Complete Society

Ideas and strategies for a sustainable world

California and SF ballot propositions

Quick Reference

California State Propositions:  30 (Y),  31 (N), 32 (N), 33 (N), 34 (Y), 35 (N), 36 (Y), 37 (N), 38 (N), 39 (Y), 40 (Y)
San Francisco City measures: A (N), B (Y), C (Y), D (Y), E (Y), F (N), G (Y)

30 (temporary tax increase to fund education): YES.

We need something to solve to fix the state budget and this proposition at least stops the massive education cuts that would come in January.  Purely selfishly, I also want Brown to be able to think about clean energy issues instead of spending all his time on the budget.

31 (constitutional changes regarding state vs. local budgeting and oversight): NO.

Poorly worded proposition that exacerbates the problems with budgeting by ballot measures.  There’s no reason to handcuff the Legislature this way and give local governments too much leeway to ignore state policy.

32 (payroll deductions for political purposes): NO.

While I do want to see money taken out of politics, and I don’t like the extreme influence that the labor unions have on state politics, this is an insidiously wrong proposition that just gives more power to corporations and PACs.

33 (changes to auto insurance costs): NO.

This is another sneaky proposition that gives the insurance companies more flexibility to raise rates while purporting to be about providing discounts.

34 (repeal death penalty and replace with life in prison without possibility of parole): YES

I’m generally against the death penalty.  I haven’t seen evidence that it deters crime and even if it were to cost more money to incarcerate for life, I think it’d be worth it to avoid executing someone who’s innocent.  The analysis says that it’s actually cheaper to incarcerate for life than to go through the full death penalty process, and the number of death row inmates is so small that it shouldn’t have an impact on prison overcrowding.

35 (increase prison sentences and fines for human trafficking convictions): NO.

Poorly worded proposition that seems ripe for unintended consequences.  It’s not clear how big the human trafficking problem is and whether increased penalties would make an actual difference.

36 (repeal 3 strikes law): YES

37 (label GMO food): NO

From Kat Phillips (C9)

“Meg and I are part of this crazy food system now, working on driving change. We have knowledge that others, even those who’re passionate and have done their research, could never have. My advice is that if we say its no good then vote NO. Take it from someone who’s lives in the shadows of Ag chem companies.”
38 (tax increase to fund education – competitor to prop 30): NO.

Increases taxes across the board without actually helping solve the overall CA budget problem.  Much more effective to add to the sales tax as well as increase tax rates on the wealthy.  Increasing taxes on the low-to-middle income people more makes zero sense during a recession.

39 (increase income tax collected in CA and dedicates 5 yrs of revenue to clean energy projects, with some set-asides for schools too): YES.

This is a no brainer.

40 (redistricting): YES.  This whole proposition is weirdly backwards, but its needs to pass in order to retain the district maps drawn by the Citizens Redistricting Commission.


A (City college parcel tax): NO.

As much as I’d like to support community college, the CCSF is apparently pretty bad at financial management.  If their financial problems were just due to state funding cuts, then I could see providing support.  But the accreditation problems and audit issues make me not want to give more money to mismanagement.

Quote from SPUR analysis: “CCSF is facing the loss of the institution’s accreditation. Investing taxpayer dollars while CCSF is rectifying significant administrative challenges will further exacerbate the problem and allow trustees to avoid difficult decisions about the college’s future.”  (note that SPUR is actually recommending YES on this)

B (neighborhood parks bond): YES.

As a heavy user of SF’s parks, I’m naturally inclined to support improvements but I did get a bit concerned about mismanagement.  Reading SPUR’s analysis alleviated these concerns a bit since they specifically call out improvements in the capital management at SF Parks and Rec.

Quote from SPUR analysis: “improvements in the department’s capital planning team in recent years have restored some confidence that funds will be managed responsibly and projects delivered on time. This bond has been rigorously planned, and the department has done a good job of preparing for efficient project delivery.”

C (create a housing trust fund to support affordable housing): YES
D (consolidate odd-year municipal elections): YES.  Simple common sense.
E (gross receipts tax/change payroll tax): YES.
F (hetch hetchy): NO.  Might have been ok if it was just a water recycling/efficiency plan.
G (opposing corporate personhood): YES


November 5, 2012 Posted by | Politics and Governance | Leave a comment

A leader that inspires millions

This message from an Obama Regional Field Director is powerful and inspiring.  This country (and the world) needs nothing less than a leader that can inspire this kind of emotion and energy from millions of people.

(Thanks to for posting this)


Stay calm – and BE RELENTLESS today. Get everyone motivated, educated, and into the field as quickly and as often as possible…

GET THEM COMFORTABLE WITH A BREAK-NECK PACE. They need to be the cool heads by the time GOTV rolls around…

Report your numbers like clock-work. Call me if you need me. Don’t stop until your last shift is confirmed for Sunday…

Barack really is expecting a lot out us – and there isn’t much else for him to do. He has placed this election in our hands at this point. It’s up to us now. We may never again have our hands on history quite like this again for as long as we live. That makes each hour so so precious. We can slack off, sleep in, and make excuses for the rest of our lives. But today – and for the next 3 weeks… whether we knew what we were getting into or not… we have ended up with people’s lives, livelihoods, and dreams for their children – all dependent on our performance day in and day out. This is our one chance at history… our one chance at perfection. Our one chance to live forever. So today – breathe this in… realize that your grandkids will be reading about you… realize that you will miss this feeling very very soon… and win every single hour.

Proud of you in advance for a big day…

October 22, 2008 Posted by | Politics and Governance, Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

The leader we need: Intelligence, Integrity, Inspiration

Over the last several weeks, the combination of all the economic and political events with my (sometimes frightening) readings on peak oil and climate change has crystallized the connection between this election and our sustainable future.

The person who we want/need as President is the same one the world needs to avert societal collapse caused by hitting the limits of our natural resources. The most important criteria we use to choose this person is the same for both roles.

Broadly, I feel like these criteria fall into three areas:  Intelligence, Integrity, and Inspiration.  I’ll go into more detail on these in upcoming posts but for a quick summary:

  • Intelligence:  The problems and decisions for a President and for sustainability are complex.  These aren’t yes/no questions or simple preferences like white car vs silver car.  The leader we need has to have the sheer brianpower to handle complex questions, balance dozens of competing factors, weigh multiple interlocking tradeoffs, weave subtle nuances together.
  • Integrity: Our country and the world needs someone who is fundamentally dedicated to the common good and sticks to that principle with honesty and transparency.  With the power this person wields comes great responsibility and our only hope is for this leader to have equally great integrity.
  • Inspiration:  The issues facing America and the world aren’t going to be solved top down.  The issues are too big for prescriptive measures from a chosen few.  We need large scale participation in the solution and the only way we get that is if our leader can inspire millions to engage.

Obviously, going into this election year, I was already biased towards the Democratic Party.  But learning what I have about the candidates in the last 6 months and evaluating against these three I’s has really convinced me that Obama is the leader we need.

Notice that the 4th ‘I’ isn’t there: Issues.  More on this later, but first ask yourself, does one or several specific issues matter in the overall global scheme, or is it more important what a candidate’s position on issues says about their character, the other I’s ?

October 11, 2008 Posted by | Politics and Governance, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

What does natural capitalism have to do with politics?

(We’re currently reading Natural Capitalism in one of my Presidio classes)

Natural Capitalism makes a great, rational case for what’s possible. With example after example, it shows that sustainable society can exist if the world system is designed and encouraged to thrive based on some fundamental principles.

As I read each chapter, I keep coming back to the idea that we can’t achieve what’s possible without the government providing the right ground for it to grow.   And that ground needs to rest on systems thinking founded in reason, fact, and science.

Chap. 10 – Agriculture – showed how critical a scientific approach is to growing sustainability
Chap. 11 – Water – could be summed up with the inescapable logic of the bathtub analogy
Chap. 12 – Climate – declared this theme as a section title “In God we Trust; All others bring Data”

So, essentially, we can’t hope to achieve the next Industrial Revolution without a government that makes intelligent, rational decisions for the overall, long term good of the system.

As I’ve said elsewhere, this then becomes a major criterion for choosing who leads the government.  Has a candidate for President shown himself to be a pragmatic, reasonable man who carefully examines the science/facts of a decision and can handle complex, nuanced issues?

The fact that we haven’t had such a leader for 8 years may go a long way in explaining why much of what Natural Capitalism said was possible hasn’t been achieved.

September 24, 2008 Posted by | Politics and Governance, Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

Complete Politics – Beneath the noise, look at character

While anyone who knows me knows I’m a liberal voter and a strong supporter of Obama, I’ve mostly tried to resist mixing politics in to the Complete Society blog.  But with the importance of this presidential election and the pivotal role government plays in our hopes for a sustainable future, it seems that separating out politics means I’m not discussing the whole picture that I tell everyone to look at.

So, from now on, you’ll see politics, govt policy and related topics discussed here, but, as with all my posts, I’m going to try a different take, going either bigger picture or deeper dive into the meanings and implications behind the rhetoric and issue positions.

Let’s start with character.  Step past all the surface stuff: race, gender, upbringing, age, religion.  Then step past even the issues: stated positions, experience in specific topics such as foreign policy, years at different levels of government, etc.

Then the first question that goes to the heart of whether this candidate will move our country towards a complete society is: “Will this candidate act for the greater good of our nation and the world?”

To quote Michael Douglas from “The American President”, “It’s entirely about character”.

Wherever they are on whatever issue your care so passionately about, it comes down to whether they authentically put humanity ahead of themselves.  This, fundamentally, is what we need in a President and is a given for anyone working for a sustainable future.

That’s why I came to dislike Hillary Clinton.  Before the primaries, I was neutral on her.  Respected her valiant attempt to fix healthcare in the early 90’s.  Hadn’t tracked her record as a Senator.   But the 2008 primaries showed she would say anything and take whatever position she needed in order to get elected, whether or not it would be good for the country.  The gas tax holiday idiocy was probably the most visible example of this.

This is also at the core of why I hate G W Bush.  I don’t use the word “hate” lightly since there’s almost nobody in the world I hate.  In 2000, I mostly disliked him because he stood for almost everything I was against in govt and I cringed in pain every time I heard him speak.  But over the last 8 years, he made decision after decision that was about him, his religious faith, and his interests instead of what would clearly be the greater good.

Think about this core idea when looking at the current candidates.  My opinions on Obama vs McCain will fill up some upcoming posts.

September 10, 2008 Posted by | Politics and Governance, Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment