I will be voting “no” to confirm Sen. Abel Maldonado to the second highest constitutional office in the state of California, a heartbeat from the governor, that of lieutenant governor.
Much has been made of his congenial personality, his friendly demeanor and his one vote to increase the minimum wage. But in order to take Sen. Maldonado’s true measure, I instead look to the more than 150 votes on issues of great significance to all Californians, laws that impact farmworkers, health care, civil rights, labor, women, consumers, seniors and the environment.
Sen. Maldonado voted “no” on proposals to provide farmworkers with necessary payroll information so they could better pursue employers who failed to appropriately calculate their pay. He voted “no” on a proposal to extend penalties against bosses who engaged in unfair labor practices and “no” on a measure to fairly calculate piece rate and rest periods for farmworkers.
He voted “no” on a measure to secure maternity services for women and, even though medical bills have been the largest reason for personal bankruptcies, “no” on single-payer health care coverage.
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While President Barack Obama is encouraging change in the military practices of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Maldonado voted “no” on a resolution urging Congress to abandon the policy, “no” on the Harvey Milk Day resolution and “no” on an effort to curtail negative campaigning based on sexual identity.
If you are a working man or woman in California and suffered wage discrimination, Maldonado voted “no” on extending the time you could seek justice for having been wronged. He voted “no” on regulations to control indoor heat illness and “no” on overtime protections for nurses.
He voted “no” on programs to prevent teen pregnancy, “no” on federal funds for prenatal services and refused to vote for a resolution asking the president and Congress to uphold Roe vs. Wade.
In spite of the economic devastation suffered by California’s families because of foreclosures, Maldonado voted “no” on requirements that would have protected homeowners in trouble because of higher priced mortgage loans.
Despite the fact that there are one million residents in California’s mobile-home parks, he voted “no” on a measure that would afford modest protection against mobile- home park conversions where residents have the property sold out from under them, destroying local rent control.
His votes against environmental protections for Californians are almost too many to count. Here are a few: “no” on AB 32, California’s landmark global warming legislation; “no” on the Solar Water Heating and Efficiency Act of 2007; “no” on reducing exposure to the toxic effects of fire retardants; “no” on cargo fees for pollution mitigation; “no” on requiring fuel efficiency and alternative energy for state and local motor vehicle fleets; “no” on protecting state parks boundaries; but a resounding “yes” on a California Environmental Quality Act exemption for the construction of a football stadium.
I, too, am the child of immigrants. My father came to this country with a strong back, no money and big dreams. My mother’s family came here to escape the violence of the Mexican Revolution. Through hard work, sacrifice and belief in the American Dream, I have been able to achieve a modest measure of success. But I have never wandered from my obligation to embrace and encourage the aspirations of those who continue to struggle, those who harvest the food we eat and those who also fight against all odds to realize their dreams. I will be voting “no” on Sen. Maldonado’s confirmation because I refuse to compromise the American ideal.
Pedro Nava, a former prosecutor from Fresno and Santa Barbara County, represents the 35th Assembly District (Santa Barbara/Ventura) and has been recognized for his leadership on consumer protection, reproductive rights and the environment.