Co-published by AlterNet
A Supreme Court case that could topple the power of California’s unions has been a perfect storm gathering for 40 years.
When Bisbee, Arizona banned single-use plastic bags in 2014, leaders in the plastics industry worried Bisbee had sparked a trend. So they did what corporate lobbyists do in a reliably conservative state: They persuaded legislators and the governor to declare bans like Bisbee’s illegal.
As lobbyists and state legislators gathered at San Diego’s Grand Hyatt resort last week for the three-day annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the delegates seemed to barely glance at the several dozen exhibitor tables that made up a sort of carnival sideshow of right-wing groups outside the hotel’s second-floor warren of meeting rooms.
Convention attendees had more pressing concerns. Namely, turning this year’s corporate wish list into the infamous boilerplate bills known as “model laws” that would aspire to undermine things like health and environmental standards, worker rights, campaign-spending limits and implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) across the 50 states.
Many of the exhibitor booths were occupied by familiar ALEC friends, such as the collection of extreme-right think tanks known as the State Policy Network,
“The biggest scam of the last 100 years is global warming!” thundered Stephen Moore to ALEC’s plenary breakfast club this morning. “It’s no surprise that when you give these professors $10 billion, they’re going to find a problem.” Moore then singled out North Dakota for its regulatory-free attitudes toward the fracking industry: “I just have one message for you — drill, baby, drill!”
The annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council began wrapping up business in San Diego Friday on this defiant note from Moore, a former Wall Street Journal writer. This newly hired Heritage Foundation economist is an apostle of completely eliminating state income taxes and has been in a running feud with liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, over Moore’s casual regard for accurate reporting.
Moore’s speaking partner today was fellow supply-sider Arthur Laffer,
Scott Walker couldn’t have asked for more.
When the Wisconsin governor took the dais Thursday at the American Legislative Exchange Council’s annual conference in San Diego, his audience was ravenous for any vision that included destroying unions and cracking down on America’s criminal underclass.
The venue was the plenary croissants-and-eggs breakfast, but it would be hard to imagine an audience hungrier for the red meat Governor Walker threw out to it.
Every key bill Walker has been associated with, since his get-tough-on-crime heyday as a state assemblyman in the 1990s, has been a plagiarism of an ALEC model bill. Such as laws that eliminated parole (and ballooned state prison populations) or that imposed a voter ID law, gutted public education and teacher protections, and made Wisconsin the 25th right-to-work state.
Walker himself isn’t an actual member of the secretive corporate lobbying network (ALEC only admits legislators,
For several tense hours yesterday San Diego’s plush Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel, located in the city’s Embarcadero district, felt more like Athens’ besieged Parliament than a resort on California’s laid-back shoreline.
Around 2 p.m. the hotel, which is playing host to this year’s annual meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), sealed off all entrances except its main lobby in what became a virtual lockdown.
For the 1,300 state legislators and corporate lobbyists gathered inside, the perceived security threat turned out to be from those who stand the most to lose from ALEC attacks on workplace rights, minimum wage laws and state health and environmental standards — California workers.
An estimated 2,500 protestors, carrying placards declaring California to be an “ALEC-Free Zone,” gathered around 1 p.m. in Embarcadero Marina Park to hear a series of speakers lambasting the secretive,
The 42nd Annual Meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) got underway in earnest Wednesday at San Diego’s Manchester Grand Hyatt resort hotel. The mood was convivial and the attire corporate casual: Brooks Brothers suits without ties, Dockers and sports shirts.
Although this year’s star attractions — a GOP presidential frontrunner, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and a returning presidential contender, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee — weren’t scheduled to speak until Thursday, conference delegates had plenty to do yesterday.
ALEC, a secretive rightwing bill mill that gets its funding from the Koch Brothers and global multibillion dollar corporations, has been described as a legislative dating service that arranges hookups between mostly Republican state lawmakers and corporate lobbyists.
The actual “dates” occur at meetings like those unfolding in San Diego — a council spokesperson said 1,300 conferees were in attendance — and take place behind locked doors,
It’s become an unsettling fact of political life that as election turnouts dwindle, campaign spending skyrockets. Los Angeles’ recently concluded school board races, which drew a paltry 7.6 percent of potential voters, underscored this point. Ref Rodriguez, who unseated the District 5 incumbent, received most of the $2.2 million contributed by political action committees (PACs) controlled by the California Charter Schools Association Advocates. Rodriguez has co-created several charter schools and his backers, unsurprisingly, came from that community. Among the familiar local names of extreme wealth and influence were Eli Broad, Richard Riordan and William Bloomfield. Equally familiar to followers of school privatization were more distant funders such as Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, Walmart heir Jim Walton, Laurene Powell Jobs, the Gap Inc.’s Fisher family members and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Rounding out Rodriguez’s cascade of thousand-dollar checks were names associated with high-powered investment firms,
In an excruciating example of bad timing, the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP was scheduled to bestow its Lifetime Achievement Award to Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, at its May 15 banquet. Sterling is now under fire for racist comments caught on a recording that surfaced on the TMZ website. Even President Barack Obama weighed in, condemning Sterling’s remarks as “incredibly offensive.” The NBA is now investigating Sterling’s remarks and could invoke sanctions, including removing him as Clippers’ owner.
Embarrassed by the controversy, the NAACP announced Sunday morning, via Twitter, that is was withdrawing the award, which was to be presented at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles as part of the celebration of the chapter’s 100th anniversary. The NAACP also plans to honor Rev. Al Sharpton and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti — as well as Walmart’s local charity and political operative and a top Fed Ex executive —
Sandy Hellebrand was concerned. She needed to find a school that could educate her son Gabriel, who has autism and was about to enter high school.
Hellebrand thought she had found the perfect solution: She would enroll Gabriel and her two younger children in Sky Mountain Charter School, one of a rapidly-growing number of virtual schools in California and across the country.
After all, she reasoned, the school would provide excellent online instructional materials and instructors to guide Gabriel’s individual needs. Since Sky Mountain is a publicly funded school – although not a traditional brick-and-mortar one – the state of California would pay for her children’s education. And Hellebrand and her husband Rob, a public high school teacher, would receive about $1,800 a year for each of their children to help defray their costs of educating them at home.
“The idea is fantastic,” she says in an interview with Frying Pan News.
Benjamin Gamboa doesn’t know John Arnold, but they are linked by a shared concern over the fate of public-employee pensions in California.
“I’m proud to have a pension,” the 30-year-old Gamboa says. “I believe every American should have a pension.”
The two men live in very different worlds. Gamboa is a research analyst at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa, California. Arnold is a hedge-fund billionaire from Houston, Texas.
There’s another difference between them: Arnold recently had a representative present at a secret “pension summit” held at a Sacramento hotel, where strategies to limit public employee retirement benefits were discussed; Gamboa, a union member, did not – representatives of labor were specifically not invited.
“Pension reform” has become the latest battle cry in a seemingly endless war that has ostensibly been declared against tax-dollar waste, but whose single-minded purpose has been to slash the job protections and benefits enjoyed by California’s working middle class.
Writing on the building outside the Palmer House Hotel in downtown Chicago says “igniting passions since 1871.” The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) held its 40th anniversary conference at the hotel, igniting the passions of protesters who came out to inveigh against ALEC’s agenda during a demonstration August 8.
Birthed in Chicago, ALEC first met in September 1973. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit it has tax-exempt status. ALEC “also develops model bills and resolutions on economic issues,” as the organization’s website states, noting that those bills “can be helpful resources” for legislators pursuing privatization of public services.
To kick off the conference, ALEC arranged to have British Parliament member Conor Burns speak at a leadership dinner August 6 before major meeting events the following three days. An ALEC meeting program notes Burns’ relationship with the late Margaret Thatcher, renowned for gutting public projects. He reportedly “visited Lady Thatcher at her home every Sunday evening for drinks [and] developed a close bond.”
Last November unions won a resounding victory when voters defeated Proposition 32, a ballot measure that would have crippled labor’s political influence in California, partly by barring public-employee unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. The initiative, which enjoyed a huge lead in early opinion polls, was heavily funded by wealthy conservatives and far-right groups.
Union leaders were overjoyed by its defeat.
“You can’t buy California,” Dean Vogel, president of the California Teachers Association (CTA), told an election-night victory party in Sacramento. “We’re not for sale.”
The celebration hasn’t been long lived. In a little-noticed move in April, a conservative legal organization that has pushed to overturn the 1964 Voting Rights Act filed a lawsuit in federal court in Santa Ana that could accomplish in the courts what Prop. 32 couldn’t at the ballot box. The players behind the suit may not be household names but the millionaires and private foundations covering their legal fees represent a familiar klatch of extreme libertarians who,
Here’s a fun fact you probably didn’t know: Arizona’s notorious SB 1070 law was born in a Walmart.
Yes, the inspiration for the most draconian anti-immigrant legislation in the nation, a measure that permits law enforcement to ask about immigration status, one that swings the door wide open for racial profiling—SB 1070—reportedly sprang from a moment of inspiration at a Walmart checkstand.
This origins story is brought to you courtesy of the Ministry of Citizenship, a faux MinuteMan-style group that purports to be a fan of the legislation. According to the Ministry, it happened this way: state representative Russell Pearce, the measure’s sponsor, “hatched the idea for SB 1070 late one night while waiting in the checkout line at Walmart.”
“Here I was just trying to buy some Cheetos and cat litter, and the crowds were just horrendous,” the Ministry quotes Pearce as saying.