Archive for California Ballot Initiatives

An Early Shot of a California Unionist Against Calexit

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UPDATE! Here are the 39 comments submitted to the California Attorney General about the Calexit initiative:

Public Comments to California Attorney General on Calexit Secession Initiative

The average person in California seems to regard the California secession movement (#Calexit) as an amusing novelty or an interesting intellectual argument. But history is unpredictable and often full of surprises.

Who would have guessed at the beginning of 2003 that Governor Gray Davis would actually be recalled before the end of the year and replaced with Arnold Schwarzenegger? Who would have predicted at the beginning of 2015 that Donald Trump would be elected President of the United States in 2016?

It’s best to take disruptive and potentially-destructive ideas seriously and reject them with valid arguments before they gain momentum. I have no idea if anyone has submitted legal arguments against “Calexit: The California Independence Plebiscite of 2019.” On December 20, 2016, I submitted my own argument to California Attorney General Kamala Harris to ask for a court order to relieve her of the legal duty to provide an official title and summary. The text is below.

December 20, 2016

The Honorable Kamala Harris
Attorney General of California
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244

Dear Attorney General Harris:

I urge you to commence a timely and appropriate legal action seeking to be relieved of the duty to prepare a circulating title and summary for Initiative 16-0011, informally titled “Calexit: The California Independence Plebiscite of 2019.” The measure is invalid.

The Calexit proposal is unconstitutional on its face. It is clear that states do not have the legal authority to sever or separate from the federal Union. Circulation of the petition would deceive some people into falsely asserting that secession from the United States is actually permitted under the federal constitution. In addition, submission of an illegal measure to the voters would serve no legitimate purpose, but would be a useless waste of resources and create emotional community divisions.

Nothing in the United States Constitution provides for the secession of a state or states. A previous attempt in the 1860s of several states to acquire federal assets and secede from the United States was not recognized as valid by President Abraham Lincoln and the Congress of the United States. Your office should seek advice from credentialed historians and carefully analyze the documents related to this failed secession movement to determine its constitutionality.

In addition, the Calexit proposal would create emotional divisions, starting with civil unrest as residents of California considered whether to flee the potential rebellion, join it, or undermine it from within using various legal and even illegal means. “Brother Against Brother” is a figurative and sometimes even literal description of the four years of civil war in the United States during the 1860s secession movement. More than 750,000 individuals were killed or died because of this civil war, according to the latest revised estimates, and large swaths of United States territory were devastated. Your office should seek advice from credentialed historians and carefully analyze the emotional divisions caused by credible secession movements.

There is recent precedent for you to be relieved of the duty to prepare a circulating title and summary for an unconstitutional measure. On March 25, 2015, you requested a order from a court to relieve the office of the Attorney General from issuing a title and summary for a proposed initiative (15-008) because it “patently violated the Constitution on its face.” A judge agreed and declared on June 22, 2015 that circulating petitions for signatures would be “inappropriate, waste public resources, generate unnecessary divisions among the public and tend to mislead the electorate.”

You have also acted in other ways to derail unconstitutional actions initiated by the people. On March 26, 2013, you declared in a statement that “I declined to defend Proposition 8 because it violates the Constitution.” This was an initiative that voters had actually enacted in a plebiscite.

Finally, your decision not to circulate this initiative would NOT deprive discontented individuals of their human right to free themselves from the authority of the United States government. Those who consider the United States to have a tyrannical or unjust government can exercise their rights and powers under the United States Constitution to petition for redress of grievances. If still not satisfied, they can also choose to immigrate from the United States to other nations that provide or have the potential to provide the degree of liberty and justice they seek for themselves and their progeny. For other discontented individuals who seek to live under the authority of a tyrannical and unjust government, they can immigrate to other nations with a proven history of exercising such authority.

Please terminate this unconstitutional proposal.


Kevin Dayton

Public Comment Against Circulating Calexit Petitions

Public Comment Against Circulating Calexit Petitions

Automated Attorney General Response to Public Comment Against Circulating Calexit Petitions

Automated Attorney General Response to Public Comment Against Circulating Calexit Petitions

Planning for 2014: Two Recommendations in to California Supporters of Economic Freedom and Fiscal Responsibility

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It’s too early to predict if Californians will elect more supporters of economic freedom and fiscal responsibility to Congress, statewide office, the state legislature, and local offices in 2014. It’s also too early to know if Californians are getting sick of accumulating yet more public debt through state and local ballot measures.

In the meantime, I’m trying to promote grassroots activities that might encourage Californians to do the following:

1. Consider electing government officials with a different philosophy of government than the tax-and-spend model prevalent in much of the state.

2. Better understand and scrutinize bond measures before approving educational districts to borrow money for construction (and other expenses authorized by Proposition 39, such as iPads).

See my December 6, 2013  article California Supporters of Economic and Personal Freedom Can Plan for 2014 by Thinking Locally in

San Joaquin Valley Farmers Funded Their Own Destruction! November 2008 High-Speed Rail Proposition Funded in Part by Committee Supporting March 2000 Water Bond

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I’ve been researching the sources of campaign support for Proposition 1A, the November 2008 statewide ballot measure (“Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century”) that authorized the California High-Speed Rail Authority to borrow up to $10 billion by selling bonds to investors.

Not surprisingly, self-interested construction industry corporations, organizations, and unions comprise all of the top ten donors to the main campaign committee, Californians for High Speed Trains – Yes on Proposition 1A – A Coalition of Taxpayer, Business, Environmental and Labor Groups and People from Across California Tired of Being Stuck In Traffic. (See list below.)

But the #11 donor is mysterious. Something called Californians for a Safe & Reliable High Speed Rail contributed the oddball amount of $53,487.86 to the campaign to pass Proposition 1A.

Here’s the list of the top eleven donors, including in-kind (non-monetary) campaign contributions, to Californians for High Speed Trains – Yes on Proposition 1A – A Coalition of Taxpayer, Business, Environmental and Labor Groups and People from Across California Tired of Being Stuck In Traffic:


California Alliance For Jobs Rebuild California Committee Union-Affiliated Labor-Management Cooperation Committee



International Union of Operating Engineers Construction Union



Operating Engineers Local Union No. 3 (Union & PAC) Construction Union



California State Council of Laborers Issues PAC Construction Union



Professional Engineers in California Government (PECG) Public Employee Union



Parsons Brinckerhoff Americas Inc. Construction Design/Engineering



AECOM Tech Corporation Construction Design/Engineering



International Union of Operating Engineers Local No. 12 Construction Union



Members Voice of the State Building Trades Construction Union



HNTB Corporation Construction Design/Engineering



Californians for a Safe & Reliable High Speed Rail Remnant of $80,800 transferred from “Californians for Clean, Safe, Reliable Water – Yes on Propositions 12/13”


It turns out that Californians for a Safe & Reliable High Speed Rail obtained all of its money from the leftover campaign funds of Californians for Clean Safe Reliable Water – Yes on Propositions 12/13, a committee meant to pass two statewide ballot propositions in the March 2000 election. Over the next five years, it spent some of that money on administrative fees and a few travel expenses for someone. It then terminated after transferring its remaining money to Californians for High Speed Trains – Yes on Proposition 1A – A Coalition of Taxpayer, Business, Environmental and Labor Groups and People from Across California Tired of Being Stuck In Traffic.

Here’s the historical record, in chronological order:

Californians for Clean Safe Reliable Water – Yes on Propositions 12/13 was formed in January 2000 to support two water-related bond measures on the March 2000 ballot: the $2.1 billion (not including interest) Safe Neighborhood Parks, Clean Water, Clean Air, and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2000 (Prop 12) and the $2 billion (not including interest) Safe Drinking Water, Clean Water, Watershed Protection, and Flood Protection Bond Act (Prop 13). Voters approved both statewide ballot propositions.

This campaign committee did not spend all of the money it raised. At the end of 2000 – ten months after Proposition 12 and Proposition 13 appeared on the ballot – Californians for Clean Safe Reliable Water – Yes on Propositions 12/13 still had $86,067.09.

In February 2003, the Californians for Clean, Safe, Reliable Water – Yes on Propositions 12/13 campaign committee was terminated. The leftover $80,800 was transferred to another campaign committee, Californians for a Safe Reliable High Speed Rail.

Californians for a Safe Reliable High Speed Rail appears to have been formed in the first three months of 2003, with the $80,800 contribution recorded as received on February 21, 2003. Initially, the campaign committee was making payments directly to James M. Costa for consulting and travel, as well as a $3,645.95 American Airlines bill and a $607.35 charge from the Fairmont – Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, Canada and also a $1,321.02 charge at the Manhattan Country Club in Manhattan Beach, California. But after 2003, the money trickled away almost exclusively as fees to Olson Hagel & Fishburn LLP, a law firm that specializes in campaign and political law for Democratic Party operations in California and for many construction unions. The treasurer was listed as Charlene Chessum with an address at the Fresno zip code of 93711 and a phone number of (559) 264-3078. This phone number appears to have been related in some way to Jim Costa, and Ms. Chessum held various positions in association with Jim Costa.

In 2008, Californians for a Safe & Reliable High Speed Rail rose from dormancy and dumped its remaining funds through a contribution of $53,487.86 in June 2008 to a new campaign committee called Californians for High Speed Trains – Yes on Proposition 1A – A Coalition of Taxpayer, Business, Environmental and Labor Groups and People from Across California Tired of Being Stuck In Traffic.

Californians for a Safe & Reliable High Speed Rail was then terminated on June 10, 2008 (even though the election date for Proposition 1A wasn’t until November 2008).

The Irony: Campaign Contributions from San Joaquin Valley Farm Interests Ultimately Transferred to the Campaign to Shoot the High-Speed Rail through That Farmland

As you can see from the contributor list to Californians for Clean Safe Reliable Water – Yes on Propositions 12/13, agriculture interests in the San Joaquin Valley were a significant portion of the campaign funding for Proposition 12 and Proposition 13. The Fresno County Farm Bureau and the Kern County Farm Bureau contributed to “Californians for Clean, Safe, Reliable Water – Yes on Propositions 12/13,” along with numerous farms in Fresno, Madera, Kings, and Kern County.

The “Californians for a Safe & Reliable High Speed Rail” money bridge between “Californians for Clean Safe Reliable Water – Yes on Propositions 12/13” and “Californians for High Speed Trains – Yes on Proposition 1A” appears to be the work of Congressman Jim Costadescribed in this July 13, 2012 Wall Street Journal article as “the project’s godfather”. An August 2003 article from the Los Angeles-based publication The Planning Report identified Costa as the “campaign chair” for Californians for Safe, Reliable High-Speed Rail.

San Joaquin Valley farmers who contributed to the campaign to pass the water bonds in March 2000 may want to ask Congressman Jim Costa why some of their money ended up in November 2008 supporting the high-speed rail project now cutting through their farmland.

Riverside Press-Enterprise Publishes My Commentary: Don’t Blame Wal-Mart for Fighting CEQA Abuse

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The Sunday, December 2, 2012 Riverside Press-Enterprise published my opinion piece Don’t Blame Wal-Mart for Fighting CEQA Abuse. It is a response to a Riverside Press Enterprise editorial from November 25, 2012, Big-Box Browbeating, which I felt lacked an important perspective: labor unions and other groups routinely exploit the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to suppress potential competition or to coerce labor agreements or other payoffs from developers (a practice known as “greenmail”).

On October 30, 2012, a California appeals court ruled in Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance v. Superior Court of Tuolumne County (Wal-Mart and the City of Sonora, Real Parties in Interest) that a city cannot bypass CEQA and approve a project if voters qualify a ballot measure to approve the project.

The Sonora Planning Commission and the Sonora City Council didn’t seem to have objections to Wal-Mart in their town. “The legal battle slowing down Wal-Mart’s expansion frustrates Sonora Mayor Hank Russell,” according to an article in the November 19, 2012 Bay Citizen (Ruling Is Win for Environmental Law, Loss for Wal-Mart):

These people just want to delay a process that should be part of a free market economy. I don’t think it’s the city’s role to decide who can compete.

The League of California Cities and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association’s foundation submitted amicus briefs on behalf of the City of Sonora, which had won approval to bypass CEQA in Tuoloumne County Superior Court.

Meanwhile, the true identity of Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance does not appear to be public. Another mysterious group called CREED-21 (Citizens for Responsible Equitable Environmental Development) submitted an amicus brief on behalf of the Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance.

A variety of anonymous organizations purporting to represent local citizens challenge proposed Wal-Mart superstores (Wal-Marts that sell groceries) using CEQA. Some of these groups are reportedly fronts for the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, which represents grocery store workers in the older, “legacy” grocery stores in California such as Safeway, Raley’s, Vons, Albertsons, Ralphs, Save Mart, and Stater Bros.

A November 21, 2011 California Watch article (Wal-Mart Ramps Up Ballot Threats to Speed New Stores) reported on the Wal-Mart ballot measure strategy and claimed it “raises questions about whether California’s communities – dogged by economic woes – can afford an aggressive use of the state’s system of direct democracy.”

I guess it would not be “progressive” to ask whether California’s communities – dogged by economic woes – can afford an aggressive misuse of the state’s environmental laws by unions and other leftist organizations that philosophically object to so-called “big box stores.” Has Wal-Mart ever considered releasing a list of the phony front groups and the names of the law firms that object to the Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs) and file CEQA lawsuits?

The law firm representing Tuolumne Jobs & Small Business Alliance is Herum Crabtree, based in Stockton. A web search indicates this firm has also used CEQA to challenge proposed Wal-Marts in the Northern California and Central California cities of Elk Grove, Lodi, Ceres, Tracy, American Canyon, Bakersfield, and Anderson.

Citizens for Responsible Equitable Environmental Development (CREED-21) is represented by the Briggs Law Corporation. A web search indicates this firm has used CEQA to challenge proposed Wal-Marts in the Southern California cities of Tehachapi, Apple Valley, Lake Forest, Victorville, Ontario, San Bernardino, Hesperia, Menifee, Gelndora, Barstow, Rialto, Murrieta, and Vista.

These are not the only law firms prominent in using CEQA to stop Wal-Mart.

A lawyer based in Davis named William D. Kopper has used CEQA to hinder the construction of Wal-Mart superstores. A web search indicates this firm has used CEQA to challenge proposed Wal-Marts in the Northern California cities of Redding, Red Bluff, Oroville, Linda, Yuba City, Galt, Stockton, Ukiah, Santa Rosa, and Gilroy. Kopper also exploits CEQA on behalf of construction trade unions seeking Project Labor Agreements from developers proposing private residential and commercial projects in Northern California.

The law firm of M.R. Wolfe & Associates, based in San Francisco, has used CEQA to challenge Wal-Mart projects. A web search indicates this firm has used CEQA to challenge proposed Wal-Marts in the Northern California and Central California cities of Antioch, Fremont, Hayward, Suisun City, Madera, Porterville, Visalia, Delano, Atascadero, and Rohnert Park.

Mark Wolfe used to work at the law firm of Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo, the CEQA lawyers of choice for California Unions for Reliable Energy (CURE) and individual construction trade unions. I did not find any evidence through a web search that Adams Broadwell Joseph & Cardozo has ever worked for a client who objected to a Wal-Mart on CEQA grounds.

California’s 2010 Law Changing the Crime Classification for Petty Marijuana Possession Reduced Workload for District Attorneys and Courts

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Thanksgiving dinner at the Dayton household featured relatives and friends from San Francisco and Berkeley who are active in leftist causes and jubilant about the election results. Meanwhile, I was bemoaning the lack of present and future market demand in California for policy analysts and political consultants who advocate for minimalist government.

From their perspective, there was a solution: work with a campaign to convince a majority of California voters to legalize marijuana, as voters did in Colorado and Washington in the November 6 election.

Factions on both the Left and Right could agree that this step would give Californians more personal freedom from intrusive government and reduce the costs of law enforcement, courts, and prison, thus saving money for taxpayers and allowing the government to focus limited resources on more serious threats to an orderly, functioning society. The product could also be taxed as a source of revenue. In addition, such a campaign might introduce concepts of economic and personal freedom to California citizens who don’t often respond to the typical message and delivery from the Right. See the November 14, 2012 Cato Institute article A Time for Choosing: The GOP and the Marijuana Initiatives for this kind of thinking.

I was reminded of the Thanksgiving dinner advice when I saw tweets this morning from Scott Lewis, a reporter for the Voice of San Diego web news site. He wrote that the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) reported 6,783 misdemeanor marijuana arrests in San Diego County in 2010, but only 703 in 2011. That’s a 90% drop in arrests. (The San Diego Union-Tribune has now reported this in the November 28, 2012 article Marijuana Arrests Plummet 90% Countywide.)

I immediately knew the reason for the drop, but people in San Diego replied with tweets asking if this was because of lack of enforcement, a drop in use, or the presence of medical marijuana dispensaries. All of these guesses were wrong but understandable, because Californians have dramatically inaccurate perceptions about the state’s marijuana laws.

As the reporter subsequently confirmed with another tweet, it’s because of an obscure change in state law in 2010, explained below. I tweeted a question on whether or not anyone had compiled the statewide statistics on misdemeanor marijuana arrests and/or estimated the savings for county district attorneys and the judicial branch. I’m looking forward to an answer.

Petty Marijuana Possession in California Ceased to Be a Felony in 1975, and It Ceased to Be a Misdemeanor in 2010

June 26, 2001 analysis of Senate Bill 791 for the Assembly Committee on Public Safety corrected a common misperception among Californians that hundreds of thousands of people are in prison because they were caught with a small amount of marijuana:

…possession of less than one ounce of marijuana was essentially decriminalized in 1975 with the passage of the Moscone Act. Up until that time, possession of any amount of marijuana was a felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison. In 1974, felony marijuana arrests peaked at nearly 100,000 (99,597), representing about one-fourth (24.75 percent) of the felony arrests in the state and over two-thirds (69.21 percent) of the state’s felony drug arrests.

Even though possession of one ounce (28.5 grams) or less of marijuana was no longer an offense for jail or prison (outside of some exceptions that continue today), the violation remained a misdemeanor to be addressed in trial courts. It was claimed that the misdemeanor classification was costly and absurd, because “there exists no disincentive for the accused to drain the resources of the state and the courts with a lengthy trial” that would simply result in a $100 fine if a judge or jury found the defendant to be guilty.

Few Californians know that in the waning days of his administration, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 1449, introduced by State Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), which changed the classification of crime for possessing one ounce (28.5 grams) or less of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil infraction that simply triggers a $100 fine. (To put this amount in perspective, California drivers are fined between $400 and $500 when photographed running a red light.)

At that time, California voters were about to decide on a statewide marijuana legalization ballot measure, Proposition 19, called the “Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010.” Opponents of Proposition 19 thought Senate Bill 1449 could blunt voter support for Proposition 19. It did lose in the end, 53.5% to 46.5%.

Theories abound as to why a majority of voters rejected Proposition 19, with one being that some voters thought Senate Bill 1449 was acceptable but full-fledged legalization was too extreme. Another reasonable guess is that some voters agreed with the arguments of business groups and news organizations that Proposition 19 was poorly written and would undermine company drug policies, and it would even give people flexibility to drive under the influence of marijuana. (My former employer, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of California, opposed Proposition 19 because it did not want construction workers on dangerous job sites to use Proposition 19 as a basis to evade company drug policies.)

Converting Petty Marijuana Possession from a Misdemeanor to an Infraction

Senate Bill 1449 was promoted as a way for the State of California to reduce the expenditures of the judicial branch by eliminating the involvement of trial courts in petty marijuana possession cases. The bill analysis for SB 1449 noted that “the number of misdemeanor marijuana possession arrests have surged in recent years, reaching 61,388 in 2008.”

According to an April 21, 2010 analysis of Senate Bill 1449 for the Senate Rules Committee and a June 22, 2010 analysis of Senate Bill 1449 for the Assembly Committee on Public Safety, supporters of the bill included the American Civil Liberties Union, the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, the California District Attorneys Association, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws – California, the District Attorney of San Diego, the Drug Policy Alliance, the Friends Committee on Legislation of California, and most significantly, the Judicial Council of California. Opponents listed in the April 21 analysis were the California Narcotics Officers Association, the California Peace Officers Association, and the California Police Chiefs Association. No opponents of SB 1449 were listed in the June 22 analysis.

A handful of Democrats voted against Senate Bill 1449. Two Republicans voted for it: Assemblyman Anthony Adams, who was not running again after supporting a budget deal in 2009 that raised taxes, and Assemblyman Chris Norby, a former Orange County supervisor whose voting record reflected a libertarian philosophy.

After being the lone champion in the state legislature of proposals unpopular with the Establishment – such as eliminating redevelopment agencies – Norby was defeated for re-election in November 2012 by a Democrat supported by every organization in Sacramento that feeds off the government. In Norby’s farewell statement issued today (November 28, 2012) and published on the OC Politics Blog as Verbatim: Chris Norby’s Goodbye, he wrote the following about his work on marijuana laws:

As for marijuana, I was happy to provide bipartisan support to legalize the growing of industrial hemp, and for more rational laws in dealing with its recreational use. The War on Drugs has become a war on people – especially poor people. It costs billions in incarceration and in broken lives of those whose only crime was ingesting a substance into their own bodies. Is this a criminal issue or health issue? Consensual, non-violent adult activity should not be subject to our costly criminal justice system or militarize our relations with other countries.

Republican leaders love to blast the over-intrusive “nanny state,” yet for cultural reasons most shy away from advocating common sense drug laws. Some have not shied away: influential columnists William F. Buckley and George Will, Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), Rep. and Sen.-elect Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), and former Secretary of State George Shultz. Where are the Democrats? The current presidential administration has raided more medical marijuana dispensaries than its Republican predecessor.

Another Republican who supported the change in petty marijuana possession from misdemeanor to infraction was former Santa Cruz State Senator Bruce McPherson, who introduced essentially the same bill as Senate Bill 791 in 2001. According to a June 26, 2001 analysis of Senate Bill 791 for the Assembly Committee on Public Safety, that bill was supported by the California Council of Police and Sheriffs, the Judicial Council of California, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, and National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Opponents listed in the analysis were the California Narcotics Officers’ Association, the California Peace Officers’ Association, and the California Police Chiefs’ Association – the same three groups that opposed SB 1449 nine years later.

Also opposing SB 791 was the “Committee on Moral Concerns,” a group active in the 1990s against medical marijuana but now appears to be defunct. This group argued that “It sends the message that marijuana use carries little or no legal risk and, therefore, is nearly acceptable. Strengthening the law, instead of weakening it, would save the lives of thousands.”

The bill passed the Senate 23-13 but was defeated in the Assembly 44-14. Only one Republican voted for it: Senator Tom McClintock, who now represents California’s 4th Congressional District.

Senator McPherson was subsequently appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger as California Secretary of State in 2005 after the Democrat incumbent resigned in disgrace. He lost to Democrat Debra Bowen when he ran for a full term in 2006. He quit the Republican Party in June 2012 when he was running for Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors. It appears he barely won (with 50.33%) against a Democrat in the November 6, 2012 election.

Will the California Republican Party Ever Lean Toward Marijuana Legalization? If So, Would Californians Be More Willing to Give Republicans a Chance to Govern?

Of the four Republican legislators who voted to reduce the penalty for petty marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction, one was repudiated for supporting a tax increase, another was appointed to a statewide office, lost the election, and then quit the Republican Party to run for county supervisor, and a third was rejected by voters in favor of a Democrat. Not an impressive track record. Only Tom McClintock is still holding an office, but note McClintock was unsuccessful as a replacement candidate for Governor in the 2003 recall election.

And Governor Schwarzenegger – the Republican who signed the bill – certainly didn’t leave office popular with Republican Party leaders and activists, not to mention Californians at large. (Wait until the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 – Assembly Bill 32 – really begins kicking in!)

Among the groups taking a position on reducing the penalty for petty marijuana possession from a misdemeanor to an infraction, the district attorneys would seem to be the group most palatable to Republican voters. The district attorneys’ support for Senate Bill 1149 (2010) and Senate Bill 791 (2001) was based on pragmatic, fiscal concerns. Even then, few Republicans were in favor of the change. This is a case in which moral connotations and implications seem to have primacy over saving money for taxpayers.

Some people on both the Left and the Right feel that government should serve as an authoritative or guiding force for public morality. Others on both the Left and the Right fear government when it serves as an authoritative or guiding force for public morality. That debate will continue in the realms of intellectual ideas, such as constitutional law, philosophy, and theology.

Meanwhile, we can now measure the short-term fiscal impact of weaker drug laws on government expenditures and see how the government is redistributing limited resources to reduce violent crime and protect property. It looks like Senate Bill 1449 greatly reduced law enforcement and judicial activity for one kind of crime. The states of Colorado and Washington are now serving as pilot programs to see the effect of outright legalization. For California leaders who believe that minimalist government is the best approach, the next year will bring some interesting new insights.

Happy Holidays: News Coverage of California Labor Issues on Labor Day 2012

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It seems to me that Labor Day news coverage focusing on labor union issues in California was much less in 2012 than in past years. I have a big file of Labor Day press clips from when unions were flying high during the years of Governor Gray Davis (1999-2003), but this year’s news coverage is fairly sparse.

Here’s various Labor Day 2012 news stories, opinion pieces, and press releases about labor unions and labor policy issues in California:

Los Angeles Daily News article (On Labor Day, Trying Times for Organized Labor – Los Angeles Daily News – September 2, 2012) reports that unions are on the defensive in politics, in commerce, and in collective bargaining for government employees.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported on the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council‘s annual Labor Day picnic in Santa Cruz. Quotes from attendees mainly refer to the legislative accomplishments of unions from 125 years ago. The Vice President of the Labor Council is quoted as saying, “Who had ever heard of a weekend before the unions came along? People assume it’s there and always has been there, and it hasn’t.” See Picnic Draws Union Members to DeLaveaga Park – Santa Cruz Sentinel – September 3, 2012.

As reported in the Sacramento Bee, unions provided food for the homeless on Labor Day and received some positive press coverage: Unions Supply Volunteers for Labor Day Lunch at Loaves & Fishes – Sacramento Bee – September 3, 2012. Many of the 75 comments about the article cynically accuse the unions of a public relations stunt.

KQED in San Francisco posted a blog providing a brief history of union power in San Francisco in the early 1900s. Labor Day Special: The San Francisco Waterfront Strike of 1901 – KQED – August 31, 2012.

Los Angeles Times pro-union columnist Michael Hiltzik provided a positive union perspective through a report on the rigors of apprenticeship training for the Ironworkers Union Local No. 416 and Ironworkers Union Local 433 in Southern California. (Ironworkers Union Gives Skills to Members, Public Safety to All – Los Angeles Times – September 2, 2012.) This column relies on the old image of labor unions: a brotherhood of men centered around tough, dangerous work in the construction trades. It also acknowledges some of the shortcomings of unions, including the result of the Ironworkers union having a monopoly on state-approved apprenticeship training for the trade:

Getting into the ironworkers apprenticeship program isn’t a snap. It may help to have a relative, or even a well-wishing neighbor or family friend, in the Ironworkers, but that’s not a prerequisite, nor is it enough. Applicants, who have to be at least 18 with a high school diploma or equivalent, must line up a construction contractor willing to sponsor them with at least six weeks of employment before they can start. That explains why, with the local construction market still soft and the building trades still suffering from about 40% unemployment, there’s a waiting list of about 5,000 applicants looking for sponsors right now.

So there’s a waiting list of 5000 people for how many spots? And nepotism is still important to get in? This is an example of how apprenticeship programs can be used to control who and how many people enter the construction workforce.

Meanwhile, Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters took a more relevant and contemporary view on the influence of labor unions in California. Here are excerpts from California Unions Hold Power but Face Peril – Sacramento Bee – September 3, 2012:

Anyone who was paying attention to the California Legislature during the hectic final days of the 2012 session last week could see the political clout of the state’s labor unions.

Countless union-backed bills whipped through the Capitol and onto Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. Although union lobbyists lost a few battles, they could count many more victories.

With the Legislature’s Democratic majority utterly beholden to unions for political sustenance and with a governor, Jerry Brown, whose 2010 campaign relied on union financing, unions and their 2.4 million members are at the apogee of political influence.

Finally, a writer for the leftist San Diego Free Press asks this ridiculous question on September 3, 2012: Is This California’s Last Labor Day? This article focuses on Proposition 32, a statewide measure described on the November 6, 2012 ballot as follows: “Prohibits unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. Applies same use prohibition to payroll deductions, if any, by corporations or government contractors. Prohibits union and corporate contributions to candidates and their committees. Prohibits government contractor contributions to elected officers or their committees.”

This doesn’t seem unreasonable, but recognize that labor unions, big corporations, and government contractors are all in cahoots in California to perpetuate Big Government, at the expense of individuals and small businesses. Proposition 32 would stop some of that special interest money funding state and local political campaigns, while unions and their cronies in business are determined to keep the status quo by convincing a majority of voters to reject it.

In 2012, Election Day is more important to California unions than Labor Day. Perhaps that’s why there was little news coverage.

A Convenient Compilation of My Six Recent Campaign Finance Investigative Reports, in One PDF Document for Easy Review and Circulation

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Someone asked me on Monday if Labor Issues Solutions, LLC could compile the Dayton Public Policy Institute’s recent blog posts about campaign finance into one PDF document for easier review and distribution, since no one else is researching and reporting on such matters. Here is a copy of the document, entitled “There’s Nothing Wrong with Letting the People of California Know How Unions Collect Money and Spend It on State and Local Politics.”

Six Recent California Campaign Finance Investigative Reports

Here are the titles of the six investigative reports, with links to five of the original blog posts and the link to the original article in about the radio advertising campaign of Californians Against Identity Theft and Ballot Fraud, supported by labor organizations.

1. Who Defeated the City of Auburn’s Proposed Charter, and How Was It Done? (Answer: Three Union Entities, by Spending $56.40 Per NO Vote). Link to June 11, 2012 Blog Post

2. How Has the No on Proposition A Campaign in the City of San Diego Shelled Out Its Money? An Analysis. Link to June 3, 2012 Blog Post

3. California’s Top Construction Union Boss Opens the Slush Fund Hydrant: $1.14 Million Full-Blast Against San Diego’s Proposition A Voter Initiative. Link to May 29, 2012 Blog Post

4. Where the California Construction Industry Labor-Management Cooperative Trust Spends Its Money: Now We See How Unions Spread It. Link to May 31, 2012 Blog Post

5. Investigative Report: Unions Spent $522,500 in Summer 2011 Radio Campaign to Discourage Californians from Exercising Their Right to Petition the Government. Featured Column for May 16, 2012 in Also, see Kevin Dayton’s full set of FlashReport columns here.

6. Why Have Construction Unions Funded 92 Percent of the Campaign of Placer County Supervisor Candidate Pam Tobin? Link to May 25, 2012 Blog Post

Regrettably, I have not yet analyzed the reports for what was expected to be a close race for the District 2 seat on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors between Candace Andersen and Tomi Van De Brooke. It deserves a closer look because of the surprising results of that race on June 5. Andersen blew union-backed Van De Brooke out of the water – Andersen won 60% while Van De Brooke only received only 28% of the vote. See Stunning Vote Gap in Contra Costa Supervisor Race Traced to Multiple Factors – column by Lisa Vorderbrueggen – Contra Costa Times – June 9, 2012.

In the meantime, why is no one else besides the Dayton Public Policy Institute producing this kind of investigative report on campaign finance? Here are my guesses:

  • It takes years of experience to master this kind of arcane research.
  • This kind of research is time-consuming and detailed – overworked, underpaid journalists don’t have the time to do it themselves.
  • People don’t want to pay for this kind of research, because they don’t see how it translates into profit, market advantage, or other “value propositions.”
  • This kind of reporting is too analytical and “boring” to ordinary people and doesn’t attract readers, listeners, or viewers, and therefore it is not generally useful for the media.
  • Business groups, trade associations, 501(c)(3) policy institutes, foundations, and other corporate entities are doing the same thing and don’t want to be subjected to scrutiny themselves in retaliation.
  • Non-profits that focus on campaign finance are usually on the Left of the political spectrum and aren’t inclined to report on union campaign spending, since they regard unions as the voice of the ordinary worker.
  • By the time anyone can adequately analyze spending in a campaign, the campaign is over, the voters have spoken, and the world has moved on to follow the latest hot trend.

Personally, I think this situation is a shame. It reflects some of the fundamental governance problems we have in this state.

Please contact me if you would like to fund this type of investigative work. For now, I’ve been doing it simply based on personal interest and as a strategy to develop credibility as a researcher and reporter on public policies and politics. Yes, I am seeking contracts just like any other small business owner.

Exclusive: Local Government Election Results in California Highly Relevant to Labor Issues

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California’s primary election night was overshadowed by the support from Wisconsin voters for state elected officials who implemented a modest reform of collective bargaining for public employees. But here is an exclusive report on how the June 5, 2012 election also brought good results for advocates of fiscal responsibility and economic and personal freedom in California.

Some might say that voters are being hoodwinked by FOX News, conservative talk radio, and the Dayton Public Policy Institute. To me, it’s clear that a majority of Californians do not see tax increases, more government spending, and expanded government programs as the solution to the state’s economic struggles.


Similar to what’s taking place in numerous states throughout the country, voters in the San Diego region are actively responding to a challenging economy by calling for smaller and more efficient government. I will elaborate in a future post about the ten years of behind-the-scenes tedious work that led to this development in San Diego County, but for now I’ll outline the good news.

I’ve already posted on the easy 58% victory in the City of San Diego for Proposition A, which enacts a Fair and Open Competition ordinance prohibiting the city from requiring construction contractors to sign a Project Labor Agreement to work on taxpayer-funded construction. I also reported already on the 57% victory in the City of El Cajon for Proposition D, a new charter that includes a Fair and Open Competition provision and also gives the city authority to establish its own government-mandated construction wage rates (prevailing wages) for city projects. (Boy, unions hate it when local governments take power away from the state!)

There will be a heated campaign up to November 5 for San Diego Mayor. Advocate of economic freedom (and San Diego City Councilman) Carl DeMaio will face leftist Congressman Bob Filner. This election will feature a passionate debate over the benefits of capitalism versus socialism! If DeMaio is elected as Mayor, there will be a dramatic change in political culture in the City of San Diego. I will write more about DeMaio in a future post.

(See Filner’s letter here telling the Chula Vista Chamber of Commerce to oppose Proposition G in part because it would be a “fool’s errand” to seek federal funding for the city if Proposition G passed. It did pass, and somehow the federal money continues to be piped in, as shown by evidence of continued federal grants to the city’s Capital Improvement Program here.)

Also, Councilman DeMaio’s Proposition B to reform public employee pensions in the City of San Diego won with 66% of the vote. And this was not the only successful urban public employee pension reform measure to win voter approval in California on June 5: Mayor Chuck Reed’s Measure B to reform public employee pensions in the City of San Jose (a much more liberal city than San Diego) passed with 70% of the vote. Apparently Californians are a lot like people in Wisconsin: they understand that future economic growth and job creation cannot be anchored on excessive government payouts obtained by public employee unions through politically-manipulated collective bargaining.

Also in the City of San Diego, Scott Sherman won a city council seat. He supports economic freedom and fiscal responsibility. Ray Ellis – also an advocate of economic freedom – will face Sherri Lightner in November for another city council seat.


Even in much more liberal Northern California, there was good news beyond the win for public employee pension reform in the City of San Jose.

In Placer County, construction unions flushed $30,000 down the toilet in funding 92% of the campaign of Pam Tobin, who challenged incumbent Kirk Uhler for a seat on the Placer County Board of Supervisors but lost, 60% to 40%. I was at the Uhler election night victory party in Granite Bay and was pleased to see the result. See my exclusive investigative report revealing and analyzing the union sources of Tobin’s campaign contributions here.

But Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery won re-election. She voted in 2010 against the currently-in-effect Fair and Open Competition policy banning Project Labor Agreements on county construction projects.

Elsewhere in Placer County, 65% voters in the City of Auburn rejected Measure A, a proposed charter that would have given authority to the city to establish its own policies concerning government-mandated construction wage rates (prevailing wages) on city projects.

In an earlier post I compared the City of Auburn’s charter campaign to the charter campaign of the City of Rancho Palos Verdes (in Los Angeles County) in 2011. In both cases, large and politically sophisticated construction unions used their well-funded labor-management cooperation committees, political action committees, and general budgets to steamroll over a home-grown local grassroots movement.

ADVICE to CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS and CITY STAFF seeking a CHARTER: contact Labor Issues Solutions, LLC for a free consultation and some honest assessments of what it takes to win against aggressive self-interested union opposition. You’re fighting a political machine, as city council members and community activists have recently learned through experience in Rancho Palos Verdes, Auburn, Redding, Paradise, South Lake Tahoe, Folsom, and Elk Grove. You CAN win like Oceanside did in 2010 and El Cajon just did on June 5, 2012 (see below).

There was a gratifying victory in Contra Costa County, where Danville Mayor Candace Andersen won 60% of the vote and easily defeated Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board member Tomi Van De Brooke for the open seat held by the late Supervisor Gayle Uilkema. Van De Brooke only received 28% despite receiving the “benefit” of nasty union-funded mailers about abortion sent to district voters. This is yet another case in which Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) in California made a politician accountable to the voters for supporting costly union-backed policies in order to lock up union campaign support. Regrettably, the Project Labor Agreement imposed by Van De Brooke in December 2011 for community college district construction projects will remain as a legacy of this election.

In Sonoma County, there will be a clash between two ideologically opposite members of the Santa Rosa City Council for an open seat on the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. The candidate for economic freedom, John Sawyer, will face off against pro-union candidate Susan Gorin.

In Solano County, pro-union challenger Skip Thomson defeated Mike Reagan, the one solid advocate for economic freedom on the Solano County Board of Supervisors. Reagan barely held onto the seat against Thomson four years ago. The Project Labor Agreement policy for Solano County construction projects will continue, now without an opposing view on the board.

In Yolo County, incumbent Duane Chamberlain survived a challenge from union-backed Woodland Mayor Art Pimentel for a seat on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors.

Voters rejected Measure J, a $59.5 million school bond measure to modernize a high school in the City of Antioch. That was a whopping target for a Project Labor Agreement, as shown by the construction union funding of the campaign to support Measure J.

Disappointing results were seen in the elections for Sacramento City Council, where candidates backed by business groups lost, as usual. The Sacramento City Council continues to be dominated by politicians lukewarm toward economic growth. I believe this results in part from voter distrust of candidates funded by housing tract developers, and NOT because voters love unions. In fact, I think union connections would be a liability for incumbents if campaigns chose to focus on them aggressively.


Voters in the City of Yreka (near the Oregon border on I-5) voted 720-650 to approve possession of up to six backyard hens (no roosters) in residential areas of the city. As Yreka City Councilman Bryan Foster said to KDRV News Channel 12 (ABC) in Medford, Oregon: “The chicken issue, for me, it centers around private property rights and really, government interference.” Isn’t it refreshing to hear that kind of statement from a California elected official, even when it’s broadcast from an Oregon TV station? See my earlier post on this hotly-contested issue here.

Charts from the Investigative Report on the Summer 2011 Radio Ad Campaign by Union Front Group “Citizens Against Identity Theft”

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Investigative Report: Unions Spent $522,500 in Summer 2011 Radio Campaign to Discourage Californians from Exercising Their Right to Petition the Government


The May 16, 2012 FlashReport on California’s Most Significant Political News featured my article detailing the extensive union radio advertising campaign in the summer of 2011 to scare California voters into declining to sign petitions to place measures on the ballot. This campaign was meant to derail efforts to gather signatures on petitions to place Fair and Open Competition measures on the ballot in San Diego and Sacramento, as well as a pension reform measure in San Diego and a paycheck protection initiative for all of California.

These union radio advertisements failed to stop what is now on the June 2012 ballot in the City of San Diego as Proposition A (Fair and Open Competition + Contracts Online) and Proposition B (Pension Reform). It also failed to stop what is now on the November 2012 statewide ballot as Paycheck Protection.

I scrutinized the raw data from the campaign financial reports and sorted it systematically into user-friendly charts and reports. Because the charts are in a somewhat difficult format to read on the FlashReport web site, below I have posted three charts from the article: a list of professional firms that received work for this campaign, a list of donors, and a list of the 33 radio stations and the amount spent by the unions on each station.



Sadler Strategic Media in Los Angeles collected $406,830.00 for radio airtime and production costs. It paid a total of $376,699.75 to 33 radio stations, leaving it with $30,130.25 – an 8% fee.


Olson Hagel & Fishburn LLP in Sacramento collected $36,228.74 for legal work and accounting.


California Majority Group, LLC (a campaign consulting firm in Sacramento) collected $12,000.00 and subcontracted with Acosta Salazar, LLC (a campaign consulting firm in Sacramento) for $8,000.00.


California Professional Firefighters Ballot Issues Committee donated $4,750.00 for video services.


McClatchy Insurance Agency, Inc. in Sacramento collected $3,349.38 for office space.


American Web Services, Inc. in Sacramento collected $2,860.00 for a web site.


Here are the donors of the $522,500 total given to the “Californians Against Identity Theft and Ballot Fraud, supported by labor organizations.”


Members’ Voice of the State Building Trades


California State Pipe Trades Council


United Food and Commercial Workers Issue Education Fund


California Professional Firefighters


International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 47


International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245


National City Park Apartments No. 1 (I didn’t make this one up: it is a “low to moderate income apartment community” owned by the San Diego County Building Trades Family Housing Corporation: see here.)


San Diego and Imperial Counties Central Labor Council


Southern California Pipe Trades District Council #16


Western States Council of Sheet Metal Workers


California Conference Board Amalgamated Transit Union Issues PAC


International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 569


Painters and Allied Trades District Council #36


Santa Clara & San Benito Counties Building & Construction Trades Council




Californians Against Identity Theft and Ballot Fraud reported payments to 33 radio stations:

Sacramento Media Market


KFBK 1530 AM News/Talk


KSEG 96.9 FM Classic Rock


KNCI 105.1 FM Country


KRXQ 98.5 FM Active Rock


KYMX 96.1 FM Adult Contemporary


KDND 107.9 FM Contemporary Hits


KSTE 650 AM News/Talk


KQJK 93.7 FM Adult Hits


KHTK 1140 AM Sports


KGBY 92.5 FM (then) Adult Contemporary


KNTY101.9 FM Country


KHLX 93.1 FM Classic Hits


Total – Sacramento Media Market

 San Francisco/Northern California Media Market 


KCBS 740 AM News

 Los Angeles Media Market 


KFI 640 AM News/Talk


KNX 1070 AM News


KOST 103.5 FM Adult Contemporary


KABC 790 AM News/Talk


KRTH 101.1 FM Classic Hits


KLOS 95.5 FM Rock


KKGO 105.1 Country


KSWD 100.3 Classic Rock


KFWB 980 AM News/Talk


Total – Los Angeles Media Market

 Riverside-San Bernardino (Inland Empire) Media Market 


KFRG 95.1 FM Country


KOLA 99.9 Classic Hits


Total – Inland Empire Media Market

 San Diego Media Market 


KFMB 100.7 Adult Hits


KOGO 600 AM News/Talk


KYXY 96.5 FM Adult Contemporary


KFMB 760 AM News/Talk


KIFM 98.1 FM Smooth Adult Contemporary


KSON 97.3 FM Country


XEPRS 1090 AM Sports (Tijuana station)


XHPRS 105.7 FM Oldies (Tijuana station)


KPRI 102.1 FM Adult Album Alternative


Total – San Diego Media Market

 Total Spent on California Radio Ads: $376,669.75

My Investigative Report on Unions Spent $522,500 in Summer 2011 Radio Campaign to Discourage Californians from Exercising Their Right to Petition the Government

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Today (May 16, 2012) the FlashReport on California’s Most Significant Political News features my exclusive article outlining the details of the extensive union radio advertising campaign in the summer of 2011 to scare California voters into declining to sign petitions to place measures on the ballot.

Nine months later, California citizens are now able to scrutinize the campaign financial reports for this radio campaign and get donor and expenditure information. Union leaders did not provide this information to the public or to the news media at the time they were running the commercials, of course. Citizens can now see which professional firms assisted with the campaign and how much money the unions paid these firms for services. We can even see how much the unions paid each of the 33 radio stations that ran the commercials.

One of my frustrations about California political news coverage is the lack of research and exposure of the dirty details of old political strategies that created a ruckus when they occurred. Perhaps editors and reporters have done market research and determined that their audience would consider this to be “old news” not worthy of reading. Perhaps they just assume that their audience wouldn’t care and such coverage would not generate public attention and the resulting circulation and advertising revenue. Or perhaps the research is too tedious and technical for busy reporters under constant pressure.

Well, I have no advertisers, and I did not forget about this $522,500 radio advertising campaign, run by a union front group calling itself Citizens Against Identity Theft.

Read my article here: Investigative Report: Unions Spent $522,500 in Summer 2011 Radio Campaign to Discourage Californians from Exercising Their Right to Petition the – May 16, 2012

UPDATE (April 20, 2013): Today I stumbled on an old February 6, 2012 report in the Sacramento Bee that Britton “Jerry” McFetridge had died. I note in my article that McFetridge was one of the officers of Californians Against Identity Theft, but I had been unable to find his current occupation. The article describes his career:

He served under several Democratic members of the Legislature, including current state Treasurer Bill Lockyer. He is credited with mentoring dozens of Democratic staff members and shepherding significant legislation through the process over the years, including the state’s prevailing wage law and the California Occupational Safety and Health Act.

After leaving the Legislature, he became legislative and political director for the State Building and Construction Trades Council.

The article also quotes Senate Secretary Greg Schmidt, described as “a close personal friend” of McFetridge. Schmidt was the official in the legislature who deflected the requests of Associated Builders and Contractors of California under the authority of the Legislative Open Records Act to obtain certain public documents. These documents were related to a secret internal directive to require contractors to employ an “all-union workforce” on the 2005 construction of the Capitol Park Safety and Security Improvement Project. Read the letter: Schmidt Response to California Legislative Open Records Request on “All-Union Workforce” for State Capitol Project – July 25, 2005.