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Skinner: People are vulnerable, not ‘expendable’

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appears in the new action movie “The Expendables,” but he shouldn’t consider California’s most vulnerable residents among his co-stars, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner said this morning.

Skinner, D-Berkeley, called a news conference to roll out a new 60-second Web video featuring interviews with local residents who stand to lose their jobs, their independence, their homes and more to budget cuts.

This is part of a talking-points campaign orchestrated through Assembly Speaker John Perez’ Office of Member Services, so you can expect to see similar videos, statements and news conferences from Democratic lawmakers around the state.

The Govs Expendables Poster“It seems like in the governor’s budget plan, some Californians have been deemed to be ‘expendables,’” Skinner said at her event in the Franklin Preschool on Eighth Street in Berkeley, arguing that the Legislature and governor are responsible for ensuring these vulnerable people are protected. “We’re going to do our best to communicate this.”

Michelle Rousey, 39, of Oakland, is wheelchair-bound and requires oxygen; she has been an In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) consumer since the early ‘90s. IHSS cuts are “a deadly proposal to eliminate vital services that we use,” she said at today’s news conference.

Daniel McGrath, 34, of Berkeley, has been an IHSS care provider for six and a half years, with three elderly or disabled clients in the Berkeley area. “Life or death should never be on the table,” he said today.

Michelle Alvarez, 34, of Berkeley, said if her two children can’t go to state-funded preschool and afterschool programs, her husband will have to quit the part-time job he got two months ago in order to stay home and care for them; that would leave the family of four living on her salary as an administrative assistant at UC-Berkeley. “Why is he (Schwarzenegger) treating our kids worse than prisoners?”

Michael Pope, 53, executive director of Berkeley-based Alzheimer’s Services of the East Bay, said “seniors who gave to this state” all their lives stand to lose crucial day care and family support services. “They need our support, this is not a time in their life when we should be throwing them under the bus.”

Franklin Preschool teacher Sandra Farmer, 67, of Pittsburg, said that in her 37 years in early child development, “I’ve never seen anything like I’m seeing right now” – a situation where loss of preschool will put low-income parents out of work, back on unemployment or welfare.

And Janien Harrison, 40, of San Leandro, an IHSS consumer who has used an electric wheelchair to get around since suffering a traumatic brain injury in a 1999 car accident, said “the cuts would make it so I would not have the opportunity to stay in my home” – she’d have to go to a hospital or institution instead, a far costlier proposition than IHSS. “These cuts disenfranchise my life.”

It’s not a “pity party,” Skinner said, but rather a demonstration that people’s ability to live productively and independently is at risk “if we’re not smart with the budget.” She said Democrats put forth a proposal that included billions in cuts – though not cuts that would have put people like this at risk – while also recognizing that “to do justice and to avoid putting people in harms’ way and to avoid job loss, there is a need for revenue.”

“The Republicans are not talking and the governor basically doesn’t seem to care,” she said.

Skinner before the news conference had said “it’s difficult to make a forecast” about how this year’s budget drama will play out. With state Senate Republican Leader Dennis Hollingsworth, R-Murrieta, set to turn over his leadership role to state Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, on Sept. 1, the “reset” button is about to be hit.

“There just doesn’t seem to be willingness on the Republican side to really negotiate,” said Skinner, who serves on the budget conference committee. “You just wonder, is there a political motive going on? Did someone decide it’s to their advantage to delay the budget?”

Replied Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear: “We understand Assemblywoman Skinner supports a massive tax increase to protect public employee pensions and the status quo for unions. We simply disagree.”

I’ve received no response from Hollingsworth’s office.

Posted on Tuesday, August 17th, 2010
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, California State Senate, Dennis Hollingsworth, Nancy Skinner, state budget, taxes | 3 Comments »

Read the briefs on a stay of the Prop. 8 ruling

Today was the deadline for written arguments on whether Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker should stay his Wednesday ruling overturning Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage pending appeal.

The measure’s proponents had argued even before the ruling came down that staying such a decision is “essential to averting the harms that would flow from another purported window of same-sex marriage in California.” They argue they’ll eventually win this case, and to let more people marry in the interim would “inflict harm on the affected couples and place administrative burdens on the state.” Read their brief here.

Attorney General Jerry Brown argued that’s not so, and same-sex marriages should be allowed to begin again immediately. “(W)hile there is still the potential for limited administrative burdens should future marriages of same-sex couples be later declared invalid, these potential burdens are outweighed by this Court’s conclusion, based on the overwhelming evidence, that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. Accordingly, the harm to the plaintiffs outweighs any harm to the state defendants.” Read his brief here.

And Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made a similar argument in a separate brief. Now that a court has deemed the ban unconstitutional, to resume allowance of same-sex marriage immediately “is consistent with California’s long history of treating all people and their relationships with equal dignity and respect,” his attorney wrote. Read his brief here.

UPDATE @ 5:18 P.M.: The plaintiffs’ brief arguing against a stay says Prop. 8’s proponents can’t possibly make a “strong showing” that they’re likely to prevail on appeal, both because their appeal is without merit and because they may not even have standing to file it – remember, the proponents were defendant interveners in this case, while the governor and state were the original defendants. The plaintiffs further argue that the proponents have failed to show they’ll suffer an irreparable injury without a stay, while a stay would mean the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights would continue to be curtailed. And they say the public interest in ensuring recognition and protection of all citizens’ constitutional rights weighs against a stay. Read their brief here.

Posted on Friday, August 6th, 2010
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Brown, same-sex marriage | 7 Comments »

PPIC: Gov, Senate races tight, drilling a no-go

The latest Public Policy Institute of California poll shows likely voters are closely divided between Democrat Jerry Brown (37 percent) and Republican Meg Whitman (34 percent) for governor, with 23 percent undecided. Independents voters are split – 30 percent for Brown, 28 percent for Whitman and 30 percent undecided.

The same poll shows a similarly tight U.S. Senate race, with 39 percent of likely voters supporting Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer, 34 percent supporting Republican nominee Carly Fiorina and 22 percent undecided. Boxer’s lead is similar among independents, with 35 percent backing her, 29 percent backing Fiorina and 25 percent undecided.

The numbers came as part of PPIC’s survey of “Californians and the Environment.” Of those likely voters saying that a candidate’s environmental positions are very important in determining their vote, 50 percent would vote for Brown and 16 percent would vote for Whitman; among those who say a candidate’s environmental positions are somewhat important, Whitman is favored 42 percent to 33 percent. Similarly, those who view candidates’ positions on the environment as very important are three times as likely to support Boxer (54 percent) as Fiorina (18 percent), while those who say candidates’ views on the environment are somewhat important are evenly divided, 37 percent to each candidate.

Among the poll’s findings on other environmental issues:

  • The Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster’s effects are clearly visible, as a solid majority of the state’s residents now oppose more offshore drilling (59 percent of California adults oppose, 36 percent favor), which is a 16-point increase in opposition from last year. It’s a partisan split; 72 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of independents oppose more drilling, while 64 percent of Republicans favor it.
  • Just 21 percent have either a great deal (8 percent) or good amount (13 percent) of confidence in the government to make the right decisions in dealing with the Gulf of Mexico spill; residents also lack confidence in the federal government’s ability to prevent future spills, with about three in 10 very (7 percent) or fairly (21 percent) confident, 32 percent not very confident, and 37 percent not confident at all.
  • Californians are divided (49 percent oppose, 44 percent favor) about building more nuclear power plants to address the nation’s energy needs and reduce dependence on foreign oil; 57 percent of Democrats are opposed, while 67 percent of Republicans and 51 percent of independents favor building more plants now. Overwhelming majorities favor increasing federal funding to develop wind, solar, and hydrogen technology (83 percent), and requiring automakers to significantly improve the fuel efficiency of cars sold in this country (83 percent).
  • Support for AB 32 – the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction law, now under fire by Proposition 23 – remains strong at 67 percent of California adults; it was at 66 percent last year. Asked whether the government should act to reduce emissions right away or wait until the state economy and job situation improve, a slim majority (53 percent) said California should act right away, while 42 percent said the state should wait.
  • And among other political findings:

  • President Barack Obama’s approval rating is at 56 percent among all adults, 54 percent among registered voters and 50 percent among likely voters.
  • Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s approval rating is at 25 percent among all adults, 24 percent among registered voters and 25 percent among likely voters.
  • The California Legislature’s approval rating is at 15 percent among all adults, 12 percent among registered voters and 10 percent among likely voters.
  • Only 15 percent of all adults believe California is generally headed in the right direction; that number drops to 11 percent among registered voters and 8 percent among likely voters.
  • Only 25 percent of all adults see good economic times ahead for California; that number drops to 22 percent among registered voters and 19 percent among likely voters.
  • Findings are based on a telephone survey of 2,502 California adult residents reached by landline and cell phones throughout the state from July 6 through 20, with interviews conducted in English, Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin or Cantonese), Vietnamese, and Korean. The margins of error are two percentage points for all adults; 2.2 percentage points for the 1,971 registered voters; and 2.7 percentage points for the 1,321 likely voters.

    Posted on Wednesday, July 28th, 2010
    Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, California State Senate, Carly Fiorina, economy, energy, Environment, Jerry Brown, Meg Whitman, polls, Uncategorized | 12 Comments »

    Let the budget wars begin. Again.

    Advocates for the elderly, disabled, poor and others are howling about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s May Budget Revision, which among other things would eliminate CalWORKS, the state’s welfare-to-work program, as well as most child care for the poor; slash mental-health spending by 60 percent; and freeze funding for schools, but not raise any taxes.

    But business groups are fine with it. From John Kabateck, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)/California, on behalf of Californians Against Higher Taxes:

    John Kabateck“We are thankful to Governor Schwarzenegger for making the tough decisions on this budget that will give California a fighting chance to pull out of this recession. By resisting calls for more tax increases, the Governor is leaving more money in the hands of those who create jobs and build businesses as well as the working families hit so hard by this downturn in the economy.

    “This is the only way to reduce the state’s alarming unemployment rate and it is a healthy, robust economy that will provide the tax revenues to fund critical programs. We urge the Legislature to follow the Governor’s lead and help put California on the road to recovery.”

    And from California Manufacturers & Technology Association President Jack Stewart:

    Jack Stewart“Californians are out of work and worried about their long-term security while many manufacturers, especially small ones, are concerned about their long-term competitiveness. The Governor’s ‘no new tax increases’ announcement in his revised state budget proposal is a responsible step toward the state’s recovery.

    “California’s budget focus must shift from extracting dollars from families and employers to putting people back to work in high wage jobs. Everyone wins when more Californians are working.”

    Not so, contends California Budget Project Executive Director Jean Ross, whose nonpartisan nonprofit group advocates for fiscal reforms to benefit low and moderate income Californians:

    Jean Ross“Largely because of the economic downturn, California once again faces a very difficult budget year. But the Governor’s May Revision is not the balanced, responsible approach called for at this critical time. It relies too heavily on proposed cuts, threatens the state’s economic recovery, and recklessly gambles with our future. It pulls the rug out from under families already struggling with double-digit unemployment rates and the worst economic crisis this country has seen since the Great Depression and would leave the state ill-prepared to compete in an ever more competitive global economy.

    “The Governor’s proposals cut far past the muscle and into the bones of our state’s safety net – the health care, job placement, child care assistance, and other services Californians have turned to in greater numbers for help during the recent downturn. The Governor’s proposed cuts to public schools would further reduce the state’s commitment to education below that of the nation as a whole, a gap that is wider than at any point in the last 40 years.

    “Instead, California needs a thoughtful and responsible budget, one that takes a balanced approach that includes more federal aid and prudent and carefully targeted cuts that preserve the core capacity of services. And in the same way that families unable to make ends meet work overtime or take an additional job to boost their incomes, California needs to bring in new revenues. Protecting our public services will ensure we can meet the needs of Californians now and pave the way for an economic recovery.”

    A sampling of further back-and-forth, after the jump…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Friday, May 14th, 2010
    Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, California State Senate, Chuck DeVore, John Perez, Leland Yee, state budget | 9 Comments »

    Go make your own state budget

    Everyone’s on pins and needles to see just how ugly the cuts will be in the May Budget Revision that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will release tomorrow, but East Bay residents have a shot tonight at solving the budget crisis themselves.

    In simulation, of course. Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, will be joined by Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, as she hosts a workshop letting constituents use the “California Budget Challenge” online tool, developed by the nonpartisan nonprofit Next 10, to try to find a solution to our budget crisis. The simulation contains accurate figures for the state’s current revenues and expenditures as well as alternatives so that participants can make their own choices.

    “I am concerned about how the economic crisis is affecting families, businesses, folks looking for work, and those that depend on state services,” Skinner said in her news release announcing the event. “Cuts like those the Governor is proposing could decimate the state and cause even more job loss. While we can’t risk bankruptcy we have to be smart. So I am inviting the people of AD 14 to let me know how they would balance the budget by taking ‘The Budget Challenge.’”

    Frank Russo, Skinner’s chief of staff, was at an event I attended last Friday, and said he’s not aware of anyone having found a viable cuts-only solution.

    Tonight’s event runs 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Albany High School, 603 Key Route Blvd. Another is scheduled for 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 27 in the Orinda Library Theater, 26 Orinda Way.

    Perez on Tuesday praised Next 10-enabled budget forums that had been held in Fresno, Orange County, Palm Springs, Reseda, Sacramento and San Diego, which attracted a total of about 2,000 Californians. “The public recognizes the difficulty that exists in getting a two thirds majority and they are very frustrated with the choices before them.”

    John PerezHe vowed that this year’s budget will be developed on-time through a public process, not in closed-door meetings of the “Big 5.”

    “We will develop the budget through a public process that includes full subcommittee and committee review,” he said in his news release, noting Assembly budget hearings – as well as other committee hearings dealing with the impact of the governor’s budget on California jobs – will be webcast live to facilitate transparency and foster public participation.

    So – plenty of chances to watch the sausage being made this summer. Will you tune in?

    Posted on Thursday, May 13th, 2010
    Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, John Perez, Nancy Skinner, state budget | 1 Comment »

    Oil spill shapes California’s drilling debate

    Democrats are doing their happy dance now that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, in reaction to the epically disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, has withdrawn his support of the proposed Tranquillon Ridge oil drilling project off California’s coast.

    From state Controller John Chiang:

    “I am pleased the Governor has withdrawn his support for what would have been the first new oil lease off the coast of California in 40 years.

    “As a member of the State Lands Commission who voted against the project last year, I am saddened that it took a tragic and massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to remind us how important it is that we continue to protect California’s shores and our multi-billion dollar coastal and port economies.”

    From Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, who chaired the State Lands Commission while serving as lieutenant governor:

    “It’s unfortunate it took one of the worst ecological disasters in U.S. history for Governor Schwarzenegger to come to his senses, but today, friends of California’s coastline can breathe a sigh of relief. There will be no more new leases for oil drilling from platforms off the coast of Santa Barbara.

    “When I chaired the California State Lands Commission, the independent commission responsible for approving oil leases in California, I made it clear that the risk of permitting new drilling from platforms in California is ecological and economic disaster. The Gulf Coast oil spill – which threatens 40 percent of U.S. wetlands and will cost fishing and tourism industries billions of dollars – proves my point. We don’t want to imagine what a similar spill would do to California’s coast.

    “President Obama has proposed a temporary presidential moratorium on new offshore oil drilling, and that’s a good start, but Congress plays an important role as well. Our coast is best protected when both the President and Congress make it clear that new offshore drilling is not an option.

    “An oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara jumpstarted the modern environmentalist movement 41 years ago, helping to create the Environmental Protection Agency, Earth Day, and ultimately, offshore oil drilling moratoriums that served us well for 26 years. What will they say about our response to the Gulf Coast tragedy?”

    Since I wrote Friday about the differing views on this, new information about the spill’s severity has elicited more powerful criticisms of off-shore drilling.

    Greenpeace – never a friend to oil interests, of course – put out this map today superimposing a projection of the Deepwater Horizon spill’s extent upon California’s coast, to illustrate the effect a similar spill might have here:

    Greenpeace's CA oil spill forecast

    And the Center for American Progress – a progressive think-tank with a lot of connections to the Obama Administration – made its case today, too.

    “We need to learn from this tragedy,” wrote CAP Senior Fellow and Climate Strategy Director Daniel J. Weiss. “Offshore drilling is a risky way to meet our energy needs. We have only 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, yet we use one-quarter of the oil produced annually. It is a dangerous practice that puts American lives and livelihoods at risk while distracting from real solutions that can provide clean energy while creating jobs.”

    But House Republican Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, says domestic drilling still has to be part of the nation’s overall energy plan.

    John Boehner“The Obama Administration is right to insist on a full investigation of the events leading up to this tragic, deadly, unacceptable accident and the oil spill that resulted. We must stop the leaking oil, and help the Gulf recover, but we also need to know how it happened, who is responsible, and how we can prevent future incidents. The White House must ensure that BP bears the entire financial burden to clean up this disaster. Not a dime of taxpayer money should be used to clean up their mess. Also, House Oversight Ranking Member Darrell Issa is asking important questions related to the Administration’s response to this incident and he should get prompt and complete answers.

    “At the same time, this tragedy should remind us that America needs a real, comprehensive energy plan, like Republicans’ ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy, which includes more of everything: more clean and renewable sources of energy such as nuclear power, wind, and solar energy, more alternative fuels, more conservation, and more environmentally-responsible development of America’s energy resources. Our American Energy Act would use the funds generated by expanded American energy production to speed up the development of the next generation of clean-energy alternatives. It would also lower fuel costs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and – at a time when Americans are asking, where are the jobs? – it would create more than a million new American jobs.

    “Now is not the time for new government-mandated limits on the production of American-made energy, as such limits will only make us more dependent on foreign oil, slow the development of clean-energy alternatives, increase fuel costs, and destroy American jobs. It’s time to get to the bottom of this tragedy, work to ensure it never happens again, and move forward in a responsible manner on an ‘all-of-the-above’ strategy to lower energy costs, expand the use of clean-energy alternatives, and create American jobs.”

    UPDATE @ 4:41 P.M.: More Democratic praise for Schwarzenegger’s move, after the jump…
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Monday, May 3rd, 2010
    Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, energy, Environment, John Boehner, John Chiang, John Garamendi, U.S. House | 3 Comments »

    Legislative Analyst: State building sale a bad idea

    The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office today issued a report on a proposal that the state sell some of its office buildings to private interests in order to raise some fast cash and then lease back the same properties to state agencies for 20 years at market rate rents.

    The conclusion: It’s a bad idea.

    Elihu Harris building in OaklandAmong the state buildings proposed for sale are the Elihu Harris Building, at 1515 Clay St. in Oakland; the Earl Warren/Hiram Johnson complex that houses agencies including the state’s Supreme Court, at 350 McAllister/455 Golden Gate Ave. in San Francisco; and the Public Utilities Commission Building, at 505 Van Ness Ave. in San Francisco.

    Here’s the LAO report’s summary (with my emphasis added):

    Recent legislation authorized the Department of General Services (DGS) to sell and then lease back 11 state-owned office properties. The sale-leaseback is designed to free up the state’s equity in the buildings to provide one-time revenue for addressing the state’s current budgetary shortfall. We estimate that the sale of buildings would result in one-time revenue to the state of between $600 million and $1.4 billion, but that annual leasing costs would eventually exceed ownership costs by approximately $200 million. Over the lives of these buildings, we estimate the transaction would cost the state between $600 million and $1.5 billion. The Legislature will need to weigh how these costs compare to other alternatives for addressing the state’s budget shortfall. In our view, taking on long-term obligations—like the lease payments on these buildings—in exchange for one-time revenue to pay for current services is bad budgeting practice as it simply shifts costs to future years. Therefore, we encourage the Legislature to strongly consider other budget alternatives.

    This gibes with criticisms of the “fire sale” raised in recent weeks by state Controller John Chiang, university economists, land development experts and labor groups; two weeks ago they were touting a report by economic forecasting firm Beacon Economics that foresaw more than $4 billion in hidden costs for taxpayers. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer said the Beacon report “provides a valuable warning about sacrificing the state’s long-term financial health for short-term gain.”

    The state already has started accepting bids, but Gov. Schwarzenegger vowed last week that the sales wouldn’t go forward if it didn’t make sound fiscal sense. I’ve asked the governor’s office for a comment today; when I hear back, I’ll update this post.

    UPDATE @ 2:10 P.M.: State and Consumer Services Agency Secretary Bill Leonard doesn’t see the LAO report as an obstacle to going through with the sales:

    “The LAO’s report correctly concludes that the state is successfully negotiating a potential sale of state buildings, as authorized by the Legislature last summer. The Department of General Services worked with commercial real estate experts to market a world-class portfolio, which drew a world-class number of competitive offers and exceeded expectations. DGS needs to complete its negotiations with buyers and conduct a full analysis of the numbers before any final conclusions can be made. The bottom line is that the state should not be in the business of owning commercial real estate given the inherent cost risks. This transaction – if the numbers add up for the taxpayers – will generate cash that will help the state avoid further public service program cuts.”

    Posted on Tuesday, April 27th, 2010
    Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger | 3 Comments »

    ‘A long time ago, we used to be friends…’

    (Headline h/t to the Dandy Warhols.)

    Republican gubernatorial primary candidate Steve Poizner’s campaign issued a communiqué a short while ago crowing over a new poll KABC/SurveyUSA poll showing that primary rival Meg Whitman leads him 49 percent to 27 percent, a 22-point gap.

    And a new Capitol Weekly/Probolsky Research poll shows Meg Whtiman leading Poizner 47 percent to 19 percent, a 28-point gap. Both these polls would sound bad, until you remember last month’s Field Poll showing Whitman leading Poizner 63 percent to 14 percent, a 49-point gap.

    Poizner’s camp says he’s closing the gap. Communications director Jarrod Agen said:

    “Meg Whitman has spent record amounts of her Wall Street billions to tell a record number of lies, but all of Goldman Sachs’ money and all the Queen’s men won’t be enough to put this rookie candidate back together again. Seven years ago, Republicans were fooled by marketing and a celebrity. It isn’t happening twice.”

    But lest we forget, Poizner must’ve been among those “fooled by marketing and a celebrity,” and it wasn’t even seven years ago.

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed Poizner as he spent almost $14.9 million of his own money in a failed attempt to win an Assembly seat in 2004. From our May 2004 story on the endorsement:

    Poizner, a former high-tech entrepreneur and teacher who has modeled his campaign on Schwarzenegger’s moderate conservatism, hopes to capture some of the energy for change that swept the governor into office last October.

    “I think it will be a huge boost,” Poizner said of the endorsement. “Democrats, independents and Republicans have been very impressed with what (Schwarzenegger) has done over the last several months.”

    Poizner said the endorsement gives him political credibility and shows he will be able to effectively work with the governor — something, he said, his Democratic rival cannot claim. Mark Watson, the former chairman of the San Mateo County Republican Party, said the endorsement will have practical benefits for Poizner’s campaign.

    And, from our July 2004 profile of Poizner:

    The 47-year old Los Gatos resident bills himself as a “reform” Republican, following in the footsteps of Bay Area legislators such as former Silicon Valley Congressmen Tom Campbell and Pete McCloskey, both of whom have endorsed his campaign.

    Poizner believes the time is right on the Peninsula for a nonpartisan, moderate Republican who can reach across Sacramento’s often gaping political divide and work effectively with a Republican governor.

    And though he’s received the blessing of the Republican establishment, Poizner has positioned himself as strongly independent. He’s rejected money from the party, corporations, political action committees and labor unions because he feels they corrupt the political process.

    Poizner also has eschewed much of the traditional Republican platform. He’s pro-choice, for stem-cell research and is not yet sure whether he will cast his vote for President Bush or John Kerry in November’s election.

    “I’ve been a moderate Republican all my life, but at times it’s been frustrating — especially in the last few years in the Bay Area and California,” Poizner said. “The party has gone much further to the right from where I am. My mission here is not only to provide some great leadership for this district and state, but I also want to revitalize the moderate wing of the Republican Party.”

    Soon after Poizner lost that race, Schwarzenegger announced he would name Poizner to the state Public Utilities Commission, a $114,191-a-year post (which is, admittedly, peanuts to Poizner). Poizner withdrew from consideration for state Senate confirmation after learning his extensive investments would keep him from voting on telecommunications issues.

    Schwarzenegger and Poizner still liked each other enough in 2005 so that the governor tapped Poizner to head the campaign for Proposition 77, a redistricting measure rejected by voters in the 2005 special election that Schwarzenegger called. And Schwarzenegger again endorsed Poizner for Insurance Commissioner in 2006.

    Poizner’s hard turn to the right in this gubernatorial primary is well-documented, but rhetoric won’t change history – it’s only been in the last few years, as Poizner turned his eye toward the governor’s office, that he threw Schwarzenegger and his policies under the bus.

    Posted on Thursday, April 22nd, 2010
    Under: 2010 governor's race, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Meg Whitman, Steve Poizner | 1 Comment »

    Arnold’s new Japanese TV ad

    Long-time readers of the Political Blotter will remember our old “Schwarzenegger video of the week” feature, wherein we enjoyed our governor’s finer moments on film, as a pitchman and otherwise caught on tape. We ran out of entertaining Japanese commercials a while ago, but the governor now has made his return to Japanese television with a new ad to sell… California!

    Posted on Monday, April 5th, 2010
    Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

    Campaign finance: Arnold, Anthem & much more

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s California Dream Team ballot measure committee put $500,000 last Friday to the campaign for Proposition 14, the “top-two” open primary measure forced onto the ballot by state Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, now Schwarzenegger’s nominee for lieutenant governor – and a measure wildly unpopular with both the Republican and Democratic establishments. A day earlier, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings gave $257,328.40 to support the measure.

    Palo Alto physicist Charles T. Munger Jr., son of Warren Buffett’s billionaire investor partner, last Tuesday put another $370,500 into his “Voters First Act for Congress” ballot measure, bringing his total out of pocket since October to just over $3.1 million. The proposed constitutional amendment would remove authority for setting California’s 53 Congressional district boundaries from the state Legislature, and would give that authority instead to the same Citizens Redistricting Commission that will soon be setting state Legislative boundaries (as required by 2008’s successful Proposition 11). He’s the only major donor to the campaign, and had until last Monday to gather and submit 694,354 registered voters’ valid signatures; county voter registrars and the Secretary of State’s office are now in the process of verifying them.

    Anthem Blue Cross has been the target of a lot of political scorn since it announced insurance premium hikes of up to 39 percent a few months ago, but it’s still doling out money in Sacramento: The insurer last Thursday gave $2,000 to Garrett Yee, a Demcoratic primary candidate in the East Bay’s 20th Assembly District (the seat from which Alberto Torrico is term-limited out this year); $1,900 to incumbent Assemblyman Jose Solorio, D-Santa Ana; and $1,000 to incumbent Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, R-Ceres.

    Republican gubernatorial candidate and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner put another $196,680 into his own campaign last Monday, bringing his total out-of-pocket spending to $19,396,680 so far.

    Former state Senate President Pro Tem and current Oakland mayoral candidate Don Perata’s Hope 2010 ballot measure committee last Tuesday put another $40,000 into Californians for a Cure, the committee formed by the American Cancer Society, American Lung Association and American Heart Association to support the proposed tobacco-tax-for-cancer-research measure Perata helped author. This brings Hope 2010’s total ante to $320,000 so far. They have until May 17 to gather valid signatures from at least 433,971 registered voters in order to place the measure on November’s ballot.

    Former state Controller and 2006 Democratic gubernatorial primary candidate Steve Westly gave $5,000 last Wednesday to Californians for a Fresh Start, the committee pushing a proposed ballot measure for November that would replace the separate eight- and six-year term limits on future state Senators and Assemblymembers, respectively, with a 12-year limit on combined service in either or both chambers. The lion’s share of that measure’s financial backing (at least about $871,000 so far) has come from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor AFL-CIO.

    On the celebrity watch, television producer (“Alias,” “Lost”) and movie director (“Cloverfield,” “Star Trek”) J.J. Abrams and wife Katie McGrath of Pacific Palisades – who gave $50,000 last November to state Attorney General Jerry Brown’s gubernatorial campaign – gave $13,000 last week to Democratic state Attorney General candidate Kamala Harris’ campaign. Harris’ campaign also picked up $1,000 last Wednesday from San Francisco Giants former president and general managing partner Peter Magowan.

    Posted on Monday, March 29th, 2010
    Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Abel Maldonado, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Attorney General, ballot measures, campaign finance, Don Perata, Kamala Harris, redistricting, Steve Poizner | 4 Comments »