Here is the abridged version of The Santa Barbara Independent‘s guide to voters for the November 4, 2008 election. Print it out [PDF], and take it with you to the polls. For explanations of why we picked these candidates and how we decided on the measures and propositions, see independent.com/votersguide2008.
President: Barack Obama
23rd Congressional District: Lois Capps
24th Congressional District: Marta Jorgensen
35th State Senate District: Pedro Nava
19th State Assembly District: Hannah-Beth Jackson
Santa Barbara County’s 3rd District Supervisor: Doreen Farr
Santa Barbara County’s Judge: Jed Beebe
Santa Barbara School Board: Susan Christol Deacon, Jacqueline Inda, Annette Cordero, and Charlotte Ware
Goleta City Council: Margaret Connell and Ed Easton
Goleta Water Board: Lauren Hanson and Bill Rosen
Carpinteria City Council: Chuck McQuary and Kathleen Reddington
Santa Barbara County’s Measure A: YES
City of Santa Barbara’s Measure G: YES
Santa Barbara School District’s Measure H and I: YES
Buellton’s Urban Growth Initiatives: Measure E: YES; Measure F: NO
Prop. 1A: YES
Safe, Reliable, High-Speed Rail Passenger Train Bond Act: At this time, $9.95 billion might sound like a lot to spend on a high-speed rail system connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco, but a recent study indicates such a train would save $3 billion almost immediately by liberating millions of congestion-clogged motorists from the captivity of job-sucking gridlock. To invest in urgently needed transit improvements is hardly futuristic or utopian-it’s common sense.
Prop. 2: YES
Standards for Confining Farm Animals. Initiative Statute: Cruelty begins in the kitchen, and so does kindness. This measure would set new standards for the humane treatment of farm animals, requiring farmers to provide more space for pigs, veal cows, and egg-laying hens by the year 2015. Beyond the obvious humanitarian concerns, this measure would indirectly mitigate some of the significant violence inflicted on California’s waterways, groundwater basins, and air quality by factory farming.
Prop. 3: YES
Children’s Hospital Bond Act. Grant Program. Initiative Statute: As California’s population continues to explode, so too does the number of children and infants afflicted with serious and life-threatening diseases. The existing medical infrastructure to deal with this pediatric caseÂ-load is woefully inadequate, and this $980 million bond measure will go a long way toward breaching that gap.
Prop. 4: NO
Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy. Initiative Constitutional Amendment: The handiwork of dedicated anti-abortion rights advocates, this measure purports to make pregnant teens safer by amending the California Constitution to require doctors to notify the parents of all teens seeking abortions 48 hours prior to the procedure. While we sympathize with parents wanting to know what’s going on with their children, we don’t believe such communication should be legislated. The scary fact is that in a small but significant number of instances, it is the parents themselves whom the pregnant teens need to be most protected from.
Prop. 5: YES
Nonviolent Drug Offenses. Sentencing, Parole, and Rehabilitation. Initiative Statute: Prop. 5 commits the state to spending an additional $460 million a year on addiction recovery and rehabilitation programs for those getting out of the state’s criminally overcrowded system of 33 prisons. As such, it constitutes a very big step in the right direction, and it will save an estimated $2.5 billion a year by diverting nonviolent offenders out of prison and not forcing us to build more holding cells.
Prop. 6: NO
Police and Law Enforcement Funding. Criminal Penalties and Laws. Initiative Statute: This would require the state to spend nearly a billion dollars a year to fund cash-strapped law enforcement agencies throughout California. That’s nearly $400 million more than is spent currently, but without any identified source of new funding, meaning existing state programs would be gutted. More serious by far, however, are the 33 laws increasing the lengths of certain prison sentences or the admissibility of hearsay evidence in court hearings, always controversial and for good reason. With a prison system bursting at the seams, does it really make sense to re-categorize simple meth possession as a felony?
Prop 7: YES
Renewable Energy Generation. Initiative Statute: Hatched by Santa Barbara resident Peter Sperling, Prop. 7 would require all utility companies-private and public-to produce 50 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by the year 2025, and would give them incentives to do so. The utility companies are resisting with a $20 million ad campaign and have enlisted several environmental organizations to their cause. But Prop. 7 has been endorsed by Santa Barbara’s solar energy gurus professors Walter Kohn and Alan Heeger as well as the Community Environmental Council.
Prop. 8: NO
Eliminates Right of Same Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment: We are still waiting for the first heterosexual marriage that’s failed because the California Supreme Court afforded gays and lesbians the same constitutional rights to marry as everyone else. As such, Prop. 8 should be treated as a calculated misadventure in bigotry, fear, and hate-mongering concocted to bring conservatives to the polls. A “no” vote is an affirmation of love, liberty, and equality.
Prop. 9: NO
Criminal Justice System. Victims’ Rights. Parole. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute: This get-tough-on-crime measure’s author, Broadcom founder Henry Nicholas, was just indicted for cocaine trafficking and wholesale stock fraud. It would reduce the number of parole hearings, stiffen the notification requirement for crime victims that their assailant is up for parole, and require county jail administrators to hold prisoners for their full term. Given that the state’s prison population is at 171,000-for a system with a carrying capacity of 100,000-this is the wrong reform at the wrong time, and way too costly, with no source of funding.
Prop. 10: NO
Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy. Bonds. Initiative Statute: Texas oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens has seen the future and it is green. But he’s hoping that California voters will approve $5 billion in green to subsidize the purchase and manufacture of alternative fuel vehicles. Maybe if the state weren’t in such desperate fiscal shape, we’d be more receptive. But this seems designed to kick-start too narrow a segment of the green energy industry.
Prop. 11: YES
Redistricting. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute: No single thing can fix what ails Sacramento, but Prop. 11 will go a long way toward helping. This measure will give the power to redraw the political district maps for the Assembly, the Senate, and the Board of Equalization to a special 14-member commission of citizen appointees made up of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four others. The state’s most recent redistricting effort-conducted by the politicians themselves-was corrupt, and not one seat has changed party hands since. Leaders of the Democratic Party-who control both houses in Sacramento-oppose Prop. 11, as have their union allies. For all you yellow-dog Democrats out there, resist their entreaties to stick with the status quo. It ain’t working.
Prop. 12: YES
Veterans’ Bond Act of 2008: This would raise $900 million in bonds to help military veterans purchase homes, farms, and mobile homes. Veterans have earned it, but in addition, past efforts to boost the veterans’ buying power in the real estate market have proven a major boon for the economy.