Strong Arm the Strong Man

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rnold has talked tough about
prison reform since he took office, but the Strong Man’s promises
evaporated in 2006 when two successive corrections secretaries quit the
job. Rod Hickman, who’d held the post for years, explicitly cited the
prison guard union’s influence over the administration as the reason
for his departure. His replacement lasted just a few months and
reportedly had the same concerns.

Why would the gov turn from pillorying the public employee unions to
letting them in the cigar tent? The prison guards’ union has a $10 million war chest for the November election.
Arnold can’t help but hope they won’t direct that firepower at him and
the fastest way to immunity is to torpedo prison reform.

The federally-appointed investigator of California’s prison system,
special master John Hagar, blamed the gov’s two top aides’ close
communion with the prison guards for the disintegration of reform.
Hagar yesterday accused Arnold’s chief of staff, Susan Kennedy, of
being "in the pocket of the union,"
and credits her and Fred Aguiar with providing the union unprecedented
access to the governor’s office, killing several appointments and
purging prison guard contract negotiators at the union’s behest.

All of which is another reason why California needs Prop 89, the
November initiative that would limit the power of special interest
contributions in Sacramento. Prop 89 would limit independent
expenditure spending by any one group – union, corporation or
individuals — during any election to $7,500. Such a coup by the voters
would leave this powerful union a 100-pound weakling and put an end to
their strong arm tactics. Maybe then we would have the prison reform so
desperately needed in California and called for by the courts.

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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