Conflict of interest, anyone?

So we find out today, thanks to the Sac Bee and the LA Times that our Governor is in a contract that will pay him anywhere between $5 and $8 million over the next five years as a consultant to a bodybuilding magazine publisher, which relies heavily on advertising revenue from the dietary supplements industry. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that just last year, the Governor vetoed a bill by Sen. Jackie Speier that would have regulated the supplements’ use in high school sports.
Margita Thompson, the Governor’s spokesperson, apparently is following White House spokesman Scott McClellan’s lead in terms of laughable statements to the press, as she tried to make the argument that because Schwarzenegger wasn’t actually selling the advertising, there was no conflict. Never mind the part about his salary being directly related to the amount of adverstising sold!
If you needed more insight into how the Governor’s financial ties to American Media Inc. is a conflict of interest, the AP checks out a piece in the latest issue of Muscle & Fitness magazine:

The article details the bodybuilding industry’s efforts to block state and federal regulations on nutritional supplements. It also proclaims the support of a powerful spokesman, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The story describes how Schwarzenegger attended a private meeting with bodybuilding executives at the Arnold Classic in March to vow a united front in the battle to keep supplements widely available. Last year, the governor vetoed legislation seeking to regulate the use of supplements in high school sports.
“Gov. Schwarzenegger gave his support in ways both emblematic and tangible,” wrote author Shawn Perine, for the issue that hit newsstands this month. “He urged all of us in the industry to stand together and speak loudly and clearly as a cohesive voice to deliver the message that supplements are not only safe but beneficial when taken as directed.”

Speier is back again this year with SB 37, a similar meaure. If Schwarzenegger were a legislator, he would have to recuse himself from voting on it. The Governor cannot recuse himself, and therefore he needs to be extra sure he’s not taking money on the side from industries who have business with the state. But what Schwarzenegger really needs to do is something he’s not fond of: admit he was wrong and apologize. Obviously, he should also return the money he has collected thus far and completely sever ties with the magazine publisher.
But of course, that means he would no longer have a business relationship with the tabloids that America Media, Inc. also owns (like National Enquirer and Star), which conveniently haven’t printed anything negative about him since a reported meeting in 2003 before he entered the recall race.
It really is unbecoming of our state’s top elected official, and it needs to be addressed by the Governor himself.

Equal rights bill makes a comeback

A bill that would give same-sex couples equal rights to marry has been revived in a new form, and was passed by a committee in the California Senate Tuesday. What was Mark Leno’s AB 19 is now AB 849, and it is headed for another vote before the full Senate where it is sure to pass.
It’s the Assembly where the bill still needs help. AB 19 failed the first time around by six votes (eight moderate Democrats either opposed it or abstained), and in today’s Chronicle account of the issue, Leno says he has gotten that down to three.
Leno is so right to push this. Not only is it absolutely the right thing to do, it’s an opportunity to bring the fight straight to Schwarzenegger, a self-proclaimed moderate Republican. Indications are that the Governor would veto the measure, which would likely shore up his Republican base. But that’s not where we are having the problem, as we already know Republicans in the state overwhemlingly support him. It’s the Democrats who voted for Schwarzenegger in the recall who we need to shore up against him, and a vote against equal rights could very well help do that.
Our friends at Equality California have been doing great work in this important battle, and we urge you to visit their site and sign up for action alerts so you can make a difference when the crucial votes come.
So far the Democratic opposition has been from people in tough districts, mostly Central Valley or Inland Empire. But while re-election is important, what is that worth if there are thousands of citizens in this state who are the victims of blatant bigotry? We are better than that in California, and it’s time to make it right.
I mean, if California Democrats can’t even stand up for love, we’re really in trouble.

Read my lips

The big story today is the state budget, which was signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger yesterday amid much fanfare. Apparently even wife Maria was on hand to bask in the glow of…the budget. I know, I know, it’s a big deal. It’s just hard to get too excited about a budget that is being heralded not because it is a moral document that truly reflects how we take care of one another in this state, but primarily because it was only three weeks late instead of three months late!
So getting right to it, here’s what you really need to know about this lovely spending plan:

Continue reading

Strap in, kids!

In today’s Capitol Journal, George Skelton points out that, according to the Governor’s legal secretary, the special election now scheduled for Nov. 8 could be called off if Schwarzenegger signed an “urgency bill” passed by two-thirds of the Legislature.
It is hard to imagine, even given the steady stream of dismal poll numbers showing Schwarzenegger is in for an uphill fight this fall, that he would accept such a pathetic defeat even before he begins spending the millions in special-interest money he has raised.
Schwarzenegger’s advisors have confirmed that by consistently repeating the Governor is not considering that option. One has to wonder whether — given their lack of cooperation lately — enough of the Republicans in the Legislature would actually agree to it even if he did!
Meanwhile, the Legislature has less than a week to negotiate any compromise ballot measures before they are scheduled to adjourn for summer recess. Mind you, this is a luxury they haven’t enjoyed for the last five years, as they have been locked in protracted budget battles that often continued well into August and September. It’s not likely that the Democratic majority will give that up to stay in Sacramento and hammer out some kind of deal on the special election.
So, for now anyway, it looks like we are in for a ballot-box fight this fall.

Welcome to the blog of Speak Out California!

We are a statewide progressive advocacy organization, built on a foundation of values that we know most Californians share. Our goal is to keep people informed of what’s happening in state politics from a progressive perspective, and to organize them into actions that both connect them to the current political system and enable them to begin changing it for the better.
Here at Speak Out California, we know that progressives are hard at work doing amazing things every day – in their jobs, in their homes and in their communities. We hope this blog will become a place for us all to connect. Not only will we share news stories and other valuable information we dig up on a regular basis, we hope you will engage with us in lively discussions about the political happenings of our state, as they happen.
Right now, Speak Out California is working on educating voters about the November 8, 2005, Special Election, and what it means for the future of California. Check out our Preliminary Voter Guide – which includes summaries of the eight initiatives on the ballot from a progressive perspective, as well as links to the full text of the measures – and let us know what you think!
Thank you for visiting, and for being a part of this struggle for real progressive change in California.