Protesters at a Valero gas
 station in Los Angeles.

By Steven Tavares

San Leandro Councilman Jim Prola and his wife School Trustee Diana Prola are Cal alumni and big Golden Bear fans. After Cal’s season opening 52-3 thrashing of UC Davis Sept 4, the Prola came across picketers surrounding a Valero gas station on the stroll back from Memorial Stadium. The protesters were upset over the Texas-based oil company funding opposition to Proposition 23, the attempt to unravel the landmark clean air legislation signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and due to come into effect in 2012.

Prola said he and his wife grabbed a picket sign and marched with the group. “It’s what we do,” said Prola during a recent city council meeting. Jim Prola is known as the council’s leader on the left with a noticeable sensitivity to labor unions causes.

The council will weigh in on the issue during tonight’s meeting. Among the agenda items posted Friday is a vote in opposition to Prop. 23. The initiative has raised the ire of many lefty groups who believe the laws within AB 32 allow California to be a leader in environmental causes. The bill calls for greenhouse gas emissions in the state to be reduced to 1990 levels by 2020.

Critics of the bill, including Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, say it is a job killer. Prop. 23 would block AB 32 until unemployment in California falls below 5.5 percent for four consecutive quarters, something that has happened only 3 times in the last 30 years. With the state unemployment currently at 12.4 percent, reaching such a threshold is unlikely for years to come.