What is a Proposition?
A proposition is the name for a law or amendment to the California Constitution that is directly voted on by the citizens of California. This means that when you vote, you have the chance of directly choosing some laws for the state! In general, propositions get on the ballot through a petitioning process, so people collect signatures in order to put a law on the ballot. There are some other rules as well, and the California government can put propositions on the ballot, but most of the time they get there by signing petitions.
This year there are 7 propositions on the ballot, numbered 1, and then 26 through 31. Propositions are numbed in two-year cycles, so in 2020 we had propositions 14-25 and now we are picking back up with 26. Prop 1 is a constitutional amendment so it’s not really a prop, it’s a state measure. That’s why it goes first.
Here are the props on the November ballot:
Prop 1: Constitutional Right to Reproductive Freedom
California’s Constitution works in a similar way to the US Constitution, with a few major differences. Like the US Constitution, the state constitution is the highest law of the land and provides rules that a legislature or judicial body cannot override or ignore. If you want to amend, or add something to the US Constitution, there is a process to follow, first you need to get either 2/3 of both legislatures (House and Senate) or a constitutional convention called by 2/3 of the state legislatures (this has never happened.) Then you need to get 2/3 of the state legislatures to approve, or 2/3 of state conventions to ratify or approve. This process is difficult, and that is why there have only been 17 amendments (outside of the 10 Bill of Rights).
In California, you can amend the constitution by either a 2/3 vote in both houses of the California legislature, or by collecting enough signatures to put the amendment on the ballot. Either way, we, the citizens of California, have to vote on the amendments. This popular vote is a simple plurality vote, meaning the yes votes just need one more vote than no’s to be successful. This makes the California constitution particularly easy to change. There are over 513 amendments to the California constitution!
This prop was put on the ballot by the state legislature, which succeeded in a 2/3 vote to try to add it to the constitution. Now, we have to vote to see if we approve of the amendment.
The amendment is as follows:
The state shall not deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions, which includes their fundamental right to choose to have an abortion and their fundamental right to choose or refuse contraceptives. This section is intended to further the constitutional right to privacy guaranteed by Section 1, and the constitutional right to not be denied equal protection guaranteed by Section 7. Nothing herein narrows or limits the right to privacy or equal protection.
Overall, this is pretty straightforward, it enshrines a right of bodily reproductive autonomy, including abortion and contraception, in the California constitution.
California already has laws on the books making abortion and contraceptive access legal, and this constitutional amendment wouldn’t affect that. It would simply add an additional protection, making it more difficult for a future legislature or state government to overturn or circumvent these laws. In a way this is a symbolic move in the wake of the overturning of Roe v. Wade, but it does make California’s protections stronger by enshrining them in the constitution.
With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the right to reproductive care, which includes abortion, but also goes beyond to include access to contraceptives, and a whole host of other things, is increasingly under attack. And while states like Kansas have successfully voted to protect these rights, enshrining them in the California constitution seems like a no-brainer.
Prop 26: Allows In-Person Roulette, Dice Games, Sports Wagering on Tribal Lands
In 2018 Murphy v. NCAA the US Supreme Court struck down a federal law that prohibited sports betting. However, California still has laws that make sports betting in the state illegal. Additionally the state also bans other forms of betting including roulette and dice games.
This proposition would change this so that these additional forms of gambling, including sports betting, would be legal in the state, when done in-person at tribal casinos. It would also allow for additional in-person sports betting at the 4 private horse racetracks, where betting on horseracing is legal.
Additionally, as it stands now, tribal casinos do not pay taxes on any casino profits. This prop would create a new California Sports Wagering Fund (CSFW) which would require the racetracks to pay into a state fund. Tribal casinos would have to re-negotiate their contracts with the state if they would like to offer sports betting or new games, and this negotiation might come with a requirement to pay into the CSFW. This money would be used for education, and it would also would go into the state’s general fund, as well as support for gambling addiction and the enforcement of gambling laws.
This one is a bit tricky, and I recognize that it is a bit silly to make arbitrary distinctions about what exact type of gambling we are going to allow. All of the funding for this issue, on both sides, is coming from casinos who either want to pass this law to expand what they can offer or want to prevent this law because they think it will cut into their existing business. In my mind, this law seems unnecessary, it isn’t like the casinos aren’t making enough money without it.
Prop 27: Allows Online and Mobile Sports Wagering Outside Tribal Lands
This prop could be seen as a sort of companion prop to Prop 26. Again, the Supreme Court allowed sports betting in 2018, but California has a law making it illegal in the state. This prop would allow for online sports betting in the state. You have probably seen the result of this Supreme Court case in the millions of ads for sports betting apps like DraftKings, or in more broadcasts talking about betting lines and number before and during games (The Apple TV MLB broadcasts did this a lot). Currently you can do some online betting in California, things like fantasy football betting is in a strange legal grey area, but overt betting is illegal.
This prop would change that and make online and mobile sports betting legal in California. It would tie this betting to existing casinos, so either the casinos would have to develop their own online betting apps and websites, or they would partner with existing sites to offer betting in California. It would also establish a 10% tax on this online gambling, with the money earmarked for a special fund designed to stop homelessness.
The funding for this one is a bit trickier, as most of the major casinos are funding efforts to defeat the prop, while the major out-of-state online betting apps, like DraftKings and FanDuel are for it.
It seems to me like this is a prop where these major companies are smelling blood in the water and are trying to open up a huge new market for online betting in California. These companies are annoying and the fact that literally everyone, including both major parties in California are against it provides a good reason to be skeptical. The ability for this fund to actually provide meaningful money to homeless services is vague as the state would again have to negotiate with casinos, like they would in Prop 26 before they get any money. It is also worth noting that the problem of homelessness is not a problem of money, but a problem of political will. California has a giant budget surplus so the issue isn't having enough money. Nobody wants to do what is needed to actually fix the problem, which is to build more accessible, affordable housing, and lots of it. Homelessness is a housing problems and there have been books written by social scientists to prove this (one usefully titled Homelessness is a Housing Problem), so I don’t buy the solutionism of just throwing gambling money at the issue. It is also a huge law, taking up nearly 20 pages of the voter guide booklet (yes, they did mail me a voter guide book to Toronto!) with lots of requirements for independent commissions and regulatory agencies and conditions for disputes, so there is a lot of room for insider dealing or exploitable loopholes here.
Prop 28: Provides Additional Funding for Arts and Music Education in Public Schools
This prop is simple. It provides more money for arts education. About 1 billion dollars per year.
It provides 70% of that money to schools based on school enrollment, and then 30% to schools with “economically disadvantages pupils.”
This money doesn’t come from any new taxes, it just shuffles some existing money around. Currently 40% of revenue in California’s general fund must be spent on schools. So basically 40% of all incoming money to the state, through existing taxes and the like, must be spent on schools. In 2022 this was 101 billion. This proposition would say that 1% of this money given to schools must go to arts education. So its 1% of $101 billion or about $1 billion in 2022. This would also mean that this money would change based on the economy. If the state takes in more revenue, then schools, and thus arts, would get more. But if the state takes in less, then schools and thus arts, would get less.
This should be an easy yes. No new taxes, just move some money around so that schools can hire more band teachers or drama teachers or art teachers. More kids should be in band. Pass the prop. Also, literally nobody is funding a “no” campaign. Literally nobody. There isn’t an established “no” campaign, and there is no money being spent trying to defeat this one.
Prop 29: Requires On-Site Licensed Medical Professional At Kidney Dialysis Clinics and Establishes Other State Requirements
This prop is basically the same as the same one that got defeated in 2020. So I’ll just repost what I said then:
There are around 600 dialysis facilities in California, where individuals with renal failure can go to receive dialysis, a process that replicates the function of the kidneys to filter blood. Dialysis facilities are operated by for-profit corporations who specialize in owning and operating these facilities. They are often not associated with hospitals or other medical facilities.
This proposition would create several regulations that would apply to these facilities.
First, it would require a doctor, nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant to be on-site during all hours that a patient receives treatment.
Second, it requires the center to report data on dialysis-related infections to the states and establishes penalties if they do not.
Third, it requires a dialysis center to receive permission from the state before closing or reducing services. This is aimed at preventing a situation where patients would not have easy access to dialysis.
Fourth, it prohibits dialysis centers from refusing services based on who is paying. Basically, the center can’t refuse to take Medicaid, Medicare or Medi-Cal.
This one is tricky. A number of possibly beneficial aspects are being overshadowed by one main requirement. The requirement to have a doctor at every facility, at all times, is probably unnecessary. However, the requirements to report data, and the requirement to take all forms of insurance are all good things. It is also complicated by the fact that this is part of a union fight aimed at unionizing dialysis workers, which seems to be a good thing, but also it seems like the unions are putting this on the ballot because they know it is bad and want to force the companies to negotiate with the union in exchange for not trying to pass these laws. However, most doctor and nursing organizations are in opposition, and they mostly focus on the doctor requirement. So, it seems like the good elements of this prop are overshadowed by the one large bad element.
Prop 30: Provides Funding for Programs to Reduce Air Pollution and Prevent Wildfires by Increasing Tax on Personal Income Over $2 Million
This prop is also tricky, not so much for what it does, but for who supports and opposes it, and why it is so contentious.
This prop raises taxes on individuals making more than $2 million per year, and then allocates this money to create subsides for zero-emission-vehicles (ZEVs) like electric cars, provide subsidized charging stations and other infrastructure, and also provide some money for wildfire relief. This would raise an estimated $3.5 to $5 billion annually
Overall, 45% of this money would go to help people buy new vehicles, 35% would go to charging stations and other infrastructure and 20% would go towards wildfire response and prevention.
Here’s why this is contentious. The biggest doner to the “yes” campaign is Lyft, while Gavin Newsom and the California Teachers Association is joining with the Republican Party to oppose it. Strange.
I think this has to do with a few different things. First, California already has a number of requirements to help push these ZEVs (it is also worth noting that electric cars might not be the climate change silver bullet, especially as opposed to things like expanding public transit, but that’s a different argument). For example, the state already allocated $10 billion over 5 years, or $2 billion per year, to support subsides and rebates for these vehicles and to create new infrastructure.
Also complicating this picture is the law that says that 90% Uber and Lyft drivers in California need to be driving ZEV’s by 2030.
So why is Lyft in favor of it, and Newsom opposed? This is just speculation, but some are calling this a cash grab by Lyft. If Lyft has to make sure that its drivers have electric cars, why wouldn’t they support a prop that has California help pay for electric cars, rather than them footing the bill themselves. It would also make California create and support an infrastructure that they could then use.
But why is Newsom against it? I looked at his campaign contributions from 2021 (the 2022 numbers aren’t out) and it doesn’t seem like he’s getting fossil fuel money, or car money (although state laws make this a bit hard to tell.) Perhaps he just wants to avoid being identified as raising taxes in a year where he is up for election?
While the question of Lyft’s support is questionable, they are also in a fight over their gig worker designation in California, so it is unclear if their situation will be the same in 2030. This seems like a hedging move by Lyft (and its notable that Uber isn’t also funding this). But on the upside, nearly doubling the yearly spending to improve the major impediment against electric vehicles, the charging infrastructure, would be very useful, and the extra wildfire money is an added bonus. I admit to being a bit skeptical about the utility of all of this, when California has a nearly $100 billion surplus that they could allocate to any number of things, and we are discussing a few hundred million dollars. Still, I like supporting electric vehicles, at least until we figure out a public transit solution.
Prop 31: Referendum on 2020 Law That Would Prohibit the Retail Sale of Certain Flavored Tobacco Products
In 2020 California passed a law that or prohibits the sale of flavored tobacco products in cigarettes, e-cigarettes and chewing tobacco. The exception to this is premium cigars, loose-leaf tobacco and hookah tobacco. However, this law did not go into effect, because this got enough signatures to qualify for the ballot and put the question before voters. If this goes into effect, the state is estimating a loss of $100 million dollars in lost tobacco tax revenue.
The impact of this is a bit tricky, as the federal government has already banned flavored cigarettes, (except menthol, which is under review at the FDA), so this is just supporting the existing law. Additionally, some local governments have also banned flavored e-cigarettes, so the passage of this law wouldn’t change anything in those local areas.
One of the major types of propositions is a referendum, where a law that was passed by the state legislature can be put on a ballot to see if voters want to approve or reject the law. This is one such law.
Overall, this prop is rather simple, a “yes” vote approves the law that was passed in 2020 banning some flavored tobacco, while a “no” vote rejects it.
Much of this is already banned either federally, or locally, so creating a single state-wide restriction would not be a huge change. Also banning flavoring makes it less likely for people, especially underage people to take up smoking in the first place, which is a good thing.
Senate-Full Term & Senate-Partial Term
Endorsement: Alex Padilla
So, Padilla is actually on the ballot twice (he was on the ballot twice in the primary as well). This is because he was appointed to fill Kamala Harris’ seat when she was elected Vice President. In California, when there is a vacancy in Congress, the governor can appoint a replacement, but there has to be a special election at the next election to see if they can finish out the term. However, Kamala Harris was originally supposed to be up for election in November anyway, so now we have to do this sort of dumb thing.
First, we have to vote to see if Padilla can keep being Senator until January 2023. Then we have to vote again to see if he can be Senator from January 2023 until January 2029. Padilla isn’t my favorite, but he’s the Democrat on the ballot.
Endorsement: Gavin Newsom
Newsom isn’t my favorite either, and I got mad at him over a bunch of Covid stuff, and how he wanted to placate everyone politically, rather than doing what was possibly unpopular, but best. But we have a giant surplus and I admit I do like him yelling at Greg Abbot in Texas and DeSantis in Florida. Also the Republican candidate is a maniac, so Newsom it is.
Endorsement: Eleni Kounalakis
Unlike the US government where the President and Vice President run on a ticket together, in California they each run for different elections. However the Lieutenant Governor doesn’t do all that much, so the standard democrat is good.
Secretary of State:
Endorsement: Shirley Weber
I’m not gonna bore you with all of this. Vote for the Democrat because the alternative is bad.
Endorsement: Malia Cohen
Endorsement: Fiona Ma
Endorsement: Rob Bonta
Endorsement: Ricardo Lara
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Endorsement: Tony Thurmond
He’s endorsed by one of my unions, the California Teacher’s Association, and focused on equity. The other guy running is a “school choice” candidate (read: Charter and Private school advocate), and not interested in public school policy.
California Supreme Court Justices
California’s supreme court is similar to the US Supreme Court. It is the highest court dealing with state law, and its decisions are only reviewable by the US Supreme Court. However, unlike the SCOTUS, the California supreme court justices are subject to approval elections. They are initially appointed by the governor, but they serve terms of 12 years, after which they must be re-elected. These elections are non-partisan approval elections. You either vote “yes” to give them another term, or “no” to reject them and have the governor choose someone else.
Currently on the supreme court but seeking to be appointed its chief justice. She was the first Latina on the supreme court and would be the first Latina Chief Justice.
She was appointed to the supreme court by Newsom earlier this year, and now is on the ballot to be promoted to Chief Justice because the current Chief Justice is retiring. Her only major decision was when she held Amazon liable for selling defective products.
Joshua P Groban
Groban was appointed to the court in 2019 by Jerry Brown and is now seeking to be confirmed in that position. Prior to that he worked in Jerry Brown’s administration and was a private lawyer working antitrust and intellectual property cases. There is not much information about his private practice, but nothing here is disqualifying.
Martin J. Jenkins
Jenkins was appointed in 2020 by Newsom and is the first openly gay justice. He was appointed to the federal district court by Clinton, but then was brought into the state court by Schwarzenegger. He has some major court cases, he allowed for disciplinary action against San Francisco police officers who sent racist texts in 2018. But he also prevented Jerry Brown from suing car companies for adding to global warming, although his decision basically said that its not the job of the court to fix global warming, it is the job of the legislature, which I think is fair.
Liu is the only one on the ballot who is effectively running for re-election. He was appointed in 2011 by Jerry Brown, and then won his election. He’s now up for another term. He was up for a federal court position when Obama was president but was one of the justices filibustered by Republicans. He also publicly took Samuel Alito to task when Alito was being appointed to the SCOTUS, saying that Alito sides with the police and prosecutors while minimizing their abuses, so he’s alright with me because Alito sucks.
ALL APPEALS COURT JUSTICES: YES
I researched all of them (and there were a LOT) and none of them had any red flags.
More Local Stuff:
I’m registered to vote in Long Beach, so this is where all my local races are.
Mayor Rex Richardson
Long Beach City Council – 5th District: Megan Kerr
Ian Patton is a NIMBY
Long Beach Community College Board of Trustees – Area 5: Juan Cepeda-Rizo
Cepeda-Rizo is endorsed by the union.
State Assembly – 69th district: Josh Lowenthal
I don’t like the nepotism, but Al Austin is endorsed by all the police unions.
US Representative- 42nd District: Robert Garcia
I think Garcia was a fine Long Beach mayor and will do fine in Congress
Measure LBC: YES
Political science research shows that when national and local elections are held on the same day, voter turnout is higher and you get more representative outcomes.
Measure E: YES
More police oversight is good and the Citizen Police Complain Commission is kind of a disaster.
Measure BB: YES
Public Utilities are good.
Measure Q: YES
Repair those classrooms.
Measure LBU: YES
Same as LBC, make the elections all on the same day.
Water Replenishment District Division 3: Gerrie Schipske
I liked her when she was on city council.
Sherriff: Robert Luna
Not a huge Luna fan, but dear god get rid of Villanueva. He is an active threat to democracy.
Superior Court Judge – 60: Anna Slotky Reitano
My general rule for judges. I don’t vote for prosecutors, if I can help it, and then try to support diversity on the court as much as possible.
Superior Court Judge – 67: Elizabeth Lashley-Haynes
Superior Court Judge – 70: Holly Hancock
Superior Court Judge – 90: Melissa Lyons
Superior Court Judge – 118: Carolyn “Jiyoung” Park
Superior Court Judge – 151: Patrick Hare
County Measure C: Yes
A tax on cannabis helps the county raise money. Good by me.
Now that you’ve gotten the gig, its time to prep for class. There are a few things that you need to keep in mind as you are planning out your schedule and writing your syllabus.
First, most 4-year universities that I have attended have been a bit cavalier about class meetings, and class times. If you need to cancel class for a week, no problem. Need to end an hour or so early? Sure. This is a great way to get in trouble and not get hired back at a community college. You should expect to be teaching the whole time, every scheduled week. However, if there is a scheduled holiday on your class meeting time, congrats! You get the week off and still get paid! That’s the joy of LHE!
The other thing to keep in mind is that, for the most part, community colleges aren’t going to hold your hand. They are going to hire you and say, “Great! Class starts on Monday. Talk to this person to get your keys.” And then let you go. They will let you set up your class however you want (pro!) but don’t offer much guidance on what exactly you should be doing week-to-week (con!). To smooth over this transition, I’ve put a few resources in the “Teaching Resources” section of my website, including a general course-plan that I follow for my Intro to American Government class, and a sample syllabus.
The first thing you are going to want to tackle is creating your syllabus. This means we have to talk about Student Learning Outcomes, or SLO’s. When you are creating your syllabus, there are a number of things that you need to include. Ideally, your department chair should tell you what these are, but you can also find them in the Faculty Handbook you get as part of the on-boarding process. One of these things is the required Student Learning Outcomes. Every designed class (like Intro to American Government, Comparative Politics, Intro to Political Theory, etc) has a set of student learning outcomes, designed by the department and the school and registered with the state accreditation board. In an ideal world, these are designed as guides to the class and tell the student what they will be learning in your class. Practically, they are guidelines or benchmarks to meet and to record.
As an example, an SLO for an Intro to American class might look something like this: “At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to explain the civil liberties and civil rights of individuals as articulated in the U.S. Constitution and federal court decisions.”
As an instructor it is your job to keep track of how many students are meeting these SLO’s, and then it is the departments job to record these statistics and make them available for the state accreditation board. Departments can get in real trouble if they don’t keep these records, so expect to see a department chair stress out about SLO’s a lot.
How this usually works is that you need to present all of the SLO’s for your class in your syllabus (there is usually 4-5). And then at the beginning of the semester, the department chair will announce which one they are going to be tracking this semester. At the end of the semester you will be asked to say how many students attempted the SLO, and how many passed it. This usually involved a specific question on a test, or perhaps a writing assignment. You will have to say that you tested SLO by providing a specific question on your final exam, and then 40 students attempted the SLO, and 35 passed it by getting a grade of at least 7 points out of 10 on the question. Sometimes the departments will try to coordinate this, and everyone will track the same SLO using the same test question. Overall, you don’t need to worry about this when you are designing your class, except to be aware of it happening and to put the necessary language in your syllabus.
Additionally, you will want to put some very clear language about your class policies, including your policy on adding and dropping students in your syllabus. In my experience, you will have a lot more students trying to add, and a lot more students trying to drop your class, as compared to a 4 year institution. While not a strict contract, your syllabus represents your agreement with your students, and if there is any question about grading, or if a student tries to go over your head and cause problems (which has happened to me several times!) the dean is going to look at your syllabus first for language that will help them help you. I put a sample American Government syllabus in the “Teaching Resources” section of my website.
You should also think about what textbook you are going to require. I am a big fan of using low-cost or free textbooks, particularly the ones at OpenStax. Keep in mind that your students are at community college for a number of reasons, and one of them may be financial. More students may be working full-time than you expect! Doing what you can to lighten their financial burden will be much appreciated. I have also found that students who cannot afford a textbook often just try to go without. Making them buy an expensive textbook is merely rewarding those students who can afford it, and punishing those who cannot.
Before you go to your class on the first day you should do a number of things, here is a quick first-day of class checklist.
So, its July or early August and you’ve decided that you are prepared enough and you’d like to pick up a class or two for the fall semester. You go onto a website like cccregistry.org to look for open positions. When you do this, you probably notice two important things. First all of the jobs are described as “pool” positions, and second that there aren’t too many of them. This is because you are too late! If your grad school is like mine, they probably schedule you at the very last minute, telling you what you are teaching or TAing only a few weeks before school starts. This is not how the community college system works. They schedule classes nearly a full year ahead (it is November and I’ve already submitted my class requests for next fall!)
How do you actually get a job? Community colleges generally hire adjuncts for one of two reasons. First, their enrollment numbers are up so they got permission to add more classes in their next schedule. Second, some emergency happened and they need someone to teach a class for the upcoming semester very soon. Either way, they aren’t posting these openings on a job board at that time. Instead, what they like to do is to collect a “pool” of applications over time and then go through the applications that they already have on file and then call applicants. This is where it can be useful to have some connections. If you know someone who is already at a community college you should let them know you are applying. Ideally, this would be someone who is a full-timer at the school, but sometimes adjuncts can help out too! I’ve gotten a number of emails from department chairs at schools where I adjunct asking if I know anyone who can teach a class when there has been an emergency, or an unexpected opening. But in these situations the best scenario is that you have already submitted an application and I (or someone else) can say, “Yes! Check out this person, they have already submitted an application.”
What goes into an application? On average, they will require a resume/CV, a cover letter and transcripts. They might also require something like a teaching or diversity statement. Now there are some important things to keep in mind when you are putting together your application. A CV and transcript is pretty standard, but make sure that you have a Master’s degree in something relevant to the position you are applying for. Unfortunately, something like a Master’s in Education (that many K-12 teachers have) does not let you teach specific subjects in a community college. Your degree needs to be in what you are trying to teach. The cover letter and statements are where it gets tricky. First, I know we as graduate students are trained to talk about our research and what we do, but trust me, the community colleges do not care about your research. Talking about your research too much, or at all, can actively harm you. Stick to teaching experience and your qualifications. If you went to a community college, even briefly, mention it! The hiring committee or department wants to know that you understand what it is like to be a student at a community college, it is a very different culture and feel to a major 4 -year university, and the faculty know that.
To that end, the hiring process at a community college is an incredibly bureaucratic thing. In California, at least, this process was designed from the ground up with equity in mind. This means that your materials are put through as “objective” of a review process as they can come up with (these next examples are what I have seen or have had people tell me for the colleges in Southern California. The process may be different elsewhere but it seems to me that it is mostly the same.) Prior to hiring anyone, the committee decides what they want in terms of candidates and materials, and develops a specific rubric that they will use to evaluate job candidates. They then use this rubric to write their job ad. This means that you, the applicant, should treat the job ad as a check-list. Know that the committee is going to look for you to speak to every requirement. So if they want “familiarity with the needs of community college students,” you better find something to say about that, even if you don’t have any experience at the community college level, because if you don’t you will be graded down. Go through the job application in detail, and make sure you have something to say about each aspect of the application, and make sure it is easily identifiable in your materials.
This bureaucratic process continues as you move into the interview and teaching demo. When you get the call for an interview, the school will want to set up a time, usually about an hour or so, for you to come in for an interview and a brief teaching demo, usually about 15 minutes. This can be a really strange, unnerving process. In my experience, the interview usually involves a number of faculty members, and perhaps the dean or some other higher level admin sitting around the table. Each faculty member will, in turn, as you one question, with no follow-ups allowed. Then they will all grade your response to the question, and the next person will ask their question. It isn’t a conversation but something more like a graded oral exam. It is very strange and you will feel like you did terrible, even if you killed it. They will probably ask you about your teaching experience, if you have any connections to the college, and how you might deal with diverse student populations.
The teaching demo is perhaps the most important part of the interview process. After going through the questioning session, they will probably ask you to lead a quick teaching demo. There are usually no students involved, and the committee will ask you to pretend that they are the students in the class. Again, this is a very odd thing, but there are some tips and tricks you can use. First, remember your audience and the job. This is not the time to break out your job talk or give a graduate-level seminar. Remember, you are going to be teaching an intro level class to 50 bored students who probably don’t want to be there or only need your class for a transfer requirement. Stick to the basics! Pick an easy, basic idea or concept (they might even assign you one) and go over it as if they had never heard of it before. Doing an activity is a great idea! In my experience, when I asked a hiring committee to do a quick, simple activity, like answering a discussion question, they all perk up and get really into acting like students! One time, I even had the dean of the school take out her cell phone and very obviously play on it while I was teaching. She later asked why I didn’t yell at her for using her cell phone in class! (I answered that, while I would have acted differently if she actually was a student, I recognized that she was a dean and might have had some legitimate business I didn’t want to interrupt. She accepted this answer, and I ultimately got that job.) Keep it quick, keep it simple. Make a powerpoint with the basic concepts and some pictures. Don’t put too much text on it, and don’t read off it.
Now if everything has gone right, you should soon be getting a call from HR to make sure you get a TB test and fingerprinted (it is a state job after all!) And now you can start looking to prep your first class!
1: Intro and Background
One of the questions I get asked most often is, “How do I teach at a community college while in grad school?” With insufficient graduate stipends and the realization that teaching is not a priority in graduate school education, many grad students, rightfully, look to the Community College market as a way of earning some extra money as well as gaining valuable teaching experience while they are in graduate school. However, the community college system can be both bureaucratic and esoteric, full of confusing terminology and odd procedures that can make it difficult to know where to start, or how to proceed. The purpose of this series of blog posts is to hopefully provide some resources to help graduate students get started in teaching at the community college.
Who Am I, Who are you, and Why?
Who am I? Well, on the off chance that you didn’t come here directly from my Twitter account, I am Stefan Kehlenbach, a graduate student (currently) at UC Riverside. But I’ve also been an adjunct professor of political science at a number of community colleges in Southern California since 2013. In 2012, I finished my master’s degree and having not gotten into any preferred PhD programs, I moved home to figure out what I wanted to do. My father is a professor at a community college and he suggested that I look into picking up some classes at the community college to see how I liked it. Now that is a bit easier said than done, but after meeting with some people and going through the interview process, I got hired at Santa Ana College in 2013, and have been teaching around ever since. I was a “freeway flyer” for a few years, where I put together several part-time adjunct positions to try and reach a full-time level of employment. I was driving between several schools, often in the same day, to teach multiple classes. In 2015 I began my PhD at UC Riverside, but I decided that I didn’t want to give up teaching, I began to transition to teaching online and hybrid classes and have been able to teach an average of 3 classes per semester for the entire time I have been in graduate school. This is not something I recommend. It is a lot of work, even for someone with a lot of experience but taking on a few classes is completely manageable, even with a graduate school workload.
Ok, so who are you? Hopefully you are a graduate student who is interested in community college teaching, either as a way to make some extra money, or gain additional experience, or perhaps as a stepping stone to a full career. I will say at the outset, that as I am not personally pursuing a community college career at the moment (for a number of reasons), so I do not have a lot of advice to those seeking full-time community college jobs. But also, if you are a full professor, or someone who supervises graduate students, I encourage you to think about why one of your students might be looking into adjuncting, and what sort of resources you might be able to provide to support them or help with the underlying problems that adjuncting is solving (lack of pay, lack of pedagogical training, lack of teaching experience, etc.)
Why? Why I am I doing this? Well, for one, I have noticed that many graduate students are interested in teaching community college, mostly for the additional income, but also as a way of exploring a different career path and as a way of escaping what are often paternalistic rigors of graduate school. They are looking to use what they have learned and be seen as the experts that they are. I also recognize that I have benefitted from an immeasurably large amount of institutional and structural knowledge and privilege. As I mentioned before, my father is a community college professor and so I have had the opportunity to grow up around the community college system and be able to talk about both the institution and about pedagogy across the kitchen table. So, this series is, in a very small way, an effort to help pass this knowledge on and close these structural knowledge gaps.
Now, with the introductions and justifications out of the way, I think I would be useful to close this first entry with a brief description of what it is like for me to teach at the community college level. This is probably not exactly what it will be like for you, but it might give you an idea of what it would be like.
In a pre-Covid era, when I would do most of my teaching in-person an average schedule would generally include 2 in-person classes, and 1 or 2 online classes. Since I have seniority at most of my schools, I have some options as to when my classes are held. My strategy is to teach the once-a-week night classes, usually running from 6-9pm. I do this for a number of reasons, but mostly because if I have a long-ish commute, I would rather do that once a week, instead of twice or even three times a week. I don’t mind teaching in 3-hour blocks. I usually take a 10-minute break every 50 minutes. This is required by the school; classes need to have 10 minutes of break for every 2 hours of class. You can either do that in 1 long 20-minute break in the middle of a 3-hour class, or 2 shorter breaks spaced out every hour. I go with the shorter breaks because it makes the teaching a bit more structured, and you have less student attrition. I found with the 20-minute break a number of students would leave for break and not come back.
I usually try to have those classes at the beginning of the week, so I teach Monday and Tuesday nights, and then TA or teach as an instructor for UCR’s grad program during the day. The most stressful part of this is setting up the schedule, as none of the schedules line up perfectly. UCR is on quarters, while my community colleges are on semesters, but the semesters are offset by about a week from each other. This makes lining up all of my schedules a nightmare. But during the week my teaching is quite streamlined. The majority of my community college classes are Intro to American Government, which I have taught so often that I don’t need to do any substantial prep work, I can usually just show up and teach, which saves a lot of time. I also dedicate about one work-day per week (usually Monday) to grading. I can usually get all of my grading (TAing and CC’s) done in a bit more than a half a day. I have a number of strategies I use to streamline this process, which I will talk about later. Overall, this doesn’t feel like a huge amount of work to me, but I am a bit of a workaholic, and pretty comfortable teaching classes without defined lectures and minimal notes. If you need to meticulously prepare for each session, it might be more work for you. But then again, one of the advantages of adjuncting is that it makes you, by necessity, a more efficient teacher.
Finally, finances. How much money can you expect to make adjuncting? Well, it depends, and is sometime hard to tell. Schools pay you hourly, or technically per LHE (Lecture Hour Equivalent). This means they are going to pay you per hour you spend in a classroom, they do not usually pay for prep or grading time. This is 3 hours a week, for the whole semester. So, to find out your full semester pay you multiply your LHE by the hours of your class, and then again by the number of weeks in the semester, including finals. As a rough guide, I generally make between $4,500 and $5,000 per class, per semester but I have a lot of seniority so my payscale is on the high end. This mean, with an average of 3 classes a semester, I can add about 30k to my grad student stipend per year. Not too bad, but you aren’t gonna make your friends in finance jealous with your teaching. But you knew you weren’t gonna make any money when you signed up for grad school… right?
Next week we will talk about actually getting the job!
The last one! Everyone make a plan to vote!
Prop 22: Exempts App-Based Transportation and Delivery Companies From Providing Employee Benefits to Certain Drivers
Ahh.. the Uber/Lyft Prop.
Ok, so here is what happened. Rideshare/delivery apps hire individuals on as independent contractors. Lyft and Uber have repeatedly argued that what they do is simply connect people who want to drive with people who want a ride (hence the use of the term “rideshare” as opposed to something closer to hiring a driver). They argue that because of this they don’t have to pay a minimum wage to drivers who only get paid for the actual time driving, not for the time they spend waiting for a job, or to pay healthcare benefits, regardless of how many hours a driver works per week.
California disputed this, and the legislature passed a law that limited the ability of companies to hire workers as independent contractors. This law was perhaps a bit heavy-handed and while aimed at rideshare companies, it affected people outside of those industries (like freelancers). However, this prop only impacts rideshare companies.
This prop carves out an exception in the California law for rideshare companies, basically creating a separate class of rideshare contractors, who would not be subject to the California law. They would not need to be hired as employees, but would continue to be contractors. They would get some other benefits, like a health insurance stipend, and a guarantee to receive 120% of minimum wage for each hour a driver spends actually driving.
Its probably impossible to overstate the harm that the development of the “gig economy” has had on our society. It is a rather unique conflation of technological exploitation, undercutting workers’ rights, and the expansion of the capitalistic surveillance regime. The fact that Uber and Lyft have spent so much money to create and promote this prop should tell us all we need to know. They want this really badly; we shouldn’t give it to them.
Prop 23: Establishes State Requirements for Kidney Dialysis Clinics. Requires On-Site Medical Professional
There are around 600 dialysis facilities in California, where individuals with renal failure can go to receive dialysis, a process that replicates the function of the kidneys’ to filter blood. Dialysis facilities are operated by for-profit corporations who specialize in owning and operating these facilities. They are often not associated with hospitals or other medical facilities.
This proposition would create several regulations that would apply to these facilities.
1) It would require a doctor to be on-site during all hours that a patient receives treatment. Basically, if someone is getting dialysis, then there has to be a doctor there. If there is a shortage of doctors in the area, the state can authorize an exception and have a nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant there to meet the requirement.
2) It requires the center to report data on dialysis-related infections to the states, and establishes penalties if they do not.
3) It requires a dialysis center to receive permission from the state before closing or reducing services. This is aimed at preventing a situation where patients would not have easy access to dialysis.
4) It prohibits dialysis centers from refusing services based on who is paying. Basically the center can’t refuse to take Medicaid, Medicare or Medi-Cal.
This one is tricky. A number of possibly beneficial aspects are being overshadowed by one main requirement. The requirement to have a doctor at every facility, at all times, is probably unnecessary. However, the requirements to report data, and the requirement to take all forms of insurance are all good things. It is also complicated by the fact that this is part of a union fight aimed at unionizing dialysis workers, which seems to be a good thing. However, most doctor and nursing organizations are in opposition, and they mostly focus on the doctor requirement. So, it seems like the good elements of this prop are overshadowed by the one large bad element.
Prop 24: Amends Consumer Privacy Laws
Oh hey, a prop about my dissertation! Fun!
Ok, so companies collect an immense amount of data on you. This can be from simple things like demographic information taken from when you input information on a form, to spending habits on places like Amazon, to incredibly detailed information about who you are, what you like, and even how you move through the world (Fun fact! The entire purpose of the Android operating system is to sell phones at a loss and make up for that by giving Google access to your real-time location, and phone usage habits!) (I’m also real fun at parties).
California already has laws about regulating data privacy. Companies have to tell you if they are collecting your data (hence the little pop-ups on literally every website these days), comply with requests to see data reports, or remove data and finally they cannot treat you differently if you don’t allow businesses to collect your data.
This prop would change existing laws in a number of ways.
1) It would change some existing privacy laws. It would change the law to have the restrictions apply to companies that have data on 100,000 consumers or households. This is up from 50,000. This might seem like a lot, but it is incredibly easy to get data on literally millions of people. It would also change some existing requirements, making companies tell you how long they are going to hold on to your data, but also allow them to keep things like student grades under certain circumstances.
2) It creates new privacy rights. It allows consumers to tell businesses to not share their personal data. It also allows consumers to correct personal data. And then it defines some data as “sensitive,” (Social security numbers, passwords and health data) and restricts their usage.
3) It creates an enforcement agency, the California Privacy Protection Agency, and allows them to collect fines from companies that violate this policy.
Let’s add this one to the list of props that are good in theory, and do some minor good things but aren’t going to cause any major changes. There are several major shortfalls with this. First, many of these laws are targeted at companies that collect data and then sell that data. This isn’t how many corporations utilize data. In fact, data collection is a proprietary mechanism for many companies. Google and Facebook aren’t selling your data. They are using them internally. There is also an issue with the idea of transparency. These big tech companies have done such a good job at normalizing the collection of data that they realize that people, in general, don’t really care about data privacy, and so using transparency as a regulatory mechanism fails. We’ve all accepted that Google Maps is going to take pictures of our houses.
It is also telling that no companies seem to be worried about this. We know that tech companies will go to great lengths to protect their data-collection enterprises, fighting back politically. However, we also know that these companies tend to simply ignore laws that they don’t think will be enforced. So, either Google doesn’t think that this will be a problem, or they are not worried about enforcement. Either way, it’s not good.
But, as with some other props, a small good thing is still a good thing. I want it to go further, but this seems to be a good start.
Prop 25 Referendum on Law that Replaced Money Bail With System Based on Public Safety and Flight Risk
Oh hey! Another California prison system prop! But with some fun CA political procedural complications as well!
So, in 2018, the California legislature passed a law, that was signed by the governor that eliminates cash bail and changes the process for getting released from jail after being arrested. However, before this law went into effect, enough signatures were collected to put the law on the ballot as a referendum. This means that a YES vote on this prop upholds the law passed in 2018, while a NO vote rejects it. So, if you like this law, vote yes, if you don’t, vote no.
What does the 2018 law do?
It eliminates cash bail entirely. If you are arrested, instead of paying a fee to be released from jail, instead, you are assessed for the risk of committing a new crime and then either released or kept in jail.
For most misdemeanor crimes you must be released from jail withing 12 hours. There are some exceptions for things like domestic violence.
For felonies, there will be an assessment staff that would determine a risk level for individuals. People deemed to be low-risk or medium-risk would be released, with some conditions, which might include regular check-ins or electronic monitoring.
State trial courts would be responsible for this assessment. At no point in this process would anyone charged with a crime be charged any money.
On the whole, cash bail is a racist, classist form of punishing individuals who do not have the means to pay their way out of jail, either forcing them into a cycle of debt or forcing them to take plea bargains, landing them in jail without a trial. Getting rid of cash bail is a good and necessary thing.
The one worry I have with this system, is that the prop is vague about how the risk assessment process might be undertaken. There is a worrying trend towards automating such assessments, which tends to target poor, minority communities (https://www.amazon.com/Automating-Inequality-High-Tech-Profile-Police/dp/1250074312). We’ve seen this with the rise of predictive policing, and there is a major risk that this happens here as well. However, the necessity of getting rid of the cash bail system overrides this, but we should be on alert for this.
And that's its! If you made it this far, thanks for reading the whole thing!
Prop 18: Amends California Constitution to Permit 17-Year-Olds to Vote in Primary and Special Elections If They Will Turn 18 by the Next General Election and Be Otherwise Eligible to Vote
Currently, if you are 16 or 17 you can pre-register to vote in California. This means that you can register when you are 16, and then after you turn 18, you are immediately able to vote in the next election, whenever that may be.
This proposition makes a minor adjustment, and allows some 17 year-olds to vote in primaries, and special elections, if they turn 18 before the next general election.
The basic idea is something like this. Let’s imagine that you are 17 years old in 2020, but you have a birthday in September or October, where you will be turning 18. This means that you will be eligible to vote in the November election, but you were unable to vote in the March Primary. In a way, this means that you were unable to fully participate in the 2020 election because you were not able to participate in the primary process.
This proposition changes this so that you could vote in the primary, if you turn 18 before the general election.
Basically, why not? It encourages political participation at a younger age and gives first time voters a complete electoral experience. We already pre-register them, and primary elections are a good way of getting young people involved.
Prop 19: Changes Certain Property Tax Rules
Alright, so we are back to property taxes. Fun!
Again, remember the old system. Property tax allocated at time of purchase, at 1.1% of purchase price. Then increasing by 2% a year.
Importantly, if you inherit a property from a parent or grandparent, you also inherit the old tax calculation.
Also importantly, if you are over 55, severely disabled, or have had property impacted by a natural disaster, there is a special rule that means that you are eligible to move into a house that is not more expensive than your existing home and keep your old tax rate.
A quick example. Imagine you purchased a house in 2010, for 100,000 (yes this is insane, but it makes the math easy!) Your home would be assessed at the time of purchase for 1,100 a year. Then in 2001, it would go up 2%, or $22, to $1,122 and so on until 2020 when your yearly property tax would be $1340.90. But according to the OC Register (https://www.ocregister.com/2019/11/29/redemption-decade-california-home-price-gains-double-the-nations/) home prices have increased 120% in that time. (The Register looks at the time between 2009 and 2019, but close enough!) This means that your $100,000 house is now worth $220,000., So if you bought it today, the property tax would be $2420.
So, the special rule means that if you are over 55, have a severe disability or had your house burn down in a wildfire, you could now move into a $220,000 home, and keep your old tax rate of $1340. Currently the rule states that you can only do this once, so if your new home burns down in a second wildfire, you are out of luck!
Ok, so what does this prop do?
Several things for people who are part of the special rule (Over 55, severely disabled, natural disaster).
1) You can buy new home anywhere in the state (some counties had restrictions on this special rule).
2) You can buy a more expensive home. Your taxes would go up, but not as much.
3) You can use the special rule three times, rather than only once.
It also changes the rules for inherited property.
Inheriting the old tax calculation would only happen if:
1) The home is used as a primary residence for the child or grandchild (you actually have to live in the inherited home)
2) It is a farm.
3) If you do not use the inherited property as a primary residence, OR, if the value of the home or farm exceeds the taxable value by more than $1 million, then the property is taxed as if you just purchased it.
So if we imagine that your grandparent somehow bought a home in San Francisco for $100,000, but it’s now worth $5 million, if you inherit the property, you have to pay taxes on it as if it were worth $5 million, not $100,000. Note: your grandparent’s property taxes would not go up, only yours if you inherit it.
Again, California’s property taxes are bonkers, but this is a good move. With the increase in wildfires and climate change, moving because of natural disasters is going to become more common. Also, it doesn’t affect people living on a fixed income, actually giving them more flexibility, perhaps allowing them to move and free up more real estate.
And then the inheritance laws have allowed for some massive loopholes where people pay very little tax on massively valuable property, so closing that is a good thing.
Prop 20: Restrict Parole for Certain Offenses Currently Considered to Be Non-Violent. Authorizes Felony Sentences for Certain Offenses Currently Treated Only as Misdemeanors.
And now we return to California’s prison system.
In general, this is a prop that makes California’s sentencing and parole system stricter and more punitive. There are a lot of little things going on in this prop, but here are the general concepts.
It increases the penalties for theft, making it easier to charge individuals with felonies for things like shoplifting or petty theft. This is either by changing definitions of laws, or by creating new types of crime, “Serial Theft,” and “Organized Retail Theft.”
It changes parole requirements, making it harder to release someone on parole, and easier to send them back to prison. This is done in a number of ways, from changing what is considered at parole hearings, or making judges look at the cases (rather than the parole board itself), or making an individual serve more prison time before coming up for parole.
It expands DNA collection to people who have been convicted of misdemeanors.
Again, California’s prison system is a mess, and in general the state has slowly been moving in the right direction, from attempting to lower prison populations, to reforming three strikes laws, to legalizing marijuana. This prop moves in the wrong direction, creating an overly punitive parole process and expanding the ability of prosecutors to upgrade misdemeanors to felonies, a thing that disproportionately impacts minorities.
Prop 21: Expands Local Governments’ Authority to Enact Rent Control on Residential Property
California currently has a patchwork rent control system. First individual cities have the ability to manage rents, which several cities (LA, San Francisco, San Jose) have done. Second the Costa-Hawkins law limits who rent control can apply to. It cannot apply to single-family homes, and it cannot apply to housing built after Feb. 1 1995. It also cannot tell a landlord what they must charge in rent, only set limitations. Third, a state law limits rent increases to 5% plus inflation, or 10% (whichever is lower) per year. This applies to housing over 15 years old.
This prop would modify Costa-Hawkins, and allow rent control to be applied to most property over 15 years old. It would not apply to single family homes owned by people with two or fewer properties. It would also allow cities to limit how much a landlord can increase rent when a new renter moves in. But, communities that do this, must allow rent increases of up to 15% for three years.
Basically it provides some additional limitations on raising rent, mostly by applying the law to more people and applying it to new tenants.
Housing pricing is one of the biggest challenges facing California. Increasing rent control is one small way of trying to fix this problem. I think there are larger actions that could be taken, including revamping zoning restrictions, but I think this is a good thing, even if its underdone. I’m not going to stand in the way of a small good thing.
Election year, so you know what that means! Well, a number of things... but a new version of Stefan's guide to props! This year we have 12 props, broken up into three parts:
Prop 14: Authorizes Bonds Continuing Stem Cell Research
Quick tangent: What is a bond? A bond is a personal loan that individuals give to the state by purchasing them. It is like investing in the state. You buy a CA bond with the promise that the State will pay you back in the future, with a return on investment. These are sold on the open market and therefore are subject to the general fluctuations of the investment market.
Longer explanation: https://www.treasurer.ca.gov/publications/bonds101.pdf
The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine is a state-funded organization that gives out grant money to universities and other institutions to support stem cell research. This institute was created in 2004, after another proposition passed, and seeded the institute with 3 billion dollars. As of June 2020, the institution has spent nearly all of its initial $3 billion in funding, giving most of the money to University of California researchers, or private nonprofit universities and institutions, (Stanford received a large grant recently, for example).
This proposition would provide an addition $5.5 billion to the institute, for the same purpose, but it would allocate $1.5 billion of this to specifically look at brain and nervous system diseases, like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. It would also do a number of other minor things, like allow the institute to hire more full time employees, to support patient access to treatment, or provide internships and educational support for students at CA community colleges and at the Cal State System.
The financial cost of this is estimated at $250 million per year, for 30 years. Much of this money would be made by selling bonds, but the repayment of the bonds and paying down the remainder makes up the most of the state cost. It is worth noting that $250 million per year is less than 1% of the states’ General Fund budget.
Because of the speculative nature of research, we don’t really know what exactly the outcome of this expenditure will be. Discovery of new treatments or therapies may cause major savings in Medi-Cal or in other health care programs. The state also gets a cut of any invention-related income resulting from the research. So if you are a researcher, and you invent a new thing using this grant money and then license or sell your invention, the state gets a cut of the profit. In the past the income from this has been negligible, but it could be different in the future.
Universities rely heavily on grant funding of this type, and it provides a good counter to privately funded investment and research done by large pharmaceutical corporations or other for-profit medical institutes. In addition, advances in healthcare usually provide a net financial benefit in the long term. Supporting research into major conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s also seems like a good idea.
Prop 15: Increases Funding Sources for Public Schools, Community Colleges, and Local Government Services by Changing Tax Assessment of Commercial and Industrial Property
This is one of two propositions that seek to modify how property taxes are assessed in CA.
Here’s a quick primer on property tax. Most of this info was distilled from this webpage (https://lao.ca.gov/reports/2012/tax/property-tax-primer-112912.aspx):
CA property tax is weird and INCREDIBLY complicated. When you buy a home (or business property), you pay a property tax of 1.1%. This then increases by 2% each year, regardless of the value of your home. So, if you buy a $100,000 home, your property tax is $1,100. Now if your property values go up and your home is now worth $150,000, your property tax does not go up proportionally. It just ticks up 2%. So the law treats the $150,000 home as if it was worth $102,000. Got it? Now, if you are over 55 or disabled, or were a victim of a natural disaster and you move into a LESS expensive home, your property taxes don’t go up. So if you are over 55 and you bought your house 30 years ago for $100,000, it might be worth $400,000 now. But if you move into a home worth $250,000, your property taxes won’t go up, they still use the calculation from your old house.
This property tax gets collected by the county government, who then allocates percentages of this back down to local governments who use it to fund things like schools. The counties themselves take a cut of this tax as well, to do county-wide projects. This means that the amount of property tax revenue given to cities and school districts varies widely. Some school districts and cities receive several times the amount as others. There are some examples of this, but they are about 10 years old, so I don’t know how relevant they are currently.
It is worth noting that school funding is based mostly on state income tax revenue, distributed to schools based on a complex formula that takes into account things like English-Language learning or other things to try to give more money to schools that serve under-served students.
Got all that? Great. Lets get to the actual prop.
What does this prop do? This changes the rules for some commercial property, not homes (that’s Prop 19!). Right now, commercial property is taxed at 1.1% at the time of purchase, and then increased by 2% every year thereafter. This rule changes it so that property is instead taxed based on actual value, rather than the 2% increase. Doing this is estimated to raise between $6.5 and $11.5 billion per year, given to local governments. It also lowers taxes on business equipment by $500,000. This means that some small businesses might actually see a tax savings.
Importantly, some businesses are exempt. It only applies to businesses with more than $3 million in property, exempting most small businesses. If you have 50 or fewer employees, AND more than $3 million in property, this doesn’t go into effect for you until 2025. It also doesn’t impact farm land, or housing (so landlords are exempt).
While this doesn’t fix CA’s exceptionally strange and convoluted property tax system, it is a move in the right direction. I like that exempts small businesses (so my favorite breweries won’t be harmed). I think exempting farms and housing is a mistake for a bunch reasons, but overall this is a move in the right direction, and I’m frankly surprised I haven’t seen much advertising from corporations opposing this prop.
Prop 16: Allows Diversity as a Factor in Public Employment, Education, and Contracting Decisions
In 1996, CA voters changed the California Constitution (Prop 209) to insert a section that banned consideration of “race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin” in public employment, public education, or public contracting.
The important sentence is as follows:
“The State shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”
In this, the important section is “grant preferential treatment to.”
This prevents the state government, hiring of contractors, and importantly state university (Cal States, UCs) admissions, from using race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin, in ANY way. This sets up what might be called “color-blind” policies.
This proposition would repeal this section outright. However, because both the California constitution and the US Constitution contain protections for equal protection, the main impact of this would be allowing the California government to use “race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin” in the state government, hiring of contractors and state university admission.
This would not mandate any form of affirmative action, but would allow for its implementation if the institutions decided to change their practiced.
Some other context: Affirmative action has generally been upheld by the US Supreme Court, declaring that race is something that can be taken into account in university admissions. However, the use of strict quotas has been prohibited.
While there are some concerns with direct affirmative action, including the idea that it doesn’t fully account for the intersection of race and class when applied to elite university admissions, the use of “color-blind” policies is actively harmful, as it preserves a status quo under the guise of fairness. It also perpetuates a myth of meritocracy as an individual trait, and not something that is deeply rooted to historical and institutional legacies marred by racism, sexism and other forms of structural injustice.
Prop 17: Restores Right to Vote after Completion of Prison Term
This is one of three amendments (Props 20 & 25), dealing with California’s prison system.
California currently has a rather robust system of felon re-enfranchisement. It is actually easier to describe who cannot vote in California, than the opposite. If you are currently in State or Federal Prison, on parole from state prison (from a felony conviction), or in a form of transfer between these conditions, you cannot vote. Everyone else can vote. After you finish parole, your voting rights are fully restored. This is markedly different from some other states that either perpetually disenfranchise people with felony convictions, or have other restrictions.
This proposition would make it so that if you were out on parole, you would be able to vote. The only people who would be prevented from voting would be individuals who are actively in state or federal prison. Currently, California, and three other states (New York, and Connecticut) restrict voting rights for people on parole. This would move California in line with the 16 states that restrict voting only to individuals in prison (Maine and Vermont let everyone vote, even if they are in prison.) All state laws can be found here (https://www.aclu.org/issues/voting-rights/voter-restoration/felony-disenfranchisement-laws-map )
While California’s prison laws are not as bad as they used to be, especially after the repeal of the three strikes law, it is still worth pointing out the major problems of mass incarceration and its disproportionate effects it has on minority populations. There have been whole books written about California’s prison system, in particular (https://www.amazon.com/Golden-Gulag-Opposition-Globalizing-California/dp/0520242017/). And if you want to talk about power structures entrenched in a system designed to warehouse human beings, please feel free (although I WILL bring up Foucault…) Enfranchisement is a minor aspect of this, and it would only effect 50,000 people in a state of 34 million. But it is still worth doing.
Because I’m a busy grad student with a dissertation to propose, but I still care about you, but just not as much
1:Bonds for Housing Programs
Quick tangent: What is a bond? A bond is a personal loan that individuals give to the state by purchasing them. It is like investing in the state. You buy a CA bond with the promise that the State will pay you back in the future, with a return on investment. These are sold on the open market and therefore are subject to the general fluxuations of the investment market.
Longer explanation: https://www.treasurer.ca.gov/publications/bonds101.pdf
What it does: It provides the state with 4 billion dollars (through the selling of bonds) to build more low income housing, fund a program that gives home loans to veterans, and fund a few other minor projects. There are no new projects here, just continuing or additional funding for existing programs.
2: Bonds for Mental Illness Housing
What it does: It ratifies an existing law, which created a program to help find permanent housing for people with mental illnesses who are homeless or at risk of chronic homelessness. It basically moves money around to help fund bonds with existing mental health money. It doesn’t add any money to anything, it just moves money around to fund a program. The general argument against is that it takes too much money out of the funds that already exist for mental health care and traps it in one specific program.
Endorsement : Yes
3: Bonds for Water Supply
My friend helped write this pretty comprehensive guide to Prop 3, s/o Sarah Diringer! https://www.newsdeeply.com/water/community/2018/10/29/untangling-the-complexities-of-californias-proposition-3-water-bond
4: Children’s Hospital Bonds
What it does: Provides the State with 1.5 billion dollars to create grants that would go to hospitals building facilities to deal with children specifically. Most of this money would go to private non-profit hospitals (72%), but some would go to the University of California hospitals(18%) and 10% to other hospital types. The list of hospitals is quite specific (there are 8 hospitals that would get the 72%), but they are all children-focused hospitals. The money is for “Capital Expenses” so they would have to use the money to build new buildings or facilities or things like that.
5: Property Tax Special Rules
What it does: It changes property tax laws in specific cases and is confusing.
CA property tax is weird. When you buy a home, you pay a property tax of 1.1%. This then increases by 2% each year, regardless of the value of your home. So if you buy a $100,000 home, your property tax is $1,100. Now if your property values go up and your home is now worth $150,000, your property tax does not go up proportionally. It just ticks up 2%. So the law treats the $150,000 home as if it was worth $102,000. Got it? Now, if you are over 55 or disabled, or were a victim of a natural disaster and you move into a LESS expensive home, your property taxes don’t go up. So if you are over 55 and you bought your house 30 years ago for $100,000, it might be worth $400,000 now. But if you move into a home worth $250,000, your property taxes won’t go up, they still use the calculation from your old house. This proposition gets rid of this rule and creates a new rule so that if you buy a MORE expensive house, you pay less in taxes than you would without this prop. If you move into a LESS expensive home, nothing changes.
6: Gas Tax Repeal.
What it does: Repeals the gas tax passed in 2017, which raised the gas tax by 12 cents a gallon, and raised 5.1 billion dollars for “transportation funding,” which includes road repairs, improvements, and the like. For context, CA spends about 35 billion on transportation funding per year. A YES vote is to get rid of this tax. A NO vote keeps things the way they are.
7: Daylight Savings
What it does: This would allow the State Legislature to vote on opting out of Daylight Savings time (like Arizona and Hawaii currently do.) Nothing would change immediately, it would just allow the legislature to do this if they want. Because of a law passed 70 years ago, the state legislature has to ask voters to give them this power.
8: Dialysis Regulation.
What it does: There are a number of for-profit Dialysis centers that exist in the state and have an estimated annual revenue of $3 billion. Dialysis is a process that mimics kidney function when an individual has kidney failure. It is an outpatient procedure that patients must undergo regularly to survive, generally about 3 times a week. This bill would regulate this industry and prevent them from charging more that 110% percent of cost for this procedure and establishes regulations and enforcement mechanisms. Currently these organizations can charge whatever they want for this procedure. This may lower healthcare costs generally and medical and medicare costs more specifically.
9: Not on the ballot! Don’t worry about it!
10: Rent Control
What it does: It changes the current law to allow local governments to establish their own rent control standards. Currently, rent control can only be established by the State government, and any buildings built after 1995 cannot be rent-controlled. This would get rid of these restrictions and allow local governments to decide if they want to establish rent control on their own. Some cities may expand rent control, others may not. It would be up to each city to decide.
11: Ambulance Workers On-Call Regulations
What it does: Currently, hourly workers are entitled to take breaks without being on-call, or interrupted. This would make ambulance workers exempt from this law. They could then be required to be “on-call” during lunch or rest breaks, essentially keeping them on-call for their entire shift. Currently this is in a bit of a grey area, as most ambulance companies do require that their employees be on-call for their whole shift. However, some employees have sued and said that this violates labor law. The CA Supreme Court has decided that private security workers cannot be on-call for their entire shift, but they have not ruled on ambulance employees. This would undercut these court cases and create a specific exemption.
12: New Standards for Farm Animals.
What it does: Changes standards for farm animals, and modifies cage requirements for chickens, pigs and calves raised for veal. Currently the law says that the animals must be able to turn around freely, stand up, lie down and fully extend their limbs. This would modify the law to specific space requirements to “cage-free” housing for egg-laying hens (which is about 1 cubic foot of space per hen, but without any specific cages, 24 square feet of space for breeding pigs, and 43 square feet for calves.
Statewide Office Endorsements:
Governor: Gavin Newsom
Lieutenant Governor: Ed Hernandez
Secretary of State: Alex Padilla
Controller: Betty Yee
Treasurer: Fiona Ma
Attorney General: Xavier Becerra
Insurance Commissioner: Ricardo Lara
Board of Equalization (3rd district): Tony Vazquez
Senator: Dianne Feinstein
Representative: Vote for your local Democrat
Carol Corrigan: No
Leondra Kruger: yes
The following may not apply depending on your specific district:
Tip: If you google the names of the justices, you can easily find out who appointed them and use that to make your decision. It is a useful shortcut.
Victoria Chaney: No
Helen Bendix: yes
Elwood Lui: Yes
Victoria Chavez: No
Luis Lavin: Yes
Halim Dhanidina: Yes
Anne Egerton: Yes
Long Beach Ballot Measures:
Proposition 61: STATE PRESCRIPTION DRUG PURCHASES. PRICING STANDARDS. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
This is perhaps the most confusing and most expensive proposition on the ballot and further research into this proposition only makes it more complicated.
In a nutshell, this proposition wants to tie the prices that California pays for prescription drugs, for things like MediCal, to the VA’s announced price for drugs.
The VA administration negotiates and publishes the maximum prices that it will pay for prescription drugs. Note, this isn’t the amount it actually pays, but what it has decided is the maximum allowable price. This proposition would adopt this pricing structure for drugs purchased by the state of California. This would not affect drug prices for individuals who do not get prescriptions through MediCal or some other State-provided healthcare.
The analysis of this by various newspapers and other agencies make it more complicated. There is no indication that this would actually have the desired effect. Drug companies could simply increase the price that they change the VA and therefore charge California more. Also, California may be paying less than these prices already and that price would go up. This also helps explain why there is a major division between people who have come out in favor of the proposition (Bernie Sanders, among others) and those who have come out against it, (basically every newspaper in the state.)
All in all this is a very complicated proposition, with no real good solution.
While I am no ally of the pharmaceutical industry, and cutting into their profits is something I am very much in favor of, I think I will be voting NO on this one. This isn’t a NO vote because I oppose the sentiment but because I think this is something that fundamentally shouldn’t be left to the proposition system. This is the type of issue that is best handled by a legislative body and bureaucratic system analysing the issues and figuring out the best solution. However, I can see why someone would vote yes on this proposition and I don’t really buy the argument that drug companies would raise prices with the VA just to get back at California. I just think the issue is too complex for a proposition. That said, all the polling suggests that it will pass.
Proposition 62: DEATH PENALTY. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
Proposition 66: DEATH PENALTY. PROCEDURES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
I am going to talk about Prop 62 and 66 as a pair because, as there are no restrictions on the propositions that can be proposed, occasionally we get propositions that are contradictory.
Prop 62 eliminates the death penalty, making the maximum sentence in California life in prison, while Prop 66 essentially fast-tracks the implementation of the death penalty by limiting the number of appeals and removing the requirement for some appeals to go directly to the California Supreme Court.
Prop 62 would also apply retroactively, anyone on death row would automatically be re-classified to life in prison.
Since these propositions are contradictory if both of them pass, the proposition that got the most overall votes would go into effect.
I will be voting YES on Prop 62, and NO on Prop 66.
I believe that there are moral, economic and institutional reasons to be against the death penalty. I believe that killing a person is fundamentally immoral regardless of who is doing the killing, who is getting killed and why. In addition the economic cost of instituting the death penalty is prohibitive and this would fix that problem. Yes it does cost the state to keep someone in prison for life, but it is actually less than having and instituting the death penalty. While Prop 66 does address an element of this problem through its limitation of appeals, it does not fully mitigate the economic cost. Also institutionally, the burden of proof required to ensure that you are not executing an innocent person is prohibitive and I would rather get rid of the death penalty altogether than risk executing an innocent person.
Proposition 63: FIREARMS. AMMUNITION SALES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
This proposition adds a number of additional elements to California’s regulation of firearms. Currently California has regulations in place that prevent felons, individuals who are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others, and individuals with restraining orders against them, from owning firearms. In addition to this the state mandated background checks and maintains a list of gun owners in order to facilitate the removal of firearms from individuals who become prohibited from owning them.
There are also regulations on ammunition as well. These regulations essentially mirror the restrictions on firearms.
This proposition would increase the regulations. It would require individuals to purchase a permit from the state in order to purchase ammunition, this permit would be for a four-year period and could cost up to $50. This permitting process would allow the state to ensure that individuals who are on the prohibited list are not purchasing ammunition.
In addition to this, it would eliminate some of the grandfather clauses that exist regarding large-capacity magazines. Individuals have not been allowed to purchase large-capacity magazines in the state since 2000. However there are a number of grandfather clauses that allow individuals who have purchased magazines prior to 2000 to keep them. This proposition would get rid of these clauses.
I will be voting YES on this proposition. We accept state regulation on nearly everything that we do in our lives, from the houses we live in, to the cars we drive to the food and water we eat and drink. Thinking that firearms are exempt from this seems absurd. In addition, the classic Founder’s argument regarding the Bill of Rights does not apply. The Founders clearly intended the Bill of Rights to only apply to the Federal Government and this is a state measure. The only reason the Bill of Rights applies to the states is through an active judicial process called incorporation. So it is inconsistent to think that we should follow only what the Founders think and that the Bill of Rights should apply to the states and that state governments must follow it.
Proposition 64: MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
This one is pretty straightforward. It legalizes marijuana for recreational use in the state of California. If this law passes you would be able to: purchase marijuana at a state licensed facility, have up to 28.5 grams of marijuana on your person at any one time, grow up to six plants in your home, give up to 28.5 grams away to any other adult. This proposition defines adult as an individual above the age of 21. The state would also collect a tax on the sale of marijuana which would go to youth programs, environmental cleanup and inhibited driving prevention. It would also make anyone who was previously committed of a marijuana-based offense eligible for resentencing.
I will be voting YES on this proposition. It is pretty clear that the legalization of marijuana has positive effects on states, at least economically speaking. The cases of Colorado and Washington, among others have proven that this is viable and public opinion has shifted to the extent where the role of marijuana as a “hard drug” does not really apply anymore.
Proposition 65: CARRYOUT BAGS. CHARGES. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
Proposition 67: BAN ON SINGLE–USE PLASTIC BAGS. REFERENDUM.
These propositions are related, but also in contradiction so I will deal with them as a pair.
Proposition 65 requires that stores charge a fee of 10 cents per bag and directs the use of this money to environmental issues. Proposition 65 does not ban single-use plastic bags outright, but merely posits a probationary 10 cent charge on their use.
Proposition 67 does ban single-use plastic bags, mandating their replacement with either multi-use bags or easily recyclable alternative. It also mandates a cost of 10 cents per bag,but allows the individual retailer to keep these fees. However this proposition is tricky because California already has a law on the books that prevents the use of single-use plastic bags and this proposition is worded in such a way that a no vote on Prop 67 can be interpreted as a repeal of this existing law.
Let me attempt to make this a bit clearer:
There are a number of scenarios that could occur.
Scenario 1) Prop 65 and Prop 67 both pass: Plastic bags would be banned and the revenue from the sale of bags would be allocated to whichever prop got more votes.
Scenario 2) Prop 65 and 67 both fail. No ban on plastic bags and the existing law preventing their use would probably be overturned, but it would take a court decision to be final.
Scenario 3) Prop 65 passes and Prop 67 fails. There would then be no statewide law passed, but the prohibitive fee would still exist and the money would be given to environmental agencies.
Scenario 4) Prop 65 fails and Prop 67 passes. All the provisions of Prop 67 go into effect, a plastic bag ban, but the stores get to keep the revenues of the 10 cent fee.
This is like a perfect example of a real life game theory, prisoner’s dilemma problem. By attempting to get the proposition you want to pass, (Prop 67) you endanger the entire thing. I will say, whatever happens, this is going to be something that people who study voting behavior are going to write books on from years to come.
Therefore my action, and my advice is to vote YES on BOTH propositions and hope that Prop 65 gets more votes. While this is a less than ideal solution, it is important for this ban to pass overall and voting yes on both gives the greatest chance of this happening.
Proposition 56: CIGARETTE TAX TO FUND HEALTHCARE, TOBACCO USE PREVENTION, RESEARCH, AND LAW ENFORCEMENT. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE.
This proposition adds a $2 excise tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products. Currently the tax on tobacco products is set at $.87 per pack, and this would raise it to $2.87 per pack. These is also a calculation that would apply this tax at a similar rate to “other tobacco products” like cigars, chewing tobacco and stuff like that. This would also apply this tax to the sale of e-cigarettes. Currently there is no excise tax on e-cigarettes, they only pay sales tax. This would classify e-cigarettes as “other tobacco products,” and apply the taxes to them. The bulk of the revenues from this tax are to be spend on healthcare, but some of the money will be spent on school programs to prevent smoking and other administrative things.
However, it is clear that the goal of this proposition is to get people to stop smoking, rather than to raise revenue.
This one is tough. On the one hand, this is a regressive tax. Smokers tend to be low income so punishing them by drastically increasing the cost of cigarettes seems unfair. However, the cigarette industry has been a sleazy industry for essentially its entire existence, so I don’t feel to bad about helping to put them out of business. Also I think that e-cigarettes should be considered cigarettes as well. All in all I think that the positives of this outweigh the negatives so I will be voting YES.
Proposition 57: CRIMINAL SENTENCES. PAROLE. JUVENILE CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS AND SENTENCING. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT AND STATUTE.
Some background on this. In 2011 there was a class action lawsuit brought against the state of California charging that the state's overcrowded prisons was a violation of the 8th Amendment (cruel and unusual punishment.) This case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled against the state of California and ordered that the state reform its prison system.
The state basically dragged its feet over this issue, requiring a revision of the court case forcing California to deal with this problem. Since then we have passed a number of propositions and other laws including a revision of the “three strikes” law, and another proposition encouraging rehabilitation for drug offenders rather than prison time.
This proposition continues this effort by streamlining the parole process and making it harder to charge juveniles as adults.
This proposition allows individuals who have committed nonviolent felonies to come up for parole easier. Sometimes individuals serve time in prison for multiple crimes committed at the same time, these crimes get designated the “primary offense” and the “secondary offense.” This would allow individual to come up for parole after serving the entirety of their time for the “primary offense.”
This also makes it more difficult to try a juvenile as an adult as it would require a hearing in juvenile court prior to transferring them to an adult court. Relatively few juveniles get tried in adult court a year (roughly 600) but this would make it more difficult to do.
The overcrowding of the California prison system has been a major problem in California for a long time. I will be voting YES on this proposition because I think the financial impacts are worth it, we spend almost $70,000 per year, per inmate in the state of California. Also, it is important to note that this proposition doesn’t make it any easier to get parole, it just makes it easier to come up for parole.
Proposition 58: ENGLISH PROFICIENCY. MULTILINGUAL EDUCATION. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
This proposition also needs some context. Currently bilingual education in the state is restricted. If a student wants to participate in bilingual education their parent needs to sign a specific waiver that allows them to do so. This would change this restriction so that a student can participate in bilingual education without such input. This is because in 1998 we passed a proposition (Prop 227) that required all non-English speakers to take a rudimentary English class before being enrolled in mainstream education. As KPCC reports, this means that students who could read and write at a 5th grade level in Spanish, were forced out of their classrooms for an entire year to learn kindergarten-level English. This happens because Spanish speaking parents are often hesitant to sign a waiver for their child to allow them into bilingual classes.
This proposition would get rid of this requirement and expand bilingual education.
I am going to be voting YES on this proposition. I think expanding access to bilingual education will have a positive effect on all children, not just the children that are learning English. Prop 227, which this repeals represents an outdated notion of language and how we should be embracing our diverse community.
Proposition 59: CORPORATIONS. POLITICAL SPENDING. FEDERAL CONSTITUTIONAL PROTECTIONS. LEGISLATIVE ADVISORY QUESTION.
This one is a bit odd. It is an advisory question, meaning that it does not require anyone to do anything. It basically encourages the state legislature of California to support a Federal Constitutional Amendment that would overturn the Citizen’s United Supreme Court Decision. This is the decision that famously declare that corporations were to be treated as individuals for the sake of political fundraising, essentially creating Super PACs. However, there is no Constitutional amendment that has been proposed and there is no indication that there will be. This is basically a poll to encourage members of the State Legislature to support efforts to overturn the decision.
While this proposition is essentially pointless, I don’t like the Citizen’s United decision and I think that it is one of the more harmful Supreme Court decisions in recent history, so if this proposition sends a message that the State of California is unhappy with this decision, I’m all for it. I’m voting YES.
Proposition 60:ADULT FILMS. CONDOMS. HEALTH REQUIREMENTS. INITIATIVE STATUTE.
Ah, now we are getting into the controversial ones. This bill requires adult film actors to use condoms in their films. It also involves some other minor requirements regarding testing and vaccinations for the prevention of STI’s, but the condom issue is the big one. There is a minor fiscal requirement that goes along with this that might cost the state $1 million per year for enforcement, but that cost might change.
I think passing this proposition would be a bad idea. What would happen if we passed this proposition is that the adult film industry would not comply and would simply move elsewhere. We have already seen this happen when LA County passed a similar proposition in 2014. The adult film industry simply moved inland to the San Fernando Valley. This would just drive a multi-billion dollar industry out of the state. It's a bad idea and wouldn’t even have the desired effect if it passed. I’m voting NO.