Prop. 31 should be an issue for left-wingers, too

Oct. 3, 2012

By Wayne Lusvardi

Tom Elias’ Oct. 2 column in the Redding Record Searchlight newspaper inferred Proposition 31 is only being opposed by some right-wing crackpots. Actually, Prop. 31 is far from only a rightwing issue. It should be an left-wing issue as well. Perhaps the Occupy Movement will take it up.

Prop. 31 is another slush fund for billionaires to play with the public’s money in California. The sponsor of Prop 31 is California Forward, a political organization founded with $16 million in grants from foundations established by wealthy elites.  Nicolas Berggruen, a European billionaire, is the biggest sponsor of California Forward, with a $1 million donation to the pro-Prop. 31 campaign.  Berggruen owns the IEC vocational school chain, which could stand to benefit from Prop. 31.

Prop 31. creates unelected Strategic Action Plan committees that will add an unneeded layer of government between the state and local governments.  State gasoline taxes, property taxes for schools and junior colleges, and vehicle license fees can be diverted from cities and counties to these committees.

Billionaires are not supporting Prop. 31 only to bring about true “good government” reforms.

We only need to look at Proposition 71 from 2004. It granted $3 billion to  a new state stem cell research agency. Where did the money go?

Stem Cell Initiative as Forerunner of Prop. 31

The sponsor of Prop. 71 was Robert Klein, a wealthy real estate developer who donated $3 million to its election campaign. Upon approval by the voters, Klein installed himself as the Stem Cell Institute’s top paid officer, making $150,000 a year for half-time work. In 2008, Klein had to step down as president of the stem cell lobbying group Americans for Cures as a potential conflict of interest with his serving as board chairman of the stem cell agency.

The Sacramento Bee recently exposed that 90 percent of the monies granted thus far by the stem cell agency — $1.5 billion — went to research organizations of past and present board members of the agency.  In 2008, even the prestigious journal “Nature” opposed the incestuous cronyism at the stem cell agency.

Occupy Should Join Republicans in Opposing Prop. 31

The phrase “government by crony” is defined in Safire’s Political Dictionary: “An administration in which advisers qualify not by experience or talent but by their longtime friendship with the Chief Executive.”  Prop. 31 would expand this definition to include actual agency heads and government boards, not just advisers.

William Safire notes that most of the “government of” phrases of the last century (e.g., “government by organized money”) were probably coined to compare unfavorably with the phrase President Lincoln popularized: “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Said Gary Aminoff, president of the San Fernando Valley Republican Club, “The CRP at the convention voted Yes on 31. After the meeting, several people pointed out to the Board of CRP the reasons not to have endorsed it. They all said they didn’t catch it and if they had to do it over they would not support Prop.  31. It was too late to change it because it was voted on at the convention and would take another convention to undo it. I have since suggested they send out a statement stating this and I am still awaiting it.”

Both the left and the should understand that Prop. 31 will undermine representative government and would lead to crony revenue sharing in California.


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