Below are the ten topics chosen by vote of nearly 100 clubs across California. Delegates from Democratic clubs and county committees brainstormed, debated, authored, amended and approved the below text, one section at a time.
- CAMPAIGNS AND ELECTIONS
- CIVIL RIGHTS
- CRIMINAL JUSTICE
- EMPLOYMENT, TRAINING and HOUSING
- ENERGY GOALS
- FISCAL SOLVENCY
- HEALTH CARE
- PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
CDC needs to emphasize:
- grassroots precinct work
- small radio stations to help rural campaigns
- free television time devoted to debate because we the people own the airwaves
- all primaries should be held the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June
CDC endorses the concept of fair political practices and campaign ethics enforced by a bipartisan Campaign Ethics Foundation in Santa Clara County. CDC recommends elimination of punch card ballots. We wish to replace them with electronic voting that will permit instant runoff ballots for local races. Further, CDC supports the Clean Elections Initiative as practiced in Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts and Missouri. Under this plan, candidates collect $5 with each nomination signature until enough paid signatures allow a candidate to run for public office. Government auditors guard campaign funds and release money to eligible campaigners. All candidates must participate in public debates.
- Fear aroused since 9/11 has been used to erode personal freedoms. We shall defend our constitutional civil liberties as we provide security for all California residents.
- The U.S. Patriot Act has many provisions that violate the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
- Defend and encourage local law enforcement jurisdiction free from imposition of federal control.
- Civil rights needing protection include: the right of assembly without surveillance; the right of due process; implementing security measures without ethnic or religious profiling; freedom from inappropriate search and seizure.
- We demand that our state government be open and required to provide all requested information to the public.
- Ensure privacy in all forms of media. Private communication shall not be accessed without a search warrant.
- We reaffirm our support for affirmative action. We support restoration of affirmative action programs in the areas of government contracting, education and housing.
- We encourage the enforcement of laws that protect the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
- We support a woman’s “right to choose.”
- We support the right to participate in labor organizing without fear of retaliation.
Three Strikes Law
The California Democratic Council supports amending the Three Strikes Law to (a) specify the three offenses (felonies) as VIOLENT crimes; and (b) to restore judicial discretion in sentencing because: The public perception of the Three Strikes Law as it appeared on the ballot was that it referred to violent crimes against persons. As currently written, the Three Strikes Law clogs the courts and prisons by occupying time, space, and resources which should be reserved for punishment of more serious crimes. Education, prevention and rehabilitation have proven to be more effective in preventing crime than prolonged incarceration.
Moratorium on Executions in the State of California
The California Democratic Council urges a moratorium on executions in California until issues of forensic science and judicial fairness are resolved because:
- There is a risk of executing innocent persons.
- Statistics point to discrimination based on race, ethnicity, national origin, geography and economic status.
- Historically, some death penalties have been reversed due to inadequate representation or DNA evidence.
- Studies reveal that capital punishment does not deter crime. One study found that states with the death penalty had homicide rates 48% to 101% higher over the last 20 years than states without capital punishment.
- Every other Western democracy has abandoned the death penalty. In 2001, 90% of documented executions occurred in four countries: China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.
- Financial costs are overwhelming. The death penalty is far more expensive to enforce than a system of “life without parole.” The death penalty diverts resources from other law enforcement and community safety needs.
- CDC advocates effective financing of the CPEC by the legislature. The California Postsecondary Education Commission provides numerous important services to the legislature on aspects on educational studies, campuses, additional courses of study, and other important educational issues. Since the Commission is formed by trustees and regents from California’s public and private college and universities, the Commission is in an exceptional position to coordinate and to recommend to the legislature on all aspects of postsecondary education.
- A student should be encouraged to maintain his/her graduation timeline. Therefore when transferring from a community college, it should be state mandatory that all General Education requirements meet the CSU and UC graduation requirements to avoid time loss and higher tuition payments.
- A high school diploma from any public high school should meet minimum statewide quality standards. A diploma from any high school in California should signify that the student has mastered specific educational and/or job-related skills regardless of the county or school district in which the student resides.
- California’s public colleges must ensure adequate teacher-preparation classroom space to respond to the state’s need for teachers. California will need 300,000 new teachers to reach the next generation. The practice of allowing “on the job training” teachers who are on emergency credentials to teach our children is unacceptable. We call on the legislature to fund adequate teacher education programs.
- Establish a Joint Assembly and Senate subcommittee to investigate the health impacts of students transporting textbooks to and from campuses. If found to be of negative impact, develop potential solutions., i.e., more lockers, more textbooks, more online learning, etc.
- CDC supports publicly-funded free pre-school for any student between three and five years old (optional attendance). In this day and age, our curriculum in elementary education have higher standards. Quite a number of those pre-schoolers are not prepared to meet these standards. So that all children can have equal opportunity to develop the pre-K skills. Emerging educational research states that much of a child’s learning curve is set before five years old.
- CDC supports the continuance of a 20:1 class ratio for students in grades K-3. Our focus continues to be literacy (every child able to read by 3rd grade). We need to keep the class sizes small for the teacher to give the one-on-one support to meet this focus.
- Establish mandatory minimum safety and security standards for all public and private schools, to be administered at the local level district-by-district. All students, teachers and staff have a right to be educated and to work in a safe campus environment
- We continue to oppose vouchers. Further, we are in favor of quality and fiscal integrity assessments for home-school programs.
- The CDC advocates the incremental extension of the K-12 school year from its present 180 days to 200 days. Educational research long ago identified “time on task” as the most important variable in learning. Other industrialized nations whose children outperform California students all have longer school years than in California. To facilitate smooth integration of a change of this sort, including meaningful curriculum revision, extending the school year by a week at a time (5 days) is recommended. Adoption of an extended school year will have significant fiscal implications which are acknowledged and supported by this proposal.
- ASD programs should meet high standards for elementary, junior high and high school, especially for expelled or incarcerated students. All children have a right to the best education available. Students in alternative, community and court schools should be provided with education programs that best meet their learning styles, thereby helping students to be productive members of society.
- All infrastructure-related tax increment, property tax or other public funding, regardless of source, should be pooled at each County Office of Education and redistributed by enrollment to schools within that County, with no commingling of funds allowed at the local levels. Schools that serve economically-strong families should not de facto have better facilities than schools that serve economically-challenged families. We believe in offering students a level playing field.
- Support a default college-preparation curriculum for all high school students, with an opt-out option for teens who prefer a different curriculum. Many parents and students need to be aware that high school algebra and geometry are as essential for vocational preparation/apprenticeship programs as they are for admission to UC and CSU systems. So are writing and speaking skills. By making college-preparation the default curriculum, more students will have access to high paying jobs requiring these skills.
- It is important that schools, districts and teachers meet state mandates. This can be accomplished through adequate funding by the legislature of all state mandates. ADA should not be available until State mandates have been met.
- Expand teacher preparation programs at public universities to correlate to local teacher needs. Provide incentives to recruit HS seniors and college students into teacher prep programs.
- School boards must ensure that all student facilities meet state-set standards for school facilities, curriculum-quality and textbook availability.
- Aggressively pursue support of educational and training programs that facilitate welfare-to-work. Offer adequate education and training programs for non-degree seeking adults and/or retraining / job loss / layoffs. Provide state-funded or state-subsidized quality childcare support for students in job training and retraining programs.
- Expand state-funded after-school programs to help keep kids busy and “off streets.”
Eliminate poverty and the need for welfare through support of a Living Wage
- Ally support of the Business Community.
- Out-sourcing not to exceed 5% of total production.
We believe that a Living Wage is the standard for which all American workers should be compensated so they can provide for themselves and their families a standard of living and quality of life consistent with the promise of financial independence inherent within the American Dream. We also believe it is the responsibility of US Corporations and Business entities to support American workers and the American economy with a dedicated presence on American soil for 95% of their total production capacity. Eliminate Socialized Corporate Welfare, as we know it
- All government assisted programs to Corporations need to transition into real jobs
Make Corporate offshore tax shelters illegal. We believe that Corporations who receive government compensation, including tax deductions, should be required to transition that compensation in a manner that directly benefits it’s employees’ income, company or retirement benefits. We also believe that US Corporation and Business entities that attempt to avoid their fair share of taxes place their own profits above the law and the standard of living and quality of life of all Americans.
Encourage Government, Labor and Business to partner in Vocational, Service and Trade education. We believe that a partnered, concentrated effort that restores the dignity and value of Vocational, Service and Trade professions should become an alternative curriculum priority with our Middle and High School systems, and that the same opportunities for Federal Student Loans be made available for Vocational, Service and Trade institutions of higher education.
Encourage programs that provide the development and financing of affordable home ownership We believe that the State of California should require all jurisdictions to comply with State Affordable Housing Laws, including mandated enforcement and penalties for non-compliance. We encourage the further development of collaborative efforts that emphasize and provide incentives for personal ownership versus renting. We also believe in a continuing re-evaluation of Red Line practices to ensure compliance and the development of incentives for lending institutions who have demonstrated the implementation of programs for the benefit of the under served. We include our support requiring municipal jurisdictions to provide affordable housing ownership for its Emergency and Community Serviced employees. We believe it is unconscionable to deny these valued citizens the financial opportunity of residency in the communities they serve and put their lives on the line for every day.
California shall work towards energy independence achieved through economical, efficient and safe, non-polluting sources. The State of California shall mandate conservation of energy in private and public buildings. Tax incentives shall be offered for all construction designed and sited according to energy-efficient standards. Where feasible, tax incentives shall be offered to retrofit existing structures. Registration, taxes and fees for motor vehicles shall be graduated commensurate with vehicle fuel efficiency. Consideration shall be given to the hidden public-borne costs of operating inefficient vehicles. SUVs and light trucks shall meet the same fuel efficiency standards as passenger vehicles. The State of California shall offer incentives to private industry for the development of ultra-fuel-efficient vehicles. The State of California shall encourage development of non-polluting transportation alternatives. California shall prioritize funding for efficient, well-maintained public transportation.
SOURCES OF ENERGY
Continued high consumption of fossil fuels exacerbates the grave problem of global warming. Furthermore, American’s reliance on imported oil compromises Americas foreign policy and risks interruption of supply. Fortunately, there are practical, realizable solutions to these problems that can ensure a continued high standard of living for Americans. We must convert to domestically produced, clean, safe, non-polluting sources of energy. These must include wind, solar heating, photovoltaics, geothermal, biomass, passive and active solar, all proven technologies. Research on the above, new and advanced energy sources and techniques should be pursued by public universities leading to ultimate self-sufficiency. Such research subject matter should also include co-generation, fuel cells, hydrogen, water desalination techniques, distributed systems and the ocean. We realize that, for the immediate future, consumption of fossil fuels will continue, but every reasonable effort must be made to reduce their use. When fossil fuels are used, all effective technology must be used to minimize pollution and emission of greenhouse gases. Because of the hazards of existing nuclear plants, we should phase them out. New nuclear plants should be considered only when the technology has been proven to be safe, clean and terrorist proof. We must recreate energy systems that serve the people and the economy. We would prefer public energy systems, or if not, fully regulated systems. The rules should prevent “gaming” and ensure full transparency in energy transactions. The pricing structure should ensure affordability for all our residents. The energy supply and distribution must be dependable. Under deregulation the people paid for the utilities’ assets as stranded costs. The rate payers should own these facilities by now. Public utility company assets paid for by the rate payers and shifted out-of-state should be returned to the ratepayers.
ACCESS TO POWER AND OTHER ENERGY RESOURCES
The price of energy should make it accessible to poor people. The state should re-regulate its mass-supplier energy systems. The state should buy-out the electric grid. The system of top-price ISO bid determining price overall should be eliminated. Incentives to use renewable, efficient, clean and passive energy should be built into tax costs. Public power takeover should be encouraged and facilitated. If private utilities want to sell their assets, the public should have the right of first notification, time to pass bonds and right of first refusal with due consideration for depreciation taken. One goal of the state’s approach to regulation in to ensure continuity of energy supply and independence. We encourage energy-related research by California’s university systems.
- Earth belongs to future generations and the economy depends on the environment. Wilderness preservation must be enhanced for individual health and future generations.
- We support the elimination of MTBE additives to gasoline. Leakage of storage tanks contaminate groundwater.
- We support a California program to reduce greenhouse gases. In light of the Federal EPA report, and the Bush response, California must act on its own.
- We support reduction of unnecessary toxics. The effects on individual health via air and water contamination is great.
- We support elimination of certain toxic organophosphates and other hazardous pesticides and herbicides, particularly those currently creating toxic exposure to farm workers and food processing workers, such as methylbromide used in strawberry production. Integrated pest management can achieve the same ends.
- We support CEQA to boost air quality with no exemption for agriculture.
- We support a long-range comprehensive state policy of growth control. Elimination of agricultural land and wilderness areas leads to loss of greenbelts, more traffic, more pollution and a degradation of the quality of life.
- We support family planning programs to reduce population growth. Water and land are finite. The quality of air, water and living conditions are negatively impacted by overpopulation.
- We support expanding recycling programs including computers. Landfill is finite.
- We support programs to expand conservation of water, water storage and desalinization. The overall supply of water must be maintained and enhanced.
- We support the inclusion of water conservation in statewide school curriculum.
- We support California emission standards stricter than that of the Federal standards and we support application to all vehicles.
- We support an equitable science-based statewide water policy plan that emphasizes water conservation and which allocates and prices water equitably among environmental, agricultural, residential and industrial uses. This plan shall affect proposed large-scale developments.
- We support a comprehensive, long-range State policy of growth management, adapted and implemented by regional and local agencies.
- We support limiting urban sprawl, establishing urban-rural boundaries, greenbelts, infill development, protect ecologically-sensitive areas and agricultural lands. We support the Coastal Protection Act, the protection of wildland habitats and corridors, preserves and parklands.
- We support restoration of the top state income tax rates.
- We support adequate funding of state-mandated services, such as county health services.
- We support the rollback of corporate tax reductions.
- We support restoration of the split roll levy of property taxes between residential and commercial property.
- We support an equitable formula of revenue sharing between the state government and counties.
- We support reliable sources of funding in order to avoid an over-reliance on sales tax revenue which favors retail development over housing.
- In order to ensure fiscal solvency and accountability, we support streamlining of administrative structures within public institutions.
- We urge wiser allocation of limited resources through more humane and cost-effective alternatives to incarceration, such as drug courts, community service, preventative and rehabilitative programs.
- Tenet Nurses. We support Tenet nurses, indeed all nurses, fighting unfair labor practices, for example, Tenet/Sutter nurses. We support legislation that looks at adequate staff-to-patient ratios. Tenet does not provide adequate nursing staff potentially endangering the health of their patients. And, Tenet refuses to bargain in good faith with unions that won organizing elections and have been reorganized by the NLRB.
- Medical Marijuana. We need to enforce Proposition 215 equally and consistently throughout the state, to keep marijuana safe and affordable, to maintain current medical funding levels, and to develop protection for local, approved growers.
- Single-Payer Health Plan. California should enact a single payer, universal health plan. Health care is a right for all and not a privilege for some.
- Assisted Death with Dignity. California should explore the concept of assisted death with dignity, and should enact appropriate legislation, following Oregon’s successful legislation.
- Bonds for Hospital Repairs. We advocate that a bond measure be enacted to raise money to ensure that each county has hospitals that will survive a major disaster. Because half of all hospitals in California would collapse in a large earthquake and because California hospitals are mandated by law to find money to retrofit and because most hospitals will be hard-pressed to find the money to retrofit.
- Mental Health. We urge the defeat of AB896 (Developmentally Disabled Act) and we urge a stop to the release of institutionalized persons to unknown circumstances and to account for their whereabouts. Mental health care is as critical as physical care to ensure the well-being of all citizens. We further mandate that worker/employee mental health insurance be on a par with physical protection. And, we note that public education is necessary to inform citizens who are institutionalized including the nature of their illnesses so they are aware of their situations.
- Pharmaceutical Issues. We propose legislation to index cost increases of pharmaceuticals to the cost of living. Pharmaceutical cost increases far exceed the cost of living based on the consumer price index.
- AIDS Research. We urge the legislature to maintain and increase funding for AIDS research, treatment and management.
- Funding of Prescription Drugs. We support including prescription drugs under Medicare.
- Right to choose. We support every woman’s right to choose and we support the defense of Roe v. Wade. We support state funding for reproductive services.
- Universal Immunization. We support legislation to make immunization for communicable diseases available and free for those desiring immunization.
We support a transportation policy that includes expanded and integrated municipal, regional and statewide public transportation systems and increased fuel efficiency standards.
We support implementation of a high-speed rail system as proposed in SB1856. The benefits of this include reduced traffic congestion, mitigation of potential airport expansion, improved air quality, and helping meet projected traffic growth.
Inter-city and Intra-city Public Transportation
We support an expansion of inter-city and intra-city public transportation with an emphasis on rail systems. We support a state-funded pilot project for municipal light rail sufficiently extensive to be cost effective. Such a pilot system would provide convenient accessibility, speed, and cost to be attractive to large numbers of residents. Communities throughout the state could apply for consideration of this project. The selection decision would be made on the basis of which plan most efficiently promotes:
- Linkage with other public transportation systems
Municipal light rail systems must be well integrated with regional and statewide rail and other public transportation systems. To foster usage of these systems they must include adequate parking structures. All such transportation systems must emphasize reliability and frequency. They must achieve speed by means of appropriate rights-of-way, employing grade separations where necessary, with consideration given to responsible land use.
We encourage the California Congressional delegation and State Legislature to support the preservation and enhancement of the Amtrak system both in California and nationwide. In addition, we encourage the delegation to take the steps necessary to prohibit privatization of any high ridership segments of Amtrak or the system in its entirety. We further ask our delegation to advocate for adequate, reliable, and long-term funding for Amtrak.
To promote non-toxic fuel efficiency in the State of California, we urge the state to adopt increased CAFE (Corporate Aggregate Fuel Efficiency) standards, abandon tax benefits that favor gas-guzzling, heavyweight vehicles, and promote production of clean-burning fuel additives within the state as a safer alternative to MTBE.