Larry Gilbert’s 2010 Ballot Measure recommendations

Redistricting by citizens committee, not special interests

How many trees were destroyed to create this years 128 page official voter information guide that we recently received in the mail? A better question is how many of us actually take the time to read it before voting?

Does this remind you of the Obama administrations 2600 page health care bill approved by the author and members of Congress? Did they bother to read it before voting? Just something each of us can now experience.

Let me caution everyone that there are two ballot measures related to redistricting. They are Prop 20 and Prop 27. “If both of these measures are approved by voters, the proposition receiving the greater number of “yes” votes would be the only one to go into effect.” Every decade the federal government takes a national census. These two competing ballot measures relate to that report.

In 40 days we have the opportunity to change the political landscape including incumbents who take our votes for granted. To that end I was one of the 30,725 applicants competing for 14 seats on the California Citizen Redistricting Commission. The commission was created after prior approval of Prop 11 and is tasked with “redrawing the lines.”
 Having read the applications from several other applicants I can state that there are some highly skilled and qualified citizens who volunteered to serve on that board. The vetting process for every applicant has been very through.
 A clue as to the concern of legislators can be best summed up with the following quotes and story link.

Redistricting isn’t an example of the fox guarding the henhouse; it’s worse. As Texas state Sen. Jeffrey Wentworth told State Legislatures magazine, “Allowing state legislators to draw their own district boundary lines is a lot like letting children fill in their own report cards.”

“Democrats paid Michael Berman, a redistricting consultant, more than $1.3 million to create the resulting redistricting plan. In addition, thirty of California’s 32 Democratic members of Congress each gave Berman $20,000 in order to custom-design their individual districts for safety. As Rep. Loretta Sanchez explained: ‘Twenty thousand is nothing to keep your seat. I spend $2 million (campaigning) every year. If my colleagues are smart, they’ll pay their $20,000, and Michael will draw the district they can win in. Those who have refused to pay? God help them.’”

The following analysis of the Nov General Election ballots provides voter information for supporting or opposing these 9 Ballot Initiatives. I am including a brief explanation of the 9 measures from the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, HJTA.
To see their text on ballot measure supporters and opponents simply go to their web site at

Based on the above commentary on redistricting I will take them out of order and list Prop 20 and Prop 27 first. In Nov 2008 California voters approved Prop 11 authorizing creation of the Citizen redistricting commission. Special interests do not wish to lose their power and influence.

I urge you to cast a YES vote on Prop 20 and a NO vote on Prop 27.

Prop. 20 extends the redistricting reform applied to State Senate and Assembly districts by previously passed Prop. 11 to Congressional districts.  Congressional districts are currently drawn by politicians in the Legislature.  This measure would take control of Congressional redistricting away from the Legislature, giving it instead to a citizens commission.

Prop. 27 rolls back the previously passed Prop. 11. which took the power to draw Legislative districts away from the Legislature and gave the responsibility to a newly formed Citizens Redistricting Commission.  Prop. 27 would once again allow legislators to draw their own districts, and includes a “poison pill” provision that would kill Prop. 20 if Prop. 27 passes with more votes.

Following are the other measures in numeric order.

Prop. 19 makes marijuana use legal in California and proposes that new taxes on marijuana would help the state earn additional revenue.  Prop. 19 would ban employers from drug testing employees for marijuana, allow for public marijuana use subject to certain limitations and would allow residents to establish small marijuana farms in their yards:

Gilbert comment. As a strong supporter of the Teen Challenge International program I have met many young men and women in their program and heard their testimony. They range from teens to mid 30s. Every one shared the impact of using life controlling drugs and alcohol which almost destroyed their lives.
I cannot support this measure. Marijuana is a gateway drug. Many of the participants in the TC program have spent time in jail as a result of their substance abuse. That impact on lives and the cost of incarceration are lost in the ads supporting this measure. There are several acquaintances who might disagree with me on this recommendation. Don’t buy into the “spin” as to passage of this measure with remarks that it will generate hundreds of millions of additional state and local government revenue when no one knows what the taxes will be in any jurisdiction should this measure pass.  Vote NO on Prop 19.

Prop. 21 increases the car tax on every vehicle in California by $18.  The car tax increase will provide a dedicated stream of funding to currently underfunded state parks and also provide funding for the preservation of landmarks and wildlife protection.  In return for paying the increased car tax, citizens would receive a State Parks Access Pass entitling them to free parking and day use at all units of the State Parks System.  The Access Pass’s free admission, however has numerous exceptions and does not cover camping, the use of boating facilities, and many other park activities.

Larry recommends a No vote on Prop 21. This same justification effort can be used for multiple state services and is but another attempt to raise our taxes.

Prop. 22 is designed to protect local funds from being borrowed by the state government.  In recent years, as the state has faced massive budget shortfalls, Sacramento politicians have partially made up for these shortfalls by borrowing funds from local government treasuries.  Funds borrowed included money that local governments would otherwise have been available for services including transportation and public safety.

Gilbert comment. This ballot measure was created simply to protect redevelopment agencies.

“The only “vital local service” Proposition 22 protects is redevelopment agencies. These agencies have the power of eminent domain to take private property, freeze the amount of your tax dollars that can go to fire, paramedic and other critical neighborhood services, and go into debt for 30 to 40 years committing your tax dollars without voter approval. Redevelopment agencies are often used to funnel large taxpayer-funded subsidies to for-profit developers for housing and commercial development.”
Simply look at the $93 billion in outstanding statewide redevelopment agency debt. This debt was created by local elected officials for sports mogul’s “field of dreams” sports complex’s that team owners now want to abandon such as in San Francisco and San Diego. We need to reel in the redevelopment agencies power to generate massive debts for our grandkids long after they are out of office.

Larry recommends a NO vote on this measure.

Prop. 23 suspends California’s global warming law, AB 32, until unemployment declines to 5.5% for four consecutive quarters.  Analysts including studies by Sacramento State University, Cal. Lutheran and the Legislative Analysts Office conclude that AB 32 will hurt California’s economy and could result in job losses of over 1 million jobs.  By suspending AB 32, Prop. 23 aims to save California jobs and avoid the costly implementation of a global warming regulatory regime that other states and countries have decided is too burdensome in today’s troubled economy.

Larry recommends a strong YES on Prop 23. Our currently reported unemployment is “12.2 percent not seasonally adjusted.” That reported figure fails to take into account the tens of thousands whose have given up and cannot find employment.

Prop. 24 repeals recently enacted changes in the tax code that were designed to somewhat ease the tax burden on California businesses.  Prop. 24 raises taxes on California in three ways.  First, Prop. 24 ends a practice called “elective single sales factor” that allows businesses to choose between basing their tax burden on sales or property and payroll, giving them the ability to use whichever formula results in a lower obligation.  Second, Prop. 24 ends a tax credit designed for research and development that allows companies to shift tax credits between profitable and unprofitable operations.  Because research units do not usually earn profits directly, the ability to shift credits between units assists research and development units.  Finally, this proposition ends the practices of “net operating loss carryback,” a tax procedure that allows businesses to use previous tax years operating losses to reduce their liability in a current profitable year.
Larry recommends a NO vote on prop 24.

Prop. 25 allows a budget to be passed with a simple majority rather than the currently required 2/3 vote.  The proposition also eliminates the power of referendum on the budget and budget related bills, making budgets take effect immediately upon passage with no opportunity for voters to stop implementation.   If the Legislature fails to pass a budget on time, Prop. 25 requires that legislators forfeit their salaries and living expense allowance.

“It’s true that Proposition 25 would stop lawmakers’ pay and per diem benefits if they do not send the governor a budget by the June 15 deadline. But the initiative merely requires that the Legislature send the governor a budget bill, not that it be a bill the governor actually signs. The majority party could approve a bill that would never be enacted but still allow pay and benefits to continue.” Sac Bee link below.

Larry recommends a NO vote on Prop 25.
Prop. 26 requires that new state fees be passed with a 2/3rds vote of the Legislature and establishes the right of citizens to approve, either by two-thirds or majority, local taxes.  California currently requires new taxes to be approved with a 2/3 vote of the Legislature, but only requires a majority vote to pass levies defined as “fees.”  This has encouraged politicians to define new taxes as “fees” to ease passage.  Prop. 26, with limited exceptions, imposes the same requirements now applied to taxes to fees.

Larry recommends a YES vote on prop 26.  The 2/3rds rule protects the minority from out of control and out of touch politicians. Fees are a form of taxation.

While this post is rather lengthy, it surely is less than 128 pages.

I do encourage every voter to do your own research before accepting what you may see on the tube or read in the slate mailers that will shortly be stuffing your mailbox.

About Larry Gilbert