Proposition 29: Why should voters care?

April 25, 2012

by Katy Grimes

There are examples of waste, fraud and abuse in nearly every corner of government.  With the election season upon us, voters need to pay special attention to what is on the ballot.

California’s ballot initiatives say a great deal about the health of the state. There are numerous tax increase proposals on the ballot, despite voters refusing to pass the last seven attempts to increase taxes, including as recently as last year.

The average citizen doesn’t have the power or money to put anything on ballot. The $200 ballot initiative filing fee is not the roadblock–the $2 million needed to get the initiative passed is.

However, ballot initiatives are the best way to speak directly to the voters.  Many initiatives seem important, but the costs and consequences are not always clear.

In California, there is a new tobacco tax ballot initiative which claims the revenue raised would go to cancer research.

Sponsored by Lance Armstrong, tour de France legend and possible future political candidate, the initiative would raise taxes by $735 million, but not contribute a dime to the state’s budget shortfall. And passage of the initiative would create a massive, new state bureaucracy.

But hidden truth about Proposition 29 is that Don Perata, a former state legislator, has been using the June ballot measure’s election fund as his own personal checkbook. Perata has paid nearly $40,000 to an Oakland City Councilman in order to win a contract for one of his lobbying clients, the San Francisco Chronicle and Contra Costa Times reported.

Perata, the former California State Sen. President, was exposed by the Chronicle for paying Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente $37,500 from the fund of Hope 2012, a supporter of the Proposition 29 tax-hike. According to the Chronicle, “In return, De La Fuente was to help generate support among labor groups for the Proposition 29 tax initiative on the June ballot.”

However, none of these payments were properly disclosed by De La Fuente as required by California law.

Moreover, Perata is also actively lobbying De La Fuente on behalf of a client who wants to win a lucrative 10 year contract to manage the city’s sports arena.  As expected, De La Fuente said that failing to disclose the payments was just an “oversight,” according to the Chronicle.

The Oakland Tribune reported Perata’s “Hope 2012” ballot-measure committee began raising money for what’s now known as Proposition 29 way back in 2009, and has transferred $488,500 to Californians for a Cure – the primary committee backing the measure… Now Perata himself has received $5,792.17 since July from Californians for a Cure, including $2,607.19 for “meetings and appearances” and $2,508.36 for travel expenses.”

Proposition 29 hasn’t even hit the June ballot yet, and already the self-dealing and political insider trading has started.

If this group is this fast and loose with its own campaign money, it is not difficult to imagine what they will do when with the nearly $1 billion per year paid by taxpayers.

Perhaps that is why written into Proposition 29 is a clause prohibiting any changes in the spending decision that its politically appointed commission makes, for a full 15 years! And maybe that is why Proposition 29 is written in a way to exempt the CEO from normal state salary requirements, and why that CEO can hire whomever he wants, at whatever salary he chooses.

This ballot initiative is the perfect soft landing for career politicians. Who knows how many termed-out politicians like Perata will be raking in the public money if this law is passed.

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office report about Prop 29 states:

“Increase in new cigarette tax revenues of about $855 million annually by 2011- 12, declining slightly annually thereafter, for various health research and tobacco-related programs. Increase of about $45 million annually to existing health, natural resources, and research programs funded by existing tobacco taxes. Increase in state and local sales taxes of about $32 million annually.”

This ballot initiative is a tax increase under the protective cover of health research. At least the other ballot initiatives which seek to increase taxes are more forthright. Proposition 29 is nothing more than a cushy home for career politicians, addicted to government power, and taxpayer-funded salaries.

Opponents to Proposition 29 include Californians Against Out-of-Control Taxes & Spending, formed to oppose the measure ,Tobacco companies R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris oppose the measure, the California Taxpayers Association, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers AssociationFreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity, the California Republican Party and Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform.

Supporters of Proposition 29 include “Californians for a Cure,” the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association in California, American Heart Association, American Stroke Association, Lance Armstrong Foundation, Laura Ziskin (co-founder of Stand Up To Cancer), Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and several surgeons and directors of California cancer research institutions including Nobel Laureate Dr Elizabeth Blackburn and Congressional Gold Medal Nominee Dr Balazs Bodai. Tom Torlakson, the California Superintendent of Public Instruction, is also a supporter.

Career politicians already control too much the private sector’s money; a no vote on Proposition 29 at least ensures they won’t get any more.

Read the ballot initiative. There is so much garbage in it, and virtually no oversight, voters should be really angry. This proposition is exactly the kind of politics  California voters are fed up with.

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  1. queeg
    queeg 25 April, 2012, 09:53

    The electorate must sense bootleg smokes will flood the market….and there is no such thing as a “fair” tax…..someone…everyone…. end up paying unions, welfare moochers and political dung to rule the hapless producers….

    And those of you who like to tax big oil and the rich….finish them off….sick of hearing about it….rest assured….immediately…..a bullseye will be painted on your assets….

    Reply this comment
  2. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 25 April, 2012, 10:50

    Boy, do I ever hope 29 gets shot down. I would love to walk up to Perata afterwards and blow smoke in the direction of his face. And I haven’t had a smoke since I was a kid at a campus kegger.

    Armstrong is going to run for office??? HAH! That’s funny. People who vote for celebs get everything that they deserve (see Arnold and K. Johnson). But he would fit right in. He only has one nad, right??? heh. Even so, he would still be head and shoulders above the career male pols who he will be rubbing elbows with. heh.

    Smokers of the World Unite!!! GROW YOUR OWN!!!! 😀

    Reply this comment
  3. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 25 April, 2012, 15:55

    Smoke ’em if you got ’em, as we used to say in the U.S. Army.

    Except you can’t any more in once-free America.

    If America were a small country, America would invade it and restore freedom.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
    NTHEOC 25 April, 2012, 16:43

    Looks like the group of supporters are a much more reputable bunch than the opponents!! Prop 29 should pass no problem…

    Reply this comment
    NTHEOC 25 April, 2012, 16:50

    Katy gripes says,
    “”Career politicians already control too much the private sector’s money””
    Only the money the private sector special intrest,big business,and fat corporations pour into the politicians pockets!! Of course in return they are awarded gov’t contracts,tax breaks,changing of laws and a slew of other backdoor deals!!! But you always fail to mention that,right Katy?

    Reply this comment
  6. Prattle On, Boyo
    Prattle On, Boyo 25 April, 2012, 18:45

    Not a smoker, but won’t be supporting Prop 29. That is all.

    Reply this comment
  7. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 25 April, 2012, 18:54

    “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, as we used to say in the U.S. Army”

    When I was a soldier and you were of a certain MOS and didn’t smoke you weren’t considered to be a man. And those attitudes were promoted by the NCOIC. Now if you smoke you’re damned near a criminal. The way human beings are manipulated in this society is a crime in itself!

    Reply this comment
  8. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 25 April, 2012, 21:41

    Mr. B: It was before my time, but the Army used to give out free smokes with C-rations. That was when we still won wars.

    — John Seiler

    Reply this comment
  9. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 25 April, 2012, 22:09

    JS – when my dad served he learned some mighty valuable tricks. Most soldiers (in all MOS’es) smoked back in his day. If you didn’t you were considered to be gay. (no joke). But even then they were allowed to smoke only at certain times or risk Article 15’s. My dad used to sneak a cig now and then when he wasn’t supposed to. He had the uncanny ability to pull a lighted cig into his closed mouth and hide it without burning himself. He used to do it all the time in front of people and it used to freak me out.

    Reply this comment
  10. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog Author 26 April, 2012, 07:11

    NTHEOC: Regarding your comment: “Only the money the private sector special intrest,big business,and fat corporations pour into the politicians pockets!! Of course in return they are awarded gov’t contracts,tax breaks,changing of laws and a slew of other backdoor deals!!! But you always fail to mention that,right Katy?”

    read my latest story about high-speed rail and special interests:

    Katy Grimes

    Reply this comment
  11. queeg
    queeg 26 April, 2012, 07:23

    When I was a Naval Officer you could barely see in the Ward Room aboard ship at meal time. Smoke from Luckies, Camels, Newports, Winstons and nasty pipes….food was awesome though…

    Reply this comment
  12. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 26 April, 2012, 10:14

    So you were a high-brow puddle pirate who never got his boots dirty, eh? Now I understand the attitude. Thanks for clearing that up. I bet the enlisted sailors loved you like a cancor sore too, huh? 🙂

    Reply this comment
  13. queeg
    queeg 26 April, 2012, 12:32

    I will pray for your redemption and change to a caring human being.

    Reply this comment
  14. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 26 April, 2012, 13:30

    Anchors away, my boy!

    Reply this comment
  15. queeg
    queeg 26 April, 2012, 14:17

    Your saved!!!!”

    Reply this comment
  16. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 26 April, 2012, 18:45

    Your saved!!!!”

    You’RE saved!!!!”

    You have made this grammar error so many times I needed to make you see the 3rd grade light 😉

    Reply this comment
  17. queeg
    queeg 27 April, 2012, 08:40

    You’re a real sweetheart…thanks for the tip….

    Reply this comment
  18. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 27 April, 2012, 21:48

    Looks like the group of supporters are a much more reputable bunch than the opponents!! Prop 29 should pass no problem…

    ANY tax hike will have problems pasing today-including 29.

    Reply this comment
  19. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 27 April, 2012, 21:51

    You’re a real sweetheart…thanks for the tip….

    Sorry, but that was bugging me everytime you mis-used the word, which was often 😉

    Reply this comment
  20. Robert Sawyer
    Robert Sawyer 7 May, 2012, 17:34

    It’s not a tax. It’s a fee. Taxes are what everyone pays. Fees are what folks who need something themselves pay. Prop. 29 asks smokers to pay a fee, in part because smokers end up costing the taxpaying public as a whole a ton of money when their health problems cost more than what they, as taxpayers and fee payers, put into the system.

    Reply this comment
  21. Wanda
    Wanda 8 May, 2012, 17:59

    I was going to vote for it, until I read about it.

    Reply this comment
  22. Carolyn Fellows
    Carolyn Fellows 10 May, 2012, 21:21

    No dash is used in misuse. And not only that, the word “there” was most likely a spelling mistake, not a grammatical error.

    I sure do need to know what is true and what is false with the Prop 29 conversations, mail I receive, and the “Official Voter Information Guide” I received. How can any of us be expected to cast a vote based on truth. Voters should not be put in this position by the political people who will not tell the truth. What is worse, it is our friends, family, and neighbors who are outright stating lies to us, including journalists’ misstatements. Depressing.

    Reply this comment

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