CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 30, 2012 |
Three years ago, on Valentine's Day weekend, a 34-year-old financial analyst happened upon a TV documentary series about sex trafficking in the United States. Her friends were sound asleep in the next room, after a long day of snowboarding. Daphne Phung couldn't take her eyes off the screen and didn't sleep a wink that night. Echoing in her ear was the voice of one Ukrainian woman who was brought to the U.S. and forced into prostitution, telling the interviewer she never got justice for what was done to her. Phung began researching the topic with like-minded friends, huddled around the kitchen table in her Fremont apartment.
November 6, 2012 |
The ballot's strangest measure, Proposition 40, coasted to the electorate Tuesday, running without any opposition but still subject to voter confusion. Because Proposition 40 is a referendum, not an initiative, the effect of voting for it may be the opposite of what some voters think. To be clear: A vote for the measure upholds the work of a citizens redistricting commission in drawing lines for California state Senate districts. A vote against it would overturn the commission, with uncertain consequences.
April 15, 2013 |
SACRAMENTO -- Brett Schoenhals thought he was following the law by putting one of California's all-too-familiar warnings in the bar of his Coffee Table restaurant in Eagle Rock. Soon after he posted the sign, “This facility contains chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm,” Schoenhals got a letter from a lawyer saying he was representing an irate patron who wanted to see more warnings. Invoking the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, or Proposition 65, the lawyer threatened a lawsuit.
September 14, 2012 |
The California Democratic Party opposes Proposition 31 , a measure on the Nov. 6 ballot to change the way budgeting is done at the state level while reframing the relationship between Sacramento and local governments. The California Republican Party supports it. No surprise. Democrats run California and have a vested interest in retaining the status quo. In the game of politics, they're winning here. They have mastered the rules. They will resist efforts to change them.
October 23, 2012 |
Opponents of Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed tax increase are doubling down in their latest commercial , offering not one but two whoppers about what Proposition 30 would do. The measure would increase the state sales tax by 0.25 percentage points and raise the income tax by 1 to 3 percentage points on individuals earning more than $250,000 (and couples earning more than $500,000), generating about $6 billion a year. The money would go into a special fund for public schools and community colleges.
August 8, 2012 |
Let's forget, for the moment, whether it's a good idea to require foods that have been genetically engineered to show that on the labeling, as Proposition 37 on the November ballot would do. There's a curious provision in the initiative that's causing more immediate concern. The wording has to do with when foods can be labeled "natural," and though it requires a bit of scrolling back and forth from one provision to another to determine which foods are targeted in which provisions, it wouldn't be utterly crazy to read the wording as saying that processed foods - whether they contain genetically engineered ingredients or not - could not be labeled as natural.
October 30, 2012 |
This post has been corrected, as indicated below. Proposition 35, the ballot initiative that seeks to broaden the definition of human trafficking and impose stiffer penalties on offenders, has accrued a long list of endorsements, from elected officials to law enforcement. However, that list grew a littler shorter last week after SAGE Project, (Standing Against Global Exploitation), a Northern California-based group that works with victims of trafficking, rescinded its endorsement.
November 5, 2012 |
There's been a lot of back-and-forth over the last few days on Proposition 37, the initiative to require labeling of genetically engineered foods. Too bad that almost none of it has had anything to do with whether or not this is a worthy measure. Supporters of 37 raised a stink about the opposition campaign's alleged misuse of a quote from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The campaign had implied, wrongly, that the FDA had said Proposition 37 would lead to "inherently misleading" labeling.
June 1, 2012 |
Cancer research advocates Sherry Lansing and Kristiina Vuori say I've fallen victim to a “red herring” campaign and a “smokescreen” put up by the tobacco companies in their opposition to Proposition 29. That's the initiative on next week's ballot to raise the state tax on cigarettes and devote the money mostly to cancer research. They're referring to my recent column urging a no vote on the measure, because it will divert funds from more immediate state needs, including health and welfare programs for children and the underprivileged.
April 26, 2012 |
No matter how you feel about Meg Whitman, head of Hewlett-Packard, former head of eBay, you'd have to concede that one of her biggest contributions to the California economy was as candidate for California governor. She lavished about $160 million on her failed campaign, and we'd have to guess that most or all of that was spent within the state. It might be hard to get the engine of California's economy revving again, but we do get a good, if short-term, cough out of political campaigns, and the most recent proof of this is the spending on Proposition 29, the initiative that would impose an extra dollar-per-pack tax on cigarettes and use most of the proceeds on medical research for cancer and cardiovascular and lung diseases.