ALPERN AT LARGE--Come November, YOU decide.
It does appear that Californians will buy into Gavin Newsom's inevitable "heir apparent" to Jerry Brown, and it also appears that John Cox, while likely to be a good CEO-type governor, spent much more energy in the primaries than in the aftermath, and no one knows (or cares) who he is.
Certainly our two major parties in the Golden State really, REALLY are criminally dismissive of average, middle-class and/or hurting/working class Californians, and care about no one except for a few wealthy elites. Democrats are one-party tyrants lurching to the bizarre left and the developers' pockets, while Jim Brulte needs to get his worthless, irrelevant GOP leadership to a final end.
There are also NO shortage of Californians willing to pay more for new rail projects, but who are appalled at the state that our rail service now exists, and equally appalled that the California High-Speed Rail effort has superseded local rail needs that are more certain, and with greater support and consensus among local taxpayers.
Ditto with the lack of dams and water preservation efforts, and desalination facilities that could allow that thing called WATER to be exist in sufficient supplies for the needs of Californians.
Everyone wants more money in Sacramento, and the question of where PAST money, PRESENT money, and FUTURE money is being spent is as important as the question of what we need to spend money on pragmatically. And "Alpern's Law of Taxation" still holds true: It's not the amount of taxes that infuriates the voters as much as the perception of how those taxes are being spent.
And oh, yes, directly or indirectly, the pension issue (for those who still pay attention to that) is eating our children's future alive.
So here we go, with the propositions, and welcome to that Hades of the once-Golden State:
Proposition 1: $4 billion in bonds for low-income residents, veterans, and farmworkers
NO--if this were only going to the veterans, and if Sacramento and our state's developers didn't have such a pathetic history of misspending affordable housing money, this would be a YES. I love our veterans, but shouldn't this be a private sector issue?
Proposition 2: $2 billion in bonds for housing the mentally ill
NO--This should be a wonderful idea to assist with the homeless, but inasmuch as I love this idea in theory, the practical and horrible reality is that the developers and their Sacramento contacts SUCK at this kind of endeavor. This sort of thing is what we need, but not by our current "leadership". Pity.
Proposition 3: $8.877 billion in bonds for water infrastructure, groundwater supplies, dam repairs and other similar endeavors. Watershed and fishery improvements.
NO--Damn, we need to fix our dams! But so long as the feel-good weenies are in charge of engineers, who just want to improve our water and wildlife management in a cost-effective manner, there is NO guarantee that yet ANOTHER bond measure will be spent WELL. Boy, would it be nice to know HOW this would be spent, and this could be an emphatic YES recommendation.
Proposition 4: $1.4 billion in bonds to build, expand, renovate, and equip children's hospitals (13 across California.
YES--All financial concerns aside overall, this expenditure is defined and critical so that this one makes sense.
Proposition 6: Repeal the 12-cent/gallon gas tax passed by the Legislature.
NEUTRAL--While I favor expenditures on road and rail, the money is spent so poorly, and Jerry Brown and the Legislature SHOULD have put this in front of the voters, so that I am as infuriated with Brown and the Legislature for spending Transportation funds poorly as much as I want the roads and rails to be fixed and upgraded. Whoever is our next governor will need to fix all this.
And so it goes. Taxpayers are being raped and pillaged. Sacramento is horrible. Yet we were stupid enough to vote them all in. And we will be likely stupid enough to vote for Gavin Newsom, while not knowing or caring or liking John Cox as a reasonable, viable, alternative.
Have fun, everybody...but DO vote!
(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Dr. Alpern.)