Tuesday, October 21, 2014

2014 November Election Cheat Sheet (UPDATED)

When researching the referendums on the ballot, I had to do a little digging. Here is what I found.

LEAN NO: The Crime Victim amendment is supported (in principle) by Human Rights Watch,

but it is being used elsewhere to limit speech

While HRW reminds us that "there's not enough enforcement" of victim's rights, in practice this type of bill has been proposed to stop Abu-Jamal from writing anything.

That evidently motivated lawmakers in Pennsylvania to come up with a remedy that is, on its face, flatly unconstitutional. The Revictimization Relief Act, as the Philadelphia Inquirer (10/14/14) reported,
would allow the victim of a crime, or prosecutors acting on the victim's behalf, to bring a civil action to stop an offender from engaging in conduct that causes the victim or the victim's family severe mental anguish.
The story was covered on today's edition of Democracy Now! (10/21/14), with excerpts of an interview with Abu-Jamal conducted by Prison Radio journalist Noelle Hanrahan:
The press ignores prisoners, as a rule. Most of what happens in prisons are never or rarely reported in the press…. Silence reigns in states all across the United States. But I went to court. I was forced to go to court by the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. And I won, in a case called Abu-Jamal v. Price, which gives me the right to write. Now they’re trying to take away my right to read my own writings. How unconstitutional is that?
I think it's arguable the text in the Illinois in the amendment uses similar enough language to be something to vote against (underlining in original):

 (1) The right to be treated with fairness and respect for their dignity and privacy and to be free from harassment, intimidation, and abuse throughout the criminal justice process.

Here's the Pennsylvania one by comparison (emphasis mine):

) Redress on behalf of victim.--The district attorney of
2the county in which a personal injury crime took place or the
3Attorney General, after consulting with the district attorney,
4may institute a civil action against an offender for injunctive
5or other appropriate relief for conduct which perpetuates the
6continuing effect of the crime on the victim.

YES: The millionaire tax helps all the schools

I had to read this text a few times but that's what it says:

Should the Illinois Constitution be amended to require that each school district receive additional revenue, based on their number of students, from an additional 3% tax on income greater than one million dollars?


NO: The phrasing of the medical cannabis question is not to be trusted

I personally don't smoke, and considering the reputation of California weed, I'm wary of encouraging others to smoke. But this is irrelevant. According to the Annals of Epidemiology, there is no evidence medical marijuana turns everyone into junkies, and in fact, legalizing medical cannabis reduces its  use among adolescents.

Even once you make up your mind, the tricky wording in the referendum might have you fooled. The words "local municipality" seem positive. But in effect this could spell the end of medical marijuana. Because this is what happened in some in Oregon:

According to the Journal of Studies of Alcohol and drugs, there isn't evidence that dispensaries create crime, so the only reason to push this onto the municipalities is to un-legalize it. 

A research study in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs found that medical cannabis is used to treat variety of conditions including chronic pain, migraines and AIDS-related problems. Denying it to people who are suffering then becomes a pointless attack on the sick. Not a nice thing to do to do.

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