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Wed Oct 17, 2012, 10:01 PM


Master of Deception: California PROP 32 Author Tom Hiltachk

Any lawyer with some experience in Sacramento politics can draft language for a statewide initiative. But crafting deceptive ballot measures that can trick people into voting against their core beliefs is nothing less than an art form. For many years, the undisputed master of the misleading initiative in California has been Thomas Hiltachk. So it’s little surprise that Hiltachk is the author of Proposition 32, which promises to rid Sacramento of special interest money – but which would actually give almost complete control of state politics to corporations and the super-rich by effectively crippling the ability of unions to participate in elections and lobbying. Hiltachk has also quite possibly written into the initiative a poison pill that would shield corporations from its provisions and leave only unions to suffer the consequences if Prop. 32 passes.

A full-time political and election lawyer since 1998, Hiltachk is an old hand at drafting legislation benefiting Big Tobacco or beating back living wage campaigns. He is also the California Republican Party’s go-to legal mind for penning regressive ballot initiatives intended to give conservatives maximum political power in an otherwise majority progressive state. Like the political consultants at the Dolphin Group, Hiltachk is known for promoting “Trojan Horse” political gambits. As Hendrik Hertzberg put it in a 2007 New Yorker piece, Hiltachk and his law film Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, “specialize in initiatives that are the opposite of what they sound like.” In other words, when political ideas won’t fly with voters on merit, Hiltachk and company trick Californians into voting against their wants and interests—and use every legal maneuver possible to keep voters unawares. If recent history is any indication, Hiltachk and his law firm have only one goal: Getting Republicans elected at any cost. (Hiltachk did not return repeated requests for an interview.)

Proposition 32 is just the latest in a string of initiatives authored by Hiltachk that do exactly that. In 2003, Hiltachk penned the initiative to recall then-California Governor Gray Davis. He later served as the spokesman and legal counsel for Rescue California—the committee that spent $3.6 million lobbying and signature-gathering for the initiative. When Davis lost his recall election to Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hiltachk had little trouble finding his next job—as legal counsel to the new governor. Working for the Schwarzenegger state house, however, didn’t stop his own efforts to push California’s political agenda as far right as possible. In 2006, Hiltachk and his firm authored and pushed for the Fair Pay Workplace Flexibility Act—a progressive-sounding bit of legislation that would have increased California’s minimum wage by a pittance. Hovering just above that carrot, however, was a giant stick. The bill would have eliminated overtime pay for many workers and frozen all future minimum wage raises without the consent of two-thirds of both houses of the California legislature—a nearly impossible feat.

In 2009, Hiltachk authored and promoted California Proposition 23—which would have eliminated the protections of California’s landmark environmental bill AB 32. As with Prop. 32, Hiltachk’s measure received the backing of the Koch brothers, to the tune of $1 million, donated through their company Flint Hills Resources. It failed miserably at the polls. But that didn’t deter Hiltachk—who served as legal counsel for billionaire Meg Whitman‘s gubernatorial campaign. The first thing Whitman vowed she would do in office was to suspend AB 32.




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Reply Master of Deception: California PROP 32 Author Tom Hiltachk (Original post)
Segami Oct 2012 OP
bemildred Oct 2012 #1
roody Oct 2012 #2

Response to Segami (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2012, 07:45 AM

1. A short explanation of why Prop 32 is bad:

1.) The proposition offers us a deal: if we give up unions as a political force, we get in return removal of corporations as a political force. So it appears "fair" if you think of unions and corporations as equivalent sorts of things because they are in competition, which would work well enough in wage negotiations, but no so in politics.

2.) However, it does not REALLY remove the rich from politics at all, it just changes how they do it, whereas it really will gut the political power of unions, since it will gut use of their main funding source, member dues. (And that's the point!)

3.) It does nothing about black money (Citizen's United) or private money owned by persons at all.

4) It will be the death of unions as an effective political force in CA.

5.) And unions and corporations are not at all the same sort of things. One represents it's members (well or ill, admittedly) and one represents the boss. One has a fundamentally democratic organization and one has a fundamental totalitarian organization (Corporations), and thus one (unions) has the intrinsic political legitimacy to speak for its members, and one has the political legitimacy to speak only for itself (or herself or himself).

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Response to Segami (Original post)

Thu Oct 18, 2012, 09:42 AM

2. NO on 32.

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