Recently a long-awaited and highly anticipated report on the state of education in California was released. The findings presented lots of fodder for both sides. Our Governor, of course, chose to ignore the clear mandate that the state of California needs to invest more in our schools, instead insisting that money would only be considered after the “reforms” he cherry-picked were implemented. Predictably, he went after the teachers, and ignored the discussion that concludes with the lack of financial commitment that is required to increase academic performance, particularly in our underserved communities.
Our own former Assemblymember and education expert, Jackie Goldberg, responds to the report and the discussion about what is needed to make our schools better in the years ahead, especially for our poor kids.
Here is what she has to say:
By Patty Berg
Here’s an alarming little tidbit that should make you spill your latte all over the New York Times on the front seat of your Volvo:
The Religious Right is poised for a victory in Sacramento.
That’s right. With the help of conservative doctors and nervous politicians, the muscle and money behind the right-to-life movement is orchestrating an anti-choice victory on Death With Dignity in Sacramento.
Amazing as it may seem, the Right is just a few votes away from stopping a bill that has support of 70 percent of the state’s voters. We’re talking about the California Compassionate Choices Act, AB 374, which would give terminally ill patients the right to use medication to control their dying, just like the Death With Dignity Act allows Oregonians to make that choice.
If you think California should be immune to the anti-choice message, you’d be right. But that’s what makes this play so unnerving. Anti-choice organizers are keeping the zealots in the closet, and cloaking themselves as protectors of the underclass. In short, they’re using our progressive ideology against progressives.
They’ve managed to convince some Democrats who should know better that giving people a choice could end up hurting the poor. They’re trying to get good solid Demcrats to ignore the strong support of the ACLU, MALDEF, NOW, AFSCME, every major state Senior Citizen group and CAPG, the California Association of Physician Groups,one of the state’s largest physician organizations. Heck, the Speaker of the Assembly is one of the authors of the bill — when was the last time he did anything to hurt the poor?
They’re also using Astroturf politics, making something look like it’s a grass-roots movement when, in fact ,it’s being orchestrated by long-time campaign operatives. The Catholic Church hierarchy, in conjunction with a well-greased Republican machine, has unleashed a flood of e-mails, letters and phone calls, all designed to convince fence-sitting Democrats that there’s a price to pay at the polls for anyone who supports choice at the end of life.
Never mind that statewide polling consistently shows that 70 percent of California voters support choice at the end of life. Never mind that support among Democrats is closer to 80 percent. Never mind that the Democratic Caucus’ most trusted private pollster says there is no way anyone could be hurt politically by this vote – the anti-choice campaign is nonetheless gaining traction. We must stop this misleading campaign now!
We should know this week whether California is run by progressive thinkers, or whether a well-run conservative campaign can actually send progressives running. AB 374 should be heading toward a vote of the full Assembly in the next few days. We need your help right now!
Let’s insist that our end of life decisions belong to each of us, and not to strangers.
If you want to support AB 374 sign our action alert!.
Assemblywoman Patty Berg represents the 1st District, which includes a third of the California coast, from Bodega Bay to the Oregon Border. She is a joint author of AB 374.
From The Courage Campaign
As Karl Rove's former right-hand man abruptly resigns, more details are emerging of yet another sly and illegal "campaign strategy" used by the GOP in the 2004 election. The basic idea behind the Republican strategy is to suppress the voting rights of African Americans. Why? Because African Americans overwhelmingly vote against the Republican Party. Tim Griffin, the Rove adviser who just resigned, is at the center of this brewing scandal. The practice known as "caging" is just the latest dirty trick to be uncovered in a long history of dirty Republican tricks designed to undermine not only the Democratic Party but also small-d democracy in America.
Dahlia Lithwick at Slate has an excellent article on how caging works. Basically, what happens is the GOP contacts local city clerks and election commissioners and gives them a list of registered voters that they want "caged." The election officials then mail a letter to the voters' address. The letter requires the voter to send back a reply card within a few weeks in order to confirm that the address is valid. No problem, right? Well, the problem comes in that the list of voters targeted by the GOP is specifically limited to African Americans, and that's a clear violation of the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.
The GOP also appears to have especially targeted African American soldiers that are deployed abroad and people who don't have a home. This means that that the voter registrations of untold numbers of Democratic soldiers were canceled because the soldiers weren't at home to send a reply card back to the elections office.
How do we know all this? Well, there's documentary evidence including emails and spreadsheets of names and addresses that clearly show the GOP effort to clear the voter rolls of African Americans in Florida. Former top Justice Department official Monica Goodling was questioned under oath about this last week, and she appeared to admit that "caging" is a strategy employed by Republicans. I guess we shouldn't be surprised at yet another example of institutionalized racism perpetrated by people entrusted to protect voting rights. We shouldn't be surprised, but as Lithwick suggests, we should be "madder than heck."
Auto manufacturers and dealers are trying to kill the single most important bill in Sacramento to reduce greenhouse gas emissions spewed into the air night and day by the leading culprits — motor vehicles. You would think this bill would be a no-brainer for any lawmaker who wants to keep his or her legislative district above water. But that would be to underestimate the ability of the auto Neanderthals to obfuscate.
The bill is up for a key vote next Wednesday or Thursday, so now is the time for those of us who are rather fond of life on our planet to take action. Call your Assemblymember and urge him/her to vote yes on AB 493.
The author is Assemblymember Ira Ruskin (D-Redwood City). If enacted, AB 493 will accelerate the availability of affordable low-emissions vehicles. Since the Bushites are in global warming denial, it falls to the states to act. Once again, California will be leading the way, but only if we win.
How it works is simple: AB 493 will add a surcharge onto the worst gas-guzzlers, and use the funds to provide rebates for gas-sippers. This will make lower emissions vehicles more affordable for moderate and low income consumers who also care about the environment. Each category of vehicle, including pickups and SUVs, will include models with either no surcharge or a rebate, preserving consumer choice. So if you want a minivan for your family, you can get, say, a Honda Odyssey at no extra charge. But if you hanker for a Hummer, be prepared to pay extra to cover the cost to the rest of the world for polluting our atmosphere.
AB 493 is supported by a long list of pro-environment, pro-consumer organizations. You can read more about it at the author’s website. To find your state Assemblymember, visit the website for the CA Assembly’s site here:
CA State Assembly
and click on “Find my district.” Plug in your address, and up pops the contact information for your state Assemblymember. Call and urge him or her to stand up to the auto interests and vote in favor of AB 493!