Pubdate: Sun, 12 Oct 2008
Source: San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
Page: G - 6
Copyright: 2008 Hearst Communications Inc.
Author: John Wildermuth


The Nov. 4 election will be about more than Barack Obama and John 
McCain as California voters decide on a dozen statewide propositions 
dealing with everything from same-sex marriage and redistricting to 
high-speed rail and bigger cages for chickens.

With vote-by-mail ballots landing in millions of California homes and 
the airwaves starting to fill with 30-second TV spots, voters are 
beginning to focus on state issues they've been all too willing to 
ignore up to now.

"Everything has been so focused on the presidential race, there are 
plenty of people who haven't paid any attention to the ballot 
measures," said Steve Kinney, a Southern California GOP pollster. 
"There's not much knowledge about anything other than Prop. 8 
(same-sex marriage ban) and Prop. 4 (parental notification before abortion)."

In years past, voters typically have taken a long, leisurely look at 
California ballot measures, often waiting until the final days to 
stake out a position on the propositions - particularly those whose 
backers and opponents don't raise the millions it takes to pay for a 
statewide TV campaign.

"With very rare exceptions, ballot propositions are just digits until 
the voter pamphlet arrives in the mail," said Dan Schnur, a former 
GOP consultant who now heads the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics 
at the University of Southern California.

But now nearly half the voters cast their ballots by mail, often 
weeks before election day. Completed ballots already are arriving at 
county election offices, and campaigns that hold back their ad 
campaigns until the week before the election will end up missing the 
millions of people who voted early.

"People already are voting, and we're just starting to see the ads 
come on the air," said Barbara O'Connor, a professor of political 
communications at Sacramento State University. "There's very little 
conversation occurring on the propositions, since much of that 
conversation is stimulated by television advertising."

Only a handful of the ballot measures so far have raised enough for 
an early TV effort. Ads opposing Proposition 7, which would require 
utilities to use more renewable energy, are on the air across the 
state, thanks to about $28 million in contributions from Pacific Gas 
and Electric Co. and Southern California Edison.

Ads already are running on both sides of the same-sex marriage ban, 
Prop. 8, which is probably the one measure on the ballot that doesn't 
need the exposure. A Field Poll last month showed that only 7 percent 
of the state's registered voters haven't decided how they will vote 
on the initiative.

Agricultural interests also have nearly $6 million available to run 
TV spots targeting Prop. 2 (more room in cages and pens for farm animals).

On the other side, Prop. 1A, the $9.9 billion bond measure to help 
build a high-speed rail system, has less than $200,000 in the bank in 
a state where it can cost more than $2 million a week to run a TV ad campaign.

That's especially bad news now, when a barrage of bad economic news 
is slamming voters as they study their choices on the November ballot.

Backers of bond measures like Prop. 1A, Prop. 3 ($980 million for 
children's hospitals), Prop. 10 ($5 billion to promote alternative 
fuel vehicles and renewable energy) and Prop. 12 ($900 million for 
home loans to veterans) and other money measures like Prop. 5 ($460 
million a year for improved drug treatment programs) and Prop. 6 
($965 million a year for local law enforcement) will have to work 
hard to make their cases to voters none too eager to spend more money.

"Wary voters tend to say 'no,'" Schnur said.

Proposition 1A

High-Speed Rail Bond

What it does: Provides nearly $10 billion of the cost to build a 
high-speed rail link between Los Angeles and San Francisco and other 
commuter train improvements.

Thumbs-up: L.A. to S.F. in 2 1/2 hours for about $55 a person.

Thumbs-down: Where's the other $40 billion coming from?

Supporters: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, 
former state Sen. Quentin Kopp. Web site: Reported contributions: $549,000.

Opponents: California Chamber of Commerce, state Sen. Tom McClintock, 
Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. No reported contributions.

Proposition 2

Standards for Confining Farm Animals

What it does: Requires that calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens 
and pregnant pigs should be in cages or pens that allow them to stand 
up and turn around.

Thumbs-up: Stops cruel and inhumane treatment of animals.

Thumbs-down: Unnecessary measure will close farms and boost egg prices.

Supporters: Humane Society of the United States, California 
Democratic Party, Consumer Federation of America. Web site: Reported contributions: $7.3 million.

Opponents: California Farm Bureau, California Small Business 
Association, Mexican American Political Association. Web site: Reported contributions: $7.1 million.

Proposition 3

Children's Hospitals Bond

What it does: Authorizes $980 million in state bonds for 
construction, expansion and renovation of children's hospitals.

Thumbs-up: We need to give the best care to desperately ill children.

Thumbs-down: This is no time for more state spending for one special interest.

Supporters: California Children's Hospital Association. Web site: Reported contributions: $5.5 million.

Opponents: American Conservative Union, People's Advocates, National 
Tax Limitation Union. No reported contributions.

Proposition 4

Parental Notification Before Abortion

What it does: Requires notification of parent or guardian and a 
48-hour waiting period before a minor can receive an abortion.

Thumbs-up: Minors shouldn't get medical care without parents knowing.

Thumbs-down: Another effort by anti-abortion forces to get around 
pro-choice laws.

Supporters: Parents Right to Know California, California Catholic 
Conference, Coronado (San Diego County) publisher James Holman. Web 
site: Reported contributions: $2.6 million.

Opponents: California Nurses Association, California Teachers 
Association, League of Women Voters of California. Web site: Reported contributions: $6.4 million.

Proposition 5

Sentencing for Nonviolent Drug Offenses

What it does: Provides $460 million a year for drug treatment 
programs, limits judges' ability to jail some drug offenders, 
shortens parole for some offenses.

Thumbs-up: More drug rehabilitation will keep young people out of prison.

Thumbs-down: This is a get-out-of-jail-free card for drug offenders 
and other criminals.

Supporters: California Democratic Party, California Labor Federation, 
California Academy of Family Physicians, financier George Soros. Web 
site: Reported contributions: $4.5 million.

Opponents: Mothers Against Drunk Driving, California District 
Attorneys Association. Web site: Reported 
contributions: $338,000.

Proposition 6

Law Enforcement Funding and Criminal Penalties

What it does: Requires $965 million a year in state money for local 
law enforcement and toughens laws on gang activity.

Thumbs-up: Tougher anti-gang laws and penalties mean safer streets.

Thumbs-down: Longer prison terms means more prisons California can't afford.

Supporters: California Police Chiefs Association, Crime Victims 
United. Web site: Reported 
contributions: $1.6 million.

Opponents: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Oakland Mayor Ron 
Dellums, California Teachers Association. Web site: Reported contributions: $238,000.

Proposition 7

Renewable Energy Generation

What it would do: Requires all utilities to generate 20 percent of 
their power from renewable energy by 2010 and 50 percent by 2025 and 
speeds up approval of renewable energy plants.

Thumbs-up: Tougher renewable rules will keep California a leader in 
green energy.

Thumbs-down: Ill-conceived measure will disrupt ongoing plans for 
renewable energy.

Supporters: California for Solar and Clean Energy, former state Sen. 
John Burton, Arizona businessman Peter Sperling. Web site: Reported contributions: $5.5 million.

Opponents: California League of Conservation Voters, California 
Republican Party, PG&E, League of California Cities. Web site: Reported contributions: $27.7 million.

Proposition 8

Same-Sex Marriage Ban

What it would do: Same-sex couples could not be legally married.

Thumbs-up: Marriage should only be between one man and one woman.

Thumbs-down: Changing times demand equal rights for same-sex couples.

Supporters: California Catholic Conference, American Family 
Association, Traditional Values Coalition. Web site: Reported contributions: $27 million.

Opponents: Marriage Equality USA, California Labor Federation, 
Anti-Defamation League, American Civil Liberties Union. Web site: Reported contributions: $19 million.

Proposition 9

Victims' Rights and Parole

What it would do: Allows victims to be involved in most criminal 
proceedings, establishes victim safety as consideration for parole 
and cuts the number of parole hearings a prisoner is entitled to.

Thumbs-up: Victims' rights too often are steamrolled by criminals' rights.

Thumbs-down: Would boost prison overcrowding and cost the state 
hundreds of millions.

Supporters: Businessman Henry Nicholas, Crime Victims United, Parents 
of Murdered Children. Web site: Reported 
contributions: $4.8 million.

Opponents: California Labor Federation, ACLU of Northern California, 
California Democratic Party. Reported contributions: $238,000.

Proposition 10

Alternative-Fuel Vehicles, Renewable Energy Bonds

What it would do: Provides $3.4 billion to buy alternative-fuel 
vehicles and $1.2 billion for development of renewable energy.

Thumbs-up: California needs to promote renewable energy and clean the air.

Thumbs-down: Promoters more interested in cleaning up than cleaning 
California's air.

Supporters: Texas energy executive T. Boone Pickens and his Clean 
Energy Fuels Corp. Web site: Reported 
contributions: $4.5 million.

Opponents: California Labor Federation, The Utility Reform Network, 
Consumer Federation of California. Web site: No reported contributions.

Proposition 11

Redistricting Changes

What it would do: Takes away the Legislature's power to draw lines 
for state Assembly and Senate districts and gives it to a citizen board.

Thumbs-up: Removing the legislators will take the politics out of 

Thumbs-down: It's a complicated and unfair plan to solve a problem 
that doesn't exist.

Supporters: League of Women Voters, AARP, California Common Cause, 
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Web site: Reported 
contributions: $9.1 million.

Opponents: California Democratic Party, Mexican American Legal 
Defense and Education Fund, California Correctional Peace Officers. 
Web site: Reported contributions: $370,000.

Proposition 12

Veterans Housing and Farm Bonds

What it would do: Provides $900 million for California veterans to 
buy homes and farms by extending the CalVet loan program, which has 
been operating in the state since 1921.

Thumbs-up: Recent veterans deserve the help and the program will pay 
for itself.

Thumbs-down: The state could end up repaying the bonds (although 
that's never happened).

Supporters: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and most state politicians, 
California Labor Federation. No reported contributions.

Opponents: Are you kidding? No reported contributions.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake