California Politics

April 7, 2010

California Chamber of Commerce funding Republican Attack Ads

The California Chamber of Commerce is apparently continuing its transition from a business association to a political lobbying organization for the Republican party. They are now funding vicious televised attack ads against Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, implying that he is somehow responsible now that “California’s lost one million jobs” and the fact that “we’re 200 billion dollars in debt”

The Chamber broke a tradition of non-partisanship dating back more than 100 years when it endorsed Schwarzenegger in the 2003 recall election. For this, they were rewarded handsomely by the Schwarzenegger administration and were given unprecedented access and influence over our State government, to the detriment of almost everyone else – especially small business. The “job killer” label they put on any legislation they didn’t like, for example, for many years virtually guaranteed a Schwarzenegger veto.

According to several news reports, complaints have now been filed with the California Fair Political Practices Commission that say the Chamber didn’t even fund this ad through its own political action committee- since that would have been subject to disclosure regulations, and instead paid for it through their membership dues, to the tune of more than one million dollars! They also noted that Republican candidate Meg Whitman’s campaign manager, former Gov. Pete Wilson, is on the chamber’s board.

The man responsible for turning the California Chamber of Commerce into this overtly partisan political organization is apparently their President and CEO: Allan Zaremberg, He was the Master of Ceremonies at the Republican Primary Gubernatorial Debate in Orange County last month, touting his take on “the importance of a business-friendly governor to California”.

He is also the head of the “California State Protocol Foundation” – a shadowy “non profit organization” has paid for millions of dollars’ worth of Schwarzenegger’s overseas travel and other bills racked up by his office, including the use of private jets. This group claims these payments allow the Governor to meet with foreign dignitaries, “thereby supporting business opportunities between California and their countries” but what they have really done is turn what should have been public interest trade missions into luxury junkets with blatant cronyism. More than anything, this organization has corrupted and perverted California’s international trade and economic development programs, and it is almost unbelievable that they have gotten away with it.

The ad now being run by the California Chamber is stunning in its dishonesty. For example, they attack Brown for having been against Proposition 13, the property tax initiative, not mentioning that they were also opposed to it at the time. The theme of the ad is “enough is enough” and that may very well be the way many in California feel about the California Chamber of Commerce.

Let’s hope the next Governor- who ever he or she is, from whatever party, will stop this bullying and political manipulation by the California Chamber of Commerce. The rest of us – especially small business, deserve a seat at the table on California business issues for a change. It seems to me that members of the California Chamber of Commerce should not only resign from this organization, they should also demand a full refund of their membership fees for as many years as they have been members. Regardless of their political party, I’m sure they didn’t sign on for this garbage.

Filed under Business Associations, California Politics, Opinion by

October 13, 2009

California sours on Schwarzenegger

With a long history of bad moves and missed opportunities, California has soured on Governor Schwarzenegger. In spite of his “nice guy” image, a field poll just released shows that only 27 percent of residents approve of Schwarzenegger’s job performance while 65 percent disapprove. This is That’s the lowest approval rating for any California governor in 50 years – except for Gray Davis who registered a 22 percent approval rating in 2003 just before voters recalled him. Voters are even more disgusted with the State Legislature with only a 13 percent approval rating – the lowest in 25 years. “It’s brutal,” Field Poll director Mark DiCamillo said to the San Francisco Chronicle. ” ‘How low can we go?’ is an open question. Voters don’t think we’ve bottomed out yet.”

Filed under California Legislature, California Politics, Governor Schwarzenegger by

June 16, 2009

U.S. refuses California emergency financial assistance

The Obama administration has refused requests for emergency assistance from senior State government officials. Calling California, “one of the biggest remaining threats to the economy” the Washington Post reported that top state officials have gone hat in hand to the administration, armed with dire warnings of a fast-approaching “fiscal meltdown” caused by a budget shortfall. Concern has grown inside the White House in recent weeks as California’s fiscal condition has worsened, leading to high-level administration meetings. But the Post reported that federal officials are worried that a bailout of California would set off a cascade of demands from other states. The administration is also concerned that California will enact massive cuts to close its deficit aggravating the state’s recession and further dragging down the national economy. After a series of meetings, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, top White House economists Lawrence Summers and Christina Romer, and other senior officials have decided that California could hold on a little longer and should get its budget in order rather than rely on a federal bailout.

Filed under California Economy, California Government, California Politics, U.S. Government by

May 18, 2009

Economist magazine calls California “ungovernable”

The respected publication “The Economist” has called California “the ungovernable State”. They certainly have a point- the Goverment here is a total mess, and voters are in a foul mood about tomorrow’s special election – and they should be, our government has failed us, and has many, many structural problems, but our leaders have failed us also. We have a government with absolutely no foresight, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, our part-time Governor, deserves his share of the blame. With all of California’s problems, our “lack of leadership” is certainly the most serious. Here are an excerpt and the full article can be read here:

ON MAY 19th Californians will go to the polls to vote on six ballot measures that are as important as they are confusing. If these measures fail, America’s biggest state will enter a full-blown financial crisis… A good outcome is no longer possible. California now has the worst bond rating among the 50 states. Income-tax receipts are coming in far below expectations. On May 11th Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor, sent a letter to the legislature warning it that, by his latest estimates, the state will face a budget gap of $15.4 billion if the ballot measures pass, $21.3 billion if they fail. Prisoners will have to be released, firefighters fired, and other services cut or eliminated. One way or the other, on May 20th Californians will have to begin discussing how to fix their broken state.

Only a minority of Californians bother to vote, and those voters tend to be older, whiter and richer than the state’s younger, browner and poorer population… Those voters, moreover, have over time “self-sorted” themselves into highly partisan districts: loony left in Berkeley or Santa Monica, for instance; rabid right in Orange County or parts of the Central Valley. Politicians have done the rest by gerrymandering bizarre boundaries around their supporters. The result is that elections are won during the Republican or Democratic primaries, rather than in run-offs between the two parties.
Representative democracy is only one half of California’s peculiar governance system. The other half, direct democracy, fails just as badly. California is one of 24 states that allow referendums, recalls and voter initiatives. But it is the only state that does not allow its legislature to override successful initiatives (called “propositions”) and has no sunset clauses that let them expire. It also uses initiatives far more, and more irresponsibly, than any other state.

Filed under California Politics, Governor Schwarzenegger, Opinion by

May 19, 2008

More corporate gifts for Schwarzenegger and his associates

In the most recent in a series of endless reports about Corporate gifts being given to our Governor and his associates – ostensibly in the “public interest”, the LA Times has reported that General Electric will be sponsoring a glitzy Governors Conference this August at Universal Studios in Hollywood.

The event could cost more than $3 million between GE and other private sponsors, according to participants in the planning of the conference, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the arrangements. That would make it an expensive example of a technique Schwarzenegger has embraced to bring the glitzy style he appreciates to ceremonial state functions: getting corporations and wealthy supporters to pay for them. The governor’s aides say the practice saves taxpayers money.

Government watchdog groups argue that it may compromise the administration’s independence from corporate interests. Schwarzenegger’s phone call with Immelt was arranged by a GE executive, formerly an advisor to the governor, who oversees the company’s lobbyists in Sacramento.

“It’s a governmental conference, with governmental officials,” said Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles. “If GE is paying for it, the question is what does GE expect for their contribution? And they are certainly going to expect good will.” A spokesman for General Electric said the size and nature of the company’s contribution have not been finalized, and administration officials said there is no budget yet. Schwarzenegger’s office has accepted millions of dollars in private gifts for things such as state dinners, international travel and ornaments on state Christmas trees.

The cross-border conference, held each year in one of the 10 participating U.S. and Mexican states, is an important event for Schwarzenegger because it is the first to be hosted in California in eight years, and the only one while he is governor. “We are going to take this important annual event to a whole new level,” Schwarzenegger said last month in a statement announcing the partnership…

The bulk of private support received by Schwarzenegger’s office has come from the California Protocol Foundation, a nonprofit group affiliated with the California Chamber of Commerce that does not disclose the names of its donors or the details of specific expenditures.

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May 12, 2008

Schwarzenegger calls for more junkets

Governor Schwarzenegger, who has displayed incredible ineptitude in developing international trade and economic development policies for California, has brazenly called for State officials to take more junkets with Corporate money. As reported in a L.A. Times article entitled “See the world, let special interests pay”:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday encouraged lawmakers — especially those from small towns — to do more globe-trotting on the dime of special interests. Speaking at a forum on global economics held by the nonprofit Milken Institute, the governor suggested lawmakers would be more willing to embrace his plans to privatize the building of roads, schools, high-speed rail systems and other public works if they could see how effectively it has worked in other countries.

“Some of them come from those little towns, you know what I am saying, they come from those little towns and they don’t have that vision yet of an airport or of a highway that maybe has 10 lanes or of putting a highway on top of a highway,” Schwarzenegger said. “They look at you and say, ‘We don’t have that in my town. What are you talking about?’

“So they are kind of shocked when you say certain things. So I like them to travel around.” Such travel is typically paid for by a combination of special interests with business before the Legislature and foreign governments.

It usually involves stays at luxury resorts, high-end dining and the option of bringing a spouse along. Schwarzenegger has jetted around the world on “trade missions” paid for by donors whose identity is not disclosed. Campaign finance reformers are troubled by the ethical issues raised by such trips. Schwarzenegger said he is not.

“I am always against when the media beats up” on lawmakers “for traveling around because someone else is paying for their trips,” he said. “I mean, so what. If they were to take the money from the taxpayers,” then the media “would complain about using tax dollars to travel around the world and live in luxury and all this stuff.

Filed under California Politics, Governor Schwarzenegger by

February 11, 2008

Asians & Latinos key to Hillary’s California victory

That’s according to Scott Kurashige of the Huffington Post, who noted that this may be the first time in American history where, “a candidate failed to win African Americans and whites but won overall-as Clinton did in California”. He noted, however, that “if Clinton’s multicultural strategy is unprecedented, Obama’s effort to transcend “minority” politics is historic. Casting Obama as a “colorblind” politician, the pundits and his left skeptics have largely missed the significance of what he represents. Getting “beyond race” today is not about ignoring the problem of racism or moderating ones politics to appease whites. Instead, it means thinking about America as a multiracial nation that dispels old notions of both white normativity and majority/minority identities.” The article is worth a read: The Future is Now: California’s Multiracial Challenge to America“.

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February 4, 2008

Maria Shriver endorses Obama

Trouble in the Schwarzenegger household? This will certainly neutralize Arnold’s backing of McCain.

California first lady Maria Shriver, a member of the Kennedy clan, endorsed Democratic Sen. Barack Obama for U.S. president on Sunday, days after her husband, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, backed Republican John McCain.

“I thought, if Barack Obama were a state, he’d be California,” Shriver told the crowd jamming an Obama rally at the University of California at Los Angeles. “I mean think about it. Diverse. Open. Smart. Independent. Bucks tradition. Innovative. Inspiring. Dreamer. Leader.”

Obama, an Illinois senator, is running neck and neck with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton days before Super Tuesday, in which California and more than 20 other states hold primaries and caucuses to nominate Democratic and Republican candidates for the November presidential election.

On the Republican side, front-runner McCain’s closest rival is former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. Shriver was flanked at the rally by her cousin Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of former President John F. Kennedy and television talk-show star Oprah Winfrey. Caroline Kennedy and Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, the brother of the slain president, have also backed Obama.

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December 14, 2007

State budget deficit now $14 Billion, Governor plans across the board cuts

Just four months ago in August, Governor Schwarzenegger submitted what he called a “balanced budget” to the State Legislature. Apparently his projections were pretty far off, as State finance officials have now determined that the state is facing a $14 billion deficit over the next 18 months, even more than the $9.8 billion projected by Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill. As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

Faced with what his staff now estimates as a $14 billion budget hole, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has decided to seek across-the-board cuts to state operations. The administration last month asked departments to prepare hypothetical budgets based on 10 percent reductions for the fiscal year beginning July 1 in case such a move was sought. But now, as the fiscal outlook has worsened, the Republican governor has decided to go forward, according to advocates for social services and local government the governor has summoned in recent days for budget discussions. “Our goal is to be able to spread this as equitably as possible,” said Department of Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer, who would not say what percentage cut the governor will seek or whether it would apply to current year spending.

Schwarzenegger is planning to ask the Legislature for a 10 percent across-the-board reduction in state spending next year, according to sources who have met with the governor this month. The 10 percent figure is a target for all departments, intended to impact every sector of state government equally, the governor told social service advocates this week. Schwarzenegger remained resistant to new tax increases, however, insisting that not enough support exists among legislators and voters.

Filed under California Government, California Politics, Governor Schwarzenegger by

November 27, 2007

LAPD scraps plans for a “Muslim map”

The Los Angeles Police department has scrapped a plan to map the city’s Muslim population – a project they said was necessary to identify potential hotbeds of extremism. The mapping project set off howls of protest from Muslim groups and civil libertarians who called it “religious profiling”. Others noted that it would be almost impossible to create such a map, since the Muslim community is spread out and integrated through the area, and census data is forbidden by law from recording religious affiliation. In a statement, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said that “while I believe the department’s efforts to reach out to the Muslim communities were well intentioned, the mapping proposal has created a level of fear and apprehension that made it counterproductive.” LAPD officials stressed for that the mapping program was not a form of profiling or targeting but rather a way to better understand the Muslim community. They have subsequently been reaching out to Muslim activists, some of whom who said they would welcome greater involvement by the LAPD in their communities.

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November 8, 2007

California Chamber finally gets called on it’s “Job Killer” label

The Sacramento Bee has reported how the California Chamber of Commerce has used the “job killer” label they coined to kill any legislation they don’t like, and how the label virtually ensures a Schwarzenegger veto. The Chamber broke a tradition of non-partisanship dating back more than 100 years when it endorsed Schwarzenegger in the 2003 recall election, and has been a reliably Republican institution ever since. The article also describes how this slogan has been used to advance the career of Allan Zaremberg, who has now hung out as Chamber President for more than a decade. It is good that the media finally reporting on this, as the Schwarzenegger administration has been in virtual lock step with the California Chamber and has never understood that being “pro-corporation” and being “pro-business” are vastly different things. What this simplistic bumper sticker slogan had really killed is serious debate on business development in California.

Today, calling a bill a “job killer” is the kiss of death for legislation the chamber deems unfriendly. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed all but three of the chamber’s 41 job-killer bills on his watch. The chamber’s job-killer list, a compendium of a dozen or so Democratic bills that would rein in businesses, has become the unofficial score card that industry and trade groups use to measure their success in beating back unfriendly legislation. The chamber issues laudatory press releases – “From day one in office, Gov. Schwarzenegger has demonstrated his commitment to protecting California’s economy and encouraging job creation,” reads one dated Oct. 12 – and the governor takes a bow. “Since I took office, California’s business climate has dramatically improved,” the Republican governor said after vetoing all 12 of this year’s job-killer bills.

But critics charge the chamber simplistically tags as job killers all legislation that would improve environmental protections and consumer protection, including tort reform, insurance reform and landlord/tenant law. “I think it’s part of the whole movement by the free marketeers, extreme right-wing of the (Republican) party that has identified this as an effective phrase,” said former Democratic Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson. “Unfortunately, it resonates with people in way that takes the focus off the real legislation.”

Filed under Business Associations, California Politics, Opinion by

October 16, 2007

Progressive Economic Think Tank To Launch in Los Angeles

The founding conference for the Horizon Institute, a new progressive economic think tank, will take place tomorrow in Los Angeles. Featured speakers at the event include Jared Bernstein (Economic Policy Institute), John Podesta (Center for American Progress), Maria Elena Durazo (Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO), Professor Manuel Pastor (USC), Harold Meyerson (Washington Post, The American Prospect), Madeline Janis (L.A. Alliance for a New Economy), Professor Peter Dreier (Occidental College), Joan Ling (Community Corporation of Santa Monica), John Canham-Clyne (Change to Win) and Rev. William Smart (L.A. Alliance for a New Economy). The founding conference is open to the public and will take place Tuesday October 16, 2007 at the Cathedral Conference Center in Los Angeles.

Filed under California Politics, Economic Development by

October 8, 2007

L.A. Times expose on Nuñez junkets

The Los Angeles Times has written an expose about the luxury junkets being taken by Speaker of the California Assembly, Fabian Nuñez. Entitled “Nuñez travels the world like a high roller” the article describes how the Speaker has “traveled the world in luxury, paying with campaign funds for visits to some of the finest hotels and restaurants and for purchases at high-end retailers such as Louis Vuitton in Paris.”

In a sad and familiar refrain, the Times also reports that “it is not clear how these activities have related to legislative business, as state law requires, because the Los Angeles Democrat refuses to provide details on tens of thousands of dollars in such expenditures.”

Haven’t we been here before? California’s politicians seem to be far better at taking these junkets then they are at making quality policies- especially as it relates to international business and trade. We have harshly criticized Governor Schwarzenegger for the “undisclosed donors” he uses fund his international trips, and it is disconcerting to learn that this kind of corruption has apparently also spread to the Legislature. Read the whole sorry story at this link: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-nunez5oct05,1,1069266.story?page=1&cset=true&ctrack=1&coll=la-headlines-california

Filed under California Legislature, California Politics, Opinion by

September 28, 2007

California opposition growing to Blackwater military base

The recent shooting deaths of Iraqi civilians by Blackwater USA contractors has helped galvanize the opposition to their plans to build a private military base in California. In the most recent incident, Blackwater employees shot into a group of cars in a Baghdad square, killing at least 11 Iraqis and wounding 12. The Blackwater employees said they were ambushed but witnesses have described the shooting as unprovoked murder. “This is a nightmare,” a senior U.S. military official told the Washington Post. “We had guys who saw the aftermath, and it was very bad. This is going to hurt us badly. It may be worse than Abu Ghraib”. Iraq’s Interior Ministry concluded that Blackwater was at fault and ordered their license revoked causing still another embarrassment and huge headache for the Bush administration, which has relied heavily on private contractors for the occupation of Iraq.

Blackwater describes itself as “a professional military, law enforcement, security, peacekeeping and stability operations firm and has won more than $750 million in U.S. contracts for work in Iraq. It is owned by billionaire named Erik Prince, one of the largest donors to the Republican Party who is said to have links to the religious right and other far right political causes.

North Carolina-based Blackwater now wants to set up a paramilitary training base in the rugged mountains east of San Diego. The base is planned for Potrero, California, a small border town 45 miles east of the City of San Diego. The 24-acre facility is to have rifle and pistol ranges, helicopters and a helipad, armored vehicles and a defensive-driving motor course; and will have as many as 700 people present at any given time. The company typically hires highly trained former military personal such as Navy Seals for its security and paramilitary operations.

Residents of San Diego and Potrero have been organizing and began fighting this facility earlier this year on a number of issues- including environmental, local land control, noise, traffic, the risk of fire danger and basic opposition to the nature of Blackwater USA which many consider to be a mercenary group. It is strongly suspected that Blackwater has selected the San Diego border area in order to secure Federal Government contracts for border security.

Opponents to the expansion of Blackwater USA will stage a major rally and encampment at the gates of the proposed “Blackwater West” site in Potrero on October 6th and 7th. “The public is waking up to the atrocities attributed to Blackwater and to the private mercenary soldier industry now staring us in the face,” said Raymond Lutz, coordinator of Citizens’ Oversight Projects (COPS) and StopBlackwater.net. “The intimidating nature of these mercenary boot camps has kept locals from speaking out but, the tides have changed, when Blackwater USA tried to put in a jungle training camp in the Philippines they has to pull out after fierce public outcry. We can do the same here in San Diego County, we are resisting the further expansion of corporate mercenary armies and unregulated training of U.S. Armed Forces in residential areas.”

Filed under California Politics, Defense and Military, Iraq, U.S. Government by

August 9, 2007

Marijuana Dealers Offer Schwarzenegger One Billion Dollars

A coalition of California marijuana growers and dealers has offered Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger one billion dollars to solve the current state budget crisis, according to a press release issued by the group- which calls itself “Let Us Pay Taxes”. The offer comes at a time when the California legislature is deadlocked on a new budget and California has stopped issuing checks for vitally needed social services. Legislators are currently arguing over which programs will be cut in order to balance the budget.

“It is ridiculous that California can’t pay its bills,” said spokesman Clifford Schaffer. “It is a tragedy that they will cut badly needed services and programs such as medical care for the elderly and prison drug treatment when the money to fund all these programs and more is there and available. Everyone who is currently waiting for a check from the state should be enraged at this foolishness.”

Regulation and taxation of marijuana could produce six billion dollars in additional tax revenue, according to economic studies linked from their web site LetUsPayTaxes.com. In addition, it could save up to ten billion dollars in enforcement costs. “That is a conservative estimate,” said Schaffer. “By other estimates, the revenues could be five times that. The economists are with us all the way on this one. Marijuana prohibition is an economic disaster.”

“Let’s face reality,” Schaffer says. “Marijuana legalization is inevitable. The situation is already beyond control in California. The state and local authorities have offered safe harbor for medical marijuana use and the Federal Government simply doesn’t have the resources for effective control.” More importantly, says Schaffer, the operators of the medical marijuana clubs are no longer afraid of the Federal Government. “If you talk to them, you will find that they know they are going to win this battle.

Filed under California Politics, Legal and Criminal Issues by

June 19, 2007

Ai Caramba! Schwarzenegger says “turn off Spanish TV” – to Hispanic Journalists

It wasn’t so much what the Governor said, it was where he said it:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger told a gathering of Hispanic journalists that immigrants should avoid Spanish-language media if they want to learn English quickly. “You’ve got to turn off the Spanish television set” and avoid Spanish-language television, books and newspapers, the Republican governor said Wednesday night at the annual convention of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.  “You’re just forced to speak English, and that just makes you learn the language faster,” Schwarzenegger said.  “I know this sounds odd and this is the politically incorrect thing to say, and I’m going to get myself in trouble,” he said, noting that he rarely spoke German and was forced to learn English when he emigrated from Austria.Schwarzenegger was responding to a question about how Hispanic students can improve academically. Many journalists for Spanish-language organizations in the audience were surprised by the remarks.

“I’m sitting shaking my head not believing that someone would be so naive and out of it that he would say something like that,” said Alex Nogales, president and chief executive of the National Hispanic Media Coalition.  Hispanic immigrants need Spanish-language media to stay informed and “function in this society,” Nogales said.

While many others praised the Governor’s frankness, it was also noted that he bought advertising on Spanish network during his election campaign.

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California Republican Party hires political director through H-IB Program

If this wasn’t so funny, it would be sad- or if it wasn’t so sad, it would be funny- I’m not sure which.  In any event, I thought America had an over-supply of right-wing political operatives- do we really need to import them?

The California Republican Party has decided no American is qualified to take one of its most crucial positions — state deputy political director — and has hired a Canadian for the job through a coveted H-1B visa, a program favored by Silicon Valley tech firms that is under fire for displacing skilled American workers.  Christopher Matthews, 35, a Canadian citizen, has worked for the state GOP as a campaign consultant since 2004. But he recently was hired as full-time deputy political director, with responsibility for handling campaign operations and information technology for the country’s largest state Republican Party operation, California Republican Party Chairman Ron Nehring confirmed in a telephone interview this week.

In the nation’s most populous state — which has produced a roster of nationally known veteran political consultants — “it’s insulting but also embarrassing … to bring people from the outside who don’t know the difference between Lodi and Lancaster … and who can’t even vote,” said Karen Hanretty, a political commentator and former state GOP party spokeswoman.

U.S. Department of Labor records show the state Republican Party applied for an H-1B visa to fill the job of “political consultant” and was granted a visa labor certification in March 2007. The three-year H-1B visa does not become valid until Oct. 1, 2007, government records show.

Party officials said Matthews has been working in the interim under a “TN” visa — a renewable one-year special visa for Canadian and Mexican professional workers created under the North American Free Trade Agreement.  Matthews was hired by Michael Kamburowski, an Australian citizen who was hired this year as the state GOP’s chief operations officer. But neither new official has experience in managing a political campaign in the nation’s most populous state — and as foreign citizens, neither is eligible to vote.

Kamburowski, a former real estate agent who sold property in the Dominican Republic, is a permanent U.S. resident in the process of obtaining American citizenship and does not require a specialized work visa, state GOP officials said. “There are talented Republicans in California, and the message that (party chair) Ron Nehring is sending is that there’s no talent pool here,” Hanretty said.  The state party and its 58 county operations face several challenges, Hanretty said, including “redistricting on the ballot, uncertain legislative races ahead of us … and a number of Republican congressmen who are under federal investigation and are going to be challenged by Democrats.  “Who will help these candidates?” she asked. “A couple of foreign transplants who don’t know the political landscape and don’t know the history of the complicated politics in California?”

Filed under California Politics, Canada, Immigration by

June 1, 2007

Undisclosed doners finance Schwarenegger’s Canada Trip

The D-Day Blog has weighed in on the Schwarzenegger Canada junket- and if you thought what we wrote was harsh this guy nails it:

This is about the eighth time I’ve seen a report similar to this one that undisclosed donors are financing a Schwarzenegger trade mission… The excuse put forth by the Governor’s spokespeople is always the same: this SAVES taxpayer money because they don’t have to finance these trade missions! Really? What about all the corporate welfare checks that get cut as a result of this access? What about all the watered-down regulations that cost taxpayers, not only with money but with public health and quality of life? What about the state contracts that could go to lower bidders who don’t have the same relationships (read: bribery poke) with the Governor? .. It should frankly be outlawed for a private company with business before the state to finance the Governor’s travel, especially when it’s supposed to be official business. This is government for sale from the guy who was supposed to be such a big reformer because he was richer than dirt. This is also why I’ve been so adamant about the CDP-Chevron donation. Influence peddling in the capital is an epidemic that needs to stop.

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May 16, 2007

L.A. Times coverage of corruption in California Government

“Big Oil Buys Sacramento” it the headline of an editorial in the L.A. Times about the corruption that has gripped both the Schwarzenegger administration and the State Legislature as large Corporations use “non-profits” of their own design to fund junkets, make pay-offs in the form of “campaign contributions” and gain access to our elected leaders that is denied to ordinary citizens:

WHO’S AFRAID of Big Oil? Apparently, California’s elected officials. Gasoline prices are stuck well above last year’s record highs and about 50 cents above the national average. Yet state politicians are not saying or doing a thing, except for raking in political cash from the oil companies and flying around the world on their dime.

Take Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who once claimed that he was so rich he did not need anyone else’s money — and who isn’t running for another office. Yet as gasoline prices were breaking last year’s record of $3.38 a gallon, Schwarzenegger collected a $100,000 check May 1 from Chevron, the West’s largest refiner. The company certainly had the cash on hand. Just three days earlier, it reported a $4.7-billion first-quarter profit, up 18% over the same period last year.

The contribution brought Schwarzenegger’s take from Chevron to $665,000 (making it his 15th largest donor) since 2003, and his total political tribute from the energy industry is now $4 million. According to a recent Schwarzenegger fundraising solicitation, Chevron’s $100,000 buys the company special briefings with the governor, something that beleaguered motorists aren’t getting.

Like power plant owners during California’s 2001 electricity crisis, refiners such as Chevron have discovered that they can make more money by producing less gasoline. So they do. They have, over more than 20 years, deliberately reduced their capacity until they can barely meet California’s needs under the best of circumstances. Industry spokesmen defend this as efficiency. But there is no slack in the production system, which shorts the market and raises prices.

Any planned or unplanned refinery outage, pipeline break or power failure causes prices to jump. Take the case of a possum and a raccoon that, in March, bit through power substation lines feeding two refineries in the South Bay. The critters expired, but the outage caused a 7-cent jump in local wholesale gasoline prices. The cost of refining gasoline is stable over time, so these price spikes equal pure profit for Chevron and Co.

Just as troubling is the access that oil companies have to our elected officeholders that the public doesn’t. Schwarzenegger’s powerful chief of staff, Susan P. Kennedy, and her partner spent a legislative spring break in Rio de Janeiro at the posh Copacabana Palace with Democratic Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez and his wife — on the tab of a foundation largely financed by Chevron and other energy companies. During the 12-day conference, Chevron’s lobbyist got an entire day on the official agenda, which the public knows about only because of our Public Records Act request. Nuñez, who last year was highly critical of oil companies, seems to have nothing to say this year.

The chairs of the state Senate and Assembly energy committees spent spring break in Japan sipping sake and munching sushi with energy and telecommunications executives. The trip was financed by the same foundation, the California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy. On board was an executive with Sound Energy Solutions, a company working with ConocoPhillips to establish a liquefied natural gas, or LNG, terminal at the port of Long Beach. Residents have stalled that particular project, no thanks to a junket itinerary that included a lengthy LNG plant tour.

No matter what underlies the current inaction on gas prices, the governor and legislators should understand that consumers’ rage may not be fleeting. Former Gov. Gray Davis discovered that in the 2003 recall as the energy crisis lingered in memory. Schwarzenegger is more popular, but he is not immune to the anger mounting over every $75 fill-up of the minivan.

Filed under California Government, California Politics, Legal and Criminal Issues by

May 8, 2007

Republicans diss Schwarzenegger on Foreign-born President issue

Exchange at the Republican party debate with Governor Schwarzenegger looking on. All except Giuliani indicated that they would not change the constitution to allow for a Foreign born President. McCain tried to weasel his way out of the question with a lame joke:

Moderator: One of our prized guests here today, Governor Schwarzenegger — looking this man in the eye, answer this question — I’m going to go down the line, starting with Governor Romney. Should we change our Constitution, which we believe is divinely inspired to allow men like Mel Martinez, the chairman of your party, born in Cuba, great patriot, the senator from Florida, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, to stand here some night?

Romney: Never given that a lot of thought, but with Arnold sitting there, I’ll give it some thought, but probably not.

Mike Huckabee: After I’ve served eight years as president, I’d be happy to change the Constitution for Governor Schwarzenegger.

Duncan Hunter: We haven’t seen his endorsement yet, that’s a no.

John McCain: Depends on whether he endorses me or not.

Giuliani: When he called me up to endorse him, he got me on the phone, he said, “Will you endorse me?”, and I was too afraid to say no. I would say yes.

Tom Tancredo: Intimidating as he might be, I’m saying no.

Filed under California Politics, Governor Schwarzenegger, U.S. Politics by

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