callen's blog

Health Care Reform in California

By Diane Lefer

“The way the health care delivery system developed in this country has been a global scandal,” said Michael Hiltzik, author and Los Angeles Times columnist, as he concluded the community program he moderated August 22 on the effects of the Affordable Care Act.

Speaking at the National Council of Jewish Women Los Angeles, expert panelists acknowledged the obvious limitations of the act, which was found constitutional (for the most part) by the Supreme Court at the end of June. They also cited new benefits flowing from the legislation. But what became very clear was that there are steps we in California can take to make reform more meaningful even without action on the federal level.

The “Target” Approach to Better School Meals

By Dana Woldow


Wouldn’t it be great if many good causes - feeding hungry kids, organic farming, fighting global warming, growing small local businesses - could all be supported by school meal programs? In a perfect world, every worthy goal could benefit from these government funds. In the real world, underfunding of school meals by Congress means that schools must prioritize to ensure scarce resources are going towards feeding the most kids, and that means student needs trump other noble causes.

SB 863: Why Are Worker Advocates In Opposition?

By Julius Young

Boxer & Gerson, Oakland, CA
Publisher Of Blog

Today the legislature is holding an informational hearing on SB 863, a comprehensive workers’ comp reform bill.

Although the bill has some good elements, has been improved from recent versions and although any progressive workers’ comp reform effort may involve some compromises, SB 863 has too many takeaways for workers and should be rejected.

From Tijuana, Ex-Dreamer Calls for Immigration Reform

By Jacqueline Guzmán-Garcia, Translated by Elena Shore

Photo: Nancy Landa at graduation

Nancy Landa was working in the public sector at a California organization that fateful September in 2009, when she was 29. She had graduated with honors in 2004 with a degree in business administration from California State University, Northridge (CSUN), and had a steady job. Everything seemed normal.

All of a sudden, at the Third Street entrance to Highway 710 N toward Long Beach, Landa was stopped by two immigration officials. They got out of a van and, without showing her any official documentation, told her she was under arrest.

“I’m dreaming -- it’s a nightmare,” Landa thought as she climbed in the vehicle with four other people, heading to a detention center in downtown Los Angeles.

SB 863: Real Workers’ Comp Reform to Reduce Costs and Help Injured Workers

By Angie Wei
California Labor Federation

Arnold Schwarzenegger rode into the Governor’s office in 2004 on the campaign promise to “fix” the workers’ compensation system. Every day in 2004, the media hammered home Schwarzenegger’s talking points that California’s highest-in-the-nation workers’ compensation costs were driving employers, and jobs, out of the state.

In the face of a relentless media campaign and the threat of an extreme workers’ comp reform ballot measure, the Legislature passed SB 899 in 2004—a draconian bill that gutted the workers’ compensation system and created more pain and suffering for injured workers.

The Case for Progressive CEQA Reform

By Robert Cruickshank

A last-minute end of session gut and amend effort to change the California Environmental Quality Act will not move forward - but that doesn't mean the effort to reform CEQA has come to an end, nor does it mean that the broken system of environmental review can be left to continue to rot. The same coalition that came together this month to push reforms will merely redouble their efforts ahead of a 2013 push to change CEQA. They've got the money and the momentum. I would not bet against them.

Many progressive groups across the state mobilized to block this specific reform proposal, charging that it would in fact carve out a series of loopholes to existing laws and help environmentally unfriendly things like offshore oil rigs avoid CEQA review.

2012-13 Budget Essay No. 7: Of Cabbages and Kings, the June Legislative Budget

By Sheila Kuehl

This is the seventh in a series of essays exploring California's 2012-13 budget. It presents the budget sent on June 15th from the Legislature to the Governor, still lacking his agreement on several large issues.   

The first essay in this series explained the general provisions of the Governor's January budget. The second discussed specific cuts proposed to welfare-to-work (CalWORKS), child care and Medi-Cal.  The third analyzed the January proposals related to K-14 and higher education.  The fourth revealed the details of proposed realignment funding, and proposed "government efficiencies".  The fifth set forth the revised May budget concerning the general financial picture, the new plunging deficit and education, 0-16.  The sixth presented May revisions in Social Services and Prisons.

Conservationists Beat Back Attack on CEQA

By Bruce Reznik

Planning & Conservation League

Conservation groups are hailing Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg for preventing a last-minute attempt to gut the California Environmental Quality Act from moving forward. State Senator Michael Rubio tried to sneak drastic changes to CEQA through the legislature using the infamous “gut-and-amend” procedure.

Senator Rubio’s legislation, known as SB 317, would have made comprehensive changes to CEQA without giving the legislature – and the public – an opportunity to explore what these changes would mean to environmental quality in the state.

Teachers and Nurses Take Action at Yacht Club to "Save Our State From Bungling Billionaires"

By Fred Glass

A few weeks ago an agonized fundraising appeal went out from three right wing millionaires on behalf of the so-called “Californians for Reforms and Jobs, Not Taxes” campaign against Proposition 30.

Apparently business executives Floyd Kvamme, David Marquardt, and Mark Stevens had learned that Prop 30, also known as the “Protect Schools and Local Public Safety Act,” would cause the wealthiest Californians to have to part with 1 to 3% more of their enormous incomes to support public education and public safety programs. Faced with the unnerving prospect that millions of school children might have smaller class sizes, and neighborhoods across the state might become safer places to live and work, they sprang into action.

Enough of Groundhog Day: Save CEQA

By Jenesse Miller

One of my favorite movies is Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray's weatherman character is trapped living the same day over and over again. But one of my least-favorite real-life versions of Groundhog Day--where several interest groups try to push through major changes to California's most important environmental law at the last minute--is playing out yet again in the state Capitol in the waning days of the legislative session.

The Los Angeles Times warns: “Major change to one of California’s most important laws could happen literally in the dark of night."