Interview with Sheila Kuehl 


Page 6 of 8

WEEKLY: How do you solve that special ed. issue?

KUEHL: Well, it depends. First of all, we need much better information, because frankly what we know is what we read in the papers -- like Will Rogers -- and it’s not bad, but it’s in conflict. One report says, half of the kids that are in special ed., they’re only there because they were never taught to read. Another study says, these are very seriously needy students and they’re being mainstreamed unnecessarily. All the studies are probably right. But how you put them together to adequately fund a special education system just for those who need special education, that’s a tough one.

I mean, in term limits, you have to learn as much as you can as fast as you can. That’s the same thing I’ve done with health and the same thing I’ve done with water. I mean, the question of how we allocate water in California, it’s like oil is in Texas. So I asked to be on the Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee and – its’ relationship to smart growth, which is going to be one of the things that I want to focus on if I get into the Senate. It’s affordable housing, transportation, water and how we grow, because we’re not going to be turning people away at the border. You can’t just say, "Don’t build it here. Oh, don’t build it there either." I like these complicated and interdisciplinary issues. I have a sense that in the Senate, it’s possible, you’re such a small group, to work in a more interdisciplinary way, so that it’s not just an issue for the Housing Committee or just an issue for the Water Committee.

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WEEKLY: And you have a little more time.

KUEHL: You have a lot more time. If I win this primary, it’s conceivable that I can serve for nine years, this year and eight in the Senate. And that really does allow you to do some good thinking. The health stuff is really interesting to me too. No one has done anything in tackling the question of the health of women in prison, which is just abysmal. I had a hearing on it as the Chair of the Select Committee on California’s Women -- Women and Health, and I had a whole panel on women -- health care for women in prison. Well, you might as well have had 30 seconds. There is no health care for women in prison. And no one’s concentrating on it. So I was talking to [Assemblywoman] Jackie Spier yesterday about doing something together down the line. You know, there’s just a lot of things that one can do. And if you’re there, you can accomplish a lot. Fifty-five bills in five years -- that’s a lot of legislation -- and that’s just what I’ve done.

WEEKLY: How much of that was signed this year by Gray and how much of that was before by Wilson?

KUEHL: I had 17 bills in ‘99. So 38 by -- by Pete Wilson. Nineteen in each session. Some of them little things. Some of them big. I did a bill so that the oil companies have to pay for replacement water when they’ve fouled your water supply. That was for Santa Monica, but it’s a statewide bill. I introduced a bill so that you had to pay a fine if you put stuff into the storm drain, you know, polluting industries without a permit. Or if you didn’t go for a permit, to keep it out of the storm drains. There’s a whole scheme that had no enforcement in it. And there’s a lot more to do with that bill.

WEEKLY: Speaking of interdisciplinary issues, and growth management being one of them, what’s been your stance towards the LAX expansion?

KUEHL: I don’t favor the LAX expansion. I don’t favor the Burbank expansion. What I have favored, and it’s, you know, I honestly don’t know if it can be put in place quickly enough to alleviate the congestion at those airports, but, I think, we have to develop the outlying airports more and make sure there’s Metrolink or something that’s quick enough between them. A number of my members, for instance, go to Ontario, rather than mess with LAX, and then drive back west a little bit along the 10 to get to their homes. But people aren’t using Palmdale as much as they should. They’re not using Ontario as much as they should. I think that’s a better answer than just continually expanding and expanding and expanding LAX. It’s just way too much noise, it’s dangerous, it’s polluting. (Pause) Now, I don’t mind if they used what they have more efficiently. But when I look out my window in Santa Monica and I see planes stacked up over the ocean, and then, driving home from the airport, I counted 19 planes last night stacked up, just headlights, hanging off there and coming in.

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