This week, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa approved a new city law
requiring hotels near the LAX airport to pay the same living wage as
those companies receiving government contracts: $9.39 an hour if the
hotels provide health insurance or $10.64 an hour without benefits.
Even with the good news that came last Tuesday, all too much evidence exists that the basic machinery of democracy in America is broken. Election Day is like Groundhog Day and the first stories of problems with voting machines, long lines, or voter intimidation hit the wires in the early A.M. Fortunately, with progressives in control in more states than ever before, we have an opportunity to get the machinery working, so that the engine of democracy starts humming again.
New polling shows that even as California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger makes explicit his opposition to Proposition 90 -- the state's clone of Measure 37 -- new polling shows the proposition passing by a margin of 58% to 28%.
In a California election year where hundreds of millions of dollars are being dumped into races, Prop 90 has flown mostly under the radar.
It's a big year for ballot issues. Mid-term elections, when no
President is being elected, typically see less activity on the ballot
issue front than Presidential years, but 2006 is proving to be an exception. Eighteen states will consider 76 ballot issues this fall, as high as its been since 1914 for a non-Presidential year.
Two years ago, Oregon voters were sold Measure 37 as a property rights issue. The measure, they were told, would
close loopholes governments used to regulate homeowners and prevent
unnecessary regulation. Backers downplayed other ramifications that are
now coming to light, ramifications that other states will face if
voters in Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, or Washington approve initiatives modeled after Measure 37.
By voting for Proposition 87, California voters have the
opportunity to join a growing number of states in investing in clean
energy. Backing the proposition are more than just environmental
groups. Unions, civil rights organizations, health workers, and many
others have joined in the fight for clean energy. The proposition
would tax companies drilling for oil in California and set aside the
money collected in a fund for loans, grants and subsides to promote
alternative fuels and more energy-efficient vehicles. In addition to
the environmental benefits, it will decrease dependence on foreign oil.
In elementary school, most Americans learn about the three branches of government: the legislative branch writes the law, the executive branch enforces the law, and the judicial branch interprets the law. Complicated concept?
In a ground breaking measure, San Francisco voters will be voting on a ballot proposal
next month to guarantee workers paid sick days, up to nine days per
year for full-time workers at large businesses with fewer days off for
employees in small businesses or in part-time jobs. A broad coalition
of unions, political leaders, and community organizations, led by the
dynamic Young Workers United, put the issue on the ballot.
One sign of progressive strength is when progressive candidates win
elections. But another sign is when conservative candidates begin
adopting progressive programs for fear of losing office. And across the
country, many GOP gubernatorial candidates have begun embracing progressive causes as a way to court the voters: