Just say no

DNA collection goes too far: Everybody agrees that the use of DNA evidence has been extremely effective in helping solve crimes in America. The ability for law enforcement to collect a DNA database of convicted, violent felons is appropriate and has been ongoing in California since 1984. Basically, police match DNA from convicts with biological evidence found at crime scenes and seek to find a match. The number of “cold hits” from such searches was just one a year in 1998; today the rate is closer to one a day. So, nobody argues the efficacy of this approach.

But a ballot measure facing voters on November 2 takes this new crime-fighting tool too far. Starting in 2009, Proposition 69 would require that an individual arrested for any type of felony have a DNA sample taken for permanent storage. If someone was wrongfully arrested or acquitted for shoplifting or writing a bad check, his or her DNA would go into permanent storage anyway along with that of serious criminals. Under Proposition 69, expunging of the DNA record of an innocent person would require a court order.

DNA contains sensitive personal information, such as health indicators, like whether a person might be prone to Alzheimer’s or cancer. Information like that is private. This measure would lower the threshold for collection of genetic information in a way that goes too far. Vote NO on Proposition 69.

Casinos need a better fix: The gambling industry has exploded in California in these last years, with 54 casinos now peppering the state, increasingly in or near crowded urban areas. There are plenty more where those came from. Many tribes are waiting in line, hopeful of negotiating future casino pacts with our state in the coming years. Considered sovereign nations (and therefore subject to minimal state regulation and taxes), the casinos are lucrative for some, but they can be a nightmare for communities when it comes to traffic, water rights, sewer facilities, police and fire protection, and other quality-of-life issues.

Two measures on the November ballot would make the situation worse. Both are loaded with special-interest giveaways and go nowhere in terms of halting or slowing the unregulated growth of this industry.

Placed on the ballot by a handful of wildly successful tribes, Proposition 70 would allow certain tribes to run as many casinos and slot machines as they wanted. Proposition 68 would give card rooms and racetracks a piece of the booming trade. (Though backers of 68 recently halted their campaign, the proposition remains on the ballot.)

California voters should defeat both these measures and urge the governor and the Legislature to do their job and establish a reasonable gaming policy themselves—one that doesn’t become too overblown. Vote NO on Propositions 68 and 70.