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OPINION
August 22, 2012
Re "Prop. 32: A wolf in sheep's clothing," Column, Aug. 19 The next time Michael Hiltzik writes about how powerless unions are in California compared to corporations, I suggest that he check his paper's front page. In the same edition of The Times that ran Hiltzik's pro-union column, there was a front-page headline, "A Capitol force. " Were Hiltzik to read the article, he would discover that contrary to being powerless, the state of California and its Democratic-majority Legislature are largely controlled by very powerful unelected forces, namely select public employee unions like the California Teachers Assn.
ARTICLES BY DATE
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 27, 2014 | By Jean Merl
On the biggest political stage of the election season in California, the 17 candidates competing to succeed Rep. Henry Waxman struggled to stand out Sunday at a forum that was long on issues and short on time. Some common priorities emerged among those hoping to occupy the seat that Waxman, a Beverly Hills Democrat, is giving up after four decades: traffic woes and public transportation needs, ways to improve public education and a desire to get special-interest money out of politics - espoused even by some with the biggest war chests.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 11, 2013 | By Los Angeles Times Staff
Gov. Jerry Brown's trip to China isn't being paid for by taxpayers. The governor isn't footing the bill either. Instead, the cost is covered by the roughly 90 people traveling with Brown, some of them representing special interests. It's one of several things about the governor's trip that rubs George Skelton the wrong way. "It just looks unseemly - a pack of lobbyists and other favor-seekers paying big bucks to traipse after the governor, schmoozing and gaining invaluable access," he writes in Thursday's column.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
April 6, 2014 | George Skelton, Capitol Journal
SACRAMENTO - The most shameful habit of California legislators arguably is their annual summer shakedown of lobbyists. But it finally may be ending, at least in the Senate. Senate leaders - rocked by the corruption scandals of two fellow Democrats - are hoping to quash the unsavory practice of coercing campaign contributions from special interests while high-stakes bills are pending in the Capitol. Outgoing leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and his designated replacement, Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles)
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 28, 1999
Re Michael Ramirez's Dec. 23 cartoon, "Have a merry Bradley-Gore Christmas": If Ramirez is going to become your right-wing hit artist, would it be possible to get somebody at the paper to, at least, check the facts before his Republican propaganda is published? This cartoon indicated that Al Gore and Bill Bradley have filled the stockings of the special interests and given the taxpayers the bill. The last time I looked, George W. Bush had raised over $67 million from these special interests.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 27, 2013 | By Seema Mehta, Los Angeles Times
Nearly $4 million in independent spending has poured into Los Angeles election campaigns in recent weeks. A Times analysis finds that more than three-quarters comes from groups tied to unions , and that, in addition to efforts on behalf of mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel, a significant amount is being spent on City Council races as unions look to strengthen their influence at City Hall. Greuel's time working for former Mayor Tom Bradley  is the latest in a series of Times' profiles of turning points in the mayoral candidates' lives.
NATIONAL
June 23, 2010 | By Janet Hook, Tribune Washington Bureau
As the Senate scrambles to scale back a $140-billion recession relief bill, the poor, the elderly and the unemployed are bearing the brunt of the squeeze. But NASCAR track developers, movie producers and other special interests are likely to escape unscathed. Those businesses stand to gain $32 billion in tax breaks as part of the bill, which has been stalled for weeks because of rising complaints about deficit spending. In the hunt for ways to cut costs, neither party has proposed curbing the panoply of narrow tax preferences, which Congress has routinely extended each year.
OPINION
May 20, 2001
Re "Cut Pay of Bounty Hunters," editorial, May 15: I long ago tired of the initiative process, which has become, more often than not, a tool for special interests to bypass the Legislature. Consequently, I vote no on all initiatives, excepting those I judge to be compelling. Without infringing the constitutional right of free speech, the electorate, by voting no on frivolous initiatives, will discourage special interests from wasting their money in the future. Joseph B. Blaustein Long Beach Regarding your suggestion that bounty hunters be paid less, I disagree that they should be paid anything.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 5, 2014 | George Skelton, Capitol Journal
You'd think this would be a simple problem to fix: The unfair low limits on pain and suffering awards in California medical malpractice suits. But few things of genuine importance are simple in California's innately pugnacious Capitol. There's greed, ill will, stubbornness, hubris, vindictiveness, indifference ( doesn't affect me ), cowardice - all the human traits that politicians bring to Sacramento from the citizenry they represent. And too often these characteristics aren't tempered with people's counter-attributes of fairness, compromise and common sense.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 4, 2014 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO -- While under investigation for allegedly taking bribes last year, state Sen. Ronald S. Calderon (D-Montebello) openly accepted $6,827 in legal gifts, including concert and fight tickets, expensive meals and travel from special interests, and a golf game from a group that investigators say was part of a criminal conspiracy, records show. The nonprofit group Californians for Diversity, which is controlled by the senator's brother, former Assemblyman Thomas Calderon, spent $265 to provide Sen. Calderon with a game of golf in September 2013, the lawmaker reported in his annual statement of economic interests.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 19, 2013 | By Patrick McGreevy
SACRAMENTO -- Alarmed that elected state officials last year accepted more than $200,000 in gifts, California Common Cause on Thursday proposed to overhaul the laws to reduce the ability of special interests to seek favor by providing expensive meals, lodging and travel. The nonprofit open-government group said in a 15-page analysis that gifts to elected officials last year included $41,000 for hotel and lodging, $30,000 for tickets to concerts and sporting events, and more than $100,000 in free meals.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 7, 2013 | By Anthony York
SACRAMENTO - While much of the country is gearing up for the holidays, political forces in Sacramento are girding for battle. Already, special interests are lined up with plans that could shape next year's general election ballot. They are considering propositions to increase medical malpractice awards, hike tobacco taxes and give local governments the right to scale back public employee pensions, among other ideas. Each of the proposals could spawn campaigns costing tens of millions of dollars.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 6, 2013 | George Skelton, Capitol Journal
SACRAMENTO - In politics, there's sleaze that can send a slimeball to prison. There also is legal bribery. Lots of it. "Campaign contributions provide a fig leaf for legalized bribery," says campaign finance expert Robert Stern, who helped write California's political reform act four decades ago. "Ninety percent of campaign money comes from people who want something from government. And often they get it. Nobody gives campaign money to incumbents who have no real [reelection]
BUSINESS
October 11, 2013 | By Michael Hiltzik
Now that the medical device industry appears to be on the verge of snaking out from under its Obamacare-related tax , another industry lobby has stepped up to the plate with the words, "Us too!" We're talking about the health insurance industry, which has launched a campaign to kill a premium excise tax that will start being collected next year. As with the medical device tax, this is an example of pure special pleading. The Affordable Care Act is shot through with fees and taxes affecting almost all stakeholders in healthcare, largely because conservatives in Congress insisted that the law pay for itself.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 9, 2013 | George Skelton, Capitol Journal
This is the 10th anniversary week of California's first and only recall of a governor. But no one is celebrating. We replaced a career politician, Democrat Gray Davis, with a Hollywood action hero, Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger. Big mistake. It was like calling in an inexperienced repairman who made things worse and cost us a lot. Yes, he championed a couple of sorely needed political reforms - nonpartisan redistricting of congressional and legislative seats and a top-two open primary system.
OPINION
May 23, 2013 | By The Times editorial board
As Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti assembles his new administration, it is interesting, and encouraging, to note the odd confluence of circumstances that will leave him beholden less to factions or special interests and more to the people of Los Angeles. Garcetti may be the most politically progressive mayor Los Angeles has seen in recent history. He has been a friend to organized labor, including the city's public employee unions. But the biggest city unions, the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor and the unions representing Department of Water and Power workers, firefighters and police officers all cast their lots with Controller Wendy Greuel, helping to raise and spend millions of dollars for her campaign and for independent campaigns backing her. Greuel came up short, and they came up short with her. Money sometimes makes the difference, and in fact the independent expenditure groups led by labor were relatively successful at electing many of the candidates on their slate to the City Council.
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