2010 Ballot Initiatives

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)?

On Redistricting: The Court Gets It Half Right

By Peter Schrag

The California Supreme Court last Friday decisively rebuffed the Republican attack on the new state Senate maps drawn by California’s new independent Citizens Redistricting Commission. But the way it was done could invite as many future problems as it solved.

In so doing, Chief Justice Tani Cantil- Sakauye’s lengthy opinion in Vandermost v. Bowen was a perfect illustration of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter’s classic warning against courts wandering into the political thicket of the redistricting process.

In effect, while Friday’s unanimous decision kicked the Republicans out the door, at least for this year, it didn’t slam it against future attempts, even more frivolous ones, to manipulate a political process that the creation of the Commission was supposed to clean up.  

The GOP’s Withdrawal Symptom

Peter Schrag

California Republicans say they’ve collected enough signatures for their challenge to California’s new state Senate districts to put the issue on the June 2012 ballot. We’ll long debate whether the attack on the new districts is sheer chutzpah or just an act of political desperation.

The shrinking GOP, using the name of FAIR, Fairness and Accountability in Redistricting, appears to have spent a large chunk of its treasury in collecting some 700,000 signatures to take the map drawn earlier this year by California’s independent redistricting commission to the voters.

A big piece of that treasury comes from a recent $1 million contribution by Mercury Insurance Chairman George Joseph, lately a big player in California politics. Joseph has also put $8.5 million into a new version of an auto insurance initiative that Californians voted down last year.

Mercury Insurance’s $150,000 Down Payment on Raising Your Rates

By Doug Heller
Consumer Watchdog

Mercury Insurance Chairmen George Joseph is launching another assault on consumer protections guaranteed by the 1988 insurance reform measure Proposition 103.  The California Secretary of State reports that Chairmen Joseph is the sole donor to the signature gathering campaign for a new Mercury Insurance backed ballot initiative that would legalize surcharges by Mercury and other insurance companies.  The measure would repeal Proposition 103's prohibition on auto insurance companies from considering a driver’s coverage history when a motorist applies for insurance.

‘Houston, San Joaquin Valley Has A Problem": Cars Causing Smog

By Alan Kandel

In California, or more precisely the San Joaquin Valley, our problem isn’t droughts, hurricanes or floods; it’s smog – at least right now it is. Beginning this year assessed will be an annual $29 million penalty, the money presumably going to help clean this smog up. San Joaquin Valley motorists will have to pay an extra $12 added to what would be our usual registration fees. Is this fair? The penalty may be justified, but the fact that Valley motorists are on the hook for this expense may not be. And here is why.

California Supreme Court Hears Prop 8 Case

By Shannon Minter, Esq.
National Center for Lesbian Rights

On Tuesday, the California Supreme Court will hear arguments on an important question of California law that has arisen in Perry v. Brown, the ongoing federal challenge to Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot measure that stripped the ability to marry from same-sex couples in California.

The Court must decide whether California law allows the sponsors of Prop 8 to force an appeal in Perry v. Brown—even though the California Attorney General agrees that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. To understand why Tuesday’s hearing is significant, it is helpful to look back on the history of marriage equality in California.

  • May 2008—The California Supreme Court ruled that California’s laws barring same-sex couples from marriage violated California’s Constitution. In the following months, more than 18,000 same-sex couples married in California.

Redistricting:Tempest In The Teapot

By Peter Schrag

The recent volley of stink bombs directed at the state’s new Citizens Redistricting Commission was bound to come. The only surprise is that it came so quickly and all of it from Republicans: Is the party so worried that in 2012 it will lose the last vestige of power it still has?

To date the commission hasn’t done much of anything except choose its technical expert and (maybe) its Voting Rights Act legal counsel. So why start firing so soon?

California Republicans, Rose Institute, and Tony Quinn Dead Wrong on Redistricting

By Steven Maviglio

It's sad to see the new chairman of the California Republican Party -- as well as respected former GOP redistricting consultant, Tony Quinn  -- accuse the Citizens Redistricting Commission of playing partisan politics -- particularly when neither of them are letting facts get in the way of their whining.

Quinn's got a bee in his bonnet because an organization that he is on the Board of Directors of did not get the contract to draw lines for the Citizen's Redistricting Commission.  Let me repeat, Quinn, who prides himself for offering "non-partisan, unbiased ‘insider' information," is using his website to pimp for an organization he is on the Board of Directors of (which he discloses) and which he has done numerous presentations with (which he does not).

It's Not the Brand

By Robert Cruickshank

To hear California Republican apologists, their party's collapse in the 2010 elections in the Golden State are due to a bad "brand," as Carla Marinucci and Joe Garofoli report:

"Republicans, as a brand, are dead," Duf Sundheim, the former state GOP chair, told the gathering Saturday....

"There's a brand problem," agreed Republican Jim Brulte, former state Senate minority leader.

California voters supported a number of conservative ballot measures, yet not a single conservative lawmaker for statewide office, Brulte noted. Voters made it clear they "just don't want Republicans in office."

Nancy McF-F-F-Fadden?! Why Jerry Why?

By Megan Matson
Mainstreet Moms Organize or Bust

The disappointing news that our new governor just appointed PG&E’s Senior VP Nancy McFadden as his, essentially, co-Chief of Staff, is one of those heart wrenching moments for those of us who fought the $50M “worst ballot initiative ever” that McFadden helped create, Prop 16.

Whatever she is in other circles, PG&E’s Nancy McFadden is considered by many to be the mother of Prop 16. She is more responsible than anyone apart from Darbee for this measure, according to his own statements to investment analysts last year. And after the bad banner year PG&E had with McFadden in a senior exec position (San Bruno, smart meters, Prop 16, CPUC rebukes, cybersnooping the grassroots, more), this makes you wonder if Jerry was so busy campaigning he forgot to read the news.