Monday, May 6, 2013 comes to my hometown of Fontana. Unfortunately so has ugly local partisan politics.

Saturday, May 4, 2013, I attended a local organizing meeting hosted by and chaired by Tobi Dragert.  It was held at Denny's on Valley Blvd. in Fontana and was well attended.  I was pleased to learn that MoveOn is going local - perhaps they have been all the time but I didn't know about it.  Personally, I am beginning to believe that is where the most effective action must take place.  Too many of the national politicians are now owned by international corporations - most of the Democrats and nearly all of the Republicans.  The Teabagger 51 is a result of gerrymandering and has enabled 51 uncontested congressional seats to control the House and bully most of the Republicans into shutting down government at the federal level. Democrats have to do the same to reverse it. And it has to happen soon or our once free democracy will become a international corporate feudal system.  Hopefully, it's not too late.

The purpose of the meeting in Fontana was to organize support for AB52 the California Disclose Act

New California DISCLOSE ACT, SB 52, Introduced by Senators Leno and Hill

* SB 52 Requires That Political Ads Clearly Disclose Their Top Three Funders
By Press Release
Press Release, December 20th, 2012
SACRAMENTO - A new effort to give voters the information they need by requiring significantly greater transparency in political ads was launched with the introduction of a newCalifornia DISCLOSE Act by Senators Mark Leno and Jerry Hill. Over 350 organizations and leaders endorsed the last version, with over 84,000 Californians signing petitions urging the legislature to pass it.
SB 52 will require that the top three funders of political ads be clearly and unambiguously identified, on the ads themselves, as well as require committee websites to list their major funders. It applies to advertising for ballot measure campaigns, independent expenditures such as Super PACS, and issue advocacy.
"We are thrilled that Senators Leno and Hill are taking the lead to push this crucial transparency legislation", said Trent Lange, President of the California Clean Money Campaign, the sponsor of SB 52. "There is a growing movement of Californians demanding the California DISCLOSE Act because people want to know who is really paying for political ads, whether they are hidden out-of-state billionaires behind Super PACs or the largest special interests in California."

SB 52 builds on the progress made by the last version of the California DISCLOSE Act, AB 1648 (Brownley), which passed the Assembly on a vote of 50-26 in late August before running out of time to pass the Senate. AB 1648 had 49 legislative co-authors.

The need for serious reform of disclosure on political ads has increased since then. Over $421 million was spent this year in California on ballot measures alone, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Most of it was spent by committees hiding their funders with misleading names like "Stop Special Interest Money Now" or "The 2012 Auto Insurance Discounts Act."

"We saw evidence in the most recent election cycle of unnamed organizations throwing around large sums of money in order to confuse California voters," said Senator Leno, D-San Francisco. "The only way to stop this covert financing of campaigns is to require the simple and clear disclosure of the top three funders of political ads so voters can make well-informed decisions at the ballot box."

Californians from all major political parties have overwhelmingly stated their support for greater disclosure. A Field Poll late last year indicated 84 percent of registered California voters favored legislation to increase public disclosure requirements of initiative sponsors, including 78 percent of Republicans, 86 percent of Democrats and 88 percent of Independents.

"This legislation is vital to protecting the integrity of our democratic process and ensuring fair elections in our state," said Senator Hill, D-San Mateo. "After seeing billions of dollars flow into elections across our country after the Citizens United decision, we need the DISCLOSE Act now more than ever."

DISCLOSE is an acronym for Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections.
The California Clean Money Campaign is a non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization that has been dedicated to educating the public about the need to lessen the unfair influence of Big Money on election campaigns since 2001. 
Paraphrasing a flyer handed out by Tobi at the meeting, voters supported an oil severance tax to pay for alternative energy by a nearly three to one margin (Prop 87, 2006), a group called "Californians against Higher Taxes" spetn $94 milllion in anonymous ads, and voters, rejected the measure even though it would have been in their own best interests. Most voters never knew its largest funders and opponents were Chevron, Aera Energy and Occidental Oil and Gas.
Initiatives that would have increased cigareted taxes (Prop 29 in 2012 and Prop 86 in 2006) both led in initial polls but were defeated by $66 million and $47 million spent by Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds, respectively, opposing the measures. Voters saw the fine print, "paid for by Californians against out of control taxes and spending." Nobody wants to pay higher taxes or spend more on programs in this economy.  Confused by the ads, their votes were based on the belief that passing the meaures would increase their taxes. 
In 2005, Prop 79, the prescription drug discounts bill, led in the polls by 15% in a senior consumer advocacy group but it lost after "Calfornians  Against the Wrong Prescription" spent milliona defeating it. The largest funders? GlzxoSmithKline, Merck and Pfizer.
Going back even further - to the proposed peripheral canal in 1982, you hear a lot of arguments and dissections of this project but the bottom line is that the canal, as originally planned, was to divert flood waters from the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers around the delta and regulate the flow of fresh water which was both wasting water and harming the ecosystem. Out of the in-fighting the fact emerged that the measure was defeated by misleading ads financed by agribusiness who would be charged for the water which they were previously getting free water diverted from the delta.  Ironically, the election was decided by the Southern California voters who would have been prime beneficiaries of the additional water.  This was water that otherwise was flowing out to sea and wasted as it moved the gradient of fresh water/sea water back and forth and confused ecosystem. 
This is a law that should be non-partisan - who could object to transparency in political funding - but it will be opposed by Republicans.  Bank it. 

Getting back to the Fontana meeting, I was pleasantly amazed by the savvy and knowledge of local politics by the attendees.  I was frankly intimidated by them. Not part of the agenda but well articulated by Fontana School Board member, Leticia Garcia, was her victimization of a politically motivate recall election which will cost the Fontana voters more than $100,000. Although local elections in Fontana are supposed to be non-partisan, this is a typical conservative corruption issue. Leticia and another member of the board are being targeted because of their questioning the funding of the Fontana after-school programs. Mayor Acquanetta Warren, an active partisan Republican, is supporting right wing Mayor of Ontario Paul Leon in his election bid for the 32nd California Senate District seat.  Leon faces Norma Torres in a runoff election. In the regular election, Torres received 43 percent of the vote and Leon received 26%. I grew up in Fontana in the Forties.  I graduated from Fontana Junior High School and Chaffey High School. I still consider Fontana my home though I now live in Rancho Cucamonga. Personally, I consider Warren a carpet bagger from Los Angeles. 
Warren shameless posted an accusation on the Fontana Teacher's Association that Leticia and.or her fellow target, Green, were convicted felons. This is untrue as is most of the claims of the recall effort. For example, the proponents claim that the recall move is to save the after-school programs. This is not true. Garcia and Green were questioning irregularities and lack of bidding in the funding. They also claim that Green and Garcia are doing illegal and improper things. This is false. These are more facts that Fontana votes need to know:
  • Petition gatherers were paid for each signature they obtained.
  • Fontana USC voters decided in 2010 that change was needed when Green and Garcia beat out two incumbents and were constitutionally elected to serve the students of the Fontana Unified School District.
  • This is a blatant power grab to go back to "business as usual" where no one questions multi-million dollar grant programs or where tax revenues are being spent. 
  • The Mayor blamed two board members for "politics" at the same time she called them "stupid outsiders" and declared war.
  • This special election will cost the district over $100,000.
  • The ASES after-school program was in place last year, is in place now, and will be in place next year provided a majority of Board members approve a new vendor. 
As a former resident and lover of the City of Fontana, as well as an advocate of honesty and democracy, I encourage everyone in the area to call the Mayor's office, write the loca papers, and inundate Mayor Warren's internet sites with a call for integrity. 

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