Tuesday, March 22, 2005

VNRs: The Saga Continues

In the grand American tradition, the debate over the Governor's use of video news releases heads for a courtroom thanks to a lawsuit filed by SEIU, the Nurses, and the Cal Labor Federation.

A law student might try to parse the claims the 3 unions are making, but since we've got none of those here.... wait, what? Damn. Alright, here's what the Chron says:

The lawsuit also asserts that the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency secretly shared two versions of its proposed regulations with representatives for California businesses, and that it suspended judgments on meal break disputes while trying to get a new regulation in place. . . .

The case, filed in Sacramento Superior Court, asks a judge to bar the administration from producing more such segments with public funds. It stems from two of the videos made by agencies under the Schwarzenegger administration, one promoting its plan for new rules that could scale back lunch breaks for hourly workers, and one promoting its effort to strike down nurse-to-patient staffing ratios that were previously written into state law. . . .

"There is no statutory prohibition against the use of public funds to produce video news releases," Evans said. "No court has expressly disapproved the expenditure of public funds for VNRs. It is our responsibility to provide the public with information on regulatory issues. We do that with press releases all the time. This is another vehicle for that."
That sound you hear is the sharpening of pencils over at LegCo as lawyers start drafting hasty anti-VNR laws.

Just for kicks, wonder if anyone has calculated how much of your nightly local news broadcast is VNR-originated. Not just from the government, but from business, interest groups, etc.

In other news: Keith Richman is running ads on Rough & Tumble touting his bid for State Treasurer under the tagline "Restoring California to Greatness." How, exactly, does the Treasurer accomplish that? The message should be good news for '06 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides, however. Who knew his current office is such a powerful post? We hate slamming idealism. But we hate grandstanding on little-known statewide offices more.

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