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Editorial: Propositions, Pork barrel and moral meddling

This election’s potpourri of propositions are little more than pork barrel and moral one-upmanship – in short, routine fodder in California’s tiresome initiative process. I have selected six of the most controversial to comment on. The rest is up to you, fellow voters.

Yes to Indian Gaming – Prop 1A

Considering the $7.5 million Prop 1A proponents spent versus a paltry $2,200 a Sacramento retiree and public relations firm ponied up to oppose this initiative, it’s a safe bet Nevada-style gaming has crossed the stateline. The governor, labor unions, California Indian tribes and others have cut their deal. A noticeable absence of resistance on the part of Nevada’s gaming interests means they have accepted the inevitable and/or realized there was some money in running Indian operations. If Indians indeed have sovereignty over their land, than why shouldn’t they be allowed to build casinos?



Yes to Park Bonds – Prop 12

I admit to my hypocrisy up front on this issue. If Lake Tahoe didn’t have so much to gain from the passage of Prop 12, I would rant about the overwhelming cost to taxpayers – an additional $144 million every year for 25 years. I would probably argue for a smaller, more focused bond measure that would address state parks only.



But the $50 million allocated in Prop 12 to Lake Tahoe is critical toward the area’s efforts to make environmental fixes at the lake. Lake Tahoe must become a national, state and local priority or we will lose its magnificent beauty forever.

The bond money will be given to the California Tahoe Conservancy, a group that has gained widespread respect for its successful projects and key land purchases in the Tahoe Basin. The Conservancy’s recent purchase of Sunset Ranch showed that it is occasionally possible to please everyone – property owners, environmental advocates and the community.

No to Water Bond – Prop 13

Some $135 million a year for the next 25 years is a very high price to pay for non-specific clean water efforts and flood control.There has not been a proven need for this money, nor has much accountability been built into spending the money. Can we really afford to make this huge financial commitment to a water issue when the money pit of the MTBE is just around the corner?

No to Library Bond – Prop 14

When El Dorado libraries were in trouble, voters stepped up with a tax measure to provide additional funds. Why should we do that again on a state level, particularly at the cost of $24 million a year?

In addition, this money will be doled out in matching funds, which means taxpayers face a double whammy.

The world of libraries and publishing is rapidly changing with the Internet. At this point, it seems a little silly to build new libraries if those building will be made obsolete in a few year. Let’s wait a few years to see what becomes of libraries before we burn major money.

No to limit on marriage – Prop 23

When is “church” going to understand the need to separate church and state. Instead “church” insist on using government to do its dirty work. Under the guise of protecting marriage, the proponents of this bill are trying to ban unions of same-sex couples. This is urgent, say more outspoken proponents, to combat the gay “agenda.” The only apparent agenda here is that of religious bigots on the eve of a national election. This is a transparent attempt by church to gain political momentum.

Legally, marriage is a contract between partners, offering certain protections and responsibilities. In that way, there is little difference between the contract of marriage and the contract of business partners. Should the voters of this state decided on a domestic partnership contract, then it should be viewed as just that, a contract.

The moral interpretation of marriage is solely the bailiwick of the church. Throughout history, the interpretation of marriage has been as diverse as the religion or culture in which it is interpreted. Yet there is little public dispute about those differences. So exactly whose moral interpretation of marriage is this bill protecting?

Yes to school bonds majority vote – Prop 26

Forcing a two-thirds vote on bond issues was a clever tactic anti-tax zealots found to block most tax initiatives. Advocates of a bond issue are forced to work hard to get voters not just to agree, but to get out and vote. The dice are loaded against an such efforts, and that’s just not fair.

A majority of voters has been a standard for this country. Why should anti-tax proponents get an unfair advantage?


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