Question: Why vote?

Answer: Really, because there’s nothing to freak out about, right?

Rob Kerth already served as a council member for north Sacramento. SN&R is endorsing him again this year.

Rob Kerth already served as a council member for north Sacramento. SN&R is endorsing him again this year.

photo by shoka

Read SN&R's Election 2012 endorsements online at

It wasn’t just “change you could believe in” on the night in 2008 President Barack Obama won the Iowa caucus. It was a classic American rager: Empty sparkling-wine bottles and beer cans strewn across folding tables inside Obama’s Midtown Sacramento campaign headquarters, where volunteers heckled Hillary Clinton and devoured free pizza. The celebration was exactly what this country is all about: community, hope—and greasy, cheesy, drunken revelry.

Fast-forward four years, and those good times are so over. No party for you, Barack, just one last week of Tough Muddering through GOP-slung guck on the back road to an unenviable second term.

And, like a car that won’t turn over, the Obama economy also is sputtering toward this finish. Pundits blame joblessness for this razor-close contest with Mitt Romney, the tightest since 2000, according to RealClearPolitics and Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight election blog on The New York Times’ website.

But it’s Obama himself who has allowed Romney to emerge as a “worthy” adversary, the first debate—in which the president clearly was a mile high—being that proverbial shaking of the Etch A Sketch restart for the GOP candidate. Romney lied like a frat bro prowling on a Delta Gamma, and America has put out for this kinder, gentler, more moderate Mitt ever since.

Yet while Denver was Obama’s face-palm moment, his campaign hiccups flared up long before.

Unlike in 2008, the president has yet to dip into his let’s-fix-Washington lexicon. Where are those soaring war cries against strongheaded, single-minded and simpleton Capitol Hill Republicans? Instead of lighting fire, Obama’s been wonky, high-minded and, by turn, distant—a Democrat not unlike the legion of donkeys who callously green-lit the Iraq War in 2003.

There’s a term for it: out of touch.

At the same time, the president’s also been wise, calculative, holding cards (sometimes too) tight while forking out hundreds of millions on a (hopefully successful) “ground game” and (once) effective swing-state TV ads. The machine doesn’t lack oil.

It’s Obama who hasn’t been smooth.

Still, it would be shocking—eyelid splitting!—if the president doesn’t return for four more.

Be that the case on Tuesday, it won’t be the fault of a groggy economy. It’ll be because Obama forgot to believe in the change he sold America on in 2008. (And maybe because he didn’t give us free pizza and beer this time.)

Meanwhile, and despite efforts to cook up Romney as a toothsome POTUS, is anyone actually excited to vote for the guy? Not even his right-leaning brethren, who could hardly utter his name at the senile GOP convention, will be voting for Mitt: They’re voting to beat Obama.

Problem is, Republicans are so accustomed to pinching noses at this point that they truly believe their shit doesn’t stink.

This explains the BS we’ve seen on the 2012 campaign trail. “Legitimate rape,” “Vouchercare,” the “47 percent” of U.S. moochers—GOP ideology has drifted right to an extreme, demoniacal degree.

I’m convinced Republican leadership wants an American nightmare. A country where private companies gut sickly grandparents’ life savings; where gay kids get locked back in the closet; and where the gap between the 1 percent and the 99 percent brims with thieves, ignoramuses and tea partiers.

It’s a rotten vision. And that’s why, despite California’s blue-hued Electoral College irrelevance, you’ve gotta punch a ballot on Tuesday, if only to show the rest of the country—and the world—that this extreme-right aggression will not stand, man.

Simply put, U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren’s too extreme. Vote Dr. Ami Bera.

Photo by Mark James Miller

Republican veep candidate Paul Ryan and the nonchalance with which he busted out “method of conception” as a euphemism for rape (this, not to mention his Shrugging off of America’s poor)? No thanks.

Romney’s brazen, pathetic lying (he even fibbed about watching dressage—and his wife had a horse competing—during the Summer Olympics, if you recall)? No thanks.

The GOP’s Stone Age “thinking” when it comes to tax breaks for the wealthy, war in Iran and climate change? No thanks.

“Why vote?” you ask.

Really? Because there’s nothing to freak out about. Uh huh.

—Nick Miller


Sacramento City Council

District 2: Rob Kerth

Rob Kerth’s served this neighborhood—and the city as a whole—for a long time, and he knows how to get things done. We were impressed with his proposals to revitalize city services by “keeping score differently,” rejecting the old style of simply avoiding mistakes and instead focusing on putting the space and resources we already have to good use as quickly as possible. We agree with Kerth that money isn’t the problem, whether in District 2 or in the city all together: The real problem is a lack of enthusiasm and involvement.

Sacramento City Council

District 4: Steve Hansen

Steve Hansen has a unique, specific vision for how a burgeoning arts and entertainment scene in Midtown and downtown can serve as catalysts to power economic growth and redevelopment. He understands that the funky, artsy style that has sprung up in the last two decades is a huge asset. He’s a hands-on, suit-up-and-show-up guy. And he’s determined to build employment sectors other than government payroll so that Sacramento can become economically sustainable and establish an urban identity not entirely tied just to its status as the state capital.

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

District 5 board member: Michael Picker

Michael Picker will bring unequaled expertise and a rich history of leadership to SMUD’s board. For the past few years, he’s advised Govs. Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger on renewable energy. In the 1990s, he was Mayor Joe Serna’s chief of staff. Picker has a huge advantage on how to develop viable green-energy products for Sacramento consumers, and he should get your vote for SMUD’s District 5 representative.

Measure M: No

This measure to convene an elected charter commission for Sacramento is accompanied on the ballot by 56 local candidates vying for 15 spots on a commission that won’t even exist if the measure fails. So the process comes to voters in a confounding manner straight out of the gate. Though most observers assume Measure M will not pass, local politicians, unions and businesses are hedging their bets by nominally backing various slates and individuals—ones who serve their agenda. Result: If the commission does come to exist, it will likely resemble a kind of larger, messier doppelgänger of the city council itself with a few policy wonks added in for good measure. In the absence of real leadership, is more always better?

SN&R endorses Roger Dickinson for a second term in the California State Assembly.

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Measure T and Measure U: Yes

Measure T specifically would repeal 1977’s Measure A, which prohibited the city from requiring yard-waste containers. The city hopes to curb illegal yard-waste dumping and also make the roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists. A yes vote on Measure U, meanwhile, will help pay for these services. Measure U, called the Essential Services Protection Measure, will raise the city’s sales tax by half a percent—from 7.75 percent to 8.25 percent—over six years. We’re not thrilled about a regressive tax, but city services—police, fire, libraries and solid waste—have experienced unprecedented cuts over the past five years. And the estimated $28 million in added revenue from Measure U will go a long way to ensuring that Sacramento’s fundamental services are preserved.

Measure Q and Measure R: Yes

Measure Q would approve a bond to raise $346 million to pay for new classrooms, science labs, heating and air conditioning, and bathrooms in schools. Smaller bond Measure R will raise $68 million for playgrounds and athletic and kitchen facilities. Sure, Sacramento city schools need to pay for teachers, janitors, bus service and more. But the facilities also need some TLC, too—and desperately. Measures Q and R are a smart and needed investment in Sacramento’s education infrastructure.


Proposition 30: Yes

Gov. Jerry Brown won a resounding return to California’s top job in 2010 because voters believed he could enact a balanced solution to California’s calamitous budget problems. Well, Republican lawmakers blocked him straightaway and without conscience. But on November 6, at last, Brown gets what he wanted back then. It’s called Proposition 30. The measure calls for a temporary, quarter-cent sales tax (from 7.25 to 7.50 percent) and personal income-tax increase for Californians earning more than $250,000. Passage of Prop. 30 will prevent an immediate $6 billion in further cuts to schools, provide billions in new school funds starting this year, prevent more tuition hikes and protect public safety by halting further cuts to cops and firefighters, and save billions in future prison costs.

Proposition 31: No

California requires far-reaching reforms when it comes to its tax and budgeting process. But this attempt by good-government groups like California Forward simply does not fly. Proposition 31 would make cuts and austerity the go-to method for dealing with our problems when what we need is a governor and legislature free to consider cuts in addition to other revenue-creating alternatives, like raising taxes on the ultrawealthy to previous levels.

Proposition 32: No

This measure is a familiar attack on unions by a core group of super-rich Republicans, like the Koch brother billionaires. It purports to be an evenhanded campaign-finance-reform plan, but it won’t actually limit corporate influence, because it doesn’t include super PACs, which will still be allowed to spend unlimited money. In the meantime, unions would be prohibited from automatically deducting dues from members’ paychecks, effectively crippling them as political players. We don’t always agree with how unions use their money and power, but without their influence, giant corporations would hold even more power.

Proposition 33: No

Conceived and funded by 91-year-old billionaire George Joseph, founder of Mercury Insurance Group, Proposition 33 is nearly identical to a measure that was rightfully voted down years ago by California voters. Proposition 33 would allow discrimination against the young and the poor so as to make it easier for drivers to switch insurance companies. Discounts would come at the expense of new drivers (the young) and those who’d let their coverage lapse (the poor). Also, experts say if this measure passes, more drivers would take to the road without insurance, driving up costs for everyone.

Proposition 34: Yes

The Savings, Accountability, and Full Enforcement for California Act—a.k.a. the SAFE California Act—which seeks to replace the death penalty with a sentence of life without the possibility of parole, is a long-awaited fix for a system that SN&R has argued for years is enormously flawed, practically as well as morally. We can’t put it better than a recent Los Angeles Times editorial: “With one vote, Californians can solve a host of problems bedeviling its law enforcement system: the spiraling costs of incarceration and appeals for death row inmates, the legal tangles over methodology that have stalled executions in this state since 2006, and the unfairness built into a system in which convicts are more likely to be sentenced to death if their victims were white.” As a bonus, the same vote would unclog a court system that is jammed to the point of dysfunction with death-penalty appeals.

Proposition 35: No

Let’s keep it simple: Human trafficking is already illegal. If the penalties aren’t severe enough, they can be changed in the Legislature. This proposition actually benefits those law-enforcement agencies that will receive funds and, even more, those nonprofits that provide services for victims of human trafficking. But we’ve seen no evidence—other than the anecdotal evidence put forward by the very nonprofits that stand to gain—that this so-called crisis exists. What’s more, this would expand law-enforcement control over Internet access. This looks suspiciously like some old-time vice squad all dressed up in the language of human rights. We urge a no vote on Proposition 35.

Proposition 36: Yes

If elected, Steve Hansen (left) would be the city’s first openly gay council member.

photo by shoka

We’ve all heard the stories of criminals convicted under the state’s three-strikes law who were sentenced to 25-years-to-life in prison for stealing a loaf of bread. Proposition 36—which has been proven over its 18 years to have no demonstrable effect on violent-crime levels or trends—would make things more equitable by requiring that the third strike be a serious or violent felony. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates the state could save from $70 million to $90 million annually in prison costs.

Proposition 37: Yes

It’s simple, really: A company should not be allowed to label a food product “natural” if it contains genetically modified organisms. This is why Californians should lead the way—again—and vote yes on Proposition 37, the Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Initiative. The law would also stop companies from calling food “natural” if it isn’t. Companies such as Monsanto, General Mills, PepsiCo, The Coca-Cola Company and others shouldn’t hide ingredients from consumers. But those companies and dozens more have donated more than $32 million to the No on 37 effort. Let’s disappoint them by voting yes.

Proposition 38: No

We’re keenly aware of the need for more funding for California’s public schools. But multimillionaire civil-rights lawyer Molly Munger’s proposition is not the fix it claims to be and would create many more problems than solutions. Among other things, the $7 billion that it would raise for public K-12 schools annually would be walled off from the state’s general fund, i.e., the measure is ballot-box budgeting at its worst. Yes, the schools need rescue and resources, but they’re not the only ones. What about the decimation we’ve seen in other realms like public safety, social services, health services and infrastructure? There is no doubt that passage of this measure would mangle Gov. Brown’s attempt to fix our budget crisis. Also, a vote for Proposition 38 is a potential vote against Proposition 30 (since it’s not possible for both propositions to become law at once).

Proposition 39: Yes

This measure would accomplish quite a lot that is good for California. First, it would close an unjust corporate-tax loophole opened in 2009 under the watch of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, which gives an advantage to out-of-state corporations. The loophole costs the state budget about $1 billion per year in lost revenues and lost jobs. Secondly, it would create new jobs in the “green” sector by dedicating a portion of the increased revenues (see that $1 billion above) to programs that create “green” jobs (up to 30,000 in five years) and reduce public energy costs.

Proposition 40: Yes

A yes vote on this measure would safeguard the state Senate districts that were drawn up by the Citizens Redistricting Commission in 2011, following the process established by California voters in 2008. A nod to one gets you bonus points for saving state and local governments a cool $1 million.

California State Assembly

District 6: Beth Gaines

It might seem that Beth Gaines and Andy Pugno are cut from the same cloth, but Pugno’s already broken his vow not to campaign against a fellow Republican. Since the voters in this district clearly want a far-right conservative, though, we urge them to elect Gaines.

California State Assembly

District 7: Roger Dickinson

Here is a politician who remains a serious, thoughtful and pragmatic representative of his district. He resoundingly deserves a second term.

California State Assembly

District 8: Ken Cooley

It’s embarrassing that Mitt Romney and his extreme-minded Republican cohorts are even in play in 2012. Vote Barack Obama.

photo by The Obama-Biden Transition Project

Congressman Dan Lungren’s chief of staff, Peter Tateishi, is vying with former Rancho Cordova city Councilman Ken Cooley. From Tateishi, it’s the same-old GOP talking points that have made his boss such an obstructionist in Washington, D.C. Cooley has a more moderate approach, favoring realistic pension reform and a sound combination of budget cuts and revenue increases. We endorse Cooley for District 8.

California State Assembly

District 9: Richard Pan

Richard Pan has proven himself to be a responsive and compassionate legislator during his first term, working hard on issues of public health and education, especially as those issues affect the youngest and most vulnerable Californians.


U.S. House of Representatives

Congressional District 3: John Garamendi

U.S. Rep. John Garamendi has got a fight on his hands this time, thanks to a newly drawn congressional district that contains lots more Republicans, and includes all or parts of Colusa, Glenn, Lake, Sacramento, Solano, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba and counties. Garamendi—who has served in public office as a state senator, insurance commissioner, lieutenant governor and congressman—is an experienced envoy for the area. His challenger, Republican Kim Vann, supports the political agenda of the “do nothing” Congress which has been so ineffectual in Washington, D.C., these past two years.

U.S. House of Representatives

Congressional District 4: Jack Uppal

U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock is running for re-election in a redrawn district that encompasses the major cities in Placer and El Dorado counties—such as Roseville, Rocklin, Auburn, Placerville and Pollock Pines—and includes a much larger number of independent voters than ever. In this suburban and foothills district, voters with a conservative approach to fiscal issues and a moderate view of social issues can look to tech businessman Jack Uppal as the sort of conservative Democrat who will best represent their interests.

U.S. House of Representatives

Congressional District 7: Dr. Ami Bera

Here is a man who would enter Congress as a bright but independent Democrat—one willing to think outside the box. Dr. Ami Bera understands health care inside and out and has shown he will stick up for the rights of women, the poor and the middle class. Also, he’ll be an ally to those in Congress who are working to combine job growth with lower carbon emissions. His opponent U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren is far too conservative to represent a district that incorporates huge swaths of Sacramento County. Lungren opposes abortion, supports offshore oil drilling, denies humans are a major factor fueling the climate crisis, has blocked efforts at campaign-finance reform and has fought initiatives to better regulate the financial sector. (Meanwhile, he’s taken plenty of money from both oil companies and the finance industry.) In 2011, he voted enthusiastically for GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s radical, ultraconservative budget.

U.S. House of Representatives

Congressional District 9: Jerry McNerney

Throughout his three terms in Congress, U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney has shown himself to be an extremely worthy representative. He’s a moderate Democrat (despite his Republican opponent Ricky Gill’s claims in television ads) with a high profile on issues like veterans’ affairs, maintaining the Delta and opposing the proposed peripheral canal. Let’s send him back to Congress.

U.S. Senate: Dianne Feinstein

We don’t always see eye to eye with longtime Sen. Dianne Feinstein. But she has always been rock solid on many issues we care about, and its crucial for Democrats to retain the Senate in this election.

President: Barack Obama

America faces colossal challenges. We need to fix the economy while growing jobs; reign in Wall Street; strive for balance and intelligence in our dealings with an increasingly unpredictable world; implement and improve the historic health-care overhaul now underway; and move swiftly to tackle an already unfolding climate crisis. This is no time to go backward. We must vote to allow President Barack Obama to continue leading us forward on these and other fronts.