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Wednesday, November 1, 2000

Last night I left a few dishes soaking in the sink. The water was only a couple of plates deep, so you can imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning to find the sink filled to the rim. What's just as amazing was that it hadn't overflowed.

Finally I noticed that there was a slow leak coming from the base of the faucet. I thought I could stop it by shutting it off more tightly, but that wasn't the problem. Having exhausted my entire store of plumbing expertise, I decided that this was something the landlord needed to handle, so I called and left him a message.

I plunged my hand in to release the stopper, then looked under the sink, expecting to find some water damage. It was damp, but not drenched, so I turned the water off underneath and waited for the landlord's call.

So far, I'm still waiting.

So I'm sitting here with the California ballot pamphlet opened up in front of me. For the last few weeks I've been cutting out newspaper articles and editorials, and I've saved all the political mail I've been getting. I have a day or two to finish going through it all and make my choices.

Since there's no polling place in my precinct, my only choices are to mail my absentee ballot on time, or travel all the way across town to the county clerk's office to vote on election day. I'm using every free moment to get ready to do it by mail.

I'm doing my thinking here not to convince anyone to vote in any particular way. I'm not even trying to convince anyone that I'm right about my choices. I'm just recording my thought process.

When I read the official ballot argument against Proposition 34, the latest campaign reform measure, I was not impressed. It seemed such a weak statement of position that I almost decided to vote yes.

Then I read a column written by Gail Dryden, president of the League of Women Voters of California, about how this measure got on the ballot. Politicians wrote the initiative to protect their own interests. They also engineered it so that a coherent statement against it by the League of Women Voters itself was kept out of the state pamphlet.

The measure is full of self-serving loopholes, and it would end any chance that Proposition 208, a more far-reaching campaign reform passed overwhelmingly four years ago, would be allowed by the courts to go into effect. This is the kind of back room maneuvering that gives politicians a bad name. Here's the proof: It was signed by Governor Gray Davis, and it wouldn't go into effect until after he would be up for reelection.

The politicians make an end run around the voters by setting their own spending limits, and then get the governor's agreement by making sure he's not affected by them. How cynical. Of course I'm voting no.

The arguments against Proposition 36 are not convincing to me, either. This is a measure that would put first and second time offenders convicted of possession of drugs for personal use into treatment programs instead of prisons. I was really torn by this one. The idea is good, but the drawback would be in how it was written.

So I read it. And the arguments for and against it, and any other articles and editorials I could find. And I'm still confused, but I still admire the principle. My thought is that there will be many people in California who will vote against this kind of thing automatically, because they see it as legalizing drugs or coddling criminals. So I'm going to give it a knee-jerk yes vote, to cancel out one of the knee-jerk no votes.

It's not really a knee-jerk, I guess, if you think about it this much and do it as a calculated decision. But that's my twisted justification for voting for something that's probably an imperfect step in a positive direction.

Proposition 37 is a blatant attempt by alcohol, tobacco and oil companies to get out of paying regulatory fees by having them redefined as "taxes," and therefore subject to vote. The state legislature and local jurisdictions can now impose fees on, for example, liquor stores and strip clubs for the extra police they require. Manufacturers of lead paint are charged a fee to prevent lead poisoning. Tobacco companies must pay for anti-smoking education.

These companies don't want to pay for the damage they cause, so they're backing this measure big time. But they're not getting my vote.

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Latest recommendation:

Terri, *FootNotes*, October 31, While You Were Out

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Tomorrow I'll reveal my presidential choice. (Oooh, can you feel the electricity in the room?) I've given some pretty broad hints about which way I've been leaning, so it probably won't be a surprise. Nobody thinks I'm voting for Bush, right?