My 2016 California Voter Guide

By now most CA voters should have received the 200+ page CA Official Voter Information Guide for the CA General Election on Nov. 8, 2016. Between this tome of proposed statutes and the spin-ridden contentious Presidential election, we have our work cut out for us. In an effort to provide some assistance, I’m presenting here my suggestions on how to vote as a resource to you. I will provide you my planned votes with a brief explanation.

President: Dr. Jill Stein. I’m with her. I’d love to see a woman for President, and she has many of the best features of Bernie Sanders without the sad DNC party allegiance that brought him to his knees despite the DNC working aggressively and arguably illegally against him throughout the Primaries. I will not be constructively disenfranchised by being made to feel hopeless that a 3d party candidate cannot win and that a Democrat or Republican candidate is inevitable. I vote my conscience. Dr. Stein opposes the offshoring and outsourcing of businesses and jobs; supports minimum wage hikes; supports tax increases on the 1%; supports stronger environmental protections for the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the soil that produces our food; and supports criminal justice reform including supporting better schools and greater access to college, ending police brutality, and closing gun loopholes. Her platform in full is published on her website. Have a look, and vote your conscience. The more people register and vote for the Green Party, the more funding they’re able to receive and the more prominence they’ll have in the Presidential electoral process. Our current system is a corporatocracy, and our sham options maintain the status quo. They promise us change, but we know better. Don’t be essentially disenfranchised by the hopeless 2-Party system and its false promises. (As an aside, I strongly recommend watching the September 2016 premier of South Park which hilariously satirizes and parodies this election cycle as a sham choice between “Giant Douche” and “Turd Sandwich”.)

Prop 51 – School Bonds: No. We should be spending money on schools, but not at those interest rates which are nearly double the principal. Our legislature needs to spend more wisely rather than issue bonds that cost us billions. For example, we should increase state tax rates on mega-corporations that are beholden to the unique CA specialized workforce, and we should increase state property and income tax rates on the 1%. Such funds should be spent on our schools and infrastructure.

Prop 52 – Hospital Fee Program: No. There should  be oversight and accountability on the matching federal funds given to hospitals.

Prop 53 – Voter Approval on Revenue Bonds: Yes. Voters should be able to approve or reject state revenue bonds that exceed $2 billion. It’s our money, and we should have a say.

Prop 54 – Publishing Statutes on the Internet Before Votes: Yes. We should be informed about what our representatives are voting on.

Prop 55 – Continued Increases on Higher Taxes for the Very Wealthy: Yes.

Prop 56 – $2 Cigarette and e-Cigarette Tax: Yes. Here’s a great LA Times article that plainly analyzes the issues.

Prop 57 – Parole potential for Non-violent felons; and lets Judges decide whether juveniles will be prosecuted as adults or juveniles: Yes. Our prison population is dangerously large, creating very serious safety, health, and economic problems for prisoners, their caretakers, and society. If we can divert through parole certain non-violent felons through rehabilitation programs involving therapy and education, all the better. Additionally, judges rather than prosecutors should decide whether juveniles are prosecuted as adults or not, thus giving defense attorneys and prosecutors the equal opportunity to argue this point in open court rather than allowing naturally-biased prosecutors to unilaterally make this momentous decision.

Prop 58 – English Proficiency: Yes. Let’s help immigrant children learn English faster through immersion programs that also allow native English speakers the chance to learn a second language. This measure allows teachers and administrators to create such immersion and bilingual classroom opportunities that work.

Prop 59 – Efforts to Overturn Citizens United: Yes. This is all about election finance reform focused on getting big money out of the electoral process as much as possible and helping third party candidates find a foothold in elections.

Prop 60 – Health and Safety reforms in the Porn Industry: Yes. Condoms and STD-testing are a good thing, especially when you’re a porn star. Let’s help these actors by mandating these baseline practices that they might otherwise be pressured to forego by porn film directors and producers.

Prop 61 – Sets price guidelines for State Rx Drug Purchases: No. Such guidelines, while they might sound good at first glance, could foreseeably hamstring administrators in tense price negotiations with prescription drug companies, and could potentially allow price hikes in prescription drug prices for the general population of Californians as well as veterans buying prescription drugs via federal programs, given how the statute is written.

Prop 62 – Death Penalty Repeal: Yes. In CA, we virtually never actually apply the death penalty. Instead our public resources are drained through decades of legal appeals by death row inmates. It’s a lose-lose system, and the best way to end it is to repeal the death penalty. Prop 66 proponents believe that death penalty reform is our best option, but their proposed reforms will only too mildly limit the ocean of money our state government spends on death penalty inmates and their legal appeals of their convictions and sentences. Further Prop 66 ignores the reality that the great majority of death row inmates were not afforded high quality legal representation in their original criminal cases and that prosecutorial misconduct, racial and gender bias, and procedural shortcuts are an innate part of the criminal “justice” system that places so many of these inmates on death row in the first place. Real reform involves a clear-eyed and unbiased look at the actual facts. Real reform must ensure high quality legal representation for all criminal defendants through state-funded programs. This is the real solution. With excellent criminal defense attorneys representing all criminal defendants in our courts, we can make sure that those who actually committed crimes are properly dealt with. We cannot simply think of innocent people behind bars as collateral damage. We cannot be complacent when defendants are fast-tracked into prison thanks to slippery courtroom procedures, hawkish prosecutors, and sleepy defense attorneys. We pay for this in dollars and with the currency of our consciences. The price is simply too high.

Prop 63 – Background checks on ammunition: Yes. The minimal delay associated with such checks is worth the benefit of helping to keep ammo out of criminal hands. But we must close that gun-show loophole, and I’m eager to see a Proposition on that subject!

Prop 64 – Legalize Marijuana: Yes. I defer to Peter Tosh on this subject.

Prop 65 – Grocery Bag Fees for Environmental Projects: Yes. Self-explanatory.

Prop 66 – Death Penalty Reform: No. See Prop 62 information above.

Prop 67 – Bans Single-Use Plastic Bags: Yes. Let’s ban single-use plastic bags, as they pollute our air, water, and land not only in their production but also in their disposal.

Vote early and vote often (kidding!),

Ali Shahrestani


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