May 102012
 

These are my recommendations on the candidates that I believe fellow Democrats (and non Democrats for non-partisan offices) should vote for in the June 2012 elections.  I’m providing brief explanations of my rationale here, but please click on each candidate’s name for my complete analysis of their merits.

Download my handy Printable Voting Guide to refer to when you vote.

Alameda County Democratic Central Committee – 18TH AD

Vote for no more than 10 of the 11 candidates below. * denotes most progressive candidates.  + party chair, must be re-elected for the party to work smoothly.

*Pamela A. Drake
Jim Oddie
*Margarita Lacabe
Corina N. Lopez
+Robin Torello
*Michael Katz
Helena Straughter
Mario Juarez
Diana Prola
Linda Perry
*Howard Egerman

US Senator: David Alex Levitt

Dianne Feinstein has a terrible record protecting human rights and civil liberties.  Levitt, a computer scientist and former member of the MIT Media Lab, is intelligent, liberal and solidly anti-war.

US Representative: Barbara Lee

She’s the most progressive member of Congress, and the strongest voice for human rights and peace.

State Senator: Loni Hancock

A good progressive, plus she’s running unopposed.

Member of the State Assembly: Abel Guillen

Abel is the most progressive candidate running and he seems to be really committed to actual reforming this state, re-instituting the social contract and standing up against the 1%.  He has concrete ideas that could really go a long way on fixing California, such as establishing a state bank, and he hasn’t fallen prey to the political system yet.

Judge: Tara M. Flanagan

She is smart and a good legal analyst.

School Board: Geraldine Sonobe

She has a lot of first hand experience in education plus she’s shown a commitment to take her position on the Board seriously.

Prop 28: YES

We need more stability in both houses of the Legislature.  Plus, by allowing legislators to complete 12 years in one house, they will be relieved of some fundraising pressures and will make them less beholden to contributors and lobbyists.

Prop 29: NO

Prop 29 is a regressive use tax that will hit low income people the most – as they are more likely to smoke.  Only a small percentage of the funds collected by this tax will go intro programs to help smokers stop.

 

  13 Responses to “San Leandro Talk’s Progressive Voting Guide for the June 2012 Election”

  1. Margo — Hopping in bed with the tobacco folk against Prop 29 doesn’t sound too progressive to me. The smoking industry has knocked about 15 points off the yes vote, so far, with a classic multi-million dollar campaign of mis-direction and confusion. They may yet succeed in defeating a serious public policy measure that had wide-spread public support through phony, false arguments. To argue against RESEARCH funding because it’s not treatment or smoking cessation funding is just blowing smoke (pun intended!).

    • Bruce, I would hope most progressives would be smart enough to be able to vote on what the actual effects of legislation are. And in this case, the fact is that this is a use/sin tax which targets primarily the poor, those who least afford it, and that does nothing to help them kick their habit.

      Smoking, I’m sure you know, is addictive. Addicts don’t stop smoking just because the price of cigarettes go up. They can’t. The right thing to do is to help them quit – by providing them with free programs. Those programs are very effective, but they are expensive, they are usually not even covered by medical insurance.
      But, of course, if we helped addicts actually quit, then they wouldn’t buy cigarettes anymore, which wouldn’t help those who want the tax moneys.

      Yes, the tobacco industry is against this tax, they’ll be against any tax, but that doesn’t mean that any tax is good. This one is not.

      • Hi Marga
        First, apologies for mis-spelling your name.
        But I stand by my point that this “progressive’ fervor you advocate in politics both local and global is not consistent with opposition to Prop 29. Standing with tobacco against the Lung Association, the Heart Association, the Cancer Association and many other real, substantive medical and research organizations, and rationalizing it by being “fair” to poor, addicted folk is why people make fun of liberals! Also, while I agree that cessation programs are drastically underfunded, research does show a clear link between price and smoking habits. Why do you think Reynolds, et al oppose Prop 29 to the tune of MILLIONS and MILLIONS of dollars? To protest the lack of cessation funding? No! They oppose it, and are on the verge of succeeding in confusing the masses into joining them, because fewer people will buy cigarettes if it passes! Poor people and addicts of every stripe don’t need friends like this!!!

        • Bruce, I think the primary rule of public policy, just like medicine, should be “first, do no harm”. I think if we looked at every piece of legislation – and, as voters, every proposition – from that point of view, we would end up with a much sounder legal and administrative system, and a more just society.

          And my first question, when I approach any initiative or bill is exactly that: “who will this harm”? For me, if the answer to that question is “mostly those without political power,” then it’s very unlikely that I will support such measure. That’s because I truly, if naively, believe in democracy, but that means making laws that apply to you not just others.

          The second question is: what’s the point of this law/initiative? Here, I’m not clear about it. If the goal is to stop people from smoking, then it should be primarily funding addiction recovery programs. If it’s to provide funds for cancer research, then these should come from a general tax that affects all equitably. And if I can’t tell, chances are that the goal is not well enough served by the legislation to support it.

          Now, you’re not the first person to use the “you are standing with the tobacco companies” rhetoric to try to intimidate me – or other principled progressives – into changing our positions to avoid the association. But it’s really a silly tactic, and a counterproductive one. Any legitimacy I may have as a political writer, if I can call myself that, any influence I may exert, is purely based on the fact that I am principled. I don’t chose my positions based on how the wind is blowing, I look about the issues as carefully as I can. If you want to convince me, and those that would be influenced by me, bullying is just not the way to go.

          • Bullying? Puhleeze!! I react to your posts because they are so . . . reactionary, yet wrapped in the flag of progressivism. As a progressive, I am disappointed by such flimsy reasoning. But I believe strongly in civility and to suggest disagreement is intimidation is bizarre! Your justifications and rationalizations are extensive, but the fact reamains: public health advocates and other dedicated medical professionals support Prop 29 (what, they don’t love poor people as much as you do?), while the tobacco industry that makes millions off the addictions of the underclass you say you support, don’t. I also challenge the thinking because In one of the most “progressive” areas of the country, organized progressives have little influence on most issues — largely due to the reactionary reasoning demonstrated on issues like Prop 29. This measure helps smokers, helps research, helps medical professionals and saves taxpayer money, in the form of health care cost. It harms Reynolds Tobacco and their ilk. Pretty straight forward to me.

          • Bruce, perhaps your bullying is unintentional but what you are doing on your comments is not react or answer my arguments, but rather suggest that if I don’t follow the party line, I’m not truly a progressive. Those are playground techniques, they might work on a mailer – but this is a different medium.

            And I’m not disputing that a whole bunch of good folks are in favor of this proposition, while a whole bunch of bad folks are against it. But sometimes good folks can be guilty of short-sightedness, of trying to solve a problem by using the quickest and easiest solution, but not thinking through the negative consequences. And that’s the case here.

            You yourself justify this measure by saying that it “helps smokers”, suggesting that helping smokers is a good thing. But this measure doesn’t. It helps stop kids from becoming addicted to cigarettes in the first place. That is a very good thing. But it doesn’t help actual adult smokers, people who are addicted to nicotine, to stop. And that’s my criticism. It puts all the onus on this group, and does nothing to help them kick the habit.

            I’d be more than happy to support a measure that taxed cigarettes and put all the revenues from the tax into providing free smoking cessation courses for smokers.

            And, indeed, from a public health/financial perspective, that would actually be more effective than stopping kids from smoking in the first place. Medical consequences from smoking start to decrease significantly after you quit.

          • It is beyond my comprehension that you think I didn’t respond to your arguments against Prop 29, or that you insist on casting yourself as a bullied victim! I think your arguments are nonsense, but backed with $50 million dollars of big tobacco money to distort the issue, the low-turnout electorate bought them. So Prop, 29 is snuffed out, But on the larger point, I came across your blog originally because I was doing a piece on the irrelevance of county central committees in a changing political environment. While there, I came across your anti cigarette tax argument, which I found to be particularly ludicrous, and I just couldn’t help myself! I wasn’t trying to coerce or bully you into anything, merely point out the absurdity, and your reaction makes my point far better than I ever could. By the way, I notice that your arch rival, Ignacio de la Fuente, and you, were the top two voter getters for the Democratic Central Committee on Tuesday. I suspect, over time, that will further support my point. LOL!

          • Bruce, saying that an argument is “nonsense” is not responding to an argument, the very least you could do is say /why/ it’s nonsensical.

            Now, as I don’t actually watch TV, I didn’t see the anti-29 ads (I got no mailers one way or the other), but I’m told that the the “arguments” the tobacco companies used were that the money would go outside California, that it was poorly regulated or too regulated, etc. I have not heard that they actually spoke about the unequal burden that this tax would put on low income people. In any case, whether the electorate “bought” my arguments or the tobacco companies’ is now beside the point. A cigarette tax that put all the money into funding cigarette addiction recovery system would be impervious to either my criticisms or the tobacco companies. Hopefully, those who are actually concerned about reducing smoking will go for that.

            As for the irrelevance of the county central committees, I don’t know enough about their history to know if they were ever relevant but right now, at least here, its relevancy is tenuous at best. I think it could be more relevant, and I think it would behoove progressives to take over central committees and make them relevant, but I’m not holding my breath about that happening.

            And yes, the fact that both Ignacio and I – people who hold completely opposite positions – got elected at the same time is deeply ironic. It seems very unlikely that a substantial number of voters would not have voted for both of us. I’m waiting to look at the precinct data and see if that provides some clarity.

  2. Marga,

    Proposition 29 will benefit all Californians in 2 ways – reducing the incidence of smoking and investing in medical research, while boosting the economy. CA has one of the lowest tobacco taxes in the nation.

    In a report by the American Lung Assn., Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and others, research has shown that a $1 increase in the cost of cigarettes will prevent over 200,000 kids in California from becoming adult smokers and gives them a fighting chance against cancer and other life-threatening diseases. See this RWJF report: http://www.rwjf.org/publichealth/product.jsp?id=74368&cid=XEM_A6076.

    Proposition 29 doubles support for our state’s underfunded smoking cessation programs that help smokers to quit, which is estimated to save more than 100,000 lives from premature smoking-related deaths. See the L.A. Time article: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-prop29-blowback-20120531,0,193195.story.

    From the financial perspective, prevention is key in curbing health care costs.

    • Kinkini, I took a look at the LA Times article, and then at the report on which it based its claim. That report says absolutely nothing to the effect that current cessation programs have saved more than 100,000 lives from smoking-related illnesses. It does say that those programs have lost a lot of their funding in recent years – so it would appear that “doubling” their funding (if, indeed, that’s the case) would still be a drop in the bucket.

      The report does estimate – without quoting any sources – that 100,000 lives would be saved by a $1 tax in California. Though this, presumably, be mostly due to the people that do not take up smoking. It doesn’t say over what period of time these 100,000 lives would be saved, which I find a little bit disconcerting. It’s not yearly, as only 36,000 people die of smoking-related illnesses every year in CA. So over what period?

      What is most repelling about the report is how most of it seems to be geared at allaying any worries lawmakers may have that the tax would actually be successful in reducing smoking to the point where the state is not collecting enough money from the tax.

      Ultimately, there is no doubt that the tax will have some effect on smoking rates. The question for me is: will it have enough of a positive effect to overcome its negative effects? And the answer is “no”, not only that, but it’s not intended to. That I find unacceptable.

  3. We’ll just have to agree to differ. As a public health professional working in the field for almost 25 years, I have seen countless 13-18 year-old smokers and seen their health impacted in unimaginable ways. Often small steps (drops in the bucket) clear the way for bigger transformations, policy-wise. If this tax dissuades a few hundred thousand kids from taking up smoking, I am all for it.

    • I think taking small steps is a good idea, when you can’t take big steps. But that’s not the situation here. There is no reason whatsoever that a tax could not be passed where most, if not all, of its proceeds went to pay for addiction cessation programs. I’m perfectly willing to wait until someone puts that in the ballot. But I can tell you that if this tax passes, that will never happen.

  4. It is beyond my comprehension that you think I didn’t respond to your arguments against Prop 29, or that you insist on casting yourself as bullied victim! I think your arguments are non-sense, but backed with $50 million dollars of big tobacco money to distort the issue, the low-turnout electorate bought them. So Prop, 29 is snuffed out, But on the larger point, I came across your blog originally because I was doing a piece on the irrelevance of county central committees in a changing political environment. While there, I came across your anti cigarette tax argument, which I found to be particularly ludicrous, and I just couldn’t help myself! I wasn’t trying to coerce or bully you into anything, merely point out the absurdity, and your reaction makes my point far better than I ever could. By the way, I notice that your arch rival, Ignacio de la Fuente, and you, were the top two voter getters for the Democratic Central Committee on Tuesday. I suspect, over time, that will further support my point. LOL!

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