorado. This is probably another one where you already know how you’re voting.

I think 64 passing is key to nationwide decriminalization, so if that’s your goal, your mission is clear. I also think it will be one of the last executive orders Obama makes before he leaves office. It’s the cherry on top. You read it here first. (But you’ll probably forget that you did—ha!)

What surprises me is how little resistance there is to 64. All the money is on the yes side.

Proposition 65: Yes

This one is confusing. I still don’t know how I’m going to vote for it, and I’m writing about it right now! So much for inverted pyramid.

When plastic bags were banned locally, stores were allowed to use paper bags but only if they charged for them. To get them on board, the state let the store keep the money. Seemed kind of weird, but whatever.

What 65 actually does is say that the revenue would specifically be taken from the stores and used for specific environmental programs. That’s probably fine for most people. I guess it’s fine for me. But it doesn’t ban them from places that aren’t banned yet. That might be important to you.

What tipped me over was the no argument. When you do like Homer Simpson and play the out of state card, it tells me you’re all out of ideas.

Proposition 66: No

Sometimes the ballot has competing initiatives, and they confuse the fuck out of people. This time it’s happening with 64 and 66. If both pass, the one with more votes takes effect.

The short version is people saw that 64 was going to get rid of the death penalty, and they figured a watered down version might do better while preserving the option of the death penalty.

It’s a pretty good argument most of the time to say stuff like 66 is a nice compromise, and we can always abolish the death penalty later. Honestly, 66 would do nothing because it’s too hard to kill people now. It would never really get put to the test, meanwhile inspiring hope that someone on death row really would get executed someday.

No one gets executed anymore because lethal injection is how we do it, and we can’t find the right combination of drugs to make sure it’s done right. So executions are in a sort of purgatory right now, and while we’re sending all kinds of tech jobs to Austin, we can’t seem to outsource our executions there.

Proposition 67: Yes

Surprise! Another competing initiative. This time we have 65 and 67 facing off. This time 67 is the more extreme measure. It bans plastic bags in the entire state, rather than leaving it to local governments to decide.

The argument is that 150 cities have already banned plastic bags, and it’s working great. Sure, when you have my grandpa like I do, I can just visit him and get all the plastic bags I want.

Here’s the thing: There’s a giant island in the Pacific Ocean comprising plastic bags that have swept out to sea. Yes, I use all the plastic bags I acquire, but not everyone does. And if I had to give up talking on my phone while driving because other people couldn’t handle the same, I will have to give up plastic bags, too.

The no argument (the real one not the bullshit one in the voter guide—the no side isn’t even trying, honestly) is that you’re forcing people to buy plastic bags when they need them for garbage or dog poop or asphyxiation. Maybe, but at least we won’t have any wasted ones. Remember this island. It’s not just a Le Tigre major label album.

Measure A: Yes

The timing couldn’t be better for A advocates. After kicking everyone out of the Jungle, the homeless are more visible than they’ve ever been. What better time for a ballot measure to authorize bonds to give them a place to live, along with others who need less expensive housing.

The housing argument has been an interesting one. People complain when you build more places to live (“oh, the traffic!”). They complain that there’s nowhere to live (“oh, the expense!”). If you press people hard enough on this apparent hypocrisy, the common answer tends to be that we need to send these high paying jobs out of the region so no one can afford to pay these high rents. Thanks, Nextdoor.

The no argument focuses on the cost of interest, a common tactic. They even take it a step further, saying it could be as high as 12%. There’s just no way interest rates can get that high. We talked about this 4,000 words ago.

This requires a two-thirds majority thanks to Prop 13, so it really needs every vote it can get. I’m not holding my breath.

Measure B: Yes

This is the most important thing on the ballot as far as I’m concerned. It’s a half-cent sales tax for transportation. It’s one of the few regressive taxes that makes sense because it benefits people who lose a larger chunk of their income to taxes more than it does others.

This is a general transportation one, so it includes the usual suspects, such as connecting BART to Caltrain in the South Bay, freeway improvements, including 101/87 (be still my heart), and more bike and pedestrian trails. It even works on all the expressways, which will make Faco happy.

The no argument shows an appalling lack of critical thinking. It says that, despite the tax increase from Measure A in 2000, traffic is worse now. Well, no shit, Sherlock. There are more people working and living here than in 2000.

(The root cause of this traffic is twofold, by the way. First, we don’t use school buses for most children anymore, creating a lot of unnecessary car trips. Second, people change jobs so often that it is much harder to own a house and live near where you work. That’s how you solve traffic problems. But that type of cultural change isn’t going to happen. So at least we have Measure B.)

Measure E: Yes

I think this one just might make it. This would make San Jose the first city in the country to require employers to offer additional hours to existing employees before hiring new ones. Employers with fewer than 35 employees are exempt.

There are a shit ton of people working multiple part time jobs because they can’t get enough hours at one place. There is an interesting anti-Obamacare argument about why people aren’t getting enough hours at one job in the first place, and this is where the no voters will be coming from.

I can tell you as a former retail manager why I wouldn’t want E to pass. The more employees I have, the more options I have when someone is sick. Also, the more likely it is that my workers will want more hours because I’ve cut too many slices in the pie. Well, that’s great when you’re in charge. It sucks if you’re the worker, hoping for any extra hours.

E will reduce this type of exploitation. I’ve been on both sides of this.

The mayor is against it because it’s “too risky.” Yeah, he’s afraid of a lot. But this is going to make a lot of retail workers feel safer, and if they don’t need that extra part time job because of the extra hours they pick up, it’s one less commute, which helps make Measure B that much more effective.

Measure F: Yes

This will probably pass, and I guess that’s OK. A few years ago we passed pension reform overwhelmingly, above my objections for what it’s worth. Since then our best cops have left, and we’ve turned into a feeder system, the same way that new dealers start at break-in casinos before moving on to greener pastures.

We were supposed to be the new gold standard for pension reform, and other cities’ governments responded by saying, “Thanks for all your best workers, San Jose! We’ll leave our pensions alone so they’ll come work for us!” And it totally worked.

Believe me when I say I didn’t want to be right. Anyway, F rolls back some of Measure B, to the chagrin of taxpayers associations, who finally got something they wanted. But the gorilla in the room is that we have fewer than 1,000 cops. And with the Jungle getting blown up, it has created a perception that crime has increased, which can only help get F passed. Sometimes things work out in the end.

What’s done is done, but F can help us make San Jose a more attractive place for public workers such as police and fire.

Measure G: Yes

This raises the business tax in San Jose from $150 to $195. It hasn’t been increased in 30 years. I have to pay this sometimes because I sell things on eBay. But I’ll still vote for it.

There’s no no argument submitted, so there’s not much to say.

Measure X: Yes

This is a bond measure for junior colleges. Like most education initiatives you already know whether you’re interested. This requires a 55% majority to pass.

An interesting wrinkle here provides an awesome opportunity for me to digress. I’m at 6,000 words right now so allow me to indulge myself.

Every proposition and measure provides an opportunity to make an argument for and against, plus a rebuttal to the two arguments. The way it is supposed to work is that you read the argument from the other side and use it to write your rebuttal.

Well, similar to the RNC declaring Trump the winner before one of the debates, the no people used a nearly identical rebuttal to the argument in favor of X as they did in their argument against it.

In fact there are only 2 differences between them.

In the first one there is a typo: “The answer is clearly m NO!”

In the second version they added a paragraph, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” That, my friends, is the definition of irony. I wish that this wasn’t so far down the ballot because I want everyone to read this.

Measure Y: Yes

OK, so the community colleges are covered. So what about K-12? Well, Y is an 8-year $72 parcel tax for San Jose Unified School District.

My local schools are finally all 6 or 7 out of 10. One of them was a 3 when I moved here in 2007. Hopefully we can keep going in the same direction. Personally I love parcel taxes because homeowners are much more likely to be able to afford something than renters. We can be soaked. It’s OK.

another test

May 21, 2012



May 21, 2012


Imelda May “Mayhem”

September 18, 2011

Beat-wise, this has the party atmosphere that Bow Wow Wow has. The voice is much sultrier, however. “Pulling the Rug” tugs at your heart as she flirts her way through it.
The best slower track is “Kentish Town Waltz.” There’s nothing ish about it — this is a bona fide waltz. “Eternity” and “Proud and Humble” are for alt-country fans.
If you liked “Goodbye” by Save Ferris, you’ll appreciate “Bury My Troubles.” One would never confuse Imelda May as a ska vocalist, but regardless, many appropriate comparisons can be drawn here.
“I’m Alive” is a happy sort of iced-tea-on-the-balcony good time. The vocals are mixed slightly higher, and there is a bit of a tropical beach theme. Better make that iced tea a Corona.

Natalie Walker “Spark”

September 18, 2011

So the music has a beat, but it’s for soccer moms who never actually go to the club, instead only speaking with their little sister about it while living vicariously through her. She thinks this is what they play, right after a Colbie Caillat mix. Who are we to argue with her delusions?
All the cool kids like “Cool Kids.” It’s not the most original melody out there, but it is easily accessible to Annie Lennox fans. Galliano fans should appreciate “Against the Wall.” It’s more of the same inoffensive reserved dance pop. If you came of age with Book of Love, maybe this is your speed, but how do you not admit that you’re old when you listen to stuff like this? It’s just too embarrassing to admit you like Natalie Walker.
“Experimental Love” is the other notable song on here, but they’re all more similar than I care to admit. It’s that Southern California pay-to-play syncopated rhythm, headed for a rom-com near you, soul not included.

Eleanor Friedberger “Last Summer”

September 11, 2011

Eleanor Friedberger sounds like the lead singer for The Fiery Furnaces. “My Mistakes” sounds like a power pop version of that band, anyway.
So I just did some research online. She was the lead singer for The Fiery Furnaces. Go, me. No, I don’t ever go back and rewrite my reviews as I listen to the record.
The rest of this review will talk about other songs I liked, but the first paragraph sums it up. “Heaven” has good backing harmonies that stand out in an otherwise simply composed track. In my own little world this was the first song she did on her own, so that’s why it is so basic. Still very good, though.
“Roosevelt Island” sounds more like a The Fiery Furnaces track. There’s a bit of keyboard action here that makes everything fit perfectly. A slower track can be found with “One-Month Marathon.” It reminds me of “Some Senseless Day” by The Reputation because it’s slower than what you usually get, but it still sounds natural.
More The Fiery Furnaces-sounding stuff can be found with “Owl’s Head Park.” It’s a story-telling song, like “My Dog Was Lost But Now He’s Found” was.
So the whole record is good. It’s exactly what you would expect it to be. Have at it.

Medals “Dancing in Ceremony”

July 17, 2011

I took this one because the band has someone Japanese in it, and my grandma is Japanese. As far as the music goes, it’s a little trippy and a little noisy. “Lonestars” is the first track and is synth-heavy and sounds better with headphones.
I’d like Modern Mark to play “The Modern.” I think it would work on his show. Although slightly repetitive, it has a good melody. “Dickens” has synths similar to You Say Party We Say Die’s “Laura Palmer’s Prom.” The vocals make me think of the Cult. It’s a pretty good combination.
The aptly titled “Bossanueva” is slightly off-key but still a good show of Medals’ versatility. The last track is “Puzzle,” and it is good for fans of progressive rock and newer Yeah Yeah Yeahs (although with a dude singing). All in all, it’s a vaguely modern alternative rock band.