Tag Archives: SD19

Jason Hodge: a Republican in Democrat’s Clothing

Remember Jason Hodge, the corporate-backed Democrat running for California’s 19th Senate District who “doesn’t think you need higher taxes”, running against progressive Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson?

Well, I just got a nice big glossy mailer from an organization called the California Senior Advocates League, saying that Jason Hodge would be the Democrat most capable of defeating the Republicans and calling Hannah-Beth Jackson the derogatory nickname “Taxin’ Jackson.” What is the California Senior Advocates League? Well, it’s a group that only seems to exist come election time. It runs a now-defunct blog called the Silver Dog Blog, whose latest post trashes the Affordable Care Act. And its funders? Mostly the San Diego and California Republican Parties, big oil and pharmaceutical interests. Most recently it received $20,000 from something called JobsPAC. And who funds JobsPAC? Mostly Philip Morris, Chevron, Anheuser-Busch, Anthem Blue Cross, PG&E and a host of similar companies and institutions.

For what it’s worth, the “California Senior Advocates League” doesn’t appear to have made the necessary legal filing disclosures to the state, but they have made sure that flashy campaign mailers supporting their favorite “Democrat” Jason Hodge make it to left-leaning voters’ mailboxes right before vote-by-mail ballots get there in a few days. There has been no condemnation or mention of the mailer from the Hodge campaign. Keep in mind that this big-money front group didn’t just send out a piece to attack Hannah-Beth Jackson. They sent out a piece to promote Jason Hodge. Since the registration numbers dictate that a Democrat will almost certainly win the seat regardless, the big money boys know where their bread is buttered, and it’s with Mr. Hodge. After all, why fight an uphill battle to elect a Republican when you can elect a Republican in sheep’s clothing instead?

The Hannah-Beth Jackson campaign has responded:

“I’m not surprised that the oil and tobacco companies are behind the mailers attacking me,” Jackson said. “After all, I’m supported by the Sierra Club and the Consumer Federation of California. And look at my voting record – I always stood with consumers, working middle class families and the environment. I successfully banned oil tankers and barges from our coast, and have worked against oil company price gouging.”

Today is also when Fortune Magazine reported its new Fortune 500 with three of the four biggest corporations in the nation being oil companies, including Chevron.

“These oil and tobacco corporations think they are above the law,” noted Jackson. “It’s not enough that they launder their money through fake organizations, claiming to represent the interests of seniors. They have failed to report their expenditures against me, even though they were required by law to report the tens of thousands of dollars in postage that they paid last week for the mailers delivered to households today. I’m sure we’ll be seeing their reports now that we’ve exposed them as lawbreakers,” Jackson concluded.

This is why it’s so crucial to be involved in making the Democratic Party more progressive. No matter how one feels about what is going on in the White House, there are innumerable battles just like this one happening all across America. Battles where progressive Democrats are up against corporate-backed “Democrats” seeking to make the Party just that much more conservative and friendly to big business interests. These are fights we cannot afford to lose.

Cross-posted from Digby’s Hullabaloo

Is Fiona Ma settling personal grudges by hurting Californians’ heatlh?

Santa Barbara’s Daily Sound had a fairly disturbing report late last week on the killing of Das Williams’ (AD35) anti-pesticide bill AB1176 at the hands of Fiona Ma:

A vote by San Francisco Assemblywoman Fiona Ma to kill a fellow Democrat’s environmental bill has sparked questions about whether the move was a form of political payback.

Ma, D-San Francisco, voted against Assemblyman Das Williams’ AB 1176, a bill that would have placed tighter regulations and controls on toxic pesticides.

Ma, the state Speaker Pro Tempore, was one of two Democrats who voted alongside Republicans against the bill on Jan. 11, at a meeting of the Agriculture Committee. Cathleen Galgiani, who represents the Central Valley, and who is running for a state Senate seat this year, voted against it.

Williams and representatives from the Ventura-based social justice group CAUSE are disappointed that Ma, a San Francisco lawmaker, would oppose the environmental bill.

The bill is important because it would have dramatically shortened the process for evaluating and regulating pesticides:

The bill would have required the Department of Pesticide Regulations on a more timely basis to develop control measures and evaluate the effects of pesticides that qualify as Toxic Air Contaminants.

That process can currently take up to eight years. Williams’ bill would have required the state to develop control measures within two years of identifying a pesticide as a toxic air contaminant.

Why would Fiona Ma do this? Well, the circumstantial evidence suggests personal animus. She just got married to Jason Hodge, candidate for SD19 against Hannah-Beth Jackson, who is herself a close ally and mentor to Das Williams:

Ma is married to Jason Hodge, a firefighter and member of the Oxnard Harbor Commission, who is also running for state Senate against Hannah Beth-Jackson.

Williams supports Jackson, one of his mentors, and has been busy helping her in her campaign. Ma too has had an increasing presence in Santa Barbara politics. Ma gave former Santa Barbara City Council candidate Deborah Schwartz $5,000 in 2011.

Jackson and Hodge are tangled in a fierce battle for the 19th state Senate District seat. Although Jackson, a former assembly member, is deeply entrenched in Sacramento politics and has strong local ties to the Santa Barbara County Democratic Party, Hodge has racked up dozens of notable endorsements from labor associations.

It is curious that Ma would interject herself so personally into a feud that has been developing for years, at the expense of the health of all Californians. It’s no secret to central coast Democrats that there has been bad blood between progressives in the Santa Barbara and Ventura County Democratic establishments, and certain factions of labor allied with Pedro Nava and his friends. While the first battles began somewhat beforehand, the conflict came fully into the open when then Santa Barbara city councilman Das Williams challenged Pedro Nava’s wife Susan Jordan for AD35. Local progressive Democrats (including myself and Santa Barbara Dem Chair Daraka Larimore-Hall) and several labor unions quickly rallied around the more progressive Williams, while more conservative Tri-Counties Central Labor Council President Marilyn Valenzuela and her allies–including Jason Hodge–rallied behind Jordan. Mr. Williams won decisively. Since then, Pedro Nava has gone on a vendetta against local Democrats, endorsing and doing robocalls for DTS candidates against the endorsements of the Santa Barbara and Ventura County Democratic Parties. When I ran for Party Chair in Ventura County two years ago, Ms. Valenzuela and Mr. Hodge used every piece of leverage in their power to oppose me and the progressive faction, ultimately defeating me by one vote, but were unable to prevent a majority of the Executive Board from falling into progressive hands, including my own election as 1st Vice Chair.

Now, with Mr. Hodge running as a centrist against the more progressive Hannah-Beth Jackson, the feuding battle lines have deepened. Hannah-Beth Jackson won the pre-endorsement vote with approximately 74% against Mr. Hodge; nearly every grassroots vote went to Jackson, but votes from a single Dem club controlled by Ms. Valenzuela gave Hodge almost the entirety of his 26% after an aggressive dues-free membership drive to influence the process.

It is into this hornet’s nest that Fiona Ma has voluntarily walked for her new husband. Fiona’s defense of her vote is that it would create a burdensome new regulatory step:

“After numerous meetings with many stakeholders and educating myself on the list of chemicals in question, I ultimately agreed with the Analysis by the Environment/Safety and Toxic Committee that said: ‘AB 1176 replaces the interdepartmental pesticide   prioritization process initiated in 2004 by DPR (Department of Pesticide Regulations) with the Office of Environmental Health and Hazards Assessment and the Air  Resources Board. This time consuming, unnecessary step would require significant staffing increases for all three agencies, especially for OEHHA and DPR to review pesticides that do not need or merit this review.'” [Emphasis added]

But there is no reason to believe that any of this is true. The bill is tightly written to speed the regulatory process; it’s true that extra regulatory staff would probably be required to speed along the review process to ensure that dangerous contaminants are stopped within years, rather than decades. But complaining of needed extra staff is reminiscent of conservative arguments against every regulatory improvement, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It is particularly hard to believe that Ms. Ma is acting in good faith given that 1) she and her husband have both taken significant campaign contributions from pesticide companies ($1,500 from Monsanto and $2,500 from Trical to both Ma and Hodge, each) and given that her stated reasons for opposing the bill are almost directly drawn from the language of pesticide and big ag companies themselves against the bill. Compare this section quoted from a group letter signed by big ag advocates and the California Chamber of Commerce, to Ma’s statement above:

AB1176 would require a mandatory review and written concurrence of every federal Hazardous Air Pollutant that is identified as a TAC, many of which have been removed from use or phased out. This time consuming, unnecessary step would require significant staffing increases for all three agencies, especially for OEHHA and DPR to review pesticides that do not need or merit this review. [[Emphasis added]

That group letter was penned in April/May 2011, when those organizations still opposed sections of the proposed law. Williams worked with the opposition to remove the objectionble portions while maintaining its intent, which is to be more responsive to protecting Californians’ health. That same opposition group wrote a follow-up letter on Jan. 9  to the chair of the Ag Committee, of which Ma is a member, clearly removing their opposition. Yet she still quotes that earlier opposition, nearly verbatim, to support her Nay vote. I’m told by various sources that had she accepted one of three simple phone calls from  Williams, the amendments that were made in May 2011 could have easily been explained to the Speaker Pro Tem.

But this is not the first time that Fiona Ma has taken curious stands against a popular bill by Williams. She also played a role in weakening Williams’ AB438 against library privatization, and is rumored to be putting up obstacles to a Williams-authored farmworker bill currently in the works.

Californians deserve better than to have good legislation crucial to our collective health killed by influential politicians, in order to benefit campaign contributors and settle petty personal scores for their new spouse’s political allies. That’s behavior one would expect from Republicans, but not from Democrats.

California Senate District 19 – can Dems take McClintock’s throne?

Tom McClintock is termed out in ’08 and the race to replace him is heating up.

Tony Strickland is a leading GOP candidate, with McClintock staffer Mike Stoker also in the running. Since the eastern portion of the district is seen as key to victory, other names mentioned include Simi Valley councilman Glen Becerra.  This promises to be a very ugly, expensive primary for the GOP.

Democrats are waking up to the possibility of  taking this seat away from the GOP and adding to their current majority in the State Senate.

GOP registration advantage has been slipping and is now just over 4%, including many liberal republicans in Santa Barbara. The problem area of the district is seen as the GOP strongholds of Simi Valley, Moorpark & Thousand Oaks.  We need a Democrat who can run strong in those areas.

Many Dems have been mentioned. Ventura Supervisor Steve Bennett, former Santa Barbara Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson and current Assemblyman Pedro Nava have said they’re not running or are leaning that way. They’re all from the Santa Barbara or the western part of the district.

My favorite possible candidate is Jim Dantona. We need to draft this guy to run! 

He ran for a Supervisor’s seat last year in the Simi Valley/Moorpark area, which only has 30% registered Democrats.  He is credited with unseating the longtime Republican incumbent in the June Primary, but unfortunately lost the  final in a bitter general election race to a well funded ultra-right candidate in November, by only 895 votes. In the end, Jim Dantona took 48.5% of the vote in a heavily gerrymandered GOP district. It’s clear that he received strong support from voters across the isle. 

Who is Jim Dantona?  Currently a legislative advocate and small business owner, Dantona was Senate Pro-Tem David Roberti’s Chief of Staff for 10 years in Sacramento.  A former major league baseball player and single father of 3, he taught & coached elementary school for 5 years, and has been involved in philanthropic projects in his community for over 20 years, including establishing the organization B.A.D. – Baseballers Against Drugs.

Strong on environmental issues, he’s been outspoken against Waste Management’s plan to triple the size of their landfill footprint in Simi Valley, and has consistently advocated for  stronger action against Boeing to protect families & the community from the Rocketdyne facility groundwater/site contamination. This area’s residents have been plagued by cancer clusters & a myriad of health problems for years. Dantona has been one of the few community leaders to consistently demand answers and action.

We need a strong candidate in this district who has proven he can appeal to voters across party lines, while maintaining Dem core values. 

We need to draft Jim Dantona.

Dantona 08: A home run for the 19th