Brown's record: good bills, lousy vetoes
Nine months into Jerry Brown's third term as governor of California, there's no doubt he's made some courageous moves at the desk where he signs and vetoes bills passed by the Legislature.
He OK'd the national popular vote measure, assuring that California will help see to it that no more presidents are elected with a minority of the national vote.
He signed an Internet sales tax bill as part of last summer's budget agreement, a move toward leveling the playing field between merchants who operate stores and those who sell only on the Internet.
But Brown has also made at least two misguided vetoes. One was a bill by Democratic Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield of suburban Los Angeles which sought to replace the $169 million Adult Day Health Care program - about to be ended because of state budget cuts - with a far cheaper alternative serving only the neediest patients.
In his veto message, Brown said "creating a new ADHC look-alike program at this juncture is unnecessary and untimely."
But the likelihood is that many of the elderly now cared for in community-based centers will end up languishing unaided and unsupervised at home or going to emergency rooms, mental institutions or nursing homes - where they might cost the state far more than they have before.
And there are now waiting lists for nursing home beds in some areas, which probably means a lot of patients who have been kept alive and relatively healthy by ADHC may die years earlier than they otherwise would have.
But the mistaken quality of another veto is immediately clear to anyone who frequents supermarkets or big-box stores. This was Brown's refusal to sign a measure called Senate Bill 168, which would have prohibited paying initiative petition carriers on the basis of how many signatures they gather for state or local initiatives, referenda or recall petitions.
In recent years, carriers have been able to get anywhere from 50 cents to $3, and occasionally even more, for each signature they gather. That's the main reason they often become aggressive at store entrances and exits, waving clipboards in the faces of customers and sometimes shouting at those who walk on by. Often, the same carrier will hold two clipboards, trying to get signatures on two or more measures from the same person - all in the interest of making more money.
It would be unconstitutional and unfortunate to put a complete stop to signature gathering at store entrances, as some states and some merchants have attempted in the past. But restoring sanity and decorum to this process would be a good thing.
And forcing the organizations that back initiatives to pay petition carriers by the hour or the day rather than strictly for piecework would be a step in this direction.
It also might put a crimp in the trend toward big-money interests taking over the initiative process because they can pay more for signatures and thus attract far more carriers for their measures.