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October 31, 2008

On San Francisco's "Prop R" and the California Prop System
FILED UNDER: "National Politics"
TAGS: CaliforniaelectionsGeorge W BushSan Francisco
By Trevor

If you've never set foot in California, you probably don't realize that the way things work there on election day is totally wonk. Instead of the legislature deciding on a variety of issues that other state legislatures decide, everything in California gets voted on at the ballot box. Well not everything -- but Jesus I remember my first time voting there, it was crazy! "Vote No on G and Yes on F!" Or "No on 25 but Yes on 42!" There's always a Prop that would effectively kill another Prop, or a Prop that sounds like it would do something, but in reality would do something completely different. It's a broken, fucked up system. I don't know how many millions of dollars are spent each year rehashing the same God dammed issues. But it's disgusting.

So as you can already tell, I'm pretty dubious of the California prop system. I think it's outrageously wasteful and a detriment to Democracy there (if you have enough money, buying a Prop vote can surely be done -- and if it doesn't win this time, well by God, but it up again next year!). So this year, as always, there are a number of Props up for vote (find a list here) -- from Prop 2 ("bars use of pens and cages that don't give farm animals room to turn around, stretch, stand or lie down") to utterly rehashed Prop 4 ("Amends the state Constitution to require a physician to notify a minor patient's parent or other adult family member 48 hours before performing an abortion"). And of course, unless you live under a rock, you're aware that Prop 8 would strip same-sex couples of the right to marry (oddly enough, "Yes on 8" anti-gay ads have been running here on this site -- eek!). All in all, there are twelve State propositions up for a vote this year.

Oh but wait -- there's more! Not only are there state-wide Proposition initiatives, but there are CITY-level Prop-initiatives too! Instead of numbers, those get letters. This year, there are twenty-two such San Francsico ballot initiatives (see list here). Yes that's right. Twenty-two. A number of controversial things are on the ballot this year. Prop K would decriminalize prostitution. And of course then there's the ridiculous "Prop R," which would rename the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant the George W. Bush Sewage Plant. That's right. A huge campaign is in the works to rename a sewage plant "in honor" of President Bush. How much money was spent on this fucking campaign?

San Francisco already has a bad rep for being a town full of crazy liberals, and you bet this kind of juvenile wasteful spending of time and money will only serve to reinforce the negative stereotype that many Americans have of the city. Don't get me wrong: I believe in the power of symbols to shape the way we understand the world. But this isn't the kind of infrastructure that people will interact with on a regular basis in years to come. Even if it passes, there will be some fanfare and jokes made, but in ten years, it will be forgotten. And in this critical election year, wasting resources like money and time that could be spent campaigning for more important issues is not just dumb, it's almost criminal.

So there you have it. If I lived in California, I would vote No on Prop R. But more than that, I would lobby to find some way to restructure the whole system of Propositions in California and San Francisco. It just doesn't work.

PERMALINK | Posted at 1:10 PM | Post a Comment (2)

2 Comments

To answer your question about Proposition R, a total of about $1,000 was spent on the entire campaign, all of it from the organizers pockets. About half went to photocopying, and half to costume rentals (Uncle Sam drag etc). If it passes, the cost to the city is essentially nil, since letterhead, signs, etc are replaced as replenished.

While Prop R may seem like a fart joke via the ballot box, the intent is to define Bush's legacy in the proper context (with a dose of humor). His history will surely be whitewashed in years to come, and this is one small way we can weigh in and remind people that we were way ahead of the country in realizing the fix is in.

Plus, a bit of satire at the ballot box is a good thing. People need to lighten up. At the end of the day, we're putting a sign on a building.

Brian McConnell | October 31, 2008 5:49 PM

Yes, buit if Proposition R passes, the city may spend up to $50,000 to change the signage on the Oceanside facility and its letterhead. While that's much less than what Sarah Palin spends on her expeditions to Neiman Marcus, it's still nonessential spending that a cash-strapped city at the start of the Bush recession can't afford.

Colin Gallagher | November 1, 2008 6:15 PM


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