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Tuesday
Aug242010

Unusual fundraising effort on behalf of Jerry Brown by the California Labor Federation....

"Unions micro-target Brown backers" -- From the San Francisco Chronicle:

   Labor unions backing Jerry Brown for governor are looking for new ways of drawing supporters to counter the bottomless checkbook wielded by his Republican rival, Meg Whitman. They're using cutting-edge technology, known as "micro-targeting," to locate as many as 2 million more backers in "nonunion dense" places such as Orange County, Fresno and the Inland Empire - conservative parts of California that Brown likely will struggle to carry.

   The voters being targeted aren't union members or necessarily Democrats - most are independents, along with a few Republicans.

   ***

   The pro-Brown push is being led by the 2.1 million-member California Labor Federation, whose organizers hope to find voters who hold the same "pro-worker" values as union members - particularly their anger over Wall Street excesses that they blame for one of America's worst recessions. Organizers are sifting through 800 data points - from individuals' voting histories to whether they own a motorcycle - that they've compiled on every California voter. In the coming weeks, the program dubbed "Million More Voters" will contact potential backers in person or by mail and telephone.

Tuesday
Aug242010

City Hall news: For the first time in Los Angeles history, a civilian city employee union agrees to share in the cost of their health care insurance.... ***[UPDATED]

* Reversing course from an action taken earlier this month, three bargaining units within the Engineers and Architects Association (represents about 4,000 city employees) have now voted to ratify a one-year labor agreement that will require them to pay 5 percent of the cost of their health care premiums as opposed to the zero contribution they now make for the basic Kaiser Permanente coverage for themselves and their famlies. And, as part of this, the union is also agreeing to increase their co-pays from $10 to $20, which is the first such increase since 1992.  The tradeoff for these concessions is that the city is agreeing to reduce EAA members' furlough days from 26 to 10 this fiscal year.  As for the reversal of their position on this, Daily News article explains this as follows:

   Three EAA bargaining units representing about 4,000 city employees initially rejected the contract last month, but those votes were invalidated amid alleged interference by rival Service Employees International Union Local 721. During the re-vote on Monday, all three bargaining units ratified the contract by "a substantial margin," according to [the union's interim executive director].  They now join the lone bargaining unit representing about 1,000 EAA members who ratified the contract during the original vote on July 30.

Response from the Coalition of City Unions:

   The concessions in the EAA contract drew criticism from the 20,000-member Coalition of Los Angeles City Unions.  On its Web site, the coalition claimed the EAA contract "would permanently give up hard-fought gains in benefits and employment rights that had been built up over decades ... all in exchange for a one-time reduction in furlough days (restoring 6 percent of salary for this year only)."

***UPDATED:  "Six city unions block hikes in healthcare costs"

Los Angeles Times reports this evening that, while the Engineers & Architects Assn. has approved a one-year agreement that requires members to pay more for their healthcare -- in exchange for a reduction in furlough days this year from 26 to 10 -- the Coalition of City Unions blocked the mayor from imposing higher costs on their members.  From the LAT:

   The Coalition of L.A. City Unions, which represents roughly 22,000 members, persuaded the city's employee relations board to block budget negotiators from declaring an impasse in the current round of contract talks. Negotiators had sought that declaration so they could unilaterally increase the cost of doctors' visits, hospital stays and prescription drugs for civilian city workers.

   Although that decision dealt the mayor a setback, Villaraigosa touted a new agreement that requires employees of the Engineers and Architects Assn. to pay more for their healthcare.

   ****

   A lawyer for the coalition called Villaraigosa's effort to declare an impasse "reckless." Meanwhile, a representative of the Service Employees International Union Local 721, which belongs to the labor coalition, said the city should shift its focus by going after unpaid bills owed to the city and convincing lenders to reduce the number of foreclosures in neighborhoods.

 

 

Tuesday
Aug242010

Willie Brown, on Obama: "Ex-rock star Obama needs to come down to earth" -*(correction noted)

* Willie Brown is not known for hesitating to express his views -- whether about friend or foe, ally or opponent, and whatever the topic might be.  And one might think his San Francisco Chronicle column this week falls within this category.  In particular, the former Assembly Speaker/former [Oakland - correction here:  SAN FRANCISCO] mayor offers his observations about Pres. Obama's drop in public opinion.  Excerpt from the Chronicle:

   The hottest topic among Democratic insiders is the drop in President Obama's public standing.  When Democrats lost the governorships of Virginia and New Jersey last fall and the U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts in January, it became clear that Obama is not the rock star he once was.  And trust me, no matter how big you are, the minute you become a liability for someone running for office, that candidate does not want to be anywhere near you.

   A year ago you could not get Barack Obama because the demand was so high. Today, the White House is actually calling around, saying, the president is going to be in the area and are there ways in which we can help?  And there are some cases in which Democratic candidates are turning them down.

   Obama is not the first president to fall out of favor with the public in the middle of his first term. But rarely does a president fall out of favor with his own party insiders. The bottom line is that the Obama White House is not skilled at being political. That's most evident from things like the mishandling of the Shirley Sherrod blowup and the ground zero mosque controversy.

Monday
Aug232010

Manny is back with the team, but for how long?

 

* Every newscast this evening seems to be running with commentary to the effect that, now that Manny Ramirez has returned to the lineup, the question seems to be how long he will remain with the Dodgers.  Los Angeles Times analysis by Dylan Hernandez contains all kinds of detailed information about the intricacies of any effort by the Dodgers to send Ramirez -- and his $$$contract -- elsewhere.  As of now, however, according to general manager Ned Colletti, all of the speculation is still premature:  "I'm not there yet", he said.

Monday
Aug232010

National politics: comparison to 1994 for Democrats; "the politics of 'No'"....

* A couple items in the Washington Post caught my attention....

"Poll numbers in 1994, a bad year for Democrats, don't bode well for them in 2010" -- From the WP:

   Is it deja vu all over again for Democrats?

   Some neutral observers and senior strategists within the party have begun to believe that the national political environment is not only similar to what they saw in 1994 -- when Democrats lost control of the House and Senate -- but could in fact be worse by Election Day.

   A quick look at the broadest atmospheric indicators designed to measure which way the national winds are blowing -- the generic ballot and presidential approval -- affirms the sense that the political environment looks every bit as gloomy for Democrats today as it did 16 years ago.

   ****

   Charlie Cook, a political handicapper and editor of the Cook Political Report, acknowledged that every election has "its own set of unique characteristics and dynamics" but added that Democrats shouldn't take too much comfort in that. "Is 2010 the same as 1994? No, it isn't," he said. "But that doesn't mean that the outcome can't be roughly comparable."

   Cook also noted that the state of the economy, which may have mitigated Democratic losses in 1994 with an unemployment rate of 5.6 percent, almost certainly will exacerbate them this year, as unemployment now stands at 9.5 percent.

* "Why won't the GOP say 'no' to extremism?" -- Excerpt from E.J. Dionne column on "the politics of no":

   In an election, a solid "no" usually beats an useasy "yes, but."  That's the heart of the problem Democrats and President Obama face this fall.  The advantage of saying no without equivocation is that a significant share of the electorate is usually ready to shout the word from the rooftops, especially when the economy is as bad as it is now. Both parties have regularly offered variations on George C. Wallace's brilliant slogan, "Send them a message." The catchphrase leaves voters free to define who "them" is and to fill in the message themselves.

   Democrats know this, since the power of negative thinking won them back both houses of Congress in 2006. Their supporters swarmed the polls to say no to George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. That's why identifying the GOP as "the party of no" won't do the Democrats as much good as they'd like to think. With more than a third of conservative Republicans declaring that our Christian president is a Muslim, just saying no to him is a more than adequate motivation to spend a few minutes with a ballot.