June 6, 2012 Today seems brighter. It was a big election night last night. Governor Scott Walker becomes the first governor in history to survive a recall effort. It wasn’t even close. In one of the most heated and important political battles in recent history, voters overwhelmingly approved of Walker’s reform efforts, handing a big loss to the heavily funded unions. Not to sound overdramatic (oh who am I kidding? I’m an actress; it’s my thing) but Walker’s victory has now become the official battle-cry of a spending-weary American electorate. The message has been sent. Voters can no longer tolerate being the sole support for bloated public pensions and Cadillac healthcare plans when they themselves are out of work and cutting back in all areas of daily life. Have no doubt, union bosses around the country are shaking in their boots. The bell cannot be unrung. The people mean business. The tea party is not dead – it’s just come to mean something else. It’s come to mean…Americans.
If you need more proof that the tidal wave against big government is gaining momentum, look no further than the biggest of big government states, California. Two cities – San Jose and San Diego- had pension reform on their ballots last night. They both won big. Also, new taxes were pretty much uniformly voted down across the state, including Prop 29, which imposed a new $1 per pack tax on cigarettes. It was a very close vote, but in the end voters decided they just couldn’t tolerate another tax, especially one that projected to raise $750 million without any of the revenue being allocated to pay down the state’s massive debt and pension liability.
As Jon Fleischman at the flashreport.org coined it, Tuesday night was V.U. Day – Victory Over Unions!
Other important ballots I was watching in California were:
Los Angeles District Attorney: In an unexpected upset, perceived frontrunner Carmen Trutanich was denied a spot in the top two. The heavily funded L.A. City Attorney was beat out by Deputy District Attorney Jackie Lacey (endorsed by outgoing D.A.Steve Cooley) and Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson (endorsed by law enforcement). Lacey and Jackson will head to the runoff.
Three Fullerton City Council members were successfully recalled in response to their handling of the beating death of Kelly Thomas at the hands of Fullerton police. Fullerton residents charged that the members covered for police during the investigation.
Senator Diane Feinstein will run off against Republican Elizabeth Emken. Feinstein receive 50% of the vote, while Emken reached only 13%. Emken has seen weak fundraising compared to Feinstein – hundreds of thousands as compared to Feinstein’s millions. This will be a key race to watch in the coming months. Emken could get closer if the GOP decides to throw some money and support behind her.
Proposition 29 would levy another $1 per pack tax on cigarettes to “support cancer research”. This horribly flawed proposition is projected to raise $750 million in revenue with no provision for the money to be spent within the borders of California. As of this post the vote is still being declared to close to call, even with 100% of districts reporting. The “No” vote has edged out the approval vote so far by 65,000 votes out of more than 3 million cast and with absentee ballots still arriving. This verdict could stretch out for days or weeks. I’ll update as I receive information.
Proposition 28 is a stellar example of how the wording of a proposition on the ballot and in advertising is so absolutely vital. The proposition was billed as term limits, and it asked voters to reduce the number of years lawmakers could serve in legislature from 14 years to 12 years. Currently a lawmaker can serve two 3 year terms in the House and two 4 year terms in the Senate. Prop 28 shortens the total time one can serve, but allows lawmakers to serve those 12 years in either of the houses. This leaves our capitol at even greater risk for even more entrenched, corrupt politicians. Californians instinctively know they can’t trust their representation. Most people are in favor of term limits. Who would vote against them? The wording of the Prop on the ballot was such that anyone who had not properly done their research beforehand would have most likely been inclined to vote in favor. Prop 28 passed overwhelmingly and now it will be even harder to prevent entrenched cronyism.
The “top-two” system seemed just fine. We’ll have to wait to see the real effects in the coming months. I heard few complaints about it while I was out and about talking to voters.
In all, it was a great day for America. Wisconsin showed up big time and public sector unions across the country are looking over their shoulders at the fed up tax payers. With San Diego and San Jose also voting to reform their pension systems, could it be that common sense is making a comeback in California? I won’t hold my breath for that, but it’s a start.
UPDATE: June 7, 2012 It looks like Prop 29 has been narrowly defeated. No new cigarette taxes in California.
crossposted at kiradavis.net