Ballot measures


Measure A: yes
Butte College is tucked away in the geographic center of the triangle formed by Chico, Oroville and Paradise. That both illustrates its value to the community and shields it from public view—the latter being a bad thing. If Butte and Glenn county residents were able to see what disrepair their community college has fallen into, they would be surprised.

The college is woefully underfunded and has done little in the way of structural improvements during the past three decades. And the state isn’t being much help; so-called “junior” colleges are one of the first places the governor and Legislature look to cut.

The $84.9 million Measure A would pay for building a center on land recently purchased in Chico as well as projects on the main campus ranging from a library remodel to classrooms and repairs, and general maintenance such as energy conservation measures and electrical upgrades.

When Butte College was opened, it was with the intention that the community help support it financially. As the News & Review previously opined in an editorial, supporting education via this bond is a smart idea, and we recommend a yes vote.

Measure B: No
Supporters of Measure B would have you believe that the proposal is simply a benign attempt at redrawing illegal and outdated supervisorial district boundary lines. But it’s far more than that, and it’s far more sinister than that.

The recent history of Measure B, or Plan 5 as it is also called, is for the most part pretty well known. This is the redistricting plan proposed in July by freshman Supervisor Kim Yamaguchi, who touted it as the only fair plan for the county. At the time, the board had already closed the public hearings on the four other plans it was considering, and the 11th-hour proposal made several county department heads—and two board members—visibly angry.

No matter, Yamaguchi said, and, with the votes of Curt Josiassen and Bob Beeler, he managed to get the plan approved. That, of course, eventually led to a referendum effort and a court case that cost taxpayers $106,000 and gave Yamaguchi, Josiassen and Beeler red faces when a judge ruled against their attempt to use Plan 5’s referended redistricting lines in the March 5 election.

They’ve since recovered and are now spearheading the effort to pass Measure B—or Plan 5—on that date.

The plan is really a Trojan horse of the apparent simmering hostility of some of Butte County’s rural residents (up on the Ridge and in Oroville) against the relative prosperity and attractiveness of Chico. Many of the people who spoke in favor of it—to varying degrees of success—at supervisors’ meetings this fall said it: Chico gets too much of the county’s money, and that’s because veteran supervisors Jane Dolan and Mary Anne Houx have held office too long. How could they not? Their districts are gerrymandered in their favor.

But that’s a stretch. Yes, Houx and Dolan have held office for several terms each, but we contend that’s because they’re both capable and effective supervisors. Since when should their success as public servants be a liability to them?

We urge a no vote on Measure B.

Measure C: Yes
Passage of Measure C would bring Butte County into line with all but four other counties in the state by forming a resource conservation district.

The measure gives landowners in the unincorporated areas access to grants and other funding to set up soil and water conservation projects and help protect timber lands, open areas, ag lands and wildlife areas—those areas not currently under the jurisdiction of any other agency.

Cost to the county will be $6,000 per year for the first five years, as well as insurance and auditing services for the same period of time. This one is simple: Vote yes on Measure C.


Proposition 40: yes
Would authorize $2.6 billion in bonds for protecting the quality of the state’s air and water resources. Revenue from the bonds would also be used for state and neighborhood parks and for protecting agricultural lands from development.

Proposition 40 is a generous allotment of funding for California’s natural resources that opponents say comes at a bad time. The state is already in debt from the energy crisis and is suffering from the nationwide slowdown of the economy. Those against Prop. 40 claim it will only sink the state deeper into debt and that a similar protective measure was passed just a couple of years ago.

It’s certainly true that California’s budget has seen healthier days, and taxpayers feel the squeeze in their individual budgets as well. The question is whether we can afford to put off protecting the state’s natural resources and wildlife habitat until the next economic boom loosens everyone’s pockets. As proponents of the measure argue, it will fund programs to eliminate environmental toxins and replace vehicles that pollute—and neither toxins nor pollution are going to be any easier or any less expensive to treat five or 10 years down the line. There’s money for reserving agricultural lands, too—important to the Northstate. Nobody likes to pay taxes, and bonds are expensive, but is California’s environment worth the price? We say yes.

Proposition 41: yes
Would authorize $200 million in bonds to assist California counties in modernizing their voting equipment.

A reaction to the Florida chad fiasco in the 2000 presidential election, this measure allows the state to issue bonds so that counties throughout the state can update their voting systems, specifically the decertified punch-card system still used by 40 percent of California’s voters.

Although opponents claim the money for the switch could be taken from existing tax revenues if politicians tightened their belts, those in favor of Prop. 41 point out that the bonds will allow the state’s cash-strapped counties to take advantage of federal funds. Butte County has already tested an electronic voting system, but it would cost $2.7 to $3 million to implement, so it’s back to basics this March 5.

California is already the target of an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit over the punch-card voting system, which is more common in the state’s poorer counties. These counties are going to have to replace the obsolete voting system at any rate, and since federal matching funds will ease the burden on individual counties, we recommend a yes vote.

Proposition 42: no
Would require all money derived from the sales tax on gas to be spent on road- and traffic-related projects rather than helping to fill out other areas in the state budget.

Supporters from the business, labor and government communities point out that a full 1 percent of the state’s general fund comes from the sales tax on gas, but in the time since the tax was enacted in 1971, not all of that money has been dedicated to road-related projects. It gets spread out to include other budget areas, and opponents say if Prop. 42 passes, $1.2 billion will have to be cut from education, health care and so on.

Al Lundeen, who’s with the Yes on Prop. 42: Taxpayers for Traffic Relief campaign, says that if the measure passes, it will gradually ensure that all of the money goes to transportation projects, giving planners “a reliable revenue stream” for local projects. “It’s cheaper to repair a road than replace it,” Lundeen said, and “it stimulates the economy. [And] it’s not a new tax. It’s an existing fee.”

Projects on the waiting list in this area include widening the Skyway and other thoroughfares, improving Highway 99 near Chico and replacing bridges on the Midway and Cana Creek Road. Public transportation is also in there.

The proponents of Prop. 42 raise a good point: People paying out taxes at the pump may presume their money is going toward road-related projects. And California’s roadways certainly aren’t in the best shape. But that’s not enough to offset that fact that more dollars for transportation will mean less for other state needs like education, so we recommend a no vote.

Proposition 43: yes
Guarantees that every valid vote cast in a California election shall be counted, and provides for extensions of election deadlines to be granted if necessary.

Prop. 43 says that every vote counts, and why shouldn’t it? Politicians wonder why voter turnout is so low; maybe this has something to do with it. Opponents argue that the proposition flies in the face of mathematical logic—why keep counting when there’s no chance of a different outcome? But the state will incur no additional cost for counting every valid vote, and doing so should end any charges of populations having been disenfranchised.

Those campaigning against Prop. 43 worry that it may pave the way for increased litigation in the case of ballots that, found to be defective in some way, go uncounted even though they were validly cast. This is a legitimate concern, but it doesn’t outweigh the fundamental right of citizens in a democracy to vote and know that their vote means something. Make the vote count: Vote yes.

Proposition 44: yes
Changes the Chiropractic Act of 1922 to require that practitioners found guilty of insurance fraud more than once must lose their licenses for 10 years.

Since the chiropractic industry has long been self-regulating, the Legislature hasn’t been able to apply the same rules that it has to doctors, lawyers and other groups. Proponents say Prop. 44 will right a wrong by making the state Board of Chiropractic Examiners suspend for 10 years the license of any chiropractor convicted twice or more of insurance fraud. It would also enact a Legislature-backed reform package preventing them from sending people out to gather clients in a way that’s considered “unprofessional conduct,” such as at an accident scene.

But the chiropractic industry argues that they’re doing fine policing themselves and this measure unfairly singles them out. Chiropractors are already over regulated, they say, and if their licenses are taken away they can’t earn a living.

We’d err on the side of caution and consumer protection and advise a yes vote.

Proposition 45: yes
Circumvents term limits, allowing local voters to petition to permit their legislators to run for re-election to up four years beyond what’s currently afforded by the state Constitution.

The argument for Prop. 45 boils down to this: Why should a good politician be forced out of public service just because a certain number of years have passed? Currently, state senators are limited to two four-year teams and assemblymembers can serve three two-year-terms. Many office-holders, along with respectable organizations like the League of Women Voters, have come out in favor of Prop. 45.

But opponents point out that term limits were designed to guard against career politicians and make sure fresh blood is circulating among our representatives, lessening the chance that they’ll be beholden to special-interest groups.

Except for the cases in which politicians get around term limits by running for one another’s seats, citizens are getting less-experienced—and hence less effective—representatives. Why force lawmakers into retirement if their communities still want them? The News & Review recommends a yes vote.