"I wish they would only take me as I am" - Vincent Van Gogh               "How Can I believe in God when just last week I got my tounge caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?" - Woody Allen              "Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake" - Henry David Thoreau              "I took a speed reading course and read 'War and Peace' in twenty minutes. It involves Russia" - Woody Allen            "When promulgating esoteric cogitations, eschew platitudinous ponderosities" - Mark Rowan, my father            "Up, sluggard, and waste not life, for in the grave there will be sleep enough" - Benjamin Franklin             "What really interests me is whether God had any choice in the creation of the world." - Albert Einstein            "Welfare's purpose should be to eliminate, as far as possible, the need for its own existence" - Ronald Reagan            "It's odd that you can get so anesthetized by your own pain or your own problem that you don't quite fully share the hell of someone close to you." - Lady Bird Johnson              "I still want to be the candidate for guys with confederate flags in their pickup truck" - Howard Dean

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Angelides Campaign Leaks Schwarzenegger tape to Media

Cathy Calfo, the campaign manager for Democrat candidate for Governor Phil Angelides, has accepted responsibility for leaking a tape of Governor Schwarzenegger referring to the ethnicity of friend and political colleague Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia as "hot."

According to ABC news,
The campaign of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Democratic rival acknowledged Tuesday that it downloaded and leaked to the media a recording of a private meeting in which the governor described a Hispanic legislator as having a "very hot" personality.

Statements by members of the Schwarzenegger campaign admonish that the sound clip was not publicly accessible, but rather in a password protected-protected area of the Governor's computer
"The file that was leaked to the Los Angeles Times was in a private area of the governor's server not accessible to the public without manipulation of information," [Schwarzenegger spokesman Adam Mendelsohn] said.
Prior to release of this news, the California Highway Patrol has already begun investigating possible hacking of the Governors computer.

Cross Posted at

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Common Sense prevails for California Schools

I've been somewhat critical of certain bills coming out of the California State Legislature this year; I think SB 840 will bankrupt the state, and I think AB 2948/2949 are ludicrous at changing the way our elections are held. However, there is at least one positive bill coming out of the state legislature, and I believe that it will have a profound effect on our schools. It is SB 1655, authored by Sen. Jack Scott (D), and it has seen strong bipartisan support on it's way to the Governor's desk.

In California, like in so many states where Teachers Unions have disproportionate influence, it is difficult to fire a bad teacher. Very difficult. Currently in California, when a teacher agrees to leave a school voluntarily, they are guaranteed a job at every other school! Whichever school they submit their application to has to hire them! Obviously, this is a ridiculous practice, and SB 1655 would help to put an end to it.

Naturally, the teachers' union opposes the legislation. In the San Francisco Chronicle today:
Barbara Kerr, president of the California Teachers Association, called the bill "insulting to teachers," because it implies that every teacher who voluntarily leaves a school is a poor one. Some teachers leave a school for reasons unrelated to performance, such as a personality clash with a principal.
Ms. Kerr is being misleading in stating that it implies that every teacher that leaves is a bad teacher. Furthermore, good teachers that leave shouldn't have a difficult time finding new employment; bad teachers will.

Although this is a step in the right direction, it is not perfect. It does not fully repeal this practice - affectionately called "the dance of the lemons" by principals - it only limits the practice. The bill would grant choice to principals of poor-schools, but would not affect principals in better performing schools. In this regard, bad teachers will, apparently, still be guaranteed a job. Thus, bad teachers won't lose their jobs, they will just get sent to the good schools.

The Mercury News recognizes this shortcoming, stating
The better alternative to the dance of the lemons is an efficient, fair and impartial evaluation process in which the few worst teachers are more easily fired (without the district spending $100,000-plus in legal fees), and teachers needing improvement are given more opportunities to succeed.

SB 1655 could end up encouraging that process. Meanwhile, principals in low-achieving schools will benefit through an even start in competing for new hires.

There has been a lot of poor legislation coming from the Capitol this year. However, I'm glad to see a bill such as this, based in common sense, pass.

Cross Posted at

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

California Legislature disregards Constitution

With the passage of AB2948 in May, written by Assemblyman Tom Umberg (D) Santa Ana, the California Legislature has agreed to join an interstate compact that would allocate all of it's 55 electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote. This is, of course, in large part a response to the outrage that many Democrats felt following the 2000 election.

Considering that Article I section 10 of the Constitution expressly forbids "interstate compacts", the bill will likely be found unconstitutional, even if Gov. Schwarzenegger decides to affix his signature to it. Yet, constitutionality aside, this Bill, apparently, represents Assemblyman Umberg's failure to understand the importance of the Electoral College. As I stated in April, before passage of the bill:
"It's an effort to make California relevant again in presidential elections," Umberg said, clearly unaware of the influence California's 55 Electoral votes have when it comes to Presidential elections, and clearly disregarding the fact that California's interests, as determined by state election results would be superceded by national voting outcomes. This should be obvious, considering the goals of AB2948, so I can only assume that Assemblyman Umberg is being misleading in his statements.

I add that if he is not being intentionally misleading, he is simply unable to grasp the reasons why we do not utilize a simple popular vote. The Electoral college is an integral component in balancing popular opinion with the specific interests of each state.

While I often disagree with legislation and opinions of Democrats in the California State Legislature, with this Bill I am simply disappointed to have a representative with such disregard for the constitution.

I urge Governor Schwarzenegger to veto this bill.

Cross Posted at

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Crisis averted

Today Governor Schwarzenegger officially announced his intentions to veto SB 840, Sen. Kuehl's "single-payer" (pronounce "socialized") Health care initiative. The press release (linked below) is short, and highlight's not only the rationale for his opposition, but also his plan to address the problem. The bill had passed both the California Senate and House along party lines, and though it was speculated that the Governor would veto the bill, no official statement had been made. This press release, which I urge everyone to read, set the record straight.

I'm very happy that the Governor made this decision, though I know that this is only a temporary diversion. If the bill is not reworked next Legislative session, it could very well end up as a ballot initiative. In either case, Californians should recognize this as a "shot over the bow"; In light of the partisan nature of this issue, those in California who don't want to see their taxes increased significantly while the quality of their health care declines should take a stand against those who support this legislation, and a stand for those who believe in a free market solution.

Read the Press Release
Read my letter to Schwarzenegger
The Gentle Cricket: SB840: The Real Cost of "Free" Health Care