Treating our Farm Workers Fairly– Senate Bill 104

 Dylan Anderson is a member of United Farm Workers Internet Communications team. The UFW has been fighting to bring dignity, respect and decent working conditions to our state’s hard-working agricultural workers. Below is his request for Californians to stand-up for these workers. If you are willing to help assure this measure becomes law by signing the petition linked at the bottom of this piece, the long and hard fought battle to achieve these important goals will be closer to reality.

Recently, both the California Senate and Assembly passed SB 104, “The Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act.” Introduced by Senator Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), SB 104 would give the state’s more than 400,000 farm workers an alternative to on-the-job polling place elections to decide whether to join a union. The new option would allow them to fill out state-issued representation ballots in their homes, away from bosses’ threats and other interference.  If a simple majority – more than 50 percent — of workers sign the ballots, their jobs would be unionized. 


Now the bill is going to Governor Jerry Brown. If he does not sign SB 104 into law, farm workers will continue to face unbearable conditions and pressure. Many workers don’t have access to basic things like shade, water, heat training or even breaks during the hot summer days. And nothing will change. Wage and hour violations will continue. Overexposure to pesticides will go unchallenged. Sexual harassment will remain rampant and the health crises caused by a lack of sanitation and lax safety standards will continue to plague farm workers.

 In an effort to put pressure on Governor Brown to protect farm workers, UFW has created an online petition to gain support. 

 You can find more information on SB 104 here:


This video segment does a good job explaining why SB 104 is so important:


                            To sign the petition, go to:


As always, we at Speak Out California would be interested in your thoughts and comments.

How important are the Arts?

I am fortunate to be traveling through portions of Europe that were not too long ago lifted from the veil of the Soviet Union’s gray and dull veneer. The experience is not only illuminating for the normal reasons that travel is mind-expanding, but because I am in a place with a thousand year tradition and commitment to the arts—music is everywhere and consistently good.Last night I marveled at a musician who plays music on glasses that are filled to different levels of water and thus, when touched in such a way can play beautiful melodies and create amazing sounds. Arts, the theatre, and architecture simply soar from place to place and one extraordinary edifice to another. This is the legacy of Prague—a place that has bounced back-and-forth through history under control of one conqueror or another. In just the past hundred years or so there was the overthrow of the Hapsburg Empire, the uniting of geographies to create an unnatural country; Nazi occupation during World War ll; the Soviet occupation for over 40 years and then independence a mere twenty years ago and a poet named Havel becoming its President.  

And all the while, these people have maintained a commitment to the arts–through war and repression they have persisted. Even the dreary and weary vagaries of Soviet domination have been unable to extinguish the love of song and the joy of creating that is clearly a hallmark of this country.

There is clearly a lesson here for us in California that we cannot and should not sacrifice the arts for austerity. We have all but removed them from our schools and have made it difficult for our children to experience music and theater and art because they are the first things to be sacrificed when budgets get tight. Without exposure to creativity, the mind does not develop to its full potential. And how sad, short-sighted and reckless it is to remove these opportunities from our youth—many of whom will never know their potential to play an instrument, write a symphony, build a building or paint a masterpiece and yet who might very well be the next Yo Yo Ma, Mozart, Frank Lloyd Wright or Picasso.
While there is no doubt we need to teach the basic skills to our children, we need to remind ourselves that exposing our children to the arts, music, literature are as basic and fundamental to their education as anything else we put before them. It is through the arts that we appreciate the spiritual (consider the amazing churches and temples of religions throughout the world), the up-lifting quality of Beethoven’s 9th, etc. etc. Without giving our children the chance and choice to pursue these life experiences, we deny them what others know so well as the glue that holds a society and its culture together. Let’s hold tight to what others have known for thousands of years: that we must encourage and pass strong traditions of music and the arts to our children and their children that reflect our nation’s vibrancy and limitless spirit.

Let’s give the ‘People’s Budget’ a chance

When I participated in my first budget battle as a new member of the California Assembly back in the late 1990s, I was admonished that the budget isn’t just a collection of numbers. It is a moral statement of our values as a people and a community. The budgets proposed by the Republicans — both in California and in Washington, D.C. — clearly show that today’s Republican Party values millionaires over working families and Big Oil over seniors.
In California, we have not been able to extract a single Republican vote to extend the current tax rates necessary to protect our schools and create infrastructure to generate jobs. In Congress, the Republicans have gone so far as to adopt a budget that would end Medicare as we know it, turning it into a voucher or coupon program.
This the wrong direction for medical care because it would force seniors to fend for themselves on the private insurance market and continually pay more for their health care costs. The Republicans have yet to explain how they plan to force insurance companies to cover seniors, an age group that is not profitable to insure. How will they insure these people? Will insurance companies continue to increase premiums across the board, as they are doing now? Of course they will. That’s why the Medicare system was created in the first place — because seniors were the most likely to be uninsured, only 14 percent having medical coverage when the program started. While the Medicare system needs reforms to control costs, the answer is not to force our seniors to navigate a private insurance market that will do everything it can to withhold coverage and services. Reducing access and affordability during life’s most difficult moments is morally wrong and not the American way of caring for its vulnerable and deserving citizens.
The same Republican budget would extend tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires and continue unnecessary subsidies for Big Oil, at a time of record profits and high prices at the pump. So here we are: According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Republican plan would have your grandparents pay an additional $6,000 out of pocket every year to cover their medical bills so that the Warren Buffets of the world can receive an additional $200,000 tax break and, at the same time, give Big Oil nearly $8 billion a year in subsidies while they continue to make record profits. It begs the question: What exactly do these Republicans value?
Not only is this plan bad for the American people, Americans do not want it. The Republicans in our legislatures are turning a deaf ear to the fact that 84 percent of Americans oppose their plan to privatize Medicare and reduce benefits and 74 percent support eliminating tax breaks for the oil and gas industry. A majority of Americans support eliminating tax breaks for the wealthy. Even close to 60 percent of Independents support eliminating tax cuts for Americans making over $250,000 a year.
There is a better plan, one that will eliminate the deficit and create a surplus by 2021, contrary to the Republican plan that continues to blow holes in the current deficit. The “People’s Budget” advanced by the Congressional Progressive Caucus doesn’t attempt to balance the budget on the backs of the middle class, children and seniors, the most vulnerable among us. It would get our fiscal house in order by eliminating tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires and make sure they pay their fair share. It would close tax loopholes so that well-paid accountants can’t reduce the tax obligations of the wealthy and big corporations to zero. It would end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, finally bringing our troops home and stop the expenditures of billions of dollars a day in other countries when we need to invest right here at home. It would enact a comprehensive jobs program to put America back to work so there are more taxpayers paying into the Treasury and fewer Americans dependent on the social safety net. It would enact a public health insurance option that will create more competition with private insurance companies and reduce premiums for all Americans. That is the direction we should be taking — giving more to the people and less to billionaires and Big Oil. It is a responsible approach that will bring hope, opportunity, dignity and fairness back to our public policy. We can do this and we must if we want to ensure that we really are committed to the future and the American Dream.
This appeared in the Santa Barbara News-Press, May 8, 2011

Is It Time To Try Another Approach?

You’ve got to give Governor Brown major kudos for his patience and tenacity in trying to make a deal with the Legislature’s Republicans. With the state facing a game-changing $26B budget gap, after already reducing general fund spending over the past several years by an estimated $14B, give or take a few billion, the state is at a precipice. Are we going to face the future with great ambition and vision or are we going to fall off a cliff and perhaps never recover our role in the nation and world as the place that “invents the future”? The Democrats have already agreed to a balanced approach and made an additional $12-14B in cuts to close the gap. But where’s the rest going to come from? If we want to decimate the state, then the balance will be cuts as well. Say good-bye to quality education-at any level; care for the neediest Californians; public safety; adequate police and fire-services when man-made or natural crisis appears; maintaining and repairing our infrastructure–roads, bridges, sewers; assuring clean air and water and all the other services and programs we take for granted in a civilized world. The list is long and deep. But the Republicans today don’t care–in fact, that don’t want government to succeed and some are brazen enough to admit it.
Let’s face it: Today’s Republican “leaders” in the legislature bear no resemblance to those who preceded them and this “new breed” is committed to dismantling government-sponsored efforts, most of which help the poor and middle class. The wealthy continue to accumulate vast amounts of money and the rest of us continue to suffer as a result. While there may be a few of these “leaders” who realize that politics is the art of compromise, they’re under so much pressure and, frankly, so spineless in the face of that pressure, that they’re just not willing or able to make a deal. Governor Brown is desperately trying to make a deal and put the state in a position so it can recover and once again prosper. But with a 2/3 requirement to do anything meaningful in this state–like raise taxes or put a measure on the ballot without the tedious and time-consuming signature gathering process, Brown can’t and won’t win. He’s got to be at the point where he realizes that he can’t work with these people. For those of us who believe that government plays an important and integral role in making society work, we can only hope that the Governor won’t, out of desperation, capitulate to the unreasonable demands being put forth by the few Republicans who are taking on the “good-cop” role with the other Republicans as the “bad cop.” Demands like a permanent “hard” spending cap is and must be a non-starter, for example. It’s simply bad for the future of this state. Of course, the “good cops” continue to put new and different demands on the table—up to 53 at last count, which would cause anyone to pull out his or her hair, so it’s a good thing Jerry doesn’t have to deal with that problem.
But what Jerry Brown is also dealing with is the fact that after a decade or more of Republican sound-bites saying that we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem, the public has drunk that kool-aid. Of course, part of the blame falls on Democrats who haven’t had an equally as effective and cute sound-bite in response. Instead, they go into great detail about the various nuances and responsibilities of government, the complexities of budgets, etc. It’s enough to make one’s eyes glaze over—and they do.
The perception is that government is too big and too bloated. Unfortunately, the public also notes that the Democrats have been claiming for years that the sky is falling but it never has—-Of course, that’s because we have borrowed enormous amounts of money to keep the sky up. Unfortunately, we’re about the pay the piper and that may be where we might have to go before the public steps up.
Hopefully Governor Brown will look for another approach. He is very smart, creative and determined, but right now the numbers and the public aren’t supportive of the obvious options and I think he’s stuck. Of course, one should never underestimate Jerry Brown, but right now the right-wing anti-government ideologues who want to destroy public education and infrastructure so they can privatize the state are winning this battle.

Isn’t it time we got the message?

In following the horror of nature rearing its awesome and unlimited power upon our friend and ally, Japan, it becomes ever more clear how fragile our hold is and how potentially insignificant we are in nature’s plan. So the question is: why do we continue to taunt her power? We build in flood plains, fire zones, ignore the true signs of global warming and talk about building more nuclear power plants. When will be get the message?
These are all things we can do something about. We can stop building in flood plains and high fire areas, we can address the sources of global warming and climate change and change our behaviors (if not too late). These are conversations we’ve been having regularly, especially in California and this is good. Ignoring the fact that the Koch brothers, their other oil and coal-burning billionaire buddies deny and lie about the changing climate, the importance of their carbon-burning products and their impacts on the planet, we know that they are in this strictly for the money. Truth and nature be damned.
But what we haven’t been talking about and are facing immediately and dramatically, is what happens when nature challenges the “safety” of nuclear power plants. Ninety miles from where I live, in Santa Barbara, is PG&E’s San Luis Obispo’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, so aptly named as its meltdown would create a hell for those of us downwind. How many are downwind? Well, you start in Santa Barbara and then go straight through Los Angeles, down the coast to San Diego and you get a sense of the magnitude of danger such a situation would create. Oh, and did I mention that Diablo is sited on an earthquake fault? No biggie…….
Of course, it IS big and the fact that Japan has 54 of these facilities is no less mind-boggling as Mother Nature has shined her often harsh countenance on the Rising Sun many times over the past decades and the latest on March 11, 2011 (not to be ignored is the human imposition of nuclear destruction on this nation in 1945).
With all sources of electricity to cool the nuclear reactor rods out-of-commission—back up diesel generators badly damaged by the earthquake, and an estimated 8 hours of battery time to keep the rods cool enough so they don’t melt and release radioactive material into the atmosphere, we are either facing or will face-down a Chernobyl/Three-Mile Island incident. So the next time we start talking about building more nuclear power plants, let’s remember that Mother Nature can neither be fooled nor beaten when her powers are unleashed.
There are many lessons to be learned from this incident. Most important is that we are powerless in the face of nature’s wrath when unleashed. We live in earthquake country in California. So, why are we cutting emergency facilities, the people who are our first-responders and otherwise destroying the very government that will be called upon if and when we face the inevitability that nature will act harshly — perhaps tomorrow, perhaps decades from now but inevitably? And while we ponder this, we need to prepare. And while we do that, let’s remember that nuclear power is not harmless and no amount of protection we develop can ensure against such a catastrophe. For those of us old enough to remember the campaign to substitute margarine for butter we should remind ourselves that “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.” Let’s not allow ourselves to find out why. Let’s reject building more nuclear power plants and find other safer ways to generate the power we need to fuel the future… we have a future to fuel.
And to the people of Japan we send you our prayers and hopefully our promise that we will not make the world any more dangerous than it is today—mother nature notwithstanding.

We Must Stop the Right-wing Rhetoric that Incites Violence

As Americans and people of common decency, we are deeply saddened and offended by the most recent violence perpetrated upon Gabrielle Giffords, a warm and compassionate young Congresswoman from Tucson, Arizona and the other innocent people standing nearby who were wounded and killed. We have no choice but to be outraged. Democracy and freedom are under attack whenever people are threatened with violence or become the victims of actual violence because of their political opinions or beliefs.
This political assassination attempt could have happened in California or anywhere in the U.S.A. It happens often in Pakistan, Mexico, Iraq and other third-world countries. Sadly, we in the United States are not immune. Perhaps it is should be less surprising given the frequent right-wing references to revolution, violence and Sara Palin’s “target” list that includes a map with enemies identified in a rifle’s cross-hairs. No joke. When violent rhetoric is ramped up as it has been over the past few years, it cannot be surprising that hate groups and crazed individuals will rise up and respond. In fact, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center there are over 60 active hate groups identified in California alone; 66 in Texas and 18 in Arizona. And that list has grown over 250 % in the past few years!
With six innocent and decent people killed and several others wounded by a deranged young man-with-gun and bizarre political extremist views, it is time to speak up and demand consequences for violent and hate-filled speech by right-wing extremists, led by the Glen Becks and Sarah Palins of the world, and not give them a pass on their rhetoric. Whether intended to or not, hateful and violent speech incites unstable and violence-prone people to lash out and hurt and kill children, doctors, highly-respected judges and senior citizens as well.
We know the right-wing spin machine is fast at work. They’ll end up trying to persuade us that it’s all Obama and “the lefties” fault because of their policies, and that the leftties’ rhetoric is just as violent and inciteful. As we know, the propaganda machines of the right have never been concerned with the truth, so I’ve included a link below (which you can cut and paste) that demonstrates how this type of hateful rhetoric has been amped up by the right-wing for years. With that being said–and it should be reiterated over-and-over so the toxic and violent references of the right stop, there should be no similar violent images from the left—or anywhere in our political system. We have a way to speak: it is through the ballot not bullets (a shocking suggestion of bullets where ballots don’t achieve the “desired” result– attributed to Sharon Angle in her campaign against Harry Reid where she continuously talked about “Second Amendment remedies.”)
But the facts are clear: it is these very people who, by virtue of their constant references to guns and violence, MUST be held accountable. We must demand a stop to the gun metaphors of bullseyes, targets and firing machine guns as a political campaign activity (actually conducted by Ms. Gifford’s opponent, Jesse Kelly, during the campaign prior to the November election). When you hear people using the “right-wing’s” talking points about how the left is just as hostile, you’ll be able to refute their claims. They are factually false.
The hate-mongering must end. Glen Beck and his cohorts must be made to understand that free speech has consequences and responsibilities that go with it—especially when inciting and hate-mongering are conducted through the air-waves. No more wistful mutterings about killing Michael Moore, or calling for insurrection and overthrow of the government with “2nd amendment rights.” It is the Glen Becking that provides the encouragement to those who are deep into hate or madness and who believe that they are entitled to impose their views through violence and destruction.
Even assuming no ill motives to the politically heated rhetoric of the “right” espoused by Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and Ann Coulter and others, are certainly not stupid people. They know that their rhetoric plays to those with a propensity for violence. The goal is that it stop; that the violence stop and that we find a way to respectfully disagree without forcing our opinions on one another through the barrel of a gun or other acts of intolerance and destructive conduct.
Enough already. Let’s take over the debate and demand that the facts speak for themselves. And in the meantime, let us all share the weight of six innocent people whose lives were taken by a madman for their simple act of participating in an act of liberty–meeting their congresswoman to express their concerns or appreciation. This is America, after all—where we pride ourselves on liberty and the ability to disagree in freedom and in safety.
See the Insurrectionism Timeline at

Where Have Progressives Gone?

Last night I moderated a “first of its kind” forum in Santa Barbara. It was an interactive, internet T.V. event hosted (for free) by a new company called, “California Streamin'” that brings high definition TV to the internet. (If you’re interested, I’ve included their spiel at the bottom of this post). This is exciting technology that may very well be the great equalizer we’ll need to combat the release of floodgates of big corporate money we’re seeing and will see even more of as time goes by, thanks to right-wing Justice led by John Roberts and Anton Scalia and their outrageous ruling in Citizens United—Although that’s not the point of this discussion, I just can’t stop railing on it for all its anti-democratic implications.
O.K. so, the City of Santa Barbara is known as a very progressive city; we voted for gay marriage, against Prop 8, for a livable wage, early recycling goals, etc. etc. Up until a year ago we had a city council that was 5 Libs and 2 lib-moderates. We’ve had forward-thinking women mayors almost exclusively for the past 25 years….. and I’ve won my elections in the City of Santa Barbara, always proud of my progressive values, by about 65% of the vote every time.
One of our stalwart progressives, City Councilman Das Williams (my protege, successor and very progressive guy) was just elected to the California Assembly. With 11 months left, the City Council is trying to fill his unexpired term. Forty-six people have applied and are being considered for the position. Of that number, I would say thirty are serious candidates (meaning they care, aren’t in this just to promote themselves or don’t think they’re Arnold Schwarzenneger).
It was a very lively and interesting forum where members of the public were invited to sign in and chat while watching the forum live. We took questions from the chat participants, asked many of the questions to the candidate/applicants, (who were all physically present together as if there were a real audience). The candidates responded in real time while folks at home were watching on their computers. We were able to create a very interactive experience for many locals who would rather sit at home and do their politics….maybe with beer in hand (or since this is Santa Barbara, maybe with their favorite Chard or Syrah).
Anyway, the point of this post is that when I asked the 11 applicants for a show of hands describing their politics with the simple question of “How many of you would consider yourselves progressives, moderates or conservatives”, NOT ONE of them identified him/herself as a progressive….NOT ONE! Ten said they were moderates and one said he was conservative. Perhaps a strategic decision, because the board is frozen at three/three at the moment but I can tell you from the answers these panelists gave that at least 70% of them were more progressive than anything else–wanting prevention and intervention over incarceration for our growing youth gang problem; providing treatment and housing for our ever-growing homeless population, etc, etc. Consider, too, that these were people who had sufficiently open minds that they were willing to participate in this unique event.
How far has our brand fallen, where a community that once prided itself in its strenuous opposition to oil drilling, commitment to environmental protection, renters rights, livable wage ordinances, voted for Obama by about 35 points, etc. etc. has scared away proudly progressive politicians????? As I said, many of them WERE progressives, as we define the concept, but not one would own up to it!
While California continues its blue tradition of the past 50 years, things haven’t always—or even that recently been that blue. (We’ve had one Democratic Governor since Jerry Brown was first elected in the 70’s). We’re likely considered the Lefty Capital of the world these days, particularly after this last election, but we are no less vulnerable to right-wing lunacy. I fear that we are looking at the canary in the mine at the moment if this experience is any indication. If long-time proudly progressive Santa Barbara is ducking the progressive mantle, you aren’t going to find it in too many places outside of San Francisco identifying with it.
The bottom line is pretty clear here: we’re in deep trouble if we don’t start to move quickly to rehabilitate our brand—or at least how we present it to the public. The next election isn’t far away….
Those of us who pride ourselves on believing in the common good, the importance of our government as a partner in our collective and individual success and the importance of equal opportunity and dignity for all, we’ve got to get our groove back….and quickly. Let’s start reminding people that progressive values are what has moved our state and nation forward. This is no time to retreat from our proud legacy and vision.

Can We Really Call This Christmastime In America?

Have We, the American People, Lost our Heart and Compassion and appear as grave hypocrites at this particular time of year? Or is it just our political “leaders” who have reduced the President to a virtual afterthought in their quest to bankrupt government and give the wealthiest Americans even more? Heavens, the wealthiest among us have a difficult choice to make, as one bold U.S. Senator stated earlier this week. Their dilemma is in which house should they celebrate Christmas. For the unemployed, the question is whether they will have a home at all this Christmas. And yet, the debate goes on about continuing the tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans while those same “leaders” are refusing to agree to continue unemployment payments to those who have virtually nothing
I find myself offended and embarrassed by the rhetoric being espoused by the Republicans in Congress today. They are insisting that we continue billions of dollars of tax-breaks to the wealthiest of Americans at the same time expressing deep concern about the growing deficit, which such tax breaks helped create. Of course, the record is clear that these continued breaks for the wealthy do NOT significantly stimulate the economy. In fact, it is just the opposite. By providing money for those unemployed we are assured that they will put money back into the economy for food, for rent and necessities. They are in no position to SAVE; they will spend it for basic living expenses. The rich, with so much, put that money in the bank and do not spend it. So, there is not even any fiscal logic to their protestations, yet that doesn’t (ever) stop them from making these false claims.
How did we become a nation like this? Or is it, perhaps, just the Republican leadership that is so heartless, so morally bankrupt that they are willing to sacrifice down-on-their-luck Americans, millions of them, in exchange for continued wealth and opulence for a small number of already well-fed and well-heeled supporters.
This is a moral outrage so where is the moral outrage from the Democrats? The President, supposedly the moral leader of this country, is apparently willing to make a deal, a Faustian deal at that, with the heartless politicians who are newly emboldened by their “victory” in November.
And not to be at all blinded by the irony, this is Holiday Season—when we Americans claim to be of good cheer, wishing Peace on Earth and Goodwill to all. Have we, as a nation, become so anesthetized, so paralyzed, so cold-hearted that we are unable or unwilling to DEMAND of our so-called “leaders” that they do the right thing, for once?
If our leaders need to know we have their backs on this issue, then let’s tell them.
Let them know we are a moral, good and decent people and expect them to reflect our values. It’s Christmas-time, dammit. Do something to show you care. Tell them to care, too.

California Election Final

Now that the election is pretty much over, with only one or two races still hanging in the balance, it is clear that this was not a great election cycle for Democrats. While the pundits analyze every which way, and with the Republicans delusional that this was a mandate for them, let’s try to make some sense of just what this election means for California—and even being so bold as to consider its national implications. (Why not? Every other political junkie and so-called expert has put in his or her two cents worth).
So here’s my take—-with thanks from experts, exit-pollsters, and legitimate academics and observers who actually want to provide perspective and not propaganda or partisan spin…
There was one election day but essentially two elections—or two electorates. First and obviously, the one that showed up. Then there were the women, the younger voter and the voters of color who didn’t show up at all….or if they did, they switched allegiance and voted “Republican.” In California, the results were just the opposite. While the younger voter didn’t come to the polls in large numbers, many did come for the aborted but still-alive notion that we should legalize marijuana. Women also came out, again not in numbers as large as previously, but they did have women running for the top two ticket items. Two for US Senate (but only one strongly supportive of womens rights and the other pretty silent on them except to be anti-choice) and one very wealthy but eminently unlikeable woman running for governor.
The key in California was the effort of labor and grass-roots groups to pull out the Latino vote—which came in droves. In fact, the Latino vote accounted for 22% of the electorate in California this year. While in the rest of the country the demographic was older, whiter, male voters who comprised the electorate, here we were more representative of the state’s actual demographics. Latinos voted in large numbers for both Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown.
Ironically, the Latino voter may have been energized by Meg Whitman, who spent multi-millions to arouse this sleeping-giant of a voter bloc, knowing that she couldn’t win without getting a substantial portion of them to vote for her. She spent millions on Spanish-language broadcasts, brandishing her credentials as a successful businesswoman and someone who would respect the desires of the community to achieve the American Dream. Only problem was that she got caught disrespecting her former household help by firing her when she decided to run for office. The great irony is that Meg’s treatment of her Latina employee was so cruel and her rejection of the Dream Act for young and worthy Latino youth sent her campaign on an irretrievable tailspin.
We can’t, however, ignore the fact that the voters ALSO sent a clear message that they’re not about to increase taxes and thus the state’s ability to fund programs, infrastructure and services. Even our beloved state parks, supported by the overwhelming majority of Californians were not given a much needed shot-in-the-arm. With the failure of Prop 21, the $18 fee attached to the VLF for state parks desperately needed maintenance and repairs, it appears that much work needs to be done to restore the public’s faith in government and the benefits of investing in its programs.
Indeed, the most dangerous and sleeper issue of this election was the passage of Prop. 26 which will require all new and increased fees to be subject to the impossible 2/3 vote of the electorate. This totally under-the-radar measure is likely to have catastrophic affects on important environmental and consumer protections if the business community’s interpretation of its impact prevails. Ironically, the public has made it clear it doesn’t want big, polluting corporations to get a pass, yet with the passage of Prop. 26, they may very well have given them one.
The lessons of this election-both statewide and nationally are many–and the interpretations flowing from right-wing spin machines are as loud as they are baseless. While here in California we are patting ourselves on the back that we avoided the avalanche of misplaced anger and anti-incumbency, we would be remiss if we thought we were immune from the public’s loss of faith and confidence in government. Far from it, the public’s disdain for our political leadership and imposition of taxes was made loud and clear– as demonstrated by the success and failure of the various ballot measures.
Yes, we remain a Blue State, but due in great measure to the Latino voters who, unlike our young and women, came out strong in this election. Nonetheless, we MUST restore the public’s faith in our leaders, our government and the need to invest in the future of our state in order for our economy to thrive and the quality of life in this great state to be preserved. We have not made that case well for years and the public isn’t happy about it.
That’s the honest lesson of this election. Let’s not delude ourselves. Let’s start making our case for why we need public services, programs and protection of our resources. If we don’t, we may find California starting to look a lot more like Mississippi than the Golden State of Golden Dreams.

Can Someone Please Explain This To Me?

We are about to have a election where we have the
possibility of putting back into power the very people who created the problems
that we are trying to fix. We let these same people dig us into this hole over
a period of about 14 years (their so-called “Contract With America” which was
really a contract ON America). What was their finished product? It was a
recession that almost collapsed our nation’s economy and almost drove the
entire world into collapse as well.

We voted and asked Democrats to fix the problems created by
14 years of failed conservative philosophy and when they weren’t able to fix
the entire mess in less than two years,
we are considering letting the same people who created the mess back into
power………to do what???????  Do we think
they will fix the mess they created in 14 years of failed so-called “free
market economics” which let corporations run rampant in pursuit of profits; which
led to the housing market collapse and the Wall Street collapse? To the BP oil
disaster? To the out-sourcing of millions of American jobs to China
and other low-wage countries? To the greatest accumulation of wealth into the
hands of the fewest Americans in our nation’s history? To the greatest increase
in children living in poverty since the Great Depression (which was caused by
another Republican named Herbert Hoover)?

Conservatives scream about “less government” (except when
they are telling us that we can’t control our own reproductive decisions), that
we should ignore science and go back to 19th century beliefs about
evolution and the planet while ignoring fossil fuel’s impact on our climate. And
what are their solutions? Nothing but
the same old, same old. Less taxes, more freedom, less government. Wow!

Look what that has led to:

The rich are getting richer and spending less and less on
building the infrastructure and on the education the next generations will need
if they hope to have the same chances of success that our generation has had.
It has led to the continued out-sourcing of jobs to countries that put lead and
toxins in the products we then receive back from them. It has led to oil
companies growing and exploring without any checks on whether they’re
recklessly endangering our resources, food supplies, home-grown jobs – like BP
and God-only knows which of the other oil companies that take no responsibility
for the pollution and degradation they create in pursuit of their profit and
CEO’s embarrassing compensation.

Is this what we really want? Do we really want leaders who
are so wacky that they talk about masturbation as adultery, dabble in
witchcraft, want to destroy social security and Medicare and take away all the
consumer protections from dangerous product creation and food distribution?

I think not. So what is the answer???? Don’t put the inmates
in charge of the asylum. Give the Democrats a little more time to fix the
problems the Republicans have created and if they have the chance—meaning
they don’t get stonewalled at every turn by the “Just say NO” politics of the
disloyal opposition, then try another approach.

Let’s give this president a chance to turn the country
around and give our representatives the backbone to do the right thing. They
need to know that we’ve got their backs and if anything, want them to be MORE
daring, MORE creative, MORE visionary in their thinking and their policies! We
shouldn’t and can’t afford to go backwards. Remember when the people lead, the
leaders will follow. Time to vote! It is time for Americans to wake up and try
to move forward, not backward.

It’s not about the taxes, it’s about the future.  It’s about the economy, education and the
environment. Based upon what we’ve seen over the past decade, who do you think
has the better ideas to protect those?