My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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my voting slate

I held a proposition party last night. For those who are not familiar with this, it’s an event where i gather American friends to discuss the different propositions in California so that we can all be collectively informed. I’ve found that i often don’t agree with the suggestions of major organizations but that i’m very politically opinionated. By bringing my friends together, we can split the research and educate each other. Plus, it’s a good excuse for some wine.

I’ve decided to post my intended ballot here. If you violently disagree with something that i’ve listed, please comment and explain why (i’m happy to be convinced to vote otherwise). For those who tend to just vote whatever someone else says, you’re welcome to use this. ::grin:: Although i’ve done the research for Los Angeles, i have to vote in San Francisco due to *#$&! voter registration fuckups. Thus, i’m including the propositions in both cities.

State Propositions:

  • Proposition 1A: NO. Transportation Funding Protection. While money is needed for transportation projects, the uses here are too narrowly defined. Legislators should make decisions about the best allocation of these resources; they have more information than we do.
  • Proposition 1B: NO. Highway Safety, Traffic Reduction, Air Quality, and Port Security Bond Act. This is too focused on freeways, suburban sprawl, and moral panics; there is too little focus on public transit for such an expensive bond. Plus, it’s a bond measure.
  • Proposition 1C: YES. Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund. While this is a bond measure, it focuses on low-income groups that desperately need housing help (battered women, disabled, senior citizens) and there’s no other good way that these groups will be helped.
  • Proposition 1D: YES. Kindergarten-University Public Education. Again, sucks to be a bond but schools are in desperate need of repair and damn thee Prop 13.
  • Proposition 1E: Yes. Disaster Preparedness and Flood Prevention. Again, more sucking on the bond part but we also know that the federal government is not going to repair CA levees and while this doesn’t solve the problem, it definitely helps. Not great, but better than nothing.
  • Proposition 83: NO NO NO NO NO NO NO…. FUCKING HELL NO! Sex Offenders. ::grumble::
  • Proposition 84: ? Water Quality, Safety and Supply. I don’t know where to go on this – it helps central valley in the near-term but is unsustainable.
  • Proposition 85: NO GAAAAH NO NO NO NO NO… BAD BAD BAD! Anti-Choice, Anti-Youth Waiting Period and Parental Notification. I can’t believe this is up again. On top of all of the fucked up aspects of this legislation, one key side effect is that it will drastically increase parental child abuse. Bad bad bad.
  • Proposition 86: YES. Tax on Cigarettes. While i don’t like how this tax will be leveraged primarily on poor people who addictions, i do support cig taxes that channel their money into medical programs instead of advertising programs. I also think that a drastically huge tax will shock some people into quitting.
  • Proposition 87: YES. Alternative Energy. While the market will force companies into thinking about alternative energy, this will help fund more basic research. I wish we could tax foreign oil too but that’s a federal issue.
  • Proposition 88: NO. Education Funding. It breaks my heart to say no to this but it’s too vague to be useful.
  • Proposition 89: YES. Political Campaigns, Public Financing. I’m all down with limiting corporations and taxing them when it comes to their power over political campaigns.
  • Proposition 90: NO. Government Acquisition, Regulation of Private Property. This is a false eminent domain issue that would give developers far too much control over environmental and other local initiatives about what is best for a town.

San Francisco:

  • Proposition A: Yes. School Bonds. I hate bond but damn thee Prop 13. Plus, all reports say that this has been working since the pass of the original bond measure.
  • Proposition B: ?. Telecommuting for Board of Supervisors. I don’t get it – it seems pointless and a waste of a proposition.
  • Proposition C: Yes. Salaries of Top City Officials. Seems appropriate.
  • Proposition D: Yes. Privacy of Personal Information. Duh – don’t sell personal info just cuz you have access.
  • Proposition E: ?. Downtown Parking Tax. It’d be great to lower cars but i’m not sure how this will be spent or who this will hurt.
  • Proposition F: Yes. Paid Sick Leave Requirement. Quality of life issue – when are we going to learn from Europe?
  • Proposition G: ?. Limitations on Chain Stores. On one hand, i hate chain store takeover of SF; on the other, i’m not sure if this is the best thing for people given that many people can’t afford boutiques and the indie restaurants that pop up. I’m leaning yes because of my poshy views but i don’t know if this is the best approach.
  • Proposition H: Yes. Relocation Expenses for No Fault Tenant Eviction. Helps those who are required to move cuz it’s god-awfully hard to do in SF as a poor person; especially helps seniors.
  • Proposition I: ?. Make the Mayor Meet with City Council “On The Record.” I love transparency but this is a catfight proposition concerning Gavin and i’m not sure this is the way to do this.
  • Proposition J: YES. Impeach Bush/Cheney. Policy statement….
  • Proposition K: ?. Seniors and Disabled Housing Protections. Always good to do, but there’s not much substance.

Los Angeles:

  • Proposition H: ?. Affordable Housing Bond. On one hand, want to help people who cannot afford to buy houses but it’s a huge bond and it doesn’t address the root causes of lack of housing. Leaning yes but feel icky since the building developers love it.
  • Proposition J: Yes. Regional Fire Stations. Helps correct a dumb problem with Prop F from a while ago.
  • Proposition R: No. Councilmember Term Limits. While i’m not convinced that term limits are the best thing, i hate anti-term limit propositions written by the people affected by them. I would’ve been more inclined if this didn’t count for anyone currently in the council out of principle. Plus, i hate that there are all of these ethical bits tacked on to make people vote for it; that’s illegal.

Anyhow, this is my general take after doing some research. Any thoughts or suggestions? I should note that i have no qualms about not voting on a proposition that i don’t have a good yes/no about. It took me a long time to learn that this is not a scan-tron and that it’s AOK to choose not to vote on a particular measure. It takes some undoing given my academic tendencies to think that there has to be an answer but i’m finally OK with it.

Finally, please please please vote NO NO NO NO NO on Propositions 83 and 85. And then vote NO again. And convince everyone you know to vote NO. Please. ::grumble::grumble::grumble:: stupid propositions.

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13 comments to my voting slate

  • Danah,

    Re Prop 84, you might want to have a look at what NRDC (where I work) has to say about it; much more detail at the coalition website in favor of it.

  • James

    I’ve read claims (eg http://www.pacificresearch.org/pub/cap/1997/97-11-18.html) that higher cigarette taxes will simply lead to an increase in smuggling and less control over where youth buy their cigarettes. Another argument I saw (unfortunately on a canadian blog I can’t remember nor google for) was that higher prices cause a short-term drop in youth smoking, but a longer term rise, as youth smokers give more of their friends free cigarettes (thus addicting them) in the expectation that they can get cigarettes in return when they are broke.

    Cigarette smoking amongst youth has social origins, and a financial solution may not be the best way to lower rates :-/

  • First off what is / was prop 13… ok so I looked it up and for all ignoramuses, prop 13.
    I find it interesting that you are for the cigarette tax increase, when in the prop 85 you mention the terms anti choice… isn’t smoking a choice? I know there are huge problems with smoking but I just don’t like telling people what to do. Plus I get a little worried when I start to see anti sugar and caffiene talked about the same way that smoking was a generation or more ago. Sure sugar is bad for me, but I like it!
    Meanwhile good luck on the voting!

  • Scott – i’m not for outlawing smoking but i also believe that smoking affects medical costs at every level. This is one of the main reasons that i support this tax hike. By all means, people should be able to do what they see fit but when there are social costs, they must be burdened and that’s where taxes come into place. And i say this as someone who has smoked on and off over the years. Do i want to buy a $8 pack of cigs? No. But i will stomach that cost because i know that i’m treating my body like shit every time i smoke. Do i want to pay $8 a gallon for gas? No, but if it went to funding public transit, i would bitch and moan but i’d be OK with it.

  • One of the funnier campaign ads running in my home state of Alabama is one for a Public Service Commissions candidate. The people who work the PSC office mainly handle regulation of the utilities, so what does our Republican candidate tout? That he is pro-choice, against gay marraige and suppports prayer in schools.

  • crzwdjk

    I’d disagree with you on 1A. Transportation is one of those things where it’s just too easy to raid the funding, because the effects, even if they are disastrous, are not seen until much later. There have been too many examples of “deferred maintenance” both in the public and private sector. As for 1B, a lot of people are for it (and I was initially too) because it does give substantial money to public transit. But it gives so much more money to roads, and I think that makes it self-defeating to some extent. Yes, we need public transportation, but not at the cost of building hundreds more miles of highways and putting the state into debt for it.

  • The best part about this post is when you said “…I have to vote in San Francisco due to *#$&! voter registration fuckups.”

    What heinous swear word was contained within those characters that was worse than ‘fuckups’?

  • joe

    Here’s how how I plan to vote is either different from you or me adding stuff, zeph:

    1A – I’m voting yes because that will mean more BART funds and AC Transit buses and allowing legislators to raid this source of funding seems silly.

    84 – Shit, I don’t know either.

    86 – Voting yes despite great arguments I’ve heard either way… when it comes down to it, studies have shown that increasing cigarette taxes cause high single-digit percentages of people to quit.

    88 – I’m leaning no on this because it’s a fucking flat tax.

  • Akela – think lots of anger and frustration…. every pissed off angry yelling possibility.

  • I’ve got a new side project that will help people figure out and research what will be on the ballot on election day, WikiBallot.org. The hope is that someone will be able to pull up their polling location, and see a listing of offices and propositions much like the list you made above (except without the commentary, just the facts 🙂 ) Check it out here.

  • joe

    Changed my mind on 1A… voting no.

    John, check out smartvoter.org …

  • nevada

    If is was living in LA I would surely vote yes on prop H. Since prop 13, these pesky, expensive bond measures are the only way that we can get affordable housing built in CA. In the wake of HUD’s shrinking budget, we in CA need to act as a leader in this arena. (Right now I would say that Mayor Daley is winning w/ respect to establishing a suitable plan to increase the number of affordable units in Chicago.)

    Yes, developers and bankers alike are thrilled that there will be more money, and without a doubt this money will act as the equity (and soft money) for countless loan transactions. While this element may be a major turn-off for some, I would urge folks to look beyond that and understand that this is exactly why our affordable housing program has been so successful: the low income housing tax credit harnesses private interests for the benefit of low and lower income folks.

    More on tax credits on how they work:
    http://www.enterprisecommunity.com/industryTaxCredit/index.html
    More on affordability from the National Low Income Housing Coalition:
    http://www.nlihc.org/oor2005/

  • Just looking at your list makes me think of a lawyer friend desperately trying to apply intellectual property law to the phenomenon of mash-ups in digital music. I wanna say, you can’t paddle fast enough to stay upstream, this is no way to run a railroad.

    I am not the first one to note that the plethora of initiatives on the California ballots is not the triumph of democracy it masquerades as–it’s the failure of representative democracy.

    I don’t know the history of how it got there–most likely greedy corrupt politicians and some greater reformer who took it back “to the people,” but the result is absurd. A toothless, impotent bunch of legislators, and laws so absurdly complex that only a bunch of grad students convening special meetings can be expected to understand it.

    Not that things are pristine back here in NJ, but that just proves there’s more than one way to mess things up. Hey what if you guys took all your clear intelligence and wonderful energy and put it behind making an intelligent governance system in California? Maybe you’d have to get Prop umpteen-and-a-half on the ballot to make it happen, but it might be worth it.