As we stand on the edge of the fiscal cliff, waiting to see if the Republicans in Congress choose to walk back from the edge with Democrats or jump—pulling us all over into an economic abyss, I want to recall with you some of the highlights of 2012. Top of my list has to be President Barack Obama’s reelection victory.
More than $2 billion was spent just on the presidential election campaign by former Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama and their allied Super PACs. Estimates of spending on federal elections (presidential and congressional) are hovering around $6 billion. Those on the right who squeal that campaign finance regulations are somehow strangling political free speech have lost that argument. It is clear that those with the money had plenty to say, and they had no trouble saying it.
At the local level, we watched a popular Mayor, and two-term councilwoman from Fullerton, Sharon Quirk-Silva take down incumbent Assemblyman Chris Norby in the newly drawn 65th Assembly district. With redistricting, we now have three Democrats representing Orange County in the House of Representatives with the election of Alan Lowenthall in the 47th Congressional District, and the reelection of Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez in the 46th and her sister, Linda Sanchez, in the 38th.
We watched the attacks by the far-right of the Republican party on public and private sector employee unions fail to destroy the rights of employees to collectively join together to fight for their rights both at the bargaining table and in the ballot box. At the state-wide level, Proposition 32, which would have eliminated the rights of employee organizations to participate in the political process in California, was crushed at the ballot box. In Costa Mesa the attempt by Costa Mesa City Councilman Jim Righeimer and the OC GOP to unilaterally contract out municipal jobs was defeated with the failed charter initiative Measure V.
We watched as a new majority on the City Council in Santa Ana rose up in unity to limit the the power and influence of long-term Mayor Miguel Pulido. The new majority, named the “Santa Ana Spring” by Councilman Sal Tinajero successfully placed a mayoral term-limits initiative on the ballot which voters overwhelmingly approved. While that majority didn’t win every contest, they won enough to maintain their control of the reigns of city leadership.
In Anaheim we saw a city council majority give away $158 million in future tax revenue to a luxury hotel developer with no strings attached, despite a public outcry over the gift of public funds. Opponents narrowly missed achieving the required number of signatures to place the issue of future similar giveaways on the ballot for the voters to decide. The tax giveaway sparked a lawsuit to establish council districts, with district level elections, for the City of Anaheim. Anaheim Residents tried to get the Council to place the matter of council districts on the ballot for voters to decide, or settle the lawsuit. The majority on the council had other things in mind and has steadfastly refused to budge, other than agreeing to study the matter.
These are just a few highlights from 2012. They have all set the stage for more political battles in 2013.
Happy New Year.