Thursday, May 27, 2004
GOP-AFL-CIO… Next thing Squid knows, the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council AFL-CIO will announce it’s working on President George W. Bush’s reelection campaign. What’s that, you say? The union of all unions supporting a Head of State whose tax cut benefited the rich? A Big Enchilada who’s against all things just and socially equitable? Okay, maybe Squid’s stretching to say AFL-CIO members will sport Bush ‘04 buttons this fall. But last week, the Labor Council voted to endorse Seaside Mayor Jerry Smith, who’s running against Planned Parenthood exec Jane Parker for outgoing Supe Edith Johnsen’s District 4 Seat.
Smith turned Republican two years ago, and in the March primary election, he garnered big bucks from big-time, deep-pocketed Republicans, like power attorney Jeff Gilles, Realtor Jeff Davi, and a local political action committee affiliated with developer Nick Lombardo.
Parker, a Democrat and the grass-roots candidate, won the support of local progressives—the people who want to see more affordable houses, so-called Smart Growth, universal health care, and livable wages. Parker worked hard on the Measure Q campaign, arguably SEIU’s biggest campaign this year. She canvassed neighborhoods, spoke at supervisor’s hearings in support of Natividad, phone banked and donated money. Smith walked precincts—once. As the Board of Supervisors looked to cut jobs—union jobs—to balance the county budget, Parker pledged to reduce her Supervisorial salary and operating expenses by one-third if elected. She called on sitting Supes and her opponents to do the same. Smith…didn’t.
To Jerry’s credit, he comes from union roots. And as Seaside’s mayor, he has taken the workers’ side in labor disputes, both at the Hilton and the Embassy Suites. But at the Labor Council’s forum, when Smith said he’s a “proponent of not passing the General Plan,” well, that sounds like plain Farm Bureau talk to Squid.
Squid’s favorite question-and-answer segment of the unions’ event was when someone asked the supervisorial candidates whom they supported for US President. Parker said Democratic nominee John Kerry. Smith said, “I have not made that decision yet.” Yeah, right. And unions support Republican politicians. Only in Monterey County.
MINISTRY OF DISINFORMATION… Speaking of universal health care, Squid received a bill from CHOMP for $102. It came with a letter from Blue Cross, Squid’s medical insurance provider, stating that Blue Cross will pay $60 of the bill, and, after deduction of the hospital’s $17 PPO discount, Squid only owes $25 to CHOMP. Not so, insists CHOMP’s billing rep. “You have to pay that $17,” she chirped cheerily. “We’ve spent more than $6,000 this past year calling Blue Cross about those $17 charges.” But, Squid asked in confusion, doesn’t CHOMP have a contract with Blue Cross? And doesn’t that mean CHOMP must give the PPO discount? “We have a unique contract with Blue Cross that benefits you, the patient,” the rep continued. “Our charges are 100 percent billable.” Hmm, and how exactly does that benefit the patient? Unique contract indeed.