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Another Wave Crashes Weakly on California Shores

by: Brian Leubitz

Tue Nov 11, 2014 at 08:50:46 AM PST

Ami Bera working for Sacramento county 14A few close elections remain

by Brian Leubitz

Well, another election has come and gone. And once again, California was the break against a national wave election. Sure, there were a few disappointments, and a few races that are still in question. But California is still a state where the divisive values of the extreme right represented by the Republican party do not sell.

The close ones to watch at this point are in the House of Representatives, where three Democrats are fighting to maintain their seats. Ami Bera and Jim Costa are just barely behind their Republican opponents, and Julia Brownley has a slight lead. However, the trend after election day has been favorable for all of them. It isn't yet clear how they will turn out, but there is reason to be optimistic.

Turnout still makes elections, and you can see the state tilt back and forth like the rest of the country from mid-terms to presidential elections. But California still has demographics and tempermant that just don't suit right-wing extremism.

As Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, the Republicans bombed at the box office, once again here in California. Jerry Brown made history by winning his fourth term in office, Gavin Newsom, Kamala Harris, and Dave Jones were re-elected, and Betty Yee, John Chiang, and Alex Padilla will join them in statewide office. Even on a day when turnout was again disappointing, Republicans couldn't really get into spitting distance of winning a state office. It is hard to argue that they are anything other than a regional party in California. Sure, they picked up legislative seats, but with our recent supermajority reforms at the ballot box, that carries less weight than it did before.

All that being said, we must continue to hold our politicians accountable. In a state where one party dominates, there can be a tendency to backslide to wherever the money flows. We must demand transparency and follow through.

The need for transparency is nothing new. In a state this big, there is always a tension between transparency and efficiency. But with the lack of action on the federal level, Sacramento must be a center of both action and inclusion.  

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Field Issues Final Poll of the Year, Light Turnout Expected Tomorrow

by: Brian Leubitz

Mon Nov 03, 2014 at 14:58:57 PM PST

Prop Yes No D/K
1 (Water) 54 22 24
45 (Justify Rates) 30 42 28
46 (Patient Safety) 32 49 19
47 (Sentencing) 51 23 26

Light turnout expected as we approach tomorrow's election

by Brian Leubitz

Field released their final piece of polling data on Halloween, this time a slew of data on the ballot measures. You can see a quick summary to the right.

In terms of turnout, well, don't hold out high hopes.

Despite a record number of registered voters in California, some analysts are predicting the total turnout for Tuesday's election could fall below 50 percent.
KNX 1070's Pete Demetriou reports about 17.8 million Californians are now registered to vote - more than for any other gubernatorial general election in state history. (KCBS)

This really is big news. For the first time in our history, a general election could result in a turnout of under 50%. Perhaps it is understandable, given the lack of hotly contested statewide races. However, there are still a litany of legislative and ballot measure races that are still up in the air.

This morning I did a bit of song-and-dance as I was passing out some election material at my local subway station. And even in San Francisco, where there is a hotly contested legislative race, there is still a sense of ambivalence. Whatever the reason, I hope a few more Californians take that extra few minutes tomorrow. Democracy has its share of problems, but those are only magnified when we don't vote.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Field Poll Shows Dems in Good Shape for Statewide Races, SSPI will be close

by: Brian Leubitz

Thu Oct 30, 2014 at 11:11:14 AM PDT

Dems all carry leads in statewide races. Tom Torlakson is in a dogfight with Marshall Tuck

by Brian Leubitz

The final Field Poll came out today, and it had Democrats looking good in all of the partisan statewide races. As you can see from the table to the right, the Dems are all showing statistically significant leads. Add that to the Governor's 54-33 lead and all seems well in Democratic party land.

However, state superintendent of public instruction Tom Torlakson has quite the fight in front of him in the next few days. While it is a nonpartisan race, the California Democratic Party has endorsed SSPI Torlakson, and a lot of effort statewide is being directed towards his re-election. The efforts of so-called "school reformers" to get a charter school advocate in that position is just presenting a magnet to money on both sides of the issue.

The interesting thing is that despite all the money spent so far in the race, a rather large plurality of voters still doesn't have an opinion on the race. One has to suspect that many voters rely upon the signal that party preference provides, and just are not well versed enough to make a call without that information. It really complicates nonpartisan races, making field and other outreach that much more difficult.

So, with all the big statewide races less than interesting, one would expect low turnout. And, according to PDI, a big election data company, that is exactly the case. Turnout is trailing far behind both 2010 and 2012.  While exact turnout figures are still tough to call, I would expect turnout levels approaching our lower records for an election in a gubernatorial year.

But that just makes all the field work that much more important. Make sure your friends and family vote!

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Prop 47 Would Put the Emphasis Back on Rehabilitation in our Justice System

by: Brian Leubitz

Wed Oct 29, 2014 at 13:05:34 PM PDT

Measure would reform sentencing and focus on rehabilitation, rather than warehousing, of prisoners

by Brian Leubitz

Prop 47 has been lost a little bit in the shuffle between other measures. From local to statewide ballot measures and a few legislative races, Prop 47 doesn't have the huge TV aerial war that we have seen elsewhere.

But it could make a huge difference in how we spend our money on prisons through the CDCR. (That last R is supposed to stand for rehabilitation, but with Prop 47, California can put its money where its mouth has been for years. We have fallen sadly behind states like Kansas in how we handle our prisons. Prop 47 is one step along the way to the powerful reform our justice system still needs.

Presente.org has a new video up, and maybe if we all share it on Facebook, a few more California voters will see it and vote Yes. View and share!

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Bay Area Beverage Taxes Draw Big Cash

by: Brian Leubitz

Tue Oct 28, 2014 at 10:53:29 AM PDT

Sugary beverage taxes are focus of big spending in Berkeley and San Francisco

by Brian Leubitz

If you are in the Bay Area, you won't be surprised to hear that the beverage association and its member companies have spent quite the hefty total on the two measures. But the number still may seem excessive:

Along Berkeley's main streets and in the underground subways here, advertisements blasting the proposed soda tax are everywhere. The American Beverage Association, the soda industry's lobbying group, has spent some $1.7 million dollars fighting the measure in Berkeley, and $7.7 million in San Francisco, according to campaign filings. (NPR)

Now that's just plain stupid money in a local ballot measure. It means that TV commercials and mailers are ubiquitous, and that some slate mailers are running some sketchy campaigns for other candidates on the back of the soda tax measure.

But all that money isn't just one sided, as former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg has also bought some TV time during the World Series to support Berkeley's measure.

All this being said, I voted Yes on SF's Prop E, our soda tax. It requires a 2/3 vote, as it is targeted for specific funding goals, and that is a big haul. But SF Supervisors Wiener and Mar have done their homework on the measure, and it could end being a tight vote. The Berkeley measure only requires a majority vote, so expect that race to get a lot of focus on election day. It may be the first such measure to pass. KQED's Forum had a fascinating debate on both measures:

John Oliver had a great segment on sugar, it's worth a watch in the video up top.

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

CA-52: Carl DeMaio's Campaign. Yuck.

by: Brian Leubitz

Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 10:42:13 AM PDT

Openly gay Republican accused of sexual harassment

by Brian Leubitz

I've not really mentioned the burning wreck that is Carl DeMaio's 2014 Congressional campaign. But, boy is it in fire right now. Voice of San Diego has a full timeline of the various scandals with a very fitting opening sentence:

In 10 years covering San Diego politics, including the one where Bob Filner was mayor, I have never seen a more bizarre political scandal than the one surrounding Carl DeMaio's congressional campaign over the last few weeks. (VoSD)

The article follows the rather bizarre twists and turns of a plagiarism story turning into a sexual harassment story. Because it is two gay men, the media has been somewhat confused how to play this whole thing, with reactions landing all over the place. But, as a gay man myself, I can think of no reason why it should be handled differently than any other case. Sexual harassment is just never ok.

But the long and short of it is that after the plagiarism story, a staffer, Todd Bosnich, got the blame and was ultimately fired. But not immediately, as he stuck around a few days on the campaign. According to Bosnich, somewhere during his time on the campaign, he was rather aggressively harassed. I'll let you go to the original article for all the sordid details and the full timeline.

Well, the Voice of SD article would have been a complete timeline, except the latest scandal DeMaio got caught up in this week:

On Jan. 22, DeMaio sent an email to two members of his staff, campaign spokesperson Dave McCulloch and then-policy director Todd Bosnich (Bosnich has accused DeMaio of sexually harassing him and trying to buy his silence). The email's subject line is "Kate Lyon" and includes a photo of an overweight woman wearing a bra and eating what looks to be a Twinkie chicken nugget. (The woman in the photo is not Lyon.) Based on the email's metadata, it appears to be authentic.

Kate Lyon is the deputy campaign manager for Scott Peters, the 52nd District congressional representative whom DeMaio's challenging in the upcoming election. (CityBeat)

Stay Classy, Carl DeMaio.

This is definitely a swing district, and Scott Peters still has a tough race on his plate. But, in a city that is still recovering from a sexual harassment story involving its former mayor, more inappropriate behavior is not really a good asset in prospective public servants.

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

The Fate of the Senate Supermajority?

by: Brian Leubitz

Mon Oct 20, 2014 at 11:43:30 AM PDT

Two seats get big attention

by Brian Leubitz

The media thrives on big statements, but shades of gray are everywhere. And that is true for the Senate elections here in California. So, with that, here is a "big statement" quote from former FPPC chair (and SoS candidate) Dan Schnur:

"If Republicans can win both of those seats, it will be seen as their first step back toward political relevance in California," said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. "But if Democrats get the supermajority back, it's difficult to see California becoming a two-party state again any time in the near future." (LA Times)

To be clear, these two races are very worthy of attention. They are getting very expensive, as both sides look to grab an advantage. And, in terms of the supermajority, this is where the ballgame will be decided. But, is the supermajority really that important? Are there a lot of supermajority measures that will get taken up next year? It seems unlikely, and with the budget only requiring a majority, taxes are the only instance where you would really need it.

And if the GOP can pull off a win in one or two of these districts, does that really mean they are on the road back? Yes a lot of money will be spent in those two districts, but there is little to draw casual voters to these elections. The Presidency isn't up this year, and the governor's race is a snoozer. Will a GOP win say anything about the future, or will it say more about the electorate of the past?

If the Republicans aren't able to win at least one, it would certainly present a dark picture for the future. Their two candidates, Andy Vidak and Janet Nguyen, are fairly strong in favorable electoral conditions. If they can't win now, when will they win? This is where I tend to agree with the drastic part of Schur's quote. The GOP, and more importantly their financial backers, will have to look at massive change if they can't win these two seats this November.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Consumer Federation: Prop 46 Opponents Are Privacy Hypocrites

by: Open Thread

Wed Oct 15, 2014 at 16:56:45 PM PDT

(A nice follow-up to my article about this subject recently from our friends at the Consumer Federation.   - promoted by Brian Leubitz)

by Richard Holober, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of California

Health care industry-funded ads sounding the Prop 46 privacy alarm flunk the straight face test.

The ads allege Prop 46 sets up a secret medical record database that will be vulnerable to hacking. Not only is this absolutely false, it's galling when you consider that the hospitals and insurance companies funding the ads have exposed millions of their own patient records through their negligence.

Prop 46 creates no new patient database. It does put to better use a database that has been in place for 17 years. The CURES database (Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System) has never been breached. It is a database of prescriptions for Schedule II, III and IV narcotics. It is encrypted and stored on a server behind the Department of Justice's firewall. Access is tightly restricted to licensed prescribers, pharmacists and law enforcement.

Overprescribing of prescription narcotics is a national epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control cited 475,000 emergency room visits and 36,000 deaths from prescription narcotic overdoses in a recent year, at a price tag of $72 billion in avoidable health care expenditures.

A big contributor to this epidemic is doctor shopping by drug abusers who go from one physician to the next, getting multiple prescriptions for the same narcotic. CURES is a powerful tool to halt doctor shopping.

But the CURES database is only effective if physicians check it before filling a prescription.

Prop 46 is named the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act in memory of two children who were killed on the sidewalk of their Danville neighborhood by a drugged driver who had been prescribed thousands of painkillers from multiple doctors at the same hospital. These doctors failed to check the CURES database to see whether their colleagues had already written the patient an identical prescription.

It's estimated that only 8 percent of California doctors check the database before writing a prescription for a controlled substance. New York and Virginia recently required mandatory checks of their CURES-type databases, reducing doctor shopping in those states by 75 percent and 73 percent respectively.

Proposition 46 will require California doctors to follow suit and check the database before they first prescribe to a patient a Schedule II or III drug such as cocaine, methamphetamine, Demerol, OxyContin, anabolic steroids or codeine.

Requiring the check is a life-saving improvement to the law, and a far cry from the new "secret" and insecure database that No on 46 ads claim the measure would create.

The hospital and insurance companies behind the No on 46 ads have a lot of nerve to assume the mantle of privacy protectors. The perfect security record of CURES stands in stark contrast to the failure of these health care corporations to safeguard their own patient records.

According to Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, from January 2013 through June 2014, hospitals and insurers including No on 46 funders exposed more than 1.5 million California patient records in data breaches.

A few recent careless breaches by Prop 46 opponents include:

  • AHMC Hospitals, Alhambra, 2013: 729,000 patient records breached
  • Anthem Blue Cross, 2012-2013: 57,000 patient records exposed
  • Blue Shield of California, 2013: 18,000 patient and physician records posted online
  • Health Net, 2011: 1,900,000 patient records lost
  • Kaiser Permanente, 2009-2014: 74,000 patient records compromised
  • Sutter Health, 2011: 947,000 patient records exposed
  • No on 46 funders have also worked overtime to weaken patient privacy laws. This year the California Hospital Association pushed amendments to Assembly Bill 1755 that would have ended mandatory patient notification requirements and instead allowed each hospital to decide whether or not to inform patients when its records were negligently released. In 2012, the California Hospital Association supported amendments to AB 439 that would have eliminated the right of most patients to have their day in court when a health care provider exposed their personal records to strangers. The Consumer Federation of California and our privacy allies stopped both health care industry efforts to mug patient privacy rights.

    Hospitals and insurance companies should stop scaring voter about Prop 46, clean up their own negligent security practices, and respect California medical privacy laws.

    - See more at: http://consumercal.org/prop-46...

    Discuss :: (2 Comments)

    The Wilderness Just Keeps Getting Bigger for the CRP

    by: Brian Leubitz

    Mon Oct 13, 2014 at 17:00:11 PM PDT

    Laguna Coast Wilderness Park 2010Oct31 14Statewide elections bring big challenges to Republican playbook

    by Brian Leubitz

    California Republicans really want to be like other Republicans. They want to win lots of elections and support some crazy, right-wing policies. But, it turns out in California, that's kind of a non-starter. In fact, the odds are so stacked against that craziness, that Republicans statewide are well behind out of the starting gate. From Jim Newton of the LA Times:

    Aaron McLear, senior advisor to the Kashkari campaign, pointed out to me last week that, for a Republican to win statewide, he or she needs to carry 95% of Republican voters, two-thirds of independents and about one-third of Democrats. That is, as he said, "tough, really tough." (Jim Newton / LAT)

    Much of this is demographics, as Newton discusses later in that article. I mean, how long can a party in California continue with nativist rhetoric. Heck, the former Minuteman leader (Asm. Tim Donnelly) was a serious Republican candidate for Governor this June. It is hard for a party to simultaneously take the Minutemen and Latinos seriously. You can't be both racist and support a diverse California.

    But it is clearly more than that for the CRP. It would be easy to just say that they should run a more moderate candidate. They've done that. Meg Whitman wasn't really of the right-wing, and neither is Neel Kashkari. But unless another Arnold Schwarzenegger comes along, with something exceptional (like say a huge movie career), the branding of the California Republican Party is like a lead anchor around his or her poll numbers. It is exceedingly difficult, in the modern media atmosphere, to transcend party identification. Even Meg Whitman, with all of her millions, couldn't accomplish the task.

    One candidate can't change lead a party from the wilderness, even if his name is Arnold Schwarzenegger. The California Republican Party is intent on becoming a regional party, and if that is going to change, it will take a long-term overhaul.

    Discuss :: (4 Comments)

    Oh, yeah, there are ballot measures

    by: Brian Leubitz

    Thu Oct 09, 2014 at 12:37:39 PM PDT

    ballot imageBallots are in the mail. I'm voting yes.

    by Brian Leubitz

    In case you missed it, the election started a few days ago. Ballots went in the mail early this week, and by the end of this weekend, millions of votes will already have been cast.

    So, how are you voting on those pesky ballot measures? NextTen has a helpful guide, California Choices, with information about the measures and who has taken a position on either side.

    But here's how I'm leaning as of right now. I probably won't actually cast my ballot for another week or two, but this is my general inclination right now: Yes. On all of them. So, a quick rundown:

    Prop 1: Water Bond: Yes
    This is far from perfect. I'd prefer more money in conservation as opposed to storage projects, and there are a lot of implementation details still to be decided. However, with the current drought, I think it is pretty clear that we need to be spending money on water infrastructure. This gets us one step along the way.

    Prop 2: Rainy Day Fund / Budget Stabilization: Yes

    A little bit of smoothing in our boom and bust budget is probably a good thing. This law requires a reduction in reserves by school districts, which makes some education folks a bit nervous. But, in theory, the state won't be making the massive cuts to education when the economy takes a bit of a hiccup. Again, some questions of how this will actually work are still to be ironed out, but this is generally worthy of a Yes vote.

    Prop 45: Health Insurance Rates: Yes

    Dave Jones is working hard to strengthen his office's ability to review health insurance rates. The opponents argue that the review could delay plans making it to the health care exchange. I have been reassured by Insurance Commissioner Jones that this will not be an issue, timely review is indeed possible. If all works right with this measure, health insurance plans will just have to show that they are spending their money wisely and on medical care. I'm leaning towards Yes.

    Prop 46: Medical safety: medical negligence limits and drug testing: YES

    I've written about this measure several times. The caps on non-economic damages is unfair, provides cruel incentives, and doesn't do what it purports to do (lower insurance costs). Privacy concerns about the drug testing are valid, but surely we can come up safeguards. This measure is long overdue in California. Please, Vote YES ON 46.

    Prop 47: Criminal Sentencing: Yes

    Sentencing reform championed by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. It will reduce non-violent offenders in our prisons, reduce the ridiculous amount of money we spend on our prisons while allowing us to increase money for treatment programs. All of this makes sense, I'm voting Yes.

    Prop 48: Approve Tribal Gaming Compacts: Yes

    A referendum that is more about the relationships between various tribes than anything else. Some current gaming tribes are less than pleased about a new casino being opened up within Central Valley city borders and off a reservation. I don't love all the casinos opening up, but they are going to happen given the current state of the law. I can't see any reason why this one is really any worse. I guess I'll vote yes.

    Discuss :: (8 Comments)

    Brown Signs Bag Ban, Martins Beach Access Law, and Ends Gay/Trans Panic Defense

    by: Brian Leubitz

    Tue Sep 30, 2014 at 17:44:32 PM PDT

    SeaOttersdotComCalifornia becomes first state in the nation to ban plastic bags, but it could be headed to the ballot

    by Brian Leubitz

    Early next year, California will become the first state in the nation to bag plastic bags. Maybe:

    California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the nation's first statewide ban on the use of plastic bags in grocery stores and other businesses on Tuesday.
    *** **** ***
    An industry group representing plastic-bag makers, called the American Progressive Bag Alliance, said Tuesday they plan to put a referendum on the ballot in 2016 to repeal the California ban.(WSJ)

    If the bag companies are able to referendum the bill, it would mean that the ban wouldn't go into effect until after the 2016 election. Given that the companies seem willing to pile money into a campaign, it seems something of a foregone conclusion that we will see an election on this one.

    In other big legislation news, tech mogul Vinod Khosla was dealt a blow in his attempt to close the road to Martins Beach, a surfer favorite. Khosla has been fighting for a couple of years to close the road, in courts and against the legislation that Gov. Brown signed on Tuesday. Basically the law requires negotiation with Khosla for a year, and then authorizes eminent domain of the road if the negotiations are fruitless.

    In other news, the LGBT community got a big victory with the Governor signing a bill that bans the use of the "gay panic" and "trans panic" defenses.

    Simply put, gay panic is the notion that acts of violence are partly justifiable when a person's all-consuming hatred for LGBT people causes them to go berserk or act with "diminished capacity." It's a heinous defense tactic that banks on a judge or jury's own homophobia, apportioning some blame onto victims in order to get a murder charge downgraded to manslaughter. Leaning on a "heat of passion" line of thinking deliberately turns a trial into something out of a pulp novel. Gay panic benefits from anti-LGBT bias, and adds to it as well, by dredging up ancient stereotypes of gays as sexual predators who can't be trusted not to curb their appetites.
    *** **** ***
    But it's no longer a justifiable defense in Golden State courtrooms, since Assemblymember Susan Bonilla (an East Bay Democrat) has pushed a bill banning both gay panic and transgender panic as legal defenses through the legislature. Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 2501 into law over the weekend, continuing to put the state at the forefront of LGBT rights. (SF Weekly)

    It is easy to overlook this bill, or think this is some historical relic. But this is real, and really offensive every time it is used. It is a big step forward for civil rights in California and across the country.

    Discuss :: (0 Comments)

    Brown Signs Ban against Spying on Consumers Using Rent-to-own Computers

    by: consumercal

    Fri Sep 19, 2014 at 14:37:51 PM PDT

    Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill sponsored by the Consumer Federation of California to protect consumer privacy by restricting the use of spyware on rented computers.

    Thanks to Assembly Bill 2667 (Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica), consumers who rent a computer or similar electronic device in California will not fall victim to the use of invasive privacy technologies by the merchant or manufacturer who sold the item. The Assembly and state Senate each approved the bill without opposition.

    "Now that our legislation is signed, rent-to-own companies will no longer be able to use spyware to collect passwords and credit card and medical records, and to activate webcams on rented devices," said Richard Holober, executive director of the Consumer Federation of California. "Consumers in California will now be protected against this unwarranted information gathering that makes consumers more vulnerable to identity theft and other fraud."

    The need for safeguards to protect consumers against egregious privacy violations has been documented by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). On March 10, 2014, the agency issued its Final Order Settling Charges that Aaron's Inc. Allowed Franchisees to Spy on Consumers via Rental Computers. The FTC had previously taken action against software manufacturer DesignWare LLC and seven rent-to-own companies, including Aaron's, on this issue.

    "Keystroke logs displayed usernames and passwords for access to email accounts, social media websites, and financial institutions. Screenshots captured additional confidential details, including medical information, applications containing Social Security numbers, and bank and credit card statements. Webcams operating secretly inside computer users' homes took photographs of computer users and anyone else within view of the camera. These included images of minor children as well as individuals not fully clothed and engaged in intimate conduct," according to the FTC.

    "When consumers contract with rent-to-own retailers for a laptop or other electronic device, they are often unaware that these devices can contain invasive software," Assembly Member Bloom said when his bill went to the governor. "This bill protects consumers from having their personal information, including photographs, financial information and medical records, taken without their knowledge or consent."
    The rent-to-own industry is big business, with a reported $8.5 billion in revenues. The ranks of its customers more than doubled between 2003 and 2012, to 6 million. Four in 10 earn under $24,000 - part of a vast, vulnerable population whose immediate needs exceed their weekly paychecks. With AB 2667, Californians will be better protected in the privacy of their homes.

    Discuss :: (0 Comments)

    Gov. Brown's Pen is Busy

    by: Brian Leubitz

    Mon Sep 29, 2014 at 10:24:12 AM PDT

    California State Capitol 2Governor is tearing through the stack of legislation on his desk

    by Brian Leubitz

    The Horseshoe is busy. Very busy. And it isn't just the governor and his legislative staff. Those folks who post his press releases on the website must be pulling all-nighters.

    If you check the Governor's official press release page, you will see a slew of signed and vetoed legislation. And that is just a fraction of what the bills that they are actually going through. The press releases from legislators, interest groups, and the governor are generally flying fast and furious.

    Perhaps to emphasize his middle of the road politics these days, the Governor has taken exactly that approach to new labor legislation. He signed legislation that will hold businesses liable for subcontractor's labor violations, but he also vetoed a bill that would have made it harder for BigAg to stall new contracts with farm laborers. Despite the latter bill being dubbed one of the CalChamber's top "JobKillers", the bill made it through the Legislature. That's usually quite the feat, but with Sen. Steinberg pushing it, shouldn't be too much of a surprise. In his veto message, Gov. Brown says he wants to view the whole process rather than nibbling at one side or the other.

    In another major piece of legislation, the governor vetoed a drone surveillance measure by Republican Asm. Jeff Gorell

    Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday vetoed a bill that would have required law enforcement agencies to obtain warrants to use drones for surveillance.
    *** **** ***
    The bill, AB 1327, would have required the government to secure a warrant from a judge before using surveillance drones except in cases of environmental emergencies such as oil or chemical spills. Three other states have placed a moratorium on drone use by state and local agencies. (LA Times)

    Given that the bill carried substantial support from both parties in the Legislature, one would expect to see a similar bill in the next session. Although, from the Governor's veto message, it may need to be defined on the basis of the federal and state constitutions without adding too much in the way of new privacy rights. It might be something of a threading the needle task for whomever takes up the task.

    Of course, that is just the start, to get a full record keeping, you can check out the Governor's Legislative Updates on his official press release page.


    Discuss :: (0 Comments)

    LA Times Op-Ed: No on 46 Campaign "Jaw-Droppingly Deceptive"

    by: Brian Leubitz

    Thu Sep 25, 2014 at 16:18:42 PM PDT

    LA Times Editorial Board Member pens op-ed against deceptive campaign tactics by insurance funded No on 46 campaign

    by Brian Leubitz

    The members of the LA Times Editorial Board don't frequently go this far out on the limb against a ballot measure campaign. But check out this op-ed from a member of that board, Jon Healey, calling out the No on 46 campaign:

    Even by the political world's low standards of truthiness, a new commercial being aired by the No on Proposition 46 campaign is jaw-droppingly deceptive.
    *** **** ***
    Opponents are also trying to persuade voters that the measure would expose their personal health to more prying eyes. But that is, in a word, baloney. Proposition 46 increases the risk of medical data being hacked to the same degree that building a snowman increases the risk of low temperatures. Yet a new television commercial being run by the No on 46 campaign would have you believe that the measure would practically put your medical records up on EBay.
    *** **** ***
    The implication is that the proposition would either create or pump more personal information into a database that's less protected than other online repositories. None of that is true. (LA Times / Jon Healey)

    I support Prop 46 for a number of reasons. The cap on non-economic damages in MICRA has been devastating for patients across the state. It makes some patients "cheaper" by emphasizing concrete economic damages like lost income. Yes, an insurance company CEO would have brought home more definable money than a child, but does that really mean that only malpractice against the rich and established should give rise to a claim? It means that killing a patient is frequently cheaper than causing expensive long-term health consequences.

    Yes, Prop 46 can be a bit confusing, but it has one clear underlining goal: improving patient safety. That is what the CURES requirement would do by decreasing prescription interactions, and that is what the drug testing requirement would do. Maybe you have quibbles about the means to the end goal, but the goal is clear: patient safety.

    Could CURES, the prescription database, use some work? Of course, but to blithely state that the government should not maintain any of records? Newsflash: the government already has a ton of personal data. They have your income tax records and social security records. We trust the government with that data, yet somehow hackers are going to focus their efforts on a prescription drug database?

    This is California, the home of innovation. We can build a database that makes patients safer and maintains their privacy. Are we really going to shy away from all computerization of our records, or should we only trust the insurance companies with our records?

    All of these objections are a way of making the issues fuzzy by the NO campaign. But Prop 46 would bring at least some semblance of hope to the families that have had to deal with the loss of a loved one to medical malpractice that things can get better. That's why California leaders like Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer and Candace Lightner, the founder of MADD, are supporting Prop 46.

    I recommend you see through the typical campaign insanity and vote YES on Prop 46.

    Discuss :: (2 Comments)

    Wouldn't Kashkari's world be amazing?

    by: Brian Leubitz

    Mon Sep 22, 2014 at 15:57:44 PM PDT

    IMG_9936 copyGOP candidate for governor pictures very different GOP than actually exists

    by Brian Leubitz

    Neel Kashkari made a big speech this weekend at the California Republican Party's convention. It was meant to do two things: shore up his base and project a vision of a moderate party that could face California's future challenges. In many ways, these goals are diametrically opposed to each other.

    It may have accomplished the base aspect, with convention goers seeming to be happy. Or at least they told the media that they were happy. Of course, it still wasn't enough for Controller candidate Ashley Swearingen to be convinced:

    Delegate Matt Kauble of Cerritos said he voted for Kashkari's tea party rival, Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks), in the June primary but was impressed by Kashkari's passion about relieving poverty and his desire to appeal to a multiracial audience.
    *** **** ***
    Ashley Swearengin, running for controller, told reporters Friday that she hadn't made up her mind between Kashkari and Brown because she hadn't yet had a chance to meet with the Republican. State party chairman Jim Brulte labeled her strategy "Felony stupid" in an email exchange with other party members. (LA Times)

    I must say, "felony stupid" is really an underused term. I think I'll add it to my daily conversational repertoire. At any rate, base consolidation is a question best answered by FlashReport and the similar outlets. But the question of whether he, and the CRP, can speak to the broader California electorate is a different beast. So that's where he comes up with this:

    "When they said we don't care about the poor, we don't care about minorities, they have no idea what they're talking about," Kashkari said.(LA Times)

    He backed all that up with historical connections, including the GOP's support of the Civil Rights Act. And that is partially true. The civil rights legislation of the 60s and 70s wouldn't have occured without the support of Northern Republicans. Except that most of those Republicans (see Chaffee, Lincoln) have left the GOP for the Democratic Party. And then there is the small matter of the now widely acknowledged Southern strategy.

    Wouldn't it be great if Kashkari's vision were actually true? I would love to live in a world where there was robust debate between two parties focused on how to best ensure that no American went to bed hungry or homeless. But that world is not this one. No matter how you try to dress up the Republican party, especially the California Republican party, it is still a right-wing organization with signed contracts of inflexibility.

    Maybe in another generation or so we could see two (or, preferably, more!) parties that can speak to the California electorate giving voters real options. But the CRP that Kashkari hopes to lead is not that one.

    Discuss :: (0 Comments)
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