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Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

Election experts

ATTENTION: Reporters covering Nov. 7 elections

With the Nov. 7 mid-term elections in sight, University of California, Berkeley, experts are available to weigh in on a number of related issues, including stem cell research, immigration, minimum wage initiatives, taxes and California's controversial ballot propositions. Topics below are listed alphabetically.


Alan Auerbach
UC Berkeley professor of economics and law, and director of the Robert D. Burch Center for Tax Policy and Public Finance

Phone: (510) 643-0711
E-mail: Auerbach@econ.berkeley.edu
Media Relations contact: Kathleen Maclay, (510) 643-5651 or kmaclay@berkeley.edu

Expertise: Auerbach, an expert on tax and fiscal policy, is a member of the advisory committee for the Bureau of Economic Analysis in the U.S. Commerce Department and served as deputy chief of staff for the U.S. Joint Committee on Taxation in 1992.

Auerbach says that in the Nov. 7 election campaigns, state issues seem to have been overshadowed by Iraq and the issue of Congressional control. In California, he says that Proposition 87, a proposed tax on oil production, is controversial and doesn't seem especially well-designed to accomplish its stated objective of encouraging conservation and reduced use of foreign oil. A gasoline tax would have made much more sense for these purposes, says Auerbach.

Robert Reich
UC Berkeley professor of public policy and former U.S. labor secretary in the Clinton administration

Phone: (510) 642-0560
E-mail: rreich@berkeley.edu
Media Relations contact: Kathleen Maclay, (510) 643-5651 or kmaclay@berkeley

Expertise: Reich is available for comment on industrial policy, jobs and employment policy, leadership and social change, macroeconomic policy, and social and economic policy relating to the mid-term election. He has served in three U.S. administrations and is the author of 10 books, including "The Work of Nations," the best-sellers "The Future of Success" and "Locked in the Cabinet," and his most recent book, "Reason." Reich is co-founder and national editor of The American Prospect magazine. His commentaries can be heard weekly.

Despite the Democratic victories on Nov. 7, Reich predicts a "flamboyant moderation" by Democrats who won election as they cautiously eye the 2008 presidential elections. Congress may display more fiscal responsibility but that is likely to have little impact compared to Federal Reserve interest rate actions or oil prices, he says. Reich foresees major debates between Republicans and Democrats on the alternative minimum tax and Bush tax cuts in the next two years.

General Legal Issues

Jesse Choper
Law professor and former dean, UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall)

Phone: (510) 642-0339
E-mail: jchoper@law.berkeley.edu
Media Relations contact: Janet Gilmore, (510) 642-5685 or jangilmore@berkeley.edu

Expertise: Choper has commented on a wide array of issues for local, state and national media. He teaches constitutional law and corporation law. His other areas of interest include political parties, voting rights, Presidential powers, civil liberties, civil rights, criminal law, education, and state and federal courts. His major publications include the book, "Judicial Review and the National Political Process: A Functional Reconsideration of the Role of the Supreme Court" (1980).


Harley Shaiken
Chair of UC Berkeley's Center for Latin American Studies, labor expert and professor of geography and education

Phone: (510) 827-2831 (cell) or (510) 642-2088 (office)
E-mail: hshaiken@berkeley.edu
Media Relations contact: Yasmin Anwar, (510) 643-7944 or yanwar@berkeley.edu

Expertise: Shaiken teaches courses on the United States-Mexico border and the relation of the United States and Latin America more generally. He also is a source on labor and the global economy who looks at the process of globalization and its social implications.

"Immigration," says Shaiken, "could prove very important as an election issue, but it's both volatile and unpredictable. The major split is between those who are for enforcement only - the 'big fence' contingent - and those who are for enforcement coupled with regularization of most of the 12 million undocumented residents and for a guest worker program for the future, comprehensive reform." Several key districts will tell much, such as that of Rep. Jim Kolbe's on the Arizona-Mexico border. (The Republican Congressman is stepping down.) The devil's bargain for Republicans is turning out conservative white males now and sacrificing large numbers of new Latino voters later, says Shaiken.

Minimum Wage Ballot Measures

Ken Jacobs
Chair of UC Berkeley's Center for Labor Research and Education
Phone: (510) 643-2621
E-mail: kjacobs9@berkeley.edu
Media Relations contact: Kathleen Maclay, (510) 643-5651 or kmaclay@berkeley.edu

Expertise: Jacobs' research focuses on low-wage work, health care, labor relations and public policy. He notes that Montana, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona, Missouri and Ohio have measures on the ballot on Nov. 7, and polls for several of the states show the initiatives leading by wide margins. Nevada passed the measure in 2004, but Jacobs says that according to state law, it needs to be voted on twice. Meanwhile, adding to a momentum for raising the minimum wage, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia have raised their minimum wages legislatively this year.

"Raising the minimum wage is both widely popular and good economic policy," contends Jacobs. "The biggest question is how the ballot initiatives will influence voter turnout in states with important races - such as Ohio, Missouri and Montana - which have closely-watched U.S. Senate races. Colorado has a number of swing house seats. If the initiatives help pull lower wage workers to the polls, it could have an impact on a number of those races. Of course, while the minimum wage measures passed in 2004 in Nevada and Florida, Bush won both of those states. In a non-presidential election year, the voter turnout effects might be more significant."

Voting Technology

Deirdre Mulligan
Director of the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at UC Berkeley's School of Law (Boalt Hall) and a clinical professor of law
Phone: (510) 642-0499
E-mail: dmulligan@law.berkeley.edu
Media Relations contact: Janet Gilmore, (510) 642-5685 or jangilmore@berkeley.edu

Expertise: Mulligan writes about the risks and opportunities technology presents to privacy and free expression. In addition, she is part of a National Science Foundation endeavor in which academics from five institutions across the country are working together to improve the reliability and trustworthiness of electronic voting technology.

She was a vice-chair of the California Bipartisan Commission on Internet Political Practices, a member of the California Office of Privacy Protection's Advisory Council and a co-chair of Microsoft's Trustworthy Computing Academic Advisory Board. She serves on the board of the California Voter Foundation and on the advisory board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Proposition 86, the tobacco tax initiative

Stephen Sugarman
Law professor, UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall)
Phone (510) 642-0130
E-mail: sugarman@law.berkeley.edu
Media Relations contact: Janet Gilmore, (510) 643-5651 or jangilmore@berkeley.edu

Expertise: Sugarman, an expert to tobacco policy, has written or co-written books including "Regulating Tobacco" (2001) and "Smoking Policy" (1993). He notes that in 1988 and 1998, Californians passed other initiatives that imposed tobacco taxes, although Prop. 86 would impose a much larger tax - a whopping $2.60 a pack.

"Since some people would continue to smoke despite the higher tax, and since they would be disproportionately those with lower incomes, one might term this a regressive tax," says Sugarman. "But they would be a disproportionate share of those not smoking as a result of the tax, and the tax proceeds would disproportionately benefit them, both in the provision of health care generally and in the provision of a variety of public health services."

The tax would likely result in some increase in tax evasion through Internet sales that manage to avoid taxation and smuggled cigarettes from low-tax jurisdictions, Sugarman says, thus requiring more efforts by state tax collectors, the attorney general and district attorneys, and law enforcement. Yet, experience shows that the public health benefits and higher revenue collections should far outweigh the tax evasion costs, he says.

Proposition 90, eminent domain/land use initiative

Rick Frank
Executive director of the California Center for Environmental Law and Policy at UC Berkeley's School of Law (Boalt Hall)
Phone: (510) 642-8305
E-mail: rfrank@law.berkeley.edu
Media Relations contact: Janet Gilmore, (510) 643-5651 or jangilmore@berkeley.edu

Expertise: An expert on land use, property rights, environmental law, and energy issues, Frank joined Boalt Hall in 2006 from the California Department of Justice, where he served as the chief deputy attorney general for legal affairs. He was the California Attorney General's principal liaison to state government, the Legislature and judiciary.

He has written on Constitutional limits on land use and litigation over property condemnation.

According to Frank, Prop. 90 contains two major components: the first limits the power of California state and local governments to condemn private property in order to facilitate other, privately-developed projects designed for economic boosts in the community. The more controversial portion of Prop. 90 would expand considerably state and local governments' obligation to compensate private property owners when future government regulation results in a substantial economic loss to private property. That would likely result in taxpayer-funded compensation to private individuals and corporations totaling billions of dollars, or in the repeal of the offending regulations, if Prop. 90 is enacted by voters. Frank said the proposition contains many ambiguities that will likely require extensive judicial interpretation if Prop. 90 becomes law. Those ambiguities are identified in a white paper completed by the center and available online at: http://www.ccelp.berkeley.edu.

Stem Cell Research

Alta Charo
Visiting professor at UC Berkeley's School of Law (Boalt Hall)

Phone: (510) 643-6116
E-mail: racharo@wisc.edu
Media Relations contact: Janet Gilmore, (510) 642-5685 or jangilmore@berkeley.edu

Expertise: Charo is a bioethicist and a leading authority on stem cells and law. She is teaching a course on stem cell and cloning research and related policy and politics.

Irina Conboy
Assistant professor of bioengineering at UC Berkeley

Phone: (510) 665-3671
E-mail: iconboy@berkeley.edu
Media Relations contact: Sarah Yang, (510) 643-7741 or scyang@berkeley.edu

Expertise: Conboy received funding from the non-profit, Maryland-based Stem Cell Research Foundation and hopes to open her lab for periodic public tours. She uses stem cell science to combat degenerative diseases that come with aging.

Charis Thompson
Associate professor of rhetoric and of gender and women's studies, and director of UC Berkeley's Science, Technology and Society Center.

Phone: (510) 642-8528
E-mail: charis@berkeley.edu
Media Relations contact: Yasmin Anwar, (510) 643-7944 or yanwar@berkeley.edu

Expertise: Thompson is the author of "Making Parents: The Ontological Choreography of Reproductive Technologies" (MIT Press, 2005). Her areas of interest include reproductive and genetic technologies and feminist theory.

David Winickoff
Assistant professor of bioethics and society in the College of Natural Resources and associate director of UC Berkeley's Science, Technology & Society Center.

Phone: (510) 643-0319
E-mail: david_winickoff@nature.berkeley.edu
Media Relations contact: Sarah Yang, (510) 643-7741 or scyang@berkeley.edu

Expertise: Winickoff's research centers on the interaction of science and politics in the governance of health and the environment, with a particular focus on biotechnology and the law.