Assembly District 1 Special Election: Who Can Keep the Lights On?

AD-1 candidate Megan Dahle and a few of her donors.

It’s Saturday night, and the lights are back on in Whitmore, the tiny hamlet of 800 or so people where I live, 30 miles east of Redding in the forested Sierra-Cascade foothills. Like 800,000 other northern California Pacific Gas & Electric customers, our electricity was turned off Wednesday morning as high winds and low humidity rushed into northern California, setting off red-flag warnings up and down the state.

PG&E gave us advance warning, by phone and email, and we were prepared for the bankrupt utility giant’s first ever widespread public safety power shutoff. Thanks to our propane-powered emergency generator, we didn’t lose the sides of beef, goat and venison in our big freezer during the three-day outage. The land-line was down for two days. The wind toppled a large oak 50 feet from the house. I lost three days of work substitute-teaching due to school closures. Otherwise, we survived the shutdown just fine.

Others weren’t so fortunate. Those without generators lost all of their refrigerated and frozen food. I’ve seen reports of at least two rural deaths caused by electrical medical equipment that ceased functioning during the outage. At the Whitmore Store, over the roar of a gasoline-powered generator, I heard second-hand rumors that pissed-off customers were taking potshots at PG&E employees inspecting the 25,000 miles of line in the 70,000 square mile blackout area.

Certainly PG&E, which in addition to filing for bankruptcy earlier this year is being sued by thousands of plaintiffs for allegedly causing 13 recent northern California megafires, including the apocalyptic Camp Fire last year, should be held accountable for any loss of life and the estimated $2 billion hit to the north state’s economy caused by the blackout.

But the reality is, PG&E will never be held fully accountable, in part because it has been buying Sacramento politicians — Democrats and Republicans — for decades.

That includes 1st District State Sen. Brian Dahle, who received tens of thousands of dollars from the utility during his three terms as 1st District Assemblyman. The Carr and Camp Fires happened on his watch, despite repeated warnings from climate scientists over the past decade that catastrophic megafires are inevitable unless we take action to increase the resiliency of California’s forests and the wildland/urban interface.

The senator likes to joke that “he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed.” Now his wife, Megan Dahle, is running for his former Assembly seat as an outsider who will take on the special interests in Sacramento.

Yet her campaign is being funded by the political machine her husband has assembled over the past seven years, including large donations from Sempra Energy, Chevron, Phillips 66, Phillip Morris, Monsanto, Ely Lilly, Mallinckrodt, Health Net, Blue Shield, the California Correctional Peace Officers Association and a host of other public safety employee unions, and the California Real Estate Political Action Committee and other assorted building interests.

As some of her conservative Republican opponents noted in the run-up to June’s special primary election, Dahle is already beholden to the very special interests she claims to be taking on, should she get elected. And she may very well be elected, if corporate and PAC donations have anything to do with it. So far between her own campaign and an independent political action committee, Dahle has raised $593,472, more than a half-million dollars, according to the state’s Cal-Access website.

Elizabeth Betancourt, her Democratic opponent who doesn’t have a political action committee and has shunned corporate donations, has raised just $88,848, most of it from small individual donors.

Elizabeth Betancourt, with husband Pedro on their Happy Valley farm, has the goods. But can she deliver?

The Dahles, both the senator and his wife, also have the blessing of Redding’s homophobic, anti-intellectual megachurch, Bethel. Like Bethel lead pastors Bill Johnson and Kris Vallotton, Sen. Dahle believes President Donald J. Trump was ordained by God, and we may safely presume Megan shares that belief. How long they maintain it as the craven depths of Trump’s criminality are exposed by the House of Representative’s ongoing impeachment inquiry remains to be seen.

The point is the 2019 special election for the AD-1 seat is heavily rigged in favor of the Dahles. They are not the plain-spoken country bumpkins they pretend to be. Well, maybe they are, but they are also heavily connected to the corporations and special interests that have corrupted California’s political process on both sides of the aisle for decades.

Betancourt, on the other hand, is a breath of fresh air. An accomplished natural resources scientist who has worked in northern California’s Sierra Nevada watersheds for 20 years, the political newcomer has a deeper knowledge of northern California’s economy and ecology than both Dahles combined—a valid comparison since Megan is running on her husband’s coattails, and neither has a college degree.

Moreover, Betancourt accepts and understands the science underlying anthropogenic climate change that informs California’s ambitious plans to adapt to an ever-warming future. Both the Dahles appear to be climate change deniers, though they are loathe to admit it publicly.

PG&E’s three-day public safety power shutoff should set off alarm bells for the 276,000 registered voters in AD-1. This was a large-scale climate change event. PG&E was forced into the shutdown because the bought-off Legislature has been unable to bring them to heel, and the utility’s managers, who have long eschewed maintenance in favor of excessive executive salaries and shareholder profits, understood they risked sparking a new megafire that would surely doom their already crippled company.

What happens next time the wind blows the wrong way and the lights go out?

A lighter moment between candidates Elizabeth Betancourt and Megan Dahle at the forum.

A Night at the Forum

The night before the lights went out, I attended the AD-1 candidates forum featuring Betancourt and Dahle and hosted by the League of Women Voters Redding Area at First United Methodist Church. Dahle once again played the role of the beleaguered small business owner/Sacramento outsider, an act long-burnished by her husband on the campaign trail.

“The policies coming out of Sacramento don’t work for the north state,” she said. “They’re not conducive for business owners. … We make a payroll every two weeks, we create a job. That’s something we need to be doing more of, incentivizing business owners such as ourselves.”

As I’ve reported in the past, when the Dahles say things like “incentivizing business owners such as ourselves,” they sometimes mean it quite literally. As an assemblyman, Brian Dahle voted against extending the state’s cap-and-trade greenhouse gas reduction fund. But he didn’t hesitate to raid the fund in order to subsidize his trucking company’s major client, Burney Mountain Power, when it nearly shuttered in 2016.

The Dahles, alleged small government conservatives, have also received $251,530 in federal farm subsidies since 1995.

The topic of campaign finance came up early at the forum. Betancourt, understanding Dahle has out-raised her seven-to-one, admitted that fundraising has been difficult and that she’s relying on individual donations and a small but growing team of dedicated volunteers.

Dahle admitted she’s been “very blessed” by the individuals, corporations and special interests who have financed her campaign.

“I’m very proud of the money I’ve received,” she said. “Public safety is behind me and I freely accept that. They’re under attack every day and I want to be a strong conservative voice for them.”

An actual “strong conservative” would arguably never accept money from labor unions, public safety or otherwise, because in the conservative economic view, unions artificially push up wages and benefits.

Yet Dahle has been raking in the union cash, particularly from the California Correctional Peace Officers Association—the prison guards’ union—which donated $9400 to Dahle’s campaign and $50,000 to Dahle for Assembly 2019, an independent political action committee.

Dahle did not mention the more controversial names on her donor list. Fossil fuel companies Chevron and Phillips 66, both of which have been major polluters in the golden state for decades, donated $4700 and $1500 to her campaign respectively.

Tobacco company Phillip Morris, which is heavily invested in the vaping industry, donated $9400 to Dahle.

Agricultural giant Monsanto, which has recently been ordered by California courts to pay more than $2 billion in settlements to plaintiffs who contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after exposure to the company’s Roundup herbicide, donated $2000 to Dahle.

Big Pharma is also on Dahle’s list of donors. Ely Lilly, which is currently refusing to publicize increases in the price of insulin for diabetic patients in California as required by state law, donated $1500. Mallinckrodt, the largest manufacturer of generic opiates in the United States that was once called “the kingpin of the drug cartel” by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, donated $1500.

At the forum, Betancourt brought up the Mallinckrodt donation during a discussion of the opiate crisis, which has hit rural communities, including AD-1, particularly hard. Earlier, Betancourt had named addressing the statewide homeless crisis as her number one priority upon taking office. Ensuring homeless drug addicts have access to rehabilitation treatment will be a major component of the effort. Holding drug manufacturers responsible for the injury their products cause could help fund it.

“I definitely believe in holding pharmaceutical companies responsible, and that’s a huge reason I’m not taking money from those companies,” Betancourt said. “That’s not something I think is an ethical thing. I think we all know about the issues associated with campaign finance, the access that companies get when they buy an elected official. I’m making sure that I don’t have those compromises.”

Dahle acknowledged the opiate crisis exists but noted that painkillers such as Vicodin can be useful for people recovering from surgery. She implied that existing drug treatment facilities have the capacity to solve the problem that’s plaguing the entire state.

“Opioids themselves are not …” she paused, thinking her next words over, “… the devil.” Perhaps pharmaceutical companies can include the addresses of local treatment centers with their addictive products, she offered.

It’s worth noting that most of the law enforcement unions supporting Dahle have historically lobbied against drug rehabilitation programs that don’t involve incarceration. They’d like to go back to the good old days, when we locked all the drug addicts up, even though it doesn’t work and the state can’t afford it.

Sen. Brian Dahle and his truck.

Keep On Trucking

As the candidates worked their way through the 20 questions selected from the hundreds submitted by the audience of roughly 110 people, a pattern developed. On topics ranging from homelessness, the north state’s water supply, the difficulty in recruiting doctors and teachers to AD-1, free or reduced college tuition, permitting teachers to carry concealed weapons in schools, forest management, climate change, Prop 13 and separation of church and state, Betancourt demonstrated a mastery of the issues that’s simply lacking in her opponent.

Betancourt is a bit of a policy wonk and talks in long, fluid paragraphs that often connect to the over-arching themes of her campaign. For example, she said teacher recruitment can be increased by providing beginning teachers with a living wage. How do we pay for it? The Schools and Communities First initiative on the 2020 state ballot will, if passed, split the residential and commercial property tax rolls, eliminating a long abused corporate loophole in Prop 13, providing $10 billion annually for public schools.

In contrast, Dahle rarely displayed any detailed knowledge of the issues she will face if elected to the Assembly. She opposes the Schools and Communities First initiative because she “supports Prop 13 as it is” and her contacts in the commercial real estate industry, which has donated tens of thousands of dollars to her campaign and PAC, told her some of the money might be spent on “single payer” or “climate change.”

Dahle’s lack of knowledge about anthropogenic climate change and the challenges it poses to northern California is her most glaring deficiency. “I believe the climate is changing,” she hedged when asked if she accepts the scientific consensus on global warming. She’s developed a novel theory about what we as a society should do about it.

This theory is based on the fact that the gigatons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases spewed by megafires are not currently counted in the state’s carbon budget. For example, the 2013 Rim Fire in Yosemite equaled the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 2.3 million cars, but was not counted in the state’s carbon budget.

Because these megafire emissions are not currently counted, Dahle believes the emissions from weed whackers, lawn mowers and her and her husband’s 20-year-old semi-truck—currently in need of an upgrade thanks to California emission regulations—shouldn’t be counted either.

“We’re monitoring our weed eaters and our lawn mowers while we’re burning down our forests, and they call that neutral,” she said. “So I’m forced to buy a new semi-truck, and I’m in a clean air basin, so when you’re in a clean air basin, you can’t … get an incentive to upgrade your piece of equipment.”

I’m told by a reliable source most of the people in attendance were Betancourt supporters.

Dahle’s half-right. The emissions from megafires should be counted in the state’s carbon budget, and if and when they are, the state’s timeline to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 will suffer a serious set-back, particular if we don’t get the megafires under control.

Asked if she supports California’s right to set its own emission standards—now under threat from Trump’s EPA—she side-stepped the question and complained about her truck again.

“I would just like to count those things, those carbon from forest fires should not be neutral,” she said. “I don’t think that’s a fair and equitable way that we look at carbon, verses taking every car off the road for one year, one forest fire is equal to that.”

What’s her answer? Less regulation and more capitalism, of course.

“I just believe it will evolve and our technology will come along and we’ll just have better … capitalism will come in and we’ll be better at everything,” she said. “But I just don’t want to be forced into buying something when something I have already works.”

Perhaps because she’s been blinded by her own self-interest. Dahle hasn’t grasped the scope and scale of the response required to deal with climate change, particularly in the area of forest management, which again is left up to deregulation and capitalism.

“The first thing we need to do is open up the forest, we need to streamline regulations so that we can get our timber industry in and start fire-safing our communities,” said Dahle, who has received thousands of dollars in donations from the timber industry, including $2000 from Sierra Pacific.

It was left up to Betancourt to explain why counting megafire emissions in the carbon budget is vitally important to AD-1, and why the timber industry alone can’t address our overgrown forests.

“One of the ways California has disenfranchised rural areas is not including forest fire emissions in their accounting of carbon,” she said. “I worked at the Sierra Nevada Conservancy for a number of years and we actually put out that number. The Rim Fire burned more carbon than all the cars in California in a year.

“By investing in forest health at the same level as we’re investing in clean vehicles, solar power and other things that largely benefit urban environments, our rural spaces are the biggest place we can gain in climate resilience.

“It’s in farming, it’s in regenerative agriculture and healthy soils, it’s in forest management and bio-energy. We have a lot of ways that we can here in rural California positively address the state’s issues. We need to be recognized for that, number one, and invested in, number two. That level of accounting in carbon emissions has to be part of that, because that is part of the quantifiable benefit to the state of California.”

One primary goal? Develop new markets for forest slash and other woody waste to ameliorate the high cost of the massive amount of forest restoration that needs to be done in California.

“One of the things that is incredibly important moving forward is the state has invested some resources in fire health and safety, but it’s not enough,” she said. “It can’t come from our greenhouse gas reduction fund forever, right? It has to start paying for itself.”

That’s going to be a tall task. No doubt much of the work, which has already begun, will have to be state-subsidized until those new markets come online. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to experience megafires and three-day mass electrical blackouts, in large part because capitalism has never really been all that great at cleaning up its own messes, and politicians have failed to hold corporations accountable.

That means we’re going to have to do it, and that requires leadership with a grasp of the scope and scale required to adapt to the altered climate in the future. It requires a person that believes government can actually solve problems. There’s only one candidate running for AD-1 who fits that description and it’s Elizabeth Betancourt.

She knows she’s out-gunned by the Dahle political machine, which is already mass-mailing political fliers promising the moon to AD-1 constituents. I got one last week in which Megan Dahle says she has a plan to lower prescription drug prices, with no details of the plan provided. I wonder what her donors Ely Lilly, Mallinckrodt and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association ($2000 donation) will have to say about that?

Betancourt has no such allegiances, and as a member of the Democratic Party supermajority in Sacramento, she’ll be able to work on and actually pass meaningful legislation that benefits the 1st Assembly District, should she be elected Nov. 5.

Considering Dahle’s funding advantage, that may not be very likely, but it’s not impossible. Voter turn-out will be key. If all the registered Democrats and independents in the district voted for Betancourt, and all the registered Republicans voted for Dahle, the final tally would be Betancourt 127,000 votes, Dahle 116,000.

Betancourt says optimism is her finest quality. She’s going to need every last bit of it down the stretch.

“We here in California are part of a state, sometimes I think of it as a nation, that is so innovative,” she said. “We here in California are built on innovation. We are built on an expression of individuality that benefits the whole. As we move, again, into a climate-altered future, we have to start harnessing that innovation and incentivizing new ideas, to move to a future that’s beneficial for all of us.”

See? She is optimistic.

Let’s hope it’s infectious.

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas. He can be emailed at RVScheide@anewscafe.com.
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63 Responses

  1. Avatar George Parker says:

    Former Reagan-Republican here, appalled that his party was hijacked by the Tea Party, will be voting for Betancourt.

  2. Avatar Patrick says:

    Thank you for outing Dahle’s association with the Redding cult, Bethel. . Voters NEED to know about such connections with a hateful cult like Bethel.

  3. Avatar Carrie Dokter says:

    My ‘Vote For Betancourt’ banner is up in our front yard!

  4. Avatar Randy says:

    After just a few questions it was clear to see that Betancourt comes from a position of being genuinely
    informed and quite comfortable with who she is while Dahle comes from a position of scripted nonsense(The LaMalfa model) enhanced with ‘patriotic Christian’ overtones and of course the standard ‘persecuted Christian’ victim hood tool every ‘conservative’ politician keeps close at hand and over uses on a regular basis.

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      Randy,

      Perfectly stated. Megan Dahle is a lowest-common-denominator candidate with no actual substance, who relies heavily on promoting an “us vs. them” mentality, and appealing to the basest human instincts of the least informed.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I didn’t have space in the story to examine the religious issue, but Betancour, who is a Christian but doesn’t wear her religion on her sleeve, knocked that question out of the park as well.

  5. Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

    Excellent research on an issue that is of paramount importance to the north state. It’s time to stop blindly electing corporate-owned throwbacks whose primary interest is in feathering their own nests, simply because they have an “R” after their name.

    In addition to all her other attributes and professional expertise, I’m pleased that Betancourt understands how critical it is to close the corporate loopholes in Prop 13 (while leaving the individual homeowner protections in place), which rob the State of billions of dollars in revenue each year. Of course Megan Dahle (being the corporate toady she is) will do nothing to rectify that abuse.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      The anti-taxers are already campaigning against Schools an Cummunities First, I got a big giant flier in the mail last week.

  6. Avatar Larry Winter says:

    It’s good to see a quality candidate vying for what virtually is a lockdown Republican stronghold. Betancourt seems dedicated, not only in her desire to serve the public, but also in her personal life also. I wish her well.

    But I must say, I do have an issue dealing with climate change through forestry practices. I believe forest fires should continue to be considered neutral as they are a part of the natural carbon cycle, as is the CO2 when we exhale an average of 2.3 lbs of CO2 per person per day. Our forests need work for the forest’s sake, which in turn benefits wildlife and waterways. To differentiate between “good” carbon storage vegetation vs. “bad” carbon storage vegetation that needs to be removed using fossil fuel vehicles and machinery just doesn’t make sense to me.

    But hey, greenhouse gas money is stepping in to subsidize forestry management.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Larry, I think it can be argued that the megafires we’ve been experiencing are not “natural,” but the result of 120 years of Fire suppression exacerbated by climate change onset. If large scale forest maintenance does occur, we can cut down on these fires and their massive emissions and increase our carbon storage at the same time. If we count those fires in the carbon budget, the state will have an incentive to ensure the work gets done.

      • Avatar Larry Winter says:

        RV,
        The carbon budget. Tell me if my take is wrong. Carbon credits are given to timber giants like SPI and other engaged timber land owners to change the timing on their harvest cycle. For example, for purposes of understanding the concept, instead of harvesting in 80 years, they leave it for 100 years. That extra 20 years is now credited for sequestering carbon above and beyond what those trees would have stored under normal management. A “carbon polluter” that wants to or plans on going above their CO2 limits can do so if they buy those “credits”, putting their money into the State fund that then gets used for fuel reduction work. These CO2 polluters can now exhaust more CO2 today for the sequestration that will occur between 80 and 100 years from now.
        So, the money in the GHG program is more like a friendly extortion racket that gives those that pay to play, the ability to create more CO2 pollution today for a promise to sequester that amount of CO2 generations from now.
        The question then is if the hoped for benefits of spending that money on projects that, at best, has the potential (not guaranteed) to limit catastrophic forest fires, which you concede is happening because of a perfect storm of circumstances (you left out past logging practices that has changed the forest structure from the past, more fire resilient forests) while using fossil fuel vehicles and equipment to carry out those objectives.
        The EPA also doesn’t consider forest fires as adding to the increased CO2 levels in our atmosphere because it’s part of the natural carbon cycle, which has great fluctuations over time. The CO2 emitted during a fire was CO2 sequestered from the same atmosphere it is releasing it into. A zero sum game.

        • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

          Larry, I don’t necessarily think cap-and-trade is an ideal solution, I don’t like the fact that it permits companies to keep on polluting, but California’s program as at least delivered some extra funds to deal with forest management. Ideally, with a more holistic approach, we could quantify the total amount of carbon sequestered in our forests, and do everything we can to protect our most valuable carbon sink. I think that’s the point of counting both the total amount in our forests and the amount we lose from megafires, burning biomass, etc.

  7. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    My absentee ballot has been mailed. I fear Betancourt will lose thanks to Dahle’s backing by Bethel and all the money in her coffers and that she’s a Replublican. All we can do is hope that voters will recognize Betancourt’s intelligence and mark their ballots accordingly.

    Good article, R.V.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Sending in my ballot today. Don’t forget to share this story widely on social media!

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      An endorsement by Bethel should be viewed as a automatic disqualifier, since Bethel only endorses candidates who share its God-in-government aspirations and homophobic, sexist, xenophobic attitudes (masquerading under the guise of “religious freedom”). Shasta County doesn’t need any more politicians who are aiding Bethel in its admitted religious take-over of the area.

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      Backing by Bethel? Betancourt will lose because this area is majority Republican…that’s all, nothing to do with Bethel.

      • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

        Doug Cook,

        Bethel mega-church leaders have mis-used their pulpits (in violation of the Johnson Amendment) to very actively incite their eleven thousand-plus local attendees to get out and vote for the Dahle’s.

        Bethel is a major political force in this area (it’s actually a political organization masquerading as a tax-exempt “church”), and it’s not inconceivable that its thousands of votes could put Dahle over the top in an even remotely close election.

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        That doesn’t say a lot about the integrity of local Republicans.

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        Doug Cook, a well-informed source tells me that every election cycle, Bethel Church conducts voter registration rallies with their congregation, which is legal, and the Bethel elders like Bill Johnson, Kris Vallotton, Julie Winter and Dr. Andre Van Moll tell them who to vote for, which is illegal for a nonprofit organization. The only reason they haven’t been busted is Democratic and Republican administrations have not enforced the law. Anyway, That’s 11,000 local attendees plus their AD-1 internet audience. That’s a significant voting block. Your analysis, as usual, is dead-wrong.

        • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

          I wonder if your source could film and record them at it when the time comes. I don’t know that the IRS would act even then, but perhaps under the next (Democratic) president. I believe there has been talk among some of the candidates about creating a department to look into violations of the Johnson Amendment by fundamentalist churches.

  8. Avatar Anita Brady says:

    Electing Megan Dahle will just give Brian two votes (one in the Assembly and one in the Senate). There is absolutely no reason to expect anything different. Dahle had a chance to offer up legislation that would help us but instead voted for bills that would personally help his family. Why would we expect anything different from his wife?

    WHAT DID BRIAN DAHLE DO FOR HIS ASSEMBLY DISTRICT (ie. his constituents) while in office?

    On another note, I cannot believe that any union would financially support these people?! They would vote to dismantle all unions in a split second if given the chance. They support the Trump Admin that has used our country’s financial security to give the very rich tax cuts while cutting programs that help those Americans in the bottom third.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I’m generally a solid union supporter, but the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the prison guard union, has a long history of sponsoring seriously flawed policies, such as Three Strikes. I also think it’s a bit odd that every public safety union supports a conservative candidate with no track record who is obviously very anti-union when it comes to anything except prison guards, cops and fire fighters. They can’t all be Republicans.

  9. Avatar Robert Scheide Sr. says:

    I have but one question to ask each voter “How will I benefit from this person if elected?” The only thing a republican has ever give you is a tax break, which you and I seldom get much of.
    They all(republicans) (beat the “I don’t believe in science drum ” and will do nothing to
    help in that direction. Republicans always have in their game plans the destruction of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Food Stamps and just about all other social programs.

    The Republicans will not go a step toward Medicare for All, or to Pay off Student debt. It is time time to take one for you and not the team. VOTE BETANCOURT

  10. Avatar Doug Cook says:

    I look at it this way. California has been run by a Democrat majority since 1971. They now have a super majority in the legislature. No Republican holds a state office. So…what has that majority given us? Half of the homeless population in the nation, with renewed Medieval diseases ravaging our cities, A state that can’t keep power supplied to our citizens. Gas prices are doubled the national average. Infrastructure needs that have been ignored, water storage, prisons, etc. Oh yeah, remember the 2 recent gas tax increases that will fix our roads? Not so fast…Newsom is redirecting tens of millions of dollars of those funds to mass transit. California also is among the highest taxed states in the nation…and what do we get for our money? A $100 billion choo choo train from Bakersfield to Madera.

    So, yeah…maybe it is time to put more Republicans in our state legislature. They couldn’t screw it up more than the Democrats have. California is a laughing stock to the rest of the nation.

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      Doug, I could agree with you that what California needs are more Republicans. But moderate Republicans, religious yes but not fire and brimstone, Bethel like, politicians that want to force their brand of religion on people.
      In Arizona, once the state of Goldwater and McCain, the GOP has been hijacked by the likes of Kelli Ward and Joe Arpaio. In fact the closest thing to a moderate Republican we have is actually a Democrat, Senator Sinema. And the DNC in their stupidity wants to censure her because she voted with Republicans 58% of the time, on veteran aid, rural tribal healthcare, paid family leave. Her only real transgression, in some eyes, is she voted to confirm Barr. Right now she is on the opposing side of healthcare reform against McSally.
      The country needs moderate Republicans and Democrats who will not follow lock step with their national parties.

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        Bruce, Here is a simple example of how Ca is out of control. I just spent $135 to register my 15 year old car. What does it cost to register the same car in Arizona?…$18. So tell me all the good stuff a Democrat run state has done for us

        • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

          You should move to Arizona then, you’re so perturbed.

          • Avatar Kathryn McDonald says:

            I would love to see Doug move to Arizona, although he would have to endure Arizona going blue, perhaps in the next election.

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            Since I’m now living in Arizona, I can’t say I share the sentiment.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Kathryn, If it was just me, I would have left California years ago. My wife does not want to leave as all of our family lives here. So I’m stuck…can you actually sit here and believe that our state is well run? That we are not the laughing stock of the country. It doesn’t bother you that we pay twice the national average for gas? Doesn’t that really hurt the poor that you all claim you want to help? How about enlightening me on what great things our Democratic legislators have given us. I can’t think of much. All I am trying to say is that California has been run by Democrats for decades now, and our state is a mess..why put more Democrats in office? Let’s try something different.

          • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

            The laughing stock of the country is the world’s 5th largest economy and a highly desired playground for the 1 percent. It’s complete BS the way the rich run roughshod over California. Elizabeth Betancourt says her best quality is optimism, but her second best quality is she’s taking no money from corrupt corporations and labor unions that already own Megan Dahle and most of Sacramento. I hear Megan hasn’t done too well in front of conservative audiences. Might not be the sharpest tool in the shed. LOL. She needs the middle as much as Betancourt. We’ll see what happens.

            Turn the radio off it’s frying your mind.

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      California is – by far – the most populace state in the country. It has the most people, the most cars, and the most pollution. And as a result of that over-population it also has the highest cost of living (particularly housing costs) in the nation, which is largely responsible for the state’s homeless crisis.

      California has been basically forced by its circumstances into leading the charge to address pollution and climate change – to do anything less would irresponsibly endanger the health and safety of its residents. The Republican claim that we should be able to pillage and pollute to our heart’s content for short-term profit is irresponsible at best, and criminal at worst.

      In addition, if the corporate abuses of Prop 13 were addressed (as Betancourt is suggesting), that alone would add billions of dollars to the state’s tax rolls.

  11. Avatar Hollyn Chase says:

    Excellent article, RV, thank you.
    I made my small donation last month, mailed my ballot yesterday and will share this article today.
    It’s a long shot, but I’ve got to have hope for something besides impeachment . . .

  12. Avatar Candace says:

    Sign’s up, vote is cast, article shared. Go Betancourt!

  13. Avatar Doug Cook says:

    Yes…thank the Lord Republicans won’t go a step towards Medicare for all. Pay off student debt? Why? Guess what I’m doing right now? I have another full time job after retiring so I can pay for my daughter’s college expenses. You want to excuse student loan debt but I never hear anything about a plan to reduce the cost of college. Increases and defaults that happened under a Democrat president. So what happens to the next wave of college students? Do we excuse their loans too? I guess I’m the stupid one that still believes in paying my bills. I could be golfing right now instead of working…I don’t want to set the example to my girls that you don’t really have to pay your bills. The taxpayers will.

    • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

      Then again we could join every other developed country (and even some not so developed) and rearrange our budget priorities so that tax dollars are being used to meet the basic needs of the average citizen.

      Why is the U.S. spending trillions of dollars to further corporate imperialism and protect corporate interests overseas? Why does nearly every major corporation pay NO federal taxes and get endless other incentives at the expense of American taxpayers, while they use those savings to move the majority of their jobs overseas? How many billions of American tax dollars have gone to Israel alone to provide the U.S. government and its corporate controllers with a strategically-placed nuclear power and world-class armaments dealer in the oil-rich Middle East? Why do so many wealthy agri-business owners receive vast amounts in farm subsidies? Why aren’t the wealthy taxed at a rate that would actually support the government? Why are American citizens being deprived so that major corporations and the wealthy elite can rake in record profits, year after year?

      There wouldn’t be a thing wrong with the wealthiest country on earth providing for its citizen’s educational, medical, and other basic needs. That you right-wingers actually believe the average American should pay through the nose for basic necessities while working for whatever poverty wage wealthy corporations deign to pay tells us just how brainwashed you people really are.

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        Patrecia, other than my younger years when first entering the work force. I have never worked for poverty wages. I wasn’t satisfied flipping hamburgers at the Arctic Circle restaurant. Like most of us, I got better and better jobs. It is not the job of the government to provide us with our basic needs. That is our job as responsible citizens. That is why half the homeless live in Ca. They expect the state to take care of them.

        • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

          Wages haven’t kept up with the cost of living, and many jobs are now part-time, low-wage and without benefits (it’s rarely possible to find multiple jobs with hours that dovetail perfectly, and human beings actually DO need to sleep, despite what compassion-less right-wingers think).

          According to most experts (and basic common sense), the fact that California has the highest housing costs in the U.S. is the primary reason the state has so many homeless people.

          And frankly, how are people “being taken care of” if they’re homeless? These people are living without one of the most fundamental needs of all being met- the need for safety from the extreme dangers and hardships of living and sleeping on the streets.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Why does California have the highest housing costs in the nation? Why is there a housing shortage? Because of decades of Democrat controlled incompetence in this state. You are going to blame the GOP in this state that have no power? So let’s elect more Democrats…sure, why not.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            Compensation has kept up with the cost of living, we just expect employers to provide more benefits which has caused wages to stagnate. Obamacare wasn’t free…

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Doug Cook, did you know the tuition for state residents at the UC and the CSU statewide was free until good old Ronnie Reagan became governor? Did you know K-12 public education was ranked in the top 5 until Prop 13, with the egregious corporate loop hole for commercial property, was enacted and within 10 years, we plunged to the bottom 5? Obviously you didn’t know that.

      Your idea that California is somehow Commiefornia because Democrats have controlled both houses with a supermajority for 10 years or so is misinformed. Occasional progressive legislation makes the FOX News headlines, but the reality is both parties have been completely corrupted by corporations and special interests, from Silicon Valley to the prison guard union to the biggest and most powerful lobby in Sacramento, the fossil fuel giants.

      Did you know Jerry Brown, in his second two terms, opened up more offshore drilling than Trump has? Or were you still stuck on moonbeam?

      This has been going on for 30 or 40 years, the bipartisan philosophy is known as neoliberalism. The result is the most visible urban and rural income inequality in the United States, corporations more interested in maximizing executive salaries and shareholder dividends than maintaining their equipment and cleaning up their messes, alienated opioid addicts prowling the streets from LA to Redding, a wildland urban interface waiting for the next megafire and so on.

      You consider yourself a thinking man and a shrewd boss, a believer in meritocracy. But when it comes to politics you’re a party man. Dahle will win you say, because AD-1 is majority Republican, and you’ll vote the party line, even though she’s clearly not qualified for the office.

      I’m an independent voter, though I have to do that stupid thing where you have to register as a Dem to vote in the presidential primary. Elizabeth Betancourt is not a raving liberal. She’s a scientist, and she approaches all issues from that mindset, with a little bit of Christian humility thrown in. Yeah, she goes to church. There’s a video of the candidate’s forum around, I’ll post it on here soon.

      Turn the radio off, open your mind, and I know you’ll make the right decision.

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        Did you know that I was 21 years old when Reagan left office as governor? And I am now 64? You are still blaming Reagan for the mess we are in? Guess what… Reagan’s policies and laws were never carved in stone for eternity. The reasons our schools suck is because education is not a priority for our state, not because of Prop 13. The state brings in plenty of money, the problem is the squander it by taking care of their cronies and lobbyists. That is what happens in one party controlled governments, be it GOP or Democratic. You think taxing us even more will cure the problems? If the state is so concerned about education, why not stop the ridiculous and expensive choo choo train, that now is only going from Bakersfield to Madera and divert those $50 billion to our schools? Or are you expecting a need for you to go to Bakersfield in about 15 years when this project is finished? Electing another Democrat is just encouraging the status quo…and that is not good news for our state. You call me a climate change denier, but you are in denial of what our state is turning into. Simply amazing that you can with a straight face blame a governor from 45 years ago for our current corrupt state government.

        • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

          As usual you have failed to get the point because of your extreme partisanship. You say free college tuition is impossible. I point out that California once had free college tuition, which ended with Reagan. I specifically held both parties for the neoliberal philosophy that ensued for the next 40 years. You are a dishonest broker.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Nothing is free…someone ends up paying for it.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            By the way…In my comment I never mentioned anything about free college tuition is impossible. I wasn’t talking about college, but the dismal performance of our K-12 schools. California is ranked 37th in the nation in K-12 education. You would think that a state that is the 5th largest economy in the world, one of the highest taxed states in the nation could do better than 37th. But you want to blame Reagan and Prop 13. You want to hold both parties responsible…but the GOP has no power in this state, they haven’t had any power since I was a young lad. If the Democrats wanted to make education a priority, they most certainly could of, prop 13 not withstanding. The Democrats had 40 years to overturn the ‘evils’ of Reagan…unfortunately, 16 year old high school students don’t have lobbyists, so they are ignored.
            So what the hell, let’s elect more Democrats that will continue to screw up our state. You think Bentacourt won’t fall in line with the Democrat leadership, and do what she’s told if elected?

          • Avatar Patrecia Barrett says:

            Doug Cook,

            Do you imagine that Republicans would rectify the corporate abuses of Prop 13 in order to provide schools and other services the billions of dollars a year they’ve been deprived of for the past 40 years?

            Both parties are at fault – Democrats because they believe the public wouldn’t understand it’s possible to retain the individual homeowner protections and don’t want to lose any votes, and Republicans because they represent the interests of the corporations and wealthy who are exploiting it.

          • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

            Yeah, no shit, Doug Cook, the tax system in place in California paid for the UC and the CSU, it was free for the students not for the state. Notice they haven’t built a new university in like forever? You and your selfish boomer buddies, many of whom benefited from free or ultra low tuition at what was then the best university system in world, are exactly why the generations coming up after us can’t have nice things. Selfishness combined with simple-mindedness is never pretty.

  14. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    Why is the cost of college so expensive? It is not because the uneducated right wing custodians and bus drivers, it is because of all the left wing liberals who promote their own high salaries while saying it is for the kids. Forbes publishes a list every year of which colleges give the most bang for the buck. After the military schools, Army, Navy and Air Force comes conservative University of Wyoming and church cult BYU. The University of California schools spend more on lawyers to fight all their scandals than any other state.
    Farming is unsustainable because we are running out of water. The oceans are not rising, the coastal states are sinking because of ground water pumping. Sinkholes are appearing everywhere even in the Arizona desert.
    Many developing countries rely on the military of the Americans for protection. America furnishes it because they don’t want Russia to move in, like what is now happening to the Kurds. Those countries want American aid rather than Russian aid. America may force regime changes but US tanks roll into countries to help not like Russia did in Hungary and other countries to take over.
    The left wingers want the rich to pay for their social programs then turn around and say they will bust up Google and Facebook and Amazon. Who is going to pay for their social programs if there are no rich left? Look at Russia and China, the rich are leaving their countries, if they are allowed to, and heading to other countries.
    We need moderate politicians who will work together, not party line zombies.

  15. Avatar Tim says:

    RV, do you realize that those evil shareholders demanding a return on their investment are largely pension funds? They lend money to “evil corporations” in exchange for more money later to pay their retirees so workers won’t have to contribute as much to their retirement plans while working.

    PG&E is a regulated utility with very low profits that are set by the state. It must also abide by state mandates including investing in renewable energy (that lowers their profits by decreasing demand) and needlessly replacing 400 miles of pipeline following the failure of 1 improperly installed joint in San Bruno. At the same time, regulators limited requests to increase rates to maintain the grid (regulators allowed PG&E ~4% annual rate increases since 2008, but that still resulted in a decline in net income once you adjust for inflation).

    Those were Democrat regulators with those unsustainable mandates & shortsighted oversight.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      So, you’re defending the totally corrupt management of PG&E and CalPers? And the unsustainable pensions public employee unions have extracted? And the richest 10 percent of America that owns 84 percent of all equities?

      Help me out bro, I’m confused.

      • Avatar Tim says:

        There is an increasingly poor understanding of capitalism today, particularly amongst “socialist democrats.” Capitalism is fundamentally a social endeavor: capitalists struggle to find the best ways to provide goods and services to those who can make the best use of it.

        I so often hear Capitalism derided for being greedy, but greed to me is majoring in underwater basketweaving and then expecting society to provide for you while you create your “art.” Do we call greedy the guy who takes a sanitation job because it pays better? Who does more good for society?

        Part of the fundamental misunderstanding of capitalism relates to ownership of the stock market:
        Mutual funds own 23% of the US stock market.
        Public Pension funds own 12%
        401(k)s & IRAs account for 11%
        —–
        46% of the market is indirectly owned by US workers/retirees.

        Another ~25% is held by individual US brokerage accounts & ~15% held by foreign accounts. Only 3% is owned by hedge funds…

        You, and many others, have been misled into believing 10% owns 84% of the stock market. That is grossly inaccurate. 10% owns 84% of directly owned stocks. But only 25% of the stock market is directly owned by individuals so that 10% really own only 21% of the stock market…

        This misunderstanding is akin to the oft-repeated lie that the rich pay less in taxes. The rich pay more – lots more! In fact, the top 10% pay 71% of all taxes! The confusion comes from socialist advocates misleading the public by saying the rich often pay a lower *percentage of their income* in taxes.

        Back to PG&E: California PUC regulators bear more blame than PG&E management. There was no way for PG&E to succeed given the constraints California placed on them – PG&E management just cashed in for as long as they could.

        I don’t condone that behavior, but it is no different from the hundreds of thousands of public employees currently enjoying unsustainable pay/benefits. Objectively everyone can see spending $200,000 on each cop & firefighter can’t go on forever, but human nature being what it is, people seem content to stick their heads in the sand and hope they get off the boat before it sinks…

  16. Avatar Gary Tull says:

    A lot of illuminating dialogue on this one. Thank you ANC and R.V. Scheide.

  17. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    PGE=Use Drones instead of 100s of giant polluting trucks and helicopters to patrol your inefficient power lines. Go underground where it’s highly flammable.
    Climate Nay-sayers=Take a look around our north state basin every morning, 365 days a year and you’ll see a whole new horizon. What do you think that’s from ?
    Megan D. supporters=Before you cast your vote, please ask her why she has taken contributions from the Vape industry, the Toxic fertilizer industry and the Opioid industry. Her response to me at a forum was, “It’s a 1st Amendment right” and “Do you realize how much those mailers cost I send out ?” That was her Jaw Dropping response.
    Elizabeth B=Before you vote for her, ask yourself who’ll have the ability to create legislation that’ll be positive for our North State ? Then ask yourself who’ll be able to get that legislation passed. You’re right, it’s Elizabeth Betancourt. She’ll not only be able to work across the aisle, but have the ear of the majority of those in control of what comes out of the Capitol; whether you like it or not. Until the voter registration is changed throughout CA, this is where the electoral power lies and the votes are cast.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Frank, recent news reports indicate has long had the financial resources to upgrade their infrastructure, including the burying of power lines, but instead chose to reward its executives and shareholders. Egregious mismanagement. It’s time to make PG&E a true public utility.

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        By the way RV… don’t know if you caught this. But the same week that power was turned off, PG&E announced a multi million dollar bonus distribution to their executives. Oh the irony.b

  18. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    For those who would like to view the entire LWVRA candidate forum between Elizabeth Betancourt and Megan Dahle, here’s a link to the video.

    https://www.facebook.com/scac.tv/videos/2900179323344134/?t=4

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