Rants & Raves for the Week of September 27th, 2010
The scandal over Meg Whitman’s undocumented housekeeper raises many, many questions about the candidate’s credibility and fitness for office. So many, we don’t even know where to start. Let's see…Whitman allegedly exploited her housekeeper of nine years, Nicky Diaz, cheating her out of wages and making her perform duties outside the job description, because, like so many other unscrupulous employers, she knew she’d get away with it. Then in 2009, Whitman abruptly fired Nicky, after realizing an undocumented worker on her payroll could be a liability to her political aspirations.
When Nicky came out this week and exposed Whitman’s mistreatment of her, Whitman denied having any knowledge of Nicky’s immigration status prior to when she fired her, and claims she never received any notifications from the government to lead her to believe otherwise. But when that letter from the government regarding Nicky’s legal status surfaced – with Whitman’s husband’s handwriting on it – the Whitman campaign immediately tried to pass the buck, claiming the scandal was a conspiracy engineered Jerry Brown.
This whole sordid episode should make abundantly clear to voters that Whitman is not fit to be Governor of our state – heck, she isn’t fit to hold any public office. Whitman should apologize to Nicky, first and foremost, and then to the press and the public for the mistreatment Nicky suffered and the lies Whitman has been telling to try to cover up her abhorrent behavior.
Governor Schwarzenegger chose to veto a package of the job creation bills which were designed to ensure that state dollars are used to create good jobs in California. The state spends billions of dollars a year on contracts for goods and services and SB 967 (Correa) would require a 5 percent bid preference for companies that hired Californians, rather than taking state money and operating elsewhere. AB 1830 (Jones) focused on the billions that the state will spend on high-speed rail trains, and would help make sure those train cars are built in California. Lastly, AB 2437 (V. Perez) would have created a revolving loan fund for manufacturers that provided good wages and benefits, and the fund would help them secure funds to create jobs at a time when the big banks aren’t lending. Schwarzenegger’s veto of sensible job creation bills is just another in a long list of reasons why we need Jerry Brown to be our next governor.
The Governor also vetoed the “Taxpayers Right to Know” package of bills aimed at corporate accountability and transparency regarding tax breaks. While Schwarzenegger proposes more cuts to education and vital services, the state gives away billions of dollars every year to corporations in the form of tax breaks, which are created a simple majority vote and continue without a spending cap or sunset into the future. Once created, it takes a majority vote to repeal or reduce the tax break, essentially creating a permanent, unlimited hole in the state’s budget. And corporations reap the benefits without having to prove that they meet a single goal or performance measure for the money… because most tax breaks don’t have goals. The corporate accountability package Schwarzenegger vetoed would have required tax breaks to have goals, performance measures and sunsets (SB 1272 – Wolk), set up a public database of corporations that receive tax breaks in order to bring needed sunshine to the process (AB 2666 – Skinner), and bring the billions that the state spends on tax breaks into the budget process (AB 2564 – Swanson).
Jerry Brown swept the floor with Meg Whitman at the first gubernatorial debate on Tuesday at UC Davis. Throughout the course of the debate, Brown was warm, thoughtful, intelligent and even funny at times, while Whitman was cold, scripted and over-rehearsed. Her debate responses were riddled with half-truths, flat-out lies and unsubstantiated attacks on Jerry Brown that have already been refuted numerous times experts and the news media. (We kept track of all of her lies during the course of the debate — View the full fact-check on our Twitter page.) We aren’t the only ones that think Jerry won big. According to a SurveyUSA/CBS poll conducted just after the debate (as reported CBS’ Doug Sovern on Twitter): 53% say they will vote for Brown, 38% for Meg.
Yet another one of Governor Schwarzenegger’s unfair, anti-worker policies has been struck down in court this week. Sacramento Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley ruled that Schwarzenegger's refusal to recognize Lincoln's Birthday and Columbus Day as state paid holidays violated collective bargaining laws, and the effected state workers should be paid whatever holiday compensation is owed to them for time worked on Columbus Day last year or Lincoln's Birthday this year. The ruling is long-overdue, and comes as welcome news for more than 100,000 public sector workers in SEIU 1000 and other unions who were unfairly denied holidays that are stipulated in their union contracts.
California’s workforce—and Governor Schwarzenegger’s veto pen—caught a break with the signing of Assembly Bills 2774 and 1963, two important measures to improve workplace safety in California. AB 2774 (Swanson) addresses a longstanding loophole in statute whereemployers could avoid citations from Cal/OSHA, California’s workplace safety agency. For years, employers, Cal/OSHA and the courts have fought over the definition of what should qualify as a “serious” violation, and the result has been a crippling inability to enforce the law. This new law defines “serious” violations, is the result of months of negotiations between worker and employer representatives, and will make a big difference in keeping California’s workers safe.
AB 1963 (Nava) deals with a certain family of pesticides known to cause nerve damage and cancer in farmworkers. Known as cholinesterase inhibitors, these chemicals are so dangerous that agricultural employers are required to test their workers for early signs of excessive exposure. This new law simply requires that the results of these tests are reported to certain state agencies so that state government officials, while protecting worker privacy, can measure the effectiveness of the monitoring program. Thanks to these two bills, California is a safer place to work and a better place to do business.