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How Could Upcoming Election Change State And Local Politics?


Have you studied up on the candidates and propositions that will appear on your local ballot? Professors Glen Sparrow and Carl Luna join us to provide their analysis of the most important local races. Plus, KPBS Reporter Tom Fudge discusses the propositions that could reform state government.

Have you studied up on the candidates and propositions that will appear on your local ballot? Professors Glen Sparrow and Carl Luna join us to provide their analysis of the most important local races. Plus, KPBS Reporter Tom Fudge discusses the propositions that could reform state government.


Glen Sparrow, professor emeritus in the School of Public Affairs at SDSU.

Carl Luna, professor of political science at San Diego Mesa College.

Tom Fudge, KPBS News Reporter, and author of the "On-Ramp" blog on

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This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. The November 2010 election has been clogging our mailboxes with flier, filling the air waves with political ads, and keeping phone bank volunteers, very, very busy. It seems we are inundated with election earring, but real information about the issues on the bell on the is harder to find. This morning, we're going to go over the local and state propositions to find out what would happen if voters passed them, and what will happen if they don't. I'd like to welcome my guests for this last minute election run down. Glen Sparrow is professor emeritus in the school of public affairs at SDSU, welcome.

GLEN SPARROW: Thank you Maureen of.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Carl Luna is professor of political silence - science, that is, at Mesa College.

CARL LUNA: I will try to be short. Good morning.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And KPBS reporter Tom funnel, he's been writing about the propositions on his blog, on-ramp, on We invite our listeners to join this proposition. If there's one proposition that's got you stumped, or have you finally made a decision about a ballot issue that was really difficult for you. Give us a call with your questions and your comments, our number is 1-888-895-5727. Glen, let's start with Proposition D. That's on the San Diego City ballot. And it basically asks voters to authorize a temporary half cent sales tax in the city, if financial reform conditions are met. Glen, what issues will voters weigh as they decide how to vote on Prop D. ?

GLEN SPARROW: It seems to me it comes down to two things. One how are we going to run the city if we don't get this money? And secondly, do we trust the government, primarily the city Council and the mayor, to spend the money properly? And I think that's what people are mulling over in their minds. It's kind of a hob son's choice. It's a good choice, but that seems to me to be what it seems to come down to.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Glen, what -- able to say, okay, the city leaders are gonna be able to spend this sales tax in the manner they say they will. And they'll to it wisely. What are voters thinking if, in the past that maybe is going to inference them if trust.

GLEN SPARROW: The issues have been the mangled financial affairs of the city, over the past decade. Maybe even further pack. Upon but the city has gotten itself into a very difficult bind, because of some poor decision making that was made back in the 90s, primarily having to do with how to pay for nice things that the city wanted, liege conventional centers, and conventions and ballpark, and taking that money out of the pension money that they were supposed to be setting aside. We get into the 21st century, and we have now council, new mayor, now structure of government, and the bills come due. And that's the problem, that the city sees itself in now. They've got huge deficits, and they don't have any way to pay for it because they have a structural financial problem, that is they're spending more money than they're taking in. So the idea here, now, as presented by the council and the mayor, or part of the council and the mayor, is to extract a half cent seams tax for the next five years from the people who spend money in the City of San Diego, and use that to help off set deficit this they have. At the same time, in order to make this more palatable, the council has set up ten issues that they're going to have to manage before that sales tax goes into etc, if the people vote for it. The issue is how solid is the council going to be providing the ten requirements, and that's what people are looking at as they get ready to go to the poles tomorrow.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Carl, I'd like you to weigh in on Proposition D and the issue of trust. I think even before you get to the issue of trust is the issue of do I want to have any more of my money taken out of my already debloated pocketbook. People are hurting in a bad economy, and it's counter intuitive to running -- so if you can get through that hurdle, do people even want to consider having more money taken out of their pocket book right now. Then you hit the issue of trust. Do you trust them to do . Despite, double down going against it want. Now, I'm also wondering if -- about this we just heard about the -- a deal orchestrated in Sacramento to allow the center city development corporation to raise its cap, in order to facilitate the building of a Chargers stadium down town. Lot of people refer to that as a secret deal. And I'm just wondering if enough people are aware of that, and if that weighs in on this issue of trust in local San Diego City cooperate.

CARL LUNA: At this point, I don't think that's really in the public mind set. Because it's a relatively recent development. I think that afterwards, there's gonna be a little bit of anger expressed by it. But by those who paid attention to it, I think that works into the trust issue. You're talking about a city who can't get its libraries open, keep has . Mega.

GLEN SPARROW: With all due respect to both of you, the Chargers stadium was not a part of this. It's to raise the cap on redevelopment, it's not to build a Chargers stadium. Now, that could result, but we don't know that. And that still has a lot of hurdles to go through if it were to happen.

CARL LUNA: Oh, I agree with the point entirely on that, that's the rational political science logic of how things work out. But I'm talking about the political impact, the public is trying to 83, do you want to give the city more money? The public doesn't understand, development from downtown San Diego to city development to city school, it's government to them. And you're asking them to give up more money to this thing called government, it's gonna hurt Proposition D in the short run. Because the city doesn't have the chance to settle the argument that Glen just so eloquently made.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We are taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. Charley is on the line from Fallbrook.

NEW SPEAKER: Good morning. I agree with both of your guests there, that I don't trust the government anymore because of the fact that they waste so much of our money. But the one question I have is why can't we have any truth in the advertising that comes out about all these different propositions, that -- I thought if I was running for office, one of the things I would do in my commercial is say, this commercial's been fact checked -- by fact or something like that. And advertise that it was on it, so that people know this they could believe it. But we get so much misinformation. We don't know what to believe.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Thank you for the call, Charley. Glen, have you noticed and particular deceptions in the advertising that you've seen this year?

GLEN SPARROW: I don't know about the deceptions. I think it's kind of the tone of voice. It's when we refer to as the negative view of the -- the campaign advising. There is a sense among campaign consultants that negativity begins and that is what we're certainly seeing poling out. Maybe not the haft couple of days issue but the previous week or so. Of the idea is to soften up the voter out there with this idea that your opponent is a really bad person. And the poles, the focus groups, and so forth, tend to say, it, works.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Carl Luna, some of these ads have been fact checked and found to be really not true. And I'm wondering if indeed -- is that some -- is that an increasing -- are we seeing those types of ads increasing on the are waves?

CARL LUNA: Well, the truth is in the eye of the beholder, what you're arguing for what is is, as a famous president once said. I was part of a project, who were doing fact checking on prop D, and got to talk about it on a local television station. Both of the pro and con side on Prop D, were truth of the, but it depended where you wanted to go with it, ten reforms, what constitutes a full and isn't specified. It will put money away for police and fire. That's true. But when you have to be realistic based on how people feel secure, there's a pretty good assumption, a lot of the money raised by Prop D is gonna go to that. So the caller is correct, there's a high degree of negativity, in these ads, but lying in the ads is actually much less common than people would think. They're playing request shades of the truth.

GLEN SPARROW: And also, recall ca, the fact that the City of San Diego spends 50 percent of its general fund budget for public safety, means that the money is going to drift in that direction.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, and also, a big part of the Proposition D debate is what happens if Proposition D fails? And Carl, how might citizens feel the pain if indeed that half cent sales tax is voted down?

CARL LUNA: You know, the thing is, the city of council has been the frog in boiling water for this entire decade. Bit by bit, the entirely financial system of the city has been failing. in the top ten cities for worst roads. I mean, people didn't realize is that their roads were falling apart. Sure, every now and then a piece of La Jolla falls into the sea, with a sinkhole. But bit by bit, the libraries are falling apart,s me and fir don't have the services they need. I tend to think that's gonna be a year or two down the line benefit people really feel the Prop D impact. So they may not really associate it with the rejection of this sales tax, before the city comes back, and says, we really need it now by 2012, 2014.

GLEN SPARROW: Yes, I think that the people who work for the city, work very hard. I'm talking about the people down in the trenches who do the job, pick up the garbage, who fix the streets, who police, put out other fires, and so on. I think they would do a very good job, I think they're being stretched more, because there are fewer of them now, because the population continues to grow in San Diego. They will continue to stretch, and they will continue to do their jobs, but there comes a point, when there report enough of them around, when the infrastructure that they're working with begins to fail, and I think that happens. It happens, as Carl says, slowly. It's not going to happen day after tomorrow, if that Prop D does not pass, but I think that slowly the city's services, and the city's infrastructure is falling into chaos.

CARL LUNA: Yeah, and if I might add to that, it's a circle, the city government ends up having to chince on services because they don't have enough money, people go, wow, look at how badly they're managing the money I have, so when things go bad, they're saying why, should have I give them more when they're doing lousy with the money they have?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And it's the spiral down that you were talking about.

CARL LUNA: This is how we end up, America's finest cities with the number 10 for worst roads in America.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Well, we have to take a short break, and when we return, we'll talk about the other ballot measure, proposition J, that will increase a parcel tax if approved by citizens in the San Diego unified school district. And we will take your calls at 11-888-895-5727.

Committed to student access, excellence, and achieve am. I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. And we are in the middle of a last minute election run down. My guests are Glen Sparrow, he's professor emeritus, in the school of public affairs at SDSU, and Carl Luna, professor of political science at San Diego mesa college. We're taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. And as I said, we're gonna be moving on to proposition J. The San Diego unified school district has a parcel tax increase in the ballot, it is called prop J, I few other districts have school bonds on the ballot, what kind of challenge are those propositions facing, Carl Luna?

CARL LUNA: Oh, they're facing, again, the same uphill slog of trying to get the voters to give up more of their money when they have less of it. You've got a general satisfaction of the government, which is a general theme in this election. So to give more money to the beast, as it were, is gonna fall on less than receptive ears.

GLEN SPARROW: One of the things that's interesting about the prop J is that this is a parcel tax, that is, it's a tax on individual parcels of property, types of property. It's not exactly a regular type tax, that we've seen in the past that continues on, by the way, this is for five years as well. Of as I understand. .

Q. Rite. Do you think the fact that it is a parcel tack makes it any more or less palatable?

GLEN SPARROW: Well, I don't know, it certainly makes it a little chap cheaper, I knowledge, that if you put I half cent property tax on or put property tax on, for instance, it's gonna be a little under a hundred dollars for the normal, single family resident in the city, well, not just in the city, but within the boundaries of the school district.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Carl, usually, San Diego voters are pretty generous when it comes to school bonds and -- but what do you think might be the outcome this time out?

CARL LUNA: Well, you see, that's one of the ones I'm looking at, just to see how this election is breaking. When you look at the various propositions across the county, you've got 4 or 5 of these trying to get more money for the schools upon it'll be interesting to see if there's gonna be a swing decisively against this. Because that'll be a sign that the electorate college conservative.

GLEN SPARROW: And we've -- there has been a lot of support of education, but that support has mainly gone to bonds, which are primarily for infrastructure. This parcel tax is going to be used for general fund. It -- it's not gonna be used just to build buildings and maintain buildings, and that sort of thing. So this is a little different. I think people are more willing to provide money for infrastructure than they are for salaries, and other things like that.

CARL LUNA: Yeah, and I'm joining this conversation from a classroom at Point Loma high school where we teach our college class.


CARL LUNA: I gotta say, we treat pay less shoes a lot nicer than we treat our students. Everyone should have to come in and spend a day in a San Diego high school, when we say we love our kids, we love them but we don't want to spend the money on them.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We are taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. Tony's on the line from San Diego. Good morning, Tony, and welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Hi Maureen. How are you?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Just fine, thanks for calling.

NEW SPEAKER: Disclaimer I am the unofficial spokesman for the no on D campaign, I'm with councilman Faulkner's office.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Okay. And how can we help you?

NEW SPEAKER: Even working on the campaign obviously for a while, and I've been listening to the show this morning, and these chem this isn't an election about taxes versus cuts, this is it an election about reforms versus cuttings. . If we make the reforms we're not gonna have to make these deep draconian cuts. Of it's really as simple as that. And if we vote no on D, when we will give the city the leverage it needs to make these changes.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: A little election earring there, Tony thanks very much for the call.

CARL LUNA: It's true that the basic campaign against Prop D was that if we fixed the city governments in the first play, we wouldn't need the money now. That's the big debate, with Prop D, will the city be able to make sufficient cuts? It's probably unlikely in the short term, because of the old economy. But the argument, if you starve the beast, the beast will get more effective. That's the theory, I haven't seen it work in practice a lot of the time.

GLEN SPARROW: And also if you look at the reforms that they're talking about on Prop D, these are not things that you just shift into gear immediately and the next day or the next week or the next month some huge savings in revenues. These are things that have to go through negotiations, many of them with bargaining units, they are things that have to do with RFPs. There are things that have to be tested in the Courts. We're not going to shift into full greater dollar mode because all of these reforms passed. If they pass tomorrow.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We are taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. If you've made up your mind about a proposition or an issue on the ballot that was really nags you, we'd like to hear how you made up your mind. As I said, 11-888-895-5727.

GLEN SPARROW: Maureen, could I just go back to prop J again?


GLEN SPARROW: I think the school district bears the burden in their school districts that are bearing this burden, of going out to find the money, and the problem is not the school district, necessarily. It's the straight. The state has shrunk the all of money they are sending to these school districts and it forced the school districts into these kind of desperation measures that we see in these parcel tax type things. If the state was sending the proper amount of money that they owe education in the State of California, I don't think we'd be seeing these kind of measures.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: One more comment about prop J from Michael in Northpark. Good morning, Michael. Welcome to These Days.

NEW SPEAKER: Good morning am I'm a parent so I'm supporting prop J. And the reason is because I don't seem to have the solution that people have been putting forth. There's been some criticism about another parcel tax. But the last 3 or 4 years, and what's gonna happen income year, I don't so anybody showing a solution, that provide a strong education for children, and a reformed populous for our communities. . So I'd like to hear their comments.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Thank you for that, Michael, I think that basically he reiterated that you were seeing. Glen?

GLEN SPARROW: Education costs money. And if you want to do it right, it's gonna take public funds to do it. Which the people voted for proposition 13, I don't want to pound that right now, and the state legislature reacted to it, it made a significant shift in this state from local control of education, and educational finance. To state control of educational finance. And we now dote on the state to take our tax money and return it to the school districts. And what has happened, so the state has found itself in whatever kind of fiscal disaster it has to then itself into; is that money is not flowing back into the school district it is. And so the burden has been thrown onto the school districts to try to bridge this -- this financial disaster.

CARL LUNA: And one of the issues in play here is the fact that there's not enough callers like the caller, to support public education. Back in the day when I went to school, like, 50, 60 percent of households had kids in the public schools of today, it's in the low twenties of so you've got a lot of people who think, it's not my school, why should I care. Each though these are gonna be the people who are supporting you in terms of running the economy. So to speak.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Mike is calling from university heights. Good morning mike.

NEW SPEAKER: Good morning. I guess I'm in an unusual situation compared to most people. We own a parcel, which our house is on, then we own the vacant lot that's next door. And one of my concerns is, will I be taxed twice?


GLEN SPARROW: I'm not an expert on this, but as I read it, it says single family residential will be $98 per parcel, all vacant, unimproved parcels are $98 per parcel also. But I would check with an expert on that.

RIH1: If you've got two different parcel numbers on the property, you're gonna be hit twice.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I want to move onto the city council races, because a new configuration on the council eight -- may make a difference on how those reforms play out, that will trigger Proposition D's half cent sales that accident, if the voters approve it. So how could the city council race, let's say in District six, between Democrat Howard wane and Republican Lorie Zapf, change the dynamics of the city council?

CARL LUNA: Well, this is not a partisan race, so it shouldn't matter now. Of course, nothing is not partisan anymore. You've got a 6-2 split on the council Democrat majority, if it goes down to a 5-3, the argument would be for the Republicans. That would be picking up an extra seat, it means it's much harder for the Democrats to maintain that majority. It's easier to pick off one lone Democrat to lock things down with that current 4-4 even voting system we have until after they carve in the ninth council district.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right. Exactly. And Glen?

GLEN SPARROW: Yes. The new reapportionment, especially when you're creating a new district, if you're just tinkering with the old 8th District, it's not gonna make much change but once you take a ninth district, that means there's gonna be repercussions throughout all the nine districts, and they are gonna change. Plus we've got a group of almost unknown people that are gonna be drawing those boundaries for those nine districts. So every seat counts and I think you can see that in District six, which is a partisan contest between a Democrat and a Republican, where they've spend close to a million dollars, more money than they spent on Prop D, as a matter of fact, come is a stay wide race. Then you look at district eight, had ends up to be two Democrats against each other, that one certainly hasn't had the same amount of spending going into it, ask is not as much in people's mind. I don't think.

CARL LUNA: I think the interesting thing will be, once, again, in district eight, the fact that's gonna be decided by a handful of people, because the voter turn out is so low there. But within that, you've got the family dynamics going on, you have a familiar name, Hueso, running for the city council there. And it'll be interesting, whether the K.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Any chance, I'm sorry, but any chance this the outcome of that race it could change the political dynamics of the council? I know both of the candidates are Democrats.

CARL LUNA: Yeah, as far as -- how to say this? As far as district eight goes, it's never been a particularly swing district for influencing the broader reaches of the city council. It's more of an alliance. And I don't think that the outcome of that race will would be nearly -- potentially have as big of an impact as district six.

GLEN SPARROW: I think that's probably right. Six is much more of a swing district. The split between Republicans Democrats and independents is important. And probably the person who wins District six this time will get elected this time, so the person's gonna be there for eight years.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let's move on to the county board of supervisors. Incumbents Ron Roberts and Bill Horne are facing some of toughest competition of their political careers. Ron Roberts is facing Steven Whitburn, Bill Horne facing Steve Gronke. Carl, would be surprised to see one or both of the supervisors lose on Tuesday?

CARL LUNA: I would be surprised, but much less surprise if this had been any other election year. If you're gonna break the strangle hold on the board of supervisors, this would be the year to do it. But given the massive amounts of money, the supervisors have been putting up for their reelection campaigns, for local standards for an economy, this has been an astronomical race, a wrestling tag team duo. It's us and the board of supervisors which is a functioning body. Why do you want to mess with what works? I think it's interesting, it's actually a competitive race. I would be amazed if they were actually to have either of them lose.


GLEN SPARROW: We haven't had any competition in the race for county supervisor for a long time, and I pretty much yeah with Carl, I would go with the incumbents and the money on this, which are things that kind of determine who wins 678.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Roberts and horn did not win their districts out in the primary, would that be an indication that voters are paying closer attention it county government, Glen?

GLEN SPARROW: Sure, that is an indication. But they also didn't campaign very hard and spend a lot of money in those primaries. I think it was a wake up call for both of them, and I think they are paying a lot more attention now, than they were six months ago.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Carl, you are a finalist for the state's redistricting commission. We are gonna be talking a lot more about the propositions on the ballot that relate to the state redistricting commission with our reporter and blogger, Tom Fudge, but can you just tell us a little bit about how that commission is going?

CARL LUNA: Yeah, prop 20 -- there's two propositions that would be fund bide that commission, that was created by prop 11, that would expand the county to improve the Congress. And since the days of Isaac and Abraham, the state legislatures have drawn their legislative districts, and lo and behold, they make them very prorepublican or prodemocrat so you avoid much competition. To pick the citizens' commission, if the fates would have it, I might be on the commission, that would supposedly meet to try to create a nonpartisan looking at community, demographics, hooking at political issues to create a fair political distribution. To break that deadlock of really liberal Democrats, and some conservative Republicans who win in their skewed districts and primaries and never have to face moderate competition. This is Michael Crawls' version of give sanity a chance. The march to advance sanity issue.

GLEN SPARROW: I mentioned earlier, also, are the 73 of San Diego is going to use the same kind of situation, where there is chosen the people who will be on the reapportionment commission by a group of judges, and so forth, so the council, and the mayor's hands, fingerprints aren't on it at all.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And do you think this independent redistricting commission for the state may survive what's on the ballot tomorrow?

GLEN SPARROW: I have no idea. We've flip flopped back and forth on this reapportionment thing so much I can't even in my mind go back and remember him times we have gone within way or the other way on the thing. But it certainly has been around for a couple of decades in California initiative processes trying to change the way that reapportionment is done in the state.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And as I said, we're gonna be talking a lot more about that in the later part of this hour. Gentlemen, we're coming to our wrap up time, and I guess I want to ask you, first, glen, what state races are you gonna be watching have are closely tomorrow night.

GLEN SPARROW: State races. Probably the United States senate. I think that is the bond that will have the most, you know, has a initial impact and so forth as we try to see whether the Democrats can maintain control of the United States senate.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And what about the governor's race?

GLEN SPARROW: The governor's race is important, I think, but I'm not sure who we elect is gonna be able to solve California a problems. I don't think one person is going to be able to do that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And Carl Luna, your take on what state races you're gonna be watching closely tomorrow night.

CARL LUNA: Well, Glen's right, the state assembly races are gonna be important. Most of us can't even name the other state officials, and the insurance commissioner who are running. It's the governor and the senate race. And the governor's race, I'm interested in it, if Meg Whitman wins tomorrow, and pulls out a miraculous victory despite the poles, she's basically ready to start her 2010 presidential bid.

GLEN SPARROW: Another thing I got off KPBS this morning is the insurance commissioner, apparently insurance commissioners are going to have a major role to play in the national healthcare implementation, and that's something that certainly bypassed by attention as I was looking around over the past year or so. So it's been a inquire quiet race, but it could be an important race to find out who's actually going to be in charge of a lot of the implementation of national healthcare here in California.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: There's an awful lot riding on tomorrow's vote. I want to thank you so much for speaking with us. Of glen sparrow and Carl Luna, thank you so much. . You can comment on line at Days. Now coming up, KPBS reporter, and blogger, Tom fudge, will be talking to us about the state government reform propositions on the ballot the. That's as These Days continues here on KPBS.

I'm Maureen Cavanaugh and you're listening to These Days on KPBS. We continue our last minute election run down, several of the propositions on the ballot are aimed at changing the way things get done in Sacramento. But these measures seem to contradict each other, in what kind of reforms should be enacted. Tom fudge, he's been writing about the propositions on his blog, on-ramp, on So Tom, first of all, I want to invite listeners to calls, if they have a question or an opinion on the state wide reform measures on this year's ballot. The number is 1-888-895-5727. Good morning Tom.

TOM FUDGE: Good morning, Maureen.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, what is the common theme that connects props 20, 25, 26 and 27?

TOM FUDGE: Well, the common theme is reform. And I'm Health and Safety Coding up in front of Maureen, this flier that I got in the mail that says reform, reform, reform, you decide. And it comes from the California independent voter project, whatever that is. But what folks are gonna have to decide on when it comes to reform, on the state ballot, next -- well, it's not next week. It's tomorrow, coming right up. We're gonna be talking about prop 20, prop 27, 25, and 26. And those, I know, are a lot of digits, but we'll sprain them a little bit later. Some of these propositions I think you could call reform. 134 of them I think you could call antireform.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: We just talked about Carl Luna, and he is a potential member of this new redistrict accident commission, that was created by the voters just a couple of election cycles ago.

TOM FUDGE: By prop 11.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Right. Let's start by talking about proposition 20. What is prop 20 asking voters?

TOM FUDGE: Well, prop 20 is asking them if they would like to give congressional redistricting over to that 14 member citizen redistricting commission. I think we just mentioned in 2008, 2 years ago, voters decided that this commission, which includes some Democrats, some respects, some independent, would redraw legislative boundaries for these districts, now, voters are being asked if we should do the same thing for congressional boundaries, and the purpose of redistrict suggest to take the process of redistricting away from legislators, Republicans and Democrats in the state assembly, and give them to what is hopefully a nonpartisan group of people, so they can be drawn more fairly and drawn in a way that does not emphasize safe seats for incumbents and certain parties.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: As we heard from Carl Luna, this commission hasn't done anything yet. So even before it redraws any psychiatrics in the State of California, prop 20 is asking voters if indeed they'd like the same commission to redraw legislative districts for congressional districts in the state of California.

TOM FUDGE: Yes, you did it for state offices, why not do it for national offices?

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: However, there is prop 27.


MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Proposition 27 on the California ballot is asking voters a very different question. What is that?

TOM FUDGE: Prop 27 is kind of prop between the in the sort of antimatter prop 27 in a fair universe. Because it actually does exactly the opposite. It doesn't affect congressional districts, it affects those same legislative districts that voters voted two years ago. Prop 27 would take legislative redistricting away from the commission created by prop 11 in 2008 and give it back to the legislature. And this is something that both majority parties, the Democrats and the Republicans would like to see happen because they want to control that process, and they would to be able to protect the safe seats, even if it means more partisan lawmaking in Sacramento and more grid lock.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: So in essence, the voters get a chance either to expand this redistricting commission, or to abolish it.

TOM FUDGE: Exactly. That's exactly it. That's what prop 20 and 27 are about respectively.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Wow. Now, there's another twin ballot measure. 25 and 26 would change the legislative vote requirement to pass the budget from two thirds to a simple majority for the legislature. What's the motivation behind this?

TOM FUDGE: The motivation, I think is to pass a budget. And this is one the Democrats are very much in favor of prop 25, the Republicans are very much against it. Because the Republicans as it is now, if they want to stop a budget from happening all they need is to have 1-third because it's a two thirds vote requirement right now to pass a budget. They only need 1-third of the legislature to stop a budget and change it more into what they want to do. Prop 25 would change that. So would be 50 percent plus one. It would be majority rule in the legislature when it comes to passing a bottom. We should point out, Maureen, that California is one of only three states? The nation that require their legislatures to pass a billion by a two thirds vote. And also in California, we have to keep in mind, even if prop 25 passes, it will still require a two thirds vote for the ledge sure to pass a tax increase. That will remain. But I knowledge if you throw maybe, I think, it the only state in the nation that require ace two thirds majority to pass a higher tax and to pass a budget. And this is obviously, whether you're a Democrat or Republican, I think you have to agree, this has made it very difficult to pass a bottom in this state.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: That was the point I was going to make. Also I've read that it gives a great deal of power to the minority party, because, indeed, members of the minority party have to vote for the majority plan, or the budget isn't going to pass.

TOM FUDGE: right now, we have very strong minority rights politically, in the state capital, because it requires a two thirds majority. In my blog, on-ramp, Maureen, I have actually argued that prop 25 would be good for the Republicans. And the reason why I argued this is because if the Republicans knew that they had to win a majority in the legislature to be able to pass the bottom that they want, I think that that will cause them to work harder to become a more mainstream party to win over the middle of the voting spectrum, can they don't have to do that now. They can be kind of a right wing party, and when they don't get a majority, it's no big deal, whereas if prop 25 passes, I think it'll be very much in their interest to win a majority. And I think ultimately, is it will make them a stronger party. Not everybody agrees with that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: And that was in your blog, on-ramp on And proposition 26 is asking voters, whereas 25 is asking them to give away, get rid of a two thirds requirement, 26 is asking them to increase the two thirds requirement, when it comes to the hedge similarity levying fees, tell us about that.

TOM FUDGE: Yes, prop 26 redefines many fees as taxes. Therefore forcing a two thirds Vehicle Code, rather than a simple majority. Because if you're passes a fee in the state legislature, you only need a simple majority. But prop 26 would change that, so you would need a super majority to pass many nos. Now, when I see many fees, what kind of fees am I talking about, and that's a very good question. And in is a little bit complicated, but prop 26 says, which is the legislative analyst description, generally the types of fees and charges that would become taxes under this measure are ones that the one the government imposes to and other -- this is because these fees pay for many services that benefit the public broadly rather than providing services directly to the fee chambers. And they give examples of the oil recycling fee, that might later become a tax. The hazardous material fee might become a tax, fees on alcohol realtors might be redefined as taxes. And one thing that is always telling, of these propositions, is you ask the question, who's supporting it. And campaign finance, finance records show that Chevron, and the American beverage association have donated two million dollars to prop 26, Philip Morris has given them quite a bit of money, Conigo Phillips, Anheuser Busch, Occidental Petroleum all have given a lot of money to prop 26. So I think that gives an idea of what types of businesses are supporting this, what types of businesses would be less likely to have fees imposed upon them.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Taking an overview of props 25, 26, and 27, there were rumblings that a state constitutional convention mine needed to create the kind of reforms that are necessary to prevent budget grid lock, and the kind of grid lock in gentleman, that's dominated state politics in recent years. Now it sounds like that idea has been put on the back burner, and that perhaps, reformers are going about this on a proposition by proposition way to try to get these state reforms enacted, is that right?

TOM FUDGE: Yes, that's right. The constitutional convention is like a lot of things in California, a lot of people get excited about it, are and then nothing happens, and it kind of fizzles, and you wonder what happened to the constitutional convention. It looks like that never happened buzz it didn't have the funding. Simple as that. So what voters in California are trying to do is do it in a piecemeal kind of basis. That's why we have prop 20, that's why we have prop 25, on this November ballot. They were hoping to do this very big step with the constitutional convention, that's not gonna happen. Reformers are still trying to do the jock, but they are doing it piecemeal. And this, I think, is very important work. I once had a check professor or something smart said this to me, maybe I made upon it up, I don't know, said that a good democracy needs to be able to function without outstanding leaders of even if you have mediocre politics running the place, hopefully the system creates a system that allows you to create legislation that reflects the will of the people. And I think it's very easy to argue 234 California we don't have this. And the election of Jerry Brown, the election of Meg Whitman isn't approximate necessarily going to change any of that. But reform can. Of and I think that's why reform has become such a huge issue in California.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Now, I know that you're going to be covering these issues on your on-ramp blog, tell us how you're gonna be doing that.

TOM FUDGE: Going to slash on-ramp, one word. And I'll be writing about these subjects that we're talking about, I've written about prop 25, I've written about Prop D, and Prop D in San Diego by the way is a good example of how this reform has shifted to the -- this idea reform has shifted to the local ballots, asking many different questions, and also wants to raise sales tacks by half a cent. But that's kind of the -- Prop D is reform at the local level, whereas these things we've talked about is reform at the state level, and I really do believe that Prop D is mayor Jerry Sanders crucible. If he passes this, if he gets the voters of San Diego to trust government enough to actually increase vote for a sales tax increase, I think that will be probably the biggest accomplishment he's ever done as mayor.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: A lot of that you feel, and very interesting topics coming up. And I really want to thank you. These propositions are conflicting and confusing at times of thanks for going through them, Tom.

TOM FUDGE: Let me just mention one thing before we go. Am if you're interested, again, one thing that's interesting about there's proposition system who's endorsing them. If you go to California, you can look at the endorsements, it's very interesting to see how our major newspapers, labor unions, chambers of commerce, what they say about props 27, 25 and 26, so I recommend that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Some people make up their voting decisions based on who supports and who opposes these propositions. So that's a very good resource. Tom, thank you.

TOM FUDGE: Thank you.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: KPBS reporter Tom Fudge, he is -- he's been writing about the propositions and will typeset to.

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