A Voter's Guide to the California Propositions: 2010

10/21/2010 01:57 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Just got my mail-in California ballot. Governor, Senator, Rep (that's easy for me: Henry Waxman). And the Propositions. What to do?

If I could find a Republican conservative who had the common-sense to stand against the plutocracy, the guts to trim the defense budget, the love of country to say that torture is un-American, the faith not to say evolution is "just a theory," the wisdom to see that anthropogenic climate change is a threat to our national security, and the humility not confuse heterosexuality with moral probity, I'd consider voting for him or her. But I can't, so I'll vote the Democratic Party ticket this time again.

Maybe there'll be a new Bull Moose Party in a couple of years, but for now, that's the choice.

(The first tenet of the Progressive Party of 1912, called the Bull Moose Party colloquially, was "To destroy this invisible Government, to dissolve the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day." Sounds good to me.)

On to the nine Propositions that bedevil the conscientious voter....

19: Legalizes possession and cultivation of pot for personal use. As usual, I wish the proposition had been better drafted but I say YES. So does Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former Surgeon General. I always liked her blunt style (this is not a joke about blunts).

20: There are two Propositions dealing with re-districting Congressional districts, 20 and 27. This one takes the power to redistrict out of the hands of the State Legislature. They've done such a good job protecting their own that only two seats have changed party in the past ten years. And that's worked so well for us. 27 is the Legislature's version; unsurprisingly, they want to keep that power. YES on 20, no on 27.

21: Money for State Parks, raised by increasing vehicle registration fees. I'm no fan of budgeting through Propositions (hear me, Rob Reiner?), but the parks are in desperate shape and they're a public need without a private constituency, so their budget keeps getting cut. And Prop 21 means that CA-registered cars get into the parks with no additional entry fee so people without much money can enjoy them. YES.

22: For the past several years the dysfunctional State Legislature and the Governor have been trying to balance the budget on the back of local governments, collecting taxes earmarked for towns, cities and counties and not distributing them. We the people passed Prop 1A in 2004 to stop that behavior, but it didn't work. Prop 22 will. YES on 22.

23: The Oil Company Protection Act essentially repeals AB32, California's landmark recognition that climate change is real and we have to do something about it. Put on the ballot by two out-of-state energy companies and beloved by the Koch brothers, Prop 23 would be a giant step backward ecologically and economically. NO.

24: Prop 24 rolls back tax breaks to business passed in the last two years that primarily benefited out-of-state corporations. No question California needs businesses here for the jobs they provide, but California also needs revenue so its public schools can train our kids to literacy, numeracy and the other skills businesses need. YES.

25: This year there are two Propositions dealing with the budgeting process. We've watched our State crippled by a minority in the Legislature empowered by the rule that any budget must pass by a super-majority of 67%, a mandate shared only by Arkansas and Rhode Island. Prop 25 says a simple majority can pass a budget (it still, however, will take 2/3 to pass a tax increase). Super-majorities for both budget and taxes make the State ungovernable. Time for change: YES.

26: The second of the Propositions dealing with budgeting is a nasty piece of drafting that if passed, will mean that any fee, like an impost on oil companies to pay for spill clean-up, would also need that same 2/3rds super-majority. Paid for by oil and tobacco companies and big developers, this is a bad bargain for California. NO.

27: The Legislature wants back the local and State redistricting power that was given to independent commissions by Prop 11 in 2008. And they definitely don't want Congressional redistricting power given to those commissions. But they haven't earned our trust. NO.

To recap:

19: YES
20: YES
21: YES
22 YES
23: NO
24: YES
25: YES
26: NO
27: NO