Arnold’s ballot measures

OK, not that I think I’m going to be influencing many people with my endorsements, but I plan on making endorsements, either for or against, all 4 of the ballot measures that Governor Schwarzenegger has gotten on the ballot. I have yet to do the necessary research to make an informed decision on any of them, so I’m not ready to make any endorsements yet, but I will give you my first impressions on each:

Prop 74: Teacher tenure. This measure delays tenure for teachers to 5 years after the are hired at a school instead of 2. Tenure is a concept that was originally created for University professors to allow them academic freedom to support research and ideologies that may not be popular with the administration. The idea was that after a professor had proven themselves as a good professor, they were then free to do whatever research they wanted and not fear being fired if the results were unpopular. There is much good in the idea of tenure. However, I’ve believed for a long time that tenure is not something that K-12 teachers should have. There is no need for it as these teachers do not do research and are not supposed to be supporting ideologies of any sort. There job is to educate children based on the curriculum provided by the State of California. All tenure for K-12 does is protect bad teachers from getting fired. Unless there are some clauses in the ballot measure that extend beyond reducing the value or likelihood that a teacher will receive tenue, I’ll be hard pressed not to vote for Prop 74.

Prop 75: Union member freedom of conscience. This measure is called “paycheck protection” by the supporters, but it is a bogus name. Prop. 75 is very threatening to the unions of California because it requires that any money that is collected form union dues not be used for political purposes unless the union member approves of it. This will take a LOT of power away from unions. Currently unions collect on the order of a couple hundred dollars a month from each employees paycheck for union dues. A significant portion of those dues pay for political campaigning. What unions fear is that since each union member could basically decide not to pay that portion of their union dues, unions would collect far less money for campaigning and would have far less political influence. It used to frustrate me to no end that the CTA, the union Wendy worked for, dumped millions of dollars into political issues that have nothing to do with teaching or schools. Particularly of interest, they’d pump money into abortion campaigns and there was nothing Wendy or I could do to prevent the money she earned from being used for that purpose. What justice is there in that? Unless there is some clause in this bill that stretches the meaning of this bill beyond what I have outlined above, I’ll be hard pressed to vote against it.

Prop 76: Spending limits: This is a ballot measure that limits the budgets for California. This one seems to be the most complicated of the bunch as it calls out limits in lots of different categories, including education. I really don’t understand all the details yet but I’m hesitant to vote for legislation like this. This is really an area where we need to give our legislatures the ability to use their judgment. Things change and I can see how specific limits could place an undo burden on the state. Although a big part of me would like to see our current legislature slapped over the head a few times regarding over spending, it’ll still take a lot of convincing for me to vote for this one.

Prop 77: Redistricting. This in my opinion is the granddaddy of them all that most likely will get an official endorsement from me. One would think that I’m a fan of ballot initiatives from my commentary to date but in principle I’m not. Ideally, the legislature should be passing laws and the people should be electing a legislature that will properly represent them. Frankly, this is not happening right now and the big reason for this is because of the current legislative districts. Right now legislative districts are drawn (i.e. what their borders are) by the legislature. Since job security is a desire every human being has, they have an incentive to create districts in which the likelihood of them getting re-elected goes up. What they do is they draw borders that lump similar minded people together. Heavily Republican biased areas are lumped together with other Republican areas to ensure that the Republican incumbent gets re-elected and the Democratic areas are handled similarly. This has the effect of making the politicians unaccountable to their voters as they’re very unlikely not to get re-elected because of the heavy bias of voters in their district. Or said another way, the politicians are choosing their voters instead of the voters choosing their politicians. Again, I haven’t done the research to ensure that the measure actually does what it says it is going to do and does it in a reasonable fashion, but unless their is some HUGE grievous problem with the actual initiative, I will be endorsing and voting for this one.

I will be doing more research on these matters in the next few weeks and will be posting my comments as I make them. I encourage everyone who reads this to comment as well. I also HEAVILY encourage everyone to actually read the initiative texts, well at least the overview portions of them. I’ve found that the initiatives are easier to read than most people think and are surprisingly neutral in the way the language is written (i.e. it’s not written to deceive). There’s no better way to make a decision than to read the initiative, then read the officially published arguments (as in the voting guide that will be mailed to every registered voter) and make an informed decision based on those arguments, the actual text and your good judgment.

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