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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  1. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 3 October, 2012, 14:31

    I am a political moderate, registered Democrat, personally conservative. I am a “No” on Prop. 31.

    Reply this comment
  2. stevefromsacto
    stevefromsacto 3 October, 2012, 16:48

    Here are just a few of the non “right-wing-crackpot organizations” that oppose Prop. 31:

    California League of Conservation Voters.
    California Federation of Teachers
    Peace Officers Research Association of California
    Health Access California.
    California Tax Reform Association.

    Thought you might actually give these organizations some credit. But I guess that would be too much to hope for from the Dog.

    Reply this comment
  3. Zabrae
    Zabrae 4 October, 2012, 10:55

    This is the most wonderfully creative critique of Prop 31 I have every seen – thank you.(And please consider a follow up explaining how this measure would benefit the IEC school chain…)

    Prop 31 was based on recommendations by CA Forward – this is correct. And CA Fwd’s fiscal reform recommendations grew out of more than two years of extensive, “accessible by anyone interested” discussions, all over the state, and examination of best practices in other states as well as past successes and failures within CA. This level of transparency, inclusion and consultation is practically unheard of in the drafting of ballot measures. Ca Fwd also organized four discrete efforts specifically designed to surface as much information as possible about the problems that Prop 31 addresses, and how best to solve them (

    In addition to hundreds of informal meetings, CA Fwd organized a workgroup of local government leaders; they hosted a series of Stakeholder Roundtables in Sacramento in early 2011 with stakeholders and experts in education, local government, health and human services, economic development, and labor (after each meeting, the framework was revised to incorporate stakeholder suggestions); they organized a statewide conversation called “Speak Up California” including more than 60 meetings across California with civic leaders, business leaders, non-profit advocates, elected officials, and other interested citizens discussed how to reform California’s government; and then, to get even more detailed feedback from stakeholders across the state, they organized 10 Regional Stakeholder meetings in San Diego, Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, the Central Valley, and the Bay Area. Input from all of these convenings was painstakingly considered and integrated into the proposals that before Prop 31. Last, CA Fwd was a partner in the “What’s Next California” Statewide Deliberative Poll in June 2011, that also tested many of the proposals in Prop 31.

    Prop 31 includes several provisions that together will make govt more transparent and accountable, link funding of programs to their actual performance over time, encourage lawmakers to make changes along the way to ensure policies continue to be effective, and give the public greater access to government decision making. Supporters of 31 are plentiful and diverse, including: Delaine Eastin; John Welty (Pres, CSU Fresno); CA State Student Assoc.; Lee Baca (LA Co Sheriff); Asm. Kristin Olsen; Sen. Desaulnier; Sen. Wolk; Latino and Latina Roundtable; HOPE; United Latinos; CA Chamber; LA Chamber; SF Chamber; SV Leadership Group; Bay Area Council; Small Biz Action Cmte; R.E.A.L. Coalition; Kern CO Taxpayers Assoc.; CA Church IMPACT; CA Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley; and many others. Newspapers that have endorsed include: Merc News; SF Chron; Oakland Trib; Contra Costa Times; Fresno Bee; SD Union Trib; LA Daily News (and many others). This is a complicated measure — but it’s been crafted in the full light of day, with input from hundreds of folks, over a number of years, to ensure the elements are those widely considered to be the most beneficial to Californians. Thanks very much — Zabrae Valentine

    Reply this comment
  4. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 4 October, 2012, 12:40

    California Forward is paying Prop 31 advocates to leave comments on websites such as You wouldn’t be one of those would you?

    I worked for government for over two decades, am a union member, a former social worker and affordable housing analyst. Who has more credibility, especially when you remain anonymous and don’t reveal who you are or if you are a paid apparatchik of California Forward or on Mr. Berggruen’s payroll? So everything you write has to be dismissed until — as Prop 31 says — you are “transparent” about who you are.

    Reply this comment
    • Zabrae
      Zabrae 6 February, 2017, 09:04

      HI — It’s 2017 and I just saw this msg from Wayne Lusvardi, randomly. Am replying now in case he gets the response — better late than never! Wayne, the reason I signed my full name on the post, Zabrae Valentine, was precisely to do what you asked — be fully transparent. It’s a somewhat unusual name, for better or worse, pretty easy to google, which I figured anyone who cared would do. At the time this was written, you would have seen I was one of the founders of Ca Fwd, and immediate past exec. director of the Action Fund and deputy director of CA Fwd itself. My response wasn’t to defend the measure as a paid hack, but as someone intimately familiar with the serious and highly inclusive work that had gone into preparation of the measure. Every single point I made could have been fact checked at the time, very easily. All true. thanks, again, Zabrae Valentine.

      Reply this comment
  5. Joe Cooper
    Joe Cooper 4 October, 2012, 20:06

    I suppose the article would be more clear if it told the reader what the proposition proposed to do.

    Reply this comment
  6. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 4 October, 2012, 22:40

    The CA Democratic Party is recommending a “No”, vote on Prop. 31.

    Reply this comment
  7. Steven Maviglio
    Steven Maviglio 7 October, 2012, 16:11

    What Ms. Valentine (who didn’t identify herself as the former ED of California Forward) forgets to mention is that while Prop 31 was pulled form many of the sessions she mentions, it was not presented at these sessions. It took some of the ideas offered and listened to very few critiques. Which is why a considerable number of California Forward board members RESIGNED when California Forward’s political arm went forward with Prop 31. It’s also why Prop 31 used its funders money to get on the ballot and then everyone walked away when they discovered the many problems with this unworkable 8,000 word mess that the group wants to put into California’s constitution, where it will be unable to be changed unless another initiative comes along to change it.

    Reply this comment

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