Saturday, October 30, 2010

Don't believe the pundits: It's not over 'til it's over!

by Guest Columnist, Doug Drenkow

News flash! Despite what a lot of the pundits might lead you to believe, the election of 2010 has not yet been decided. Until Tuesday morning, it has not yet even begun! (Except, of course, for mail-in ballots, which -- again despite what some pundits had led us to expect -- are running decidedly in favor of Democrats)

Do we want less regulation of the very companies that crashed our economy?

Do we want greater inequality of wealth in our country?

Do we want to increase our national debt by lowering taxes on the rich?

Or do we want to invest in infrastructure and green energy and other pressing needs in the short run, to increase demand and bring down unemployment -- by the way, the only way to pay off our debts -- in the long run?

Are we going to be bullied by the history-twisting, race-baiting, immigrant-fearing, health reform-hating, climate science-denying, fascism-flirting phenomenon of the Tea Party?

Are we going to give in to the Right-wing political, media, and corporate powers that foment and finance the Tea Party, the very same powers that the Tea Party dupes publicly rail against?

In short, are we going to give our country back to the very same party that drove us into the ditch we're now trying our damnedest to get out of?

Or are we going to say No! to The Party of No, and vote -- and get out the vote -- for Democrats?!

And while we're at it, let's keep up the growing pressure to reform the filibuster rules -- possible only on the first day of the new Congress -- that have killed off more good legislation in the Senate and given the GOP more power than anything else.

Well, as I wish progressive candidates and their supporters across the nation all the best, here are some excellent candidates and strong positions on propositions for our election in California, along with some very good reasons for voting and for getting out the vote:

C A N D I D A T E S

GOVERNOR: JERRY BROWN. He has devoted his life to public service, and done so effectively and with honor. Jerry Brown has consistently worked for fiscal responsibility, environmental protection, diversity, workers rights, new technology, and infrastructure development -- keys to growing new jobs in California -- while being tough on crime, including the "white collar" variety. Even those who have on occasion disagreed with him know that Jerry tells you exactly what he believes; and he's usually been ahead of the curve, out in the lead -- as with his big emphasis on education years before it became fashionable to recognize it as the key to our economic competitiveness in the 21st century. Compare that to his opponent, who has flip-flopped (to say the least) on everything from immigration to abortion. And do we really want to make governor of our great state someone who not only has no experience in government but who also got into big trouble making big backroom deals with Wall Street?

SENATOR: BARBARA BOXER. Sen. Boxer has always stood up for Californians and what's best about California. She has proudly supported economic stimulus money and other legislation protecting and creating clean energy and millions of other U.S. jobs, after-school and education programs for kids, health care reform for all, environmental protections, women's rights, programs for veterans and seniors, and -- overall, as I see it -- standing up for "the little guy and gal" up against formidable powers-that-be. By contrast, her opponent, again someone with no experience in government, paid herself handsomely while shipping American jobs overseas. Are those really the values we want representing California in the U.S. Senate?

LT. GOVERNOR: GAVIN NEWSOM. Yes, he's been an outspoken proponent of civil rights for gay people, and all people. So how is that a bad thing? As mayor of San Francisco, Newsom championed biotech and other new technology jobs, nearly universal health care, solutions for homelessness, and urban renewal. He's a natural leader and will make a great Lt. Governor.

ATTORNEY GENERAL: KAMALA HARRIS. As the first African American woman and South Asian American woman in California to be elected as a district attorney, Kamala Harris has been extremely effective as D.A. in San Francisco, cracking down on crime -- particularly violent crime, as against children -- and working to improve the quality of life, as by increasing prosecutions for vandalism, graffiti, and auto burglary. Harris has brought free legal clinics to immigrant neighborhoods, expanded services for crime victims and their families, and developed programs to prevent re-offending. Like her predecessor, our current Attorney General and candidate for Governor, Kamala Harris will be tough on crime and good for California.

TREASURER: BILL LOCKYER. As State Treasurer, Lockyer has held the unenviable position of having to confront the national recession, the greatest economic challenge of our lifetime. But his smart, hard work with the state's finances has created and maintained more than 100,000 good-paying construction and related jobs and saved thousands of projects for highways, schools, parks, natural resources, and affordable housing. As other investment funds lost trillions when the financial system crashed, Lockyer's prudent investments protected the state's $80 billion investment fund, which actually earned dividends and never lost a penny! He led the national fight against the Wall Street rating agencies that contributed to the crash; and even as credit has dried up nationwide, California has been able to sell bonds at historic low interest rates. Having proved himself "under fire," Bill Lockyer definitely deserves to be re-elected Treasurer of California.

CONTROLLER: JOHN CHIANG. Not only has he already proven himself well qualified for the job, as the state's "independent fiscal watchdog" -- weeding out waste, fraud, and abuse and making the state's finances more transparent and accountable to the public -- John Chiang has courageously stood up to both the governor and the legislature in the state's budget crisis -- denying them accounting tricks and holding their feet to the fire. What's more, John has shown himself to me, personally, to be intelligent and sincerely concerned with the issues affecting everyday Californians. He, too, deserves re-election!

INSURANCE COMMISSIONER: DAVE JONES. As Assemblymember from Sacramento, Dave Jones has earned a reputation standing up for consumer rights, children and families, affordable housing, early childhood and other education, environmental protection, healthcare, privacy rights, civil rights, equal access to the courts, and economic development. In short, Dave Jones has what it takes to make a great Insurance Commissioner, looking out for us.

SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION: TOM TORLAKSON. A science teacher -- a second-generation teacher -- and high school coach, Assemblymember Tom Torlakson has fought for school funding, textbooks, computers, campus safety, student health and fitness, after-school programs, student nutrition, and physical education, and against hazing, crimes against children, junk foods on campus, and our alarming dropout rates. As State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tom Torlakson wants to work for safe schools, career and technical education, college prep, arts and music programs, and excellence in school management. A vote for Torlakson is a vote for our kids.

SECRETARY OF STATE: DEBORAH BOWEN. As Secretary of State, Bowen has earned a national reputation for exposing flaws and ensuring security in our electronic voting systems. She has also streamlined her agency and cut its budget, increased the public's access to agency information online, improved voter education, and held private contractors more accountable. Sec. of State Bowen has earned our votes for re-election.

P R O P O S I T I O N S

PROP. 19: MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION. YES. Regulate and tax the sale of this already widely available substance, like we do alcohol; the existing prohibition, like that we had against alcohol, costs society dearly -- in terms of policing, incarceration, enriching and empowering gangs and drug cartels, and making criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens. Supported by L.A. Co. Dem. Party.

PROP. 20: CONGRESSIONAL REDISTRICTING. NO. Empowers the 14-member state redistricting commission -- appointed by three state auditors, in a very untransparent and unaccountable procedure -- created by Prop. 11 (2008) and prevents redistricting by the Legislature -- accountable to us voters -- and does not guarantee the right of voters to reject boundary maps by referendum. If both this and Prop. 27 (below) pass, then the one with the most votes prevails. Opposed by CA and L.A. Co. Dem. parties and the CA Sierra Club.

PROP. 21: SURCHARGE FOR PARKS AND WILDLIFE. YES. Pay an extra $18 a year on your vehicle licensing to not only preserve and protect our wonderful state parks (in need of a lot of maintenance) and irreplaceable wildlife, but also to get for yourself a free day-use admission to all the state parks. Supported by CA and L.A. Co. Dem. parties and the CA Sierra Club.

PROP. 22: PROHIBITION ON STATE'S BORROWING OR TAKING FUNDS FOR TRANSPORTATION, REDEVELOPMENT, OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT PROJECTS. NO. A close call -- a power struggle between state and local governments -- but the facts that it will further hamstring the state budgeting process -- already nearly impossible -- and open the door for "sweetheart" deals with local developers argue against this proposition. Opposed by CA and L.A. Co. Dem. parties.

PROP. 23: SUSPENDS "GREENHOUSE GAS" AIR POLLUTION CONTROL LAW. NO. Don't let the Texas oil companies behind this initiative tear down our state's leading environmental law and destroy clean energy jobs! Opposed by CA and L.A. Co. Dem. parties and the CA Sierra Club.

PROP. 24: REPEALS CORPORATE TAX BREAKS. YES. Close a big tax loophole that recently passed but benefits almost entirely a few huge corporations, not small businesses, and restore funding to schools and other vital public services. Supported by CA and L.A. Co. Dem. parties.

PROP. 25: SIMPLE MAJORITY VOTE FOR BUDGET. YES. Make state budgeting fairer and more effective. Restore majority-rule -- and get rid of minority-rule, by The Party of No -- by dropping the requirement for a 2/3 supermajority and requiring only a simple majority (51% or greater) to pass a state budget (although there still will be a 2/3 supermajority required to raise taxes). What's more, if legislators fail to agree on a budget by the deadline, they forfeit their state pay! See also Prop. 26 (just below). Supported by CA and L.A. Co. Dem. parties and the CA Sierra Club.

PROP. 26. SUPERMAJORITY VOTE FOR FEES AND CHARGES: NO. Changes the vote to approve certain fees and charges -- as on big oil and tobacco, to clean up their pollution and other health hazards -- from a simple majority (51% or greater) to a 2/3 supermajority; in other words, allows minority-rule, by the Party of No. See also Prop. 25 (just above). Opposed by CA and L.A. Co. Dem. parties and the CA Sierra Club.

PROP. 27. ELIMINATES REDISTRICTING COMMISSION. YES. Eliminates the 14-member state redistricting commission -- appointed by three state auditors, in a very untransparent and unaccountable procedure -- created by Proposition 11 (2008) and returns redistricting to the Legislature -- accountable to us voters -- and guarantees by constitutional amendment the right of voters to reject boundary maps by referendum. If both this and Prop. 20 (above) pass, then the one with the most votes prevails. Supported by CA and L.A. Co. Dem. parties.

Voting is power to the people! Use it or lose it. Vote and get out the vote!

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