2012 Election: California Ballot Measures- The Tough Props

Garen Yegparian


This is perhaps the most challenging of the articles to write in my series about the November 6, 2012 elections. The ballot measures presented are either difficult to take a position on in reality, or are swathed in such a thick veil of propaganda that their true essence is hidden.

Proposition 31 is one of the sneaky ballot measures. Under the guise of improving oversight and local control, it increases government costs in the short term for sure, and may even have significant unpredictable impacts in the long term. This is according to the Legislative analyst, the non-partisan office in Sacramento that provides explanations of what these ballot measures do. What this prop really does is to create a way to circumvent some protections that have been enacted for the public’s well being. Vote no on 31.

Proposition 32 is the most deceptive measure we’re being asked to vote on appearing on the November 6 ballot. It reminds me of Anatole France’s famous observation: “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread”. This proposition is also something of a re-run, with the previous one ultimately rejected. What it does is forbid the use of payroll deductions by corporations, government contractors, and unions for political purposes (unless authorized annually, in writing). Of course the government contractors aspect creates a patina of respectability for this measure. Who could or would argue against conditions that eliminate a bias for certain contractors getting government projects because of their campaign contributions? But that’s not really why this measure was crafted. Neither is the prohibition’s applicability to corporations. What difference does that make? Corporations would still be allowed to spend money for political purposes from their funds, just not through payroll deductions. And corporate spending on elections in California is already a huge source of political money. So the real target of this proposition becomes obvious, the unions. The unions’ ONLY source of money is their membership, which is deducted from members’ paychecks for various union related purposes, including political. This is an effort to mute the voices of organizations that represent millions of people’s vital economic interests, while effectively further empowering the very few with huge amounts of money available to flood the political playing field. Vote no on 32.

Proposition 33 is another “rerun”, with car insurance companies trying to get what they want by offering otherwise sensible changes to cover-up what they’re really after. It last appeared as Prop 17 on the June 2010 ballot. As I’d argued then, why not pass the reasonable changes without the part that allows insurers to gouge some members of the driving public? Even the LATimes recommends voting against this one, explaining “Under the framework established by Proposition 103 in 1988, insurers base their rates mainly on an applicant’s driving record, the number of miles driven and the years of driving experience.” Obviously, this ties what we pay for our insurance to relevant factors based on our driving, a very fair solution. This prop deviates from fundamental fairness. Vote no on 33.

Proposition 34 is the only legitimately gut wrenching, difficult-to-decide measure on the ballot with fair arguments for and against it. It repeals the death penalty in California and replaces it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. This would apply not only to future cases, but the hundreds who are currently on death row in California. It also provides $100 million in one-time funding for the investigation of murder and rape cases. It will provide annual savings of $100 million, rising to $130 million. I am opposed to the death penalty in principle, so I was pleased to see this on the ballot, especially since one of its main proponents is Donald Heller, the same man who wrote the ballot initiative that brought the death penalty back to California in 1978. Because of its irreversibility, the death penalty is implemented only after great precaution. As a result, since the restoration of this punishment, only 13 people have been put to death in California, and the whole death penalty process has cost taxpayers $4 billion. The observation has been made that the death penalty is irremediably broken in California. Consequently, it will be best to eliminate it. It is also interesting to note that those prisoners who are currently on death row OPPOSE this measure because it reduces the opportunities for appeals. Vote yes on 34.

LA County Measure J is a “continuation” of Measure R, passed by voters in 2008, that raised the sales tax in the county by 0.5% for 30 years to fund transportations projects, mostly public transit (especially rail). Measure J extends this by 30 years, enabling Metro to borrow money against those future receipts to build these important projects now.  It is an excellent idea, and costs the average person only about $25 per year. Vote yes on J.


Discussion Policy

Comments are welcomed and encouraged. Though you are fully responsible for the content you post, comments that include profanity, personal attacks or other inappropriate material will not be permitted. Asbarez reserves the right to block users who violate any of our posting standards and policies.


  1. Armen said:

    As a general rule I take Garen’s recommendations, reverse them, and know which way to vote. This article is no exception EXCEPT that he finally gets one right. Prop 31 is bad news for CA. If a free market libertarian and a socialist green can agree, you know something stinks in Sacramento.