All posts by Melissa Fox

Melissa Fox, An Assembly Pick-up opportunity in AD-70?

Orange County may be the big surprise of the 2010 election. The New York Times recently noted that No Longer Nixon Country, echoing a Calitics diary from February.

Today let’s look at one campaign there, home of the national and California DFA Grass Roots All Stars.

Melissa Fox is running in AD-70, an assembly district that Obama carried by almost 9,000 votes. The district includes the progressive bastion of Irvine as its largest city and UC Irvine as its largest employer. UCI is also a huge pool of voters, with 26,000 undergraduates and 15,000 graduate students, staff, and faculty.

On the Republican side, the candidate has become an invisible man. After winning a hotly contested primary against three more moderate Republicans, Don Wagner disappeared. He hasn’t updated his website since May, when he announced his endorsement by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, his Facebook page is collecting “work at home” spam, and he failed to file a candidate statement for the pamphlet that goes to all voters. Wagner has been seen at only a few events – Tea Party rallies outside his district.

Let’s add a few more factors in. Beth Krom is running a hell of a campaign in the 48th Congressional District, with a very strong field operation, and a tremendous base in the district, where she has won five elections in ten years in Irvine, including two terms as Mayor. The 70th Assembly District is completely nested inside the 48th CD. Beth won the DFA National Grass Roots All Star contest against 99 other candidates, and has polling that shows her opponent, Birther John Campbell, with only a 30% re-elect number.

There’s a suite of text-message  based electronic slate  that is being deployed now, with a grassroots-funded coordinated campaign office just across the pedestrian bridge from UCI.

And there is Melissa, an incredibly hard-working candidate, running a frugal yet very effective campaign. She won her primary with 75.1% of the vote against a better-known candidate, primarily because of strong direct mail. Melissa won the California Grass Roots All Star contest, finishing ahead of Debra Bowen and Kamala Harris.

Melissa is an uncompromising progressive on equality, choice, and single payer.

Melissa has been ignored by Sacramento, Speaker Perez, and the usual consultants who can’t see beyond registration numbers or early fund-raising.

But Melissa can win this race, if she has progressive support in the next few weeks. And this is a campaign where your money won’t be wasted on Sacramento consultants doing ineffective TV spots or marking their mail up 100%. It’s a lean mean project run by local consultants who know how to win in Orange County.

A Most Personal Decision

(This is an amazing post, a powerful defense of the right to choose. – promoted by Robert Cruickshank)

The question of what a woman should do when she is pregnant but does not want to raise a child is extremely personal for me.

It is the question that my birth mother, unmarried and eighteen years old, faced forty-three years ago.

This was before People v. Belous (1969) and Roe v. Wade (1973) established a woman’s fundamental right to decide whether to give birth.

Just a few months before I was born, California Governor Ronald Reagan signed the “Therapeutic Abortion Act,” which changed California’s criminal code to permit the termination of pregnancy by a physician when there was substantial risk that its continuation would “gravely impair the physical or mental health of the mother” or when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.

I am not sure whether my birth mother would have qualified for a legal abortion under the “physical or mental health” requirements of the new law, but she could have risked terminating her pregnancy by illegal means – as more than 100,000 California women did every year before the Act’s passage. In fact, Governor Reagan said that he signed the new law to prevent the death and injury of thousands of California women each year from illegal and dangerous “back alley” abortions.

My birth mother decided not to have an abortion, and instead gave me up for adoption.

Of course, I’m happy with her choice – I would not be here otherwise.  I was raised by two loving parents who wanted and were able to care for me.  I have also had the incredible joy of being able to thank my birth-mother for her decision – reuniting with her and my two younger brothers several years ago.

I received a great gift from my birth-mother’s decision – but I would not have wanted her to have been forced by the government to give birth to me despite being unable at that time to properly care for a child.

Whether or not to have an abortion – or whether to give a child up for adoption – is a deeply personal and often painful decision for a woman or couple to make, and it is a decision they have to make based on their own faith and values, not someone else’s – and certainly not the government’s.

My opponent for the 70th Assembly District believes otherwise.

He believes that he has the right to impose his own faith and beliefs on every woman and family in California.  He has vowed to use his position in the legislature “to defend life from conception to natural death” – bringing back the days when thousands of women each year in California were forced to make the horrific choice between having unwanted children or illegal, dangerous abortions.  And he has already received thousands of dollars in contributions from groups outside our district that are determined to use the government to impose their particular faith on everyone else.

We cannot allow politicians and outside special interest groups to impose their own faith on every woman and family in California or allow the government to intrude into this most personal of decisions.

That’s why I need your help now to keep the decision whether to give birth a deeply personal decision based on one’s own faith and values, not someone else’s and not the government’s.

Melissa Fox

Candidate for California Assembly, 70th A.D.

Those stubborn facts about the budget

(Excellent stuff from the Democratic candidate for AD-70 – promoted by Robert Cruickshank)

PhotobucketI was recently asked by the Orange County Register to give answers about how to fix the California budget in 75 words.

That is not possible, because it’s a complicated issue.

Of course, I could have pretended it was simple, like my opponent will do, by blaming California’s budget problems solely on government spending.

But that is not the case.

California has the second lowest ratio of state employees to population among all the states, with 103 full-time equivalent state employees per 10,000 residents. The national average is 143 state employees per 10,000 residents.

It isn’t excessive spending that is the real culprit causing our budget woes – it’s the reckless borrowing we’ve done to pay for unfair tax cuts to the rich and giant corporations.

The three main causes of California’s budget crisis are (1) the national recession, (2) the billions of dollars in tax cuts given to the wealthy and giant corporations, and (3) the billions of dollars in interest that California must pay for the money borrowed to cover these unfair tax cuts to special interests.

If you want to see why people get confused about the causes of our budget problems, break down this whopper from the website of Jerry Amante, one of the Republicans campaigning in the 70th Assembly District, where I’m running:

Over the last 20 years, the California Consumer Price Index has risen 44% and population has increased by 20%.  During the same period, state spending as (sic) increased by 262%, from about $40 billion to $145 billion.  This huge expansion in the size of state government is the root cause of our budget problems.  The solution is not to raise taxes so the government can keep growing – it is to rein in spending and limit government growth. I support a constitutional amendment to limit spending increases.

I don’t know where Amante gets his numbers.

The California Consumer Price Index has risen 72.1% from December 1989 to December 2009, not 44% as Amante claims.

Population has increased by 28% from 1990 to 2009, not by 20%.

(It’s pretty easy to Google this stuff.)

Factor those two numbers together (population and inflation), and you see that if spending had remained level per person, state spending adjusted for inflation would have had a natural increase of 220%.

Jerry Amante was either just plain wrong or intentionally dishonest in his numbers about population and prices, leading to a gross distortion of the growth of the California budget relative to population and cost of living.

How did he do on his spending numbers?

He got one number right: state general fund spending for 1989-1990 was $39.5 billion, very close to Amante’s $40 billion number.  But state general fund spending in 2009-2010 was $86.1 billion, not the $145 billion that Amante claims.

Maybe Amante meant total state spending, including special funds and bond funds, but then he should have used $48.8 billion as his number from twenty years ago and a current number of $124.7 billion.

But whatever numbers Amante uses, the fact remains that real general fund spending has increased less than half of one per cent per year over the last twenty years.

Total spending has increased by more, driven by reckless borrowing under GOP Governor Schwarzenegger, so that bond payments have increased more than 400% from what they averaged twenty years ago.

Much of that irresponsible borrowing has been to pay for tax cuts.  While general fund spending has been relatively level, the cost per year of the tax cuts enacted since 1993 has risen to $11.7 billion a year.  Just the 2008 and 2009 tax cuts for giant corporations will cost the state nearly $8 billion over the next eight years.

If you are asking, “What tax cuts?,” you’re not alone. You probably haven’t seen these tax cuts, since the constant shift has been from taxing corporations and the richest Californians to taxing the middle class, primarily in the form of increased sales and income taxes, but also through higher fees, much higher tuition and service cuts.

California also lost $1.2 billion dollars a year when Republicans irresponsibly took away the provision that allowed for a California estate tax that was fully deductible against federal estate taxes.

So does California primarily have a spending problem, or do we have an acute tax fairness problem and a reckless borrowing problem?

We do have a huge revenue problem as the recession has seriously cut into the state’s income and sales tax revenue.  California’s problem is worse than other states because we came into the recession already crippled by Arnold’s ill-considered tax cuts and the reckless borrowing needed to pay for them.

Most Californians agree that we need to restore the cuts made to education, continue to provide vital and cost-effective health services for our seniors so they can live with dignity in their own homes.

To protect our schools and our seniors, we need to stop the borrowing, roll back some of those corporate tax cuts and let the banks, oil companies, and giant corporations pay their fair share.

The California Budget Project has done some great work in analyzing the state budget issues, and bringing to light some of the myths that are constantly thrown around.  If you want to compare myths and facts, take a few minutes to read their great analysis.

Don’t believe the myths.

To fix the budget, we need the facts.

Melissa Fox

PS Remember that I’m hosting coffee at the CDP convention. See my over-caffeinated blogad on the right side of the page.

Orange County: No Longer ‘The Right Wing Cradle’.

(This is a fantastic look at how dramatically Orange County has changed in the last 40 years, from Democratic candidate for AD-70 Melissa Fox. – promoted by Robert Cruickshank)

I recently came across a fascinating – and very revealing – article about the political history of Orange County.

Dated July 7, 1974, and titled Orange County: The Right Wing Cradle, the article shows how dramatically Orange County, and in particular my own 70th Assembly District (Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Foothill Ranch, and most of the cities of Aliso Viejo, Newport Beach, and Tustin) has changed, both politically and demographically, in the past four decades.

The article describes Orange County as “a stronghold of the John Birch Society, a former stomping ground of the Klu Klux Klan, the fastest growing county in the United States, and the home of the first drive-in church.”

Among the Orange County right-wing politicians profiled in the article are retired General Curtis LeMay (who ran for Vice-President of the United States as the running mate of segregationist George Wallace), former Congressman James B. Utt (who once claimed that “a large contingent of barefooted Africans” was training in Georgia as part of a United Nations military force to take over the United States), former Congressman James G. Schmitz (who railed against sex education and was later revealed to have engaged in an extra-marital affair and fathered two children with one of his former college students, and who was also the father of sex offender Mary Kay Letourneau), then-current Congressman Andrew Hinshaw (who was later convicted of taking bribes from large landowners as Orange County Assessor in exchange for lower tax assessments and served eight months in prison), and publisher and neo-Nazi activist John H. Townsend, who used his Orange County base to attack evolution, the income tax, abortion, the United Nations, Jews and the “international Zionist conspiracy.”

Orange County has profoundly changed, and for the better.

Who would have believed, even a few years ago, that an African-American Democrat named Barack Obama would win in the heart of Orange County?

Yet Obama carried my 70th Assembly District in South Orange County by nearly 9,000 votes.

Proposition 8 won here by less than 1 percent, and Prop 4 (parental notification) was rejected by a majority of the district’s voters.

Back in 1974, the most important institution and the largest employer in the district was the El Toro Marine Air Base.  It had 10,000 military personnel living on the base and 70,000 people (an amazing number, given the area’s small population) with PX privileges as military dependents or retirees.

Now the most important institution and the larger employer in the district is UC Irvine, with more than 22,000 undergraduate students, nearly 6,000 graduate students, 2,700 faculty members and researchers, and more than 9,000 staff. Once known as a commuter school, nearly half of UCI’s students now live (and can vote) on campus.

When the article was written, the total population of Orange County was 1.6 million, and South Orange County was still largely undeveloped. Now the county’s population tops 3 million, with much of that growth coming in the south part of the county. In just the last decade, Irvine has grown from 143,072 residents to more than 200,000. Tustin has grown from 67,504 to more than 75,000. Newport Beach has grown from 70,032 to more than 86,000. Lake Forest has grown from 56,707 to more than 78,000. Laguna Beach has grown from 23,578 to more than 26,000. Aliso Viejo has grown from 40,166 in 2000 (only 7,612 in 1990) to more than 42,000.

This growth in population has been accompanied by a dramatic increase in diversity. When the article was written, the district was close to 99% white. Now the district is wonderfully diverse, with significant numbers of Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, Indian Americans, Arab Americans, and Persian Americans, who are not favorably impressed by the Republicans’ hostility to immigrants, education, and expanding the American Dream.

Orange County — and the 70th Assembly District in particular — is no longer the cradle of the right-wing extremism.

And after November 2010, with your help, a right-wing extremist will no longer represent us in Sacramento.

Please visit my webpage at Melissa Fox for Assembly