Vote Yes on Prop. 53 – Stop the Delta Tunnels!

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Governor Jerry Brown and his allies are dumping millions of dollars into the campaign against Proposition 53, a California ballot initiative that requires voter approval before the state could issue more than $2 billion in public infrastructure bonds that would require an increase in taxes or fees for repayment.

Proposition 53, the California Voter Approval Requirement for Revenue Bonds above $2 Billion Initiative, is on the November 8, 2016, ballot as an initiated constitutional amendment. Supporters of Proposition 53 refer to it as the “No Blank Checks Initiative.”

The long-form ballot summary is as follows:

• Requires statewide voter approval before any revenue bonds can be issued or sold by the state for certain projects if the bond amount exceeds $2 billion.
• Applies to any projects that are financed, owned, operated, or managed by the state, or by a joint agency formed between the state and a federal government agency, another state, and/or a local government.
• Prohibits dividing projects into multiple separate projects to avoid statewide voter approval requirement.

Kevin Wolf of Davis, long time environmental activist, campaign organizer and advocate for openness and transparency in government, recommends voting Yes on the measure. His argument is one of the best and simplest for voting Yes on 53.

“This would force the state to let voters decide if there would be a new Delta Twin Tunnels project or other large project funded by state revenue bonds,” said Wolf. “This could harm some good things in the future, but if it is a good enough idea, it should get passed as a proposition.”

I completely agree with Wolf. About 90 percent of the anglers, Tribal leaders and grassroots environmentalists that I have talked to are voting Yes on 53 because it would require a vote on the Delta Tunnels and other huge projects that pose a threat to the environment.

“Friends, please get out and vote Yes on 53, ” urged Albert Berends, avid bass angler and former Fish Snifffer staffer, on his Facebook page. “Don’t give governent a blank check of projects like the bullet train or Delta tunnels. Let us vote on it.”

In spite of false claims by opponents that the initiative would impact local control and community infrastructure improvements negatively, the state’s legislative analyst notes, “It is unlikely there would be very many projects large enough to be affected by the measure’s requirement for voter approval.”

Governor Brown’s widely-opposed tunnels to divert Sacramento River water to corporate agribusiness interests and  California High-Speed Rail are two projects that would require voter approval should Proposition 53 pass. That’s why Brown and his corporate buddies, including Stewart Resnick of the Wonderful Company, who donated $100,000 to the campaign, are so strongly opposed to the proposition.

“In total, the No on Proposition 53 campaign has received five independent fact checks calling into question the accuracy of their claims,” according to a November 3 statement from the Yes on 53 campaign. “To date, the opposition has raised over $20 million, dedicating the majority of contributions to misleading television ads across the state. Proposition 53 would simply give voters more power by requiring a public vote for state megaprojects that use more than $2 billion in state revenue bonds. It would also ensure the disclosure of the total cost of a project before the vote.”

As of November 3, 2016, the support campaign for Proposition 53 had raised about $6 million and the opposition campaign had raised about $20.45 million, according to Ballotpedia. The support campaign was bankrolled by Stockton business executive Dean Cortopassi and his wife Joan Cortopassi. The majority of campaign funds for the opposition came from the California Democratic Party and Gov. Brown’s 2014 gubernatorial committee.

Cortopassi, formerly a Republican that became an independent, now describes himself as a “libertarian Democrat.”

A fervent opponent of the environmentally destructive Delta Tunnels plan, Cortopassi says it’s all about debt.

“I know how to do arithmetic, and I’m very concerned about my grandkids’ generation,” he told reporter Alex Breitler of the Alex Breitler in a recent interview. (

Breitler also noted that Tutor Perini, a Sylmar-based engineering firm that won a contract to build the first leg of high-speed rail and is also involved in drilling a large tunnel for a controversial transportation project in Seattle, is strongly opposing Proposition 53.

To read Conner Everts’ excellent article about how Delta Tunnels planners should learn from Seattle’s Expensive goof, go to:

I proudly voted Yes on Proposition 53 today — and I urge you to do also!

The five top donors to the No on Prop. 1 campaign to date are:

Brown for Governor 2014 $4,105,000.00
California Democratic Party $1,883,581.04
L. John Doerr III $1,000,000.00
Laborers Pacific Southwest Regional Organizing Coalition – Issues PAC $800,000.00
Jerrold A. Perenchio & Affiliated Entities $500,000.00