The AVA Recommends
by AVA News Service, October 19, 2016
AS MOST OF YOU KNOW, the reason there are so many initiatives is our legislators don't legislate much. We'll keep it brief, but if our critiques aren't brief enough, you can safely vote NO on everything without going too far wrong.
THERE'S A BUNCHA bond-funded state initiatives on the November ballot, and right here we'll point out what we always point out at election time, which is that there is already so much bond indebtedness in this state that it will never be paid off. So what's a few billion more? The people who buy these things get a very good deal because they make a lot of money on what are essentially loans guaranteed by the tax payers. Since we're already on the hook for more money than can ever be paid back, and if that bothers you, vote no on everything funded by bonds. If you wisely assume the whole show is a vast series of interlocking Ponzis soon to go blooey, speed the collapse by voting Yes on bond funding.
PROP 51: Vote No. Should the state issue $9 billion in bonds for constructing or improving public schools? The construction industry wants to know, because if you vote yes they get to build a lot of structures in which learning allegedly takes place. Bear in mind, however, that the greatest teacher ever, besides the Nazarene carpenter of course, was Socrates, and he did his teaching under an olive tree. $3 billion to build new schools $3 billion to modernize existing schools $2 billion to buy, build, and improve community colleges $500 million for charter schools $500 million for technical education facilities Who’s Voting Yes on PROP 51? The edu-bloc, both political parties, the State Chamber of Commerce — your basic collection of undesirables, in other words, Who’s Voting No on PROP 51? People opposed to sprawl, and everyone who knows that 51 was put on the ballot by the construction industry.
PROPS 52, 53, 54
PROP 52. VOTE NO. The state Democrats have teamed up with the more mercenary hospitals (Adventist in Ukiah and Willits, for handy instance) and hospital administrators, that would require a two-thirds vote in the legislature to change how the state funds Medi-Cal.
PROP 52 is opposed by hospital unions and people who watchdog Medi-Cal funding on behalf of ordinary people. The watchdogs say that, if passed, millions of public dollars will bypass sick people to create a state health-care bureaucracy.
PROP 53. Yes. More or less fiscal conservatives are for this one, which would require that voters approve any bond that puts the state over the $2 billion in public-infrastructure bonds that are already out there. And which, added to all the other bond debt out there that will never be re-paid. But everything is falling apart — roads, bridges, what's left of railroads — because Democrats live in fear of the oligarchy and don't dare tax them to pay their fair share of the common load. Governor Brown, the state's Chamber of Commerce and, natch, developers, are opposed to 53 because they're not much for infrastructure work. Vote YES although endless bonds are not a sensible long-term way of paying for basic amenities in lieu of a fair system of taxation, which we do not have because of people like Jerry Brown. Bonds are basically loans issued, mostly by big banks, who make double what the bond is worth from ordinary taxpayers.
PROP 54. Vote Yes. Ever hear of "gut-and-amend"? Our noble legislators sneak bills through at the last minute with all kinds of giveaways to bad interests. Proposition 54 would mandate that the content of bills be published 72-hours prior to the vote. Everyone is for this across the board, except for, guess who? California Democrats of the elected type who fear voter reaction to their many treacheries.
PROP 55: Yes. "Help Our Children Thrive." Gee, guess who's backing this one? Answer, The edu-bloc and Big Lib, and right there is a major temptation to vote no. They're always for the kids, right? Why, right this minute out at the Mendocino County Office of Education at Talmage superintendent Warren Galletti, $140,000 a year plus fringes, is pacing the lush carpeting of his office, darn near distraught with worry, "How the heck can I do more for the kids?" The edu-bloc has said for years, "Give us more money and boy o boy o will your kids learn more better." Of course the public ed apparatus votes as a bloc for Big Lib, hence their mutual support for maintaining a tiny tax on incomes over a quarter mil annually. And the money raised will go straight to the classroom, just like the lottery money went straight to the classroom. But clamp a clothespin over your nose and vote Yes.
PROP 56: NO. Another two bucks a pack on smokes. I find myself wondering, "Why not just put the tax on cigarettes at a hundred bucks a pack and be done with it?” It seems like every other state ballot ups the sin tax while sanctioning other sins like gambling. I also note that of the four pot initiatives on the ballot, three of them originating in Mendocino County, America's intoxicants capitol, none mention the damage done to the lungs of millions of heedless dopers by heavy use of the love drug. The cig tax goes partially to several nebulous purposes, including alleged prevention and, more vaguely, "child development," meaning jobs for the blah-blah people. If we're going to tax people doing dumb things to themselves like smoking, how about a tax on people watching Fox News, 60-year-old women dressing like teenagers, old men in short pants, and maybe a hundred each on neck tattoos? The AVA recommends: Whatever.
PROP 57. Yes. Parole for non-violent prisoners. This is a hot one, so hot a No On 57 guy sent me a stack of baseball card-like pictures of felons who've committed appalling crimes, saying that these guys would get out under Prop 57. The DA is also recommending a No vote on Prop 57. Why are cops voting No? Because lots of them secretly believe that everyone is either an active scumbag or a scumbag who hasn't been caught yet. Which, as a general principle, seems irrefutable, but as a practical matter we can't lock up everyone, can we? Me? I think it's clear that generally speaking people get sentences out of all proportion to what they've done. There's got to be an objective process for the orderly release of people who try hard in prison to improve themselves. I've thought for a long time we ought to go back to the future when committees of inmates and staff evaluated people for release. Who better than the people who see them every day, work with them every day, often know them better than their own families, to decide who's a menace, who isn't? More than one former inmate has put the number of true menaces to society at 20 percent. These are guys who should never get out even if they're in for shoplifting. Under the present system, a maniac can do his time and get his release even if all he's done in prison is watch television. We recommend a Yes vote on 57. The whole system desperately needs reform, and this is a good place to start an orderly release system. (On the other hand, you have people like Thess Love, would-be pimp, busted in Point Arena for trying to make a street prostitute out of a fog belt maiden. Recently this guy spit on his court-appointed attorney, Jan Cole-Wilson, in the courtroom. He's lucky to have someone as skilled and decent, but tell that to him. Earlier he had spit on the probation officer preparing his report. Is it just coincidence that Love has written letters — the jail has copies — advocating family and friends to vote for Prop 57 because he sees himself as a beneficiary? As it is he apparently believes the spitting incidents will bring misdemeanor battery charges, delaying his transfer to state prison. He knows the misdemeanors will be wiped clean when prison authorities determine how much time he will actually serve. So not only is he delaying serving his prison time, he's hoping to benefit from Prop. 57 if it passes, and if it does this low-rent punk will be 57-eligible. Guys like this deserve all the time they get.
PROP 58. No. Basically the return of bi-lingual classrooms. Like it or not, America is an English language country few of whose citizens, even those born here, ever quite grasp their native tongue well enough to fully decode their native tongue — hence this election's presidential candidates. Mexican kids aren't done any favors by encouraging Spanglish, which is what emerges from bi-lingual ed. The better you speak and write English, the better you will do in a system organized to rip you off.
PROP 59: Yes. Citizens United has allowed the Koch brothers (owners of Fort Bragg's oceanfront, as it happens) and their fellow oligarchs to funnel billions of dollars in secret donations into our elections. Corporations are people, you see. The Supreme Court said so. Citizens United has paved the way to a new era of corporate spending and special-interest influence through the invention of the “SuperPAC." Prop 59 is a step to unraveling the nefarious influence of big money in politics, not that we're ever likely to get it out. YES
PROP 60 NO RECOMMENDATION. Boonville's beloved newspaper has always argued that pornography itself should be banned. But now that the ritual humiliation of half the world's population is not only sanctioned but celebrated, and so pervasive it's available to children, and that fact is certainly one more sign that America's slide into the moral abyss will not be arrested any time soon, the degenerates who abase themselves in these films should probably be protected (sic) from themselves by being required to wear condoms. Vote yes as you watch the daily increase in sex crimes everywhere in the world and wonder why such a relatively trivial issue as this one found its way onto a state ballot. Is the AVA saying pornography causes sexual violence? Yes. Can you prove it? No. But do the math. Millions of isolated men watching this stuff for hours at a time everywhere in the country is like arming a kindergarten class with loaded guns and telling them to go outside and play cops and robbers. (I don't think the analogy quite works but you get my drift, I assume.) As it happens, the New Yorker of last week (26 September) contains an article about the contemporary porn industry. It's called "Lights, Camera, Action" and runs through the sordid realities of the business before it gets to a startling fact: 75% of the films viewed on-line are the work of amateurs, which seems to confirm that we are now a nation of pervs.
PROP 61. YES. This baby is opposed by Big Pharma, and Big Pharma is spending a lot of money to defeat it. The drug manufacturers have gulled some Vets groups into opposing it, but nurses are for it, as is SEIU. I find nurses absolutely reliable in a political sense, and SEIU at least more trustworthy than the drug companies. Vote YES on 61, and don't even try to decode the particulars because they're confusing and contradictory. The simple fact that Big Pharma opposes even this modest drug price control measure is a good enough reason to vote for it.
PROPS 62 & 66 — WE HAVE TWO death penalty propositions on the November ballot. One repeals the death penalty, the other speeds it up. The argument for repeal is the old one: it doesn't deter much of anyone, it's unfair because only poor people get it, and life without is cheaper. The reasons for speeding it up are also familiar, and include: These bastards have it coming; it's the law; lawyers drag out appeals and so on.
WE AGREE that most of these bastards have it coming, but we don't like dispatching them by midnight needles in hospital settings. We also don't like the state being authorized to kill people because in certain circumstances the state would kill us. And innocent people can and have got put to death. But we think executions should be public — football stadiums would be perfect venues — with admission charged, television rights sold, and all proceeds to the families of the victims. We would also require that the families would have to do the killing or at least authorize it, and the method should be by firing squad, which is quick, humane and even romantic if the condemned gets a last word and a cigarette. This way, The People, in whose name the execution is carried out get to witness what is being done in their name.
IN THE MEAN TIME, and we live in a very mean time indeed, we recommend a Yes vote On Prop 62, a No vote on 66.
PROP 63 YES. Here's another ballot proposition that appears only because legislators are afraid to take it on, doubly fearing the organized Gun Nut Lobby. The gun people live in fear of everything from lurks breaking in on them in the middle of the night, to the government taking completely over for the specific purpose of gun confiscation. As if. As if, say, a 3am tweaker bent on machete mayhem penetrates your perimeter defenses, gets all the way into your slumber chamber… He's got you. You're drunk and so deeply wrapped in Morpheus's arms you're decapitated before you can get to your Tec 9 and your back-up large-capacity magazines, loaded and ready to slap in on full-auto. Then there's the government: When it comes for you they'll do a Ruby Ridge or Koresh on you, no problem. Their guns are bigger and there's lots more of them. On the other hand, guerrilla resistance, if it ever comes to that, you're going to want weapons.
PROP 63 would ban the giant mags and require a background check on people buying ammo, and the paranoids are buying ammo in literal wholesale lots. I should confess I own three guns myself without really knowing why other than they give me a sense of security I know objectively is false. The kind of people who buy bulk ammo and lust after big mags generally aren't criminals, and most of them already have this stuff. I think 63 is mooted by existing conditions, but go ahead and vote Yes just for righteous hopelessness of it.
PROP. 64. Dope. Unlike Proposition 19 back in the day, the prior state initiative to legalize marijuana, the new pot initiative allows cities and counties to add their own regs, taxes, or even bans, on marijuana businesses, as is the statewide case now with medical marijuana. Prop 64 legalizes marijuana use for adults 21 and older. Requires licensing for cultivation and sale. Establishes state excise tax of 15% on retail sales, and cultivation taxes of $9.25 per ounce of flowers and $2.75 per ounce of leaves. Standard sales taxes also would apply. Creates packaging, labeling, advertising and marketing standards. Allows local governments to impose additional regulations and taxes on marijuana. Provides resentencing consideration for prior marijuana convictions. Leaves intact the medical marijuana system created by Prop 215 in 1996. Sounds reasonable, sort of, but it's a prescription for the corporatization of dope and gives government the say so over a standardized industry that will squeeze out mom and pop growers. NO.
PROP 65 YES. The money collected by stores when you buy a bag goes to the Wildlife Conservation Board. Of course. if you can't manage to bring your own bag — I've yet to remember to carry mine into a store — and you pay a nickel for a big brown paper job, the nickel goes to what's left of wild life.
PROP 66 (Faster death penalty) NO. (Reviewed above with Prop 62)
PROP 67 would ban plastic bags, and one more example of a ballot initiative put to the voters because our legislators are afraid of the "American Progressive Bag Alliance" (sic). We've all known old bags and lots of us have, from time to time, been in the bag, and every day we tie on a feedbag. But we seldom associate plastic bags with nationality or progressivism. The plastic bag lobby has outdone itself here with their patriotic effort to foul our fair land and waters with their deadly, forever product. The American progressive people opposed to banning plastic bags are, you guessed it!, the people who manufacture the things. YES on 67.
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Hyper Local Vote Recommendations
FORT BRAGG CITY COUNCIL: Bernie Norvell and Will Lee. Insurgent candidates rightly unhappy with the present direction of the town, Norvell and Lee will be level-headed councilmen in the tradition of Cimolino and Peters.
POINT ARENA CITY COUNCIL: We think Ignacio is a good choice, as are Anna Dobbins and Barbara Burkey. We've made it clear that we think $50,000 for a part-time city manager for 449 people (less than 200 voters) is fiscally nuts, and would vote out anybody, except perhaps Ignacio unless he said the acts of contrition, who thought it was wise. But, there's no indication that any of the present council or the would-be council people think anything is amiss at PA's big spending on its little government.
UKIAH CITY COUNCIL: Crane has long been a voice of sanity on a council dominated by loons until very recently. He's running unopposed because Ukiah seems to understand he's consistently looked out for the wider interests of the town. Scalmanini, a lockstep lib of the dumbest, least imaginative type, seems to have wandered in off Highway 101 ("Is this Arcata? Where am I?") and was promptly appointed to Ukiah government, one more example of our observation that total strangers often wind up in elected government in the County. Scalmanini is now mayor of a town that pays its city manager a quarter of a mil a year to "manage" 16,000 people. Scalmanini and friends have so far kept CostCo out of Ukiah although everyone except them wants it.
R. ALLEN CARTER is Ukiah's town treasurer. He's running unopposed. He apparently thinks Ukiah is a Swiss watch of civic functioning or we would have heard from him "Yo! Al! I think the money has disappeared, and the guy who says he's the mayor is hitchhiking south on 101."
WILLITS CITY COUNCIL: We think Madge Strong has been a consistent voice of reason, and we think former Willits Police Chief, Gerardo Gonzalez would make a sound councilman. Bruce Burton is a tad too reactionary for our tastes but we think he's correct on dope issues. Jolly Holly Madrigal is a pleasant person but rather too much of a lockstep lib on a range of issues, especially pot.
COAST HOSPITAL BOARD: Fine little community hospital going broke because of years of bad management. We think Kaye Handley will be an independent voice, but we will defer to Malcolm Macdonald on this one. Malcolm?
Tanya Smart for the two year term
Kaye Handley and Steve Lund for the four year terms
Handley is a no nonsense recent retiree from the financial world (MBA) many years working with indebted organizations. She has asked tough questions while a member of MCDHl Finance Committee the last year.
Lund is a retired school superintendent (which might immediately disqualify him in some minds) who has ramrodded the passage of two bond measures during his superintendency in Fort Bragg.
Smart is the spouse of the last remaining full time obstetrician on the coast and a college instructor in her own right. She has been attending Board and committee meetings throughout this year, asking needed questions about where the hospital is going.
MENDO REC & PARK DISTRICT: Lee Edmundson? Nice guy, although that would be argued by some, and a loyal Mendolib footman. In lieu of Hillary herself on Park and Rec, this middle of the road extremist is the next best thing. So, you say, you pop off regularly on all the Coast stuff but you don't know John Huff and Kirk Marshall? We follow the Hospital board, and we watch the Fort Bragg City Council on tv. The last time the Rec board caught our attention it was that cockamamie notion to build a golf course on GP land out on Highway 20. Are there any issues with Coast Park and Rec?
CITY OF UKIAH, SALES TAX INCREASE. Ukiah needs money because (1) the crazy people on the city council spent money on crazy stuff which, of course, is what happens when crazy people get themselves elected. And the city manager makes a quarter mil a year, which is absolutely certifiable. Impose some discipline on your wacky government, Ukiah! Don't just keep on bumping the sales tax every time the drones at city hall give themselves more money. Vote NO on this one.
CITY OF UKIAH sales tax increase, if passed, should go exclusively to for street repairs. YES. If it's passed.
CITY OF FORT BRAGG bed tax increase. NO. Fort Bragg, like all Mendocino County's little towns, has been captured by loose-to-incompetent city councils who pay their managers (and their manager's pals on the city payrolls) far too much money. Fort Bragg has made a series of bad spending decisions. Boosting the bed tax basically makes it harder for the few businesses that make money for the city. NO.
SHOULD FORT BRAGG use the bed tax bump to spend half the money to market Fort Bragg, enhance Coast trail "security," establish a Marine Sciences center, support tourism, and "benefit the community," and maybe even fix up the town's athletic fields? These are the priorities as established by the present city council majority. Note that the most important comes last. More people, including the town's thriving youth sports, in FB than would benefit from promoting tourism, whatever is meant by tourist promotion. (Paying people to sip wine in San Francisco with travel writers?) Is the Coast Trail somehow insecure? I wouldn't boost the town's bed tax to pay for any of this except guaranteed sports field maintenance, and that spending is clearly not a priority here.
POINT ARENA wants to do the same as Fort Bragg, boost its bed tax to do promos and fund its 4th of July celebration, with a few begrudged bucks maybe possibly if there's any money left over, maintain the Pier and the area around the Pier. PA pays its part-time city manager $50,000 a year. The City can't be trusted to spend wisely. A bed tax on the few rooms it has for rent to pay for firecrackers and an ad in the Chron's travel section? NO.
POINT ARENA MARIJUANA TAX. Whatever tax might be generated by selling dope inside the city limits would go to the same vague (except for Pier maintenance) promotionals as PA's proposed hike in the bed tax. There's no evidence whatsoever that the County's million bucks brings anybody to any area of Mendocino County. People come here because they know it's beautiful (once you get past Ukiah and Willits). Everyone knows we're here. There's no need to advertise. The County's promo people are close to the city governments of the county. It's all an inside game, and a silly, expensive one at that. Marijuana tax revenue is a pipe dream. (sic) NO.