Why is Jerry Brown the worst governor in the country?

I could make a good case for the statement that Jerry Brown is the worst governor in the country.

I know there’s a lot of competition, and Californians might nominate Governor Rick Perry of Texas or Scott Walker of Wisconsin, but only Jerry Brown has been re-elected Governor decades after his first terms. Brown has blown a golden opportunity to fix a huge, nation-changing problem that originated in his first term as governor almost 40 years ago.

I first wrote this piece during my Green Party run for state Controller in the June 3, 2014 primary. In that election we had a chance to elect no-corporate-money candidates who would not toe the Jerry Brown line. But California’s new Top Two Primary did not backfire on the 1% as I had hoped. Instead, only two candidates for every state race appear on the November 4 ballot, and none of them are no-corporate-money candidates. My personal recommendation — and that of the Green Party of Alameda County — is to be sure to vote in local, nonpartisan races and for measures and propositions, but boycott the state races.

We need to look at Jerry Brown’s actual results, not the hype.

Good old Proposition 13 — both wonderful and terrible — was approved by voters in 1978, three years into Brown’s first term as governor. It flattened property taxes, required a two-thirds super-majority of the legislature to raise taxes, and ignited a “tax revolt” that spread across the country. People often credit the “Reagan revolution” with increasing the disparity of wealth and weakening government, but Reagan wasn’t elected President until 1980, two years after Prop 13 passed.

Although Jerry Brown officially opposed Proposition 13 in 1978, his opposition to the ballot measure was weak, and, more importantly, he had refused to solve the problem beforehand. Homeowners were desperately struggling with the problem of seniors and others losing their homes due to rising property taxes. That problem could be — and still can be — solved in better ways. Only after they were thoroughly frustrated by the lack of response from their elected government officials, voters in 1978 backed Jarvis-Gann’s Proposition 13. Jerry Brown was then and is now at the top of that list of elected officials in California.

Since then, our once-enviable public school and university system, the legacy of his father Governor Pat Brown, began to unravel and now California is near the bottom of all states in per-pupil expenditures for public education.

Jerry Brown’s missed opportunities to keep the good and fix the bad of Prop 13 are many. As Attorney General in 2010, Brown helped derail an effort spearheaded by author and linguist George Lakoff to change Prop 13‘s super-majority rule for taxes. Then in 2012, when Brown was governor for a third term, voters were ready to increase taxes to fix the budget problems. Brown proposed a tax initiative that was increasingly beaten in the polls by a competing initiative called the Millionaires Tax. Rather than support the preferred tax, Brown called the backers of the Millionaires Tax into his office and forged a compromise that lowered the proposed taxes on the rich, retained a regressive sales tax increase, and made the tax temporary rather than permanent. Another initiative effort will be needed down the road to merely retain the new taxes. Meanwhile, we need to get back to more taxes on rich individuals and corporations if we want to decrease inequality of wealth and power. (Jerry Brown talks tough when he cuts spending, saying that he won’t “kick the can down the road,” and yet that’s exactly what he did by making the 2012 tax initiative temporary.) The main feature Brown kept from the tax the people preferred was the name, Millionaires Tax.

In 2012, Governor Brown gained a huge advantage. His team — the Democratic Party — enjoyed a two-thirds super-majority in both houses of the legislature, and they already held every single statewide office. Couldn’t blame the Republicans any more. What did he and his team do with that? Raise taxes on the rich? Implement an oil extraction tax like every other place in the world? Implement a sales tax on financial transactions? Close the loopholes that flipped the property tax balance by enabling corporate and commercial properties in total to pay less than residential properties? No, no, no, and no.

In addition to taxation and Proposition 13, we can look at his record of weak half-measures (at best) on prisons, banking, immigration, fracking, and healthcare.

Regarding prisons, Brown stood with Governor Schwarzenegger in opposition to amending the three strikes law to apply only to violent felonies, and later as Governor himself, Brown defied court orders to reduce prison crowding, thus maintaining California’s position as having the second highest incarceration rate in the world, second only to the United States.

In banking, the legislature passed a bill to study a State Bank. Jerry Brown vetoed it, and continued to put the state’s faith and credit in Wall Street banks.

As to healthcare, the legislature passed single-payer healthcare twice only to have Republican Schwarzenegger veto it. When Democrat Brown took office in 2010, the legislature didn’t bring it to a vote. Instead they pushed Obamacare. Compared to the healthcare systems of other wealthy industrialized countries, Obamacare is the worst. If Jerry Brown had worked with the Democratic super-majority in the legislature to pass and sign single-payer healthcare, California could have led the country in creating a healthcare system as good as those enjoyed by other countries.

All in all, it’s a dismal record, and the worst of it, the part that really caps his qualifications to be crowned the worst governor in the country, is that his results are presented as big successes. His rhetoric about balancing budgets, rainy day funds, making the tough decisions, and not kicking the can down the road all serve to distract people from the widespread deterioration of our schools, justice system, healthcare, environment, and finances. Reagan was called the “Teflon president” because his bad acts seemed not to stick to him. Now that California has both a big increase in super-rich individuals and a high poverty rate, Jerry Brown could be called the “Teflon governor,” and the worst governor in the country.

Electoral Disobedience Builds People Power!

“NO CORPORATE MONEY” Movement Poised to Replace Corporate Controlled Candidates.

My campaign for State Controller is growing and joining in solidarity with other no-corporate-money candidates who are also stepping up and running for office, like author/activist Luis Rodriguez for Governor, author Ellen Brown for Treasurer, David Curtis for Secretary of State, and many more. Many others are sharing our vision, giving their time and talent, and supporting us with financial contributions! 

As a State Controller who takes no corporate money, I will stand up to the Wall Street bankers — like Green Party mayor Gayle McLaughlin in Richmond, CA — and insist they gamble with their own money from now on. With a State Bank for California, we can create a bank that will partner with local banks and credit unions, and provide good loans to homeowners, students, and small businesses. We will keep the interest low, and keep it in the state, to invest in California, not Wall Street.

In the primary election on June 3, 2014 we have a very real chance to upset the status quo and create a more equal state for ALL Californians.

The way we will do this is by committing “Electoral Disobedience” to build people power by voting only for a new wave of “No Corporate Money” candidates who answer to the people, not corporations. California’s new “top two” primary has lots of problems but one big possibility: any voter can vote for any candidate regardless of political party. Be sure to cast your vote, but not for corporate-funded candidates. If they win, you won’t.

In sharp contrast to the corporate candidates, we don’t need millions. With several big donations of $1,000 or more, many smaller donations of $100 or more, and a whole bunch of encouraging $5 donations, we’ll be on our way to building that critical mass. We are grateful for ALL donations! Together we can spread the word about solutions, and stand up to those that continue to put profit before humanity and the planet.

Your financial contribution helps my campaign and lets people know that their voices and their votes can make a huge difference in the June 3 primary election.

If you would like to donate to my campaign, please click HERE.
https://laurawells.nationbuilder.com/donate

Like my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/laurawellscalifornia?ref=hl

Follow me on Twitter  @WellsController

Thank you for all you do!

Laura Wells for Controller 2014
http://www.laurawells.org/

How do we stop fake No Corporate Money candidates?

A supporter of my California Controller 2014 campaign recently sent me an email that boiled down to the question, “How do we stop fake No Corporate Money candidates?” Here is my answer, followed by the question as he put it in his email.

A working draft of the pledge — and we will finalize it in concert with other allies —  addresses PACs:

I, ________________, oppose the concentration of power and wealth in the hands of the 1% and their corporations. I pledge to the people of California that as a candidate and an elected official, I will accept money from individual people and public funding only and no corporate money in any form, such as lobbyists, developers, and Political Action Committees (PACs).

From the No Corporate Money (NCM) campaign perspective…
The campaign plans to ensure that listed NCM candidates adhere to the spirit of the pledge. There are a growing number of websites that provide information about campaign contributions. Those websites are great, and what the NCM Campaign intends to do is inspire candidates and voters to ACT on that information, not just KNOW it.  

From the corporate perspective…
Corporations do not want to spread the word that no-corporate-money candidates even exist, and so they certainly will not finance  NCM campaigns. The NCM name is so blatant that corporations know it undermines their power.

From the candidate perspective…
It’s perfect that last night Eduardo Martinez was at an NCM gathering. He is running for Richmond City Council and one of the stalwarts of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, the organization that has made such a difference to the city of Richmond, CA — as well as the nation and even internationally. Eduardo said now that Gayle McLaughlin (registered Green Party) will be termed out as mayor, other mayoral candidates have come to the RPA for endorsement. When RPA tells them they have to pledge they will take no corporate money the candidates say they don’t understand why they would have to do such a pledge. RPA’s answer is along the lines of, “The fact that you don’t understand is exactly why you won’t get our endorsement.”

I hope this helps. My vision is that at some point it will seem obvious to people. “Well, does the candidate take corporate money? If they do, I know they won’t represent me. If they win, I won’t win.” And people will find out who’s running with no corporate money, and vote for them. And if there is no one, they will run and/or encourage others to run. That’s what the No Corporate Money Campaign is all about.

NOTES

The following contains the questions and information as emailed to me. Your comments and feedback are also welcome!

In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission + Speechnow.org v. FEC,  
Corporations can promote (with money) any candidate any amount as long as they don’t coordinate with the candidate . . . or can they?   “However, it is legal for candidates and Super PAC managers to discuss campaign strategy and tactics through the media”  

Therefore, if “No Corporate Money” looked like a killer issue for the candidate, he/she can claim that they don’t accept corporate donations while being supported with big corporate PAC money.    In other words the public won’t know who is getting elected by corporate money and therefore who not to vote for.   

I don’t expect the media to help the public figure out who is corporate sponsored as most media is corporate.   

I suspect you know all of this but I didn’t see Citizens United or Super Pacs mentioned at:
http://www.nocorporatemoneycampaign.org/

Have you an answer to the Super Pac issue?  I hope so, as I don’t.   

Super PACs    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Pac#Super_PACs

<SNIP> Super PACs, officially known as “independent-expenditure only committees,” may not make contributions to candidate campaigns or parties, but may engage in unlimited political spending independently of the campaigns. Unlike traditional PACs, they can raise funds from individuals, corporations, unions, and other groups without any legal limit on donation size.[19]
Super PACs were made possible by two judicial decisions: the aforementioned Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and, two months later, Speechnow.org v. FEC, where the federal Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held that PACs that did not make contributions to candidates, parties, or other PACs could accept unlimited contributions from individuals, unions, and corporations (both for profit and not-for-profit) for the purpose of making independent expenditures. The result of the Citizens United and SpeechNow.org decisions was the rise in 2010 of a new type of political action committee, popularly dubbed the “super PAC”
<SNIP>

Seven months, and the website is up!

The website www.laurawells.org is up, and you can find it here! We are getting everything lined up for the all-important primary on June 3, 2014.

The campaign and the website are growing, and we hope you will join us. Browse the website; listen to an interview on KPFA about Goldman Sachs and who’s accepting their money; read the blog; contact us with your comments and the ways you would like to join us.

If you are able to make a donation to our “No Corporate Money” campaign, we’re delighted to tell you that in addition to sending checks to the P.O. Box, there is now a way to donate online. Whether you can afford to give big contributions or small, they all count, and they are all extremely encouraging!

Thank you for reading this countdown message, and feel free to forward to friends and family. I hope you enjoy the website, and it will be wonderful to hear from you.

Another world is possible, and California is a great place to start.

Eight months, and rolling up our sleeves

[Written on October 3, 2013]

My daughter Natalia and I “rolled up our sleeves” this afternoon and designed campaign buttons showing people power over money power, with a person triumphing over a moneybag, and the words “Vote June 3, 2014” at the bottom. It’s so much fun to be impressed by what your child can do! By the way, check out her band, https://www.facebook.com/SocialStudies101

Last week I filled out the first questionnaire for the June 3, 2014 primary – exactly eight months from today. There was a question about campaign goals. My goal is this: I want us to win! So, who are we?

We are a huge group of people – we are

  • 89% of Americans who believe there is too much corporate money in politics,
  • the Green Party, whose candidates never take corporate money,
  • other candidates who also refuse corporate money,
  • the new No Corporate Money Campaign that is creating a cool video, to raise thousands of dollars to put up a fabulous website to build a critical mass of candidates who will take no corporate money and voters who will vote for them. Look again at the example of Richmond to see what happens when candidates who don’t take corporate and developer money win. You might want to sign up for their inspiring newsletter; see the left hand column of http://www.richmondprogressivealliance.net/

The trick about California is that we really can start to turn this state around. That’s why it’s so important that good, un-bought people get themselves on the ballot, as soon as possible. Maybe you will consider running, or encourage others to run.

I believe that this destructive corporate-controlled system will crack, and that its unraveling after the crack will proceed fairly rapidly. Why? Because it has happened before. In Latin America people who had not voted – especially the young and the impoverished – started voting, and replaced the old guard. The new governments  championed their people and not the 1% of the world. (And yes, the U.S. government and corporate media are mad – that’s why they lie about Latin America so much!)

I will wrap this up with a big THANK YOU. Last month I said you could mail a check to surprise us when we check the P.O. Box and a bunch of people did! Again, thank you.

Your offers of help are also very encouraging, and a dream I have is to work closely with one or more people who will help our campaign make the best possible use of all the help that is offered! If that person is you or someone you can recommend, let me know as soon as you possibly can!

Another world is possible.

Laura Wells for Controller 2014
P.O. Box 10181
Oakland, CA 94610
510-225-4005
laurawells2014@gmail.com

BLOG WEBSITE: http://laurawellssolutions.com/  is still my best website
WEBSITE:  laurawells.org – not updated yet, but we’ll get there!
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/laurawellscontroller (thanks to Edy in LA)
TWITTER: @wellscontroller

U.S. income gap widest on record – that’s what happens when we don’t Tax The Rich!

News stories have hit this week with titles like, “U.S. income gap widest on record.” The stories mention UC Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez, and should point out a strong correlation he found during his research:

If you lower the income tax rates on the highest income brackets,

inequality of income is increased.

If you raise those rates, inequality is reduced.

A blog post with more information and graphs is here,

http://laurawellssolutions.com/2012/12/05/tax-the-rich-to-reduce-the-disparity/

At the end of Eisenhower’s presidency in 1960, the rate on the highest tax brackets was 91%. As we know, the rich could still get richer even with those high tax rates, just not obscenely richer. Now the titanic Dems and Reps haggle over a top rate of 35% and 39.6%. Why wouldn’t CEOs start shifting more wages to their own pockets when they get to keep most of it? It’s too much temptation. When they only kept 9% of the highest portion, greed was not encouraged.

The 0.1% use their resources to keep us thinking all taxes hurt all of us. Not true.

In addition to increasing taxes on the super-rich, we can also reduce government spending, and lower taxes on the rest of us. Which government spending should we reduce first? Let’s start with the dumbest expense: high interest paid to Wall Street banks. When we vote people into office who are not sold out to big banks and other corporations, we can create publicly-owned banks that partner with local banks and credit unions, and provide good loans to students, home owners, and community businesses. And we can fund our own projects without high interest tacked on top. See blog http://laurawellssolutions.com/category/public-banking-state-bank/

 

Nine months, to a new birth

In nine months we have a chance for a new birth! Here’s a vision that keeps appearing to me, despite all the bad news I hear.

We will begin to crack this system, by doing the things the 1% – really the 0.01% – do not want us to do.

The simple fact is that we vastly outnumber them and if we stop buying the candidates they have already bought, we will win. Then we will have people in government who will champion – not squash – the great ideas we have, for schools, for justice, for housing, the environment, jobs, health.

Replace is the word we’ve left behind in politics, and it’s the action we need to take. We cannot influence or lobby our elected officials to make them do the fair and sensible things that we regular people want them to do. The 1% is sitting pretty, having convinced us – step by step since the Great Depression of the 1930s – that we have only three choices in elections: vote Democrat, vote Republican, or do not vote at all. Their campaign contributions control the titanic Democratic and Republican parties, and their corrupt practices make us sick of the whole system.

But on June 3, 2014, in nine months, we will have on the ballot candidates who pledge to take no corporate money, and we will have voters who declare their intention to vote in the primary, and to vote for candidates who take no corporate money. Why? Because corporate money in the campaign is the best way to distinguish between people who will be on our side after the election, and people who will toe the line of the 1%.

My fondest wish is that many young people of the occupy and student movements run for office. I feel very fortunate that I’ve been at meetings and events where I’ve seen brilliant facilitators and organizers. They seem to understand that the issues are all connected, and so are all the people. That’s my favorite part of the vision.

We do have the power.

 

CONTACT INFORMATION

Step by step, with help from other people, the elements of my campaign are are coming together.

DONATE?

Yes! If you are able, donations are gratefully accepted. They are very much needed in a practical way for everything from travel expenses to literature and communications, not to mention costly fees to Sacramento. And they are tremendously encouraging, enabling me to reach out and spread the word as much as possible. The two ways to contribute financially are:
(1) Laura Wells for Controller account with PayPal, laurawells2014@gmail.com
(2) Mail a check to surprise us when we check the P.O. Box!

Laura Wells for Controller 2014
P.O. Box 10181
Oakland, CA 94610
510-225-4005
laurawells2014@gmail.com

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