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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.

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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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Did the No-On-37 Campaign Fabricate a Quote From the FDA?

A mailer sent by the No On 37 campaign to millions of California households is the subject of the latest scuffle in an increasingly feisty tit-for-tat over the state proposition that calls for food made with genetically modified components to be labeled.

GMO soybeans. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

At issue are a single quotation mark – either a typo or a fabrication, depending on whom you ask – and the questionable use of a federal logo.

The mailer that No On 37 sent out highlights five anti-Prop 37 quotes, including one each from the California Farm Bureau Federation and the U.S. Latino Chamber of Commerce. Alongside each quote is the group’s logo.

But one of the quoted organizations, the Food and Drug Administration, cannot, by law, endorse state ballot items. And according to FDA policy, its logo “is for the official use of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and not for the use of the private sector on its materials… Misuse of the FDA logo may violate federal law and subject those responsible to criminal penalties.” Continue reading

Election Road Trip: What Does Silicon Valley Want from Government?

“From the City to the Valley.” This transit map reflects the modern reality that “Silicon Valley” has grown to include the entire San Francisco Bay Area.Credit: Stamen Design

In downtown San Jose, the cavernous, cool ZERO1 Garage is the conceptual epicenter for a wide-ranging art exhibition. Seeking Silicon Valley is an artistic exploration that includes 100 exhibits at 45 museums, galleries, and studios across the Bay Area.

Jaime Austin is one of the curators. Forty years ago, “Silicon Valley” referred to a small clutch of high tech companies in the Santa Clara Valley. Today? “It’s a network of freeways, a network of people, a network of technology, a network of companies and a network is something fairly abstract,” Austin says. “Silicon Valley, at least to me, is really more of an idea, than it is a place.”

Austin stands in front of what looks like a Bay Area public transit map — except the transit is anything but public. It’s a map of corporate bus routes that more than 44-thousand people use to commute to Google, Apple, Facebook and the like. The map (by Stamen Design of San Francisco) is jaw-dropping for its size and complexity — and for what it says about the way Silicon Valley has grown over the last 40 years.

“You know, the idea of San Francisco and Silicon Valley being two different types of cities with two different types of industry is no longer true. The greater San Francisco Bay Area is now interconnected. Because we really are one giant ecosystem.” Austin says.

“That’s one place where government can be a driver — is in providing some sort of guarantee for markets that we think are crucial and that won’t exist otherwise.”

That ecosystem is also one of the nation’s biggest economic drivers. Like it or not, Silicon Valley has a relationship to cultivate with government. Internet industry analyst and author Larry Downes says some of the most intractable political issues trickle down as big business problems across the world of High Tech. Take for instance, patent law. Continue reading

Analysis: Propositions 32 and 37 Campaign Ads

California is not a battleground state for the presidential election, so that leaves plenty of room on the airwaves for other statewide commercials. Friday on The California Report Magazine, host Scott Shafer does some fact-checking with KXTV political reporter John Myers. They started off with commercials for and against Proposition 37, the measure to require labels on genetically modified foods in California.

Here’s an ad in favor of Prop. 37:

And here’s a commercial from the “No on 37″ campaign: Continue reading

Group That Gave Huge Donation Against Brown Tax Measure Led By Anti-Union Activist

by Will Evans, California Watch

The Arizona group that dumped $11 million into California’s ballot measure melee this week is led by a Republican activist who calls labor unions “the parasite that is killing our jobs.”

Robert Graham, a candidate for Arizona Republican Party chairman, heads Americans for Responsible Leadership, a little-known group that delivered $11 million to a committee fighting a tax increase on November’s ballot and supporting a measure that would weaken the political clout of unions. The money will either go toward opposing Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax measure, or supporting Proposition 32, which would ban the use of payroll-deducted dues for political purposes.

Americans for Responsible Leadership was formed last year by three Arizona businessmen, including Graham. The other directors are Eric Wnuck, who ran an unsuccessful campaign in the Republican primary in a 2010 congressional race, and Steve Nickolas, a bottled water entrepreneurContinue reading

Does The Death Penalty Provide ‘Closure’ to Victim’s Families? Three Perspectives

This coming election Californians will decide on Proposition 34, which would outlaw the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole. It would also direct $30 million a year for three years to investigate unsolved rape and murder cases.

San Quentin Prison has housed California's only death row for male inmates since 1937. (Michael Glogowski-Walldorf: Flickr)

San Quentin Prison has housed California's only death row for male inmates since 1937. (Michael Glogowski-Walldorf: Flickr)

The measure is the latest chapter in a seesaw legal and political dispute over capital punishment that stretches back 50 years in California.

But setting aside the main argument of the “Yes on 34″ camp, that the billions of dollars spent on the death penalty could better be used to solve crimes; and “No on 34″ backers, that the death penalty process could be made more efficient and cheaper, there’s another issue that often comes up in the overall debate.

Many supporters of the death penalty say it is the only fair societal consequence for the perpetrators of the most heinous crimes, and that it gives victims’ families a sense of closure. Scott Shafer has been following this question around the death penalty for more than a dozen years, and he frequently addresses the question of closure in his reporting. Continue reading

New Breed of Campaigns Using Technology to Micro-Target Voters

by Aarti Shahani

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As election day inches closer, campaign workers are entering high gear with door-knocking and phone-banking. This year, they’re also reducing paper cuts by using new digital technologies to reach voters. But the true value of the latest election apps, of course, will turn on whether they get out the vote.

East Bay congressional candidate Eric Swalwell, whose campaign is using the latest get-out-the-vote-technology

East Bay congressional candidate Eric Swalwell, whose campaign is using the latest get-out-the-vote-technology. Photo: Cy Musiker/KQED

Door Knocking Goes Digital

Ariel Kelley, a local campaign director with a group working for San Francisco supervisorial candidate David Lee, is sipping coffee at a neighborhood cafe in the city’s Richmond district. Tapping the floor with her 3-inch heels, Kelley watches her door-knocking team from a website on her MacBook.

“I get to see in real time exactly where they are, using the GPS on the cell phone that they’re holding. This is Charlie’s territory right here,” she says, referring to a volunteer out in the field.

Kelley is monitoring Charlie’s every move on Anza and Balboa. She sees the name, age and party of the targeted voter, plus the exact time – down to the microsecond – of the visit. Kelley sees the encounter is over when a green dot turns into a red check mark. Continue reading

It’s Dem. vs. Dem. in South Bay State Senate Race

By: Charla Bear

The boundaries of Senate District 15. (aroundthecapitol.com and googlemaps)

The boundaries of Senate District 15. (aroundthecapitol.com and googlemaps)

With November 6th fast approaching, campaigns are ratcheting up across the Bay Area, and candidates are doing everything they can to sway voters. That’s a big challenge for two state Senate hopefuls in the South Bay’s 15th Senate District. The district stretches from Cupertino through Saratoga and across most of San Jose.

In the past, this largely Democratic area wouldn’t have been much of a contest this late in the game. The Democrat who won the primary would usually have been a shoo-in in November. But not this year. The new Top Two Primary system pitted two Democrats against each other — Joe Coto and Jim Beall.

“Races like this get pretty cutthroat, especially when you have two people who are pretty close in terms of policy positions.”
Even though Beall won the primary by 11 percentage points, neither candidate can take anything for granted. The general election is expected to bring out twice as many voters — some of whom have yet to decide between the candidates’ platforms.

Coto is more about education … followed by jobs: “I want to focus a great deal of attention on school reform and on this new world of globalization and information technology,” he says. “Education and its relationship to work, to jobs.” Continue reading