Clueless on the California Propositions?

California PropositionsThis article was posted for the November 2010 election.

Click here for the March 8, 2011 election recommendations.

Thanks to Marcy Winograd and the Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles, you don’t have to go to the polls clueless. You can walk in with your head held high because PDLA has done their homework and provided us with their recommendations and rationale for each position taken.

For the entire ballot including judges, state offices, local ordinances, click here.

Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles

Quick Reference Guide


Prop 19 (marijuana legalization) – YES
Prop 20 (congressional redistricting) – NO
Prop 21 (vehicle license surcharge for parks) – YES
Prop 22 (protection of local govt. funds) – YES
Prop 23 (suspension of air pollution control) – NO
Prop 24 (repeals lower corporate taxes) – YES
Prop 25 (majority vote for state budget) – YES
Prop 26 (2/3rds vote for levies/charges) – NO
Prop 27 (repeals redistricting commission) – YES

You can download the Sec. of State’s Voter Information Guide here, visit, or call 800-345-VOTE (8683) to order one.

Details on each ballot proposition below:

PROPOSITION 19 — MARIJUANA — Allows people 21 or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use, subject to regulation and taxation. Prohibits use in public or when minors are present. Prohibits providing marijuana to anyone under 21. Major funding support ($1.2 million) provided by S. K. Seymour, LLC (a medical cannabis provider), and Oaksterdam University.

Rationale for our YES recommendation: Stops wasting taxpayer dollars on failed marijuana prohibition which disproportionately impacts communities of color; weakens drug cartels.

PROPOSITION 20 — CONGRESSIONAL REDISTRICTING — Transfers authority for redistricting congressional districts from the Legislature to the Citizens Redistricting Commission. The Commission, which was established by Proposition 11 (2008), already has redistricting authority for legislative seats and the board of equalization. Major funding support ($3 million) provided by Charles T. Munger, Jr., a physicist whose father, billionaire Charles T. Munger, is vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway.

Rationale for our NO recommendation: Removes accountability for redistricting from the electorate to a bureaucratic commission, a Republican effort to seize 55 electoral votes.

PROPOSITION 21 — SURCHARGE FOR PARKS — Establishes $18 annual state vehicle license surcharge to be used solely to operate, maintain, and repair the state park system, and protect wildlife and natural resources. Grants free admission to all state parks to vehicles paying the surcharge. Exempts commercial vehicles, trailers, and trailer coaches. Major funding support provided by Sempervirens Fund (redwoods protection group), Peninsula Open Space Trust, Conservation Action Fund, Save the Redwoods League, National Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, California State Parks Foundation, and Wildlands Support Fund.

Rationale for our YES position: Surcharge revenue will be used to fund state parks that are under the budget axe.

PROPOSITION 22 — LOCAL GOVERNMENT — Prohibits state from shifting, taking, borrowing, or restricting use of revenues dedicated to local government services, community redevelopment projects, and transportation projects and services. Prohibits the state from delaying distribution of tax revenues for these purposes. Major funding support provided by League of California Cities and California Alliance for Jobs (a group including Associated General Contractors, Operating Engineers, Carpenters Union, and Association of Engineering Construction Employers).

Rationale for our YES recommendation: Protects local services: 911 emergency response, police, fire, libraries,
transit, road repairs.

PROPOSITION 23 — SUSPENSION OF AIR POLLUTION CONTROL LAWS — Suspends the state’s greenhouse gas reduction law until California’s unemployment rate has been 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters. Suspends requirements for increased renewable energy and cleaner fuel, as well as mandatory emission reporting and fee requirements for major polluters such as power plants and oil refineries. Major funding support provided by Valero (a Texas-based oil refiner and wholesaler), Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, World Oil Corp., Tower Energy Group, Tesoro Companies, Southern Counties Oil Co., and Jaco Oil Co.

Rationale for our NO recommendation: Preserves California’s clean air and water laws; will save a million jobs.

PROPOSITION 24 — CORPORATE TAXES — Repeals recent legislation which lowered corporate taxes by allowing businesses to shift operating losses to prior tax years; expanding the time in which losses can be shifted; allowing businesses to share tax credits with affiliated corporations; and allowing multi-state companies to use a sales-based income calculation rather than one based on property, payroll, and sales. Major funding support provided by California Teachers Association ($2.2 million). Major opposition funding provided by Fox Group, Time Warner, CBS, General Electric, Cisco Systems, Amgen, Walt Disney Company, and Genentech, Inc.

Rationale for our YES recommendation: Stops $1.7 billion in new special tax breaks for wealthy multi-state corporations.

PROPOSITION 25 — MAJORITY VOTE FOR STATE BUDGET — Lowers the legislative vote required for adopting a state budget from two-thirds to a simple majority. Major funding support provided by California Federation of Teachers, AFSCME, California School Employees Association, California Faculty Association, and California Professional Firefighters. Major opposition funding provided by California Chamber of Commerce, The Wine Institute, MillerCoors, California Beer & Beverage Distributors, Crown Imports LLC, and ConocoPhillips.

Rationale for our YES recommendation: Reforms California’s broken state budget process; prevents Republicans, the minority, from holding Democrats, the majority, hostage by refusing to pass a budget or tax the oil companies.

PROPOSITION 26 — TWO-THIRDS VOTE FOR LEVIES AND CHARGES — Increases to two-thirds, from a simple majority, the vote required for the Legislature to adopt state levies and charges, with limited exceptions. Requires two-thirds vote of the public for local levies and charges, with limited exceptions. Proponent: Allan Zaremberg, president of California Chamber of Commerce.

Rationale for our NO recommendation: Makes it harder for California to climb out of debt because fees and charges not currently considered taxes would be redefined as taxes, requiring a 2/3rds vote of the legislature.

PROPOSITION 27 — REPEAL OF REDISTRICTING COMMISSION — Eliminates the Citizens Redistricting Commission that was established by Proposition 11 (2008), and returns the job of drawing state legislative and board of equalization districts to the Legislature. Proponent: Daniel H. Lowenstein, UCLA professor of law, former chairman of California Fair Political Practices Commission.

Rationale for our YES recommendation: Stop the Republican power grab; save taxpayer money; return the responsibility to the state legislature.


  1. says

    I’d really like to disagree with you on Prop 20 and 27.

    Common Cause has endorsed Yes on 20, No on 27, and the Washington Post is with us: and every other major newspaper in the state.

    This article from the LA Weekly does a great job of explaining who’s behind 27: It’s just the Democratic leadership that wants to keep the status quo.

  2. says

    Vote NO on Proposition 27! Protect the previously passed redistricting reform and stop this naked power grab by incumbents.

    Proposition 27 Revealed!

    Which self-serving California politicians and their party are apparently afraid of free and fair elections?

    CHART: Members of Congress Supporting Prop. 27

    CHART: California Legislators Supporting Prop. 27

    Which special interests are protecting their multi-million dollar investments in California’s politicians-for-hire?

    Which well-connected big-money donors, many from out of state, are funding Proposition 27? There are at least four billionaires among the list.

    How are they inter-related and what does this reveal about these politicians and their party?

    Those funding Proposition 27 should be ashamed of their efforts that stand in the way of free and fair democratic elections!

  3. says

    For a slightly different perspective on vote recommendations for the upcoming Propositions on the California November 2nd Ballot, Valley Democrats United has posted their recommendations on their website as follows:

    19 – Yes
    20 – No
    21 – Yes
    22 – No
    23 – No
    24 – Yes
    25 – Yes
    26 – No
    27- Yes

  4. Christopher Sutton says

    Dick and Sharon:

    You are DEAD WRONG on Proposition 22:

    Those opposed to Proposition 22 include:
    California Democratic Party
    California Teachers Association
    California Professional Firefighters
    ALL major newspapers OPPOSE proposition 22.

    Proposition 22 is a FRAUD. It will protect wealthy developers and cut off money to public education. The main purpose is to protect redevelopment agencies from any legislative oversight. Look at the City of Bell. No oversight needed? See the recent front page stories in the LA Times: waste+fraud+corruption = redevelopment.
    Redevelopment is a scheme to wipe out poor neighborhoods and minority businesses through eminent domain and replaced them with subsidized Walmarts, car dealers, and and sports arenas and stadiums, where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
    – – – Christopher Sutton 10-3-2010

  5. Merrill Ring says

    With your recommendations,at least your case for your recommendations, on Propositions 20 and 27 you have almost sacrificed your progressive credentials.
    The very progressive Democrats of Claremont have urged strong opposition to 27 and some qualified support of 20.
    You do not even recognize that there might be progressives who do not accept your reasons and the consequent recommendations.
    Prop 27: You use Lowenstein as an authority. Lowenstein is a buddy of Michael Berman, Howard’s brother, who makes large quantities of money drawing district lines to support whoever pays him – usually protecting an incumbent whether Democrat or Republican. Lowenstein has no interest in good democratic policy: he is a creature of the powerful, those already in the legislature.
    You treat both Prop 11 of the last election (which 27 aims to overturn) as “Republican power grabs”. There are those of us on the left who simply deny that, claim that that notion is encouraged by the Democrats in power simply to hold onto their own seats. We take it that it is a major progressive value to support the extension of democracy – and the current gerrymandering of California districts is anti-democracy.
    The “save the taxpayers money” is a real farce of a reason: what are you defending, Tea Party views?
    Prop 20: You are scared by Munger (actually you don’t even discuss him but his father) who is a Republican. We see no reason to believe that Munger is not one of the few old style Republicans remaining: he genuinely does want good government and thinks that legislative gerrymandering of legislative districts is not good democratic government. Not everyone has as a sole motivation screwing the opposition.
    Munger also was behind Prop 11 – and so was Haim Saban who is also very very rich. But Saban has abandoned Prop 11 now – why? – because he is a buddy of Howard Berman and Berman fears that redistricting would slide him into a more latino area and encourage a latino opponent. I.e. your views are being paid for by self-interest, not progressive values.
    You use “accountability” as a rationale for your view on Prop 20. That comes straight from Lowenstein. The present legislature is not really accountable for the way they draw district lines. We all believe that parents should be responsible for their children – but sometimes authorities must step in and take over the children for their good; that is a good analogy for what is being done with the redistricting commission: the legislature is too bound up with self-interest to properly manage its responsibility for good democratic government.
    The only evidence you seem to have for claiming that Prop 20 and 11 are Republican power grabs is Munger’s role. That is extremely weak.
    The LWV have made quite a different case against 20 – it is much better than yours (though I’m not accepting it.)
    And another case might have been made by holding that a reasonable redistricting might produce additional Republican seats because the Republicans have more money and can outspend Dems in relatively balanced districts. You would have to add to that the reasonable thesis that the medium run value of having more Democrats elected is more likely to produce a good outcome.
    But then those aren’t your arguments. You have, in the guise of being progressive, bought into the power structure.

    As a rationale for your recommendation

    • Heather Meyer says

      AMEN! Thanks for saying what needed to be. The other thing that went completely unmentioned here is that the commission is made up of equal parts of Dems, Repubs and Indies and MUST be ethnically representative of our population. To say this is a “power grab” is a pretty far stretch, and a disingenuous one at that. So sad to see the left lowering itself to this type of fear-mongering, and needlessly so.

      The thing that really pisses me off is that these types of assertions are purely speculative, and frankly, quite hypocritical too. Money is being exchanged for these safe-district havens, and who on earth could say in good conscious that members of the legislature should be able to redistrict in their OWN FAVOR? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and I say corruption is corruption no matter who it benefits. Shame on the Dems who seem to think otherwise because this time they think compromising principles is OK because it’s in their favor! I’m about as far left as person could possibly be, and PDLA had made me ashamed to say so for the first time that I can even remember.

      • says

        Thank you, Ms. Meyer!

        I agree completely with your comment “Shame on the Dems who seem to think otherwise because this time they think compromising principles is OK because it’s in their favor!”

  6. Monika Broome says

    I was shocked to see your rationale for your positions on Prop. 20 and Prop. 27. You have chosen to disseminate the false information that the CDP has been putting forth in order to maintain the right to gerrymander in California. It is SIMPLY NOT TRUE!

    Prop. 11 (redistricting) was created and promoted by the League of Women Voters and Common Cause, both organizations concerned about good government. You need to see the movie “Gerrymandering” and find out about the harm done by the creation of safe seats as has been done by Democrats and Republicans in Sacramento. In England, safe districts created by gerrymandering are called “rotten boroughs.” If your point of view prevails the Dems will NEVER have any chance to increase the number of Democrats in Sacramento or DC! You are simply in error. DO YOUR HOMEWORK and refrain from promoting false information.

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