Analysis: It’s Yes on Prop 30 or School Cuts; ‘Everything’ at Stake for Unions in Prop 32

This past weekend marked the start of autumn — and the final sprint to the November 6 election. On The California Report Magazine, host Scott Shafer talked to Anthony York, who covers politics for the Los Angeles Times.

Here’s an edited transcript of their conversation:

Proposition 30 is backed by Governor Jerry Brown and would raise taxes to fund education.

Proposition 30 is backed by Governor Jerry Brown and would raise taxes to fund education. (Image: California Secretary of State)

SCOTT SHAFER: Let’s talk about the November election. Gov. Brown has a lot riding on the outcome, especially with Proposition 30, which would raise income taxes on the wealthy and sales taxes on all of us. The Governor got mixed news from two polls this week. Tell us what they said.

ANTHONY YORK: They said that just about half of voters are still in favor of the Governor’s plan, Proposition 30, and that there are increasing numbers of voters that are unsure. There’s still a lot of uncertainty in these last six to seven weeks of the campaign.

SHAFER: And at the same time, there’s Proposition 38, which would raise income taxes on everyone — mostly millionares — but everyone would take a little bit of a hit. Opinion polls show there is more of a split, a little bit less support, under 50 percent, for Proposition 38. But does that (Proposition 38) add to confusion for voters? Continue reading

District 3 Debate: Garamendi v. Vann

No question: redistricting has shaken up the political landscape in California. The newly-drawn District 3 stretches from Rio Vista and Fairfield in the south to Colusa and Willows in the north. John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove) is running for re-election, but was displaced from his incumbency in District 10 when the new district lines were drawn.

Both Garamendi and his challenger, Republican Kim Vann were guests Friday on KQED’s Forum.

Vann, a former Colusa County supervisor, focused her comments almost exclusively on supporting businesses through the entire discussion. When asked how she would create jobs, she pointed to her record.

“I’ll do it the very same way I’ve done it as a county supervisor,” she told Forum host Dave Iverson, “get government out of the way, make sure that the businesses understand what the rules are, not constantly changing the game and changing rules through over-reaching regulations. Making sure we have a good, solid tax code that people can understand.” Continue reading

New Widget Tallies Funding for California Propositions

It automatically updates with latest funding information for each proposition.

Just how much money is streaming into congressional campaigns and certain ballot measures across the county? Maplight, the nonprofit, nonpartisan group that tracks those dollars, is on the case. It’s funded by individuals and foundations, and if you’re interested in the influence of money on politics, you’ll love this site.

Maplight has created a new widget just for California. It automatically updates funding totals and top funders for each of the 11 propositions on the November ballot. For example, the California Teachers Association is the top funder of Proposition 32 which — described officially — “prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes.” To date, the CTA has ponied up $16.4 million of the $37.6 million total raised to defeat the measure.

Meanwhile, Monsanto is the top funder of Proposition 37. That’s the ballot measure which requires labeling of foods with genetically-modified ingredients. Monsanto has given $7.1 million of $32.5 million raised in total.

The widget is embedded below. It’s cycling through all the props, and you can click on any of the props to get full details on all funders and money raised. You can also embed it yourself and select specific props you want to follow.

Support For Guv’s Tax Measure Holds Steady, But Undecideds Could Spell Trouble

(Tina Barseghian/KQED)

(Tina Barseghian/KQED)

Gov. Jerry Brown has been emphatic that if Proposition 30 fails in November, billions of dollars in cuts to public education are coming. He’s made that linkage so hard, in fact, that KXTV political editor and longtime Sacto observer John Myers once likened his Yes on 30 efforts to the famous National Lampoon cover in which the magazine threatened to shoot a dog if you didn’t buy the issue.

So is the public buying it?

On that front, a poll released Thursday shows mixed results.

Support for the measure is roughly the same since the last poll in July — 51 percent of voters in favor, 36 percent opposed. Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo told KQED’s Scott Shafer this morning that “They’re treading water, but at a rate that is not all that comfortable. But still there’s not a lot of evidence that their ‘yes’ side vote is deteriorating over time.”

However, an increasing number of undecided voters could turn out to be bad news for the measure. In July, 8 percent of voters were undecided; today’s poll shows 13 percent unsure.

Support for the measure is roughly the same since the last poll in July …“They’re treading water.”

“It’s our experience that if you don’t convince undecided voters, especially in the late going, to whatever it is you’re trying to get them to do, they tend to vote no more often than yes,”  said DiCamillo.

The Field Poll also shows another tax initiative, Prop. 38 — which would also finance education — at 41 percent of voters in favor, 44 percent opposed and 15 percent undecided. That’s up 8 percent since July. Continue reading

Sacramento-Area Race Proxy For Torrid Medicare Debate

By Sarah Varney, Kaiser Health News

Rep. Dan Lungren and Dr. Ari Bera are campaigning to represent the newly drawn 7th Congressional district in northern California. (Photos: Republican Conference and Randy Bayne via Flickr)

Rep. Dan Lungren and Dr. Ari Bera are campaigning to represent the newly drawn 7th Congressional district in northern California. (Photos: Republican Conference and Randy Bayne via Flickr)

When Republican Rep. Dan Lungren faced a crowd of Tea Party supporters and Democratic detractors at a recent town hall meeting in the town of Carmichael, outside Sacramento, the arguments showed how explosive the Medicare debate can get in the hottest races in the country.

At La Sierra Community Center, the long line of seemingly irritated constituents made clear just what is on the minds of voters here: the Republican proposal to give future beneficiaries, those currently 55 and younger, a fixed amount of money to buy Medicare coverage from the government or private insurance companies.

Standing at a podium in the auditorium, Margie Metzler, a 67-year-old woman with the group Seniors Against Lungren, told Lungren that she had been laid off at age 61 and went four years without health insurance until she qualified for Medicare. “I don’t want to kick the people under 55 under the bus,” Metzler said of Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan.

“Lungren and Bera are very effective stand-ins for the two sides of the national (Medicare) debate.”

A few moments later, another woman took to the microphone with this reprimand: “All you protesters can think about is where your next government entitlement is going to come from. Rome is burning and you’re all acting like children.”

And those were the polite exchanges.

Eastern Sacramento is where the two Californias come together — where the liberal, urban coast meets the conservative exurbs and rural farmland. Lungren has had a safe seat in Congress in large part due to the district’s Republican majority. Continue reading

Register to Vote Deadline Monday 10/22 at Midnight — Register Online Now!

Today is the first day of the rest of your life, but Wednesday was the first day you could register entirely online to vote.’s right, while some other states are, controversially, adding new ID requirements in order to vote, California has opened up the process a bit with an easy-to-use online registration form. As the Chronicle reported Wednesday:

Made possible by a 2011 bill authored by Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, the online system will allow people whose signature is already on file with the state Department of Motor Vehicles to transfer their voter registration form electronically to county elections officials from the secretary of state’s website.

“It’s already really easy to register to vote,” Shannon Velayas, spokesperson for the California Secretary of State’s office, told KQED’s Erika Kelly. “You can get a registration form at any post office. And the Secretary of State’s office has had an online application you can fill out since 2009, which over half a million people have used to register.”

But that form you have to print, sign, and mail in to your county election office. Not anymore. “You just need to fill out the online information and click send,” says Velayas. “The county elections office takes that information and verifies it, just as they would a paper registration card to make sure that person is eligible to vote.”

The deadline to register is Oct. 22. And you can still do it the old-fashioned way, of course — entirely on paper.

Eroding Trust in Government Among Young Voters

Editor’s note: This story is part of an intermittent series. The Public Policy Institute of California is conducting small focus groups across the state to discuss the role of government, and KQED was invited to listen in. First names only were used to encourage candid conversation.

By Ana Tintocalis

(R. Michael Stuckey: Comstock Images)

20-somethings say they support November propositions that will fund education, but still lack confidence in government. (R. Michael Stuckey: Comstock Images)

A group of Millennials — young people aged 18 to 29 — are gathered around a conference table in a nondescript office building in Silicon Valley.

In just a few minutes, they will be answering some pointed political questions as part of a researched-based focus group organized by the Public Policy Institute of California — a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank. The PPIC conducts public opinion polling, but they’re also holding smaller conversations to gauge more detailed opinions from Californians this election year.

On this night participants come from all walks of life — from a teenage grocery store clerk to an engineer at Cisco. Some are Democrats, some are Republicans, and others don’t belong to any party.

But as a group, they are not excited about how the U.S. is doing. “Uneasy,” one person said. “Worried and scared,” was the take of somebody else.

‘Our taxes are going to jails for the inmates to live somewhat well versus [going to] education. When you turn around and graduate, you don’t have a job to go to.’

These 20-somethings are anxious about their prospects for the future and are especially worried about finding a good job in a still-struggling economy.

It’s a far cry from four years ago, when the promise of hope and change bolstered the expectations of young people across the country.

“Government is unproductive. They’re large, they’re bulky, and it’s top heavy. And it shouldn’t be that way,” said Yukata, a young Republican who received his master’s degree at U.C. Davis. “When you look at government, you think of greed. That’s not how our founders wanted the government to be. They wanted our government to be small.”

Some of the others at the table nod in agreement. While they don’t see eye-to-eye on many social issues, one thing is clear: They feel lawmakers have turned their backs on providing an affordable, quality higher education in the Golden State.

Ryan, a San Jose State kinesiology major, says the classes he needs have been slashed, yet his tuition continues to increase.

“I could have graduated in four years, but every semester it was a struggle,” Ryan said. “I’d get my registration date, and there’d be [no classes available]. It’s the most frustrating thing. … You have good grades; you’ve been at the school for four years … and tuition just keeps getting more and more expensive. It just doesn’t make sense.” Continue reading

Romney Courts Hispanic Business Leaders in Los Angeles

By Frank Stoltze, KPCC

(Anibal Ortiz: KPCC)

(Anibal Ortiz: KPCC)

Seeking to gain traction with Latino voters, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney traveled to Los Angeles Monday to deliver his pitch to the annual meeting of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“I’m convinced the Republican Party is the rightful home for Hispanic Americans,” Romney told more than 1,000 people during a noontime lunch at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in downtown L.A.

The GOP may be Latinos’ “rightful home,” but an NBC News-Wall Street Journal-Telemundo poll last month found them still preferring Democrats. The survey found President Obama leads Romney 63 to 28 percent among Latinos.

Romney sought to close that gap by touting his commitment to lower taxes and fewer regulations. He told the group of business leaders that Latinos have more reason than most to dump Obama: “While national unemployment is at 8.1 percent, Hispanic unemployment is at over ten percent.” Continue reading

Anti-Prop 8 Lawyer Ted Olson Will Help Prep Paul Ryan For Debates

Attorney Theodore Olsen. (Photo: U.S. Department of Justice)

Attorney Theodore Olsen. (Photo: U.S. Department of Justice)

Word that legal eagle Theodore Olson will stand in as Vice President Joe Biden in debate preparations for Republican VP nominee Paul Ryan confirms the old adage that politics makes strange bedfellows. Both Ryan and Romney strongly oppose same sex marriage (Romney even opposes civil unions).

LGBT activists considered it a coup three years ago when Republican stalwart Olson and top Democrat David Boies signed onto the legal team fighting Prop. 8. And with good reason. Olson’s conservative bona fides were impeccable. Legal counsel in the Reagan Administration. Solicitor General for President George W. Bush. He also outmaneuvered David Boies at the U.S. Supreme Court in the infamous 2000 Bush v. Gore case that settled that year’s political debacle in the 2000 presidential election in Florida. It was the legal dream team.

Olson and Boies have two rounds in federal court, successfully challenging Prop. 8 on historic grounds that it violated the federal constitution. It’s now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

It shouldn’t come as a shock that Olson — who tears up talking about the importance of allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry — is helping to elect the Romney-Ryan ticket. He is, after all, a conservative at his core. Even his argument for gay marriage is based on conservative principles.

And don’t forget he was also part of the winning legal team in the infamous Citizens United case that opened the floodgates of corporate campaign donations. But in addition to winning historic legal victories for LGBT rights, Olson is also helping gay rights groups make connections with other like-minded Republicans who support their cause (including David Koch).

It brings to mind the old saying that Willie Brown and other smart pols adhere to: “In politics, there are no such things as permanent enemies.” And wouldn’t it be fun to see Olson prepping Ryan on a gay marriage question?

Fighting to Repeal Death Penalty Law He Wrote

Don Heller, author of Proposition 7, the 1978 law which expanded California's death penalty. (Photo: SAFE California)

Don Heller, author of Proposition 7, the 1978 law which expanded California's death penalty. (Photo: SAFE California)

For one of the items on this year’s ballot, you need to go back to 1978. In that year, California voters approved Proposition 7, which expanded the death penalty in California. This November Californians will vote on Proposition 34, which would end the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Sacramento attorney Don Heller wrote Prop. 7 at the request of then-State Senator John Briggs.

“I wrote it with the intent of writing a perfect legal document. Which I did! It was well crafted. It met all the constitutional standards, and it’s never been overturned in any aspects by the U.S. Supreme Court.” Heller says.

“But I don’t believe capital punishment works. And if it doesn’t work, change it.”

Jerry Brown was governor at the time, and heinous crime sprees like the Manson killings and two assassination attempts on President Gerald Ford were still fresh in voters’ minds. Heller remembers California as a western state with a taste for frontier justice. Proposition 7 got more than 71 percent of the vote.

“It was a culture of ‘hanging ’em high from the big oak tree,'” Heller recalls. “It was a western mentality of free thinkers and speedy punishment for criminal behavior.” Continue reading