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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

A Weblog by
Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

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« September 5, 2003 | | September 7, 2003 »
September 6, 2003

Howard Dean joins the chorus

Howard Dean weighs in on the recall, joining the chorus of folks who claim that allowing people to vote twice in 11 months is anti-democratic. They clearly think that if they keep saying this enough someone might believe them. But it simply isn't true. The recall, if anything, is too democratic. Here is the story. And here is his key quote:

"I believe the right wing of the Republican Party is deliberately undermining the democratic underpinnings of this country. I believe they do not care what Americans think and they do not accept the legitimacy of our elections and have now, for the fourth time in the fourth state, attempted to do what they can to remove democracy from America."

Does this candidate for president really believe that if the recall succeeds, it will "undermine the democratic underpinnings" of the country, that it will "remove democracy" from America? Please.

I really do hope that voter turnout on Oct. 7 is more than it was last November, and that the winner, whoever he or she is, gets more votes than Davis got last year. Maybe that will finally wake these people up.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:20 PM

Arnold on workers comp

It’s almost become a cliché in Sacramento that workers compensation premiums are among the highest in the nation while benefits to truly injured workers are among the lowest. But the past few days, Schwarzenegger has been using an example he picked up on the campaign trail to bring that gap vividly to light. It’s a glimpse of Arnold at his rhetorical best, where, as today at the Farm Bureau, he actually had business owners pulling for higher benefits for the workers. Here is what he said to prompt the cheers:

“This is terrible, to pay those fees, those increases, and then the benefits are so little for the workers. The other day I met a man, who was in a wheelchair, down in Long Beach. He said to me, that he fell down an elevator shaft. He can never work again. He is in a wheelchair. He only gets 800 dollars a month. Now what happened with all those increases? Hundreds of percent increases in workers compensation costs. But this poor man only gets 800 dollars. So someone is creaming off the top. And we have to have workers compensation reform.”

Here is a summary of the reforms he has proposed so far, according to a statement from his campaign:

--Implement objective and enforceable utilization guidelines and establish a well-defined network of providers to reduce the unnecessary use of medical services.

--Eliminate excessive permanent disability payments by adopting American Medical Association guidelines for claims.

--Reform state vocational rehabilitation programs so that individuals can be more effectively and efficiently trained for new jobs and careers.

--Reduce litigation by adopting an Independent Medical Review process for claims and limiting the grounds to appeal these rulings in court.

--Audit the State Compensation Insurance Fund to identify any operational and fiscal issues.

--Appoint a new team to the Division of Workers’ Compensation, and making cost containment job one, in response to recent state audit.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:15 PM

Arnold's layered look

Continuing his inside/outside campaign for governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger picked up two more establishment endorsements today—from the California Farm Bureau and the Western Growers Assn. Agricultural leaders said they were backing Arnold because they are upset by five years of what they said was neglect and abuse from the Davis Administration and fear a Bustamante Administration would be even worse. The endorsements come one day after the California Chamber of Commerce endorsed Arnold, breaking with a tradition of staying neutral in statewide races. The moves are further evidence of the oddball nature of this campaign, as Arnold criss-crosses the state asking voters to help him smash the “special interests” and then meets with and accepts the backing of some of the biggest interest groups in the state. But Arnold has defined special interests, for now, as the two biggest-spending interests that directly negotiate with the governor for financial gain: the public employee unions and the casino Indian tribes. I asked him what separated those interests from his own donors, what made his opponents’ donors so bad and his so good. Here was his answer:

“Let’s make one thing perfectly clear. I never said that any of those people are bad. There s a difference. I think we need lobbyists to listen to. I think it’s good to have all these different interests, and all this, they are fighting for their causes. What I am saying is, you cannot expect to represent the people of California if you are taking money from a union and you know that down the line you are going to be sitting across the table from them and you negotiate. Because as soon as you take their money, you then owe them something. It’s the old rule. Campaign contributions come in, favors go out and the people are hurting. That’s what we want to stop…Everyone means well who wants to do business. But I think you have to put a certain kind of rule there, where I say I can’t take this, I can’t take that, I can only go so far with that. I basically put my own rules and regulations there and said this is as far as I go, I am not going to take any money from Indian tribes, gaming tribes, I am not going to take any money from the unions.”

Schwarzenegger’s aides said the campaign is still formulating a policy that will spell out exactly where the candidate draws the line. Senior Adviser Mike Murphy said Schwarzenegger would take money from political action committees, but spokesman Sean Walsh said the campaign wouldn’t be taking money from “single issue” political action committees. But neither could define on Saturday what a single-issue PAC might be. Murphy did say that neither the Farm Bureau nor the Western Growers would fall under the ban.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:33 PM

MAPA comes to defense of MEChA

Firing another salvo in the ethnic wars swirling around the recall, the Mexican American Political Association plans to honor MEChA at an endorsement convention and Latino Youth Summit next week in Buena Park. The move is clearly in reaction to the heat MEChA -- and Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante -- are getting for the student organization's links to a radical manifesto calling for the liberation of the American Southwest as an Hispanic homeland.

“It’s a privilege and an honor to pay tribute to the work MEChA has done in its almost thirty-five years of existence,” said MAPA President Nativo V. Lopez.

That’s the same Lopez who was recalled from office a few months ago by voters – mostly Latino parents -- in the Santa Ana Unified School District upset by district mismanagement and Lopez’s support for bilingual education, as well as his attempts to undermine Proposition 227.

MAPA describes itself as a “multi-partisan” advocacy organization “dedicated to the constitutional and democratic principles of political freedom and representation for the Mexican, Mexican-American and Latino people in the United States.”

Posted by dweintraub at 12:05 PM

Ueberroth: give tax credits for new jobs

Peter Ueberroth today proposed state tax credits for businesses that create new jobs. Ueberroth says the state should give companies a credit of half the personal income tax paid by employees who get new jobs paying $30,000 a year or more with at least basic health benefits. The candidate offered the idea as an alternative to SB 2, the measure under consideration in the Legislature that would force employers to provide health insurance for their workers. The idea is part of what Ueberroth is calling his “California Works Again” plan to create a better business climate in the state. He said he would appoint a “Jobs Commissioner” to oversee the program with a person in each state legislative district to help steer businesses through problems with the state bureaucracy.

It’s not clear how much effect such a tax credit would have on job creation. While the credit Ueberroth is proposing would mean little at the $30,000 level, because most workers at that income level pay little or no state income tax, it might help at least offset some of the costs of the health benefits at higher wage levels. It also could mean an administrative nightmare as companies and the state wrestle over what is a new job versus an old job, or when companies reduce their workforce one year and then expand it the next. It might be better to simply look for ways for the state to get out of the way, rather than adding new programs that encourage firms to game the bureaucracy for marginal economic gains. But if it’s the thought that counts, Ueberroth is on the right track, looking for ways to provide incentives for business to create jobs and offer benefits rather than adopting one-size-fits-all mandates that force social policies down their throats.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:28 AM

Big fight for absentees looms

Absentee voting could play a big role in deciding the winner of the recall campaign, and the candidates have already begun the fight. Schwarzenegger appears to be first out of the gate with an aggressive effort to encourage voters to apply for mail-in ballots and then cast them for him. Here is a story in the San Jose Mercury.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:33 AM

Indivisible, with liberty...

A Latino group organizing a Mexican Independence Day parade in Los Angeles withdraws an invitation to Schwarzenegger after deciding that his presence would be "divisive." There's that word again. Like something out Orwell's 1984, it's a word that has come to mean its opposite.Here is the story from the Daily Bulletin.

Posted by dweintraub at 8:22 AM



At Crossroads, a panel of experts and the public debate the future of health care in California. We'd like you to join the conversation.

Daniel Weintraub


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