Author Archives: Amanda Stupi

Amanda Stupi is the Engagement Producer for KQED’s daily public affairs program Forum. In that role she turns the information shared during the hour-long call-in show into web-friendly content. Her writing has been featured throughout, including on KQED Arts and News Fix as well as on, Hyphen Magazine and the San Francisco Examiner. Her radio work has aired on The California Report and Talk of the Nation. Stupi runs the @KQEDForum Twitter account and Forum Facebook account. Her personal Twitter account is @FiftyCentHotdog. She believes that Hostess products get a bad rap and that cereal can save the world.

Willie Brown Weighs In on Democratic Supermajority

Willie Brown served in the California Legislature for more than 30 years. (Steve Rhodes/Flickr)

This week’s buzzword in California politics: supermajority.

Democrats in California have a supermajority in the State Senate and are simply waiting for confirmation from two yet-to-be-fully-counted-but-leaning Democrat races in southern California to achieve a supermajority in the Assembly.

In case you missed it, in California politics a “supermajority” is a two-thirds majority. Most people know that any local measures to raise property taxes in California must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the people. That’s thanks to 1978’s Proposition 13. But Prop. 13 also requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature to raise taxes. While Republicans have long been the minority party in Sacramento, they wielded influence by blocking votes needed to pass a tax increase.

To find out what lies ahead in the state legislature, beyond one less road block to tax increases, KQED Forum guest host Scott Shafer spoke with Willie Brown, who served over 30 years in the state Legislature, to describe how a supermajority can change Sacramento.

Here is an edited transcript of Shafer’s interview with Brown on Friday morning’s show: Continue reading

Is California About to Become a Democratic Wonderland?

California Democrats have ample reason to smile. Their party appears to be on the way to gaining a supermajority in both legislative houses — the first time for either party party since 1933, and a tax increase the governor has made the centerpiece of his plan to stave off further budget cuts looks to be on its way to passing as well.

Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at L.A. City Hall on the state budget earlier this year. (Kevork Djansezian: Getty Images)

Gov. Jerry Brown, a big winner yesterday, at LA City Hall earlier this year. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

“Everything that the Democrats did is historic,” John Myers told KQED’s Forum with Michael Krasny on Wednesday. “The governor did something that did not happen the last eight times someone [tried] to raise taxes on a statewide ballot. Last night he got a tax increase, almost I would call a general tax increase, though it was supposedly earmarked for schools.

“If these numbers hold, it’s a very fascinating dynamic for Democrats in California and for a Democratic governor here in Sacramento.”

Democrats might think the word “fascinating” an understatement. After all, doesn’t a supermajority mean they can push through tax increases without the help of intransigent Republicans? (Proposition 13 requires tax hikes to be passed by a two-thirds majority of both houses, and Republicans have shown no willingness to play ball.) Continue reading

Archive: KQED Public Radio’s ‘Forum’ Examines 10 State Propositions

Michael Krasny in studio

Through the studio glass: Michael Krasny hosts KQED's daily call-in show "Forum."

Here at KQED, we take elections pretty seriously. It’s a time when our mission of educating the public comes to a head — the messages coming from the campaigns are unrelenting and taken as a whole can present a confusing picture. So helping you cast an informed vote is our aim.

That was the philosophy behind our state proposition guide. Some people, however, prefer listening to reading. For those folks we present a complete archive of Forum’s 2012 state proposition shows. Some are an hour long, some are half an hour, but all present views from both sides and include community input we received via calls, emails, Facebook and Twitter. So sit back, turn up your speakers, and take a listen…


Prop. 30: Gov. Brown’s Tax Increase for Education, Public Safety

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Voter-Approved Pension Reform — First of Many?

San Diego and San Jose both passed measures Tuesday to reform pension benefits for public employees. Photo: Michel Boutefeu/Newsmakers

By Peter Jon Shuler

Overwhelming voter support for pension reform measures in San Diego and San Jose could open the floodgates for rollbacks to rising pension costs in other cities and counties. It could also give a boost to Governor Brown’s proposals for statewide pension reform.

Both city measures are designed to rein in pension costs for existing employees and create less generous retirement packages for new hires. Cities around California have been watching the measures closely.

“I have no question we’re going to be seeing lots of different agencies attempting to adjust benefits very similar to what San Diego and San Jose did,” said Marcia Fritz, president of the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility. She calls the Tuesday elections a mandate.

San Jose and San Diego unions quickly sued to block the measures. But Fritz says voter sentiment may take the issue to the state level and force Democratic lawmakers in Sacramento to take up Brown’s proposals.

Listen to the radio version of the story:

Quick Look: Local Election Results

Wondering how measures in your county fared? KQED’s News Fix blogger Jon Brooks is on it. Are we missing something? Tell us in the comments below.

Local Measure B – Coit Tower policy Full results here Coverage: Measure B – City of San Jose pension modification Full results here Coverage: U.S. Congress District 15 Coverage: Full results here Coverage:

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Low Voter Turnout, But an Election Worth Watching

A stack of voter stickers.

Voter turnout was low, but this was an election of firsts in California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

While some may call this primary election a snoozer, this is actually a rather fascinating, if not historic, election. A new top-two primary system is being tested statewide for the first time, redistricting has pitted longtime colleagues against one another, and a cigarette tax and term limit propositions are on the ballot.

The California Report hosted a live primary night special.

We recommend having a listen, but if you can’t spare an hour, here are some highlights:


“In some ways we we’re redistricting about 20 years worth because the last couple of redistrictings had really been incumbent protection districts.”

“That was a problematic district from the previous redistricting…Congressman Berman’s district, when his brother, who did the line drawing, drew those districts, they very specifically set out to carve, to basically pick voters for the congressman and the district did really not make sense.”

— Maria Blanco, former member of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission and vice president of civic engagement for the California Community Foundation on the ‘Battle of Ermans’ in the San Fernando Valley.

More on Berman v. Sherman:

“It’s just gonna wear everybody out. Because we know they’re going to face each other again in November. Essentially what they’re doing today, is trying to tell donors that they are pretty likely to win”

“It essentially brings the Republicans alive a little bit in a Democratic district [because] they’re potentially the balance of power in there.”

“Berman especially has been trying to get endorsements from Republicans…. Sherman could turn around in November and say ‘I’m a little bit more independent. Look, they haven’t all endorsed me so if you want someone to be a pain in the neck for the big party people, I’m your guy.'”

— Raphe Sonenshein, executive director of the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute of Public Affairs at California State University, Los Angeles

Top-Two Primary:

“The top two shakes up everybody’s way of thinking of running for office in California.”

“It’s the end of third parties in California.”

“This really strikes me as the world as designed by Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

“If you look at the redistricting commission, the top two, all of these things were meant to create more moderate candidates who are not tied to the two parties. Now, poor Arnold, didn’t do much on the budget, but his legacy may end up being some quirky rules that allow quirky people to get in who don’t necessarily have to follow the pledges of either party.”

— Raphe Sonenshein

“There are two sets of dynamics you are seeing in the top-two primary, one is the safe party district where you have this slug fest within the party and the other is this phenomena where you have essentially a three-person race — its sorts out as a Democrat, a Republican and some version of a moderate –either a moderate Democrat, a moderate Republican, decline-to-state voter or some version of that.”

— Corey Cook, director of the Leo McCarthy Center at the University of San Francisco

“You’re really looking at the refurbishing of the Republican party against its will.”

— Raphe Sonenshein

Around the State:

“This is an example where we may possibly have an Independent versus a Republican and no Democrat on the November ballot, and that would be a first.

— Sasha Khokha, KQED Central Valley Bureau Chief on Stanislaus County’s District 10 race between Chad Condit v. Jose Hernandez v. Congressman Jeff Denham

“If you’re anti-war and pro-marijuana you probably represent the views of a lot of voters.”

— Mina Kim, on the 12 candidates vying to win Lynn Woolsey’s seat in the liberal Northbay  District 2.



Everything You Need to Know for Tuesday’s Primary

Will you get your "I Voted" sticker? Photo: Denise Cross/Flickr

Let me guess, you’re planning on voting but you lost the mailer that tells you where your polling place is (who can blame you, what with all the campaign mail and J. Crew catalogs you’ve received in recent weeks). Or perhaps you meant to spend the weekend learning about the state propositions, but the weather was nice and your friend invited you out to Dolores Park, yadda yadda. Well fret not. Here’s a list of resources that should get you through Tuesday’s primary, and back to the park in no time.

Polling Place Look Up‘s polling place finder is the easiest to use that I’ve seen. Simply enter your address and it will not only tell you where to go, but will also show you the races that will appear on your ballot.

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Quick Look: Calif.’s Top 100 Political Donors Give $1.25 Billion

KQED’s news partner California Watch takes a look at the power of a small group of wealthy donors:

In a state with nearly 38 million people, few have more influence than the top 100 donors to California campaigns – a powerful club that has donated overwhelmingly to Democrats and spent $1.25 billion to influence voters over the past dozen years.

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Mitt Romney Brings Campaign to Solyndra

MItt Romney

Mitt Romney took reporters on "magical mystery tour" of Solyndra. Photo: Peter Jon Shuler/KQED

The Romney camp loaded select reporters on to a bus early Thursday and took them on a mystery field trip. (read: a press conference at an undisclosed location that by many reporters’ accounts was simply “weird”). The secret location ended up being Solyndra, the now infamous and bankrupt solar company that received  $528 million in federal loans. Here’s a compilation of social media chatter on the outing, much of it from the journalists actually on the bus.
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