By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
KUEHL: Well, what I learned was what worked. We got through that. My frustrations are with people who give me their word and don’t keep it. That’s the greatest frustration. You know, just tell me you’re not going to vote for my bill so I know whether I’ve got 41 votes or not. Don’t tell me you are and then back off.
But the rest of the frustrations, honestly speaking, are more like challenges. I have to tell you, since I was the first openly gay person ever elected to the Legislature, I didn’t expect there would be a lot of support for gay issues. I’m not naive about it. I knew it would be a struggle, because 15, 20 years ago, when we were working on domestic violence bills, we brought a bill to make it a misdemeanor -- it wasn’t even a crime yet -- and we practically got booted out of the hearing room. So things move along at a much slower pace than we would like. But overall, civil rights has made nothing but progress, slowly, but nothing but progress.
So if I’m frustrated the first year because I can’t get it out of Education Committee, I just bring it back the next time. And if I’m frustrated that time because I can’t get it off the floor, I’ll just bring it back the next time. And if I’m frustrated a third time because I missed it by just one vote, I steal a bill in the Senate and get the one vote. It’s like a chess game. They get some moves. It’s not just all you on one side of the board.
But, I think, we’ve made enormous strides, really, in schools, for the environment, but there’s a lot still to do. The schools are still -- it’s the school funding question that no one has really gotten their arms around, that if I’m elected, I’m going to ask John Burton if I can serve on the Education Committee and really study with [Assemblymember] Dede Alpert the entire funding question. Santa Monica and Malibu are in trouble this year, suddenly. Why? Because they didn’t project correctly how many students they were going to have, and, therefore, they’re down budget for the number of students enrolled. They shouldn’t be that vulnerable.WEEKLY: Gray Davis has already said he’s opposed to the CTA’s proposed initiative to raise per-pupil spending to the national average, by hook or by crook.
KUEHL: Well, there is a problem with that proposal, considering that’s 80% of the State budget. I can see why he’s not going to support it. It’s a lovely sounding proposition, but if you look at the dollars, it’s too deep a cut for absolutely everything else. We can’t do welfare-to-work, we can’t do the environmental protection, we can’t do any of the stuff that’s beyond Prop 98. But, I think, there are some other ways to do it. I really like lowering the voting threshold for the bonds. That’s not going to make a difference much out here, because we get our bonds through anyway, mostly.WEEKLY: I know he endorsed you, but how have you found working with Gray Davis?KUEHL: I love working with Gray Davis, and I’ll tell you why. I already know who he is. And so should you. The thing that amuses me about people is that when they hear someone say something, they still imagine they’re going to be better. You know, John Steinbeck’s last book was called America and the Americans. And in it, he said we’re really funny people. When someone’s running for office, we want them to be just like us. We want to know that they’re going to be just like us to represent us so that we can vote for them. And as soon as they’re elected, we want them to be better than us. And, I think, he’s right.
Gray must have used the term "moderate" 150,000 times in everything he said: middle, moderate. And he is, he’s exactly what he said he was going to be. Anyone who knew him before, knew he was very hands-on, and so complaining about how we’re not making appointments, because he wants to look at all of them, that’s who he is. What I do, because I’m way down the totem pole, is I adjust the way in which I advocate to make certain that he gets the information that he needs to approve my bills. If he says, "I think so and so and so and so and so and so is going to be very upset if we do this bill," then I go to -- not people, but groups or interests -- I go to so and so and so and so and so and so and have them opine whether they will or not be upset. And if they are, then I’ll judge whether it’s better for them to be upset than the consumers, which is what we did with the HMO reform. He said, "I don’t want to see any bills."