The coalition of the corrupt—including Governor Schwarzenegger, much of the Legislature, and California’s high-paid lobbyists—have ganged up to defeat bills that would improve California’s healthcare, education system, and environment.
They usually like to kill these bills in the dark of night—but we’re bringing it into the light this Tuesday at Noon with a special bill-vetoing ceremony. That’s this Tuesday, Noon, the West Steps of the State Capitol in Sacramento
We’ll have two very special guests: “Arnold,” and Colette Washington will be performing "About Time for 89," Prop 89’s new rap song, which we'll be making into a music video and launching the following day on our website and across the Internet. Join us and be in the video!
Deborah Burger, RN CNA/NNOC President
Vote Yes on Proposition 89 and Stop Political Corruption! www.YesOn89.org
The California Nurses Association (CNA) The National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC) 2000 Franklin Street, Oakland, CA 94612 Tel: (510) 273-2200 | Fax: (510) 663-1625 www.calnurses.org | www.nnoc.net
In early 2005 the city councils of Davis, Woodland, and West Sacramento and Woodland and the Yolo County supervisors voted */unanimously/* to request that the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) take over electricity service from PG&E in the Tri-City area. It was probably the first time all four elected bodies had agreed unanimously on anything. SMUD, governed by an elected Board of Directors, voted to move forward on annexation in May 2005.
PG&E is fighting back with all the tricks in the book. In October it created a fake grassroots group called Coalition for Reliable and Affordable Electricity, and rounded up support, at $5 per signature, to put a phony non-binding ballot initiative in June 2006, and will spend millions to beat us.
SMUD recently called for a November 2006 election in both Sacramento and Yolo counties which will decide whether SMUD should extend service to Davis, Woodland, and West Sacramento and Woodland. The Yolano Sierra club chapter supports extension of SMUD to Yolo County.
* **Why is SMUD better for Yolo County ? *
*Compared to PG&E, SMUD is better for six simple reasons. *
*1.** **SMUD is democratic.* Its ratepayers elect its seven-person board of directors, who live in their respective districts and meet in public. SMUD's democratic accountability and lack of a profit motive make all the difference. PG&E, by contrast, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the PG&E Corp., which is accountable only to its stockholders. Self-selected boards of directors that meet in secret govern both the holding company and the utility.
*2. SMUD's top executives are in it for the service, not the money.* In 2003, Mr. Robert Glynn Jr., President and CEO of PG&E Corporation, who helped lead PG&E into restructuring and then into bankruptcy, “earned” total pay of over $34 million, including $17 million in “phantom stock units,” according to PG&E sources. SMUD's general manager, Ms. Jan Schori, earned $283,327 that same year.
*3. SMUD is greener.* More than five times as much solar electric (photovoltaic or PV) capacity per customer has been installed in SMUD territory, and more than twice as much wind generation capacity per customer as PG&E. The Yolano Sierra Club chapter supports SMUD service in Yolo County.
*4.* *SMUD charges less.* SMUD pays no dividends to stockholders; instead, it reinvests its surplus back into the system. In December 2005 typical SMUD residential customer paid $37 /less/ than people in Yolo county served by PG&E.
*5. * *SMUD has more reliable service,* so much so that it believes it will have to carry out an extensive rebuild of the Yolo annexation area to bring it up to SMUD standards. Over the last five years, PG&E’s has averaged over twice as price.
*6. * *SMUD has happier customers.* According to the J.D. Power "2005 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study," SMUD ranked third in "customer satisfaction" and PG&E ranked 10th of the 13 largest electric utilities in the West.
*The bigger they are, the harder they fall. This is the most important battle for democratic public power takeover since SMUD was created 60 years ago. Join our struggle for energy justice. The whole country is watching. *
*Students who want to help should call the 530-757-6609 or email the Coalition for Local Power at email@example.com . For more information go to www.SMUD.org or www.publicpowernow.org . *
— Dan Berman is a Davis resident. He has been active with the Citizens Task Force on Energy issues and helped found the Coalition for Local Power (www.publicppowernow.org ), an /ad hoc /citizens group which has advocated public power solutions for Yolo County since 1997. His book WHO OWNS THE SUN? is available in all local libraries and on-line at www.chelseagreen.com/images/whoownsthesun/pdf .
United Teachers Los Angeles Endorses Prop. 89 - Nation's Second Largest Teachers Union Local Says - Prop. 89 Will Benefit Democracy and Working People
The United Teachers Los Angeles, the second-largest local teachers union in the country, Wednesday night endorsed Proposition 89, a November initiative that would reduce political corruption and establish a more level playing field in California elections.
UTLA, with 44,000 members, is largest National Education Association local in the country and the largest union in Los Angeles County.
“We hope that UTLA's endorsement of Prop. 89 will send a strong message that teachers are fed up with a system of political corruption that has put big donor demands ahead of fulfilling our state's commitment to excellent schools and a top quality education for our children. Prop. 89 will end big money control and allow us to take back our government so that its accountable to the needs and concerns of California teachers and families,” said Leonard Segal, member of the UTLA Board of Directors and a substitute teacher, after the vote.
“We need to make it possible for candidates who don’t have massive corporate backing to participate in the political process. That’s really what Prop. 89 is about,” said Paul Huebner, vice chair of the 44,000-member UTLA’s Political Action Council of Educators, and a second grade teacher.
“We can never outspend the big corporate donors and millionaires and political action committees. But we can get our members more involved in politics for the benefit of our democracy. That includes enabling more teachers and more working people to be able to run for office and win,” Huebner said.
Prop. 89, said Deborah Burger, RN, President of the California Nurses Association, the sponsors of Prop. 89, “will substantially enhance efforts to assure adequate funding for California classrooms by reducing the incentive of politicians to divert resources into lobbyist-driven projects and tax loopholes for the biggest donors to their campaigns.”
“The California political system is broken and it's hurting everybody, especially kids,” added Susan Lerner, executive director of the California Clean Money Action Fund, one of the organizations pushing Proposition 89. “We are delighted to welcome UTLA and its members to a broad and growing coalition of California organizations and individuals working to take back control of California to make it work for all, not the wealthy few.”
Proposition 89 sets strict contribution limits to candidates, special interest political committees and initiatives, and provides for voluntary “clean money” funding for candidates who reject private money and accept spending limits. It also provides for tough penalties for violators. It would enable regular Californians to run for office and win, even if they are not connected to wealthy donors or lobbyists.
Other endorsers of Prop. 89 include the League of Women Voters, California Common Cause, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, Sierra Club, Consumer Federation of California, Sen. Barbara Boxer, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
By RUTH ROSEN The American Prospect September 27, 2006
IMAGINE STEPPING INTO A POLLING BOOTH AND voting for candidates who, instead of being bought and paid for by corporations, unions, or wealthy donors, are financed by public funds, and accountable to you and other citizens.
Sounds utopian, doesn't it? Well, clean-money elections already exist in Maine and Arizona, states too small to challenge the nation's political culture. But public financing of state elections and initiatives this fall just might expand to California, a state so large and influential that every major policy decision tends to influence the rest of the nation.
Efforts at clean-money legislation have recently failed in California because elected officials were already too committed to corporations, insurance companies, unions, and wealthy donors. But within only six weeks, the California Nurses Association gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot as an initiative. As a result, on Election Day, Californians will vote on Proposition 89, the Clean Money and Fair Elections Act, which would encourage candidates to choose public financing, penalize those who use private funding, and strictly limit campaign contributions by special interests who might expect favors in return.
What would happen if public-financed campaigns replaced special interests? State Assembly Member Loni Hancock, who authored the original legislation, points out that "clean money [is] the reform that makes all other reforms possible. So it's interesting that after five years of clean money elections, the state of Maine enacted universal health care last year."
In Maine and Arizona, voter-owned elections have helped eliminate the corrupting influence of special-interest money on public policy. Arizona's governor, Janet Napolitano, has repeatedly described her new freedom to address public health, preschool education, health care and the protection of the environment. In Maine, they will tell you that "clean legislators" have voted twice as often for environmental legislation. Arizona Representative Leah Landrum Taylor, an African American woman, says that now more women and minorities run for--and win--public office. In those states, too, public-financed campaigns have reduced the advantage of incumbency; increased voter turnout; and forced legislators and statewide officials to be accountable to the people who elected them.
Now the battle in California begins. On one side the measure is supported by the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, State Treasurer Phil Angelides, the League of Women Voters of California, Common Cause, and other nonprofit and community organizations.
On the other side is Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who as a candidate in 2003 promised to end "pay-to-play" politics, but whose tireless fund raising has made his predecessors look like amateurs at a bodybuilding contest. He is joined by the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Taxpayers' Association, insurance companies, oil companies, HMOs, three powerful unions, members of the entrenched political establishment, and consultants and lobbyists. They argue that clean-money campaigns limit free speech, by which they mean the freedom to give a candidate as much money as they please. They also claim it's a wasteful public subsidy for politicians. (Some of their objections will almost certainly end up in the courts. Fortunately, the California initiative was written so that each part can be implemented separately, if any section is litigated.)
Right now, there seems to be considerable popular momentum for Proposition 89. In 2005, a survey by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 92 percent of California adult residents believe that special interests control the electoral process. Every major newspaper in the state has editorialized either for the original legislation or the proposition itself. And in September, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi endorsed the initiative.
But public opinion could change. By October, the "No on Prop 89" campaign will likely air jaw-dropping TV ads claiming that voters will be taxed to fund clean elections. In fact, the initiative would be funded by the small ($5) "qualifying contributions" to individual candidates, as well as by a modest 0.2 percent tax levied on corporations and financial institutions. But in California, as elsewhere, the word "tax" has expanded into a four-letter word.
If Proposition 89 passes, politicians nationwide, including those in Washington, D.C., will soon feel the rumbles of a California political earthquake.
Ruth Rosen teaches history at the University of California, Berkeley, and is a senior fellow of the Longview Institute. Her most recent book is The World Split Open: How the Modern Women's Movement Changed America.
Shocked! Shocked! Reading First Plagued by Corporate Welfare, Cronyism and Demonization Monday, September 25, 2006 5:17 PM Gary Stager Aside from reducing teachers to script-reading robots and reading to an onerous task, the Federal government's controversial $4.8 billion Reading First program has been accused of numerous improprieties by the Inspector General of the Department of Education. The scathing report, The Reading First Program’s Grant Application Process – Final Inspection Report, was released on Friday (June 22), employing a common tactic used in the hopes that bad news will escape the public’s attention over the weekend. This is a news story that should not be ignored.
Back in October 2004 I wrote that there was something fishy about McGraw-Hill’s Direct Instruction/Reading Mastery program and the administration’s fondness for it. The Director General's report details how the Department of Education and Reading First administrators used their influence to benefit the commercial product, Direct Instruction. According to the New York Times, one of the whistle blowers leading to this investigation was Robert Slavin, the creator and director of Success for All, a product many educators find quite similar to Direct Instruction. Slavin told the New York Times, “The department has said at least 10,000 times that they had no favored reading programs, and this report provides clear evidence that they were very aggressively pressing districts to use certain programs and not use others.”
The Inspector General’s report illuminates the corruption involved in the Federal Government’s attempts to micro-manage reading instruction. This should justify caution and vigilance as the President appoints a National Mathematics Advisory Panel that promises to do for mathematics what was done to reading. The report suggests a cozy relationship between the Department of Education and “expert review panels.”
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings is spinning the report as ancient history predating her tenure in the position although she was an architect of No Child Left Behind. Reading First was a cornerstone of NCLB.
The report found that the Department of Education
Developed an application package that obscured the requirements of the statute; Took action with respect to the expert review panel process that was contrary to the balanced panel composition envisioned by Congress; Intervened to release an assessment review document without the permission of the entity that contracted for its development; Intervened to influence a State’s selection of reading programs; Intervened to influence reading programs being used by local educational agencies (LEAs) after the application process was completed. The report states, “These actions demonstrate that the program officials failed to maintain a control environment that exemplifies management integrity and accountability.”
My summary of this complex report is already too long, but there are countless reasons for concern. You can read the full report of the Inspector General (http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oig/aireports/i13f0017.pdf)
I would like to call attention to four major issues that should alarm educators and taxpayers alike.
Issue 1) Reading First Favored One Curriculum Product Over All Others
Numerous states had their applications for millions of dollars worth of Reading First grants rejected because they did not plan to use the funds for Direct Instruction. The report also says that states received little if any guidance on why their proposals were rejected. This caused state officials to waste time and resources chasing funding based on elusive criteria
Issue 2) Conflicts of Interest
The No Child Left Behind legislation mandated that a National Expert Review Panel be appointed to review scientifically-based reading materials eligible for Reading First funding. The Inspector General’s Report found that makeup of the panels was inconsistent with the goals of the law authorizing the panels.
The Department Took Action With Respect to the Expert Review Panel Process That Was Contrary to the Balanced Panel Composition Envisioned by Congress
Section 1203(c)(2)(A) states that the Secretary, in consultation with the National Institute for Literacy (NIFL), shall convene a panel to evaluate applications and that, at a minimum, the panel shall include: three individuals selected by the Secretary, three individuals selected by NIFL, three individuals selected by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and three individuals selected by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). We have determined that each of the four organizations nominated at least three individuals to serve on the expert review panel; however, the Department failed to ensure that each State application was reviewed by a properly constituted panel.
Section 1203(c)(2)(C) requires a panel to recommend grant applications to the Secretary for funding or for disapproval. After selecting the panelists, the Department created subpanels made up of five panelists each to review the State applications and recommend either approval or disapproval to the Secretary. None of the subpanels possessed adequate representation from each of the organizations identified under Section 1203(c)(2)(A) of the Act.
The Department created a total of 16 subpanels to review the State applications. A majority of the panelists were nominated by the Department for 15 of the 16 subpanels; and 7 of the 16 subpanels consisted entirely of Department-selected panelists. None of the subpanels included a representative from each of the nominating organizations and there is no indication that the subpanels ever met as one large panel to review the State applications and/or recommend approval or disapproval to the Secretary.
If your eyes glazed over by the official mumbo jumbo above, check out this statement from the Inspector General’s report.
…15 of the 16 subpanels had a majority of Department-nominated panelists and none had the balanced composition envisioned by Congress.
Members of the National Expert Review Panels and Reading First staffers had commercial or academic ties to Direct Instruction. These conflicts rose all the way up the Department of Education to then Secretary of Education, Rod Paige, who won an award from McGraw-Hill for his role in the now largely discredited “Houston Miracle” - the basis for No Child Left Behind.
The Reading First Director took direct action to ensure that a particular approach to reading instruction was represented on the expert review panel. Direct Instruction (DI) is a model for teaching that requires the use of Reading Mastery, a program published by SRA/McGraw-Hill, to teach reading. The Reading First Director formerly served as the Executive Director of the Baltimore Curriculum Project, which has implemented DI in Baltimore City schools since 1996. The Reading First Director personally nominated three individuals who had significant professional connections to DI to serve on the expert review panel.
When asked about potential conflicts of interest and ideological blindness, Reading First officials reacted sarcastically with contempt for Congress and the public.
A Department employee reported to the Reading First Director that the Department had received a question from a member of the media about the panel composition. The response by the Reading First Director suggests that he may indeed have intended to “stack” the expert review panel. The employee stated: “The question is...are we going to ‘stack the panel’ so programs like Reading Recovery don’t get a fair shake[?]” The Reading First Director responded, “‘Stack the panel?’...I have never *heard* of such a thing....[.]”
Doherty responded wrote in a 2002 email. "You know the line from Casablanca, 'I am SHOCKED that there is gambling going on in this establishment!' Well, 'I am SHOCKED that there are pro-DI people on this panel!'"
Issue 3) Ideology Trumps Science and Good Public Policy
The Inspector General’s report documents how the Department of Education and the review panels manipulated the law to support Direct Instruction at the expense of competing programs. Reading Recovery, an remedial intervention strategy employed by schools across the globe, was a particular target of Reading First.
The Assistant Secretary for OESE planned for the Reading First Guidance to include language that was not in the statute and exclude language that was in the statute. After reviewing a revision to the Department’s draft of the Reading First Guidance, the Assistant Secretary for OESE wrote to the Reading First Director, “under reading first plan. i’d like not to say ‘this must include early intervention and reading remediation materials’ which i think could be read as ‘reading recovery’ [a reading program]. even if it says this in the law, i’d like it taken out.”
A few days before the Department publicly announced the panelists it had chosen to serve, one of the Department-nominated panelists contacted the Reading First Director and shared his strong bias against Reading Recovery and his strategy for responding to any State that planned to include Reading Recovery in its application. The Reading First Director responded: “I really like the way you’re viewing/approaching this, and not just because it matches my own approach :-), I swear!” This individual later served as the panel chair for the subpanel that reviewed Wisconsin’s State application and in response to the State’s plans to use Reading Recovery, he included an 11-page negative review of Reading Recovery in his official comments on the application.
The Inspector General’s report includes an email from Reading First Director, Chris Doherty in which he makes his motives and temperament perfectly clear.
“They are trying to crash our party and we need to beat the [expletive deleted] out of them in front of all the other would-be party crashers who are standing on the front lawn waiting to see how we welcome these dirtbags.”
Reading Recovery was not the only approach or curricular product to endure the wrath of Reading First officials. Reading First attacked any curriculum product or pedagogical approach determined to have a whiff of “whole language”.
The Department Intervened to Influence Reading Programs Being Used by LEAs After the Application Process Was Completed
After certain States completed the application process and received funding, the Reading First Director became aware that certain LEAs in these States were using the Rigby Literacy (Rigby) and Wright Group Literacy (Wright Group) programs. The Reading First Director worked closely with a Department staff member, a former expert review panelist, who undertook a review of both of these programs.
In e-mail correspondence with the staff member regarding the Wright Group, the Reading First Director stated:
Beat the [expletive deleted] out of them in a way that will stand up to any level of legal and [whole language] apologist scrutiny. Hit them over and over with definitive evidence that they are not SBRR, never have been and never will be. They are trying to crash our party and we need to beat the [expletive deleted] out of them in front of all the other would-be party crashers who are standing on the front lawn waiting to see how we welcome these dirtbags.
The Reading First Director forwarded the above e-mail to Lyon and stated:
Confidential FYI. Pardon in-house language I use...with fellow team members and friends. Do you know—on the QT—if anyone has done any good review of the Wright Group stuff, to date? We have beaten Maine on Rigby and this is cut from the same cloth. We are proceeding, of course, but if you knew of a good piece of work dissecting The Wright Group’s stuff, it could further strengthen our hand.
Lyon responded that he would obtain this information and added, “I like your style.” In response, the Reading First Director stated, “Additional firepower...may help us make this a one-punch fight.”
After reviewing the programs, the staff member provided the Reading First Director with notes and talking points critiquing these programs. The Reading First Director used this information to convince States using Rigby and Wright Group to change programs. In an e-mail to Lyon, the Reading First Director wrote, “I spoke to Fred Carrigg [the former New Jersey Director of Reading First]...with a roomful of others on their end and they are HALTING the funding of Rigby and, while we were at it, Wright Group. They STOPPED the districts who wanted to use those programs.”
In a later e-mail to Lyon, the Reading First Director stated:
As you may remember, RF got Maine to UNDO its already-made decision to have Rigby be one of their two approved core programs (Ha, ha – Rigby as a CORE program? When pigs fly!) We also as you may recall, got NJ [New Jersey] to stop its districts from using Rigby (and the Wright Group, btw) and are doing the same in Mississippi. This is for your FYI, as I think this program-bashing is best done off or under the major radar screens.
In a formal letter to Carrigg, the Reading First Director did not specifically name Rigby and Wright Group as not being aligned with SBRR (scientifically-based reading research). The Reading First Director wrote, “It appeared that New Jersey had not fulfilled its responsibility to ensure that all LEAs and schools selected to participate in Reading First...would implement comprehensive reading programs that are fully aligned with scientifically based reading research.” The Reading First Director informed us that he could not definitively say why he did not formally state in the letter that those specific programs were not in line with SBRR.
Issue 4) Bias equals dissent?
The Inspector General’s reports how Reid Lyon, one of the architects of No Child Left Behind and Reading First, viewed dissent. People who disagreed with his agenda were accused of bias, ridiculed and intimidated.
Around the same time, Reid Lyon, the former Chief of the Child Development & Behavior Branch at the NICHD, advised the Reading First Director, the Assistant Secretary for OESE, and the Senior Advisor to the Secretary at the time that one of the panelists had been “actively working to undermine the NRP [National Reading Panel] Report and the RF initiatives.” Lyon further stated, “Chances are that other reviewers can trump any bias on her part.” In a written response to all of the people involved, the former Senior Advisor to the Secretary stated, “We can’t un-invite her. Just make sure she is on a panel with one of our barracuda types.”
The apparent intent of the Reading First Director to include and to give a significant role to panelists who reflected his personal preference in reading programs; his specific encouragement to a panelist who held views similar to his on Reading Recovery; and the intention of the former Senior Advisor to the Secretary to control another panelist raise significant questions about the control environment in which the program was being managed.
How is ignoring competing views part of the “scientific method” Lyon and his colleagues require as the basis for all educational practice?
The Executive Summary of the Inspector General’s report describes the following findings about Reading First.
FINDING 1A – The Department Did Not Select the Expert Review Panel in Compliance With the Requirements of NCLB
FINDING 1B – While Not Required to Screen for Conflicts of Interest, the Screening Process the Department Created Was Not Effective
FINDING 2A – The Department Replaced What the Law Intended to be a Peer Review Process With its Own Process
FINDING 2B – The Department Awarded Grants to States Without Documentation That the Subpanels Approved All Criteria
FINDING 3 – The Department Included Requirements in the Criteria Used by the Expert Review Panels That Were Not Specifically Addressed in NCLB
FINDING 4 – In Implementing the Reading First Program, Department Officials Obscured the Statutory Requirements of the ESEA; Acted in Contravention of the GAO Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government; and Took Actions That Call Into Question Whether They Violated the Prohibitions Included in the DEOA
The Pulse will continue to follow this important story. We will report on what happens to Reading First money already in the pipeline and if government officials are held accountable for their actions. Our teachers, students and taxpayers deserve no less.
For further study:
The Schools Matter blog, while representing a particular point-of-view, offers extensive coverage and analysis of the Reading First scandal.
Susan Ohanian reported (in 2005) on the original concerns that led to the Inspector General’s investigation. Read Special Report: Reading First Under Fire: IG Targets Conflicts of Interest, Limits on Local Control.
Taking Aim at California Election Funding Among other changes, Prop. 89 would limit corporate spending -- but not that of tribes and trial lawyers -- on ballot measures. By Dan Morain Times Staff Writer
September 26, 2006
SACRAMENTO — A November initiative could dramatically transform California politics, raising taxes to pay for publicly financed campaigns, strictly limiting private giving and taking particular aim at ballot measure spending.
If voters approve Proposition 89 and it withstands court challenges, California will become the first state to restrict spending on ballot measures, though the limits would not apply to two of the biggest players in state politics: trial lawyers and Indian tribes that own casinos.
The initiative's restrictions apply to corporations. Many trial lawyer firms are limited liability partnerships; Indian tribes are governments.
An unlikely coalition has formed to beat the measure. Led by the California Chamber of Commerce, the foes include the California Republican Party, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and groups that in other instances are their fierce rivals: some of the state's most influential unions, including the 300,000-member California Teachers Assn.
The initiative's sponsor is itself a union, albeit a maverick, the California Nurses Assn. The measure's backers include Treasurer Phil Angelides, Schwarzenegger's Democratic challenger; Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.); and California Common Cause. Out of deference to Angelides, the Democratic Party is neutral, though Chairman Art Torres said the party might challenge one or more aspects of the initiative if it wins.
The 70,000-member nurses union contends that big-spending healthcare companies have stymied its goal of providing broader medical coverage. The union decided to press its proposal after drug companies spent more than $80 million last year to block a labor-backed initiative to curb prescription drug prices.
"When patients get diagnosed and can't afford the prescriptions, there is something wrong," said Rose Ann DeMoro, executive director of the nurses union.
Dubbed the Clean Money and Fair Elections Act of 2006, Proposition 89 is a highly complex measure of more than 50 pages. It would raise corporate and banking taxes by $200 million a year to create public financing for candidates for state office.
It would cap donations to legislative candidates at $500 and to statewide candidates at $1,000; restrict fundraising by the Republican and Democratic parties; and limit single donors to spending no more than $15,000 a year on candidate-related campaigns.
Current law says donors can give $3,300 to a legislative candidate and $22,300 to a candidate for governor per election, but contributors have no overall cap on the money they can give.
All that might be a big enough bite for a single initiative. But the proposed statute goes further. In one of its most far-reaching provisions, Proposition 89 would rein in spending on ballot measures, a dramatic step that even its backers say could be unconstitutional. The backers hope to overturn past court rulings on such limits.
In any election year, propositions consume the most campaign money. Already, more than $100 million has been raised for and against two initiatives on the November ballot, one that would raise oil taxes and another that would raise tobacco taxes.
Proposition 89 would limit direct corporate donations to $10,000 per ballot measure. The limit would extend from public companies such as Chevron to family farms and large private developers such as the Irvine Co. Chevron has spent more than $16.5 million to defeat the oil tax initiative, Proposition 87, on the November ballot.
Union foes contend that labor groups also would be barred from giving more than $10,000 to a ballot measure campaign if they have side businesses, including printing shops and credit unions. The nurses association says unions would not be subject to the limit. Any affected group or business could give more by establishing political action committees and soliciting donations from executives, stockholders and others.
Individuals still could spend unlimited sums on ballot measures. This year, Hollywood producer Stephen L. Bing, scion of a real estate magnate, promoted the oil tax initiative with at least $39 million of his own money.
At least two other major sources of campaign cash — attorneys who represent plaintiffs and wealthy Indian tribes — could continue spending unlimited amounts for and against propositions.
"It amounts to unilateral disarmament," said John Sullivan of the corporate-funded group Californians for Civil Justice Reform, which seeks to limit litigation against business and is a rival of the trial attorneys lobby.
Chamber President Allan Zaremberg denounced Proposition 89 as a "virtual ban on corporate participation in the political process." Democratic consultant Gale Kaufman, who represents the California Teachers Assn., criticized it as "totally gratuitous."
Insurance companies, which often clash with trial attorneys in Sacramento, account for more than half of the $1.3 million raised so far against Proposition 89. The nurses union is Proposition 89's biggest financial supporter, having spent $1.4 million to qualify it for the November ballot and $822,000 on the campaign.
Executives in the nurses union say there was no intention to exempt attorneys or tribes. Rather, their attorneys went as far as they thought they could without clearly violating the Constitution, DeMoro said.
"We don't have a hidden agenda," she said.
Most trial lawyer firms are set up as limited liability partnerships, as are many accountancy and venture capital firms and at least one oil company that is siding with Chevron in opposing the oil tax initiative. Such partnerships would not be bound by restrictions on corporate giving to ballot measures, the initiative's promoters say.
Trial law firms and their organization, the Consumer Attorneys of California, regularly donate more than $1 million a year to state campaigns. The group has not taken a stand on the initiative. But trial lawyers and the California Nurses Assn. have been allies in past campaigns.
In 2004, for example, the two groups fought Proposition 64, which limits lawsuits; it won voter approval. In the June primary, lawyers and nurses also formed an alliance to help fund an $870,000 independent campaign to support and oppose legislative candidates.
Also among the state's biggest spenders on ballot measures are Indian tribes. They have shelled out more than $150 million on propositions since 1998. Like individuals, they could continue to spend unlimited sums on ballot measures, backers of the initiative say.
"Constitutionally, we cannot restrict tribes' spending on ballot measures," said Santa Monica attorney Fredric Woocher, who helped write the initiative.
The U.S. Supreme Court, he noted, has ruled that donors cannot be barred from giving "just because they spend a lot of money."
Woocher's firm has represented the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, which owns two casinos in the Palm Springs area and has spent more than $27 million on state campaigns since 1998. However, Woocher said he wasn't thinking of tribes when he was working on the measure.
Much of Proposition 89 is similar to "clean money" laws in Arizona and Maine. But no other state regulates contributions to ballot measures, in part because the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down past attempts to restrict ballot measure spending.
In addition to hiring Woocher, the nurses retained Richard L. Hasen, a Loyola Law School professor who last year wrote a law review article opining that the issue was "ripe for reexamination in light of the Supreme Court's new-found deference to campaign finance regulation."
"Just look at the amount of money. Corporations have an unlimited playground," said Susan Lerner, executive director of the California Clean Money Campaign, a nonprofit group that is helping to promote Proposition 89. See the entire article. Click on the title above.
The Bee editorial board is correct to say, “Many Californians are rightly fed up with the orgy of campaign contributions that taints our political system. Politicians always claim they make decisions based on what is right for the people -- blah, blah, blah -- but voters know big donors have more access and influence than anyone else.” in their editorial position of Sept. 24, 2006/ But then, the editors go on to oppose Prop.89. How strange. All you have to do is look at the last three elections. Over $ 100,000,000 was spent buying T.V. time. Only the rich are able to play in this game. They are buying control of our government. The Legislature in Sacramento is working for their political donors, not for you and I. Special interests—like the big oil, drug, and tobacco companies—have far too much influence. We need to take our democracy back from these robber barons. Prop. 89 is a step in that direction. A system similar to Prop. 89 is already working in Arizona and Maine. Only when we get some honest, clean money legislators do we have a chance to pass sensible reform for financing public schools, health care and other urgent needs. The Legislature in Sacramento is working for their political donors, not for you. Special interests—like the big oil, drug, and tobacco companies—have too much influence. Even worse, this influence results in price raises at the pump, higher utility costs, and stifled innovation in phone and television service. It's time for a change! What's the solution? Proposition 89.
Prop. 89 creates a level and fair playing field for California elections and reduces the influence of lobbyists and special interests in our state. It: -1. Bans contributions to candidates by lobbyists and contractors. -1. Restricts contributions by corporations, unions, and individuals to candidates and to outside groups running negative ads. Lets candidates who reject contributions from big money donors run for office using “clean money” public grants.
The Bee’s arguments against Prop.89 are so weak as to be embarrassing. They claim that it favors non-profits. Oh. Yes, non profits are the problem in our political system. And, they claim that all taxpayers should pay, not only the corporations. Well, if you tried to pass a general tax as well as change the campaign finance system, you could never pass it. These are not real arguments.
To understand the Bee editorial position you have to keep in mind that the Bee, is, after all, a profit making corporation. And, the Bee managers and editors are a part of an elite class who profit greatly from the present anti democratic system.
Dr. Duane Campbell Electoral Chair Sacramento Progressive Alliance. See www.yeson89.org
In the Senate, the Republicans now have a 55-44 advantage, with one Independent who caucuses with the Democrats. Though the odds favor the Republicans retaining control of the Senate—18 Republican-held seats, 15 Democratic-held seats and one open seat are up for reelection—Democrats have a long shot at gaining control. They have a good chance of winning seats in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Montana and Ohio. They then have to pick up two additional seats in tougher races in Tennessee, Virginia, Missouri and Arizona to gain a majority.
The House is where the Democrats have the best shot at winning. Democrats must pick up 15 additional seats to win control of the House, where all 435 seats are up for grabs. At present, the composition of the House is 231 Republicans, 201 Democrats, one Independent who caucuses with the Democrats, and two vacancies.
In the upcoming election, only about 40 House seats are in play. Because of recent redistricting, most incumbents have safe seats. If the election were held today, of the 40 [heavily] contested seats, the Democrats would likely pick up 28—mostly in the Northeast and Midwest—and the Republicans 12. That would give the Democrats a razor-thin two-vote majority. But it would be enough to change the dynamics of national politics and put the White House on the defensive. From Truthdig.org
A Diebold whistle-blower has cited a mysterious patch that possibly swung the 2002 Georgia election as evidence that the company can’t be trusted. Days before the vote, Democrats in both the Senate and governor’s race were ahead in the polls by 5% and 11%, respectively, only to lose by a narrow margin on election day.
According to the whistle-blower, a Diebold executive distributed a special patch that may have tampered with the election: “The curious thing is the very swift, covert way this was done.”
Then, one muggy day in mid-August, Hood was surprised to see the president of Diebold’s election unit, Bob Urosevich, arrive in Georgia from his headquarters in Texas. With the primaries looming, Urosevich was personally distributing a “patch,” a little piece of software designed to correct glitches in the computer program. “We were told that it was intended to fix the clock in the system, which it didn’t do,” Hood says. “The curious thing is the very swift, covert way this was done.”
Georgia law mandates that any change made in voting machines be certified by the state. But thanks to Cox’s agreement with Diebold, the company was essentially allowed to certify itself. “It was an unauthorized patch, and they were trying to keep it secret from the state,” Hood told me. “We were told not to talk to county personnel about it. I received instructions directly from Urosevich. It was very unusual that a president of the company would give an order like that and be involved at that level.”
According to Hood, Diebold employees altered software in some 5,000 machines in DeKalb and Fulton counties - the state’s largest Democratic strongholds. To avoid detection, Hood and others on his team entered warehouses early in the morning. “We went in at 7:30 a.m. and were out by 11,” Hood says. “There was a universal key to unlock the machines, and it’s easy to get access. The machines in the warehouses were unlocked. We had control of everything. The state gave us the keys to the castle, so to speak, and they stayed out of our way.” Hood personally patched fifty-six machines and witnessed the patch being applied to more than 1,200 others.
The patch comes on a memory card that is inserted into a machine. Eventually, all the memory cards end up on a server that tabulates the votes - where the patch can be programmed to alter the outcome of an election. “There could be a hidden program on a memory card that adjusts everything to the preferred election results,” Hood says. “Your program says, ‘I want my candidate to stay ahead by three or four percent or whatever.’ Those programs can include a built-in delete that erases itself after it’s done.”
The Education Dept. broke the law and ethics rules, a review says. One official is likely to quit. >From the Associated Press
September 23, 2006
WASHINGTON — A scorching internal review of the Bush administration's billion-dollar-a-year reading program says the Education Department ignored the law and ethical standards to steer money how it wanted.
The federal audit is unsparing in its view that the Reading First program has been damaged by conflicts of interest and willful mismanagement. It suggests the department broke the law by trying to dictate which curriculum schools must use.
It also depicts a program in which review panels were stacked with people who shared the director's views, and in which only favored publishers of reading curricula could get money.
In one e-mail, the director told a staff member to come down hard on a company he didn't support, according to the report released Friday by the department's inspector general.
"They are trying to crash our party and we need to beat the [expletive deleted] out of them in front of all the other would-be party crashers who are standing on the front lawn waiting to see how we welcome these dirtbags," the program director wrote, the report says.
That official, Chris Doherty, is resigning in the coming days, department spokeswoman Katherine McLane said Friday. Asked if his quitting was in response to the report, she said only that Doherty was returning to the private sector after five years at the agency. Doherty declined to comment.
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings pledged to swiftly adopt all the audit's recommendations. She also promised a review of every Reading First grant her agency had approved.
"When something undermines the credibility of this department, or the standing of any program, I'm going to spring into action," Spellings said.
Reading First aims to help young children read through scientifically proven programs, and the department considers it a jewel of No Child Left Behind, Bush's education law. Just this week, a separate review found the effort is helping schools raise achievement.
But from the start, the program has been dogged by accusations of impropriety, leading to several ongoing audits. The report from the Office of Inspector General, an independent arm of the Education Department, calls into question the program's credibility.
The ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee was furious.
"They should fire everyone who was involved in this," said Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez). "This was not an accident; this was not an oversight. This was an intentional effort to corrupt the process."
Spellings said the problems happened early in the program, which began in 2002, before she was secretary. She said those responsible had left the agency or been reassigned.
About 1,500 school districts have received $4.8 billion in Reading First grants.
By STEVE LAWRENCE, Associated Press Writer Associated Press September 20, 2006
The flow of campaign donations of $5,000 or more to candidates and ballot measures has increased significantly since 2001, adding to the political clout of wealthy contributors, supporters of a campaign finance-reform initiative said Wednesday.
"The people being represented are those people who can afford the $5,000 checks, and that's not the average Californian," said Ned Wigglesworth, a spokesman for California Common Cause, a political reform group.
Common Cause and the California Nurses Association held a news conference to release a study done by the nurses association. It found that state candidates and ballot measure campaigns raised $1.7 billion in donations of $5,000 or more from 2001 to May 20 of this year.
Those donations added up to more than $100 million in 2001, $266 million in 2002, $174 million in 2003, $441 million in 2004 and $625 million in 2005, when interest groups fought over a series of ballot measures in a special election called by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Just more than a quarter of the money came in contributions from Sacramento County, where many corporations, labor unions and associations that lobby at the Capitol have offices.
The biggest single contribution — $14.2 million from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America — was made to the campaign opposing Proposition 79, an unsuccessful 2005 initiative that attempted to force drug companies to provide discounts to the poor.
Multimillion dollar donations from Indian tribes, individual drug companies, the California Teachers Association and the National Education Association were also among the 20 biggest found by the study.
Proposition 89, which is on the Nov. 7 ballot, would impose a series of tougher limits on campaign contributions. It also would authorize public financing for candidates who raise a certain amount of $5 donations to demonstrate public support and then agree to give up most other private contributions.
Supporters say the initiative would weaken the political clout of big campaign contributors, but opponents complain it would stifle the voices of corporations.
"I don't think we have ever made the argument that there are not problems with the current system," said Robin Swanson, a spokeswoman for Proposition 89's opponents.
"We're saying that Proposition 89 ... creates an even bigger mess by creating an even more uneven playing field by limiting what some people can contribute but not what other people can contribute."
She referred to a provision of the initiative that would allow a corporation to donate no more than $10,000 to a ballot measure campaign from its treasury.
Proposition 89 opponents say that limit would hurt small companies as well as big ones.
Chuck Idelson, a spokesman for the nurses association, said that contribution limit was justified by a series of huge corporate donations that raise the possibility of political corruption.
"There is a record there that we believe provides a basis for attempting to crack down on what has been an abuse of the initiative process," he said.
Corporations could still make unlimited contributions to ballot measures, but they would have to do so by forming political action committees and raising campaign money from their officers and employees, much like labor unions do from their members, Idelson said.
"What we are saying is (it) will create a level playing field," he added.
ALSO SEE: www.YesOn89.org And, the Sacramento Bee opposes Prop. 89.
California Insurance Commissioner Candidate Steve Poizner's Claim He Has Not Received Insurance Company Money is Simply False
California Progress Report By Frank D. Russo
Republican candidate for state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner has been making his pledge to not accept any campaign contributions from the insurance industry a centerpiece of his campaign. This is highlighted on his campaign website. In an "exclusive column penned by Steve Poizner" in the conservative FlashReport, he champions himself as a "Real Reformer." He states:
Because I’m not taking a dime of insurance company money, I won’t be taken in by any schemes that typically drive up insurance costs in California. … Because I refuse to accept that money, I’m no one’s lap dog – my office will be home to the highest ethical standards, not the highest campaign bidder. I won’t merely be an industry watchdog, I intend to be a pit bull when it comes to pursuing fraud and abuse.
Aside from the initial skepticism that a Republican would be the best person to protect us from insurance companies, the biggest problem he has is that a campaign committee he controls has already received hundreds of thousands of insurance company contributions, some direct and some through other committees that they have contributed heavily to. And at least one of the checks he received from Fireman's Insurance Fund is strikingly similar to a later sent to one of the State Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committees and then apparently bundled and given to this committee he controlled. Here's a bit of the history. Mr. Poizner is a multimillionaire. By some accounts, he is a billionaire. He ran for the State Assembly in 2004, his first try for public office and put in $6 million of his own money in a losing bid to Democrat Ira Ruskin, who had to mortgage his own house to help start his campaign. For some of the details here, consider the column of A.G. Block, former editor of the California Journal, from the Capitol Weekly on October 6, 2005. That will give you a pretty good idea of money and how Poizner tried to make an issue of campaign fundraising in that try for office against someone who doesn't have his largesse. It should be read in full. But just a snippet here:
[T]he troubling part of Poizner's binge wasn't his wealth; it was his attitude about the more cosmic notion of money in politics. Midway through the election season, he began to fuss about Ruskin's fund raising, grousing that "plumbers in Fresno" -- among others -- were propping up the Democratic campaign. During several interviews with California Journal, Poizner insisted that it was inappropriate for "outside special interests" to influence an election in the 21st Assembly District. It was as though Poizner -- mouth stuffed with lobster thermador -- was annoyed that his hollow-eyed opponent begged scraps outside the window of Poizner's private buffet. The question that he could not or would not answer was how any candidate short of Gordon Gekko could compete against an opponent with the personal resources of a Steve Poizner? Ruskin had mortgaged his small home to jumpstart his primary. Wasn't he now forced to seek help wherever he could find it because Poizner had raised the financial bar well beyond the reach of an ordinary citizen?
At the time of the Block article in 2005, Poizner had been chosen by Governor Schwarzenegger to lead a new campaign committee to promote Proposition 77, the redistricting measure that failed in the special election. The committee he headed is known as "REDISTRICT CALIFORNIA - YES ON 77, WITH MAJOR FUNDING PROVIDED BY STEVE POIZNER, POIZNER FOR INSURANCE COMMISSIONER & CALBUSPAC." That's a mouthful, but it reflects the fact that at the time he was an announced candidate for insurance commissioner in 2006 and was controlling this committee. The records for this committee are on file with the Secretary of State's office. For the 10/23/05 through 12/31/05 filing period, these Secretary of State records show Poizner funneled over $200,000 from insurance companies, as follows:
A check for $402,000 from the CALBUSPAC, the Chamber of Commerce PAC that contained $140,000 of insurance money. The check is dated November 1, 2005. Another check on November 3, 2005 of $75,000.
Poizner received a check for $25,000 from Fireman's Fund on September 20, 2005, but returned it on September 24, 2005. On November 2, 2005, two insurance contributions totaling $75,000 is deposited in the Chamber's PAC and the very next day $75,000 is given to Poizner's committee. Records of the CALBUSPAC show that on November 1, 2005, they received $25,000 from Fireman's Fund and on the next day, they received $50,000 from The Dentists Insurance Company.
If you follow the money in and out of the CALBUSPAC, they would not have been able to make the $402,000 check without the insurance company money donated to them. For the period July 1, 2005 through October 22, 2005, the CALBUSPAC received $150,000 in contributions from Farmer's Group (on September 27, 2005) and that $25,000 from Fireman's fund on October 17, 2005. The ended that reporting period with $164,152.39 cash on hand.
Between October 23, 2005 and November 1, 2005, they received $207,700 in non insurance contributions and $90,200 of insurance contributions, including $50,000 from Farmers Group, $50,000 from State Farm, $15,000 from Aetna, $45,000 in two checks from the American Insurance Association, and the previously mentioned contributions from Fireman's Fund and The Dentists Insurance Company.
During the Yes on 77 campaign, while a declared candidate for Insurance Commissioner, ads blanketed the air showing Steve Poizner addressing the audience after "ordinary citizens" spoke. The Orange County Register on November 3, 2005 stated: "While Poizner portrays himself as an advocate of political reform, critics accuse him of championing Prop. 77 to promote his political career. Poizner, 48, appeared in Yes on 77 TV ads, before the campaign began running newer spots featuring Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz."
If you have any more questions about this, take it directly from the insurance industry themselves. In an article in Insurance Brokers and Agents of the West, "Weekly Insider," "POIZNER TO HEAD PUSH FOR REDISTRICTING REFORM," on September 16, 2005, they state:
According to AP, Mundell announced plans to form an independent, nonpartisan campaign supporting Proposition 77 — largely over fears the measure will fail if tied directly to Schwarzenegger's other Republican-backed ballot initiatives. On the same day, the governor’s California Recovery Team announced the selection of Poizner. …
The Workers’ Comp Executive reported that Poizner’s appointment will raise his name identification with voters and basically assure his victory in the GOP primary.
Then there's the problem with the court case Californians for Fair Representation—No on 77 v. Schwarzenegger in which the court found that "Real party in interest Redistrict—Yes on 77 is a committee primarily formed to support Proposition 77 and is controlled by real party in interest Steve Poizner, a candidate for State Insurance Commissioner." The Court went on to find that the $1,750,000 in contributions from Schwarzenegger's California Recovery Team to the Poizner Committee should have been reported as an independent expenditure. That little bit of non reporting, and the subterfuge it was part of, led to the $200,000 fine Schwarzenegger agreed to pay to the Fair Political Practices Commission.
The so called California Recovery Team account controlled by Schwarzenegger is the repository of hundreds of thousands of insurance company dollars. That is a story for another day. Bottom line for this story: There is a lot of money floating around that goes in and out of various committees, whether it is from the Governor or one of his committees or the Chamber of Commerce or other sources. There's a lot of insurance money here and anyone who pretends there isn't, is not being truthful. Come on Poizner, admit it and get real. Don't act like Captain Louis Renault in Casablanca who said "I'm shocked, shocked to find there is gambling going on here."?
There's also a lot of mutual back scratching gong on there. As recently reported in the Orange County Blog, the Governor and Poizner are now doing joint fundraising. It may not be until after the election that we can trace where all the money is coming from in all those efforts. I'll betcha dollars to donuts that there is insurance industry money heavily on Poizner's side, perhaps as "independent expenditures" before it's all over.
"Reforms that could help Narrow the Achievement Gap." It is an 8 page essay that summarizes the material in his book. Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap. (Teachers College Press)
I recommend this essay. You can read it on-line or download it to your computer. Here it is.
Grassroots Fuels Prop 89 By Giving $5 To Buck the System Five Bucks vs. Millions to Level the Playing Field
CONTACT: Sara Nichols (916) 444-3669
California – Fueled by disgust with the current system and unprecedented fundraising by big oil, big insurance and developers to swamp the airwaves with their perspective in the November election, grassroots outsiders of both parties are taking to the internet to raise five bucks at a time to support Proposition 89.
The internet campaign, called “Buck the System” is seeking to raise five dollars from 100,000 voters to counteract the special interest money that has been pouring into the No on 89 and other campaign coffers. And the campaign is succeeding. In its first hours, the campaign raised thousands of dollars and is being forwarded all over California.
“Buck the System is about average people saying ‘enough is enough.’ We’re fed up with the crisis of corruption in our government and we know that our voices will not get heard without money, so while the other side can turn to big oil, drug companies and tobacco companies, we turn to the people,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of California Clean Money Action Fund, one of Proposition 89’s key supporters.
If passed by California voters on November 7th, Proposition 89 would establish a voluntary “Clean Money” system for full public funding of election campaigns modeled upon successful programs already in place in Arizona and Maine and recently adopted by Connecticut. It is designed to level the election playing field, open up the ballot to more good candidates, and stop political corruption by making elected officials accountable to voters, not big money donors.
“This kind of campaign is a natural for the internet,” said veteran blogger Bob Brigham who blogs for Proposition 89. “It’s viral, it’s exciting and it’s David vs. Goliath. People of all political stripes are stepping up to say sure, I’ll give $5 to end political corruption.”
(For more information on Proposition 89: www.BucktheSystemNow.org) For More Information about Prop 89: www.89Now.org
What's the problem with politics in California? Corruption.
Politicians from both parties are caught up in scandals and corruption. The Legislature in Sacramento is working for their politcal donors, not for you. Special interests—like the big oil, drug, and tobacco companies—have too much influence. Even worse, this influence results in price raises at the pump, higher utility costs, and stifled innovation in phone and television service. It's time for a change! What's the solution? Proposition 89.
Proposition 89 - POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS. PUBLIC FINANCING. CORPORATE TAX INCREASE. CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION AND EXPENDITURE LIMITS. INITIATIVE STATUTE. - Vote YesProp. 89 creates a level and fair playing field for California elections and reduces the influence of lobbyists and special interests in our state. It:
1. Bans contributions to candidates by lobbyists and contractors. 2. Restricts contributions by corporations, unions, and individuals to candidates and to outside groups running negative ads. 3. Lets candidates who reject contributions from big money donors run for office using “clean money” public grants.
And if politicians break the law, they can be thrown out of office and even put in jail.
Interested in fighting to end corruption? Join our movement!
Peter Schrag: Brave new world: Plutocracy and minority rule
By Peter Schrag - Bee Columnist Published 12:00 am PDT Wednesday, September 20, 2006
By now it's pretty apparent that we're in an advanced stage of an impaired three-tier democracy. At the top are the plutocracy and interest groups that kick in a large part of the great gobs of money spent by both candidates and initiative campaigns.
In the middle is the shrinking minority of the California population who regularly vote. They're older, richer, include a far higher proportion of homeowners and are more conservative than the majority of adults at the bottom, most of them citizens, who don't vote. Because of age and income, most voters are less dependent on schools and other public services than nonvoters.
A report last week from PPIC, the Public Policy Institute of California, aptly entitled "California's Exclusive Electorate," made those points about as sharply as anyone ever has.
In the past four gubernatorial elections, just 35 percent of California adults voted. And of those likely California voters, PPIC reported, 70 percent are still non-Hispanic whites, while the state's population is now just 46 percent white and 32 percent Latino. Only 14 percent of the Latino population votes regularly, although the number is slowly rising.
See the entire piece at SacBee.com
end of upload.
Only 14 percent of the latino population regularly votes because while 34% of the adults are Latino, over half of them are not citizens and can not vote. Step one: citizenship efforts.
Second. Most Latinos go to failing schools. In schools they are failed. They have a higher failure rate of the high school exit exam and a high drop out rate. So, these young people do not learn basic citizenship in high school. And, they do not learn that government can make a difference in our lives. Low voter turnout is in part, a product of the failure to promote democracy in our schools. The current school establishment, beginning with Superintendent O'Connel, and the current legislature, is failing our kids. Our schools re-produce our current social classes. Riches for some- poverty for others. As we reproduce our social classes, we also reproduce the biased voting patterns noted in the Schragg column.
For more on this see my book: Choosing Democracy: a practical guided to multicultural education. (2004) Merrill/Prentice Hall. There is much more to be said on this.
New Poll Says Brown/Doolittle Race is a Dead Heat September 12th, 2006 A new public opinion survey shows that Charlie Brown has pulled into a tie with John Doolittle. These numbers for are particularly striking because Doolittle has nearly 100 percent name recognition and Brown is still introducing himself to voters. And, the poll shows that after voters hear a one paragraph positive description about both candidates, Brown surges to a substantial lead. In addition to highlighting the broad appeal of Brown’s candidacy, the poll also demonstrates voter anger at Doolittle’s ties to corruption in Congress, his lack of performance on issues like fiscal discipline, border security and supporting the troops, and his disregard for local concerns.
On Tuesday, October 3, President George W. Bush will be attending a luncheon fundraiser at Serrano Country Club for Congressman John Doolittle. This is a "Sponsor" event. For security reasons, the club will be closed during this event.
As a courtesy to Members, you are being invited to the event prior to the mailing of invitations.
The cost of the event is $2,000 per person which will include lunch and a picture with the President. Because space is extremely limited, we expect this event to sell out very quickly.
As such, if you wish to join us, please call us at 916-772-5332 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible.
Federal law requires political committees to report the name, mailing address, occupation and name of employer for each individual whose contributions aggregate in excess of $200 in a calendar year. Contributions are not tax deductible, and corporate contributions are prohibited. An individual may give up to $2,100 per election. Couples may give up to $4,200 from common funds per election, but both signatures must be on the account.
Buck the System Today! Are you fed up with the crisis of corruption in our government? Big oil, drug companies, insurers, developers, HMOs, and big unions are corrupting our political system by working with inscruplous lobbyists like Jack Abramoff and using their millions of dollars in campaign cash to buy influence with our legislators. Enough is enough! This November 7th, California has the best chance in years to stop political corruption in Sacramento and send shockwaves of reform across the country — all the way to Washington DC. A contribution of as little as $5 today "Bucks the System" by helping pass Proposition 89, the California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act. Buck the System Now! Our Big Money opponents are working overtime to stop Prop 89 because they know that it will create a system where elections are about ideas, not their money. By giving $5 to pass Prop 89, you are standing with everybody who is sick and tired of corrupt politics. By standing together, we can defeat the lobbyists and special interests spending millions to defeat Prop 89. Proposition 89 will stop corruption by enacting: • Strict Contribution Limits that will end the fundraising madness with constitutional limits so regular voters aren't drowned out by big money. • Clean Money Full Public Financing of Political Campaigns that will level the playing field so new candidates can win on their ideas, not because of the money they raise. • A Ban on Contributions From Lobbyists and groups seeking business with the state. • Tough Disclosure and Enforcement that will stop candidates from hiding behind negative ads and punish politicians who violate the law. By Bucking the System today, you are joining a powerful coalition of organizations and citizens working to create a government that is accountable to us, not to big special interest campaign donors. Buck the System Now! Prop 89 is supported by trusted groups including the League of Women Voters of California, the California Nurses Association, the California Clean Money Campaign, California Common Cause, California Church IMPACT, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, Sierra Club California, and many other groups and individuals fighting for reform. Please check out www.BucktheSystemNow.org and give $5 today. Or Buck the System even more by giving more if you can. Then tell all your friends to "Buck the System", too. Even email your friends outside California, because if Prop 89 passes in California, it will sweep the country and help buck the corrupt money system everywhere! Everybody can afford to give $5 — and with the price political corruption costs everyone, how can anybody afford not to? Buck the System Now! Sincerely, Trent Lange Vice President, California Clean Money Campaign President, California Clean Money Action Fund P.S. We can put an end to special interest control of government. Please forward this to as many people as possible. Everybody who Bucks the System makes a difference!
Critical Thinking, Not Standardized Tests Public schools should teach kids how to think, not how to master multiple choice. By Jeff Lantos JEFF LANTOS teaches at Marquez Charter Elementary School in Los Angeles.
September 16, 2006
I'M BEGINNING my 20th year of teaching in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and if I've learned anything, it is that good teaching cannot be measured quantitatively.
Every year, we hear administrators crowing or politicians moaning over student test scores as if these numbers were indisputable indicators of teaching excellence, mediocrity or failure.
In fact, test scores (on the annual standardized state test) are like the closing prices on the stock exchange. They fluctuate for any number of reasons. A bad breakfast, a case of the jitters or skipping a line and filling in the wrong bubbles can wreak as much havoc as not knowing the difference between "abjure" and "adjure."
Likewise, teaching to the test can inflate scores but, given no context, all this random information is seldom retained. As a result, evaluating a teacher based solely on student test scores is like evaluating a corporation based solely on just one day's stock price.
If you really want to evaluate a teacher, you have to walk into a classroom, sit down and listen. I'm convinced that when you're listening to good teaching, you hear a familiar refrain. It goes like this: What is the connection between … and … ? So much of good teaching is about taking strands of information and looking for connections and broadening the context.
Endless test preparation has the opposite effect. It shrinks the context. It reduces inquiry. It mitigates against Socratic dialogue and can drain much of the passion from teaching and learning.
If we can get beyond the notion of schools as testing factories, then teachers will have the freedom to strive for a higher standard of excellence. Part of that higher standard would include the teaching of critical thinking. How does a teacher do that? By creating an academic environment in which students can sift through the mass of facts being hurled at them and begin to perceive pathways of interconnectedness.
The irony is that young students begin by making connections. They're taught to check their subtraction by adding. They can see that a rectangle can be divided into two triangles. They know there's some link between the Pledge of Allegiance and the flag hanging from the wall. They connect classroom behavior with a specific code of conduct.
The challenge for teachers is to build on that foundation, to encourage students to seek connections between, say, fractions and percentages, or between lobbying and legislation, or between Copernicus and Darwin, or between the main characters in two different novels.
I like to ask my students why the food in India, Africa and Mexico is so much spicier than the food in Ireland, Iceland and Finland. Typically, lots of theories are advanced and eventually (and perhaps with some guidance) students use their knowledge of geography, chemistry, botany and economics to make the connections that will lead to an explanation. We teachers call this "thinking across the curriculum."
Once students start seeing how and why seemingly disparate topics are related, and more important, once they start looking for and making those connections, then the teacher will have performed that special kind of classroom alchemy — turning passive receivers of knowledge into active participants in the learning process.
The answer to the spice question: First, spices grow in equatorial regions; and, second, in hotter climes, food rots more quickly, so spices were needed to preserve the food and, later, to mask the rancid smell.
*Compared to PG&E, SMUD is better for six simple reasons. *
* 1.** **SMUD is democratic*
*2. SMUD's top executives are in it for the service, not the money.*
*3. SMUD is greener.* The Yolano Sierra Club chapter supports SMUD expansion to Yolo County.
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*The bigger they are, the harder they fall. The whole country is watching. *
*People who want to help should call 530-757-6609 or email the Coalition for Local Power at email@example.com . For more information go to www.SMUD.org or www.publicpowernow.org . *
— Dan Berman is a Davis resident. He has been active with the Citizens Task Force on Energy issues and helped found the Coalition for Local Power (www.publicppowernow.org ), an /ad hoc /citizens group which has advocated public power solutions for Yolo County since 1997. His book WHO OWNS THE SUN? is available in all local libraries and on-line at www.chelseagreen.com/images/whoownsthesun/pdf .
Strange Bedfellows It’s amazing who’ll climb under the sheets to keep Big Money in politics By MARC COOPER L.A. Weekly. Wednesday, August 2, 2006 - 6:00 pm Last month I wrote about a rumor going around saying that bigtime Democratic Party consultant Gale Kaufman was going to lead the campaign against upcoming ballot measure Proposition 89 — the so-called Clean Money reform that would finally bring public financing to California elections.
You have to be careful publishing rumors. Sometimes they are false. But this time it was right. When I called Kaufman’s office originally to confirm what I had heard from other sources, her flunkies told me she was out of town and no one had any clue about what I was talking about. Right, they were all out partying at the bar mitzvah that Mel Gibson was throwing for his kid.
Turns out that Kaufman had, indeed, made the deal before I called and her office knew very well that she was already planning to work for the Dark Side. So shame on Kaufman. No, make that double shame. Not because she cowardly dodged my query. But for so brazenly operating as a political call girl.
Kaufman had won wide-based respect for the brick-crushing campaign she led last fall against Arnold Schwarzenegger’s special-election proposals. She honed the labor-funded Alliance for a Better California into a diamond-tipped spear and stuck it right through the heart of Arnold and his probusiness agenda. She won an award as political consultant of the year. Her name became a household word among Democrats who celebrated her as a modern-day dragon killer.
But that was then. This is now. Kaufman has now put on her jammies, clambered into the big four-poster bed with a nice, warm bottle of milk and is snuggling up not only with Schwarzenegger, but also with her supposed blood rivals at the Chamber of Commerce. And she’s brought along her friends from the state teachers union to join the slumber party. Not that any of them are planning to get much shuteye. This motley crew, in fact, plans to toil tirelessly together until November, doing what they can, working their special magic, hoping that we — the voters — are the ones who are going to fall asleep. Or at least fall for their BS.
What else could unite Democrats and Republicans, Big Business and Big Labor, conservatives and liberals, other than opposition to a citizen-backed initiative that would help remove Big Money from the election process? Prop. 89 would bring to California the same sort of system already present in Arizona, Maine and a few other states in which candidates who forego private funding receive full public financing. It’s absolutely the right way to open up and reform the political process. And while Clean Money programs are not perfect, they go a very long way toward enhancing democracy and curbing institutionalized bribery.
The California version of the initiative was qualified for the ballot by the feisty California Nurses Association (which led last fall’s ground war against the governor) and has since been endorsed by good-government groups like the League of Women Voters, California Common Cause, Public Campaign and the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights. Schwarzenegger, who in the past has mumbled some support for campaign-finance reform, has since come out against the measure. And Phil Angelides (you remember him, don’t you?) has — are you ready? — yet to take a position. At least not publicly. In fact, Angelides’ position is well known: it’s supine. He’s almost totally financed by the California Teachers Association, so when his patrons order him to stay after school to help campaign against Prop. 89, you know he can be counted on.
Countdown's Keith Olbermann gives his most stirring 'Special Commentary' on 9/11, the effect it's had on Americans, and most especially the effect it's leaders actions have had on the very fabric of our society.
9/11 Leaves Its Mark on History Classes: New York Times By JANNY SCOTT Published: September 6, 2006 The present has a way of changing the way that historians think about the past. The trauma of Sept. 11, 2001, is likely to be no exception: Five years after the attacks on New York and Washington, many historians say 9/11 and its aftermath are leaving their mark on how American history is written and taught.
American history is being studied less as the story of a neatly packaged nation state and more in a global context, as part of something much larger, many historians say. The idea of America as an empire, too, is in vogue. And historians are giving new attention to topics like the turbulent history of civil liberties in the United States.
There is growing interest in the history of terrorism, of Muslims in America, of international cultural conflicts and exchanges. The history of foreign policy is being rethought, some historians said, with less emphasis on the cold war and more on post-colonial politics. The Iranian revolution and the hostage crisis from 1979 to 1981 seem like significant turning points in ways that they had not before.
“For historians, history is never set in stone,” said Joanne Meyerowitz, a professor of history and American studies at Yale who edited “History and September 11th” (Temple University Press, 2003), a collection of essays. “It’s written and rewritten in each generation. The events of the present, of the contemporary age, always help us reframe the events of the past. And the events of the past always help us to reframe the age we’re living in.”
Some of the shift has come in response to strong interest from students. In vivid detail, professors recalled classes they taught immediately after the attacks — their students’ hunger to understand, their sense of 9/11 as a watershed in their lives, their sudden sense of vulnerability. In the days and months that followed, historians said, they found themselves using history to shed light on a baffling present.
“For our students, it is quite clear that in everything — from what it feels like in an airport, or dealing with Muslim neighbors in school or college, or what they think about when they think about going abroad for junior year — there is that sense that their Americanness is not safe from the rest of the world, or is deeply influenced by the United States’ role and its relationships to the rest of the world,” said Melani McAlister, an associate professor of American studies and international affairs at George Washington University.
Scholars disagree on the direction of the reframing of American history, sometimes along ideological lines. While many historians say 9/11 accelerated a push toward “internationalizing” American history — looking at what Thomas Bender, a professor of history at New York University, called “a common history with common causes for central events in American history” — some others said 9/11 had renewed their interest in an almost opposite idea, that of American exceptionalism.
American exceptionalism, the view that the United States is fundamentally different from other developed countries and has a special role in the world, fell out of favor around the time of the rise of the new social history in the late 1960’s, said Stephan Thernstrom, a history professor at Harvard who describes himself as a neoconservative. But since 9/11, he said, he has found himself increasingly drawn to the idea.
He compared his reaction to the current moment to the way “the massive conflict with fascism and then the cold war focused attention on what is our civilization, why is it different from others. With that came a certain sense of heightened attachment to our civilization and a desire to defend it and protect it.”
Historians often find that contemporary events influence the study of history. Disillusionment with World War I inspired a revisionist interpretation of the Civil War, that the war was unnecessary, said Professor Bender and others; that view was then challenged in the aftermath of World War II. The Reagan revolution brought new interest in the history of American conservatism; the women’s movement helped make women’s history a field of its own.
In the 1990’s, globalization encouraged what is known as the internationalizing of American history, with a growing emphasis on comparative and transnational approaches. For example, some historians said, they began to see the American Revolution as the result of widespread fiscal pressures brought on by a contest among imperial powers, not simply as a product of British taxation.
“We’ve been a little backward in recognizing how important the outside world has been to our domestic life,” said Joyce Appleby, a past president of the American Historical Association. “It requires a change of consciousness. You’re not just telling the story of American history and where it links up with another country; you see America in the world, affecting the world.”
That trend has accelerated since Sept. 11, 2001. Jan Lewis, a historian at Rutgers University in Newark who is writing a book about American history between 1760 and 1830, said she has been working on several chapters about the French and Indian War and the origins of the revolution. She found her attention drawn to the story of European soldiers sent to North America “to fight one episode of a huge international war.”
“I don’t think I’d have been as attuned to that dimension of the history a few years ago,” she said. “I realized that what I found particularly interesting was the conflict among British officials between those I would have called idealists and those who were realists. Certainly, similar issues come up with the Iraq war.”
Since late 2004, a half-dozen books on aspects of America as an empire have been published. Amy Kaplan, a former president of the American Studies Association, said American imperialism, once seen as a preoccupation of the left, has become a subject across the political spectrum.
“Are we an empire? If we are, in what sense?” said Michael H. Hunt, a professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, describing the debate. “Is it comparable to other empires? Is it like Rome?
“Tangled with that empire question is the hegemony question: Do you understand empire only in formal terms of control or is it more global and systemic and maybe not territorial necessarily?”
Mary L. Dudziak, a professor of law, history and political science at the University of Southern California Law School, said that her students demanded that their professors pay attention to the place of the United States in the world. They were suddenly interested in Islam. When Professor McAlister of George Washington University started teaching in 1996, she said, “You kind of had to make an argument for why someone in an American history class would have to think about global issues.”
The history of civil liberties, too, has attracted new interest. Eric Foner, a professor of history at Columbia University who describes himself as a liberal, said the years since 9/11 have focused attention on what he called the “up and down in the history of liberty in our country. It’s not a constant feature in American society; respect for civil liberties is really rather recent, and it’s fragile.”
Thomas L. Haskell, a Rice University historian who calls himself independent-minded politically, uses excerpts from Alexis de Tocqueville’s writings about tyranny of the majority in his course on American intellectual and cultural history. After watching media coverage of the attack on the World Trade Center, he recalls going immediately before his class and making a prediction that civil liberties would “take a beating.”
He based his forecast or declaration on the past — the Haymarket episode in Chicago in 1886, the “first Red scare” after World War I, the incarceration of Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor. In an interview, Professor Haskell said he disapproved of professors propagandizing but believed they owe it to their students to identify their values. So, he said, he had made a point of bringing the issue of torture to his students’ attention.
Having spent 11 months in Saigon as an adviser to the Vietnamese navy during the Vietnam War, he said he believed he was in a position to challenge the Bush administration’s suggestions that the nature of the terrorist threat justifies loosening the rules on interrogation methods. He said he has looked for opportunities in the material he teaches to raise that issue.
He said he had experienced something of a turnaround in his own thinking.
“The appalling crudity and brutality involved in the settlement of Virginia back in the 17th century does take on a new relevance,” he said. “I think all those episodes of majoritarianism run amok do begin to fall into a pattern that has to make us wonder: What is it about American culture that puts us into this position time after time?”
Also: see ideas for teaching about 9/11 on the Ed Justice blog site. Simply click on the link.
ENSURING THE ACADEMIC SUCCESS OF ENGLISH LEARNERS While some English learners move quickly to English fluency and academic mastery at all grade levels, many do not. Most English learners make academic progress in the primary grades, but around fourth grade, when academic and cognitive demands require higher levels of comprehension and engagement with text, the patterns change. Many struggle to learn academic English and to access grade-level curriculum which is taught, in most cases, in a language they have not yet mastered. "Ensuring the Academic Success of English Learners," by Laurie Olsen draws on three decades of research on second language acquisition, bilingual brain development, effective programs, and "best practices" in instructional strategies. The essay details nine elements of a comprehensive system of schooling for English learners. They range from high-quality preschool to age-appropriate English language development, instructional materials, and valid assessments. She further suggests four policy goals needed to develop such a system, including investing in a qualified educator workforce, building a meaningful English Learner accountability system, and demonstrating new models of successful schools for English learners. http://lmri.ucsb.edu/publications/newsletters/v15n4.pdf
Hank Plante Reporting (CBS 5) The hottest ballot measure on California's November ballot is not only splitting the candidates for governor, it's also splitting some powerful labor unions. CBS 5 Political Editor Hank Plante puts it in perspective.
Watch the video here: http://cbs5.com/inperspective/local_story_215214724.html
Proposition 89: Take the “For Sale” sign off the State Capitol
By Richard Holober, Executive Director Consumer Federation of California Since 2004, Chevron gave $3 million in political contributions in California. For a company that made a record $14 billion in profits last year, it was money well spent. Despite public indignation, big oil crushed a proposed state tax on windfall oil profits. During one 18-month period, banks, insurance companies and other financial interests contributed $8.8 million to state politicians. They defeated financial privacy legislation that enjoyed the support of 90% of California voters. See the complete article at: http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/2006/09/proposition_89.html
Interesting politics. The California state AFL-CIO has taken a Take no position on Prop. 89. California Clean elections campaign. My own union, California Faculty Association, has taken a Take No Position stand. The largest union in California, the California Teachers Association has taken a Vote No position.
Phil Angelides has taken a vote Yes position. The California Nurses Association is a leader in the yes campaign.
History; The state AFL-CIO took a Vote No position, but provided little campaigning for No on 187; the anti immigrant ballot of 1994. Instead they worked hard on Prop. 186, a single payer health initiative. The state AFL-CIO took a Vote No position on Prop. 209; Anti Affirmative Action, but they provided little campaigning. Instead, they worked hard on Prop. 210 to raise the minimum wage.