Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Q: When Is Image More Important Than Charity?

A: When SEIU decides one of the sponsors is just too icky for Democrats to be seen around.
Inside Baseball: Politics threaten legislative softball game

There's just no getting around the struggles between labor and business groups when it comes to California politics. Even the annual legislative softball game, an event which is supposed to be a bipartisan fundraiser for a local charity, has gotten tangled in a partisan battle, with envoys from the speaker's office shuttling back and forth to try to save the Wednesday evening game.

The problems began last week, when members of the Service Employees International Union, one of the most powerful unions in California, indicated they may urge legislators to boycott the game. The problem is that the game's sponsor, Sutter Health, is locked in an ongoing battle with SEIU workers over collective bargaining.

"We definitely have concerns about Sutter," said SEIU spokesman Allen Davenport. "I haven't talked to anybody in the Capitol who isn't aware of Sutter's history of overcharging people and attempting to monopolize the health care delivery system.

"And," he adds, "they're notoriously uncooperative when it comes to the labor organizing interests of their employees."

Just last week, the National Labor Relations Board's general counsel determined that eight Sutter Health centers broke federal labor law when they locked out union after the union's one-day strike last December.

Davenport says SEIU has not officially called for a boycott of the game, but it was something they were considering. "At the moment, we are not. But we are having discussions with legislators. We are concerned that Sutter is attempting to build up a good name in the community by attaching its name to charitable events. We fully understand Sutter's strategy and we feel legislators have been unwitting accomplices in this."

Calls to Sutter spokesman Bill Gleeson were not immediately returned. But Republican Party spokeswoman Karen Hanretty said, "the whole controversy goes to the heart of the union agenda in California, and the fact that they're more concerned with protecting their clout at the bargaining table than providing much needed financial aid to disabled children."

Monday morning, Democrats were working behind the scenes to keep SEIU from calling for an official boycott of the game. The speaker's office deployed Bob Giroux to help resolve the issue.

Hundreds of tickets to the 5th annual "Legislative All Star Game" have been sold at $10 per piece. The game, which is supposed to be played on August 24, promises a legislative home run derby, and a Democrats vs. Republicans softball game.

The game is a fundraiser for the River Cats Independence Field, a baseball field being built in Sacramento for children and adults with disabilities.

Coby Pizzotti in the Speakers Office of Members Services said there have already been more than 600 tickets sold, and estimates up to 400 more will be sold by game day. In all, the event has raised more than $42,000 for the charity, the most successful softball game yet.

When asked about the brouhaha, Pizzotti said he was confident it would be resolved.

Over the last couple of years, Republicans have gotten the better part of the Democrats. But with some new blood, and a new captain, Democrat Joe Baca, Democrats have high hopes for this year's battle.

"All these new freshman have given us new hope," said Baca, who played four years of baseball in college and coached high school baseball. "We've made a big improvement."

Aside from the game, Baca said it proves "a great opportunity to bond with legislators and get a little break from politics." But when asked about the political cloud over the event, Baca said, "As far as I know, the game is on. If that changes, then it changes."
Good job there, guys. I'm sure that the children will appreciate your assistance to the Democrats in the state Guvmint in the maintenance of their purity when it comes to dealing with one of the few corporations in the MetroSac area that actually has some extra money lying around to be able to donate it to charitable causes.

Far more important that you help the Dems keep a respectable distance from being tainted by Sutter's charity, rather than looking out for the interests of the people who are paying your collective salary.

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