Not that kind.

Since I’m off enjoying the aftermath of the party to end all parties this week (honeymoooooooon!) I’ve put together, in advance, a hand-crafted cheat sheet for the 2012 Election BALLOT MEASURES!  Woohoo!!!  I know this is a little more California-specific than I usually get (and a little boring-er), but rest assured I’ll be back in business next week with more nationally/internationally relevant news.  So back off, okay?  Heh.  Bridezilla’s lookin’ for blood.

(My favorite part of this picture is the green turtleneck.)

Seriously, I’m excited to lay these out for y’all (and myself) because come election time I NEVER KNOW what to do with all these propositions that seem numbered at random & designed to mislead us.  Like “this one’s an initiative to do something really good that no one would ever argue against, except that there’s some super-fine print so the initiative you think you’re voting for, that no one would ever argue against, is actually going to screw you over but shhhh don’t tell anyone.”  For those of us who don’t consider ourselves conspiracy theorists, ballot initiatives are a great way to stir up our latent suspicions.  (FYI, “initiatives,” “ballot measures,” and “propositions” are all basically the same thing.)

Dum duh duh DUM!  SMARTY AT THE PARTY to the rescue!!  I’ve done the research so you don’t have to.  And even made it semi-fun.  Ya welcome.

First off — if you want to vote by mail, or will be traveling so MUST vote by mail, my friends at The Points Guy have a handy-dandy info sheet for absentee voting.  California’s registration has passed, but this is for the rest of y’all.

Okay, no putting it off any longer.  Here we go!  Suggestions on whether to vote yay or nay are in bold at the end of each description.

This November 6th the ballot measures are numbered 30-40.  This is the deal with each:

* Most complicated one(s) first: 30 vs. 38.  They’re both aiming to tax Californians in order to help education.  But 30 is Governer Jerry Brown’s idea (and is supported by labor unions including the California Teachers Association) and 38 is the privately-financed brainchild of a liberal-leaning civil rights attorney named Molly Munger (who’s very very rich).  Basically, Gov. Brown’s measure is solid and best.  People are a little worried that the revenue generated by taxing us all a bit more (sales tax for everyone, income tax just for people making over $250,000/year) will go through Sacramento first so could go missing — but they’re even MORE worried about Munger’s Prop 38.  Because though the Munger one is more outside-the-system and will send money directly to the schools… no money will go to the AMAZING California university system at ALL.  And the cuts that would be instantly enacted should Prop 30 fail will be DEVASTATING.  The headline of this article says it all.  Really, everyone’s pissed at Molly Munger because the measures can’t BOTH win, legally.  And there’s a chance that, with these two competing measures on the ballot, supporters will cancel each other out so both measures will fail — and the little ones will pay the price.

BOTTOM LINE: If you want to make sure that school kids at every level up through university are given the resources they need vote YES on 30.  If you don’t want to be taxed a single cent more, and let the kids eat cake dammit, vote NO on 30 and 38.  For some awesome 7th and 8th graders take on this decision, check this out.

* 31.  Well-intentioned measure trying to get more transparency in Sacramento.  Awesome, except that it’s apparently gonna cause a lot more problems than it’s gonna solve.  As columnist Dan Walters says, “Proposition 31 is akin to giving someone with a flesh-eating infection an aspirin to relieve the pain momentarily when the patient truly needs radical surgery or powerful drugs to stop the infection.”  So… that’d be a NO on 31.

* 32.  Ugh, another “well-intentioned”-seeming measure that’s actually super sucky.  Prop 32 sounds like the state solution to “Citizens United” (that Supreme Court decision that allows Super PACs made up of wealthy donors and corporations to buy election results).  But Prop 32 limits contributions from UNIONS while still allowing contributions from Super PACs.  And is funded by the KOCH BROTHERS????  Boooooooo.  NO on 32.

* 33.  Oh god.  NOT OTHER ONE!  So Prop 33 also sounds good — it’s about giving car insurance discounts to those of us who’ve been consistently covered for awhile.  Sweet.  But underneath its shiny exterior lurks the oily undercarriage of truth: it’s Mercury Insurance’s attempt to actually RAISE our premiums to pad chairman George Joseph’s pockets.  Um, NO on 33.

* 34.  Ok, finally!  This one’s straightforward-ish.  It’s called “End the Death Penalty” and that’s exactly what it’s intended to do.  Most newspapers that provide coverage of these propositions are in favor of this one, as is the ACLU, and it’s kinda a no-brainer.  Even if you don’t feel strongly about the death penalty, it’s useful to know that the alternative punishment for bad guys in these cases would be life in prison.  And if you can believe it, that costs the average Californian LESS than death row & executions do.  YES on 34.

* 35.  With a name like “Ban on Human Trafficking and Sex Slavery” this one would seem like a no-brainer as well.  But unfortunately this short-sighted initiative tries to do a good thing badly, and would cost the state millions of dollars without actually solving the problem.  As one newspaper puts it, “human trafficking is a heinous crime, certainly, but the rigid prescriptions of a ballot measure are a poor way to address a complex issue. Voters should reject Prop. 35, in favor of more flexible and comprehensive approaches.”  NO on 35.

* 36.  In 1994 California voters passed the “Three Strikes” law — and now this proposition is aiming to improve it.  Yes, “Three Strikes” 1.0  got a lot of criminals off the street & crime rates fell, but it also costs millions of dollars to imprison these guys (sorry, they are mostly guys) and MANY of them are in there for marijuana possession or something equally un-violent.  Of course future offenders would still be punished for their crime, but not IMPRISONED FOR LIFE, which is what “Three Strikes” is all about.  Basically this measure would give back to the judges in these cases a little more power to decide on a case-by-case basis (literally) which makes sense since each person who’s tried is, like, different.  One size doesn’t fit all and “Three Strikes” pretended for too many years that it does.  YES on 36.

* 37.  Sigh.  ALMOST DONE.  But first… another too-good-to-be-true one here.  Prop 37 seems to be about requiring genetically modified foods to be labeled as such so we unsuspecting Trader Joe’s patrons will know what’s what.  This is especially appealing since a study came out in mid-October that — for the first time — linked genetically modified food  (in this case, corn) to CANCER.  Though no one in the scientific community bought it.  But we all know that the effects of eating GMOs are under-researched and the whole concept is kinda creepy (and brings up all the how-far-is-too-far? questions).  Long story short, this is good in theory, this proposition.  But in practice it has special interests written all over it.  AND it would allow any ol’ Joe to sue Trader Joe’s or random grocer X if he were to suspect he was sold GMO foods.  Joe’s super litigious.  NO on 37.

* 38, see above.  39.  This one’s kind of a snooze BUT it’s for a good cause: increase the tax on businesses that are “multistate” so they’re encouraged to hire from within CA, and in the process add up to $1 billion of revenue for the state… which will largely go toward green energy.  Wha-what?  This is awesome.  Of course the awesomeness is tempered by all kinds of drama from said businesses fighting back.  But basically, good deal.  YES on 39.

* 40!  Last one!  I know!  This is exHAUSTing.  But all worth it for this last one: the Referendum on the State Senate Redistricting Plan.  Haha.  Just kidding — it’s horrendously boring.  The official voter guide states this one better than I ever could:

A “yes” vote on Prop. 40 means that the State Senate maps drawn by the voter-approved independent Citizens Redistricting Commission will remain in place. A “no” vote on Prop. 40 gives the politicians an opportunity to overturn the fair districts drawn by the independent Commission—costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process.

Or, as my cozy hometown newspaper, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, stated in a pretty grand summation of the WHOLE proposition crazy:

If you have questions about why California voters are bombarded every election with a lengthy list of ballot measures, Proposition 40 on the Nov. 6 ballot is a poster child for all that is confusing, unnecessary and misleading about this process.

So that’s, confusingly, YES on 40.

What did I get wrong?  Drop me a line and skool us all!

Next week: back to FRIDAY SHMOOZE NEWS! So you can #shmoozesmart 🙂

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