Saturday, March 31, 2007

Kuehl On the Big Lie, Aging Porsches and Politics

California State Senator Sheila Kuehl, author of the latest legislation to intervene in California stem cell matters, talks about her politics and personal life in a lengthy interview in California Conversations magazine in Sacramento.

Writer Aaron Read opens the article by commenting that Kuehl, a Santa Monica Democrat, has "a Cagneyesque, spit-in-the-eyes willingness to engage in consequential discussion on how we are allowed to live our lives–a real world concept that public policy im­pacts Californians in elemental ways."

The interview is remarkably revealing. Few politicians, businessmen or women or stem cell scientists would be so open. Here are sample quotes from Kuehl, who once played Zelda on the Dobie Gillis television series, concerning the more pedestrian matters of politics and policy:

Why did she seek a legislative seat:
"I was working with a small group of people framing a domestic violence law in California. And, because I was a law professor, I was asked to come up and testify at the Capitol, where I had only been once as a teenage tourist. And I would sit and wait while committees rambled on and watch everybody and after a while I thought, 'I could do this.'"
Her major legislative accomplishments?
"There are three I’m most proud of. One is the protection of students in school against harassment or discrimination or violence on the basis of real or perceived sexual orientation. It protects all the kids, even if they’re not gay and others just think they are. The second is nurse-to-patient staffing ratios, which I’m very proud of. And the third is paid family leave."
On political lies:
"I think the right-wing philosophy of starving the beast is so detrimental to 90% of the people. They’ve got the people fooled that somehow if rich people do okay, then every­body does okay. That’s the big lie."
She tells readers that she still has her 1964 red Porsche convertible, a model we have admired over the years. She attended and worked at UCLA for a number of years before getting a law degree at Harvard. But she does not mention UCLA basketball (tonight the Bruins play Florida in the final four). She discusses her love life, but she does not mention stem cells or the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine. Perhaps because the interview was conducted some time ago. Magazines usually have lengthy prepublication schedules. Or perhaps because the topic was not as interesting as other matters. (Hard to believe, I know.)

Los Angeles Times blogger Robert Salladay reports that the magazine is produced by some folks at Aaron Read & Associates, a Sacramento lobbying firm that represents the California Association of Professional Scientists, the California Medical Association, AT&T, PG&E, among many others. Read, head of the firm, conducted the interview with Kuehl.

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