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.
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.
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.
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.