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It’s time to go through all the ballot measures

A friend, with whom I occasionally engaged in emphatic political arguments, never failed to irritate me with some of his rejoinders. I would declare, in response to some of his lunatic notions, that this country is a democracy and we don’t do (whatever) that way here! He invariably would respond with, “No, it’s not a democracy, it’s a republic!” leaving me with a frustrated feeling. I didn’t understand that what he was doggedly preaching was the notion that we neither directly vote for legislation nor elect our Presidents.

I was reminded of his insistent stance as I was looking over some of the many election pamphlets that have been abundantly appearing in the mail recently. One in particular caught my attention. It had a double-barreled glimpse of both the Constitution and the U.S. flag in the background. It came from Citizens for Representative Government, which stimulus sent my mind reeling back to my friend’s reminder that we have an indirect form of governance. But, I think the group just uses their name to suggest that all other affiliations stand for legislators who do not represent us. Perhaps I’m wrong. I must be incorrect. How could I be so cynical? They, CRG, claimed to be some of the true keepers of the flame of conservatism. That is to say that they believe in indirect governance – where, if we leave it to the people, they’ll get it all wrong. So, we have what is called a two-party system where we elect a representative to perform that function for us. That’s because these representatives can get to be better informed through a group of we-the-people that are called lobbyists. (Our government has actually evolved into a one-party system, but that’s a whole other day in itself.) But the point of this folder that I was looking at was that we are not the kind of government that acts directly.



Actually, we do. At least some of the time, we can, even when it seems that we get to do it only when representatives don’t want to touch the issue. One such instance of direct voting is the ballot measure. I actually couldn’t believe that the CRG mailing -which was reminding me about representative government – was also recommending which way to vote on all of the measures. How come they were reduced to endorsing direct voting? I couldn’t understand this seeming flip-flop. Oh well!




However that contradiction gets resolved, and at least in the area of ballot measures, we voters are getting off pretty easy this March. There are only six, and one local, NJUHSD issue. Perhaps that limited number is because it’s not a general election. But it’s not just a “primary” for the ballot measures. This coming Tuesday’s ballot will be final, therefore very much prime for all of those measures. With a few exceptions, their title wording is straightforward and relatively clean. There are no flaky attempts to have a “no” vote really come out to be a “yes.” There are, however, reasons aplenty for reading the measures, and, as always, checking out who the sponsors of the measure are. But that’s a problem, too. Often, sponsors are so vaguely named as to have little descriptive value. “Taxpayers for Value in Government,” “Citizens Against Animal Abuse” or maybe “Folks Against Taxes” are fictional, but likely titles. Who could be against the implied goals of such groups? They all sound like good folks.

Despite my friend’s admonishments, I’d like to make a few recommendations on several of the ballot measures.

Measure “A” is a definite yes. We have effective high schools, why not make education easier?

Prop 40 Park Bonds: Sounds like a needed expense. Consider a yes vote here.

Prop 41 – Voting Equipment Bonds – is a yes unless you also have a spare room to put up electoral monitors from a so-called underdeveloped nation.

Prop 42 Gas Tax seems at first to be a no-brainer, but would jeopardize other funding such as education. This needs another pass at the ballot after cleaning up the impacts.

Prop 43 Vote Count Amendment: Vote yes, except if you want your vote to be excluded.

Prop 45 Term Limits modification-deserves to pass. At least we can improve on the term-limits previously passed out of some group’s fear of Willie Brown. By the way, Willie can run for any of several offices with or without this proposition passing. To conduct a fear campaign invoking his image is stupid.

Larry Shumaker, a resident of Alta Sierra, writes a monthly column.


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