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My take, my votes on Nov. 4th propositions

Posted: October 30, 2008 7:01 p.m.
Updated: January 1, 2009 5:00 a.m.

Presidential election years are the World Cup for politics junkies, and this year has been one of the best ever. However, besides tracking all the important partisan races in the national and local spotlights, Californians are once again being asked to do their Legislature's job and vote on 12 ballot propositions.
Here, briefly, is how and why I will vote on the state measures on Nov. 4.

Prop 1A - High Speed Passenger Train Bond - No

We are living in precarious economic times; California cannot pay the bills it has now. Therefore, I am inclined to vote "no" on anything that will have an excessive fiscal impact on the citizens of the state. High-speed rail between Los Angeles and San Francisco is an easily deferred luxury.

Prop 2 - Standards for Confining Farm Animals - Yes

A society is judged on how it treats the most vulnerable and helpless members, and that includes our stewardship over the animal kingdom. The main argument against this measure is that it will be expensive for poultry farmers, and that is consideration.

But the new law gives them until 2015 to upgrade the space for caged chickens, and if a dozen eggs cost a bit more seven years from now, I believe it is a worthy burden.

Prop 3 - Children's Hospital Bond Act - No
Again, we should not incur new financial obligations when we cannot afford the ones to which we are currently committed. If a children's hospital needs help, let the Legislature consider a solution on a case-by-case basis, which is how government is supposed to work in the first place.

Prop 4 - Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of a Minor's Pregnancy - Constitutional Amendment - No

Like all abortion issues, there is no middle ground; most people are either pro-choice or pro-life, and deciding how to cast ballots on laws like these will always be a personal conscience vote.

I am pro-choice, and this constitutional amendment restricts that choice; hence my no vote. However, it is also a deceptive law, using a fictional "Sarah" and her equally fictional ordeal as a basis for a yes vote. When deceit and emotional manipulation are needed to pass a statute, it is already fatally flawed.

Prop 5 - Nonviolent Drug Offense, Sentencing, Parole and Rehabilitation Initiative - No

While this may save prison costs of $2.5 billion somewhere in the future, this initiative allocates $460 million annually for new and existing rehab programs.

There is no bigger bleeding heart than myself when it comes to decriminalizing drugs and moving nonviolent offenders out of the current system, but this is the wrong approach.

We cannot afford it, and it would hamstring prosecutors, judges and parole boards. I trust the career professionals more than I trust special interests who bypass the Legislature and governor to get expensive laws passed.

Prop 6 - Police and Law Enforcement Funding. Criminal Penalties and Laws Statute - No

Once again we have special interests bypassing the elected state government to enact extra funding. This statute would require a minimum of $960 million a year for police and local law enforcement.

If the state had that kind of money, I would be all for it, but we do not. Every one of those dollars will come from other programs, including education, health care and fire safety.

Street gangs are a scourge on society, but throwing them all into jail is an unrealistic solution, mostly because it is impossible. There are many successful anti-gang programs and they need to be considered and included in any new plan.

Kevin Buck is a resident of Santa Clarita and a regular contributor to "Democratic Voices" in The Signal. His column represents his own views, not necessarily those of this newspaper.


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