State proposition backers never lose hope Initiative fans never give up hope

California voters have been in the habit lately of rejecting ballot propositions. That’s not stopping folks from trying.

Two dozen initiatives are in circulation seeking signatures to get on
either the Feb. 5 or June 3 ballot. An additional 17 are awaiting the
attorney general’s stamp of approval on their ballot language before
they can seek signatures. Two proposals – on funding for community
colleges and transportation – have already qualified for the Feb. 5

And that’s not counting the most talked about measure of all –
at least in Sacramento. The term limits measure that would allow some
current legislators to serve more time in office is waiting for the
secretary of state to verify the more than 1 million signatures that
have been gathered. Only 694,354 verified signatures are needed.

Here’s a sampling of what voters might confront when they go to the polls next year:

There are the ever-popular "let’s stick it to the politicians"
initiatives – one to ban per diem reimbursements to legislators and
another to ban legislators from taking anything of value from

There is the sometimes popular "let’s stick it to the rich"
initiative – a wealth tax that, among other things, would impose a
one-time 45 percent tax on property exceeding $40 million.

Other proposals would overturn the Indian gaming compacts
signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, eliminate touch-screen voting for
all but disabled voters, eliminate domestic partnership rights, and
define marriage as between only one man and one woman.

All that plus that juicy little initiative in the works that
would change the way California awards its precious electoral college
votes. Right now, it’s winner take all. The initiative would instead
award them based on congressional district – which means Republicans
would eat into California’s electoral landslide that Democrats count

Joe Consumer

The staff for Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, noted this week in
a press release that the lawmaker scored 100 percent on his 2006 voting
record on consumer protection legislation, as defined by the Consumer
Federation of California.

It was also noted that the average score in the Senate was –
tsk, tsk – 68 percent and the average score in the Assembly was 62

And it was duly noted that three of Simitian’s bills – on
pretexting, radio frequency identification and predatory lending on
reverse mortgages – were among those considered by the federation in
scoring lawmakers.

But, in the interest of fairness, let’s note a few more things.
Simitian wasn’t exactly in such select company. In fact, 17 Senate
Democrats scored 100 percent and another 28 Democrats in the Assembly
scored 100 percent.

The reason the average is so low is because plenty of Republicans scored a big, fat – and happy – zero.

The lesson here is that the most meaningful information these
scorecards provide is by further defining who’s liberal, who’s
conservative and – often most interesting – who are those precious few
who are awkwardly in the middle.

In the Assembly, that would be Charles Calderon, D-City of
Industry, at 43 percent; Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, at 50 percent;
and Bill Emmerson, R-Rancho Cucamonga, at 30 percent.

In the Senate, the middlers were Ronald Calderon, D-Montebello,
62.5 percent; Mike Machado, D-Stockton, 62.5 percent; Gloria Negrete
McCleod, D-Montclair, 50 percent; and Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, 50

The closest to a centrist Republican in the Senate was Sam
Aanestad, R-Nevada City, at 27 percent – which actually was further to
the left than the person who hands-down wins the award for not voting
the party line: Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, at 25 percent.

A full copy of the Consumer Federation of California’s scorecard is available at

Denham blues

Senate minority leader Dick Ackerman, R-Tustin, may be the
fearless leader of the "Gang of 14" Senate Republicans who have thumbed
their nose at passing a budget.

And Sen. Tom McClintock, R-Thousand Oaks, may be the conscience
– and likely the brains – of the fiscal conservatives who are demanding
a balanced budget.

But neither of them has emerged as the person Democrats most
want to blame for the budget stalemate. That dishonor belongs to . . .
Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto.

Huh? You see, Denham was supposed to be the swing vote – the
moderate who joined up with Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-San Luis Obispo, and
together provided the two votes necessary to pass a budget.

Maldonado did what was expected – belatedly, albeit – and voted
for the budget, but Denham has been defiant. Some have suggested he has
made a hard turn to the right in order to curry favor with the
conservatives he’ll need if he runs for lieutenant governor.

Even Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger picked on Denham when he told a
reporter this week that he thought Denham "should get a lot of heat."
Denham responded by telling Schwarzenegger: "Governor, let me repeat
myself again, since perhaps you are not listening yet. I will not be
bullied, intimidated or pressured into voting for a budget with
inflated revenues, unaccounted expenses or accounting gimmickry."