Monthly Archives: October 2012

Voice of a Young Voter: A Former Foster Youth Driven to Fix the System

Kashawna Williams

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. Over the next few days we’ll share some of their stories.

Lillian Mongeau spoke to Kashawna Williams, an administrative justice major at Ohlone College in Fremont. She grew up in the foster system and says it needs fixing…

I just know that in this day and time, the only experience I have really, like, seen, has really been bad. Because I just seen a lot of like, shortages, in a lot of things that we need nowadays.

I’m emancipated foster youth, and even those sections from those things have been cut. So there’s a lot of things that they’re touching that people need out here to survive. And taking it from the people that need it and giving it to the people that don’t need it. Like, you know?
I had a major experience with back and forth to different homes and courts and trials. That’s why I’m majoring in administrative justice right now because I feel there’s something in that system that needs to be fixed. And I don’t know what it is. That’s why I’m studying to see, where is the shortage at?

Click play on the audio clip to hear Kashawna Williams

Locals React to Anti-Soda Tax Campaign in Richmond

By Andrew Stelzer

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(Rex Sorgatz: Flickr)

(Rex Sorgatz: Flickr)

From the get-go, the face of Richmond’s proposed tax on sugar sweetened beverages has been city Councilmember Jeff Ritterman. “If we’re successful we’ll make history,” he tells me.

Ritterman is a retired cardiologist who got the council to put the penny-per-ounce tax on next month’s ballot. He says improving the health of the local community isn’t the only goal.

“Once the sugar-sweetened beverage taxes become ubiquitous — and I’m pretty sure they will, it’s just a question of when,” he says, “if we are victorious it will happen a lot sooner.”

But the health issues behind the tax have taken a back seat to questions about how the city will spend the money the tax would raise.

The main argument from Measure N opponents is that the tax proceeds won’t necessarily go to fight obesity. While there is an accompanying measure before voters to direct the money to obesity-fighting efforts, the money raised would go into the city’s general fund. Billboards and flyers all over town — paid for by the American Beverage Association, a soft drink lobbying group — drive that “general fund” message home.

Continue reading

Quick Read: Ten of the Most Effective Presidential Campaign Commercials Ever Made

Here’s a very popular post from our news-decoder blog, The Lowdown


There once was a time not so very long ago when people actually functioned without television (gasp). And then, just like that, it arrived … and spread like wildfire.

In 1948 less than one percent of American homes had TVs. By 1954 – a mere six years later – more than half of all American’s had a boob-tube in the house. By 1958, that rate had soared to over 80 percent, and today hovers at about 97 percent.

Read more at: blogs.kqed.org

Mystery $11 Million Campaign Donation May Lead to Formal Investigation

By Julie Small, Polly Stryker and Lisa Aliferis

(Jupiter Images)

(Jupiter Images)

Later today the agency that enforces California’s election laws is expected to decide whether to investigate a mysterious $11 million campaign donation from out of state. It’s unclear why the Arizona group — Americans for Responsible Leadership — contributed the whopping sum to weigh in on propositions in California. The money went to the Small Business Action Committee which is campaigning on two fronts: fighting to defeat the Gov. Brown backed Proposition 30 tax initiative that would fund education; and to pass Proposition 32 which would ban payroll deductions for political donations.

The potential investigation concerns whether the original, anonymous donors were making a donation to a general pool — or specifically to fund Prop. 30 or 32 campaigns.

Federal law permits anonymity for some types of donors in national races … But California law is different.

The Committee’s spokeswoman Beth Miller insists there’s “nothing untoward” about the donation. “We don’t know who contributed to Americans for Responsible Leadership,” Miller said. “What we do know is that they are a bonafide organization.”

But Gov. Brown doesn’t buy that. “It’s completely clear that the ‘No on 30′ committee has some knowledge of who these people are,” he said. “They didn’t just pick an envelope out of their mailbox with 11 million it.” Continue reading

San Francisco Propositions, Local Races

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Downtown San Francisco (Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images)

Below is an edited transcript.

HOST CY MUSIKER: Over the next few weeks, we will be talking about local elections, including races in Oakland and Berkeley, plus partial taxes and school bonds around the Bay. Today we are looking at the most critical races in San Francisco and we are talking to Corey Cook. He directs the Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good at the University of San Francisco. And Corey, let’s start with a couple of propositions on the ballot, the highest profile involves the Hetch Hetchy reservoir in Yosemite Park and no pun intended because it’s around 4,000 feet. Measure F requires the city to study how to drain Hetch Hetchy and replace it as a source of hydropower and water for more than two million people living in San Francisco, the Peninsula and the East Bay.

COREY COOK: Right. In sum, it is a fairly small initiative and it all it does is fund a $8 million study and on one hand, it is really a small scale. On the other hand, the plan is then put on the ballot in San Francisco, an initiative that would ultimately drain Hetch Hetchy, which as you know, it would affect 2.5 million people, it would be enormously costly and as a result you really see this. Every member of the Board of Supervisors and the mayor united in opposition to this measure.

MUSIKER: Mayor Ed Lee and others are backing a Measure E. That is the next measure we are going to talk about. That would convert the city’s chief business tax from one taxing payroll size to one taxing business receipts. And that’s getting a rare consensus again of everybody on the supervisors but also labor and business, progressives and conservatives, why is that?

COOK: Well, in this case, yes, everybody is basically on the “yes” side and for three reasons. One is that the existing payroll tax has been called a job killer because, effectively, it taxes hiring. It taxes payroll. So as the tax on payroll, it’s been unpopular for business, it’s been unpopular for supervisors and with the Mayor certainly for a long time. But it is revenue positive and so certainly, labor is in favor and some of the more progressive voices in the city are happy because it de-rate $28.5 million annually, and it exempts small businesses. So it serves something for everybody. This is this grand compromise that did unite these different fractions in San Francisco. Continue reading

Prop. 40: Candidate for Strangest Ballot Measure Ever

(California Secretary of State)

(California Secretary of State)

There’s a lot to be confused about on this November’s ballot — opaque fundraising, complicated language, unclear outcomes. In a crowded field of confusion, Proposition 40 is one of the leaders in this election, because you have to think twice about voting for the outcome that you want. Tuesday morning on The California Report, host Rachael Myrow spoke with John Myers, political editor for Sacramento’s KXTV, to better understand the proposition.

To start off, Myrow pointed out that Prop. 40 is a referendum, which is different from an initiative.

Here’s the edited transcript of their discussion:

John Myers: A referendum is a different question for the voters, unlike an initiative, which asks the voters to create a law. A referendum asks, “Do you want to overturn an existing law? Do you support an existing law?” So, if you vote “yes” on Prop. 40, you are saying, “Yes, I support the existing law of political districts for the California State Senate.” We may remember that these were drawn by a citizens panel in 2011. A “yes” vote says, “Yes, I like the maps that the independent citizens group drew.” A “no” vote says, “No, I do not like them. I want them redrawn.” So this is a chance for people to weigh in on those maps that were drawn for the State Senate, one of the maps that they drew last year.

Rachael Myrow: It’s good that you mention that, because I think a lot of people think, “Wait a minute, didn’t the Citizens Redistricting Commission have to do with more than just State Senate maps?” But that’s specifically what Proposition 40 is talking about. Continue reading

Voice of a Young Voter: Ross Rothpanhar On Appreciating Government Services

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. Over the next few days we’ll share some of their stories.

Ross Rothpanhar

Ross Rothpanhar

by Lillian Mongeau

Ross Rothpanhar is a public health major at University of California, Berkeley. He says growing up poor made him appreciate government services.

So, I am Cambodian American. My parents are actually refugees from Cambodia. Growing up, we weren’t really privileged as like other Americans. We were overshadowed a lot, especially with the model minority myth where like, Asians excel.

People assume we do not need resources, but in fact my family needed a lot of resources. For a long period of time my family lived under the poverty line, and we are still barely at the poverty line right now. So the government systems to help people who do need the assistance is really vital.

Growing up and coming through the educational system, it’s really hard for me, a person like me to come to Cal. I was really fortunate to come to Cal. I had to go through a lot of obstacles and a lot of barriers and I had to go out and find a lot of resources myself instead of having resources come to me. I think government should focus on helping a lot more people that have been overshadowed and not very focused on.