All posts by Beth Caskie

Banning Needs a Better School Board

California School Employees Association and its Chapter 147 endorsed Alfredo Andrade, Alex Cassadas, and Ray Curtis for the Banning School Board   (Full disclosure: I am the labor relations representative for CSEA Chapter 147.)

CSEA, the classified employees, endorsed three candidates who promise to make the Banning USD administration accountable to the students, parents, staff, and citizens of the Banning Unified School District.  This is an important election for Banning schools.   It can finally ensure that spending cuts start with management’s perks, instead of essential staff.  Banning has no more bilingual aides, and is slashing library staff hours.  Meanwhile, administrators continue to spend freely on attorneys and consultants, as though they worked at Goldman Sachs.  They don’t.  They work for us.

On November 8th, Banning residents can exercise their power to change the school district by electing Alfredo Andrade, Alex Cassadas, and Ray Curtis to the Banning School Board.  You can give them the authority to supervise the administration.

Isn’t it about time that the Banning School Board did that?


Alfredo Andrade

Para Educator

For the past 10 years, Alfredo Andrade has been working with Special Education students.  Andrade is a proud member of the California School Employees Association, actively engaged in the union’s efforts to improve the lives of its members, our students, and the community.  He believes that the Banning Unified School Board needs to be accountable to the community, its students, and its employees.   As a trustee, Andrade will ensure it.  Alfredo Andrade is currently enrolled at at California State University – San Bernardino.  He is the oldest of five children, and engaged to be married.


Ray Curtis

Retired Teacher and Administrator

Curtis is a Banning High School graduate, former Assistant Superintendent, school administrator, School Board  Trustee, principal, and beloved teacher and coach.  As trustee, he will focus on enhancing academic achievement for all students as well as focusing on the complete development of children to help them in becoming productive citizens, skilled workers, and good parents.  He will insist on budget efficiency, fiscal accountability, and a culture of dignity and respect within the school district.  Curtis has the capacity to ask the tough questions and hold the district administration accountable to the community and its children.  Curtis will listen to the concerns of parents and teachers, and will work for respectful communication with all school, staff, and community participants.


Alex Cassadas

Child Case Worker

Cassadas believes in building positive, collaborative relationships between all stakeholders and he is committed to our students and their education.  He believes we must preserve the full scope of quality academics, including Special Education, arts, music, athletics and programs for English language learners.  Cassadas knows we must prepare our students for college or a career by supporting both college preparatory classes and vocational and technical programs.  All students must have the opportunity to learn and succeed.  As a lifelong Banning resident, Cassadas feels that it is his responsibility to give back to our community, and he currently volunteers in the district.  Cassadas is running for Banning Unified School Board to improve Banning schools.

Vote for Andrade, Curtis, and Cassadas on November 8th!

Need to register to vote?  Click here.

(CA 65AD) It’s about jobs and tax fairness

The Riverside/San Bernardino County area, aka Inland Empire (whose Empire, I always want to know)recently beat Detroit for the dubious honor of being No. 1 in unemployment nationwide.  The Democratic challenger for the 65th Assembly District, Carl Wood, is running on job creation and tax fairness (ie, make corporations pay their fair share).  The incumbent Republican has no record whatsoever on jobs, and recently gave struggling homeowners the back of his hand on foreclosure relief.

The only hope for turning this District around is voter turnout.  A bit of local press on Wood’s odds in the extended diary.  Carl’s Act Blue page is here.

Crossposted at dKos

From Tuesday’s San Bernardino Sun:

Wood’s performance in 2008 was by far the best showing by a Democrat in the district this decade. Before 2008, Cook and Republican candidates before him had won lopsided victories – margins of victory of about 24 percentage points on average – in the 65th District, which stretches from Big Bear Lake to Hemet and from Yucaipa to Twentynine Palms.

But in 2008, Cook’s margin of victory was just 6.6 percentage points. Repeating that showing will be difficult though, as Wood was almost certainly helped by the groundswell of Democratic voter turnout that propelled President Barack Obama to victory and boosted many other otherwise-longshot Democratic candidates.

Wood knows turnout will be key this year if he hopes to build on last year’s near-success.

“That’s what makes this race so unpredictable,” he said. “It’s so heavily dependent on voter turnout. If there’s good turnout, I think I stand a good chance of winning.”

Wood had the Obama surge in 2008, but no campaign structure to speak of.  This time he has a strong volunteer base, union boots on the ground, and better name recognition.  Bill Hedrick’s excellent campaign* for the CA 44th CD is another plus for Carl, their districts overlap, and they share progressive values.   If we can pull this off, Sacramento will get a true bold progressive, one who can actually utter the word taxes without an apology, and leave his audience convinced that they’ve been had by the GOP.

*Corrected from previous version, wherein I invert the candidates and call it GOP Rep. Ken Calvert’s excellent campaign.  Ken Calvert (h/t to Howie Klein)is the incumbent we need to remove.

(CA AD80) Labor of Love: Re-electing Manuel Perez

CSEA members and my fellow union staffer Dale and I walked precincts in Coachella this morning for Manuel Perez, Assemblyman for the 80th AD. As always with this campaign, we were in good company:

Isadore Hall, Assemblyman for the 52nd District, brought five volunteers with him for precinct walking and carne asada.  More from Isadore Hall, CA52AD, on the flip.

Crossposted from dKos

I’ll get better at this videography thing, I promise:

Assemblyman Hall, continued:

We had LIUNA, United Domestic Workers, Coachella Valley Teachers Association, CSEA and more.  This campaign has so many of the same people we had last time, and Manuel Perez’s grassroots/social justice focus is the same.  The difference is now he is on the inside, with a track record.  

(CA AD65) Carl Wood – More and Better for CA

(8.15.10 Disclosure: My union, CSEA, endorsed Wood, and I volunteer on his campaign.)

Carl Wood is the Democratic candidate for the CA 65th Assembly District, the most depressed area in the nation after Detroit.  Carl is a lifelong labor guy with deep roots in the community.  As Public Utilities Commissioner, Carl Wood helped guide the state through the disastrous energy crisis, protecting the interests of workers and working class utility consumers.  

Wood is unapologetically liberal and direct, in a very pleasant way.  Here he is at the California Democratic Convention last April 2010:

Crossposted at dKos

Even if California passes Prop 25, the Majority Budget Initiative, Californians will still need a 2/3 majority to address the structural revenue deficit in the state budget.  We’ll need 2/3 to counter the Yacht Party, and we need more progressive Democrats to lend our own team a bit more moxie.

Carl Wood is not afraid to regulate. He’s not even afraid to say “regulate,” and sadly, that is saying something these days.  Too many Democrats are still self-censored captives of right wing frames.  Carl has already completed a public career, and he’s not afraid to be a one termer, if that’s the price for voting based on policy rather than politics.

Wood wrote a forward to the book Democracy and Regulation: How the Public can Govern Essential Services, by Greg Palast, Jerrold Oppenheim and Theo MacGregor (Pluto Press: 2003).  One choice bit, among many:

Arguments against democratic oversight of any aspect of the economy, exalting commercial secrecy over regulatory openness, supposed private efficiency and vigor over governmental bureaucracy and torpor, ultimately boil down to the justification used by Mussolini’s defenders: “He made the trains run on time.” But, as this book so persuasively demonstrates, it is democratic processes that make the utilities run better, cheaper, more efficiently and more reliably.

We need Democrats who can persuade voters to fight for their own interests, especially in the CA 65th, where the unemployment rate is second only to that of Detroit.  Who will boldly assert we need more jobs, more state revenue, and less genuflecting to the free market?  Carl Wood.

CA 65AD Challenger Carl Wood

Meet Carl Wood, Democratic challenger to the GOP’s Paul Cook in the California 65th Assembly District.  Carl is a lifelong advocate for labor and civil rights, a true blue progressive.  Last election, Carl narrowed the spread on this race from 23% to 7% with only a skeletal campaign.   He’s well known in Riverside County for his work as a Public Utilities Commissioner under Gray Davis, battling the forces of Enron.

This time, the 65th is a priority for local Democratic clubs and labor unions.  So far Carl has the endorsement of the California Labor Federation, CNA, CTA, CSEA, CWA, LIUNA, SEIU California State Council, SEIU RN 121, Teamsters Council 42, Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), and United Auto Workers (UAW).

This is a purple, not red district, and the incumbent’s staff is already making panicky mistakes.  See over the flip.  **Correction:  Previously listed UDW among endorsers, which was incorrect.**  

From the Press Enterprise

Candidates or their supporters sometimes get cranky about an opponent’s preferred designation.

An aide to Assemblyman Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley, recently sent e-mails trying to mobilize opposition to Democratic challenger Carl Wood’s preferred designation as “job development coordinator.” Wood* is director of regulatory affairs for the national Utility Workers Union of America.

Cook aide George Price called the designation “an outright lie” and urged people to complain to election officials. The e-mail, though, showed that it came from Price’s Assembly account. State law prohibits political work with government resources.

Sam Cannon, Cook’s chief of staff, said Price was not at work and meant to send the e-mail from his personal account. “It’s definitely not an appropriate thing to do and he takes full responsibility,” Cannon said.

Cook has been through is own ballot designation fight. In 2006, a rival challenged his designation as “retired Marine colonel” but Cook prevailed. This year, Cook will be described as “member of the state Assembly.”

(*Corrected for this diary: PE article read “Cook is …”)

With California Senate seats in play, it’s imperative we reach a 2/3 majority in the California Assembly as well.  Riverside and San Bernardino Counties are key battlegrounds for Democrats.  Carl’s Act Blue page is here.

Crossposted at dkos

SB 810: Democrats Push for Single Payer

(The difference between winning and losing in 2010 isn’t the mushy middle. The difference is the base. And this is a good start. – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

California’s Senate Appropriations Cmte passed Mark Leno’s SB 810 out of committee, and the Senate will vote on it next week.  (UPDATE: make that this week.  Started this diary on weekend.)  Leno says that the timing is coincidental and not a response to the Brown debacle, but it works for me.  SB 810 would create a single-payer, universal health care system in California.

You’ll be shocked to learn that Republicans are framing this as Democrats Out of Touch, and it’s possible that SB810’s supporters will get wobbly.  Two things need to happen:

Call the California Senators Calderon, Correa, and Wright and let them know that saving the state billions in waste and fraud is still politically viable – contact info on the flip.

Push back on the corporate narrative – talking points and media links on the flip.

Attack attack attack.  If you’re not a constituent, call them anyway.  Let them know that California can show the rest of the country that Democrats understand we want universal healthcare.

Action Alert on SB 810 (Leno) Single Payer Universal Health Care Bill

from California School Employees Association (full disclosure, this is my employer)

<[The] … single payer universal health care system in California, SB 810, is up for a crucial vote in the Senate this week and we need your help.

SB 810 is real health care reform that we desperately need in California. It would provide affordable, comprehensive health care to all Californians and would allow them to choose their own doctors.  Under this bill, nobody could be denied coverage because they had a pre-existing condition, and they would not lose their coverage if they changed jobs or went away to college.

SB 810 will be voted on by the full state Senate in the coming days.  We need your help in contacting three Senators whose vote may be important to the passage of SB 810.

Please make sure you use the following points when you contact the following two Senators:

• Thank you for your prior support of single payer universal health care.

• SB 810 is the new single payer bill and will come before you for a vote on the Senate Floor in the coming days.

• SB 810 is true health care reform that will cover every Californian and provides us comprehensive, affordable and quality health care.

• I am asking you to continue to support single payer health care and vote “YES” on SB 810.

Senator Ron Calderon (Montebello)

Phone: 916-651-4030

Email: [email protected]    

Senator Lou Correa (Santa Ana)

Phone: 916-651-4034

Email: [email protected]

For Senator Wright the message is:

• I am asking you to vote for SB 810 that would create a single payer universal health care system in California.

• This bill will come before you for a vote on the Senate Floor in the coming days.

• SB 810 is true health care reform that will cover every Californian and provides us comprehensive, affordable and quality health care.

• We need this bill and we need it now.  Please vote “YES” on SB 810.

Senator Rod Wright (Los Angeles)

Phone: 916-651-4025

Email: [email protected]

This final push in the Senate is very important to the passage of SB 810 and keeping real health care reform efforts alive in California.  Thank you!

OK, you’ve taken care of the legislators.  On to the media:

Articles on SB810 here, here, and here.

Ammo for your blog or Letter to the Editor:

I am writing to respond to your recent article on the passage of single payer universal health care in the California Legislature.

It’s about time that someone stood up to the insurance companies and banks and I am thankful that there are some legislators in Sacramento standing up for the people by standing up to insurance companies.  

The real reason average people are so upset about health reform is that we want our elected representatives to listen to us instead of insurance company lobbyists who have run our health care system into the ground.

I have watched as health insurance companies raise our premiums, impose huge co-payments and deductibles and then lower our coverage at the same time.  Health care is now an unaffordable luxury for middle class America, and we are losing jobs to Canada because our health care costs are so much higher.

I am tired of paying twice as much as every other nation for health care while we live at the mercy of heartless insurance companies who take 30% off the top and then deny us care whenever they can.  It’s time to get rid of the insurance company middleman.

California legislators need to listen to the voices of millions of Californians who have no health coverage.  California legislators need to listen to the voices of millions more who have insurance but can’t access it because of growing deductibles, co-payments or other insurance company games.  

I urge California legislators to support the California Universal Health Care Act.  The people are desperate for true courageous leadership on health reform.

Other suggestions:

California’s budget crisis is directly linked to rising health care costs.  Health care for teachers, police officers, firefighters, transit workers face annual increases that are much higher than wages.  Do the math!

SB 810 is a public private partnership where everyone pays into a universal health care plan and then everyone chooses their own private doctors and hospitals.  It’s been proven to save California families and employers billions of dollars in the first year.  It works by taking the money we already spend on health care and then getting rid of the wasteful insurance company bureaucracy that stands between us and our doctor.  

Thank you!

Crossposted at dKos

Carl Wood’s message from Copenhagen

Today I’m at the Riverside County Democratic Central Committee Strategic Planning Retreat.  We are 44th CD, 45th CD, 64th, 65th AD, 80th AD, and the 37th SD (election April 17th if someone gets 50+1).  Riverside County frankly deserves maximum attention from the CDP, as we have the seats that could flip.  Manuel Perez’s win in the 80th was a long time coming, and we need the rest in 2010.

Carl Wood is running again in the 65th, but couldn’t join us today as he’s just now returning from Copenhagen.  I read the following letter on his behalf to the RCDCC, and here it is for the Calitics crew:

Dear fellow Democrats,

I regret not being with you today for this important Retreat.  As many of you know, I have been in Copenhagen, Denmark for the past ten days as an official member of the U.S. labor delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference.  My flight arrangements were made months ago and could not be changed when this Retreat was scheduled.  

As the Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs for the Utility Workers Union, I serve on the AFL-CIO Energy Task Force and represent my union in international meetings on climate change and other matters.  Along with union representatives from around the world, our delegation has been working to ensure that the international agreements that will guide the transition to a low-carbon economy will include economic protections and millions of good new jobs for working people.  

 Continued over the flip.

Our U.S. union delegation has met with ambassadors, cabinet members and key Congressional leaders including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Chairman Henry Waxman and Senator John Kerry.  As I write these words, just hours after President Obama addressed the Conference, we still don’t know if the day will end with an international climate agreement.  Still, our efforts have already been rewarded with language recognizing worker rights in the working document that will form the basis of that agreement whenever it is finalized.  

Last year, as our Party’s candidate in the 65th Assembly District, I won the Riverside County portion of the district and came close to capturing the seat.  Next year, with your support, I intend to finish the job.

While the Inland Empire is seen as a Republican stronghold, that has never made sense to me.  Our region, for all its physical beauty and vast human and natural resources, is beset with daunting man-made problems: a 15% unemployment rate on top of low wages for many of those who are still employed; a devastating foreclosure crisis accompanying the collapse of our crucial home-building industry; underfunded schools attempting to educate a diverse and often disadvantaged student population; and environmental challenges ranging from poor air quality to stressed water systems to massive transportation issues.

Yet we are “represented” in Sacramento by a man whose signature legislative achievement is a bill banning registered sex offenders from driving ice cream trucks!  The working people, the children, the seniors and the veterans of our communities deserve better.

It appears that there will be a contested primary in our Party for this seat, and I believe that my record as a party activist, long-time union leader, former elected local officeholder and state Public Utilities Commissioner has prepared me to be a credible standard bearer for the progressive policies that are necessary to rescue our region from decades of Republican corruption and misrule.

While I cannot be with you today at this Retreat, I look forward to contacting each of you personally over the next few weeks to reintroduce myself, exchange views on the issues and solicit your support for our Party’s nomination for the 65th Assembly District.

In solidarity,

Carl Wood

Carl Wood for Assembly

CA65AD; Carl Wood; progressive; labor

Asm. Mary Salas at Democrats of the Desert

Assemblymember Mary Salas (37th AD) is running for Senator Denise Ducheny’s seat in the 40th.  Salas already has the endorsement of Denise Ducheny and Manuel Perez (CA80AD), but she faces a GOP-funded primary opponent in Juan Vargas.  This is a safe Democratic seat if we pay attention to the primary.  More on Vargas over the flip.

Our club loved her, Mary is businesslike but warm, and very attractive, there is no way this lady can be 61.  

Salas emphasized her work on healthcare and veterans’ issues.  When asked about the Governor’s race:  she said she’s looking for a Governor who will have the guts enough to make the hard decisions for California.  Tired of political self-interest in that office.  She has seven bills on Arnold’s desk being held hostage to his blanket veto threat.  

Imperfect transcript over the flip.


Mary Salas 37th AD

On Manuel:  Brilliant young man, a real fighter, focused on jobs, jobs, jobs.  I serve on his Committee on Jobs and Economic Development and have seen him in action.  Thank you for all you did to get him to Sacramento.  He’s done terrific things for this community and all of CA.

You are being represented so well now, the difference is just amazing.

8 years in city council.  Very first Latina elected to the water board.  

Her uncles and father served in WWII and Korean Wars.  She serves on Cmte for Veterans Affairs, Salas is working on rental housing for veterans.

12% of our prison population is veterans.  25% of our homeless population is veterans.

Cycle of drug dependence due to PTSD.  Supports drug courts for veterans, wants diversion programs for vets.

Supports universal healthcare, serves on health cmte

Water Parks and Wildlife Cmte – still committed to getting water deal done in special session.  Ran out of time.  Affects not just farmers but all of CA, biotech companies are huge consumers of water, their needs critical, too.

Grateful for Manuel and Denise’s endorsement for Senate seat – but please don’t get complacent about this seat.

Republicans are identifying Republican- friendly Dems to challenge us.  

Juan Vargas is funded by JobsPac (CA Chamber, HMOs, Insurance Industry)  and Republican donors.  This race will be decided in June.   Mr. vargas has a record – against gay marriage stood up on the floor and fought to defeat Leno’s bill.  Insurance Cmte – Vargas eroded workers comp protection.  Made it harder for fire victims to be compensated for their losses.  

Vargas was Chair of Insurance Cmte – promised never to work for insurance company.  After Filner cleaned his clock, Vargas went to work as an insurance company lobbyist.

Here’s what I did:

Got a bill signed, hospitals can’t bill patients for emergency care.  Previously, if hospital wasn’t contracted with your HMO, you got billed the balance.  Salas got that stopped. Lobbyists came out of the woodwork and pressured our Democrats.

Was told not to bother, others have tried with this bill and failed.  She did it anyway.

Gotten a lot of legislation through relating to veterans and healthcare.  I’m a fighter just like Manuel is.

Hope you hear my message that this is a primary fight.  I’m 61 with a 42 year old daughter and three grandkids.  First grandson going to CalPoly right now.

CA AD80 – Transforming the New River

(While the issues within the State Capitol are important, we also need to work on rebuilding a sustainable economy for the future. – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

According to Miguel Figueroa, the Executive Director of the Calexico New River Committee (the sponsors of AB 1079), “Despite decades of resolutions, studies and promises, our city has not received the sustained leadership and support from California that we need to solve this problem. We commend Assemblyman Perez for making New River clean-up a priority in his first term in office…”

Perez is doing what he said he’d do for the region no one has served up to now- clean up the New River, the biggest environmental and public health disaster in the 80th since the 1940s.  Though Senator Ducheny made progress in 2005, it took Perez to get the full coalition together and the federal funds released.

The Desert Sun, true to form, tucks the credit for this “unprecedented attention” and the “reversal of years of neglect” into the second page:

The California-Mexico Border Relations Council in coming weeks will host a public hearing in Imperial County to get residents’ feedback. The relatively new organization, made up of key state secretaries, is tasked with identifying major border issues.

PhotobucketAssemblyman V. Manuel Pérez, a Coachella Democrat who secured the state funding and is organizing the coming visits, has authored a bill giving the border council authority to coordinate a restoration plan with locals and oversee the necessary environmental studies.

(btw, If this had been a Benoit or Nestande Republican success, we’d have seen their names in the first line, plus photo.  No liberal media here.)  

Next action on this bill is scheduled for August 27, 2009.  Perez’s first bill to make it into law was AB 1555 – broadband development in rural areas.  That helps in Imperial County, too, where unemployment tops 25%.

Yes, I’d like him to do all of this and be as far in front on the budget as Nancy Skinner. But reclaiming a healthful environment along the New River is transformative stuff, too. The people who live along the New River have an Assemblymember, finally.

Perez will face a well funded challenger in all likelihood.  Can a Republican challenger can peel this constituency off with attacks on Manuel’s support for the gay community and women’s healthcare rights?  Jeandron tried last year and failed.  The New River is toxic to the touch, and dooms the whole region to poverty.  If Perez can turn that around, he’ll have done more than every Republican combined since the 1940s.

AD 80-Coachella HQ: Game on

(great ground report from the campaign of my favorite soon-to-be Assemblyman. – promoted by David Dayen)


Large majorities of Perez’s ID’d voters have already voted.  The majority of  VBM and PAV are Democrats this time around.  We’ve expanded the universe to make full use of our powerhouse squad of union brothers and sisters on the job today.

Jeandron dropped some particularly sleazy attack mailers yesterday, but California Medical Association mailed a fold out poster IE for Manuel that’s just beautiful, as you can see above.  As the man says, it’s a movimiento, a social justice movement, not just a campaign.

I’m here in Coachella with CSEA.   SEIU is also walking and poll watching, as is LIUNA, United Domestic Workers, CTA.  The enthusiasm in Imperial County is unprecedented – that’s where Manuel started his day.  He’s working his way from volunteer site to site from Calexico to Palm Springs today.  He’ll vote at Coachella City Hall at 3pm, and join Assembly Speaker Karen Bass at the Democratic HQ at 6pm for a rally, then on to Democratic Party at the Agua Caliente, then back to Coachella HQ to get the final numbers.

Two bands, and much food by then.  Updates as I can.