Friday, October 20, 2006

Sam & Andy's How To Vote 2006: A Guide For The Perplexed

Andy and I have been asked for recommendations on the 4-page 2006 Arizona general election ballot, so here are our recommendations on candidates, propositions, and judicial retentions:

Candidates: If you read these emails, it should be no surprise to that we’re voting for, and telling you to vote for, Janet Napolitano for Governor, Jim Pederson for U.S. Senate, and (where we can) for Harry Mitchell in District 5, Gabrielle Giffords in District 8, and Herb Paine in District 3, all red-to-blue congressional races. Basically, our default advice in Arizona is, vote for the Democrat, except for these extra-special decent Republicans:

Corporation Commission: You get to vote for two; vote for Kris Mayes (incumbent), then of the two D’s running, vote for Mark Manoil.

State Senate, District 8: If you need to show nonpartisan cred, that “vote for the person and not the party” crap (like the Arizona Legislature ever evaluates ideas based on their value and not on their party provenance -- NOT) vote to re-elect Carolyn Allen.

In LD 11, the only Democrat running is Mark DeSimone; if you don’t want just to single-shot him, between the two Republicans, vote for Adam Driggs.

Special shout-outs to people especially doing the Lord’s work and running against truly annoying Republicans (this is for people in a hurry who can’t be bothered voting for every office, but if you can’t fill out an entire ballot what are you doing reading this email?):

Governor: Janet Napolitano
Secretary of State: Israel Torres
Attorney General: Terry Goddard
Superintendent of Public Instruction: Jason Williams
U.S. Senate: Jim Pederson
U.S. Congress, District 3: Herb Paine
U.S. Congress, District 5: Harry Mitchell
U.S. Congress, District 8: Gabrielle Giffords
State Senate, District 11: Ann Wallack

Special obscure Central Arizona Water Conservation District recommendations bonus! You get to vote for five; we recommend, in this order:

George Brooks, Jr.
Lisa Atkins
Frank Barrios
George Renner
Richard Morrison

All are incumbents. Under no circumstances whatsoever should any reasonable person vote for Burns, McGrath, or Pickard. If you have a problem with any of our 5 recommendations, you could cast a sympathy vote for Ed King. He’s not the brightest candle in the chandelier, but as a county supervisor in 1994 he really got screwed by voting for the baseball stadium tax, then lost the next primary to Jan Brewer who ran on an anti-tax platform -- but who then had no problem attending the opening of the stadium and has her name on a plaque at the entrance. She’s such a hypocrite that I’ve always harbored better feelings for King than he actually deserves.

Propositions: Amaze your friends by being able to tell these apart!

Prop. 100, No bail for illegal aliens: NO. If you’re a flight risk, you’re not supposed to get bail. So this proposition would make judges deny bail to people they determine aren’t a flight risk, but we’d have to keep them locked up anyway. This wacko idea is supported by people who rail against unnecessary government spending, like this proposition. Go figure.

Prop. 101, Local property tax limitations: NO. This proposition punishes districts and municipalities that don’t use all of their taxing authority in a particular year; the 2% limit now in the state constitution would be based on actual taxes assessed, rather than full authority if less was assessed. It hamstrings municipalities and punishes them for doing well in good years.

Prop. 102, No punitive damages for illegal aliens: NO. The purpose of punitive damages is to punish the wrongdoer, not to reward the victim. This proposition tells tortfeasors, choose your victims wisely and save money! Vote no.

Prop. 103, English as official language: NO. It’s not needed and counterproductive. You could even call it “estúpido.”

Prop. 104, Municipal debt limits: YES. This proposition would allow public safety and streets to have the higher debt limit currently allowed for water, sewer, and land acquisitions. Public safety should be in the higher category. Basically corrects a typo in the state constitution.

Prop. 105, State trust lands: NO.
Prop. 106, State trust lands: YES.
Short explanation: The people supporting 105 are the cattle ranchers and the Central Arizona homebuilders; everybody else supports 106. If you think the ranchers and the homebuilders actually care about education or conservation, you need a brain transplant.

Longer explanation (Disclosure: Andy is on the Prop. 106 committee and our firm has represented organizations supporting 106), courtesy of Grady Gammage:

Vote yes on 106 and no on 105. 105 is largely meaningless, put on the ballot to confuse the voters. It's not harmful, but if we're going to open up the state constitution, it isn't worth the trouble. All the negatives you hear on 106 are false: it helps, not hurts education funding (so the AZ Education Association is for it); it preserves way more land (so Nature Conservancy, Sonoran Institute, and other conservation groups support it); makes the process for developing state land more rational (thus Valley Partnership and Greater Phoenix Leadership support it); and it works better for cities and towns (so the AZ Planning Association supports it). The opposition is really only three sources: cattlemen, who want cheap grazing leases forever; the Central AZ Homebuilders (who've lost their minds and broke with the rest of the real estate community for reasons no one can figure out--even the Southern AZ Homebuilders support it); and Grady’s former partner Becky Burnham, who has a convoluted rationale for not liking it that basically amounts to she didn't write every word of it, so it can't be any good.

Prop. 107, Gay Marriage and Domestic Partner Benefits Ban: NO. (Also a client of CGSON.) Sure, take away health insurance and employment benefits from all sorts of people, gay and straight, because it might help turn out right-wing voters. Vote no and give money to the Vote No campaign, too. If your marriage is threatened by other people's domestic arrangements, the problem is with you and not other people.

Prop. 200, Voter Reward Act: PICK ‘EM. We’re split on this one. Andy says no, it’s a cheap and tawdry gimmick. Sam says that’s not a bug, it’s a feature. It’s an annoying Mark Osterloh idea -- not the idea, Mark is annoying -- that would give a free lottery ticket to every voter. Might drive up turnout, and people who write editorials for the Arizona Republic shouldn’t get too huffy about the supposed lack of intellectual content in Osterloh’s ideas.

Prop. 201, Smoking Ban: YES. (A client.) This is the real ban, not that fake 206 one, and it’s supported by the Arizona Restaurant Association, which sees the exemption for bars in 206 as a way for bigger businesses to crush the mom-and-pops. Just as you shouldn’t listen to the cattlemen on conservation, we’re not sure the tobacco companies are the best source of wisdom on smoking bans.

Prop. 202, State Minimum Wage: YES. (Again, a client.) When stupid right-wing editorials are outsourced to Bangalore, then you can start listening to them about what kind of wages those at the very bottom of the ladder are entitled to. Until then, vote yes.

Prop. 203, Early Childhood Tobacco Tax: YES. We’re not sure about the funding source’s long-term viability, and it would be nicer if these programs were funded directly by the state general fund, but Arizona has about the same chance of spending too much money on early childhood programs as I do of pitching in the MLB All-Star Game, so vote yes.

Prop. 204, Factory Farming Ban: YES. Is hogwash a good thing, or a bad thing? I prefer my hogs washed. Vote yes.

Prop. 205, Mail Balloting: UPDATE: Old recommendation: NO. It could depress turnout in minority and reservation communities where vote-by-mail has always been a very tough sell and low-percentage option, so vote no. NEW RECOMMENDATION:

YES. I've rethought my position on this one. It's basically a choice between two groups of voters who simply don't turn out enough: minorities, especially Native Americans, in the general election, and GOP moderates in the primaries. GOP moderates, of whom there are about 9 left in Arizona, have tried just about everything to increase turnout in GOP primaries, to little avail, so the next step is to put a ballot into everybody's mailbox in these upscale suburban districts because we just can't trust them to apply for one over the Internet, by phone, by mail, or through a campaign. (But heaven forefend we increase turnout by giving them a lottery ticket--that would diminish the democratic experiment, as opposed to giving in to their laziness.) I would ordinarily call this one a draw, but what's sealed it for me is the constellation of groups supporting and opposing 205. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Secretary of State Jan Brewer, and the Arizona Republican Party are opposed; the Arizona Democratic Party supports. The Arizona Republic endorsed it Monday, but I'm willing to overlook that. It's increased turnout in Washington and Oregon--but by about 6 percent, which is less than what was predicted, so you may want to take predictions of doubling of turnout in primaries with a grain of salt, but it's still an increase and couldn't hurt. So I voted yes, but this is absolutely the last thing we're going to do for GOP moderates, who always look so pitiful because they never, ever stand their ground. Guess what, GOP moderates--the "real" Republicans don't respect you in the morning, either.

Prop. 206, Smoking Ban: NO. (As noted, we’re representing the competing initiative, 201.) This is a smoking ban supported by RJR Reynolds to compete with the real ban, Prop. 201. Like the tobacco companies would have the right idea about a smoking ban. If you buy that, second-hand smoke is the least of your issues.

Prop. 207, Municipal Condemnation: NO. An extreme, expensive, and dangerous solution to a non-existent problem. More commentary from Grady:

207 isn't about cities condemning your house to sell to developers -- that's already largely prohibited in AZ. It's about a libertarian New York real estate developer who doesn't believe in zoning and thinks there should be compensation for all land use regulation. If it passes, land use lawyers make tons of money under it, because it's so badly designed. But it stinks as public policy. Regulation of development is necessary in a place that grows as much as Arizona, and we don't have a history of overregulation. And on this one, even Ms. Burnham agrees.

Prop. 300, Education Benefits for Illegal Aliens: NO. Haven’t these people ever heard of “human capital”? Hugely counterproductive for Arizona as a state, but it might be in the political interests of certain incumbents at the Legislature to keep as many people as possible as uneducated as possible. After all, they need to make sure the base is replenished.

Prop. 301, Methamphetamine Penalties: NO. This may be a good idea but drug penalties are so over-the-top generally that having one too low is a novelty.

Prop. 302, Legislative Salaries: YES. On the merits, we get what we pay for. This proposition has less chance of passing than my All-Star Game appearance.

Scottsdale Unified School District Override: YES. I still have one kid left in the SUSD, and even if he’d graduated, I owe it to future kids to support the schools that educated our kids.

Judicial Retention: Go ahead and vote YES to retain everybody. If you’re running out of time to fill out your ballot, make sure you vote to retain both Supreme Court judges (Andrew Hurwitz and Ruth McGregor) and all three Court of Appeals judges (Donn Kessler, Patricia Norris, and Maurice Portley), and Superior Court judges Sally Schneider Duncan and Peter Reinstein (both Temple Solel members deserve judicial retention automatically). If you’re really, really determined to find one judge to vote against just to show you're paying attention or something (like anybody will know), we have a recommendation about the least-qualified "yes" vote that we can send you in an email off-list.

Hope this helps. Arguments welcome.

UPDATE: Don't bother reading the comments, it's nothing but pro-207 spam so far.

7 comments: said...

Um, hey guys. Re: Proposition 107. The good news is that no one is going to lose health insurance or employment benefits once this thing passes. Texas passed an amendment that was almost identical, and despite claims from the opposition, not a single soul lost any health or insurance benefits. There is nothing in Proposition 107 that would prohibit a local government from granting benefits to unmarried partners of employees. So, I guess that means we can all relax a little.

Sam said...

Wrong. The text of the amendment states:


That would stop municipalities, school districts, and the state universities from offering domestic partner benefits. Similar statutes in Missouri, Utah, Michigan, and Ohio forced universities to stop offering domestic partner health benefits. The University of Arizona will be forced to void its program of tuition wavers for domestic partners., you're a frickin' liar.

Anonymous said...

Vote YES on Prop 207!

Proposition 207, the Private Property Rights Protection Act is perhaps the most poorly understood measure on the November ballot.

The Tucson Weekly, for example, gets it dead wrong. It isn't about getting rid of zoning laws or the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, and wouldn't even have that effect.

Capitalizing on the pro-liberty backlash against the Kelo decision, Americans for Limited Government, a national, non-partisan, action-oriented group, financed a drive to put measures on the ballot in several states to limit eminent domain abuse and related misuses of power.

Prop. 207 addresses the central issues of Kelo by ensuring that public use is a judicial, not legislative or regulatory, question in Arizona and defining it to be:

The possession, occupation and enjoyment of the land by the public or by public agencies.

The use of land for the creation or functioning of public utilities.

The acquisition of property to cure a direct and immediate threat caused by the current use of the land (such as removing structures that are beyond repair or that are unfit for human habitation or use).

The acquisition of abandoned property.

Were it to stop there, it'd already be worthy of support, but it gets even better. For starters, Prop. 207 redefines "just compensation" for homeowners to mean a comparable safe, sanitary, and habitable dwelling or enough money to buy one. In other words, if 207 passes, the government can't take your home and just give you its cash value if it wouldn't be enough to buy another home. Eminent domain takings will no longer turn homeowners in poor neighborhoods into renters.

The most exciting--and the most controversial--benefit of 207's passage would be its partial-takings clause which requires the government to compensate property owners for regulations such as downzoning (do a search for Emmett McLoughlin to find out why that's a big deal) that take away from the value of their property by directly restricting its use. A list of exceptions can be found at the AZ HOPE website; the obvious ones such as public safety are covered, and unlike the Oregon measure which pioneered the concept of partial-takings, Prop. 207 is not retroactive and won't threaten to bankrupt municipalities all over the state.

Those who say that the partial-takings clause "goes too far" can be divided into three groups: Those who don't know what the measure does, those who haven't thought it through, and those who'd hate to see the government's power checked. For the last there is no remedy but ridicule--call a whip a whip! The first are usually concerned that the government will have to pay for anything it does anywhere that negatively influences property values; the text of the measure makes it quite clear that only laws directly regulating an owner's land would require compensation. I'll try to do something for the middle group here.

The modern conception of property is that it is a "bundle of rights", and that having title to land gives the right of exclusion and to various forms of use, the limits of which are, in urban areas, often determined by zoning and the municipal code. If you take away some of those rights, it's not "just like" taking some of the property; it is taking some of the property. The owner may still own the land but he is poorer because some of his right to it is gone; ownership, pop libertarians be damned, is not an all-or-nothing affair. Since the passage of the Bill of Rights and before, we have operated under the principle that the government, servant of the people, must provide compensation when it takes their property. Passage of Proposition 207 updates the Fifth Amendment's protections so that they take into account the creative swindles of modern municipal governments, ensuring that the government must pay if it takes some property rights just as it would pay if it took all property rights.

Make no mistake of thinking that Proposition 207 only concerns megadevelopers. Property is savings and livelihood; the partial takings clause protects homeowners, small businesspeople, farmers, landlords, and developers alike. Proposition 207 would force politicians to consider the human cost of regulation and to take responsibility for harm done to individuals. It's a matter of simple justice. Vote "yes" on 7 November and encourage your friends to do the same.

Anonymous said...

Again, vote YES on Prop 207!

Prop 207 will stop local governments from using eminent domain to take private property for private development in order to generate more tax revenue. The proposed intiative will define "public use" in all eminent domain cases as:
(i) The possession, occupation and enjoyment of the land by the public or by public agencies.
(ii) The use of land for the creation or functioning of public utilities.
(iii) The acquisition of property to cure a direct and immediate threat caused by the current use of the land (such as removing structures that are beyond repair or that are unfit for human habitation or use).
(iv) The acquisition of abandoned property.
The initiative recognizes that many times so-called "just" compensation is not truly just, and seeks to ensure that individuals displaced from their homes are relocated to an equivalent home in a decent and safe neighborhood.
Physically taking someone's property is not the only way that government can "take" someone's land. The government can regulate land to the point where someone may still hold the title to the land, but have lost all of the land's value.
Citizens resoundingly believe that these types of regulatory takings need to be compensated. In a poll conducted on the Arizona Republic's website, 82% of respondents said they would vote for a measure that required government to pay just compensation when zoning laws diminished the value of private property.
The initiative will give property owners an opportunity to seek compensation when government changes the rules of the game, decreasing their property's fair market value.
Example: Emmett McLoughlin owns property in Pima County. When he purchased the land it was zoned for retail business use. When neighbors learned the land was going to be developed, they went to the Pima County Board of Supervisors and asked the Board to downzone the land so that it could not be developed. The Board of Supervisors did just that - and in a very short amount of time. Though McLoughlin still owns the title to the land, it is now worth a fraction of what he paid.
The initiative does not require governments to compensate property owners "for every zoning or land use decision they make." For example, the proposed referendum does not apply to land use laws that:
1. Limit or prohibit land use decisions for the protection of the public's health and safety, including regulations relating to fire and building codes, health and sanitation, transportation or traffic control, solid or hazardous waste, and pollution control;
2. Limit or prohibit the use or division of real property commonly and historically recognized as a public nuisance under common law;
3. Are required by federal law;
4. Limit or prohibit the use or division of a property for the purpose of housing sex offenders, selling illegal drugs, or adult oriented businesses if the land use laws are consistent with the constitutions of this state and the United States;
5. Establish locations for utility facilities;
6. Are existing statutory restrictions on land uses around Arizona's military bases;
7. Do not directly regulate an owner's land; or
8. That are enacted before the effective date of the proposed referendum. The initiative is also clear that it applies only to the property directly affected by a land use regulation. It does not apply to neighboring properties.

Sam said...

Wrong, "Anonymous." This initiative is a gold mine for zoning lawyers. If this passes, I'll make my living for the next decade, until it's fixed, representing property owners who allege that a change in zoning on nearby property hurts the value of their property. Nobody gets rezoned unless my clients get bought out. It's the ultimate 3/4 vote. It's just crazy, and only cranks should vote for it.

Anonymous said...

No on Prop 205, you can vote by mail now and it takes away a civil liberty in the name of being cheap. Has nothing to do with who will vote by mail.

Prop 104 is a bad plan. Just increases the cap that a incorporated area can go in the hole 5% more (from 15% to 20%). I'm sick of the "endless" growth theory of this state, that is unrealistic. Either way doesn't make anyone safer since it still has to be approved by voters. Just more money down the drain or as I like to call it, pass the buck to the kids.

Great, let the lawyers have their
windfall on Prop 207, the harder it is for government or corporations to do anything the happier I am.

I disagree on some other minor issues like smoking bans, neither one is realistic to me. One is health dept enforced and the other is police enforced, of which neither will get funded so these bans are paper thick.

Anyhow, happy voting.

Anonymous said...

still time to re-reverse your decision on 205: you had it right the first time, here's why:

1. Takes away voting at the polls. Since everyone will be mailed a ballot, only provisional ballots will be allowed for in-person early voting and voting at the polls.

2. Greater chance of fraud. Since ballots go to every household around the same time, if not the same day, targeting neighborhods with an all-vote-by-mail system becomes much easier than when vote-by-mail is done by request and in conjunction with poll voting. There will also be many unvoted ballots floating around at apartment complexes, retirement homes, schools, multi-unit mailboxes, etc.

3. No exit polls on election day to verify the accuracy of the vote.

4. Precincts are audited at 2% while early ballots are audited at 1% so Prop 205 would cut in half the hand audit election integrity activists fought so hard to get.

5. "The most important concerns raised by these procedures focus on increased opportunities for corruption. Indeed, the most prominent recent election fraud court cases involved absentee ballots— Dodge County, Georgia in 1996 and Miami in 1997. Dodge County involved two competing candidates for the Democratic nomination for the county commission bidding against each other for absentee ballots inside the county courthouse. In Miami, fraud so pervaded the absentee ballots that an appellate court eventually threw out all absentee ballots and declared a winner based solely on the machine vote."†
"Concerns over coercion are especially acute in settings where voters may be reliant on care givers, as in nursing homes."†

6. Turnout results are mixed - "There is no evidence that liberalizing absentee voting laws or enacting early or vote-by-mail schemes has increased voter turnout dramatically"†, "sixteen states and the District of Columbia had turnout increases in 2000 that exceeded Oregon’s"†, "[i]n every presidential election year since Texas began early voting in 1988, the voting turnout increase in Texas has been less than turnout increases nationwide"†, "the increase is noticeable only in low profile contests."‡

7. Matching of signatures is slow process, not done by experts, a potential problem for elderly voters and those whose signature changes over time.

8. If there is a problem and a voter does not get their ballot by mail, it will be hard for them to vote a regular ballot.

9. Initiative does not improve Arizona’s Vote by Mail system, it just gets rid of polling places. Precinct cast ballots are the only ballots checked for over-votes and allows the voter to correct mistakes.

10. DRE Touch-screen voting machines will still be used, so this initiative does not guarantee a paper ballot for every voter.

11. Voters who do not have residential addresses or updated ones will likely be disenfranchised--people in nursing homes, people who move frequently, people who use post office boxes and people without addresses for whatever reason.

12. Slowness - In Washington State in 2000, over half of all ballots were cast absentee count in Washington meant that recounts in two very close races, U.S. Senate and Secretary of State, were not ordered until three weeks after Election Day. Recounts in less visible local races were similarly delayed.

13. Inaccuracy - in the 2004 Republican primary in legislative district 20, a race initially won by 4 votes, had a machine recount that found 505 errors - 465 (92.3%) of which were the vote by mail ballots.

14. Premature decisions - Just weeks before the election, after some early ballots have already been sent out, the information came out about Mark Foley. And, in a high profile US Senate race in Minnesota, Paul Wellstone died in a plane crash less than 2 weeks before the election - after many voters had already cast their mail-in ballot.

15. Last, but not least, is the feeling of civic participation people feel going to the polls, and the demonstration to other countries of how democratic governments operate with the consent of the governed.

† Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project. 2001. Voting: What is, What Could Be. California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Website

‡ Report for the Commission on Federal Election Reform. 2005. Co-Chairs: President Jimmy Carter and Honorable James A. Baker, III. Ballot Integrity and Voting by Mail: The Oregon Experience. Dr. Paul Gronke, Director, EVIC at Reed College.

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Report on Florida Voter Fraud Issues