Collective Wisdom


The Invite read:

How to make sense of it all?
Join us November 2, as we go through the ballot and share our collective wisdom. The idea is to educate and inform not proselytize. Some of the issues are fairly black and white (No on 8) others have good arguments on both sides.

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Peleg Top and Rick Hoyt sent out an invitation to gather at their home to discuss the Propositions on the ballot with the extra lure of homemade soup by Peleg. Normally in any other election year, this would be as exciting as standing in the express lane at Vons's (although Peleg's cooking is enough of a lure in itself). But this year was different, there was change in the air and an overwhelming urge to make things right. People who never voted are voting, age groups what felt no need to make a stand are now the standard bearers for a freshman Senator from Illinois, the disenfranchised are now realizing their power to make history; all of us carried on this once in a lifetime collective push for the need to wipe the slate clean and to make the choice for a future that the past had almost wiped out.

Peleg and Rick live up in the hills of Silver Lake, their home is a gathering place for new and old friends; the warmth of friendship and inclusiveness is felt the moment you step in. Last night they gathered us to talk about the 12 Propositions on the Los Angeles County ballot. After sampling three homemade soups, we filled our plates with desserts and sat down to begin with Proposition 1.

Proposition 1A: High Speed Rail Bonds. Larry Kaplan is a train enthusiast. And he was in favor of voting for the bond measure, but after doing a bit of investigation, he decided to vote No. The reason being is that the train line would run a straight line from Los Angeles to San Francisco through the Central Valley, making stops in Modesto and Bakersfield. Taking this into consideration, he said it would bring urban expansion to areas not able to handle an influx of bedroom commuters, and it would take a heavy toll on the environment. Lastly, we need inter-city transportation more than we need a high speed rail line that is already being served by multiple airlines. The group consensus was No.

Proposition 2: Cage Size Mandates for Chickens. Wendy Murry raised the most important point on the proposition, that we as the stewards of the earth have a moral obligation to look after the animals that serve us. The argument that if this Proposition is passed that consumers will have to pay an extra penny on the egg and the possibility of Salmonella from out of state Egg Farms is minimal compared by the harm done to the farm animals living in cages where they have no room to stand or rest. We all agreed that we would pay the extra penny for each egg, knowing that the animals are treated humanely. Group consensus was Yes.

Proposition 3: Children's Hospital Bonds. This would give $980 Million in grants to 80% of non-profit hospitals serving children and 20% to UC hospitals to refurbish, construct and purchase new equipment. The hospitals would have to apply for the grant funds. Group consensus was Yes.

Proposition 4: Parental Notification of Minor's Abortion. This proposition is to amend the State Constitution to bar abortions by minors for 48 hours until the parents or guardian is notified. This proposition has come up for the fourth time, and defeated each time. The argument that this will compel family communication is not strong because teenagers will find a way around it, and will put the minor at risk at obtaining an abortion out of state. The Group consensus was No.

Proposition 5: Drug Offender Diversion and Rehabilitation. This proposition would allocate $460 Million a year to treat those convicted of non-violent drug related crimes as an alternative to incarceration. Rick spoke about the need to rehabilitate because the benefits of treatment outweigh the revolving door of incarceration. Group consensus was Yes.

Proposition 6: New Crimes and Penalties. This would fund state and local criminal justice programs to increase penalties for gang activity, satellite tracking of sex offenders and other former state prison inmates. This would lead to prison overcrowding and take needed funds away from schools and other higher priority needs. Group consensus was No.

Proposition 7: Renewable Energy. Group consensus was No because it would benefit the writers of this proposition and stall development of other renewable power. The Group consensus was No.

Proposition 8: Same Sex Marriage Ban. The Group consensus was a No Vote. To deny the right to marry is to deny a fundamental freedom.
Nov. 5th, 2008: Follow up on Proposition 8 by Rick Hoyt

Proposition 9: New Rights for Crime Victims . This would give new rights to victims of crimes and to restrict early release of inmates. The proposition is well intentioned but poorly written and would a financial burden on our state budget by diverting funds from schools and education. The Group consensus was No.

Proposition 10: Alternative Fuel Bond. This proposition is funded by T. Boone Pickens and would benefit his companies financially by giving the buyers of his natural-gas vehicles a rebate from the state. The state would have to borrow $5 Billion to fund these rebates that would go to the Proposition's chief backer and stall investment in alternative energy vehicles. The Group consensus was No.

Proposition 11: Redistricting Reform. This would take the once in a decade Legislative job of re-drawing districts to a bi-partisan board made up of five Democrats, five Republicans and four others. The advantage of having this is to make Legislators accountable to voters. An independent group will draw fair districts in an open process. The Group consensus was Yes.

Proposition 12: Veteran's Mortgage Bonds. The California Constitution authorized the use of state money to assist war veterans in buying farms and homes, since 1921; 26 veterans bond acts have been passed, creating $8.4 billion in general obligation bonds. There is no cost to taxpayers because the mortgage payments would cover the bond costs and this would also recognize the debt we owe to those who served in the military. Group consensus was Yes.

We ended the evening knowing more than we ever did about Propositions. After hearing arguments from both sides, some of us changed our No Votes to Yes, and Yes to No. In Peleg and Rick's living room was a community coming together to discuss how we wanted each of our votes to count in this historic election. Thank you to Peleg and Rick and to all the people gathered there last night, we are all going to make our marks for the future knowing all the pros and cons of each proposition, not because we are voting by a party line, but by an open community discussion.

For more information on the Propositions:
Berkley Education / Election 2008

California Ballot Endorsements / General Election

Los Angeles Times / Propositions

LA Weekly Guide to Controversial Political Measures

Information on Polling Locations, Voting and the Election:
Registar-Recorder / County Clerk

Image: Peleg Top

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