2012 General Election

RECENT POSTS

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

Register to Vote Online Now! Deadline is Monday at Midnight

Yo, time’s a wastin’.

If you want to vote on November 6, it’s time to register. Because the deadline is Monday night, midnight.

Here in public radio, we are big fans of engagement in the political process. We’ve been working hard to bring you informative stories, an awesome Propositions Guide, and, every now and then, quirky entertaining election tidbits.

So, click on this link. Or the attractive “register to vote” graphic. You can register to vote online in about 60 seconds. If you have ever complained about politics in this country, it’s time to make your voice heard.

Register, then vote on November 6.

We’re KQED and we approve this message.

 

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

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

Prop. 36: No Life Sentence for ’3rd Strike’ if Nonviolent

By Michael Montgomery

This story was co-reported by Monica Lam in collaboration with the Center for Investigative Reporting 

(Monica Lam: CIR)

Members of a San Quentin self-help group for three-strikers meet with reporter Michael Montgomery. Most say they are here for non-violent crimes. (Monica Lam: CIR)

Some 26 states have passed “three strikes” laws, which impose long prison terms for repeat offenders. But only in California can prosecutors seek a life sentence, even if the third strike is for a relatively minor felony, like drug possession. That could change, if voters approve Proposition 36 on the ballot this November.

In 1997 Norman Williams was sent to state prison for a 25-to-life sentence. His crime: stealing a jack from a tow truck in Long Beach. Because Williams had two previous burglary convictions, he was swept up by California’s three strikes law. Williams was sent to a maximum-security lockup alongside murderers, rapists and other violent criminals.

“I never wanted to do my whole life in prison. Nobody wants to be caged like that,” says Williams.

“We want to remove the worst offenders from society for the sake of our communities, and we want to do it no matter what it costs.”

But thanks to the help of an attorney and some Stanford Law School students, Williams got out. On a recent day, I met him in front of a halfway house in San Jose, where he directs cleaning crews for a program that provides work for ex-offenders. Williams says cleaning, especially floors, is the only thing he learned while locked up. Continue reading

Explaining the Difference Between Props 30 and 38, Dueling Tax Initiatives

Teachers at Angeles Mesa Elementary School in Los Angeles review voter information on Proposition 38 during a recent teacher union meeting. (Ana Tintocalis: KQED)

Teachers at Angeles Mesa Elementary School in Los Angeles review voter information on Proposition 38 during a recent teacher union meeting. (Ana Tintocalis: KQED)

Education advocates in California say public schools will either sink or swim based on the outcome of two competing tax initiatives on the November ballot — Proposition 30 and Proposition 38. While both aim to protect students from more devastating budget cuts, they go about it in very different ways.

To better understand what is at stake for California’s public schools, I started off by visiting the headquarters of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the largest district in the state.

LAUSD has had to cut about half a billion dollars from its budget every year for the past five years because of the state’s money problems. Class sizes have swollen to more than 40 students; the school year was cut by five instructional days, and teachers have lost their jobs.

The person behind every difficult financial decision is Megan Reilly, the district’s Chief Financial Officer.

“The biggest challenge for Governor Brown is convincing [voters] that state government can be trusted to spend their tax dollars wisely and effectively.”

Her office is perched on the 26th floor of a skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles. Stacks of papers and financial reports are piled on and around her desk. Although she has a sweeping view of the city, she can’t take her eyes off of a series of large monthly calendars on the wall.

November 6th, Election Day, is circled, underlined and highlighted.

“I don’t think you can not think about it,” Reilly says. “We’re just in limbo because everything is critical about what is going to happen at the November election.”

Reilly views the election as a watershed moment for schools, because if voters do not approve Prop. 30 or Prop. 38, L.A. Unified — along with most other districts in California — will be pushed further down the road toward insolvency. Continue reading

Can a Penny-an-Ounce Soda Tax Curb Obesity?

Jorge Cota has lost more than 70 pounds since giving up soda and making other changes to his diet. (Mina Kim: KQED)

Jorge Cota, 17, has lost more than 70 pounds since giving up soda and making other changes to his diet. (Mina Kim: KQED)

Jorge Cota says he always gets a little nervous when he comes to Children’s Hospital in Oakland for his bi-monthly weigh-in.

“I’m wondering oh, did I lose this much weight, or did I not lose this much, if I gain weight I’m going to be mad,” says the 17-year-old high school football player from Tracy. “It’s just a lot of things going through my mind that I get nervous about when I come to the doctors, especially here.”

It was here at Children’s, about a year ago, that Jorge learned his health was in trouble.

“They told me that I was a pre-diabetic, that I also had high blood pressure, and they thought there was something wrong with my heart or my kidneys.”

“It was a scary moment,” Jorge’s mom Linda Ramos says. “When they were telling us, he started crying, he was scared, and that woke him up.”

At 16, Jorge was 5’11” and weighed 321 pounds.

“So I was a pretty big boy,” Jorge says with a smile.

His drink of choice was Dr. Pepper. Jorge says he’d drink two or three cans or bottles of soda a day. That added up to as much as 50 teaspoons of sugar.

“We just cut it out,” Linda Ramos says. “Not only the soda cut out, the way I cook at home for him, the junk food, the way we shop.” Continue reading

What’s at Stake for Obama’s Health Care Law in California This Election?

Photo by Gabriela Quiros, KQED Science

On KQED Public Radio’s The California Report Magazine on Friday, Scott Shafer talked with Marian Mulkey, the director of the Health Reform and Public Programs Initiative at the California HealthCare Foundation, a health-policy think tank (and a funder of the show).

Edited transcript:

SCOTT SHAFER: First of all, the Affordable Care Act has gradually been getting phased in nationwide. Give us a sense of what’s been happening up to now, right here in California.

MARIAN MULKEY, CALIFORNIA HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION: California has implemented many of the early provisions of the Affordable Care Act, making some new extensions of coverage available, for example, to young adults, assuring that pre-existing conditions are covered for children, and implementing many of the early programs — one for people with pre-existing conditions is in place and covering people already.

California has taken steps in terms of planning and establishing a state-based exchange, which is the marketplace by which people will be able to view their choices, identify what’s available for them and access federal subsidy support for buying coverage.

SHAFER: And it’s fair to say California has been further out in front on that than pretty much any other state?

MULKEY: Yes, California was early in determining it wanted to have a state-based exchange and moved quickly, immediately after the passage of the law in 2010 to start one up and to make some initial decisions. Continue reading

Making Sense of the Very, Very Complicated Prop 31

(Justin Brockie:Flickr)

Among other items, Prop. 31 gives California's governor new powers over spending during a fiscal emergency. (Justin Brockie:Flickr)

Among the 11 propositions on the statewide ballot this fall is a measure that would bring sweeping changes in governance to California. As Rachael Myrow suggested Friday morning on The California Report, it would also win a prize for “most changes in one measure.” The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office has identified nine big ideas in Prop 31.

To break it down, Myrow turned to John Myers, political editor for Sacramento television station KXTV.

Here’s the edited transcript of their conversation:

RACHAEL MYROW: Who’s behind the measure? What is “California Forward”?

There has been a long, raging debate in government reform circles about whether we need incremental change or large systemic change. I think Prop. 31 puts its foot in both categories.”

JOHN MYERS: California Forward is a bipartisan group, formed a few years ago to work on ideas about how to fix what’s broken in California governance. They’ve been bankrolled by foundations. Their political activity is mainly bankrolled by a billionaire international investor, and that political activity really focused on this initiative — which they got on the ballot with his help.

RACHAEL MYROW: They’ve held forums around the state in recent years talking about how to make California government more effective. What is it they propose with Prop. 31? Continue reading