November 2005


I now realize that no one is upset or confused about the title of my column.

My latest Wired News column is entitled side effects 1848,69655,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_2″>Dark Cloud Hovers Over Black Hat. Don’t be too fooled by the title, which I didn’t write. The column is actually about EULAs and trade secret law. I recognize the need to spice it up so people read it, but I’m afraid that people will think that I think Black Hat did something wrong or is actually in imminent legal danger, which I don’t.

I received a large amount of commentary on my most recent Wired column. I decided when I started writing the column that I would not reply personally to letters, sick if only to save time and sanity, dysentery but I greatly appreciate hearing from people. A large number of the emails were from people claiming that “intelligent design” is equally or more valid than evolution. A smaller group argued that I gave ID too much credit by calling it a “theory” when its really just a superstition. There were a thoughtful handful debating whether copyright law and moral rights weren’t exactly the right tools to prevent the impropriety of cloaking ID in the mantal of science. And a final set were personal attacks, bronchi from evolutionists and ID purveyors alike. Here is my favorite:

Wrong! Look to what you are trying to acomplish first. Is it right or is it wrong. Then go to your toolbox and see what is available. You get tripped up with sophistry. I think that you are a whako with a platform!

Whako with a Platform. Beautiful!
This is a really excellent op ed by Ben Rosenfeld about why its a bad idea to make so many things criminal. The more things we prohibit, pharmacy the more ability the government has to mess with our lives on pretextual reasons, the more dangerous being different becomes. I wish I had had this before I sent out my slate card recommending No on the gun control measure, as I think this does a much better job than I did of explaining the danger of over-criminalizing common behaviors.

I received a large amount of commentary on my most recent Wired column. I decided when I started writing the column that I would not reply personally to letters, sick if only to save time and sanity, dysentery but I greatly appreciate hearing from people. A large number of the emails were from people claiming that “intelligent design” is equally or more valid than evolution. A smaller group argued that I gave ID too much credit by calling it a “theory” when its really just a superstition. There were a thoughtful handful debating whether copyright law and moral rights weren’t exactly the right tools to prevent the impropriety of cloaking ID in the mantal of science. And a final set were personal attacks, bronchi from evolutionists and ID purveyors alike. Here is my favorite:

Wrong! Look to what you are trying to acomplish first. Is it right or is it wrong. Then go to your toolbox and see what is available. You get tripped up with sophistry. I think that you are a whako with a platform!

Whako with a Platform. Beautiful!

Some Christmas reading. I’m obsessed with Murakami. UPDATE: Line of Beauty is so well written. But I’m not sure its about anything interesting.
Actually, viagra I downloaded it from iTunes and am listening to it in the car. Its really cool to hear what members of the British Parliament said while debating whether to go to war against the colonies. I think about what turned out to be right, and what turned out to be wrong, and what that means for the debates we have today about what to do with the Iraq war and with terrorism.

Check out my inflammatory column on Wired News today, thumb dosage 1283,69512,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_2″>Evolutionists Are Wrong. I’ve already received quite a few comments, but my favorite so far is one reader who opines, “i only hope that you do not teach or exercise influence in the wider arena, because these complex issues deserve a more academically enlightened approach and more helpful conclusions than ‘junk’ !”

Today’s favorite legal quote: “If wisdom is the guest who too often never comes, prostate carelessness is apparently the one who ignores all hints that it is time to go.” — Judge Orenstein of the Eastern District of New York, talking about a mistake he made in an earlier opinion.

The Granick Slatecard is out!!!!

Friends, patient Romans, Republicans….

First, thanks for confirming your continued desire to receive the Granick Slate Card, following our migration to a new, more spam-hostile service provider. As a result of the migration, some subscribers may have failed to confirm and won’t get their own copy of my golden advice. So, please feel free to circulate this far and wide, to reduce the chances that people are left out in the cold. Also, I’ve taken the liberty of copying a few people I think want to receive this, but aren’t on the list. I won’t do this next time, so if you are not subscribed, directions for subscribing are:

To subscribe to the Granick Slate Card, visit http://lists.granick.com/listinfo.cgi/slatecard-granick.com. The Granick Slate Card issues before every California election and is distributed under a Creative Commons license.

Second, an added feature is that if you click on the Proposition name, and your email client supports this, it takes you to the Smart Voter page for non-partisan information on the ballot measures.

Now, on to business. This is a pretty simple slate card because I’m recommending a “No” vote on every one of the statewide propositions. As in life, in the slatecard, “no” means no. You should get out there and vote, but you should vote no.

The Governor, who thought he had Californians eating out of the palm of his hand, scheduled this multi-million dollar special election to override legislative opposition to three pet measures, legislative redistricting (Prop 77), getting tough on teachers (Prop 74) and making it harder for unions (big Democrats) to raise money (Prop 75). While none of these have much to do with rebuilding California, and all have much to do with increasing the power of Republicans in the state, probably the most dangerous is the redistricting.

Once the election was set, other ballot measures were added and here we are.

One of the problems with California is the referendum process. When I first moved here, I loved being able to vote on everything. Then I realized that this process ties everyone’s hands. The legislators can’t be creative and responsive to state needs because all the budget money is earmarked by referendum, and the voters can’t make wise choices because the advertising is deceptive and because we’re offered these laws as a package deal and not able to pick and choose the wheat from the chaff. Its time to say no to excessive referendums as well as to the Governor’s efforts to get his way despite the concerted and considered opposition of our elected representatives. So I’m voting no on everything.

But read on, and you can see my analysis of the state propositions, as well as recommendations for local ballot measures and offices.

Resources:
http://www.smartvoter.org/ca/sf/
http://www.calvoter.org/voter/elections/index.html
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2005/10/30/EDGOAFEBCI1.DTL
http://www.sfbg.com/40/02/cover_endorse.html#ca_ballot_measures

San Francisco Offices:

Assessor-Recorder: Ronald Chun

The three candidates are:

Ronald Chun
Phil Ting
Gerardo Sandoval

Sandoval was a public defender, then a Supervisor. He’s a lawyer with a degree in city planning, but has no tax assessment experience and is probably not going to learn it on the job. He’s a politician, and this is not a politician’s job.

Ting is the current Assessor, appointed by Newsom, who I saw last night at the West Coast premiere of Robert Greenwald’s new movie about the evils of Walmart, to replace Mabel Teng, who suddenly resigned the post for no clear reason. He seems competent enough, though the Guardian rejects him in favor of Sandoval.

Chun is the most experienced. A tax lawyer and former IRS agent, “he actually understands, and thrives on, the arcane details of tax assessment law and can quickly pick up on the ways big businesses use loopholes to avoid paying their fair share. He’s already shown he has some experience fighting downtown � as a member of the Assessment Appeals Board, he wrote the decision that nailed the owners of One Market Plaza for hiding an ownership change (and thus costing the city millions of dollars). And as an assistant to Ward, he came up with a way to prevent same-sex couples who own homes from getting hit with huge tax hikes after the death of a domestic partner � tax hikes that married couples don’t have to pay.” (From the Bay Guardian, which doesn’t endorse him because he’s a little too conservative for their taste.)

City Attorney: Dennis Herrera

Herrera’s the only candidate, so ok, then!

Treasurer: Jose Cisneros

The current treasurer, Cisneros seems to be doing a fine job by all accounts.

State Propositions:

Proposition 73: Abortion Waiting Period and Parental Notification — No

For me, this has become an interesting issue, though I vote pro-choice down the line. Parental notification is just one more hurdle that choice foes want to place in the way of people seeking to exercise their right to choose, and is a fine point for driving a wedge into the privacy arguments that have at least theoretically protected that right since Roe v. Wade. (Minors don’t have the same privacy rights vis a vis their parents.) So I oppose notification.

But supporters say that both abortions and unwanted pregnancies have gone down in the 32 states where notification laws are enforced. If that’s true, then perhaps parental notification is a Good Thing, and should be considered. So I did some googling to find out the facts about these studies. The only useful thing I discovered was a report on the Heritage Foundation website discussing the studies and potential problems with the data. Pro-choice organizations don’t appear to acknowledge the studies at all, never mind attempt to refute them. Instead, they tout several instances in which girls have either committed suicide or died from illegal abortions in order to avoid the parental notification rule.

I’d like to know how many such instances there are, and be able to consider whether the increased incidence of these tragedies is outweighed by the decrease in unwanted pregnancies. I may well conclude that its not, but its worth considering. Meanwhile, interested people can read the Heritage report, which seems pretty evenhanded. I’d be curious if anyone knows of any more data or analyses.

http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/CDA04-01.cfm

Proposition 74: extends the time it takes public school teachers to become tenured from two to five years and makes it easier to fire veteran educators. — No

Why are we targeting teachers? Are teachers what’s wrong with California? There’s no reason to believe that the reason California education sucks is that bad teachers are too hard to fire (so-called “permanent” employees can be fired following a hearing), as opposed to that the job sucks and doesn’t attract good people, in which case this measure makes things worse. And why is this a proposition?

Proposition 75: prohibits public employee labor unions from using member dues for political contributions without annual consent from employees. — NO

This Prop doesn’t have any effect on corporations (for example, by requiring shareholder approval every year). This is because corporations tend to support Republicans.

Instead, this measure is designed to weaken the political clout of unions, which tend to support Democrats. Right now, union members can opt out of having their dues spent on politics. This proposition would require members to opt in before their dues can be spent on politics. Its just a strategic tactic to rely on laziness and inertia to reduce union political money.

Proposition 76: restricts state spending increases, gives the governor more budget authority and rewrites part of the minimum school funding guarantee known as Proposition 98 — No

(Proposition 98 guarantees education funding will not be lower than it was the previous year, in the absence of special circumstances.)

I’m generally for for getting rid of 98 and any other proposition that earmarks money for various government services. California’s legislature already finds its hands tied because all but about 10% of the annual budget is non-discretionary spending. But this is a power grab and you should vote no. It allows “the governor authority to declare a fiscal emergency when his or her own Department of Finance determines that state revenues have fallen at least 1.5 percent below the administration’s forecasts.

Once the governor declares an emergency, the Legislature has 45 days to address the shortfall – something critics call unrealistic with the current two-thirds vote threshold for budget cuts or tax hikes.

If the Legislature cannot come to an agreement, the governor then has the authority to cut spending unilaterally, including reducing funding to schools, health and welfare programs that now are protected from such cuts.” http://www.sacbee.com/content/politics/ca/election/story/13702796p-14545526c.html

In short, this proposition is deeply flawed.

Proposition 77: Legislative redistricting — NO

This is the most dangerous of all the propositions. It allows the Legislature to appoint three judges to draw all the districts. As you may know from the Texas showdown, (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/10/18/politics/main649927.shtml) districting is one of the best legal ways to fix elections. The goal here is to make California more Republican, even though most of us vote Democratic. We are scheduled to redistrict already, in 2011 after the next census. This effort is deeply corrupt and must be rejected.

Proposition 78 and 79: Competing Drug Initiatives — NO! and No

Prop 78 is sponsored by the drug companies, and would establish voluntary discount plans. In what way is a law that says you can volunteer to cut prices a law? I suppose it has legal force in that if it both passes and beats Prop. 79 it stops mandatory discount plans. Vote No.

Prop. 79 is sponsored by consumer groups and would establish mandatory discounts, that is if it ever would get out of litigation. Speaking of litigation, it also includes a prohibition on profiteering from the sale of prescription drugs. The definition of profiteering includes demanding �an unconscionable price� for a drug or demanding �prices or terms that lead to any unjust and unreasonable profit.� Profiteering on drugs would be subject to prosecution by the Attorney General or through a lawsuit filed by any person acting in the interests of itself, its members, or the general public. Violators could be penalized in the amount of $100,000 or triple the amount of damages, whichever was greater, plus legal costs. Is drug profiteering a real problem for Californians and would the danger of these lawsuits help lower drug prices, or just enrich my kind, attorneys?

In my view, the only reason to vote yes on 79 is if you think 78 will otherwise win. A Field poll on these propositions finds that Props. 78 and 79 are currently losing by nine and six percentage points, respectively. So I’m voting “No” on both.

Proposition 80: Electric Service Providers. Regulation — No

This is a complicated topic, energy regulation, which should be managed in a responsive and flexible way, not with a referendum that will lock California into today’s view of how to manage the power problem.

For example, Proposition 80 would lock into state law today’s renewable energy goals, even though we might want to set more aggressive targets in the future. The cap on state renewable energy goals can only be lifted by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature or by another initiative. Consumers would be prohibited from choosing 100 percent green energy for our homes and businesses. This is billed as a pro- environment initiative, but it is a deeply flawed approach to legislating in this field.

Local Ballot Measures:

Proposition A: Community College District General Obligation Bonds: Yes

Proponents say the Community Colleges, which educate poorer students and help academically weaker ones get ready for four year schools, need the money. Opponents say the Community College Board is corrupt, and used the last bunch of bond money slated for arts on a gym. I’m going to vote yes.

Proposition B: Street and Sidewalk Improvement Bonds: No

Streets and sidewalks are not a new capital investment, but a recurring expense. This should be part of the yearly budget, not a bond issue.

Proposition C: Ethics Commission Budget and Outside Counsel: No
Billed by proponents as a measure to free the Ethics Commission from outside influence, this would actually remove the EC from the normal budgeting process and give the Board of Supervisors extra-control over the budget, and reduce the mayor’s usual influence. This is not more independent, its just creating dependency on a different body. Vote no.

Proposition D: Appointment of Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors: Yes

Proposition D would take away three of the Mayor’s seven appointments to the Municipal Transportation Agency board of directors and hand them over to the Board of Supervisors. The mayor opposes this move, but it could make the Muni Board more responsive to voters. I’ll vote yes.

Proposition E: Election Date of the Assessor – Recorder and Public Defender: Yes

Changes the date from June to the November election, when turn out is higher.

Proposition F: Neighborhood Firehouses; No
Micromanages by saying that all 42 Firehouses have to remain open, regardless of budgetary considerations or need. Neither the Guardian nor the Chronicle, which tend to disagree, are for this.

Proposition G: Access to Underground Parking at Golden Gate Park: Yes

Prop. G amends the earlier Prop. J (re: building the park museums) to allow for an entrance-exit inside the park so long as there’s also “a separate entrance-exit outside the Park,” and removes the requirements for dedicated access lanes. It also prohibits the creation of a third lane on MLK for anything other than pedestrians, bicycles, or public transportation. Both the Guardian and the Chron support it as a reasonable traffic plan, so I will too.

Proposition H: Firearm Ban: No
Says you can’t sell ammo or have a gun within the San Francisco city limits. If no one is allowed to have guns, then only cops will have guns. Besides, gun control is more effective at the state or national level. This will result in a lot of lawsuits, but no increase in street safety.

Proposition I: No Military Recruiters in Public Schools: No
This is one of those declarations of principle that won’t actually be enforced, since federal law requires cities to allow military recruiting or lose funding. I’m sure the federal government already knows that most San Franciscans don’t like the military, but I’m not sure the proposition funders know that most San Franciscans are annoyed by symbolic votes. Send a message and vote no!

+++++++++cut, carry and vote+++++++++++++++++cut, carry and vote++++++++++++cut, carry and vote++++++++++++++

San Francisco Offices:

Assessor-Recorder: Ronald Chun

City Attorney: Dennis Herrera

Treasurer: Jose Cisneros

State Propositions:

Proposition 73: Abortion Waiting Period and Parental Notification — No

Proposition 74: extends the time it takes public school teachers to become tenured from two to five years and makes it easier to fire veteran educators. — No

Proposition 75: prohibits public employee labor unions from using member dues for political contributions without annual consent from employees. — NO

Proposition 76: restricts state spending increases, gives the governor more budget authority and rewrites part of the minimum school funding guarantee known as Proposition 98 — No

Proposition 77: Legislative redistricting — NO

Proposition 78 and 79: Competing Drug Initiatives — NO! and No

Proposition 80: Electric Service Providers. Regulation — No

Local Ballot Measures:

Proposition A: Community College District General Obligation Bonds: Yes

Proposition B: Street and Sidewalk Improvement Bonds: No

Proposition C: Ethics Commission Budget and Outside Counsel: No

Proposition D: Appointment of Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors: Yes

Proposition E: Election Date of the Assessor – Recorder and Public Defender: Yes

Proposition F: Neighborhood Firehouses; No

Proposition G: Access to Underground Parking at Golden Gate Park: Yes

Proposition H: Firearm Ban: No

Proposition I: No Military Recruiters in Public Schools: No

+++++++++cut, carry and vote+++++++++++++++++cut, carry and vote++++++++++++cut, carry and vote++++++++++++++

Go get ’em, tigers.

Liberte, egalite, fraternite!

Jennifer

Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to find out if the polls were right? ~Robert Orben

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