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Tease photo for The Sarah Palin Effect in California Politics

The Sarah Palin Effect in California Politics

Aug. 26
By Gloria Penner

Sarah Palin's famously-dramatic and fashion-filled days on the media-rich campaign trail, running as the first-ever female Republican vice presidential candidate, opened a very important window for attractive, accomplished Republican women to try for other high offices.

Tease photo for The Turbulent Tides of Health Care Change

The Turbulent Tides of Health Care Change

Aug. 19
By Gloria Penner

Would it be hyperbolic to say that Americans grappling with the health care change proposals are more tightly engaged with this issue than with any other domestic issue in the last 50 years? The emotions that charge town hall meetings, radio programs, newspaper editorials, blogs and kitchen table conversations seem stronger and more universal now than they were even during Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society makeover.

Tease photo for At Last! An Exciting Race for County Supervisor

At Last! An Exciting Race for County Supervisor

Aug. 6
By Gloria Penner

It is almost impossible to defeat an incumbent, long-serving San Diego County Supervisor. They have the power of the purse, the ability to raise large sums of money as sitting elected officials and that priceless commodity called name recognition. Next year might be different. Supervisor Ron Roberts’ 4th District seat is up for election in 2010 as is the 1st District post held by Bill Horn.

Would A $100 Parcel Tax For Local Schools Get Your Vote?

July 22
By Gloria Penner

Sometimes the biggest changes begin with little fanfare. For example, on the San Diego Unified School Board's 5 p.m. agenda on Tuesday evening was the rather obscure item ‘I’ on a list that began with ‘A’ and ended with ‘M’. Item ‘I’ was called the “Superintendent's Consent Agenda …Agreement with The Primacy Group, Inc. for a Parcel Tax Feasibility Study.”

Tease photo for Sonia Sotomayor and Identity Politics

Sonia Sotomayor and Identity Politics

July 15
By Gloria Penner

Unless Judge Sonia Sotomayor commits a monstrous gaffe during her final hours of grilling as President Barack Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee, she will replace retiring Justice David Souter when the next court session begins.

Tease photo for How To Rescue the Golden State from the Junk Heap

How To Rescue the Golden State from the Junk Heap

July 9
By Gloria Penner

We didn’t need the Governor to tell us that California is in a financial disaster. After all, the state is paying for goods and services with IOUs. There is growing alarm that the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and the sick children are on the verge of losing their safety net. What more needs to be said about a state legislature that can’t agree on a budget that was due July 1st?

Tease photo for Libertarians Woo Disenchanted Gay and Lesbian Democrats

Libertarians Woo Disenchanted Gay and Lesbian Democrats

July 1
By Gloria Penner

During his presidential campaign, Barack Obama appealed to the LGBT community with visions of what an Obama administration would accomplish on behalf of fair treatment and equality. But that’s not happening fast enough – if at all – for gay and lesbian Democrats who opened their wallets to Obama with high hopes.

Water Politics: Democracy or Labyrinth

June 24
By Gloria Penner

Our nation prides itself on the power of the people. Many political philosophers believe that it is public opinion that drives democracy and that ordinary citizens can actually influence the decisions that ultimately shape their lives and their destinies. However, in California, especially in semi-arid Southern California, this may not entirely hold true. Here, it is the control of water that has shaped the destiny of the land and its inhabitants.

Safeguarding California Judges from the Influence of Campaign Contributions

June 18
By Gloria Penner

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision put the spotlight on concerns that judges could be influenced by large campaign contributions. How large is large? In the case of Caperton vs. Massey Coal Company, the chief executive of Massey contributed $3 million to the election campaign of a West Virginia candidate to the state Supreme Court. Brent Benjamin won that election and just 3 years later overturned a $50 million claim against Massey. What a deal! Three million dollars to win $50 million. In a close decision, the high court ruled that judges have to recuse themselves from cases where substantial campaign contributions create the impression of bias. But the court didn’t establish how much money is too much money.

Tease photo for Small Cities Are Doing Just Fine, Thank You

Small Cities Are Doing Just Fine, Thank You

June 4
By Gloria Penner

The City of San Diego’s well-publicized budget struggles include pay cuts and fee hikes. But even cuts and hikes aren’t enough to quell Mayor Jerry Sanders’ worry, anger and frustration at Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s intention to borrow $2 billion from local governments. So I assumed that other cities in San Diego County would also be worrying at the prospect of state legislators shoveling property taxes from small municipalities into California’s coffers. After all, fewer city dollars mean fewer city services and smaller staffs to serve local residents.