Opinion

Books are not Worth the Hype

I just finished a book, and I’ve been playing around with this idea in my head for a while: I like the universality of books. I think that’s one of their most redeeming features. They’ve got a few other benefits, too: They’re portable (you can pretty much bring them anywhere), and you can drop them in a swimming pool, and with a little bit of effort, still read them. I’ve tried. But at the same time, they’ve got a lot of downsides. First of all, they take a hell of a long time to finish. To give you an example, the book I just finished was 323 pages long, and I’ve been reading it on and off throughout the day. In fact, if I were to break my day down, that’s all I really did today, suffice rather routine things like having lunch. Somewhere in my earlier schooling they implanted the idea in my head that the novel was invented as a kind of book that was meant to be finished in an evening. This, I’ve come to discover, is complete crap — a fairy tale invented by one English teacher and passed down through generations and generations of lying English teachers. Imagine the time period surrounding the instance when the novel was created: People went to bed at 7 p.m. because it got dark. Conversations around that time were quite similar to this: “”Hey, Ebenezer, looks like the sun just set.”” “”I guess we’re screwed now. Off to bed we go.”” Considering they had tea at 3 p.m. and supper at 5 p.m., that leaves about two hours to constitute their “”evening.”” And anyone who finishes novels in less than two hours is either: a.) A speed reader. b.) Reading Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew joint mystery capers — a fine collection I might add. c.) A damned liar, much like English teachers who claim novels were meant to be finished in an evening. Another problem with books is the whole “”you should be reading them”” stigma attached to them. It’s almost the same as when you were younger and your parents said, “”It’s such a wonderful day outside, you should be out enjoying that instead of inside the house.”” The suggestion was much more than a veiled excuse for your parents to have sex. It’s a statement designed to make you feel bad about watching MTV, playing video games and not allowing your parents to have sex. The “”you should be reading them”” stigma rears its ugly head later in your life, unless you’re a nerd like my sister, and actually list reading books as what you would do if you were bored in a pseudo-intellectual-I-like-the-bookmarks-Amazon.com-gives-me-with-stupid-quotes-from-famous-dead-philosophers-about-books-that-simply-promote-buying-more-books-by-making-you-feel-good-about-buying-more-books sort of way, in the form of feeling bad because you’re going through life without really reading any books, or if you are reading books, you’re not reading the really good books, just the trashy ones. But I seem to have gotten off my main point, which was that I liked the universality of books. In other words, I could read a book in San Diego, and recommend it to my friend in Idaho (not that I would have any friends in Idaho), and he could go to his local Borders with a built-in cafe and purchase the same book. Perhaps this is saying something about the prevalence of Borders Books in the United States, or the universality of everything, such as CDs and movies. But it’s not the same with CDs or movies. Well, it sort of is, but it’s not. You could have a better stereo than your friend, or a bigger TV, and you’re not really experiencing the same thing he’s experiencing as you are with a book. True, you can buy a hardcover and he could buy a paperback, but they really are almost the same. The text doesn’t really change unless you get one of those large-print books, which I actually kind of like. I fight nearly blind people for them at the library. When I was in eighth grade, I got a copy of Naval Shute’s “”The Beach”” at the Glendale Public Library and the only remaining copy of it was in large print. It was like 1,400 pages long, and had some paraplegic spittle on it. At least, I always assumed it was paraplegic spittle. It never really occurred to me until now that it could have been ordinary person spittle, like librarian spittle, or local-resident-browsing-through-large-print-stacks spittle, but let’s face it: Who really browses through large-print stacks except paraplegics? Regardless, the spittle was on the front cover, and it was so old it was almost petrified. The whole time I was reading it I was careful to avoid touching the petrified spittle, so I suppose my experience of reading that book was a little different than, say, some guy in Utah reading a 150-page paperback. What I’m saying is that on the average, books have a built-in universality that is rather neat — “”neat”” being the only kind of word I could possibly use when I consider what a nerd I must sound like right now. I also like the fact that books are one of the few things I can do nowadays that I can talk to my dad about. I can’t say, “”So, Dad, what do you think of the new Radiohead album? Do you think the lack of guitars is a bold move, considering the success of their last album?”” But he can say to me, “”‘The Fountainhead,’ why are you reading that piece of garbage?”” My mother can say to me, “”Oh yeah, Ayn Rand. Your father can’t stand her,”” as if he went to college with Ayn Rand and she was really annoying. I find that most parents, not just mine, have the same view of “”The Fountainhead.”” They think it’s a flaming pile of tripe, and not the good tasting tripe. Some of them give it a little slack and say it’s a nice story, but most of the points made are crap, which is basically what my mother said about the Bible when I said I was going to a church retreat. One last thing I should note is that there’s truth in the saying “”only lend the books you never care to see again.”” To give you a brief example, I have Steve’s copy of “”Snowcrash,”” Dave has my copy of “”Mostly Harmless,”” but I have his copy of “”Swann’s Way,”” yet he has my copy of “”Cat’s Cradle,”” which has personal sentimental value for me because it was a Christmas present from Laura, whose copy of “”Bech”” I have. I remember once in high school I traded my father’s copy of “”1984″” for some guy named Tyler’s copy of some book that began with “”Perceptions by Huxley”” but I let Jeremy borrow it, and it’s been missing in action ever since. The fact that I let someone borrow a borrowed book is a perfect example of what to do with your books: Leave them on your shelf, and if someone asks about one of them, comment on the prevalence of Borders Books in the United States. ...

Political Activity Leaves Much to be Desired

Election year 2000 will undoubtedly go down in the history books as one of the most complicated and controversial elections in U.S. history. For many students here at UCSD, this unforgettable election year has been their very first, and quite possibly, the most memorable they will ever have. All of this considered, it is sad to say that for other students at UCSD, voting and knowing who leads their country is as unimportant and petty as their 8 a.m. classes. From what I have observed before and after the days of the Tuesday vote, political awareness and spirit here on campus are lacking in every possible way. While there are those who present a strong passion and interest in the elections and the candidates, there is also a majority who view them to be a waste of their time, and are completely ignorant when it comes to the candidates’ names and the positions they are running for. It is evident that times have changed since the 1960s, when political protests, rallies and strikes were a common activity on college campuses, and when the voice of students counted as much as anything else in politics. Today we are living in the new millennium, and attending one of the most prominent schools in the country. The students, as a way of showing political spirit and support, did not even hold one large political rally or campaign. Sure, there were a few crumpled-up and slanted campaign signs stating “”Bush-Cheney”” or “”Gore-Lieberman”” hung on posts, but this is a university full of young, educated students and future leaders of our country. Hanging signs on posts is not going to get any ideas across to anyone. So where are the hardcore activists who stand up on stage and preach their political views? Where are the spirited groups that give out stickers and American flags and tell passersby to vote for the person who they passionately believe to be right for our country? Unfortunately, those people do not exist here on this campus and, if they do, something is stopping them from showing their motivation and determination to stand up. The problem of voting on campus also contributes to the lack of political involvement and awareness. There were those who did vote and proved their commitment by waiting in the 15-minute voting line at Muir college on Tuesday, but the numbers that revealed their dedication did not even seem to include half of the school. While some had the excuse that they were not registered in the San Diego precinct, others did not even know that voting booths were on campus. The lack of political support among people between the ages of 18 to 23 has given political leaders the idea that young people do not care and, even worse, will not vote. For this reason, these leaders do not listen and mostly disregard the ideas and problems of young people in that age group. This past election was the first of the millennium, not to mention the first election that many UCSD students had the opportunity to participate in. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a bore on campus. Standing in line for 15 minutes, I noticed that people talked about anything but whom they were going to vote for or what they wanted out of their future leaders. One student even claimed that he thought it would be funny to just close his eyes and randomly punch holes into the voting ballot. What this campus needs, along with many other college campuses, is political awareness and excitement coming from students who are willing to volunteer at different campaigns, spread their views around the school, and make their vote count in every possible way. Whether political spirit is strong on campus is not the central part of the problem. The main problem lies in what students need to do in order to show their commitment to their country. We cannot go back in time to when hippies and activists controlled most of the politics on campus, but we can make a difference through simple political rallies and gatherings that would get our central views across and make politics just a little more fascinating. If the majority of young people continue to disregard who leads their country, future leaders will simply oppose all of their requests and views. In other words, without speaking up and showing their support, students will be left in the dust. In this day and age, everybody needs to vote and participate, and as the cliche so vividly proved this election year goes, each vote does make a difference. ...

Hitting the Books or Hitting the Ball

Ever since I arrived at UCSD last year, I have heard continuous complaints about our school’s lack of a football team or its Division II sports teams. Many people think we should have at least a football team and make our Division II sport teams more competitive so they can become Division I teams. These people often refer to UC Berkeley or UCLA’s football and basketball teams as model teams that UCSD should have or emulate. Melissa Chow/ Guardian I believe otherwise. I like our school’s present focus on academics instead of sports. Notice I am not against having many sports teams, or even trying to make our present sport teams better. However, I am convinced that UCSD needs to keep its academic focus in order to fulfill its role as a university. A university is typically defined as an institution of higher learning. For a university to focus more on sports instead of academics is to be inconsistent with a university’s function. The definition usually does not mention sports. Based on the previous definition, any respectable institution that regards itself as a university should not make sports its primary focus. It is perfectly acceptable for a university to have teams in every conceivable sport. I personally support sports and anything that advances sports to a higher level. However, I believe sports should remain only as extracurricular activities in universities, and nothing more. Melissa Chow/ Guardian Some might say collegiate sports are very important because they help prepare athletes for professional sports. If so, people should create organizations expressly to train and provide assistance for aspiring athletes. Athletes should not look toward universities as stepping stones to professional sports, nor should they make sports their primary reason for going to colleges and universities. My second argument against making UCSD more sports-oriented concerns the students and their contributions to a university’s overall academic standard. I believe a school’s focus on collegiate sports affects that standard adversely. Students influence a university’s academic standard even before they arrive on campus. The caliber of the students that a university attracts and admits indicates that university’s educational quality. Top universities with strong athletic programs often try to attract potential athletes by lowering admission standards and granting athletic scholarships. These preferential admissions lower the overall quality of admitted students and are unfair to other qualified students who are also competing for admission. Athletic scholarships have the same effect. One’s athletic, not academic, abilities determine one’s access to these scholarships. Academic achievements become minor factors, and universities often overlook them as they try to attract able athletes. These admission and scholarship issues occur most often at universities with famous athletic programs, because they are trying to maintain their athletic reputations. The pressure comes from students and others who focus more on sports than academics. Universities like UCSD can prevent their academic standards from sliding further by making academics their top priority and giving athletic scholarships only to athletes with strong academic backgrounds and admitting them according to general academic standards. Athletes continue to influence a university’s academic standard once they arrive on campus. Often, when student-athletes enter college, they become more athletes than they are students. There is strong pressure to do so partly because college sports compete at a higher level than high school sports, and partly because schools that are known for their athletic programs care more about their athletes’ performance than their academics. The long hours athletes in universities across the nation train for competitions reflect this pressure. Sometimes these practices total more than 40 hours a week, which is comparable to what a full-time job requires. Some people might disagree and refer to the NCAA regulations on sport practices. NCAA regulates formal sports practices, but it doesn’t regulate informal, or “”optional”” practices. On the surface, these so-called optional practices sound innocuous. In reality, they are mandatory. Some coaches allow their players to play only if they attend these optional practices. Whether all athletes do train excessively is unknown, but one can be sure that there is pressure to train hard, and that the stronger a university’s athletic department is, the stronger the pressure. All this training eventually turns an extracurricular activity into the student’s primary activity. Reduced study time translates into lower grades, which lower the university’s overall academic standards. Universities that emphasize athletics are also disadvantageous to their students. Their athletic programs are more likely to pressure their athletes to dedicate themselves to the team and the bare minimum to themselves. Often there is no happy medium between the time for the team and time for one’s studies, which eventually forces the student to choose between the two. If the student chooses sports and the team over himself and his studies, then he will make his decisions for the team’s benefit. Universities that focus too much on athletics and pressure their students to do the same jeopardize their students’ futures instead of furthering them. By staying academic instead of turning athletic, UCSD is in step with the definition of a university. It serves both the community and its students adequately by providing them with a precious opportunity to obtain higher education in their fields and valuable job skills in order to meet today’s job market challenges. UCSD’s academic reputation and standard will continue to rise as a result of its dedication to education and research, instead of sports. ...

Props & Flops

Thumbs up to no more political advertisments bombarding us when we want to watch television in peace. Thumbs down to nonvoters. Your vote could have changed the course of the nation. ...

Editorials

Vincent Gragnani, Editor in ChiefBill Burger & Alison Norris Managing EditorsJeffrey White, Copy EditorTom Vu, Opinion EditorLauren I. Coartney, News EditorRobert Fulton, Sports EditorDavid Pilz, Photo Editor Voter information guides are meant to be informative, not misleading. Last week, the UCSD College Democrats distributed a voter guide on campus, listing their endorsements for various positions and propositions. We at the Guardian, however, find the guide grossly misleading. The front of the guide says, “”UCSD Student Voter Guide, Election Day, November 7th 2000″” and includes an official UCSD logo. The logo, which abstractly resembles Geisel Library, is generally used side-by-side with the name UCSD. We feel that it was misused, leading students to believe that the guide was prepared by the university or the A.S. Council. The back of the guide includes endorsements, listing and endorsing the Democratic candidates for president, U.S. senator, U.S. representative, state senator and state assembly. It also made recommendations on the eight propositions. “”Paid for by UCSD College Democrats”” is printed at the very bottom of the endorsements, as well as a Web address for the College Democrats. The Guardian feels that the College Democrats should not mislead students. “”UCSD Student Voter Guide”” is extremely vague, and the name does not even offer students a hint that the guide was paid for by a partisan student group. The front of the voter guide should have been appropriately labeled, making it clear that the guide was put out by the UCSD College Democrats, and not made or paid for by the university. Others apparently felt the same way. On election day, members of the UCSD College Democrats passed out their voting recommendations, this time with the name of the organization handwritten on the top of the front of the guide. We appreciate their straightforwardness in making the correction, but feel they should not have tried to get away with the original flyer in the first place. The United States Student Association, on the other hand, distributed a more appropriate student voter guide, one that the College Democrats should have emulated. The name of the organization is printed on every page of the guide, including the front. It did not mislead, nor misrepresent anyone. The Guardian applauds USSA for making an effort to inform students in an honest way. ...

Dead Heat Election Unneccesary in Light of Gore's Advantages

At 9:10 p.m. Tuesday, George W. Bush and Al Gore were tied in Electoral Votes, at 242 each. Bush had won Arkansas and its six votes while Gore won Washington with it’s 11 votes. As Brian Williams from NBC so eloquently put it: “”They don’t get any deader than this dead heat.”” Even though the presidential election has yet to be decided, this article will look at some interesting aspects of the race and some trends that it revealed. In the next couple of days, everyone, from the media to political analysts to the loser of this election, will be asking him- or herself: Why is this election so close? It is even tighter than the 1960 elections between Nixon and Kennedy, to which this election is continuously juxtaposed. Everyone had predicted a close election but did it really need to be this close? The answer is: No. This was not an election that had to be forced down to the wire as it currently is. Not to take any credit away from Bush if he is declared the winner, but this is an election that Gore should have won, hands down. This nation is only now coming out of the economic boom that the Clinton-Gore administration overlooked. True, they had little to do with moving the nation into the New Economy, but, as proved by voter preferences throughout numerous elections, this matters little. As long as the people live in prosperous economic times, they vote, in their minds, to keep the good times rolling. Being vice president, Gore automatically inherited this from Bill Clinton. Second, the United States is at peace. Obviously there are still terrorist nations, but America is not involved in a war while entering this election. When Nixon won the presidency in 1968, the nation was torn by the Vietnam War. Gore and Bush, and thankfully America, are not faced with this situation. As a result, there is no excuse for the election to be as close as it is. If Bush is declared the winner, it is because Gore gave him that opportunity. What about the Nader effect? It is obvious to anyone that looks that the popular votes in the close states that Nader changed the outcome. If even one-half of the votes in Florida that went to Nader went to Gore, the state would have tipped to Gore’s favor. As Lawrence O’Donnell, a commentator, said, “”If George Bush wins Florida, the first phone call he needs to make is to Ralph Nader to thank him.”” However, this goes back to the earlier argument: Gore had the opportunity to pull ahead but did not take advantage of it. He had the money and he knew far enough ahead the trouble that Nader presented. Because he did not act, someone else will determine his political future. What does this presidential election show about the national trends? Considering how the senatorial races are developing, with the possibility of having a 50-50 split, it means the nation is decidedly moderate. Though Republicans still, surprisingly, hold the House, it is with a much slimmer majority. Americans have converged to the center. Consider the past few presidential and midterm elections. The last time we had a unified government was in 1992. Since then, Americans have divided the government between the two parties. With each election, the number of seats that the majority Republicans held has slowly shrunk. Now, the difference in the House is less than a dozen and there is a possibility that the Senate will be evenly split down the middle, leaving the deciding vote to the vice president, whomever that may be. This would be the first time since 1882 that something like this happened. As unified as this nation may seem in her politics, one look at the electoral map shows how differently one American views the candidates than the other. Down the middle of the nation: Bush Red. On the coasts: Gore Blue. While Americans may be moderate, each American’s view of what, and who, is moderate varies greatly. Some consider Gore and his New Democrats as centrists. Others view Bush and his compassionate conservatism to be the middle. This presidential election indicates the cultural and regional differences of the nation. “”Starbuck’s vs. Dunkin’ Donuts,”” as CNBC commentator Chris Matthews calls it. What will this mean for America? The next president can win the elections without winning the popular vote, something that has happened only three times in the history of the United States. Will the Electoral College be scrapped? Will a dead man be elected to the Senate? Only time will tell. Until then, sit tight; we’re in store for a wild ride. ...

Intelligence Authorization Act Vetoed by Clinton

Proponents of the Intelligence Authorization Act were sent into an uproar this week after President Clinton vetoed the controversial piece of legislation. After a difficult process of deliberation, Clinton vetoed the act to the chagrin of authorities such as Janet Reno and organizations such as the CIA. However, Clinton’s action champions the right of free speech and the right of the press to keep the public informed. The Intelligence Authorization Act itself seems ordinary. It is fiscal in nature — legislation authorizing the distribution of funds to various governmental intelligence agencies for 2001. Buried within it, though, is an “”anti-leak”” clause, so termed because it makes the leaking of classified information by a government official a felony punishable by three years in prison. Current law criminalizes the leaking of defense-related classified information and other types of highly sensitive information related to national security. The Intelligence Authorization Act’s clause would have created sweeping changes with the potential to impinge free speech. For one, the broad nature of the clause’s language caused confusion among members of Congress, proving that it would be difficult to enforce. Confusion ensued in Congressional debates as to whether the clause would be applicable to members of Congress themselves, and whether those who benefit from the information leaked would be subject to persecution. It is not difficult to see why this aspect of the clause would be a matter of concern to those with a vested interest in protecting free speech. The editors of the New York Times and the Washington Post sent letters to Clinton,urging him to veto the legislation. Critics of the act recognized immediately that it would have been an attack on the roots of democracy to leave the press susceptible to persecution for informing the people. The clause’s broad language also caused legislators to wonder if its wording would allow the Executive Branch free reign to determine what denotes “”classified”” information. Unlike previous provisions, the Intelligence Authorization Act’s clause does not specifically state that matters such as Executive Branch gaffes cannot be classified. If the clause had become law, a president with a pernicious past could have exploited its harsh penalties to his advantage: Imagine what would happen if a president were to classify a major flub, only to prosecute the government official who leaked it to the press. The term “”classified”” would no longer denote a status of secrecy for the protection of the nation — it would come to mean anything that a department or a high-ranking official did not want known publicly. Even those who favored the act’s passage did not jump to conclude that it would result in a tighter seal around matters of sensitivity. Last week Reno was asked at a news conference how the act would assist the prosecution of those who leak classified information, as there are so few cases of such prosecution now. “”I don’t think there is a reluctance to prosecute the person who leaks information,”” Reno replied, “”but finding that person while at the same time honoring the First Amendment interests of the media is a very difficult task.”” Thus Reno did not assert that the clause would result in more prosecutions. Though it may be naive, it is reasonable for an employer to expect that his employee will be faithful and truthful. In most cases this is for the good of the company as a whole. In government, the situation functions differently: Though a breach of trust can harm the nation, it is imbued with the potential to affect the nation positively as well. Experience tells us that leaks to the media, even of “”classified”” information, do more good than harm. The most prominent examples of this are the cases involving the Pentagon Papers and, of course, the Watergate scandal. No one can deny the significance of these two events in shaping the public’s consciousness on issues they should have known about. The government should expect fealty from its employees, but people should also expect the truth from their government. As we cannot generally rely on our government to keep us informed of issues that can affect us greatly, the importance of the media’s ability to do this becomes tantamount. It remains to be seen whether the Intelligence Authorization Act is gone for good. Its critics and its proponents alike are vehement, but its critics may prove to be the stronger side. If so, it can only be hoped that our next president will have the clarity of mind to recognize the legislation for what it is — an attempt to restrict the rights guaranteed to the people and the press. ...

Transportation Department Lacks Humor

Apparently, the UCSD transportation department has lost its sense of humor. Last week, it informed Debbie Evans, a shuttle driver, that she is no longer allowed to act like a pirate on her shuttle. Since the beginning of the school year, when she started her shuttle-driving career, Evans has worn a red bandanna, an eye patch (not over any eyes, of course), and occasionally a fake hook or parrot while on the job. She had greeted passengers with an occasional “”Ahoy, matey!”” or “”Arrrggg!”” mixed in with the standard “”Hello.”” In doing this, Evans livened up the atmosphere on the Regents East shuttle, amusing some, if not all of the passengers. Even the ones who didn’t find her funny didn’t complain about it; Evans was not reprimanded because of any customer complaints. Her superior’s decision to ban the pirate act came after other shuttle drivers complained that it was “”unprofessional.”” While I respect the right of Shuttle Operations to set standards for its employees and to enforce them, in this case it has made a poor decision. There are no rules prohibiting shuttle drivers from attempting to entertain their passengers. In her act, Evans did not put anyone in danger, nor did she do anything to make her passengers doubt her ability as a driver. Her actions may have been, as the other drivers say, “”unprofessional,”” but I don’t think that the word is very well-applied to the profession of shuttle driving. If it were truly a professional situation requiring a professional demeanor, shuttle drivers would likely be prohibited from playing their own music, talking to friends while they drive, and waving at each other all the time. If this were an issue of safety, I would be the first to support the transportation department. Last year, a driver on the shuttle out to East Parking bothered me not because of his appearance or his greetings but because of his total lack of safe driving skills. There were more than a few times on that shuttle where I expected it to tip over going around a curve. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take a talkative pirate over a threat to my safety any day. Perhaps the transportation department should worry less about the acting skills of its employees and more about their ability to drive. This is much less a case of safety or of professionalism than it is a case of wanting to preserve the status quo. Evans’ co-workers and superiors, faced with an expression of individualism they hadn’t seen before, decided to reject it as different instead of judging it at face value. From what I have been told by Evans and by the Transportation Office, this issue is still unresolved. Evans retains her desire to brighten up the mood on the shuttle with her rendition of “”Yo ho, yo ho,”” and her superiors are still stopping her from doing so. I personally am saddened by this because I’m tired of being bored on the shuttle. UCSD is not the most exciting school in the world, and we should be doing all that we can to support a little bit of diversity and individuality. If you share my sentiments and would like to see the reappearance of Pirate Debbie on the shuttle system, please call Shuttle Operations at (858) 534-6282 to voice your opinions. You do have a say on your campus. ...

LOCAL ELECTIONS

The views expressed in this section represent a majority vote of the editorial board. The editorial board consists of Vincent Gragnani, Editor in Chief; Bill Burger and Alison Norris, Managing Editors; Jeffey White, Copy Editor; Tom Vu, Opinion Editor; Lauren I. Coartney, News Editor and Robert Fulton, Sports Editor. The endorsements are not necessarily those of the UC Board of Regents, the ASUCSD, nor the entire Guardian staff. San Diego Mayor: Dick Murphy The Guardian endorses Judge Dick Murphy for San Diego mayor. His environmental record, plans for traffic management and overall vision for San Diego makes him the most qualified candidate. He has laid out a specific traffic plan combining wider freeways with an expanded mass transit system. Murphy’s opponent, County Supervisor Ron Roberts, has ideas similar to Murphy’s. However, he is a career politician, and we feel San Diego needs someone with a clear vision for San Diego that extends beyond the next election. California State Senate: Dede Alpert The Guardian believes State Sen. Dede Alpert, a proponent of education and transportation solutions while in the State Senate, deserves to be re-elected. As senator, Alpert has helped to develop a new Master Plan of Education framework. She also fought for lower electricity rates in San Diego over the summer. We believe that her opponent, Judge Larry Stirling, does not have the wide-ranging vision for our city and state that Alpert has. We therefore endorse Dede Alpert for the 39th district of the State Senate. California State Assembly: Christine Kehoe The Guardian endorses City Councilwoman Christine Kehoe for State Assembly. Kehoe has a strong educational and environmental record, and supports a variety of solutions to our traffic problems, including increased mass transit. Kehoe is also a strong proponent of gun control. Kehoe’s opponent, Michele Nash-Hoff, has very specific plans, but the Guardian feels the issues Kehoe addresses are more crucial to San Diegans, and endorse Kehoe for the 76th district of the State Assembly. ...

PROPOSTITIONS

The views expressed in this section represent a majority vote of the editorial board. The editorial board consists of Vincent Gragnani, Editor in Chief; Bill Burger and Alison Norris, Managing Editors; Jeffey White, Copy Editor; Tom Vu, Opinion Editor; Lauren I. Coartney, News Editor and Robert Fulton, Sports Editor. The endorsements are not necessarily those of the UC Board of Regents, the ASUCSD, nor the entire Guardian staff. Veterans’ BondProp 32: Vote Yes The Guardian endorses Proposition 32, the Veterans’ Bond Act of 2000. Sponsored by Gov. Gray Davis, the bond act would approve $500 million in low-cost, low-interest home and farm loans for Californian veterans. The loans are aimed at California’s Vietnam veteran population. Despite recent criticism of California’s Department of Veterans Affairs by two state watchdogs which stated that the department is grossly inefficient and is not offering attractive loan programs, the Guardian believes recent major reforms to the department are moving it in the right direction. Supporters say the program is self-sufficient, with bonds being solely funded by the vets themselves with their mortgage payments. Without the passage of the bond issue, Cal-Vet loan programs will run out of funding by 2002. The Guardian feels we owe it to our veterans to compensate them for interrupting their lives and risking life and limb for their country. All too often, veterans of war have a difficult time readjusting after war, and they deserve all the help they can get. With low-interest loans with low down payments, more of them will be able to afford homes, and many would be able to afford better homes in safer neighborhoods. With the armed forces increasingly struggling to meet recruitment goals, it does not help to see war veterans and their families living in unsafe neighborhoods, unable to afford homes. Therefore, the Guardian believes it is essential for morale and recruitment numbers that we treat our veterans like the heroes they are, and help them to improve their lives and the lives of their families Legislative RetirementProp 33: Vote Yes The Guardian endorses Proposition 33, which would allow members of the state legislature to receive the same retirement benefits as part of the Public Employees Retirement System as any other state employee, without any additional perks. If passed, the proposition would provide incentive for ordinary citizens to serve in the legislature. Proposition 33 would also reverse aspects of Proposition 140, passed by California voters in 1990, to discourage career politicians. Proposition 140 enacted term limits of six years in the Assembly and eight years in the Senate, and also excluded members from receiving pension through PERS. Legislature members should receive the same benefits as other state employees. Retirement benefits should not be considered a “”perk;”” they should be considered a privilege that every state worker has the right to take advantage of. Opponents of Proposition 33 argue that legislative members receive $99,000 salaries and should invest in a 401K on their own instead of receiving what opponents feel to be underserved benefits. Although Assembly members serve only six years, they may serve up to 14 if they also serve in the Senate. This is a long time to go without accruing basic retirement benefits. Through the plan, legislature members would get benefits according to standard procedure. They may opt to set aside up to 5 percent of their paycheck. If the investment portfolio does well, members will receive interest. If it stays the same, the member’s 5 percent will be matched. The costs to the state are relatively low, expected to weigh in at just $1 million. The measure would also eliminate the $121 members receive per day to cover personal expenses, which add up to approximately $25,000 in tax-free money per year. Giving members of the legislature a pension instead of play money is a more sound approach to taking care of their financial needs. In addition, a vote against Proposition 33 will most likely mean that few but the rich will be able to hold a job in the legislature. Most members are part of a retirement plan with their existing job before they come to serve on the legislature and must forfeit up to 14 years of benefits. Public office holders should not have to do this. The Guardian endorses Proposition 33 because it is not about further accommodating members of the legislature, but rather, about treating them the same as everyone else. Campaign FinanceProp 34: Vote No Sen. John McCain from Arizona campaigned hard for the issue of campaign finance reform while he was running for president. Proposition 34 brings campaign finance reform to the forefront in California. While the proposition has good intentions, the details show the inadequacies of Proposition 34. Therefore, the Guardian cannot endorse this proposition. Briefly, Proposition 34 would set limits on the amounts individuals and companies contribute to state politicians’ campaigns. The limit of $6,000, primary and general elections combined, for legislative candidates would be implemented with the 2002 elections. A limit of $40,000 will be set for each election cycle for gubernatorial candidates and limits of $10,000 per election cycle will be imposed on all other statewide elections, such as Treasurer and Secretary of State. While Proposition 34 looks attractive standing alone, compared to an earlier campaign finance reform proposition, Proposition 208, it is much weaker. Proposition 208 is much more stringent with the imposed limits — $2,000 each election cycle for statewide candidates and $1,000 each election cycle for legislative candidates who agree to limit their overall campaign spending. If passed, Proposition 34 would nullify the earlier Proposition 208. Another argument against Proposition 34 is that it does nothing to stem the flow of soft money. Soft money is a contribution made to a political party and then distributed to the candidates of the same political party. Considered a loophole in current campaign finance laws, soft money unlimited and unregulated and is the main problem facing campaign finance. Proposition 34 does not supply the type of campaign finance reform that California needs. It nullifies the earlier, more stringent Prop. 208 (still battling through the State Supreme Court) and does not address the huge problem of soft money. For these reasons, the Guardian opposes Proposition 34. Public Works ProjectsProp 35: Vote Yes The Guardian supports Proposition 35, a measure that would allow the state to contract with private entities to provide architectural and engineering services in the construction of public works projects. The measure imposes a competitive selection process in awarding engineering and architectural contracts. Currently, services provided by state agencies generally must be performed by state civil service employees. Contracting to private firms is only allowed if services are of a temporary nature, not available within the civil service, or are of a highly specialized or technical nature. This measure would allow the state government to contract construction-related projects in any case, rather than just on an exception basis. The Guardian supports this measure because we do not believe the government should have a monopoly. California has serious traffic problems, and when the government decides to expand our infrastructure, there is often a backlog of projects. CalTrans cannot do it all alone. When there is a short-term surge in construction activity, contracting for services could be faster than hiring and training new employees. While the fiscal impacts to the state are unknown, we believe that this new competition will save the state money. We are frustrated with traffic problems in this state, and urge a “”yes”” vote on Prop. 35 so that the private and public sectors can work together more efficiently to improve our infrastructure. Drug TreatmentProp 36: Vote No Drugs are a serious problem in the United States. Drug abuse poisons our society, increasing violent crimes and creating a debilitating addiction for anyone who falls prey to narcotics. Something needs to be done to deter the crime and help the addict. We at the Guardian feel that Proposition 36 on Tuesday’s ballot is not the answer, and that a “”no”” vote is suited at the voting booth. Proposition 36 “”diverts certain drug offenders from incarceration to treatment and probation, applicable to those convicted for the first and second time of drug possession offenses and most nonviolent offenders who violate parole using drugs. The measure would allocate $120 million a year for treatment.”” Instead of going to jail, under Propsition 36, convicted drug users would be sentenced to rehabilitation. Rehab alone is not a solution to the drug problem. The fear of spending time in prison is required to deter criminals no matter what the crime. Punishment for breaking the law needs to be doled out. Drug rehab can be done, but it should be done behind bars while the criminal serves the necessary time for his offense as required by law. Proposition 36 is not just one “”get out of jail free”” card. It is a pair of “”get out of jail free”” cards, for “”first and second-time convicted drug possessors.”” How many second chances can someone get? Knowing that there will not be a suitable punishment only encourages drug abuse. It does not in any way deter it. The Guardian feels that addicts do need help in breaking their habit. Proposition 36 means well, but because of lenient consequences, it is not the solution. Vote Requirements: TaxesProp 37: Vote No Proposition 37, a state constitutional amendment to “”redefine certain regulatory fees as taxes,”” is opposed by the Guardian. We feel that, if the proposition passes, it will allow large, polluting companies to avoid paying for wastes. Proposition 37 changes some regulation fees to taxes. While a simple majority in the California Legislature to impose a regulatory fee on companies, taxes require a more stringent two-thirds majoirty to pass. In addition, local taxes require a two-thirds majority of the electorate. Fees do not require voter approval. While it may seem like this proposition would make it more difficult for the government “”to slap a regulatory fee on businesses,”” it also allows large companies to get out of paying for the pollution they cause. If the proposition passes, it would be harder for the government to financially regulate companies’ pollution. Instead of the simple majority required to impose the regulatory fees, it would require a two-thirds majority. The taxpayers would then be left to pay for the clean-up. The list of supporters of the proposition seems to be comprised of the usual big-business corporations: The proposition was placed on the ballot by alcohol, tobacco and oil companies. These types of business have spent millions endorsing Proposition 37 to ensure its passage. Proposition 37 is a suspicious act propagated by big businesses that want to avoid paying for their pollution. It is bad for California and the Guardian opposes this proposition. School VouchersProp 38: Vote No Proposition 38, if passed on Nov. 7, would authorize minimum annual state payments of $4,000 to any private educational institution to which a parent chooses to send his child. Although it is intended to diversify and embellish the academic experiences of California students, the initiative is rampant with flaws and is not supported by the Guardian. Although Proposition 38 states that private schools wishing to redeem state-issued vouchers cannot “”advocate unlawful behavior”” or “”discriminate on the basis or race, ethnicity, color or national origin,”” the proposed amendment does not protect Californians (students or not) from enduring the violation of one essential concept upon which our nation was founded. According the U.S. Constitution and a handful of U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the state cannot entangle itself in the affairs of religious institutions, such as religiously based private schools. That Proposition 38 could annually channel $1.1 billion of taxpayers’ money toward religious private schools proves that the initiative is inconsistent with the rhetoric of our national identity and one of Americans’ most cherished rights — freedom from state-endorsed religion. Not only does Proposition 38 make an obvious leap over the church-state boundary, but it also restricts state and local authorities from demanding that private schools receiving voucher money meet state academic requirements. Furthermore, the proposition establishes significant new restrictions on the ability of governments to adopt new regulations regarding private schools. Specifically, local governments could not establish new health, safety or land use regulations for private schools unless they attain a two-thirds approval of the local governing body in addition to a majority vote in an election held in the affected area. These burdensome restrictions would make it nearly impossible for local citizens to demand that private schools adhere to important changes such as updated health codes, bans on expansion due to environmental issues, or even improved fire and earthquake regulations. Overall, Proposition 38’s authors may have meant well by attempting to increase students’ educational options and trying to eliminate economic barriers to the private school experience, but we believe the initiative they have placed on the November ballot is not only unconstitutional, but also unfair to the students who may end up stuck in schools that cannot be forced to meet state academic standards, local health ordinances, or even environmental regulations. The Guardian refuses to endorse this risky initiative and encourages voters to vote no on Proposition 38. School Facilities BondsProp 39: Vote Yes California schools are in an awful state of despair. Overcrowded classrooms are the norm and the buildings are run-down. Students are packed like sardines into dilapidated buildings and are expected to receive a proper education. The Guardian believes that Proposition 39 can be a solution to the problem and deserves a “”yes”” vote. According to the Voter Information Pamphlet, Proposition 39 “”makes it easier to get voter approval of local bonds for school construction, which are paid off though higher property taxes. The current requirement that bonds be approved by two-thirds of voters would be lowered to 55 percent.”” This is the best thing that can be done to help schools. Institutions of learning are important to our society and need the money, and they rely on bonds to provide the necessary funds. Because of today’s stringent two-thirds rule, it is sometimes impossible for a well-meaning bond to pass. Nothing gets accomplished, and it is the children that end up getting hurt. Some bonds do not pass because homeowners refuse to give back to the community in which they live. Many older citizens often do not feel it is necessary to help out the younger members of the community. In reality, the burden to a homeowner on paying back bonds comes down to a few dollars a month, and Proposition 39 would free up this much-needed money. Lowering the required votes to 55 percent shields well-intentioned schools from being denied funds to build new classrooms. At the same time it does not make the law too lenient, which a simple majority vote would do. Our public schools need drastic help. Proposition 39 is a step in the right direction. ...