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Alameda County Legislators Protect Consumer Rights, Mostly.

Senate Majority leader Ellen Corbett is named a "Consumer Champion", but other legislators are faulted for their votes.

The Consumer Federation of California has issued its 2012 Legislative Scorecards, listing how our representatives in Sacramento have voted on legislative bills related to consumer protections.    Most of them have done fairly well, but San Leandro State Senator Ellen Corbett deserves recognition for being named as one of only seven “Consumer Champions,” for her lifetime 100% pro-consumer voting record.

Berkeley State Senator Loni Hancock and Berkeley Assemblymember Nancy Skinner also deserve special mention.  They both got a 100% pro-consumer voting score for 2012.  Hancock sports a lifetime 99% score and Skinner a 96% one.

Our other local Assembly members did not do as well. San Leandro’s former representative, Mary Hayashi, got a 67% score for 2012, though her 89% lifetime score isn’t too bad. Former Oakland Assemblymember Sandre Swanson scored 88% in 2012, but 96% over all.

Meanwhile, current Fremont Assembly member Bob Wieckowski got 80% in 2012, bringing down his lifetime (which in his case, it’s just 2 years) score to 92%. He’s faulted for voting in favor of SB 1161, a bill which took away the power to regulate Voice over IP phone service from California Public Utilities Commission and for voting against SB 1208, a bill that required publicly traded corporations to include the names and compensation of the five most highly compensated retirees in statements filed with the Secretary of State.

Not surprisingly, Tri-Valley Assemblymember Joan Buchanan has the worst consumer protection record of Alameda County legislators. She barely scored 63% for 2012 and 73% overall for her 4 years in office. She is also faulted for voting in favor of SB 1161 and against SB 1208, but also for not casting a vote in favor of AB 2149, a bill that would prohibit “gag clauses” from appearing in the settlement of a civil lawsuit stemming from elder or dependent adult abuse.

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Margarita Lacabe blogs about Alameda County Democratic politics at http://democraticpolitics.tumblr.com/ and about San Leandro issues at San Leandro Talk

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

David February 19, 2013 at 02:18 PM
No, Marga, I'm saying that the vast majority of so-called "consumer protections" could be construed to fall under existing laws against fraud, breach of contract etc. For example, we absolutely do not "need" a monstrosity like Dodd-Frank. If a bank sold something that wasn't what they said it was, how is that not fraud? That's been illegal since time immemorial. If a dishonest dairyman sells milk past the due date, how is that not fraud? We really need the FDA to tell us that's wrong? Not really. Sure you can argue you need the FDA to enforce it, but you don't need the detritus of all the other subpart 9a blah blah of some 80,000 page regulation. Etc etc. I'm saying that nearly all of these so-called consumer protections are simply ways for lawyers to get rich, and for soft-headed bureaucrats to attempt to justify their existence (and pension).
Marga Lacabe February 19, 2013 at 04:18 PM
David, consumer protection laws didn't appear out of nowhere, but because the historical torts that covered them - like fraud - proved inadequate to deal with the dangers to consumer health and life that were brought about by industrialization and beyond. You only need to look at China to see what happens when there isn't a strong regulatory system in place.
tr March 02, 2013 at 01:51 AM
Nancy Skinner's newly purchased 2009 Toyota Prius Hybrid was bought by the state for $28,507.03 on 3/9/09. She paid $10,000.00 for that car (after the state spent more money repairing it,) about three years later. There were many legislators (sadly, more Democrats than Republicans,) who took advantage of this sweetheart deal. It may not have been illegal, but clearly an abuse of their positions. I'd love to hear Ms. Skinner explain how the program was not unethical.
Tim March 02, 2013 at 02:31 AM
Of course more Democrats than Republicans would have been involved... there is a 2/3 majority of Democrats in the legislature. It's simple statistics.
Marga Lacabe March 02, 2013 at 05:18 AM
It's actually hard for me to blame our Bay Area legislators for this. They are not paid incredibly well and they have to commute to Sacramento, now in their own cars. I much rather focus in the exorbitant packages that our city employees get. At the top their salaries are twice those of legislators and they get a lot of perks. The City bought our Police Chief a $50K+ SUB and pays for her gas to commute home.

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