Last week I had the honor of giving input to some bills proposed by the Simi Valley Youth in Government group. For those of you not familiar with them it is basically a debate group that draws up proposals for legislation and then takes them to Sacramento for a meeting with other groups from across the state.
The proposals were judged on their merits, arguments, and ability to inspire debate. This year the bills included:
1. Teacher tenure rules reform ( I supported this bill ).
2. Mandatory commercial and industrial recycling.
3. Banning California dairies from using rGBH.
4. Changing the initiative process.
I sat next to State Assembly Member Audra Strickland who also volunteered her time to give input to the high school students as they prepare their legislation. I was surprised she was able to fit this event into her schedule and I know the participants were thankful for her help. The young people involved in this program are inspirational and I expect many of them to continue to make our community proud in the years ahead.
At the end of the night the proposal to change the initiative process in California won. This is where my readers can get involved.
They need to prepare their final arguments by next Tuesday. If you click on continue reading you can see the text of their bill. The Simi Valley Youth and Government group would appreciate it if you posted feedback to their bill that they can use to anticipate the talking points they will likely confront. Your critical feedback as to the wording, the merits of the proposal, or arguments against it would be very much appreciated.
It would be a personal favor if you can help them. Let's bring victory home to Ventura County!
Click here for my blog entry from last year's bill hearing night.
I don't understand why Planned Parenthood was interviewing candidates for the Ventura City Council but recently there was a letter to the editor about candidate Mike Gibson. Even after the election is over he keeps bothering his oppoents.
Sarah Palin is in the news because she attracts attention both from detractors and supporters. The news media covers her because it is profitable to do so. It is funny now that her top enemies include the McCain campaign. She has accused them of many things in her slam book.
Either way, it is odd that past candidates that lost and hold no office continue to inflame such feelings.
Happy Thanksgiving Mike!
Click on continue reading for the letter to the editor.
Many Democrats don't want to appoint him because they don't think they can win a district that Barack Obama won by 12 points. Check out this blog entry on Calitics for details.
Many Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature don't want to appoint anyone that might run as an incumbent because there are running themselves. It is an odd argument: the position is so meaningless it should remain vacant but at the same time they would like to fill it.
I understand that Democrats don't want a Republican to be appointed to the position and I understand that conservative Republicans don't want to promote a moderate that has often been very critical of their party ( he has gone as far as saying Republican primary voters are motivated by racism) but who do you expect the governor is going to nominate who could be confirmed?
I am not yet convinced that State Senator Abel Maldonado shouldn't be confirmed. Feel free to post an argument. You don't need to register to comment but keep it classy.
Click here for Ventura County Star Reporter Timm Herdt's take on the issue.
State Senator Tony Strickland is opening up his Simi Valley office to the public for a holidays party. Are you going? I have made many criticisms of Tony Strickland but he is truly open to holding public events for his constituents.
Here is the invitation:
Before anyone starts the annual arguments over using the term holidays versus Christmas let's remember that holidays literally means holy days. So, if someone says happy holidays, they are saying happy holy days.
State Senator Tony Strickland was recently on the now defunct CNN show with Lou Dobbs. Click here for the video.
Question: Will Republicans attack Barack Obama as an elitist for any food choices this Thanksgiving like they did when he asked for some spicy mustard ( available at McDonald's and Subway) when he went out to get something to eat?
The Tim Allison for Congress campaign announced they have hired Simi Valley Democratic activist Deborah Dent to be their field organizer. Having seen Deborah Dent organize local people to support Barack Obama I know she is an impressive organizer.
This move shows that Tim Allison is serious in his goal of running all across the district. Running against Rep. Gallegly will be tough for any Democrat but with Dent on his side he has shown he is putting together a real plan.
Obviously, it is difficult to beat an incumbent, but Barack Obama won the 24th congressional district. If Tim Allison can present a real challenge to Rep. Gallegly it might convince Gallegly to retire sooner. That would set Allison up as the Democratic front runner when this becomes an open seat.
Gallegly hasn't been holding town hall forums on healthcare insurance reform or other topics. This might give an opponent fodder to challenge him. Combined with the pressure being put on Rep. Gallegly by the Obama Administration ( They have been making robocalls and sending emails rallying supporters to put pressure on Rep. Gallegly. Click on continue reading for the text of a recent email.) and this might make Gallegly work much harder than usual.
Ventura County Democratic Scholarship winner and UC Santa Barbara student Mike Gillooly is back with another guest blog entry. I added the video. Click here for his previous guest blog entry.
Here is his latest entry:
The Death of Higher Education in California
By Michael Gillooly
The University of California is facing a time of unparalleled economic hardship. Faced with an $813 million budget shortfall for this year alone, the UC Regents have had to make some tough choices in the past few months. At all 10 campuses across the state, faculty and staff have been laid off, and those remaining are subject to mandatory furloughs. Students have shouldered the burden as well, forced to deal with cuts in student services across the board. We have suffered through reduced operating hours for libraries and academic departments, and even the cancellation of many classes. With the University offering fewer courses, students crowd lecture halls as they desperately try to fill requirements in order to graduate on time. Some campus departments have been eliminated entirely; at my school alone, UCSB has been forced to eliminate counseling and wellness services, and the entire Exercise and Sports Studies program, which provides exercise and health education to students.
Click on continue reading for the rest of the entry.
I was very surprised that Simi Valley Police Officers would picket outside the home of a city council member and I am not sure if it had the intended impact that the union wanted. If their goal was to attract media attention and to show they are willing to play hardball it worked. They have started a Youtube video channel to better communicate their message to the public.
Because the negotiations are done in private it is difficult to figure out what exactly the issues that are being confronted include. Most of us understand compensation negotiations but the rest of the disputes needs to be explained better by both sides if they want to rally the public.
The Simi Valley Police Officers Association ran an ad in The Acorn showing the cost of each council member to be around $50,000 once the city pays for their salary, healthcare, retirement, and other benefits. I have a press inquiry in with the city to see if that figure is accurate.
Overall, whose message do you think is resonating with the public more?
It is a dangerous time to be an incumbent of either party. The classic poll response from voters is that they trust their own elected officials but those that represent other districts are the people messing things up. In this current era of budget cutbacks and tax increase very few are confident their party is acting in their own best interest.
Citizens are going to have to start paying closer attention to their state legislators, ballot propositions, and if we are lucky the California State Constitution. A local frustrated taxpayer has created a new website called No to Sacramento. Please check it out and give them some critical feedback.
Dave, what do you want Sacramento to cut next? Many Democrats want to create an oil severance tax instead of more cuts. Does that seem like a more balanced approach then higher income taxes?
Last week they were caught putting video of an earlier protest into a segment of a recent protest to make it look more popular.
This week they used campaign footage of Sarah Palin and said it was footage of her book tour. Are you going to read Sarah Palin's new book? A local conservative I know was hilarious when he joked he was going to give them as white elephant presents.
This could of course be another "mishap" but their errors always seem to support Republicans.
In related news Glenn Beck doesn't care for the truth or context. But that's not surprising. Joe McCarthy was more subtle.
Click on continue reading for their press release on the local event.
I know some of their local supporters including Jay Kapitz. During the 2008 primaries Jay was a great local organizer for Barack Obama. I normally would think something like this doesn't have much of a chance but with the support of someone like Jay they appear to be very serious.
( Check out this animal rights video that Das Wiliams introduces.)
Das Williams has sent out a press release announcing more endorsements, this time from women leaders. The 35th State Assembly primary for Democrats is between Susan Jordan and Das Williams. Both of them agree on most policies so showing their support from various Democratic constituencies is going to be critical.
I don't live in the district but my top issues would be creating an environment that sparks more private sector job growth and reforming the state budget. What are your top issues?
Natalie Panossian is a local Republican Party activist, a lawyer, and a Federalist Society Member. She sent me this request and I am sharing it with my readers:
I am organizing a Federalist Society forum for December 15th at 6:30 p.m. to discuss Health Care Reform. I have two scholars from the Cato Institute who are opposed to reform or at least the public option and I am looking for two scholars who support the public option proposal. Do you know of any scholars who I may want to contact ? I contacted the Rand Institute and am waiting to hear back from them. I also contacted the USC School of Public Policy and will call UCLA tomorrow as well as the CA Democratic Party.
State Assembly candidate Jeff Gorell teaches a class at CLU and recently he invited me to speak to his students on a variety of topics including using technology to lobby for issues they are passionate to support. Student Peggy Zherdev believes that we need to promote breastfeeding more and she has started a blog as a way of sharing her thoughts.
Please check out her blog and leave some feedback for her project.
Peggy, have you spoken to any local leaders on what they can do to support your cause? I would be interested in how much you needed to educate them. What local businesses are breastfeeding friendly? The Simi Valley Town Center Mall has great facilities for families. ( No, Mall Spokesperson Keith Jajko you don't need to pay me for that plug.)
There are also looking for ideas to get more involved in service to our community. Click on continue reading and then post a comment to provide them with some input. Donna Prenta, are you reading this entry?
This is a great video to illustrate how a party out of power isn't always powerless. In it Rep. Tom Price is attempting to grind typical House of Representatives business to a halt using parliamentary procedure. This comical video is less than a minute but the tactic was repeated over and over to other members.
I recently was a guest speaker in Professor Jeff Gorell's public policy class at CLU. His students have many intriguing projects they are organizing to promote. Here are some of them I remember from our discussion:
Repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell ( DADT)
Repeal of The Defense of Marriage Act ( DOMA)
Marriage Equality for gay people
Repeal of Special Order 40 in Los Angeles ( Does anyone in local law know if Ventura County has a similar order?)
Expanded rights for breastfeeding
Protecting property rights in the greenbelt areas of Ventura County
Healthcare Insurance Reform
Protecting funding for Adult Education programs
Jeff, remind me of any of the projects I didn't include.
One of the students was interested lobbying local members of congress over the current healthcare insurance reform proposals and after the class she decided to write a letter to the editor calling for Rep. Capps to debate Rep. Gallegly. Here is her full letter:
You know what would really help me gain a clear and local perspective on the real impact of passing/not passing the proposed healthcare reform? Some honest, open dialogue between our local leaders, specifically Reps. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, and Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley.
As a grad student, I'm partial to finding the facts on issues through doing my own research. However, after spending many, many hours on the Internet, including Capps' and Gallegly's Web sites, sifting through facts/myth sheets, summaries and bullet points, I get the sense each side is telling their own version of the story and maybe not the whole story.
Where is the real, complete story? How can we get the real truth?
Perhaps if Capps and Gallegly care to spend time together with us, speaking their minds on healthcare reform and taking our questions, we just might get there. I'm sure my school will gladly open its doors to host a debate.
-- Maria Arias, Sherman Oaks
(The writer is a student of public policy at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. -- Editor)
In the latest LA Times poll Meg Whitman is leading with Tom Campbell behind her. In third place is Insurance commissioner Steve Poizner. Now that Gavin Newsom dropped out I am wondering who will drop out next.
Tom Campbell has done an amazing job reaching out to moderates and Democrats. I interviewed him months ago and he has the ability to reach out to new voters for the Republican Party.
After this terrible poll for Steve Poizner will he be dropping out next? His personal wealth can
In other Tea Party news I stopped posting about the local Tea Party group after they posted an article that said Barack Obama committed treason and that he wasn't born in the United States of America. There are many groups that have used the Tea Party moniker, some more mainstream than others.
( Local political activist Carole Lutness with John Garamendi. Garamendi has long traveled the state supporting progressive candidates.)
Fresh from winning a seat in the House last Tuesday John Garamendi has endorsed Susan Jordan for State Assembly.
Two House seats were up for election last Tuesday night. One in New York where a Democrat won a district represented by Republicans since the Civil War era and one here in California that was represented by a moderate Democrat.
John Garamendi has long been supported by progressive Democrats for supporting progressive causes and candidates across the state. With the newly elected Democrat from New York Barack Obama has two new supporters in the House for his healthcare insurance reform proposals.
He mentions Rep. Gallegly right around the 7 minute mark. Rep. Grayson has been attacking Republicans for being obstructionist. Now he is reading the names of Republican House Members and the projected numbers of people that die from not having health insurance by district.
I would like to see Rep. Capps and Rep. Gallegly debate health care insurance reform even though it appears to be a moot point since Rep. Cantor of Virginia has already pledged to a crowd of tea party activists that Gallegly will vote no.
Gallegly is not a part of the debate over healthcare insurance reform. He won't hold town hall meetings ( even though Republican Rep. McKeon and Democratic Rep. Capps have already held healthcare townhall meetings) and he has already removed himself from any negotiations by letting it be known he isn't open to compromise.
For the Ventura Unified School District Mary Haffner won the poll with Monique Dollone close behind. Velma Lomax and John Walker were almost tied after them. I predict that all of the incumbents will be re-elected.
Phil Mechanick won the online poll with Mike Gibson, Ed Summers, and Neal Andrews all in the top.
I think that all of the incumbents will be re-elected to the Ventura City Council.
The poll is not scientific but it does measure the intensity supporters have towards a candidate. Neal Andrews might be the lightning rod in this election but he doesn't need a majority of voters to back him when there are so many people running. I expect his name ID, record, and incumbency to protect him.
Neal Andrews was the target of the union that represents police officers. I don't know if any specific candidate disproportionally benefited from them. With two other candidates with law enforcement backrounds I believe he will win. If there is any surprise it would be a single incumbent not being re-elected. In that case Mike Tracy might win. Next time if the police union coordinates their efforts with a party or slate it might be more effective.
The Star posted a final pre-election story on Monday.
Of course I live in Simi Valley and I don't see how many signs are up for each candidate nor do I get many reports on the mailers that people get. The police union didn't send me a mailer to post nor did any of the other candidates.
I make no recommendations or endorsements because I have confidence the people of Ventura can figure out what they want without me. I don't have any particular insights to share that a reasonably informed voter wouldn't be aware of before they voted.
Thank you to Mike Gibson and Monique Dollone for answering questions on my blog. I interviewed Monique Dollone this time and in the past Mike Gibson has released statements or debated with people on my blog.