As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The CA Legislature Must Keep The Pressure On

Frank Russo predictably delivered with great coverage of yesterday's Assembly Natural Resources Committee hearing into political pressure from the Governor's Office on the California Air Resources Board. Just keep scrolling. The most shocking piece of news that Russo highlights, which was also in a couple news articles on the subject, was that the Administration flack sent to give the Governor's side of the story, Dan Skopec, ISN'T EVEN PART OF THE ADMINISTRATION ANYMORE.

Skopec no longer works for the Schwarzenegger Administration as of a week ago, and has started his own firm, "Climate & Energy Consulting" on Sacramento's K Street Mall, to serve clients he described as "emerging technologies companies that will take advantage of the changes in energy that will result from climate policies." Despite repeated questions from committee members, he refused to reveal who in the Administration had asked him to testify, who he had spoken to about the hearing, who had prepped him, and what he was told. Although he repeatedly testified about actions of the Schwarzenegger Administration using the word "we", he later apologized for the use of that word which he is accustomed to use. He later admitted that he was not speaking for the Schwarzenegger Administration, but was basically there as a private citizen.

They sent a lobbyist to defend the Governor. The hay that can be made from that decision is pretty clear. And this part could be even more damning:

Dr. Sawyer (the former CARB chief), in his testimony, complimented Catherine Witherspoon for resigning from her position as the Executive Officer of CARB since she serves in that position at the pleasure of the board itself. Despite the desire of Susan Kennedy, Schwarzenegger's Chief of Staff, to have her fired, this could not be accomplished directly by the Governor. Sawyer said he had been ordered to place this on the agenda and met with a subcommittee of the board only to find out that there was a consensus of fellow board members not to do so. It was feared that had Witherspoon remained in the position that individual board members would be removed until there was a majority willing to fire her.

Does this remind one of the Saturday massacre involving U.S. Attorney General Elliott Richardson and Archibald Cox during the Watergate scandal of the Nixon Administration?

Schwarzenegger is taking a beating in both the local and national press, as well he should. This reflects nothing more than an abuse of power.

I would like everyone reading this who lives in California to call their Assemblymember. They need to know that they will be supported in this effort to rein in the Schwarzenegger Administration and ensure that oversight is undertaken and the laws of the state are met. That includes subpoenas for top Schwarzenegger Administration officials if need be. The Senate also needs to hear from you; they will be meeting next week in the Rules Committee to confirm the new chair of the Board, Mary Nichols. That needs to be a legitimate confirmation hearing with tough questions about Nichols' independence and how she will implement the Global Warmings Solution Act. This is not a small issue; as I write, I'm watching the Live Earth concerts and seeing millions of people begging for action on climate change. Now, here we have one of the only legitimate pieces of legislation in this country addressing the issue, and it's being undermined by a Governor who wants to talk big on the environment while supporting his corporate buddies behind the scenes.

These are the Democrats on the Natural Resources Committee, who are particularly important.

Loni Hancock - Chair
Dem-14 (916) 319-2014
Julia Brownley
Dem-41 (916) 319-2041
Felipe Fuentes
Dem-39 (916) 319-2039
John Laird
Dem-27 (916) 319-2027
Lori SaldaƱa
Dem-76 (916) 319-2076

Here are the points of contact for the Senate Rules Committee:

Senator Don Perata (Chair)
(510) 286-1333.
Senator Gilbert Cedillo
Senator Alex Padilla
(818) 901-5588

It helps, of course, if you are a constituent (Asm. Brownley will be getting plenty of calls from me). But even if you're not, this is an important enough issue, one that speaks to the very structure of democracy in this state, that you should make a call. And ALL of your representatives ought to know that you're paying close attention to this issue and that you want results which are consistent with the law and the need to take a real and not a symbolic step in the fight against global warming.

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