By Dick Price
As California grapples with a prison system so broken that the U.S. Supreme Court has mandated reductions in the number of prisoners it holds, the three-part "Smart Justice: Rethinking Public Safety in California" discussion begun this past week at the University of Southern California is examining both consequences and possible solutions to the state's mass incarceration mess.
By Robert Cruickshank
Last week's big news was the announcement from Governor Jerry Brown that the state budget is out of perennial deficit and looking at several years of surpluses. We'll talk more about what those surpluses mean and how they ought to be used, but it's worth taking a moment to remember how we got here.
Since 2001 or so, California's budget seems to have been in perpetual deficit, with less money coming in than was needed to fund existing public services. While the deficit pressure eased in 2005-06, that didn't last, and by the summer of 2007 the deficits had returned as the housing bubble popped and the country slid into the worst recession in 60 years.
By Malinda Markowitz, RN
It's time to get serious about protecting our schools, our basic healthcare services, and the public support so essential to assuring a civil society in California.
Attention Californians: We need to pass Proposition 30.
With the latest polls showing a real tightening on the measure, let's recall what is at stake, and take a harder look at who is financing the campaign against this vital measure.
By Matthew Fleischer
Any lawyer with some experience in Sacramento politics can draft language for a statewide initiative. But crafting deceptive ballot measures that can trick people into voting against their core beliefs is nothing less than an art form.
For many years, the undisputed master of the misleading initiative has been Thomas Hiltachk. So it's little surprise that Hiltachk is the author of Proposition 32, which promises to rid Sacramento of special interest money – but which would actually give almost complete control of state politics to corporations and the super-rich by effectively crippling the ability of unions to participate in elections and lobbying. Hiltachk has also quite possibly written into the initiative a poison pill that would shield corporations from its provisions and leave only unions to suffer the consequences if Prop 32 passes.
By Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown on September 25 signed historic legislation establishing a state policy that every Californian has a human right to safe, clean, affordable and accessible drinking water.
AB 685, authored by Assemblymember Mike Eng (D-Alhambra), also requires that all relevant state agencies consider the state policy when creating policies and regulations.
By Rebecca Band
Why does California reward ultra-rich companies that move jobs out of the state?
I'll tell you why. In 2009, during secret, behind-closed-doors budget negotiations, a handful of state legislators and Gov. Schwarzenegger snuck in a colossal but little-known corporate tax giveaway into the budget in the dead of night. This loophole, known as the "elective single sales factor," gives corporations the option to reduce the taxes they pay to California by keeping jobs and investment in other states – giving companies a huge incentive to hire outside of California.
By Matthew Fleischer
How different would California look with Proposition 32's passage? To imagine, it's not necessary to focus on a Golden State without the legacy of its unions, but rather to think of a California in which only the rich and powerful have a say in Sacramento and in the polling booth.
"It will have a devastating effect," says John Logan, director of Labor Studies at San Francisco State University, of Prop. 32's impact. "California would be transformed as a state."
On environmental issues alone, Prop. 32 stands to roll back decades of progress in making California a global leader in green policy-making.
By Randy Shaw
Spun by the media as a referendum on labor unions, the economy, and President Obama, Scott Walker’s victory in the June 5 recall election was all about money. Walker outspent Democrat Tom Barrett by more than a 9-1 margin ($29 million to $3 million). Outside money brought Walker’s total to over $45 million, as the Republican activist judges behind the Citizens United decision achieved their goal of unleashing unlimited campaign funds to serve right-wing goals. Exit polls showed voters preferring Obama to Romney by a 53-42% margin, and also favored Obama as better able to deal with the economy. But while Obama’s campaign sent press releases to this effect even before the race was declared, the President betrayed rank and file activists by staying on the sideline during this fight.
By Dan Bacher
An Associated Press report on Tuesday, August 9 revealed that Arnold Schwarzenegger, California Governor from November 2003 through 2010, could face legal action for recently smoking a cigar at Salzburg Airport in Austria.
"Was it lit or was it cold?" the article asked. "The status of a cigar in Arnold Schwarzenegger's mouth at an Austrian airport could decide whether or not he faces legal action."
"Smoking at airports is banned in Austria and an anti-smoking lobby said Tuesday it plans to launch a suit against the former California governor for puffing on a stogie after arriving in June at Salzburg Airport," AP continued.
It is doubtful whether anything will come of this latest episode of the long, sordid saga of the "Governator," arguably the worst Governor in California history for fish, fishing communities and the environment.
By Dan Bacher
“Arnie’s World,” a museum focusing on Arnold Schwarzenegger’s life in bodybuilding, acting and politics, has opened at the house in the small Austrian town of Thal where he was born.
A “soft” opening took place on July 30 to mark the ex-California Governor’s 64th birthday before a grand opening ceremony takes place later this year, the Austrian Times reported on July 29.
“Peter Urdl – an old friend of Schwarzenegger's – explained he and his team wanted to give the former governor of California a chance to attend the occasion,” according to the Times. “Urdl said the date of the official ceremony depended on the action film hero’s schedule.”