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Rick -> Rick's Election Analyses -> Nov. 8, 2016

Tuesday, 2016-11-08 general election

Notes by Rick Moen

(Last updated 2017-09-08)

See also: My matching write-up on the June primary.

This election rundown will cover offices and issues votable at our precinct 3402 in West Menlo Park, California. Unless you live close by, your ballot will differ to some degree.

This election's main freak show attraction is the 17 statewide propositions.

As always, definitive outcomes are not possible for several weeks, partly because some categories of ballots aren't counted until after Election Day (vote-by-mail/absentee, early-voting, provisional, and damaged).

Also as always, this page includes separate "RM partisan analysis" sections for each issue/candidate, just in case you're curious what I personally think. No, I'm not lobbying to persuade, in part because that doesn't work.



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How to Check Your Voter Registration

California's registration deadline is 15 calendar days before each election; in this case, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. Some counties permit checking and correcting registration online, and California also has a statewide voter registration Web site. I would recommend checking your county information first. If you see signs of trouble or have doubts or find no information, contact your county registrar of voters immediately. Or, just visit that office in person, bringing state photo ID or passport.



Candidate Information

I've had a small epiphany: It's 2016, and we have better ways of getting information than the Official Voter Information Guide and County Sample Ballot & Official Voter Information Pamphlet.

As 2016 U.S. Senate candidate Jason Hanania pointed out, the state charges candidates $25 per word to include a Candidate Statement in the statewide Guide — thus over $6,000 for a full-paragraph statement, plus a $3,480 Filing Fee, thus difficulty staying under the Federal Elections Commission cap of $5,000 in campaign expenditures, exceeding which brings many expensive other requirements and a host of other ills.

All of that is unnecessary: It's 2016, we have the Web, and nobody need pay by the word. Therefore, for each candidate, I have hyperlinked the candidate Web site or best other Web resource. The Web can give you much deeper and better information than the Official Voter Information Pamphlet and County Pamphlet. Use it.



Provisional Ballots: Warning

If obliged to use a provisional ballot at your polling place or anywhere else, be extremely careful how you do so, or part or all of your vote may be discarded. In particular, at this date, certain counties were requiring that NPP (No Party Preference) voters use a special "crossover" ballot in primary elections, and there may be other similar problems. Here's a horror story about that: [CityWatchLA], [WriteIndependent Blog]



U.S. President and Vice-President

The California general election will choose 55 electors for the Electoral College, all 55 pledged to vote for whichever President/VP ticket wins statewide plurality. The 55 electors will then cast their votes in Sacramento on Monday, Dec. 19, 2016, and those votes become official if accepted by the incoming Congress meeting in joint session on Friday, January 6, 2017.

These are party-nominated offices (hence, write-ins are allowed).

(vote for one)

Information:
Candidate statements.
New York Times endorsed Clinton.
S.F. Chronicle endorsed Clinton (1, 2).
L.A. Times endorsed Clinton.
Sacramento Bee endorsed Clinton.
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed Clinton.


Complete a/o Oct. 12th list (1, 2) of newspaper & magazine endorsements:

Hillary R. Clinton: Akron Beacon Journal, Arizona Daily Star, Arizona Republic, Asbury Park Express, Asheville Citizen-Times, Ashland Daily Independent (Ashland, KY), Athens News (Athens, OH), Baltimore Sun, Bangor Daily News, Berkshire Eagle, Birmingham News, Bluefield Daily Telegraph (Bluefield, WV), Boston Globe, Charleston Gazette-Mail, Charlotte Observer, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Chicago Sun-Times, Cincinnati Enquirer, City Newspaper (Rochester, NY), Clinton Herald (Clinton, IA), Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, OH), Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN), Commercial-News (Danville, IL), Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Courier News (central NJ), Cullman Times (Cullman, AL), Cumberland Times-News (Cumberland, MD), Daily Camera (Boulder, CO), Daily Citizen (Dalton, GA), Daily Item (Sunbury, PA), Daily News (Newburyport, MA), Daily Record (Morristown, NJ), Dallas Morning News, Dallas Voice, Day (New London, CT), Denver Post, Derry News (Derry, NH), Desert Sun (Palm Springs), Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, MA), Effingham Daily News, El Paso Times, Enid News & Eagle (Enid, OK), Falls Church News-Press, Free Press (Mankato, MN), Fresno Bee, La Gaceta (Tampa, FL), Gloucester Daily Times (Gloucester, MA), The Goshen News (Goshen, IN), Greensburg Daily News (Greenfield, IN), Hartford Courant, The Hawk Eye (Burlington, IA), Herald-Banner (Greenville, TX), Houston Chronicle, Huntsville Item (Huntsville, TX), Huntsville Times (Huntsville, AL), Indy Week (Raleigh, NC), The Jewish Week (NY, NY), Joplin Globe (Joplin, MO), Kokomo Tribune (Kokomo, IN), Kyiv Post (Kiev, Ukraine), Las Vegas Sun, Los Angeles Times, Lockport Union-Sun & Journal (Lockport, NY), Marin Independent Journal, Martha's Vineyard Times, McAlester News-Capital (McAlester, OK), Meadville Tribune (Meadville, PA), The Morehead News (Morehead, KY), New Castle News (New Castle, PA), New Pittsburgh Courier, New York Daily News, New York Times, News & Observer (Raleigh, NC), News and Tribune (Jeffersonville, IN), News Virginian (Waynesboro, VA), Niagara Gazette (Niagara, NY), Norman Transcript (Norman, OK), Olympian (Olympia, WA), The Observer (London), Oneonta Daily Star (Oneonta, NY), Patriot-News (Harrisburg, PA), Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, LA), Plain Dealer (Cleveland), Portland Press Herald (Portland, ME), Press-Register (Mobile, AL), Press-Republican (Plattsburgh, NY), Record (Hackensack, NJ), Record (Stockton, CA), The Recorder (Greenfield, MA), Register-Herald (Beckley, WV), St. Louis American, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Sacramento Bee, Salem News (Salem, MA), San Antonio Express News, San Diego Union-Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, Santa Barbara Independent, Santa Cruz Sentinel (Santa Cruz, CA), Santa Fe New Mexican, Seattle Times, The Sentinel Echo (London, KY), South Florida Gay News, Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), Sun News (Myrtle Beach, SC), Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL), Syracuse Post-Standard, Tampa Bay Times, The Times Record (Brunswick), ME), Times West Virginian (Fairmont, WV), Times-Sentinel (Zionsville, IN), Tribune-Democrat (Johnstown, PA), Tribune-Star (Terre-Haute, IN), Valdosta Daily Times (Valdosta, GA), Ventura County Star (CA), Washington Blade, Woodward News (Woodward, OK), The Advocate, The Atlantic, BUST, Foreign Policy, The Nation, Philadelphia, The Reader, Rolling Stone, Wired.

Дональд Дж. Трамп Donald J. Trump: National Enquirer, Las Vegas Review-Journal.


Your vote almost certainly won't matter: As of Sept. 23rd, FiveThirtyEight projects 99.7% chance of Clinton taking California's 55 electoral votes, vs. 0.3% for Трамп Trump. Realistically, if you're in California and want your presidential vote to matter, move to Nevada or other swing state. Otherwise, cast your vote and keep rechecking FiveThirtyEight to see Nate Silver's analyses late on Nov. 8th, to see how decisive contests (elsewhere) went.

RM partisan analysis: Omitted, as you'll already have your view.
#ImWithHer.

Outcome: The short-fingered vulgarian and his scary evangelical medievalist henchman got top pledged Electoral College totals, towards being the nation's next President and VP, as an accident of state geography with some help from foreign interference: 306 total for Трамп/Пенс Trump/Pence, and 232 for Clinton/Caine, even though Secretary Clinton won the popular vote by a 2.86 million vote plurality margin over Трамп Trump (Jan. 3 estimate). (Any controversy or contest about appointment of the electors was required by Federal Law to be resolved by six days before the Electoral College voted.) Of 231,556,622 eligible voters, 27.2% voted Трамп/Пенс Trump/Pence, 28.4% voted Clinton/Kaine, 3.4% voted third-party, and 41.0% didn't vote at all,

On Dec. 19th, the electors in the 50 states plus DC met in their respective capitals, with an all-time record number of "faithless electors". The cast-vote totals for President were:

The cast-vote totals for VP were:

Powell and Collins now become the first individuals ever to receive votes from electors of the opposite party, while Spotted Eagle and LaDuke become the first American Indians ever to receive votes in the Electoral College.

These results were subject to certification of each state's (and DC's) ballot results by the incoming Congress, which occurred in joint session on Jan. 6th, 2017.



U.S. Senator

(vote for one)

Senator Barbara Boxer is retiring, thus not running again. This is the state's first U.S. Senator contest in 24 years.

This is a Top-Two runoff for a voter-nominated office (thus, no write-ins), 32 candidates having been eliminated in the June primary.

Information:
Candidate statements.
Santa Rosa Press-Democrat article.
Mother Jones article.
Riverside Press-Enterprise article.
Ballotpedia overview.
Ballotpedia rates the seat safely Democratic.
S.F. Chroncle endorsed Harris (1, 2).
L.A. Times endorsed Harris.
Sacramento Bee endorsed Harris.
San Diego Union-Tribune endorsed Harris.
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed Harris.

As of Sept. 21st, a Field/IGS poll showed Harris leading Sánchez by 22 percentage points. The candidates held one debate in Los Angeles on Oct. 5th.

RM partisan analysis: They're both highly qualified and competent public servants (even given Sánchez's history of making impulsive statements that cause her political problems), and IMO you really cannot go wrong.

I'm voting for Kamala Harris.

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show Harris won with 62% to Sánchez's 38%.



U.S. 18th Congressional District - southwest San Mateo County

(vote for one)

This is a Top-Two runoff for a voter-nominated office (thus, no write-ins), one candidate (newcomer Bob Harlow) having been eliminated in the June primary.

Information:
Daily Journal coverage (1, 2).
Santa Cruz Sentinel coverage.
Ballotpedia rates this seat as safely Democratic.
18th District was rated "Solid Democratic" in this election cycle by Cook, Sabato, and Rothenberg & Gonzales.

RM partisan analysis: This is Dr. Fox's second round against Rep. Eshoo: In 2014, he got 32% of votes cast to Eshoo's 68%. Despite many likable things about Dr. Fox, I dislike his positions on women's reproductive freedom (he's for further restrictions), his desire to privatize the VA, his support for school vouchers (which he calls "school choice") to further attack the public school system, and his liking for Austrian School austerity economic planning. So, I prefer him as a kindly doctor, and not a Congressman.

I'm voting for Anna Eshoo.

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show Eshoo won with 71% to Fox's 29%.



State Senator, 13th District - San Mateo County south of San Bruno Mountain

(vote for one)

This is a Top-Two runoff for a voter-nominated office (thus, no write-ins), one candidate (Libertarian Party candidate John H. Webster) having been eliminated in the June primary.

Information:
Daily Journal analysis (1, 2, 3).
Ballotpedia overview.
Daily Journal endorsed Hill.

If, as expected, Hill prevails in the November election, he will be in his second of three permitted four-year terms.

RM partisan analysis: Jerry Hill is IMO a competent realist, literate about state economics, and simply an excellent public servant. So:

I'm voting for Jerry Hill.

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show Hill won with 76% to Ciardella's 24%.



State Assembly Member, 24th District - Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Portola Valley, Woodside, and most of coastside San Mateo County

(vote for one)

This is a Top-Two runoff for a voter-nominated office (thus, no write-ins), six candidates having been eliminated in the June primary.

Incumbent Richard S. Gordon is termed out, thus not running.

Information:
Ballotpedia overview.
Candidates' debate.
Video interviews.
Daily Journal coverage (1, 2).
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed Berman (1, 2).
Daily Journal endorsed Berman.

RM partisan analysis: As usual, I agree with the S.J. Mercury-News, including its point (this past May) that the 24th State Assembly District is so overwhelmingly Democratic that even a highly meritorious Republican like Menlo Park Councilman Peter Ohtaki would have had no chance in the fall general election. (He was indeed eliminated in the June 2016 primary.) The district in this case is blessed by both candidates being standout choices; either would be fine, IMO.

I'm voting for Marc Berman.

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show Berman won with 54% to Veenker's 46%.



San Mateo County Harbor District Commission

(four-year terms; vote for three)

This is a nonpartisan office (hence, write-ins are allowed). On Oct. 28, qualified write-in candidates were listed at the County Election Office, producing a list at polling places on Election Day.

(two-year term; vote for one)

This is a nonpartisan office (hence, write-ins are allowed). On Oct. 28, qualified write-in candidates were listed at the County Election Office, producing a list at polling places on Election Day.

Commissioner Pietro Parravano's term is up, but (unlike Tom Mattusch, Sabrina Brennan, and Virginia Chang Kiraly) is not running this time.

Information:
Voter's Edge analysis (2-year office).
Voter's Edge analysis (4-year office).
fixourharbors.com, John Ullom's juicy site of discontented gossip about various of the commissioners.
Montara Fog coverage (damning! mostly 2013).
Half Moon Bay Review coverage (1, 2).
Daily Journal coverage (1, 2, 3).
Daily Journal endorsed Brennan, Mattusch, Kiraly, and Larenas.

RM partisan analysis: After years of such severe dysfunction (the worst being 2013-2015) that a 2014 grand jury recommended dissolving the district, the current Board has turned the corner: Mattusch & Brennan seem to deserve full marks for that. Even though I'm skeptical of Virginia Chang Kiraly serving on both the harbor Board and the Menlo Park Fire Protection District Board, reports about her performance have been good. Challenger property tax auditor Shawn Mooney's only announced agenda is initiating cross-Bay ferry service to Werder Fishing Pier, so I'm more skeptical of him than of Kiraly. Between Ed Larenas and Brian Rogers, the Daily Journal says Larenas has much broader experience. So:

I'm voting for Mattusch, Brennan, Kiraly, and Larenas.

Outcome: County Election Office final totals for the three four-year offices: Winners were Brennan with 32%, Mattusch with 28%, and Kiraly with 26%. Mooney with 14% vote was eliminated. For the two-year seat, Larenas with 78% defeated Rogers with 22%.



Sequoia Healthcare District Board

(vote for two)

This is a nonpartisan office (hence, write-ins are allowed). On Oct. 28, qualified write-in candidates were listed at the County Election Office, producing list at polling places on Election Day.

Information:
Voter's Edge analysis.
Almanac News coverage (1, 2, 3).
Daily Journal coverage (1, 2).
Daily Journal endorsed Kane and Griffin.

RM partisan analysis: This district has been a purposeless body, wasting taxpaper money, ever since 1996 when Sequoia Hospital was signed over to Catholic Healthcare West (now Dignity Health), leaving the district with no hospital to operate, and (IMO) no legitimate work. Board member Jack Hickey has served for 14 years pledging to vote to dissolve the district, but has so far always been outvoted on the five-member Board. (In fairness, the Board majority has invented other functions for itself: Money for school nurses, money for defibrillators, etc. My view, however, is that we citizens never authorized those new roles.)

This year, challengers Lois Garcia and Harland Harrison, if elected instead of incumbents Kathleen Kane and Kim Griffith, would join Hickey and finish the job.

I'm voting for Garcia and Harrison.

Outcome: County Election Office final totals: Incumbents Griffith with 38% and Kane with 31% fended off challengers Harrison with 16% and Garcia with 15%. So, the Board gets to utterly waste taxpayer money on a purposeless district for a bunch more years.



San Mateo County Board of Supervisors

(District 5 seat representing north county; vote for one)

RM note: I included this votable item in error because I forgot that County Measure B in 2012 made Supervisors be elected by only their own districts, rather than county-wide as was done until then, and this is not our district. I'll nonetheless leave this item present, because the candidates are interesting, because the item will be of interest to some county residents, and because I've already done the work.

This is a Top-Two runoff for a nonpartisan office, two candidates having been eliminated in the June primary. Write-ins are permitted: On Oct. 28, qualified write-in candidates were listed at the County Election Office, producing a list at polling places on Election Day.

Information:
Voter's Edge analysis.
S.J. Mercury-News coverage.
Rappler.com coverage.
S.F. Examiner coverage.
Daily Journal coverage (1, 2, 3).
Guingona endorsed by State Sen. Jerry Hill, incumbent Supervisor Adrienne Tissier, S.F. Supervisor Scott Weiner, primary-election competitors Helen Fisicaro and Cliff Lentz, and others.
Questionable endorsement by Canepa in 2014.
Daily Jounal endorsed Canepa.

RM partisan analysis: Canepa's campaign has outspent Guingona by a factor of 16 to 1, and has a strong polling edge. Guingona is endorsed by many of the people I have confidence in, such as Jerry Hill, plus (impressively) both of his other rivals from the primary election.

I was intending to vote for Michael Guingona, having forgotten until Election Day that 2012's County Measure B removed my household from this office's electorate. Anyway, IMO they're both good public servants, though I considered Guingona just a bit better.

Outcome: County Election Office final totals: Canepa won with 64% to Guingona's 36%.



San Mateo County Judicial District

Superior Court Judge, Office #7

This is a non-partisan office. Qualified write-in candidates were listed at the County Election Office and at polling places.

Information:
Ballotpedia analysis.
Daily Journal coverage.

RM partisan analysis:

I guess I'm voting for Sean Dabel.

Outcome: County Election Office final totals: Dabel won with 100% of votes cast.



Statewide Measures

(vote yes or no for each)

Talented wit and Democratic Party activist Damian Carroll (National Director of the charity Vision to Learn) wrote a descriptive haiku (the poetic form with 17 syllables) for each of the 17 statewide ballot measures — or, as he put it:

This November 8th,
Seventeen propositions
Are on the ballot.

I'll introduce each proposition using Carroll's haiku, because they're vivid, funny, and enlightening.



Proposition 51
School Bonds. Funding for K-12 School and Community College Facilities. Initiative Statute.

Nine billion dollars
Of bond funds for school buildings.
Term: thirty-five years.

"Authorizes $9 billion in general obligation bonds for new construction and modernization of K–12 public school facilities; charter schools and vocational education facilities; and California Community Colleges facilities."

Information:
Legislative Analyst's analysis.
Ballotpedia analysis.
CalMatters.org analysis.
KQED analysis.
LWVC analysis.
Voter's Edge analysis.
Capital Public Radio analysis.
S.J. Mercury-News analysis.
L.A. Times analysis.
Sacramento Bee analysis.
N.Y. Times coverage.
S.F. Chronicle coverage.
Pete Stahl endorsed "yes".
Gov. Jerry Brown strongly endorsed "no".
Former Assembly member Joan Buchanan endorsed "yes".
California Dept. of Finance Director Michael Cohen endorsed "no".
S.F. Chronicle endorsed "yes".
L.A. Times endorsed "no".
Sacramento Bee endorsed "no".
San Diego Union-Tribune endorsed "no".
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed "no".
Daily Journal endorsed "no".

RM partisan analysis: General-obligation bond debt is tricky for states: In good economic times, it is a practical way of funding state and local longer-term projects, the cost in interest being relatively low because of a good state debt rating and ease of selling the bonds over time. The problem happens during economic downturns, when state tax revenue falls off steeply (because of a contracting economy) at the same time that interest rates that must be paid out to place bonds skyrocket because of a tight money market and downrating of the state's creditworthiness on account of excess leveraging relative to shrinking tax revenue (which in turn raises the bond interest rates even further). So, too much bond debt steals interest payouts from state finances at exactly the time (recessions) when it can least afford this.

California walked straight into that trap during the 2000s because of far too much carefree voter reliance on bond issues, causing an explosion of interest debt at the same time the economy repeatedly tanked, reducing state General Fund balances that must be tapped to pay bond interest. This was a very destructive cycle, damaged the state's credit rating, and even now, still will take long years to work out of.

I urge great care to never repeat this hapless Schwarzenegger-era financing blunder. For example, the March 2004 election included a spectacularly ill-advised initiative (Prop. 57) to close that year's General Fund budget gap through issuing $15 billion in general obligation bonds — basically, balancing the state checkbook by taking out a payday loan. I voted against, and would have voted "Oh, hell no", if that had been possible. To my horror, Schwarzenegger's bond measure won. Those were mostly sold to the public only, finally, in Feb. 2008 (just before the late-2008 financial crisis would have made the disaster even worse), and the last of those bonds was retired in August 2015.

The key metric to watch is debt-service ratio, the percent of state General Fund revenues spent on debt service (paying off bond interest and principal). Historically, California had a 1-2% debt-service ratio, which is generally considered reasonable and safe. During the 2000s, it shot up to 6% and higher, and is now the third-worst of any state (Illinois and New Jersey being even worse), with the state credit rating tanking accordingly. See the State Treasurer's 2015 Debt Affordability Report for the full picture.

Every election where there's a bond proposal, the Legislative Analyst include an Overview of State Bond Debt in the Official Voter Guide. Look at the current one. Debt-service ratio is already dangerously high at around 5% with the bonds already authorized from prior elections that haven't yet been able to be sold. Prop. 51 would hike that to at least 5 1/3%, and would continue to raise debt-service ratio through 2051, when the Prop. 51 bonds would finally mature — and much a much worse version of that same effect would happen if there's another economic downturn. Picture a recession, whose miseries would be then amplified by the recession-shrunken state budget going mostly to service interest on bond debt, with little left over for essential services. This has already happened in the Dot-Bomb recession and 2008 financial crisis, with great damage to counties and cities left short of funds. Next time it could be even worse.

It's past time to end the madness. Governor Jerry Brown, the one key person who completely understands state financing and has been expertly fixing the fiscal blunders of the 2000s, says: "I am against the developers' $9-billion bond. It's a blunderbuss effort that promotes sprawl and squanders money that would be far better spent in low-income communities." I completely agree.

Pete Stahl argues that a 5%+ debt-service ratio (and dismal state credit rating) is OK because Prop. 51 will barely increase it. The latter's true, but the point is it perpetuates long into the future a disaster that needs fixing. His point about interest rates being at record lows is true for now, but that doesn't mean those bonds will be cheap when issued, because that process takes many years. The last bunch almost couldn't be placed at all, because of the 2008 financial crisis, and were quite expensive to us taxpayers because of the state's terrible credit rating. If there's another economic downturn in particular, all of those factors (including possibly rising interest rates) will kick us hard all over again. The only way to prevent this is to stop making the mistake.

In fairness, it's true the state's public schools are underfunded, which is shameful. 1978's Proposition 13 constitutional amendment shut off schools' normal access to funds via most voter-approved taxes on real estate, and they've been dependent on general obligation bonds and (highly regressive) parcel taxes ever since. Some better solution is needed: Reform Prop. 13, use state income tax funds, etc.

I'm voting hell no.

IMO, we need to keep voting "Hell no" on bond measures until the debt-service ratio is back to a rational, safe 1-2% — not 5% and up, with a ravaged state credit rating.

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show "yes" won by 55% to 45%, so it appears the state will perpetuate dangerously excessive levels of bonded indebtedness through the middle of the century.



Proposition 52
Medi-Cal Hospital Fee Program. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

A hospital fee
Matched with Federal dollars
Funds Medi-Cal boost.

"Extends indefinitely an existing statute that imposes fees on hospitals to fund Medi-Cal health care services, care for uninsured patients, and children’s health coverage."

Information:
Legislative Analyst's analysis.
Ballotpedia analysis.
CalMatters.org analysis.
KQED analysis.
Voter's Edge analysis.
S.J. Mercury-News analysis.
L.A. Times analysis.
Sacramento Bee analysis.
Capital Public Radio analysis.
S.F. Chronicle coverage.
Pete Stahl endorsed "no".
California Hospital Association (sponsor of the initiative) President/CEO C. Duane Dauner endorsed "yes".
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed "yes".
S.F. Chronicle endorsed "yes".
L.A. Times endorsed "yes".
Sacramento Bee endorsed "yes".
San Diego Union-Tribune endorsed "yes".
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed "yes".
Daily Journal endorsed "yes".

RM partisan analysis: For reasons the S.J. Mercury-News editorial explains, this is a no-brainer.

I'm voting yes, with some misgivings.

Jan. 22, 2017 update: I remain conflicted about this measure, and may have erred in agreeing with the Mercury-News over-hastily: Prop. 52 was expedient at that moment, especially given the Federal matching dollars at stake, but hammering special carve-outs into law is a generally bad idea and bad precedent. In any event, this can exemplify why I collect via these pages not just my personal recommendations, but also as many well-informed people's as possible.

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show "yes" won by 70% to 30%.



Proposition 53
Revenue Bonds. Statewide Voter Approval. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Bonds for big projects
(Like high speed rail and Delta)
Would need people's vote.

"Requires statewide voter approval before any revenue bonds can be issued or sold by the state for certain projects if the bond amount exceeds $2 billion."

Information:
Legislative Analyst's analysis.
Ballotpedia analysis.
CalMatters.org analysis.
KQED analysis.
Voter's Edge analysis.
Capital Public Radio analysis.
S.J. Mercury-News analysis.
L.A. Times analysis.
Sacramento Bee analysis.
L.A. Times coverage.
N.Y. Times coverage.
S.F. Chronicle coverage.
Capitol Weekly coverage, including Gov. Jerry Brown's reasons to oppose the measure.
Pete Stahl endorsed "No".
Sacramento Taxpayers Association President Katy Grimes endorsed "yes".
California Professional Firefighters President Lou Paulson endorsed "no".
S.F. Chronicle endorsed "no".
L.A. Times endorsed "no".
Sacramento Bee endorsed "no".
San Diego Union-Tribune endorsed "no".
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed "no".
Daily Journal endorsed "no".

RM partisan analysis: The reason revenue bonds, unlike general-obligation bonds, don't require specific approval by the electorate is that they're self-funding from the projects they're passed to construct. We have enough control over projects already through the power to elect and recall politicians and hold referendums if necessary. This measure strait-jackets our planners for no real gain worth having, IMO.

I'm voting no.

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show "no" won by 51% to 49%.



Proposition 54
Legislature. Legislation and Proceedings. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

Bills must be posted
On the Web, for three days straight,
Before they are passed.

"Prohibits Legislature from passing any bill unless published on Internet for 72 hours before vote. Requires Legislature to record its proceedings and post on Internet. Authorizes use of recordings."

Information:
Legislative Analyst's analysis.
Ballotpedia analysis.
CalMatters.org analysis.
KQED analysis.
Voter's Edge analysis.
Capital Public Radio analysis.
LWVC's analysis.
S.J. Mercury-News analysis.
L.A. Times analysis.
S.F. Chronicle coverage.
Pete Stahl endorsed "yes".
LWV California President Helen Hutchison endorsed "yes".
California Taxpayers Association President Teresa Casazza endorsed "no".
Former State Senator and former CA Democratic Pary Chair Art Torres endorsed "no".
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed "yes".
S.F. Chronicle endorsed "yes".
Sacramento Bee endorsed "yes".
San Diego Union-Tribune endorsed "yes".
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed "yes".
Daily Journal endorsed "yes".

RM partisan analysis: This measure is a big dollop of goodness. It ends many Legislature secrecy practices, greatly increases the transparency of government, and costs little.

I'm voting yes.

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show "yes" won by 65% to 35%.



Proposition 55
Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

For high-earning folks
An income tax that funds schools
Would remain in place.

"Extends by twelve years the temporary personal income tax increases enacted in 2012 on earnings over $250,000, with revenues allocated to K–12 schools, California Community Colleges, and, in certain years, healthcare."

Information:
Legislative Analyst's analysis.
Ballotpedia analysis.
CalMatters.org analysis.
KQED analysis.
Voter's Edge analysis.
Capital Public Radio analysis.
LWVC's analysis.
S.J. Mercury-News analysis.
L.A. Times analysis.
Sacramento Bee analysis.
S.F. Chronicle coverage.
Pete Stahl endorsed "yes".
School worker Jamee Gardner and teacher Laura Shirley endorsed "yes".
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President Jon Coupal endorsed "no".
L.A. Times columnist George Skelton endorsed "no".
S.F. Chronicle endorsed "no".
L.A. Times endorsed "no".
Sacramento Bee endorsed "yes".
San DIego Union-Tribune endorsed "no".
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed "yes".
Daily Journal endorsed "yes".

RM partisan analysis: In 2012, Gov. Jerry Brown asked for Prop. 30 to enact a four-year income tax surcharge on personal incomes over $250k/year to help fix the fiscal disaster he inherited. That was an outstanding idea, and luckily the voters approved it. This measure would extend that income tax surcharge for another 12 years. As I mentioned in my views on Proposition 51, the state still has major fiscal cleanup to do, to repair the Schwarzenegger-era damage, and this is exactly the right way to do it.

I'm voting hell yes.

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show "yes" won by 63% to 37%.



Proposition 56
Cigarette Tax to Fund Healthcare, Tobacco Use Prevention, Research, and Law Enforcement. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

The cigarette tax
Would go up, two bucks a pack
E-cigarettes, too.

"Increases cigarette tax by $2.00 per pack, with equivalent increase on other tobacco products and electronic cigarettes containing nicotine."

Information:
Legislative Analyst's analysis.
Ballotpedia analysis.
CalMatters.org analysis.
KQED analysis.
Voter's Edge analysis.
Capital Public Radio analysis.
LWVC's analysis.
S.J. Mercury-News analysis.
L.A. Times analysis.
Sacramento Bee coverage.
N.Y. Times coverage.
S.F. Chronicle coverage.
Pete Stahl endorsed "yes".
UCLA Assoc. Prof. of Medicine and Tobacco Education and Research Oversight Committee chair Michael Ong endorsed "yes".
Solano County Taxpayers Association Board member and former President Ourania Riddle endorsed "no".
Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association endorsed "no".
S.F. Chronicle endorsed "yes".
L.A. Times endorsed "yes".
Sacramento Bee endorsed "yes".
San Diego Union-Tribune endorsed "yes".
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed "yes".
Daily Journal endorsed "no".

Measure has 2:1 approval among likely voters a/o Sept. 2015.

RM partisan analysis: This is a slightly disguised subsidy for Medi-Cal coverage of poor Californians' health care costs through a $2/pack tobacco surcharge tax. The stuff about funding research and smoking-prevention is basically window-dressing or a (sorry!) smoke-screen. It's a bit gimmicky, and relying on "sin taxes" is a bad habit, but on balance I think it does a helpful thing in an area (Medi-Cal) that suffers worrisome fiscal weakness.

However, unfortunately....

One problematic point concerns the proposition's treatment of e-cigarettes. Although no tax would be applied directly to e-cigarettes as such, the proposition expands California's definition of "other tobacco products" for purposes of state excise tax to include e-cigarettes that contain nicotine or liquid with nicotine (known as e-liquid) — nicotine in any quantity at all. This definitional expansion causes a $3.37 excise tax to be extended at the wholesale level to those liquid tobacco products (and thus also to e-cigarettes bundled with even tiny percentages of nicotine in the vaping mixes), the same state excise tax the proposition applies to each pack of cigarettes, albeit not to e-cigarettes themselves (if sold without e-liquid), nor to vaping supplies completely lacking nicotine. Some estimates suggest that a typical 30 ml bottle of e-liquid would be driven up from about $20 to about $30.

E-cigarettes with nicotine would remain untaxed in the special case of such products being FDA-certified for quitting smoking or other therapeutic use. Quoting the measure's text (section 3b), it specifically excludes from taxation "any product that has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for sale as a tobacco cessation product or for other therapeutic purposes where that product is marketed and sold solely for such approved use." The problem there, however, is that the requirements for FDA approval for therapeutic sale are so strenuous and expensive that it's very unlikely e-cigarette products will ever be approved for such roles.

Thus, the composite effect is going to be to severely penalize vaping gear that includes nicotine. Realistically, anyone using vaping to reduce or quit smoking will need e-liquid, and prices of those products would be driven so high as to drive many customers right back to smoking, by making smoking significantly cheaper. To my eyes, this is a fatal flaw in the proposal as written, because it harms the legitimate use of vaping as an anti-smoking aid.

I'm voting no (with reservations). (FYI, I neither smoke nor vape.)

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show "yes" won by 64% to 36%.



Proposition 57
Criminal Sentences. Parole. Juvenile Criminal Proceedings and Sentencing. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

Earlier parole
Of prisoners serving time
For non-violent crimes.

"Allows parole consideration for nonviolent felons. Authorizes sentence credits for rehabilitation, good behavior, and education. Provides juvenile court judge decides whether juvenile will be prosecuted as adult."

Information:
Legislative Analyst's analysis.
Ballotpedia analysis.
CalMatters.org analysis.
KQED analysis.
Voter's Edge analysis.
Capital Public Radio analysis.
LWVC's analysis.
S.J. Mercury-News analysis.
L.A. Times analysis.
Sacramento Bee analysis.
Capital Public Radio coverage.
S.F. Chronicle coverage.
Pete Stahl endorsed "yes".
Former Los Angeles Superior Court judge Jan Levine endorsed "yes"
Klaas Kids Foundation founder Marc Klass endorsed "no"
S.F. Chronicle endorsed "yes" (1, 2).
L.A. Times endorsed "yes".
Sacramento Bee endorsed "yes".
San Diego Union-Tribune endorsed "no".
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed "no"
Daily Journal endorsed "no".

RM partisan analysis: Gov. Jerry Brown's logic in recommending this measure to comply with Federal court orders to reduce the state's prison population is impeccable.

I'm voting yes.

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show "yes" won by 64% to 36%.



Proposition 58
English Proficiency. Multilingual Education. Initiative Statute.

Kids learning English
Won't need a waiver to take
Bilingual classes.

"Preserves requirement that public schools ensure students obtain English language proficiency. Requires school districts to solicit parent/community input in developing language acquisition programs. Requires instruction to ensure English acquisition as rapidly and effectively as possible. Authorizes school districts to establish dual-language immersion programs for both native and non-native English speakers."

Information:
Legislative Analyst's analysis.
Ballotpedia analysis.
CalMatters.org analysis.
KQED analysis.
Voter's Edge analysis.
Capital Public Radio analysis.
LWVC's analysis.
S.J. Mercury-News analysis.
L.A. Times analysis.
Sacramento Bee analysis.
S.F. Chronicle coverage.
Pete Stahl endorsed "yes".
School Principal David Nevarez endorsed "yes"
Silicon Valley software developer and English for the Children chairman Ron Unz endorsed "no".
L.A. Times endorsed "yes".
S.F. Chronicle endorsed "yes".
L.A. Times endorsed "yes".
Sacramento Bee endorsed "yes".
San Diego Union-Tribune endorsed "no".
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed "no".
Daily Journal endorsed "yes".

RM partisan analysis: This is a bit of cleanup from anti-immigrant Prop. 227 in 1998. This measure overturns most of Prop. 227, permitting public schools once again to adopt successful bilingual education programs. About time.

I'm voting yes.

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show "yes" won by 74% to 26%.



Proposition 59
Corporations. Political Spending. Federal Constitutional Protections. Legislative Advisory Question.

Asks to overturn
Citizens United, but
Shucks, it's non-binding.

"Asks whether California’s elected officials should use their authority to propose and ratify an amendment to the federal Constitution overturning the United States Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Citizens United ruled that laws placing certain limits on political spending by corporations and unions are unconstitutional."

Information:
Legislative Analyst's analysis.
Ballotpedia analysis.
CalMatters.org analysis.
KQED analysis.
Voter's Edge analysis.
Capital Public Radio analysis.
LWVC's analysis.
S.J. Mercury-News analysis.
L.A. Times analysis.
Sacramento Bee analysis.
S.F. Chronicle coverage.
Pete Stahl endorsed "yes".
American Promise president and California Common Cause anti-Citizen's United campaign manager Derek Cressman endorsed "yes".
S.F. Chronicle endorsed "yes".
L.A. Times endorsed "no".
Sacramento Bee endorsed "yes".
San Diego Union-Tribune endorsed "no".
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed "yes".
Daily Journal endorsed "no".

RM partisan analysis: Full text can be read as Senate Bill 254, which put Prop. 59 on the ballot. It basically instructs the state's elected officials to seek overturn of Citizens United and any other judicial precedent as required to put campaign contributions/spending under regulation, and make clear that corporations should not have the same legal rights as human beings. Sounds reasonable to me.

I'm voting yes.

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show "yes" won by 53% to 47%.



Proposition 60
Adult Films. Condoms. Health Requirements. Initiative Statute.

Adult film makers
Would have to require condoms
Or risk a lawsuit.

"Requires adult film performers to use condoms during filming of sexual intercourse. Requires producers to pay for performer vaccinations, testing, and medical examinations. Requires producers to post condom requirement at film sites."

Information:
Legislative Analyst's analysis.
Ballotpedia analysis.
CalMatters.org analysis.
KQED analysis.
Voter's Edge analysis.
Capital Public Radio analysis.
Politifact California analysis.
S.J. Mercury-News analysis.
L.A. Times analysis.
Sacramento Bee analysis.
N.Y. Times coverage.
S.F. Chronicle coverage.
Pete Stahl endorsed "no".
Former director and chief physician of L.A. County's sexually transmitted disease program Gary Richwald endorsed "yes".
Adult Performer Advocacy Committee chairwoman Chanel Preston and UCLA School of Medicine and Cedars-Sinai Medical internal medicine/HIV specialist Jay Gladstein endorsed "no"
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed "no".
S.F. Chronicle endorsed "no".
L.A. Times endorsed "no".
Sacramento Bee endorsed "no".
San Diego Union-Tribune endorsed "no".
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed "no".
Daily Journal endorsed "no".

RM partisan analysis: This is a grotesquely badly conceived and written implementation of an otherwise reasonable idea. See the S.J. Mercury-News article and Pete Stahl's analysis to understand why.

I'm voting no.

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show "no" won by 54% to 46%.



Proposition 61
State Prescription Drug Purchases. Pricing Standards. Initiative Statute.

In theory, lowers
The cost of some state-bought drugs
(But it could backfire).

"Prohibits state from buying any prescription drug from a drug manufacturer at price over lowest price paid for the drug by United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Exempts managed care programs funded through Medi-Cal."

Note: Drug companies have mounted an aggressive campaign in opposition to this measure.

Information:
Legislative Analyst's analysis.
Ballotpedia analysis.
CalMatters.org analysis.
KQED analysis.
Voter's Edge analysis.
Capital Public Radio analysis.
S.J. Mercury-News analysis.
L.A. Times analysis.
Sacramento Bee analysis.
L.A. Times coverage.
S.F. Chronicle coverage.
Pete Stahl endorsed "no".
California Nurses Association board member Kathy Dennis endorsed "yes".
American Legion CA legislative commission chairman Don Harper endorsed "no".
S.F. Chronicle endorsed "no" (1, 2).
L.A. Times endorsed "no".
Sacramento Bee endorsed "no".
San Diego Union-Tribune endorsed "no".
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed "no".
Daily Journal endorsed "no".

RM partisan analysis: It's well intended, but cannot work and would probably have unintended side-effects if it passes.

I'm voting no (with reservations).

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show "no" has won by 53% to 47%.



Proposition 62
Death Penalty. Initiative Statute.

Vote for this one if
You want to eliminate
The death penalty.

"Repeals death penalty and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. Applies retroactively to existing death sentences. Increases the portion of life inmates’ wages that may be applied to victim restitution."

Information:
Legislative Analyst's analysis.
Ballotpedia analysis.
CalMatters.org analysis.
KQED analysis.
Voter's Edge analysis.
Capital Public Radio analysis.
LWVC's analysis.
S.J. Mercury-News analysis.
L.A. Times analysis.
Sacramento Bee analysis.
N.Y. Times coverage.
S.F. Chronicle coverage.
Pete Stahl endorsed "yes".
San Diego Free Press endorsed "yes".
Sacramento Co. DA Anne Marie Schubert and bereaved father Richard Riggins endorsed "no".
Former prosecutor Donald Heller endorsed "yes".
S.F. Chronicle endorsed "yes" (1, 2).
L.A. Times endorsed "yes".
Sacramento Bee endorsed "yes".
San Diego Union-Tribune endorsed "yes".
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed "yes".
Daily Journal endorsed "no".

RM partisan analysis: Either you like the idea of executions, or you don't. I'm in the latter camp, so:

I'm voting yes.

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show "no" won by 53% to 47%.

Note: In cases like Propositions 62 and 66, where both address the same subject, whichever earns the greater number of "yes" votes prevails. In this case, that heuristic was unneeded as Prop. 62 failed.



Proposition 63
Firearms. Ammunition Sales. Initiative Statute.

Requires a permit
Issued by the DoJ
To purchase ammo.

"Requires background check and Department of Justice authorization to purchase ammunition. Prohibits possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines. Establishes procedures for enforcing laws prohibiting firearm possession by specified persons. Requires Department of Justice’s participation in federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System."

Note: This proposition's regulation of ammunition has been nullified in advance because Senate Bill 1235 pre-empted it. Likewise, the proposition's regulation of high-capacity magazines would have no effect because Senate Bill 1446 already implemented it, making Prop. 63's language on magazines redundant. (As later legislation, Prop. 63's provisions would supercede the Legislature's in general, except for the Legislature's ammunition statute, which was crafted specifically to prevail over the November proposition's language.)

The other, non-moot provisions in this measure are: require reporting of lost/stolen firearms, require dealer employees to pass background checks, remove firearms from those prohibited by law from owning them, and formalize collaboration with the FBI's instant background-check system.

Information:
Legislative Analyst's analysis.
Ballotpedia analysis.
CalMatters.org analysis.
KQED analysis.
Voter's Edge analysis.
Capital Public Radio analysis.
LWVC's analysis.
Politifact California analysis.
S.J. Mercury-News analysis.
L.A. Times analysis.
Sacramento Bee analysis.
S.F. Chronicle coverage.
Pete Stahl endorsed "yes".
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom endorsed "yes".
California Police Chiefs Association’s firearms committee chairman Rudy Escalante endorsed "no".
California Police Chiefs Association endorsed "no".
S.F. Chronicle endorsed "yes" (1, 2).
L.A. Times endorsed "yes".
Sacramento Bee endorsed "yes".
San Diego Union-Tribune endorsed "yes".
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed "yes".
Daily Journal endorsed "no".

RM partisan analysis: IMO, this measure accomplishes nothing worth the political cost, the inevitable outpouring of paranoia from gun interests, the many years of litigation, the hideously bad precedent set by requiring surrender of lawful property without due process or compensation, and the dangerous criminalizing of normal lawful behavior. We need to save our political capital for more-important things.

To elaborate on that: Political influence and assets are a limited resource that would have been better spent on battles both easier to achieve politically, and more fruitful, such as tightening up firearm registration loopholes. That would be easier to achieve because it wouldn't automatically inspire total and massively funded opposition from gun owners already in the throes of paranoid fantasies about liberals confiscating their weapons. It would have been more fruitful for several reasons: Ammunition is not only so deeply stockpiled by gun enthusiasts that regulating ammo sales is hopeless, but also the regulation would be trivial to circumvent: Just drive to the Nevada state line and back. (Also, hand-loading of ammunition among enthusiasts is perfectly lawful and widespread, and essentially unaddressed by this proposal.)

Pete Stahl points out that this bill's provisions regulating ammunition sales were pre-empted by Senate Bill 1235's passage into law on July 1st, and thus void. SB 1235 substitutes a similar provision by Legislature fiat, such this portion of Prop. 63 would have no effect, except as publicity for Gavin Newsom's 2018 gubernatorial campaign. But I consider it a bad idea on general grounds.

The banning of large-capacity magazines is pointless because magazine capacity has never been a limiting factor in mass-killings, and because if anything those magazines impede murderers, because 30-100 round magazines are notorious for jamming.

Consider two cases: Psychotic school murderer Adam Lanza in the 2012 Sandy Hook killings had two pistols and a rifle, with a huge number of clips. At no point would his killing spree have been impaired by the need to change clips. What ended the attack was the commendably fast arrival of Sandy Hook police officers (ten minutes after the first emergency call, 14 minutes after shooting started), whereupon the murderer suicided. At this point, Lanza's last shot was five minutes before: He'd run out of victims he could find, not out of rounds in any magazine.

Note: A Hartford Courier article at the time said six children were able to run away and survive because one of Lanza's 30-round rifle magazine clips jammed.

James Eagan Holmes carried out his 2012 murders inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado with a shotgun, a rifle with a 100-round magazine, and a handgun. The 100-round magazine jammed the rifle. It seems unlikely someone like Holmes having difficult access to 100-round magazines would be less able to kill; possibly the reverse is true. Magazines can be quickly swapped out (as Lanza did), or the killer can just switch to another of his/her weapons.

(Ironically, the proposition's ban on high-capacity magazines would have no effect if it passes, because Governor Brown signed the Legislature's measure Senate Bill 1446, enacting the same ban.)

A number of less-controversial parts of Prop. 63 strike me as entirely sensible (requirement to report lost/stolen firearms, dealer employees passing background checks, removal of firearms from those prohibited by law from owning them, formalized collaboration with the FBI's NICS = National Instant Criminal Background Check System), making it all the more tragic they're welded to the politically foolish and probably unconstitutional bits. The measure is leading 2:1 in the polls, but, if it passes, I guarantee it'll be tied up in litigation for many years. And for what? Poorly conceived political stunts like this one make smarter ones more difficult to get past the partisan divide that these ones make deeper. This sort of complicated and contentious initiative should basically never be attempted via ballot measure, and rather left to the Legislature and the courts. When the voters get it wrong, as often happens, it endangers the very trust citizens have in their state.

Last, we really should remember that self-defense via arms is, literally, a fundamental right under the Constitution and be properly sparing and thoughtful about where and how we seek to regulate it. IMO, this proposition fails that test, badly.

I'm voting no. The non-moot provisions seem fine, but the proposition as a whole is very bad politics, and IMO such things should be strongly discouraged. (FYI, I'm not personally any kind of gun nut — and in fact all three of the candidates for whom I've done volunteer work were felled by gun violence, so I take the firearms threat personally — but at the same time, fundamental rights and takings of property are matters that should be taken seriously.)

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show "yes" won by 63% to 37%.



Proposition 64
Marijuana Legalization. Initiative Statute.

Legalizes pot!
Also raises some tax funds
(Perhaps a billion?).

"Legalizes marijuana under state law, for use by adults 21 or older. Imposes state taxes on sales and cultivation. Provides for industry licensing and establishes standards for marijuana products. Allows local regulation and taxation."

Information:
Legislative Analyst's analysis.
Ballotpedia analysis.
CalMatters.org analysis.
KQED analysis.
Voter's Edge analysis.
Capital Public Radio analysis.
S.J. Mercury-News analysis.
L.A. Times analysis.
Sacramento Bee analysis.
S.F. Chronicle coverage.
Pete Stahl endorsed "yes".
NAACP California President Alice Huffman endorsed "yes".
Assembly member Jim Cooper endorsed "no".
S.F. Chronicle endorsed "yes".
L.A. Times endorsed "yes".
Sacramento Bee endorsed "no".
San Diego Union-Tribune endorsed "yes".
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed "yes".
Daily Journal endorsed "yes".

Sacramento Bee reports 2:1 voter support a/o September 2016.

RM partisan analysis: Why the heck not? This follows overwhelming rejection of the first recreational marijuana measure in 1972, the successful medical marijuana measure of 1996, and narrow rejection of a 2010 legalization initiative. Measures similar to Prop. 64 are also on the ballot in Nevada, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Maine, while four other states (Florida, Montana, North Dakota, and Arkansas) will decide on medical marijuana. End prohibition, restore sanity, and start ending the War Against Drugs Lacking Major Corporate Sponsorship.

I'm voting yes.

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show "yes" won by 57% to 43%.

The recreational marijuana propositions in Massachusetts, Nevada, and Maine passed; the one in Arizona narrowly failed by 52% to 48%. Voters in North Dakota, Florida, Montana and Arkansas approved their states' medical marijuana proposals.



Proposition 65
Carryout Bags. Charges. Initiative Statute.

Plastic bag makers
Put this one on the ballot
To punish grocers.

"Redirects money collected by grocery and certain other retail stores through mandated sale of carryout bags. Requires stores to deposit bag sale proceeds into a special fund to support specified environmental projects."

Information:
Legislative Analyst's analysis.
Ballotpedia analysis.
CalMatters.org analysis.
KQED analysis.
Voter's Edge analysis.
Capital Public Radio analysis.
LWVC's analysis.
S.J. Mercury-News analysis.
L.A. Times analysis.
Sacramento Bee analysis.
S.J. Mercury-News coverage.
S.F. Chronicle coverage.
San Diego Free Press history of SB-270 and the plastic bag battle.
N.Y. Times coverage.
Pete Stahl endorsed "no".
Save the American River Association President Stephen Green endorsed "no".
American Progressive Bag Alliance executive director Lee Califf endorsed "yes".
S.F. Chronicle endorsed "no".
L.A. Times endorsed "no".
Sacramento Bee endorsed "no".
San Diego Union-Tribune endorsed "no".
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed "no".
Daily Journal endorsed "no".

RM partisan analysis: As the S.J. Mercury-News points out, this is the plastic bag industry's "poison pill" measure intended to confuse voters. Don't be fooled.

I'm voting no.

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show "no" won by 54% to 46%.

Note: In cases like Propositions 65 and 67, where both address the same subject, whichever earns the greater number of "yes" votes prevails. In this case, that heuristic was unneeded as Prop. 65 failed.



Proposition 66
Death Penalty. Procedures. Initiative Statute.

If you want the state
To execute more people,
This one is for you.

"Changes procedures governing state court challenges to death sentences. Designates superior court for initial petitions and limits successive petitions. Requires appointed attorneys who take noncapital appeals to accept death penalty appeals. Exempts prison officials from existing regulation process for developing execution methods."

Information:
Legislative Analyst's analysis.
Ballotpedia analysis.
CalMatters.org analysis.
KQED analysis.
Voter's Edge analysis.
Capital Public Radio analysis.
LWVC's analysis.
S.J. Mercury-News analysis.
L.A. Times analysis.
Sacramento Bee analysis.
N.Y. Times coverage.
S.F. Chronicle coverage.
Pete Stahl endorsed "no".
Sacramento Co. DA Anne Marie Schubert and bereaved father Richard Riggins endorsed "yes".
San Diego Free Press endorsed "no".
S.F. Chronicle endorsed "no" (1, 2).
L.A. Times endorsed "no".
Sacramento Bee endorsed "no".
San Diego Union-Tribune endorsed "no".
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed "no".
Daily Journal endorsed "yes".

RM partisan analysis: Either you like the idea of executions, or you don't. I'm in the latter camp, so:

I'm voting no.

It turned out, there were also damning constitutional flaws that I didn't even notice until after the election, having not bothered to read the measure's detailed provisions. These are covered below.

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show "yes" won by 51% to 49%.

Note: In cases like Propositions 62 and 66, where both address the same subject, whichever earns the greater number of "yes" votes prevails. In this case, that heuristic was unneeded as Prop. 62 failed.

Dec. 20, 2016 update: California Supreme Court has stayed implementation of Prop. 66 pending legal challenge: The issues are whether the Legislature (indirectly via this initiative statute) unconstitutionally interfered in the courts (e.g., requiring that the Supreme Court rule on appeals within five years of a death sentence, and that all habeas corpus appeals meet the same deadline), whether it violates the requirement that any proposition be limited to a single subject, and whether the measure unconstitutionally abridges the writ of habeas corpus (the right to have the court proceedings independently reviewed). On the latter and most damning point: Prop. 66 would mandate that trial courts hear habeas corpus challenges to their own trial verdicts, rather than appellate courts hearing them. Review will take some months to decide, and a law professor emeritus predicts that at least several parts of the statute will be declared unconstitutional. Also problematic is the measure's edict that all attorneys accepting court assignments of any criminal cases in California also accept capital cases, which seems likely to put condemned inmates’ fate in the hands of unqualified lawyers, and prompt many attorneys to refuse all future court assignments.

Feb. 1, 2017 update: The state Supreme Court agreed to decide this case as Briggs vs. Brown, S238039, in the current term, holding hearings until April 6, 2017, and then deciding whether to extend the stay.

Sept. 8, 2017 update: The state Supreme Court, on August 24, 2017 ruled Prop. 66 to pass legal scrutiny, in a complex and multifaceted 60-page opinion: It held that passages that appeared to unconstitutionally violate separation of powers by imposing strict deadlines are "directive rather than mandatory". It held the Prop. 66 adequately satisfied the "single subject" requirement by the various provisions being "reasonably related to a common theme". It saw nothing wrong with assigning trial courts to hear habeas corpus challenges to their own trial verdicts, citing a hand-wave about the "state Constitution [leaving] considerable leeway for legislative prescription of habeas corpus procedures." Last, it dismissed petitioner's equal-protection challenge on complex logic-chopping grounds that I don't quite understand and will have to re-read.



Proposition 67
Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags. Referendum.

To ban plastic bags,
Vote "yes" on 67
"No" on 65.

"A 'Yes' vote approves, and a 'No' vote rejects, a statute that prohibits grocery and other stores from providing customers single-use plastic or paper carryout bags but permits sale of recycled paper bags and reusable bags."

Information:
Legislative Analyst's analysis.
Ballotpedia analysis.
CalMatters.org analysis.
KQED analysis.
Voter's Edge analysis.
Capital Public Radio analysis.
LWVC's analysis.
S.J. Mercury-News analysis.
L.A. Times analysis.
Sacramento Bee analysis.
San Diego Free Press history of SB-270 and the plastic bag battle.
S.J. Mercury-News coverage.
S.F. Chronicle coverage.
N.Y. Times coverage.
Pete Stahl endorsed "yes".
Save the American River Association President Stephen Green endorsed "yes".
American Progressive Bag Alliance executive director Lee Califf endorsed "no".
S.F. Chronicle endorsed "yes".
L.A. Times endorsed "yes".
Sacramento Bee endorsed "yes".
San Diego Union-Tribune endorsed "yes".
S.J. Mercury-News endorsed "yes".
Daily Journal endorsed "yes".

RM partisan analysis: This is a referendum asking voters if they wish to sustain California's 2014 statute SB-270 banning flimsy-plastic grocery-type bags and requiring stores to charge 10 cents for paper or thick-plastic bags. The statewide law has been on hold because of legal challenges from the plastic bag industry, but the same laws in dozens of Bay Area cities and six counties, and in other local jurisdictions scattered across the state (151 cities total, at last count) have been a huge success — the oldest dating from 2007, and none of them having ever been repealed (having been that popular). Let's end industry interference and clean up the rest of California's plastic-bag litter problem the way we have here in the Bay Area.

I'm voting yes.

Outcome: Secretary of State Padilla's Dec. 16 totals show "yes" won by 53% to 47%.

Note: In cases like Propositions 65 and 67, where both address the same subject, whichever earns the greater number of "yes" votes prevails. In this case, that heuristic was unneeded as Prop. 65 failed.




County Measure

(vote yes or no)

Measure K
County of San Mateo: Sales Tax Measure

"On July 26, 2016, pursuant to Section 53723 of the Government Code, the Board of Supervisors of the County of San Mateo adopted a resolution to extend the County of San Mateo’s existing one-half cent retail sales and use tax. Section 53723 of the Government Code and Section 7285 of the Revenue and Taxation Code require that the measure for a general tax be submitted to the voters of the County for approval.

In November 2012, San Mateo County voters approved Measure A, which created a one-half cent sales and use tax (the "Measure A Sales Tax") for a period of ten years. By its terms, the Measure A Sales Tax is currently scheduled to expire in 2023. Under Measure K, the Board of Supervisors proposes to extend the existing retail sales and use tax imposed by Measure A for twenty years at the current tax rate of one-half cent, meaning that the sales tax would continue until March 31, 2043. This tax would continue to be imposed on retail transactions and uses, as defined by Chapter 5.152 of the San Mateo County Ordinance Code."

Information:
Voter's Edge analysis.
Daily Journal coverage.
The Almanac coverage.
Daily Journal endorsed "yes".

RM partisan analysis: Sales taxes are the worst, most severe regressive tax in common use: They have disproportionately severe effect on the poor and very light effect on the rich. And it's unnecessary: The California of my youth had a state-wide sales tax of 5%, and yet built the University of California and State Water Project, and was the envy of the world.

I don't buy that it's necessary to have special sales tax surcharges that preferentially soak the poor just to balance government budgets. If it's necessary to raise taxes, let it be something like income tax, estate tax, property tax (yes, amend Prop. 13), or a luxury tax. Those things being more difficult doesn't prevent them from being the wiser thing to do.

Note: Proponents considered a bond measure, but polling suggested 63% voter support, short of the 2/3 required. Sales tax measures require only majority approval, as they are not earmarked for a specific purpose.

I'm voting hell no.

Outcome: County Election Office final totals: "yes" has won by 70% to 30%.



Additional Resources

Lifehacker article: "How to Quickly Research All Your Local Elections"


1 All write-in or independent candidates, like other candidates, must be qualified by California's Secretary of State. The deadline to qualify before this election was Oct. 15. Information at [President, write-in candidates], [President, independent nominations]. (Despite URLs, those are for the general election, not the primary.) On Oct. 25th, five qualifying write-in slates of 55 California electors for each of five particular President/VP candidate pairs were published.

For the record, those candidate pairings were:

The state's list of regular qualified candidates (other than write-ins) was published Sept. 1st.