Local Buzz On State Propositions And City Measures

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Proposition 8

by Gavin Newsom

If you're reading this-you probably couldn't go to Nevada, Virginia, New Mexico or another swing state to help bring hope and change to America on Nov. 4.

But fear not. We can make history right here by uniting as Californians to stop Proposition 8.

After decades of struggle, the California Supreme Court recognized this year that separate is not equal when it comes to marriage. This otherwise very conservative court ruled that every couple in California, gay or straight, has the equal right to marry.

But in the wake of this tremendous victory for civil rights, a group of ultra conservative organizations and individuals is working to eliminate the right to marry for LGBT couples by passing Proposition 8.

The backers of Proposition 8 are now spending millions of dollars a day in an attempt to persuade Californians to use our own constitution to hurt our friends, neighbors and family members.

They have millions of dollars. But we have the power to stop them.

In the last few weeks, something extraordinary has been happening in California. We have been fighting back against this onslaught of right-wing money-and winning the fight against Prop 8-by taking matters into our own hands.

We came to the realization that the best way to stop Proposition 8 was for each and every one of us to reach out to people we know. Sure, the mass media can help. And if you can give $5, $10 or $25 to help fund our campaign we will put it to good use right away. But the best way to persuade our friends, family and colleagues to vote NO on 8 is to ask them ourselves. We are finding out that when we call our aunts and uncles, mothers and fathers, friends and neighbors and simply explain in our own words and speak from our own hearts about why Proposition 8 is so unfair and wrong, that we are changing minds all over California.

It may be old fashioned-a campaign that is actually based on people reaching out to other people. But it is working. Fueled by new technologies like social networking sites-and some old fashioned tools like the telephone-this campaign has already made millions and millions of personal appeals.

It is up to every single one of us to take the time to change minds. In just the last week I have been blogging, emailing, texting my own friends, sending out notices to my Facebook supporters, emailing my address books, raising money and speaking out around the state. And I didn't forget to pick up the phone and call my own family and friends. I don't read from any script or pay attention to "talking points" when I call. I just say in my own words why I feel it is so important that we treat everyone in this state equally. I talk about how I was just married. And how angry I would be if somebody tried to use the government to interfere in my life.

On Nov. 4, we are going to move America forward. Between right now and when the polls close on Election Day, let's do everything in our power to make sure that a flood of right-wing money doesn't move our own state backwards.

Please join me and do more than vote NO on Proposition 8. Please join me and take part in a groundbreaking movement that is protecting our fundamental freedoms by galvanizing millions of Californians to work together to protect our friends and neighbors and to safeguard our own civil rights.

Gavin Newsom is the mayor of San Francisco. Reply to [email protected]

Proposition 5

by Rishi Malhotra

The word rehabilitation has become a hallmark of Orwellian doublespeak. When President Richard Nixon waged the never-ending War on Drugs, the prison system turned its back on the ethical practice of helping convicts right their ways, leaving us with higher recidivism rates and over 2.3 million citizens behind bars. This national culture of offering little or no help to those suffering with drug addiction has created a vicious cycle of incarceration for millions.

California ranks among the top states with an incarceration epidemic. We spend over $10 billion on our prison system each year, 170,000 people are crammed into facilities built for 100,000, and the state recidivism rate (at 70 percent) is much higher than the national average. We can no longer ignore what a lack of rehabilitation has done to our criminal justice system.

At Students for Sensible Drug Policy, we believe that the serious issue of drug addiction should be addressed by the medical community first-not the criminal justice system. That's why we support Proposition 5, which will provide system-wide reforms to change the way California intervenes in the lives of people with drug problems, holding them accountable while expanding access to drug treatment both behind bars and in the community.

Prop 5 will establish support services for young people with drug problems, expand and improve treatment instead of incarceration for nonviolent drug offenders, mandate rehabilitation for all offenders behind bars and require re-entry support services for nonviolent offenders who have served their time and have returned to the community. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office has determined that this investment will pay for itself each year and save taxpayers an additional $2.5 billion by 2011. These savings are especially important considering the state already has a $15 billion budget deficit.

Most importantly, Prop 5 would invest in prevention by establishing support services for young people with drug problems. This early intervention will not only save young lives, it will also stop drug-motivated petty crime before it happens. Even though drug addiction is at the root of much of the nonviolent crime in this state, California currently offers virtually no help to young people at the early stages of drug dependence. Prop 5 would change this, investing $65 million each year into youth support services. Currently, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana results in a misdemeanor, making it much harder for people with this to get a job. Prop 5 would lower the penalty for this to an infraction.

Prop 5 would expand access to drug treatment for nonviolent offenders, too, building on California's successful treatment instead of incarceration programs and increasing offender accountability through jail sanctions. California's Proposition 36-the voter-enacted treatment instead of incarceration program of 2000-has so far graduated 84,000 people, saved taxpayers nearly $2 billion and, according to one UCLA study, resulted in no increase in crime.

Community-based treatment is not enough, however. According to the state's own numbers, 85 percent of people behind bars have a substance abuse problem, but fewer than five percent receive any treatment at all during their sentence. Prop 5 would require the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to actually invest significantly in rehabilitation. Every offender behind bars would receive rehabilitation services prior to their release. Moreover, those under parole supervision could access more support services, all aimed at increasing successful re-entry-and reducing the state's high recidivism rate.

Prop 5 is well-vetted policy, which is why it is supported by all the major public health and youth advocates as well as the League of Women Voters of California, the Consumer Federation of California, the American Civil Liberties Union, the California State Conference of the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza.

Prop 5 is a collection of recommendations made repeatedly by the experts over several decades, most recently by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's own blue-ribbon panel on prison reform. These experts know from the experience of other states, most of which invest more in crime-reducing rehabilitation programming than California, that this approach is a cheaper and more effective way of holding nonviolent offenders accountable and preventing future nonviolent crime.

Rishi Malhotra is the president of the UC Berkeley Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Reply to [email protected]

Proposition 2

by Seema Rupani

Don't let agribusiness fool you into thinking that Prop 2 will put farmers out of business. Prop 2 is endorsed by over 100 family farms and the United Farm Workers, which was founded by Cesar Chavez and sparked the farm worker movement. In addition, if Prop 2 passes, farmers will have eight years to phase out old practices. Prop 2 simply ensures that egg-laying hens, veal calves and breeding pigs will be able to stand up, lie down, turn around and extend their limbs, the most basic necessities that these animals deserve. Prop 2 will improve our health and safety because if the animals have more room to move around, they have less waste and bacteria concentrated in their cages and have healthier immune systems, meaning they are less susceptible to diseases, which ends up in consumers' eggs and affects 40,000 Americans each year. Current factory farm practices value profit over human health, the environment and animal welfare. This inhumane system has continued for far too long and Prop 2 is long overdue. Arizona, Colorado, Florida and Oregon have already passed initiatives similar to Prop 2. As the largest agricultural state in this country, it's time that California steps up.

Seema Rupani is a UC Berkeley student. Reply to [email protected]

Measure KK

by Rebecca Saltzman

Measure KK is bad public policy that is anti-transit, anti-environment and anti-student.

As a UC Berkeley alumna, I know how important buses are to Cal students. I rode the bus frequently as an undergraduate and was extremely grateful for the Class Pass that allowed me to ride buses. However, I also remember how undependable the buses could be. After waiting 15 to 30 minutes for a bus to arrive, I sometimes arrived to class late or sprinted from the bus stop to arrive at class on time.

AC Transit's plan to build a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project along the Telegraph route would solve this problem by creating dedicated lanes for buses that would ensure bus reliability for students. BRT would be a superior bus service that would help students to arrive at class on time.

Measure KK endangers this needed improvement to bus service, which is why the mayor, the entire city council and the Sierra Club oppose this ballot measure. For students, this vote is particularly important. Vote no on KK to ensure your bus service is improved.

Rebecca Saltzman is a UC Berkeley alumna. Reply to [email protected]

Measure FF

by Susan Kupfer

I am a member of the Berkeley Library Board of Trustees and I'd like to share the thought process of the board when we voted unanimously to ask the Berkeley City Council to authorize Measure FF, the library bond on this November's ballot. The city council did so unanimously and the bond measure is supported by a significant segment of our community, even in these unprecedented and difficult economic times. The board strongly believes that the bond measure is necessary to make the branch library buildings safe as well as to preserve the critical role that libraries play in our communities.

While it may be hard to think about paying more dollars in taxes, the cost is relatively low, given the high quality of this priceless public resource. It is important, as economic opportunities evaporate, to keep public libraries available to everyone in the community. Libraries create a level playing field for all by providing free access to books, computers and information regardless of income, gender or race. They also serve as a neighborhood anchor for communities to build around and provide a haven for children, families and the elderly to read and learn.

It is also important that Berkeley residents know that the library spends within its means every year. The money collected from the existing library tax pays only for the libraries' operations and collections. It cannot be used for capital improvements. Measure FF would be used to make seismic, ADA and structural improvements. These improvements are critical in order to keep our neighborhood branches open to serve the community now and into the future. I urge Berkeleyans to vote to support Measure FF on Nov. 4.

Susan Kupfer is a member of the Berkeley Library Board of Trustees. Reply to [email protected]

Tags: ELECTIONS 2008 COMMENTARY, MEASURE FF, PROPOSITION 8, PROPOSITION 5, PROPOSITION 2, MEASURE KK






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