Endorsements 2008: State ballot measures - Page 4

Yes, yes, yes on 1a. No, no, no on 4 and 8 ...

Moreover, many of the other provisions of Prop. 9 have already been enacted, which would mean costly redundancies if the measure is approved.

One man is largely responsible for both the misguided "tough on crime" propositions on this year's ballot: billionaire Broadcom Corp. cofounder Henry Nicholas, who has poured millions into the two campaigns. But a funny thing happened to Nicholas on the way to becoming California's poster boy for law and order. In June, he was indicted on numerous counts of securities fraud and drug violations (including spiking the drinks of technology executives with ecstasy and operating a "sex cave" staffed with prostitutes under his house). He insists he's innocent.

Vote no on Prop. 9.

Proposition 10

Alternative-fuel vehicles bond


This is another "green" measure that looks good and smells bad. It would allow the state to issue general obligation bonds worth $5 billion to fund incentives to help consumers purchase alternative-fuel vehicles and research alternative-fuel and renewable-energy technology.

Proponents argue this is a necessary jump start for the industry. Opponents say the industry doesn't need it — Priuses are on back order as it is, and the measure was craftily written to exclude subsidies for purchasing any other plug-in or hybrid vehicle that gets less than 45 miles per gallon. Though the measure would have provisions for vehicles powered by hydrogen and electricity, critics point out that the subsidies would be first come, first served and would be gone by the time these technologies even reach the consumer market.

In reality, Proposition 10 is a giveaway designed to favor the natural gas industry and was put on the ballot by one of its biggest players, T. Boone Pickens, who owns Clean Energy Fuels Corp., a natural gas fueling and distribution company based in Seal Beach. He wrote the measure, paid more than $3 million to get it on the ballot, and spent a total of $8 million supporting it.

Beyond the blatant attempt to manipulate public money for private good, there are a number of other problems with the bill. It would mostly subsidize purchases of large trucks but wouldn't require that those trucks stay in California, so companies could use the $50,000 rebates to improve their fleet, then drive the benefit out of state.

While natural-gas-burning vehicles emit far less exhaust and air pollution than gas and diesel cars, natural gas is still a fossil fuel with carbon emissions that are only 20 percent less than that of a typical car. It's another dinosaur technology that only marginally improves the situation. The Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters are against Prop. 10, as are consumer groups and taxpayer associations, who hate the $10-billion-over-30-years payback on this special-interest bond. Vote no.

Proposition 11

Redistricting commission


Almost everyone agrees that California's process for drawing the boundaries of legislative districts is flawed. History has proven that allowing elected officials to redraw their own political map every 10 years is a recipe for shameless gerrymandering that benefits incumbents. It has also resulted in uncompetitive districts, voter disaffection, and a hopelessly polarized legislature. But Proposition 11 is not the answer.

The idea of placing redistricting in the hands of an independent citizen commission sounds good on the surface. But as Assemblymember Mark Leno points out, the makeup of this incredibly powerful commission would be dependent only on party affiliation — five Democrats, five Republicans, and four independents. That's not an accurate reflection of California's population; Democrats far outnumber Republicans in this state. To give Republicans an equal number of commissioners would ignore that fact.