Malinda Markowitz op-ed in the San Jose Mercury News:
It's time we took California off the auction block and put the voters back in charge.
Wealthy interests write big checks to politicians and get favors in return in the form of corporate tax breaks, pork barrel projects, legislation or regulation and vetoes. Everywhere you look, regular Californians lose. Higher charges at the pump, inflated HMO premiums, contaminated food, rising chronic asthma rates from polluted air, shoddy products, inadequately funded schools because of corporate tax loopholes that divert money that could be used for education.
With Proposition 89, voters can restore balance to our political system. Even critics, such as the Mercury News editorial board, acknowledged that ``the pay-to-play money machine in Sacramento is warping politics, values and public policy.''
Proposition 89 would make politicians work for the voters, not campaign donors. It would reduce how much corporations, unions and individuals could give to candidates, ban contributions from lobbyists, and provide limited public funds to qualified candidates who rejected private contributions. Lawbreakers could be removed from office or jailed.
Proposition 89 also would limit corporations from spending more than $10,000 on initiatives, a provision some, like the Mercury News, dislike. But this election -- already the most expensive in state history -- illustrates why Proposition 89 is needed. Oil and tobacco companies have alone spent about $144 million on just two ballot measures. Last fall, it was drug companies spending $83 million on two initiatives.
The meta-story of California's 2006 election is the record spending, which owns the dynamics of almost every political decision.