The Peace and Freedom Party recommends a “yes” vote on Proposition 48, to uphold a compact negotiated by the state and federal government with the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians and the Wiyot Tribe. The compact is supported by the unions representing casino workers and construction workers, because the casino operators have pledged union recognition, good working conditions, and good pay. Environmentalists support it, because building the casino on the valley floor in Madera County will keep a casino from being built in the environmentally-sensitive areas where the tribes live in the mountains. Local governments in Madera County support it, because they need the financial help provided under the compact. The only opponents are some rival gambling interests, and people who oppose expansion of reservations, some of whom have expressed this in bluntly racist terms. The PFP supports Native American sovereignty (self-government), and while we are not enthusiastic about gambling, there is no anti-gambling side in this fight. The Wiyot and Mono followed all the proper procedures, and received all the required approvals, and it would be profoundly unfair to overturn the compact.
Proposition 47, The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, is a step towards making the California criminal justice system less unjust for some people. This proposition would reduce the classification certain non-serious and nonviolent property and drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. It also calls for the consideration of re-sentencing those currently serving a sentence for the offenses changed to misdemeanors. However, if the defendant has prior convictions for murder or rape, or is a registered sex offender, that person either may not eligible or is not eligible for reduced classification of the new lesser crime.
While we call for a “yes” vote on Proposition 47, we recognize some problems in the way it will affect both defendants and those already in prison for the newly recategorized offenses. As noted above, not all defendants are treated equally for the same offense, even if the new offense is not a violent crime and the person has served a complete sentence for any prior acts. And there is no reason to increase a sentence for a registered sex offender for a petty crime that is not a sex crime. To add to the inequality, the proposition makes a distinction between some crimes for which a certain category of people “may” not be eligible for reduced classification of the new offense and others for which they will not get any consideration at all.
Although Proposition 47 calls for reconsideration of sentencing for those already incarcerated for the newly recategorized crime, that reconsideration is far from guaranteed. Prisoners in California face an array of obstacles, from overcrowded conditions to discrimination by prison staff, which might keep them from being deemed eligible for reduced sentencing. It is possible that the threat of not having a sentence reduced might be used to detrimental effect inside the prison.
Although it is opposed by many law enforcement officials, this bill was written by a district attorney and a former police chief. Their stated goal is to replace most imprisonment of nonviolent offenders with community supervision and/or placement in residential and daycare programs for the treatment of mental health and drug treatment programs. This would result in savings of state corrections dollars possibly ranging from $150 million to $250 million annually.
We notice that the majority of the savings is earmarked back to the Department of Corrections which will control its use. Twenty-five percent is to go to the State Department of Education to administer a grant program to public agencies aimed at improving outcomes for public school students, K-12 inclusive, by reducing truancy and supporting students who are at risk of dropping out of school or are victims of crime. Ten percent is to go to the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board to make grants to trauma recovery centers to provide services to victims of crimes. Sixty-five percent is to go to the Board of State and Community Corrections to administer a grant program to public agencies aimed at supporting mental health treatment, substance abuse programs for people in the criminal justice system that will reduce recidivism of people convicted of nonviolent crimes. Not more than five percent is to go to administrative costs.
The Peace and Freedom Party is committed to the end of the prison-industrial complex, and civil rights and humane treatment for all human beings. We call for a vote for Proposition 47 as a way to keep people out of California’s prisons, where they are more likely to suffer abuse than they are to become rehabilitated. We are concerned that the provision which rules out individuals with certain prior convictions is fundamentally unjust, and that most of those already in prison for the reclassified crimes will not receive the benefit. We would prefer that the savings be administered by an agency independent of the Department of Corrections. We urge all those concerned with this issue to continue to work for a complete overhaul of the prison system and the social and economic system that perpetuates it.
On Saturday, November 1 the Alameda County Peace and Freedom Party and Movement presents “California Propositions: Which Should WIN? LOSE!”.
When: Saturday, November 1, 2014 from 2:30pm to 4:00pm (doors open at 2:00pm)
Where: Starry Plough, 3101 Shattuck Avenue at Prince Street, Berkeley (MAP)
What: Forum on California ballot propositions
Sponsor: Alameda County Peace and Freedom Party and Movement
Cost: free (but please buy food & drink at the pub)
Ten years ago California voters approved the creation of a state government “rainy day fund” (Proposition 58 in 2004). This November we are being asked to approve a major revision in the form of Proposition 2. The net effect of its many new rules and exceptions is to make the state’s budgetary straight jacket even tighter than it already is.
Proposition 2 looks complicated, and it is. Among other things, it appears to decrease the annual required contribution to the fund but increase the fund’s total size in the long run. In order to provide a fig leaf of progressive taxation, it gets part of the contribution from taxes on capital gains. It requires that for the next 15 years a large part of the contribution be used to pay down specific kinds of debt rather than go directly into the reserve fund. It restricts the amount that can be withdrawn to cope with budget crises to half of the fund balance in any one year.
Proposition 2 also creates a controversial new rainy day fund for schools. Under rules so complex that only lawyers and judges will even try to understand them, a portion of the state’s obligation to school districts under Proposition 98 will instead go into a separate reserve account. Educate Our State, an organization opposed to Proposition 2, argues that schools will be forced to use up their own savings when they don’t receive this money, and that withdrawals from the reserve account during budget crises will provide the state with yet another mechanism for ducking its responsibilities under Proposition 98. They write:
The Legislature wants the right to give schools LESS than the minimum guarantee for school funding, while squirreling away the difference to help its cash flow. Then, in a bad year, it will ‘give’ schools their own money, while spending the State’s money elsewhere.
We generally oppose budgeting rules that tie the Legislature’s hands in advance, and don’t necessarily think Proposition 98 is the right way to guarantee adequate funding to schools. But the devastating effects of Proposition 13 (passed in 1978) made Proposition 98 appear necessary to voters when they adopted it in 1988. We’re not defending that choice. We’re pointing out that Proposition 2’s rainy day fund for school money makes school funding worse rather than better.
The many provisions of Proposition 2 are not all equally bad. For example, while the earmarking of capital gains tax money doesn’t make taxes more progressive (the amount collected remains the same), it does tap a source of revenue that grows in good times, when it’s easier to save, and contracts in bad times. But it creates considerable uncertainty in the process, and does nothing to redistribute the tax burden from workers to bosses.
Under completely different circumstances, a rainy day fund might be useful as a way to soften the periodic blows of the depressions and recessions that are built in to capitalist economies. But only if it is funded from steeply progressive taxes on the rich and their corporations. And only if this revenue is sufficient to create real surpluses when the economy is growing. And only if the government is left with enough resources to do the work it needs to do today. With our current tax structure and meager state budgets, everything that goes into these reserve accounts is being taken away from desperately needed services and infrastructure projects.
Financial shell games cannot solve the state’s budget crisis. Only radical changes to our regressive tax structure, along with removal of the budgetary straight jacket that was the real purpose of Proposition 13, can do that. We urge a No vote on Proposition 2.
The Peace and Freedom Party urges you to vote as follows on the statewide propositions. Click here for a flyer to print and distribute.
NO on Proposition 1—The Water Bond
Proposition 1 will not give us the water we need. It will put us, our children, and our grandchildren deeper into debt. With interest (tax-free to the wealthy bond investors), the $7.5 billion bond will cost us $360 million each year for 40 years. 36% of the bond money is devoted to the construction of dams and pipelines that will send Sacramento River water to big agricultural companies in the Central Valley. Only 6.9% is earmarked for safe and clean drinking water, some of which will benefit low-income communities. There is no guaranteed funding for much needed projects to replace crumbling infrastructure (like sewer systems) in urban areas. Proposition 1 will not make rain fall from the sky. But it will take our money and use it for the benefit of big agricultural corporations, while building dams will impact the few natural resources we have left.
NO on Proposition 2—Restrictive “Rainy Day Fund”
This is a major revision of a state government “rainy day fund” that voters approved in 2004. Its net effect is to make the state’s budgetary straightjacket even tighter than it already is. A rainy day fund might be useful as a way to soften the periodic blows of the depressions and recessions that are built in to capitalist economies. But only if it is funded from steeply progressive taxes on the rich and their corporations that generate budget surpluses when the economy is growing and government is doing its job. With our current tax structure and meager state budgets, everything that goes into these reserve accounts is being taken away from desperately needed services and infrastructure projects. We urge a No vote on Proposition 2.
YES on Proposition 45—Brake on Health Insurance Rate Increases
Proposition 45 would simply impose the same health insurance rate regulation system that Prop. 103 (1988) imposed on automobile and homeowner’s insurance. The Peace and Freedom Party supports a single payer model as a step toward a National Healthcare System. In the meantime, we must give the Insurance Commissioner the same advance approval authority over health insurance rates that 35 states and the District of Columbia already have. Proposition 45 is a modest step toward reform of a dysfunctional system that, for the present, includes private healthcare insurers.
NO on Proposition 46—More Mandatory Drug Testing
Proposition 46 increases the cap on medical malpractice awards and imposes mandatory drug testing of doctors. In addition to requiring all doctors to submit to drug testing, it requires all medical personnel to report any doctor they suspect of taking any drug to the authorities. The writers of this initiative included the drug testing provision to get people to vote for it. We think the expansion of the police powers of the state tells us to just say “No.”
YES on Proposition 47—Decrease Criminal Penalties
Proposition 47 is a step towards making the California criminal justice system less unjust. This proposition would reduce the classification of certain non-serious and nonviolent property and drug crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. It also calls for the consideration of re-sentencing those currently incarcerated for the offenses changed to misdemeanors. However, if the defendant has prior convictions for murder or rape, or is a registered sex offender, that person is not eligible for reduced classification of the new lesser crime. The Peace and Freedom Party is committed to the end of the prison-industrial complex, and civil rights and humane treatment for all human beings. We support Proposition 47 as a step in the right direction, but we are concerned that ruling out individuals with certain prior convictions is fundamentally unjust and unnecessarily draconian.
YES on Proposition 48—Uphold Negotiated Compact
A coalition of rival gambling interests and people who oppose expanding Native American reservation land are trying to overturn the compact negotiated in good faith by the Wiyot and North Fork Mono. This would be unfair, and a violation of Native American sovereignty. We urge a “yes” vote to uphold the properly-negotiated compact, which is supported by the unions representing casino and construction workers.
This statement is available here as a half-sheet flyer to download, print and distribute.
Proposition 1 will not give us the water we need. Its main purpose is to build dams and pipelines that will send Sacramento River water to big agricultural companies in the Central Valley.
The water bond will put us, our children, and our grandchildren deeper into debt. With interest (tax-free to the wealthy bond investors), the $7.5 billion bond will cost us $360 million each year for 40 years.
While 36% of the bond money is devoted to the construction of dams, only 6.9% I earmarked for safe and clean drinking water, some of which will benefit low-income communities. There is no guaranteed funding for much needed projects to replace crumbling infrastructure (like sewer systems) in urban areas.
The Winnemum Wintu Tribe opposes this proposition. Much of their land was flooded to create the Shasta Dam in 1945.At that time the government admitted that “affected resources likely cannot be mitigated.” Raising the Shasta Dam, which is likely to be funded by this act, would wipe out the tribe’s remaining sacred sites, and adversely affect the salmon fishery upon which both native and non-native people depend.
Some large environmental organizations support Proposition 1 because almost 20% of the funds will be available for competitive grants for “multi-benefit ecosystem and watershed protection and restoration projects.” Unfortunately, the dams that will be constructed with almost double the share of the funds will destroy a good deal of ecosystems and watersheds. That is why organizations like Friends of the River and Center for Biological Diversity are opposed to Proposition 1.
Don’t be fooled. Proposition 1 will not make rain fall from the sky. But it will take our money and use it for the benefit of big agricultural corporations, while it impacts the few natural resources we have left.