Every election I do an analysis of the California propositions, and today, I presented an unofficial version of the analysis to my Roundtable. (Thanks to @Dan Abrams for his prodding, and to @Craig Alexander and @Laurie Davies for their help and preparation.) I typically review and summarize their impact, note the recognizable organizations or parties that endorse or oppose them, and then follow the money that funds them. By the time I’m done, most people know with a fair amount of clarity what they are going to vote for or against.
One thing became extremely clear this year: this is a millionaire’s game. Do the names Robert Klein, Patty Quillin, Alastair MacTaggart, Steven & Connie Ballmer, Mark Zuckerberg mean anything to you?
Mr. Zuckerberg is probably familiar as the founder of Facebook. His Chan Zuckerberg foundation is investing heavily in this election to support Proposition 15 ($8 million), the most recent attempt to break California’s Prop 13 cap on property tax increases, but the other names may not be as familiar. Here’s how the dots connect:
Robert Klein – funded the first stem cell research bond in California but the money has run out so he is funding $2.2 million to pass Proposition 14 (75% of funds raised) a new bond to do it again.
Patricia Quillin – Wife of Reed Hastings, founder of Netflix, together with Quinn Delaney provided $3 million (75% of funds raised) supporting Proposition 16 to restore Affirmative Action to California.
Alastair MacTaggart – Real estate developer who was the driving force behind the California Consumer Privacy Act, and provided $5 million to pass Proposition 24 (100% of funds raised) to bring even greater privacy protections for Californians.
Steven & Connie Ballmer – Steven Ballmer was the former CEO of Microsoft and together they funded $5 million (83% of the funds raised) to pass Proposition 25 to keep the state’s no cash bail system from being overturned.
I don’t begrudge any of these people the right to use their money for whatever causes they see fit, but the proposition process championed by Hiram Johnson in 1911 was supposed to restore power to the people and fight big money in politics, not give all the power to big money and make the people into their pawns.
The proposition process is not flawed at its core, but it needs a substantial makeover to make it work as intended and truly give a voice to the people. More discussion on that to follow!