California’s overflowing ballot box

October 5, 2016
T. Keith Gurnee

T. Keith Gurnee


“It’s a scientific fact that if you stay in California you lose one point of your IQ every year,” Truman Capote.

Based on Capote’s metric, we must be living in a state full of halfwits. As proof of the veracity of Capote’s statement, one need only review California’s “Official Voter Information Guide” for the forthcoming Nov, 8 general election. It is chock-full of nonsensical propositions on all kinds of subjects as written and supported by special interest groups out to reward their own selves.

At 223 pages of mind-numbing text, including 105 pages of legal small print on the 17 proposed laws that would be foisted upon us, it makes for a depressing, angering read. None of these proposed laws has gone through a vetting process in the state legislature to weigh their pros and cons. Yet their supporters would have us happily endorse them after carpet bombing us with perpetual, overly emotional campaign advertising.

For years now, the writing of such measures and the campaigns for and against them has become a major industry in California. While the right to petition our state through initiatives and referendums was established long ago during the Progressive Era in the early 1900s, the original advocates of that right would be appalled at the abuses it now endures every election season. Quite frankly, Californians are being propositioned to death.

The propositioning of California

While Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign was targeted against drug use, the slogan also will represents my position on special interest ballot measures. Consider Proposition 64, the marijuana legalization measure. Promulgated by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom as an attention-getting device for his run for Governor in 2018, it has a decent chance of passing–despite the fact that our roads may become more dangerous.

Just ask the states of Colorado and Washington who adopted similar measures, only to witness significant spikes in the number of DUI arrests of those driving high on pot. Do we really want to be a state of stoners when Capote said that we are already losing our IQs by one point per year?

Craving more attention than he is getting with Proposition 64, Gavin Newsome has also sponsored Proposition 63 as his foray against the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms. This is purely a vehicle to bolster his campaign for Governor.

Consider Chicago. As a city with some of the toughest gun control laws in the nation, Chicago is also the murder capital of the country due to gun violence. God forbid that California would elect this former mayor of San Francisco who turned that city into a “sanctuary city” that resulted in the recent shooting death of Kate Steinle.

Then there is Proposition 55, a measure to extend an income tax hike to be levied against the wealthiest Californians for 12 years. Is it fair to place the full will burden of taxation against one economic sector to pay for the wants and needs of everybody else at no cost to them just because we out number them? Last time I looked, I think we call that “discrimination”.

Sponsored by the public employee unions– the most powerful lobby in the state of California– it would provide a blank check for exponential government growth when we least need it. Even Gov. Jerry Brown opposes Proposition 55.

Along comes Proposition 62 that would repeal the death penalty. Do we really want to pay for housing and feeding criminals like Scott Peterson, Rex Allen Krebs, and Richard Allen Davis for the rest of their lives after they so callously took the lives of others? I don’t.

And then there are the really goofy propositions. Proposition 60 would require condoms for adult film performers. Really? Does this belong on a state ballot? Proposition 65 would regulate the revenue derived from the sale of carryout bags and Proposition 67 is a referendum to repeal the ban on use of plastic bags. Do these really belong on the state ballot?

Proposition 59 would ask the state to seek a change to the Federal Constitution, yet another exercise in futility.

The exception: Proposition 53

Just about every one of these measures on the ballot is a self-serving special interest piece of legislation calculated to reward its sponsors with taxpayer dollars and political power. Their passage will grow the size and increase the cost of state government leading to an ever-expanding bureaucracy that will creep into every aspect of our lives.

But there’s one exception to my “just say no” mantra that deserves serious consideration. It is Proposition 53 which would require statewide voter approval prior to the issuance of any revenue bonds in excess of $2 billion.

It is this initiative that just might stop the bullet train to nowhere in its tracks, saving the taxpayers billions of dollars over the years while avoiding the urbanization of the most fertile farmland in the nation. It is here where state voters can redeem themselves from their prior approval of $9 billion in bonds which was only seed money for the high-speed rail boondoggle. Proposition 53 deserves our support. The remaining 16 measures don’t.

Let’s send a message Nov. 8. We, the people, are in charge and the special interest groups and those they support are not.


I thank you, Gurnee. Yours is a brilliant statement — ignored by the half wits Capote alleges — but not by those who honor you by their acknowledgement of your wisdom.


I agree with Mr. Gurnee. As a general rule I vote no on propositions. Laws should be made by our legislature as the constitution originally intended. If the people want a new law made or an old one changed make your representatives do their job. Also I generally vote no on bond measures for the same reasons. One comment on Mr. Gurnee’s about wanting to be a state of stoners. Ca. already is.


Pretty good analysis….. especially for voting YES on 53.


There is no such publication with an odd number of pages. This waste of taxpayer dollars is 224 pages thick! Politicians need editors to help these mostly incompetent lawyers write coherent sentences.


Even the pages marked “Intentionally left blank” are nothing but lies…