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The Peter Principles: Camejo is the man of progressives' dreams--but what about reality?

Total Recall Coverage

Metro Santa Cruz presents its analysis of the Oct. 7 special election

If you didn't see the Sept. 24 recall debate, you should have, if only because it made one of the best cases for saying "No way" on the recall.

Not that Gov. Gray Davis is any great prize, but as former President Bill Clinton pointed out, if Davis is being recalled because of the economy, then people across the nation should be recalling all 49 other governors, not to mention the current president himself, given the finances of the whole friggin' nation, thanks to our military excursionism in Iraq.

Right about now, Bush's brain Karl Rove must be savoring the thought of Republican victory in California, courtesy of GOP front-running candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger. But it's our belief that the roving hand will be frustrated majorly as voters realize that for all his moderate posturing, Schwarzenegger is a political ingenue, an actor auditioning for a part in a film that former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson will be directing.

We would like to point out that though the recall feels like an attempted Republican power grab, it is legal under existing state law and has had the positive effect of making Davis turn left. Witness how he reversed his position on driver's licenses for undocumented workers, approved landmark legislation that gives marriagelike rights for gay couples, and has gotten more in tune with the privacy and environmental laws, not to mention the public funding of elections. On top of all that, the recall race has the happy effect of including a third party in televised debates for the first time in American history.

Furthermore, by our count the Green Party's Peter Camejo won the Sept. 24 candidate debate hands down. He rose above the bickering by sticking to the issues and making the point that it's not the business climate that's got people leaving California, but the high cost of housing. Camejo pointed out that the budget crisis is the result of the state spending more money than it was taking in, and that poor people are paying way more taxes than the rich. No kidding!

He also slammed Schwarzenegger and potential GOP spoiler Tom McClintock for their position on undocumented workers, who work for minimum wages--while paying taxes--and yet are apparently not supposed to reap any benefits from the system.

Finally, he debunked the myth that businesses are leaving California, warning that it's snake oil to believe that California's economic machine will shrivel unless business is given carte blanche. As Camejo points out, corporate taxes are already the lowest they've ever been.

In a perfect world in which Instant Runoff Voting (IRV--see www.instantrunoff.com or www.fairvote.org for details) already existed, we'd wholeheartedly endorse Camejo and give Cruz a lukewarm second-place vote. Sadly, we're still trapped in a two-party voting system, and consider a Schwarzenegger victory a very real possibility--one that, on Oct. 7, we hope you'll help terminate.

Part 1. Should Gov. Gray Davis be recalled? No
Part 2. If the recall of Gov. Gray Davis succeeds: Cruz Bustamante

Proposition 53
California 21st Century Infrastructure Investment Fund

The question here is whether California should set aside up to 3 percent of the state budget for spending on infrastructure, such as roads, water, public buildings.

We're not against earmarking money for infrastructure per se, but we are against this proposition, which smacks of micromanagement and leaves health care and higher education out in the cold. The official blurb describes this measure as increasing the amount of General Fund revenue committed to pay-as-you-go capital outlay projects for both state and local governments. What it doesn't say is that by earmarking funds during an economic crisis, anything not guaranteed funding as a result of an initiative suffers--meaning that higher education and health care, which are already in dire straits, will be the big losers.

Recommendation: No on Prop. 53

Proposition 54
Classification by Race, Ethnicity, Color or National Origin

Should state and local government agencies be prohibited from collecting racial information for some purposes? That's the question voters are posed, but while various restrictions apply, they don't go far enough--which is why we recommend voting no on this initiative. UC regent Ward Connerly, who authored Prop. 54, may believe in his version of a colorblind society, but we think his measure works against that goal. And while doctors would be allowed to keep racial or ethnic data on their patients, we would not be allowed to use population data--such as the fact that Latinos are at higher risk from diabetes, white women are more prone to breast cancer and African Americans are more likely to contract Hepatitis B--to prevent diseases. If Prop. 54 passes, state and local governments would be restricted from "classifying" information on a person's race, ethnicity, color or national origin for the purposes of public education, public contracting, public employment and other government operations. Metro Santa Cruz recommends you vote a resounding no on this ill-conceived initiative.

Recommendation: No on Prop. 54

Total Recall Election Resources

Voter Information Websites
www.votescount.com (Santa Cruz County Elections Department)
Vote2003.ss.ca.gov (state government live election returns)
http://smartvoter.org (League of Women Voters)
www.ss.ca.gov/elections/recall.htm (election info from secretary of state)
www.easyvoter.org/california/index.html (Literacy Works Guide)

Governor of California Recall
Part 1. Should Gray Davis be recalled? No
Part 2. If recall succeeds: Cruz Bustamante

State Proposition Recommendations
Prop. 53: California 21st Century Infrastructure Investment Fund (Legislative Constitutional Amendment): No
Prop. 54: Classification by Race, Ethnicity, Color or National Origin (Initiative Constitutional Amendment): No

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From the October 1-8, 2003 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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