jeffson's blog

$50 Billion Scheme Lets West Side San Joaquin Valley Growers Control More Water

By Barbara Barigan-Parrilla
Restore the Delta

Restore the Delta, local, state and federal elected officials, the Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch, the Planning and Conservation League, the Environmental Water Caucus, Friend of the River, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations and a dozen other groups launched their campaign against the “Peripheral Tunnels” with a rally at the State Capitol on July 25. The “fatal flaws” of the tunnels would damage water, the environment, fish, and farming and impose billions of dollars of increases on water ratepayers.

Life After Murder; An interview with Journalist and Author Nancy Mullane.

By David Onek, Nancy Mullane

While on assignment for a story on California’s overcrowded prisons, journalist Mullane began interviewing men at California’s San Quentin prison who had been convicted of murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.  Davis Onek spoke with Mullane about the book, the history of the parole system in California, and the power of redemption.  Please find an excerpt below:

Q: This book is about the lives of five men.  Could you choose one of the five and give us the basics of who they are, what their crime was, what legal process they had to go through to get out, and what it’s been like on the outside?

I’m going to start with Jesse Reed. I met Jesse Reed in 2008 in San Quentin State Prison, down on the yard, which is a massive yard where the men are allowed to walk around on a track. I was there doing a story about spirituality inside prison, and the prison public information officer said, “I want you to meet this guy. He’s been found suitable for parole. And he’s waiting the 150 days.”

California Democratic Party Announces Endorsements for November Ballot Propositions

By The California Democratic Party

The California Democratic Party’s Executive Board this weekend announced the Party’s endorsements for the November ballot propositions. Key endorsements include Yes on Props 30 (Protecting school funding), 34 (repeal death penalty), and 37 (GMO labeling) and No on Props 32 (assault on unions) and 33 (auto insurance rate hike). See more:

Proposition 32: Corporate Billionaires’ Quest to Force Workers to Shut Up

By Bob Balgenorth
State Building and Construction Trades Council

Apparently we union workers are far too successful at affecting public policy in California. Why else would corporate billionaires be gathering and spending huge campaign war chests, for the third time in 14 years, to pass a law that would force us to shut up?

In 1998 it was Proposition 226. In 2005 it was Proposition 75. Now, in 2012, it is Proposition 32 that will silence workers’ voices and destroy our political clout, unless we beat it.

Those previous measures would have prohibited unions from making political contributions with money collected from paycheck deductions. But after voters realized that corporate funds would continue to flow unabated, with workers left powerless to respond, Propositions 226 and 75 were defeated.

CA GOP Continues its Death Spiral, Seeks Help From Prop 32 Supporters

Brian Leubitz

CRP Chairman Tom Del Beccaro in SacramentoCalifornia Republican Party faces fiscal, organizing questions. Banks on Special Exemptions.

The California Republican Party is in something of a desperate situation. They hold no statewide offices, and then they had a story in the New York Times titled "Republican Party in California Is Caught in Cycle of Decline."

That's never a good thing, especially when it is combined with a follow-up from the San Francisco Chronicle with some worrying financial numbers. Without getting deeply into the nitty, gritty, it is pretty bad. They are expected to reveal a deficit of nearly half a million dollars, and are considering closing their Sacramento office.

School Reform: Why It’s So Hard

By Peter Schrag

Listening to even the best people in California’s school reform discussions doesn’t leave much clarity about the direction our money-starved education system school go or much confidence that things will get perceptibly better any time soon.

Many of those good people know what’s needed. It’s just that they don’t all know the same thing, or don’t know it at the same time. That much at least was apparent once again at last Wednesday’s Sacramento forum on school finance sponsored by PPIC, the Public Policy Institute of California.

What they agreed on was that the fixes of the last thirty or forty years – what state School Board Michael Kirst called “the historical accretion” of programs – wasn’t working. It’s become, someone said, “the Winchester Mystery House” of school finance, rooms added willy-nilly to solve one or another problem. 

Fishermen, Tribal Members and Enviros Blast Brown Tunnel Plan

By Dan Bacher

Over 300 people, including fishermen, environmentalists, family farmers, and a large contingent of members of the Winnemem Wintu, Pit River, Hoopa Valley and Miwok Tribes, protested Wednesday's announcement by Governor Jerry Brown and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to fast track the plan to build the peripheral tunnels around the California Delta.

During a press conference at the California Natural Resources Agency Building in Sacramento, Brown announced his plan for the construction of two peripheral tunnels with a capacity of 9,000 cfs that would take water from three intakes on the Sacramento River near Courtland and Hood to deliver water to corporate agribusiness on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and southern California water agencies.

Time to Ban the Bag

By Jenesse Miller
California League of Conservation Voters

It's time for the state of California to follow the lead of more than 50 of our cities and dump the plastic bag.

Named by Guinness World Records as "the most ubiquitous consumer item in the world," single-use plastic bags are a leading source of pollution worldwide, including in California. Californians use and throw away 12 billion (yes, that's billion with a "b") of these bags each year with devastating consequences for marine life.

Tracking the Impacts of Climate Change’s Evil Twin

By Madhavi Colton and Gretchen Hofmann

The ocean may seem timeless and impervious. Yet we are increasingly seeing that in the sea, as in the natural world as a whole, the only thing that is constant is change.

While some changes--like habitat loss or overfishing --have long been studied, we are only just beginning to understand emerging threats like ocean acidification. Sometimes described as “osteoporosis of the sea,” we already know that ocean acidification is impacting the health of shellfish and coral reefs. But we have as many questions as answers about the long-term implications for sea life and people.

Sacramento’s Mixed Fiscal Message

By Peter Schrag
So was it a threat or just a statement of hard facts? The “it” here was the Field Poll’s finding last week that 72 percent of voters don’t approve of the school budget cuts that would automatically follow failure of Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax increase measure on the November ballot.

Did the voters disapprove because they saw the school cuts as a threat – what Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California, called “the most expensive ransom note in California history”?

Did it mean that 19 percent of us who said we approve of the school cuts like cutting school funding (9 percent had no opinion)? And if voters were reacting to a perceived threat, why did a significantly greater percentage of Republicans react positively to the Brown proposal than did Democrats (22 percent to 14 percent)?