Endorsements 2012: State ballot measures - Page 2

End the death penalty -- Yes on 34. No on 35 saves our sexworkers. GMO food gets a label when you vote Yes on 37

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The measure presents itself as an even-handed effort to reduce political spending by both unions and corporations. "Prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Applies same use prohibition to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors," reads the official ballot summary.

But while payroll deductions are the main source of funding for labor unions — which use that money to advocate for the interests of their members and the broader working class — few corporations deduct money from their employee paychecks for political purposes. They tap the many other sources of funding at their disposal.

Similarly, the measure claims to ban "union and corporate contributions to candidates and their committees," yet it exempts many of the largest corporations from that restriction, allows even the corporations it does cover to bypass the restriction by forming super PACs, and it still allows corporate officers to funnel contributions to their favored candidates, making the corporate controls almost completely meaningless.

This measure is simply the latest effort by powerful corporations, wealthy individuals, and the conservative movement to hammer the final nail into the coffin of labor unions — which at this point are often the only force with the money to go up against terrible big-business candidates and measures. This needs to be a rallying cry for everyone who cares about fair elections: Vote no on 32.

PROPOSITION 33

NEW CAR INSURANCE RATING FACTOR

NO

This measure was created and funded by Mercury Insurance founder George Joseph, who tried to do the same thing two years ago with Prop. 17, which was soundly rejected by voters (see "Buying power," 3/16/10). So this time around, he created a few narrow exemptions meant to defuse the criticism from that campaign, bought support from an influential nonprofit (see "The latest insurance scam," 9/4/12)), and he's banking on the outcome being different this time.

But Prop. 33 does the same thing as Prop. 17: it allows insurance companies to give discounts to drivers who have maintained continuous insurance coverage and pay for those discounts by increasing insurance rates for everyone else. In an era of global warming and increasingly congested roadways, the measure would punish those who opt to give up their car for awhile and use public transit, bicycles, or walking. Recent immigrants, and those who spend some time abroad or who quit their job to start a small business, would pay higher rates when they return to driving.

Last time, the measure was defeated by arguments that it punished soldiers and the unemployed, so Joseph tried to defuse those arguments with exceptions for those on "active duty service" or for people who have been unemployed for up to 18 months, but only if it's the result of a "layoff or furlough." Consumer Watchdog — the group that created California's car insurance regulatory system with 1988's Prop. 103 and has been battling Joseph's various efforts to undermine it ever since — is strongly against the measure and dismissive of its narrow exemptions, citing studies showing rates will rise for those least able to afford it.

The bottom line is this is about Joseph's bottom line, and he isn't spending tens of millions of dollars in order to save you money.

PROPOSITION 34

YES YES YES

You want to know about the effectiveness of the death penalty in California? Try this: the number one cause of death among condemned inmates on death row is old age.

Then try this: The cost of implementing the death penalty since it was restored in California in 1978 exceeds $4 billion — about $308 million for each of the 13 people the state has killed.

So: California could hire 5,000 more teachers for every inmate strapped into a gurney and pumped full of lethal drugs. Sound like a bargain?