And they're off...
It's the first full day of fall, and the campaign season is definitely underway. You knew that to be true this morning on 10th Street in Sacramento, where two news conferences unfolded a half-hour and less than two blocks apart.
The first was relatively routine: Representatives of law enforcement unions including PORAC, the Correctional Peace Officers Association and the Association of Highway Patrolmen stood in front of the Peace Officers Memorial and pronounced their opposition to Proposition 76. They asserted it would inevitably lead to cuts in local law enforcement budgets. Waiting in the wings was Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpapers Association, eager to provide an on-camera rebuttal.
The real excitement took place down the block in front of the California Teachers Association headquarters, where the National Right to Work League was announcing a lawsuit challenging the union's action to place a $60 surcharge on teachers to pay off a loan it has taken to finance its campaign against the ballot measures backed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Union members were waiting on the sidewalk as the group's vice president, two California teachers and Sen. Tom McClintock prepared to speak out against the CTA fees.
As soon as the first speaker stepped to the microphone, the protesters began to chant, "Shame on you" -- a chant they kept up for 20 minutes, completely drowning out the remarks of the speakers.
Afterward, inside the quiet of an office building lobby, McClintock called the demonstration an example "of the kind of intimidation, bullying and thuggery that our public schoolteachers work under every day of the year."
Democratic Party political adviser Bob Mulholland, who always seems to materialize at these sorts of events, was asked afterward whether the protesters' rude behavior might have been counterproductive. Mulholland said it was a simple case of provocation -- that the Right to Work group knew what would be in store when it decided to stage the event on the sidewalk in front of the CTA headquarters.
"When you stand outside a person's house and throw snowballs at the windows, they're going to let the dogs out," he said.