We're all pretty confident of our own decision making. It's those other people, specifically politicians, who can't get anything right.
That's the clear sentiment from a Public Policy Institute of California study released last week. More than 80 percent of Democrats, Republicans and independents said they believe voters should have a say in state spending and taxes rather than leaving it up to the Legislature and governor.
I'm not surprised, but I would offer a couple of defenses for the legislators, regardless of party affiliation: They devote more time to focused study on these issues, and they have staff members to help them. Voters, on the other hand, are being fed a daily diet of TV ads and mailers filled with spin, lies and glaring omissions.
Part of the problem for voters is finding neutral, third-party analysis. The Legislative Analyst Office, whose conclusions are included in the Official Voter Information Guide, zeroes in on how the various propositions will affect the state budget, with brief mention of the impact on local government. This makes sense because the LAO works for the Legislature. But individual citizens are left to figure for themselves how the propositions will affect their lives and pocketbooks. That's one of the reasons we are making recommendations on all 11 state propositions and offering counter views, too.
While I'm on the subject of inadequate information:
Voters in several surrounding communities are being asked to approve bond measures for school construction or modernization. Bee reporters Nan Austin and J.N. Sbranti are looking at those proposals and The Bee will carry their news stories this next week.
But I think a heads up is in order, a repeat of a caution I offered a while ago. These are the questions I urge voters to ask about any school bond proposal, based on the lessons of recent years in our area:
What does the school district promise to accomplish if its bond is approved? It is a reasonable list? Or just a wish list, with something to appeal to everybody, to garner their "yes" votes?
Districts are required to estimate how much the bond measure will raise property taxes, usually expressed as dollars per $100 of assessed valuation. But how many bond sales are planned and over how many years? How long will it take, total, to pay off those bonds?
The Poway Unified School District, near San Diego, is the poster child for what can go wrong. It borrowed $105 million for 40 years, which will cost taxpayers there $1 billion in principal and interest over the long haul.
Are the districts using bond money to pay for computers or other items with relatively short lives? Or to pay for small maintenance projects that should be covered in annual operational costs?
I'm not weighing in on any of the specific proposals; just offering a few thoughts for voters.
The second presidential debate will be Tuesday and the State Theatre is hosting a free, live broadcast, open to anyone of any party. In this debate, President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will talk about foreign and domestic issues. Following the debate, local political leaders and analysts will offer thoughts on what they saw and heard. Both political parties will have tables in the lobby. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the debate begins at 6. The State is at 1307 J St., Modesto.
San Joaquin County has had term limits for county supervisors since 1988. On this election, the sitting supervisors are asking for an extension. Measure D would increase the number of terms to three, or 12 years. As The Record of Stockton noted, "We're uneasy about Measure D because it benefits the very incumbents who put it on the ballot." Even if you oppose term limits in concept, as I do, you have to wonder about this stunt.
Endorsements are a dime a dozen these days, or less. But some are interesting. And more interesting, sometimes, are the cases where an organization doesn't endorse the predictable candidate. A few of note:
The editorial board at The Record in Stockton didn't see two key races the way we did. That newspaper endorsed Jose Hernandez over Jeff Denham for the 10th Congressional District and Bill Berryhill over Cathleen Galgiani for the 5th state Senate District.
The Stanislaus County Farm Bureau Board of Directors considered requests for political endorsements in four local races, but only made endorsements in three: Denham for Congress; Berryhill for Senate and Kristin Olsen for the 12th Assembly. None is surprising given the Farm Bureau's preference for Republicans. What was a little surprising: No endorsement in the 21st Assembly race between Republican Jack Mobley and Democrat Adam Gray.
Gray did pick up the endorsement of Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson, a Republican, and the mayor and members of the Ceres City Council, all of whom are Republican.
Californians have until Oct. 22 to register to vote and can now do so online at http:// registertovote.ca.gov. But the process isn't automatic. The Secretary of State's office explains: "Your county elections official will contact you when your voter registration application is approved or when more information is needed to confirm your eligibility."
Who else is tired of all the political ads? Personally, I'm looking forward to Nov. 7 and I'm fairly certain that life won't be all that much different that day, regardless of what happens on Nov. 6.
Sly is editor of the Opinions pages. Contact her at (209) 578-2317 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @judysly.