On June 3, Californians will vote. There are a bunch of jackasses running for local offices, all clogging my mailbox with their fearmongering. I haven’t sorted through the candidates, and their fliers all go into the recycling anyway. I’ll work that out, though, with endorsements before the election.
There are also a couple of local initiatives, both of which just update small local taxes, and I’ll be voting yes on measures F and J. I’ll grumble a bit about the stupidity of a system of government which requires that minor tweaks like this constantly being stuck on the ballot to be decided by the fraction of the public who cares about the Democratic primary.
My real ire is reserved for Prop. 98 and Prop. 99. These are statewide initiatives, and both are asinine. I don’t want either enacted. Prop. 98 claims to reform eminent domain, but actually is an attack on rent control and other laws regulating abusive behavior by landlords. It’s an assault on the ability of government to issue regulations in other areas as well, and would be a total disaster. Prop. 99 is fairly harmless, revising eminent domain in such a milquetoast way as to be useless.
The thing is, I think there’s a good case for revising eminent domain to require public seizures of private property to pay a fair price and to show a clear public interest, not benefit for private enterprise. Widening a road is one thing, but building a mall is another. Neither of these propositions does this.
In a legislature, someone could say that and offer an amendment that actually addresses the real issues, but in the proposition system, you just vote yes or no. The only saving grace is that if both props pass, and if Prop. 99, which is harmless, gets a bigger majority, it supercedes Prop. 98. So even though I oppose both, I have to vote for Prop. 99 since otherwise the draconian Prop. 98 could pass. It’s stupid.
Now, you may say that voting for Prop. 99 is inconsistent of me, that I’m overturning the will of the people by voting for this lesser of two evils. If 98 has more support, why shouldn’t I just take my lumps?The answer is simple: Most voters don’t know what they’re voting on! I do, so I’m going to do what one does in the real world when stupid people (the authors of the state constitution, not the modern voters, obviously) force bad choices on you: I’m thinking not only of myself, but of the greater good. If I were King of California, I’d strengthen the legislature, repeal Prop. 13, make it much harder to put an initiative on the ballot (the slack being taken up by the duly elected legislature), and then abdicate the throne.
Actually, I’d name the Bay Bridge the Joshua Norton Memorial Bridge while I was at it.