LA WATCHDOG--Many believe that California would be better off if we sent Attorney General Kamala Harris to Washington to succeed Barbara Boxer, the 75 year old “junior” senator from California. But then again, is it fair to the rest of the country to stick the nation with the highly partisan Kamala Harris when Loretta Sanchez is the more qualified candidate?
Kamala Harris’ fatal flaw is that she is a staunch opponent of pension reform.
During the last two years, she has authored unfavorable and biased summaries for two bipartisan ballot measures that would have reformed California’s unsustainable pension plans. Pension reform is the most important financial issue facing all levels of government as ever increasing pension contributions are required to cover the estimated unfunded liability of up to $500 billion. But these growing contributions are crowding out basic services such as public safety and the repair of our infrastructure as well as progressive initiatives involving education, affordable housing, and services to the homeless.
This has resulted in numerous ballot measures for new taxes which, despite their stated use, are really going to fund the upside down pension plans.
But rather than endorsing pension reform, Harris sold out to the campaign funding leadership of the public unions who are vehemently opposed to any reform of the very generous pension plans. As a result, Harris has benefitted from significant cash contributions to her campaign war chest.
Obviously, Harris did not get the memo from Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo that “you can’t be a progressive and be opposed to pension reform.”
Ever since Harris was elected Attorney General in 2010, she has used her office as a stepping stone for higher office. Over the years, she has been gallivanting around the country, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on first class travel, five star hotels, and limousines and hitting up the usual out of state suspects for campaign donations.
She has also used her office to reward her campaign contributors. In 2015, Harris placed so many conditions on Prime Healthcare’s acquisition of the money losing hospitals owned by the Daughters of Charity that the buyer walked away from the transaction. According to subsequent litigation, it was alleged that Harris was doing the bidding of the SEIU which was in a labor dispute with Prime Healthcare.
No wonder the SEIU has been so generous to Harris’ campaign war chest.
Harris has been so busy running around the country raising money and planning her next campaign that her office has suffered from the lack of organization and leadership and high turnover. Her office has failed to implement or follow through on numerous initiatives such as gun control and criminal justice. But that has not stopped her from claiming credit for the work of others as was the case with the national mortgage settlement that was spearheaded by the Attorney Generals in New York and Delaware.
Sanchez, on the other hand, has developed a reputation over her twenty years in House of Representatives as a legislator who can work in a bipartisan manner, much like Senator Diane Feinstein who has been an effective proponent for California. She has the endorsement of 17 of the State’s Democratic Congressional representatives, almost double the number that are supporting Harris.
Sanchez also has a strong working knowledge of immigration, a very important issue to Californians, as she is the co-chair of the Immigration Task Force, a member of the Hispanic Caucus, and the daughter of hard working immigrants who achieved the American Dream.
She has an excellent understanding of the water issues facing the State, having worked on matters involving conservation, groundwater, the Salton Sea, and other complex problems facing Orange County and Southern California.
She is a ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, but voted against the Iraq War, and the House Homeland Security Committee.
Without doubt, Sanchez, an MBA and a financial analyst in the private sector before she upset B1 Bob Dornan in the 1996 election, is familiar with the federal budget, a complex issue that impacts all Californians.
While Sanchez and Harris are both Democrats, we have the choice between Harris, a San Francisco ideologue who has derailed pension reform in return for union campaign cash, or Sanchez, a Southern Californian and a seasoned legislator with private sector experience who has demonstrated that she can work in a bipartisan manner to get things done.
While Harris is leading in the polls, Sanchez has the unique opportunity to upset Harris by putting together a coalition of Hispanics, moderate Democrats, independents, and Republicans.
(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and a member of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council. Humphreville is the publisher of the Recycler Classifieds -- www.recycler.com. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)