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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Itís not being soft on crime if you want the prisons not to be overcrowded and corrections officials not to be overworked. Itís good policy. I donít believe in most mandatory sentencing laws, and I donít believe in most limitations on judicial discretion. Each case a judge hears is different, and each defendant is an individual. I hate the ďthree strikesĒ law because it has unnecessarily choked the courts and prisons.

There. Go ahead and call me soft on crime. Iím voting an enthusiastic ďyesĒ on Proposition 66 on the California ballot, because it would redefine the felonies that are considered serious enough to warrant ďthree strikesĒ sentencing.

I didnít even have to read the ballot arguments in the voter pamphlet to come to this decision. All I had to read was the measure itself. If anything, it doesnít go far enough in restoring the kind of compassionate, effective court system we tossed into the cement mixer when the ďthree strikesĒ law was passed ten years ago.

That law has given us ten years of people getting harsher sentence than their crimes merit. The monetary cost alone is staggering, and the cost in human productivity is just as damaging. Even without these considerations, though, the fact that itís an ineffective deterrent is reason enough to vote yes on 66.

9 October 2004

D.J. and Tammy walking along the zoo trail.

Let me tell you what I like about Proposition 67. It does something that needs to be done, reimbursing medical providers for mandatory emergency care. The state already has a fund to do this, from tobacco taxes, but itís apparently not enough to compensate for the level of demand from uninsured patients. This measure would impose a telephone surcharge (that is, a tax) to increase that fund.

And I donít believe the phone tax is much of an imposition, if Proposition 67 does what it says it will do. The trouble is, Iím not so sure it does. I donít see where thereís any provision to account for how the funds are spent. Iíd hate to see this lack of oversight turn into a windfall for health care providers, for the simple reason that thereís not a chance in a dust storm that any savings they realize will be passed on to patients.

So, because I think this measure is a bit of a mess and because Iím not convinced it was written as carefully as a new law ought to be written, Iím reluctantly voting no on 67.

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Apparently even if youíre the Yankees, you canít get away with breaking the rules. It took six umpires several minutes to figure out that Alex Rodriguez had swatted away the ball illegally in the eighth inning, but they did get it right. The funniest part to me was that A-Rod was so miffed about it. He was called out and lost an RBI, but he acted as if it were a personal offense against him that they called him on it. That kept the Red Sox lead at two runs, but they almost won by forfeit when Yankee fans started throwing things on the field. The game was completed, thanks to the help of New Yorkís finest, and the Red Sox won, 4-2, forcing a seventh and deciding game tomorrow night. That should be fun.

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One year ago: Missing
"The best intentions, and all that rot."

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