Tag Archives: Rocky Delgadillo

Will Our Attorney General Candidates Get The Prison Crisis?

Today, Chief Privacy Officer at Facebook Chris Kelly announced an exploratory committee for the race for California Attorney General.  He joins a field that includes Assemblymembers Ted Lieu, Pedro Nava and Alberto Torrico; San Francisco DA Kamala Harris, and Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo.  In his statement, which you can find at his website, Kelly talked about efficienct and effective government, Internet safety, proper training and equipment for law enforcement, and stopping trafficking.  The words “prisons,” “jails,” “corrections” or “parole” was not mentioned.

Our prison system is a mess.  We have the highest recidivism rate in the country, mostly because 2/3 of our prisoners returning to jail go there because of technical violations of their parole.  This turns jails into giant holding pens instead of areas for rehabilitation and treatment, as well as colleges for nonviolent offenders on how to get involved in violent crime.  The overstuffed prisons cost more money to staff and service as they become more dangerous, leading to the state spending more on incarceration than higher education.  Despite all this spending, conditions in the prisons are medieval, with the ACLU proposing the closure of the LA County Men’s Central Jail.  Prison officials are discussing release of 8,000 nonviolent and terminally ill offenders, but that’s a drop in the bucket.  We also have denied prisoners their Constitutional right to health care, and have a federal receiver now remedying that situation, taking it out of the hands of the legislature.  The “tough on crime” mantra that has ruled the thinking of both parties on this issue has utterly and completely failed.

And yet, our Attorney General candidates and our gubernatorial candidates view this absolute crisis as just another check on their list, instead of the serious problem it is.  Gavin Newsom didn’t bring it up in his speech, though I did ask him about it in the blogger meeting afterwards.  He talked about how we need a re-entry strategy better than the failed parole system, and cited some re-entry reforms in San Francisco that have helped matters.  And he stated that having the courts step in to fix the problem presents an opportunity for real reform.  With respect to the drug war, which lies at the heart of this, he expressed his support for drug courts and mental health courts and the kind of options that wouldn’t consign nonviolent offenders to the rigors of overcrowded prison life when they need medical treatment.  And he vowed to have more detailed programs available soon.  But when it counted, on stage, he said nothing.  Jerry Brown did tackle the issue, but his non-stop fight against the prison health care receiver and sensible steps like Prop. 5 destroy any credibility he may have had on the issue.

I have appreciated Greg Lucas’ interviews with some of the candidates in the Attorney General’s race, and I have paid particular attention to their views on the prison crisis.  (over)

Here are Alberto Torrico’s ideas to deal with recidivism:

CC: What’s the best way to reduce recidivism?

AT: First, we need to evaluate. See what programs work and don’t work. We’ve got to figure out what we’re going to do about these parolees. Put all these people out and then there’s too many parolees and too few parole officers. We can’t continue to pretend our prisons are drug rehab centers because they’re not. We need to get resources to people who can be helped and make sure when they’re tried at the local level they get put into programs that work.

I’ve been a criminal defense lawyer. I’ve been a labor lawyer. I represented a public agency. The judge tells people under Prop 36 (drug rehab law) that you’re not going to jail, you’re going to get counseling once a week for 12 weeks. You’re not going to beat an addition one hour a week over 12 weeks.

He seems earnest about lowering the recidivism rate as a financial and moral imperative, and these ideas are somewhat noble, but they read like bullet points, without the innovation necessary to really deal with this crisis.  It’s not just about hoping the locals solve the problem, but a strategy that focuses on rehabilitation, re-entry and alternatives to prison right at the top.

Here’s Ted Lieu on the same subject:

CC: Not sure how much it costs but it has to be expensive when we parole 120,000 people a year and within two years over 70 percent are back in prison.

TL: It is a sort of downward spiraling problem. Because we have a prison-overcrowding situation we now aren’t doing any of the skills training in prison programs that teach people how to function in society when they leave prison. And then people come back to prison because they have nowhere to go and that increases the over-crowding.

I’m a big supporter of drug courts. If someone is addicted, they should get treated. When revenues are falling off a cliff its extremely difficult to fund the programs we need to help people when they get out of prison. Long-term view is that yes it costs some money now but in the long-term it would help the state save money.

If an inmate works toward a degree then they should get early release credits as an incentive to do such things. Part of the problem – and this is a much larger fix – is I think I we also need to improve our education system. If we did, we’d have less people in prison as well.

I just see a lot of people talking around the problem.  I support drug courts as well, but I think there’s a mindset change that’s needed.  The Attorney General at this point is in a position to transform the entire way we think about prisons and rehabilitation.  Rocky Delgadillo gets closer to that.

CC: Speaking of costs, recidivism is very expensive. Something like 120,000 people are paroled each year and 70 percent are back behind bars within two years.

RD: We’ve got to get on the front end. One thing we know about gang members and people who have been in prison is they tend to have a shelf life it tends to end. But if they’re young and active and they go out they do it again. Why? Because in prison they get to hang out with the best in their business. And we pay for it. Great health care plan. So when they get out, they go back to it again. So the answer is to send less in.

We have a program called “First Chance.” I grew up in Northeast Los Angeles. People would say they’ll give you a second chance. You can’t have a second chance until you have a first chance. This is a program for young, but adults who get into our system. Not where they’ve done a serious crime but we know they’re involved with gangs or negative activity. We allow them to go to job training and school and if they complete it, we drop the charges. It’s a much better investment up front then to try and deal with them after they’ve been in prisons. In there, it’s an abyss.

Finally, here’s Kamala Harris, who actually pre-empts the discussion by raising recidivism without being asked:

CC: What role can the Attorney General play in the state’s seemingly endless budget mess?

KH: First, critically examine how the criminal justice system is working and whether we are being most efficient with limited dollars. Here’s an obvious example: Recidivism. California has the highest recidivism rate in the country. On an annual basis we release more than 120,000 prisoners and within two years of their release 71 percent recidivate. That’s costing us a lot of money.

In San Francisco, we created a re-entry initiative in my office. Its called “Back on Track.” It’s for low-level, first-time, non-violent offenders. I brought on my friends from labor – the building trades guys – friends from the business community, non-profits, and we give the parolees job skills development, education and help them meet things like parenting needs. A lot of these young offenders are parents. We reduced recidivism for this specific population from 54 percent to less than 10 percent. The national DA’s association has designated “Back on Track” as a national model.

My vote in this crowded Attorney General’s field will be almost entirely predicated on each candidate’s approach to the prison crisis.  Will they reverse the “tough on crime” myth and start talking about sentencing reform?  Will they discuss serious options to reform parole?  Will they bring up innovative strategies around re-entry and recidivism that would put the focus on rehabilitation and spend on the front end to save on the back end (Hint: check with Kansas)?  Will they touch the third rail of the failed drug war by moving toward decriminalization and keeping tabs on those who commit crimes with victims instead of nonviolent drug abuse?

I eagerly await the answers.

Wednesday Open Thread

Here we go on a busy day:

• California’s Leon Panetta’s confirmation finally got out of committee, and should be confirmed by the full Senate shortly.

• Some advice to the conference committee: IGNORE REP. JERRY LEWIS, who was appointed to the conference committee for the stimulus. The man is corrupt. On the other hand, I’m sure if you built a highway near his land, he might be willing to talk.

The Washington Post is reporting that Obama is considering Lloyd Dean, head of Catholic Healthcare West for the Health and Human Services gig.  (h/t CapAlert) Dean was a big Arnold fan during the so-called (and failed) “Year of Healthcare Reform.”

• The Majority Report begins a series looking at potential Yacht Party targets for 2010.  First up is Cameron Smyth in AD-38 (Santa Clarita).  We’ll be ramping up this kind of coverage a few months down the road.

• LA City Attorney (and AG hopeful?) Rocky Delgadillo settled with HealthNet over their practice of rescinding coverage for their insureds when they dare to make a claim. PDF Press release here.  In addition, Anthem Blue Cross is agreeing to take back clients and pay a $1 million dollar fine in its rescission case.

Friday Open Thread

Here’s a little something so you can head into the weekend informed.

• The SEIU put together a rally of over 1,000 members in Sacramento today, demanding a budget solution.  More are expected in Sacramento, San Francisco and Fresno tomorrow.  Given the desperation, I see nothing wrong with taking it to the streets.  You can also contribute to their letter-writing campaign to the Governor here.

• Here are a couple of real victories for organized labor and working people.  First, UNITE-Here’s workers won a court decision that will expand the Living Wage ordinance in Southern California and gives 550 laundry workers a better chance to sue Cintas for back wages.  Speaking of back pay, TV networks settled two class-action lawsuits with reality-show workers for $4 million dollars.  These workers were made to falsify time cards and work up to 20-hour days without overtime or meal breaks.  I have some friends in the industry who were parties to these lawsuits and I’m very happy they reached a good conclusion.  The fight continues.

• The Senate GOP is slow-walking the confirmation of Hilda Solis as Labor Secretary, which is annoying.  She is more than qualified and her views on the Employee Free Choice Act, which is a legislative fight, are hardly germane as well as well-known.  She deserves a vote and not this nonsense.  America needs a friend to labor at the Labor Department again.

• I have no idea why Rocky Delgadillo is running for Attorney General again.  Rocky has been a real hero in fighting insurance industry malfeasance like rescission, but his recent troubles over his wife running his city-owned SUV into a pole (and she didn’t have a license) and paying for it with city money is a 30-second ad waiting to happen.  Maybe he should wait out a cycle?

• The FDA has approved a Menlo Park-based company for a human trial for a stem cell treatment, the first ever in the US.  This is not just a victory for science but could prove to make California a real leader in medical therapeutics.  We need some expansion in industry here, anyway.

Good article from Open Left about how cleaner ports can add lots of middle-class green job, as it has with the Clean Trucks program at the port of Los Angeles.

• Shorter Phil Bronstein: Leave Bush ALOOOOOONE!

Join the Impact–Los Angeles

(From the Courage Campaign’s own Rick Jacobs. – promoted by David Dayen)

About thirty of us gathered in front of the closed Starbucks on the plaza in front of the LA courthouse to assemble our petition materials for the rally and march a few blocks away. MoveOn.org, Courage Campaign (full disclosure: I founded Courage) and Credo Mobile have, over the past week, gathered over 200,000 signatures on a pledge to repeal Prop. 8. Our group that met for the first time this morning, was volunteers who signed up to get more sigatures from the crowd. And boy did they ever!

We made our way to the staging area outside of City Hall where we were greeted by thousands of jubilant folks with home made signs. The backstage set up reminded me in some ways of the May 1, 2006 immigration march on Wilshire Boulevard that had also sprung up from the peoplem, but was managed by organized labor: there was security, a rope line, a little blue tent under which speakers gathered before their turn. Rodney Scott, who puts on LA Pride every year, did a brilliant job with logistics along with a new group of young people called FAIR.  

Just once, it would have been great to have a crowd with that energy and spirit talk to the people on the podium rather than have the elected officials and others talk to them. Theprogram was generally good, but way too long, ninety minutes while people waited in 90 degree heat. One speaker went on for nearly twenty minutes, apparently mistaking a rally for a filibuster.

Mayor Villaraigosa broke away from these horrible fires that have now dumped smoke into all of LA and destroyed numerous houses, to give an impassioned speech in English and Spanish telling us all to go talk to our neighbors and at churches, not to wait for another election. Meet people whom we do not know, break down barriers with familiarity. And he's right. That's the only way to win human rights struggles.

Rev. Eric Lee, President of the Southern Chrisitan Leadership Conference of California, gave a stirring and powerful speech about the need to put God back into church when it comes to this issue of human rights. He said, "I'm a straight black man who went" with me to the Mormon Temple three weeks ago to try to deliver 17,000 letters from Courage Campaign members to the President of the Church. He went because it was the right thing to do. He is a stand up guy, a true friend of the LGBT and progressive communities, a powerful voice for civility and dignity in our march to justice. We all need to get to know him much better.

Many of the other speakers were great, too, including City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and long time LGBT activist Torie Osborn. There were just too many of them.

At last, we marched. The crowd was animated, colorful, respectful and determined.

The most meaningful part of the day, though, was a meeting late this afternoon at the apartment of a young man named Vincent Jones. Vincent, a gay African American, pulled together about a dozen gay, straight, white, black and brown men and women for a serious conversation about how to build real conversation in communities where we lost. I was knocked out by these folks.

Zach Shepard, one of the guys who led the first spontaneous march here in LA two Wednesdays ago said, "In places like San Bernardino County we lost 70-30%, but that means that we have 30% of the voters there who support us. We need to find them, engage them and empower them to start talking to their neighbors." One of the other participants said, "come to church. Meet people. You will be welcomed." And she's right. As Woody Allen says, 90% of life is showing up.

We did not show up before the election; we will now. The power of today's march here in LA came was in the numbers and determination of individuals who are themselves leading a movement. The are not looking "up" for any established organization to tell them what to do. They know we can win next time, provided we organize, communicate and build.

This time, the campaign will be the peoples, a real movement. And this time we will win.

WristSlappin’ for the Insurers, Crumbs for the Insured

A few months ago, there was great hope that the Department of Managed Health Care was going after the big insurance companies on the rescission of individual policies.  The DMHC is an executive department, and thus reports to Arnold, not to the Insurance Commissioner (Poizner). So, a few weeks ago we got the news that the DMHC called off the dogs against Blue Cross because they knew Blue Cross would just litigate them to death. Or something like that.

I know, it’s shocking that Arnold’s administration wouldn’t pursue a corporation, but they thought it better just to let BC get off on that charge and settle with them elsewhere.  Ther problem with that? The settlement that the DMHC agreed to with the biggest five insurers in the state is barely a slap on the wrist.  The new procedure requires patients to go through a vague arbitration procedure where they have to prove their case.

Mind you the arbitrator will see far more of the insurance companies than the patients. Where do you think this is going? Yup, just like other arbirtration settings this is going to end up favoring the big company. By the by, that link above states that 99.8% of the cases filed by consumers against credit card companies decided on the merits end up with the company winning. 99.8%! That’s a track record minor deities wouldn’t mind. And even when they get to the arbitrators, cases under $15,000 will typically be decided on the paperwork only. Furthermore, the settlement doesn’t define any legal standards for these decisions, but it appears the legal burden of proof is on the patient to prove he didn’t lie rather than the insurer to prove they did.

This is no victory at all.  And that’s part of why LA City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo filed suit against Blue Shield in mid-July.

“For decades, health insurers have gamed the system and reaped billions,” Delgadillo said. “The time has come to . . . set things right.”

The suit also accuses Blue Shield of falsely advertising its coverage, alleging that the company often reneges when its members need substantial medical care.

Dr. Richard Frankenstein, president of the California Medical Assn., and Dr. Robert Bitonte, president-elect of the Los Angeles County Medical Assn., praised Delgadillo’s efforts to stop the practice known as rescission. (LAT 7.17.08)

Single-payer (likely at the national level) is the ultimate solution, but meanwhile, back in reality land, the insurers are getting off scott free. If the DMHC is going to claim to do its job, it can’t leaving gaping loopholes like this. Delgadillo and other attorneys will have to press the insurance companies for every last concession, because they’re not giving anything away for free.

California Pols at Netroots Nation – A Roundup

By my count, we had nine local and federal candidates or elected officials from California joining us in Austin for Netroots Nation.  So much for the adage that us dirty hippie bloggers are to be avoided at all costs.  These candidates and politicians represent the foundation of a progressive alliance that can transform the party and the state over the next decade.  And they all received varying degrees of support at the convention.  Here is a brief roundup in alphabetical order:

1) Secretary of State Debra Bowen – Debra apparently accepted the invitation to appear on a panel about election reform by replying on Facebook.  She is one of our favorites because of her progressive credentials, her commitment to election reform, and her accessibility.  Far from dropping in for the panel and dropping out, she took time to hang out with plenty of us Caliticians.  In fact, during the netroots candidate event, she was simply watching the proceedings when Christine Pelosi called her to the stage – it was not her intention to come as a candidate, but to just attend the conference.  That said, there was a lot of talk among the California delegation about Bowen’s plans for the future.  At least four California convention-goers told me they would quit their jobs to work for Bowen if she sought higher office than the Secretary of State.  She has a bright future and, judging from the reception she received, a national profile.  She is one of our best hopes to get a real grassroots progressive into a legitimate position of power.

more on the flip…

2) Charlie Brown (CA-04) – Charlie has been to all three Netroots Nation events, including the first two when it was known as Yearly Kos.  He is a hero among this community, and he has a lot of support here.  In fact, he proved it with a very well-received appearance at the Lurker’s Caucus.

One of the people attending the caucus was Charlie Brown.  He was there to do what a great many political candidates came to the convention to do — speak to people, press the flesh, make them aware of his campaign and expand awareness.  I was taking a seemingly arbitrary route around the room in calling on people to talk about themselves, and Charlie was one of the first people I called on.

Obviously there was a great interest in him, and there was a lively give and take between the attendants and The Colonel for about 15 minutes.  He cheerfully answered questions and gave us all a good measure of him.

Now, there are a couple of things here that make this moment extraordinary to me.  First of all, the odds were very slight that there were any people in this caucus who were from his home district.  And this was the Lurkers Caucus, a group whose only unifying distinction is that they don’t blog!! But here was Charlie, in a convention filled with bloggers, talking to the very people least likely to blog his appearance. (Yes, I’m blogging it now, but he didn’t know I was going to be there…)

Secondly, after he spoke, we still had about 50 minutes of the caucus and we had resumed moving around the room, giving people opportunities to express themselves.  Now, I know that Charlie was not there to share his lurking experiences.  He was there to campaign.  I fully expected him, and would not have blamed him in the least, to quietly slip out of the room in search of more campaigning opportunities at the convention.  In fact, that’s part of the reason I kind of steered the circuit of speakers to allow him to speak early.  But Charlie stayed for the entire session, listening to people explain why they don’t blog!

It was indicative of the respect Brown has shown for this entire community, from top to bottom, and it’s what’s going to make him a great Congressman from the 4th District.  This is one of the top races in the country from the perspective of the netroots.

3) Debbie Cook (CA-46) – I think Debbie Cook, Annette Taddeo and Alan Grayson were among the most well-received newcomers at the event.  Cook’s passion for environmental and energy issues matched up perfectly with the overriding concerns of the entire conference, which helped a lot.  At the Energy Panel she sat on, along with Alaska Senate candidate Mark Begich and Oregon Senate candidate Jeff Merkley, people in the room told me she was the most impressive.  And Talking Points Memo was similarly taken with Mayor Cook, as can be seen in this interview for the popular site.

Cook switched her flight so she could make the Netroots candidate event on Friday night.  I think she served her candidacy a great deal through this appearance, and considering that in-district donations to her campaign passed 70% in Q2, she has a lot of potential to raise her national profile online.

4) Rocky Delgadillo, LA City Attorney – Delgadillo, who lost to Jerry Brown in a primary for the Attorney General in 2006, appeared on a health care panel that I thought was the most interesting of the entire conference.  I’m going to do a larger story on it, but Delgadillo’s work in this area, rooting out corruption and illegal acitivity among health insurers, was justly recognized.  I didn’t see him walking around the conference.  Here’s a great diary from nyceve at Daily Kos about his efforts.

5) Mike Lumpkin (CA-52) – Calitics actually held an extended breakfast conversation with Lumpkin, running in the open seat created by Duncan Hunter’s retirement.  Here’s a pic:

That’s me, my subpar breakfast, Brian, Mike Lumpkin, and Lucas.  Photo by Matt Lockshin.

I thought Lumpkin was pretty good.  He’s a former Navy SEAL with 20 years of experience in counterinsurgency and command techniques, serving in both Afghanistan and Iraq.  Notably, his plan for Iraq includes a total withdrawal of all forces, leaving no residual troops.  He tends to frame most of the issues in terms of national security, which I guess is to be expected, and he talked about securing the border as well as energy security as two of his major issues on the campaign trail.  Duncan Hunter’s son, also named Duncan Hunter, is his opponent, and in the primary polls revealed that a substantial portion of voters thought they were casting a ballot for the incumbent, so this is not really an open seat in the traditional sense.  Still, this is a race to watch, and I appreciated Lumpkin taking the time to talk with us.

6) Gavin Newsom, San Francisco Mayor – Mayor Newsom walked around the hall on Saturday, showed up at our Calitics/Alternet Books party, and introduced Van Jones on Sunday morning.  Joe Garifoli has a little interview on why he attended:

Newsom is no stranger to online communication. He’s been regularly courting Bay Area bloggers for stories that the uh, ahem, other news poohbahs in town aren’t into. Just this week, he chatted up the city’s wind power project with a handful of local and statewide bloggers. He’s a Daily Kos and Huffington Post regular reader and occasional poster, and he copped to following threads around Facebook. “I really don’t have time to be on there,” he said of the social networking time suck.

“I’m not a convert, I’m one who recognizes the power and extraordinary influence the netroots have. Not just with politics, but it’s about a different interactions with people.” He went to Austin because “I wanted to understand more fully the intensity behind those names. We actually met ‘Bill in Portland Maine.'”

Clearly Newsom was there to build a profile for a statewide run for governor, and I thought that was generally successful.  There seemed to be a buzz around his visit as he walked the halls, and the crowd was receptive to his Sunday morning message, which focused on the environment.  Some were skeptical of the message, and I hope he clarifies his position, but when I spoke with him, I found him very willing to engage on the issues.  I asked about prison policy, one of my hobby horses, and while he wasn’t fully informed on the topic, he expressed a need to drill down and asked me personally to provide him with whatever information I could muster.  You bet I’ll do so, and I respect anyone in politics willing to have a two-way conversation.

7) Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House – You may recall she had a little discussion with some dude on Saturday morning.  That’s been well-covered elsewhere.  Speaking to Pelosi’s staffers, I can tell you that she enjoyed the back and forth and expected MORE of a grilling, which may have been a fault of the organization or the perhaps too-respectful commenters themselves.

8) Russ Warner (CA-26) – This was Russ’ second Netroots Nation, and he did his best to focus on meeting as many people as possible.  I did tend to see him and his campaign staff just about everywhere.  He delivered his passionate message about his son, who was in attendance, at the Netroots candidate event as well.

9) Steve Young (CA-48) – Steve is running for Congress but he’s also a member of the community, and during the California caucus he was as active as anyone in participating in the discussion.  The numbers he’s been showing around on his race suggest there is a real chance here, and I hope he got a lot out of the event.

Dropped, denied or delayed?

Full disclosure: I work for the Courage Campaign

Adapted from a post at the Courage Campaign blog.

Like so many others in California, The Courage Campaign has long championed the battle for affordable and accessible health care. It’s why Courage joined with a diverse coalition asking Terry McAuliffe to please don’t do it as we approach his high-priced speaking engagement in San Francisco for insurance executives tomorrow. And it’s why Courage partnered with the California Nurses Association and Senator Sheila Kuehl today to introduce our new “Insurance Jive” ad.

We’ve all been touched in one way or another by the catastrophic failure of the private insurance system.  Whether it’s ourselves, our family or friends, or diarists like CarlsbadDem, we’ve all seen the results of too many people sick and injured without recourse.  Heck, providing for the common welfare is right there in the Preamble to the Constitution. Like the ad says, it doesn’t have to be this way. The move for reasonable access to quality health care is growing stronger by the day and we need to keep up the momentum. The first $6,000 raised by the Courage Campaign via the ad’s ActBlue page will be matched by the California Nurses Association and Sen. Sheila Kuehl in order to get this ad on the air in San Francisco in the next 48 hours.

Earlier today, Rick Jacobs emailed Courage subscribers about the ad explaining just how much is at stake and and how much a small contribution to air this ad can accomplish:

Have you been dropped, denied or delayed?

Patsy Bates was dropped. Health Net canceled — or “rescinded” — Patsy’s health insurance policy after this 52-year-old grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer, forcing Patsy to halt chemotherapy for several months while piling up $129,000 in medical bills.

Unbelievable? Actually, the Patsy Bates case may be just scratching the surface. The Department of Managed Health Care is now reviewing thousands of other “rescissions” made by five major insurers operating in California: Health Net, Kaiser Permanente, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield of California and PacifiCare.

We were so moved by Patsy’s story that we decided to create a 30-second TV ad for other people like Patsy who have been dropped, denied or delayed by their health insurance carrier in California.

But our television ad is not what you might expect. It’s not traditional. Or typical. It’s called “Insurance Jive” and it features a nurse (actor Beth Broderick of “Lost”) who — reminiscent of the Barbara Billingsley character in the 1980 movie “Airplane” — translates insurance jargon for a hospital patient and her husband.

Sounds funny, right? Well, “Insurance Jive” also packs a punch.

That’s why, together, the California Nurses Association and State Senator Sheila Kuehl have pledged to match the first $6,000 donated to place this powerful ad on the air in San Francisco in the next 48 hours — just as thousands of health insurance executives gather in the city for their annual convention.

Please watch “Insurance Jive” now and — if you like it — consider contributing what you can afford on ActBlue to help us make the $6,000 challenge match from CNA and Senator Kuehl:


In the case of Patsy Bates, the good news is that a judge recently ordered Health Net to pay Patsy a whopping $9 million in mostly punitive damages.

But her victory is a rare blow to an industry that routinely seeks to profit at the expense — and physical well-being — of its customers. For example, according to the Los Angeles Times, Patsy’s lawsuit revealed that Health Net had “linked cancellations to employee performance goals,” an illegal policy that helped drive more than $35 million in denied claims between 2003 and 2006.

Fortunately, Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo has initiated a lawsuit and criminal investigation into Health Net’s decisions to drop, deny or delay health care, asserting that:

Countless Californians who believe they have insurance actually have policies that aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on. At a patient’s most vulnerable moment, the insurance company won’t pay for care, or will cancel the policy altogether. Industry schemes to maximize profits at the expense of patients are unfair and unlawful, and they must be stopped.

Rocky Delgadillo is talking to these corporations in a language they can easily understand: “lawsuit”. That’s why we created “Insurance Jive” to spread the word about the City Attorney’s helpful website for consumers.

Please watch this powerful new 30-second ad now. If you like it, please consider making a contribution on our ActBlue page so that we can put it on the air in San Francisco in the next 48 hours, for thousands of health insurance executives to see:


We know this ad is provocative. And we know our letter to former DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe — in which 9,201 citizens asked him not to speak at, or take a speaking fee from, the AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans) convention — was provocative as well.

But we think it’s about time these powerful people were held accountable so that, in the future, seriously ill people like Patsy Bates do not end up in the “rescinded” column on a corporate spreadsheet.

If you agree, please forward this message to your friends right now. We don’t have much time to get this ad on the air while Terry McAuliffe and thousands of health insurance executives are gathering together in San Francisco.

Thank you, again, for helping us make 2008 a new era for progressive politics in California.

Rick Jacobs


P.S. As Senator Kuehl said in our press release: “The time is long past for insurance companies to stop killing and hurting people by refusing to pay for coverage. Until we get a single-payer system, we need Rocky Delgadillo and other leaders to stand up to the insurance industry with the full force of the law.”

We couldn’t agree more with Senator Kuehl. That’s why we created “Insurance Jive” and why we need your help to make the $6,000 challenge match she is making together with CNA. Please take 30 seconds to watch the ad and consider making a contribution on ActBlue to put it on the air ASAP:


SB 275, Hospital Dumping, passes out of the legislature

Well, it’s the season of legislative accomplishments. I can’t possibly point out all of them as the sheer volume would be rather oppressive for a blog format. But I do want to point out a couple of bills here and there.  Specifically, SB 275 and SB 2, both from Senator Gil Cedillo.

SB 275 creates civil penalties for dumping the homeless against their will.  Initially, as drafted by Cedillo and LA City Atty Rocky Delgadillo, the bill was supposed to have a criminal charge associated. However, the criminal charges were stripped under pressure from the hospital lobby. However, the bill will prohibit a hospital from transporting a patient to a location other than their residence without written consent and make such offenses subject to civil penalties of $150,000 on second offense and $300,000 on a third offense. These penalties are large enough to attract attorneys to file on behalf of the dumping victims. I do not yet know if an attorney’s fees provision is included, but that would certainly also be helpful.

SB 2, the Fair Share Zoning bill would require cities and counties to include an inventory of sites suitable for emergency shelters, supportive housing, transitional housing and residential rental developments in the housing element of their general plan. SB 2 includes provisions allowing these facilities as permitted use rather than conditional use or other discretionary permits.

Villaraigosa, Delgadillo, and Racial Identity in Los Angeles Politics

As juls noted in a quick hit, Mayor Villaraigosa’s girlfriend Mirthala Salinas has been put on temporary leave by Telemundo, calling her job into question.  Elsewhere though, the LA Times is all over this latest scandal.  There are 133 pages and counting of users comments in response to the situation and Steve Lopez is wondering “Who needs telenovelas when you have Los Angeles City Hall?”  Lopez brings up several legitimate questions, like whether taxpayers have paid for any part of the relationship and what effect the relationship may have had on the Telemundo newsroom.  But as compelling as all of that is, the real fallout may not be felt until next fall.  In light of scandals for Antonio Villaraigosa and Rocky Delgadillo, the Times is also exploring the extent to which the Latino community may be disillusioned by their political superstars.

The last several years have shown the Latino population gradually moving away from the Republican Party, and in 2006, Latino’s in the West went 72% for Democratic candidates.  This has been coupled in Los Angeles with a city government that increasingly matches its Latino population:

Over the last decade, the city’s government has finally started to reflect its demographics. Los Angeles, with a Latino population of nearly 50%, has a city attorney named Rocky Delgadillo and a City Council on which five of 15 members are of Mexican descent.

As noted in the article, it’s far too early to know whether either Villaraigosa or Delgadillo will personally face political ramifications for their respective scandals.  The potential problem that the Times suggests may be simmering though is that, at a time of major political gains for Latinos, future Latino candidates or future Democrats will have one more hill to climb on the way to election.

Please do read through the article for the full gamut of reactions from both insiders and people-on-the-street.  What’s particularly striking though is that the progression of Latinos into mainstream politics brings along a complex identity crisis.  Indeed, much of the concern reflected in the Times article touches in one way or another on concern that race would be caught up in analysis of the scandal:

“I don’t think it speaks to a problem of leadership in the Latino community,” [Former City Councilman Richard] Alatorre said. “We all make mistakes…. It just so happens that it happened all in one week.”

Will this demoralize the building political engagement and activism in the Latino community?  Will race be unfairly conflated with scandal within the broader population?  Or is Antonio Gonzalez (Southwest Voter Registration Education Project) right in seeing this as growing pains for the still young but increasingly influential Latino voting bloc?  Too early to tell, but the role of race will be something to follow as these stories evolve in the media and the public consciousness.

The Implosion of Rocky Delgadillo

The wheels are falling off of Rocky Delgadillo’s career. Well, if you enjoy implosions, grab some popcorn. Not since Chuck Quackenbush has the state of California such a spectacular downfall of a politician.  While Delgadillo didn’t garner that much support against the far more well-known Jerry Brown in the Attorney General primary, he certainly wasn’t laughed off the stage.

So, the litany of stories about Delgadillo’s downfall were a bit much. First came the stories about Michelle Delgadillo driving without a valid driver’s license, and then emerged the stories about Delgadillo driving without auto insurance. You know, both of those things are pretty big no-nos.  Especially considering that the suspended license charge was the same one that Delgadillo prosecuted Paris Hilton for. Now, Mrs. Delgadillo didn’t have the extensive history of run-ins with the lase like Paris Hilton, but it does seem a bit sketchy.

And that’s not all on the driving mishaps.  You can throw in the fact that Mrs. Delgadillo backed into a pole with a city SUV (while driving without a license), and then Rocky had it repaired at city expense.  Rocky since reimbursed the city for the repairs.

But, wait, there’s more.  Next, allegations that Delgadillo used his staff, improperly, for babysitting and other services came to light. But, don’t you worry, his staff used “personal time” to run Delgadillo’s errands.  This is how I imagine it going:

Rocky: Hey, there, Chip, how’s work going?

Bill: Sir, work is great, I have many cases on my docket. But my name is Bill.

Rocky: Ok, Ok, Phil.That’s great. So, Phil, what are you doing this afternoon?

Bill: Well, it’s Bill, but I plan on working this afternoon, like I do everyday. But, I’d love to spend my free time running errands for you. Can I pick up your dry cleaning?

Rocky: Why Gil, that is so kind of you. But you’ll have to take personal time to run my errands, I’m always on the up and up.

Bill: It’s Bill, but, no problem, Mr. Delgadillo, sir. I’d love to run your errands, and then come back and do my work during the evening. That wouldn’t be coercion under Section 49.5.5 of the city’s Municipal Code at all.

Rocky: I’m glad you feel that way. Make sure you checkout on your way out so that we can dock your personal hours. Here are the cleaning tickets.  That’s Chip!

Bill: It’s Bill, sir.

Well, maybe not exactly that way, but I’m sure it’s something just like that, you know.  All perfectly innocent.

But, of course, there is more to the story.  It appears that Mrs. Delgadillo didn’t pay taxes on her business, CRD,Inc. On disclosure forms, Rocky said that the business made between $10K-100K from 2002-2005.  Generally, people file taxes when they make money. That’s kinda the deal, sorry Delgadillo Family.

Anyway, it’s really too bad that this is happening, but at this point Mr. Delgadillo’s resignation isn’t a case of if but when. It’s a tragedy on many levels. When the media gets into a feeding frenzy like this, all gets revealed.  Too bad they couldn’t get into the frenzy on BushCo back in 2003, you know?