Thursday, October 7, 2010
U.S. SENATE | Barbara Boxer
Boxer shouldn’t be facing such a tough re-election campaign. Her opponent, Carly Fiorina, is a hard-right global-warming denier who by most accounts couldn’t even control her own boardroom as former Hewlett-Packard CEO. Sarah Palin endorses Carly. Enough said.
Barbara’s three terms in the Senate have earned her a reputation as a liberal fighter courageous enough to defend gay marriage, oppose the Iraq War and protect abortion rights in the recent health care reform bill. She’s also helped secure federal money for Monterey County’s Gang Task Force and other local causes. But her failure to move climate-change legislation forward in Congress, despite her prominent role at the head of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, suggests she doesn’t yet have the negotiating clout she should at this point in her career. We hope a fourth term brings her more deal-making savvy.
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, DIST. 17 | Sam Farr
Farr’s public service began with his 1975 election as a Monterey County Supervisor, followed by 13 years in the state Assembly and 17 in Congress. He’s more of a policy wonk than a feared negotiator, but he brings considerable knowledge about a range of local issues, particularly related to ocean and agriculture policy. His work throughout the conversion of Fort Ord has been effective and invaluable. We wish he’d use his background and seniority more effectively to combat the conservative ag policies that come out of D.C., and to push for more progressive policy in general.Sam’s was the swing vote that led to the passage of NAFTA (you decide whether that was a good thing); he was also among the Congressional minority to oppose the Iraq War. We’d like to see him better leverage his close relationship with Speaker Pelosi, and put more legislative feathers in his cap.
GOVERNOR | Jerry Brown
Brown represents a rare gem: A career politician who has the smarts and credibility to use his experience as an advantage in an anti-incumbent climate. His time spent steering a troubled Oakland as mayor, negotiating the hallways of Sacramento as attorney general and playing fiscal tough guy during his first round in the governor’s seat – especially compared with Meg Whitman’s empty policies and emptier political résumé – make this critical choice easy for voters.
We’ve said it before and will again: This is a largely ceremonial position that both candidates seem to see as a springboard to the governor’s office.
The case for Maldondo: He’s a moderate Republican, which makes him an endangered species worth saving. He knows and visits the Central Coast and therefore would look out for our local interests, and in a crafty political maneuver, he might actually help Jerry Brown in the Legislature.
The case for Gavin Newsom: He’s a socially liberal yet fiscally moderate Democrat who’s championed universal healthcare yet is business friendly – especially as regards green tech and eco-tourism. In a close decision, the Weekly endorses Abel.
SECRETARY OF STATE | Debra Bowen
A competent administrator in the business of chartering corporations, a knowledgeable Sacramento tactician and a gloriously incognito elections overseer, Bowen deserves re-election.
TREASURER | Bill Lockyer
The very definition of a career politician, Lockyer has held elected office since 1973, and he reminds us why we like experts. We like career plumbers to fix our septic systems and career engineers to design our stadiums and career researchers to advance biotechnology. And yes, we think the plain-spoken, mature and intellectual Lockyer is the best hope that California has to emerge from the annual budget farce embarked on by neophyte legislators. His opponent, investment advisor Mimi Walters, has never voted on, much less negotiated, the state budget. We think Lockyer has demonstrated that he will remain blunt in his explanation of the budget no matter who occupies the governor’s chair.
CONTROLLER | John Chiang
Chiang has been California’s chief fiscal officer during a relentless recession alongside a legislative body that forced him to write IOUs. Still he has kept the state from defaulting on a single bond, and written legislation to eliminate pension spiking and combat conflicts of interest by CalPERS advisers. His anti-fraud and anti-waste campaign has saved the state an estimated $2 billion. His has been a steady hand on the rudder of a sinking ship, and while we don’t know why anyone would want this job, we endorse him for re-election.
STATE SENATE, DIST. 12 | Anna Caballero
Caballero has only been in the state Assembly for four years, yet she’s now seeking a state Senate seat. Politics is about opportunity, so we don’t begrudge her. But the move does seem to speak more to political ambition than to a performance-related promotion.
Her opponent hardly gives Central Coast voters a viable alternative. A Central Valley mayor who supported 2008’s Prop 8 (banning gay marriage) and now stumps for Prop. 23 (to postpone California’s climate change law), Anthony Cannella has neither the mindset nor the experience to be the district’s next senator.
STATE ASSEMBLY, DIST. 27 | Bill Monning
Take a look at the reading list on his website – Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna, Kevin Starr’s Endangered Dreams, Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy – and see the guy’s head is in the right place. But it’s his own book, Vision for a Healthy California, that should be required reading for California lawmakers. Sacramento needs expert mediators, and Monning’s precisely that, as well as a veteran educator, public health activist and consumer attorney with the support of teachers, firefighters, conservationists, key local leaders and the Weekly.
STATE ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 28 | Luis Alejo
The young Watsonville mayor’s assets were impressive enough to knock out seasoned Dem opponent Janet Barnes – who’s now bidding to keep her Salinas City Council seat – in the June primary. We like not only Alejo’s intelligence and energy, but also his blue-collar roots (his parents were migrant farm workers), his time in the trenches (teaching at-risk high school students) and his legal experience (as a staff attorney for Monterey County Superior Court and California Rural Legal Assistance). In a historically Democratic and largely Latino district, Alejo is well positioned to trounce Republican opponent Robert Bernosky and succeed Anna Caballero. We’re confident Alejo will be a strong, progressive voice para la gente in Sacramento.
ATTORNEY GENERAL | Kamala Harris
San Francisco’s district attorney says she knows how to fix the worst leak in California’s penitentiary system: recidivism. That isn’t just a feel-good idea; it’s sound fiscal policy. Each reformed offender who stays out of prison saves taxpayers $50,000 per year. Harris’ forward-thinking approach has shown results in S.F., and it gives her an edge over her opponent, L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley.
Prop. 19 (Legalizes recreational marijuana) | YES
Cough. Cough. Cough. Sure, man. Why not? Cannabis is natural. Let the people smoke a little if they want. It’s no different than the grape and the grain, man. Hey, I got an idea: Let’s legalize and tax it, man. Like at manufacturing, wholesale and retail levels. Dude, we’re gonna be rich. And stoned.
Prop. 20 (Extends redistricting reform to Congressional districts) | YES
This proposition would remove elected representatives from the process of establishing Congressional districts and transfer that authority to a recently authorized, 14-member redistricting commission comprised of Democrats, Republicans and representatives of neither party. If Prop 20. fails, it’s the same old song and dance, with the governor and state Legislature drawing the state’s Congressional districts once the 2010 Census data is filed. Prop. 20’s passage will clip the parties’ wings to create a less political, and more competitive, redistricting process.
Prop. 21 (Vehicle license fee to support state parks) | YES
We liked this idea when then-Assemblyman John Laird proposed it as a budget tweak back in 2008 – though Gov. Schwarzenegger killed it with a veto threat, forcing what should have been a welcome legislative solution to a public vote. We still think a vehicle license fee surcharge is a clean and relatively painless proposal for keeping our priceless state parks open and adequately funded. The $18 annual fee can even save Californians money through free park admission: Just two trips to Point Lobos, and you’d come out $2 on top.
Prop. 22 (Prohibits state from taking funds from local governments) | YES
When local tax money designated for local services gets raided by the state to balance the California budget, local voters suffer doubly. We lose funds for transportation and emergency services, and we endure the Sacramento phantom budget fix for one more year. Prop. 22 will prevent the state from taking funds designated for local services, and may stop enabling the state Legislature’s smoke-and-mirrors budgeting habit.
Four years ago, Schwarzenegger signed AB 32 into law, ensuring California’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gases. This bipartisan effort ought to go down as one of the governor’s most important legislative achievements. The California Global Warming Solutions Act acknowledges the huge risks that climate change imposes on our environment and economy, and positions California as a leader in clean tech and green biz, generating jobs while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly all scientists concur that sticking with the polluting status quo could be devastating. But a number of notable Republican leaders and businessmen don’t want to make changes in their business practices.
Prop. 23 is a sneaky, sleazy effort to neuter AB 32. The prop is propped up by the Koch brothers, who have business interests in oil and gas companies. Think about it: out-of-state billionaires directly trying to influence California voters to overturn our smartest environment and energy policy. That’s grotesque. Vote no, in a big way.
Prop. 24 (Repeals legislation allowing some business to pay lower state taxes) | YES
After the wheeling and dealing of the 2008-2009 state budgets, corporations walked away with $1.3 billion in annual tax cuts, set to take effect in 2011. We understand incentives like these help attract business to the state. But the California Teachers Association, which rallied to put Prop. 24 on the ballot, makes a more compelling argument for where that revenue is needed: in our desperately underfunded public schools.
Prop. 25 (Simple majority vote to pass budget) | YES
A “yes” vote on Prop. 25 should make it simpler for the Legislature to send a budget to the governor, by reducing the votes needed from two-thirds to a simple majority. Unless voters prefer the partisan budget standoffs that annually paralyze state government for months and make California a nationwide laughingstock – the Golden State remains just one of three states to employ such a supermajority rule, besides Arkansas and Rhode Island – this is an easy “aye.” Fear not: New taxes will continue to require two-thirds support. There is hope for Sacramento.
Prop. 26 (Supermajority vote to pass new fees) | NO
The types of fees and charges that would, under Prop. 26, require two-thirds legislative approval rather than a simple majority, are imposed to pass health, environmental and other societal costs onto the companies responsible for them, rather than taxpayers. In short, there’s a reason this is funded principally by the oil, tobacco and alcohol industries.
Prop. 27 (Eliminates state commission on redistricting) | NO
This measure would essentially undo Prop. 11, approved by voters in 2008 to transfer redistricting authority from the Legislature to the 14-member Citizens Redistricting Commission. Prop. 27 would hand redistricting power back to the very politicians who stand to benefit from jerrymandering. Reforming the system for fairer elections means sticking with Prop. 11, and applying it to U.S. Congressional boundaries, too. (See Prop. 20.)