All posts by stevefromsacto

Prop 32: Silencing the Voice of the People

By Doug Moore, Executive Director, UDW Homecare Providers Union

The backers of Proposition 32, a measure that would give corporations yet another political advantage over California working men and women, claim it’s about political reform. The backers of Proposition 32 are being dishonest.

The billionaires who are doing much of the backing know that the measure going before voters on November 6 is really about keeping working men and women – and the unions that represent them — from having a say in politics.

The facts speak for themselves. Prop 32 would prohibit unions from using members’ dues to fight for ballot measures and candidates they support. It would also ban union members from having dues deducted from their paychecks for this cause. But corporations would still be free to give as much as they want to their causes and candidates.


Prop 32 supporters claim that unions and businesses would be treated the same under the initiative because it applies to both. But most California corporations don’t use payroll deductions for political giving – they use profits. So in fact, businesses and their super PACs would be exempt from Prop 32’s controls, free to spend unlimited amounts of money to force their agenda on the rest of us. At the same time, the voices of sanitation workers, teachers, homecare providers and firefighters, to name just a few, would be silenced across the state.

Let’s take a look at who is pushing Prop 32: oil companies, super PACS, Wall Street firms, hedge funds, real estate developers, and insurance companies. And now let’s take a look at who is exempted from Prop 32’s provisions: oil companies, super PACS, Wall Street firms, hedge funds, real estate developers, and insurance companies.

Unions are already at a huge disadvantage when it comes to playing a role in politics. For every $1 a union member spends advocating for her rights politically through her union, businesses spend $15. Prop 32 is an unbalanced and unfair piece of gimmickry that will widen that gap immeasurably. It restricts unions and their members, but does not similarly restrict corporate special interests. That will create a political system that is even more skewed toward the wealthy and well-connected than it already is.

Unions – in particular, public employee unions – have historically created a route to the middle class for black and Latino Californians. Anything that significantly weakens the power of unions and limits their ability to have a say in the political process – which is exactly Prop 32’s purpose – has a disproportionately harmful effect on these workers.

Prop 32 also belies the notion of “reform.” True reform improves a system so that it works better for everyone. It doesn’t create a system that works well for one group but puts others at a disadvantage. That’s discrimination, and there is no place for it in our state or our nation.

If Prop 32 passes, it’s not hard to predict what workers in California can expect from this corporate power grab:  laws that threaten jobs, overtime pay, retirement security and the very right to form and join unions.  In short, laws that upend decades of progress in workers’ rights.

Ultimately, Prop 32 is about fairness. Rules should apply equally to everyone; no group should be exempted from real campaign finance reform;  and as citizens, all of us should have the same ability to impact our democracy.

(Doug Moore is Executive Director of the 65,000 member UDW Homecare Providers Union.)


Where is the outrage?

For years, we’ve heard from political ideologues and ambitious district attorneys about how much waste, fraud and abuse there is in state programs like Medi-Cal. Whenever there is a case in which a low-income recipient is charged or convicted, the right-wing cheering section is quick to applaud and point to the case as proof of rampant fraud.

But where was the applause when Attorney General Kamala Harris recently announced a $241 million settlement in a case of Medi-Cal fraud by Quest Diagnostics, the state’s largest provider of medical laboratory testing?  

The settlement resulted from allegations that Quest systematically overcharged the state’s Medi-Cal program for more than 15 years and gave illegal kickbacks in the form of discounted or free testing to doctors, hospitals and clinics that referred Medi-Cal patients and other business to the labs. Here’s what AG Harris said:

“In a time of shrinking budgets, this historic settlement affirms that Medi-Cal exists to help the state’s neediest families rather than to illicitly line private pockets. Medi-Cal providers and others who try to cheat the state through false claims and illegal kickbacks should know that my office is watching and will prosecute.

Where is the outrage from these right-wing politicians and ambitious district attorneys at this massive theft of taxpayer dollars? Why can’t these hypocrites muster the same fervor for going after big white-collar firms that score lucrative government contracts, whose taxpayer rip-offs dwarf the meager amounts possibly scammed by a few low-income elderly and disabled Californians?

Hate Speech in Orange County

If you think that the recent “protest” against American Muslims in Orange County is the only example of bigotry and hatred in the county,  think again.

The OC Register has reported  a number of recent incidents of hate speech and vandalism against Catholics, Asian-Americans, Latinos and others–including a death threat against Gov. Brown.

This letter to the editor from the county leader of the UDW Homecare Providers Union spells it out:

RE: Graffiti messages threaten to kill governor; Hate messages spray-painted on churches, buildings

Dear Editor:

It is with sorrow and anger that we condemn in the strongest possible terms the death threats to Gov. Brown and other recent hateful acts in our county aimed at Catholics, African-Americans, Asians, Latinos and others.

These actions are not merely teen-age pranks, as some have suggested.  The woman arrested for the most recent threats is 53-years-old.

They also are more than “just” acts of vandalism.  They are symptoms of a deeper hatred. And they warn of the potential for more serious acts of violence in the future.

Our nearly 15,000 members provide care for thousands of Orange County’s most vulnerable citizens.  We-and-they come from all racial, religious and ethnic groups. We-and they-are testimony to the diversity that makes our county great.

It is time for all good citizens of Orange County to stand up to these hateful acts of terrorism, and say: “Not here, not now, not ever.”

Christine Nguyen

Orange County Chapter Chair

UDW Homecare Providers Union

Member, OC Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance

Home care is not a partisan issue

Even lifelong Republicans who recognize the importance of the IHSS program are voting for Jerry Brown for Governor.

Check out these comments from Meg Whitman’s own website:

“I’m being forced to vote Democrat for the first time in my life…. I am shocked that a Republican would make me go to the Dem side, but I have been informed that you intend to do away with or seriously cut “I.H.S.S.”  K. Jones, Roseville

“Meg Whitman doesn’t get it…. Every day I have to feed my daughter and help with toileting and think about what Meg says about us ‘criminals’. It is despicable. At least Jerry Brown can do the simple math and he knows that this is one program that saves money. ”  C. Rose, Riverside

“I am a single father with a son who suffers a disability and needs round the clock care. IHSS provides me the resources to act as my son’s caretaker…. I make less today (a little over minimum wage) than I did 20 years ago, but the important thing is that my son is properly cared for…. Just as current governor Schwarzenegger has repeatedly attempted to dismantle the IHSS program, Meg Whitman threatens to do the same. I will be voting for Brown this November!”  A. Fietz, Grass Valley

This is NOT a partisan issue.  IHSS was signed into law by Republican Gov. Ronald Reagan and has been supported by legislators from both parties ever since.

But Meg Whitman wants to follow in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s footsteps by continuing to attack IHSS, one of the most humane and cost effective programs in state government.

Last year, when Schwarzenegger claimed that the fraud rate in the IHSS program was “as high as 25 percent,” his claim was disproven and widely ridiculed. The Sacramento Bee accused the governor of “spouting misleading rhetoric about waste and

fraud,”  while the San Jose Mercury-News called his allegations “phantom claims.”

Yet in her campaign commercials this year, Whitman pledges to “save $1 billion” by eliminating IHSS fraud. Since the total budget for the program is $1.4 billion, she is telling us that the fraud rate in IHSS is more than 70 percent!  That would be funny if it wasn’t so unfair and nasty.

The future of IHSS is at stake on November 2nd.

Another Republican Says No to Whitman

Whitman’s continued attacks on the IHSS homecare program are turning even staunch Republicans against her.

Here’s another post on the Whitman web site from Cheryl Rose, a homecare provider and lifelong Republican.

This will the first time in my entire life that I will have EVER voted for a Dem candidate. I never thought I would see that day but it has come to that. I have always voted Repbulican in every election and I have voted consistently my whole adult life.

Wow-It boggles my mind to think I would even consider voting for Jerry Brown but I will. Meg Whitman doesn’t get it. The IHSS program which she wants to so drastically cut is a money-saver for Calif. My disabled daughter has Austism and her case worker told us that out of home placement for her would be almost $6,000.00 a month as she has to be supervised 24/7.

I do the same job but at about one third of the that cost. So how does reducing the IHSS program which saves taxpayer money? If Meg and her adminstration remove a lot of these clients out of In-Home Care they will have no choice but to go into nursing homes.

What will this cost? I am very tiring of hearing Meg say that there is so much fraud in this program. How about some hard cold facts to back that up? Talk is cheap. Every day I have to feed my daughter and help with toileting and think about what Meg says about us “criminals”. It is despicable.

At least Jerry Brown can do the simply math and he knows that this is one program to saves money.

Here’s a Republican who’s had enough of Meg Whitman’s attacks on IHSS

Kenneth Jones, a homecare provider from Roseville, mounts a strong defense of the IHSS program and says that Whitman’s attacks on the program will force him to vote for Jerry Brown for governor.

And he does it on Meg’s own web site.  

Here’s Mr. Jones’ powerful post:

Guess I’m Being Forced to vote Democrat for the 1st time of my life !

Posted by kenneth jones on October 6, 2010 at 6:08pm on Forum

I am shocked that a  republican would make me go to the dem side, But I have been informed that you intend to do away with or seriously cut  “I.H.S.S”.

Well I will tell you that  is one program I have thanked and praised the state for – BECAUSE my daughter was hit by a worthless repeat affender still out driving when she was just 14. She had to have part of her brain cut out because of the injuries. She has been disabled since and requires help with everything physically but surprisinly is very mentally aware and remembers being normal.

I have given up the home I owned at the time, my marrage, and have struggled with many head on challanges to keep her at home with me and family just to get her whatever therapy and care possible so that I can persue the things she needs to  improve her life instead of excepting her condition when she came home as perminit as we were told. She has come a long ways now 29 and is happy to be with us instead of stuck in a care home surrounded by non-caring strangers and lots of other sick people

SHE didn’t commit a crime to be condemed to that which by the way would even cost the state more than it does now for the I.H.S.S. I did’nt commit a crime but I excepted my role as her dad to be there for her no matter the cost, I had to except not being able to grow my business any longer, down sized to be able to make sure she is my priority as she desirves,

I am  50 now and have nothing towards retiring but that is my problem and except the worries. However The “only” way I have been able to make it as long as I have and afford to keep her home and not abanden her for full time employment is I.H.S.S.  I can’t make the money iI use to and we are always barely making the bills month to month but with out I.H.S.S.

I would not be able to afford being available for my daughters needs and she would have to go into a care home . For us it’s not about money – WE WOULD BOTH GIVE UP EVERYTHING TO HAVE HER BACK ON HER FEET AGAIN AND LIVING A NORMAL HEALTY LIFE !!  But we don’t get that choice so we are stuck with major changes and challanges to our lives that neither one of us ask for or want.

I can’t believe that you would distroy our lives futher  SO am I to vote for Brown to save my daugters life as she knows it now?…

Another County Overreacts to the IHSS Fraud Non-Epidemic

Not wishing to be overshadowed by the aggressive anti-fraud tactics in Stanislaus County  (California’s War on the Elderly and Disabled: A Dispatch from the Front Lines) Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully is publicizing the exploits of her own “fraud squad” in the struggle against what she claims is “massive fraud” in the In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program.

In a breathless announcement to the County Board of Supervisors, Ms. Scully’s team proclaimed that her anti-fraud Task Force has been responsible for criminal cases against 60 defendants for about $780,000 in fraud in the past year. “There are many opportunities for fraud in this program,” declared Deputy D.A. Laura West. She claimed that the Task Force, as well as other factors, has helped save the county about $1.1 million in local funds.

Supervisor Roger Dickinson, for one, was not impressed.

According to the Sacramento Bee, Dickinson “pointed out that the fraud amount is miniscule when compared to the overall size of the program.”

The money allegedly saved represents less than one percent of the total cost of the program, he said.

Noting that 60 criminal defendants represent less than half a percent of all care providers, Dickinson said that the figures reported by the DA’s Office “would seem to refute the argument made by those who assail IHSS-often those on the right seeking to slash the program-which is that as much as 25 percent of the costs of the program go to fraud.

“These numbers don’t even start to scratch the surface of that figure,” he said.

You may recall that DA Scully was one of the cheerleaders at Gov. Schwarzenegger’s 2009 news conference when he claimed that the IHSS fraud rate was as much as 25 percent.  (She must be doing cartwheels over Meg Whitman’s pronouncement of a 70 percent fraud rate in the program.)

Only problem is that no one has ever found conclusive proof of widespread fraud in IHSS.  Even Schwarzenegger’s own Quality Assurance Task Force report in 2007 found a fraud rate of only about two percent in the program.

But this hasn’t stopped the anti-fraud crusade. Attacking the low-income elderly and disabled IHSS recipients and those who care for them as fraud criminals scores political points for right-wing ideologues and helps pad the budgets of county DA’s.  So why should they let the facts get in the way.

Any fraud in IHSS is wrong and should be investigated.  But perhaps the Sacramento Supervisors should stop and compare the amount of “savings” ($1.1 million at most) with the costs of setting up and running Scully’s “fraud squad.”

California’s War on the Elderly and Disabled: A Dispatch from the Front Lines

“Backed by anxious supporters, some on crutches or in wheelchairs, nearly two-dozen passionate speakers on Tuesday railed against “Gestapo” tactics of Stanislaus County home care fraud investigators…” Modesto Bee, Sept. 1, 2010

A flawed and mean-spirited attack by right-wing ideologues on some of California’s most vulnerable citizens has begun to sprout poisoned fruit in California’s Central Valley.

Using some of the millions of dollars distributed by the Schwarzenegger Administration in the name of fighting fraud in the In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program, Stanislaus County earlier this year created a Special Investigations Unit.  Agents from the unit have been conducting unannounced raids on homes; harassing and intimidating elderly, blind and disabled citizens; and arbitrarily cutting people’s homecare services.  

Agents-some wearing bulletproof vests-have confronted people in walkers and wheelchairs.  Two reportedly demanded to see an elderly woman’s underwear drawer. Two others forced a woman with severe Arthritis to try to lift her arm over her head (she couldn’t do it.) Several people were so traumatized by these raids that they were subsequently hospitalized.

More from the Modesto Bee:

“I’m afraid, my wife is afraid, and I don’t think people should live in fear,” recipient Donald Smith said after limping to the speaker’s rostrum. “I’m not trying to cheat the government,” he said.

Linda Ibrahim of Modesto and daughter Holly Yonan described a relative with Downs Syndrome who became terrified after he was awakened by agents who “stormed in” and searched his bedroom, Yonan said.

The 51-year-old man urinated on himself, then locked himself in a bathroom, wouldn’t come out for hours and now awakes in fear at all times of night and is afraid to leave the house, they said.

“It was a horrible experience,” Ibrahim said. “We’re not criminals. We’re decent people…”

To make matters worse, agents have claimed that many of these people are guilty of IHSS fraud and have arbitrarily reduced their homecare service hours. Administrative law judges have already overturned some of these reductions because of lack of evidence or improper procedures.  Many other cases are being appealed.

Despite this, the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors voted recently to continue to spend taxpayers’ money on this program because of its “success.”

Here’s some background on how this sorry state of affairs came to pass.

Last year, Gov. Schwarzenegger launched a campaign aimed at branding the 450,000 IHSS consumers and the low-wage providers who care for them as “fraud criminals.”

Unfortunately, despite the fact that his absurd claims of “massive” fraud in IHSS (a fraud rate of 25%) remain unproven, the governor was able to force the State Legislature to appropriate tens of millions of dollars in last year’s budget for an IHSS “anti-fraud” program. Among other things, this sent millions of dollars to the counties so that they could start their own anti-fraud efforts.  

Even though the state’s anti-fraud protocols (designed by a working group dominated by administration officials and district attorneys) are not scheduled to be released for review until Sept. 16th, several counties have jumped the gun.

So far, Stanislaus has been one of the most zealous. But the county’s uniformed “fraud squad” may be a precursor of what will happen all across the state unless the public demands that these abuses stop.

In the meantime, people are still presumed innocent until proven guilty-except, it seems, in Stanislaus County

Another Fowl Ball from Arnold

Don’t tell us our governor doesn’t care. He just signed into law a new requirement to insure the humane treatment of chickens whose eggs are sold in California.

Very nice!  I’m sure the thousands of homecare recipients who the governor wants to force into nursing homes or onto the street will appreciate (and perhaps be a little jealous) of his treatment of our feathered friends.

Here’s how SEIU-ULTCW portrayed it:

Governor Schwarzenegger just took an impressive step toward reforming In-Home Care.

For chickens, that is.

The California governor Tuesday signed a bill into law requiring that all eggs sold in California come from hens that aren’t crammed into small cages.

It was quite a compassionate move.

We only wish the governor’s compassion would extend to the hundreds of thousands of Californians who depend on the state’s actual In-Home Care program for their lives and livelihoods. Governor Schwarzenegger still wants to slash half the funding for IHSS — the program that provides lifeline services to California’s seniors and disabled citizens and provides care givers with meaningful employment.

Nazi, Schmatzi: Why Brown Wasn’t Wrong

Hitler’s propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels said that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will start to think it is true.

Meg Whitmen has already spending more than $70 million doing precisely that. And she’s about to spend millions more doing it between now and the election. So Jerry Brown was wrong…how?