Opinions Count

Not ours, necessarily… but the collective opinion of our neighbors here in Sonoma Valley – that counts very high, in our estimation. To encourage discussions in coffee shops and market aisles ahead of the November 6 voting, we shared last week our opinions on some of the contested elections for local representatives, and we share today our opinions on some of the ballot measures.

Let us say first that government activity in recent decades, particularly at state and federal levels, has grown to affect us in so many ways, much of it being unintended consequences of well-meaning legislation. This means that the narrow actions covered by the eleven propositions put before the voters next Tuesday are unlikely to resolve those fundamental issues. This realization – that we’re talking about minor tweaks on most issues – helps us to keep in perspective the fact there are differing opinions; it’s often about the how, not the what.

No on Prop. 30 – ‘Temporary’ tax increase.
Public schools throughout the state face a myriad of problems. Our local district is clearly moving in the right direction, with changes in structure and expectations that require vision and commitment, rather than money. We’d rather see local funding to support those efforts, rather than send more money to the state. And we don’t quite believe the ‘temporary’ tag, either.

Yes on Prop. 31 – Two-year state budgeting.
The Golden State is nationally recognized as a failing state, and maybe this measure will help introduce a little more discipline among our legislators.

Yes on Prop. 32 – Limits payroll deductions for political campaigns.
Donations to political campaigns should be personal choices. Using payroll deductions puts more money in play under control of impersonal bodies.

Yes on Prop. 33 – Allows variable auto insurance rates.
Why shouldn’t drivers with a poor record should pay higher premiums? Government action to prohibit insurers from reflecting this reality only raises costs on everyone else.

No on Prop. 34 – Prohibits death penalty.
The death penalty is a valuable deterrent. Though it feels a bit unseemly to view the issue in strictly economic terms, Why tax ourselves to house prisoners who have no prospect of parole (after, of course, all appeal rights have been exhausted)?

Yes on Prop. 35 – Extra penalties for human trafficking.
This issue sickens us, but we can’t pretend it doesn’t exist. It is, of course, already illegal, and there are already severe penalties. Are more needed?

No on Prop. 36 – Limits ‘three-strike’ penalties.
We find it odd to talk about “non-serious” felonies, though we realize that our prisons are filled with persons convicted of drug offenses.

Yes on Prop. 37 – GMO labeling.
Instructive here is the Big-Ag backing of the No campaign. Why is wanting to know where our food comes from too much to ask? If the fast food folks can do it, anybody should be able to, and without boosting the price.

No on Prop. 38 – Tax for ‘early education.’
We only wish! The fine print allows this tax to be used to cover state debts unrelated to education. Again, we support local funding for this important need.

No on Prop. 39 – Business taxes for ‘clean’ energy.
California is already lagging in business and jobs expansion; more taxes won’t help. Nor will allocating scarce resources toward pet energy projects.

Yes on Prop. 40 – Redistricting.
Even the ‘no’ folks are now voting ‘yes’.


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