Shane Goldmacher is a former reporter for Capitol Weekly. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley, where he served as editor of the Berkeley Political Review.

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  • National NAACP bucks CA chapter, backs tobacco tax initiative
  • NAACP's Huffman assailed for tobacco, telecom payments
  • Schwarzenegger targets the 'ElimiDate Voter'
  • Legislators tap Sacramento interests for campaign cash
  • New York developer's eminent-domain crusade comes to California
  • Schwarzenegger's election-year olive branches
  • Dems, Gov. tapped same spots for campaign cash
  • Schwarzenegger has a special interest in Capitol-area money
  • Schwarzenegger's million-dollar woman
  • The kings and queens of the California political quotation
  • All about Phil: Angelides is strategist in own campaign
  • "Women of the year" married to men of Legislature
  • With new law, chase for campaign cash becomes family affair
  • High school student gives governor $44,600
  • Going to interview with CTA? Be sure to look into the camera
  • David Crane: Arnold's other Democratic adviser
  • The rise of the blogs: How the GOP uses the Web to organize

  • 1A: 76.9-23.1
    1B: 61.3-38.7
    1C: 57.4-42.6
    1D: 56.6-43.4
    1E: 64-36
    83: 70.6-29.4
    84: 53.7-46.3
    85: 45.9-54.1
    86: 48-52
    87: 45.2-54.8
    88: 23-77
    89: 25.5-74.5
    90: 47.6-52.4

    U.S. Sen.
    Feinstein 59.7
    Mountjoy 34.9
    Schwarzenegger 55.8
    Angelides 39.2
    Lt. Gov
    Garamendi 49.5
    McClintock 44.9
    Atty. Gen.
    Brown 56.7
    Poochigian 37.9
    Sec. of state
    Bowen 48.5
    McPherson 44.7
    Lockyer 54.8
    Parrish 37
    Chiang 50.9
    Strickland 40.1
    Insur. Comm.
    Poizner 50.7
    Bustamante 38.9

    For complete election results click here.

    Angelides 48.2
    Westly 43.1
    Lt. Gov
    Garamendi 42.9
    Speier 39.3
    Figueroa 17.8
    Atty. Gen.
    Brown 63.2
    Delgadillo 36.8
    Sec. of state
    Bowen 61.1
    Ortiz 38.9
    Parrish 56.4
    Richman 43.6
    Democratic primary
    Chiang 53.4
    Dunn 46.6
    Republican primary
    Strickland 40.9
    Maldonado 36.9
    Insur. Comm.
    Bustamante 70.5
    Kraft 29.5
    Supt. of Schools
    O'Connell 52.5, avoids run-off

    For complete election results click here.

    73: 47.4-52.6
    74: 45-55
    75: 46.6-53.4
    76: 38-62
    77: 40.5-59.5
    78: 41.5-58.5
    79: 38.9-61.1
    80: 34.3-65.7

    For complete election results click here.

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    Wednesday, August 31, 2005

    Tuck and Run

    The Senate Rules Committee recommended against confirming Cindy Tuck, Gov. Schwarzenegger’s nominee to the California Air Resources Board this afternoon. The Democrat-dominated committee’s main objection: he past close ties as a industry lobbyist.

    Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata issue the following statement:

    Ms. Tuck would be a wonderful public servant in any number of roles. However, her long record working as a lobbyist to oppose legislation to improve air quality makes her an inappropriate choice to serve as chair of the California Air Resources Board. In the 40 year history of the ARB no industry advocate has served as chair and I am reluctant to break with that tradition. Given the severity of California’s air pollution problem and with critical decisions awaiting the ARB, it is important that the Senate move swiftly on this appointment.

    Schwarzenegger disagreed:

    "Cindy is the right person for this job. Her more than 20 years of experience with air and water quality, coupled with her education in environmental engineering, make Cindy uniquely qualified for this position. She has a proven track record as a consensus builder, bringing together diverse groups with opposing viewpoints to find what is in the best interest of the people of California.”

    Either way, her nomination is all but dead as she moves to the Senate floor.

    The Real Latino Caucus

    Three of the most prominent and powerful Latino politicians in Los Angeles are in Sacramento this week. They are newly elected mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who only months into his first term is already heavily bantied about as a gubernatorial candidate, the president of the City Council Alex Padilla, a young and ambitious Angeleno who held the reins of LA after 9/11 and won kudos for his work as emergency acting mayor, and city attorney Rocky Delgadillo, another ambitious Angeleno would officially announced today his candidacy for attorney general.

    The three together (along with Speaker Fabian Nunez) form the base of the future of Democratic Latino leaders in California. Villaraigosa is the hottest new name in the state. Padilla is gearing up for a run for State Senate (challenging incumbent Cindy Montanez)—and he is only 32 years old. And Delgadillo just announced his candidacy to challenge a California institution—current Oakland Mayor and former Gov. Jerry Brown.

    They may not all succeed in the near term. They may not all succeed ever. But right now they are all in town, feeling out the foreign waters of Sacramento, where they hope to eventually reside (except Villaraigosa, who already served as Speaker of the Assembly).

    Is the DOE DOA?

    Today, the Governor announced that he is reintroducing his energy reorganization plan--in which he promises to establish a cabinet-level Department of Energy (DOE).

    Problem is, Democratic leadership called such a DOE "dead on arrival" within the last couple of weeks.

    So why reintroduce it?

    Sounds like political gamesmanship to me, particularly after last week's power outage in southern California.

    Schwarzenegger: "Last week's transmission line hiccup should be a wakeup call to us all that more generation and more transmission are badly needed and this reform will help achieve those goals. We need to streamline the state's energy bureaucracy and implement a comprehensive strategy that will address California's needs. I look forward to working with the Legislature to overhaul our dysfunctional energy system."

    You can read the letter the Gov. sent to the legislature on the issue here.

    Collecting Cards

    The protest of the Governor happened--as expected--at the A's/Angels games last night. The union-organized event was meant to boycott Schwarzenegger's fundraising (he was at the stadium raising cash for the special election ballot this fall) with Socal big spenders.

    But the OC Register had this little gem:

    The unions handed out 2,500 Schwarzenegger trading cards featuring the governor in a baseball uniform with a "$" insignia and detailing perceived slights.

    If anyone can find a copy of that card, I would love to see it.

    Hostile Amendments

    It is usually a sign of legislative mischief when a Governor (through a spokeswoman) declares his intent to veto a bill he sponsored.

    The bill in question is SB 1, which would add solar panels to roofs across the state. But Democrats in the legislature are loading the bill up with union-friendly amendments that have changed the original bill enough that co-author Sen. John Campbell has asked that his name be withdrawn.

    The Sac Bee has the story.

    Merced Redux

    The Chronicle’s Matier and Ross asked this morning why the Governor is not planning on attending the ribbon-cutting ceremony at UC Merced on Monday.

    Sounds pretty familiar to me.

    Tuesday, August 30, 2005

    One...Two...Three Strikes You're Out at the Old Ballgame

    What could be better than politics and baseball, together at last?

    Not much.

    At least that’s the thinking of the California Democratic Party which is organizing an “ambush” of the Governor as he attends an A’s/Angels game this evening in southern California.

    The Governor will be raising money to battle the unions and Democrats for this fall’s special election, but the Democrats will be in the stadium to protest.

    Here’s the e-mail from the CA Democratic Party:

    Game time: 7:05 p.m. Anaheim Angels vs. Oakland A's in Beautiful Angels Stadium Tell Arnold: "It's 1, 2, 3 Strikes - He's Out!" Gov. Schwarzenegger will attend an Anaheim Angels game with Arte Moreno and Jackie Autry on Tuesday, August 30, 2005. Don't you think the governor would love to see some hand made signs and banners showing our true feelings for him in the crowd and on the "Jumbo-Tron" TV screens. Whether you sit in the cheap seats or behind home plate . . . Bring a sign and your message for Governor Arnold to see. Invite your friends and co-workers to sit in sections with you and make creative statements against the coming special interests' Special Election and the flawed propositions Arnold supports. Come sit with friends and enjoy this interstate baseball game, a little beer, some peanuts... and giving Arnold a piece of your mind! And be sure to look for Anti-Arnold tailgate parties before the game in the parking lot. It will be Fantaaastic! Get your tickets at the link below: [link deleted]

    P.S. Might be a good idea to bring your signs in under your shirt, in a tote, etc

    Now that’s classy.

    (A thanks to the FlashReport for forwarding the e-mail).

    No Lying in the Legislature

    This morning AB 1625, a law created by Assemblyman Johan Klehs, D-San Leandro, was approved on the Senate floor.

    The bill would create new standards for accountability for those who testify before the state legislature. According to the press release, “The bill ensures that if the testimony given to the Legislature is found to be inaccurate or incomplete, penalties of perjury can be applied to state executives.”

    The bill is a response to allegations of misleading testimony surrounding cost overruns of the Bay Bridge.

    At It Again

    I count more than eighteen fundraisers scheduled for tomorrow...

    Looks like the legislature remains hard at work in the final two weeks of session...

    To be fair, it should be noted that the Assembly does have a floor session every day this week.

    Wednesday's gadfly gatherings range from funders for State Senator Tom McClintock to State Senate hopeful (and current L.A. City Council President) Alex Padilla.

    Monday, August 29, 2005

    It Wasn't Law Before?

    Congratulations are in order for the California legislature. They passed a bill today that blocks the giving of Viagra to sex offenders.

    The real question seems like it should be why that wasn't law already.

    The author or the bill, Assemblyman George Plescia, R-San Diego, had this to say:

    “Giving Viagra to a convicted sex offender is like giving a gun to a bank robber – it’s irresponsible and puts innocent people in danger. Today we took an important step to protect innocent families and taxpayers. I look forward to the Governor signing this bill into law.”

    This is an AK-47, Your Honor

    This blog will predominantly focus on California issues.

    But gun-toting judges in Iran simply can't be ignored.

    After a recent spate of attacks against Iranian justices, the law there has been changed to allow a judge to pack some steel.

    Talk about justice at the barrel of a gun.

    You Know What They Say About Good Debt...

    This little gem came off the mailing list for the California Democratic Party:

    The California Democratic Party has joined forces with MasterCard to provide an opportunity for you to raise funds for the California Democratic Party while completing your everyday shopping.

    Yes, now your debt helps the Democratic Party.

    Finance Charges? $16.

    Late Fees? $35

    Debtors for Democrats? Priceless.

    It's That Time of Year

    The end of session is here, which means hundreds of bills flooding through the legislature, facing make or break votes.

    That must mean that it is time for members of both parties to host fundraisers to squeak out those last minute donations, which, of course, have no impact on the outcome of votes

    Wink wink. Nod nod.

    Tomorrow is a perfect example, when legislators host no fewer than 17 fundraisers. And that is just in the Sacramento area alone:

    One example: a fundraiser (and roast) for termed out Assemblyman Ray Haynes.

    “add decades of friends and associates including Asm. Dennis Mountjoy, Sens. Ackerman, Battin and Hollingsworth, former Senators Brulte and Dick Mountjoy and Mayor Curt Pringle and roast slowly for about one hour. That’s the recipe for an extraordinary evening,” the invitation reads.

    Statewide hopefuls Bill Lockyer and Liz Figueroa also have fundraisers in the mix.

    Sunday, August 28, 2005

    What Does a Non-Vote Mean?

    This morning, Nancy Vogel has an interesting article in the Los Angeles Times.

    She takes a look at Democratic Assemblyman Jerome Horton and how he uses the leverage of non-votes to remain a player in the legislative game.

    It's a good inside baseball kind of piece.

    Saturday, August 27, 2005

    Guv on Education

    Schwarzenegger can his weekly radio address Saturday, focusing on education and next implementation of an exit exam next year for the first time (assuming they don’t delay its implementation again).

    We recently received the latest results for the exit exam. And the great news is that 88 percent of high school seniors have passed the test, up from 75 percent last year. This is fantastic, but we won't be satisfied until we reach 100 percent.

    Fantastic? Maybe not. But I want to know what happens to the 12 percent of students who went through 12 years of public education and still failed? Will there now be so-called “super-seniors” in high school?

    I doubt that the problems that cause those 12 percent of the state’s students to fail the exam can be remedied quickly. And if they are, it seems more likely than not that those students would be taught for the test, not to become truly well educated.

    Then and Now

    Robert Salladay has a good piece in this morning’s Los Angeles Times comparing Governor Schwarzenegger’s trip to the California State Fair yesterday and his seemingly more impromptu romp on the fair grounds in 2003.

    This seems to be an essential problem for the governor: two years ago he was seen as an outsider, promising to change “politics as usual,” while today a majority of Californians see his as a politician.

    Salladay writes:

    Schwarzenegger came to the fair with a retinue: an official photographer, a videographer, a communications director, a press secretary, a government press aide, a campaign press aide, a personal aide. Two other men helped set up the sound system, along with additional staff members and state fair workers.

    During the 2003 fair visit, Schwarzenegger plunged into the crowd without much fuss. But Friday, public and press were kept at bay. "It's not open to access," a fair official said to reporters gathering near the governor's SUV after the event. "Move back or we might have to escort you to the sandcastle."

    The key question is whether or not the Governor can tap back into the populist wave he rode to recall victory in this fall's special election.

    Friday, August 26, 2005

    A New Slogan?

    After the brief power outage in southern California yesterday, the sharks are out, hoping to seize on the loss of power and use it as a tool to lower the Governor's already sagging approval ratings. A power outage is, it should be noted, a fairly potent metaphor to use against a political figure.

    This from the Arnold Watch web site:

    The old bumper stick was "Black Out, 2001, Gray Out, 2002." If Arnold's not careful, a new tailgate might just be "Gas Prices Pumped Up 2005, Arnold Pumped Out 2006."

    Catchy, I think.

    Petty, too. And one half-hour outage in southern California once hardly an energy crisis makes.

    Sink, Sank, Sunk

    The Governor’s poll numbers continue to lag. True, they are compared to his own astronomical highs of a year ago, but they remain low by most gubernatorial standards.

    According to a poll released Thursday by the Public Policy Institute of California, just more than one in three Californians approve of the Governor and only one out of three of his initiatives even have a plurality of support.

    The surprise (and perhaps most ominous number) is that a startling 73 percent of Latinos disapprove of the Governor—even after his recent enactment of regulations for outdoor workers, a group dominated by Latino labor.

    Schwarzenegger’s campaign spokesman Todd Harris had this to say:

    The latest Public Policy Institute of California poll is a very useful document if you are interested in what people who are not even registered to vote thought about Gov. Schwarzenegger two-and-a-half weeks ago. That’s right. This is hardly a snapshot of California voters today, given that they went into the field on August 8th. On top of that, almost 25% of the sample was not even registered to vote, and over half of them are not “likely” to vote.

    That certainly sounds like a whirling dervish of spin to me.

    Kids Get Fat

    As soon as I saw the headline in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday for this piece I started to sniff a Torklason bill follow-up.

    Tom Torlakson being a state senator from the Bay Area that is the Capitol's resident fitness fanatic (outside of the Governor, of course).

    Thursday, August 25, 2005

    Second Capitol Weekly Published

    It is out on the street today. And I have a piece in it here.

    I wrote about the ongong family feud between Sen. Dean Florez and Asm. Nicole Parra--it is an interesting rivalry, so take a look.

    I will out be reporting all day so look for more updates tomorrow.

    Wednesday, August 24, 2005

    First New Mental Health Hospital--in 50 Years

    The first new mental health hospital in more than 50 years opened today. That would be before Kennedy was president and before Eisenhower’s famous military-industrial complex speech.

    The Coalinga building is located adjacent to the Pleasant Valley State Prison (an Orwellian name, for sure). The hospital will treat “mostly sexually violent predators.”

    "The maximum-secured forensic facility will ultimately hold up to 1,500 patients, both sexually violent predators and seriously mentally ill inmates from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation."

    Sounds like somwhere to avoid on weekends.

    The funds for the hospital were authorized in the 1999-2000 budget (remember, back before the lean years). After sifting through 29 possible sites, they settled on Coalinga—and now, after four years and $388 millio, we have a mental health hospital.

    Did Perata Cave?

    The Governor called a surprise Big 5 meeting today, a rare occurrence outside of budget negotiating season. The meeting, which consists of the Governor and the Democratic and Republican leaders of each house of the legislature, was held behind close doors (as it always is) but the legislative leader came out and spoke to the press afterwards.

    And what they said sure seemed odd. First off, Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, who has strongly pushed for a transportation bond—calling it his top priority—sounded like he was resigned to let the session slide away and take up the bond again next year.

    “I never thought I would get it out of the Assembly,” Perata said to a cabal of reporters in the hall outside the Governor’s office.

    It was strange to hear such resignation about the centerpiece of his agenda—especially when in the same conversation both he and Speaker Fabian Nunez said that the Big 5 had settled the fact that transportation was the top issue.

    “Even Kevin McCarthy said we should be doing something and transportation,” quipped Perata, noting that McCarthy’s district overlaps with that of Republican Congressman Bill Thomas, a powerful force in Washington D.C. well-known for bring home the bacon (i.e. pork) for his district.

    Over the next two weeks, we’ll see what happens to Perata’s “top priority.”

    A Coup for Dunn?

    Today, the California State Sheriffs' Association announced its Outstanding Senator awards for 2005.

    The recipients—almost all Republicans—are hardly surprising. But tucked into a list that includes Dave Cox, Jeff Denham, Denise Ducheny, Charles Poochigian, and George Runner is Democrat Joe Dunn.

    I wonder what he did to earn himself a place in such company.

    Tuesday, August 23, 2005

    A New Study on California Schools

    And the results don't look all that good. The study, which was done by the Washington D.C.-based Center for American Progress, documents some of the achievement gap in California schools as well as the overall low scores on standardized tests and sagging graduation rates.

    You can read the whole report here.

    "So close, yet so far"

    That is how Democratic Speaker of the Assembly Fabian Nunez described the efforts to negotiate a legislative compromise for the fall special election.

    But, as the saying goes, close only counts in horseshoes and handgrenades. In his Tuesday press avail, Nunez said that the biggest stumbling block was "figuring a way to have a midyear budget hammer" that didn't adversely impact education. Translation: he wouldn't give the Governor the ability to cut Prop 98 spending midyear without the guarantee of having the money paid back "like a promissory note" over time.

    "The clock ran out on us," the Speaker lamented, before moving on to discuss the business before the legislature and his upcoming trip to Mexico.

    One juicy tidbit: Nunez not-so-subtly railed against the involvement of a former Governor--presumably Pete Wilson--in the negotiations, saying something to the effect of "I didn't realize former Governors played a role in Sacramento."

    Monday, August 22, 2005

    A Dog Fight

    Today the Assembly took up SB 861, a semi-controversial dog bill that would authorize local governments to enact dog-breed specific ordinances that pertain to spaying and neutering programs.

    Whether it is said expressly in the bill or not (it’s not)—the aim of the measure is to give local governments some leeway to deal with the issue of aggressive pit bulls.

    So when conservative Republican Assemblyman Tim Leslie rose, I assumed that he would be in opposition.

    But he surprised me, and most of the crowd, when he said the bill doesn’t go far enough.

    “String them all up and send them to some other state,” Leslie rebuked his colleagues.

    But the entire Republican caucus was hardly in agreement. Audra Strickland rose in opposition, saying that California should focus on errant dog owners instead of errant dogs.

    “Spay and neuter those owners who abuse their dogs,” she announced.

    Unfortunately, her argument went for naught. The Assembly passed the measure.

    A Domino Game In the OC

    Rep. Christohpher Cox was nominated (and confirmed by the Senate) as the chairman of the SEC. His congressional seat opened up and State Sen. John Campbell has announced his candidacy and is the early favorite to win the race. So to replace Campbell (after he would win Cox's old seat) is another campaign, which has already heard the starter's gun. Current Assemblyman Tom Harman has declared his candidacy to replace Campbell (in SD 35). That would open up his Assembly seat, which his wife would run for.

    Whew, what a mouthful.

    So don't talk while chewing, and don't anyone say politicians aren't calculating--and that it isn't almost always a family affair.

    California Pumping Up New Jobs

    Today the July 2005 UCLA Anderson Forecast for California was released and overall it looks like positive news.The report was written by Christopher Thornberg, Ph.D. and Michael Bazdarich, Ph.D., both from UCLA.

    Here is their summary of the latest economic data for the Golden State:

    "California job numbers saw a big gain in July for the second year in a row. The State added 50,000 new payroll jobs last month bringing the quarterly total up to 78,000, a very solid 2.1% growth rate. This is very similar to last year when the state experienced a similar mid-summer surge in employment. There are multiple reasons to view this report with a lot of enthusiasm. The gains came across the board from a sector by sector perspective, and primarily in the private sector. Even manufacturing saw some solid increases-the first time since last year.

    Only the public sector remained weak, along with transportation. It was also a good report from the fact that the gains were across the board regionally. The Bay area saw increases in employment across the board, instead of the gains being strictly from the southern and central portions of the state. Caution is in order however, since the fastest growing sector by terms of employment remains construction, largely due to the continuing real estate bubble the state is experiencing."

    Sounds pretty good until that last sentence. Check out my thoughts on the housing market here.

    Sunday, August 21, 2005

    Capitol Weekly "Poll" Gets Some Ink

    For our first issue of Capitol Weekly we did a "poll" of thirty statewide politial insiders to see who would be the toughest opponent for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger among the Democrats vying for his office (declared or not).

    The answers were all anonymous and the winner of the straw poll was State Controller Steve Westly--with 38 percent of the vote. Westly and State Treasurer Phil Angelides are the only two declared Democratic candidates, but Angelides is considered the clean front-runner, in part because he has raised more money, and in part because he has spent the better part of hte last two years preparing for the race.

    Desperate for some good news in a campaign where there has not been much, the Westly campaign quickly fired off a press release of the poll, including some of the "expert" quotes.

    The first one was:

    “Westly’s got a powerful general election message. He can say that he at first tried to work cooperatively with the governor. Angelides is a slimy developer…”

    The Angelides campaign is furious, demanding an apology and arguing that the Westly campaign went negative nearly 9 months before a single voter goes to the polls.

    The real issue though is that the fledgling Capitol Weekly is getting some press in the Los Angeles Times over the whole debacle.

    Irrational Exurberance?

    So how long can California’s housing prices continue to climb? So far it seems that price spikes have been endless, nudging countless thousands out of the market for a first home, while making for huge profits for those who already own.

    But the man who warned Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan about the impending late 1990s bubble is again speaking out. And this time it is about the housing market.

    The New York Timeshas the story of how Yale economist Robert Shiller first told Greenspan about the dot-com bubble.

    “As they ate lunch in a stately dining room at the Federal Reserve that day in December 1996, Mr. Shiller argued that the stock market had risen to irrational levels. In a soft, Midwestern-tinged voice, he asked Mr. Greenspan, the Fed chairman, when the last time was that somebody in his job had warned the public that the stock market had become a bubble.

    Mr. Greenspan listened without giving his opinion, and Mr. Shiller went home assuming that he had been farther away from Mr. Greenspan than Ms. Cohen in more ways than one. Three days later, however, driving his son to school in the family Volvo, Mr. Shiller heard on the radio that stocks were plunging because Mr. Greenspan had asked in a speech whether "irrational exuberance" was infecting the markets.”

    Quite a story. More worrisome, thought, is what Shiller says about the future.

    "This is the biggest boom we've ever had," said Mr. Shiller, who bought into the boom himself in 2002, with a vacation home near one of Connecticut's Thimble Islands. "So a very plausible scenario is that home-price increases continue for a couple more years, and then we might have a recession and they continue down into negative territory and languish for a decade."

    There is definitely something to what Shiller is saying. Prices—of anything—can’t endlessly rise without enduring any type of “market correction” (i.e. a price drop).

    The real question is why it takes an economist who made a similar prediction about stocks nearly a decade ago to bring validity to that economic truth to the housing market.

    Why is it that people turn blinders on as the housing market booms—taking out interest-only loans for 5 years—which will only drive the market into an ever deeper spiral of recession (or depression) when the bubble does burst?

    Friday, August 19, 2005

    No Show at Merced's Launching

    Where's the Governor? That is the question many are asking after the story in this morning's Modesto Bee.

    It looks like Schwarzenegger does not have time in his busy schedule to cut some ribbon on Labor Day for the launch of UC Merced. Cutting ribbon doesn't really take all that much time, and that will be a statewide news story--the launch of a 10th UC campus.

    Yes, there are threats of protests from union leaders, but my guess is that for most TV stations and newspapers across the state the protests would get second billing to the inauguration of the state's newest university.

    We’re Number One!

    The University of California, Berkeley continues to reign supreme at the top public university in the United States.

    We ranked 20th overall, tied with Emory University in Georgia, in the vaunted yearly study produced by U.S. News and World Report.

    The story is here.

    Thursday, August 18, 2005

    On Deadline Day…A Trip to Mexico?

    Today is the de facto day that legislators must submit initiatives for the fall special election ballot. That also makes today the “last” day reach a bipartisan compromise. There is a story in the Mercury News about former Democratic leader Bob Hertzberg coming into town to help broker a deal. Sounds serious, right?

    Well, when Speaker of the Assembly Fabian Nunez sent out a press release this afternoon there was a sliver of hope that it had the details of a pact (a very very small sliver of hope).

    Sorry, but no. The press release announced that Nunez will travel to Mexico City to meet with President Vicente Fox. That seems like quite the coup for the Los Angeles politician, upstaging a governor whose brief stints in Mexico have drawn some criticism from Latinos living in California.

    But why announce today? And shouldn’t they still be focused on the special election compromise deadline?

    It looks like one more sign of the waning chances of a pact.

    Capitol's warring factions gird for November

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly

    By Shane Goldmacher and Malcolm MacLachlan

    Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, wounded in the polls and hoping to salvage his reform agenda, squared off against the Legislature’s majority Democrats this week, as both sides focused on using the using the final weeks remaining before the Nov. 8 special election to jockey for position – and political momentum.

    Lawmakers barely unpacked their bags from the month-long summer recess before the battle was joined.
    "Everything’s colored by that election," Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, told reporters Monday on his first day back in town.

    Chances for a bipartisan compromise appeared dim for any of the three Schwarzenegger-sponsored proposals on the ballot. One would give the governor the power to make mid-year budget cuts, another makes it easier to fire teachers and the third allows retired judges -- rather than the Legislature’s majority party – to redraw the state’s congressional and legislative districts.

    The Legislature has until today to place its own measures on the special election ballot, according to the secretary of state, though Capitol observers believe that deadline is elastic.

    Right now, both sides appear to be gearing up for a ballot-box battle, largely because the issues in the special election—such as Proposition 75, which would require unions to get members’ advance approval before collecting money for political campaigns—overshadow the 830-some bills still pending in the Legislature.

    Sen. Jackie Speier, D-San Francisco, introduced a bill that would ban the governor and other constitutional officers from holding outside jobs while elected to a statewide office. Speier clearly hopes to remind voters of Schwarzenegger’s multimillion-dollar deal as executive editor of two bodybuilding magazines that are filled with advertisements for dietary supplements. Last year, Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have regulated the supplement industry, and Speier recently reintroduced a similar bill. Schwarzenegger, meanwhile, hastily canceled the magazine contracts after newspaper reports detailed his financial arrangements.

    Schwarzenegger may also be forced to confront a bill that would ban the sale of violent video games to children, highlighting another potential conflict of interest for a governor who currently earns an income from the sale of video game based on his ultra-violent "Terminator" movies.

    Schwarzenegger is busy preparing for the special election, as well. In the first seven days after the Legislature reconvenes, Schwarzenegger will hold five fundraising events, including a Rolling Stones concert in Boston where guests can watch the show from a seat in Schwarzenegger’s luxury box—for $100,000. His office has also moved deputy press secretary Darryl Ng off state payroll, putting him to work as a spokesman on the special election campaign.

    This week, Schwarzenegger also threw his support behind SB 588, a bill targeting sexual predators authored by Senator Jeff Denham, R-Merced. It includes several controversial provisions, most notably the use of Global Position System, or GPS, technology to track some sex offenders for life. Denham and his fellow Republicans hope Democrats will be placed in a politically awkward position if they oppose the tough-on-crime bill.

    "Democrats do not have a good record on this type of bill," said Tony Quinn, a Republican political analyst and co-editor of the California Target Book. "I wouldn’t be surprised to see this made part of an initiative in the future."
    Meanwhile, Assembly Democrats are pushing bills to raising revenue for education and to raise the minimum wage by 50 cents, while pegging future increases to the pace of inflation. Both bills would likely force the governor to wield an unpopular veto that could motivate the Democratic base.

    Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View, who is the author of the legislation to raise the minimum wage, hopes that the pressures of the special election will spur a gubernatorial signature.

    "I think every bill right now is going to be looked at for how it affects the special election," Lieber noted.
    Besides such "job-killer" bills, the top target on the Republicans’ legislative hit list is Assemblyman Mark Leno's AB 849, which would legalize same-sex marriage. Though a similar bill died after an emotional vote earlier this year on the Assembly floor, Leno resurrected the issue through a procedural maneuver known as "gut and amend."

    Senate Democratic leader Don Perata’s top priority for the session, which ends September 9, is a $10 billion transportation bond that, if approved by California voters early next year, would be the largest such transportation financing bond in state history. The proposal requires approval from the governor and Legislature to make the ballot.

    The Legislature also must tackle the complex issue of implementing a federal deal that Schwarzenegger negotiated with the Bush administration earlier this summer, which promises $18.4 billion in Medicare funding for hospitals. The law, which must be passed in order to ensure the continued flow of federal dollars to state hospitals, would fundamentally change the way California funds hospitals that serve the poor.

    Despite the huge potential financial impact of the Medi-Cal changes and the transportation bond, both continue to play second fiddle to pre-election posturing.

    "We have virtually wasted a year, at a time when we cannot afford to do that," said Perata, lamenting that the special election has taken the focus away from "thoughtful" solutions to state issues.

    "This is going to be a referendum on the governor," he said.

    Walking the tightrope: GOP warrior takes on own party

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly

    By Shane Goldmacher

    Ten years ago, Ray McNally was one of the hottest Republican political consultants in California. His firm, McNally Temple Associates Inc., served the GOP's A-List: President George Bush the elder and the younger, former Gov. Pete Wilson, gubernatorial candidate Bill Jones, the California Republican Party and the Republican National Committee. For years, McNally Temple was the go-to firm for the Legislature's Republicans.

    But in recent years McNally has been wooing Democrats, and now he's working against the agenda of Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, earning praise from Democrats for his courage and a bitter denunciation from Republicans who see his work as a betrayal of the party. McNally, who describes himself as "very much a Republican," works hand-in-glove with top Democratic strategist Gale Kaufman

    "In this business, you usually have to stick to one side," says Garry South, a Democratic political consultant who himself worked across party lines with Schwarzenegger's Republican political strategist Mike Murphy on three initiative campaigns last year. South currently advises Controller Steve Westly in his gubernatorial bid.

    "If you go to the other side, you get ostracized and excommunicated and people are suspicious of you," South says.

    This year, McNally has produced all the television commercials for the Alliance for a Better California, the union coalition spearheading the effort against Schwarzenegger's "year of reform." McNally's ads are widely credited with helping destroy the Governor's approval ratings, which plummeted from a high of 65 percent last September to a new low of 37 percent in June, according to the Field Poll.

    There's more: Less than a month before the October 2003 recall election, McNally incorporated a new consulting firm, Independent Campaign Group Inc., which made independent expenditures on behalf of Democrats in the most competitive legislative races in 2004, including Senator Mike Machado of Stockton and Assemblywoman Nicole Parra of Bakersfield.

    McNally is president of the Independent Campaign Group, which spent nearly $1 million in independent expenditures to help elect Democrats last year. When asked why he established a second firm—and one that focuses on aiding Democrats—without using the recognizable McNally Temple name, he said it was largely a procedural and paperwork matter.

    "Part of it was bookkeeping, part of it was trying to keep things cleaner. The notion that we were trying to hide something is ludicrous, considering that we dutifully filed all our public disclosure papers. In this business, there are no secrets," McNally told Capitol Weekly.

    Today, McNally is a consultant without a party. He is a self-identified Republican working for Democrat-leaning unions with a bifurcated client list that is exceedingly rare for its bipartisanship. It includes the California Teacher's Association and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the California Chamber of Commerce and California Correctional Peace Officers Association.

    Dave Gilliard, a Republican consultant who worked to qualify the recall in 2003, said that "it is not a shocker to anyone" that McNally is working against a Republican governor.

    "They started transitioning maybe ten years ago," said Gilliard. "They picked up some big clients on the other side [of the aisle]."

    Indeed, the key to understanding the political evolution of McNally Temple is following the shifting politics of the California Correctional Peace Officers Association, the powerful prison guard union, which is McNally's biggest client. McNally's relationship with the CCPOA began more than fifteen years ago, when the correctional officers were considered more of a "Republican union" and were staunch supporters of then-Governor Pete Wilson. In 1990, the prison guards doled out $1 million to Wilson, which they followed up with another $500,000 check for his reelection bid in 1994.

    But in 1998, the corrections officers had to decide between two tough-on-crime gubernatorial candidates, Democratic Lt. Gov. Gray Davis and Republican Atty. General Dan Lungren, both of whom they had supported in past elections. The union endorsed Davis, the first Democrat vying for the governorship to win the CCPOA stamp of approval in sixteen years.
    "It was a turning point for our firm because it really forced us to sit down and talk about who do we stand with," mused McNally, who has worked to elect Republicans in California for more than 30 years. "We had some very long talks about where our loyalty lied and ultimately we decided we have to stand with our clients."

    It was a turning point for the Davis campaign, as well. In the 1998 campaign, the CCPOA spent more than $2 million on behalf of Gray Davis. And so, not for the last time, McNally began cutting ads for a Democrat.

    This year, the ads he has produced for the Alliance have meant big money for McNally Temple. About 36 percent—more than $3.5 million— of the money spent in the Alliance's anti-Schwarzenegger campaign has shuffled through the hands of McNally Temple. McNally didn't provide details, but if his firm received the industry standard of 15 percent, McNally Temple has collected a cool half-a-million dollars in ad-buying fees. That, of course, is in addition to the more than $300,000 in consulting fees McNally Temple has garnered from the Alliance, according to the latest data available from the Secretary of State.
    His firm has worked closely with Kaufman, the Democratic consultant and former Willie Brown staffer who operates a consulting firm that counts Speaker Fabian Nunez, the Alliance for a Better California, and the Assembly Democratic caucus among her biggest clients. Those are hardly traditional allies for a self-identified Republican.

    This is not the first time that Kaufman and McNally have teamed up. In 1998, they joined forces to defeat Proposition 226, a paycheck protection act similar to this year's Proposition 75. Then, as now, the CCPOA opposed the initiative.
    "It's not the easiest thing for us to do, to go up against a Republican governor," said McNally of opposing Schwarzenegger's agenda, "but like I say, he was the one who initiated the attack on clients of ours."

    McNally often refers to Schwarzenegger baiting his top client, the CCPOA, into battle. He tells of how before his election, Schwarzenegger had wooed the prison guards.

    "He smoked cigars with them. He got them on the set of Terminator 3…He visited their convention in San Diego. He posed for pictures. He was their best buddy," said McNally.

    But then the governor appointed Rod Hickman as Secretary of Corrections, a choice that "dumbfounded" the CCPOA, both because they were never consulted and because Hickman is a man who, according to McNally, "they have no respect for."

    Then in the 2005 State of the State address, Schwarzenegger announced that the Department of Corrections would be the first state agency to be reorganized. "It is an agency in which there has been too much political influence, too much union control and too little management courage and accountability. For many months, you could not pick up a newspaper without reading about a youth dying in prison, or codes of silence, or abuse of force. I want to put the corrupt people in our prisons on the same side of the bars."

    That speech spurred the corrections officers' pact with the teachers and firefighters in opposing Schwarzenegger. And as goes the CCPOA, so goes McNally Temple.

    Even before the speech, McNally's Independent Campaign Group had spent $280,000 for Democrat Nicole Parra's Assembly campaign and $197,000 on behalf of Mike Machado's Senate. The money—all from the CCPOA—was used to buy TV spots, mailers and lawn signs in races that were the top targets on the Republicans' 2004 hit list.

    But how does his support of Democrats in the only real swing districts in the state help the Republican Party?
    "How could Dean Gardner be good for the Republican party?" McNally responds, referring to Nicole Parra's general election opponent who came under fire for his private business dealings and multiple name changes during the campaign. "Look at the quality of the candidate. He changed his name like 19 times… One of the worst things that could happen to the Republican Party is to have Dean Gardner get elected." Schwarzenegger, it should be noted, endorsed Gardner.

    Still, McNally seems to struggle with his dual identity as a union supporter and Republican advocate. When discussing the issue of paycheck protection in 1998, he distanced himself from the very labor groups he cut ads for.

    "Our argument was, `This is nuts.' This will not do anything to excite Republican turnout, but it will give labor a bloody shirt to organize with. And it did," says McNally. "And so labor organized like we hadn't seen in California in years and they carried that organization through the general election, where they clobbered Dan Lungren."

    But the "they" that clobbered Lungren included McNally himself.

    Ray McNally has two irreconcilable loyalties: to labor (and his top client the CCPOA) and to the Republican Party, though he accuses the Governor of making his loyalties so incompatible.

    "The governor did what no one else has been able to do for over fifteen years and that is to unite the prison guards with the teachers" said McNally. "Long-term, I think what the Governor is doing is going to have a very bad impact on the Republican Party. It's going to hurt it."

    Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

    The newly redesigned Capitol Weekly has hit the streets of Sacramento in full force. In it, I have two pieces. One is about veteran Republican political consultant Ray McNally who is cutting ads for the Schwarzenegger-blasting unions. The second is a finger to the wind piece on the temperature of the Capitol and a look at what’s ahead in the upcoming session.

    You can read them both at Capitol Weekly .

    Wednesday, August 17, 2005

    A New Job for Schwarzenegger’s Old Agent

    A little tidbit in a Schwarzenegger press release of his most recent appointments: he appointed his old movie agent Robert Stein to the Board of Directors for the California Science Center. I am sure he is more than qualified for the position.

    The press release is here.

    Feeling Gray

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger heavily criticized then-Gov. Gray Davis during the 2003 recall election campaign for his fundraising. Davis was a prolific fundraiser who claimed he enjoyed the very sport of soliciting donations from the state’s various interests. But now the Schwarzenegger himself is raising money by the bucket-load, and drawing derisive calls from critics that his earlier comments were disingenuous.

    In fact, Schwarzenegger had previously proposed that there be a “black-out” period on fundraising at the end of the legislative session when a flurry of bills will require a gubernatorial signature—or a veto. But now the Governor is about to embark on a 17-event fundraising tour taking him from California to Boston—where lucky supporters can watch the Rolling Stones with the Kindergarten Cop—for the low low price of $100,000 each.

    The L.A. Times reports that one of the Governor’s political aides Marty Wilson said, "We're in the middle of a campaign and we have to raise money."

    I guess the shoe is officially on the other foot.

    Where’s Burton?

    Last year, Governor Schwarzenegger was known already the state as a compromiser. He threatened to go to the ballot with workers’ compensation, but ultimately settled the issue in a bipartisan compromise with the Democratically controlled legislature.

    There was, of course, the cigar-smoking tent, where all the deals went done.

    Many consider the workers’ compensation deal, in April of 2004, the high water mark for the Schwarzenegger administration. And at the negotiating table was then-Senate President Pro Tem John Burton, D-San Francisco, a fiery Capitol personality who has since been termed out of office.

    So does the Governor miss the feisty Democrat? It certainly sounds like he does:

    “First of all, let me just say that I have the utmost respect for our legislative leaders, and Burton was just, was just, a unique character. And he and I clicked because we had the same kind of sense of humor and also there was a cultural thing – that he was just a big fan of Austria; has been there, spoke German; and knew the foods; and delivered those foods to the office. It was a kind of a different kind of personality.”

    “And he also knew how to get to me, you know. And how to make me to spend more money than I actually wanted to spend. So, he was an expert in that also. So, but I mean I, you know, I’ve negotiated, I’ve talked a lot to Perata, Sen. Perata, and Speaker Núñez. I respect both of them and I’m looking forward to working with them in the future.”

    I wonder what the response is to that comment from Nunez’s and Perata’s offices as they are still trying (supposedly) to negotiate a last minute legislative compromise for the fall special election ballot.

    Tuesday, August 16, 2005

    Tune In

    For those interested in the lurid (or not so lurid, as the case may be) details of Arnold Schwarzenegger’ relationship with Gigi Goyette, today is the day.

    The show "Inside Edition" is scheduled to be broadcast in Sacramento at 4 p.m. on Channel 10.

    In a story teasing the piece, the Sacramento Bee had a doozy of a lead:

    "Gigi Goyette, the former child television actress who claims she had periodic sexual encounters with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, will go on national TV this afternoon to proclaim she was never his mistress."

    I am not quite sure how someone has sexual encounters but is not a mistress. The piece also ends with a flourish:

    "On "Inside Edition," Goyette characterizes the behavior differently, according to the show's press release, describing it as "hugging, kissing and petting."

    "I do that with all my friends," she said. "And I've done it in front of Maria. Hello, how are you? Kiss both cheeks, good to see you, Maria. How's the kids? What's going on? Harmless, completely harmless"

    I'm sure that is exactly how Maria would characterize it.

    Monday, August 15, 2005

    The Other Special Election

    Today, Governor Schwarzenegger officially declared a special election to replace Congressman Chris Cox in Orange County. Cox, a Republican, was recently nominated by President Bush—and subsequently confirmed by the U.S. Senate—to serve as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    The battle to follow in Cox’s congressional footsteps— a battle one Republican is calling a "bloodbath"—will take place on December 6th.

    State Senator John Campbell is in the race and is arguably the frontrunner. But there are plenty of other potential challengers, including former Assemblywoman Marilyn Brewer and Jim Gilchrist of Minuteman fame, waiting in the wings. It is a plume Republican district (with lots of big money donors) and it should be an interesting race to follow this fall.

    State of the Schools

    The latest round of standardized test scores for California’s public schools were released today and at least on the macro level they provide good news.

    Five percent more students scored at the proficient or better level in English than last year—bringing the total to 40 percent. And 38 percent of students scored proficient or better in Math—an increase of 4 percent over last year.

    State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell announced the results and provided a positive spin in a press release, “"I am particularly pleased with the improvement seen in our high school scores. After years of stagnation, our high schools are making some positive progress," O’Connell said. "In addition to showing improvement on our standards-aligned tests, greater numbers of high school students are taking more college preparatory mathematics and science courses like algebra, geometry, chemistry and physics."

    But not everything was so peachy, particularly when looking at ethnic and economic subgroups.

    Only 29 percent of economically disadvantaged students were proficient or better in math, and only 25 percent of that same group were proficient in English. Sadly, those numbers are steady improvements since four years ago.

    Beyond those dismal numbers, I have included charts showing the ethnic and economic breakdown of the statistics. Click on the images below to see them in full.

    Read the full report here.

    Separated by a City

    There is a lot of talk around the Capitol about Democrats and Republicans settling their differences and coming up with a bipartisan compromise for the fall special election. But there is certainly no signs that a deal is imminent.

    Maybe the best indicator that legislative Democrats and the Governor have a ways to go is their schedules: they have, more or less, dueling press conferences on Monday morning, the first day of the legislative session.

    At 10am, Senate Pro Tem Don Perata and Speaker Fabian Nunez are set to discuss the important Democratic issues in the coming session.

    But over in Stockton, Governor Schwarzenegger is holding court at 10:30 to talk about “making California’s school bus fleet cleaner and safer.”

    Now if the Dems and the Governor are not even in the same building--let alone the same city--days before the deadline to come to a compromise, how close can they really be?

    Still, stranger things have happened.

    Sunday, August 14, 2005

    As goes Colorado, so goes California?

    Schwarzenegger's Live Within Own Means proposal got a little bit of ink in Sunday's New York Times. Jason DeParle writes about Colorado's 1992 spending cap--and how a Republican Governor is lobbying to loosen the restrictions.

    Anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist plays centerstage--as usual--saying Gov. Owens is not staying true to his Republican Party.

    Regarding California, the Times reports: "Efforts to girdle government growth date back to at least 1978, when Proposition 13 cut California's property taxes and inaugurated an antitax age. About 30 states now have tax or spending limits, though few have had much impact. Most are statutory, as opposed to constitutional, making them easy to override. And many permit considerable government expansion."

    So if these efforts date back to Proposition 13...and that is still on the books in California...and Prop. 13 is a constitutional tax limiter...then why does California need more restrictions? What makes our system simply not spend as little as other states?

    The more I read about other states--particularly Republicans in other states--considering raising taxes to fund programs, I am curious how the Republican Party in California has remained so unified in opposing such taxes here.

    I mean, other states have not had the same massive degree of deficits as the Golden State, yet the GOP hasn't budged.

    My hunch is that those gerrymandered districts from the 2000 redrawing of legislative lines have something to do with it...

    Saturday, August 13, 2005

    California: The Fitness State?

    Let's face it: the weekly radio address of Governor Schwarzenegger and whomever the Democrat of the week happens to be are hardly riveting news. In fact, I don't believe I have ever even heard one on the radio.

    This week's, no doubt, is no different. But buried in Schwarzenegger's every-seventh-day Fireside chat, was this:

    "In fact, over the last decade the people in our state have gained 360 million pounds of body weight."

    He was talking about (and promoting) a more active lifestyle--and branding California as the Fitness State. But 360 million pounds? Wow.

    If only we didn't use up so much gas and electricity cooking greasy burgers, maybe the energy crisis of 2001 would have been averted.

    Prop. 77 Returns

    So in the off again on again world of Proposition 77, it looks like the Schwarzenegger redistricting initiative, which is at the very heart of his reform agenda, is back on the special election ballot.

    The California Supreme Court ruled yesterday to place the initiative on the fall ballot, overturning the rulings of two lower courts.

    "Close to 1 million Californians signed petitions demanding redistricting reform - and today their voices have been heard," Schwarzenegger said in a prepared statement on Friday.

    The initiative circulated for petition and the one submitted to the Secretary of State differ in more than a dozen places--often just a single word transposed or replaced. Still, some paragraphs differ entirely.

    From reading most of the differences it does appear that they are trivial: no sane person reading the initiative wouldn't have signed it because the version differed.

    But there is a fair point of law arguing for its removal: Is it really the jurisdiction of the courts to decide what people would and would not have signed? And another crucial question is whether or not the Ted Costa-led signature drive, which has a history of not so clean ballot initiatives, deliberately did not tell the Sec. of State when they discovered the initiatives differed?

    They are all moot points now. Redistricting, which would take the power of drawing legislative lines out of the hands of the legislature, is back for the special election. And so as Democratic leaders and the Governor look to cut a mega-deal or a truce in the next week, it looks to have to be a prominent part of that compromise.

    Friday, August 12, 2005

    Tabloid tableau

    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger continues to find himself in hot water. Today's L.A. Times reports that the Governor signed a pact with tabloid-producing American Media Inc., around the same time that the company, which publishes the National Enquirer, signed a woman named Gigi Goyette to a confidentiality deal.

    That confidentiality deal, signed only two days after Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy in the recall, paid Gigi $1000 to keep all her “interactions” with the actor-turned-politician quiet—except for disclosing them to American Media. It promised to pay her as much as $20,000 later.

    Since the tabloid has yet to run a story documenting Gigi’s affairs since signing her to a deal—whatever her and Schwarzenegger's affairs may be—the big question is why sign her to the deal. Did the Governor’s consulting contract have a part in it? Was the deal signed to silence Gigi?

    She seems to think so. In any case, it is more bad news and bad publicity for a Governor in need of neither.

    Read the whole story here.

    State of the Courts

    The Judicial Council of California just released its 2005 Annual Report. They are assessing themselves--so it is not particularly critical--but it should be an interesting read for Court junkies.

    One fact that stood out: in Los Angeles county there were 2,680,912 court filings with a population of 10,164,810 people.

    That is not necessarily a higher proportion than elsewhere in the state, but the sheer caseload is pretty astounding.

    You can read the entire report here.

    Thursday, August 11, 2005

    Berkeley is liberal—shocking!

    In a new study released by the Bay Area Center for Voting Research, the Bay Area ranks as the most liberal corner of California—and the country—with three cities ranking among the ten most liberal in the nation.

    Still, Detroit beat out the liberals by the bay as the most liberal city in America. And the always exciting town of Provo, Utah won out as the nation’s conservative stronghold.

    Bakersfield (8) and Orange (10) were the only California metropolitan areas to rank among the ten most conservative cities.

    Oakland (5), Berkeley (3) and San Francisco (9) are the California cities that broke into the top ten for most liberal towns.

    Sacramento ranked 71st, which in a study of 237 cities means just about nothing.

    You can see the entire study at here.

    Endorsement, anyone?

    Steve Westly's campaign just blasted out a press release touting their endorsements of "more than 50 elected officials."


    But you know you are struggling in the endorsement race when the first quote comes from the mayor of Chula Vista.

    “Steve Westly has just the background California needs: a classroom teacher, an entrepreneur, and a local government leader,” said Stephen Padilla, Mayor of Chula Vista. “He understands all the forces shaping California and is the right choice to take back the Governor’s office in 2006.”

    Hardly awe-inspiring.

    The new HYbridway

    Late on Wednesday, Governor Schwarzenegger announced that solo-driving hybrid car owners would now be eligible to use the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) carpool lanes--effective immediately.

    Eligible cars include the Honda Insight, Honda Civic Hybrid and Toyota Prius. Owners of such cars will have to buy am $8 sticker from the DMV to be able to bypass traffic.

    The legislation also limits to 75,000 the number of such stickers available to eligible hybrid electric vehicles, so with the number of California hybrid owners growing rapidly (already above 57,000) it would probably be a good idea to grab a sticker sooner rather than later.

    It remains unclear (at least to me) whether the HOV-access means that hybrid owners can bypass bridge tolls during commute hours, which would be a substantial savings for bridge commuters.

    The bill came under attack from Ford executives, who called it a "buy Japanese" bill because the SUV Escape hybrid--which touts a 35 miles per gallon rating--does not qualify. Ford may have a point. The Escape hybrid saves quite a bit of gas over the original--and savings from gas-guzzling SUVs is likely the biggest potential growth area for the hybrid market.

    Maybe the next incarnation of the bill should include gas savings in terms of the type of vehicle driven--45 miles per gallon for a sedan, and perhaps 35 miles per gallon for an SUV.

    Hot Perata Nights

    Talk about a guy in need of some good press. With piles of legal bills (totaling $116,000/month according to recent filings with the Secretary of State), Sen. Pro Tem Don Perata is looking to get some positive coverage up in Sacramento.

    So this Monday, Don Perata's staff sent out an e-mail to the Capitol press corps advertising an event on Wednesday, August 17th with the Democratic leader. And there are free drinks--always a sure fire way to get the press corps out during the evening. Take a look at Perata's best attempt at Neil Diamond.