Sunday, May 28, 2006

California Democratic primary
My choices

Well, I've voted in California's June primary. That's not really surprising: since I am ordinarily trying to get out somebody's vote, I always vote absentee. The last thing I usually have time to do on Election Day is vote. This time I really will be absent, out of the country.

So yesterday I pulled out the two huge paper ballots and did the deed. Here are some of my votes, local first, some with an explanation.

Local San Francisco candidates and ballot measures
Democratic Central Committee: these contests always feel like voting for high school student council. Serious aspirants spend a fair amount of money on signs, even occasionally mail. The outcome does matter, at least a little; I'd much prefer to have a DCC that pushes Nancy Pelosi to the left than just have party hacks. But I know half the candidates and many aren't my favorite people. I'm not going to tell the blog who I voted for; suffice to say, I vote for people I like and don't worry too much about it.

Prop. D, Laguna Honda Hospital Zoning Changes: this seems to be the one local measure that is getting money spent on it. I've had slick mailers from both sides. Proponents claim it will prevent the strapped Department of Public Health from dumping dangerous crazy people into the city-run old age home. Opponents claim it is a cover for zoning changes that would allow nursing home development on properties all over the city. Hard to tell, but using the ballot to change zoning seems an ass-backwards way of protecting senior citizens. I said NO.

Federal Races
I had the opportunity to vote in the primary for Nancy Pelosi and Diane Feinstein whose opponents I had never heard of. I didn't. Nancy sometimes does pretty well as leader of the House minority, but she is way to the right of her constituents. Diane was a micro-managing, dictatorial mayor and as a Senator is way too accommodating to Bush. Her sympathy with immigration restriction is noxious. Forget 'em; they don't represent me and don't need me.

Miscellaneous State Races
My Assemblyman, Mark Leno, has done a way better job in Sacramento than I hoped for. This sometimes happens when we send what we see here as a centrist to the state capitol; they become the effective left of the Democrats. He is unopposed.

Prop. 82: Mandatory Pre-School: I voted for it, but I am not entirely happy about it. Because we've made raising enough in taxes to pay the state's bills almost impossible, we keep using Mickey Mouse funding mechanisms to attain good ends. We are soaking the very wealthy for this one and that is fine with me -- but someday we have to fix the real problem, to allow the government to plan, budget and tax rationally.

State Constitutional Offices
Attorney General: I have argued often that who fills this office is one of the most important choices Californians make. That person gets to define what the ballot title will be on all these initiatives we constantly vote on (instead of having a functioning government). So I wished very much I had an appealing Democratic choice to vote for. But I didn't. I went with Jerry Brown, knowing that I'll probably regret electing him someday. Jerry was a strange, wishy-washy governor, making some great appointments but swaying with breeze on the crucial tax limitation measures that began to plague us during his term in office. He might have made a fun Senator -- I wanted to see him as Senator Moonbeam and was sorry he was beaten for the office in 1982. His rebirth as Mayor of Oakland since 1998 has not been a triumph of progressivism -- the guy's idea of brave innovation was to launch a military academy for the city's failing public schools.

Unfortunately, Brown's opponent, LA prsecutor Rocky Delgadillo, is running as a law enforcement hawk who doesn't worry about civil liberties. This is not the year for that attitude. I took Brown, holding my nose.

Secretary of State: this one was easy. Deborah Bowen cares about making sure that California voting machines create an auditable paper trail. Computer voting systems could be a great innovation, but anyone who has actually seen how local departments of elections muddle through can't be comfortable unless very strong controls and auditing provisions are in force. Bowen understands that.

Lieutenant Governor: I voted for Jackie Speier. She has made a real effort to win consumer privacy protections for financial information through state law (rules now endangered by national Congressional Republicans).

Governor: I would dearly love to defeat Gov. Arnold in the fall -- after all, I spent most of last year working to give him trouble. But I don't believe either Steve Westly or Phil Angelides has what it will take to overcome his star power. They just aren't very interesting. Unfortunately, in the top ranks of California's rather comfortable Democratic party, we don't do charisma. The unlamented Gray Davis won office twice by being the lesser evil. He demonstrated the weakness of this approach by falling in the recall; lesser evils don't create any friends who fight for them in tough times. Angelides and Westly also just don't light up a room with any kind of vision.

Since I don't think either of these guys is more electable than the other, my vote for a gubernatorial candidate became a free vote: I could simply pick the one who came closer to me ideologically. That wasn't hard. Angelides got the nod because, with baby steps, he is willing to approach the need to raise someone's taxes, if only the richest Californians. Our refusal to tax is undermining the ability of California government of govern. The guy who edges toward reality on taxes gets my vote.

1 comment:

sfmike said...

Since I don't know most of the kids on the high school senior council (aka the DCC), could you email me who you actually like as humans? Otherwise, I'm just going to vote for the non-incumbents. Narrow political correctness and sleazy political maneuvers (I'm thinking R. Haaland, for instance) tends to be offputting and maybe some fresh faces will help. I trust your judgment.

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