Transcript: Debate Over Prop. 37’s GMO Labeling

GMO soybeans. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

On election day, voters will decide on the so-called “Right to Know” Proposition 37. The measure would require labeling of genetically altered raw or processed foods known as genetically modified organisms or GMOs. Prop. 37 would make California the first state in the country to require labels on a host of food products found in grocery stores.

KQED’S Forum last week hosted a debate about Proposition 37 that has drawn a lot of interest online. So we’ve transcribed the first half of the show, which included a debate between two scientists, one for and one against the measure. Listen to the show here, or read the transcript after the audio player.

Edited transcript:

Host Michael Krasny: Stacy Malkan is a spokesperson for Yes on 37. She is co-founder of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and author of “Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry.” Greg Palla is the executive vice president and general manager of the San Joaquin Valley Quality Cotton Growers Association. He’s  member of a farming family that’s been in operation now for a century, in business here in California. Generally, we make a practice of beginning with the “pro” side. Why do we need this, Stacy Malkan?

Yes on 37’s Stacy Malkin: What we are seeing here in California is a true people’s movement for our right to know what’s in the food we are eating and feeding our families. We had almost a million people sign petitions in the state to get Proposition 37 on the ballot — thousands of volunteers across the state, many of them moms and grandmothers, people who are not typically out on the streets petitioning for political issues, but saying, “We have a right to know what’s in our food. We are eating this food. We get to decide.” And that’s why we have the largest health, consumer, environmental and labor groups on our side saying, “Yes on 37.” This is truly about the people of California versus the largest pesticide and junk food companies in the world that don’t want us to know about the genetic engineering of our food system. Continue reading

Presidential Debate: Watch Live Online, List of Live Blogs

posted by Lisa Aliferis and Jon Brooks

Kennedy-Nixon, the first televised debate. (Courtesy National Park Service)

After months of campaigning — and days of surrogates’ efforts to lower expectations of their guy’s performance — it’s finally time for the first presidential debate. The political duel is being held at the University of Denver.

While there are many, many relevant sites we can steer you to around this event, we’ve chosen to put WNYC’s Interactive debate bingo front and center. You can thank us later, after the 25th time one or both candidates have used the phrase “make no mistake” before looking into the camera and gravely declaring just how the other guy is going to ruin the country if we make the awful mistake of electing him.

And if you’re at the point where you can only truly experience any big event on your computer,click here for our list of live blogs.

Here’s what looks to be a curated list of debate tweeters by Twitter, running the political gamut from Ann Coulter to David Axelrod, plus many in-betweens.

You can watch the debate online via PBS NewsHour:

You can also watch ABC News/Yahoo coverage live online on YouTube

Continue reading

Gov’s Prop. 30 Tax Hike: More For Schools, Criminal Justice…or More Money Misspent?

By Erika Kelly

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

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

Gov. Jerry Brown has been blazing the campaign trail for Proposition 30 for several weeks now. It’s his big play to bring in new revenue, and he’s lined up a lot of support to pay for campaign ads that begin Wednesday. People and organizations have ponied up more than $41 million to back Prop. 30. Brown warns that without the added revenue, California schools would face something like financial Armageddon. That’s a message he served up at an August visit to San Francisco’s James Lick Middle School.

“If people say ‘no, we don’t want to tax the most rewarded and blessed among us, we want to close schools,'” he told the crowd, “okay, I’ll manage as best as we can. But I will tell you, and I’m telling you the truth, everything I’ve seen in my lifetime tells me that schools need more money.”

The “blessed people” Brown refers to are California’s highest earners. Under Prop. 30, they would see their income taxes go up for seven years. But it’s not just the wealthy who would be asked to chip in. Everyone who makes a purchase in California would have to pay an additional quarter-cent sales tax for four years. This year’s state’s budget assumes Prop. 30 will pass and billions of dollars of new revenue will flow into state coffers. But H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the State Department of Finance, says if voters reject the measure, significant cuts are coming — and fast. Continue reading

‘Honeymoon’ with Obama Turns to Reality of Married Life for Black Supporters

By Caitlin Esch

Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson addresses Obama faithful at Everett and Jones restaurant in Oakland. (Photo: Caitlin Esch)

Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson addresses Obama faithful at Everett and Jones restaurant in Oakland. (Photo: Caitlin Esch)

NAACP volunteer Gayle Akins pitches a table and spreads out voter registration forms at an anti-violence rally outside Oakland City Hall. She’s capitalizing on the support that President Barack Obama inspires locally: many new voters are registering simply to cast a vote for him.

Sometimes they act like, ‘I don’t know if my vote counts,’ but they know a lot about what’s going on,” Akins says. “If we can convince them — register to vote — and actually get out to vote … it’s a really good thing.”

Still, many African-American voters are frustrated. Four years ago, Oakland resident William Edwards says he was thrilled when Obama won. But Edwards has fallen on hard times; his home is in foreclosure, and he doesn’t think Obama is paying attention to the concerns of his community — things like too few jobs and too many African American men in prison.

“It’s almost like dating. You date someone and they show their great side, and you get married and it’s like ‘oh, they don’t pick up their socks.'”

“He’s got probably 95 percent of the black vote, but it’s nice to vote and support him,” Edwards says. “But, what are we gonna get for it? Everybody else has an agenda of what they wanna get. So what’s in it for us?”

Oakland Civil rights attorney Eva Paterson has had her own disappointments over the past four years, but she says the black community’s romance with the president has given way to something else. Continue reading

Unions: Prop 32 Ban on Political Donations Weighted Heavily Against Labor

By Rachel Dornhelm

Ed Kinchley with San Francisco SEIU Chapter 1021 is working the phone bank to encourage members to vote no on Prop. 32. (Photo: Rachel Dornhelm)

Ed Kinchley with San Francisco SEIU Chapter 1021 is working the phone bank to encourage members to vote no on Prop. 32. (Photo: Rachel Dornhelm)

I’m looking squarely at the Capitol building in Sacramento. The grass is manicured and green — the building sparkling white. But to Jake Suski, special interest money in politics keeps the Capitol anything but clean.

“Lawmakers — particularly during legislative seasons — host just a number of fundraisers. I think one day during this August they had 17 different fundraisers in one day,” he tells me.

Suski is the spokesman for Proposition 32. The measure’s backers say they simply want to get rid of special interest money in the Capitol. “Corporate lobbyists ask for their little pet projects to be passed and tell them which bills they don’t like,” Suski says, “and union lobbyists do the same thing on their little pet projects.”

Suski says Prop. 32 would accomplish its goal it in three steps.

  1.  Banning unions and corporations from giving directly to politicians
  2.  Prohibiting government contractors from political giving
  3.  Making it illegal to deduct money from paychecks to use in political campaigns Continue reading

Prop. 33 Asks Voters to Reconsider How Auto Insurance Discounts Work

By Erik Anderson, KPBS

Prop. 33 backers say many drivers would be eligible for discounts; opponents are skeptical. (Photo: Magie Mbroh)

Prop. 33 backers say many drivers would be eligible for discounts; opponents are skeptical. (Photo: Magie Mbroh)

California voters are getting a chance to tweak the state’s car insurance rules when they consider the fate of Proposition 33. The November ballot item asks voters to change the way car insurance rates are calculated in California. The measure proposes tweaking current rules to allow companies to consider a driver’s insurance history when setting how much they will pay.

It is not a new idea. In fact, Proposition 33 is similar to Proposition 17, a measure voters rejected just two years ago. Under Prop. 33 people who have had car insurance continuously for five years can get a discount. People who have an interruption in coverage would face much higher car insurance fees. In an effort to separate itself from the failed Proposition 17, Prop. 33 adds some exceptions that include the military, workers who have lost their jobs and children living with their parents.

It is a message the “Yes on 33” camp is putting on television spots hitting the airwaves on stations around California, according to Rachel Hooper, a consultant for the campaign. One ad features several drivers including a young woman who calls it a great idea for all drivers. Another person in the ad says Prop. 33 rewards drivers for maintaining car insurance. Continue reading

Election Road Trip: Silicon Valley Republicans — Wandering in a Political Wilderness

Boris Feldman tries to woo a potential voter to the GOP. (Image Courtesy Boris Feldman)

Boris Feldman tries to woo a potential voter. (Image Courtesy Boris Feldman)

For Election 2012 The California Report has been hitting the road to talk to voters in various parts of the state —  previously we’ve visited Riverside and Fresno. Today we turn to Silicon Valley. You might think the famously entrepreneurial business culture of Silicon Valley naturally fosters Republican sentiments, but the Republicans we talked to say they’re wandering in the political wilderness.

The Santa Clara County Republican Party recently held a fundraiser for Johnny Khamis, the GOP-endorsed candidate for San Jose City Council District 10. About 25 people showed up to rub shoulders over platters of hors d’oeuvres from Costco. If Khamis were to win, there would be two Republicans on the 10-member council.

“I go knocking on doors in my precincts every day,” Khamis tells me, “and some of them will ask me straight up: ‘Are you a Republican or Democrat?’ And I tell ‘em, ‘It’s a nonpartisan race.’ And then they say, ‘So what are you? A Democrat or a Republican?’ And I say, you know, ‘I’m a Republican,’ and if it’s a Democrat,  a lot of them will, um, slam the door in my face. Occasionally. OK, not a lot of them. But occassionally. It happens.”

“The Republicans in California have to completely recast the party or they’ll be in a permanent minority.”

Here in Santa Clara County, Republicans account for just 23 percent of registered voters. Compare that with 30 percent statewide. It’s fair to say Republicans are feeling outnumbered in many parts of California, but Helen Wang of San Jose says she  feels like she has a target on her forehead.

“That’s how I feel,” she says, laughing. “Because usually nobody supports me at all.” Continue reading

Riverside County Democrats Claim Fraud in Voter Outreach Project

By Lance Williams, California Watch

(David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

(David Paul Morris/Getty Images)

While Republican voter registration in California is in a long downward spiral, the GOP still holds sway in 31 of the state’s 58 counties.

Then there’s Riverside County, where Democratic activists claim that a Republican voter outreach project has employed an unusual fraud scheme to build a 51,000-voter registration advantage.

In a complaint filed last week with the county registrar of voters, the Democrats presented affidavits from 133 Democratic voters who said they had been re-registered as Republicans without their consent after they encountered petition circulators outside welfare offices and stores.

Re-registering Democrats as Republicans interferes with Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts … the party won’t contact a voter who is listed as a Republican.

One voter complained that his registration was changed to Republican after he signed what he thought was a petition to legalize marijuana. Another said he was told he was signing a petition to lower the price of gasoline, according to the affidavits.

Others said they were offered free cigarettes or a “job at the polls” if they signed some paperwork.

Continue reading

Fighting Human Trafficking at Heart of Prop. 35, But Opponents Point to Flaws

By Amy Isackson

Daphne Phung addresses Prop. 35 supporters at a fundraising walk in San Diego. (Photo: Amy Isackson)

Daphne Phung addresses Prop. 35 supporters at a fundraising walk in San Diego. (Photo: Amy Isackson)

As Carissa Phelps got ready for a five kilometer walk to support Proposition 35 one recent Saturday afternoon, she looked out at the San Diego Bay and remembered what led her to walk the streets as a 12-year-old prostitute. “When my step-dad propositioned my sister who was turning 18 to … sell her virginity for her to someone,” she said.

After that she says she dropped out of seventh grade in Coalinga, near Fresno, and ran away. She soon met a pimp named Icey.

Phelps says he seemed nice and offered her a place when she had nowhere else to stay. “All of your friends at school are gone. All of your siblings are gone. Your bike is gone,” she described. “Your clothes are gone and so, you just feel like you’re trash. You eat out of the trash. You beg for a box of macaroni and cheese.”

One night with Icey turned into 10. And so began a criminal life that would take Phelps three years to escape.

It’s stories like Phelps’ that inspired Daphne Phung to quit her job as a corporate accountant and sink her life savings into crafting and supporting Prop. 35. Continue reading

Proposition 32: ‘Paycheck Protection’ or Unfair Limitation on Union Influence?

It’s been on the ballot twice before in the last 14 years — and rejected by voters — but the issue is back again. Proposition 32 would stop unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. The “pro” camp calls this “paycheck protection,” while those opposed say the measure limits union’s ability to fund political campaigns while leaving corporate influence largely unchecked.

This past Friday, KQED’s This Week in Northern California examined the measure. Watch the clip: