Bill Whalen: Politi-Cal

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The Prop 21 Divide: Parks or Wreck?

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California Republicans tend to look at the state’s leading newspapers as one vast left-wing conspiracy.

But not all papers think alike — and certainly not their editorial boards.

Case in point: Proposition 21, which if approved would impose an $18 vehicle-license surcharge to help fund state park and wildlife programs.

You’d think the state’s most progressive, large-circulation paper would be an automatic “yes” vote on an initiative that’s all about green grass and high tides.

Guess again. The San Francisco Chronicle’s ed board this week gave Prop 21 a thumbs down. Its reasoning:

“State finances are already dotted with similar walled-off financial pots, making budget-writing difficult. If this measure wins, other long-suffering groups might step forward with heart-tugging arguments for social services, law enforcement or health care. Voters may be fed up with Sacramento‘s financial paralysis — a notion that this measure caters to — but it robs Sacramento of the flexibility needed to set priorities and write a budget.”

Fair enough. So if the paper literally printed to the left of Sacramento is sour on Prop 21, the good folks over at The Sacramento Bee — the editorial writers living at Ground Zero of sketchy politics, who live and breathe ballot-box budgeting and all else that’s wrong with the state’s finances — must really hate it.

Again: guess again.

Here’s an excerpt from the Bee’s take on the measure:

“State parks, like our local parks, are an inheritance. That puts them in a special category. These are properties and habitats donated or transferred to the state for safekeeping. That means we have an obligation to keep them in good condition and ensure that they remain accessible for future generations.”

Welcome to another fascinating insight into the psyche conflicted California voter, played out in the court of public opinion. Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana for Californians 21 and older, divides the state primarily by generation. Proposition 23, which would bring a temporary halt to California’s global-warming law, is largely ideological (lefties who hate Big Oil v. righties who hate Gore-ocrats).
But Prop 21? It’s about emotions — the fondness for parks and open space vs. the growing aggravation over reckless state spending. Sounds like a good debate topic for Meg and Jerry, both of whom are running as skinflints and seem determined to avoid coming across as parks n’ rec wreckers.
btw, the Chron and the Bee aren’t the only quizzical papers re. Prop 21.  The Los Angeles Daily News, which normally runs right of center on fiscal issues, supports it.
My question: will any of the big four candidates — Brown, Whitman, Boxer, Fiorina — have the gumption to oppose Prop 21?

Written by Bill Whalen

September 17, 2010 at 7:30 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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