election 2014

Political initiatives are often written in “legalese” that the average American has a hard time breaking down to understand. Even when it is clear what an initiative means, how the initiative is implemented is subject to interpretation, so it is really anyone’s guess as to how initiatives will impact the lives of the citizens.

This election year in California, there are very few initiatives on the ballot -6 to be exact.  This is in part because of the increasingly difficult requirements for filing. Nevertheless, despite the low number, the responsible voter must attempt to form an opinion and have his opinion heard at the polls.

Instead of voters allowing their opinions to be swayed by colorful advertising, there is another way to be educated on California initiatives. There is a document  available on the California Fair Political Practices Committee website that shows all the major contributors for the initiatives on the ballot.  Knowing who is behind the ballot can be very enlightening.

Initiative 1 authorizes the purchase of bonds to strengthen the California water system. It is not specified how exactly this will be implemented or whether indeed it will be implemented.  Previous such bond measures authorized the building of dams for reservoirs but were stymied from proceeding by legal action by Environmental groups.

Initiative 2 implements a rainy day fund for California emergencies with a view to a balanced California budget. Once again very little detail is given as to where money will be taken from to create this fund. What fund will be robbed and what essential California services will be hampered to build a “savings account’?

Initiatives 1 and 2 have one thing in common, they both have the highest contributor of all of the initiatives and it happens to be the same contributor-the Brown For Governor organization. Following a more than $5million contribution to each of these initiatives, television ads in favor of the initiatives were run featuring Governor Brown.  There have been no television ads for Governor Brown’s re-election.  There was speculation in the media, that by contributing to these initiatives The Brown For Governor campaign was able to circumvent campaign spending restraints while promoting Governor Brown in the ads. Once this speculation was voiced in the media, the ads seem to have all but disappeared.

It is interesting that health organizations Dignity Health and the California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems also support both of these initiatives. It is a little bit difficult to see what correlation there is between health care and these initiatives.

It is not hard to understand why California American Council of Engineering Companies Issues Fund* and Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Issues Committee (including contributions from Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters Legislative Improvement Committee)* Aera Energy LLC* are major contributors of initiative 1 which could potentially create jobs for members of these organizations to build the infrastructure for the water system.  Potentially this water could be used to help farmers which would explain why California Farm Bureau Federation* is a major contributor.  However, once again the vagueness of the initiative does not specify who the water will supply.  It could very well be that, just like the California Aqueduct this water system could bypass farmers and be directed to households in Southern California.

Because of the fact that the same contributors that could benefit from Initiative 1 are supporting Initiative 2, it could be construed that the “rainy day” fund that is being established by the initiative will be used for a lack of “rainy days’ i.e. future droughts, and therefore that fund would be used for the water system as well.

There are no large contributors opposing initiatives 1 and 2.

Proposition 45 requires the California Insurance Commissioner to approve any rate increases by Health Insurance Companies. Watch dog groups are contributing heavily in its favor, as well as nurses associations.  The opposing camp is out-funding the proponents by over $50million, according to the CFPP document. There is no surprise that the opposing contributors are mainly large health care organizations and insurance companies.

Proposition 46 requires drug testing of doctors and raises the cap on medical negligence awards from the current $250,000. Like Proposition 45 the opposition has more than $50million in contributions according to the CFPP than those contributing in favor of the proposition.  And, like proposition 45 the opposition is Health Care Organizations and Insurance companies.  Contributors in favor of the proposition are consumer groups and law firms, not surprisingly.

Proposition 47 reduces certain drug and property felonies to misdemeanors this is heavily funded by the ACLU with no major funding for opposing. It would beg to question why no prison or law enforcement organization is opposing the proposition.

Proposition 48 is an agreement between the state of California and the Mono Indians and Wiyot Tribe to create a new casino. There are no major contributions to support the initiative and not surprisingly all major contributors opposed have connections with current Indian gaming casinos.

Whether or not this information helps the voter in their decision making process, it certainly gives some food for thought.

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