Monthly Archives: October 2012

In Richmond, Volunteers Inform Ex-Cons About Voting Rights; Read Voting Guide For Current or Former Inmates

The presidential candidates are making a final push to let supporters know every vote counts in Tuesday’s election. Richmond voting advocates are on a similar mission, targeting the area’s infrequent voters. To that end, volunteers with various non-profits have been canvassing Richmond for weeks, and Rachel Witte with KQED News Associate Richmond Confidential reports that part of the effort is focused on ex-convicts.

“These formerly incarcerated men are going out into these neighborhoods and telling other formerly incarcerated men who don’t know that they are able to vote, that they can indeed vote,” she says.”And that they should go out and exercise that right if they truly want to exercise change in their community.”

California law restores voting rights to felons who have served their time and completed parole. Still, many ex-offenders don’t know their rights and don’t vote.

Read the full story on Richmond Confidential.

Comfortably Ahead in Polls, Feinstein Looking to Another Term

By Judy Campbell

Senator Dianne Feinstein has held her seat for 20 years, and this fall, she’s running for another six-year term. Feinstein’s got a huge lead in the polls, and she’s a Democrat in a largely Democratic state. But there is a Republican hopeful vying for her seat.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein official photo

It’s dusk in Anaheim, and Elizabeth Emken is at a gala charity event for injured veterans. She’s talking politics, but the conversation also turns to her autistic son Alex. It’s his condition that got her involved in politics.

Emken launched the lobbying arm of the national organization Autism Speaks and helped pass bills that improved insurance coverage for autism. As a candidate for Senate, she supports a small government and low taxes, Arctic drilling and repealing Obamacare.

She doesn’t apologize for her lack of experience in elected office. “We have got to get back to sending people to Washington who understand what families are going through. My husband and I have a mortgage. I’ve got three kids in school. We work for a living.” Continue reading

Political Switcher: Republican Since Childhood, Voting for Obama

Mark Patrosso re-registering. (Photo courtesy Mark Patrosso)

By Lisa Morehouse

We don’t need to tell you the American electorate is polarized these days. You just have to tune in to any call-in show or even make an injudicious casual remark at Thanksgiving dinner to realize how personal our political identities are and how emotional discussing the issues and values surrounding them can be. So we decided it would be interesting to ask one Republican and one Democrat why they did what is unthinkable to so many: switch parties. Two portraits of political discontent…

Republican to voting for Obama below, and Democrat to Republican here.

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The first thing you should know about Mark Patrosso is that he was very involved in the Republican Party for a very long time. At just 9-years-old, he watched the entire 1964 Republican Convention when Barry Goldwater was nominated — even though his parents weren’t interested in politics.

If anything, Patrosso should have been a Democratic kid. He spent his childhood in East Detroit, a working-class Democratic suburb of the Motor City. In junior high, he says other kids probably thought he was a little weird when he volunteered to fill a display case with information on presidential candidate Richard Nixon. “I remember going into the local Nixon headquarters, picking up buttons, reading profiles,” Patrosso recalls.

Patrosso was just crazy for politics. “I probably actually read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence in junior high and high school, or referred back just to understand what they really meant,” he says. “I’m not sure that my peers even cared.”
Continue reading

Party Switcher: Raised a Democrat, Now a Republican

By Lisa Morehouse

(Lisa Morehouse: KQED)

Virginia Wolters says she was baptized a Catholic and a Democrat. After 9-11, her quest to learn more about U.S. foreign policy led to more political inquiries and a discovery that she probably was a conservative all along. (Lisa Morehouse: KQED)

We don’t need to tell you the American electorate is polarized these days. You just have to tune in to any call-in show or even make an injudicious casual remark at Thanksgiving dinner to realize how personal our political identities are and how emotional discussing the issues and values surrounding them can be. So we decided it would be interesting to ask one Republican and one Democrat why they did what is unthinkable to so many: switch parties. Two portraits of political discontent…

Democrat to Republican below, and Republican to Obama voter here.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

For more than 30 years, Novato resident Virginia Wolters was perfectly happy being a Democrat. Wolters grew up in a family full of union members outside of Chicago. She says she was baptized a Catholic — and a Democrat.

Though she doesn’t recall anyone saying anything specifically derisive about Republicans, she certainly understood how those around her felt. “It looked like the Democrats were the nice people,” she says. “Mom and Dad were nice, our friends were nice. Over the years I got the impression that Republicans were rich and evil.”

For Wolters, that all changed on September 11, 2001.

Those were the Kennedy years. Although she was still a child, Wolters was captivated by Jackie and John’s good looks — and the optimism around his campaign. Even the theme song for JFK’s campaign was the tune “High Hopes.” But as an adult, her political feelings lay dormant for years before springing back to life in 1992, when Bill Clinton ran for president. “I really related to the whole Clinton mystique,” Wolters says. Continue reading

The 4 Propositions You’re Most Interested In…

If you want to sport this sticker, you'll have to decipher the state ballot and then vote. (EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)

If you want to sport this sticker, you'll have to decipher the state ballot and then vote. (EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images)

by Lisa Aliferis and Jon Brooks

It’s getting down to the wire — just seven days to make up your mind on a plethora of issues and races … and then ya gotta vote.

Lucky you: We’re here to help.

Our reports about Props. 30 and 38 (education and taxes); the nine-item Prop. 31 (governance) and Prop. 37 (labeling GMO foods) are attracting a lot of attention online. So either we’ve really figured out this SEO thing, or you’re genuinely interested in those initiatives in particular.

Thus, we’re compiling the best-of-the-best of our coverage on these props so that you don’t have to stand in the voting booth pondering whether numerological concerns aren’t going to be the one determining factor after all in how you vote on these things, complex as they are, yet sold, packaged and soundbited by opponents and proponents alike direct to your Id.

So read up!

-Proposition 30 and Proposition 38 both promise to fund schools, but in different ways.

-Proposition 31 will do nine (yes, 9) different things, attempting to overhaul state governance. God knows California governance needs overhaul, but is Prop. 31 the right approach?

-Proposition 37 requires the labeling of genetically modified ingredients in foods.

If you need information on still more props, here’s a bonus:

-Proposition 32 (campaign spending)

 

You can always consult our Proposition Guide for concise information about all 11 props. on the California ballot.

California’s Mormons Not Necessarily United for Romney

By Stephanie Martin

(Pferriola: Flickr)

The temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Oakland. (Pferriola: Flickr)

Since first arriving in California in the mid-1800′s, members of the Mormon faith have played an active role in the state’s civic and cultural life.

They’ve colonized settlements, built businesses, served in the legislature, and — as recently as four years ago — Mormon congregations helped get out the vote for Proposition 8, the statewide ban on same sex marriage.

The Mormon church officially holds a neutral position about Mitt Romney’s candidacy for president. But during the campaign I’ve spoken with individual Mormons around the state about the intersection of faith and politics in this year’s presidential election.

Just like other religious groups in America, “(Mormons) are not a solid and completely monolithic voting block.”

In general the California Mormons I spoke with agreed that counting a U.S. president among their ranks would mark an important first for their faith. But when I asked how they felt about the man who could win that distinction — Republican nominee Mitt Romney — I heard a wide range of opinions.

I met Modesto resident Tresa Edmunds at a San Francisco gathering called “Circling the Wagons” — part of a series of supportive conferences for gay and lesbian Mormons, their family and friends. Edmunds was raised Mormon. Continue reading

A Supporter and Opponent Explain Prop. 31′s ‘Community Strategic Action Plans’

 

Sacramento Capital. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Proposition 31 might win the battle for the longest and most complex ballot measure. At more than 8,000 words Prop. 31 is an opus to California Forward‘s attempt to restructure and rebuild California’s government from the core. To do that it outlines nine main changes:

  1. Establishes a two-year budget cycle
  2. Permits the governor to make unilateral budget cuts during fiscal emergencies
  3. Requires all bills to be published three days prior to a vote
  4. Forces lawmakers to identify a funding source for new programs or tax deductions
  5. Requires performance reviews
  6. Defines specific goals for the state budget and all local government budgets
  7. Allows local governments to establish “Community Strategic Action Plans”
  8. Allocates $200 million a year in sales tax to those plans
  9. Allows local governments to transfer local property taxes among themselves.

Whew, that’s a lot.

But one component of the initiative is particularly opaque: What are these “Community Strategic Action Plans”? What are they supposed to do? KQED called California Forward’s Executive Director Kristin Connelly to ask her specifically about the plans. California Forward wrote and sponsored Prop. 31. Continue reading

Voice of a Young Voter: How Much is Too Much National Security?

An estimated 46 million eligible voters in this year’s election are between 18 and 29 years old – part of the Millennial generation. Will those young voters sway the election? What issues do young people feel are important? What role do they think government should play in their lives?

KQED and three other public media organizations on the West Coast are exploring those questions in a series called “Voices of Young Voters.” We fanned out to college campuses around the Bay Area to hear from those who are just coming of age politically.

Tatiana McBraun

Young voters have a unique perspective on national security. Those younger than 30 were children or teenagers on Sept. 11 and grew up hearing about terrorist threats. But Tatiana McBraun, a political science major at San Jose State, recently told KQED’s Lillian Mongeau she feels too much security can be a bad thing.

McBraun also discussed her religion, and noted that while she and Republican challenger Mitt Romney are both Mormon, it doesn’t mean he has her vote.

I think (the candidates) place too much importance on security. They’re always collecting information from us and I don’t know why. For example, going to the airport and not wanting to go through the screening process, and then oh, I’m a bad person because I don’t support security.

I just wish we had a little more freedom as citizens because I feel like slowly but surely our liberties are kind of being taken away from us.

I’m Mormon and a lot of people think that just because you’re Mormon, you’re going to vote for a Mormon president, but I don’t necessarily feel that he is the best of the two candidates.

When I think about Romney and I think about international relations, I couldn’t picture him going overseas and conducting business with them and them relating to him. So, I’m going to go for Barack Obama Because…I still believe that he can make changes slowly but surely.

Click play on the audio clip below to hear Tatiana McBraun.