Monthly Archives: September 2012

Election Road Trip: Silicon Valley Republicans — Wandering in a Political Wilderness

Boris Feldman tries to woo a potential voter to the GOP. (Image Courtesy Boris Feldman)

Boris Feldman tries to woo a potential voter. (Image Courtesy Boris Feldman)

For Election 2012 The California Report has been hitting the road to talk to voters in various parts of the state —  previously we’ve visited Riverside and Fresno. Today we turn to Silicon Valley. You might think the famously entrepreneurial business culture of Silicon Valley naturally fosters Republican sentiments, but the Republicans we talked to say they’re wandering in the political wilderness.

The Santa Clara County Republican Party recently held a fundraiser for Johnny Khamis, the GOP-endorsed candidate for San Jose City Council District 10. About 25 people showed up to rub shoulders over platters of hors d’oeuvres from Costco. If Khamis were to win, there would be two Republicans on the 10-member council.

“I go knocking on doors in my precincts every day,” Khamis tells me, “and some of them will ask me straight up: ‘Are you a Republican or Democrat?’ And I tell ‘em, ‘It’s a nonpartisan race.’ And then they say, ‘So what are you? A Democrat or a Republican?’ And I say, you know, ‘I’m a Republican,’ and if it’s a Democrat,  a lot of them will, um, slam the door in my face. Occasionally. OK, not a lot of them. But occassionally. It happens.”

“The Republicans in California have to completely recast the party or they’ll be in a permanent minority.”

Here in Santa Clara County, Republicans account for just 23 percent of registered voters. Compare that with 30 percent statewide. It’s fair to say Republicans are feeling outnumbered in many parts of California, but Helen Wang of San Jose says she  feels like she has a target on her forehead.

“That’s how I feel,” she says, laughing. “Because usually nobody supports me at all.” Continue reading

In San Jose, Voters Ponder Raising Minimum Wage by 25 Percent

Aerial view of downtown San Jose.

Aerial view of downtown San Jose. (Helene Labriet-Gross/AFP/Getty Images)

What started as a San Jose State University class project has morphed into a real politics. In November, San Jose voters will vote on Measure D [PDF] — which would raise the minimum wage from $8 an hour to $10 an hour.

Both sides claim their arguments are simple. If you think $8 an hour is not a livable wage in San Jose, then you should vote yes. If you think hiking the minimum wage by 25 percent would cost jobs, then vote no.

But like most things in life and politics, nothing is really that simple, as evidenced by the Measure D debate on KQED’s Forum Wednesday morning. One of the main arguments against Measure D is that it would make San Jose an island of higher minimum wage and would put San Jose businesses at a competitive disadvantage. Continue reading

Riverside County Democrats Claim Fraud in Voter Outreach Project

By Lance Williams, California Watch

(David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

(David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

While Republican voter registration in California is in a long downward spiral, the GOP still holds sway in 31 of the state’s 58 counties.

Then there’s Riverside County, where Democratic activists claim that a Republican voter outreach project has employed an unusual fraud scheme to build a 51,000-voter registration advantage.

In a complaint filed last week with the county registrar of voters, the Democrats presented affidavits from 133 Democratic voters who said they had been re-registered as Republicans without their consent after they encountered petition circulators outside welfare offices and stores.

Re-registering Democrats as Republicans interferes with Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts … the party won’t contact a voter who is listed as a Republican.

One voter complained that his registration was changed to Republican after he signed what he thought was a petition to legalize marijuana. Another said he was told he was signing a petition to lower the price of gasoline, according to the affidavits.

Others said they were offered free cigarettes or a “job at the polls” if they signed some paperwork.

Continue reading

Quick Read: Online Voter Registration Draws Critics Over Accessibility

The state’s new online voter registration is not accessible to people with visual and reading impairments — and that lack of accessibility is in violation of federal law. Advocacy groups had been in touch with the secretary of state’s office in late August, offering to test the accessibility of the system, but that didn’t happen.


On Tuesday, which was National Voter Registration Day, a coalition of groups that advocate for people with disabilities sent a letter to Secretary of State Debra Bowen saying that the new system doesn’t work for people with various disabilities.

Read more at: www.sfgate.com

Fighting Human Trafficking at Heart of Prop. 35, But Opponents Point to Flaws

By Amy Isackson

Daphne Phung addresses Prop. 35 supporters at a fundraising walk in San Diego. (Photo: Amy Isackson)

Daphne Phung addresses Prop. 35 supporters at a fundraising walk in San Diego. (Photo: Amy Isackson)

As Carissa Phelps got ready for a five kilometer walk to support Proposition 35 one recent Saturday afternoon, she looked out at the San Diego Bay and remembered what led her to walk the streets as a 12-year-old prostitute. “When my step-dad propositioned my sister who was turning 18 to … sell her virginity for her to someone,” she said.

After that she says she dropped out of seventh grade in Coalinga, near Fresno, and ran away. She soon met a pimp named Icey.

Phelps says he seemed nice and offered her a place when she had nowhere else to stay. “All of your friends at school are gone. All of your siblings are gone. Your bike is gone,” she described. “Your clothes are gone and so, you just feel like you’re trash. You eat out of the trash. You beg for a box of macaroni and cheese.”

One night with Icey turned into 10. And so began a criminal life that would take Phelps three years to escape.

It’s stories like Phelps’ that inspired Daphne Phung to quit her job as a corporate accountant and sink her life savings into crafting and supporting Prop. 35. Continue reading

Poll: Overwhelming Opposition From GOP Voters Puts Death Penalty Repeal in Doubt

San Quentin's death penalty chamber. (Photo: Scott Shafer, KQED)

San Quentin's death penalty chamber. (Photo: Scott Shafer, KQED)

by Scott Shafer, Lisa Aliferis, Jon Brooks

A new Field Poll finds voters closely divided on Proposition 34, the measure that would end the death penalty and replace it with life in prison.

Supporters of Prop. 34 say California’s death penalty is broken and can’t be fixed. Besides, they add, all those legal appeals are wasting taxpayer dollars.

In the latest Field Poll [PDF] released Tuesday, 42 percent of likely voters agree with ending executions. But slightly more — 45 percent — say “no” — keep things just the way they are. Thirteen percent are undecided. The margin of error is 4.3 percent.

The poll showed a sharp divide among registered Democrats and Independents versus Republicans on the issue. Democrats support the measure 50-37 percent, and no-party-preference or other voters favor it 54-33. But opposition by Republicans is at a whopping 65-23 percent.

Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said that support for replacing the death penalty with life in prison has been gaining ground in recent years.

“I think that gives the “Yes on 34″ side a chance,” he said. “But it’s starting off below 50 percent, and the history of our poll suggests that is an ominous place to start.” Continue reading

Proposition 32: ‘Paycheck Protection’ or Unfair Limitation on Union Influence?

It’s been on the ballot twice before in the last 14 years — and rejected by voters — but the issue is back again. Proposition 32 would stop unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. The “pro” camp calls this “paycheck protection,” while those opposed say the measure limits union’s ability to fund political campaigns while leaving corporate influence largely unchecked.

This past Friday, KQED’s This Week in Northern California examined the measure. Watch the clip:

Analysis: It’s Yes on Prop 30 or School Cuts; ‘Everything’ at Stake for Unions in Prop 32

This past weekend marked the start of autumn — and the final sprint to the November 6 election. On The California Report Magazine, host Scott Shafer talked to Anthony York, who covers politics for the Los Angeles Times.

Here’s an edited transcript of their conversation:

Proposition 30 is backed by Governor Jerry Brown and would raise taxes to fund education.

Proposition 30 is backed by Governor Jerry Brown and would raise taxes to fund education. (Image: California Secretary of State)

SCOTT SHAFER: Let’s talk about the November election. Gov. Brown has a lot riding on the outcome, especially with Proposition 30, which would raise income taxes on the wealthy and sales taxes on all of us. The Governor got mixed news from two polls this week. Tell us what they said.

ANTHONY YORK: They said that just about half of voters are still in favor of the Governor’s plan, Proposition 30, and that there are increasing numbers of voters that are unsure. There’s still a lot of uncertainty in these last six to seven weeks of the campaign.

SHAFER: And at the same time, there’s Proposition 38, which would raise income taxes on everyone — mostly millionares — but everyone would take a little bit of a hit. Opinion polls show there is more of a split, a little bit less support, under 50 percent, for Proposition 38. But does that (Proposition 38) add to confusion for voters? Continue reading

District 3 Debate: Garamendi v. Vann

No question: redistricting has shaken up the political landscape in California. The newly-drawn District 3 stretches from Rio Vista and Fairfield in the south to Colusa and Willows in the north. John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove) is running for re-election, but was displaced from his incumbency in District 10 when the new district lines were drawn.

Both Garamendi and his challenger, Republican Kim Vann were guests Friday on KQED’s Forum.

Vann, a former Colusa County supervisor, focused her comments almost exclusively on supporting businesses through the entire discussion. When asked how she would create jobs, she pointed to her record.

“I’ll do it the very same way I’ve done it as a county supervisor,” she told Forum host Dave Iverson, “get government out of the way, make sure that the businesses understand what the rules are, not constantly changing the game and changing rules through over-reaching regulations. Making sure we have a good, solid tax code that people can understand.” Continue reading

New Widget Tallies Funding for California Propositions

It automatically updates with latest funding information for each proposition.

Just how much money is streaming into congressional campaigns and certain ballot measures across the county? Maplight, the nonprofit, nonpartisan group that tracks those dollars, is on the case. It’s funded by individuals and foundations, and if you’re interested in the influence of money on politics, you’ll love this site.

Maplight has created a new widget just for California. It automatically updates funding totals and top funders for each of the 11 propositions on the November ballot. For example, the California Teachers Association is the top funder of Proposition 32 which — described officially — “prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes.” To date, the CTA has ponied up $16.4 million of the $37.6 million total raised to defeat the measure.

Meanwhile, Monsanto is the top funder of Proposition 37. That’s the ballot measure which requires labeling of foods with genetically-modified ingredients. Monsanto has given $7.1 million of $32.5 million raised in total.

The widget is embedded below. It’s cycling through all the props, and you can click on any of the props to get full details on all funders and money raised. You can also embed it yourself and select specific props you want to follow.