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.

San Francisco’s Measure A: Who Get’s SF’s Mess?

KQED’s Cy Musiker spoke to USF’s Corey Cook about San Francisco’s Measure A, which seeks to change San Francisco’s waste collection from a regulated monopoly with Recology to a competitive bidding process. He also checked in with folks on both sides of the measure. At stake is San Francisco’s current eco-friendly waste collection system and potentially $40 million in savings. The piece lasts about 4 minutes. Click here to have a listen.



Prop. 28 Explained

The following is a transcript of a story that originally aired on The California Report.

California's capitol

A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California shows that support for Prop. 28 is high among voters. Photo: David Paul Morris/Getty Images

Host, Paul Lancour: Proposition 28 on the June 5th primary ballot would modify California’s legislative term limits. At last poll, more than 60 percent of likely voters – from both sides of the aisle – said they were likely to vote for it. Roughly 30 percent of those the Public Policy Institute of California surveyed oppose the measure. The California Report’s Rachael Myrow spoke with John Myers, political editor at KXTV in Sacramento and former KQED Sacramento Bureau Chief about the proposition and what it would do.

John Myers: What Prop. 28 would do is, it would modify the existing term limits law for members of the state Legislature. Now we’ll remember that term limits were put in place by voters back in 1990. They limit a lawmaker to no more than six years in the State Assembly and no more than eight years in the State Senate. That could be 14 years if they could serve in both Houses but it would limit them to those amounts and it has for 20 years.

Prop. 28 would change that, it would allow a lawmaker to serve 12 years instead of those limits, but all in one House. So the backers of Prop. 28 say, “Well look it, this is a reduction in time in office for a lot of people from 14 years to 12 and they say you can also serve it in one House and therefore have a little bit more experience, a little bit more seniority to understand how the state works.'”

And opponents of Prop. 28 say this whole idea of just making it a more efficient government is really just another way of kind of hiding the fact that this would let people be in office for longer. And this really does, I think, come down to the question of incumbency and for voters, what do they think the value of incumbency is. Is there a value to being in office longer, learning the job or do they want people to serve less time and go back home and do whatever they do? That’s really the question they have to figure out on Prop. 28.
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Prop. 29: If You Ask Me, ‘Sin Taxes’ Are …

a small angel smoke a cigarette

"Sin taxes" are sometimes used by governments to deter people from harmful behaviors. Image: Getty Images

On June 5, Californians will be asked to vote on Proposition 29. If approved, the measure would increase cigarette taxes by $1.00 per pack, with the revenue going toward cancer research and smoking prevention programs.

This tax is an example of a “sin tax,” an excise tax used by governments to deter harmful behaviors.

We’re asking you: Should the government impose “sin taxes” on behaviors that have societal costs?

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Prop. 29 Explained in Five, Ten or Thirty Minutes

a doctor eats an apple

Most of us don't have time for lunch, let alone time to research propositions. Photo: Getty Images

You’re busy. We get that. But you also want to be an informed voter. We definitely get that. So we put together this list of resources on Proposition 29 with your calendar in mind.

If you have five minutes:

Read the State of Health’s blog post on Prop. 29. It’s a quick look at the proposition and why it may pass or why it may fail.


The Centers for Disease Control has found increasing the price of cigarettes reduces demand. Teenagers are especially sensitive to price, so if the tax is approved, fewer of them would pick up the habit. Right now about 12 percent of Californians smoke. That rate could drop significantly if Prop 29 is approved.

If you have 10 minutes:

KQED’s Lowdown blog explains the initiative and provides context like how much other states pay in tobacco taxes, the societal cost of smoking, and who’s financing campaigns on either side of the issue.


California’s current cigarette excise tax (an excise, by the way, means a tax levied on specific commodities) is pretty low compared to most other states (18th lowest, to be precise): right now the tax here is 87 cents/pack, almost 60 cents lower than the national average and a whopping $3.50 less than in New York, whose tobacco tax is $4.35, the nation’s highest.

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Forum: Calif’s Top Two Primary System

California will test its top-two primary system, or open primary, for the first time in a statewide election this June. How does a top-two system work? Basically, everyone votes for one candidate from among all of the contenders, no matter what party, and the top two vote-getters move on to the Nov. ballot.

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Wyatt Buchanan summarizes it nicely:
Elections officials liken it to an Olympic race in which the first heat determines who competes in the final, and the competitors in the final could be from the same country. That means some November races could be between candidates of the same party.

KQED’s Forum examined the issue Monday. The three guests all had very different takes on the method. Here’s an excerpt from each guest:

The bottom line is that open primary means competition. Competition means a healthier system. Hopefully, ultimately, both major political parties as well as the smaller parties will respond to that competition and we will see an environment in which the political parties themselves become healthier, stronger, more intellectually relevant and reconnect with a society that candidly has walked away from the party system.

  • Jon Fleischman, GOP strategist and publisher of, a website on California politics:

What I’m seeing at the practical application is because of the expense of the system, people are more beholden to the special interests than they are to the political party… This measure peels back the influence of political parties — who steps into the vacuum? Our labor unions, big corporations with all of the money … now the only monied interest out there to help people are people who want something out of of government.

  •  Laura Wells, 2010 Green Party candidate for Governor of California
So the possibility is, because anybody can vote for anybody in June, that if everybody voted for their values in June, and basically Green Party values are California values — social justice, the environment, grass roots Democracy, nonviolence — then there’s a possibility that Greens could be in one of the top-two spots and then people would have a real choice in Nov. not just one corporate-funded party as opposed to the other corporate-funded party. Not just one rich, incumbent candidate running against one equally rich and well-funded candidate.

If your curiosity is piqued, listen to the entire show but note that the first five minutes are devoted to breaking news about the California budget.

Report: Most Americans Say That Climate Change Should be a Priority

Our friends over at KQED’s Climate Watch alerted us to a new study that finds the majority of Americans want climate change to be among country’s top priorities.

Majorities of Americans say that global warming and clean energy should be among the nation’s priorities, according to a new survey. Will those feelings translate into any action in the government? Anthony Leiserowitz of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication discusses the survey’s findings.

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Keeping Tabs on Delegate Counts, the Primary Calendar and Repeated Romney Restarts

A screen grab from

NPR's delegate counter and primary calendar. Do you know how many more delegates Mitt Romney needs?

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney “restarted” his campaign Tuesday night, after sweeping all five state primaries held Tuesday. Wait? Didn’t that happen already? Yes… and no. When Rick Santorum dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination earlier this month, the news angle was very similar to today’s: Romney and Republican strategists can now focus their attention on the real opponent — President Obama. Except today it was Newt Gingrich, not Rick Santorum, acknowledging the mathematical impossibility of his own nomination. Helping the campaign-rebirth metaphor? Romney’s camp, which declared a “new campaign” Tuesday night. So, is this the final Romney restart that voters will experience? That depends… what’s Ron Paul up to?

If you want to get caught up on the surprisingly-entertaining minutiae of delegate counts or primaries, NPR has a primary calendar that let’s you do just that. I could keep writing about it but you can simply click here to visit the real thing.

Immigration a Trouble Spot for Romney, GOP

MItt Romney and Mark Rubio speak to the media.

Republican presidential candidate Gov. Mitt Romney speaks to the media before a campaign stop with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in Aston, Pennsylvania. Photos: Jessica Kourkounis/Getty Images

Don Gonyea reported on Monday’s Morning Edition on the difficult position Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney finds himself in regarding immigration. That position is only exacerbated by the fact that the Republican party has an admittedly spotty record when it comes to courting — and keeping — Latino voters.

At a Republican candidates’ forum in Wisconsin before the state’s primary earlier this month, a speaker who wasn’t on the ballot had strong words for the GOP regarding its low standing among Hispanic voters.

“The way the party … talks about immigration is going to impact the future course of this party and the future course of this nation,” said former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the first Hispanic to hold the nation’s highest law enforcement post.

Gonzales didn’t mention any candidate by name, but during the Republican primaries, none staked out a tougher position on immigration than former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“Of course we build a fence, and of course we do not give in-state tuition credits to people who come here illegally,” Romney said at a debate in Tampa last year. “That only attracts people to come here and take advantage of America’s great beneficence.”
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‘Are You Better Off?’: Both Parties Invoke Reagan

Former President Ronald Reagan in 1982.

Former President Ronald Reagan in 1982. Photo: Michael Evans/The White House/Getty Images.

NPR’s It’s All Politics blog warns us that “Are you better off?” will be a phrase we hear a lot of until November. Why? Well it’s a phrase that was invoked by Ronald Reagan in a 1980 debate against Jimmy Carter and well, invoking Reagan’s legacy amidst a struggling economy seems like a pretty smart move for Mitt Romney. So voters — get ready to consider whether life is better after four years of the Obama administration. Who knows — maybe Romney will even have a Reagan hologram ask the question during a rally.

But It’s All Politics predicts that Obama’s campaign will put their spin on the question as well:

So while Romney’s argument will be that the president doesn’t deserve a second term because too many people aren’t better off, Obama is essentially trying to frame the former Massachusetts governor’s candidacy as, for all practical purposes, a potential third term for Bush, with all the bad vibes that carries for many voters.

Read the full It’s All Politics post here.