Where Is The Corporate Money Going For California’s Ballot Initiatives?

This is a survey looking at where the corporate money is
going in California’s 2010 November ballot initiatives.  All figures are from Sept. 17, 2010 and will be updated.  Due to reporting rules many contributions are not yet on the
record.

Proposition 19,
Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010

There is not a lot of corporate money involved in the
marijuana initiative.  The beer and wine
distributors have put up $10K to oppose the initiative.

On the supporting side: Credo, formerly Working Assets,
campaign filings do not show any amounts as of Sept 17.  (Credo engages in political activity that
supports the expressed wishes of their customers.)

Opposition to the measure: 
CALIF BEER & BEVERAGE
DISTRIBUTORS STATE ISSUES $10,000

 

Proposition 20,
Congressional Redistricting

This initiative is largely financed by one individual,
Charles T. Munger, Vice-Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway (Warren Buffet’s
company).  The financing is individual,
not from the company.

 

Proposition 21,
Vehicle License Fee for Parks

On the opposing side: CALIFORNIANS AGAINST CAR TAXES, NO ON
PROPOSITION 21 – none of the contributions are reported yet.

 

Proposition 22, Ban
on State Borrowing from Local Governments

Campaign filings do not show any corporate amounts as of
Sept 17.

 

Proposition 23, Suspend
AB 32, the Global Warming Act of 2006

**There is heavy
corporate involvement in favor of this initiative.**

The corporate money, specifically oil company money, is heavily
involved in support of this initiative. 
In fact, it is fair to say that this initiative is almost entirely
financed by oil company money, some of it in ways attempting to mask that
involvement.

 

Support

ADAM SMITH
FOUNDATION $498,000 (This is a front-group for oil-company donations.)

Valero $1,050,000

HOLLY
CORPORATION $25,000

PLACID
REFINING COMPANY LLC $9,995

STAN BOYETT
& SON INC. DBA BOYETT PETROLEUM $25,000

AMERICAN
COALITION FOR CLEAN COAL ELECTRICITY $5000

TESORO
COMPANIES, $525,000

OCCIDENTAL
PETROLEUM CORP. $300,000

THE TERMO
COMPANY $5,000

ROBINSON OIL
CORPORATION $25,000

BREITBURN
OPERATING LP $20,000

E & B
NATURAL RESOURCES MGMT.CORP $5,000

AMERICAN
ENERGY OPERATIONS INC $5,000

NATIONAL
PETROCHEMICAL & REFINERS ASSOCIATION $100,000

CALIFORNIA
TRUCKING ASSOCIATION $50,000

BERRY
PETROLEUM COMPANY 25000

NAFTEX
OPERATING CO. 5000

CAMINOL
MANAGEMENT CO. $25,000

MURRAY ENERGY
CORPORATION $30,000

VENOCO, INC.
$10,000

WORLD OIL
CORP. $100,000

TOWER ENERGY
GROUP $100,000

SOUTHERN
COUNTIES OIL CO. DBA TOTAL ENERGY PRODUCTS $50,000

LUMBER
ASSOCIATION OF CALIFORNIA & NEVADA PAC $5,000

NO NEW TAXES,
A PROJECT OF THE HOWARD JARVIS TAXPAYERS ASSOCIATION $100,001

JACO OIL CO.
$10,000

 

I will do
deeper research to try to trace where the money came from for NO NEW TAXES, A
PROJECT OF THE HOWARD JARVIS TAXPAYERS ASSOCIATION $100,001

CALIFORNIANS
FOR PAYCHECK PROTECTION $25,000

PROTECT PROP.
13, A PROJECT OF THE HOWARD JARVIS TAXPAYERS ASSOCIATION $49,000

CALIFORNIANS
FOR PROPERTY RIGHTS PROTECTION $5,213.91

 

Oppose: Credo

CANNON POWER
GROUP AND ITS AFFILIATE BAJA WIND, LLC $25K

I will
conduct additional research to try to learn if companies are funding GREEN TECH
ACTION FUND $500K and
DMB ASSOCIATES, INC. AND AFFILIATES $80K

 

I will also try to trace if corporate donations
are involved with CLEAN ECONOMY NETWORK NO ON 23 ACTION FUND, SUPPORTED BY
CLEAN TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES, RENEWABLE ENERGY ENTREPRENEURS, AND CONCERNED
CITIZENS $75K

 

 

Proposition 24,
Repeal of Corporate Tax Breaks

**There is heavy
corporate involvement in opposition to this initiative.**

Corporate money
opposed:

Johnson & Johnson $750K

CBS Outdoor
and Affiliates $1M

PFIZER INC.
$100K

GE $1.2M

ALLERGAN, INC
$20K

AMGEN $350K

VIACOM $950K

TIME WARNER $1.1M

FOX $725K

Walt Disney $1M

CISCO $1.1M

Qualcomm $100K

Medtronic $25K

Genetech $1.1M

Abbott Labs $100K

HP $100K

Intel $75K

 

 

Proposition 25
Majority Vote for Legislature to Pass the Budget

**There is heavy
corporate involvement in opposition to this initiative.**

Big corporate donations opposing.  Multiple donations as indicated.

NEW MAJORITY
CALIFORNIA PAC $100K

Chevron $250K $250:

Miller Coors $175K $100K $26K $24K $25K

SMALL BUSINESS
ACTION COMMITTEE PAC $500K  $800K

PROTECT PROP 13, A PROJECT OF THE HOWARD JARVIS
TAXPAYERS ASSOCIATION
$79,674

 

WINE INSTITUTE $100K $25K $25K $25K

 

INSURANCE BROKERS AND AGENTS ISSUES PAC
(IBAIPAC), SPONSORED BY IBA WEST, INC. $50K

 

CALIFORNIA BEER & BEVERAGE DISTRIBUTORS
ISSUES PAC $K

 

CALIFORNIA RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION ISSUES
PAC $50K

 

CALIFORNIA BEER & BEVERAGE DISTRIBUTORS
ISSUES PAC $50K $25K

 

CALIFORNIA RESTAURANT ASSOCIATION ISSUES
PAC $25K

 

CROWN IMPORTS LLC $58K $20K

 

CALIFORNIA AMERICAN COUNCIL OF ENGINEERING
COMPANIES ISSUES FUND (CA ACEC ISSUES FUND) $15K

 

WATSON LAND COMPANY $10K

 

CALIFORNIA BUSINESS POLITICAL ACTION
COMMITTEE, SPONSORED BY THE CALIFORNIA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (AKA CALBUSPAC) $235K
$120K $100K $325K $215K $75K $75K $125K $50K $100K

 

SAFEWAY INC. $20K 10K

 

DIAGEO NORTH AMERICA, INC. (Guinness,
Smirnoff, Johnie Walker, Jose Cuervo …) $25K

 

FARMERS INSURANCE GROUP $25K

 

ANHEUSER-BUSCH COMPANIES, INC. $100K  $25K

 

BROWN-FORMAN
CORPORATION (Jack Daniels, Fetzer, Korbel, Southern Comfort …) $35K

DISTILLED
SPIRITS COUNCIL $20K

AERA ENERGY
LLC $150K

CONOCOPHILLIPS
$25K

 

Note – I will
be d
igging into which companies are funding NEW MAJORITY CALIFORNIA PAC, SMALL
BUSINESS ACTION COMMITTEE PAC, CALIFORNIA BUSINESS POLITICAL ACTION COMMITTEE,
SPONSORED BY THE CALIFORNIA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (AKA CALBUSPAC) and front-group
others.

 

Proposition 26 Supermajority Vote to Pass New Taxes
and Fees (2010)

This
initiative is the flip side of proposition 25, and the money in opposition to
25 is in favor of 26.  Additionally:

CALIFORNIA
BUSINESS PAC, SPONSORED BY THE CALIFORNIA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (CALBUSPAC)  $135K $140K $240K

 

Proposition 27 Eliminate Redistricting Commission

The opposition
to this is financed by Charles Munger and his wife.

Charles Munger
millions & Munger’s wife, millions 
— See Prop 20

Also:

SMALL BUSINESS
ACTION COMMITTEE PAC $20K

CA BUSINESS
PAC,SPONSORED BY CA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (AKA CALBUSPAC) $10K

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

This November’s Ballot Initiatives

Here we go! This is a roundup of the ballot measures. I’m going to provide the official info, the summary and the “What Voting Yes Means” info from the state, and a discussion of the measure. In the coming month Speak Out California will go into detail on these initiatives with a progressive viewpoint, research into the funding and supporters/opponents and their reasons, and our own endorsements. (I can safely say that we will not be endorsing Prop 23.)
Proposition 19, The Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010.
This proposition changes California Law to Legalize Marijuana and Allow It to Be Regulated and Taxed.
Summary: Allows people 21 years old or older to possess, cultivate, or transport marijuana for personal use. Fiscal Impact: Depending on federal, state, and local government actions, potential increased tax and fee revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually and potential correctional savings of several tens of millions of dollars annually.
A YES vote on this measure means: Individuals age 21 or older could, under state law, possess and cultivate limited amounts of marijuana for personal use. In addition, the state and local governments could authorize, regulate, and tax commercial marijuana-related activitites under certain conditions. These activities would remain illegal under federal law.
Discussion: it is hard to find much wrong with this proposal. Some say that more people might drive while stoned, and there needs to be enforcement and education around this. Speak Out California recently ran a post on another interesting possible result from this proposal: Will Passing Prop 19 Help End Mexico’s Drug War?
Proposition 20, Congressional Redistricting
Add the task of re-drawing congressional district boundaries to the commission created by Proposition 11.
Summary: Removes elected representatives from process of establishing congressional districts and transfers that authority to recently-authorized 14-member redistricting commission comprised of Democrats, Republicans, and respresentatives of neither party. Fiscal Impact: No significant net change in state redistricting costs.
A YES vote on this measure means: The responsibility to determine the boundaries of California’s districts in the U.S. House of Representatives would be moved to the Citizens Redistricting Commission, a commission established by Proposition 11 in 2008. (Proposition 27 on this ballot also concerns redistricting issues. If both Proposition 20 and Proposition 27 are approved by voters, the proposition receiving the greater number of “yes” votes would be the only one to go into effect.)
Discussion: This takes the “gerrymandering” out of drawing up the state’s Congressional districts. You’ve probably seen the maps of current districts, where they wander all aroundand make no sense. This is done to include or exclude areas that tend to vote Democratic or Republican, which ensures “safe” seats and manipulates the totals so there are one or three more Democratic members of Congress than there otherwise would be. If this passes districts would not be drawn to cover wide areas and leave out neighborhoods. The problem – to some – is that Texas has drawn its districts to makes sure that they send extra Republicans to the Congress, so changing to this system costs Democrats nationally.
Proposition 21, Vehicle License Fee for Parks
Establishes $18 Annual Vehicle License Surcharge to Help Fund State Parks and Wildlife Programs and Grants Free Admission to All State Parks to Surcharged Vehicles.
Summary: Exempts commercial vehicles, trailers and trailer coaches from the surcharge. Fiscal Impact: Annual increase to state revenues of $500 million from surcharge on vehicle registrations. After offsetting some existing funding sources, these revenues would provide at least $250 million more annually for state parks and wildlife conservation.
A YES vote on this measure means: An $18 annual surcharge would be added to the amount paid when a person registers a motor vehicle. The surcharge revenues would be used to provide funding for state park and wildlife conservation programs. Vehicles subject to the surcharge would have free admission and parking at all state parks.
Discussion: This appears to be a good thing, except to those who hate any government or taxes. BUT one of the big problems with reaching a budget each year is these set-asides that are done by ballot initiative, making it difficult to allocate funds as needed. Addressing the state’s revenue shortfall would g a lot further. Then again, it is hard to be against a small license fee to help the state’s parks.
Proposition 22, Ban on State Borrowing from Local Governments
Summary: Prohibits State, even during severe fiscal hardship, from delaying distribution of tax revenues for these purposes. Fiscal Impact: Decreased state General Fund spending and/or increased state revenues, probably in the range of $1 billion to several billions of dollars annually. Comparable increases in funding for state and local transportation programs and local redevelopment.
A YES vote on this measure means: The state’s authority to use or redirect state fuel tax and local property tax revenues would be significantly restricted.
Discussion: This is another measure to try to address a little piece of the state’s budget problems. The state grabs money from local governments to help fix its own budget mess, leaving the local governments short and in trouble. Fixing the larger problem of an extremist, obstructionist anti-government minority would go much further.
Proposition 23, Suspend AB 32, the Global Warming Act
Summary:

  • Suspends State law that requires greenhouse gas emissions be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020, until California’s unemployment drops to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters.
  • Suspends comprehensive greenhouse-gas-reduction program that includes increased renewable energy and cleaner fuel requirements, and mandatory emissions reporting and fee requirements for major emissions sources such as power plants and oil refineries.

A YES vote on this measure means: Certain existing and proposed regulations authorized under state law (“Assembly Bill 32”) to address global warming would be suspended. These regulations would remain suspended until the state unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent or lower for one year.
Discussion: This ugly mess of an out-of-state-funded corporate initiative represents the worst of our politics. It tries to trick voters by conflating fighting global warming and creating a new green economy with the unemployment rate. It has millions and millions of dollars behind it from huge, out-of-state oil giants.
Proposition 24, Repeal of Corporate Tax Breaks
Summary: Prohibits the State, even during a period of severe fiscal hardship, from delaying the distribution of tax revenues for transportation, redevelopment, or local government projects and services.

  • Repeals recent legislation that would allow businesses to shift operating losses to prior tax years and that would extend the period permitted to shift operating losses to future tax years.
  • Repeals recent legislation that would allow corporations to share tax credits with affiliated corporations.
  • Repeals recent legislation that would allow multistate businesses to use a sales-based income calculation, rather than a combination property-, payroll-, and sales-based income calculation.

A YES vote on this measure means: Three business tax provisions will return to what they were before 2008 and 2009 law changes. As a result: (1) a business will be less able to deduct losses in one year against income in other years, (2) a multistate business will have its California income determined by a calculation using three factors, and (3) a business will not be able to share tax credits with related businesses.
Discussion: Last year during the worst of the budget crisis Republicans forced the legislature to pass a huge corporate tax cut while cutting everything else including firing teachers, because the state requires a 2/3 supermajority to pass a budget. This initiative reverses that tax cut and a few others.
Proposition 25, Majority Vote for Legislature to Pass the Budget
Summary:

  • Changes the legislative vote requirement necessary to pass the state budget and spending bills related to the budget from two-thirds to a simple majority.
  • Provides that if the Legislature fails to pass a budget bill by June 15, all members of the Legislature will permanently forfeit any reimbursement for salary and expenses for every day until the day the Legislature passes a budget bill.

A YES vote on this measure means: The Legislature’s vote requirement to send the annual budget bill to the Governor would be lowered from two-thirds to a majority of each house of the Legislature.
Discussion: The discussion for Prop 24 described how tax cuts for large out-of-state corpoariotns were forced on us during last year’s budget negotiations. This measure allows a simple majority to pass a budget, preventing this kind of thing. However, because this measure retains the 2/3 requirement to pass any revenue increases there is also a possibility it would increase pressure for cuts-only budgets.
Proposition 26, Supermajority Vote to Pass New Taxes and Fees
Summary:

  • Requires that certain state fees be approved by two-thirds vote of Legislature and certain local fees be approved by two-thirds of voters.
  • Increases legislative vote requirement to two-thirds for certain tax measures, including those that do not result in a net increase in revenue, currently subject to majority vote.

Discussion: This is an attempt by anti-government forces to further restrict the ability of the legislature and public to fund the government.
Proposition 27, Elimination of Citizen Redistricting Commission
Summary:

  • Eliminates 14-member redistricting commission selected from applicant pool picked by government auditors.
  • Consolidates authority for establishing state Assembly, Senate, and Board of Equalization district boundaries with elected state representatives responsible for drawing congressional districts.
  • Reduces budget, and imposes limit on amount Legislature may spend, for redistricting.
  • Provides that voters will have the authority to reject district boundary maps approved by the Legislature.
  • Requires populations of all districts for the same office to be exactly the same.

Discussion: This is an attempt to return to political “gerrymandering” of political districts.

Follow The Money — It’s All About The Self-Interest

Much is finally being written about the money behind the candidates as well as the initiatives these days. Finally I say because money buys word-smithing and that buys people’s hearts and minds. Not that the ideas propelling the candidates and ballot measures couldn’t do that on their merits, but it’s the money that motivates these self-serving people/corporations. Money pays for the glib sound-bites that become the message and the PR firms that then shape the opinions and alas, the votes of an often unsuspecting electorate.
With all the money being poured into our elections this year, and the misdirection of the voters, it is not hard to understand that the Republicans are poised to recoup most, if not all of their lost gains from the 2008 election that catapulted Barack Obama and the Democrats into power. What IS hard to understand, is how the American people are looking to these very same people, with the very same ideas that put our communities, our state, our nation and even the world on the brink of economic disaster.
I was confounded again today, listening to Mitt Romney, of all people, disparaging the Democrats view of economics; if Romney and his buddies had had their way, the world would have collapsed into depression after the Bush policies of less oversight, greater private enterprise without accountability and all the other disastrous approaches to prosperity and opportunity that accompanied the Gingrich, Bush and Cheney years. One disaster after another:

  • Iraq
  • Wall Street
  • Housing collapse
  • High unemployment
  • Out-sourcing jobs to China and Asia
  • Huge deficits
  • Afghanistan
  • Guantanemo and the loss of civil liberties.

The list truly goes on and on, yet with the incredible chutzpah of arrogant, wealthy, deceitful, expediency-driven people like Mitt and the Koch brothers, we’re seeing the resurrection of the failed policies that President Obama so aptly expressed as the “guys who drove the car into the ditch”. As he pointed out, now they’re asking for the keys back. What the President was slow in realizing (or maybe does now), is that there may be enough Americans willing to do just that!
Back to the Koch Boys ……. these multi-gazillionaires born into extraordinary privilege, with no moral compass, have dumped millions into California for purposes of realizing their libertarian, polluting, anti-worker dispositions to assure that their climate threatening, dirty air creating industries continue to pollute our air and risk the future of our health and our planet. They’ve found a willing ally, it seems, in Carly Fiorina—who probably wishes she could be them—if only she knew how. (See Fiorina’s billionaire backers in today’s LA Times.)
While a recent study named Koch Industries one of the top 10 air polluters in the United States, and they have been cited by organizations that monitor employment practices as “m>one of the most ruthless exporters of American manufacturing jobs to foreign countries”, Carly earned the distinction of being one of the country’s top twenty WORST CEO’s of all time. So they do have a lot in common–and are in sync on both opposing our critically important model air-quality legislation which also creates hundreds of thousands of green jobs for Californians (many of which have already begun) and in off-shoring American jobs.
It is important in politics to go beyond the rhetoric to who is funding what and why. Once the fluff and hype is dissected, the real story of a ballot measure or candidate’s expected behavior can be identified. With all the polling, focus-groups and testing of “messages”, the public tends to be inundated with language designed to bamboozle, not educate. This makes following the money trail all the more important.
In the case of the Koch Brothers, their millions have been funding the “tea party” and major Republican candidates nationwide. They’ve also put millions into Yes on Prop 23, along with two Texas oil companies that believe they should be able to force us to breathe dirty air.
While truth has never been of concern to the Libertarian, filthy air producing Koch boys (I will not make any comment about any possible racism or bigotry they may have inherited from their father who was one of the original members of the John Birch Society), they have gotten solidly behind Carly and Prop 23. Those facts, alone, should be enough to make sure we say NO to both Fiorina and Prop. 23. While they may have tons of money, once you follow it, you see that it leads straight into a self-serving stew of pollution and greed.
We can do better— a lot better!

Will Passing Prop 19 Help End Mexico’s Drug War?

The huge financial returns from supplying America’s demand have fueled the rise of drug gangs across our southern border. Marijuana prohibition keeps the price high and the supply controllable. As a result few have as great a financial interest in continuing to keep marijuana illegal as do these Mexican drug gangs.
In an interesting development, Héctor Aguilar Camín ( a historian, a novelist and the publisher and editor of the Mexican magazine Nexos) and Jorge G. Castañeda (Mexico’s foreign minister from 2000 to 2003 and teacher at New York University) penned an op-ed in Sunday’s Washington Post, California’s Prop 19, on legalizing marijuana, could end Mexico’s drug war. Excerpt,

On Nov. 2, Californians will vote on Proposition 19, deciding whether to legalize the production, sale and consumption of marijuana. If the initiative passes, it won’t just be momentous for California; it may, at long last, offer Mexico the promise of an exit from our costly war on drugs.
[. . .] A growing number of distinguished Mexicans from all walks of life have recently come out in favor of some form of drug legalization. Former presidents Ernesto Zedillo and Vicente Fox, novelists Carlos Fuentes and Angeles Mastretta, Nobel Prize-winning chemist Mario Molina, and movie star Gael García Bernal have all expressed support for this idea, and polls show that ordinary Mexicans are increasingly willing to contemplate the notion.

A question for readers: is it possible that drug interests south of the border might become involved in efforts to oppose Prop 19? There is a great deal of money at stake depending on which way this ballot initiative goes. There is a history of entrenched moneyed interests getting involved in elections that can alter their interests.

Earth to California Voters: We have created a train wreck!

The latest poll shows that Arnold Schwarzenegger now holds the embarassing distinction of having the same 22% favorability rate as Gray Davis had when Davis became the first Governor in modern-day California to be recalled by an angry electorate.
 
Of course the public is angry again and for good reason: we’re at a 12.3% unemployment rate; we have one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country; the Republicans in the legislature continue to demand that we cut the taxes of fat-cat corporations and the well-heeled oil industry and yet demand more from hard-working Californians, while providing us with less.
 
We’re looking at a billionaire who thinks she’s Queen and thinks she’s equipped to “govern” the state. This is the same person who failed to vote for two decades and has, during this campaign, done more flip-flops than Arnold can do push-ups.
 
We’ve got a $19.3 Billion deficit that can’t be filled by getting rid of “fraud, waste and abuse” because  there isn’t enough “fraud waste and abuse” to fill a thimble of the state’s deficit. E-Meg wants us to think that, because she presided over a very successful business we should elect her to run the state of California. But increasing profits isn’t what a state government is supposed to do.  The goal of business is profit. We all know that—and if not, just check out Goldman-Sachs which says by making all this money, it’s doing “the lords work.” The role of government is to provide for its people. If we can tighten our belts and give more services for the dollar, that’s great, but the way to judge the success of government is by how well we educate our children, how well we protect our communities and how well we plan and build for the future.
 
There is no question that Queen Meg is not equipped or prepared to govern our state. That being said, the problem goes well beyond who we decide to have at the controls of the train. The problem is rather the train itself and the tracks upon which it rides
 
George Skelton observes in the L.A. Times that the problems we are facing don’t totally fall at the feet of the governor—although there is plenty of blame to go around on that score. The problem is an obvious one: California’s system of governance is a mess. It doesn’t work because it is a hodgepodge of stops and starts that don’t mesh, don’t allow majority rule and don’t really require that anyone take responsibility for what they’re doing in Sacramento. Applying the train analogy, we’ve got old and different kinds of rails to ride upon that don’t go in a straight line, aren’t even the same and dead-end all along the route.
 
I’m no fan of Queen Meg, Meg Whitless, or whatever other cute and probably accurate nicknames are out there which describe her cluelessness and imperial notion of governance. She is clearly unqualified to try to govern the largest state in the nation. But even if she were qualified, had voted over the last 20plus years (which horrorfyingly she has not), the state is simply ungovernable in its present configuration. Period.
 
Those who have studied or have any experience with state government know that it has been immobilized by several initiatives. Each of them may have had, in their day, a well-intended purpose, but put together they create an alphabet soup of dysfunction. They bump into each other, force the train to stop and turn circles when the train should be moving forward.
 
What is interesting is that no one knows this better than Jerry Brown. Perhaps that is why he’s speaking more in global concepts than popular but empty promises of cleaning up government or as our now very unpopular governor was accustomed to saying before he became such, “I’m going to blow up the boxes.”  Hmmmmm.
 
Let’s be clear on what the problems are and not what the right-wing spin machines have so effectively, albeit dishonestly claimed to be the reasons for our state’s deteriorating quality-of-life:
 
1- We have a revenue problem. It was created by so-called “free market” policies promoted by the Republicans and epitomized by the Bush Administration’s deregulation of just about everything—from the banks and financial institutions (the Goldman-Sachs syndrome) to the de facto deregulation of the oil industry (thanks to MMS’s cozy relationship with the oilies) to giving additional tax-breaks here in California to big monopolies that promised and delivered absolutely nothing in exchange. We have reduced taxes on the wealthiest among us and refused to create a more level-playing field for our young people who ask only the same opportunities that the prior generations had to work hard and live the California Dream.
 
2- We’re both the most and least democratic state in the country. We require a 2/3 vote of the legislature to pass a budget and a 2/3 vote to increase taxes. No other state does this; no other state is chronically late in getting their fiscal house in order every year. At the same time, we have given the people greater access to direct democracy than most other states through the creation of the initiative and referendum process. (See number 4 below)
 
3- Term-limits means we expect the least-experienced people to run the most diverse and complex state in the country. We are running the 8th largest economy in the world with inexperienced, short-term leaders. Term limits has been a disaster for good government. Ask Dems and Reps alike (at least those Reps who care about government and making sure it works, whether they think it should come in Extra Large or Small). We foolishly think that we’re punishing the politicians by limiting the length of time they can serve. In fact, what we’re doing is short-changing ourselves.
 
4- Money, not the people, are controlling public policy. The unique system of direct democracy has given way to big businesses buying their way onto the ballot. Just ask why was there a constitutional amendment on the ballot which would have given PG&E greater monopolistic control than it already has in its service areas (which represent the majority of the state)?

Who are these people who are now challenging the bipartisan global warming measure that will open up California as the leader—in jobs and technology for creation of an alternative energy industry to lead the country and world away from dirty, dangerous fossil fuels? They are four major TEXAS-BASED OIL companies. It is clear that when Hiram Johnson proposed the initiative as a way to insure that the people would be able to trump the power of the railroads (that were controlling the legislature in the early 1900’s), the last thing he dreamed would be that those same greed-driven, monopolistic entities would be taking control of the state yet again,buying their way onto the ballot and then spending millions to mislead the public as to their intentions.
 
Of course, adding to the corporate take-over of democracy, both in California and the nation is the outrageous U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United. In one fell swoop, this biased, “free-market” cabal has all but assured right-wing monopolies will control the future of elections and electoral politics for years to come.
 
All that being said, there is one thing that is clear: If we want to get California back on track, we certainly don’t want the party of NO to be in charge. We’ve seen what they’ve done nationally—and what kind of pollution, dysfunction and economic destruction they bring when we give them the power to do so. Look no farther than the Gulf of Mexico and Wall Street for starters. The right-wing that has taken over a once moderate, but business-leaning party, hates government (unless they’re running it) and doesn’t care if they take the state or country down with them as long as they regain control. That’s not democracy and that’s not what we, the people, are entitled to receive. 
 
We need to fix the system and thus the train tracks before we expect to turn this train around. Unless and until we do that, we’re going to see our beloved California continue its journey into the abyss and wonder why it happened.
 
This crisis is well-beyond any individual candidate and any single election. We’ve got to wake up to the mess that has befallen the rules of government in California. We, the people, want and deserve good schools, good roads, clean air and water, safe streets and economic opportunity. Until we straighten out how we run this state, we’re not going to get what we need for a brighter tomorrow. Time is running out.
 

No Rest for the Weary Electorate

While California takes the summer off, the wealthy use their extraordinary wealth to undermine the state’s future.
While grills all over California are still smoldering under the weight of July 4th hot dogs, burgers and maybe a veggie-burger or two, those with unlimited resources (and who most likely grilled steaks instead), continue their barrage on the senses of Golden State residents.
With all that money, there’s no need to respect the notion that these are the “dog days” of summer, when those lucky enough to have jobs try to sneak in a restful vacation or two with their families and friends and those who are out-of-work try to find some, or if not at least find solace in the fact that summer tends to be slow in the work-place anyway. But for E-Meg and the big oil companies, this is no time to let the rest of us relax.
With four major Texas-based oil companies putting in the few millions necessary to qualify Prop. 23 on the ballot, we can expect a summer filled with more lies and misinformation about what AB 32, the law that will move us to develop an alternative energy economy, is going to do to the state. To the oilies, it represents a commitment to move from their dirty, fossil-based fuel driven economy to something more sustainable and protective of the environment (you can include the ocean in that, as we continue to watch in horror as the Gulf of Mexico absorbs millions of gallons of the dirty, toxic and deathly gunk every day).
Of course, what’s not to like in that idea? Well, the claim (made without any justification or factual data to support it—but what else is new?) is that it will raise the price of oil and be a drag on our state’s already suffering economy. You know, another “job-killer” bill.
For thinking people, this reasoning is pure nonsense. Fortunately, according to a new poll that came out today, most Californians reject this nonsense and realize forcing us to move to renewable energy resources could and would put California right in the middle of a changing, vibrant and profitable new energy economy. For more information on the report, check out Cal Buzz here.
And then there’s E-Meg, the multi-billionaire who wants to buy the Governorship on her way to trying to buy the Presidency of the United States. Now, while I’m all for women aspiring and reaching the highest office in the land, (and I am, indeed), E-Meg has no experience and up until fairly recently no interest in government or its workings. But that’s the least of it. For those of us who have been in both public service and private enterprise, there is one thing that is clear. One is analog and the other digital. You can’t run business like and government and you can’t run government like a business. Why? Because the purpose of business is profit. The purpose of government is to provide for the public good.
We saw that up close and personal with Ahnold. He came in as an “outsider” with a great story of financial success (even as a mediocre actor, but that’s for another day). No one can argue that Meg has had enormous success as well (even though much of it is integrally linked to her relationship with Goldman Sachs). And no one can argue that she’s put together an extraordinary political campaign machine–probably the best that $90 million (and counting every minute) can buy. She’s got the sound-bites down, controls her press conferences with impressive precision and has well-choreographed ads up on all the right stations and programs, etc. She has attacked her opponent with great gusto and creativity—-unfazed by the fact that most of her criticisms are totally distorted, if not downright lies. We know, however, that she will stop at nothing to make her case—just look at the way she ran to the far-right to beat Steve Poizner in the primary.
It will be interesting to see her race back to the “middle”, which she is already trying to do with the Latino community. She’s spent a small fortune so far buying time on Spanish-speaking media trying to convince this population that she’s supportive, even though the hated former-governor Pete Wilson (Mr. Prop.118) was (and still is?) her campaign chairman.
Her politics aside, the problem is: With all her money and clever advertising and posturing, she doesn’t have a clue how to GOVERN. We do know she knows how to bully—as illustrated by a small incident that only cost her a couple hundred-thousand dollars. Just chump change for her. Just wait til she’s in Sacramento if she wins. What’s she going to do–challenge the legislature to a shoving match? Challenge the cities and counties and public safety groups and public interest groups to a duel?
Governing calls for compromise, for respect for the other branches of government. It calls for thoughtful discussion. This is not a monarchy where the richest get to tell everyone else what to do-and how to think. No sound-bite in the world is going to suddenly move everything in your direction in a democracy. Willing it to be doesn’t make it happen. Governing is an intricate, subtle, and wisdom driven calling. If you don’t have the skills and experience, you’re going to flop. And the last thing this state needs at this point is another inexperienced, arrogant, unprepared rich person who has no idea what they’re doing. Just look at the present governor if you have any doubts.

November Ballot Initiatives Get Numbers

Bebra Bowen, California Secretary of State, issued a press release today announcing the assigned numbers for the November 2010 ballot initiatives.

The initiatives are:

Proposition
18
   Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2010.

Proposition
19
   Changes California Law to Legalize Marijuana and Allow It to be
Regulated and Taxed.
 

Proposition
20
   Redistricting of Congressional Districts.

Proposition
21
   Establishes $18 Annual Vehicle License Surcharge to Help Fund State
Parks and Wildlife Programs and Grants Free Admission to All State Parks to
Surcharged Vehicles.

Proposition
22
   Prohibits the State from Taking Funds Used for Transportation
or Local Government Projects and Services.

Proposition
23
   Suspends Air Pollution Control Laws Requiring Major Polluters
to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions that Cause Global Warming Until
Unemployment Drops Below Specified Level for Full Year.

Proposition
24
   Repeals Recent Legislation that Would Allow Businesses to Carry
Back Losses, Share Tax Credits, and Use a Sales-Based Income Calculation to
Lower Taxable Income.

Proposition
25
   Changes Legislative Vote Requirement to Pass a Budget from Two-Thirds
to a Simple Majority. Retains Two-Thirds Vote Requirement for Taxes.

Proposition
26
   Increases Legislative Vote Requirement to Two-Thirds for State
Levies and Charges. Imposes Additional Requirement for Voters to Approve Local
Levies and Charges with Limited Exceptions. 

Proposition
27
   Eliminates State Commission on Redistricting. Consolidates Authority
for Redistricting with Elected Representatives.

Speak Out California will be analyzing these initiatives, tracing the funding of proponents and opponents, and reporting to you between now and November. 

The entire press release in full is below the fold:

Continue reading

What is the Puzzle with Jerry Brown?

Why won’t Jerry Brown just announce that he is running for Governor?  Why won’t he campaign?  Why is he letting Meg Whitman get so far ahead of things in this campaign?  Does he just assume he has it “in the bag?”


I suspect that is exactly what he assumes.  My take on Brown is that
Democrats who were around when he was Governor and later when he ran for
President in 1992 are going to support him, many quite strongly, and they
regularly let him know this
.  I suspect it is hard for him to go anywhere without stopping to shake a hand and hear from someone who tells him what a great Governor he was, that his ideas on energy and the environment were so far ahead of their time, that he should have been elected President, etc.


So he probably feels a wind at his back
wherever he goes.  This is for sure: the “moonbeam” things Brown was about like
energy and the environment and unions have proven to be the right things.  I wrote about this almost a year ago, 


He was called “Moonbeam” and mocked, but he was right, and we were right, and the country needs to come to terms with this so we can move on and finally DO right.


. . . It is 30 years later and the country needs to get past that mocking of the people who were right. But the mocking and obstruction by entrenched interests are still in the way of letting us move on and do the things we need to do for the economy, the country, and the planet.


The problem with this is that it really is 30 years later now.  This is
2010, and that pool of people just isn’t big enough by any means.  You
have to be “a certain age” to even care.  He needs to find a way to reach out and be relevant to people who were not around when he was Governor or when he ran for President.


Does he realize this?  If he is not meeting a lot of the people to whom he just isn’t
relevant and who just don’t care, he might not be picking this up at all.  But it just is the case.  He needs to start campaigning and saying things that are relevant to the 21st century of he is going to win this election.

 

Will CA Dems Vote Next Year?

In last week’s post progressive voters on strike? Santa Barbara blogger Retired UC Santa Barbara Professor of sociology and
renowned social activist, Richard Flacks looks at recent polls showing Democratic voters to be unenthusiastic about voting while Republican voters are highly motivated.  Professor Flacks writes,

These numbers tell us that the Democrats are going to lose the elections in  2010, but the underlying data are even more disturbing. They show that the heart of  Obama;s support base is not planning to vote next year.

. . . The same sort of disillusionment pervades the ranks of liberal and
progressive activists. Each week we can add new instances of
administration betrayal of our hopes. The latest include the handling
of the Honduras coup (defying near unanimity in the rest of the
hemisphere),  and the continuation of Bush policies on  the land mine
treaty. The escalation of the war dwarfs all these other failures.

This is not President Obama’s fault, necessarily,

I’ve said in this space that it’s the structure of power in America
rather than Obama’s weakness of will that accounts for the growing
feeling that the chances for progressive reform are slipping away.

Professor Flacks’ post looks at a national poll, the “base” sense of betrayal is on national issues, and President Obama is not from California, but there is no reason to believe California Democrats are any more enthused.  More likely less so.  California Democrats who do pay attention see Democrats in Sacramento caving over and over again to the demands of an extremist Republican minority, while those not paying attention see generally that nothing good is happening and government is doing very little for them.

What might come along to raise democratic enthusiasm and encourage them to vote?  Jerry Brown running for Governor?  With the statements he’s been making, don’t bet that
Democrats are going to be enthusiastic about Jerry Brown as their
standard-bearer either.