After a Talking Down by Nurses, Gavin Newsom Reverts to Backing Single Payer

California Lt Governor and candidate for Governor Gavin Newsom is once again backing SB 562, the single-payer health bill sponsored by the California Nurses Union (CNA) and introduced in the California Senate by Ricardo Lara and Toni Atkins. For calendar reasons, the State Senate passed the bill before the financial studies were finished, so the bill did not include funding mechanisms. Single payer proponents were expecting that these would be introduced as the bill was considered by the Assembly. Assembly speaker Anthony Rendon, however, did not allow this to happen, putting the bill to pasture instead. Single payer activists have been pushing Rendon to revive the bill, attach the funding and move California towards single payer.

CNA endorsed Gavin Newsom back in 2015 with the expectation that he would back single payer. However, he was publicly cagey about his support until he was forced to take a stance by delegates to the California Democratic Convention. At the time, he told delegates “I am with you” in support of SB 562.  After the Convention, however, Newsom made public statements opposing SB 562 and proposing a healthcare plan based on Healthy San Francisco, which provides a limited public option for people who cannot otherwise afford private insurance.  Healthy San Francisco only works with specific community hospitals and clinics and does not provide coverage for medical emergencies outside city limits.

CNA leadership has been under pressure from its members and outside allies alike to withdraw their endorsement of Newsom given his anti-SB 562 stance. The pressure seems to have worked on both leadership and Newsom, as he announced his support of SB 562 Friday morning, speaking at CNA’s Convention in San Francisco.  This should assure him of CNA’s continual support, but his equivocations on the bill have already damaged his credibility among single-payer supporters.

After taking $$$ from franchisee, Treasurer John Chiang shills for McDonald’s in Campaign Trail

California Treasurer and current candidate for Governor John Chiang surprised election watchers by taking to tweeter to shill for McDonald’s:

The fast food chain is often criticized by progressives for serving unhealthy food and contributing to child obesity and diabetes, for exploiting workers and paying them far below a living wage, and for resisting attempts to unionize its workforce.

Chiang’s photo-montage tweet was further surprising as it showed him holding a cheeseburger in front of the original McDonald’s in San Bernardino, which is now a museum:

Weird indeed.  The visit to the “original McDonald’s” was also touted on Chiang’s campaign website, though there is no word as to where he actually bought the burger in the photo.

But why would a Democratic candidate for Governor of California take time from his campaign to shill for a fast food chain?  A look at Chiang’s donor list may hold the answer.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Chiang’s third largest contributors are C.C. and Regina Yin, who together have given Chiang almost $100,000.  Moreover, the couple has hosted high-value fundraisers for Chiang that likely netted him tens if not hundreds of thousands dollars more.  The Yins own dozens of McDonald’s restaurants in California.

This is not the first time that John Chiang does favors for his campaign donors.  Last August, the Sacramento Bee reported that Chiang granted millions of dollars in tax breaks to developers who had donated to his campaign.

California is having statewide elections, Who Should Progressives Support?

We are less than a year away before the June election for California statewide officers, and I think that as a movement, we probably should get behind specific candidates.

As usual, our choices will fall between less-than-perfect but hopefully acceptable candidates with an actual chance to win and protest candidates, who have the right values but lack the experience for the job and/or the ability to mount a serious campaign.  This post is about the first kind. I totally respect the right of people to vote for the latter, in particular when there are no acceptable choices (and what’s acceptable will vary from person to person).

Delaine Eastin, candidate for Governor

Governor: There are four candidates that have a serious chance at winning, and among these I’m supporting Delaine Eastin, and I’d hope other Berniecrats would do as well.  Eastin is a former Assemblywoman and State Superintendent of Education, fully committed to funding and improving the education of our children. She’s calling for a moratorium on charter schools, for a free public college education and she supports SB 562, universal healthcare. After meeting her and speaking with her at length, I fully believe she is an old fashioned FDR Democrat who believes government can and should do large social projects to improve people’s lives.

The other three contenders seem to be in it for themselves. Villaraigosa calls single payer “snake oil“, Gavin Newsom will tell anyone what the want to hear and then do what business interests want and Chiang won’t take any poistion on practically anything.

Gayle McLaughlin, candidate for Lt Governor

Lt Governor: Gayle McLaughlin has been called the Bernie Sanders of Richmond and, if elected, she will be the Bernie Sanders of California. This former Mayor of Richmond is an anti-corporate activist, who has taken on Chevron head on and won, and who is committed to all the same principles than Bernie Sanders is.  She is the candidates progressives will back.

Other candidates for Lt General include State Senator Ed Hernandez, a well funded corporate Democrat who heads the Senate’s Health Committee and was endorsed by the nurse’s union after allowing SB 562, the single payer bill, to get through, and a trio of millionaires on vanity races.  Real estate developer Eleni Kounalakis, was a bundler for Hilary Clinton and Barak Obama, her contributions to the latter bought her an ambassadorship to Hungary.  Physician Asif Mahmood was also a bundler for Clinton and international corporate attorney Jeff Bleich was ambassador to Australia under Obama. All four of them are Democrats.

Ruben Major, Berniecrat candidate for Secretary of State

Secretary of State:  Incumbent Alex Padilla spent the 2016 primaries campaigning for Hillary Clinton and then oversaw primary elections filled with a multitude or problems, including voters finding their registration had been changed and they could no longer vote in the Democratic primary, voters being given the wrong ballots or not getting proper instructions on how to vote.  After the primary, Padilla did not investigate these issues or make a plan for fixing them.

He is being challenged by Berniecrat paramedic/business owner/blogger Ruben Major, who might be a protest candidate worth voting for.  He only announced a couple of weeks ago and I will endeavor to interview him and report back.

Dave Jones, candidate for Attorney General

Attorney General:  The choice here is between appointed incumbent AG Xavier Becerra and California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.  Becerra supports the death penalty, which goes against the Democratic Party platform.  That makes him a nonstarter, as far as progressives go.  Dave Jones opposes the death penalty, has a record of prosecuting moneyed interests as insurance commissioner, is committed to criminal justice reform and has no interest in pursuing higher office, thus he will dedicate himself fully to this office.  He has not, as yet, committed to not accepting money form law enforcement interest, however.  He has been gaining momentum with Berniecrats/progressives.

Treasurer: This race appears to be between Assemblymember Mike Gatto and Board of Equalization member Fiona Ma.  I know almost nothing about either candidate’s record, but I will endeavor to learn about them.  If you have experience with either candidate, comment about them.

Controller:  Incumbent Betty Yee is running unopposed, so far. Yee is probably the most progressive statewide elected official, which isn’t saying much.

Insurance commissioner:  So far, State Senator Ricardo Lara seems to be the only candidate for this seat.  Lara can be praised for introducing SB 562, the single-payer bill, but activists are disappointed he hasn’t done more to fight for it since Assembly speaker Anthony Rendon shelved it.

Superintendent of Schools: The race here, so far, is between Assemblymember Tony Thurmond and charter school executive Marshall Tuck.   Thurmond is a progressive and I endorsed him when he first ran for Assembly, but he’s been steering towards corporate interests lately (he was a delegate for Hilary Clinton).

(Note: This article has and will be updated as more information becomes available).

Berniecrat/BLM Activist Justin Stewart Released from Jail

Berniecrat and Black Lives Matter Activist Justin J. Stewart IV was released from jail yesterday, August 7, 2017, after two months of imprisonment.

In September 2015 , Stewart had participated in a protest against the police killing of  Keith L. Scott , an African American man summarily executed by Charlotte police.   Following the protest,  Justin was arrested on 27-trumped up charges. He was accused of having taken part on burglaries of nearby businesses.  The only “evidence” against him was a grainy security video that showed a much shorter, stockier man.  Police alleged that the person in the video looked like Justin’s photos in social media.

While the charges have now been dismissed, Justin’s case highlights how the Police Departments and District Attorneys are willing to persecute activists – in particular activists of color – that are willing to stand up against the system.

Berniecrats all over the country were quick to express their support for Justin.

WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

Establishment Democrats Are Closer to Republicans than to Progressives

Corporate Democrats speak about “unity” in the party, but in truth, establishment Democrats have far more in common with Republicans than the do with progressives.

Progressives were against the TPP, Republicans and establishment Democrats are for it.

Progressives oppose wars for aggression, Republicans and establishment Democrats are for it.

Progressives oppose giving Israel a blank check, Republicans and establishment Democrats are for it.

Progressives oppose fracking, Republicans and establishment Democrats are for it.

Progressives oppose pipelines, Republicans and establishment Democrats are for it.

Progressives oppose forcing developing countries to pay their workers slave wages, Republicans and establishment Democrats are for it.

Progressive oppose supporting coups d’etat in other countries, Republicans and establishment Democrats are for it.

Progressives oppose mass surveillance, Republicans and establishment Democrats are for it.

Progressives oppose police militarization, Republicans and establishment Democrats are for it.

Progressives oppose mass incarceration, Republicans and establishment Democrats are for it.

Progressive oppose impunity for human rights violations, Republicans and establishment Democrats are for it.

Progressives support transparency in government, Republicans and establishment Democrats oppose it.

Progressives support a livable wage, Republicans and establishment Democrats oppose it.

Progressives support rent control, Republicans and establishment Democrats oppose it.

Progressives support free college education, Republicans and establishment Democrats oppose it.

Progressives support allowing immigrants to stay in the country, Republicans and establishment Democrats oppose it.

Progressives support comprehensive healthcare, including gender realignment surgery, for prisoners, Republicans and establishment Democrats oppose it.

Progressive support single payer, Republicans and establishment Democrats are against it.

Progressives and establishment Democrats agree on abortion, gay marriage and whether transgender people can use the bathroom of their choice. I guess that’s something.

Sadly, I could go on.

Gavin Newsom Lied About Supporting Single Payer

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom (who merits his own Yelp reviews) is many things, but a man of his word is not one of them.  Newsom, who is running for Governor of California in 2018, has long suggested that he supported a single payer healthcare system.  He won the endorsement of the California Nurses Association with that promise.  He had been a little unclear as to what exactly he supported, but at the California Democrats Convention in May, he was asked specifically by single-payer supporters if he supported SB 562, the single-payer healthcare bill authored by CNA and introduced by Senators Richard Lara and Tony Atkins, he unequivocally said that he did.

His support did not last long. In a recent public appearance, Newsom has backed away from single payer and now supports a a mix of public and private coverage similar Healthy San Francisco – basically, a public option.  But Healthy San Francisco is not health insurance and has considerable limitations.  For one, it only covers San Francisco residents that utilize designated San Francisco doctors, clinics and hospitals.  Someone covered by Healthy San Francisco that falls ill or gets into an accident elsewhere, is on the hook for all of their medical bills – which can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Indeed, Healthy San Francisco does not qualify as “insurance” for Obamacare purposes, and most of the people that were covered by it moved to private insurance once that became an option.  Just as significantly, Healthy San Francisco does nothing to control private insurance premiums as it does not provide bonafide competition to insurance companies.  This means that many San Franciscans are still painfully under-insured and subject to high premiums and deductibles.

Newsom may feel comfortable disavowing single payer, because his main opponent for the governorship, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, also opposes it.   State Treasurer John Chiang, who is also running for governor but polling in the single-digits, is cagey about most of his policy views, including single-payer.  Indeed, the only strong advocate of single payer among the declared candidates for Governor is former Superintendent of Schools Delaine Eastin, who, non-coincidentally, has garnered the support of the progressives in the party.

The anti-universal healthcare stance of the three male Democrats in this race might appear to create the space for other well funded candidates to jump in and campaign on a pro-single payer basis.  Among those who are rumored to be entertaining a run is Kevin de León, the President pro tempore of the California Senate who voted for SB 562 and whipped the votes to get the bill past the Senate.    De León, however, has sided with the corporate establishment against progressives on a variety of issues and has little credibility with the Berniecrat wing of the party.  Billionaire pseudo-environmentalist Tom Steyer is also said to be considering a run and has recently made positive noises about single payer and Bernie Sanders.  However, he is unlikely to garner the support of progressive activists who are troubled by the increase in wealth inequality and the rise of the American oligarchy.   In a similar vein, there are rumors that Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg is planning to run for California governor instead of President.  Given his lack of a firm ideology or principles, and his ability to self-fund his campaign, he would likely run on whatever issues poll best and single-payer is very popular among California voters.

In all, now that Gavin Newsom has shown his true colors, the conditions are set for Delaine Eastin to capture the energy of Berniecrats and the progressive vote in the race for Governor.

On this Independence Day, Write to a Berniecrat in Jail

Justin StewartJustin J. Stewart IV, a  young African American Berniecrat and #BlackLivesMatter activist,  is in jail in Charlotte, North Carolina. Please take a moment to write to send him a card or a letter and let him know that you are thinking of him.

Last September, Justin participated in a protest against the police killing of  Keith L. Scott , an African American man summarily executed by Charlotte police.   Justin was arrested on charges related to this protest and has been under constant legal harassment since then.  After being put in home detention, which prevented him from participating in other protests, he continued his activism online.  He was then hit with a number of charges of breaking and entering into businesses.  He was arrested and his been in jail for a couple of months.  Though these later charges have recently been dismisse,d, he is still in jail on his original charge.

Justin is a well known activist in Charlotte. He was a very public Bernie Sanders supporter and has been a strong voice against police brutality, immigration abuses and for getting money out of politics.  On July 3rd, he turned 25 yo in jail.

Please  let Justin know that you care and send him a postcard or a letter just letting him know that he has not been forgotten.  He is very appreciative of the cards he has received so far and would love to get more.  Please write to Justin at:

Justin James Stewart
PID# 0000 376 362
P.O. Box 34429
Charlotte, NC 28234

(Note, if you don’t have any stationary and/or stamps at home, you can design, write & mail a postcard online at websites like this one).

His family has just set an account to fund raise money for a lawyer.  If you’d like to contribute go to https://fundrazr.com/JusticeforJustin2k17

We are all in this together! 

Meet the Anti-Corporate Candidates for Congress in California

California has joined the political revolution and we are already seeing a surge of progressive candidates running for office throughout the state.  Here are  the  candidates running for office who don’t take contributions form corporate PACs or from law enforcement unions  If you know of others, please leave a comment.

Note: These are not official endorsements. These are simply candidates that share our values of opposing corporate money and who support a progressive human rights based agenda.

david hildebrand

US Senate: David Hildebrand

David Hildebrand is an unapologetic Pro-Labor Democratic Socialist running to represent the residents of the State of California. The son of a union carpenter, and a member of a union himself, he knows the value of organizing.

David has a BA in Government from CSU Sacramento. He volunteered for Bernie for Sacramento, phone banking, canvassing, and eventually as the Staging Location Director for California’s 6th Congressional District.  If successful in the upcoming elections, he will lead the charge for progressive policies at the federal level, and defend California against a Congress and Presidency determined to cut the social, economic, and environmental programs that American workers rely on.

Hildebrand will be running against incumbent corporate Democrat Dianne Feinstein.  Follow David on Facebook and on Twitter.

Dotty Nygard

CD 10:   Dotty Nygard

Dotty Nygard  is an emergency room nurse, a former Riverbank City Council member, a patient advocate, a mother and a grandmother.  She is a strong advocate of getting corporate money out of politics and of instituting universal healthcare.  She is running to restore the values of care, compassion and community to politics and confront the , business-as-usual culture in Washington and our Political establishment.

The CD 10 seat is currently held by Republican Trump supporter Jeff Denham, who won the seat by less than 5 points. Nygard will also be facing corporate Democrat opponents in the open primary.  Follow Nygard on Facebook and on Twitter.

Stephen Jaffe

CD 12 : Stephen Jaffe

Stephen Jaffe, an employment rights lawyer and ardent progressive,  is running against Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.    Pelosi has not had a serious Democratic challenger in decades. While Jaffe’s campaign is robust and growing, Pelosi’s practice is to ignore her challengers and seek to have mainstream media to do the same. She will have a difficult time doing that this time. In just eight weeks, Jaffe has over 1,100 individual donors – mostly small, Bernie-esque in nature – from all over the US.   He has raised close to $40,000.  He has been interviewed on national network news, mentioned in the LA Times, Washington Post and Chicago Tribune.  For Pelosi, he is becoming the elephant in the room and impossible to ignore.

Follow Stephen Jaffe on Facebook and on Twitter and contribute here.

Angelica Duenas

CD 29: Angelica Duenas

Angelica Duenas is a community activist, a Green party organizer, a Bernie Sanders delegate to the DNC and a mother of five.   She is running a clean money campaign against incumbent corporate Democrat Tony Cardenas, who is funded by Big Pharma and the medical industry.

Angela wants to implement single payer universal healthcare and humane Immigration reform policies that treat hard-working people and their families with compassion  and fairness.  Her platform includes ending homelessness in the greater Los Angeles County area, incentivizing job creation and affordable housing construction, while simultaneously ensuring that vital social service programs receive full federal funding.  She is committed to pass federal electoral reform legislation and  will advocate for a humane foreign policy that is based on the fundamentals of human dignity and peace.

Follow Angelica on Facebook.

julio castaneda

CD 39: Julio Castañeda

Julio Castañeda is a progressive activist that has taken Bernie Sanders call to make a difference and run for office.  A former Army and Air Force vet, Julio was a supervolunteer for the Bernie Sanders campaign and works as a Business Systems Analyst.   He is running on a universal healthcare, renewable energy and education platform.

Julio is facing incumbent Republican Ed Royce, who was re-elected by almost 15 points in a district that Clinton won by 8.5 points.   He is also facing fellow Berniecrat  Phil Janowicz (see below) and a corporate Democrat from outside the district. Follow Julio on Facebook .

Phil Janowicz

CD 39Phil Janowicz

Phil Janowicz is an MIT graduate, a former Chemistry professor and now works as a consultant on breaching the achievement gap in education.  He is a Bernie Sanders supporter and is running on social justice platform which also emphasizes science education.  We have not yet confirmed that he will not accept corporate PAC money.

Phil is facing incumbent Republican Ed Royce, who was re-elected by almost 15 points in a district that Clinton won by 8.5 points.   He is also facing fellow Berniecrat  Julio Castañeda (see above)  and a corporate Democrat from outside the district.  Follow Phil on Facebook  and Twitter.

Julia Peacock

CD 42: Julia Peacock

Julia Peacock is a public school teacher, wife, and mother of two who believes in educational opportunity, civil and human rights, and empowering all members of our society to live the lives they deserve.  She is running on an anti-dirty money platform, believes  healthcare should be treated as a right, not a privilege, that immigrants make communities stronger, that we cannot militarize the police and expect that crime will go down or communities will feel safer and that Black Lives Matter.  She supports Planned Parenthood, gay marriage and not-for-profit K-12 education. 

She is running against 25-year incumbent Republican Ken Calvert who last won re-election by 17 points.  Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Miguel Zuniga

CD 43: Miguel Zuñiga

Miguel Zuñiga is a former Bernie Sanders volunteer and delegate that after experiencing the Democratic Party’s undemocratic shenanigans during the 2016 election left the Party disgusted and became a green.  He is running on a platform of  Single Payer, $15 minimum, Renewable Energy, Immigration Reform, No Fracking, No Pipelines, No more unjust wars, No more Prisons for Profits, Money out of Politics, Police Brutality Reform and Free College Tuition.

Miguel is running against Democratic incumbent Maxine Waters.  Follow Miguel on Twitter.

Doug Applegate

CD 49: Doug Applegate

Coronel Doug Applegate is a retired Marine Colonel and  civilian trial attorney.  He is running on a very progressive platform of ending Wall Street’s domination of Congress, stopping endless wars, establishing single payer,  honoring the social contract and restoring integrity to politics.

Applegate ran against incumbent Republican Darrell Issa and came within a point of winning the race in 2016.  He now also faces Mike Levin, corporate Democrat pretending to be a progressive. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

Pete Beauregard

CD 50:  Pete Beauregard

Pierre “Pete” Beauregard is a Vietnam vet and anti-war activist.  He has worked with Kucinich to try to establish a Department of Peace and was active in Occupy Wall Street/San Diego and other progressive causes.   He was a Bernie delegate to the Democratic Convention.

Pete is facing Republican incumbent Duncan D. Hunter who won re-election in November by 28 points.  Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

Corporate-free Candidates Run Against the Establishment in LA’s AD 51

When Congressman Xavier Becerra was appointed Attorney General, after AG Kamala Harris was elected US Senator, he left his congressional seat open. Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez, representing the 51st district, was elected to fill his seat in a special election, thus leaving his own Assembly seat open.

While Gomez still hasn’t resigned from the Assembly (or assumed his duties in Washington),  when he does there will be an election for AD 51. There are already quite a few candidates for that Assembly seat. In a district won by Bernie Sanders, it’s not surprising that several of these are a couple of #Unbought (candidates that reject corporate and law enforcement PAC money and who support a progressive rights-based agenda).

Here are the Corporate-free candidates we know.  We will add others as we determine their positions

Ron Birbaum

Ron Birbaum

An Argentinian-American doctor, father of three, and a community activist, Ron Birbaum is a man on a mission:  pass single payer healthcare NOW, before more people die for lack of insurance or money to pay skyrocketing co-pays.  Time after time he’s seen the consequences of people who wait too long to go to the doctor because they can’t afford to go earlier, he is committed to changing that dynamic forever.

He’s also an all-around Progressive who supports raising the minimum wage, expanding affordable housing, protecting immigrants and unions and making the Democratic Party democratic.  He’s not going to be a Rendon stooge if elected.

Follow Ron on Facebook.

(NOTE: This article previously mentioned Wendy Carrillo, but she has since taken money from corporate-funded PACs)

We’ve contacted other candidates to ascertain their positions on corporate money.

Corporate candidates include:

Mike Fong, a community college trustee and Alex de Ocampo, a Young Democrat (this group is usually made up of establishment political climbers)  supported Eric Bauman, a sure sign of putting political careerism above progressive concerns. Don’t vote for them.