Forum on controversial propositions draws LWW crowd
A standing-room-only crowd of more than 150 Lake Wildwood residents packed the community center to hear a lively debate on three controversial propositions on the November ballot.
Moderator Dr. Winsome Jackson, a political science professor at Sierra College, provided a quick civics lesson on the impetus for the initiative process, which she called “direct democracy.” Jackson noted the process can have unintended consequences, including the power of a few to dictate to the plurality.
Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal and former Sutter County Sheriff’s Deputy Nate Bradley discussed Proposition 19, the marijuana legalization initiative.
Prohibition is actually harming us, said Bradley, speaking as a representative of the pro-19 group, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
“Right now, we have zero control,” Bradley said. “That’s the biggest failing of the law.”
Bradley argued that Prop. 19 would eliminate the black market in marijuana in California and help reduce crime.
Royal disagreed, saying, “Crime and violence will not go away.”
After all, residents of 49 other states will buy California’s marijuana, and a black market would continue among minors, he said.
Royal called the proposition poorly written and convoluted, and predicted it would lead to a great deal of confusion in the courts – and for law enforcement.
John Kabateck of the National Federation of Independent Businesses and Steve Frisch of the Sierra Business Council took opposing viewpoints on Prop. 23.
The measure would suspend AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, until California’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent or below for four consecutive quarters.
Many small businesses, already crippled by the recession, are shutting their doors because of overly stringent regulations, Kabateck argued.
Prop. 23 would protect employers from having to choose between complying with global warming regulations and keeping employees on the payroll, he said.
“Let’s get jobs back on Main Street,” Kabateck said. “Let’s just push the pause button and get people working again.”
Frisch framed the debate in terms of the greater public good and argued that complying with environmental regulations would benefit California by forcing businesses to focus on “clean tech” and becoming more innovative.
He noted Nevada County has one of the most severe ozone problems in the United States and can ill afford to suspend regulations that control greenhouse gases.
“Prop. 23 is bad for business, Prop. 23 is bad for human health, and Prop. 23 is bad public policy.” Frisch said. “We need to think about our social responsibility.”
Bill Neuharth and Margaret Joehnck, the chairs, respectively, of the Republican and Democratic party committees of Nevada County, squared off on Prop. 25, the Majority Vote for the Legislature to Pass the Budget Act.
Prop. 25 provides a major incentive for legislators to pass the state budget by June 15, Joehnck said. And the bill would provide greater transparency of the budget process by providing more public scrutiny.
The annual budget stalemate has “become a pox on both their houses,” Joehnck said, referring to both the majority and minority parties. She pointed out that only three states require a super-majority to pass a budget, and California is the only state to require a two-thirds vote to pass the budget and tax bills.
“We have a fiscal mess that we need to deal with,” Neuharth argued, adding that Prop. 25 is not the way to handle that mess.
Getting a budget passed on time will not help the state if legislators have not dealt with the real issue, lack of revenue, he said.
To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail email@example.com or call (530) 477-4229.
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