Political Fix (21 August, 2014)

Virginia Gurrola Starts Off Running

The official campaign season doesn’t start until after Labor Day, but Virginia Gurrola, candidate for Tulare County Supervisor in the 5th District, has already assembled her team and fixed up her campaign office. Her headquarters are at 238 Main St. in Porterville, and the official ribbon cutting is today at 4:30pm.

Virginia’s husband, Sal Gurrola, is her campaign manager and two supporters are her advisors, Ruben Macareno and Martha Flores.

Mr. Macareno, chairman of the Tulare County Democratic Party, was a former candidate for the state assembly. Ms. Flores is a Porterville resident who threw her hat in the ring for Porterville City Council when they had to find a replacement for the late Pete McCracken. The city council picked Monte Reyes as their new member out of a list of 16 applicants.

Ms. Gurrola’s campaign slogan is: “Water, Jobs, Leadership,” and she has already been pounding the pavement visiting residents whose wells have gone dry.

Outside groups are also starting to get ready for the November election. The SEIU had their first campaign strategizing session mid-August. A final game plan will be decided at their next meeting, September 2nd, but right now it looks like a lot of door-knocking and phone-banking. According to Ty Inman, an employee negotiator, SEIU endorsed Ms. Gurrola months before the June primary. When the final vote count put Supervisor Mike Ennis just under the needed 50% for an automatic win, Mr. Inman said, “We were very happy and excited that she pulled out a victory.”

Ms. Gurrola has not billed herself as pro-labor, but the SEIU feels that after this year’s agonizing negotiations, anyone would be an improvement over the current board. According to Joanne Salazar, a SEIU organizer, “Virginia Gurrola knows the challenges facing residents living in the Central Valley.”

Mr. Ennis, who came within 21 votes of avoiding this runoff, has a fight on his hands. Would the outcome have been different if he had gotten back to me last March when we wanted to profile him? That’s something Mr. Ennis can contemplate while back on the campaign trail.

Something Interesting About the New Water Bond

Driven by sheer embarrassment, California State legislators finally voted on a water bond to put on November’s ballot. An $11.1 billion water bond, with which the Republicans were satisfied, was already on the ballot. But it was negotiated five years ago, filled with pork, and polled unfavorably because it was too expensive. Instead, voters will see a $7.5 billion compromise water bond that contains significantly less money than the Democrats had wanted for Delta restoration and a little less funding than the Republicans had wanted for storage.

Here is the story behind the story.

State legislators had to do some pretty fancy footwork to get a winnable water bond on the November ballot. First, they had to convince the secretary of state to delay printing the voter guides for two days. Then they decided to rename the ballot measure so it would have a better chance of winning. The old bond used to be called Proposition 43. Well, 43 is a weird number and it would have been way down the ballot. Now, the winnable bond has a new catchy name, Proposition 1, and it is at the top of the ballot. Let’s see, what famous proposition does that remind you of? Perhaps HSR?

But there is a method to their madness. In 2006, legislators strategically put Propositions 1A through 1E on the ballot and the $36 billion package was approved by voters. The symbol of the package was more powerful than any one bond measure in it. In fact, some believe that the weaker propositions were boosted by their more popular ballot siblings. Polls show a bare minimum of support for the new water bond. So our legislators in Sacramento are coupling it with a proposition that polls incredibly well, the proposition that creates a bigger and stronger budget reserve fund, also known as the rainy day fund. What is the name of this popular measure? Proposition 2.

So all voters have been put on notice, by the implementers of political tricks, that if they approve of Proposition 2, well, then they really should also vote for Proposition 1. Right?

According to the AP, “While California lawmakers were nearly unanimous in their approval of a $7.5 billion water spending plan to go before voters in November, two lawmakers cast votes against it Wednesday night.”

Three guesses who cast one of the no votes. Yes, it was Mary, Mary quite contrary Tim Donnelly. His reasons? Not completely discernable.

The other no vote came from Democratic Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro of Arcata. His reason, according to the AP, was that “the Trinity River in his North Coast district will be diverted to fill reservoirs without $1 million in protections he had sought to include in the bond.”

Finally, Republicans were happy leaving the original $11.1 billion water bond on the November ballot–so it would seem a role reversal that the Republicans endorsed the expensive pork-filled bond and that Democrats and Gov. Jerry Brown endorsed a more conservative $6 billion dollar water bond.

But it’s not a role reversal.

It was the Republicans who got us involved in a $1 trillion war. It was the Reagan Republicans who blew up the budget in the 1980’s, to be fixed by president Clinton in the 1990’s, and it is the Republicans who continually vote for billion-dollar weapon systems the Pentagon has told them are obsolete and that they no longer want.

So everyone needs to toast Governor Jerry Brown for forcing the Republican legislators to cut the water bond by $3.6 billion so he can then put it towards his $25 billion Bay Delta water tunnels and his $68 billion kind-of-fast train.

L.A. Considers Using Prizes To Lure Voters to the Ballot Box

According to the Los Angeles Times, “alarmed that fewer than one-fourth of voters are showing up for municipal elections, the Los Angeles Ethics Commission voted Thursday to recommend that the L.A. City Council look at using cash prizes to lure a greater number of people to the polls.” The commission wanted to “seriously consider the use of financial incentives and a random drawing during its elections, possibly as soon as next year.”

“Maybe it’s $25,000 maybe it’s $50,000,” said Commission President Nathan Hochman. “That’s where the pilot program comes in — to figure out what … number and amount of prizes would actually get people to the voting box.”

Los Angeles has the same problem that Visalia used to have. They conduct their local elections on odd years. Only 23% of registered voters cast ballots in Los Angeles’ mayoral election, which is a good turnout compared to Visalia’s 17% in the 2013 election for city council. Visalia has since changed to even-year city council elections.

Moving their elections to even-numbered years could take a long time because the situation is more complicated in Los Angeles. Still, the city shouldn’t have to wait until the end of the decade to at least try and improve voter participation. Conducting a lottery to lure people to the ballot box might hit some legal snags, though. One problem is that California law prohibits people from using money or gifts to ensure that voters cast ballots for any particular person or measure. Federal law also prohibits people from accepting payment in exchange for voting, but that statute may not apply in an election where there are no federal positions on the ballot.

One of the comments left on the L.A. Times website was, “Idiocracy at work. Do you really want those types of lazy ignorant people voting just so they might win the lottery? Maybe they could give out six packs of beer or cigarettes so people come out to vote.”

Or maybe Tulare County could loan them Sheriff Mike Boudreaux or Dave Whaley and they can go to L.A.’s polling place and hold a gun raffle.

Mother Knows Best

In a primary election for the 37th Senate District of Northern Michigan, Rep. Wayne Schmidt faced fellow Republican Rep. Greg MacMaster. It was an average primary that was sometimes described as a bitter battle between the two Republicans.

That might have been in part because Rep. MacMaster’s mom, who is not a political figure or involved in government, endorsed his opponent.

According to the AP, “MacMaster’s mother, Michele, told the Traverse City Record-Eagle that Schmidt is ‘the better candidate,’ citing his background and community activities. She declined to discuss her relationship with her son.”

“It’s unfortunate some people choose to take politics to a personal level. For voters, politics should be about my positions, the votes I have taken, my conservative values,” Rep. MacMaster said. It’s hard to understand how Ms. MacMaster would even know her son’s politics or community activities because he hasn’t spoken to her in 21 years.

The rift happened when she left him to live with his alcoholic father as a boy.

Sounds like Ms. MacMaster may have a case of toxic aging. Parental rejection of adult children is not as rare as people think. Because many children who are rejected or tormented by ornery, elderly parents keep it to themselves, this is an under-reported facet of middle-age. Another under-reported phenomenon is toxic ager.

Some parents’ late life rejection and difficult behavior result from this toxic aging syndrome.

Not a lot of information addresses the problems faced by estranged adult children and little of it applies to children with supremely difficult parents.

In a statement, Rep. Schmidt thanked Ms. MacMaster for her support.

Neel Kashkari Sets 5 Debate Dates–With Himself

According to Josh Richman from Political Blotter, “Kashkari earlier Monday had issued a news release announcing he now has accepted five debate invitations – with the Sacramento Bee/Capitol Public Radio/KCRA; KGTV and KPBS in San Diego; Univision; KSEE and KGPE in Fresno; and KFBK in Sacramento – while Gov. Jerry Brown has not yet responded.”

For months, Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari has been practically stalking the Governor like a dissed girlfriend while Gov. Brown barely acknowledges his existence.

“Governor Jerry Brown is hiding under his desk,” Mr. Kashkari said in the news release. “Every voter in our state deserves to know exactly what Jerry Brown plans to do if he’s elected to an unprecedented fourth term.”

Of course the public deserves to know, but we don’t care. Governor Brown is going to be elected and there isn’t enough political light between the two of them to get our knickers in a twist. Dan Newman, a consultant to Gov. Brown’s campaign, replied later Monday that, “we’ll respond with plenty of time – it’s early August and he’s got a demanding day job that is the top priority.”

Former San Francisco Mayor and former Speaker of the House Willie Brown thinks that Mr. Kashkari should just skip right over Gov. Brown and debate Attorney General Gavin Newsom. That makes an amazing amount of sense since Mr. Kashkari might be facing Mr. Newsom in four years anyway. They might as well get some practice rounds in early.

“And besides,” said Mr. Brown, “Gavin needs something to do.”

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