Reform for California only a vote away

Oct. 30, 2012

By Katy Grimes

Anyone who still has the hope of reforming California knows that it must begin with the political system. Far too many politicians in California are so heavily influenced by big money that constituents seem to be nothing more than an afterthought and a group to pander to for political advertisements.

For many years politicians have sought political contributions from corporations and unions, then voted the way those special interests ordered.

And, unfortunately, too many politically ambitious Republicans have gone along with the big-government party plan instead of thwarting the political dominance from unions and big corporations.

The only way to begin real reform in the Golden State is to neuter the money influences. Proposition 32, the “Paycheck Protection” ballot initiative, could begin the reform process.

Big bucks spending

Prop. 32 would end the questionable practice of the automatic deduction of funds from employee paychecks for political purposes; would end union and corporate contributions to political candidates; and would end government contractor contributions to elected officials. The prohibition applies to labor unions and corporations, as well as to government contractors.

In only the last 10 years, the California Teachers Association, the Service Employees International Union, and the California State Employee Association, have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbying and political contributions, according to the Fair Political Practices Commission. Prominent members of the FPPC’s “Billion Dollar Club,” the CTA, a public employee union, spent $211.9 million, and the SEIU spent $107.5 million.

Between 2000 and 2010, the CSEA spent $31.8 million and the California Correctional Police Officers Association spent $32.4 million. Both are public employee unions.

From the private sector, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America spending came in at $104.9 million between 2000 and 2010, the California Hospital Association spent $43.2 million, and the California Chamber of Commerce spent $39 million.

Utilities spent a great deal of ratepayer money as well: PG&E spent $69.3 million, AT&T $59.6 million and Southern California Edison $43.4 million.

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians spent $83.6 million, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians spent $69.3 million, and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians spent $49 million. There were three additional bands of American Indians that spent a combined $77 million.

The California Realtors Association spent $33.3 million. Even the trial lawyers association spent $21.3 million between 2000 and 2010.

Local political spending

The shocking spending increase in local political races should prove that the big political spenders think that local races matter even more than local voters do.

In 2010, a friend of mine ran for the Sacramento City Unified School District Board of Directors. She was eminently qualified for the position. What should have been a local grassroots campaign turned into a dogged political battle when the AFL-CIO gave her opponent $30,000. She lost to union power.

I recently reported on the three Charter City initiatives on the November ballot. Escondido, Costa Mesa, and Grover Beach, currently general law cities under the California Constitution, are asking voters to allow the important change to charter cities.

Currently, California’s 121 charter cities have the authority to determine their own policies concerning their municipal affairs. Some cities have used the charter more wisely than others. The three cities vying for charter approval plan to use the new charters to circumvent overbearing state mandates requiring that they pay prevailing union wages on public projects.

But the labor and public employee unions aren’t going to allow this to become law without a fight.

In the Costa Mesa charter city battle, the “Taxpayers for Open and Accountable Government,” a group largely funded by the Orange County Employees Association, already has spent $360,000 to defeat the measure. Kevin Dayton, with Labor Issue Solutions, broke the contribution down:

* $274,634 from the Orange County Employees Association;

* $20,000 from the Orange County Professional Firefighters Association;

* $10,000 from the California Federation of Teachers;

* $5,000 from the Orange County Labor Federation AFL-CIO;

* $5,000 from the United Nurses Associations of California/Union of Health Care Professionals.

Dayton reported that $110,000 has been collected by “Committee for Costa Mesa’s Future,” which is sponsored by labor unions. In fact, Dayton found that all of the $110,000 came from the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperation Committee.

And $8,229.30 has been spent by “Costa Mesans 4 Responsible Government” against Costa Mesa’s Measure V. This big labor organization has collected a total of $39,439.67, according to Dayton. “Besides opposing Measure V, this group is trying to get a slate of three pro-union, anti-charter candidates elected to replace three fiscally responsible, pro-charter incumbent city council members,” Dayton reported.

Prop. 32’s lofty goal

Should Prop. 32 pass, the current pay-to-play, “money-in, favors out” system will largely end, and unions will be neutered monetarily. Employees should be able to decide where their vote and political contributions go, instead of by a union boss or board of directors.

The fight may not be a new one. But it’s clear that unions have outlived their usefulness. Today unions are only political money laundering machines.

29 comments

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  1. us citizen
    us citizen 30 October, 2012, 11:38

    totally agree

    Reply this comment
  2. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 30 October, 2012, 12:08

    Surely, you jest. Prop. 32 is union busting–period. There is already a process in the public workplace, whereby the workers decide who will represent them, and if they want their dues to be used for political purposes, or not. If you want to stifle the voices of the middle class and the poor, when it comes to participation in the process, of course you would support Prop. 32. I urge a, “NO”, vote on Prop. 32.

    Reply this comment
  3. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 October, 2012, 14:05

    Surely, you jest. Prop. 32 is union busting–period.
    ==
    No its not., all it does is make the union get PERMISSION to spend money it collects.
    YES on 32

    NO on 30

    Reply this comment
  4. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 October, 2012, 14:06

    Unions are not “for the poor,” it’s the exact opposite, unions lock out the poorer classes from getting jobs, lock them out of complete labor sectors and deny them the right to work.
    ==
    You nailed it.

    Try getting a FF job on merit, objective based criteria……not out there or happning.

    Reply this comment
  5. Queeg
    Queeg 30 October, 2012, 14:12

    Posting hog never ends…..enough!!!!!

    Reply this comment
  6. Bob
    Bob 30 October, 2012, 15:57

    Dang, I wish I were and Indian.

    Reply this comment
  7. PJ
    PJ 30 October, 2012, 16:56

    Unions have been circumventing the Hudson case rule and opt outs for decades. Sure, members and nonmembers should not have to pay for political goals, but they need to be attorneys to figure out the procedure.

    http://www.humanevents.com/2012/07/02/fairness-prevails-in-union-dues-ruling/

    When I was a state employee, $40/month was deducted. The Court found that only $8 of that was union related, and that’s what we ended up paying, after we sued them in federal court.

    Reply this comment
  8. surfpunk
    surfpunk 30 October, 2012, 17:36

    seesaw.I am fed up paying more for less,supporting B.S._train ect. My kids are 6th gen. californians,thats the main reason we have not left yet.Fire tax new parcel tax,and i have to pay for your pension that your union neg. with your _guy or gal in SAC.Like uhaul says pack and ship!

    Reply this comment
  9. Donkey
    Donkey 30 October, 2012, 19:50

    SeeSaw, elections were supposed to be to elect representation for all Americans, but the RAGWUS feeders had corrupted the process to their benefit. It is now up to the folks in the know to rid this state of the thieving RAGWUS cabal. 🙂 <3

    Reply this comment
  10. Ted Steele, The Decider
    Ted Steele, The Decider 30 October, 2012, 20:32

    Ragwus???? Huh???

    Reply this comment
  11. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 30 October, 2012, 21:15

    Seesaw just got destroyed!!!!!!

    Teddy, you better pick your sis up off the mat, she is dying 😉

    Reply this comment
  12. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 30 October, 2012, 22:51

    Poodle….Big Betty threw you out your single wide….sick of looking at you in your skivvies and clod hoppers popping off on CWD like a repetitive parrot!

    Reply this comment
  13. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 31 October, 2012, 08:05

    Hi Teddy! 🙂

    Reply this comment
  14. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 31 October, 2012, 08:41

    @ SeeSaw,

    Your comments about the labor cartel bosses being for the poor/middle class are ridiculous. You sound like Governor Clowns parrot. In fact, they are a greedy, thuggish special interest group that exploits taxpayers/consumers relentlessly. The last time I checked most taxpayers and consumers were non-union poor or middle class.

    Prop. 32 does nothing about automatic dues extraction for collective bargaining, which is protected by Federal law. It only stops employers/unions from extracting money for political purposes. If union members want to support a political cause they are still free to do so on their own initiative. What’s wrong with VOLUNTARY political contributions? Are you afraid the rank and file don’t really support the Big Labor Puppet Masters political agenda?

    Please consider changing your pseudonym to HeeHaw.

    Reply this comment
  15. artshell
    artshell 31 October, 2012, 10:34

    Let’s not forget the SCOTUS decision KNOX ET AL. v. SERVICE EMPLOYEES INTERNATIONAL UNION, LOCAL 1000, which coincidentally was a California case from up in San Francisco.

    Right now a Union Member has to explicitly OPT OUT using procedures that only a bureaucrat would love. What happened was typically…Do nothing and you have OPTED IN. Prop 32 will eliminate the “Do Nothing = Opt In.”

    Reply this comment
  16. CalWatchdog
    CalWatchdog 31 October, 2012, 10:47

    Artshell –

    You are right. Very good point. The opt-out policy is absurd, and exceedingly difficult for many employees.

    We wrote about the importance of Knox v. SEIU in June and July when the decision came out: http://www.calwatchdog.com/2012/06/22/high-court-rebukes-union-free-speech-assault/

    Katy

    Reply this comment
  17. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 31 October, 2012, 11:03

    SeeSaw,

    Your comments about the labor cartel bosses being for the poor/middle class are ridiculous.
    ==
    You are 100% right, the sales tax is regressive and destroys the poor. But seesaw doesn’t care about the poor, seesaw only cares about herself, ME ME ME…….. that is seesaw’s slogan in life.

    Reply this comment
  18. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 31 October, 2012, 11:26

    Dispeptic and Rex, It looks like you are confusing union leaders with public workers. The workers, the majorioty of who are middle class, are the ones who are employed by the public entities. The unions themselves are indpendent businesses that are representing the workers–they are not employed by the entities. They are part of private industry and they provide the salaries and benefits for their own private sector workers. All of the union’s money comes from the workers themselves, and it is up to the workers, how they want to spend any portion of their own salaries.

    Surfpunk, the train was passed by the voters before Brown became Governor. (In fact,a new intiative to stop the train just failed in the signature gathering process.) I was neutral in the beginning, and did not know how to vote on the matter. I went to the LA Times that urged a “Yes” vote–sometimes voting that way works out and sometimes it doesn’t; I prefer getting information from those who have studied the matter more closely than I, than just pointing my pen in the dark. It is still too early to know how the train matter will turn out–many of us will no longer be here–but my main hope is that, if and when it gets started, it will provide lots of jobs.

    Yes, I know it gets old dealing with taxes. I suggest you take time for yourself and go see a movie or something. Yesterday, I saw “Argo”, a true story about the Iran hostage crisis. I guarantee that, when you are walking out of that, you won’t feel so much, anymore, like ragging on the country you live in and the freedoms that you have, should not be taken for granted–taxes and all.

    As for you Rex, you are just a posting slob, who has no concern at all for others–just wallowing in the same self-pity, day after day, hour after hour.

    Reply this comment
  19. Dyspeptic
    Dyspeptic 31 October, 2012, 14:41

    SeeSaw, you are so wrong. It is you who are confused.

    You’re lengthy screed above is full of irrelevant details and side issues. The central issue with Prop. 32 is whether labor cartels should have the power to expropriate worker pay for political activities. I believe, as a freedom loving individual, that using force to extract political dues from workers is immoral and odious. It is ethically no different than a mafia extortion racket.

    I will ask the question one more time- What’s wrong with VOLUNTARY political contributions? If the rank and file workers really support their unions political activities, then “opt in” will have little effect. The truth of course, is that many workers don’t support their unions political thuggery and given the choice will not contribute. You believe in the right to choose don’t you?

    P.S. Your comment about Rex wallowing in self pity is bizarre and delusional. The man opposes higher taxes. What does that have to do with self pity?

    Reply this comment
  20. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 31 October, 2012, 17:31

    Suit yourself Dispeptic. If you want to be a dupe for the rich, it is your business–I don’t. I belonged to a union when I worked, and my dues never reached $15/mo. I had the choice whether or not to be belong.

    You obvioulsy haven’t been reading Rex’s posts for three years, as I have. This is all opinion on all our parts anyway. You are welcome to think as stupid as you do.

    Reply this comment
  21. Donkey
    Donkey 31 October, 2012, 18:09

    The fact is that every RAGWUS feeder is overpaid and underworked and their greed is the sole reason for the financial collapse of our state.

    If Brown had any sense he would cut pay to all state employees by 30%,(with no feeder recieving over $90,000 a year no matter their royal title. Cut all pensions to no more than $50,000 a year no matter the job held and have no COLA’s. Have all retirees pay for their full medical costs. This is the just and honest way to fix this dysfunctional hell known as California. 🙂

    Reply this comment
  22. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 31 October, 2012, 18:52

    The reason for the collapse of our state is the 2008 global financial crisis caused by Wall Street. There, I’ve said it. You have your opinion, and I have mine.

    If it keeps you warm and fuzzy to keep on spouting that self-coined acronym Donkey, be my guest. It hurts me or any other retired public worker, not! You are just contributing to our amusement.

    Reply this comment
  23. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 31 October, 2012, 19:25

    seesaw, you are a trough feeding slimebag, who has the brain power of a circus chimp, feeding at the public trough b/c your HS skills would not even get you hired at Walmart, and you get mad whgen you’re called out for the bottom feeding self centered trough feeder you are.

    But I still love you! 😉

    Reply this comment
  24. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 31 October, 2012, 21:50

    Nice way to act Rex, calling a female who did not retire until the age of 72, a trough-feeding slimebag. A female you have never met! You are completely devoid of any kind of Class! You are pathetic! (I did complete two years of college.) I had enough skills to get hired by a defense contractor when I came to CA–it was not exactly Walmart. “Envy” is one of seven sins, you know.

    Reply this comment
  25. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 31 October, 2012, 22:06

    LOL….seesaw disagrees with my comment so she calls me a “posting slob, who has no concern at all for others–just wallowing in the same self-pity, day after day, hour after hour.” but I AM the bad guy!!!

    That is so rich seesaw……………keep up the good work. After all, it is all about YOU, SEESAW (and your trough feeder buddies) 😉

    Look the gravy train ride is ending in 6 days, you need to deal with it, and if needed go get some medication so yo don’t freak out….buy two doses……b/c I know Teddy will need some meds too!

    Reply this comment
  26. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 31 October, 2012, 22:08

    BTW, I have no idea of your education or work background seesaw, I was just beng sarcastic, which went over your head 🙁

    Reply this comment
  27. SeeSaw
    SeeSaw 31 October, 2012, 23:02

    There is nothing going on Nov. 6, that affects the people who are drawing pensions in CA. You, Rex, will be far more affected that will anyone who is retired.

    Reply this comment
  28. Rex the Wonder Dog!
    Rex the Wonder Dog! 1 November, 2012, 08:12

    OK whatever…….get some meds for Teddy then b/c he is going to be affetced bigtime 🙂

    Reply this comment

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