Rants &amp; Raves for the Week of August 23rd

Rants & Raves for the Week of August 23rd, 2010


Meg “Wall Street” Whitman’s big-ticket fundraiser with embroiled ex-CEO of Broadcom, Henry Samueli, raised more than a few eyebrows this week, because Whitman and Samueli have more in common than being billionaire CEOs — both were corporate insiders whose companies were involved in questionable insider deals that made millions for executives at the expense of shareholders. Under Samueli’s leadership, Broadcom was involved in the nation’s largest stock backdating scandal after it failed to disclose to investors that the company had reset the dates of company stock grants to executives in order to artificially boost profits. Broadcom’s backdating scheme resulted an SEC investigation, Samueli’s ouster, and a $160.5 million settlement with investors. If we’ve learned anything from the economic meltdown caused Wall Street’s greed, it’s that when corporate insiders get too close to government power, working people pay the price. It’s not hard to imagine the enormous influence corporate types like Samueli would have in a Whitman administration.


California Republican honcho Ron Nehring put out a statement on the 90th anniversary of women's suffrage, touting that his party's ticket honored the women's suffrage movement. Hey Ron, not sure if you've noticed, but Meg and Carly haven’t exactly honored women's right to vote. In fact, they seem to hold some sort of unusual contempt for the act of voting. And the way Ron, you might want to stop referring to the GOP as the party of Lincoln. That ship sailed somewhere between Jesse Helms and Sarah Palin.


An investigative report Laura Mahoney released this week in the BNA’s Daily Tax Report made waves detailing how “Taxpayers with complex tax dispute cases before the California State Board of Equalization were more likely to win their cases if they or their representatives made campaign contributions to the elected board members…” The state Board of Equalization is relatively unknown to most Californians, though it is has the responsibility to collect billions of dollars in sales and use taxes and alcohol, tobacco taxes and fees. The BOE also serves as the “tax court” where taxpayers, both individuals and corporations, can challenge the state on the amount of tax they have to pay and in other tax-related disputes. At the same time, the members of the BOE are on the only elected tax commission in the country. So at the same time that they’re deciding how much individuals and corporations have to pay (or not pay) in taxes, they are also fundraising to get re-elected to the Board (perhaps from the same people before them in tax court.) Maybe it’s time to look into the much over-looked BOE.


Overpriced GOP consultant Mike Murphy — one of the growing army of Whitman political consultants — told reporters that the Whitman campaign is going to start campaigning in Oakland. Great, Mike. I guess when you have unlimited amounts of cash, you can campaign wherever you please (not that it's likely to have a positive impact for your candidate). After spending $104 million, Whitman has basically pulled even with Jerry Brown, who's spent somewhere in the range of $800,000 so far. Just one tip for Murphy and the Whitman camp — if you're going to campaign in Oakland, you might not want to advertise on your office that the place is under 24-hour surveillance. That doesn't exactly put out a welcome mat to the community.



California’s legislature shined a spotlight on shadowy corporate tax breaks this week with passage of the California Labor Federation's corporate accountability tax package. These four landmark bills—AB 2564, AB 2666, SB 1272 and SB 1391—introduce basic reporting requirements and performance measures to future tax breaks for major companies. Also, for the first time, the public will have the right to access information detailing exactly which corporation took how many taxpayer dollars, and if that corporation promised to create jobs but instead created massive layoffs and outsourcing, we get some of that tax break back. (Speaking of massive layoffs, we wonder what Wall Street Whitman and Corporate Carly would think of that…) Next, the bills face an uncertain fate against the Governor’s veto pen.


Yesterday, more than 2,000 nurses, union members and supporters came out for a massive rally in Sacramento yesterday in honor of the 90th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Activists dressed in early 20th century suffrage attire, and carried signs that read, “Women Vote for Women Who Vote,” a reference to the fact that Meg Whitman has barely voted for most of her adult life, and is now out to buy the California governor’s seat. “She is just almost precisely the opposite of the leaders of the suffragist movement,” said Rose Ann Demoro, executive director of the California Nurses Association, which sponsored the event. “We're basically here to call attention to the hypocrisy of her running and to say just because you're female, that doesn't make you a woman.”


The California Assembly took a stand for the thousands of Colombian trade unionists who have been senselessly murdered simply for exercising their right to organize and bargain collectively this week, passing a resolution urging Congress to oppose Bush's free trade agreement with Colombia. A 2008 Human Rights Watch report found rampant high-level collusion between Colombian elected leaders and the paramilitaries who commit the majority of the violence against union workers. Only five percent of the murder cases involving trade unionists result in convictions, and many of those offenders are never actually taken into custody. “Ratifying a trade agreement with a country where union workers, including teachers, are routinely murdered with impunity would send the wrong message to Colombia and workers throughout the world,” said Assemblymember Alberto Torrico, who sponsored the resolution.