Monday, December 12, 2005

Berkeley Honors Maudelle Shirek


At 94, Maudelle is still a great and influential member of the Berkeley community. I am honored to know her. This great article from the Oakland Tribune by William Brand says it all.
BERKELEY — In the two decades Maudelle Shirek served on the Berkeley City Council, she never forgot the hard years during the Great Depression and she never hesitated to speak out for social justice and for what she believed was right.

Now 94 and in frail health, her many Berkeley friends and supporters filled St. Paul AME Church on Saturday evening to salute Shirek and celebrate her long service to Berkeley's progressive politics.

When Shirek arrived, looking cool in sunglasses with bright blue frames, a wool suit and beret, the crowd stood and began shouting, "Maudelle! Maudelle!"

The event, a benefit for the Maudelle Shirek Scholarship Fund for deserving South Berkeley young people, drew at least 400 and a long line of officials, including Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, state Assembly member Loni Hancock,

D-Berkeley, Alameda County Supervisor Keith Carson, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and several present and former councilmembers.

Meanwhile, the Berkeley City Council in a unanimous vote has decided to rename Old City Hall in honor of Shirek.

"Maudelle always had her priorities right," said Hancock, who served as Berkeley's mayor while Shirek was in office. "She was always a fighter for what she believed was right."

Hancock's husband, Tom Bates, said Shirek made a great contribution to the city. "It's absolutely fitting that the community honor her."

To read the rest of the article... click here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

We're Gaining Momentum!


As you know I am sponsoring legislation to create a "Clean Money" system of funding political campaigns in California (view the bill by clicking here).

The idea is gaining momentum and we are really on a roll! Check out this great article in the Los Angeles Times:
Buying back government
AS IF THE RESULTS OF LAST month's special election weren't convincing enough, there is new evidence that the public is fed up with Sacramento. The Public Policy Institute of California surveyed 2,002 voters in the 12 days after Nov. 8 and, in various ways on various issues, it's clear: They're not happy.
More than three-quarters of them, or 76%, don't like the way the governor and Legislature are working together. Three-fifths thought the special election was a bad idea. More than two-thirds, or 68%, think California is headed in the wrong direction. Barely one in five, or 17%, say they can trust public officials to do what's right most of the time. It was, as the poll's director said, "a vote of no confidence for state government." Public financing of elections would go a long way toward restoring that confidence.
Regardless of what Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature (disapproval ratings of 56% and 66%, respectively) may accomplish in the coming year, the state's basic political system remains broken and in serious need of repair. And the biggest evil is the dominance of big money in California elections. More than $250 million was spent on ballot measures this year. Essentially, it was provided by the Democrats' supporters in organized labor and, on the Republican side, by business interests.
It's a system that invites corruption and compromise of political principle. Almost four-fifths of voters in the survey, or 78%, think state government is controlled by a few big interests. One way to take control from these interests is to provide public financing of elections, from the Legislature through the statewide offices, up to and including governor. Arizona and Maine have done this with considerable success. Last week, the Connecticut Legislature passed a "clean money" bill that the governor has pledged to sign.
The clean-money law being proposed by Assemblywoman Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) would provide up to $10 million for a qualifying candidate for governor, while Assembly candidates would get $150,000 and Senate contestants $300,000. Candidates could choose to finance their campaigns the traditional way, but the clean-money candidates would get enough to remain competitive.

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.