Monday, November 03, 2008

There is Always One

One of the disadvantages of living in California is the proposition-driven style of government. I have 12 state propositions and 5 city propositions to vote on tomorrow, and this isn't even a particularly bad year. I know some people like the idea of getting to weigh in directly on the issues, but I think that is what I pay my legislators to do. I don't have time to do the in depth research and weigh the pros and cons of such a diverse range of issues. I am always scrambling to figure out how I want to vote, which means that I almost always end up voting on the day of the election, rather than using the more convenient vote by mail option.

I've gotten quite cranky about ballot propositions, and tend to favor voting "no" on them just because I don't think this is how government should be done. I particularly lean towards "no" when the proposition wants to carve out a percentage of the state budget and reserve it for some specific purpose. I think that the combination of these earmarks, our goofy tax structure (thanks in part to an earlier proposition on property tax, but you really don't want to get me started on that), and our gridlocked state legislature (due in part to our hopelessly gerrymandered districts- but I really shouldn't get started on that, either) have led my state into fiscal chaos.

I'm less cranky about propositions to decide policy issues, but even those get on my nerves- particularly when I'm asked over and over again about the same issue because some wealthy person or particularly energetic group of voters does not like the answer the people keep giving them. At least these repeat propositions don't require much research. I read them to make sure that they aren't trying anything sneaky, and then vote the same way I did the first time(s) I was asked.

Anyway, even with my general inclination to vote down all propositions, there is always at least one proposition that I can't decide on until I'm walking into the polling booth. This year, it is a local proposition to ban alcohol on our beaches.

I used to live in Pacific Beach, which was party central before the temporary booze ban (enacted after a brawl broke out on Labor Day in 2007). I hated the 4th of July, because my neighborhood was invaded by people from all over Southern California and Arizona, looking to get drunk on a beach. San Diego was the only place in SoCal where drinking on the beach was still legal, so people would drive down from the O.C. and LA. Arizona is really, really hot in July, so people drive over to enjoy our cooler temperatures.

People drank on the beach during any weekend, but holiday weekends were characterized by large groups holding well-lubricated parties. And the 4th of July was the biggest party weekend of them all. I was often amazed by the level of intoxication that some people reached. Hubby and I used to walk down to the bay to watch the fireworks. On our way, we'd always see at least one or two people who literally could not walk straight. The next morning, the beach was transformed into a giant trash heap, with items as big as couches left on the beach after the party was done.

But I also can appreciate the appeal of enjoying a (plastic) glass of wine and watching the sunset. Or of having a few beers with friends during a day at the beach. It bothers me that these things are illegal just because some small number of people can't enjoy their booze responsibly.

I've moved away from the beach, driven inland by the property prices, not the party atmosphere. We took Pumpkin to the beach several times this summer. I didn't give much thought to the booze ban, except for the time the waiter at the restaurant we went to for lunch bemoaned the drop in business that he attributed to the ban. (The restaurant was Guava Beach, and has pretty good food and excellent guavaritas. Hubby and I used to walk down to this restaurant from our home in North PB- this took roughly an hour, and the guavaritas were always worth it.) I suspect high gas prices, which cut down on the number of tourists driving over from Arizona, might be what really drove the drop in business, but I don't really know. No one does.

And none of this is helping me decide how to vote. I guess I'll decide at about 7:45 tomorrow morning, when I go into the booth to fill out my ballot. And I'll be thankful I don't live in San Francisco, where I'd be asked to decide whether or not the police should enforce the laws against prostitution. I suspect those campaign ads were fun to explain to the kids....

2 comments:

  1. I've only ever voted in CA so I thought the prop voting was normal. I have now registered to vote in MS and started to panic a couple weeks ago when I hadn't received my voter information packet. I do admit to relief that I don't have to pore over the information on the propositions this year. It does take some work to be a well-informed voter in CA.

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  2. We have a lot less we vote on. I like that I have a direct say in what changes can be made to the state constitution. But when I don't know enough about the issue or don't have an opinion on the matter, I don't vote on it. I hate to not vote, but I hate even more to be an uninformed voter.

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