While California Dreams- Weekly Update Vol.1 No. 22

A weekly update on the goings-on in Sacramento
For the week ending November 3, 2007

Key bills and issues we’ve been following during the
Past week and beyond
This is usually a pretty quiet time in Sacramento. While this situation remains pretty much the case, the slowly dying Special Session still remains. With the big battle over water ending in a stalemate, the debate over health care reform showed a glimmer of activity this week as the Assembly Health Committee held a full-blown hearing on the Governor’s health care proposal. There wasn’t any progress to speak of, although the Speaker, Fabian Nunez pledged to keep working to reach a compromise. Unfortunately, few in Sacramento believe either side will make necessary concessions to make that happen.
When times are slow, polls become more interesting-at least to those political wonks who are otherwise suffering withdrawal from relative inactivity. This week was no different as the well-respected Public Policy Institute of California came out this week with the latest on several fronts. Among these are whether the people feel California is moving in the right direction or not (which is just another way of asking whether people are optimistic and hopeful about their future) and how the Governor would fare should he decide to take on Senator Barbara Boxer in 2010 for the U.S. Senate. As you can see, a lot of inside baseball here, especially since even the baseball season is finally over.
The ballot measures for 2008 are again coming to life, especially since right-wing Congressman Darrell Issa, who brought us the Davis Recall in 2003, has announced he will bankroll the return of the Electoral College measure. For those who thought this blatant right-wing power grab was dead, this measure will split California’s electoral votes from a winner-takes-all to a split of electoral votes by Congressional District. Translated, this would likely give the Republican candidate 20 electoral votes—or the size of Ohio or Florida. Since the Republicans haven’t won California in years, this is as good as giving them a 40 vote turnaround in the Electoral College, enough so the conventional wisdom holds, to steal the election for the Republicans. And since it is felt that Rudy Guliani is the one most likely to benefit from this ploy, and there are many dirty footprints leading to his door on this measure, the Dems are howling. All this makes for good copy, of course, and keeps the political junkies busy during an otherwise slow period before the election cycle kicks in. Of course, this year, the election cycle seems to have started months ago and seems to be in overdrive already.
With so much bad press recently for Speaker Fabian Nunez’s spending habits, the Term-Limits/Extension measure Prop. 93 appears to be sliding out of favor dramatically with California’s likely voters. Added to the woes of current members hoping to extend their terms in office is the announcement by billionaire State Insurance Commissioner, Steve Poizner, that he will help bankroll the opposition to the measure. Even though the supporters of the measure have a substantial war chest, this measure looks like it may go down with a big thud.
We here at Speak Out California hope to be able to keep you up-to-date on all of this and any signings or vetoes by the Governor in the weeks and months ahead, so
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And now for the week’s goings-on:

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Keeping Big Business happy at our children’s expense

I remember as a youngster believing that the President and the government would protect us from harmful things—like gas fumes at the pump and toys that broke off and could hurt babies and little children. Of course, I was quite young at the time, not even at double digits, the country was much more naive and Dwight Eisenhower was president. This was obviously a long time ago!
But I took the notion seriously that government had a moral and constitutional responsibility to protect the public and keep us from harms way—whether it be from enemies to our shores, criminals threatening our personal peace and safety or just known bad things being cast upon us by those who didn’t care about our well-being.
It turns out I, too, was very naive, and had a misplaced sense of what the government, at least in times of Ike,considered to be its responsibilities. But as our country has moved on, the role of government to protect us as consumers and as individuals has evolved. Particularly in the 1970’s, and somewhat ironically, under both Republican and Democratic presidents, the role of the EPA, the Consumer Protection Agency and other publicly concerned entities took a front-and-center position in helping protect our nation and our natural resources. After all, it was Richard Nixon who signed the Clean Water Act (although it was pushed heavily by the democratically controlled congress). To his credit, he also oversaw the first Environmental Protection Agency, committed to protecting our environmental health.
Fast-forward to today and we see a stark contrast between a national commitment to protect the public and an adminstration which has blatantly and shamelessly pronounced that the public health and consumer safety are of no concern to it. That seems to be the message of this week’s extraordinary conduct of one Nancy A. Nord, the acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

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