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Mark My Word
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The Governor’s Special Election & Proposed Propositions

Dear Betty’s List Friends,
It’s official.  Ignoring public opinion, Governor Schwarzenegger has chosen to continue with a special election to be held November 8th.  In doing so, he has unilaterally forced California’s local governments, already strapped for cash, to spend $55 million for an election Californians don’t need or want.  San Francisco will be forced to spend $1.2 million we could otherwise use to hire more police officers, fix our roads and expand our homeless shelters.  

Instead of working with the Legislature in good faith to address the complex issues facing the state, the Governor has spent the last year raising campaign dollars to fight teachers, firefighters, police officers, and nurses in his special election.  Even while polls show that nearly two-thirds of Californians oppose a special election, the Governor has thrust us into an election that is neither about saving the state money nor improving the quality of life for our citizens.  Rather it is about pure political gain on the part of the Governor and the Republican Party.
Now that the Governor has forced this special election, let’s call it what it is: one of the most important calls to action we have seen in recent history.  The initiatives the Governor has officially endorsed will give him more power to cut education funding, delay teachers from gaining tenure and put the responsibility of drawing district lines in the hands of a panel of retired judges— you guessed it, appointed by the governor.  Also on the ballot is an initiative that will shut workers out from participating in the political process.  Let’s take a look at some of the measures he’s put before us.

Proposition 74 will increase the length of time a teacher must spend on probation from two to five years before gaining tenure.  Unfortunately, the Governor truly missed the big picture here.  This initiative won’t do anything to help our schools.  It doesn’t reduce class sizes, buy up-to date textbooks for students or provide quality teacher training.  Those are proven reforms that parents and teachers know work.  The Governor should put his focus there rather than working to diminish the job security of a profession that is already in need of individuals willing to take on one of the most honorable challenges today— educating the next generation of Californians and for minimal pay.  

Proposition 76 will freeze state spending at current levels whenever a budget agreement is not met by the June 30th deadline, giving the governor sole power over city and county funding sources for firefighters, police, health services, and other vital local programs.  It will also lower minimum school funding requirements.  If passed, it will give the Governor a constitutional incentive not to work with the legislature.

The Governor’s allies, the Small Business Action Committee, are bankrolling Proposition 75, ‘Paycheck Deception.’  It creates unnecessary red tape by requiring public employee unions to get annual written permission from members to use dues for campaign contributions. The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that unions cannot use a member's dues for political purposes if the member objects. Union members already have the right to opt out of political contributions at any time.  The goal of the initiative is to silence the voices of teachers, firefighters and health care providers who fight for higher public safety standards, better quality health care and decent funding for our schools.   

Certainly, the Governor’s Proposition 77 is a clear attempt to gain more legislative and congressional victories for the GOP.  Under this proposal, redistricting duties would go to a panel of three retired judges who would try to draw new districts in time for 2006 elections.  District lines would be redrawn immediately, not within our constitutionally-guided once-a-decade timeframe, and without census data to guide the process.  Let us not forget that this Governor lost every legislative seat he targeted in the last election.  This is a governor who wants to win and is willing to do anything to do so.

I am particularly concerned that California voters won't know the real contributors behind 'Paycheck Protection' until July 31st – after ballot pamphlets are published.   Because the Small Business Action Committee is a general purpose committee, it can go on pouring funds into the measure without coming clean about who is bankrolling it.  

Also on the ballot is Proposition 73, an anti-choice measure that is nothing more than an attempt to weaken Roe v. Wade.  By requiring doctors to notify parents 48 hours before an abortion is performed, we simply delay medical care, putting young women at risk of health complications and place government in the middle of private decisions that should be between doctor and patient.   

There are two prescription drug measures on the ballot.  The first, Proposition 78 is supported by the drug companies and relies on ‘voluntary discounts’ from the pharmaceutical industry.  This flimsy drug discount program does more to protect the pharmaceutical industry’s healthy profit margins than help Californians struggling to pay high drug prices which is why the industry will spend a record $70 million or more to win.  Proposition 79 will give significant discounts for seniors, small businesses and families by creating a drug discount program that requires participation by drug manufacturers, or the drug companies will lose the ability to sell drugs to the Medi-Cal program.

Proposition 80 will require electricity providers to be regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission and will hopefully prevent another deregulation disaster.  It will repeal failed deregulation policies of the mid-90’s and develop more green power renewable energy.

Mike Murphy, Schwarzenegger's chief political strategist was recently quoted as saying, "the real campaign for these reforms has not even begun.”  The Governor is sure to use his limitless supply of campaign dollars to deluge you with deceptive messages on his “reforms.”  I encourage you to make sure your family, friends, and colleagues are registered to vote and informed about the state and local propositions which will be before you on November 8, 2005.  You can get more information by contacting the Secretary of State’s office at (916) 653-6814 or (, or the San Francisco Department of Elections at (415) 554-4375 (  Our future is at stake.

To contact Assemblyman Mark Leno, call his San Francisco District Office at 415-557-3013 or reach him through his website:

Bio & Past Articles

Past Articles

Betty's List 'Mark My Word'
Columnist Assemblyman Mark Leno

Assemblyman Mark Leno made history in November 2002 when he was elected as one of the first openly gay men to the California State Assembly, representing District 13, the eastern portion of San Francisco. He currently serves as Chair of the Public Safety Committee, one of only four freshman legislators appointed to Chair a policy committee in their first year. He also serves on the Appropriations, Local Government, and Revenue & Taxation Committees and is the Chair of Select Committees on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender (LBGT) Families and Childhood Obesity & Related Diabetes.

A native of Wisconsin, Leno attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, then went on to become valedictorian of his graduating class at the American College of Jerusalem, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree. Leno also spent two years in Rabbinical Studies at Hebrew Union College in New York.

Prior to his election to the State Assembly, Assemblyman Leno served as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from April 1998 to December 2002. He authored landmark legislation in the areas of affordable housing, universal health care for children, solar energy, late night entertainment, bond oversight, small business services, City CarShare, medical cannabis, equal access to services, and LGBT civil rights.

Leno is the owner of Budget Signs, Inc., a small business he founded in 1978 and operated with his life partner, Douglas Jackson. Together the two entrepreneurs steadily grew their sign business until Jackson passed away from complications relating to AIDS/HIV in 1990. This deep loss would not deter Leno. Instead, he redoubled his efforts in community service.

He has served on the boards of many local and national organizations including the LGBT Community Center Project, Haight Ashbury Community Services, the American Jewish Congress, Mobilization Against AIDS, and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. He is the recipient of the 1995 Small Business Owner of the Year Award from the Small Business Network, the 1995 Hormel Community Service Award from the Human Rights Campaign and the James R. Sylla Award from the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.

Outside of his capacity as an elected official, Leno has been a tireless supporter of nonprofit organizations in San Francisco, frequently appearing to show support at events and lending a hand wherever possible. He was a statewide spokesman for the No on Prop 22 Campaign (the Knight Initiative) and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles in August 2000.