October 2010


Prop 26: Bad For Public Health and Bad For California

By Jane Warner
American Lung Association in California

Proposition 26 is bad for the health of all Californians because it will undermine California’s efforts to reduce air pollution and global warming, slow efforts to prevent teen smoking and harm critical environmental enforcement programs.

How would Prop 26 cause so much harm? Proposition 26 will make it nearly impossible to charge fees on industries such as oil and tobacco companies to fund these critical programs by redefining “fees” as “taxes” and requiring a two-thirds vote of the Legislature or local electorate to pass them. The special interests who put Proposition 26 on the ballot are masquerading the initiative as one that protects taxpayers, when in fact, Prop 26 will let the polluters off the hook.  

Assemblymember Torrico Thanks Californians for Privilege of Serving in Assembly, Discusses Importance of Voting

SACRAMENTO – In this Democratic weekly address, Assemblymember Alberto Torrico (D-Fremont), thanks Californians for the privilege of serving in the California State Assembly and discusses the importance of exercising the right to vote.

Click onto the following link for the English language MP3 file. The running time is 1:12.

http://democrats.assembly.ca.gov/Newsline/Audio/20101029RadioAddressEngl...

Click onto the following link for the Spanish language MP3 file. The running time is 1:34.

http://democrats.assembly.ca.gov/Newsline/Audio/20101029RadioAddressSpan...

Vote NO on Prop 26: Protect the Public’s Health, Not Polluters

By Anne Kelsey-Lamb
Regional Asthma Management and Prevention

A key tenant of protecting the health of the public is preventing problems before they arise.  If we invest in reducing air pollution now, we’ll have far fewer people to treat for respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, in the future. Similarly, lead poisoning prevention programs implemented over the last twenty years have significantly reduced the number of children with elevated blood-lead levels and prevented the long-term brain damage associated with lead poisoning.  

Yet this type of effective, proactive, and preventative public health effort is being attacked by oil, tobacco, and alcohol interests through Proposition 26. We urge you to vote NO.  

The Paranoid Style of Politics

By Peter Schrag

One of the very few memorable statements ever attributed to Calvin Coolidge was uttered in response to a report he’d received that he was being double-crossed in Congress.” There’s lots of sons of bitches in this country,” he supposedly said. “They’re entitled to their representation.”

Something similar comes to mind about fools and idiots at the end of this political season. Rarely has a national election been so studded not just with the usual knaves and hypocrites, but with candidates so eager to flaunt their ignorance and disdain for reason, and so apparently successful with voters in doing it.

Prop 23 Threatens California’s Clean Energy Future

By Martin Chavez

Local governments across California are facing an assault on their efforts to create green jobs and foster vital business development through clean technology industries, and it will be up to voters on November 2nd to decide its fate.  Passage of Proposition 23 (the Dirty Energy Proposition) would hamper progress on energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in hundreds of communities across California, while threatening new opportunities for job creation and economic growth.

Does the Chamber Represent Employers or Insurers?

By Anthony Wright
Health Access

This election cycle, a national spotlight has been placed on the political actions of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, particularly as they run political ads and other issues campaigns without disclosing the source of the funding for those activities. In this election cycle, the Chamber of Commerce has been spending millions of dollars in ads attacking Democratic candidates—without revealing where that money is coming from.

Questions have been raised about whether some of these dollars are from foreign corporations with which the Chamber has relationships--and if those dollars are thus going to support policies that benefit those foreign corporations, on issues from outsourcing to tax breaks.

Even putting aside the question of foreign sources of funding, there’s a more profound question in this controversy: who does the Chamber of Commerce really represent?

Prop 26: Extreme, Flawed, Costly and Bad for California

By Dr. Joseph K. Lyou
Coalition for Clean Air

The oil, tobacco and liquor industries put Proposition 26 on the ballot to avoid paying for the environmental and public health damage they cause and to push those costs onto taxpayers. Unfortunately, that’s just the beginning of the extreme and disastrous effects this ballot measure would have for all Californians.

First, Prop 26 would immediately increase the state deficit by $1 billion, and it would cost “billions in revenue annually,” says the impartial Legislative Analyst. The initiative was so poorly written that it would overturn a provision in the budget that saves California $1 billion annually for 10 years without increasing anyone’s taxes. This would be detrimental for students, teachers and our police forces, not to mention for our budget deficit. Let’s not write such mistakes into our constitution.

Proposition 22: State to Keep Its Paws Off Local Budgets – NO

By Peter Stahl

Summary: This amounts to a tug-of-war for tax dollars, with Prop 22 benefitting California’s cities, transportation commissions and redevelopment agencies, but hurting counties, school districts, and the state. Even if you side with cities and transit, though, you can't love the way Prop 22 locks in a Constitutional protection for $13 billion every year for redevelopment agencies. Budgeting by ballot box once again, I'm afraid.

National Latino Organizations and Leaders Stand Against Props 23 and 26

By Valerie Jaffee (see Spanish version below)
 
The fight for strong clean air standards and a clean energy economy is coming to a head in California. With only a few days left before voters head to the polls, big corporate polluters are trying every trick in the book to dismantle the clean air and energy laws in our state.
 
But thousands across the state are speaking up to protect California from a dirty energy takeover by opposing Propositions 23 and 26.Just yesterday, dozens of national and state Latino organizations, leaders and celebrities joined together in a statewide effort to stop big oil interests from turning California into their dumping ground.

Insurance Industry Wants to Buy This Election

By Rosemary Shahan
Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety

Insurance companies are spending a fortune to hand pick their next regulator. The insurance industry has so far pumped $5.7 million into ads attacking the pro-consumer candidate Dave Jones, or promoting Mike Villines, the industry’s choice for Insurance Commissioner.

Thanks to the hard-fought ballot initiative Prop 103, California voters get to vote directly on who will police the behemoth insurance industry. With billions at stake, for consumers and for their bottom lines, the insurers sunk over $80 million into their campaign to stop Prop 103, but they were overwhelmed by the popular uprising. According to a Consumer Federation of America study, Prop 103 has saved California motorists $62 billion in reduced auto insurance costs alone in two decades.

Why Maureen Gorsen is Wrong: Prop 26 Will Undermine Environmental Regulation

By Rhead Enion

On Tuesday UCLA Law released an analysis of Proposition 26′s impacts on state funding for environmental and public health programs. On Wednesday, the Yes on 26 campaign struck back with a press release in which Maureen Gorsen suggested that we failed to understand Prop 26 and ignored facts.

(The Yes on 26 campaign has relied almost exclusively on Maureen Gorsen, now an attorney at Alston + Bird, for this type of legal analysis, probably because of her background as former director of California Department of Toxic Substances Control and former general counsel of CalEPA.)

In light of this ongoing controversy, I would like to examine some of Ms. Gorsen’s claims in more detail.

Kamala Harris: Why AGs Matter on Foreclosure Fraud

By Dave Dayen

I had the opportunity to speak with Kamala Harris, the San Francisco District Attorney and the nominee for Attorney General in California. She is in a toss-up race with LA District Attorney Steve Cooley, the Republican. Recently, an outside attack group funded by multinational corporations swooped in with a million dollars in ads against Harris in the closing days (a much smaller ad buy has come in on her behalf). Clearly, big business has put a target on her back. “If you look at the facts, there’s a belief that Cooley will be a firewall for tobacco, oil and insurance companies,” Harris said. “And the truth hurts.”

On the day I spoke with her, Harris released a detailed Homeowner Relief and Protection Plan, which would include new anti-predatory lending laws carried into the legislature, including a mandate for foreclosure prevention counseling at the outset for prospective homebuyers. In addition, Harris would create a “strike force” to expand the investigation of fraudulent foreclosures, and appoint a “Foreclosure Oversight Czar” that would force quarterly audits on mortgage lenders to ensure compliance with state consumer protection laws. The oversight official could refer offenders for criminal prosecution.

Field Poll: Latino Voters Give Brown Solid Lead Against Whitman

By Ngoc Nguyen

In the final week before the midterm elections, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown now has a commanding 10-point lead over GOP contender Meg Whitman, 49 percent to 39 percent, according to the latest Field Poll.

The new poll, released Thursday in collaboration with New America Media, found that Brown is edging ahead among women, Latinos, independents and voters in all-important Los Angeles County.

A year ago, about 50 percent of voters said they favored Brown, but that number had been trending downward in recent months, reaching its lowest point (41 percent) this past September. A year ago, Whitman began with about 29 percent of voter support, pulling even with her Democratic opponent (41 percent) by September. Since then, however, a number of key factors have swung the race back toward Brown.

Vote -- All the Cool Kids Are Doing It

By Rebecca Greenberg
California Labor Federation

We come from all walks of life. Some of us are students, some are workers, and some are jobless. Some of us are laden with student debt. Some of us work to support our children, some work to support our parents. Some of us have had to postpone starting a family, and some of us have had to move back in with our parents just to make ends meet. But we all have one thing in common -- we are the young voters of California. And it’s time for us to flex our muscle at the polls, take control of California’s future and fight off the right wing’s attempt at a hostile corporate takeover of our state.

Machete 18: Prop. 16 Limits on Competition Would Erect “a Constitutional Iron Curtain” to Lock in Customers

By John Geesman

Special Note: Part 18 of the California Progress Report’s serializing of former California Energy Commissioner John Geesman’s new ebook, 21 Machetes, the skin-peeling saga of PG&E’s most obtuse political overreach – aka Proposition 16 on the June 2010 ballot, defeated 53 – 47 (and 59 – 41 within PG&E service territory). We thought this would be topical as voters consider another slew of corporate funded ballot measures, the next round of PG&E requested multi-billion dollar rate increases scheduled for decision by year-end, and the San Bruno tragedy.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Leave it to the Bakersfield Californian, hometown newspaper of blue collar philosophers Merle Haggard and the late Buck Owens, to find the phrase which succinctly captures the full scope of Prop. 16's sinister rewrite of the rules governing for-profit utilities in California:

Pete Rates the Propositions: Proposition 19: Sort-of Legalization of Marijuana – YES

By Pete Stahl

Summary: This is oh-so-similar to the repeal of alcohol prohibition 77 years ago. Prop 19 won't actually make weed legal (it'll still be a federal crime), but it will give momentum to the movement to tolerate and regulate grass as we do alcohol, and reserve our overcrowded prisons for pushers of truly life-ruining drugs like cocaine, heroin and meth.

Details:
Despite the fact that it's illegal, nearly 3 million adult Californians use marijuana. That's 11% of the population age 18 and over. If you have 100 friends on Facebook, statistically 11 of them smoke pot. If you're at a rock concert with 50,000 fans, you can expect 5,500 stoners in the crowd. Well, okay, maybe more if certain bands are playing.

Proposition 26: $1 billion Bad for our Air, Water and Health

By Kristen Eberhard
NRDC

Backers of Proposition 26 are trying to trick California voters into believing that Proposition 26 would not threaten the principle that polluters should pay for the harms they cause.  They tout a “legal analysis” that conflicts itself by simultaneously claiming Prop 26 does nothing to impact environmental regulation while also saying it will eliminate fees. The language of Prop 26 re-defines a tax broadly to include “any levy, charge, or exaction of any kind” which sweeps many environmental and public health fees and programs within its gambit.   

UCLA Law professors have analyzed the initiative, and concluded that Prop 26 would “undercut the principle that polluters should pay for harms they cause.”  How can Prop 26 backers say with a straight face that undercutting the “polluter pays” principle will not impact California’s ability to protect the health and environment of its citizens?

Calling for a President Who Follows His Heart

By Jimmy Nguyen
Equality California

Should our President defend in court laws that, in his heart, he believes are incorrect? That is the compelling question raised in the past two weeks, which saw the Obama administration decide to appeal two court rulings favorable to the LGBT community.

First, on October 12, the Justice Department appealed a July 2010 federal court decision invalidating a portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage to between a man and a woman. Second, on October 14, two days after another federal judge issued an injunction to stop enforcement of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy, the Justice Department announced its intention to appeal that ruling also. The Justice Department has even asked for a stay of the decision so the DADT policy can remain in effect pending appeal. (On October 20, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals granted the Justice Department’s request for an emergency stay until the matter can be considered more fully).

Machete 17: San Diego Chamber of Commerce Votes 79-2 to Oppose Prop. 16: Is PG&E’s Whopper Indigestible?

By John Geesman

Special Note: Part 17 of the California Progress Report’s serializing of former California Energy Commissioner John Geesman’s new ebook, 21 Machetes, the skin-peeling saga of PG&E’s most obtuse political overreach – aka Proposition 16 on the June 2010 ballot, defeated 53 – 47 (and 59 – 41 within PG&E service territory). We thought this would be topical as voters and utility customers think about the next round of multi-billion dollar rate increases scheduled for decision by year-end (as well as the San Bruno blast).

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A stunning series of lopsided setbacks for Proposition 16 as PG&E wended its way through various subcommittees of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce -- losing 22 - 0, 12 - 0, and 20 - 1 -- which culminated with a 25 - 1 smackdown at the full Board, raises the question all big budget media campaigns dread:

What if the dogs won't eat the dogfood?

Pete Rates the Propositions: Proposition 19: Sort-of Legalization of Marijuana – YES

By Pete Stahl

Summary: This is oh-so-similar to the repeal of alcohol prohibition 77 years ago. Prop 19 won't actually make weed legal (it'll still be a federal crime), but it will give momentum to the movement to tolerate and regulate grass as we do alcohol, and reserve our overcrowded prisons for pushers of truly life-ruining drugs like cocaine, heroin and meth.

Details:
Despite the fact that it's illegal, nearly 3 million adult Californians use marijuana. That's 11% of the population age 18 and over. If you have 100 friends on Facebook, statistically 11 of them smoke pot. If you're at a rock concert with 50,000 fans, you can expect 5,500 stoners in the crowd. Well, okay, maybe more if certain bands are playing.