Posts from the ‘Medicare’ Category

Four Democrats Sit Out Critical Vote



When California‘s SB 810 — Single Payer Health Care for California passed through the California Senate‘s Appropriations Committee by a 6-2 vote last week, activists thought they had an excellent chance to get the “Medicare for All” bill passed by the full Senate.

Yesterday, however, four Democrats sat out the critical vote, leaving the bill short 2 votes of the 21 votes needed for passage. 19 Democrats voted yes, 15 Republicans and 1 Democrat voted no. And the key remaining four Democrats abstained.

SB 810 can be brought up again under “Reconsideration” next Tuesday, January 31, 2012.

Single Payer Now is urging that pressure be put on the 4 Democrats who didn’t vote:

The following 4 Senators abstained from even casting a vote on this extremely important piece of legislation.

Senator Alex Padilla (Pacoima/LA area)
Email: Senator.Padilla@sen.ca.gov
Phone: (916) 651?4020

Senator Juan Vargas (San Diego area)
Email: Juan.Vargas@sen.ca.gov
Phone: (916) 651?4040

Senator Michael Rubio (Fresno/Bakersfield area)
Email: Michael.Rubio@sen.ca.gov
Phone: (916) 651?4016

Senator Rod Wright (Los Angeles area)
Email: Senator.Wright@sen.ca.gov
Phone: (916) 651?4025

Check here to see if you are represented by these senators.

* * *

The Los Angeles Times
reports:

State lawmakers deadlocked Thursday over a controversial measure that would provide universal healthcare in California.

In a vote in which some Democrats did not participate, the measure received only 19 of the 21 votes needed for passage in the Senate, but it was put over for another possible vote next week. [...]

Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) noted that some people have argued there is no need for state legislation because the federal government has already approved an affordable healthcare system to begin in 2014.

But Leno said states are allowed to provide greater healthcare under that system, and that California should act because the courts are considering lawsuits to overturn the federal plan.

Leno said SB 810 is needed because healthcare premiums have increased five times the rate of inflation in the last decade and 12 million Californians went without coverage during some time last year.

“Clearly, the current system is not working for businesses, for employers, for employees, for families,” he said.

Link to original article from Common Dreams


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  • Sunnsea

    The point is to get the privates out of basic health care insurance.  The Federal law actually reinforces their position, making them even stronger, though they will deny it.  SB810 is vital to reducing costs of insurance to all Californians.

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Message from Senator Leno – SB 810


Most of you have likely heard the disappointing news that our bill, SB 810, the California Universal Health Care Act, failed to move off the Senate Floor by January 31st, meaning it cannot advance further in the legislative process this year. Despite our unwavering advocacy, too few members were willing to cast votes in favor of SB 810 this year, including several members who had voted for the legislation before. Unfortunately this means that Californians will continue to have a broken health care system in dire need of change,…

Senator Mark Leno 31 Jan 2012 Hits:110 California

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A Story from Occupy Irvine


In December, on a cold Thursday afternoon, Trang Che appeared at Occupy Irvine with her neighbor and dear friend, Elaine Quillian, an octogenarian who calls her “little Sister.” Elaine is an active member of both MoveOn and Occupy OC. Trang was imminently facing eviction from her condo in 3 days and had heard that other Occupy communities had been able to help people in her same situation. She spoke elequently at GA about her plight–she told us how she came to this country…

Kate Fitch Frankel Nikolenko 30 Jan 2012 Hits:99 California

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URGENT – Help California Pass Single Payer on Tuesday


The California Senate is just 2 votes short to pass its single payer health care bill, SB 810 – the California Universal Healthcare Act, before the end of this legislative session on Tuesday. Four Democratic Senators have not voted either way on this bill.  Its author, Senator Mark Leno, can bring the bill up for reconsideration, as long as he knows that he has two more votes!! Most of us have family or friends in California. Many of these Californians may not know how important it is to call and email these…

Judy Hess | PDA Fresno 27 Jan 2012 Hits:736 California

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Single Payer Falls 2 Votes Short In California Senate


Four Democrats Sit Out Critical Vote When California’s SB 810 — Single Payer Health Care for California passed through the California Senate’s Appropriations Committee by a 6-2 vote last week, activists thought they had an excellent chance to get the “Medicare for All” bill passed by the full Senate. Yesterday, however, four Democrats sat out the critical vote, leaving the bill short 2 votes of the 21 votes needed for passage. 19 Democrats voted yes, 15 Republicans and 1 Democrat voted no. And the key remaining four…

Common Dreams 27 Jan 2012 Hits:429 California

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Stung by Bad PR, City Officials Adopting New Tactics to Suppress Occupy Oakland


“The government can always articulate rationales for why they’re prosecuting one person and not another.” Oakland officials have shifted tactics since conducting a series of violent assaults on Occupy Oakland in October and November in the glare of the national media. Oakland officials have taken a new tack in their suppression of the Occupy movement, one that seems addressed to the city’s public relations problems. Gone are the mass arrests, “less-lethal” weaponry and tear gas, replaced with a kind of “lawfare” on the few protesters who…

Susie Cagle | AlterNet 27 Jan 2012 Hits:158 California

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BBLV Letter to Rep. Capps


The Progressive Democrats of Santa Barbara visit your office today to ask you to join the members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to support some important bills that are moving through the House. There is a growing crisis in the country that needs your immediate action. Income inequality is at an all-time high, with working Americans struggling to make ends meet. Are you going to support the millions of people who need help to survive or are you going to support the richest corporations and Wall…

Lois Hamilton | PDA Santa Barbara 20 Jan 2012 Hits:132 California

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Senator Leno’s Single-Payer Health Care Bill Clears Senate Appropriations


SACRAMENTO – The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved the California Universal Health Care Act, authored by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). Senate Bill 810 guarantees all Californians comprehensive, universal health care …

Office of CA Senator Mark Leno 19 Jan 2012 Hits:594 California

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States Take On Citizens United


Montana legal ruling a possible game-changer for states; California lawmakers introduce legislation to overturn Citizens United Montana is proving to be a potential catalyst for change in the potential challenge to Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. As Roll Call reports: The Montana Supreme Court last week rejected a constitutional challenge to the state’s century-old prohibition on independent corporate campaign expenditures. That Montana statute was technically nullified when the U.S. Supreme Court threw out federal limits on independent corporate and union political spending in 2010. But unlike…

Common Dreams 07 Jan 2012 Hits:241 California

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Nurses to Join Call for Healthcare for the 99% On Monday


Rallies in Sacramento, Los Angeles to Challenge Insurance Giants, Seek Passage of Bill to Extend Guaranteed Care to All Californians A broad coalition of activists – including registered nurses, student nurses, medical students, seniors, physicians, members of the Occupy movement, and the recently formed Campaign for a Health California (CHC) – will hold marches and rallies Monday, January 9 in Sacramento and Los Angeles to step up the campaign to extend guaranteed healthcare coverage to all Californians. The actions will also promote passage of SB 810, which would establish a Medicare for…

National Nurses United 06 Jan 2012 Hits:508 California

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Occupy’s Rose Parade float: 70-foot octopus of corporate greed


Occupy protesters are busy finishing their float that will run at the end of the Rose Parade: a 70-by-40-foot octopus made of recycled plastic bags. The octopus, said activist Mark Lipman of Los Angeles, represents Wall Street’s stranglehold on political, cultural and social life, with tentacles “that reach into your pocket to get your money and a tentacle to get your house.” “This is the real Rose Parade, and the other is the Rose Charade,” said Pete Thottam, 40, an…

Hailey Branson-Potts | LA Times 30 Dec 2011 Hits:753 California

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Occupy Oakland protesters arrested at foreclosed home


OAKLAND — A dozen people linked to the Occupy Oakland movement were arrested Thursday at a foreclosed property in West Oakland. The property, located at 1415 and 1417 10th St., is listed as a foreclosed property for sale on the website indexpost.com, which lists foreclosures by state. The home, built in 1890, was occupied by activists from Causa Justa (Just Cause) and Occupy Oakland. It was not clear how long people have been living in the home. One report said people had been staying there since…

Kristin J. Bender | Oakland Tribune 30 Dec 2011 Hits:246 California

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Small Occupy Movements Across the Country Accumulate Victories


In a recent San Francisco Chronicle piece, “Occupy movement must move toward the center,” Tony Fels, associate professor of history at the University of San Francisco, writes that the Occupy “movement has reached a tactical dead end.” Demonstrators don’t have nicely packaged sound bites; there’s no go-to spokesperson; Occupy DC is one of the last camps standing. But the movement is far from dead. Here in California, the movement is exploding. In a recent study called “Diffusion of the Occupy Movement in California,” UC Riverside …

Rose Aguilar, Truthout | Report 27 Dec 2011 Hits:250 California

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Occupy Long Beach Stages Hospital “Die-In” in Support of Striking Nurses


The California Nurses Association and National Nurses United in Los Angeles and San Francisco have been battling with Sutter Health hospital management for three months over basic worker’s rights: they want better health care, staffing, and sick leave. On Thursday, they staged a one-day strike—their second—which reportedly attracted over 6000 nurses from nine hospitals, with a majority of workers striking. And on Friday, management announced that nurses who joined the strike on Thursday would not be allowed to return to work that…

Julianne Escobedo Shepherd | Sourced from AlterNet 24 Dec 2011 Hits:394 California

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Occupy Protesters Take Aim at Rose Parade


Pasadena police and Tournament of Roses officials have been negotiating with Occupy leaders for several weeks to prevent problems. Protesters will be allowed to march after all the floats have gone. The Rose Parade has long been a magnet for protesters looking for global attention for their causes and grievances. Native Americans once threw a balloon filled with red paint onto the parade route to represent the spilling of Indian blood. AIDS activists interrupted the parade by staging a sit-in. One year, a Pasadena mayor wore…

Catherine Saillant and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times 24 Dec 2011 Hits:254 California

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Vice Chair, North Area of the San Diego County Democratic Party Tenders Her Resignation


Greetings of a rainy Monday, all! I have tendered my resignation as Vice Chair, North Area for the San Diego County Democratic Party. I will remain a member of the San Diego County Democratic Central Committee and a delegate therefrom to the California Democratic Party. I have done this because I cannot stay neutral during the coming Primary races, which being an Area Vice Chair requires. Many of you know that I have been very active in the local Occupy Wall Street movement, Occupy San…

Martha Sullivan | Ocean Beach Rag 16 Dec 2011 Hits:246 California

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  • This is how we celebrate Bill of Rights Day in Fresno – the 220th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights. Today, the homeless in Fresno experienced some of…

  • By a vote of 8 to 3, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors today (December 13, 2011) adopted a strong resolution calling on Congress to adopt a new set…

  • The Occupy Oakland action at the Port of Oakland this morning came off without incident.  It was successful in achieving its primary objective at two terminals where ships were waiting…

  •  LOS ANGELES — It took Los Angeles police less than 30 minutes last night to take down the Occupy Wall Street encampment that had spent the past two…

  • LOS ANGELES — Wall Street protesters declared a minor victory Monday when they defied a midnight deadline to leave their tent city encampment around City Hall and police…

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Mayor 1%’s new rules try to thwart protest, while groundswell of public dissent grows


In the last ten days, literally thousands of people from across Chicago and beyond rallied a massive amount of public outcry against efforts to restrict free speech and the right to dissent in Chicago.



To help folks separate spin from fact, we’ve put together this analysis to help you understand how local rules have changed in ways that undercut protest and political speech. While these revisions will not deter us from speaking out and protesting, they do change the excuses the police may use to try to prevent us from protesting.

It’s also important that we understand these changes so we can educate our friends and neighbors – and fight for meaningful change that puts people’s rights and the greater good ahead of the fear-mongering and greed that drove Mayor 1%’s push for these changes.

City Hall made only token changes to “improve” these revisions, and the worst of Mayor 1%’s proposed revisions remain. While the old protest ordinance was pretty terrible in its own right, the changes approved this week make it even worse. How? Because the revisions give the police more excuses to target protesters they don’t like and speech they oppose with greater fines and penalties. The revisions also give police more excuses to try and censor the tools we use to speak out – sound equipment, signs, banners and whatnot.

Let’s be clear, under the old ordinance, police routinely repressed speech they disliked anyway. More than a few protesters have been arrested for absolutely no reason, only to find that the police have cooked bogus charges as an afterthought – and an excuse for targeting them in the first place.

But few aldermen or reporters understand the problems with the OLD ordinance, and they certainly have no experience with the police department’s chronic selective enforcement of the rules. Most have taken Mayor 1% at his word on the impact of these changes – setting them up for serious buyers’ remorse once City Hall starts using these changes as an excuse to suppress political speech.

It’s also important to note that Mayor 1%’s latest efforts to suppress our civil liberties do not occur in a vacuum. For the past several months, personnel from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the Secret Service have been on the ground in Chicago working to coordinate overall security measures for the NATO/G8 summits – and have made recommendations to municipal authorities on how to “enhance” these security measures.

This occurs at a time when Obama has signed the National Defense Authorization Act and other repressive measures, and where strong evidence exists of a nationally coordinated, inter-city campaign to suppress the Occupy movement. The National Lawyers Guild and its legal partners have filed a series of Freedom of Information requests seeking evidence of this federal role in the Occupy crackdown, and they have painted an ugly picture of federal coordination at the highest levels to undermine the most basic precepts of our right to dissent.

We “strongly suspect that the 72 so-called Fusion Centers created by the Homeland Security Department around the country, and the many Joint Terror Task Forces operated by the FBI in conjunction with local police in many cities, are serving as coordination points for the increasingly systematic attacks on the Occupy Movement,” writes the Guild .

Inevitably, much of this will be litigated in the courts. Meanwhile, this latest effort by Mayor 1% and his yes-men and women – as well as his national federal partners – will not deter the legitimate right of the rest of us to speak our minds, raise our grievances and protest government policy, whether or not new “rules” give the police another excuse to try to censor us.

We may not have won on Wednesday, but every single person who spoke out, showed up, shot off an email or phoned their alderman has joined a growing groundswell of truly grassroots opposition to the abuse of power. And that is very, very powerful.

The 1% can make new rules. We honor a higher law and more fundamental freedoms: the human right to equality, dignity and peace with justice, the human right to challenge those who rip us off, undercut our health and safety and abuse our basic freedoms, and the human right to defend these freedoms with words and deeds.

Basic talking points – what has changed with the new ordinances

1. We defeated the increased penalties for “resisting arrest,” but Chicago’s onerous interpretation of what constitutes “resisting” remains, overly penalizing many forms of non-violent civil disobedience. The penalties remain a minimum fine of $25 and a maximum of $500.

2. The City originally wanted minimum violations of the parade permit and public assembly ordinances to jump 20-fold, from $50 to $1000, and double the maximum penalty from $1000 to $2000, while keeping in place the maximum jail time penalty of 10 days. The new ordinances will make the minimum fine “only” quadruple, to $200, while keeping in place the current maximum penalties of $1000 and/or 10 days in jail. The old ordinance was used to exact a “free speech tax” on messages the City disliked, and so the new ordinance just makes that much worse, while providing additional criteria to find alleged “violations.”

3. The new parade permit ordinance proposed in December and the revised version floated January 12th both required that organizers provide in their permit application – something typically prepared months before the event – “a description of any recording equipment, sound amplification equipment, banners, signs, or other attention-getting devices to be used in connection with the parade.”

Besides being logistically unworkable, this was an obvious 1st Amendment restriction. The great “concession” in the new ordinance is that it demands that organizers include in the permit application “a description of any sound amplification or other equipment that is on wheels or too large to be carried by one person, and a description of the size and dimension of any sign, banner or other attention-getting device that is too large to be carried by one person, to be used in connection with the parade.” [emphasis ours]

4. The “reformed” version of the legislation is thus only a slightly less obvious 1st Amendment restriction and begs the question, will parade organizers be required to ban “unauthorized” banners under threat of fine and/or jail time?

Speaking at the City Council’s Committee on Special Events, Cultural Affairs and Recreation meeting on Tuesday, Michelle T. Boone, the Commissioner of the Department of Cultural affairs and Special Events, tried to soft-pedal this provision by implying that there would be no penalty for violation of it. But if that’s so, why include the provision in the ordinance at all?

5. By changing the definition of what constitutes a “large parade,” the new ordinance slips in onerous insurance and other burdens on demonstration organizers. Unless one gets a financial waiver from the Commissioner of Transportation, every street march in the downtown area will require $1 million liability insurance and “indemnify the city against any additional or uncovered third party claims against the city arising out of or caused by the parade; and (3) agree to reimburse the city for any damage to the public way or to city property arising out of or caused by the parade.” Failure to provide proof of insurance with one’s permit application will be grounds for rejection of the application.

6. Under the new ordinance, one can apply to the Commissioner of Transportation for a waiver of the financial requirements “if the application is for an activity protected by the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution [virtually every activity is protected by the 1st Amendment] and the requirement would be so financially burdensome that it would preclude the applicant from applying for a parade permit for the proposed activity. An application for a waiver of the application fee or insurance requirement shall be made on a form prescribed by and contain reasonable proof acceptable to the commissioner.”

There is no definition as to what constitutes “reasonable proof acceptable to the commissioner.” Moreover, both the old and new versions of the ordinances allow the Transportation Commissioner to “establish…rules and regulations” in addition to those specified in the legislation – i.e., a virtual blank check to institute unpopular measures that might have difficulty passing the City Council.

7. The new ordinance repeats most of the bureaucratic limitations on “public assembly” that were contained in the old ordinance. The city defines “public assembly” as any gathering that does not use the street, but does use sidewalks and “which is reasonably anticipated to interfere with or impede the flow of pedestrian traffic.”

When a member of the public raised concern about this during a City Council committee meeting, Boone tried to allay the concern by noting that the language had been lifted wholesale from the old ordinance and that “they [the police] don’t enforce a lot of it.” The reality is that there has been very selective enforcement of this provision of the old ordinance, amounting to a 1st Amendment content-based restriction.

By making the public assembly provisions a new subsection of the Municipal Code, the City will either enforce the old provisions against everyone, or continue its selective enforcement. Either result is a serious retreat away from the 1st Amendment.

8. The deputizing of police authority, perhaps even to private security outfits, remained intact in the legislation as passed. There is no sun-set clause on this provision.

9. The only “temporary” ordinance concerns the issuance of no-bid contracts. It is important to make sure that this truly goes away on July 30th as provided for in the legislation as passed.

Transparency

Emanuel claimed that his mayoralty would have “the most open, accountable, and transparent government that the City of Chicago has ever seen.” As many have commented, given Chicago’s history, that’s hardly setting the bar very high. Our struggle has given the lie to Mayor 1%’s claims of transparency:

a) The approximately half-dozen aldermen in the Committee on Special Events, etc. apparently had the latest version of the parade permits ordinance when they passed it out of committee on Tuesday afternoon. It was announced that paper copies of it would be distributed to them at the start of that meeting. When one of us asked for a show of hands during public comment section as to who had read it, all six or so claimed they had.

The fact remains, though, that the “latest” versions of the legislation that the City Clerk’s office gave us 90 minutes before the Council vote on Wednesday were outdated, and as of yesterday, the Clerk’s website still only had the old versions. So there was no way the general public had access to what was being voted on and thus have the opportunity to meaningfully weigh in on them.

b) As noted above, there is only one item in the whole body of legislation that has a sunset clause. This legislation then was not just for G8/NATO, as Emanuel claimed. In a January 17 City Council committee meeting, Mike Simon of the CDOT said that the permits ordinance revisions had been in the works since 2009. As one of us said to Tunney after the committee meeting, they’ve had this under review for two years and they’ve apparently talked to all players except those who actually use the ordinance.

c) The January 12th not-for-attribution press briefing (with no paper copies of what the revisions were) was accepted with virtually no criticism by the City Hall beat press crew. This was as much a statement about them as it was about Emanuel. Right up to and after Wednesday’s vote, most accepted City Hall’s spin that there were dramatic concessions to our side in the revised legislation.

d) Next up in the transparency department – what are the G8/NATO summits going to cost city taxpayers? Mayor 1% said that “We’ll make sure that taxpayers don’t take on the bill” and in a Council committee meeting, Alderman Pope falsely claimed that “Historically host cities have been wholly reimbursed.” But wholesale violations of protesters’ rights by police have typically cost host cities millions in civil suits after the fact.

Win, lose, or somewhere in between?

Finally, there is the issue of whether or not to call what happened on Wednesday a “victory” for our side or not. Most (but not all) mainstream media accounts accepted the 5th floor’s spin that Mayor 1% had listened to the people and revised the legislation to address our concerns – a victory for protesters. We obviously don’t think so, but at the same time, it would be wrong to label what happened as a wholesale defeat.

It is standard operating procedure for the City is to introduce draconian measures to the CTA, etc. in so-called “doomsday” budgets, only to then walk back the cuts to more “acceptable” levels once there is public outcry – the “acceptable” levels being the ones they planned on instituting all along. But we don’t think that this was the initial plan for this legislation – “professional protesters” (their term) are not a group in the chain of power that they think merits any concessions. We think that they introduced the legislation in the form that they wanted it to pass, and were taken aback at the level of resistance our side was able to muster.

There was no advance plan for the January 12th Mayoral dog-and-pony shows. Those and the other spin measures were crafted in response to our resistance, and the City had to deliver at least minimal concessions in order to make them credible. If we had not fought, we would not have won anything.

Aside from the teachers and those fighting the health clinic cuts, we were the first group to take the new mayor on in a sustained battle. And we’re really not a group at all – many thousands of people who did not know each other united in opposition to the mayor’s plans. As with any new administration, there are always those in the public who hope that the new guy will be better than the old one, that he can be reasoned with, etc. This was an uphill battle on those grounds alone.

Our sustained battle over the ordinances helped take Emanuel’s credibility down at least a few notches, concretizing his reputation as Mayor 1%. Moreover, we sent the message that if the City messes with us, we will fight back tenaciously.

Given the rubber stamp nature of our City Council (reinforced by Emanuel’s deep pockets, etc.), the idea that anyone could defeat him first time out was a total long-shot. Thanks to this struggle, the odds of people defeating him on other issues in the future have gotten at least a little bit better.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Previous articles in this series can be found here, here, here and here.

Here are the new versions of the ordinances:


G8NATOSub.pdf (75 k)


Parade & public assembly ordinances, new.pdf (56 k)

 
 

Related


 

An Open Letter to Newt Gingrich From the Pastors of Poor Children


Mr. Gingrich,

For this you still owe our children an apology:

“Some of the things they could do is work in a library, work in the front office, some of them frankly could be janitorial; what if they clean up the bathrooms, what if they mopped the floors, what if in the summer they repainted the school; what if in the process they were actually learning to work, learning to earn money; if they had their own money, they didn’t have to become a pimp or a prostitute or a drug dealer. [If] they had the dignity of work and learned how to be around adults who actually wanted to mentor them and help them. This is not a casual comment… It grows out of a lot of thinking over many years of trying to figure out how do we break out people trapped in poverty who have no work habits.” — Gingrich

We, the students and faculty of the Delaware Annual Conference Ministerial Institute of the AME Church, representing over 34 congregations and their constituents throughout Delaware and southern Pennsylvania are outraged at your continued demeaning of poor children and their families.

As a candidate vying for the Republican Presidential nomination, to suggest that poor children collectively lack a work ethic and drive for legal and productive work is entirely classist. Your national platform is no place for such irresponsible remarks. Our children deserve better than your degrading rhetoric.

In fact, they deserve an apology, and we — their pastors and advocates — demand one.

Mr. Gingrich, what your remarks have demonstrated is a failure to acknowledge the resilience of many who work daily and yet are unable to escape poverty. For many, low wages, a poor economy, and sparse full time employment opportunities have landed many families into the category of what the U.S. Department of Labor & Labor Statistics call the working poor. Contrary to what your remarks propagate, a significant number of children in households below the American poverty line (and those one paycheck away from it) are in homes with working family members; many of them are in our congregations weekly and are active citizens.

Mr. Gingrich, not only did you get the “cause” of poverty wrong, but your “solution” is just as unsubstantiated and offensive. Mandating that poor children become the janitors of their own failing public schools to better their work ethic is not a well thought out, viable, or realistic solution. Such a proposal is not only insulting, it is ridiculous.

Where would the currently employed janitors work (obviously this is a back handed assault on union employees)? If poor children are to benefit from extracurricular employment, why not at least provide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) opportunities to increase their competitiveness in the global marketplace? Why not invest in education reform instead of cutting back early education/head start programs? Why not put forth solutions to the unemployment crisis in our nation, so that those who have the dignity, but not the work, can have an opportunity to build a better future for themselves and their children?

But, no — instead you fan the flames of prejudice to get votes. With a move right out of Lee Atwater’s Southern Strategy play book (i.e., “Welfare Mothers” = Lazy Blacks), you have managed to stir the xenophobia and racist fears of your far right republican base with the statement:

“I’ve been talking about the importance of work, particularly as it relates to people who are in areas where there is public housing, et cetera, where there are relatively few people that go to work.” (Emphasis added)

Mr. Gingrich, the poverty of many poor minority children is the byproduct of systemic injustices that bar them from participation in the American Dream because of their racial and social location — not laziness.

We understand that you are of the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” camp, but the last time we checked Mr. Gingrich, it is impossible to pull yourself up by your own boot straps, and even more difficult when you have no boots to begin with.

Consequently, as pastors and leaders of the poor and their children, we are called to champion those without the boots of opportunity, fair play, and justice. For us not to mandate an apology for such biased, erroneous and offensive remarks would be as irresponsible as the remarks themselves. Today, Mr. Gingrich, we extend to you the opportunity to recant your “war on poor children” rhetoric and the opportunity to apologize to our children for speaking such falsehoods over their lives.

Awaiting your response,


Delaware Annual Conference Ministerial Institute

The Rev. Dr. Janet J. Sturdivant, Dean of Ministerial Institute
The Rev. Silvester S. Beaman, Chairman of Board of Examiners
Sis. Joi Orr, M.Div, Organizer & Institute Student

 
 

Follow Joi Ruth Orr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joi_orr

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How The Republicans On The FEC Are Making Citizens United Even Worse



Three Republican appointees to the Federal Election Commission may be as responsible as anyone for the lack of transparency of post-Citizens United political spending.

Two years ago today, when the Supreme Court issued its Citizens United
ruling, one bright spot was that the majority explicitly endorsed the constitutionality and necessity of disclosure rules that inform voters who paid for the political ads they see. “Disclosure is the less-restrictive alternative to more comprehensive speech regulations,” they affirmed.

Federal statutes require that for all significant “independent expenditures” and “electioneering communications” — the two major classifications for political expenditures made by outside groups unaffiliated with political candidates — the names and addresses of large donors must be identified.

But the FEC, through its rulemaking process, gave these groups a loophole. They said that the identities of donors behind the outside spending must be identified, but only if the money was specifically earmarked for the political expenditure. This means that a secretive right-wing group like the Karl Rove-linked Crossroads GPS need only identify the funders who pay for their attack ads if those donors explicitly say the money should be used for attack ads. Few do.

In April, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) asked the FEC to close the loophole for “independent expenditures” and filed a lawsuit challenging the loophole for “electioneering communications.”

Last month the six FEC commissioners killed — on a 3-3 vote — a motion to begin consideration of Van Hollen’s suggestions. By law, the agency may have only three members of any political party. By tradition, the president chooses three commissioners and the other party’s Senate leader chooses three. The three Republican appointees — Commissioners Caroline Hunter, Donald McGahn II and Matthew Petersen — were the three “no” votes. The same trio also made headlines last month when they took the view that even coordination between Super PACs and candidates might not qualify as coordination between Super PACs and candidates.

The lawsuit is still pending.

Because of these loopholes, virtually none of the funders behind the Super PAC attack ads in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina will be disclosed until well after the voters there have cast their ballots. And the funders behind 501(c)(4) attack ads may never be known.

So while it was the Supreme Court’s majority that opened the floodgates for corporate money in our elections, it is the deadlocked FEC that is keeping voters from even knowing where that money comes from.

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Food For Democracy


On January 31, family farmers will take part in the first phase of a court case filed to protect farmers from genetic trespass by Monsanto’s GMO seed, which contaminates organic and non-GMO farmer’s crops and opens them up to abusive lawsuits. In the past two decades, Monsanto’s seed monopoly has grown so powerful that they control the genetics of nearly 90% of five major commodity crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets.

In many cases farmers are forced to stop growing certain organic and conventional crops to avoid genetic contamination and potential lawsuits. Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto admits to filing 144 lawsuits against America’s family farmers, while settling another 700 out of court for undisclosed amounts. Due to these aggressive lawsuits, Monsanto has created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy.

Farmers need your voice today. Please spread the word.


Obama to offer economic blueprint in State of the Union


WASHINGTON — Vilified by the Republicans who want his job, President Barack Obama will stand before the nation Tuesday night determined to frame the election-year debate on his terms, promising his State of the Union address will offer an economic blueprint that will “work for everyone, not just a wealthy few.”

In a video released Saturday to millions of campaign supporters, Obama said he will concentrate on four areas designed to restore economic security for the long term: manufacturing, energy, education, job training and a “return to American values.” The release came the same day as the South Carolina primary, where four candidates competed in the latest contest to determine Obama’s general election rival.

The prime-time speech will be not just a traditional pitch about the year ahead. It will be perhaps Obama’s biggest stage to make a sweeping case for a second term.

“We can go in two directions,” the president said in the video. “One is toward less opportunity and less fairness. Or we can fight for where I think we need to go: building an economy that works for everyone, not just a wealthy few.”

That line of argument about income equality is emerging as a defining theme of the presidential race, as Republicans are in their own fierce battle to pick a nominee to challenge Obama in the fall.

By notifying the millions of supporters on his email list, Obama gave advance notice to his Democratic base and trying to generate an even larger audience for Tuesday’s address.

Obama’s preview did not mention national security. He is not expected to announce new policy on that front in a speech dominated by the economy — the top concern of voters.

Obama is expected to offer new proposals to make college more affordable and to ease the housing crisis still slowing the economy, according to people familiar with the speech. He will also promote unfinished parts of his jobs plan, including the extension of a payroll tax cut soon to expire.

His policy proposals will be less important than what he hopes they all add up to: a narrative of renewed American security. Obama will try to politically position himself as the one leading that fight for the middle class, with an overt call for help from Congress, and an implicit request for a second term from the public.

The timing comes as the nation is split about Obama’s overall job performance. More people than not disapprove of his handling of the economy, he is showing real vulnerability among the independent voters who could swing the election, and most Americans think the country is on the wrong track.

So his mission will be to show leadership and ideas on topics that matter to people: jobs, housing, college, retirement security.

Vision for re-election
The foundation of Obama’s speech is the one he gave in Kansas last month, when he declared that the middle class was a make-or-break moment and railed against “you’re on your own” economics of the Republican Party. His theme then was about a government that ensures people get a fair shot to succeed.

That speech spelled out the values of Obama’s election-year agenda. The State of the Union will be the details.

The White House sees the speech as a clear chance to outline a vision for re-election, yet carefully, without turning a national tradition into an overt campaign event.

On national security, Obama will ask the nation to reflect with him on a momentous year of change, including the end of the war in Iraq, the killing of al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and the Arab Spring protests of peoples clamoring for freedom.

But it will all be secondary to jobs at home.

In a winter season of politics dominated by his Republican competition, Obama will have a grand stage to himself, in a window between Republican primaries. He will try to use the moment to refocus the debate as he sees it: where the country has come, and where he wants to take it.

In doing so, Obama will come before a divided Congress with a burst of hope because the economy — by far the most important issue to voters — is showing life.

The unemployment rate is still at a troubling 8.5 percent, but at its lowest rate in nearly three years. Consumer confidence is up. Obama will use that as a springboard.

The president will try to draw a contrast of economic visions with Republicans, both his antagonists in Congress and the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination.

Despite low expectations for legislation this year, Obama will offer short-term ideas that would require action from Congress.

His travel schedule following his speech, to politically important regions, offers clues to the policies he was expected to unveil.

Both Phoenix and Las Vegas have been hard hit by foreclosures. Denver is where Obama outlined ways of helping college students deal with mounting school loan debt. Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and Detroit are home to a number of manufacturers. And Michigan was a major beneficiary of the president’s decision to provide billions in federal loans to rescue General Motors and Chrysler in 2009.

For now, the main looming to-do item is an extension of a payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits, both due to expire by March. An Obama spokesman called that the “last must-do item of business” on Obama’s congressional agenda, but the White House insists the president will make the case for more this year.

If anything, Republicans say Obama has made the chances of cooperation even dimmer just over the last several days. He enraged Republicans by installing a consumer watchdog chief by going around the Senate, which had blocked him, and then rejected a major oil pipeline project the GOP has embraced.

Obama is likely, once again, to offer ways in which a broken Washington must work together. Yet that theme seems but a dream given the gridlock he has been unable to change.

The State of the Union atmosphere offered a bit of comity last year, following the assassination attempt against Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. And yet 2011 was a year of utter dysfunction in Washington, with the partisanship getting so bad that the government nearly defaulted as the world watched in embarrassment.

The address remains an old-fashioned moment of national attention; 43 million people watched it on TV last year. The White House website will offer a live stream of the speech, promising graphics and other bonuses for people who watch it there, plus a panel of administration officials afterward with questions coming in through Twitter and Facebook.

© 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore related topics: obama, state-of-the-union, sotu

Obama to offer economic blueprint in State of the Union

Join The Protest Of Monsantos By The Organic Consumer Association On January 24, 2012


It is inevitable that one day Monsanto will be held responsible for the enormous human health and environmental damages arising from the so-called “responsible” use of its toxic pesticides, chemicals, and mutant genetically engineered seeds. If the Biotech Bully of St. Louis were to be held liable for its 100-year legacy of corporate criminality – carcinogenic chemical food sweeteners, Agent Orange, dioxin, Bovine Growth Hormone, poisonous herbicides, seed monopolization, and genetically engineered crops, the company’s shareholders would no doubt see the value of their Monsanto stocks plummet to zero.

Following up on two protests at Monsanto’s headquarters in 2011, OCA returns to St. Louis for the 2012 Monsanto shareholders’ meeting on January 24!

Please join OCA, Pesticide Action Network, and Harrington Investments (a socially responsible investor’s group) in St. Louis to support a shareholder resolution to examine the financial risks associated with genetically engineered crops. While an OCA representative is speaking inside the shareholders meeting, another group of us will be outside, peacefully picketing.

Come to St. Louis to Make Monsanto Pay! Contact Mike Durschmid (mikedvegan AT gmail.com) to join in, or RSVP on Facebook and share with your friends.

And this just in: Activists in Maui, Hawaii, in solidarity with our St. Louis action, will be peacefully protesting outside Monsanto’s Hawaii HQ location on 3555 Mokulele Hwy on the same day. For more information or to RSVP, visit the Facebook event here.

Learn more

  

  

  

The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act

We are on the road to victory in California with coalition members, strategic allies, and key donors increasing their support all the time. We now have over 50 environmental, alternative health, and sustainable food organizations and businesses advocating for our cause. But, most importantly, we have over 1,500 dedicated CA volunteers trained and ready to hit the streets when signature gathering begins in February. You can go here to volunteer by gathering petition signatures in California.

This November 2012 California Ballot Initiative, which will require foods sold in California retail outlets to be labeled as such, may be the most important GMO battle of all time. A win in California will mean radical changes to food labels everywhere. Producers will either have to change the way they market Frankenfoods or else stop using GMOs altogether. We think we can reverse the biotech strangle-hold on our food system in our lifetimes.

You don’t have to live in California to donate to this historic ballot initiative.

Consumers everywhere have a right to know what’s in the food we buy and eat and feed our children, just as we have the right to know how many calories are in the food we buy, or whether food comes from other countries like Mexico or China. In the past, we’ve successfully fought for labels telling us the country of origin of products, as well as whether foods have been irradiated. Now it’s time to stand up for our right to know which foods are laced with GMOs.

Efforts to enact labeling laws in Congress and in other state legislatures have been blocked by big food and chemical company lobbyists. The California Ballot Initiative will take the issue directly to the people. For more information about the initiative visit California Right To Know and the Organic Consumers Fund.

  

  

  

Support the OCA and the OCF

The nationwide food fight for safe food, consumer freedom of choice, and sustainability is escalating.

In 2012, whether we’re talking about getting antibiotics out of animal feed, labeling GMOs, or passing a climate and organic-friendly Farm Bill, OCA is fighting harder than ever. With the 2012 California ballot initiative, and GMO labeling legislation gaining momentum in Vermont, Washington, Connecticut and other states, we have a real chance to hit Monsanto with the skull and crossbones they fear so much – mandatory labels on genetically engineered food. We also plan to step up our efforts to strengthen organic standards and significantly expand the market for organic food and products, especially those produced locally and regionally.

Please be as generous as you can during our January and February fundraising drive.

Donate to the Organic Consumers Association
(tax-deductible)

Donate to the Organic Consumers Fund
(non-tax-deductible, but necessary for our efforts in California)

  

  

  

Millions Against Monsanto Campaign Update

Sunday, October 16, 2011 was the biggest day of action for mandatory labels on genetically engineered food in U.S. history. Several hundred Millions Against Monsanto World Food Day events took place around the country.

In September 2012, building on the success of World Food Day 2011, OCA member activists are going to take even bigger action! This year, we are planning a nationwide Week of Action on September 17 – 20th to demonstrate against the Monsanto-sponsored 12th International Symposium on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms also in St Louis, MO. We want to organize actions at the hundreds of Monsanto locations in the US and around the world in concert with a large demonstration in St. Louis.

OCA members have been diligently collecting signatures for our Truth-in-Labeling petition across the country for months now. New petitions are coming in almost daily and being added to our online system, but we need even more volunteers to help us gather signatures through 2012. In addition to the action in St. Louis, activists in each state will also hand deliver all of the petitions we’ve gathered to their state legislators, demanding mandatory labels for genetically engineered food and demonstrating that we truly are the Millions Against Monsanto.

What can you do to help this historic campaign? Download a PDF version of our petition. Take this petition to your workplace, your local co-op, house parties, farmers’ markets and wherever you can find people who demand the right to know what’s in our food.

More info on the September 2012 Week of Action will be forthcoming. Stay tuned for more details.

  

  

  

Baby Food Update

Many of you took action on our alert “Tell Organic Baby Food Brands to Stop Using GMOs!” and received a misleading letter from Happy Bellies in response, denying that HAPPYBELLIES’ baby cereals contain GMOs and claiming that the DHA they use has been approved by the National Organic Standards Board.

While the NOSB did approve a generic form of DHA, this is not the DHA used in HAPPYBELLIES’ baby foods. This leaves HAPPYBELLIES in conflict with the national organic standards. We have been assured that this issue is under investigation by the National Organic Program, but we must keep the pressure on!

Click here to learn why OCA believes HAPPYBELLIES’ DHA is GMO

  

  

  

Little Bytes: Top Stories of the Week

Occupy Wall Street: Why Now? What’s Next?

Scientists Link Mass Death of British Bees to Farm Pesticides

Why the FDA Won’t Act Against Agricultural Antibiotic Use

Dental Patients Beware: FDA Lets Dental Mercury Amalgam Action Deadline Pass Unmet

Dr. Don Huber: Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Herbicide is More Toxic than DDT

  

  

  

Sponsored Message

CONSERVacations

Special rates for OCA members on a green Costa Rica vacation March 17-24: 8 days and 7 nights for $999.00!

Beatrice Blake, guidebook author and community ecotourism expert, has designed a special itinerary for OCA members that visits sustainable coffee farms near Palmichal de Acosta and organic farms in Altamira at the entrance to La Amistad International Park. These community-owned farms are members of ACTUAR, the Costa Rican Rural Tourism Association, which just won the Responsible Tourism Award at the Educational Travel Conference.

Between village and farm experiences, you’ll hike in the cloud forest to see the Resplendent Quetzal. You’ll end the trip with a couple of days relaxing and exploring the beaches near Villas Gaia on the Pacific Coast.

You will be accompanied by an experienced bilingual naturalist, who can help you exchange ideas with the people you visit and see birds and wildlife that you wouldn’t see on your own. Write beatrice AT keytocostarica.com to sign up.

Is Reversing Citizens United or Corporate Personhood Enough?


Which president told Congress: “I recommend a law prohibiting all corporations from contributing to the campaign expenses of any party…let individuals contribute as they desire; but let us prohibit in effective fashion all corporations from making contributions for any political purpose, directly or indirectly?”

If you recognize this Presidential quote, it probably means you’re a history buff (or you watch too much Jeopardy). The correct answer: Who was Theodore Roosevelt?

While the speech has become a notable quotable, it’s often forgotten that it followed public outrage surrounding Roosevelt’s acceptance of huge corporate contributions that locked-in his election in 1904.  This popular clamor for accountability (the Progressive Era; maybe they were the Occupiers of their times) was enough to move Teddy and Congress to pass the first ever Federal legislation prohibiting corporations from making monetary contributions to national political campaigns, called the Tillman Act.

Now for extra points: What happened to the Tillman Act?

Like so many other attempts over the last 100+ years to restrict, reform, reign in, eliminate and otherwise account for Big Money in politics, the Tillman Act didn’t even need to be overturned for the corporate elite to get around it. It was simply whittled away. How is this done?  In the same way Congress later banned unions from making political contributions in the 1940′s, only to see Big Labor skirt the restrictions by forming the first-ever PAC, and collecting campaign donations (sometimes coercively) outside of regular worker’s dues.

OK, now for a Civics question: What is the source of power for the corporate elite?

Throughout our history as a nation, the wealthy elite have always held power, and its not an accident, or the result of a few bad decisions, or even corruption (though those all exist), its far more structural and insidious than that.  TheConstitution itself provided—from the beginning—for a government by and for the 1%. The Founding Fathers truly believed that the best form of government was one in which wealth made the rules. At the time the Constitution was being debated, the majority of people were against it, despite how our folklore has remembered it.

Turns out the 99% of yesteryear were quite prescient indeed.

Fast-forward to the present day, the ways money has seeped through the cracks of our political system and pooled into the pockets of our elected officials has only grown despite generations upon generations of ever-ongoing reform efforts.

* Dozens of Acts of Congress have been passed attempting to address corruption in government and our elections yet for every reform our system has enabled bigger, better ways for wealth to hold the reigns.

* Lobbyists. They walk right into lawmaking areas and help write bills and buy votes. They present politicians with corporate-friendly Bills already drafted. They are well paid to successfully influence, chop and change legislation, and work deals with our elected officials and even with Supreme Court Justices. Under our Constitution this is protected as free speech and despite the numerous laws to regulate lobbyists, the practice is only on the rise.

*  Constitutional laws.  Many states—not only Montana— wrote their Constitutions to include the subordination of corporations to the will of the people, and banned corporate political expenditures in state elections.  Over the years, most of those Constitutional provisions have been amended to pave the way for more corporate-friendly laws.(Montana, of course still has this language in their Consitution, and has used it to challenge Citizen’s United)

Bill Moyers, David Stockman On Crony Captialism



Home » Blogs » Diane Sweet’s blog

January 20, 2012 09:39 PM

Bill Moyers, David Stockman on Crony Capitalism

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By Diane Sweet

Moyers & Company Show 102: On Crony Capitalism from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

Bill Moyers and former White House budget director David Stockman on the all-too-cozy relationship between Washington and Wall Street.

This weekend, continuing its sharp multi-episode focus on the intersection of money and politics, Moyers & Company explores the tight connection between Wall Street and the White House with David Stockman – yes, that David Stockman — former budget director for President Reagan.

Now a businessman who says he was “taken to the woodshed” for telling the truth about the administration’s tax policies, Stockman speaks candidly with Bill Moyers about how money dominates politics, distorting free markets and endangering democracy. “As a result,” Stockman says, “we have neither capitalism nor democracy. We have crony capitalism.”

Stockman shares details on how the courtship of politics and high finance have turned our economy into a private club that rewards the super-rich and corporations, leaving average Americans wondering how it could happen and who’s really in charge.

“We now have an entitled class of Wall Street financiers and of corporate CEOs who believe the government is there to do… whatever it takes in order to keep the game going and their stock price moving upward,” Stockman tells Moyers.

Full transcript here.

Tags: 1 percent, 99 percent, Bill Moyers, CEOs, crony capitalism, David Stockman, democracy, Free Markets, Money, Politics, Wall Street, washington

He’s One of the Nation’s Highest-Paid CEOs—and You’ve Never Heard of Him


One of the nation’s highest-paid executives is sitting on a massive pile of stock options and enjoys a private jet wherever he goes. Gary Rivlin on John Hammergren, the 1 percenter you’ve never heard of.

James Reda thought he was beyond surprise when it came to executive pay.


But then Reda, a New York–based compensation consultant who sometimes puts together mega-pay packages on behalf of publicly traded behemoths, learned about John Hammergren, the CEO of the McKesson Corp., a giant medical-supply company in California. Hammergren is the $145 million man, top dog on the latest listing of the country’s highest-paid chief executives.

But so what if he made $145 million in a single year? The lion’s share of that money was the slew of stock options Hammergren cashed out after holding them for years. “That’s what you want,” Reda says. A new CEO gets a fat basket of stock options, and if the company does well, the CEO also prospers. “As long as the original stock-award amounts were reasonable, it makes no difference if it ends up providing a huge payoff,” Reda says.

Then I read him Hammergren’s annual total compensation payouts, taken from the company’s public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission: $46 million in 2011; $55 million in 2010; $37 million in 2009; another $41 million in 2008. Hammergren hadn’t founded the company. Wall Street analysts covering McKesson can tell you of the disappointments and miscues that have marked his tenure. But his haul in the 13 years he has been running McKesson? More than $500 million, according to data provided by Equilar, an executive-compensation data firm.


John Hammergren, CEO of McKesson Corp., George Nikitin / AP Photo

For a moment, Reda is silent. “$40 million, $50 million a year is excessive, no matter what the yardstick,” he says. The average pay package for a CEO running a top 100 company these days, Reda says, is around $12 million. That includes everything, from salary to stock awards to contributions to a retirement account. Yet last year McKesson contributed more than $13 million just to Hammergren’s pension, according to company documents. Among the other perks he enjoys: a chauffeur to drive his company car, free use of the corporate jet for personal travel, and an extra $17,000 a year to pay for a financial planner because handling all those hundreds of millions is no doubt complicated stuff.

“He doesn’t leave anything on the table, does he?” Reda asks.

***

John Hammergren isn’t necessarily the highest-paid CEO in America. Sure, he topped the list when GMI, a well-regarded research firm, published its 2011 annual CEO survey in December. But that’s because he cashed out $112 million in accumulated stock options in a single year, according to GMI. He ranked 14th on Forbes‘s 2011 executive-pay list and 22nd on its 2010 ranking. And of course there are CEOs like Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Google’s Larry Page. Page has a net worth north of $15 billion, and Ellison is worth more than $30 billion, but then each was a cofounder of the company he runs.

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