Monthly Archives: September 2012

Food Corporations Spending Big to Defeat Proposition 37

Proposition 37 would require food labels to indicate genetically modified ingredients. (Judy Baxter: Flickr)

New campaign finance data shows millions of dollars pouring in to fund November ballot battles. In two closely watched issues this election season, the California Teachers Association dumped another $7 million against Proposition 32. It would block unions from using payroll deducted funds for political purposes, among other things.

Food giants ponied up another $3 million to take down Proposition 37, the ballot measure that asks voters to decide if foods with genetically modified ingredients should be labelled. If Prop 37 passes, California would be the first state to require such labels.

In the “no” camp on Prop 37 are people and companies who do not want to label genetically modified foods. They’re spending big — outspending the “yes” camp 10 to one.

Over the last few days companies such as Ocean Spray, Sara Lee, Kraft and Godiva Chocolates have spent big to stop GMO labels from appearing on packages. The “No on 37” campaign is spreaheaded by biotech giant Monsanto and has raised $28 million so far. “Yes on 37” which backs labeling is supported by organic food makers among others, it’s raised less than $3 million to date.

For a visual on all campaign spending, visit MapLight. While its numbers are a bit behind the Secretary of State, MapLight has easy-to-read charts.

Finally, KQED’s Amy Standen has a great explainer about Proposition 37 — who’s for it, who’s against it and why.

Californians at DNC: Kamala Harris, Sikhs; But Where’s Gavin?

Democratic National Convention Committee Unveils Stage For DNC (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

High profile Californians are making a splash this week at the speaker’s podium at the Democratic National Convention. This morning on The California Report, KQED’s Rachael Myrow talked with San Francisco Chronicle political reporter Joe Garofoli.

They started off with a look at Attorney General Kamala Harris’ speech last night. Harris made the case for President Obama, while touting her own campaign to win accountability for banks in the housing crisis.

Harris linked the two nicely in her speech. “That’s the choice in this election,” she said. “It’s a choice between an America where opportunity is open to everyone, where everyone plays by the same set of rules or a philosophy that tilts the playing field to help the wealthiest few. A choice between holding Wall Street accountable or letting it write its own rules.” Continue reading

Video: California’s Power Women Push For Obama in Charlotte

The undisputed leaders of political power in California — Senator Feinstein, Senator Boxer and Congresswoman Pelosi — jointly delivered California’s re-nomination of Barack Obama last night in Charlotte.

Watch on YouTube…


Earlier last night, Kamala Harris — California’s Attorney General and rising Democratic star took center stage and addressed the crowd.


SF Seeks Poll Workers for Nov. 6 Election

Voters vote at a polling station February 5, 2008 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

(Bay City News) Poll workers are needed in San Francisco for the presidential election in November, according to the city’s Department of Elections.

The department is seeking more than 2,500 workers to handle duties for the Nov. 6 election. The workers will operate polling places on election day and help voters navigate the voting process.

A training course must be completed prior to the election, and workers will be paid between $125 and $170 for the one-day assignment.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and be U.S. citizens who are registered to vote in California.

Anyone interested can apply online at or call the Department of Elections’ poll worker division at (415) 554-4395.

Interview: Condi Rice Condones Voter-ID Laws, Disputes GOP ‘War on Women’

KQED’s Belva Davis sat down with Condoleezza Rice last week after the former secretary of state’s speech to the Republican National Convention. Rice shared her thoughts on a range of hot-button issues, including the spate of state voter-identification laws enacted by Republicans. Rice said she’s sympathetic to attempts to ensure there’s no voter fraud, and disputed the contention that minorities would be especially burdened.

Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. (Image: KQED "This Week in Northern California")

“I don’t like very much the argument that minorities can’t get an ID,” she said. “That seems to infantilize [them]. We can do this, but people have to be given time. We have to find a way to make it easy. The states are reacting because the federal government has not and we do need to solve this problem. But let’s give people time and doesn’t make it difficult for people to exercise their franchise.”

Davis also asked Rice about the so-called “war on women” that Democrats are claiming the GOP is waging. Rice promptly shot that down…

“There’s no war against women. This is hyperbole of the worst sort. We shouldn’t caricature each other this way. There are people who have strong beliefs about issues of abortion, about life, about choice, strong issues. Let’s respect each other. This is a party that has a lot of powerful and strong women within it, many of them who have views that may be different from my own, but let’s respect each other. I feel welcome in this party and I think it’s time to stop this caricature and hyperbole.” Continue reading

Could a Filipino-American Finally Take a Seat in the California Legislature?

By Jason Margolis

You probably wouldn’t be surprised that Chinese-Americans are the largest group of Asian-Americans in the state. But the second largest group might be harder for you to name. It’s Filipinos.

Despite their numbers, Filipino-Americans haven’t achieved much success in the halls of political power. Filipinos have been elected in local elections throughout the state, and California’s Chief Justice, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, is of Filipino descent. But there’s never been a Filipino-American in the state legislature in Sacramento.

Jennifer Ong at a Buddhist Temple in Fremont. She is running for State Assembly. (Photo: Jason Margolis)

But in November, Philippine-born Californians are on the ballot in two San Francisco Bay Area districts. Jennifer Ong is one of those two, although initially she seems a surprising candidate to make history for Filipinos in California. She has worked as an optometrist for years and has never held elected office. She only decided to run for the state legislature when people in the local Asian immigrant community asked her to do it.

“So my reason for running is purely obligation,” Ong says. “Coming here from the Philippines with very little — when we came here, we actually shared one bedroom, seven of us — and being able to buy my own practice 31 years later, graduating from a very good public school, I think it’s an opportunity I wouldn’t have had — even in another state.” Continue reading

Multilingual Ballots Help Voters But Challenge Counties

By Jason Margolis

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Federal law requires counties to provide not just bilingual ballots but also language assistance at the polls when five percent of the populations does not “understand English adequately enough to participate in the electoral process.” It’s been the law since 1975, but many counties don’t comply.  Philip Van knows this all too well. He moved to California from Vietnam as a political refugee in 1979.

Voter registration forms in multiple languages. (Photo by Jason Margolis)

Van grew up speaking Chinese and Vietnamese. Six years after he arrived here, Van had to demonstrate some English proficiency to become an American citizen. But learning English as an adult and then voting in this new language wasn’t so easy. Sure, he could easily choose between the names of two candidates, but deciphering propositions and bond measures — that was tough.

“I have (to) take a lot of time to read it, and then I check with people, where we need to make (it) more clear to understand,” Van says.

Van says many new Americans are afraid to vote in English, afraid they’ll make a mistake.

Van lives in San Francisco, which now offers trilingual ballots in English, Chinese and Spanish. Is it easier for Van to vote now? Continue reading

California’s DNC Delegation vs. Their Hotel

The Blake Hotel, Charlotte

The California delegation to the Democratic National Convention is staying at the Blake Hotel, seen here in 2009. Photo by Matt Johnson/Flickr.

As the Democratic National Convention got rolling, the news being reported about California’s delegation was, well, weird.

Over the weekend a member of the delegation was sent home following a drunken confrontation with emergency workers and the staff at the Blake Hotel, where the delegation is staying. From SFGate:

Some reports say he allegedly claimed to be a member of Congress and a state party official. The hotel staff called police but the man was not arrested.

Later Sunday, California party officials met with the man and “asked him to leave the hotel and not partake in convention activities,” said state party spokesman Tenoch Flores. “The delegate has apologized to hotel staff and earlier today agreed to leave the hotel and forgo official delegation activities in Charlotte.”

Party officials did not identify the delegates involved.

Hotel officials have had more to deal with than complaints from an intoxicated delegation member claiming to be a congressman. On Tuesday the Sacramento Bee reported that some members of the delegation have complained about the accommodations:

Gripes from delegates include the the quality of food at the on-site restaurant, a stalled elevator and damaged or unfinished rooms. One longtime Democratic consultant said the plaster on her room ceiling was still wet when she arrived.

“I was just expecting a little more,” said Horfa Aguilera, a delegate from Roseville.

Rick Gunther, a delegate and president of the Democratic Club of the Conejo Valley, had to ask to be moved to a different room twice. His first room was flooded. The second was missing a shower head.

“I lost my view, but I’m still happy,” he said of the room change. “I took pictures before I left the other one.”

Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, went through five rooms in two days. Issues included scalding water that almost burned his child, cockroaches, a broken lock and a “funny smell,” according to his tweets.

Rachel Binah, who doesn’t carry a cell phone, has been trying for days to get the voicemail in her room set up. She called the site a “pretend hotel.”

As noted by the Bee, state Sen. Ted Lieu has been Tweeting about his problems with the hotel:

So what can we look forward to for the rest of the convention? Will former Gov. Gray Davis complain that his cable is getting browned out?

You can find out in the Storify below from Josh Richman, who covers politics for the Bay Area News Group. Richman will be providing updates on the California delegation as the convention continues.

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Democrats, Republicans Woo Latinos at Conventions

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Los Angeles Mayor, Democratic Convention Chair Antonio Villaraigosa speaks at the Democratic National Convention. (Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Mayor, Democratic Convention Chair Antonio Villaraigosa speaks at the Democratic National Convention. (Robyn Beck AFP/Getty Images)

KQED’s CY MUSIKER: We’ll join NPR’s coverage of the Democratic National Convention in half an hour, but the convention has already begun, with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gaveling the event into session.

Democrats are showcasing lots of Hispanic office holders – Villaraigosa is chairing the platform committee and the convention. It’s a taste of the party’s strategy to win Latino voters for President Obama. Republicans also wooed Hispanics at their convention last week by showcasing GOP office holders.

Louis DeSipio is following the conventions. He’s a professor of Chicano/Latino studies at U.C. Irvine.

The conventions are both featuring Latinos in these primetime speaking slots. But beyond the VIPs, how do the platforms treat issues Latinos care about?

LOUIS DESIPIO: Very differently. The Democrats have traditionally been a lot more sensitive to the issues of most concerned Latinos, and this year’s platform reflects that. So, immigration, for example, is recognized as sort of a central need for the nation. The Republicans, on the other hand, have sort of followed the lead of the party’s primaries, and have a very hard-line position on immigration. Beyond the issue of immigration, the Democrats speak to building a middle class and creating the infrastructure to allow for a middle class. The Republicans speak in some of the same language, but make fewer promises in terms of government programs.

MUSIKER: I believe a lot of Latinos in a recent poll said health care was their number one issue. How do Latinos view Obama’s health care reform act?

DESIPIO: Latinos, despite the fact that they’ll often say in surveys that they’re conservative, they also see government as critical in ensuring that they have the opportunity to succeed. Data show that Latinos are among the most uninsured population in the United States, so not surprisingly, they’re supportive of a program that will give them access to insurance.

MUSIKER: Jobs and unemployment are also topping a lot of lists, especially among Latino voters. How effective is it when Republicans attack President Obama on the nation’s unemployment rate?

DESIPIO: Where the Latino vote will be critically important is in a handful of battle ground states. So Florida, for example, comes to mind. There, there is a greater resonance of Gov. Romney’s message on jobs and the economy among the south Florida Cuban-American constituency. Another state where Latinos might be critically important is New Mexico. There, I think the Obama message around jobs will be better heard by Latinos.

MUSIKER: Yeah, I think most observers think Obama will win California, but can Romney do anything to help Republicans, maybe Legislative candidates, win Latino voters here in California?

DESIPIO: Probably not. His message of self-deportation has been heard pretty loud and clear, and that limits his effectiveness as somebody who can reach out and win Latino vote.

MUSIKER: And just for a second, explain what self-deportation means, at least as Romney has explained it.

DESIPIO: What Gov. Romney, I think, hopes to accomplish is to create an environment where there are so few resources and opportunities for unauthorized immigrants that they, in a sense, deport themselves. They return to their countries of origin. The dilemma with this, of course, is that most unauthorized immigrants in the United States today have been here many, many years, and their lives are really in the United States, not in their countries of origin, and particularly if they have young kids – kids who are United States citizens – the likelihood that the situation could be created that they would be in such bad shape that they would self-deport is pretty low.

MUSIKER: There’s a new tracking poll showing that Mitt Romney got a Latino voter bump after the convention from 26 to 30 percent, and that’s his highest-ever level of Latino support. But I’ve read that the Romney campaign believes it must win 38 percent of the Latino vote for Romney to beat Obama. What are Romney’s chances?

DESIPIO: Well, I’d say his chances of getting 38 percent are virtually none. So what Gov. Romney really needs rather than 38 percent nationally is 40 or 45 percent in New Mexico. An equally strong showing in Nevada, and then splitting the Latino vote in Florida. If he can do all of those things, he’ll be pretty competitive in the Electoral College.

MUSIKER: Thanks so much for talking to us.

DESIPIO: My pleasure.

NPR, KQED, PBS NewsHour — and More — Cover the 2012 Democratic National Convention

The 2012 Democratic National Convention to formally renominate Barack Obama as the party’s presidential candidate and Joe Biden as vice-president officially begins Tuesday evening in Charlotte, North Carolina. It runs through Thursday night.

PBS NewsHour has complete online coverage and analysis.

NPR provides highlights of each day’s speakers, profiles, news and features as well as live radio coverage starting Tuesday at 6pm PT.

KQED’s Forum hosted an hour-long discussion about the Democratic convention with Representative Barbara Lee, Democratic political consultant Chris Lehane, John Perez, speaker of the California Assembly and Robin Abcarian, reporter for the Los Angeles Times.

Listen to Forum here:

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