Wednesday, October 20, 2010

November Election Endorsements

If you're even marginally politically active, you may have noticed that we have an election coming up. Remember to get out and vote on Tuesday, November 2nd, or at any Early Voting centre throughout the county.

With that in mind, here are my endorsements for the upcoming election:

For statewide issues, I can't do better than the endorsements from the excellent progressive blog Calitics. They recommend voting a straight Democratic ticket- normally I'm not so loyal a Democrat (I'm a registered Green), but in this election the alternative is conservative domination. That'd be bad, so I'm joining the Calitics gang in this one.

For local races:

Congress, 44th District: Bill Hedrick
Bill is a real progressive, the kind of person we need in Washington. His policies on transportation and land use are currently unknown; but we do know that, while he's opposed to wasteful spending, he's not going to vote to turn the tap off entirely while so many constituents are hurting (like our current representative did, repeatedly). Also, getting a Democrat elected in this seat reduces the likelihood of Speaker Boehner presiding over the next federal transportation bill.

(County of Riverside)
Auditor: No endorsement.
Both candidates for county auditor, Mr. Chand and Mr. Angulo, are beating the fiscal responsibility drums as loudly and as often as possible. That's the last thing we need right now. If you're in the mood for it, write me in. That's Justin M. Nelson. That's what I did.

Measure L: YES
Measure M: NO
Measure L would require voters to approve any changes in public safety pension benefits. While I'm normally opposed to ballot-box budgeting, local governments are looking for nearly any way to cut spending without raising taxes these days, including raiding the pension benefits of our police and firefighters. The people who risk their lives to protect society every day should be entitled to the pensions they've been promised. Measure M would require voter approval to raise pensions, but allow the County to unilaterally lower them. Its passage would be a disgrace, and a breach of contract with those who have spent their lives protecting us.

Measure K: YES
Measure K will allow RCTC to borrow more money in order to take advantage of current low construction costs for road and rail projects throughout the county. This vote is a sort of Faustian bargain, because it will mean accelerated freeway widening for CA-91 and other roads, but it will also ensure the timely completion of the long-suffering Perris Valley Line Metrolink extension. Furthermore, the only way we get out of this budget crisis is by putting people back to work, and even road-building does that.

(City of Riverside)
Measure V: YES
I reported some time ago that Riverside was enjoying a surplus thanks to sensible spending and reasonable taxation and borrowing. (A lot of it went to build more parking. Yay.) Well, to continue the prosperity that the City has been enjoying, voters have been asked to raise taxes on hotel guests by 2%, from 11% to 13%. The funds will be spent on City services and possibly the new Convention Centre downtown, which promises to be sensibly integrated into a mixed-use environment. (Anything is better than the current structure surrounded by acres of surface parking.)

Above all though, it's critical that you get out and vote on Tuesday, November 2nd or at any early voting centre. You might also want to consider, in future elections, becoming a "permanent absentee" voter- your ballot comes by mail, and you return it either by mail, at several drop-off points around the county, or at any precinct on Election Day. It's quick, convenient, and helps ensure that your voice is hear. I vote by mail every year, and spend my Election Day volunteering for causes I care about.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Baaaaaa ...... vote all democratic.....baaaaaaa

JN said...

Anon-

Do you have a better suggestion? I actually voted Green in a few contests, but in most cases this year a vote for Green or Peace & Freedom is a vote for the Republicans. And this year's Republicans are *CRAZY*. Tell me how we can prevent the crazy from getting elected AND get real progressive candidates in office, and I'll listen.

Keep in mind, though, that I do study this stuff for a living.

Chewie said...

Hmm, I disagree that a vote for emerging party candidates is a vote for Republicans. On the contrary, a vote for Republicans is a vote for Republicans. Democrats should never make the mistake of assuming that they are entitled to anyone's vote. That's how they lost me to Nader in 2008.

However, I do kind of like Brown and Boxer, but in general I'm always torn between Greens and Dems.

JN said...

Chewie- I'm with you in frustration at the Democratic party, but the fact of the matter is that these elections are going to be difficult for Democrats and other liberals, and relatively easy for Republicans. In this particular year, in this electoral context, the Democrats are going to have a hard fight, and the Greens and P&Fs don't have anything close to a chance. In voting for the Green candidate, you're depriving the Democratic candidate of votes they need to beat the Crazy candidate.

I'll vote Green, but only if it means the Republican will lose with certainty. In this election, certainty is frighteningly lacking.

Also, by the way, there's a large area of study in political science that looks at "electoral capture" of certain groups- African-Americans most often. The theory goes that, in our two-party system, one party *does* have certain groups locked down. (I'm an atheist and environmentalist. What am I going to do, vote Republican?) They therefore rationally chose not to compete for those groups' votes, and go after undecideds instead. It's why you don't see Democrats leading on environmental policy, church-state separation, race relations or gender equity, and it's well-documented, as much as it may anger us progressives.

Chewie said...

I try to decide every race on its merits. But I am a protester and I often value casting protest votes. I refuse to be electorally captured by those Democratic candidates, who, in my view, aren't worth voting for, or whose flaws overshadow the few good things about them.

They say don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I agree with that. But in this context it assumes Democrats are good.

I'll decide that on a case-by-case basis. This issue is why I originally started blogging BTW :)

JN said...

Hey, keep fighting the good fight man. Just know that Duverger's Law is against you the whole way.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duverger's_Law

The argument between my protester side and my pragmatic side resulted in my current compromise- I'm a registered Green who mostly votes Democratic. I figure the voter-reg numbers are helpful in creating a credible party, while strategic voting helps ensure that we don't turn government over to the people who've been running it into the ground as of late.

Anonymous said...

I am an independent but will never vote "all democratic" or "all republican" just because of the titles themselves.

Take each race individually, and each candidate's merits for themselves. I cannot believe that in each statewide race the Democratic candidate is the better choice.

Want to talk CRAZY? How about doing something over and over again and expecting a differnt result? Like keeping Moonbeam in a position of power...one that he had over 30 years ago...ask older Californians how that turned out???

NutMeg isn't much better, but at least she won't bend over for all the unions

JN said...

Anon-

Sorry, but I believe that nearly every Democrat is better than nearly every Republican in nearly every race anywhere any time. I mean, I'd vote for Susan Collins over Ben Nelson. Maybe.

Of course, I'm not a party schill here- I'd vote for Bernie Sanders (I-VT) over almost any Democrat. Maybe not Dennis Kucinich, but I'd love to be in the agonizing position of choosing between Sanders and Kucinich.

"Moonbeam"- who I have to assume is Attorney General and former Governor Jerry Brown- was, by all objective accounts, a fine governor. He engineered the patch that kept our state afloat for 30 years after Prop 13 shot a giant hole in our budget and made the state legislature nearly ungovernable. And I did ask an older Californian- my grandfather, a California native and ordinarily conservative voter, said he'd take Jerry Brown again over NutMeg any day.

Compare that to Whitman, who wants to fire 40,000 state workers and kill the high-speed rail. The DMV is already closed more often than it's open, and other state agencies are hurting badly- my wife had to wait over three months to get a simple substitute teacher permit back. There aren't 40,000 jobs to cut. And killing HSR is the most fiscally irresponsible move one could make, over the long term.

Do you seriously believe that, in an age where corporations essentially own our government, media, and most of our lives, and manage to extract massive tax breaks in the middle of the biggest budget shortfall in state history, that *unions* are the problem in the state? The unions are moving as far as they can afford to move in order to fix this crisis, and the corporations are dumping millions into campaigns to get richer. (See Props 23, 24, 25, 26.)

My wife has wanted to be a schoolteacher since she was 7. The thought of not getting a job after she finally completes her certification next year keeps her awake at night. In the schools where she has substituted, she's seen classrooms so crowded it was difficult to walk around, and children on a campus without a school nurse or librarian. (A library and nurse's office, yes, but nobody to staff them.) I have watched tuition at UCR jump from $2,000/qtr. to $3,500/qtr. since I started there in 2003- and the UC Regents want to hike fees another 20%. The minority party in the state legislature refuses to even consider revenue solutions- even something as sensible as the State Parks VLF fee- so the only thing left to do is shred state services, and that just makes the recession worse. It has to stop, and the Republicans are not going to stop it.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I do believe that unions are 'one of' the biggest problems in the state, along with health care and illegal immigration. Anyone who blindly follows the unions are pathetic sheep being led to slaughter - unions leaders are only out for themselves (simply look at Measure L and the horribly inaccurate materials they are distributing). Just look at the auto industry as a great example of union controlled companies vs. free market companies. How else do you think Toyota and Honda were able to capture dominant market share in America?

Regarding Brown and Whitman, I don't think it is at all unreasonable to streamline government and its employees. However, given that youa re a self-professed socialist, I think arguing those merits with you will prove fruitless...

Regarding education, Meg has actually come out in favor of increasing spending for education, especially at the Universities. Perhaps your wife should consider voting for her...

It does have to stop...unfortuantely neither the Democrats nor the Republicans have the cahones to do it...

JN said...

Arguing with me the merits of efficient government will actually be a very short argument. I think the government ought to be as efficient as possible. However, I also want my government to be effective. There are certain jobs that the government ought to do, and it should have the tools, funding and personnel to do them properly. Right now, our state government has none of these things- it is ineffective. The solution isn't to cut it further, it's to make it more effective. If more resources are required, so be it.

The argument about cutting government back is as if you gave a team of workmen the task of building a bridge, but refused to supply them adequate materials and tools. When you came back a week later and saw that progress on the bridge was slow and the quality of the work substandard, you took away more of their tools and fired half the crew.

Ms. Whitman did come out in favour of education funding- not to do so would be political suicide. She proposed we get it by basically kicking everyone off the welfare rolls. First off, that's despicable. Second, there's not enough money there to do what she wants to do. And what good is money if the teachers are fired? If the teacher accrediting agency is unstaffed? If the support network in Sacramento that makes education run is gutted?

Also, your argument against the unions is that they forced the Big 3 to give their workers decent benefits and living wages, while Toyota and Honda workers scraped by on less? I'll tear up my membership card. That's not an argument against unions, it's an argument for organizing Toyota and Honda.

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, though. Tell me where there are 40,000 useless government workers that we could lay off without affecting the quality of California's government, and I shall concede. Point out just how the dreaded unions are hurting our state, and I will similarly concede. Cite your sources.

Anonymous said...

When you say the quality of California government, you do say that tongue in cheek correct? I have not seen "quality" government in Ca for a long time. Much of that has to do with the fact the legislators are handcuffed by ballot box budgeting and a great chunk of their revenues are already pre-appropriated before they even hit the State bank.

Nevertheless, the current welfare state is simply unsustainable. Perhaps there aren't 40,000 completely useless government jobs, but maybe there are 10,000. Or there are 30,000 that can be combined into 15,00. There has to be something done...the status quo simply won't cut it.

Philosphically, we are never going to agree on unions. My argument never mentioned anything about living wages. And to assume that $40/hr plus penison benefits for someone without a college degree is a "living" wage is ridiculous. I GUARANTEE that all the laid off Big 3 union employees would LOVE a job at Honda and Toyota now....and you know why? because their salary levels keeps the company profitable. And do you know what profit means? It means the company can remain viable and KEEP EMPLOYEES EMPLOYED. How did everything turn out for the Big 3? Of thats right, the government had to come in and bail them out....shocking.

There was a time and a place for unions, but that time has passed. Please give me an example of an American industry that use a large proportion of union labor that is run effeciently or effectively.