Professors Discuss Propositions

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By Sharyne Merritt

The propositions are even more confusing this year than usual (hard to believe but perhaps another sign of how bad 2020 is).  With a PhD in Political Science and 15 years as a professor of marketing (selling presidents or propositions is the same as selling soap), I take elections seriously.  I spent several hours researching each prop (recommend https://ballotpedia.org/California_2020_ballot_propositions) and discussing them with two other retired professors.  
 
(Full disclosure two of us are life long Democrats and one calls himself a “Rockefeller Republican”; all three of us are voting for Biden/Harris.)  We found some very tricky elements and didn’t agree on everything, so I’d like to share our findings in the hopes that readers will give them serious thought.
 
14 Issues $5.5 billion in bonds for state stem cell research
2 yes – cutting edge medical research is more needed than ever; federal funding is limited; the proposition has a very impressive list of supporters including American Association for Cancer Research, American Diabetes Association, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, ALS Association, Alzheimer’s Los Angeles, Arthritis Foundation, Sickle Cell Disease Foundation of California, and San Francisco AIDS Foundation
1 no:  taxpayers don’t need more state debt
 
15 Requires commercial and industrial properties to be taxed based on market value not prop 13 and dedicates revenue to state government, schools, and local government.  Residential stays the same.  Farms won’t have increased tax on land but will on buildings
2 yes: industrial properties are currently grossly under-taxed; a fair assessment will generate money for local governments and schools.  While it is unfortunate that the taxes will harm small and minority owned businesses that will have the tax passed along, local services and education of many children creates more positive impacts for more people. 
1 no: increase in taxes will be passed along to renters including small and minority owned businesses that don’t own property.  
 
16 Permits consideration of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in public employment, education, or contracting consider 
3 yes: This is not about quotas; it just lets race, sex, etc be one factor of many if desired by government or universities.  A study out of UC Berkeley found minorities were hurt by the previous elimination of affirmative action.  Also, local governments might want to consider bringing in people of different backgrounds when hiring to get different perspectives
 
17 Felons on parole get the right to vote
3 yes – no brainer - they were good enough to rejoin society.  
 
18 17-year-olds who will turn 18 by Election Day can vote in primaries
3 yes: most 17-year-olds probably won’t pay enough attention to differences among primary candidates, but hell, most 40 year olds don’t either.
 
19 Changes tax assessment transfers and inheritance rules:  lets people over 55 (not 65) move 3 times to more expensive properties and take their old prop 13 tax assessment with them
3 no  - passes burden too much to younger people; why give people over 55 3 slices of the cake
 
20 Makes changes to policies related to criminal sentencing charges, prison release, and DNA collection 
3 no –moves several misdemeanors to felonies; opposed by ACLU  
 
21 Expands local governments' power to use rent control 
3 no –doesn’t create affordable housing; will hold rents down but discourage building; opposed by Governor Newsom
 
22 Considers app-based drivers to be independent contractors, not subject to benefits of employees
3 no – gig workers should have health insurance and unemployment compensation; superior court already held they were employees; this would make them a separate category where they would be exempt from benefits; it is funded by companies that stand to gain – Uber, Lyft, DoorDash
 
23  Requires physician on-site at dialysis clinics
3 no – why is this on the ballot – it’s a legislative issue thrown in our laps.  Opposed by American Medical Association and American Nurses Association/California; would take doctors out of places they are needed.  Also, if something goes wrong with dialysis you need a specially trained nurse or technician, not a doctor. 
 
24 Expands the provisions of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) 
3 no – While this ostensibly adds protections, the ACLU opposes it and we are betting that the ACLU lawyers are more capable of analyzing this than we are
 
25 Replaces cash bail with risk assessments for suspects awaiting trial
3 no – while this seems like a no brainer – rich people tend to stay out of jail while awaiting trial while poor people who cannot come up with bail often languish in jail, the ACLU opposes it because replacing bail with a non-transparent algorithm can be equally or more biased.
 

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jimbo212 Oct 22, 2020 05:07 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

"As of September of 2014, roughly 50,000—or 62 percent—of [jail] beds were filled with inmates awaiting trial or sentencing." https://www.ppic.org/publication/pretrial-detention-and-jail-capacity-in-california

RHS Oct 22, 2020 10:26 AM
Professors Discuss Propositions

Pitmix, with respect, there are almost no prison inmates awaiting trial. Very few are dying any more than we are. No one goes to prison until conviction (a few parolees who picked up new charges on parole may be back in prison awaiting the new trial). It is possible that 2/3s of the inmates in a local jail have not been litigated. There are many reasons for this, not all bad for the accused person. They may be awaiting a lawyer from family or the court, they may be not yet arraigned, they may be negotiating, etc. They may have holds from previous cases that do not allow bail such as a warrant for failure to appear. In all cases the person in custody will, if convicted, get credit for that time when sentenced.

RHS Oct 22, 2020 09:16 AM
Professors Discuss Propositions

The problem with Prop 25 is not that it "eliminates cash bail" but that it puts total discretion into the hands of a judge. Such power is equivalent to the idea of "preventive detention" which is abhorrent. This is a sign of tyranny. With the cash bail system at least there is a way for those who are targeted and hated to get bail and fight their case. We have a Constitutional right to bail, not to a release based on some judge's opinion. Cash bail is abused because the bondsmen make such an obscene profit from it. If we allowed a cash bail system which was run by the courts or other agency and allowed a 10% deposit, returnable upon close of the case, less some service costs it would be more fair.

PitMix Oct 21, 2020 02:36 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

I saw something on the news, that 2/3rds of the inmates dying in prison were waiting for trial and not convicted of anything. So voted yes on this to uphold the changes to the cash bail system.

Ahchooo Oct 21, 2020 01:31 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

The claim seems to be that the algorithm is unfair. But we *know* that cash bail is unfair. Seems to me we should get rid of cash bail, and correct the algorithm. I wish we had more information so that we could assess just how bad the algorithm is.

CoastWatch Oct 21, 2020 10:27 AM
Professors Discuss Propositions

I will be voting the EXACT OPPOSITE of whatever these Pinheaded Professors recommend.

Seabird Oct 21, 2020 07:44 PM
Professors Discuss Propositions

Please enlighten me... why this new widespread disdain for the educated? Genuinely curious.

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