Fiona Ma invites you to a super colon

Nope, not a typo. Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, sent out a news release this afternoon announcing she’ll co-host a “super colon” on the State Capitol’s North Lawn from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to raise awareness on colorectal cancer (and not – I repeat, NOT – as commentary on the state budget process).

Ma – along with Strides For Life, the California Colorectal Cancer Coalition and radiation oncologist Dr. Dale Hunter – will be calling attention to Assembly Concurrent Resolution 23, which declares March as Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. On display will be a 10-foot-by-20-foot colon, which visitors can walk through to learn about early detection and to understand how to prevent colorectal cancer.

Ma says cancer is California’s 2nd leading cause of death – claiming an average of 50,000 lives per year – and colorectal cancer is the state’s third most common form of cancer. About 65 percent of colorectal cancer patients have a survival rate of only five years due to low prognostic exams and early detection; studies have shown that early detection has helped decrease the number of new cancer cases over the years.


More from local lawmakers on Brown’s budget

I spent the day speaking with Bay Area lawmakers about Gov. Jerry Brown’s budget proposal, and as always, there was a lot more than could fit into the story filed for the print editions.

Fiona Ma“Democrats elected Jerry Brown and part of why we elected him is because of his leadership, the fact that he’s been there and done that and now has the courage to tell the voters the real deal and make those cuts, even in the face of opposition from our traditional allies and friends,” said Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, predicting that while some details might be dickered over, Brown’s overall plan won’t see much opposition from legislative Democrats.

As for legislative Republicans, she said, they’ve never presented a full budget plan of their own: “They have not been part of the solution… They’ve just been saying ‘no, no, no.’”

Voters will have to see past ideology and idealism this year, she said. “We just explain the reality: We have 33 cents in our pocket yet we want to go buy the toy that costs a dollar and we’ve maxed out all our credit cards – well, that’s not going to work anymore.”

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, said she already has been telling her constituents they can’t both expect lowered taxes and full, quality state services, and has found “people are very receptive in terms of knowing someone understands the problem and is honest with them.”

Buchanan said everyone has certain programs they’d like to protect, but the reality is that California must decide how to get the most bang for the bucks it already has. Brown’s plan acknowledges this, she said: “I can’t say it’s perfect or that I’ll necessarily agree with every single part of it … but when I look at how he’s put the whole package together, I think overall he’s done an excellent job.”

Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, says specificity will be the key in convincing Californians to support extending the taxes already in effect for another five years, as Brown proposes. The message has to be that if those taxes aren’t extended, “then your school district will look like this, and your public safety system in California will look like this,” he said. “We need to show everyone, and I need to see it too – I have an understanding and a perception of how it would be, but I need to know how painful it would be – how many fewer teachers would we have?

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, said she’s “pleased that our schools are at least being maintained, our K-12 schools, at the level they were this year – we can’t throw away a generation of children. The other cuts, we’re going to have start engaging in great detail.”

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, said “we just have to be realistic about what we can do, where we’re going, and focus on creating some real structural reform,” adding that while she may not agree with every element of Brown’s plan, his personal engagement with lawmakers is refreshing. “It’s great, but at the same time, this is going to be really tough.”


Lawmakers ride out-of-district money wave

California lawmakers over the past three years raised 79 percent of campaign funds from outside their districts, according to a new study by the data-crunching wizards at Berekeley-based nonpartisan nonprofit MAPLight.org.

MAPLight.org (that’s “MAP” as in “Money In Politics”) found California legislators serving as of Aug. 31, 2009 – 79 Assembly members and 40 Senators – raised $97.9 million in campaign funds from January 2007 through March 2010, with $77.5 million coming from outside the district. About $11.9 (12 percent) came from in-district, while the remaining $8.6 million (9 percent) couldn’t be definitively located.

More than half of the lawmakers (68 out of 117 members, or 58 percent) raised 80 percent or more of their campaign funds from outside their districts; 19 lawmakers raised 90 percent or more of their funds from outside their districts.

“Not a single legislator in California raised the majority of their campaign funds from in-district, where their voters live.” MAPLight.org Executive Director Daniel Newman said in a news release. “Instead of a voter democracy, we have a donor democracy.”

“With out-of-district fundraising at a staggering 80 percent, the problem is not with a few bad apples, but with a rotten barrel,” he said. “This report shows that our campaign finance system is broken. This remote control system works well for wealthy interest groups, but not for voters.”

Here’s how the Bay Area delegation stacked up in percentage of contributions from out of district, and rank among the 119 lawmakers surveyed:

  • Assemblyman Joe Coto, D-San Jose – 94.0 percent (#5)
  • Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley – 92.7 percent (#10)
  • State Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro – 89.1 percent (#21)
  • Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, San Francisco – 87.8 percent (#29)
  • Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, D-Newark – 87.5 percent (#33)
  • State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco – 85.5 percent (#40)
  • State Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-San Jose – 85.4 percent (#43)
  • Assemblyman Ira Ruskin, D-Redwood City – 83.2 percent (#54)
  • Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch – 82.9 percent (#56)
  • Assemblyman Jim Beall Jr., D-San Jose – 82.5 percent (#59)
  • Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda – 80.4 percent (#64)
  • Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino – 80.0 percent (#68)
  • Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo – 79.2 percent (#72)
  • Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis – 76.9 percent (#79)
  • Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa – 74.7 percent (#85)
  • State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord – 74.5 percent (#87)
  • Assemblyman Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael – 72.5 percent (#91)
  • Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley – 67.4 percent (#100)
  • State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto – 63.4 percent (#102)
  • Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco – 62.1 percent (#105)
  • Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo – 62.0 percent (#106)
  • State Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco – 58.9 percent (#110)
  • State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berekeley – 57.9 percent (#112)
  • And, in case you’re wondering where the money comes from, the top 15 ZIP codes of contributions to legislators were:

    1 Sacramento, CA 95814 — $23,149,034 (23.66%)
    2 San Francisco, CA 94105 — $2,034,877 (2.08%)
    3 Sacramento, CA 95833 — $1,408,211 (1.44%)
    4 Los Angeles, CA 90020 — $1,395,635 (1.43%)
    5 Burlingame CA, 94010 — $1,280,137 (1.31%)
    6 Los Angeles, CA 90071 — $1,054,345 (1.08%)
    7 Newport Beach, CA 92660 –$972,717 (0.99%)
    8 Sacramento, CA 95811 — $843,928 (0.86%)
    9 Sacramento, CA 95816 — $839,730 (0.86%)
    10 Los Angeles, CA 90017 — $741,449 (0.76%)
    11 Oakland, CA 94612 — $698,200 (0.71%)
    12 Sacramento. CA 95834 — $669,150 (0.68%)
    13 Pasadena, CA 91101 — $625,373 (0.64%)
    14 Los Angeles, CA 90010 — $621,677 (0.64%)
    15 San Francisco, CA 94111 — $583,888 (0.60%)

    MAPLight.org is among supporters of Proposition 15, the California Fair Elections Act, which would try out a system of public financing of election campaigns in the 2014 and 2018 elections for Secretary of State, funded by an increase in lobbyist registration fees.

    Dems highlight budget cuts’ impact

    Their caucus having kowtowed to the Republican minority and Gov. Schwarzenegger on much of the budget agreement, Bay Area Legislative Democrats are keeping a busy schedule of complaining about the agreement’s impacts.

    Assembly Select Committee on Schools and Community chairman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, and Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, are holding a hearing this morning in San Francisco, bringing Bay Area school officials, teachers, parents and community members together to talk about the steady decline in state education funding.

    “When kids throughout California return to the classroom this fall, they will find fewer teachers, less resources and larger class sizes,” Torklakson, formerly a classroom teacher, said in a news release. “The cuts we make to education on the state level impact every community, every school and every student. It’s important that we know how.”

    Among those testifying will be San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Garcia; Mt. Diablo Unified School Board President Gary Eberhart; West Contra Costa Unified School District Associate Superintendent Wendell Greer; United Educators of San Francisco Vice President Linda Plack; 25-year teaching veteran Theresa Jimenez; and United Teachers of Richmond President Pixie Hayward Schickele.

    At the same time three miles away, state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, will headline an event announcing his new legislation to restore funding to the state Department of Public Health’s Domestic Violence Program, which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger eliminated with a line-item veto.

    The program provides funding to 94 domestic violence shelters and centers across the state, and Yee says cutting off the money puts domestic violence victims and their children in danger while increasing the state’s health care and law enforcement costs. Yee’s bill would move $16.3 million from the state’s victim’s compensation fund (which he says has a $136.2 million balance) to the Domestic Violence Program.


    Report: Paid sick days a public-health bonanza

    A new study makes a compelling case for a pending bill that would require all California employers to provide their workers with paid sick days, researchers say.

    The report – produced by Human Impact Partners (an Oakland-based nonprofit project of the Tides Center) and the San Francisco Department of Public Health – says the proposed law “would help reduce the spread of flu; protect the public from diseases carried by sick workers in restaurants and in long-term care facilities; prevent hunger and homelessness among sick low-income workers; and enable workers to stay home when they are sick or when they need to care for a sick dependent,” according to its findings summary .

    The summary also notes that about 70 percent of California’s accommodation and food service workers don’t have paid sick days right now, so they’re apt to come to work sick rather than lose that pay. I know I’ll think about that the next time a server coughs while taking my order.

    This is “not only a labor policy but also a sensible and effective public health policy” which could save the state significant healthcare costs, said Dr. Rajiv Bhatia, the San Francisco Public Health Department’s director of Occupational and Environmental Health, told reporters on a conference call today.

    His office provided much of the research from this report – data it had gathered when San Francisco was considering such a law. The city’s law has now been in effect since early 2007.

    AB 2716, the California Healthy Families, Healthy Workplaces Act of 2008 — authored by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, and co-authored by assemblymen John Laird, D-Santa Cruz; Sandre Swanson, D-Oakland; and Alberto Torrico, D-Newark — would guarantee that all workers in the state accrue at least one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours. A small business (having 10 or fewer employees) would be able to limit an employee’s use of this accrued sick time to 40 hours or five days in each calendar year; larger employers would be able to limit it at 72 hours or nine days in each calendar year.

    Dr. Jody Heymann, founding director of both the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University and the Project on Global Working Families at Harvard University, said the idea that such a law would make California less competitive is a fallacy. “If we just look at the 10 countries that have been ranked by businesses as the most competitive countries, nine out of 10 have guaranteed paid sick leave – the United States is the only one that doesn’t.”

    The bill, which the Assembly passed May 28 on a party-line vote of 45-33, is pending before the state Senate Appropriations Committee.


    Clinton campaign claims “great victory”

    I’m on a conference call with the California Clinton campaign. Here are some quotable quotes:

    Luis Vizcaino, California communications director: This was “a great victory in the Golden State last night which demonstrates that California is still Clinton country.”

    Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: “This is a bellwether state, so what happens here has an impact across the nation… The diversity of this state is like no place in the United States of America, maybe in the world.”

    “We won big, in southern California particularly” on concerns about the economy, health care, etc. “This is a tremendous victory.”

    Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles: “Hillary Clinton has built a strong relationship with the Latino community over many many years… She committed not only to me but to others that she would come into the Latino community to campaign, particularly into East Los Angeles, which very often is overlooked.”

    “She respected the Latino community, we knew we were important to the election, and she spent time there not only listening to our needs but also telling us what she wanted to do for the Latino community.”

    San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom: “At the end of the day, it is about hard work, its about organization, its about constancy in this campaign which really began over a month ago… when those absentee ballots arrived.”

    “The Asian community turned out very significantly for Hillary Clinton, the LGBT community turned out very significantly for Hillary Clinton.”

    Rep. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte: “The sleeping giant has awakend, the Latino vote is hear, and they really showed their colors last night.”

    Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles: Noting that Mimi Vitello of Van Nuys, who’d hosted a house party visit by Obama recently, ended up voting for Clinton instead, “It trumped the ‘message of hope,’ it was really about ‘Here’s the future, let’s go on a ride to the future.’ … I think she really found herself in the last two months of this campaign.”

    “I think that the primary reason why Hillary Clinton won in California is because they (voters) read between the lines… and in the end they did exactly what Mimi Vitello did, which was evaluate the candidates on their merits.”

    Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco: Asian-Americans “really believe in Hillary Clinton’s leadership… People felt very comfortable that we knew who we were voting for for President.”

    Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles: “We should all be extremely proud of California, particularly since the posters and pundits had said it was even-Steven in California… As it turned out it was a spectacular win, the pundits were absolutely wrong.”

    “It’s clear to me that Latinos and women really did create this win.”

    “What Obama was able to do was collect a lot of little states, which made him look better. Many of those were caucus states, which did not at all reflect what would’ve happened in a primary.”

    “I think we all have to get on message with the Latino vote and presence. There are some people who are trying to inject negativity into what is happening with Latinos and blacks.”

    State campaign director Ace Smith: “This was a campaign that reached into every community… and one thing that we don’t get much credit for but was huge for this campaign was that we went out and talked to young voters.”