The undecideds

Nov 2, 2012

With a legal battle in the background and a political campaign up front, support for the governor's tax initiative has slipped below 50 percent of those surveyed, although backers still outweigh foes. The joker in the deck: The undecideds.


From Mark DiCamillo and Mervin Field: "While support for Proposition 30, the income and sales tax increase initiative advanced by Governor Jerry Brown, has fallen below the majority needed for passage, Yes voters continue to outnumber No voters 48% to 38%. Another 14% of likely voters are undecided."

"By contrast Proposition 38, the competing income tax increase initiative supported by civil rights attorney Molly Munger, now trails among likely voters by a double-digit margin, 34% to 49%. This represents a significant decline in voter support from mid-September when 41% were on the Yes side and 44% on the No side..."


"Supporters tend to approve the job Brown is doing, believe the amount they pay in state taxes is about right, and are very concerned about the potential impact of the automatic spending cuts that would be imposed if voters reject Prop. 30. Opponents are more likely to disapprove of the governor's performance, believe they pay too much in state taxes, are less concerned about spending cuts and think the state can provide roughly the same level of services even if it had to reduce its budget by $6 billion, the approximate amount of Prop. 30's proposed tax increase."


If Proposition 30  is defeated and public education loses billions of dollars, California's school districts are divided on how whether they'll shorten the academic year.


From Kathryn Baron and John Fensterwald in EdSource: "California’s 30 largest school districts are about evenly divided on whether they plan to further shorten this academic year if Proposition 30 fails next week, according to a new survey byEdSource Today. A third of the districts have already negotiated with their unions to lop anywhere from a week to a month from the school calendar if the initiative is defeated. Slightly more than a third report that they do not plan any more furlough days, and the rest say that a shorter school year remains an option that they plan to raise with their unions."


"Responses from the 30 largest school districts, enrolling a third of the state’s 6.2 million students(see chart below), represent a snapshot of how school officials and teachers unions will deal with the consequences if Prop. 30 is defeated. However, the picture remains fluid. Some districts shifted their positions during the two weeks that EdSource Today collected information, and others offered ambiguous answers, reflecting uncertainty over how they’ll respond to a sizable cut to their budgets."

"In a lament that has become a refrain among district leaders, Stockton Unified superintendent Steve Lowder said the district has made so many programmatic cuts over the past five years that shortening the school year is all that remains on the table if Prop. 30 goes down. The district budget assumes voter approval of Prop 30 and keeps the school year at 180 days. In the worst-case scenario, Lowder said he would have to reopen bargaining with the union to shorten the school year by 20 days."

Meanwhile, the backbone of the Democratic Party -- organized labor -- is out on the hustings to defeat Proposition 32, the business- and Republican-led effort to curb unions' political clout.

From Michael J. Mishak in the LA Times: "Facing a ballot measure that could sharply rein in its political clout in California, organized labor is fighting back with a massive operation to get millions of union voters to the polls next week..."

"More than 30,000 union members have volunteered to knock on doors, make phone calls and canvass work sites, contacting more than 2 million people in the last few months, according to the labor federation, an umbrella group for the state's unions. Labor leaders hope to reach an additional million before election day."


"Pushing California's new online voter-registration system, officials said, they've added tens of thousands of new voters to the rolls. California Calls, a coalition of advocacy groups, said it was focusing on turning out new and infrequent voters."


Lobbyist Darius Anderson and former Assemblymember and Congressman Doug Bosco, a major fund raiser for Democrats, are in a group that has purchased The Press Democrat, the daily newspaper based in Santa Rosa.


From The Press Democrat: "The Press Democrat and two affiliated publications in Sonoma County are being sold by Florida-based Halifax Media Group to a local partnership that includes two Democratic power brokers."


"The main buyers in the deal announced Thursday include Darius Anderson, a Sonoma-based developer and top Sacramento lobbyist, and Doug Bosco, a Santa Rosa attorney and former North Coast congressman who remains active in Democratic party politics."


"Anderson, who has amassed valuable real estate holdings in Sonoma County, earlier this year led a different six-person partnership that bought the Sonoma Index-Tribune newspaper, which publishes twice a week. The same holding company, Sonoma Media Investments LLC, is set to take over The Press Democrat, the weekly Petaluma Argus-Courier and North Bay Business Journal in Santa Rosa as well as websites for the three publications."


And finally we open our "High Anxiety" file and learn that another storm is on its way to the Northeast -- just in time for Election Day. 


"A nor'easter could hit Mid-Atlantic and New England States by Tuesday (Election Day) into next Thursday, the National Weather Service's prediction center warns.   


"The storm is weaker than Hurricane Sandy and is expected to be far less damaging than Monday's megastorm."


"It should be noted that this system is expected to be much weaker than Hurricane Sandy and produce impacts much less extreme and mainly away from the region most strongly impacted by Sandy," the center writes. 

Let's hope so ....



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