August 2010

Top Five Reasons Carly Fiorina “No Es Mi Amiga”

By Rebecca Greenberg
California Labor Federation

Much like her CEO pal Meg “Wall Street” Whitman, GOP Senate candidate “Corporate” Carly Fiorina has been pretending to be a friend to Latinos as of late, in a cynical ploy to garner votes.

But the more Latinos learn about the real Carly, the less they like. The fact is, Fiorina’s positions on the issues that Latinos care most about, like immigration, jobs, education and health care, put her in direct opposition to Latino values and California values.

SEIU-USWW President Mike Garcia:

Carly Fiorina is trying to get Latinos to vote for her, but her positions clearly demonstrate that she does not share our values as Latinos and she does not share our values as Californians. She is against comprehensive immigration reform, supports Arizona’s discriminatory SB 1070 and has outsourced California jobs. We will not be fooled.

Key California Health Reform Bills

By Anthony Wright
Health Access

The California Legislature completes the final two days of the 2009-10 session, major patient protection measures that implement and improve health reform have been passed, but several other key bills are still pending for final floor votes.

Bills must be passed and sent to the Governor’s desk by the end of Tuesday, August 31st, 2010, or otherwise they die for the year. Then, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will have the month of September to sign or veto them.

DIFFERENT VERSIONS OF BUDGET ALSO UP FOR FLOOR VOTES: That deadline does not extend to the budget, which is already technically late, but still pending.

CFC's November Ballot Recs: Corporate Interests vs. The Public Good

By Zack Kaldveer
Consumer Federation of California

The June defeat of Propositions 16 and 17 was welcomed news for Californians fed up with the use of the initiative process to advance narrow corporate interests. The lavish spending by PG&E ($46 million on Prop 16) and Mercury Insurance ($17 million on Prop 17) to increase their bottom lines at the public's expense only confirmed voters’ suspicions that greed was the real motivating factor behind those measures. Despite PG&E outspending opponents 575 to 1, and Mercury Insurance its opposition 12 to 1, a slim majority of voters saw through the pitch these snake oil salesmen were making, rejecting each by a margin of 4 to 5 points.

Unfortunately for California, June's election results have not served as the deterrent  some may have hoped. November brings a new crop of initiatives bankrolled by  some of our nation's most notorious polluters and corporate bad actors. Similarly, initiatives placed on the ballot to benefit the public will face the typical wall of opposition from big business interests willing to spend tens of millions of dollars on slick and deceptive campaigns with a singular purpose: mislead the voters.

How Much Of Meg Whitman’s $91 Million In Campaign Funds Are Dirty Money?

By Sam Gold

eMeg has spent almost $91 million dollars of her own money to attempt to buy the governorship of California. After all ANYTHING is for sale on eBay, right? But after reading some recent articles in the SF Bay Guardian, I find myself asking, just precisely how much of that is dirty money, appropriated by unlawful or unethical means?

eBay acquired PayPal in 2002, on Meg's watch,  and it has become a very controversial online payment system for millions around the world. But just recently, some very questionable business practices of theirs have come to light. And a serious question is why aren’t the financial regulators in this state overseeing their operations and holding them to some standard of business ethics? Have they become too big for their own britches? Founder Max Lezchin seems to think so.

The Road Ahead

By Marc Solomon
Equality California
Crossposted from The Advocate

The last few weeks in the California marriage battles have been at once hopeful and painful. First we rode an ecstatic wave upward: Judge Vaughn Walker issued a powerful opinion striking down Proposition 8, and we celebrated as couples made plans to get married across the state.

Then we rode downward when a three-judge panel of the U.S. court of appeals for the ninth circuit granted an indefinite stay of the decision — without explanation. Committed couples and their families, some of whom had begun making wedding plans, once again felt the pain of being denied not only a fundamental right but also the respect for and recognition of their love and commitment that only marriage offers.

Progressive Media Bolstering Republican / FOX News Agenda

By Randy Shaw

Since President Obama took office, the Republican Party’s agenda has dominated the public debate. FOX News and right-wing talk radio decide what’s news, and the traditional media either echoes the story or is criticized for not doing so, as occurred when the New York Times Public Editor chastised the paper for inadequately covering right-wing falsehoods about ACORN. But progressive media has also allowed conservatives to set the terms of the debate. MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann regularly devotes considerable time to rebutting FOX News lies, as do many progressive bloggers. This reactive approach ensures that fake stories like the nonexistent Ground Zero mosque control the news cycle, while stories confirming progressive policy successes get ignored.

Why Orange County Is Getting Bluer

By Robert Cruickshank

Having been born and raised in Orange County, one of my lifetime goals is to see it become a bastion of progressive politics. So I'm glad to see that today the New York Times is finally noticing Orange County is indeed becoming less right-wing and more Democratic:

SANTA ANA, Calif. - Orange County has been a national symbol of conservatism for more than 50 years: birthplace of President Richard M. Nixon and home to John Wayne, a bastion for the John Birch Society, a land of orange groves and affluence, the region of California where Republican presidential candidates could always count on a friendly audience.

But this iconic county of 3.1 million people passed something of a milestone in June. The percentage of registered Republican voters dropped to 43 percent, the lowest level in 70 years.

State Budget Crunch Forces Yolo County Drug Treatment Centers to Discharge Dozens

By David Greenwald

The ongoing California budget crisis has put huge strains on large sectors of the economy as businesses and people are in financial trouble. In particular it is putting a huge strain on those entities that rely on state money to provide various services to the populations.  

The Vanguard has learned that several local Drug Treatment Facilities have stopped receiving payments going back to March of 2010. As a result, while they are not closing their doors, they are laying off staff members and releasing patients from their facilities.

One that has been particularly hard hit is the Cache Creek Lodge treatment facility located in Woodland. That facility provides residential long-term treatment and outpatient care to a variety of women with substance abuse and mental health problems. Cache Creek Lodge has operated since 1974 as a non-profit treatment program.

Floor Vote On Brownley Bag Ban Expected Monday

By Dan Aiello 
California Progress Report

In what may turn out to be this year's most memorable legislative fight in Sacramento, Assembly Bill 1998, the single-use plastic bag ban introduced by Democrat Julia Brownley of Santa Monica, is scheduled for a Senate floor vote Monday, just one day before the legislature wraps up.

If a legislator managed to miss the television ads placed on every Sacramento station by the bill's opponents, a coalition led by the American Chemistry Council representing plastic bag manufacturers, there was no missing the giant blow-up turtle exhibited on the West Steps of the Capitol Friday, part of the bill sponsor, Heal the Bay's, last minute efforts to garner the two-thirds Senate vote required to pass the legislation.

American Chemistry Council V. Public Health And Our Environment

By Traci Sheehan
Planning and Conservation League

Two long sought after bills are nearing the finish line in the legislature before heading to the Governor's desk. These policies could be huge victories for both public health and the environment, but both face intense lobbying from the American Chemistry Council.

Senate Bill 797 (Pavley) bans from children's products the toxic chemical BPA (bisphenol A), which is suspected of wrecking havoc with hormone levels and causing a host of problems including impaired brain development, breast and prostate cancers and early puberty.

This common sense policy was stopped twice before in the Assembly by intense lobbying from the chemical industry, but finally passed in July. Now the chemical lobby has ramped up efforts in the Senate to prevent the bill from making it over this final legislative hurdle.

Republican Leaders are Obstructing Budget and the Cal Grants College Students Need

By Assemblymember Julia Brownley

SACRAMENTO – In this Democratic weekly address, Assemblymember Julia Brownley (D-Santa Monica), Chair of the Assembly Committee on Education, reports that California college students are caught between a rock and a hard place; instead voting for a responsible budget, Republican leaders are saying they would rather delay crucial Cal Grants because they want to hold out for a discredited budget proposal that decimates education funding.

Budget Gridlock, Urban Legends and Laundered Money

By Peter Schrag

More and more of the smart betting in Sacramento is on the possibility that there’ll be no budget until Election Day. More and more, the proposed “solutions” to close the $19 billion gap are smoke and mirrors.

For the Democrats, the fiscal gridlock underscores the contention that Republicans, using the leverage of the constitution’s two-thirds requirement, are blocking progress. That makes for a useful re-election campaign argument. For the Republicans, gridlock is evidence that they’re sticking to the true faith: not a cent in new taxes.

Simpson Social Security Comments Highlight Battle of Democracy vs. Plutocracy

By Dave Johnson

Former Wyoming Republican Senator Alan Simpson is co-chair of President Obama's Fiscal Commission. This is what he said the other day about the relationship between the American people and our government:

"We've reached a point now where it's like a milk cow with 310 million tits!"

This country that was once run by We, the People with government "of the people, by the people and for the people" has become instead a country where the ruling elites can talk about the public as babies, the unemployed as parasites who are jobless because they are "lazy." The prevailing attitude about the public, from the new Versailles that has grown up around Washington, DC -- what bloggers call "the village" seems to be if you feed them they will breed.

Alan Simpson: Not a Gentleman or a Scholar

By Anthony Wright
Health Access

Some of the most outrageous remarks in recent memory were made this week by former Senator Alan Simpson to the national leader of the Older Women's League (OWL) regarding entitlement to Social Security. Specifically, Mr. Simpson took it upon himself to respond to OWL in a very insulting and derogatory manner that 350 million women were in essence "sponging off" Social Security.

We took more attention than most because we value the membership of OWL of California as a Health Access California member, and active participant on our board. The great Betty Perry of OWL is the immediate past president of our board, and a longtime friend and ally of our organization. An insult to her is an insult to us. But even if we look beyond Senator Simpson's sexist and shameful language, was he right?

500 Million Sensitive Records Breached Since 2005

By Rainey Reitman
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse

Employees losing laptop computers, hackers downloading credit card numbers and sensitive personal data accidentally exposed online -- the Chronology of Data Breaches shows hundreds of ways that the personal information of consumers is lost, stolen or exposed.

The Chronology of Data Breaches, a project of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse since 2005, lists incidents involving breached consumer information, such as personal medical records, credit card numbers and Social Security numbers. The most recent total, published August 24, 2010, is a wake-up call to consumers who think identity theft can’t happen to them.

SF Weekly Piece on Pelosi Relies on Flawed Analysis

By Paul Hogarth

Although you can read Sasha Abramsky’s entire profile of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that graces the current cover of SF Weekly, the piece instantly loses credibility in the sixth paragraph. “Most polls suggest that [Democrats] will do pretty badly in November,” writes Abramsky, “especially in conservative areas such as the Deep South, where Democratic congressional candidates made considerable inroads in 2006 and 2008 [my emphasis].” That’s just patently false.

Democrats won back Congress in 2006 (and expanded their majority in 2008), despite losing the South badly – and in fact can credit their current majority to a “non-Southern” strategy. Because the rest of the 4,716-word article focuses on how much Pelosi’s political destiny hinges on the November elections, it’s hard to take the rest of it seriously (although in fairness, I read the whole thing.) Democrats might still lose in November, but not because of the South.

California’s Prison Despair

By David Dayen

The prison crisis has reached epidemic proportions in the Golden State. The health care system has already been taken over by a federal receiver because it violated the prisoners’ Constitutional rights against cruel and unusual punishment, with at least one prisoner dying each week from medical neglect.

The entire system, which fits 170,000 convicts into jails with 100,000 beds, may get taken over by the courts as well. Severe overcrowding, cutbacks to rehabilitation and treatment programs, and an insane parole policy which sends 2/3 of all recidivists back to jail for technical parole violations have contributed to the problem. As has the pervasive “tough on crime” stance from the political leadership of both parties, which has yet to be contrasted with any kind of progressive message on how to fight crime smartly and safely, at lower cost and with corresponding lower incarceration and crime rates.

Assembly Approves Resolution to Oppose Colombia Free Trade Agreement

By Rebecca Greenberg
California Labor Federation

Over the last 20 years, at least 2,754 union workers in Colombia have been murdered, simply for exercising their right to organize, bargain collectively and, if necessary, strike. In 2009, 48 Colombian union workers were killed, and 29 have already been murdered this year.

Former President George W. Bush turned a blind eye to this horrific trend of violence against workers when he signed the Colombia Free Trade Agreement back in 2006. However, before it can go into effect, it must be approved by Congress.

Yesterday, California state legislators took action to block the trade agreement with Colombia by voting to approve Assembly Joint Resolution 27, sponsored by Assemblymember Alberto Torrico (D-Fremont), which urges the U.S. Congress to oppose the Colombia Free Trade agreement.

Rove's 'Crossroads' Says California Senator Is In Its Texas Crosshairs

By Dan Aiello
California Progress Report

Just one day before a new survey release showed California's incumbent Democratic Senator, Barbara Boxer, holding a narrow, one point lead over her conservative opponent,  Carly Fiorina, a new Texas-based and funded group announced its plan to assist the Texas native and former Hewlett Packard CEO in her bid to unseat Boxer and restore Republican control of the US Senate.

The Karl Rove-linked conservative group, Crossroads GPS, an affiliate of Rove's American Crossroads, announced it will hit Los Angeles airwaves Wednesday with a $1 million dollar ad campaign attacking Boxer's support of Medicare cuts that were a part of President Obama's health-care overhaul, according to the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday

Prop 26 Pits Corporate Interest “Goliaths” Against Public Interest “Davids”

By Artem Raskin
California Progress Report

Putting a white hat on a November ballot measure funded almost exclusively by big oil, tobacco, and alcohol companies is no easy task, but the Yes on Proposition 26 campaign found a way. If approved by voters, the measure would make it much tougher for state or local government to collect industry-specific mitigation fees on business activities that cause harm to the environment or public health.

According to the Yes on 26 website, the intent of the initiative is closing a loophole which allows “politicians in Sacramento” to pass “hidden taxes” on “goods and services that Californians use every day, like groceries, gas, cell phones, or even emergency services.” The official analysis released by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO), however, sees it much differently. The LAO estimates that Prop 26 will end up costing California several billion dollars annually – jeopardizing current funding for “schools, universities, prisons, health, and social services programs.”