Green Room

California’s Shadow Legislature: 21 Years Later

posted at 4:31 pm on August 20, 2012 by

Los Angeles Times reporter Michael J. Mishak has written an excellent and detailed description of the power and influence the California Teachers Association holds in state government. He begins with this anecdote:

Last year, as Gov. Jerry Brown hammered out final details of the state budget, he huddled around a conference table with three of the most powerful people in state government: the Assembly speaker, the Senate leader – and Joe Nuñez, chief lobbyist for the California Teachers Assn.

California was on the edge of fiscal crisis. Negotiations had come down to one sticking point: Brown and the legislators would balance the books by assuming that billions of dollars in extra revenue would materialize, then cut deeply from schools if it didn’t.

Nuñez said no.

Opposition from the powerful union, which had just staged a week of public protests against budget cuts, could mean a costly legal challenge. So the group took a break, and the officials retired to another room to hash out something acceptable to CTA while Nuñez awaited their return.

Californians who read the article will receive an illuminating lesson on how the state political apparatus really operates. Mishak’s story is particularly depressing for me, as the state of affairs he describes is what prompted me to start writing about teachers’ unions in the first place.

I dug through an old file box and found a lengthy report I wrote for the Claremont Institute back in October 1994 – long before I created the Education Intelligence Agency. It was part of a series the organization had commissioned called “The California Teachers Association: Power Politics vs. Education Reform.” My contribution was a 25-page briefing titled “The Shadow Legislature.”

The briefing described in gory detail the unique role CTA played in running the state government, but I won’t rehash all that. It will be sufficient to cite this paragraph, from a Los Angeles Times story of June 24, 1991:

As the Legislature wrestled with the state’s $14.3 billion budget deficit through a sweltering weekend earlier this month, some of the key moves were not made by legislators but by officials of the 200,000 member California Teachers Association. CTA lobbyists, carrying proposals and counter-proposals, scurried between the Assembly and Senate chambers and union headquarters, in a former Mexican restaurant two blocks away. They met with individual legislators, groups of lawmakers and representatives of other education groups to discuss nuances of the complex budget negotiations. In the end they won at least a partial victory when Gov. Pete Wilson dropped his high-profile campaign to suspend Proposition 98, the 1988 voter-approved initiative that guarantees funding for public schools and community colleges. Instead of cutting schools by $2.1 billion as he proposed in his budget, Wilson ended up increasing school spending by $822 million.

A lot of things have changed in California in the 21 years since that paragraph was written. As Mishak describes, a lot of the pushback against CTA now comes from Democrats. The state now has more than 1,000 charter schools with more than 410,000 students. Back then, it had none. Former CTA President Del Weber said of charters in March 1993: “About the only thing we’re sure of is that charter schools can employ non-certificated teachers, ignore state mandates for health and safety education, abrogate academic freedom, hire or fire teachers for ideological reasons, and escape all accountability to the taxpayers at large while operating on the taxpayers’ money.” These days, CTA claims it is “not opposed to charter schools.”

But some things never change. The state has run budget deficits under Republicans and Democrats, under large one-party majorities and divided government, under professional politicians and Hollywood actors. The one common factor is the presence in the room of CTA’s top lobbyist. Capitol Weekly named Joe Nuñez the second most powerful political player in the state – behind only someone who sleeps with the governor. Time for CTA to stand outside the locked door with the rest of us.

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And yet Californians continue to support and elect and/or reelect the same abject Democrat failures election after election after election after election — ad nauseam.

California Governor Edmund Gerald “Moonbeam” Brown was just here in San Diego trying to sell his so-called ‘temporary’ state-wide tax increases on the ballot for November. It’s supposedly to ‘balance the budget’ — but there is absolutely zero unions/pension reforms nor entitlement reforms of any kind whatsoever.

Of course, Gov. Moonbeam used his [and the entire Left's] usual mafia style tactics to implore San Diegans to vote for his tax increases by fear-mongering for ‘protection money’.

He claimed that ‘Public Safety’ and ‘Public Schools’ will be devastated by budget cuts and therefore — ‘if you’s don’t pay dat extraz protections moneys, you’s and yer kidz won’t be so well protected no more at home or at school. You’s know what I mean?’.

Nothing short of the Apocalypse can save California — or save Californians from themselves. Nothing.

FlatFoot on August 20, 2012 at 5:16 PM

nothing SHOULD save Kalifornia.

Die, monster, Die!!!

“Perhaps the purpose of your existence is simply to serve as a warning to others.”

Tom Servo on August 20, 2012 at 6:36 PM

nothing SHOULD save Kalifornia.

Die, monster, Die!!!

Tom Servo on August 20, 2012 at 6:36 PM

[waves sadly at Tom Servo]

California is worth saving. Even though we’re vastly outnumbered, there are those of us in CA — think of us as “moles”, if you like — who are working as hard as we can to eke out a victory here and there. Remember, this state gave the nation Ronald Reagan.

That said, there must be no federal bailout of California. Ever. The only cure for the parasite unelected lawmakers here is to starve them out.

Mary in LA on August 20, 2012 at 7:09 PM

San Onofre’s shut down, in January California will no longer buy power from coal-fired plants. No new power plants can be approved; the greens own the legislature. Darkness is coming. That may change some things.

theCork on August 20, 2012 at 7:36 PM

That said, there must be no federal bailout of California. Ever. The only cure for the parasite unelected lawmakers here is to starve them out.

Mary in LA on August 20, 2012 at 7:09 PM

I’m not a Californian, so saying that we can’t bail them out may sound provincial. However, I agree. Bailing out California could drag the nation down as well. There needs to be reform, and only Californians can do it. Lets hope the finally get fed up.

itsspideyman on August 20, 2012 at 7:49 PM

If you’re worried about the entire country having to bailout California and feel that taxpayers should not have to do so — IT’S TOO LATE.

The California bailout has already begun.

FlatFoot on August 20, 2012 at 10:07 PM

Nothing short of the Apocalypse can save California — or save Californians from themselves. Nothing.

FlatFoot on August 20, 2012 at 5:16 PM

Do you live in California? If not, then STFD and STFU. If you do, then bring on the Apocalypse.

nothing SHOULD save Kalifornia.

Die, monster, Die!!!

“Perhaps the purpose of your existence is simply to serve as a warning to others.”

Tom Servo on August 20, 2012 at 6:36 PM

Go to hell you ignorant fool.

SWalker on August 20, 2012 at 10:10 PM

SWalker on August 20, 2012 at 10:10 PM

It says right there in my post that I live in San Diego. And — um — San Diego is in California. In fact, I am a native Californian — born and raised — and have lived in California my whole life.

So — ESAD or FOAD — you decide which, dumbooty.

FlatFoot on August 20, 2012 at 10:26 PM

SWalker on August 20, 2012 at 10:10 PM

It says right there in my post that I live in San Diego. And — um — San Diego is in California. In fact, I am a native Californian — born and raised — and have lived in California my whole life.

So — ESAD or FOAD — you decide which, dumbooty.

FlatFoot on August 20, 2012 at 10:26 PM

Hey… Guess what… I have a brilliant idea… Move your dumb ass somewhere else then. It’s a$$holes like you that turned California into what it is today. Oh, and by the way, I’m also a resident of San Diego. Unlike you, I neither have any fatalistic desire to see California collapse, nor any willingness to surrender it to liberal Marxist p.ricks.

SWalker on August 20, 2012 at 10:45 PM

Hey… Guess what… I have a brilliant idea… Move your dumb ass somewhere else then. It’s a$$holes like you that turned California into what it is today. Oh, and by the way, I’m also a resident of San Diego. Unlike you, I neither have any fatalistic desire to see California collapse, nor any willingness to surrender it to liberal Marxist p.ricks.

SWalker on August 20, 2012 at 10:45 PM

Why? Because I haven’t single-handedly saved California from the evil blue meanies?

Why? Because I actually know the score and I know for a fact that California is now and forever always will be a deep blue state?

Where were you when Edmund Gerald “Moonbeam” Brown was reelected? Were you campaigning vigorously for his Republican opponent? I was. Or were you sitting on your ass pissing and moaning about how everybody else has let you down? How about your local Congressman or your local Senator or your local Assemblyman? I’ve campaigned for them all in multiple elections. And guess what — all my candidates have won multiple times — except for Whitman. But then again — that’s one of the advantages of living in San Diego, isn’t it? Red isn’t dead here — yet.

Tell ya what, slapdick, you go on out there and save California for us all. If you fail — you move your fat f—ing dumbooty on out and go back to wherever you emigrated to California from. Otherwise, I’ll stay where I was born and raised and where my children were born and raised and my grandparents and parents and brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and cousins were all born and raised for as long as I f—ing want to.

If you think you can do better than that — prove it, you brokedick jizzmop.

FlatFoot on August 21, 2012 at 1:41 AM

FlatFoot on August 21, 2012 at 1:41 AM

You bout stupider than a pail of used buffalo snot aint ya boy. You, dumb$hit are the one who has already written California off as irredeemable. Better than surrendering, ya, I can do better than bending over and sticking my ass in the air with a sign on it saying have at it boys, which, quiet honestly is all you have done. Hell, I bet your punk ass family were Yankees too.

SWalker on August 21, 2012 at 10:54 PM

SWalker on August 21, 2012 at 10:54 PM

Jeez.

Ha. I see you. ‘Nuff said…

FlatFoot on August 22, 2012 at 1:15 PM