Tag Archives: speak out california

Speak Out California Is Back Up And Running!

Dave Johnson, Speak Out California

One day your website is yours, and the next day it is someone else’s.  Organizations, businesses and regular people are at the mercy of a confusing deregulated system.

A little over a week ago the Speak Out California website suddenly disappeared, and viewers instead saw a website full of advertisements.  

We had no way of even knowing what had happened.  It was just a surprise.  One day typing “speakoutca.org” into a web browser took viewers to our website, the next day it took viewers to an ad site that someone else managed.

Some of us are more sophisticated and internet-savvy than most citizens so we were eventually able to track down some information.  I’m not going into details here, except to say that no one at Speak Out California received any notice that this was going to happen.  It took several days to even track down where the domain name (this is what internet addresses like speakoutca.org are called) had been registered, who had registered it, and contact info for the registrar.  Then it took several more days to restore the domain name to us and get it working again.

Here’s the thing: the only way we were able to get this name back and get the site operating again is because some of us are much more internet-connected than most people.  Most people would have no idea where to even start to look for information and help solving a problem like this.

This is certainly not an uncommon problem.  My wife had a business named Dancing Woman Designs with a website at dancingwomandesigns.com, and then one day she didn’t.  She received no notice, nothing.  It was just there one day and gone the next and if she wanted it back it was going to cost her.  It was going to cost her a lot.  And so she doesn’t have dancingwomandesigns.com anymore and that address takes you to an ad site.  A whole business that took years to get going and build is history now.  It was wiped out in a minute because someone was able to get the web name.

A larger business is more likely to have the resources to hire the necessary experts to fight something like this.  But it can be an expensive proposition and it can take time.

This is the difference between regulation and deregulation.  Regulations protect regular people.  Deregulation enables and protects scammers, schemers, and cons.  The Internet is largely unregulated and is full of scammers, schemers and cons.  Most of the businesses and organizations on the internet are good, honest, credible and legitimate but regular people are also left completely at the mercy of numerous cons, scams, schemes and rip-offs and the burden is on us to find a way to tell the difference.

We got Speak Out California back up and running.  It only took us a week and a little money.  But we are sophisticated, internet-savvy and connected — and lucky.  Hmm … maybe some new legislation is warranted.

Click through to Speak Out California

While California Dreams- Weekly Update Vol.1, No.14

This article written by: Former Assemblymember, Hannah-Beth Jackson of Speak Out California

A weekly update on the goings-on in Sacramento
For the week ending September 8, 2007

Key bills and issues we’ve been following during the
past week and beyond

The first of the final two weeks of the regular session is now done, with hundreds of bills having been heard and or otherwise disposed of.  Healthcare, predictably continues to be front and center. The environment has seen some good news and bad, while civil rights–for both the gay community and working women round out the headline grabbers for the week.

Ballot initiatives and threats of same continue to be bandied about, while the Republican play to steal yet another presidential election is taking on broader national attention as its implications for Republicans holding the White House become known. Term Limits has dodged a bullet and will now appear on the February ballot, creating greater pressure to get a redistricting measure passed before the coming recess.  And the Perata Iraq initiative sits on the Governor’s desk, most likely facing a veto. Of course, the Gov didn’t endear himself to his party this weekend at the Republican state convention, but that is of little concern as the Reps continue on a downward spiral in this state.

So let’s get to the details:

SB840/Universal Health Care and AB8 .

With all the hype about AB 8, Senator Kuehl’s true reform healthcare measure, calling for a Medicare type system to cover all Californians and still have us choose our own doctors, appears to be DOA on Schwarzenegger’s desk. With the legislature’s leaders heavily in negotiations with the Governor on a bill that keeps the insurance industry well in the game, there is just no way to fix this truly broken health care system. With a private, for-profit health INSURANCE industry in place, the only move that can be made essentially requires us to try to shove a square peg into a round hole. It can’t be done, but that isn’t deterring them from trying. For an excellent piece on why this process is not the answer, please go here: http://blog.bayneweb…

Schwarzenegger is insisting that everyone have health insurance. This is NOT universal healthcare, it is universal insurance- whether people can afford it or not. This deference to the insurance industry is maddening for those who realize the private companies are a major part of the problem and need to come out of the equation completely. Nonetheless, there have been concessions of transparency where the insurance companies would have to reveal what they pay and where the dollars that they rake in go.

The negotiations are complicated and keep changing almost by the minute. Rather than give you a play-by-play on all the moving parts, let’s break this down to the core issue in all this: Who will pay the bulk of the health care costs and who will be covered by the program? With so many major players in the mix –the hospitals, big and small employers, workers, the poor, doctors and healthcare providers, federal dollars, etc. there is real concern that we could be rushing into another end-of-session energy-deregulation type debacle.

With that in mind, there are those who are urging the leadership and legislature to go slow, and allow the governor to call a special session (he can do it anyway) and try to think through the process more carefully and deliberatively. Another option considered is to put an initiative on the ballot that addresses the funding mechanism, since there is no way the obstinate and out-of-touch right wing that has a hold on the Republican Senators will even consider such a mechanism—even if those having to belly-up are willing to pay! For more on this aspect of the story, check out this article at the California Progress Report, as well as Julia Rosen’s piece here.

Environmental efforts

While two important environmental bills apparently delayed until next year’s session, a major breakthrough has occurred on the water/flood control scene. A package of bills reflecting a compromise has been reached which will address the uncontrolled development on flood-prone lands in the Central Valley region without imposing moratoriums on construction or impeding local economic growth. The dam on overhauling the state’s antiquated and ineffective approach to flood protection and water planning appears to have been broken—-or so the claims go. For an analysis of what this compromise looks like, click here for the SacBee article and here for the California Progress Report’s coverage.

Sadly, two other key environmental bills that we’ve been touting haven’t made it through the process this year. One is Senator Alan Lowenthal’s  SB974, an important bill to clean up the air near the ports of California– Long Beach , L.A. and Oakland . For more on this story,please visit our blog: http://speakoutca.or…

The other is Senator Joe Simitian’s SB 412, which would require that California establish the need for LNG plants before allowing them to be built in the state. Seems like a no-brainer, but this bill got in the cross-hairs of end-of-session wrangling between the Senate and Assembly. While Speak Out California has been urging the leadership to move this bill back onto the floor for a vote, we’re still waiting. If you would like to help by sending emails to Speaker Nunez, go to our action alert to sign up here.  We’ve also blogged here on this issue: http://speakoutca.or…

For more information about the successes and failures of other measures, California Report’s chief Frank Russo has done a yeoman’s job of covering them here.

Civil Rights push for gay marriage and workforce equity

The Governor will see AB 43, Mark Leno’s gay marriage bill back on his desk again this year. For the second time, the Legislature, on a strictly party-line vote, has passed this measure and will likely see the governor veto it again. This is a hard sell, with the Governor having ducked the measure last year, saying the Court should decide. The Supreme Court turned around and said the legislature should decide. Well, they have. Governor?

Two measures that we’ve been following on our weblog over the past few weeks have now passed both houses and are on their way to the Governor’s desk. The first, AB 437, by Assemblymember Dave Jones, ensures that victims of pay discrimination continue to have a fair opportunity to seek redress in the courts. The measure clarifies that the time period for alleging pay discrimination claims runs from the date of each payment of a discriminatory wage.

The second, AB435 by Assemblymember Julia Brownley, addresses workplace discrimination against women. The measure extends the statue of limitations for an employee in order to file a civil action against an employer for wage discrimination and also extends the time period that an employer is required to maintain wage and job classification records.

Click here for more on both these measures.

Initiatives on the move

Without a doubt, the most talked-about initiative this week is the transparent attempt by the Republican party to co-opt California’s 55 electoral votes in order to swing the next presidential election back to them. The initiative is couched in pleasant and reasonable language; talking about fairness and every vote counting, etc. But there is nothing fair about this initiative, designed to replace California’s winner-take-all system of handing all its electoral votes to the state’s popular vote winner (as is done in 48 other states) with a system that gives electoral votes by congressional district popular vote. Bottom line: In a state where the Reps have about a snowball’s chance of winning, this measure, if passed, would send them home with about 20-22 of the state’s 55 electoral votes. It is a cynical and serious plot to keep the White House, even though they haven’t really WON the presidency since 1988.

The Dems are rightly, crying foul here. This past week, National Democratic Party Chair, Howard Dean called this, “just another Republican attempt to rig an election.” Check out the San Francisco Chronicle article here. Unless enough people know about this ploy, the measure will likely qualify for the ballot and cost the Dems between $10-20 million to kill it, moving money from places it would otherwise be spent for democratic candidates and issues. Likely exactly what the Reps had in mind when they pulled this stunt. Smells a lot like Karl Rove is still alive and well.

When we reported last week’s edition of While California Dreams, it appeared that the Term Limits/Extension initiative might not make it onto the ballot because it appeared to lack the required number of signatures. Seems this was a false alarm-as two counties reconsidered their counting techniques, recounted, and decided that the signatures qualified after all. A collective sigh of relief was purportedly heard emanating from the Capitol as current, otherwise termed-out legislators still stand to gain additional years if this measure passes.

This event may very well lead to additional ballot measures. The conventional wisdom goes that Schwarzenegger’s support is either necessary or very helpful to get the term-limits/extension measure passed, but he won’t play ball unless a redistricting measure is also included, which will take the ability to configure legislative districts out of the hands of the legislature. Without such a measure, there is concern that the Gov. might even oppose the desired term-limits/extension measure, thus likely condemning it to fail. Speaker Nunez is purported to be scurrying hard to put an initiative together that will meet the Gov’s requirements, while Senator Perata has made it clear it won’t get by the Senate if it also includes putting Congressional redistricting into the hands of an outside body. The key question is whether such a compromise is in the offing and whether it flies with the Gov. No answer on that one yet.

As we reported last week, Senator Perata’s advisory initiative is on the governor’s desk. Perata wants the people of California to be able to weigh in on the war in Iraq and let the President and Congress know whether we want an immediate withdrawal of our troops. The vote was predictably along party-lines and the odds are that the Gov. will veto it along the same party line. But the problem for the Governor “of the people”, as he likes to define himself, is that he can’t argue that the people shouldn’t have a chance to express their opinion on this measure, without being labeled a hypocrite. Don’t bet on seeing this reach the ballot, however. There’s very little upside for the Gov in signing the measure to send it to the ballot. He’s too good a politician not to realize this.

The Rest of the Story

Our blogging offerings for the week:

End of Session Drama Begins

Senate Bill 974- The Art of the Possible

To read and comment on these entries, just go to: www.speakoutca.org/weblog/

With only a few days left in the first year of this legislative session, there will be a mad-dash to end the year on an upbeat of legislative accomplishment. This is also the time when good intentions and bad bills can wreak havoc on our state so we’ll be watching bills carefully and sounding the alarm if we think there are concerns that you might want to express to the legislature or the Governor when these measures get to his desk.

We welcome your comments and suggestions and hope you will send this newsletter to your friends and other like-minded progressives. Urge them to sign up to Speak Out California and keep the progressive voice alive!

Until next week,

Hannah-Beth Jackson and the Speak Out California Team

The End-of-session Drama begins

(An interesting back-room story. – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

This article written by:  Former Assembly Member, Hannah Beth Jackson of Speak Out California

This is the truly crazy-making time of the legislative year, when hundreds of bills line up on the floor like airplanes on a crowded runway. And productivity isn't measured by the quality of the bills being considered but rather by the number that are disposed of on the floor each day. With over 700 bills waiting for take-off or otherwise, it's a madhouse. Several bills have already been or will be delayed, postponed or canceled while most of those lined up will take off for the Governor's desk where their fate will be decided within thirty days of their final vote. An action alert is up, here. But read on for the details.

It is chaos, exhausting and usually a productive time. But this is also the time of year when egos and hard-feelings from past slights, disrespect or other machinations force otherwise important measures to languish and die, often even before hitting the runway.

Such is the fate of Senator Joe Simitian's bill, SB 412 which would required the Liquified Natural Gas supporters to demonstrate an actual need for the product before any LNG terminals could be built in California. This seems like a no-brainer in that these plants are enormously expensive to build and often present serious environmental concerns. It would only make sense that before California allow any to be constructed under those conditions that we prove they are actually necessary. With that in mind, the measure should have made it to the floor—but was held up in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, along with several other important measures that had been developed and passed not only through their “house of origin” (the Senate) but had made it beyond all the Assembly committees to find a hoped-for temporary resting place in the Assembly before being released for floor vote in that house. In SImitian's case, he had no such luck. Was it the nature of the bill and lots of opposition? Nope. Not in this case.

It was more a victim of the all-too-common tension between the “upper” and “lower” houses of the legislature. Considered by many to be the genius of our Founding Fathers and their creation of the bicameral system of government where bills must pass through two, separate legislative groups-the Senate and the Assembly (similar to Congress where the Senate and the House of Representatives often do battle), it often translates down into petty or ego-driven disputes. In this case, the holding of Simitian's bill is more a battle of power and ego where the upper and lower chambers are feeling slighted by each other. When that happens, good ideas and hard-fought bills are often the victims of political infighting. Such is the case with SB 412–and many other measures now neglected on the Appropriations Committee floors of each house.

The good news is that there is still time to resurrect SB 412 and that's just what we here at Speak Out California are hoping will happen. On Tuesday, September 4th, we sent out an action alert to our subscribers asking them to contact the Speaker of the Assembly, Fabian Nunez, and urge him to release this bill from the Appropriations Committee so that it can be heard. While often bills can wait until next year, there is a time constraint on this measure that requires its implementation this year. Why?

In essence this bill does two things: It requires the state to do a LNG Needs Assessment as part of its Integrated Energy Policy Report before approving placement of an LNG terminal in California. If we don't need it, why force it on our communities?

It also clarifies that the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires strong alternatives technology analysis so that if an LNG terminal is approved for California, it will be the safest design with the fewest impacts.

With enormous cost and profit possiblities, there are several companies moving forward full-throttle to become California's LNG supplier. The longer we delay in requiring these standards, the less likely we will be able to justify imposing them after millions and millions of dollars have been spent developing plans, permits, etc. that the process requires. Unless we pass this legislation into law this year, it will be too late to impose these important criteria on the companies developing their proposals as we speak.

For more information on this important measure, and to send a request to the Speaker, check out our recent action alert:
http://ga4.org/campaign/ActNowforCaliforniasEnergy Future

Of course, there are many measures that suffered a similar fate and many more that are on the floor of both houses during this last, frenetic week of activity. With 700 bills to consider, there will be days with votes on 100 bills or more. Some move within seconds and the most difficult take up to hours, especially in the Assembly where often all 80 members feel compelled to speak. It is definitely the most interesting time of the legislative year and often the most chaotic. Remember it was at this point in 1996 when the ill-fated electricity de-regulation bill took off, only to crash and burn on the watch of a totally new and unsuspecting legislature years down the road. We  can only hope that this year the legislature will escape that fate. That answer, though, may not be known for some time.

For now, we can only keep our fingers crossed and take heed of the Hypocratic oath  to “do no harm”. As in each and every legislative session, we shall watch and see.

Speaker Pelosi on Being the First Woman Speaker

By former Assemblymember, Hannah-Beth Jackson of Speak Out California

In celebration of the 78th anniversary of Women’s Equality Day, Speak Out California did a series of blogs commemorating the occasion. We conclude that series with a contribution from the first woman speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, who took the reigns of power in an historic celebration in January, 2007. (See our blog entry of January, 2007.)

Speaker Pelosi represents the first of what we hope is a long and celebrated ascension of women to the key leadership roles in our halls of power, justice and boardrooms. It has been, and continues to be an enormous struggle to break the barriers of sexism that have kept so many competent and qualified people from realizing the promises of our nation and our world.

In celebration of breaking down one of the most significant institutional barriers, we asked the Speaker to share with our readers her thoughts on her  momentous achievment in light of the accomplishments past and yet to come, as we reflect once more on Women’s Equality Day.

Please visit our website for her comments

The Catholic Church doesn’t like Planned Parenthood

(Hannah-Beth Jackson was an excellent legislator before being termed out, and is now continuing her work with SpeakOut. Thanks! – promoted by Brian Leubitz)

By Hannah-Beth Jackson, Former State Assembly Member
cross-posted at Speak Out California.org

This blog [post] comes after there was a response to a request for the increase of reimbursement rates for planned parenthood to continue providing preventive reproductive health care.

While blogging on Speak Out California is always fun for me-( although the topics sometimes make my blood boil ), it is quite rewarding when the opposition sees fit to respond in an attempt to neutralize the content of the posting. Mixing it up with those who disagree is what democracy and freedom of speech are all about.

So this time, the push-back comes from the California Catholic Daily. I didn’t know such a publication existed, but I do now. The gist of their piece, which directly quotes Speak Out’s recent posting, is to challenge Planned Parenthood’s claims that it needs to see an increase in the reimbursement rate for its clinical services, which haven’t been increased in 20 years. That fact alone should be sufficient to warrant an increase. What can you purchase today at the same price you could 20 years ago?
Not even baseball cards—which went for a dime a pack in the old days or for those who never collected them, think of a candy bar at less than a quarter, or a gallon of gas at less than a buck. So, why should Planned Parenthood, or any health care provider, for that matter, be forced to accept pricing that is 20 years old for services that continue to be a necessity for thousands and at a cost of delivery that only keeps going up?

But when you dislike the healthcare being provided and dislike the provider, Planned Parenthood, almost as much, those basic realities don’t factor into the equation. So, without challenging the motives of the good people at California Catholic Daily, let’s just look at the facts:

The claim:
Planned Parenthood has surplus funding and ended the year with a budget surplus.
The Facts:
Planned Parenthood, like most large organizations and healthcare providers, segregate their operations expenses from their capital expenses. Providing services are the operational expenses. The actual physical plant, and the maintenance and improvement of the facilities are the capital expenses.

I suspect the Archdioses has similar programs and funding mechanisms because very few (if any) organizations lump them together or mix the two funding sources. Not smart and not likely. The actual structure and its needs are kept separate from the services provided within its walls.

In Planned Parenthoods case, these “surplus” funds are “restricted” capital funds that donors to Planned Parenthood specifically designate be used for remodeling, expanding and opening new clinics–the physical plants from which services can be rendered. Thus, the fact still remains that California’s Planned Parenthood clinics currently reach only 46% of individuals eligible for family planning services. With their mission of meeting the health care needs of the uninsured (which numbers continue to grow), Planned Parenthood must provide services and have places within which to provide them–very simple and basic organizational and operational structure.

The Claim:
The Catholic Daily then complains that Planned Parenthood spent a ton of money fighting Propositions 73 and 85 (both of which were funded by wealthy anti-choice individuals who wanted to force Parental Notication on the people of California—who rejected this effort twice within a 12 months period).

The Facts:
Yes, when forced to defend the Constitutional rights of women to exercise their reproductive decisions-for which Planned Parenthood is dedicated- they did have to raise an enormous amount of money. They didn’t pick this fight–but they were committed to winning it on behalf of the women of this state, and did. Could the money have been better spent providing services? Of course, but if in the end the right-wing takes away the ability to access these services, you’ve got to fight to keep that right alive and that’s just what Planned Parenthood did.

The Claim:
Planned Parenthood pays their top executives “very well.”

The Facts:
Planned Parenthood’s affiliates are large organizations providing complex health care and education services that fill a need that the government does not fill. Its CEO’s are paid well within the accepted norms for all non-profits as defined by independent “watch dog” organizations such as Charity Navigator and are paid well below comparable salaries paid to CEO’s in the for-profit health care field.

But most importantly, we’re still waiting for that reimbursement rate increase. And we’ll be monitoring both the Governor’s and legislatures response in the days and weeks ahead. While being challenged by groups that don’t believe in contraception or reproductive choice isn’t a surprise, we need to keep our eye on the ball. In this case, that ball is adequate funding for the critically important services provided by groups like Planned Parenthood.
Because the right to healthcare without access, is really no right at all.