It’s still a failed economic policy, no matter how many Democrats you hire

The Alliance has some good analysis of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s latest staff shake-up: the hiring of Democrat Susan Kennedy as his Chief of Staff.
Conservatives in California are furious, and the Governor is doing the best he can to do damage control, apparently having called personally dozens of people to talk them off the ledge about his sudden “liberal” turn. But as stories later in the day today and tomorrow will point out, Kennedy voted in favor of four of the six initiatives Schwarzenegger was backing in the special election, Props 74 through 77. She is an openly gay pro-choice activist, but she calls herself a “moderate Democrat.” That means only one thing: she’s “moderate” on economic issues, which in this state means perpetuating a system that protects the rich and powerful at the expense of the most vulnerable among us: students, seniors and the poor.
So while it is fun to see the right-wing of the GOP go a little haywire — anti-gay rights activist Randy Thomasson said “This is like George W. Bush appointing Hillary Clinton to be in charge of his administration” — it seems clear that Kennedy’s appointment won’t mean anything real for progressives. The best she could do is try to get Schwarzenegger back on his track of being “socially liberal,” which will be difficult alfter he vetoed the same-sex marriage bill and campaigned for Proposition 73. But even then, he will still be radically conservative on the central issue underlying all of the other major issues facing California right now — education, jobs and health care — and we have already seen where that philosophy takes us.

A picture is worth 1,000 words

For those of you who may not have noticed, I wanted to call your attention to something new we have done with the Flickr stream on the left-hand side of the blog. During the election, we were streaming shots from the campaign, and appreciate everyone who contributed photos of walking, phoning and election-night festivities! But as we are now without an active campaign (at least for several more weeks!) we have connected this blog to the California group photo pool on
The group is one of the largest on Flickr, made up from people spread all across the state, so the photos featured change very frequently. At any given moment, this photo stream will give you a little glimpse of California — its natural wonders, its simple pleasures, its people, its landmarks, its spirit. For us it evokes the deep love and committment to California that we share; the sense of pride and patriotism for our progressive history that motivates us to work hard every day to beat back the forces that threaten that history and continue pushing forward.
We hope it will provide you, as it has us, ongoing inspiration for the political work we are all doing to effect real progressive change in this state.

Thankful I don’t have Dan Walters’ outlook on life

In today’s Sacramento Bee, Dan Walters takes a grim look at next year’s race for Governor, suggesting that Schwarzenegger could still win, despite abysmal approval ratings, if he sufficently slimes his opponent. Walters points out that this is what happened in the past two gubernatorial elections, when the incumbent was suffering from low popularity due to poor decisions and leadership. He also notes how easy that could be this year, given the exciting news from the Field Poll that a majority of Californians have no idea about the leading Democratic contender, Phil Angelides.
Walters also is so kind as to give the Republicans a suggested head start:

But as the Field Poll indicates, [Angelides] has a very indistinct image in the larger voting public, and as he advocates billions of dollars in new taxes, he risks being defined as a tax-and-spend liberal in a state whose voters are not particularly keen on expanding government.

Okay, first of all, Angelides is not a “tax and spend liberal,” because such a person doesn’t actually exist outside of the right-wing conservative talking points. And the only reason he “risks” being labeled that is because of the right-wing smear machine, which includes biased columnists like Walters. And while voters have been told for years, again by people like Walters, that they aren’t “keen on expanding government,” poll after poll has shown that they are quite keen on doing whatever is necessary for improving public education, increasing access to higher education, upgrading the state’s transportation system and rescuing the state’s health care system from complete implosion.
Unlike Walters’ beloved Schwarzenegger, Angelides is showing the kind of real leadership that will bring our state in a position to actually resolve these challenges that lie ahead. He is telling Californians the truth: that we cannot provide the services we want for all residents if the wealthiest people in the wealthiest state in the wealthiest country in the history of the world do not pay their fair share. That saving our state means a drastic revolution in the status quo — the kind of revolution that moves us forward, beyond the narrow way of thinking that appeals to the most selfish instincts in people. One that says we are all one California family, and in a state that generates $1.3 trillion in wealth each year, we have the means to ensure that people are given a chance to provide for their families the kind of security that we all dream of, and that we all deserve.
So this Thanksgiving, I will be giving thanks that there are leaders out there, like Phil Angelides, who share that broad and positive vision, and who are doing something about it.

Governor scores “D” grade on racial equity

Cross-posted at
Gov. Schwarzenegger this year vetoed eight out of 18 bills that would have helped to advance equity for people of color in California, earning him a “D” grade on the Applied Research Center’s annual Report Card on Racial Equity released Wednesday.
The report card, which evaluated the governor and the Legislature on five issue areas — educational equity, economic justice, health equity, civil rights and criminal justice — found that Schwarzenegger rejected policies that would have provided significant structural changes in California. Among the most stark examples were AB 772, the Health Access for Kids bill, and AB 48, the Fair Minimum Wage Increase. If signed, these bills would have improved the plight of millions of Black, Latino, Asian Native American, immigrant and poor communities across the state.
In examining each issue area, the report also documents glaring disparities that exist for people of color in California, highlighting very clearly why these reforms that were vetoed are so needed.

  • Educational equity: Only one in four high school graduates of color is college-ready in California, compared to 40 percent of whites.
  • Economic justice: Blacks and Latinos are nearly three times more likely to live in poverty than whites. Half of Latinos, 43 percent of Blacks, and a quarter of Asians live in or near poverty in California.
  • Health equity: Seventy-one percent of California’s 6.5 million uninsured are people of color.
  • Civil Rights: Since 1995, there have been 12,000 hate crimes in California motivated by race and ethnicity, making up 60% of all hate crimes.
  • Criminal justice: California spends more to keep people of color in jail than to provide them with a higher education.

And yet despite the existence of these historical and persistent racial disparities, Gov. Schwarzenegger’s veto list reveals a disturbing pattern of resistance to addressing them. For the second year in a row, he vetoed a minimum wage increase and AB 13, which would have simply required public schools to ophase out the racist term “Redskins” in reference to team mascots. He also struck down AB 89, the Employer Health Coverage Disclosure bill, showing a pattern of denying racial disparities by refusing to collect data that may expose those inequities.

The report shows that more work is needed in the Legislature as well. The Assembly received a “C” score, and the Senate a “D,” although 40 lawmakers, all Democrats, were listed as “honor roll” members for earning a perfect 100% score on all the bills.
Nevertheless, the report shows that “colorblind” policies have failed California dramatically. Race-based reforms are needed to ensure that all people of this state have an equal oppportunity to learn, live in safe and healthy communities, and earn a living wage.
Right now, Governor Schwarzenegger clearly lacks the courage and political will to address the needs of California’s growing majority.

Revisionist history

Dan Weintraub has a selective memory.
In a homage to Gov. Schwarzenegger’s former political prowess, Weintraub gushes today about how worker’s compensation reforms, a year and a half later, have actually caused insurance premiums to go down for small businesses.

Garamendi’s latest recommendation brings to nearly 50 percent the cumulative rate reductions his office has called for since the Legislature in March 2004 passed a measure to overhaul the program, whose costs were spiraling out of control.
Although the commissioner’s rate suggestions are not binding, insurers already have cut their prices by an average of 26 percent and will surely offer more reductions in the months ahead.

Clearly Weintraub has a lot of faith in the insurance industry. Okay…

What Weintraub is conveniently forgetting to mention is that Democrats wanted to pass an additional bill that would have guaranteed rate-reductions for small businesses that matched the savings caused by the plan, in order to prevent the insurance companies from hoarding profits. That is what Sen. Sheila Keuhl is talking about when she said “We are voting on this with a gun to our heads,” as Weintraub quotes.
Weintraub’s theory is that had the Democrats stood up to Schwarzenegger’s threats to take the measure to the ballot box, they may have succeeded in killing any reform. My theory is that had the Democrats prevailed, small business owners would now be enjoying a 50% rate reduction, as opposed to 26%.

Clean Money for California

By Assemblymember Loni Hancock

Hardly a day goes by without an article in the news about “contributions” of millions of dollars flowing into campaign coffers or out-of-state fundraisers provided by major corporate contributors with an interest in legislation or thoughtful public policy.

The time, energy and money spent in fundraising shifts the focus of government from working on solutions for everyday people to focusing on solutions for special interests. It is because of this dysfunctional system that I have made campaign finance reform a top priority of my legislative agenda. This year, I introduced legislation to establish a “Clean Money” public financing system for all California elections. A Clean Money system, based on the successful Arizona model, would allow anybody to run for office without taking a single dime from special interests.

Clean Money is the only solution that eliminates the corrosive influence of money on public policy. It is the only solution to deal with sneak attack ads by independent expenditure committees. It is the only solution that will make legislators beholden only to the people that elected them…you.

The LA Times editorialized in favor the Clean Money system in California, which you can read here.
You can also get more information by looking at my proposed legislation here.
Thank you for joining me in this critical effort to reform our political process!

It might be funny, if it weren’t true

When I think of Bill O’Reilly, I often think of the entry in McSweeney’s Future Dictionary of America, where “O’Reilly” is a verb basically synonymous with lying in public. So it’s not surprising that in the aftermath of an election in which his beloved President Bush found out he actually does more harm than good, O’Reilly would lash out at an easy target — the liberal bastion of San Francisco. For those of you who didn’t hear, O’Reilly used his platform on his talk-radio show this week to slander an entire city. But before you dismiss these comments as “silly” or “just hyperbole,” take a close look at what he said, in reference to San Francisco’s decision to ban military recruiters on public school campuses, as well as the sale and possession of handguns citywide:

“Fine. You want to be your own country? Go right ahead,” O’Reilly went on. “And if al Qaeda comes in here and blows you up, we’re not going to do anything about it. We’re going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead.”

So here’s the thing. O’Reilly might have been able to get away with a comment like this, before Katrina. Before the federal government proved that, incredibly, it can fail to respond when a disaster strikes a city, leaving thousands of poor black folks to die in the streets. It’s not funny, because people did die. And it’s not hyperbole, because it actually happened.
San Francisco officials are right to go after O’Reilly, calling for him to be fired from Fox News. Others should do the same. O’Reilly could have made fun of San Francisco in myriad other ways — people have been doing it for decades. What he said, it’s not OK. And as a country, we should not tolerate it.

Stronger together.

There was one moment in this months-long campaign that really sticks in my mind, and that I think is relevant to why progressives were able to defeat Gov. Schwarzenegger and his corporate-backed initiatives on Tuesday.
It was at the training for the Castro precinct walk in San Francisco last Saturday. Organizers were explaining to volunteers that we were targetting and trying to move only those voters who would be voting no all the first six initiatives. One of the volunteers asked, “What if they say they are going to vote No on 73, but yes on 75? Shouldn’t we try to get them to the polls?” Nora Dye, one of the chief organizers from Planned Parenthood who was decked out in a “No on 73” T-shirt and buttons, didn’t hesitiate. “We’re all in this together,” she said simply. “A vote for Prop 75 is a vote against all of us.”
Each of the initiatives Schwarzenegger backed in this election touched on a piece of the conservative ideology that is failing us as a nation: government intrusion into personal medical decisions, attacking school teachers for problems in public education while at the same time cutting school funding, and the “it’s my money” mentality that disregards the notion that we are all in this together, for the greater good.
Progressives are often criticized for infighting; we are too often defined by our inability to agree on anything. But we showed in this special election that on a very basic level, we know that our strength is in working together. A diverse group of public employees, private unions like the United Farm Workers, Planned Parenthood, consumer groups, good-government groups, the Democratic Party and multi-issue progressive groups like MoveOn, PowerPAC, the Courage Campaign and Speak Out California all came together to help in a beautifully coordinated campaign.
We didn’t all agree uniformly on the details of absolutely everything, but we agreed to work together. Our voter guide was a great visual example of that. We were proud to be a part of it, and we look forward to the great things we know we can accomplish as we move ahead.


This is probably about how the Governor and his campaign team feel right about now…

The results page from the Secretary of State is here.Thanks for everything you did; we’ll have an update tomorrow.