Tuesday, May 6, 2014
California Proposition 41, which is up before the voters for the June 3, 2014 primary election, is the sort of thing every voter has seen before. Despite the state being overburdened by debt, special interests will devise a plan to borrow more while hiding their true agenda.
Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Bond Act of 2014 might help veterans including homeless veterans a bit, but its real victors would be the investment banks that sell the bonds; construction moguls; and land speculators.
If the people of California want to help the homeless or veterans, through the State of California, the money should come out of an annual budget, not further borrowing.
Where will this alleged housing be built? Will your city, town, or county benefit? Probably not. It will go where the most corrupt politicians and bureaucrats want it to go, where it most profits their patrons.
Where is all the housing from prior, similar bond acts? Not much of anywhere, because the interest on the bonds, and the bankers' commissions for selling the bonds, and the bureaucratic pay for planning housing, and rezoning, and fighting with the neighborhoods that usually don't want the housing anyway, will eat up most of the taxes paid.
Except that all the taxes paid, despite the astonishingly high tax rates in California, are already being eaten up, not just with ordinary state expenses, but with interest and principle payments on prior bonds. [We supported the recent tax hikes to get us out of a mess, not to reinvigorate the mess]
The tragic inability of the State of California to help people during the late Great Recession was a direct result of overspending before 2008, including endless bond measures, each titled to try to appeal to enough voters to get them passed. During the recession California cut aid to the homeless, including the newly homeless who had long histories of paying taxes.
California needs to pay down its debts and deal with the underfunding of the pensions for public workers. When that is done we can fund things like alleged housing for the poor out of budget surpluses, if necessary by stopping funding items that are less important to us.
While it can be found everywhere, homelessness should be addressed at a detailed level. Some homeless people just need a job; some need medical or psychiatric help; individuals have individual issues. These issues can best be addressed at the local level.
The only homeless persons these bonds might help are veterans. While the vast majority of homeless people in California are not veterans, they would be left out in the cold by this program.
Don't be fooled by the title. Vote NO on Proposition 41 in the June 3, 2014 primary.
See also: California Official Voter Guide Proposition 41
California has open public meetings and records laws. Proposition 42 makes clear that local governments and agencies must follow these laws. They are good laws. Every state should enact them, and there should be federal similar federal laws.
These laws due impose some burdens and costs on agencies and governments. However, these costs a tiny compared to the benefits of openess.
Proposition 42 fixes a flaw in the current situation. In some cases the State picked up the costs of compliance. In some cases Agencies and localities used lack of funding to refuse to comply with the law.
California Proposition 42 makes the Brown Act and California Public Records Act work the way most laws work. The law is the law. The costs of complying with the law are to be paid by the local units of government. There is no need for a bureaucratic system for the State to reimburse local government for doing what local governments should do anyway.
Local governments and agencies should not see the open meetings and records laws as a burden. Members of the public want to help insure there is good government. To get an accurate picture of a situation, and to base good judgment on it, they need access to meetings and public records. The more citizens keep an eye on local boards, the less room the boards have for corruption and just plain poor decision making.
Vote Yes on California Proposition 42 in the June 3, 2014 primary
See also: California Official Voter Guide Proposition 42