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Dec 07, 2004 - 01:10 PM

Kicking Women’s Butts

by Carmen Balber and Douglas Heller
At the Governor's Conference on Women and Families this morning a group of nurses protesting Arnold's decision to gut the state's nurse staffing ratios were kicked out of the event while the Gov was speaking. Arnold reportedly said from the lectern that the women were angry, "because I've been kicking their butts." Is that supposed to be a step up from groping?

He might be a tough guy on stage, but Arnold was a girlie-man on women's issues this year when the special interests got into the fight. There is no doubt that Arnold's "Conference on Women and Families" in Long Beach today will skip over the series of high priority bills supported by the State Commission on the Status of Women that Arnold vetoed, siding instead with the guys -- the guys that give him campaign cash, that is.

- Arnold burned the (majority female) nursing profession when he caved to the hospital lobby and stopped the implementation of nurse staffing ratios.
- At the behest of big donors Blue Cross ($142,400 to Arnold) and Health Net ($48,000), the Gov vetoed Senator Jackie Speier's SB 1555 that would have required health insurers to pay for maternity care.
- Because the guys at the Chamber of Commerce didn't like it, Arnold vetoed Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza's AB 2317, a bill to strengthen equal pay for equal work laws.
- Senator Deborah Ortiz's bill, SB 379, to add new protections for uninsured hospital patients and Senator Dede Alpert's plan, SB 339, making it easier to collect child support from deadbeats also got Arnold's manly ax.

While today's conference may tell the stories of incredible women, Arnold's vetoes and his real impact on California women won't make it into the spotlight. That's because the corporate sponsors of the conference got to set the conference agenda. In exchange for funding the conference, the big business donors not only get their logo splashed throughout the event, they bought the right to provide program ideas, speak at the event, moderate the panels and even design event sessions (Download the corporate sponsor benefits lists at:

So instead of taking on the Governor's failure to support equity in insurance benefits or equal pay and workplace standards, conference panels include "From Runways to Reality: How to Dress for Success" hosted by a Giorgio Armani executive and "Overcoming Obstacles: Become the Person You Were Meant To Be" led by Ameriquest.

Not surprisingly, big donors to the Governor's Conference (such as Target, SBC, Ameriquest, Bank of America, Apple, Safeway, Kaiser, ChevronTexaco and Allstate) are also big donors to Arnold. To help sell his Conference on Women to big business, Arnold sweetened the pot by having a private reception with the biggest contributors. The special interests will happily open their wallets to buy some time with Arnold at the maternity-benefits-denying, glass-ceiling-protecting, nurse-butt-kicking Governor's Conference on Women and Families.


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