My November special election ballot has been sitting in my incoming mail basket in the front hall, awaiting my decisions on the eight propositions that it presents. I finally marked and mailed my ballot tonight. Here’s how I voted, and why.
I voted no on Proposition 73, which would require parental notification for minors seeking abortions, for the same reason this newspaper opposed the recent proposed county ban on cell phones while driving: There are just some things you cannot legislate. As the editorial board correctly opined, you cannot legislate common sense. You also cannot legislate healthy communication among family members.
Let’s face it, girls who have healthy relationships with one or both parents don’t need Prop. 73. They already have trusting communication with parents who might not like abortion, but who would not disown them – or worse – for having sex or for considering an abortion.
Sadly, that’s not true of all girls. Girls who are terrorized by threatened or actual violence in their families, who are victims of sexual assault by a family member or family friend, whose parents would not tolerate the suggestion of sexual activity or an abortion, are placed in real danger by Proposition 73. Under Prop. 73, these girls would have to go to court to keep news of an abortion from their parents. That’s enough to scare many girls from seeking safe abortions from licensed professionals and into back-alley or self-administered abortions.
In a perfect world, minor girls would be able to talk to their parents about an impending abortion. But in a perfect world, girls wouldn’t have unplanned pregnancies or be victims of incest and other forms of sexual assault. Clearly, we don’t live in a perfect world. Let’s not make already difficult situations worse for girls who aren’t blessed with healthy family relationships.
I voted yes on Proposition 74. This was a difficult call for me, but what swayed me was not the measure’s extended waiting period for teachers to gain permanent status – although as a person who, like most private-sector workers, has spent her entire working life as an at-will employee, I don’t have a real problem with this – I voted yes because this proposition makes it easier to dismiss teachers who have permanent status. Bad teachers hurt students and damage the reputation of the profession.
Why should it take years and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fire bad teachers? Our schools shouldn’t be forced between spending scarce dollars to dismiss bad teachers or keeping them in classrooms. But that’s the current situation. While our public schools have many wonderful, dedicated, skilled teachers – and I’ve been thrilled to run across several as my children have attended Morgan Hill schools – they are also saddled, sadly, with many who are ineffective or worse.
I voted no on Proposition 75. This one is a matter of fairness. Why should restrictions be placed on public employee unions that aren’t placed on private sector unions or other special interest groups? It’s unfair on the face of it and dangerous to boot. Union employees – members of both public- and private-sector labor organizations – can already opt out of having their dues used for political causes.
I voted no on Proposition 76. It tinkers dangerously with the all-important balance of power between the executive and legislative branches of our state government. It’s a blatant power grab by the governor.
I voted yes on Proposition 77, which would change the way state Assembly, state Senate, and United States House of Representatives districts are drawn. Instead of state legislators, who have an undeniable conflict of interest in where district lines are drawn, a retired panel of judges would draw the lines. This is not a radical idea; similar systems are already in use in several states.
California’s legislative races are nearly wholly uncompetitive. Incumbents rarely lose and seats rarely change party control. Why? Because legislators protect each other when they draw districts after every census. The only way to fix it is to take the job away from legislators.
I voted no on Propositions 78 and 79, competing prescription drug discount plans. Just like the newspaper’s editorial on these propositions said, I don’t trust either measure or either group.
I voted yes on Proposition 80. Regulation makes sense for some industries. Electricity is one of them. The rolling blackouts and market manipulation that have marked deregulation are evidence enough of that.
Whether you’re a permanent absentee voter like me or still go to the polls to cast your ballot, whether you agree or disagree with me on these propositions, please, study the issues and remember to vote by Nov. 8.