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Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Somebody slipped me something, I'm just sure of it. I'm not getting any less sleep at night, but I felt all day as if I'd been drugged. I spent the morning doing payroll and trying to get the quarterly payroll taxes finished. By noon I was all wrung out and ready for a nap, even though payroll isn't all that taxing.

I still have one form to type, and since it has to be mailed tomorrow I'll have to do it in the morning. I just can't face it tonight. Every time I sat at the typewriter today I screwed things up royally (typewriter joke, even though I use an IBM), and I don't know how much correction tape I have left. Government agencies frown on strike-outs and erasures, so I'll hope I can look at it with a fresher (and wider awake) eye tomorrow.

My new couch was too much to resist this afternoon, but even though I spent half the day sleeping, I'm still worn out tonight. I've gone through the ballot measures so I can mail my absentee ballot tomorrow, but right now I'm wishing they wouldn't hold elections so soon after we change the clocks. Maybe that's why so many losers keep winning, because we're all half asleep when we vote.

Or maybe it's just me.

Anyway, I'm voting yes on the two bond measures, Proposition 46, the Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act of 2002, and Proposition 47, Kindergarten - University Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2002. I just like the names.

Proposition 46 provides subsidies and down payment assistance for home buyers (plus 30,000 homeless shelter beds). Anyone who's ever complained about the homeless problem, from whatever perspective, should probably consider voting yes on this measure.

Proposition 47 is pretty specifically targeted for school construction and repair in places where it's needed most. If I didn't believe schools were overcrowded and bathrooms didn't work, I probably wouldn't vote for it. If I didn't believe the future of the state (not to mention the rest of the world) depended on education, I wouldn't vote for it. If I thought it was a giveaway or a boondoggle, I wouldn't vote for it. I'm voting for it.

I'm also voting yes on Proposition 52, which provides for election day voter registration. Over the decades, those with power in this country have a sordid history of finding ways of keeping those without power from voting. We've seen poll taxes and literacy tests outlawed, because they were skewed unfairly to keep poor and minority voters disfranchised. I'll always vote for including as many people in the process as possible.

This measure has provisions for punishing voter fraud, but even if I thought that wasn't adequate protection I still think we have more to fear from narrowing people's right to vote than we do from anyone actually trying to cast a ballot. Recent elections have seen voters intimidated at their polling places, votes not counted because of confusing ballot language, and other votes disregarded because of minor technicalities. We should be working to make it easier for citizens' voices to be heard, not harder.

This year's California ballot includes two nasty little measures that show how badly the initiative process can be abused.

Proposition 49, Before and After School Programs, sounds like a good idea, until you read that it makes spending on these programs mandatory without providing any funding for them. That means stealing from state services, including other children's programs that are at least as important, like health care, safety and education. And why wasn't funding provided for in the ballot measure? Because polls showed it couldn't have passed.

Proposition 51 is even worse. The sticky fingers of developers are all over this one, and they don't even try to hide it. It's a bunch of pork barrel "transportation" projects, paid for out of the state's general fund. Yes, that again. No funding is provided in the measure, so we Californians are to dig into our own pockets and hand over $120 million for rail service from Los Angeles to a casino in Palm Springs. That's just one of 45 projects that private developers are asking us to pay for, in the name of traffic relief and school bus safety. How cynical.

In the middle of all this is Proposition 50, an enticing hodgepodge of state water projects. I've gone back and forth on this one. On one hand, some of the money goes into the hands of private developers who have contributed heavily to the campaign. But there are good things inside this measure, and it's supported by groups and individuals I respect. I'm leaning slightly toward voting in favor of it, but I haven't marked it yet. If the state legislature would deal with our water problems, we wouldn't have to resort to the initiative process to solve them.

I kind of wish I'd started working on this one when I was fully awake and had a clear head. Whenever that was.


Looking through the garden.

You might have noticed I left out Proposition 48, Court Consolidation. It's about removing language from the state constitution about municipal courts, which no longer exist. It's a really compelling issue, with passionate advocates on both sides. No, actually, it's not. Hardly anyone cares, including me. Even the papers aren't bothering to take a position on it.

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