Arizona Issues, 2012
The Secretary of State issues a booklet, the General Election Guide, which has 160 pages this year. To be a well-informed voter, you need bright light, good eyes, or a strong pair of reading glasses. Despite its thickness, the print is small and the pages are the cheapest possible newsprint. No doubt the state intends to save money while fulfilling its legal requirements.
If you need large print, or Spanish, or both, you have to call one of several phone numbers, or visit www.azsos.gov. If you can't read the booklet, there's a number to call to hear it read to you. If you do that, I hope you don't have to pay by the minute.
Still, it's important to understand what we're being asked to decide, whatever you have to do to get the information.
I found another analysis of the propositions that explains the reasons for its choices, and they are very well reasoned. It's from a blog called
Random Musings, by Craig McDermott.
Protect crime victims from liability for damages suffered by the perpetrator of a felony crime against the victim.
That makes so much sense that one wonders how or why it could be otherwise. Presumably it's possible that if someone tries to rob, rape, or kill you and gets hurt in the process, that person could sue you. I've heard of this happening somewhere, but I don't know if it's true.
Craig thinks it's a trick to undermine civil law protections. Maybe, but this seems pretty specific to one situation.
I'll vote YES on this one.
This is a strange one. It proposes raising judges' mandatory retirement age from 70 to 75, extending their terms from 4 or 6 years to 8, and changing the appointing process.
That last part is tricky. The current system of judicial appointment commissions is a bit complicated, but designed to keep the process nonpartisan and not too influenced by the legislature or the governor. The new plan is a sneaky attempt to water down these protections. The League of Women voters says NO. So do I.
This one aims to exempt from property tax equipment and machinery used in agriculture or in a trade or business up to an amount equal to the earnings of 50 workers. The idea is to help small businesses. The odd-sounding 50 workers measurement seems to be a built-in inflation adjuster. I thought this might be a good idea, as it was presented. So did many Democrats in the legislature. But Craig writes ...it's actually a huge gift to big business that will serve to undermine the fiscal stability of the state and every county in the state. Though it claims to be for small business, he may be right. NO is probably the better choice.
Proposes a 5% growth cap on property tax assessment values. However, it does nothing to limit tax rates. As it is, tax amounts stay roughly the same whether valuations go up or down. It could be simplified, but this proposition doesn't do that, or guarantee any tax savings. NO.
Establishes a permanent fund for public education so that available money doesn't vary so much from year to year. Arizona rates near the bottom on education, and definitely needs greater funding that is not cut by legislators who think schools don't matter. However, I have been convinced that this proposition is not what it seems, and I'll vote NO.
Authorize exchange of state trust lands if related to protecting military facilities or improving the management of state trust lands.
The Sierra Club is for it. Few seem to be against it. I'll vote YES.
Protecting military facilities does not appeal to me. Supposedly those located in AZ bring $9 billion to the economy. If they weren't here, they'd be somewhere. Obviously, military reduction is a Federal issue, and one of the problems in getting that done is the fact that a substantial portion of the economy is dependent on military industries and bases. Major cutbacks would best be done in good economic times, when employment could be transitioned to other industries.
Here we have a product of Republican right wing nuts- a proposition that is not only outrageously stupid but would violate the US Constitution and the very agreement by which Arizona became a state. They're calling it a State Sovereignty Declaration.
In 1910, Congress passed the Arizona-New Mexico Enabling Act, allowing Arizona to become a state, and granted Arizona about 10.9 million acres of state trust land, subject to certain terms for the management, operation, use and disposition of those trust lands.
With the declaration THE STATE OF ARIZONA DECLARES ITS SOVEREIGN AND EXCLUSIVE AUTHORITY AND JURISDICTION OVER THE AIR, WATER, PUBLIC LANDS, MINERALS, WILDLIFE AND OTHER NATURAL RESOURCES WITHIN ITS BOUNDARIES... (except Indian land and Federal facilities), the Republinuts want to void that agreement.
Logically, the Federal government could then declare Arizona's statehood null and void as well. It won't, of course, but this proposition, if passed, would no doubt be invalidated, even by conservative judges.
What this is really about is an attempt to get around EPA regulations on dirty coal power plants, to take over national parks and preserves including the Grand Canyon, and to avoid complying with Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, and Clean Water Act.
Proposition 120 deserves a HELL NO!
The Open Primary. REPLACES THE CURRENT PARTY PRIMARY ELECTION WITH A "TOP-TWO" PRIMARY ELECTION IN WHICH ALL VOTERS, REGARDLESS OF PARTY AFFILIATION, VOTE IN A SINGLE, COMBINED PRIMARY AND THE TOP TWO VOTE-GETTERS FOR EACH SEAT ADVANCE TO THE GENERAL ELECTION BALLOT.
This one has more arguments both for and against than any so far. Those for it hope it will reduce partisanship and extreme positions. We certainly need less extremism on the Republican side, but would this change affect that?
Grady Gammage Jr. writes: Under the current election system, Independents are shut out of being candidates. Currently a Republican or Democrat running for statewide office needs about 5000 signatures; a Libertarian needs a little over 100; a Green Party member needs nearly 1000. But an Independent needs more than 31,000. This is ludicrous and discriminatory. The proposition would level the playing field and require everyone to obtain the same number of signatures.
That system is indeed unfair, and should be fixed. But both the Libertarian and Green parties oppose the open primary proposition. They have a good reason: neither will likely be one of the "top two" in an open primary, so they will be left out of the general election.
The presumed purpose of the open primary is a good one. Lucia Fakonas Howard writes:
I believe that political parties are useful and necessary in our democratic system, but I also see that hyper-partisan politics have paralyzed our state and country. Elected officials no longer work in concert to do what is right or best for our country. Instead, they posture for sound bites and pander to the extreme factions of their own political parties, because they know their re-elections will be determined by these extreme voters under the current partisan primary elections.
That is true, and it's a real problem. But the effects of an open primary may not fix it, and create new problems. You could easily end up with 2 candidates from the same party and none from the other for an office. The system could be gamed by running 'ringers' to split the vote.
California, Washington, and Louisiana have open primaries. How are they working there?
On the surface, OPEN sounds appealing, but it would give us fewer choices, not more.
I say NO.
STATE LAW INITIATIVE
This is an excellent idea, probably because it DIDN'T come from the legislature, and it addresses Arizona's greatest need: adequate funding for education. This state is at or near the bottom of all states in education quality, and greatly needs improvement, but the education budget is a target for Republican cuts.
Since 2010 the state sales tax has been 6.6%. One cent was temporary and would expire in 2013. This initiative would keep that cent and use it all for education.
The proposition provides:
1)Funding levels for kindergarten through 12th grade and state university systems cannot be reduced below the levels for fiscal year 2011-2012 or 2012-2013, whichever is greater.
2) Adjustment for inflation.
3) The limits on school district bonds and overrides cannot be below those in effect for 2012.
And: The sales tax base cannot be adjusted in a way that causes the amount of sales tax collected to be less than the amount collected in the prior year, plus six per cent, unless there is a corresponding change in the tax base that results in no reduction in the amount of sales tax collected.
In other words, the legislature is not to sabotage the funding.
ABSOLUTELY YES on 204.
GLENDALE CITY PROPOSITION
Changes the charter to require prior approval (instead of post-approval) by voters for a sales tax increase.
First, it's a bad idea to starve the city government and its ability to pay for city services and invest in economically beneficial projects.
Second, this proposition was advertised deceptively, with the claim that it could repeal the recent temporary sales tax increase, when actually it only affects how future increases would be done. NO.
There has been some controversy over the cost of Glendale's hockey arena, since the hockey team hasn't done as well as expected. However, it also hosts concerts, and is an overall boost to the city's economy. I don't care about hockey either, but, along with the football stadium (which no one complains about) and the hotels, restaurants, and a soon to be built Indian casino-resort, Glendale has invested well. The sales tax difference from Phoenix is not enough for shoppers to worry about.
Speaking of Glendale, I'm voting for Manuel Cruz for Mayor. We also have Jerry Weirs running, going for the biker vote, bragging about riding a Harley Ultra Classic. If that makes him sound like a fun guy, his criticism of spending and opposition to an Indian Casino cast doubt on that.
The Indian casino won't cost taxpayers a cent, and will greatly enhance the already growing economy around the stadium and arena area. I'm very much in favor of it for that reason, and because I support Indian tribal enterprises that benefit Native American communities' health, education and opportunity.
TO SUMMARIZE: YES on 114, 119, and 204
NO on 115, 116, 117, 118, 120, 121, and 457.
Since I first posted this blog, I changed my vote on 116 and 118. I think it's important to stay open to new information. If anyone has input on any of these issues, feel free to email. You'll find my address on the main page.
Here's another blog with opinions on the propositions. Blog for Arizona contains some good reasoning on several of the issues, but I disagree with it on "open primary" #121 (I don't think it will work as its supporters hope) and the education funding in #204 (Education is too important to quibble about the kind of tax used).
--cosmic rat Cosmic Cabdrivers' Guide to the Universe October 13 2012