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Rick -> Rick's Election Analyses -> Nov. 6, 2018

Tuesday, 2018-11-06 general election

Notes by Rick Moen

(Last updated 2019-06-23)

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.

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). It's a complicated process. Certified results are due from the Secretary of State Dec. 14th.

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. 22, 2018. 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.

Missed the deadline? You may nonetheless register "conditionally" and still have a guaranteed right to vote in California: Your ballot will then be counted after your eligibility has been confirmed.

Since April 2018, voter registration occurs somewhat automatically for any California citizen who obtains or renews a driver's license / state ID, in that DMV's form will mention you're getting voter registration unless you explicitly "opt out" (via checkbox) at that time. One consequence of this change: Such voters get registered "NPP" (No Party Preference) by default — another reason to check & adjust your registration details.

Personally, I always bring my completed ballot in signed envelope to a voting center where I can place it straight into a ballot box. In 2018, Georgia showed (1, 2) how easily ballots (and registrations) can be simply discarded, without the voter even knowing or being able to seek recourse, otherwise.

In addition to checking registration well before Election Day, I recommend also verifying online that your ballot has been received and accepted. (Keep your ballot stub, whose unique ballot ID will help track it down or let you replace it, if there's a problem.) Every county's election office should provide an online means to verify ballot acceptance. Mine's at Elections -> Voter Registration -> Am I Registered to Vote? -> Ballot Track & Confirm. I recommended checking that site at intervals after submitting or mailing in your ballot until it says "Ballot Status: Ballot Accepted". Visit your county voting office with ballot stub in hand if it doesn't display that way within about a week, and in any event before county offices must certify results, a month after Election Day.

Candidate Information

I've had a small epiphany: 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: 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, last I checked, 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]



California Voter's Choice Act (VCA)

Starting with the June 2018 election, to implement a 2016 law, California has begun rolling out a new "All-Mailed Ballot / Vote Center" voting model, eschewing the traditional polling place serving each 2-3 voting precincts. (CA comprises over 10,000 precincts, total.) Rollout started with selected counties, San Mateo County being one of the five test counties for June and November 2018's elections. The other 53 counties should (almost all) switch over by 2020.



U.S. Senator

(vote for one)

This is a Top-Two runoff for a voter-nominated office (thus, no write-ins), 29 candidates having been eliminated in the June primary.

Information:
L.A. Times coverage
L.A. Times editorial
Santa Cruz Sentinel coverage
CityWatch coverage
(S.J.) Mercury News coverage
CALmatters coverage (1, 2)
Sacramento Bee coverage
fivethirtyeight.com coverage
S.F. Chronicle coverage (1, 2)
S.M. Daily Journal coverage
ThinkProgress coverage
Public Policy Institute of California candidate debate video
S.F. Bay Guardian endorses De León
San Diego Union-Tribune endorses Feinstein
(S.J.) Mercury News / East Bay Times endorses (1, 2) Feinstein
Sacramento Bee endorses Feinstein
L.A. Times endorses Feinstein
Bay Area Reporter endorses Feinstein
Bakersfield Californian endorses Feinstein
Santa Cruz Sentinel makes no endorsement
Ocean Beach Rag endorses Feinstein

RM partisan analysis: California's senior Senator is now the oldest member (age 85) in the entire Senate, but continues to be a steady, competent, and effective lawmaker. I'm voting for Feinstein.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Feinstein winning 54.2% to 45.8%.



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 (independent candidate John Karl Fredrich) having been eliminated in the June primary.

Information:
CALmatters coverage
Ballotpedia coverage
Daily Caller (alt-right rag) coverage
TheHill coverage
Santa Cruz Sentinel endorses Eshoo
Bay Area Reporter endorses Eshoo

RM partisan analysis: Ms. Russell has had little or nothing to say in public (except at an in-person LWV debate in Campbell) on the issues. Meanwhile: Eshoo appears to remains an ideal choice.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Eshoo winning 74.5% to 25.5%.



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), one candidate (Bob Goodwyn, Libertarian Party) having been eliminated in the June primary.

Information:
CALmatters coverage

RM partisan analysis: When you look at Glew's positions, at first he seems pretty sane, but then you start to see the paranoid self-assigned victimhood (Twitter is shadow-banning Republicans, Facebook is biased against me) and crackpottery about supposed election fraud. Meanwhile, Berman continues to be competent and diligent. I'm voting for Berman.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Berman winning 76.6% to 23.4%.



Governor

(vote for one)

This is a Top-Two runoff for a voter-nominated office (thus, no write-ins), 26 candidates having been eliminated in the June primary. Current Governor Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown, Jr. is termed out.

Information:
S.F. Chronicle coverage
CALmatters coverage
KGO-TV coverage
N.Y. Times coverage (1, 2)
S.M. Daily Journal coverage
KQED candidate debate audio
Bay Area Reporter endorses Newsom
(S.J.) Mercury News / East Bay Times endorses (1, 2) Newsom
The Daily Cal endorses Newsom

RM partisan analysis: While Gavin Newsom is not the absolute master of California public affairs that outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown is (because nobody else is), he's the closest thing we have, reasonable, thoughtful, and experienced at getting and relying on excellent staffers. Meanwhile, Mr. Cox's platform consists primarily of eliminating the state income tax (substituting various regressive taxes), axing the gas tax (the California GOP's best hope of trolling car-loyal Californians), and denying the reality of climate change. Sorry, we need someone living in the real world. I'm voting for Newsom.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Newsom winning 61.9% to 38.1%.



Lt. Governor

(vote for one)

This is a Top-Two runoff for a voter-nominated office (thus, no write-ins), 9 candidates having been eliminated in the June primary. Current Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom is termed out.

Information:
CALmatters coverage
(Palm Springs) Desert Sun coverage
EdSource coverage
GV Wire coverage
Planned Parenthood endorses Hernandez
Orange County Register endorses Kounalakis
Bay Area Reporter endorses Kounalakis
(S.J.) Mercury News / East Bay Times endorses (1, 2) Kounalakis
L.A. Times endorses Hernandez
The Daily Cal endorses Kounalakis
CA N.O.W. endorses Kounalakis

RM partisan analysis: The Orange County Register editorial board's comments about the contrast between Kounalakis and Hernandez are enlightening. The first is an experienced and reasonable fiscal manager, and the second is a single-cause ideologue. I'm voting for Kounalakis.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Kounalakis winning 56.6% to 43.4%.



Secretary of State

(vote for one)

This is a Top-Two runoff for a voter-nominated office (thus, no write-ins), 9 candidates having been eliminated in the June primary.

Information:
CALmatters coverage
Orange County Register endorses Padilla
Bay Area Reporter endorses Padilla
Sacramento Bee endorses Padilla
S.F. Bay Guardian endorses Padilla
L.A. Times endorses Padilla
East Bay Times endorses Padilla
The Daily Cal endorses Padilla

RM partisan analysis: Read the Sacramento Bee endorsement. Meuser is a bit of a wack job, while Padilla is highly competent. There's really no choice, here. I'm voting for Padilla.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Padilla winning 64.5% to 35.5%.



Controller

(vote for one)

This is a Top-Two runoff for a voter-nominated office (thus, no write-ins), 1 candidate (Mary Lou Finley, Peace & Freedom Party) having been eliminated in the June primary.

Information:
CALmatters coverage
Bay Area Reporter endorses Yee
Orange County Register endorses Yee
(S.J.) Mercury News / East Bay Times endorses (1, 2) Yee
S.F. Bay Guardian endorses Yee
L.A. Times endorses Yee
Sacramento Bee endorses Yee
The Daily Cal endorses Yee
CA N.O.W. endorses Yee

RM partisan analysis: As the Mercury News says, Yee is the only qualified candidate.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Yee winning 65.5% to 34.5%.



Treasurer

(vote for one)

This is a Top-Two runoff for a voter-nominated office (thus, no write-ins), 3 candidates having been eliminated in the June primary. Current Treasurer John Chiang is not running for re-election for some reason, following his losing bid for Governor in June.

Information:
CALmatters coverage
Daily Cal coverage
KQED-TV coverage
(S.J.) Mercury News coverage (from May, but discussed Ma)
Bay Area Reporter endorses Ma
Orange County Register endorses Ma
(S.J.) Mercury News / East Bay Times endorses (1, 2) Ma
L.A. Times endorses Ma
Sacramento Bee endorses (1, 2) Ma
L.A. Daily News endorses Ma
The Daily Cal endorses Ma

RM partisan analysis: Mr. Conlon is a very creditable candidate, qualified, and I respect his concern about the state's unfunded pension liability, but the consensus seems to be that his opponent is by numerous degrees better. Particularly compelling to me personally is Fiona Ma's emphasis on getting state bond issues under control, as that has been a particular area of ongoing fiscal concern. I'm voting for Ma.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Ma winning 64.1% to 35.9%.



Attorney General

(vote for one)

This is a Top-Two runoff for a voter-nominated office (thus, no write-ins), 2 candidates having been eliminated in the June primary.

Information:
John Oliver explains Attorney General races
Disciplinary proceedings (1, 2, 3, 4) opened Feb. 2018 investigating Bailey's conduct as Superior Court judge
Mountain Democrat coverage of the proceedings
CBS News coverage of the proceedings
SF Chronicle coverage of the proceedings
The Recorder coverage of the proceedings
CALmatters coverage (1, 2)
CNBC coverage
Bay Area Reporter endorses Becerra
Orange County Register endorses Becerra
(S.J.) Mercury News / East Bay Times endorses (1, 2) Becerra
S.F. Bay Guardian endorses Becerra
Sacramento Bee endorses Becerra
L.A. Times endorses Becerra
The Daily Cal endorses Becerra

RM partisan analysis: Sadly, the current realities of national politics have required California to spend considerable time and energy bringing suit against the Federal government to halt (in my view) crazy and un-American policies. Mr. Becerra has been the point man on that, and done a very good job. Mr. Bailey would not be appropriate for that role at all. (The Judicial Commission's eyebrow-raising and very rare investigation into misconduct Bailey's alleged to have indulged as Superior Court judge is expected to conclude only after the election, but should be interesting to follow.) I'm voting for Becerra.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Becerra winning 63.6% to 36.4%.

2019-06-23 update: A panel of three special masters appointed by the California Supreme Court held evidentiary hearings for the Commission on Judicial Performance on twelve misconduct charges against Judge Bailey, making recommendations on fact and conclusions of law. The commission announced on 2019-02-27 that Judge Bailey committed prejudicial conduct in 7 of the 12 counts including unlawfully conducting his Attorney General campaign during his last year on the bench, and engaged in improper conduct in 8 of the 12 counts. It publicly censured Judge Bailey, and barred him for life from California judicial office or accepting work from any California court. See: process overview, press release, verdict. Coverage: 1, 2.



Insurance Commissioner

(vote for one)

This is a Top-Two runoff for a voter-nominated office (thus, no write-ins), 2 candidates having been eliminated in the June primary. Current Insurance Commissioner David Evan "Dave" Jones is termed out.

Information:
CALmatters coverage
Bay Area Reporter endorses Lara
(S.J.) Mercury News / East Bay Times endorses (1, 2) Poizner
S.F. Bay Guardian endorses Lara
L.A. Times endorses Poizner
Sacramento Bee endorses Poizner
The Daily Cal endorses Lara
S.M. County Republican Party endorses Poizner

RM partisan analysis: The reason to prefer Mr. Poizner, a one-time Republican, is quite simple: He's done a truly excellent job at this position before, between 2007 and 2011, and I voted for him at that time, too. I'm voting for Poizner.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Lara winning 52.9% to 47.1%.



Member, State Board of Equalization, 2nd District

(vote for one)

This is a Top-Two runoff for a voter-nominated office (thus, no write-ins), 2 candidates having been eliminated in the June primary. Current Board Member for the 2nd District Fiona Ma decided not to run for re-election, but instead run for State Treasurer.

It may also be of interest that all four of the Board seats are open, the incumbents for various reasons not running: George Runner (R-District 1) and Jerome Horton (D-District 3) are termed out. Fiona Ma (D-District 2) and Diane Harkey (R-District 4) preferred to run for State Treasurer and U.S. House of Representatives, respectively.

Note: Until mid-2017, BoE was charged with administering all state-wide tax programs, including corporation and income taxes as an appellate body. In response to repeated scandals, the Legislature stripped almost all functions and 90% of staff, leaving it in charge solely of reviewing property tax assessments, insurer tax assessment, alcohol excise taxes, and pipeline taxes.

Information:
CALmatters coverage
Bay Area Reporter endorses Cohen
(S.J.) Mercury News / East Bay Times endorses (1, 2) Cohen
The Daily Cal endorses Cohen
CA N.O.W. endorses Cohen

RM partisan analysis: Following the consensus, I'm voting for Cohen.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Cohen winning 72.8% to 27.2%.



Superintendent of Public Instruction

(vote for one)

Superintendent of Public Instruction, statewide judges, and other nonpartisan statewide offices are exempt from Top-Two runoff, hence the option for write-ins. Current Superintendent of Public Instruction Thomas A. "Tom" Torlakson is termed out.

Information:
CALmatters coverage
S.F. Chronicle coverage
Sacramento Bee coverage
L.A. Times analysis
San Diego Free Press analysis
L.A. Progressive analysis
SchoolsMatter analysis
Washington Post analysis
The Progressive analysis
Planned Parenthood endorses Thurmond
Bay Area Reporter endorses Thurmond
Orange County Register endorses Tuck
(S.J.) Mercury News / East Bay Times endorses (1, 2, 3) Tuck
S.F. Bay Guardian endorses Thurmond
Sacramento Bee endorses Thurmond
The Daily Cal endorses Thurmond
CA N.O.W. endorses Thurmond

RM partisan analysis: Mr. Tuck is irredeemably tainted in my eyes by being far too beholden to the private charter school movement that has been a vehicle for defunding and dismantling California's public school system through the death of a thousand cuts. (Green Dot Public [sic] Schools, which he headed, is not a set of public schools but rather a private charter school company.) Meanwhile, Thurmond has a long track record working for public education, and in my view his cozy connections with public teacher unions are the lesser sin. I'm voting for Thurmond.

As of four days before the election, the charter school and billionaire interests bankrolling Tuck have outspent Thurmond by a factor of two, spending a staggering $30.3 million and buying Tuck an (initial) 12-point lead.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Thurmond winning 50.9% to 49.1%.



Statewide Judicial

All statewide judges are subject to voter confirmation after the Governor nominates based on feedback from the Judicial Nominees Evaluation Commission's report and vetting by the Commission on Judicial Appointments. Gubernatorial nomination (and Commission on Judicial Appointments vetting) suffices to place a judge initially into office, but then he/she must be confirmed by voters at the next gubernatorial election and thereafter at the end of each 12-year term of office.

Supreme Court Justices

(twelve-year terms, nonpartisan)

Carol A. (Carol Ann) Corrigan, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of California

Information:
(S.J.) Mercury News coverage
L.A. Times endorses (1, 2) "yes"

RM partisan analysis: No objection found. In particular, I consider an online campaign lead by Olympic diving medalist Greg Louganis to vote "no" against her because she "voted against same-sex marriage" to be on balance factually mistaken: This was California Supreme Court decision In Re: Marriage Cases, 183 P.3d 384 (Cal. 2008), where Corrigan authored a part-dissenting, part-concurring opinion, objecting that this issue should be decided by voter referendum, not by the California Supreme Court. (This was also the court's view when it previously decided the matter, two years earlier.) Notably, her opinion's opening sentence was: "In my view, Californians should allow our gay and lesbian neighbors to call their unions marriages."

I'm voting to confirm.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Corrigan winning 69.8% to 30.2%.



Leondra R. (Leondra Reid) Kruger, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of California

Information:
L.A. Times endorses (1, 2) "yes"

RM partisan analysis: No objection found. I'm voting to confirm.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Kruger winning 72.8% to 27.2%.



Court of Appeals Justices

These are state intermediate courts of review and have jurisdiction when superior courts have jurisdiction and in certain other cases prescribed by statute. All offices below are for the 1st (San Francisco) of California's six districts, hearing all state appellate matters from Alameda, Contra Costa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Solano, and Sonoma counties.

1st Division is in turn divided into (currently) five divisions, each with four justices (thus, currently 20 justices).

(twelve-year terms, nonpartisan)

James M. Humes, Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal Dist. 1, Div. 1

Information:
L.A. Times coverage

RM partisan analysis: No objection found. I'm voting to confirm.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Humes winning 76.7% to 23.3%.



Sandra L. Margulies, Associate Justice, Court of Appeal Dist. 1, Div. 1

RM partisan analysis: No objection found. I'm voting to confirm.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Margulies winning 74.5% to 25.5%.



James A. Richman, Associate Justice, Court of Appeal Dist. 1, Div. 2

RM partisan analysis: No objection found. I'm voting to confirm.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Richman winning 66.4% to 33.6%.



Marla J. Miller, Associate Justice, Court of Appeal Dist. 1, Div. 2

RM partisan analysis: No objection found. I'm voting to confirm.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Miller winning 73.5% to 26.5%.



Peter J. (Peter John) Siggins, Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal Dist. 1, Div. 3

RM partisan analysis: No objection found. I'm voting to confirm.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Siggins winning 75.6% to 24.4%.



Jon B. Streeter, Associate Justice, Court of Appeal Dist. 1, Div. 4

RM partisan analysis: No objection found. I'm voting to confirm.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Streeter winning 76.4% to 23.6%.



Alison M. Tucher, Associate Justice, Court of Appeal Dist. 1, Div. 4

RM partisan analysis: No objection found. I'm voting to confirm.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Tucher winning 81.5% to 18.5%.



Barbara J.R. Jones, Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal Dist. 1, Div. 5

RM partisan analysis: No objection found. I'm voting to confirm.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Jones winning 82.9% to 17.1%.



County Offices

San Mateo County Board of Education, Board Member, Trustee Area 1

(four-year terms; vote for one)

This is a nonpartisan office (hence, write-ins are allowed). However, on Oct. 3, qualified candidates were listed at the County Election Office, and no write-in candidates qualified for this race.

Members are elected county-wide, but each is responsible for an "area" of the district where he/she's resident. Trustee Area 1 is mostly coastside San Mateo County, and comprises the Cabrillo, La Honda/Pescadero, Belmont-Redwood Shores school districts and part of Sequoia Union school district. Note: The county elections officer erroneously mailed a sample ballot and candidate information for this race only in Trustee Area 1, as if district voting were used, which it is not for this office.

It may be of interest that two other Board members are also up for re-election: Beverly J. Gerard of Trustee Area 2 (Bayshore, Brisbane, Jefferson Elementary, Jefferson Union, and Pacifica school districts), and Hector Camacho, Jr. of Trustee Area 3 (San Bruno Park, part of San Mateo Union school district, SSF). There is no ballot issue for those offices because those incumbents are running unopposed.

Information:
HMB Review coverage (1, 2)
S.M. Daily Journal coverage (1, 2)
P.A. Daily Post coverage
S.M. Daily Journal endorses Alvaro
S.M. County Democratic Party endorses Alvaro

RM partisan analysis: Trusting to the Daily Journal editorial board, I'm voting for Alvaro.

Outcome: 2018-12-06 official results show Alvaro winning 60.5% to 39.5%.



Special Districts

San Mateo County Harbor District Commission

(four-year terms; vote for two)

This is a nonpartisan office (hence, write-ins are allowed). (Incumbent and current Commission Vice-President Robert Bernardo is not running again.) However, on Oct. 3, qualified candidates were listed at the County Election Office, and no write-in candidates qualified for this race.

Information:
P.A. Daily News coverage
S.M. Daily Journal coverage
H.M.B. Review coverage
P.A. Daily Post coverage
S.M. County Republican Party endorses Richardson
H.M.B. Review endorses Sutter and Larenas

RM partisan analysis: As the P.A. Daily News story suggests, Reyering comes with some bizarre baggage, and the last thing this trouble-prone commission needs is more contention. Larenas would be returning to this office; he seems to have done a good enough job as far as I can tell. Of the other two, they both seem OK, but Richardson has longer experience. So, I'm voting for Richardson and Larenas. (Sutter would also be a fine choice, in my view.)

Outcome: 2018-12-06 official results show Larenas 39.7%, Reyering 31.5%, Sutter 16.0%, and Richardson 13.0%.



Menlo Park Fire Protection District, Members, Board of Directors

(four-year terms; vote for three)

This is a nonpartisan office (hence, write-ins are allowed). (Incumbent Peter Carpenter is not running again.) However, on Oct. 3, qualified candidates were listed at the County Election Office, and no write-in candidates qualified for this race.

Information:
Palo Alto Daily Post coverage (1, 2)
The Almanac coverage
The Almanac endorses McLaughlin, Bernstein, and Jones
Palo Alto Daily Post endorses McLaughlin, Bernstein, and Jones
S.M. County Republican Party endorses Ballard and McLaughlin

RM partisan analysis: I'm following The Almanac's advice. I'm voting for McLaughlin, Bernstein, and Jones.

Outcome: 2018-12-06 official results show Jones 34.3%, McLaughlin 25.8%, Bernstein 25.1%, and Ballard 14.8%.



Statewide Measures

[Note: California propositions now reset to 1 on every ten-year anniversary of the November 1998 ballot, hence this election's startover.]

Talented wit and Democratic Party activist Damian Carroll (National Director of the charity Vision to Learn) once again wrote a descriptive haiku (the poetic form with 17 syllables) for each of the 11 statewide ballot measures — or, as he put it:

What's California
Voting on this November?
Here's an easy guide.

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

Proposition 1: Veterans and Affordable Housing Bond Act of 2018 (short title)

Four billion in bonds:
Funds affordable housing
For renters and vets.

Formal name: Authorizes Bonds to Fund Specified Housing Assistance Programs. Legislative Statute.

(requires majority voter approval statewide)

Authorizes $4b of state general obligation bonds to fund existing housing programs. Includes $1.5b for Multifamily Housing Program for low-income residents, $1b for loans to help veterans purchase farms and homes, $450M for infill and transit-oriented housing projects, $300M for farmworker housing program, and $300M for manufactured and mobile homes. Provides housing assistance for buyers, infrastructure financing, and matching grants to expand affordable housing stock. Appropriates General Fund revenues to pay off bonds for existing programs that have no revenues or insufficient revenues.

Full text

Information:
ByTheBay coverage
Ballotpedia coverage
CALmatters coverage (1, 2)
GV Wire coverage
KGO-TV coverage
Pete Stahl endorses "yes"
Ocean Beach Rag endorses "yes"
Bay Area Reporter endorses "yes"
(S.J.) Mercury News / East Bay Times endorses (1, 2) "yes"
S.F. Bay Guardian endorses "yes"
S.F. Chronicle endorses "yes"
Sacramento Bee endorses "yes"
Fresno Bee endorses "yes"
San Diego Union-Tribune endorses (1, 2) "no"
(Riverside) Press-Enterprise endorses "no"
L.A. Times endorses "yes"
Sacramento Bee endorses "yes"
The Daily Cal endorses "yes"
CA Democratic Party endorses "yes"
CA Republican Party endorses "no"
CA Libertarian Party endorses "no"
CA Green Party endorses "yes"
Peace & Freedom Party endorses "no"

RM partisan analysis: This would be $4b in general-obligation bonds, that would extend over about 35 years, to alleviate California's housing crisis in various ways. The housing crisis is a real and serious problem. If California had not spent the past few decades racking up excessive bonded indebtedness (see comments for Prop. 2), we'd be able to afford public bond-proceeds money for this badly needed fix. Unfortunately, through abysmal planning, we shouldn't, until the state debt-service ratio (DSR) is saner. I'm voting no.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Prop. 1 passing by 56.2% to 43.8%.



Proposition 2: No Place Like Home Act of 2018 (short title)

Frees mental health bucks
To build supportive housing
That helps the homeless.

Formal name: Authorizes Bonds to Fund Existing Housing Program for Individuals with Mental Illness. Legislative Statute.

(requires majority voter approval statewide)

Ratifies existing law establishing the No Place Like Home Program, which finances permanent housing for individuals with mental illness who are homeless or at risk for chronic homelessness, as being consistent with the Mental Health Services Act approved by the electorate. Ratifies issuance of up to $2b in previously authorized bonds to finance the No Place Like Home Program. Amends the Mental Health Services Act to authorize transfers of up to $140M annually from the existing Mental Health Services Fund to the No Place Like Home Program, with no increase in taxes.

Full text.

Information:
ByTheBay coverage
Ballotpedia coverage
CALmatters coverage (1, 2)
GV Wire coverage
L.A. Times coverage
Sacramento Bee coverage
KGO-TV coverage
KQED-FM Forum debate
Pete Stahl endorses "yes"
Ocean Beach Rag endorses "yes"
Bay Area Reporter endorses "yes"
Palo Alto Daily Post endorses "no"
(S.J.) Mercury News / East Bay Times endorses (1, 2) "Yes"
S.F. Chronicle endorses "yes"
L.A. Times endorses "yes"
San Diego Union-Tribune endorses "yes"
Sacramento Bee endorses "yes"
Fresno Bee endorses "yes"
(Santa Rosa) Press-Democrat endorses "yes"
S.F. Bay Guardian endorses "yes"
The Daily Cal endorses "yes"
CA Chamber of Commerce endorses "yes"
CA Democratic Party endorses "yes"
CA Republican Party endorses "yes"
CA Libertarian Party endorses "no"
Peace & Freedom Party endorses "yes"

RM partisan analysis: This would be $2b in general-obligation bonds, that would extend over about 30 years, to provide the missing construction funds for supportive housing complementary to the operating revenues available from 2004's Prop. 63 that rationally cannot be used without that infrastructure. (See Pete Stahl's piece for the background. Short version: After voters passed Prop. 63, the Mental Health Services Act, in 2004, Sacramento lawyer Mary Ann Bernard sued the state to block spending of Prop. 63 bond proceeds to create supportive housing for the mentally ill, contending that the fund may lawfully be used only for treatment programs in the strict sense. The current measure would moot that still-ongoing litigation, clarifying that no, supportive housing is part of what voters intended Prop. 63 funds to be used for, and finally letting the program start working.)

Uniquely among the four bond measures on this ballot, the bond repayment and debt service would not come from the General Fund, but rather from accumulated Prop. 63 revenues. So, it alone would not impair the state's hideously bloated debt service ratio (DSR), which according to the Legislative Analyst's " Overview of State Bond Debt" in the Nov. 2018 Official Voter Information Guide is finally, after decades of dangerously excessive bond-debt additions, hovering just above 4% and falling.

As a reminder, as I've said in past election analyses such as this past June's, a healthy DSR is 1-2%. High DSR creates grave risks of financial ruin in any serious economic downturn, and makes new debt much more expensive by degrading the state's credit rating.3 California's credit rating is still among the worst of all US states, and this must continue to be remedied. But Prop. 2 is the sole bond measure on this ballot that doesn't contribute to the problem. I'm voting yes.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Prop. 2 passing by 63.4% to 36.6%.



Proposition 3: Authorizes Bonds to Fund Projects for Water Supply and Quality, Watershed, Fish, Wildlife, Water Conveyance, and Groundwater Sustainability and Storage. Initiative Statute.

Nearly nine billion
In water bonds - cleanliness,
Transport, and storage.

(requires majority voter approval statewide)

Authorizes $8.877b in state general obligation bonds for various infrastructure projects: $3.03b for safe drinking water and water quality, $2.895b for watershed and fisheries improvements, $940M for habitat protections, $855M for improved water conveyance, $685M for groundwater sustainability / storage, and $472M for surface water storage / dam repairs. Appropriates money from the General Fund to pay off bonds. Requires certain projects to provide matching funds from non-state sources; gives priority to disadvantaged communities.

Full text.

Information:
ByTheBay coverage
Ballotpedia coverage
CALmatters coverage (1, 2)
(S.J.) Mercury News coverage
GV Wire coverage
KGO-TV coverage
The (Hanford) Sentinel coverage
Fresno Bee coverage
L.A. Times analysis
Pete Stahl endorses "no"
Ocean Beach Rag endorses "no"
Bay Area Reporter endorses "no"
Fresno Bee endorses "yes"
(Santa Rosa) Press-Democrat endorses "yes"
Palo Alto Daily Post endorses "no"
(S.J.) Mercury News / East Bay Times endorses (1, 2) "no"
S.F. Bay Guardian endorses "no"
L.A. Times endorses "no"
S.F. Chronicle endorses "no"
San Diego Union-Tribune endorses "no"
Santa Cruz Sentinel endorses "no"
(Palm Springs) Desert Sun endorses "no"
Sacramento Bee endorses "no"
Save The Bay endorses "yes"
National Heritage Institute endorses "yes"
CA Sierra Club endorses "no"
The Daily Cal endorses "no"
CA Libertarian Party endorses "no"
CA Green Party endorses "no"
Peace & Freedom Party endorses "no"

RM partisan analysis: This would be $8.9b in general-obligation bonds, that would extend over about 40 years. It's a boondoggle largely for Kern County agricultural interests. (See the L.A. Times analysis piece for more scathing detail.) I'm voting no.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Prop. 3 failing by 49.3% to 50.7%.



Proposition 4: Authorizes Bonds Funding Construction at Hospitals Providing Children's Health Care. Initiative Statute.

More bonds! This one's for
Children's hospital buildings:
One point five billion.

(requires majority voter approval statewide)

Authorizes $1.5b in bonds, to be repaid from the state's General Fund, to fund grants for construction, expansion, renovation, and equipping of qualifying children's hospitals. Designates 72% of funds to qualifying private nonprofit hospitals providing high volumes of children eligible for government programs and children with special health needs eligible for the California Children's Services program, 18% of funds to University of California general acute care children's hospitals, and 10% of funds to public and private nonprofit hospitals providing services to children eligible for the California Children's Services program.

Full text.

Information:
ByTheBay coverage
Ballotpedia coverage
CALmatters coverage (1, 2)
GV Wire coverage
KGO-TV coverage
Pete Stahl endorses "yes"
Ocean Beach Rag endorses "yes"
Bay Area Reporter endorses "yes"
Palo Alto Daily Post endorses "no"
(S.J.) Mercury News / East Bay Times endorses (1, 2) "yes"
S.F. Bay Guardian endorses "no"
L.A. Times endorses "yes"
L.A. Daily News endorses "no"
San Diego Union-Tribune endorses "yes"
Santa Cruz Sentinel endorses "yes"
S.F. Chronicle endorses "yes"
Sacramento Bee endorses "yes"
The Daily Cal endorses "yes"
CA Democratic Party endorses "yes"
CA Republican Party endorses "no"
CA Libertarian Party endorses "no"
CA Green Party endorses "yes"
Peace & Freedom Party endorses "no"

RM partisan analysis: This would be $1.5b in general-obligation bonds, that would extend over about 35 years to benefit (mostly) eight private hospitals. Sorry, public funds shouldn't bankroll private facilities. (L.A. Times makes a good argument that private children's hospitals have to keep coming back to the voters for help with their capital expenses because Medi-Cal reimbursement rates are too low, but, in my view, this is the wrong remedy.) I'm voting no.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Prop. 4 passing by 62.7% to 37.3%.



Proposition 5: Changes Requirements for Certain Property Owners to Transfer Their Property Tax Base to Replacement Property. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

Cuts property tax
For seniors who move into
A pricier home.

(requires majority voter approval statewide)

Removes the following current requirements for homeowners who are over 55 years old or severely disabled to transfer their property tax base to a replacement residence: that replacement property be of equal or lesser value, replacement residence be in specific county, and the transfer occur only once. Removes similar replacement-value and location requirements on transfers for contaminated or disaster-destroyed property. Requires adjustments to the replacement property's tax base, based on the new property's value.

[Note: The constitutional amendment portion of this measure would relax a small fraction of the restrictions amended into California's constitution by 1978's Proposition 13, popularly called the Jarvis-Gann Amendment.]

Full text.

Information:
ByTheBay coverage
Ballotpedia coverage
CALmatters coverage (1, 2)
GV Wire coverage
KGO-TV coverage
KQED-FM Forum debate
Pete Stahl endorses "no"
Ocean Beach Rag endorses "no"
Bay Area Reporter endorses "no"
Palo Alto Daily Post endorses "yes"
(S.J.) Mercury News / East Bay Times endorses (1, 2) "no"
S.F. Bay Guardian endorses "no"
Sacramento Bee endorses "no"
San Diego Union-Tribune endorses "yes"
S.F. Chronicle endorses "no"
L.A. Times endorses "no"
The Daily Cal endorses "no"
CA Democratic Party endorses "no"
CA Republican Party endorses "yes"
CA Libertarian Party endorses "yes"
CA Green Party endorses "no"
Peace & Freedom Party endorses "no"

RM partisan analysis: I concur with Pete Stahl's general rule of opposing small and practically cosmetic swabbings of the open sore that is the broken Proposition 13 property tax regime. Moreover, as he points out, this one would be seriously expensive to the state, and basically amounts to tax relief for the wealthy, who don't need it. Last, this was crammed onto the ballot by the Realtors' Association in hopes of driving higher commissions, underlining this being an abuse of public process. I'm voting no.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Prop. 5 failing by 40.2% to 59.8%.



Proposition 6: Eliminates Recently Enacted Road Repair and Transportation Funding by Repealing Revenues Dedicated for those Purposes. Requires any Measure to Enact Certain Vehicle Fuel Taxes and Vehicle Fees be Submitted to and Approved by the Electorate. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

Vote "no" to maintain
Road, highway, and transit funds
Raised through the gas tax.

(requires majority voter approval statewide)

Repeals a 2017 transportation law's tax and fee provisions that pay for repairs and improvements to local roads, state highways, and public transportation. Requires the Legislature to submit any measures enacting specified taxes or fees on gas or diesel fuel, or on the privilege to operate a vehicle on public highways, to the electorate for approval.

Full text.

Information:
ByTheBay coverage
Ballotpedia coverage
CALmatters coverage (1, 2, 3)
GV Wire coverage
L.A. Times coverage
KGO-TV coverage
Sacramento Bee analysis of the 2017 gas tax
S.M. Daily Journal editorial
Pete Stahl endorses "no"
Ocean Beach Rag endorses "no"
Bay Area Reporter endorses "no"
Palo Alto Daily Post endorses "yes"
(S.J.) Mercury News / East Bay Times endorses (1, 2) "no"
S.F. Bay Guardian endorses "no"
L.A. Daily News endorses "yes"
L.A. Times endorses "no"
Sacramento Bee endorses "no"
San Diego Union-Tribune endorses "no"
S.F. Chronicle endorses "no"
(Santa Rosa) Press-Democrat endorses "no"
The Daily Cal endorses "no"
CA Democratic Party endorses "no"
CA Republican Party endorses "yes"
CA Libertarian Party endorses "yes"
CA Green Party endorses "no"
Peace & Freedom Party endorses "no"

RM partisan analysis: Let's be honest: This is on the ballot because the California GOP hopes state voters will knee-jerk fall for the chance to remove 2017's increases in fuel taxes and vehicle registration that is finally making huge strides towards fixing the state's crumbling and failing roads and bridges and curing the traffic logjams. Those critically needed repairs would come to a screeching halt if this passes, but the CA GOP doesn't care. All they want is coattails for their candidates from voter rage over last year's 12 cent/gal. hike in gasoline taxes and additions of $25-$175 to car registrations. Proponents say the 2017 rise should have been put in front of the voters: Fine, fair enough: Vote this sucker down. The pothole you help fix might be the one that otherwise might have broken your transaxle. I'm voting hell no.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Prop. 6 failing by 43.2% to 56.8%.



Proposition 7: Conforms California Daylight Saving Time to Federal Law. Allows Legislature to Change Daylight Saving Time Period. Initiative Statute.

Daylight savings time
Could be made permanent by
Legislative vote.

(requires majority voter approval statewide)

Establishes the time zone designated by Federal law as "Pacific Standard Time" as the standard time within California. Provides that California Daylight Saving Time begins at 2AM on the second Sunday of March, and ends at 2AM on the first Sunday of November, consistent with current Federal law. Permits the Legislature by two-thirds to vote to make future changes to California's Daylight Saving Time period, including for its year-round application, if changes are consistent with Federal law.

Full text.

Information:
ByTheBay coverage
Ballotpedia coverage
CALmatters coverage (1, 2)
GV Wire coverage
KGO-TV coverage
S.F. Chronicle coverage
kQED-FM Forum coverage
Reuters background
Scientific American background
Time Magazine background
S.M. Daily Journal editorial
Pete Stahl endorses "yes"
Ocean Beach Rag endorses "yes"
Bay Area Reporter endorses "no"
Palo Alto Daily Post endorses "yes"
(S.J.) Mercury News / East Bay Times endorses (1, 2) "no"
S.F. Bay Guardian endorses "yes"
L.A. Times endorses "yes"
San Diego Union-Tribune endorses "yes"
S.F. Chronicle endorses "no"
Fresno Bee endorses "no"
Sacramento Bee endorses "no"
The Daily Cal endorses "yes"
CA Democratic Party endorses "yes"
CA Republican Party endorses "yes"
CA Green Party endorses "yes"

RM partisan analysis: All this really does is finally give the Legislature the authority to adjust Daylight Saving Time (DST) as necessary, including, with a 2/3 supermajority, making it year-round (if Federal law is changed to so permit), but by itself this measure makes no change to timekeeping, just facilitates changes if ever needed.

Longer explanation: In 1949, voter initiative Prop. 12 decreed statewide DST. Therefore, only another voter initiative may change that: This initiative repeals and replaces the 1949 proposition, with one giving our Legislature power prospectively to adjust DST without needing to submit the issue to statewide vote. Going DST year-round will also be within the Legislature's power, but only if Congress first amends the Federal Uniform Time Act of 1966 to so allow. (Any time adjustment by our Sacramento legislators would require 2/3 supermajority.)

(As an aside, the Uniform Time Act already permits any state, territory, or Amerindian nation to remain on Standard Time year-around if it wishes. Hawaii, Arizona, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the Northern Marianas Islands, and Hopi Nation do so.)

Makes sense to me. I'm voting yes.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Prop. 7 passing by 59.7% to 40.3%.



Proposition 8: Regulates Amounts Outpatient Kidney Dialysis Clinics Charge for Dialysis Treatment. Initiative Statute.

Sets a profit cap
For kidney dialysis
At fifteen percent.

(requires majority voter approval statewide)

Limits the charges to 115% of the costs for direct patient care and quality improvement costs, including training patient education, and technology support. Requires rebates and penalties if charges exceed the limit. Requires annual reporting to the state regarding clinic costs, patient charges, and revenue. Prohibits clinics from refusing to treat patients based on the source of payment for care.

Full text.

Information:
ByTheBay coverage
Ballotpedia coverage
CALmatters coverage
GV Wire coverage
KGO-TV coverage
L.A. Times background
John Oliver gives context
KQED-FM Forum debate
CALmatters editorial
Bill co-sponsor's editorial
Bill co-sponsor's editorial
Palo Alto Daily Post editorial
Pete Stahl endorses "no"
Ocean Beach Rag endorses "yes"
Bay Area Reporter endorses "no"
Palo Alto Daily Post endorses "no"
(S.J.) Mercury News / East Bay Times endorses (1, 2) "no"
S.F. Bay Guardian endorses "yes"
L.A. Times endorses "no"
S.F. Chronicle endorses "no"
San Diego Union-Tribune endorses "no"
Modesto Bee endorses "no"
(Santa Rosa) Press-Democrat endorses "no"
Sacramento Bee endorses "no"
The Daily Cal endorses "no"
CA Democratic Party endorses "yes"
CA Republican Party endorses "no"
CA Libertarian Party endorses "no"
CA Green Party endorses "yes"
Peace & Freedom Party endorses "yes"

RM partisan analysis: As Pete Stahl points out, this is just part of an ugly slugfest between SEIU and the state's two non-union dialysis companies, trying to use inflexible state regulatory powers as a cudgel to threaten their revenues. The state of California has no business getting sucked into this. I'm voting no.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Prop. 8 failing by 40.1% to 59.9%.



Proposition 9: Three States Initiative

Split our state in three?
Where's the map? -- Whoops, never mind:
The Court threw it out.

Removed by order of the California Supreme Court on July 18, 2018, for further legal review.

RM partisan analysis: I'm going to dissect this one even though it's for now a dead-letter, because the dishonest machinations behind it should be noted and may return to face us again. For context, this was the latest of billionaire Silicon Valley venture capitalist Timothy Draper's political attempts to bring about the breakup of California into multiple states. One troubling fact is that Draper's initiative was constructed not as an initiative constitutional amendment — even though it would have not just merely amended the state constitution but expunged the entire constitution and the state along with it. The other and even worse troubling fact is that, in my opinion and that of many other commenters, Draper's initiative deliberately ignored the state constitution's requirement that any "revision" to that document, i.e., any holistic and fundamental change, must first be approved by 2/3 vote of both Legislature houses before voter ratification. Draper and his helpers acted as if it were a mere "amendment", thus entitled to bypass the Legislature and go straight to the voters.

Summoned in front of the court to defend this chicanery, Draper non-explained that Prop. 9 would result in "nullification of the California Constitution, not its revision." I'm sorry, what?

It should be noted that the high court politely exercised judicial restraint by not ruling on this fair obvious effrontery, ruling only that enough of a question had been raised about the proposition's validity and potential public harm from voting before those had been properly decided to justify "delaying the proposition to a future election". Like the cheeky little man-child and pimple on the electorate's tochis he is, Draper's response was to verbally attack the entire state government and the six-justice panel that had cooled his jets. What a entitled, spoiled little whiner, and what a waste of everyone's time and money. Sheesh.



Proposition 10: Expands Local Governments' Authority to Enact Rent Control on Residential Property. Initiative Statute.

Overturns a law
That prohibits cities from
Using rent control.

(requires majority voter approval statewide)

Repeals state law that currently restricts the scope of rent-control policies that cities and other local jurisdictions may impose. Allows policies that would limit the rental rates that residential-property owners may charge for new tenants, new construction, and single-family homes. In accordance with California law, provides that rent-control policies may not violate landlords' right to a fair financial return on their rental property.

Full text.

Information:
ByTheBay coverage
Ballotpedia coverage
(S.J.) Mercury News coverage (1, 2)
CALmatters coverage (1, 2)
S.M. Daily Journal coverage
GV Wire coverage
Palo Alto Daily Post coverage
KGO-TV coverage
S.M. Daily Journal editorial
(S.J.) Mercury News editorial
Pete Stahl endorses "yes"
Ocean Beach Rag endorses "yes"
Bay Area Reporter endorses "yes"
Palo Alto Daily Post endorses "no"
(S.J.) Mercury News / East Bay Times endorses (1, 2) "no"
S.F. Bay Guardian endorses "yes"
L.A. Times endorses "yes"
S.F. Chronicle endorses "no"
San Diego Union-Tribune endorses "no"
Fresno Bee endorses "no"
L.A. Daily News endorses "no"
Sacramento Bee endorses "yes"
The Daily Cal endorses "yes"
CA Democratic Party endorses "yes"
CA Republican Party endorses "no"
CA Libertarian Party endorses "no"
CA Green Party endorses "yes"
Peace & Freedom Party endorses "yes"

Note: This measure would repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act of 1995, which banned local rent control for buildings constructed after 1995.

RM partisan analysis: The above-cited statute has prevented local communities from effectively applying rent-control methods on many types of housing (single-family or duplex houses, plus all units built since 1995), and prevents limiting rent increases when a new tenant replaces an existing one. Those strait-jacketings of cites/towns/counties would be lifted. Note that this measure doesn't impose rent-control anywhere at all, and the desirability of such controls, a fair matter to discuss, is a separate issue that can and should be decided locally. I'm voting yes.

As of shortly before election day, this measure's predicted to be soundly defeated by a massive $75 million "no" campaign funded by real estate interests, who outspent their opposition by 3:1.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Prop. 10 failing by 40.6% to 59.4%.



Proposition 11: Requires Private-Sector Emergency Ambulance Employees to Remain on Call During Work Breaks. Changes Other Conditions of Employment. Initiative Statute.

Ambulance workers
On their break could be required
To remain on call.

(requires majority voter approval statewide)

Makes labor law entitling hourly employees to take work breaks and rest, without being on-call, inapplicable to private-sector emergency ambulance employees. Regulates timing of meal breaks for these employees. Eliminates employers' liability, in actions pending on or after October 25, 2017, for violations of existing law regarding work breaks. Requires employers to provide training regarding certain emergency incidents, violence prevention, and mental health and wellness. Requires employers to provide employees certain mental-health services.

Full text.

Information:
ByTheBay coverage
Ballotpedia coverage
CALmatters coverage (1, 2)
GV Wire coverage
KGO-TV coverage
CALmatters editorial
ProPublica background
KQED-FM Forum debate
Pete Stahl endorses "no"
Ocean Beach Rag endorses "no"
Bay Area Reporter endorses "no"
Palo Alto Daily Post endorses "yes"
(S.J.) Mercury News / East Bay Times endorses (1, 2) "yes"
L.A. Times endorses "yes"
S.F. Bay Guardian endorses "no"
Sacramento Bee endorses "yes"
(Riverside) Press-Enterprise endorses "yes"
San Diego Union-Tribune endorses "yes"
(Santa Rosa) Press-Democrat endorses "yes"
S.F. Chronicle endorses "no"
The Daily Cal endorses (1, 2) "no"
CA Democratic Party endorses "no"
CA Republican Party endorses "yes"
CA Libertarian Party endorses "no"
CA Green Party endorses "no"
Peace & Freedom Party endorses "no"

RM partisan analysis: This measure drags the voters into a private dispute between American Medical Response ("AMR"), Inc., the ambulance firm, and its labor force: The bill text was dictated by AMR to serve its corporate objectives. Seriously, once again the voters are supposed to put up with being a cudgel for a private dispute? I rather think not.

As necessary background: In Dec. 2016, the California Supreme Court ruled in Jennifer Augustus v. ABM Security Services ("ABM") that 10-minute rest breaks and meal breaks (usually 30 minutes if the employee has a shift of at least 5 hours) required by employment law (California Labor Code section 226.7) cannot be simply denied by employers requiring staff to be on-call during rest periods — i.e., that a rest break cancellable at the employer's option is not a rest break. (Plaintiff Augustus works as a private security guard.) The court rejected ABM's contention that they couldn't or shouldn't cover those rest breaks (and meal breaks) through other means like, say, adequate spare staffing.

Proposition 11 is on the ballot because major ambulance company AMR saw the writing on the wall (within that court judgement), expecting some future lawsuit to impose the same "No, really, rest and meal breaks must be real; employees aren't your serfs" judgement against them — and decided to do an end-run via the voters. Personally, the heck with that: AMR can bloody well hire a few more EMTs and paramedics, so it is adequately staffed instead of expecting the state's permission to abuse its employees' rights. (This is a particularly cheeky attempt to evade obviously correct legal judgements, basically.)

This sort of dispute needs to be settled in arbitration, not at the ballot box. I'm voting no.

And wow, the electorate really let themselves get conned on this one:

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Prop. 11 passing by 59.6% to 40.4%.

RM additional partisan comment: This proposition typifies why I started doing in-depth ballot analysis: Proponents' narrative sounds quite plausible unless you've bothered to uncover the back-story, and so incautious voters get fooled every time.



Proposition 12: Establishes New Standards for Confinement of Certain Farm Animals; Bans Sale of Certain Non-Complying Products. Initiative Statute.

Farms who wish to sell
Pigs, calves, chickens, and eggs here
Must give them more space.

(requires majority voter approval statewide)

Establishes new minimum space requirements for confining veal calves, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens. Requires egg-laying hens be raised in cage-free environments after December 31, 2021. Prohibits certain commercial sales of specified meat and egg products derived from animals confined in non-complying manners. Defines sales violations as unfair competition. Creates good-faith defense for sellers relying upon written certification by suppliers that meat and egg products comply with new confinement standards. Requires State of California to issue implementing regulations.

Full text.

Information:
ByTheBay coverage
Ballotpedia coverage
CALmatters coverage (1, 2)
GV Wire coverage
Daily Journal coverage
S.F. Chronicle coverage
KGO-TV coverage
KALW-FM coverage
KQED-FM Forum coverage
ecoRI coverage
The Intercept coverage
(S.J.) Mercury News coverage
Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy analysis
BioBeef Blog analysis (same text as prior item)
Dick and Sharon's LA Progressive analysis
Daily Titan analysis
KOIT-FM editorial
Pete Stahl endorses "yes"
Ocean Beach Rag endorses "yes"
Bay Area Reporter endorses "no"
Palo Alto Daily Post endorses "no"
(S.J.) Mercury News / East Bay Times endorses (1, 2) "yes"
L.A. Times endorses "yes"
Monterey Herald endorses "yes"
S.F. Chronicle endorses "no"
San Diego Union-Tribune endorses "no"
(Santa Rosa) Press-Democrat endorses "no"
S.F. Bay Guardian endorses "yes"
Sacramento Bee endorses "no"
Humane Society of the United States (author of this measure) endorses "yes"
ASPCA endorses "yes"
PETA endorses (1, 2) "no"
Humane Farming Association endorses "no"
The Daily Cal endorses "yes"
CA Democratic Party endorses "yes"
CA Republican Party endorses "no"
CA Green Party endorses "yes"
Peace & Freedom Party endorses "yes"

RM partisan analysis: At first glance, this seems like a tree-hugger feel-good measure, right? And too expensive, right? But no, not really. This just clarifies the requirements of 2008's Proposition 2 that reformed factory-farmed chicken-egg (and veal, and pig) operations. The further changes this measure imposes are in my opinion modest, designed to kick in gradually, and reasonable. Also, factory-farmed chicken operations really have been a horror, such that we can surely afford a modest 10% increase in egg prices, etc. to end infamously inhumane practices that are routine in the industry. It's the decent thing to do. However....

There are legitimate objections raised about this measure, by a consortium called Friends of Animals ("FoA"), that includes People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ("PETA") and Humane Farming Association, that deserve fair consideration.

As I understand it, FoA's narrative is as follows: Voters' intentions to fix factory-farmed egg conditions via 2008's Proposition 2 were mostly ineffective, for reasons FoA blames on drafting errors by the sponsoring Humane Society of the US ("HSUS"). FoA finds HSUS's follow-on measure (2018's Proposition 12) equally defective because (1) although it (finally) bans individual "battery" hen cages, it substitutes a requirement for only one square foot of space per hen. (2) The measure's ban on importing from other states pork and veal that fails California's humaneness standards is toothless, because it'll be tied up in litigation and Congress is likely to preempt it. (3) It fails to ban confinement of dairy cows, only veal cows, in small crates. (4) There is danger that half-measures, such as the one-square-foot allocation, will become "locked in" and dissuade voters from more-fully fixing the problem, on grounds that it's already been dealt with.

Item #4 is not an observation but rather a prediction, and I am unpersuaded that state voters would refuse a full loaf later, just because they've gotten half a loaf today. Item #2 may be true, but isn't Proposition 12's fault. Items #1 & 3 amount to "We wish this did more." Me, I'll gladly take half a loaf, and vote for a better measure if one arrives later.

I'm voting yes.

Outcome: 2018-12-14 official results show Prop. 12 passing by 62.7% to 37.3%.




County Measure



San Mateo County Transit District Measure W

Half percent more tax
On tangible goods you buy:
SamTrans revenue.

(That one's my haiku, not Damian Carroll's.)

(requires 2/3 approval per 1996's Prop. 218, to pass)

This is a special district ordinance that would enact a 0.5% addition to sales (in government jargon, "transactions and use") tax county-wide, for a period of 30 years, to reduce highway congestion, repair potholes, maintain streets, reduce local traffic, improve pedestrian safety, maintain affordable transit services for seniors/disabled, increase CalTrain & SamTrans capacity, reduce travel times/car trips, and implement the S.M. County Congestion Relief Plan. County officials estimate that it would raise an extra $80M in sales tax revenues annually.

Full text.

The District Board voted unanimously to recommend this measure to the voters, and the County Board of Supervisors likewise voted unanimously to concur with that recommendation. If passed, this measure would be effective July 1, 2019.

Existing sales tax rates: The statewide base sales tax rate is 6%, and San Mateo County then adds an additional 1.25% countywide. Various municipalities and quasi-municipal areas within the county are also permitted to add up to 2% more in city or special-district sales taxes (but with statutory exceptions often granted) — resulting in a base minimum of 7.25% and a maximum (so far) within this county of 9.25%, and a maximum permitted statewide of 10.25%.

As an example of a statutory exception to the 2% rule, AB 1613, authored by state Assemblyman Kevin Mullin (D-SSF) and passed by our Legislature in 2017, granted San Mateo County's cities and special districts permission to exceed 2% conditioned on development of a spending plan and then voter approval, thus laying groundwork for Measure W.

Current total sales tax rates, in cities/localities around San Mateo County:

If Measure W passes, each of those total rates would rise a further 0.5%. (This 1/2% addition would be applied to sales transactions in San Mateo County of "tangible goods", but not groceries or services.)

Note: The reason this measure requires a 2/3 margin to pass is that 1996's Prop. 218 requires that supermajority, if revenues would be earmarked for a specific purpose.

It should also be noted that Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board ("JPB", operator of CalTrain) has an effort on the way to put onto the November 2020 ballot an initiative asking San Mateo, Santa Clara, and San Francisco counties to add an additional 1/8% sales tax as a substitute funding mechanism for CalTrain, expected to bring in $100M/year in sales tax revenues and replacing CalTrain's existing $30M/year county subsidies. This is Legislature bill SB 797, "Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board: Transactions and Use Tax", by state Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo). If signed by Gov. Brown and put in front of the voters, it would (likewise) require 2/3 voter approval (per Prop. 218).

Measure W would be San Mateo County's third sales tax increase in six years: Voters approved 2012's Measure A (0.5% addition for 10 years) and then its 2016 extension Measure K (0.5% addition for 20 years), both aimed at funding, but not required to fund, emergency services, affordable housing, and parks. The Measure K sales tax addition will expire in 2046. Measure W's sales tax addition would expire in 2048. (Measure K amended Measure A, hence it was a single 0.5% addition in 2012 that was merely extended in 2016 an additional ten years of runtime. Unlike Measure W, these two initiatives required only majority voter approval, because although the measures cited possible uses for the added revenue, county supervisors retained complete discretion about uses.)

It may also be of interest that SamTrans spent a bit over $1 million on an advertising campaign called "Get Us Moving" (GUM) to lobby voters to vote for this measure. That electioneering money went to professional marketing firm TBWB Strategies, which specializes in convincing voters to agree to public finance measures, a widespread but only borderline lawful practice, raising obvious propriety concerns.

Information:
Ballotpedia coverage
The Almanac coverage (1, 2)
S.M. Daily Journal coverage
Progressive Railroading coverage
Planetizen coverage
Palo Alto Daily Post coverage (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
KALW-FM coverage
S.M. Daily Journal endorses "no"
Former SamTrans executive endorses "no"
Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition endorses "yes"
Greenbelt Alliance endorses "yes"
Save the Bay endorses "yes"
Sequoia Healthcare District Director Jack Hickey endorses "no"
Palo Alto Daily Post endorses "no"
S.M. County Democratic Party endorses "yes"
S.M. County Republican Party endorses "no"

RM partisan analysis: Sales taxes are the worst, most severe regressive tax in common use, even worse than parcel taxes: 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.

I'm voting hell no.

Outcome: 2018-12-06 official results show yes 66.9%, no 33.1%.

Man, that epically sucks for this county, which IMO really got taken for, if you'll pardon the expression, a ride..



Additional Resources

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



1 All write-in aka "independent" candidates, like other candidates, must be qualified (1, 2) by California's Secretary of State for state-level and Congressional offices, or by county election offices for local offices. The statewide list was (supposedly) available Oct. 26, but never made it to the Secretary of State's Web site. However, all polling places and Voting Centers are required to have a list of qualified write-in candidates.

The state's list of regular qualified candidates (other than write-ins) was published Aug. 30, 2018.

Since 2010's introduction of the Top-Two system, write-in candidates have been disallowed in General Election campaigns for voter-nominated offices (those subject to the Top-Two primary process in the prior election), to prevent a well-funded candidate getting a second shot at election after being eliminated in a Top-Two primary. The resulting effect of eliminating write-in voting entirely for most state offices during General Elections was intended but controversial.

Write-in voting remains always valid for party-nominated offices (US President/VP, and parties' central committee members) and for non-partisan offices, provided written-in candidates have been qualified.


2 Whether one approves or disapproves of AIP, the presence of its endorsement says very little about a candidate, as candidates appear not to be consulted. AIP in California has a long and odd story (summarized below). Suffice to say, the AIP that fielded George Wallace in 1968 long ago ceased to exist, there is no real party apparatus, it appears there are no longer nominating conventions or candidates fielded by AIP itself, and AIP amounts in the present age to a brand name associated with a Web site run by one Markham Robinson of Vacaville.

Brief history: The real AIP (backing former Alabama Gov. George Wallace) was founded in 1967 as a vehicle for Wallace's 1968 third-party Presidential run against Nixon and Humphrey, on a segregationist platform, getting 46 Electoral College votes (those of Arkansas, Louisiana, Georgia, and Alabama). This was effectively a one-shot, but embers persisted until 1992, when the last of Wallace's organization folded. However, minor far-right Constitution Party (of Colorado) then adopted AIP's electoral identity as a California "qualified" political party. In 2008, during a Constitution Party schism, a California faction (lead by Ed Noonan) split off and re-affiliated with new minor far-right America's Party (of Michigan), which now controls the AIP brand and (like AIP's other post-1968 incarnations) is on the ballot only in California.

Why California? Two reasons: 1. As proven by a 2016 L.A. Times investigation, 3/4 of Californians who registered AIP did so in error, under the mistaken impression they were registering "independent". (The Times expose prompted a 2018 registration-form redesign, to reduce such mishaps.) 2. California's hurdle for a "qualified" political party to remain on the ballot is so low AIP has been able to persist on the ballot since 1967, despite low vote totals and registrations under half a million (including erroneous ones).

Specifically, California lets any already-qualified party remain if it both (1) keeps at least 1/15% (currently 12,724) of total voter registrations (currently 19,086,589) and either (2a) garners votes for one of its statewide candidates equaling 2% (about 89,000) of total votes for that office during June 3, 2014's election or (2b) has 0.33% (currently 63,622) of total registrations 154 days before a primary or 123 days before a Presidential general election. AIP handily clears hurdles (1) and (2b), and so remains qualified even though the party imploded decades back. (Requirements to gain initial party qualification, omitted here, are more challenging.)


3 I'm still looking for a good reference on the Web to support my contention that a healthy DSR is 1-2%, and that high DSR creates grave risks of financial ruin in any serious economic downturn and makes new debt much more expensive by degrading the state's bond credit rating. Part of the supporting data would logically be the ratings data on creditworthiness of state and local governments by credit ratings agencies (Moody's Investor Service, Fitch Ratings, Standard & Poor's), but detailed Moody's (etc.) data is available only to subscribers. As a generality, the ratings services issue ratings based on "quality" of an entity's overall debt, but obviously the amount of that debt in relation to revenues, i.e., DSR becomes relevant by raising risk of default. Diminished credit ratings then raise the cost of new bond issues, raising their effective interest rates (higher discount on sale) and creating a spiraling problem. Moreover, that unhealthy feedback then worsens greatly if an economic downturn follows, because downturns reduce government revenues, further increasing DSR. The only way to prevent (risk of) this spiral is to keep DSR low.

A brief example from recent California history: Starting in 2000 (and reaching its worst point in Nov. 2001), the Dot-bomb recession hit state tax revenues particularly hard because the collapse of tech. stocks reduced state tax revenues from capital gains and stock options by $11 billion in a single year without a corresponding cut in spending, leading to ballooning multi-billion-dollar deficits. Several factors made this difficult to respond to quickly, including the then-requirement of a 2/3 supermajority to approve state budgets.

Part of the eventual remedy was a 2003 $10.7 billion deficit-financing bond issue to pay off the state's deficit (delayed by court challenge). In March 2003, this bond issue was canceled and replaced by $15 billion in bonds, via voters passing Proposition 57. Just before this disastrous increase in state debt at the same time tax revenues required to support it were collapsing, the state had $29 billion of general obligation bonds and $7 billion of lease-revenue bonds outstanding, but also hadn't yet sold about $21 billion of authorized bonds. DSR was 3.3%, but was expected to rise to 4.6% in 2004 and then further to a peak of 4.9% in 2005 as authorized bonds got sold — before the effect of Prop. 57. That all-new bond issue added about another 1.5% DSR and extended the effect into the future. This situation was still unresolved when a second crisis hit: The 2008 financial crisis, which dried up funds and tax revenues with many authorized bonds only barely able to be placed, and at high rates of discount to sell them at all.

The new crisis was so severe that not only was there a $26 billion budget deficit for 2009, but the Controller began paying debts with IOUs. This is when the state's creditworthiness dropped straight through the floor tying with Louisiana for the worst credit rating of any state, and making further bond issues even more expensive on account of the high discount required to sell them at all. It took years to recover from this fatal combination of high debt and recession-reduced tax revenues.

As of Nov. 2018, Moody's is rating California's general-obligation bonds "Aa3", which is Moody's fourth tier down from the top, at the bottom of the "high grade" category. As late as 2009, during the Schwarzenegger Administration's efforts to respond to cumulative high debt and the (new) financial crisis, it was a dreadful "Baa1", near the very bottom of "medium grade", but has gradually improved since then — more on account of the booming 2010s economy than of any state fiscal prudence.

For comparison, see Indiana's 2017 debt report: "The report shows Indiana's debt-service ratio is less than one percent (0.8%), significantly lower than the rest of the nation and neighboring states like Illinois (8.1%), Kentucky (7.7%), Ohio (5.6%), and Michigan (3%). 'A triple-A credit rating and low public debt-service go hand-in-hand,' said Micah Vincent, director of Indiana's Office of Management and Budget...." (AAA is Moody's top or "prime" grade.) Also, California's Treasurer publishes cross-state comparative data for states' general obligation bonds, and a California ratings history.