September 2005 Archives

The progressive revolution

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Yesterday, Speak Out California launched our new site design, weblog, blogroll and updated interactive voter guide for the Nov. 8 special election. Earlier that day, PowerPAC - a statewide social justice organization - launched a bold campaign to End Poverty in California. And late last night, Rick Jacobs, former chair of the California campaign for Howard Dean, launched the Courage Campaign, a place where progressive activists can hook up with regional news and events.

Schwarzenegger's right-wing policies have unleased a progressive backlash in California like nothing he has ever dreamed of! How fitting that these three groups all launched their campaigns on the same day that Schwarzenegger demonstrated his utter lack of leadership toward a better future for our state by vetoing both a much-needed increase to the minimum wage and a bill that would grant marriage equality to same-sex couples.

Progressives have not only the vision and the real solutions to California's problems, we clearly have the fire in the belly necessary to deflect these attacks and to push forward our own positive agenda.

We say, bring on the fight.

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Hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian Californians and their families will continue to live without equality under the law in this state, thanks to Gov. Schwarzenegger's decision to veto AB 849 by Assemblymember Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). You can read a PDF of his veto message here.

He is continuing to hide behind Prop 22, which voters passed five years ago, and the results of which simply do not relfect how Californians view the issue today. Prop 22 was a right-wing attempt to confuse voters into "protecting marriage," and it worked. But recent court opinions have made it clear that this is a question of constitutional rights, and thus nothing precluded Schwarzenegger from doing the right thing and signing the bill. He simply does not have the courage to do it.

And in 2006, we are going to elect a Governor who does. Phil Angelides, who is running for the Democratic nomination for Governor, said this today:

"By vetoing the Civil Marriage and Religious Freedom Protection Act, Governor Schwarzenegger has come down on the wrong side of history. [He] had the chance to enter the pages of history with the likes of Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Lyndon B. Johnson; instead he has chosen to be listed alongside George Wallace and Strom Thurmond."

When my husband Dan and I got engaged two years ago, we were deeply conflicted about getting married, knowing that our own gay friends and family members could not at this time enjoy the same right. We did decide to get married, but in committing to each other, we also committed ourselves to working for the political change necessary to ensure that this horrible wrong would be made right. One of our favorite wedding gifts was a membership to the Human Rights Campaign, which we continue to support, along with Equality California, as much as we can.

We are proud that at Speak Out California, our members sent nearly 300 letters to the Governor urging him to sign AB 849. This was in conjunction with several other groups who lobbied his office heavily during the last two weeks, making sure he heard our voices loud and clear. He did not listen. But he cannot squelch the conviction that we have to make this change.

There will be actions taking place throughout the state tomorrow to further demonstrate this show of solidarity and support. If you can, please attend an event in your area (click on "More" for details):

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Welcome to the redesign!

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Today, with the announcement to our membership, our redesign is officially live! We hope you'll check out all the features of the new site, and we've posted about this before but again, many thanks to James Home of for his help with everything.

You may want to check out the new blogroll in particular; it is in the column to the left and it's dynamically updated, so the most recently posted to weblogs are at the top. There are 130 some odd sites on there now, and every time I've taken a tour through them I've been impressed by not just the quantity (which is certainly impressive!) but the quality, too. We have a bunch of smart people in this state and we're going to do great things: we're going to beat back the Governor's agenda forty days from now and then go on to even better things in 2006. Thanks for visiting, keep coming back, and enjoy the new site!

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The JoinArnold weblog is either a treasure trove of warped thinking, or today is a particularly good day. There's so much to take apart in just this post that the mind boggles, completely. They're celebrating a guy with a million bucks to spare whose top priority in life is putting a harder squeeze on those so clearly overpaid and underworked teachers and nurses. What planet are these people from?

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So the nurses put Governor Schwarzenegger up on the auction block yesterday - literally. The Murky News has the story...

``GENUINE CORRUPT CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER NOT AN IMITATION!!!!!!**********,'' read the listing, which included a sepia-toned photograph of Schwarzenegger with dollar signs replacing his eyes...

Bidding started at $12 and peaked at more than $3.6 million before eBay yanked the posting.

If you haven't already, give their petition your John Hancock (remember, these things actually work!). They've also got a generally pretty good but currently not completely up to date weblog.

In more serious news, you'll be shocked to learn that after two decades of conservative economics, the rich are indeed getting richer, the poor are indeed getting poorer, and the noose is tightening around the middle class. A bunch of groups have been working together on crunching census data and the SF Chronicle has a pretty good summary of the bad news. We need an alternative!

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The expectations game

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This little gem in the L.A. Business Journal today gives a glimpse into what the Republican strategy is for the upcoming special election and beyond into 2006. It's only an excerpt of the article without a subscription, but in it we hear from conservative strategist Arnold Steinberg, who supports the theory of the article that Republicans are "worried" Schwarzenegger might become another Jesse Ventura.

The Republicans, and to some extent even the Schwarzenegger campaign, are trying to set the Governor up as an underdog, in order to lower expectations about his performance in the special election. This is a classic Republican strategy, and we have seen it played out numerous times. Here's the real clue:

Furthermore, Schwarzenegger and his allies will likely be outspent in the Nov. 8 election by a margin of at least 3-1. Public employee unions, which have been airing a series of hard-hitting ads opposing the governor's special ballot initiatives, have already raised more than $50 million and are likely to collect millions more.

It always amuses me when people with the kind of money the Republicans and their corporate backers have try to play the underdog card. It's especially funny in Schwarznegger's case, because he clearly could have had access to a heck of a lot more money than the unions have if his ideas weren't so horrifyingly bad that the public has been rejecting them early on in opinion polls. Meanwhile, the California Teachers Assn. had to refinance its San Francisco headquarters in order to raise the funds necessary to fight off Schwarzenegger's attacks.

Until Schwarzenegger has to sell one of his Hummers, or one of his corportate CEOs has to refinance a vacation home or two, the underdog approach just isn't going to work!

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This week, the San Jose Mercury News ran this reality-defying headline: "Governor battling 'Goliath' on Nov. 8." Memo to the Murky News headline-writing staff: next time you're tempted to copy and paste the Governor's spin, head over to Arnold Watch and click on the cash register first. As of last Thursday, he'd raised just a hare under $57 million from the corporate special interest Goliaths he's got lined up behind him.

This was a statewide phenomenon, and this story in the Capitol Weekly tells us why: after two plus years of Bush administration (or maybe Kremlin?) style strict access control, the Gov's political team made the call and threw reporters a few scraps last week. A few papers didn't buy it and made the fact that they were finally given some access the story, as they should have, but there were far too many headlines like the Murky's.

The lede in the Oakland Tribune's coverage today, "Embattled Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was actually allowed to talk freely to the public, through the media, this week," is another example of the shockwave of confusion this sent rippling through the Capitol press corps. "[F]reely to the public" and "through the media" are not the same thing!

This situation is a mini-clinic in just how blithely antidemocratic corporate media can be. Whether headlines like this are ordinary failures to think critically about or deliberate pro-corporate bias, remember: while we'd never recommend you believe everything you read on the internet, you sure can't believe everything in "trusted" print media either. Keep thinking critically, it's going to be a long campaign season.

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It's (almost) alive!

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So Speak Out California is launching our new site design today at Webzine 2005! We will be tabling, handing out copies of the 2005 special election voter guide and our new site and weblog designed by the amazing James Home. If you're in the Bay Area, come see us! And hear from speakers and panelists exploring the wonders of independent online publishing!

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Harold Meyerson at the American Prospect weighs in on Schwarzenegger's popularity freefall in the lead-up to the special election.

This is a good sign. The progressive backlash against Schwarzenegger is now in full force. Californians now just need to go to the polls on Nov. 8 and send a very strong signal that we just won't stand for this in our state.

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So big surprise, Gov. Schwarzenegger is running for re-election next year. And big surprise, while addressing his party faithful at the GOP convention in Anaheim this weekend, he came out in favor of Prop 75, the anti-union initiative. Prop 75 just happens to be the only big business-backed initiative that is not failing miserably at the moment in the polls. Coincidence? We think not. So again, Schwarzenegger's actions are not motivated by his convictions or beliefs, but come out of pure political calculation.

An Orange County teacher that Schwarzenegger trotted out at the convention was quoted in the press today in support of Prop 75, saying it is an "employee rights issue." From the L.A. Times:

At the GOP convention, Schwarzenegger allies dispatched Sandra Crandall, a teacher at Moiola Elementary School.
"This is a freedom-of-choice issue," she said. "The issue is so simple, my kindergarten children understand it. Ask permission. Ask permission on how to use my hard-earned money."

This is completely flawed logic. Sure, it's her money, but the reason she has 20 5-year-olds in that classroom and not 30 or 40 is because of the union-led initiatives for class-size reduction. The state can pay her salary because of education funding protections in Proposition 98, which would never have happened without the union. So you just can't on the one hand, reap the benefits of the union and the political clout it has built up over the years, and on the other hand strip away the money that enables that work because "it's mine."

That is the crux of the difference between conservatives and progressives. Conservatives live in this fantasy world where they have somehow achieved everything "on their own," while progressives recognize that we all contribute to the well being of each other, and thus to the greater good.

We're glad Schwarzenegger has come out publicly in favor of Prop 75. It will make it that much more difficult to keep a straight face when he tells the public that this special election is about anything other than right-wing Republican-led partisan attacks.

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It is clear that Gov. Schwarzenegger sees the writing on the wall: the right wing is the only support he has left. So even though he ran on a platform of being socially moderate, including supporting gay rights, Schwarzenegger knows that he has to pander to the one group of people remaining who actually support him.

"Schwarzenegger is facing plummeting popularity just two years after chasing Democratic Governor Gray Davis out of office in a recall election in 2003. He has taken on nurses, teachers, and state workers and has called a special election for November, the centerpiece of which is a ballot measure that would redraw the lines of the state's districts to reduce the Democrats' majority in the Legislature. But the idea of the election is not faring well with voters, and the Democrats are pressing legislation that would allow him to cancel it. Recent polls show that only about 27 percent of the state's voters like the idea of the election at all.

So advocates claim Schwarzenegger is using the issue of gay rights to shore up eroding support in his right-wing fundamentalist base. On Tuesday, the governor also vetoed a minor bill that would have added sexual orientation to a voluntary list of prohibited topics in political campaign advertising."

The article from Gay City News also prints a sizable excerpt of Speak Out California Board Member and Assemblymember Jackie Goldberg:

During the floor debate, Goldberg told the story of her own wedding to 26-year-partner Sharron Stricker. She married Stricker on the steps of San Francisco's City hall in March 2004 during a brief period when Mayor Gavin Newsom had authorized same-sex marriages, before being stopped by state courts.

"We went there to do that ... because we thought we would be making a statement about our beliefs. We really weren't that into it. It was kind of a last minute decision," Goldberg said. "Sheila Kuehl, Senator Kuehl, said she would do the service for other people and we thought we'd join in. Up until the moment we were actually standing there and she was saying by the authority vested in her she now pronounced us married, I had no idea. I had no idea what a difference that would make.

"Now all of you who've been married. You knew that. You knew that. I didn't. I really didn't. It was not something I ever thought would ever happen to me.

"I have to tell you it was the most overwhelming moment - I burst into tears. It was the most overwhelming moment I can remember in my adult life...

"I still have my ring. I'm still married. Sharron still wears her ring.

"Why do I tell you this?

"I tell you all this because this isn't an intellectual exercise. You understand. You who are married here. You understand how important marriage is. I just can't understand for the life of me, why you could deny it to me.

"I don't get it.

"I truly don't get it."

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Disappointment ... Disgrace

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The champagne was not even uncorked before Gov. Schwarzenegger announced last night that he would veto the ground-breaking law passed by the California Assembly Tuesday granting same-sex couples the legal right to marry.

We hear from the Governor's spokespeople that he believes the law should be decided by either the people or the courts. Apparently they didn't make him read the State Constitution before he left the movie set for the Governor's Office, but the legislative and executive branches are also responsible for making law. In fact, some would argue that it's their job to enact the most difficult laws, since they are the ones we have entrusted to lead this state.

The argument that he can't sign this important law because of Proposition 22 is a very thinly veiled copout. Not only is Prop 22 a different animal than the same-sex marriage law (the latter goes to people's constitutional rights, which trumps all else) it was passed more than five years ago, before San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom showed the world that granting marriage licenses to loving same-sex couples would not cause giant cracks in the earth to open up. Schwarzenegger recently sent out an email criticizing a poll because it gauged people's views from two weeks earlier. Surely he could see how opinions about the same-sex marriage issue might be changed in five whole years. But no, he insists on pandering to his right-wing allies.

Many have expressed disappointment and outrage that they didn't even get 24 hours to celebrate this hard-fought victory. Perhaps Schwarzenegger's advisors told him that he had to come out against the bill sooner rather than later, in order to curb the flood of lobbying letters and calls that were jamming up his office.

Here at Speak Out California, we don't plan on letting him get off that easy. Send a letter to the Governor now, urging him to do the right thing and sign this bill.


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Update, Sept. 29: Gov. Schwarzenegger has vetoed this bill, which marked the first time a state Legislature granted same-sex couples the legal right to marry. See this post on the weblog for more details.


Less than 24 hours after the California Legislature passed groundbreaking legislation giving same-sex couples the legal right to marry, Gov. Schwarzenegger has said he will veto the measure.

We must do everything we can to pursuade him against a veto that would only pander to a minority right-wing constituency, while furthering blatant discrimination in our state.

As progressives, our values of tolerance and understanding call on us to judge people on the quality of their character and not superficial names and labels. Send a letter to the Governor now, calling on him to demonstrate true leadership and strength by signing the Civil Marriage and Religious Freedom Act.

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Democrats stand up for love

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California Assembly Democrats have passed a bill that would end discrimination in the state's marriage laws, allowing same-sex couples to legally wed. AB 849, which was already passed in the Senate - again without a single Republican vote - will now go to Governor Schwarzenegger's desk.

The collective vote by the Legislature is historic. No other legislative body in the United States has ever legalized same-sex marriage. It should make us all proud to live in California, where we actually take seriously the notion that all people should have equal rights under the law.

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In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Speak Out California President Hannah-Beth Jackson sent out the following message to members today:

"The good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore, brothers."
- Martin Luther King Jr., 'Strength to Love,' 1963

As we share in sadness and despair at the extent of the death and destruction in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, our hearts go out to the thousands of people who are suffering the direct impacts of this great tragedy. In the spirit of community, and because of our values that guide us to take care of one another, we wanted to offer the opportunity for our members to give to the devastated victims of Hurricane Katrina. We know there are several options available, and we thank you if you have already supported one or more of them. If not, may we suggest an option that you might not already have considered:

Click here to support ACORN

ACORN is a national community organization headquartered in New Orleans that fights to defend the social and economic rights of low and moderate income families, those most heavily hurt by the recent storm and lack of adequate relief response. The ACORN national headquarters in New Orleans has succumbed to the flood waters and many ACORN family members throughout New Orleans have been displaced.

ACORN is not a relief organization. Your tax-deductible donation will help ACORN:

1. Establish a temporary headquarters in Baton Rouge and reopen their New Orleans office as soon as possible;

2. Service housing and credit needs of impacted communities;

3. Organize individuals to ensure that low-income neighborhoods and families have a voice that will challenge public officials to treat all people fairly and get relief and rebuilding aid to the people who need it most.

Of course, many of you have responded to our political calls over the past several weeks and months, and we are grateful. Your efforts just this week have helped lead to the rejection of the Governor's pro-industry, anti-environment selection to head the California Air Resources Board. You will be pleased to know that Thursday the Senate rejected Cindy Tuck's nomination as the Air Resources Board chair. Your rapid and overwhelming response sent a clear message to the Senate, and the Governor, that we are committed to protecting public health over corporate wealth.

Thank you again for your help and activism, through this current tragedy and always.


Hannah-Beth Jackson and the rest of the Speak Out California team

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Cindy Tuck rejected by Senate

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The oil and chemical industry lobbyist that Gov. Schwarzenegger tried to put in charge of the state's clean air program was soundly rejected by the Senate Thursday, a victory for environmental advocates and all state residents who care about the quality of the air we breathe.

Speak Out California played a role in that victory by sending more than 3,000 petition letters to decision-makers on the Senate Rules Committee and 37 Senators from throughout California. Sen. Debra Bowen's office said the grass-roots activism made a difference in the outcome.

We thank all of you for taking the time to be a part of this important fight, and for continuing to be active members of the California progressive community. Stay tuned for more ways to help effect positive change in our state!

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Update, Sept. 29: The Governor vetoed AB 48, which would have required a $1 minimum wage increase for California workers currently making $6.75 an hour. You can read his shallow and hypocritical veto message here.

Update, Sept. 9: Thank you for all of your letters in support of three bills for a better California. The Legislature has passed AB 48, but we must keep the heat on Gov. Schwarzenegger, who has hinted that he will veto the measure. Speak Out California will continue to follow AB 172 and SB 840 in the next legislative year.


The legislative session is winding down, but it is not too late to take action now in support of three bills that together send a strong message to our legislators and the Governor about our values and priorities:

  • AB 48: Minimum wage increase
  • AB 172: Universal preschool
  • SB 840: Health care for all

These bills go to the heart of our progressive agenda of equal access to quality education, economic fairness and the basic human right of health care coverage. All of these legislative proposals reflect some aspect of our core values, and would help in the long process of getting our state back on track.

While Speak Out California will be part of the effort to defeat Gov. Schwarzenegger's ideas at the ballot box this November, we also refuse to let his $50 million distraction deter us from advocating for what really matters: improving the lives of working families in this state.


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A question of priorities

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Gov. Schwarzenegger finally decided to head out to the brand new University of California at Merced today, although he is skipping the official opening and big celebration taking place Monday. Today's trip was not pre-arranged; it was announced after two days of bad press in which questions were rightfully raised about what could possibly be more important than the opening of the first UC campus in 40 years, and the first ever in the San Joaquin Valley?

Unfortunately for the governor, he doesn't have a good reason. His spokespeople say he has "other plans," but we're not being let in on what they are, other than "special election issues." His staff says he has no scheduled events.

Perhaps Schwarzenegger needs some time to recover from his recent vacation and busy fund-raising schedule that included a $10,000-per-seat Rolling Stones concert. Or perhaps, even though he is supposed to be leading this state, he just doesn't understand the importance of accessible and affordable higher education.

UC Merced should dramatically increase the college-going rates of Central Valley's young people, who have traditionally lagged behind the rest of California. Schwarzenegger's rhetoric is so ridiculous that one really must judge him based on his actions. And his decision to skip the UC Merced opening speaks volumes.

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

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