Henceforth, California’s initiatives will only be on November general election ballots. Ooh. Hurts, huh? Dirty pool. I know.


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I’ll tell you this much, Governor Brown had to think long and hard, and weigh several heavy pro’s and con’s, before finally giving in and signing Loni Hancock’s SB 202, which specifies that our unique and crazy-making California tradition of government by initiative will only be operational during November general elections – no longer during June “primaries” or special elections.

You’ll say, if you’re a right-winger, that Governor Brown signed this bill because he is a slave to the unions, and you’ll probably believe what you’re saying, which is sort of a shame because it’s always sad when people are both wrong and sure of themselves.  It is true that the passing and signing of this bill is a lifesaver for unions, because without it there would have been a couple of measures very harmful to Labor on the June 2012 ballot when mainly anti-labor Republicans will be flocking to the polls to choose either Romney or anti-Romney.  And it is true that this is why Sacramento’s Democrats passed this bill really quickly at the last minute in the dead of night with their heads tucked down a little between their shoulders and a sort of shit-eating grin.

But the fact is, if there ever was a Governor who’s no slave to the unions, it IS Jerry Brown 2.0 – who has repeatedly broken Labor hearts with his cruel vetos of bills allowing farmworkers and home health workers to unionize.

There was also a somewhat flimsy Constitutional argument to be made on behalf of SB 202, too convoluted for me to fully recap here, but CalBuzz made a go at it in August.  That argument, however, presented awkwardness to Jerry, as – get this, Newbie will tell you anyhow – none other than a Secretary of State named Jerry Brown made the original ruling forty-some years ago that initiatives could indeed be properly placed on a primary or special-election ballot, so he risks looking like an inconsistent, hypocritical flipflopper.  (Although I am not a purist for always dinging politicians, from either Party, for flipflops, when the fact of life is, circumstances they do sometimes change.)

There is also an argument, probably the best argument, for signing SB 202, which is that these measures which affect our state so greatly should be voted on by the largest possible number of California voters.  (To which the high-propensity-voting rightwingers would respond, Hey, too bad if you lazy potsmoking fornicating liberals can’t get your folks to the polls when there’s no bright shiny Presidential election.  And I would say, “I hear you,” except I’m celebrating right now by listening to loud music so I actually can’t hear you.)

But the major argument pushing Governor Brown to sign this very ambiguous bill was this:  It will save the state millions of dollars each year, to not have to add all that extra nonsense to our mid-year ballots.  That really is all this Governor is focusing on, laser-like – California’s budget.  In case you hadn’t noticed.

Upshot for you and me, all those stupid measures that are being hawked outside the grocery stores right now – the zombie Mercury Insurance scam, the Let’s Re-do Redistricting Again and Again Till It’s Good For Republicans measure, whatever else comes up – you will have 13 months to find out why they’re stupid.  Maybe some good initiatives will come up too – I’ll try to let you know!  And we won’t be deciding on unilaterally defanging unions of their political clout (in this Citizens-United era of unlimited corporate donations) until November 2012 when even the most slothful Democratic voter knows there’s an election afoot.

All for the best, sez I!  🙂


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.