Tag Archives: Schwarzenegger

Arnold Achieves ‘Post Partisanship’ With Uniform Disapproval In New Poll

The quote of the week goes to Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll, which is just out with a poll that shows Arnold Schwarzenegger with a 75% disapproval rating among voters and with 90% of Los Angeles residents rejecting him.

The quote of the week goes to Mark DiCamillo, director of the Field Poll, which is just out with a poll that shows Arnold Schwarzenegger with a 75% disapproval rating among voters and with 90% of Los Angeles residents rejecting him.

DiCamillo told the San Francisco Chronicle:  “He was going to be a … politician who really appealed to independent voters and who would reach across party lines,” DiCamillo said. The new poll shows that Schwarzenegger has “achieved the ‘post-partisan’ status.”

Republicans, Democrats, independents, Californians of all walks of life curse their former Governor. What’s made Arnold’s reign so disappointing is not that he betrayed his wife, but that he betrayed voters and their hopes.

Consumer Watchdog launched ArnoldWatch.org on Schwarzenegger’s gubernatorial inauguration day because we knew his talk about cleaning up Sacramento was phony.  At the time Schwarzenegger had a 65% plus approval rating.  We launched the blog ArnoldWatch.org to hold California’s new governor accountable to his pledge to clean up special-interest control in Sacramento and to chart the influence of big business over his administration.  By 2005 Californians came to learn the Gov did not live up to his word when they rejected a slate of reactionary ballot measures he proposed.  When Schwarzenegger left office in 2010, before the news of love child scandal, his approval rating was only 27%, tied with Governor Gray Davis at the moment of his recall.

What ruined Arnold wasn’t his infidelity to his family, but to his state.  The blogs at Arnold Watch stand as a reminder of the need to be ever vigilant in holding our politicians accountable.  The special interests he bedded while in the governor’s suite spawned some of the uglier moments of California governance.  Sometimes we stopped him, sometimes we shamed him, other times Schwarzenegger’s donors won more than they should have.  When Arnold was hurting, he was forced to take huge steps forward to rehabilitate his image — an increase in the minimum wage, a greenhouse gas emissions cap, support for gay marriage.

What matters to voters in the end, though, isn’t these strides forward for progress or the master marketer’s cosmetic remakes of himself.  The voter’s final verdict was cast about his character.

Other politicians across America would do well to learn the lesson that, in the end, reputation and trust are all that truly matter. Every vote, every decision should be based not on the power of the interest group of the moment, or the political winds of an insular world, but on what’s right and wrong for history and a public official’s place in it.  Until politicians are ready for that truth, Consumer Watchdog will be here to remind them of it.


Posted by Jamie Court, author of The Progressive’s Guide to Raising Hell and President of Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing an effective voice for taxpayers and consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

Twisted priorities

In a time when Lester Brown is writing about a World on the Edge: How to Prevent Environmental and Economic Collapse it seems that the political forces in California make for strange reading.  Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose overall environmental polices were as destructive as any CA governor, made an impassioned speech this week on the need for strong action on climate change.  It may be the only environmental issue that he got right.  

At the same time, Representative Jim Costa was voting with the Republicans to continue subsides to the petroleum industry… subsidies that cost the US Taxpayers Billions a year.  It is yet one more piece of evidence that cutting the federal budget is not really a goal, but rather a question of whose ox is going to be gored.  In this case, Republicans in Congress are making sure that their ox is protected.

We all know how we are being manipulated, first by a national that considers Charlie Sheen to be the big story of the day year, but also by the political operatives who draw a public salary to be lobbyist.  One time John Doolittle / John Ashcroft aide, Kevin Ring, made that very clear on his Daily Caller blog post this month.  

If I did not know these critical facts as the lead staffer on the bill, how little did other Hill staffers (and their bosses) know when they agreed to let this bill pass? I know this for certain: If someone had objected, I would have recommended that we accuse the objector of not being serious about saving Americans from this deadly threat.

Ring was talking about how federal legislation regarding methamphetamine and the manner in which offenses are punished.  But we surely know that the same type of mnanipulation goes on in every are. BTW – Ring awaiting sentencing for Abramoff associated dealings.  In California, we need to pay attention to how demands for additional growth and invective against the EPA will play out, especially with CA Reps Buck McKeon and Darrel Issa in positions of power right now.

Schwarzenegger was right.  This is a time when we will have to manage the climate as best we know how or pass on the consequences of our non-action to our children and grand children. The Climate, Energy, Water nexus of issues will define our future.  

As a one time thespian, I am thinking of the line from Death of a Salesman: Attention must be paid.

Keep the sunshine on California government

Since taking office, Governor Jerry Brown has been working bravely to knock down California’s dangerous deficit. He’s looking high and low for new funds – from reducing the number of state paid cell phones by half, halting new agency car purchases and by issuing a statewide hiring freeze that could save $363 million.

Gov. Brown isn’t just looking to cut out waste in government. He is also looking to continue collecting vital revenue by extending the Schwarzenegger era tax increases.

In fact, Governor Brown has been just about spot on. But even Jerry Brown can make mistakes – and he will make a big one if he follows through on his proposal to cut the state funds used to support California’s excellent open meeting laws.

In order to clean up California’s fiscal mess, our government is going to have to make some more tough decisions in the months and years ahead. Very important services are going to be cut. And taxes are almost certain to be raised.

Winning public support for these tough choices relies on making sure Californians understand how these choices were made. And thanks to our open meeting laws, we know that the public’s business is conducted in pubic.

But this week Governor Brown has put one of the foundations of a better government on the chopping block. He is seeking to cut several unfunded state mandates including ones that deal with providing notices to the public regarding open meetings of local bodies. Since the passage of the Brown Act in 1953, Californians have been guaranteed the right to attend and partake in public meetings. Cutting this funding will put the law in “legal limbo.”

While it is tempting to look at across the board cuts in times of budget crises, keeping our local governments open, transparent and responsible to the people remains paramount to a successful democracy. That’s why these cuts that are threatening our open meeting laws should be permanently off the table.

An open government is something that we all should demand, if not expect. We need only to look at the scandal in the City of Bell to understand how important the Brown Act – and public awareness – is to an effective and ethical government. The lack of transparency in Bell allowed city leaders to take about $5.5 million from the city. We must learn from the Bell example and make local governments even more open – not less.

When voters passed Proposition 59 in 2004, our Constitution changed for the better. Prop 59 mandated that meetings and records of local governments and officials be accessible to the general public. For that to happen, local governments are required to – among other things – print notices and agendas for upcoming meetings. The state is then required to reimburse them, to the tune of $16.6 million for 2008-2009.

Technically, the funding that went towards reimbursing local governments for photocopying and posting notices and agendas for public meetings was suspended by the legislature in last year’s budget. But Governor Brown is seeking to keep it suspended for the next fiscal year.

But at what cost?

According to the California League of Cities, no city has yet used the loophole of suspended funding to stop following the law. But that could change anytime.

Because of laws like the Brown Act and Proposition 59, California has truly been able to say that we have an open state government that encourages civic participation. This is a cornerstone of who we are as Californians. We understand that cuts must be made, but for the benefit of our state – and our democracy – let’s keep the meetings open and the sun shining in.

Phil Ting is Assessor Recorder of San Francisco. He is working on a state level to organize support for a split-roll tax system. On a local level, he is a candidate for Mayor of San Francisco looking to find ways to promote greater public participation and User-Generated Government.

How did your representatives vote on the environment?

California’s clean air and water, pristine coastline, wild open spaces and public health protections don’t happen by accident. They happen because champions for the environment run for office, and once they’re elected, they work to pass laws that protect our natural resources and improve our quality of life.

Today the California League of Conservation Voters released our annual California Environmental Scorecard. The Scorecard is the behind-the-scenes look at the battle to protect the Golden State’s natural legacy and public health, and reveals how the governor and members of the state legislature voted on critical environmental proposals in the 2010 legislative session. Take action and let your legislators know what you think about their 2010 scores: Visit http://www.ecovote.org/

The story of the 2010 Scorecard is as much about how the environmental community stopped multiple attacks on the environment as it is about how we passed strong laws that protect our quality of life. But the story doesn’t end there, because we expect more attacks in 2011 that falsely claim we need to sacrifice the environment in order to improve the economy.

Emboldened by the tough economic climate, anti-environmental legislators introduced dozens of so-called “regulatory reform” bills in 2010 in an attempt to weaken environmental protections. The good news is that, with the help of environmental champions in the state Senate and Assembly, CLCV and our allies successfully defeated the bills that posed the most serious threats to the environment and public health. At the same time, environmental advocates were able to deliver several important proposed laws to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s desk, including bills dealing with energy storage, recycling, water conservation, pesticides, clean energy jobs, and oil spill prevention.

Schwarzenegger’s 2010 score of 56% factored into an average lifetime score of 53 percent over his seven years as governor. The governor received national recognition for leadership on environmental issues. However, he leaves office with a mixed legacy, having championed some issues-notably, bold solutions to climate change-and having proven less reliable on others, including protecting public health and state parks.

How did your legislator perform on the environmental community’s priority legislation to protect the environment and public health? Learn your legislators’ scores and then let them know what you think! (More after the jump).

2010 California Environmental Scorecard Highlights:

Governor Schwarzenegger 56% (leaves office with 53% average score)

Senate average: 59%

Senate Democrats: 91%

Senate Republicans: 6%

Senators with 100% score: 12

Highest Scoring Senate Republican: Blakeslee, 21%

Lowest Scoring Senate Democrat: Correa, 30%

Assembly average: 64%

Assembly Democrats: 94%

Assembly Republicans: 7%

Assemblymembers with 100% score: 30

Highest Scoring Assembly Republican: Fletcher, 19%

Lowest Scoring Assembly Democrat: Huber, 43%

Perfect 100%:

Senators: Alquist, Cedillo, Corbett, DeSaulnier, Hancock, Kehoe, Leno, Liu, A. Lowenthal, Pavley, Steinberg, Yee.

Assemblymembers: Ammiano, Bass, Beall, Blumenfield, Bradford, Brownley, Carter, Chesbro, Coto, de Leon, Eng, Evans, Feuer, Gatto, Hayashi, Hill, Huffman, Jones, Lieu, B. Lowenthal, Monning, Nava, J. Pérez, Ruskin, Salas, Saldaña, Skinner, Swanson, Torlakson, Yamada.

The California Environmental Scorecard is an important tool for environmental voters, who for nearly 40 years have helped CLCV deliver on our mission to hold elected officials accountable to their campaign promises to protect California’s families and natural heritage.

With the introduction this year of a new interactive, online Environmental Scorecard, CLCV is making it even easier for voters to communicate with their elected officials about their environmental performance.

Please know the score and take action today! Visit http://www.ecovote.org/

Schwarzenegger vs. Whitman — Could the Future of California Be Even Worse Than the Present?

Governor Schwarzenegger leaves behind a legacy of devastating budget cuts and huge tax giveaways for corporations. In the last two years  alone, Schwarzenegger has slashed $32.5 billion from the state budget– and now our schools and roads are crumbling, public safety is at risk,  and vital state services have been decimated. And while state workers  have endured deep wage cuts, corporations have enjoyed massive new tax  breaks.

Now, Meg Whitman is on a mission to ratchet up the pain on  working people in California — above and beyond the misery that Governor Schwarzenegger has already imposed.

State Workers’ Jobs

In February, Schwarzenegger announced two-day-a-month furloughs for state workers, which  effectively reduced worker pay but did little to help our long-term  economic crisis. In fact, economists report that the furloughs will result in a loss of $503 million over the subsequent years. When asked at the time what she would do to balance the budget, Whitman said that she would double the furloughs to four days a week, even though the furloughs actually caused the state to lose money.

When Schwarzenegger increased  the furloughs to three days a month (resulting in a 12.8 percent pay cut and loss of an estimated $2.1 billion in wages and benefits for hundreds of thousands of state workers), Whitman went one step  further. She announced that she plans to fire 40,000 state workers because she believes the state is “over-staffed” (In fact, California ranks second to last in the number of state workers per capita, and the ratio of all government employees to population in California is 28 percent below the national average.) This mass layoff would cause unemployment in the state to spike a full percentage point.

Public Employee Pensions

Schwarzenegger  has made pension takeaways a major issue and has threatened to not sign a budget without reforms. But despite his rhetoric the Governor has been forced to negotiate directly with unions representing state workers to get agreement on any changes to current pension benefits and contributions.

Whitman supports Schwarzenegger’s proposals, which include raising the retirement age, increasing what workers pay into the pension and ending defined-benefit pensions for new hires and sticking them in risky 401(k)-style retirement plans. But she doesn’t stop there. She’s willing to circumvent collective bargaining, and the elected legislature, by putting a pension cuts initiative on the ballot, and using her personal fortune to fund the ballot measure.

Regulations and Worker Protections

Schwarzenegger has continually attempted to roll back vital workplace protections including daily overtime and meal breaks, and he recently vetoed a bill  that would give farm workers overtime rights. But Schwarzenegger did institute some regulations to protect outdoor workers’ health and  safety. In 2005, after four workers died from heat-related illness while  working outdoors, Schwarzenegger ordered emergency regulations  for workplace standards for heat-stress prevention and treatment, making California the first state in the nation to adopt such  regulations.

On the other hand, Whitman stated in an editorial board meeting, “On my first day in office, I want to put a moratorium on all new regulations.” That means that regulations to protect workers, consumers, the environment and governing almost all aspects of the state would be put on hold so that Whitman could make a political point. And she’s also expressed that she will continue to push for worker takeaways on meal  breaks and overtime pay.

High-Speed Rail

Schwarzenegger didn’t do much in terms of job creation during his time as Governor, and subsequently unemployment has shot up to Great Depression-era highs.  But Schwarzenegger has done one positive thing on jobs — he whole-heartedly supports  construction of California’s high-speed rail, which would create more than half a million new jobs, speed the movement of goods and people throughout the state, reduce pollution and lessen our dependence on foreign oil.

But unlike Schwarzenegger, Whitman has voiced her unequivocal opposition  to the high-speed rail system in California, which was approved by  California voters in 2008. She claims that California “can’t afford” the high-speed rail project, even though the costs for the project wouldn’t come out of the state’s budget, and any delays could jeopardize over $2.2 billion in federal stimulus money.

While high-speed rail would seem like a no-brainer for a candidate for Governor, a closer look at Whitman’s opposition to the project reveals a potential ulterior motive. Whitman lives in a multi-million dollar home in the  wealthy enclave of Atherton, which has led the charge  against the planned high-speed rail project. Along with other wealthy  cities, Atherton has even filed suit to halt the project, despite the  clear economic benefits and broad support, simply because they don’t  want train tracks in their ritzy town.

Capital Gains Tax

Schwarzenegger pushed some very unpopular changes to California’s tax code in the last year. His tax commission recommended a plan that would flatten the personal income tax  and give the wealthiest Californians a massive tax cut while shifting a  larger share of taxes onto the middle class. The commission’s recommendations were largely opposed by labor, business and most  legislators, though he has tried to resurrect the idea of extending the  sales tax to services and reducing personal income taxes.

None of Schwarzenegger’s proposals, however, have been as blatantly self-serving as those that Whitman is proposing. She wants to completely eliminate the tax on capital gains,  which is money that wealthy investors rake in on things like stock  dividends, bonuses or property sales (as opposed to the payroll income tax that the rest of us pay).

The Los Angeles Times called  Whitman’s capital gains tax proposal “a pure handout, and a costly one, to the wealthy, a group that includes the billionaire Whitman herself”, concluding the Whitman plan would do little, if anything, to create jobs,” (and) is “just offering a menu of handouts to favored industries and  the rich.

According to the Franchise Tax Board, 82% of the $56  billion in capital gains earned by California residents were reported by  the top 1% of income earners (those making about $500,000 or more) in  2008. George W. Bush pushed through a similar tax cut, which went into  effect in 2003, that didn’t create jobs or save the economy from  collapsing in 2008. Whitman’s proposal would mean that she and her wealthy friends would get a massive tax break that would cost the state $10.8 billion.

Whitman  repeats the false Republican claim that cutting taxes for the wealthy  will increase investment in new jobs, but according to a broad coalition of economists and academics, that just isn’t true. In an open letter to Californians, economist Michael Reich wrote:

Eliminating  the state capital gains tax would do very little to spur investment in  the state. Most California investors’ portfolios are diversified  nationally and internationally. Consequently, the vast majority of  private income retained by investors would be spent on stock purchases  of companies outside the state.

We’ve seen what Schwarzenegger’s polices have done to our state. Once the envy of the  nation for our schools, infrastructure, world-class universities and  booming economy, California now is at the bottom of many measures of  quality of life, as public funding for the most basic services are  slashed and more tax breaks are given to multi-national corporations.  Whitman would take the pain to a whole new level by eliminating taxes on the very rich, halting regulations to protect workers, slashing jobs and pensions.

The future of California is in our hands this November 2. Don’t forget to  vote, and be sure to remind everyone you know what’s at stake in this  election.

Schwarzenegger Veto Harms Kids With Autism

Californians, including those stricken by autism, and their parents and caregivers, expect regulators to enforce the law, not to side with insurance companies seeking to boost their profits by denying patients the care they need.

Governor Schwarzenegger, however, a longtime and vocal supporter of the Special Olympics and developmentally disabled children, is allowing health insurers to evade state mental health laws and shift health care costs to already beleaguered taxpayers. Last Friday, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed SB 1283 by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).  The bill would have improved, but not fixed, a broken regulatory system.

Californians, including those stricken by autism, and their parents and caregivers, expect regulators to enforce the law, not to side with insurance companies seeking to boost their profits by denying patients the care they need.

Governor Schwarzenegger, however, a longtime and vocal supporter of the Special Olympics and developmentally disabled children, is allowing health insurers to evade state mental health laws and shift health care costs to already beleaguered taxpayers. Last Friday, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed SB 1283 by Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento).  The bill would have improved, but not fixed, a broken regulatory system.

SB 1283 would have set time limits on regulators at the California Department of Managed Health Care (“DMHC”) when reviewing insurance company denials of treatments for autism.  The bill is needed because regulators had been delaying such reviews for months in some cases, leaving autistic children without the care they need.

Schwarzenegger’s veto of SB 1283 is just the latest blow.  Last July, Consumer Watchdog sued the DMHC, the Schwarzenegger Administration agency responsible for regulating many of California’s health insurers. The suit alleges that the DMHC has wrongfully allowed insurance companies to refuse to pay for autism treatments, resulting in the denial of Applied Behavioral Analysis (“ABA”), an essential treatment for autism, in plain violation of the California Mental Health Parity Act.  That law requires health insurers to cover and pay for all medically necessary treatments for autism, including ABA.

Until March of last year, health care consumers were able to appeal an insurer¿s denial of ABA through the DMHC’s Independent Medical Review (“IMR”) system, in which a treatment denial is reviewed by a team of doctors that is unaffiliated with the insurance company that denied the treatment and independent of the DMHC.

However, as the IMR doctors increasingly overturned insurer ABA denials, compelling the insurers to pay for ABA, insurers privately urged the Schwarzenneger Administration to change its procedures and process the treatment denials through the DMHC’s own internal grievance review system.  Last March, the DMHC issued a memo indicating that the agency would review ABA and other autism treatment denials through the DMHC’s internal grievance system as urged by insurers.  In a key interim decision, a Superior Court judge ruled that memo to be an illegal “underground regulation” because it violated state law requiring a public process for changing insurance regulations.

Unlike the IMR system, in which independent doctors evaluate whether a treatment should be provided on the basis of whether it is medically necessary and effective, the grievance system is conducted by DMHC staff, who are not doctors and who simply defer to the insurers’ determination of whether the claim is even covered by their health care policies.  

Why would the Schwarzenegger Administration make the change the insurer’s wanted? 1,324,850 reasons–that’s the amount of money the governor has received from health insurers in the form of campaign contributions.

SB 1283 would have helped families improperly side-tracked into the DMHC grievance system by reining in outrageous delays by regulators.  But only Consumer Watchdog’s lawsuit will ensure that independent doctors, not politically-motivated regulators, get to decide whether or not kids get the treatments that their doctors say they need.  We go to trial in December.  Stay tuned.


Posted by Jerry Flanagan, Health Care Policy Director for Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to providing an effective voice for taxpayers and consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Visit us on Facebook and Twitter.

AB 301: Schwarzenegger’s Last Chance to Have a Positive Impact on California’s Water Future

By Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes and Mark Schlosberg

For the past two years, water issues have dominated political debate in Sacramento and throughout the state, however there is one water bill on the Governor’s desk that we should all be able to agree on – AB 301 (Fuentes).

AB 301 would give Californians the right to know how much of their communities’ water is being bottled for sale and where that bottled water comes from. With water scarcity being a top concern, this modest bill is an important step towards better managing our water.

Currently in California, there are over 100 bottled water facilities, some operating in parched areas of the state including Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Diego Counties. About half of water that is bottled comes from municipal sources at the same time that companies then sell essentially the same product we get from our tap back to us for up to a thousand times the cost.

In other areas of California, bottlers seek water from springs that are critical to the health of the local environment including creeks and lakes. Overdrawing on these resources can impact the entire community and the environment. In either case, the community has the right to know how water is being used in order to properly manage community resources.

AB 301 passed the legislature and is supported by over 30 organizations throughout the state. The only opposition on record comes, ironically, from the state’s Department of Public Health, the agency that would be responsible for facilitating the disclosure of this information.  However, the Public Health Department opposition is unfounded.

First, the DPH claims that the program costs money, but what DPH seems to be ignoring is that not only would this bill carry an insignificant cost, but the entire cost would be covered out of existing fees in the Food Safety Fund. While the overall state budget is severely in the red, there is currently a multimillion-dollar surplus in that fund and the water fees portion has a $500,000 surplus, over 10 times the estimated cost of this modest bill.

Second, the DPH argues vetoing the bill is necessary to protect confidential business information of the bottlers. Putting aside the significant question of why the public health department is arguing against consumer’s right to know how community water resources are used, not a single private bottler has gone on record opposing AB 301. If the bottled water industry does not object to this legislation, why is the DPH bending over backwards to stop it from becoming law? Shouldn’t the DPH be working to protect public health and consumers instead?

Nationally, bottled water consumption has been declining over the past couple of years and for good reason. The bottled water industry uses excessive amounts of water in production and creates billions of petroleum-based plastic bottles, the vast majority of which are not recycled but discarded and end up on our landfills, lakes, rivers, and oceans. It also promotes a product that is a great consumer rip-off, costing up to a thousand times more than tap water for essentially the same product.

With all these impacts, Californian’s should at least have the right to know how much water is being bottled and which communities are being impacted. Last session, Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed similar legislation claiming he did not have time to review it in light of the budget impasse. This year he has a chance to lead.

While there is much debate over the future direction of California water policy, AB 301 will only encourage making California’s water use as efficient and responsible as possible. We urge Governor Schwarzenegger to side with California’s communities and sign AB 301.

Assemblymember Felipe Fuentes represents the 39th District in Los Angeles County and Mark Schlosberg is the national organizing director for the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch (www.foodandwaterwatch.org)


Hundreds rally for education funding

By Randy Bayne

The Bayne of Blog

CSEA Members dispaly student artworkGovernor Arnold Schwarzenegger received a gift of nine works of art by local school children yesterday. The artwork was created “to save public education” by children and their parents at the Davis farmer’s market and third-graders at Dry Creek elementary in Roseville and included a piece titled, “Evil Money-Grubbing Robot Seeking to Destroy Public School.”

Twenty students participated in the presentation and asked for the governor’s help to get the framed paintings put on display in the Capitol.

CSEA member leads chantsWhile the children went inside to deliver the paintings, more than 1,000 members of the California School Employees Association (CSEA) and other supporters of public education rallied outside after a march from the Sacramento Convention Center where CSEA is holding their annual convention. On the final leg, marchers were escorted by school children pulling wagons loaded with broken and outdated school equipment, including broken music stands, outdated textbooks and flat soccer balls.

All of these children standing here with us today deserve the best chance we can give them to achieve their hopes and dreams for the future,” said CSEA President Allan Clark. “It’s time for our elected leaders to step up and commit to saving education.”

Parent Lonnie Buck from Plumas Lake said he is worried that his 10-year old won’t get the “gold standard” education that drew the father to California from Mississippi.

“I understand better than anyone the irony of California and Mississippi resting at the bottom of the school rankings,” Buck said. “I’ve watched our schools trying to keep up with less and less all the time.”

Student Mariana Rojas said budget cuts are having a disheartening effect on students.

Mariana Rojas addresses the crowd“The budget cuts have undermined the determination and the inspiration and the spirit that we all need so much,” Rojas said. “Some of my classmates have become hopeless – hopeless in a land that was built on dreams and hopes. My goal has become the goal of so many others – we should all be fighting for our education.”

California continues to rank nearly last in the nation in per-pupil spending. Thousands of local schools have cut art and music programs, school transportation, tutoring programs, school libraries and countless other programs and services. Speakers called on state legislators to keep the promise they made to students in last year’s budget agreement and reject the $4 billion cut to public education proposed by Gov. Schwarzenegger in his May budget revision.

Who’s Bankrolling the Push for Prop 18?

Consumer group outlines who’s paying for pro-water bond campaign and the surprising winners-and losers-behind the massive $11 billion bond

SAN FRANCISCO – Developers, agribusiness and construction interests would benefit from the water bond on this fall’s ballot, while public services-such as education and public health programs-could suffer, according to a new analysis from consumer organization Food & Water Watch.

As California’s legislators return to Sacramento this week to decide the fate of Proposition 18, an $11 billion water bond that the governor hopes to postpone to the 2012 ballot, the group today released an independent analysis detailing the funders of the pro-bond campaign and the interests that stand to benefit from the most expensive water bond in the state’s history. The fact sheet, Who’s Behind the Bond?, can be downloaded here: http://www.foodandwaterwatch.o…

“Proposition 18 is being sold as a solution that will benefit all Californians, but over half of the contributions to the Alliance for Clean Water and New Jobs, the main political action committee behind the bond, come from agribusiness, construction and development interests,” said Elanor Starmer, Western Region Director for Food & Water Watch. “The bond provides more money for these interests, which have mismanaged our water in the past.”

The bond would cost the state’s General Fund an estimated $800 million a year, enough to fund 13,000 teachers’ salaries or a quarter of the University of California’s state funding each year, according to the report. But while taxpayers would likely see cuts to these and other essential services if the bond passed, they would not be the main beneficiaries of bond-funded projects.

Food & Water Watch examined campaign finance reports and other documents to determine who contributed to the pro-bond PAC directly and indirectly through other PACs, such as Schwarzenegger’s California Dream Team.

The group then investigated several primary beneficiaries of the water bond based on the text of the bill and other documents. Some beneficiaries, such as powerful Central Valley corporate farms and The Westlands Water District, are well known. Other less obvious beneficiaries include Warren Buffet, large construction companies like Japan-based Obayashi Corp., and companies in the business of privatizing water resources like American Water Company and Poseidon Resources.

The analysis concludes that these interests, not the general public, are the main beneficiaries of the water bond, although the cost of the bond would be borne by all taxpayers.

With polls showing lagging support for the bond, Governor Schwarzenegger asked the legislature last month to delay the measure until the 2012 ballot. Any adjustment to Prop 18, including postponement, requires a two-thirds majority vote in the legislature. The legislature has until around Aug. 20, when ballots will be printed, to postpone or remove the measure from the ballot.

“Our report shows that the bond does not benefit the taxpayers who would foot the bill for these projects,” said Food & Water Watch’s Starmer. “In the interest of all Californians, legislators should take this opportunity to repeal the bond and start anew, not postpone it.”

Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.

# # #

Celebrity spitfest illustrates the madness of Prop 18 and the need to repeal it

Governor Schwarzenegger isn’t the only celebrity weighing in on California’s water future. He may be promoting Proposition 18, a massive $11 billion water bond to help big agribusiness at the expense of essential services (see our Terminator video), but most of Californians know the water bond is all wet.

With Prop 18 sagging poll numbers, the Governor and legislative leaders are trying to move the measure until 2012. We asked a few of our friends in Hollywood what they thought of the water bond and the prospect postponing it for two years. They all had the same reaction – they spit in disgust – and we captured it all on video!

Coined by its backers as the Safe, Clean and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act, the only thing the $11 billion water bond is guaranteed to do is increase the state’s $19 billion deficit leading to deeper cuts in education, healthcare, public safety and

state park funding, build new dams, and lay the ground work for a peripheral

canal around the San Joaquin River Delta. In reality, it should be named the Expensive, Dubious and Deceptive Corporate Subsidy Act.

To highlight the need to scrap rather than delay the water bond, Food & Water Watch teamed up with creative geniuses Nancy Hower and John Lehr who put together this clever spot featuring well known television personalities. The ad features David DeLuise from Wizards of Waverly Place, Anna Belknap of CSI: NY, Kelli Williams from Lie

to Me and formerly on The Practice, and Justine Bateman, best known for Family


“We love Food & Water Watch so much, we happily wiped our celebrities’ spit off the plexi-glass protecting the camera,” said Lehr. “We support keeping water publicly owned, pure, accessible and drinkable…straight from the tap. Proposition 18 is a massive waste of money and won’t help California’s future water needs.”

“I love water,” said David DeLuise. “Without it I would smell funny and be thirsty and I might die.”

While the ad makes a serious point, it also had side benefits for some of the actors. Said Kelli Williams, “I have never in my life drunk that much water in one sitting. I was marvelously hydrated.”

The spot is part of the No on 18 campaign to scrap the water bond rather than have it delayed until 2012. To take action and get involved, go to www.nowaterbond.com/spit. Help spread the word by sharing the video. Together we can work to stop this bond, and get back to work on real solutions to California’s water future.