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.

E-mail Shane

  • 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.

    Web CA Observer

    Powered by FeedBlitz

    Subscribe in Bloglines
    Subscribe in NewsGator Online
    Add 'The California Observer' to Newsburst from CNET
    Add 'The California Observer' to ODEO
    Subscribe in Rojo

    Powered by Blogger

    Friday, September 30, 2005

    Every Monday for eight weeks, beginning October 17th, I will post a preview of each of the races for statewide office next June, culminating with the gubernatorial race. The first entry is for the race for Attorney General, which pits Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown against Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo in the Democratic primary. As of yet, Sen. Charles Poochigian is unopposed in the Republican primary.

    The analyses will be linked to on the left-hand column of the blog, with the comments section serving as a living and evolving description of the race. I look forward to reading your comments and queries, and I will update the analysis of each race as events change, political winds shift, or I simply make a mistake.

    So far, I have completed:
    Attorney General
    Lieutenant Governor
    State Treasurer
    State Controller
    Secretary of State

    Advertising Information

    Why advertise on The California Observer?
    Though the site was only launched in August of 2005, the California Observer is already read by California's leading political decision-makers. From lobbyists and legislative offices to journalists and campaign consultants, the site draws hundreds of unique readers every day.

    The number of visitors to the site has rapidly climbed every week since the site was launched, and is now averages more than 5,000 visitors per month. Why wouldn't you want representatives from labor, the governor, leading legislators and lobbyists to see your ad?

    Where will my ad go?
    Ads will be placed on the left-hand column, with older advertisers occupying the top slots and newer ads moving up the page as old ad contracts expire.

    How do I place an ad?
    E-mail Shane the details of how long you want the ad to run and attach an ad file. The ad size is 120 pixels wide by 90 pixels deep with a file size maximum of 20k. The most common format is .gif, but advertisers may also use the Macromedia Flash format for their ads, with the target URL embedded. All ads may be removed at the discretion of the site, with refunds given to the advertiser.

    What’s it cost?
    The cost of placing an ad is $75 per month, with rates subject to change as the site expands. The rates for other (shorter and longer) periods of time are negotiable.

    Does buying an ad guarantee me positive coverage on The California Observer?
    Everyone and anyone may advertise on the blog--but no one will receive preferential coverage. The acceptance of an advertisement in no way constitutes an endorsement of the advertiser.

    New Alliance ads

    Check them out at their website.

    They are all of the exact same mold a (nurse, firefighter or teacher) says that the governor tried to cut something...they fought back...Prop 75 would put new restrictions on no.

    Obviously the form tested well

    Who are God's Children?

    Following the governor's veto of AB 849, Speaker Fabian Nunez said, "“I am deeply disappointed that the Governor chose to veto AB 849 and let the courts make the tough decisions for him. We are all God’s children and we all deserve to be treated equally under the law..."

    The clearly rankled one Christian group, Capitol Ministries which I wrote about earlier this summer.

    Sean Wallentine, the director of national expansion for Capitol Ministries, sent out this missive:

    There are many, many things that could be said about the statement above [Nunez's], but the purpose of this memorandum is to correct the erroneous statement that all people are God’s children. Why is this so important? It is important because God makes a very big deal about who will and who will not be called his children. It is very tempting for people who are not God’s children to believe this of themselves, and of others. It provides a sense of relief—albeit false—for one’s perpetually guilty conscience before God because of their sins (Romans 1:18-32). While it is nice to believe that God is everyone’s Father, it is not true.

    Wallentine then cites several verses from Romans, and continues:

    Even though all people are made in the image of God, because of the stain of sin no person is a child of God (Romans 3:23) until he or she is adopted by God (Ephesians 1:3-6). We’ve all heard the phrase “born again.” It relates directly to becoming a child of God. Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

    Have you been re-born? Are you an adopted child of God? Consider Romans 10:9-10, “…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

    Though Christian opposition to gay marriage is not uncommon, the explicit denial that most people are God's children--indeed that they are enemies of the Lord--is rather jarring.

    No Interest, No Voters?

    Over at HackNFlak Assemblyman Chuck DeVore makes an interesting point: if voters are disinterested in the special election--and the majority of those are Democrats--can Democrats get their people to the polls.

    It is an interesting point, but it seems as though hoping people hate the special election so much they won't vote is a small straw to grasp onto from the recent PPIC poll.

    After all, labor is highly motivated and will move people to the polls, as will the more conservative crowds. But the special does look to have a unique turnout, and any models of "likely voters" may prove inaccurate.

    In most elections, Prop 73., which treads onto abortion territory would be a major newsmaker. But not this year.

    Any thoughts on what groups will turn out the most voters?

    Morain on Money

    With the release of the most recent campaign finance activity yesterday, the LA Times' Dan Morain does a roundup of all the spending--and there is a lot of it--statewide.

    It is a must read, if you are closely following the special election,

    Boxer, Feinstein Get Money

    Two "blue" Senators from California just got some federal cash to clean up a "red" part of the state.

    The following is a missive from Feinstein's office:

    Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer (both D-Calif.) today announced that they have secured $13 million for perchlorate clean up and remediation in the Inland Empire, as part of the FY2006 Defense Department spending bill.

    “This harmful chemical has permeated the nation’s water supply and contaminated water sources in 35 states,” Senator Feinstein said. “This funding is just a drop in the bucket. Much more is needed to address the widespread contamination. Nevertheless, it will help the Inland Empire begin to clean up tainted groundwater and drinking water sources. I will continue to work with Senator Boxer to hold the Defense Department accountable for the contamination it caused and to fund cleanup efforts.”

    “Perchlorate contamination poses a health risk to California’s most vulnerable populations, especially infants,” Senator Boxer said. “Hundreds of water supplies in California are currently contaminated with perchlorate. I look forward to working with Senator Feinstein until the problem is remediated.”

    Equally divided between the cities of Rialto and Colton, and the West Valley Water District and Fontana Water Company, the funds will be used to demonstrate enhancements to existing, best-available technologies as well as new and cost-effective technologies to remediate the perchlorate-contaminated public drinking water supplies in the Rialto, Fontana, and Colton areas.

    The cities and water utilities were forced to close 22 wells after they discovered perchlorate that exceeds state and federal health goals and Action Levels for public drinking water supplies in the groundwater in the Rialto and Chino groundwater basins. The water suppliers must locate replacement water, which is both expensive and challenging in light of water shortages. The problem also threatens additional wells and could inhibit future development in the area due to an uncertain future supply of water.

    Perchlorate is a chemical used in rocket fuel and munitions. It is a highly soluble salt that can readily permeate through soils. Perchlorate was widely used by the Defense Department and its contractors in the 1950s and 1960s. Pregnant women and children may be especially at risk of adverse health affects from perchlorate exposure.

    Thursday, September 29, 2005


    Gov. officially vetoed AB 849, the gay marriage bill.

    Speaker Fabian Nunez had this to say:

    “I am deeply disappointed that the Governor chose to veto AB 849 and let the courts make the tough decisions for him. We are all God’s children and we all deserve to be treated equally under the law. History will show that Governor Schwarzenegger had a chance to end the last vestige of legal discrimination in our state. Instead of choosing the way of the future the Governor has aligned himself with the enemies of equal rights for all.”

    I spoked in haste before. The governor gave the following reasons for vetoing AB 849:

    I am returning Assembly Bill 849 without my signature because I do not believe the Legislature can reverse an initiative approved by the people of California.

    I am proud California is a leader in recognizing and respecting domestic partnerships and the equal rights of domestic partners. I believe that lesbian and gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be discriminated against based upon their relationships. I support current domestic partnership rights and will continue to vigorously defend and enforce these rights and as such will not support any rollback...

    This bill simply adds confusion to a constitutional issue. If the ban of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, this bill is not necessary. If the ban is constitutional, this bill is ineffective.

    [UPDATE]The governor also vetoed Sally Lieber's minimum wage bill, AB 48.

    Here's part of what he had to say:

    It is essential to those working at or near the minimum wage that the adequacy of the wage is reviewed on a regular basis and raised when appropriate. The minimum wage has not been increased since 2002, and I believe it is now appropriate. This is a position I made very clear to the author. However, I have also made it clear that I do not support automatic increases to the wage that relieve elected officials of their duty to consider all of the impacts each increase to the wage will have on workers and businesses.

    An Uninformed Electorate--Or They Just Don't Care

    Here was one little nuggest of interest from today's PPIC poll

    12. Which one of the state propositions on the November 8th ballot are you most interested in?
    2% Proposition 73
    9% Proposition 74
    8% Proposition 75
    6% Proposition 76
    8% Proposition 77
    5% Proposition 78
    4% Proposition 79
    1% Proposition 80
    12% none of them (volunteered)
    4% all equally (volunteered)
    3% other answer (specify)
    38% don’t know

    Recall Schwarzenegger?

    It had to happen eventualy.

    There is now an effort (though rather poorly funded from the look of the website) to recall Gov. Schwarzenegger.

    Check out the website here.

    Any well-heeled Democratic have $1 million to spare to try to take down Schwarzenegger in Total Recall II? (according to the PPIC poll he only has a 33 percent approval rating)

    Just a reminder that almost anything in California politics is a million dollars away from becoming reality.

    New in Capitol Weekly

    The following first appeard in Capitol Weekly

    The art of ad buying

    Gov. pays top dollar for ads, has yet to book final weeks

    The rumors spread quickly, from one media buyer to another, whispers of a new player in the special election--one going by the name of California Republicans for Public Schools. No one at the Alliance for a Better
    California, the union coalition lined up to oppose Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's initiatives, could even confirm the group's existence, though the new campaign group had supposedly spent much of the last week inquiring about buying television ads across California.

    Rumors of shadow campaign groups, and potential six- or seven-figure ad purchases are all part of the head-faking that media buyers perform as they jockey for any edge they can get in high-stakes, high-cost world of television ad purchasing.

    Now the governor's political foes are wondering whether Schwarzenegger's campaign is playing coy, or is just low on cash. Schwarzenegger's California Recovery Team has spent relatively little money on television this year, and has not booked any television advertisements for the final two weeks of the campaign, according to public records and sources in and out of the television industry...

    Read the rest here.

    Also, this week I have pieces on local initiatives on the fall ballot. And a look ahead at next year's budget.

    New PPIC Poll

    Check out the latest PPIC Poll here.

    Below are the highlights

    Special Election:
    40 % Good Idea
    53% Bad Idea

    33% Approve
    58% Disapprove

    Proposition 74:
    43% Yes
    47% No

    Proposition 76:
    26% Yes
    63% No

    Proposition 77:
    33% Yes
    50% No

    Proposition 78:
    43% Yes
    38% No

    Proposition 79:
    34% Yes
    40% No

    Call Him Chief

    This morning the Senate confirmed John Roberts, 50, as the next chief justice of the Supreme Court. The Senate voted 78-22, with all the Republicans supporting Bush's nominee and Democrats split. He will follow the late William Rehnquist as cheif justice.

    That leaves Bush one post to fill, and many activists--on both sides of the aisle--clamoring for a new minority or female justice. One woman that fits both bills is Janice Brown, a former justice of the California Supreme Court, who was recently nominated--and after an acrimonious confirmation battle, confirmed--to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.

    She is a lightning rod for Democratic criticism, whose nomination was only passed after the "Gang of 14" agreement earlier this year to avoid the "nuclear option" in the Senate. She was one of Bush's stalled nominee let through in order to preserve the concept of the filibuster--under "extrodinary circumstances" that were never defined.

    But she does make the short "hot" list for nominees to potentially fill the retired Sandra Day O'Connor's spot on the high court.

    Wednesday, September 28, 2005

    Sand in Your Eyes, Senate!

    So after the Senate rejected Schwarzenegger nominee to Cindy Tuck to chair the Air Resources Board at the end of session...Schwarzenegger renomiinated her for another job.

    Today, the last in a list of appointments was Tuck, as assistant secretary for policy at the Environmental Protection Agency. In fairness, most of the debate during her rejection centered on her not being a good choice for "chair" of the powerful Air Resources Board, because she had served as a lobbyist for the energy industry.

    Her new position does not require Senate confirmation.

    New Signatures

    Gov. Schwarzenegger just signed a handful of bills about education this afternoon, including SB 319, SB 352, SB 430, SB 687, AB 430, AB 740, AB 1366, AB 1385, AB 1480, and AB 1492.

    One interestng bill is SB 687, by Senator Joseph Simitian, D-Palo Alto, would require districts to include actual salaries of personnel on the School Accountability Report Card. The point being to allow more transparency to see the differences in funding between different school sites, potentially pointing out inequalities in funding.

    DeLay Indicted

    The Republican poster-boy for partisan redistricting--Congressional Majority Leader Tom DeLay--stepped down from his leadership post in the House of Representatives today, after he was indicted in his home state of Texas.

    And it was in Texas last year that DeLay engineering a mid-decade redistricting plan to benefit Republicans. Overall, the GOP gained six seats in the U.S. House from Democrats in the state, building up the Republican majority in Congress.

    Ironically, many Democrats last year were crying foul as the districts were divied up--saying the process needed to be depoliticized. But this year, with Schwarzenegger pushing Proposition 77, the support for taking the process out of the legislature has come from Republicans (though some in Congress, most notably Rep. John Doolittle, have opposed the plan)

    With the stepping down of Tom DeLay, Rep. David Drier of California looks to assume the leadership post, which would put two Californians in the Congressional delegation in leadership posts for both parties (with Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, the San Francisco Democrat, being the other).

    Maybe now California will have more clout to secure federal funds--for increased levee protections, border security, transportation funds and the like.

    Times Fires Back

    During the Governor’s round of interviews last week, one media outlet, the Los Angeles Times—the largest circulation paper in the state—was snubbed.

    In this morning’s Capitol Morning Report, Virginia Ellis, the bureau chief for the Times, shot back: “The watchdog function of the press inherently makes some politicians and their aides uncomfortable. But long-term, history has shown that press freezeouts or blackouts don’t work – not for the press and not for the politicians.”

    She also said that the Times assumes they were not given an interview because of stories earlier this summer showing that the Governor had a $1 million contract with American Media Inc., a contract he later withdrew from.

    Tuesday, September 27, 2005

    Zingale named Shriver Chief of Staff

    Maria Shriver named her new chief-of-staff today, Daniel Zingale. But the long press release of his past experience leaves out a pretty key person he used to work for--former Governor Gray Davis.

    Instead, the release reads:

    He was cabinet secretary in the Office of the Governor in 2003 where he was the liaison between the Governor and cabinet secretaries, state agencies, departments, boards and commissions. Zingale served as the founding director of the Department of Managed Health Care, a department designed to promote patient rights and a more stable and solvent managed health care industry, from 2000 to 2002.

    The Office of the Governor in 2003 does not obscure the fact that the Governor who occupied that Office was Davis. It is also an interesting pick because the Zingale served for four years as political director and director of public policy for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC)and as a member of the Executive Committee on Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.

    The HRC is a gay rights group located in Washington D.C. that is pushing for gay marriage. Zingale served a political and publicy policy director, and now he will serve as chief-of-staff to the wife of Schwarzenegger, just in time for his veto of the gay marriage bill.

    Bill Update

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has now received all the bills the legislature is sending this year--a total of 961 bills. A total of 704 bills were passed at the end of session, and the Governor must act on those bills by October 9th. So far he has signed 351, and vetoed 50 bills this year.

    Last year the legislature passed a total of 1270 bills.

    PhRMA Farming Funds

    The pharmaceutical industry is doling out money to promote Prop. 78 and to oppose Prop. 79. In the last two days alone, the Pharmaceutical Research And Manufacturers Of America Ca Initiative Fund has donated more than $1.2 millon the campaign.

    PhMra already has ads blanketing the airwaves (I woke up at 4am last week to turn on the TV to see more ads). Now there will be even more.

    Still in the Red

    California continues to face a structural deficit in the coming years. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst Office has released a report saying, no surprise here, the out years of the budget aren't looking so hot.

    The 2005-06 budget contains roughly $2 billion in ongoing budgetary savings. We estimate that these savings, coupled with the prepayment of the VLF gap loan, will reduce the projected 2006-07 operating shortfall between annual current law revenues and expenditures by roughly one-third-from around $9 billion to around $6 billion.

    The long-term key to bringing the budget back into balance are so-called "ongoing budgetary savings." That means that cuts made this year--or revenue spikes--are permanent. Without such "ongoing solutions", as the lingo goes, the legislature and governor will continue to confront bloated deficits year after year.

    You can read the LAO's latest report here.

    McClintock and Dr. Laura

    Tom McClintock has a fundraiser schedule for this evening--with special guest Dr. Laura Schlessinger of talk radio fame. I see a discussion of the senator's propensity to say "no" in the near future...

    And the Did You Know Fact of the Day is that Dr. Laura has a black belt in martial arts.

    Redrawing Lines

    What would happen if Prop. 77 were to pass? Would handing over the redistricting process to an independent panel make for more competitive districts? Or would the legislative balance of power shift?

    Those were some of the questions before a research group at Claremont McKenna, which issued a report on the subject yesterday.

    The Institute's research finds that Proposition 77, if enacted by voters, is likely to create ten competitive Congressional districts, four new competitive Assembly districts, and seven new competitive State Senate seats. The number of safe Democratic and Republican seats is likely to be reduced evenly: by five each for Congress and the Assembly, and by four Democratic and three Republican seats in the State Senate.

    The Times has a report on the report, as well.

    Monday, September 26, 2005

    Tonight, Tonight Show

    Though he already announced his reelection plans, Gov. Schwarzenegger returns to Jay Leno's Tonight Show this evening, signing a motorcycle to be auctioned off to support Hurricane Katrina victims via the American Red Cross.

    11:35 pm this evening on NBC...check your local listings.

    McCarthy Hair Watch

    The Kern County Young Americans for Freedom are gunning to take out Republican Assembly leader Kevin McCarthy--and they are doing it with humor.

    With the tagline "Thick Hair, Thinning Leadership" they ask that he step down.

    Impact of Prop. 76

    The California Budget Project has released a new report on the impact of Prop. 76, should it pass on the November 8th ballot.

    The take home point is said in the title of the report: Proposition 76’s New Spending Cap Could Require Substantial Spending Cuts.

    One nugget: "If Proposition 76 had been enacted in 1990, for example, allowable spending would be $12.6 billion below the level signed into law by Governor Schwarzenegger in the 2005-06 Budget."

    The Governor had previously hinted that the failure of Prop. 76 would lead to new taxes, though in his round of interviews last week he vowed that next year's budget would be balanced tax-free, whatever the fate of Prop. 76.

    You can read the report here.

    Initiatives on the Loose

    Two new initiatives, both hailing from the right, are beginning circulation today to qualify for the ballot next year.

    The first is sponsored by Sen. George Runner and his wife, Assemblywoman Sharon Runner. The title and part of the summary appear below:

    Sex Offenders. Sexually Violent Predators. Punishment, Residence Restrictions and Monitoring.

    Increases penalties for violent and habitual sex offenders and child molesters. Prohibits registered sex offenders from residing within 2,000 feet of any school or park, and requires lifetime Global Positioning System monitoring of felony registered sex offenders. Expands the definition of a sexually violent predator, and changes the current two-year involuntary civil commitment for a sexually violent predator to an indeterminate commitment, subject to annual review by the Director of Mental Health and petition by the sexually violent predator for conditional release or unconditional discharge.

    The initiative is estimated to cost the state in the "low hundreds of millions of dollars" annually and is an initiative statute.

    The second, more controversial initiative is sponsored by Gail Knight, the widow of the late Pete Knight, who sponsored Proposition 22 in 2000.

    Invalidation of Domestic Partnerships. Marriage.

    Amends California Constitution to provide that a marriage between a man and a woman is the only legal union that shall be valid or recognized in California. Amendment bars domestic partnerships from being valid or recognized as legal unions in California. Eliminates certain rights and obligations conferred by California law on same-sex and heterosexual couples registered as domestic partners, concerning subject areas including, but not limited to, community property, intestate succession, stepparent adoption, child custody/support, hospital visitation, healthcare decisions for an incapacitated partner, insurance benefits, and recovery for wrongful death.

    It is an initiative constitutional amendment--on the hot-button social issue du jour.

    Sunday, September 25, 2005

    Governor in Bee

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s media blitz continues today with a column in the Sacramento Bee

    Elementary schools start with the fundamentals, the building blocks, the three R's: reading, 'riting and 'rithmetic. The California Comeback starts with its fundamentals, its building blocks, too. They are a different three R's: recovery, reform, rebuild.

    He is trying to rekindle the bond he established with the public in 2003 when they turned out an embattled Gray Davis and ushered in what Arnold promised would be an new era of reform.

    Word’s out on the success of those reforms, especially until November 8th.

    Read his editorial here.

    Corrupt Californians

    The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics has released a list of the thirteen most corrupt members of Congress, under the name “Beyond DeLay.”

    Of course, California is well represented on the list, with three “members” of the exclusive club.

    The bipartisan list includes three Californians: Reps. Richard W. Pombo (R-Tracy), Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) and Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Rancho Santa Fe).

    Check out the story here.

    One question is why the Times waited until the ninth graph to identify the group tha produced the story. Such “burying” of important information makes me wonder the legitimacy of the group producing the study.

    Saturday, September 24, 2005

    El Gobernador

    Schwarzenegger is really trying to court Latino voters

    *His weekly radio address discusses, "California & Mexico's shared future."
    *He went to Baja Mexico on Friday--and sent a press release in Spanish.
    *He launched a "statewide Latino coalition campaign," promising large ad buys on Spanish language stations.

    He has an uphill battle, with the latest PPIC poll showing some 80 percent of Latinos lined up against the governor.

    Friday, September 23, 2005

    Schwarzenegger Supports Prop. 73

    The Governor officially announced his vote on all the ballot proposition for the special election:

    Proposition 73: Support
    Proposition 74: Support
    Proposition 75: Support
    Proposition 76: Support
    Proposition 77: Support
    Proposition 78: Support
    Proposition 79: Oppose
    Proposition 80: Oppose

    The only real surprise is 73 (and not much of a surprise after earlier this week Schwarzenegger revealed in interviews his support, in principle, for parental notification).

    [UPDATE:] Angelides weighs in:

    “Proposition 73 was placed on the ballot by anti-choice extremists who have made no secret that their ultimate goal is taking away a woman’s right to choose.

    “At the very time that President Bush and his right-wing allies are re-making the Supreme Court and Roe vs. Wade hangs in the balance, we must fight this attempt by Schwarzenegger to chip away at a woman’s fundamental right to choose.

    “As a husband and the father of three daughters, I oppose Proposition 73 and the Bush-Schwarzenegger effort to make it harder for young women to have access to safe, professional medical attention.

    Not All the Billionaires Leave...

    Forbes Magazine just released the latest list of the 400 richest Americans. And there are an awful lot of Californians, including some newcomers to the list (particuarly Google execs, who rank 2, 3, and 12th in California).

    California is also home to Larry Ellison of Oracle, with about $17 billion. Not too shabby.

    Check at the list of Californians here.

    Here are the top 10 Californians, with their rank in terms of the top 400 shown.

    5. Ellison, Lawrence Joseph, 61, $17 billion, Silicon Valley, Oracle

    16. Brin, Sergey, 32, $11 billion, San Francisco, Google

    16. Page, Larry E., 32, $11 billion, San Francisco, Google

    19. Kerkorian, Kirk, 88, $10 billion, Los Angeles, investments, casinos

    25. Redstone, Sumner M., 82, $8.4 billion, Beverly Hills, Viacom

    38. Bren, Donald L., 73, $5.7 billion, Newport Beach, real estate

    39. Broad, Eli, 72, $5.5 billion, Los Angeles, investments

    44. Moore, Gordon Earle, 76, $4.6 billion, Woodside, Intel

    45. Geffen, David, 62, $4.5 billion, Malibu, DreamWorks

    52. Davis, Barbara and family, 75, $4 billion, Beverly Hills, inheritance, oil

    Private Salaries, Public Employees

    The University of California is at a crossroads of sorts. The 10-campus system remains one of the elite systems in the country and the world, but a burgeoning college eligible population--and a shrinking budget--are making it more difficult to be competitive with private universities.

    Last spring, my alma mater, UC Berkeley (and my alma mater department) had the Department of Political Science renamed after Charles Travers who generously donated $12 million to the school. That's great. Private alumni philanthropy is--and should be--there to help the university.

    But the UC Regents are considering using private funds to bolster the salaries of 42 of the highest paid administrators in order to attract--and keep top talent at UC. With the dean of the Berkeley law school, Boalt, already trying to push the idea of privatizing, state leaders must soon begin to reckon with the economic realities of UC.

    "Join Arnold" Joins Battle

    Schwarzenegger's special election campaign is really kicking into full gear. First, he grants short roundtable interviews with all the newspapers in the state on Tuesday (minus the LA Times). Then, on Wednesday he grants five-minute exclusives to TV stations that cover the Capitol. Then, the campaign hits the airwaves with its first advertising blitz of the year, "a seven figure buy." Then the campaign launches a Join Arnold blog with contributions from Rob Stutzman, Mike Murphy, Karen Hanretty and Todd Harris.

    Check out part of Murphy's first entry:

    This is my first Arno-blog entry; I hope to punch out at least one missive each week from our Arnold Reform to Rebuild Headquarters Complex here in the heavily fortified Truth Tower in Failed Status Quo occupied downtown Sacramento. ... You can feel the electricity here in Reform Central Headquarters. Ads up, money is flowing in, the Governor is doing great on the road and the battle is joined.

    Murphy is considered very important to the governor's success and his full-time spot in "Reform Central" (as he only wishes the media would call it) is significant.

    Let's see if this blitz helps his poll numbers.

    Thursday, September 22, 2005

    Beatty to Address Nurse Convention

    Just a reminder that perennial political tease Warren Beatty, a Schwarzenegger critic and much ballyhooed gubernatorial possibility, is address the convention of California Nurses Association tonight in Oakland.

    At the very least, he is keeping his name in the news.

    Feinstein to Oppose Roberts

    Her office just sent this missive:

    Senator Feinstein today announced that she will vote against the nomination of Judge John G. Roberts Jr. to be Chief Justice.

    Gay Marriage--A Financial Boon?

    Assemblyman Mark Leno has a press conference scheduled today at 11am in San Francisco to--you guessed it--push the Governor to sign the gay marriage bill.

    But this time the San Francisco lawmaker isn't pushing the civil rights issue--he is pushing the financial side of same-sex marriage, citing a recent Forbes Magazine piece that said,"gay marraige would inject a sudden growth spurt into an industry whose expansion prospects are constrained by the limited growth in annual marriages. The average cost of a wedding has climbed steadily in the last decade to reach $22,000 in 2004, according to The Know, the largest online wedding site."

    OK. But at the top of the release, Leno says that Forbes estimates "$16.8 boon to businesses because of gay marriage."

    It would be fun to see Leno's rhetoric change to call the assured gubernatorial veto a "job killer."

    STRS 'a Stirring

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly

    Governor rebuilds STRS board as Capitol pension battle loom

    By Shane Goldmacher (published September 22nd, 2005)

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is gearing up for another pension reform battle next year by reshaping the California State Teacher’s Retirement board with new trustees. This, after the powerful board—which directs the investments of $133 billion—voted down his pension reform proposal earlier this year. But each of Schwarzenegger’s new trustees—two of whom were nominated last week—face confirmation in the Senate, which already rejected the lone trustee that supported pension reform.

    In January, Schwarzenegger proposed that the state pension system shift from a defined-benefit system, where retirees are guaranteed a pre-determined level of benefits, to defined-contribution system, where retirees receive benefits based on the amount contributed, plus the stock market’s return on that investment.

    “Like the budget itself, our state pension system is another financial train on another track to disaster,” Schwarzenegger announced in the State of the State address, citing the state’s ballooning pension obligations, which rose from $160 million in 2000 to $2.6 billion last year.

    But only months later, Schwarzenegger’s reform itself was derailed, as the 12-member CalSTRS board of trustees rejected the proposal, with the only dissenting votes coming from then-Director of Finance, Tom Campbell, and Schwarzenegger appointed trustee Kathleen Smalley.

    The governor himself withdrew his pension plan in the spring, after firefighters and police lobbied (and aired ads against) him for eliminating existing death and disability benefits. The governor vowed to return to pension reform in 2006.

    Four of the ‘no’ votes on the board, on which the state controller, treasurer and superintendent of schools all sit, came from Schwarzenegger’s own appointees. After the vote, Schwarzenegger withdrew the nominations of those four trustees. The governor appoints five trustees to the board.

    “The governor concluded that those particular appointees were not best suited to implement his vision for reform,” said gubernatorial spokeswoman Julie Soderlund.

    In April, the Senate Rules Committee rejected Smalley, the only Schwarzenegger-appointed CalSTRS trustee to support his reform.

    “As a STRS board member, you are obligated to do your fiduciary duty and assess how an initiative like that will impact the assets and liabilities for CalSTRS,” said Mark Battey, a since withdrawn Schwarzenegger-appointed trustee, who says that he is not opposed to a defined-contribution retirement system, just the particular reform the governor had proposed. “It would have impacted CalSTRS’ ability to serve its mission and pay benefits to CalSTRS retirees.”

    Battey calls the administration’s decision to withdraw nominees “ironic,” considering that Schwarzengger himself scrapped the reform. Assemblyman Keith Richman, R-Northridge, who has worked closely with the administration on the issue, says, “The governor continues to be committed to pension reform…He said that if pension reform didn’t occur in the Legislature, he was willing to go back to the ballot with an initiative.

    Well, absolutely nothing occurred in the Legislature.” Richman introduced his own pension reform proposal, ACA 23, on the final day of the legislative session.

    Perhaps in preparation for next year’s initiative battle, in recent months Schwarzenegger has nominated five new CalSTRS trustees—four Republicans, Elizabeth Rogers, Kathleen Brugger, Roger Kozberg and Jerilyn Harris, and one Democrat, David Crane, a long time Schwarzenegger friend, and the governor’s special adviser for jobs and economic growth.

    Crane also openly supports the governor’s pension proposals, saying that defined benefit creates, “tremendous burdens on future innocent parties.” “All the governor proposed would be a limitation to some of these special privileges held by government employees,” said Crane at a recent San Francisco luncheon. “So I fully support the governor’s agenda.”

    Republicans point out that the CalSTRS, which has approximately 750,000 members, is facing a $24.2 billion shortfall that needs to be addressed, otherwise taxpayers are on the hook for teacher retirement benefits.

    “Pension costs are a ticking time bomb for California,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. “The other side will use disinformation to sidetrack any reform, sooner or later ordinary voters will come to understand that something needs to be done.”

    The office of Phil Angelides, state treasurer, and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, who sits on CalSTRS, said, “The Governor should not demand that his appointees choose between disregarding their fiduciary responsibility and a pink slip.”

    The new appointees face confirmation in the Senate where several high-profile gubernatorial nominees have recently been rejected, including Cindy Tuck for Chair of the Air Resources Board, Joan Borucki to head the Department of Motor Vehicles.

    Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, who sits on the powerful Rules Committee along with Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland and Sen. Debra Bowen, D-Marina Del Rey, said, “I think there are two things we look for. We look for competency and if they understand their fiduciary duties.”

    A gubernatorial spokewoman says the nominees to the STRS board meet that standard, “Each one of the individuals is well-qualified and has the expertise to serve the taxpayers and teachers of California, and shares the governor’s commitment for reform.”

    But that shared commitment is what worries Mark Battey.

    “I hope they are going to properly act an independent fiduciaries. They are not representatives of the governor’s office. And that is a view that may not be shared by the governor’s office.”

    Mod Squad Inaction

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly

    "Mod Squad" kills Dem enviro bills

    By Shane Goldmacher (published September 22nd, 2005)

    On the last day of session, bill after environmental bill came up for a vote on the Assembly floor. And bill after bill was defeated as a group of self-styled moderate Democrats--known as the 'Mod Squad'--refused to support legislation authored by their fellow Democrats.

    Everything from mapping out naturally occurring asbestos to enhanced penalties for severe air polluters failed passage, as the Mod Squad of business-friendly Democrats joined a united Republican caucus to stymie the expansion of environmental protections.

    As session came to a close, five bills that several environment groups identified as top priorities died on the Assembly floor with united Republican opposition and a handful of abstaining or no-voting Democrats. The bills were killed after five Democrats –Joe Canciamilla of Pittsburg, Nicole Parra of Hanford, Gloria Negrete McLeod of Chino, Ron Calderon of Montebello, and Barbara Matthews of Tracy – cast "no" votes on each of the bills, angering fellow Democrats in the process.

    "This is a product of the Moderate Caucus deciding, contrary to the interest of many of their constituents, to side with the oil companies," said Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, describing the vote on SB 109.

    The so-called Moderate Caucus was first organized as a campaign finance committee in 1998 by then-Assemblyman (and now Congressman) Dennis Cardoza, who wanted to raise corporate money for Democrats that traditionally had flowed to Republicans. But only in the last couple of years has the Mod Squad flexed their political muscle. The caucus currently has fifteen members, 10 of which are Latino, with Assemblymen Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, and Canciamilla serving as "co-conveners."

    In June 2004, the Moderate Caucus circulated its first ever "action alert" listing a dozen bills--sponsored by fellow Democrats--to be targeted for defeat. Circulated only to other moderate members, the list angered both the Democratic leadership and the environmental lobby. Such "action alerts" are now common for the Mod Squad, which meets at least once a month, and sometimes more than once a day toward the end of session.

    "We distribute reminders to our members of bills we have discussed…We do an internal analysis. And then we discuss the bills. I know that might sound unique to some people--we talk about policy in detail," said Canciamilla, who was removed as chair of the Water, Parks and Wildlife committee by Speaker Fabian Nuñez last year.

    "The ‘Mod Squad’ is the single greatest impediment to progressive environmental legislation in Sacramento," wrote the California League of Conservation Voters in their annual legislative scorecard last year. "Sure, they cast the easy votes, but when every friend is needed on strong environmental legislation, the Mod Squad is usually missing in action or an enemy combatant."

    Pete Price, a lobbyist with the League was not any more pleased with the results this year: "All I know is these are Democrats who are much less likely to support good environmental bills and that happened again this year."

    On August 30, the CLCV distributed a memo to legislators listing twenty-nine bills "of [the] greatest importance to CLCV and other environmental organizations". Thirteen never made it out of the Legislature, a surprisingly low percentage when Democrats hold solid majorities in both houses.

    Bill Magavern, a senior representative for Sierra Club California, says that the moderate Democrats are of increased importance because Republicans are united in opposition to environmental legislation.

    "We need to get all our votes from the Democratic caucus, including the business Democrats who are taking lots of money from corporate polluters," said Magavern.

    Democrats hold 47 seats in the Assembly, and need 41 votes to pass any legislation. With more than a dozen members of the loosely organized Mod Squad, every environmental bill--and indeed every bill lacking Republican support--must garner some moderate support. In contrast, in the 40-member Senate, Democrats occupy 25 seats, with only two, maybe three, moderates among them.

    "They are not monolithic," adds Magavern. "You look at those that define themselves as moderate Democrats individually, from Assemblyman Joe Nation, who has a nearly perfect [environmental] record to Assemblywoman Barbara Matthews, who votes more like a Republican."

    While the Mod Squad flexed its muscle at the end of session, more environmental legislation saw its demise on the Assembly floor earlier this year. Among those bills backed by environmental groups but never made it off the Assembly floor were a trio of bills--AB 289, AB 1360, and AB 1430--which would have limited the trading of pollution credits between mobile (i.e. cars) and stationary (i.e. manufacturing plants) sources.

    Some environmental legislation never even makes it to a floor vote. Partisan politicking doomed SB 1, the "million solar roofs" initiative pushed by Gov. Schwarzenegger. And other bills, like Sen. Christine Kehoe’s SB 757, which would have required that state agencies focus on alternative fuels to reduce petroleum demand, are never brought to a vote on the Assembly floor because the authors do not have Mod Squad support. Canciamilla says that many of the Mod Squad’s complaints could be addressed in policy committees.

    "The committees are slanted much further to the left, so it is very difficult to, not necessarily to stop, but to fix environmental legislation in committee. There is no time taken, no serious policy debate. So we are left to the floor."

    Wednesday, September 21, 2005

    Schwarzenegger on the Air

    After months of unions attacks on the airwaves, Gov. Arnold Schwarznegger, who (insert movie cliché here), is fighting back with two new ads, and an ad buy that is "in the seven figure range," according to his campaign.

    The press release has this to say: "The first spot, titled “Package,” features California voters fed up with Sacramento’s broken system. The second commercial, titled “Rebuild” features the Governor speaking to the people explaining his vision for California and the need to reform California this year so we can rebuild California next year."

    You can check out both spots at the Schwarzenegger website.

    Signed Too Soon?

    In about 20 minutes Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, a Democrat, has a rally planned in Los Angeles calling on Gov. Schwarzenegger to sign AB 22, which would toughen penalties for human trafficking offenders.

    Too bad the Governor already signed the bill.

    "The practice of trafficking in human beings - modern-day slavery - is a horrific crime that our society cannot abide," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "By finally making the practice of human trafficking a crime in our state, and by increasing the penalties for the criminals who engage in it, we send a clear message that this practice will not be tolerated in California."

    I just the rally just became a celebration.

    Waiting for Godot, Arnold

    Anthony York, editor of Capitol Weekly, has a great piece up today about the flurry of interviews that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenneger had with the print press yesterday.

    The highlights: The LA Times was snubbed. The San Diego Union Tribune was lumped with small papers. And the whole thing was delayed to avoid "an international incident."

    It is a must read.

    "Slam Dunk"

    Last night, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, issued a statement congratulatings the Sacramento Monarchs for winning hte WNBA championship:

    On behalf of all Californians, we are delighted to extend our warmest congratulations on winning the WNBA championship. Your success is a slam dunk for Sacramento.

    But I thought after the debacle over former CIA Director George Tenet and the "slam dunk" case for weapons of mass destruction that "slam dunk" was officially a political taboo.

    Tuesday, September 20, 2005

    Schwarzenegger Endorses Shareholder Protection

    Check out the story at Capitol Weekly

    A New Blogger

    Politicians don't usually work out as bloggers. Remember the short-lived "CA Confidential" by Sen. John Campbell? All six or so days of it.

    Well, Assemblyman Chuck DeVore is joining the fray at the newly reconsituted Hack n Flak blog. He will be the only non-anonymous blogger there, and may help drive traffic to the site.

    But if history is any guide, most politicians don't meld well with the off-hand remarks style of blogs. Anything they write can and will be used against them in the court of public opinion so they proceed with caution.

    Maybe Assemblyman DeVore will break the mold.

    Move over Prius

    The cost of gas is rising--and fast. And there have been countless articles touting the future of high gas-mileage cars like the three top low-gas guzzling Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and Honda Civic Hybrid.

    But today the Santa Rosa Press Democrat started an article with someone passing over a hybrid--not an SUV--for a cheaper travelling solution: the scooter.

    It is a fun little twist on what has become a common story.

    Read it here.

    Competing Endorsements

    Westly and Angelides are at it again.

    Both candidates have organized press conferences this morning to announce endorsements--both of which, arguably, are important (at least to remain in any news stories about the endorsements).

    For Angelides, it is Speaker Fabian Nunez, the Los Angeles Democrat endorsing.

    For Westly, it is the Assocation of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, a group that the Westly camp glowingly notes "in the 2003 recall elections, ALADS endorsed Arnold Schwarzenegger for Governor."

    Monday, September 19, 2005

    Bring It On

    The Governor's special election is kicking into full gear, with former Finance Director Tom Campbell challenging Barbara Kerra, president of the California Teacher's Association to a debate. He wants to wrangle over Schwarzenegger's Live Within Our Means Act, also known as Proposition 76.

    “As you know, I have taken a leave of absence from my role as California’s director of finance. Therefore, I can be available virtually any time and any place that suits your schedule.”

    There goes the "can't find the time" excuse.

    “I believe the people of California deserve a more substantive debate on this critical issue than that which can be afforded by 30-second commercials and TV news sound bites. Therefore, I would like to extend an invitation to you to join me for a real and substantive debate on Proposition 76. I believe a public debate between the two of us, open to the media, could contribute much to the discourse surrounding the special election."

    There goes the "waste-of time" excuse.

    It is a bold move for the campaign, but it also begs the question why Kerr would accept. By most accounts, Schwarzenegger is struggling to raise the cash for a fully-funded campaign, while the CTA is set in terms of funding. So why would the CTA president debate the finance director and give free publicity to the opposition?

    National Review on the 48th CD

    The race to replace newly confirmed SEC Chair Christopher Cox in Congress got some national ink today in the National Review.

    John Miller describes some of the dynamics of the race, including state Sen. John Campbell's frontrunner status and the endorsement of his challenger, former Assemblywoman Marilyn Brewer, by Sen. John McCain.

    Brewer fashions herself after McCain, who she endorsed in 2000, and does have a little bit of that "Straight Talk Express" in her.

    On partial-birth abortion she said: "I am pro-choice and I vote pro-choice. You can't be a little pro-choice."

    That is almost disarmingly honest, particuarly for a Republican candidate in a conservative district. We will see how well she fares.

    Their Opinion

    The flap over the denial of entry to a Spanish-language reporter for La Opinion, the largest circulation Spanish-language daily in the state, to a Schwarzenegger "town hall" event last week continues.

    Today, Speaker Fabian Nunez and the chair and vice-chair of the Latino caucus sent a letter to the governor's office demanding he explain.

    I have pasted the letter below:

    Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,

    On behalf of the California Latino Legislative Caucus, we are writing to express our concern over your staff barring a La Opinión newspaper reporter from an event you held on Monday, September 12th in Riverside.

    Based on information from the reporter and La Opinión, your staff directed a uniformed security officer to refuse reporter Miguel Morales access to the event. Mr. Morales presented all necessary credentials, but was still denied entry. We were also troubled to learn that as Mr. Morales was driving away, he was pulled over by an unmarked police car and was again asked to identify himself.

    We understand that both security and logistical constraints sometimes limit the ability of elected public officials to offer unrestricted press access, however, the reporter’s rejection was highly suspect as La Opinión is the second largest circulation newspaper in the state of California. These actions, if true, give the appearance of inappropriate intimidation of journalists by your security detail. We will also contact the Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol to clarify why Mr. Morales was denied entry to the event and further harassed by officers.

    We trust that this is a terrible misunderstanding on the part of your staff and Mr. Morales’ affiliation with La Opinión played no part in this incident. It would be helpful if you could clarify for us the criteria for the admission of journalists to your events and further clarify the issues regarding Mr. Morales.

    Thank you for your timely consideration of this matter.


    Speaker of the California State Assembly
    Chair, California Latino Legislative Caucus
    Vice-chair, California Latino Legislative Caucus

    Suit Against Westly

    The Telegraph Hill Dwellers neighborhood association in San Francisco filed a complaint last Friday with the Fair Political Practices Commission against State Controller (and gubernatorial candidate) Steve Westly for failing to disclose a donation.

    Shopping mall developer, the Mills Corporation, made a $10,000 donation to Westly in October of 2002, months before Westly cast the deciding vote on the State Lands Commission to allow Mills to build a 19 acre shopping and office center on Piers 27-31 in San Francisco, according to the neighborhood association.

    They complain that Westly did not recuse himself from the vote, and did not disclose the donation on the record of the proceedings.

    Ain't AIP

    Last week, I wrote that UC Regent nominee Leslie Tang Schilling was registered with the American Independent Party--and that was a surprise for a UC Regent. Too bad it wasn't true.

    The American Independent Party is best known for its endorsement of former Alabama Gov. George Wallace in 1968. It is a conservative bunch that wants to eliminate federal taxes and abortion.

    But Schilling was never actually a member. Instead, an "administrative error" was made in Schwarzenegger's office and it slipped through. Oops.

    The Sac Bee's Buzz has the story.

    Sunday, September 18, 2005

    The Big One

    The SF Chronicle today has a large, multi-part piece looking at the earthquake readiness of the Bay Area in light of the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina.

    The overview piece is here and there you can find links to readiness in terms of water, power, homes, shelters, hospitals, safety, transit, phones.

    Saturday, September 17, 2005

    Gov Endorses Prop. 75

    Labor unions have accused Gov. Schwarzenegger of "declaring war" on them since his State of the State address. Each of his proposals in the so-called "year of reform" have, to one degree or another, angered the Democratic-leaning unions.

    But until the weekend's GOP convention in Anaheim, Schwarzenegger has stayed officially neutral on Proposition 75. Known by supporters as "paycheck protection," the initiative is perhaps the biggest threat to labor's political strength in California. The measure would require unions to get the approval of members to use dues for political activities (such as all the anti-Arnold ads that blanketed the airwaves the first half of the year), potentially drying up the well of lobby and advertising dollars unions count on to keep political clout.

    Many Democrats had hoped that Schwarzenegger would stay away from the measure because, even with sagging poll numbers, the Republican governor has sway with California voters.

    Oh well.

    "Public employee union members should not be forced to contribute to causes, candidates and controversial issues they don’t believe in,” stated Schwarzenegger is a release.  “That is not a contribution.  That is a tax. "
    “Maybe they want their money to go for organizing or member services instead.  Big government union leaders should not use their member’s money as a personal kitty to fund political campaigns and political advertising.  Reform the system.  Vote yes on 75.”

    Most insiders agree that the Governor had supported Prop 75 all along, but that his overt--and official--endorsement carries some weight.

    The timing and nature of the announcements (during the GOP convention) suggest that Schwarzenegger is focused on rallying his Republican base, as numerous polls suggest that his support is slipping among Democrats and Independent voters.

    I guess it is offically the "it's official" week: first, Schwarzenneger "officially" announces his reelection candidacy, and second, he "officially" endorses Prop. 75.

    Gov's Radio Address Given By a Dem?

    For the first time, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had a guest legislator--a Democrat, no less, and one who was one vote shy in her own Democratic caucus from serving as his chief foil in the Seante as Pro Tem.

    Sen. Martha Escutia, who teamed with the governor to push several health in schools bills this year, spoke about her efforts:

    Five years ago, when I first introduced legislation with the goal of getting healthy food into our schools, people said it was a wacky idea. One lawmaker even said that my bill was, "Eat a burrito, go to jail." Hey, even I laughed at that one, but the serious issue still remained.

    We were neglecting a very important responsibility - seeing that our kids grow up healthy - and I was determined to make that happen, no matter how long it took.

    Today, I am happy to report that we have achieved a major victory for California's students. Governor Schwarzenegger and I, as a bipartisan team, worked to get the toughest school nutrition reforms in the nation passed by the California State Legislature. And this week, at the Governor's Summit on Health, Nutrition and Obesity, he signed those bills into law.

    I am surpised hte Governor's staff let five years ago slip in, because it predates the legislation to the governor she worked with (granted, it was under this governor that the legislation passed).

    But why on the day after he announced his candidacy would Schwarzenegger passed the mic to a legislative Democrat? Is there a shifting dynamic of appearing bipartisan in the air?

    You can read the entire address here.

    Friday, September 16, 2005

    It's Official

    Schwarzenegger is in.

    For a Good Laugh

    Check out Rough & Tumble. At the top of the page, Gov. Schwarzenegger has been running an ad promoting his initiative campaign. It reads, "Governing California" on the first slide with Hiram Johnson pictured, "Takes Hard Work"with Pat Brown's picture, and the last slide says, "Join Me!" with Arnold's pic.

    But today the folks at Arnold Watch launched an ad--right next to Schwarzenegger's--that. It reads, "Governing California" on the first slide with Hiram Johnson pictured, "Takes Hard Work"with Pat Brown's picture, but the last slide says, "I'd rather be fundraising" with Arnold's picture.

    Very clever.

    Check it out.

    And Poizner Too

    McCarthy isn't the only Republican drawing grassroots ire going into the GOP convention in Anaheim. Opponents of Steve Poizner, the newly annointed chair of the governor's redistricting measure and candidate for Insurance Commissioner next year, have launched a new web site:, dedicating to scuttling his candidacy next year.

    But as Anthony York reported in Capitol Weekly:

    This week, Schwarzenegger has lined up some big potential donors for the home stretch. He announced that insurance commissioner candidate Steve Poizner, has been tapped to chair a new campaign to champion the governor’s redistricting measure, Proposition 77. Poizner, who spent $7 million on his failed run for the Assembly, has already given $1.7 million to fund his run for insurance commissioner, and is expected to open his checkbook again to the Yes on 77 campaign. Poizner has committed to raising $8 million for the initiative.

    The anti-Poizner site's front page reads:

    From his positions on issues to his questionable contributions to John Kerry, Al Gore, and the Democrat National Committee, Poizner has demonstrated he is not the Republican we want as our Insurance Commissioner.

    But that might be a tough sell, with Republicans rallying around Schwarzenegger and Schwarzenegger rallying around Poizner.

    Blood in the Water?

    After the defeat of Mary Jo Ford in the 53rd district earlier this week, California Campaigns called for Assembly Republican leader Kevin McCarthy to resign.

    Not too likely just yet. But the issue has gotten some play at Hack n Flak as well, with 66 comments on the "McCarthy DeathWatch" item.

    Just some stirrings to watch for at the GOP convention in Anaheim...Do Republicans just accept that they lost no money (Ford self-funded) and lost no seat (it was already held by a Democrat) in an election that, at best, was a long shot?

    Or do any other Assembly Reeps start courting support, capitalizing on a grassroots backlash against McCarthy?

    Thursday, September 15, 2005

    Schwarzenegger Gets Dough

    In preparing to wage a high-power and high-cost special election campaign, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been tapping numerous donors.

    In the last two filing days, he has raked in nearly $400,000, and that does not include a fundraiser scheduled for last night in Hillsborough.

    Some of the large and notable donors:

    *Gary Rogers, CEO of Dreyer's gave $150,000
    *Barabara Banke of Kendall Jackson gave $25,000, as did Jess Jackson
    *Thomas Werner also ponied up $50,000.

    Star Power

    Gov. Schwarzenegger is holding an obesity summit today at Cal Expo in Sacramento. And boy has he brought the star power.

    In attendence: Lance Armstrong, 7-time Tour de France winner, Phil McGraw of Dr. Phil fame, Alice Waters, the famed chef of Chez Panisse, and Maria Shriver.

    Polls may show the Gov. has dropped back to mere politician status among California voters, but he does remain an A-list celebrity.

    Dunn is In

    Statewide office migrant Joe Dunn, D-Santa Ana, may finally have found a home--state controller. After exploring and dropping out of bids for both Attorney General (driven off by Jerry Brown) and Treasurer (Bill Lockyer), Joe Dunn is officially declaring for state controller.

    Dunn joins Board of Equalization member and Democrat John Chiang, Assembly Majority Leader Dario Frommer, D-Glendale, in the Democratic primary.

    As the California Observer reported yesterday, LA City Controller Laura Chick is also considering jumping into the race.

    The winner of that race will face either State Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria or former Republican Assemblyman Tony Strickland in the general election.

    "I am running for Controller because Californians need a chief financial officer willing to protect our public funds. As the only Democrat to vote ‘no’ on the tax dollar giveaway to Enron during our electricity crisis, I am the only candidate qualified to serve as watchdog over our hard-earned tax dollars," Dunn said in a press release.

    Of course it helps that no other A-list Democratic name is in the race.

    The Assembly Also Rises

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly

    Unions’ clout, term limits, Perata’s woes shift power to Assembly Speaker

    By Shane Goldmacher (published September 15th, 2005)

    In the last hours before the deadline to strike a special election compromise, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez was in constant communication with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    Everything was on the table in their negotiations, from term limits to redistricting to the union-opposed "paycheck protection” initiative. And though their last ditch efforts were for naught, one lawmaker, Senate Leader Don Perata, was conspicuously absent.

    Sources close to the dealings say Perata, D-Oakland, was consulted throughout the process, but that Nuñez took the lead, meeting privately at least twice in Schwarzenegger’s Los Angeles home and multiple times in Sacramento.

    The Speaker’s principal role in the negotiations is the latest signal of a sea change in the Legislature: The Speaker of the Assembly no longer plays second fiddle to the leader of the Senate.

    A confluence of personal, political and structural factors have led to the balancing out of power between the two legislative houses.

    Before Perata was even sworn in as leader, the FBI began issuing subpoenas in an investigation of his business dealings and associates. Ever since, allegations of financial wrongdoing have swirled around the Oakland Democrat, who earlier this year established a legal defense fund to combat the FBI probe. As of the latest available filings, that committee had raised more than $320,000, but legal bills were piling up faster than contributions.

    Perata’s legal defense fund was nearly $260,000 in debt by the end of June, despite an exemption from Proposition 34 contribution limits, and despite receiving a $50,000 donation from Sacramento-area developer and political donor Angelo Tsakopolous.

    Read the rest of the story here.

    Wednesday, September 14, 2005

    The News Cycle

    State Controller sent a response out this afternoon on Gov. Schwarzenegger's decision to run for reelection.

    “When Arnold Schwarzenegger took office he promised real change. I didn’t vote for him, but like most Californians I hoped that he would be bipartisan and try to solve problems. That didn’t last long.

    “He has taken a hard right turn. The Governor is attacking nurses, firefighters and teachers it is clear he is taking the state in the wrong direction. California can’t afford four more years of his politics or his policies.

    “Californians deserve a governor who can solve our tough problems, someone with a proven track record of innovation and new solutions. That is why I’m running and that is what I will do as Governor.”

    The only problem is that the Governor hasn't technically announced. Talk about trying to get ahead of the news cycle.

    Chick eyes higher office

    Los Angeles City Controller Laura Chick was awared a new waste and fraud investigation unit within her office yesterday in an unanimous vote of the City Council. Chick approached the council last year about setting up the unit.

    This may be bad news for City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo, who is currently running for California Attorney General. Chick and Delgadillo have an ongoing intra-city rivalry

    Delgadillo is running against former Governor and current Oakland mayor Jerry Brown, who Chick, not coincidentally, had Brown swear her into office earlier this year.

    It doesn't usually pay when your rival is given an investigative team to look into waste, fraud and abuse.

    The L.A. Daily Newsreported this week that Chick herself has her eye on higher office.

    "I love my job as city controller, being the taxpayers' watchdog and fighting waste and fraud," Chick said. "To have the opportunity to do that for all Californians and help clean up the mess in Sacramento is certainly an opportunity worthy of consideration."

    Between Padilla, Villaraigosa, Delgadillo and Chick there sure are an awful lot of ambituous local-level Los Angeles politicians.

    Pledge Ruled Unconstitutional


    A federal judge ruled earlier today that reciting the pledge of allegiance in school in unconstitutional. The case was brought by Michael Newdow, an atheist, who lost a pledge case last year before the Supreme Court.

    Newdow argues that references to one nation "under God" violates kids right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God."

    This may just add more fodder for the Roberts confirmation hearings.

    The story is here.

    Schwarzenegger weighs in:

    "As an immigrant to America, one of the proudest days of my life was when I became a citizen of the United States. Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance always reminds me of the history of our nation's founding, the principles of our great democracy and the many sacrifices Americans have made to protect our country and preserve our system of representative government. I believe our school children should have the ability to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in their classrooms and I urge the groups who are involved in this case to appeal today's ruling."

    Low Turnout for Lieu

    [UPDATE] Mary Jo Ford spent nearly $40 per voter. Hat tip: Hack n Flak

    Democrat Ted Lieu is the newest member of the Assembly after winning nearly 60 percent of the vote yesterday in coastal southern California district.

    Here is the vote breakdown:

    Ted Lieu (Democrat): 60 percent
    Mary Jo Ford (Republican): 19 percent
    Paul Nowatka (Republican): 12 percent.
    Paul Whitehead (Republican): 2 percent.
    Greg Hill, who dropped out (Republican): 5 percent

    But the vote totals are more telling, Lieu winning in a landslide—with a meager 24,119 votes.

    Special elections have especially low turnouts.

    Un-natural Gas Prices?

    The Chronicle is reporting today that home heating bills through PG&E will spike by 40 percent this winter.

    That's the steepest increase since fraud and deregulation caused a major spike in 2001, and it's especially painful because of the higher gasoline prices consumers already have suffered as a result of the hurricane.

    The average monthly gas portion of a Pacific Gas and Electric bill is likely to soar from $107.83 in January 2005 to $152.71 next January, the utility estimated.

    The phrase since fraud is worrisome.

    Here is the full story.

    Tuesday, September 13, 2005

    An "English-Only" Town Hall?

    The California Democratic Majority are sending out an e-mail saying that at Schwarzenegger's scripted town hall event, a reporter for La Opinion, Los Angeles' largest spanish-language newspaper, was denied entry despite having the proper credentialing.

    For the bilingual, the La Opinion story is here.

    Two New UC Regents

    Schwarzenegger announced his appointment of two new UC Regents this afternoon: Russell Gould and Leslie Tang Schilling.

    Gould is a senior vice president for Wachovia Bank where he does investment banking (UC has a very large investment fund). He is a Republican.

    Curiously, Schilling is registered with the American Independent Party--a surprising choice for a UC Regent.

    Get Your Vote On

    Polls open today in the 53rd Assembly district to replace Mike Gordon, a Democrat who passed away earlier this year with a brain tumor.

    Polls close at 8pm. The top GOP candidates are Mary Jo Ford, 43, a Manhattan Beach physician; Paul Nowatka, 65, a Torrance City Council member and retired policeman; and Paul Whitehead, 38, a high school teacher.

    Ted Lieu, 36, a Torrance City Council member and former Gordon staffer, is the only Democrat in the race.

    If no candidate gets above 50 percent, the top vote getters will face off in an election later this year.

    Here is the LA Times' preview of race.

    Up in Smoke

    There are few "higher taxes" propositions that are popular with the public. Last fall, California voters hiked the tax rate on millionaires to further fund mental health. So that's one: tax the rich.

    The second, perhaps more popular, tax is on smokers, who already pay more than 75 cents per pack in California taxes that goes to funding research and anti-tobacco health education. The problem is that cigarettes are a shrinking tax base--the total tax collected gets smaller and smaller as fewer and fewer people smoke.

    Advocates of the higher taxes can claim victory--fewer smokers--but the pet programs they try to fund languish with an ever-diminishing supply of revenues.

    Today, the Ventura County Star has a report on some of the new cigarette tax proposals out there--which would add up to $2.50/pack in taxes--to fund emergency care and other health education programs.

    But creating new programs out of a shrinking pool of tax dollars--which would likely shrink even more with an additional $2.50 cost per pack--is a risky proposition.

    Here are the numbers on the current programs being funded through cigarette taxes:

    California voters passed Proposition 99 in the late 1980s to pay for research, health education against tobacco and healthcare for indigent families.

    But statewide revenues from that tax of 25 cents per pack have fallen from $575 million in the early 1990s to $321 million in the current year as the proportion of smoking adults slid to historic lows.

    In Ventura County, the program is due to provide about $642,000 for indigent healthcare this year compared with $5.2 million 15 years ago.

    Proposition 10, passed in 1998, funded an early childhood initiative promoted by Hollywood director Rob Reiner. The cigarette tax went up an additional 50 cents when voters approved the proposition.

    But the tax that brought in $686 million in 1999 is expected to produce only $593 million this year even as the state Legislature has pushed tougher enforcement against cigarette smuggling, counterfeiting and tax evasion.

    You can read the entire story here.

    Monday, September 12, 2005


    [UPDATE:] Apparently the big power outage was the result of workers connecting two wires that were not supposed to be connected. Oops.

    Los Angeles faced a black out at about 1pm this afternoon.

    The electricity was knocked out shortly before 1 p.m. after two power surges, and outages were reported from downtown to the coast and north into the San Fernando Valley, an area encompassing hundreds of thousands of residents and thousands of businesses.

    The AP has the entire story

    He's for Licenses

    Though the Governor has already vowed to veto SB 60, Senator Gil Cedillo won't let up the pressure. Today, he praised the Los Angeles Daily News for an editorial calling for Schwarzenegger to sign the bill.

    "Governor Schwarzenegger has broken too many promises to the people of California including our teachers, our nurses and our firefighters,” said Senator Cedillo. “The Governor made a commitment to work out a resolution in support Senate Bill 60 so now I call on him not only talk the talk but walk the walk. I urge the Governor to set aside political agendas and special interests and keep his word by signing Senate Bill 60 into law.”

    Not likely to happen, but Cedillo is unlikely to relent. During the tense and emotional gay marriage debate, Cedillo rose and brought laughter to the room when he said that it was no surprise "he was for licenses"--marriage licenses. He went on to compare gay marriage to his drivers license bill, which would appear to have little in common, except for a likely gubernatorial veto.

    Sex Sells, Sometimes

    The Los Angeles Times keeps coming out with stories about then-candidate Schwarzenegger’s questionable relationship with American Media Inc. (AMI). First, it was the Muscle magazine deal. Then it was Gigi Goyette getting paid to keep quiet about what may or may not have been a sexual relationship (and the world learned of the word “outercourse”).

    Now, Peter Nicholas of the Times is reporting that AMI paid Thomas Wells of Los Angeles $2,000 to share only with AMI the details of a Playboy film featuring Schwarzenegger grabbing one woman and making, what the Times describes as, “other sexually suggestive gestures.”

    No matter that the video was publicly available—which it sounds like AMI did not realize. Still, the tabloid producer never published a story on the film in the run up to the recall.

    Sure, there are questions about whether AMI was trying to protect Schwarzenegger, who they had recently inked to an executive editor contract.

    But I want to know why the public doesn’t seem to care—about the sex. Gigi Goyette was custom made for TV drama but little came of it.

    What makes Schwarzenegger so immune from the typical “sex sells” public?

    Check out the Times piece here.

    Governor to Announce

    The Governor did a better job of keeping the up the excitement—and the intrigue—of his pending election announcement during the recall. Then, he appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno and surprised the world (and his advisors) by announcing his intent to run for governor.

    When (and, of course, still if) he announces his candidacy this Friday, there will not be much surprise.

    Still, Schwarzenegger’s candidacy may breathe much-needed life into his special election campaign and remind the state’s Republican voters that, without him, they have little hope of controlling California.

    Sunday, September 11, 2005

    A Real Legislative Roundup

    The Los Angeles Times this morning has the most comprehensive roundup of the legislative year I have seen.

    The list laws passed, laws signed and laws expecting a veto.

    Read the story here.

    Schwarzenegger Goes National

    With the recent passage of AB 849, a bill which would legalize same-sex marriage, and Schwarzenegger's subsequent promise of a veto, the Governor has drawn national attention.

    Here is the latest cartoon from Tom Toles.

    Friday, September 09, 2005

    An Battle of Olympic Proportions

    It only seemed like a matter of time before Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa went head to head. They are, by most accounts, the two most recognizable Democratic up-and-comers in the state (apologies to Angelides and Westly, who would both vault higher up with a gubernatorial nomination or victory). And now they will be competing for the 2016 Olympics.

    Los Angeles wants the Games. And so does San Francisco.

    So which Democratic heavyweight mayor will come out on top?

    Shots fired

    In an legislative session post-mortem, Speaker Nunez this morning had some strong words regarding the Governor's staff.

    Here is the angry response from Rob Stutzman, Schwarzenegger's communications director:

    "The Speaker's bizarre personal attack upon the governor's staff sadly diminishes his office and his status as a leader in our state. He potentially slandered Legal Affairs Secretary Peter Siggins, a distinguished attorney who throughout his career has served Democrats and Republicans alike with integrity and unquestionable character. The Speaker owes Mr. Siggins an apology.

    Also his attack upon the California Supreme Court is equally stunning and reckless.

    The Speaker also misled the press regarding several facts involving final hour negotiations over the Governor's solar roof initiative and a minimum wage increase. Our office will be happy to provide email exchanges between our outstanding staff and the distinguished legislative staff that, for example, demonstrate that indexing for minimum wage was not a negotiable item for the Democrats, contradicting the Speaker's claim.

    As the Governor has stated today, there are accomplishments that were achieved during this legislative session through bi-partisan cooperation. But today we saw the Speaker's true colors -- a petty, embittered partisan who will sacrifice the truth in order to score political tallies."

    The starter's gun has gone off. The campaign has officially begun.


    Thought I would pass on a personal favorite website of mine: California Gas Prices.

    The list the current average price in the state today, yesterday, one week ago, one month ago, and one year ago. Well, California has an average price of $3.03 today compared to a price of $2.04 a year ago.

    That's quite an inflation, but comparatively the national price, which hovers just below California's, has spiked even more--from $1.82 a year ago.

    Last Day Shenanigans

    Last night was my first true experience with the Assembly's "last day of session" shenanigans. And there were some, though most observers note that it was relatively calm compared to past years.

    The big bills had already passed (minimum wage, gay marriage and drivers licenses for illegal immigrants) and the others had been scuttled ( SB1...aka "million solar roofs").

    The most telling moment was in a press availability with Schwarzenegger legislation guru Richard Costigan, who at 6pm essentially said there was little left to negotiate with the legislature and vowed vetoes of many Democratic pet projects (minimum wage, gay marriage and drivers licenses for illegal immigrants).

    There was some late night attempts to revive SB 1 (the Assembly had a couple of "off the floor" committee meetings), but it never got another hearing and when the Senate adjourned just before 10pm, all the fleeting hopes of a last-minute compromise were gone.

    The talks for a tax break for movie makers was scrapped as well, despite the support of both the Speaker and the Governor. The Senate couldn't hammer out a deal so all the caucus leaders signed a letter of intent to try again in January.

    Lots of other small things happened, but the Senate adjourning well before the Assembly irked several members, including the Speaker, who chastized several members of the senior house's members who had wandered over to the Assembly, saying, "We would appreciate some respect on hte floor of the Assembly, Senators."

    Thursday, September 08, 2005

    Can't Get Much From a Stone--or a Stones Concert

    This little gem from the Arnoldwatch crew:

    A Rolling Stone Gathers No Green

    Campaign finance disclosures show that the only contribution Arnold took in at the Rolling Stones concert in Boston on August 21st, besides a $30,000 in-kind donation from tour sponsor Ameriquest, was ten grand from Subaru of New England. For all the hype surrounding Arnold's Massachusetts fundraiser, it looks like Bean Town rendered its own verdict on the Gov. Or, perhaps Arnold just didn't want to face a lawsuit under Massachusetts ticket scalping laws. In either case, it's easy to understand why the Gov didn't even spend the night together with Bostonians. He didn¹t get no satisfaction.

    Latest Articles in Capitol Weekly

    I have two pieces in the latest issue: the first is a legislative roundup on how the leg is headed out with a whimper.

    The second (see below) is on the forbidden but common practice of ghost voting...

    The absent voting legislator

    By Shane Goldmacher (published September 8th, 2005)

    As the Senate voted to approve gay marriage last week, Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, who authored the bill, celebrated by holding an impromptu press conference just outside the Senate chambers. But across the Capitol rotunda, the very same Mark Leno voted on several bills on the Assembly floor without ever stepping foot inside the chambers of the lower house.

    It’s called "ghost" voting, and it’s a common practice in the state Assembly, where votes are recorded by pressing an electronic button located at each individual member’s desk. That electronic system allows for legislative seatmates to vote on behalf of one another, which happens increasingly often during the marathon floor sessions that occur at the end of session.

    The practice is expressly forbidden in the Assembly Rules--except for the Speaker, who may instruct another member to vote on his behalf. The Rules state that "a Member may not operate the voting switch of any other Member." But the rule is rarely, if ever, enforced, and it contains no explicit penalties.

    "It’s a long tradition in California," said Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies. "It ebbs and flows and whenever there is press about it, they try to crack down."

    Only a week ago, Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, was caught casting a vote in favor of her own bill on the Assembly floor at a Republican desk, despite being neither an Assemblywoman nor a Republican.

    And today, ghost voting on the Assembly floor continues to be as rampant as it is bipartisan.

    During a floor session on Tuesday, Assemblywoman Patty Berg, D-Eureka, was briefly manning the voting switches for three legislators: herself, Assemblymen Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, and Paul Koretz, D-West Hollywood, two seatmates who had simultaneously stepped off the floor.

    State Sen. Wes Chesbro, D-Arcata, saw her hustling from desk to desk and joked that she "looked like a musician" pressing so many buttons.

    When Assemblyman Jones did return to the floor, he continued to vote on behalf of Koretz, including a decisive 41st vote on SB 645, a contentious bill that establishes a commission to address the forced deportation of American citizens of Mexican descent during the 1930s and 40s. Jones declined to comment on ghost voting for this story.

    Since seatmates are usually (and in the current session are all) of the same party, they often entrust one another to cast votes when one member is away from his or her desk. Some legislators leave a voting cheat sheet. Others simply trust the judgment of their seatmate. Nearly every legislator takes part.

    And if their neighbor were ever to err, every Assemblymember does have the opportunity to amend their vote before the end of session, so long as it does not change the outcome of the vote in question.

    Still, the system has its critics.

    "If members are on the other side of the room and they yell ‘vote for me,’ I don’t have a problem with that," said Stern. "But the problem [with ghost voting] is a member doesn’t know what they are voting on and they weren’t there during the debate."

    He adds that the requirement of 41 votes for passage--instead of a majority of present members--creates "so much pressure, they cut corners."

    Minority leader Assemblyman Kevin McCarthy said, "I’d rather have the rules like the Senate," where votes are tallied by a voice vote rather than electronically.

    "People would be at their desk, they would be forced to listen to bills more often," McCarthy added. But McCarthy himself casts ghost votes and, as Republican leader, is often away from his desk, conferring with members of his caucus during session.

    With 80 members of the Assembly, a voice vote would be both cumbersome and time-consuming, particularly for bills that pass with near unanimous support. Thus, the electronic system, and the prevalence of absentee voting, is likely here to stay.

    "I don’t think there ought to be ghost voting," said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a professor at the School of Policy, Planning and Development at the University of Southern California. "But what’s the penalty? That’s the point."

    DiFi for Padilla

    Recently, Democratic up and comer Alex Padilla, president of the Los Angeles City Council, was up in Sacramento shmoozing with the pols in a town he hopes to eventually take up residence. He is running for the state senate seat currently occupied by Sen. Richard Alarcon next year, in what promises to be a bitter Democratic primary battle against Assemblywoman Cindy Montanez.

    So when his campaign announced the endorsement of Senator Diane Feinstein yesterday, it came as somewhat of a surprise as to why she would endorse him, and why she would endorse so early.

    Any ideas?

    A Scary Thought

    FEMA (the Federal Emergency Managment Agency) gets a lot of flak for being unprepared when major disasters take place. But a recently floated 2001 FEMA report on the three most likely disasters to strike the United States must give those critics pause. The three: a terrorist attack on New York City, a hurricane devastating New Orleans and a major earthquake in California.

    With two out of three having occured, maybe it is time for California to bone up on preparation for a big quake. "Drop, duck and cover" as I was taught in elementary school may simply not be enough in many of the most vulnerable locations across the state.

    The obvious follow-up question to the FEMA report is that if those are the most likely disasters, what is FEMA doing (or has FEMA done) to prepare?

    Governor Officially to Veto AB 849

    Here is his statement:

    "In Governor Schwarzenegger's personal life and work in public service, he has considered no undertaking to be more noble than the cause of civil rights. He believes that gay couples are entitled to full protection under the law and should not be discriminated against based upon their relationship. He is proud that California provides the most rigorous protections in the nation for domestic partners.

    "Five years ago the matter of same-sex marriage was placed before the people of California. The people voted and the issue is now before the courts. The Governor believes the matter should be determined not by legislative action - which would be unconstitutional - but by court decision or another vote of the people of our state. We cannot have a system where the people vote and the Legislature derails that vote. Out of respect for the will of the people, the Governor will veto AB 849."

    Wednesday, September 07, 2005

    So Long Tom

    The amiable and well-respected Director of Finance Tom Campbell is going on leave starting tomorrow, and Schwarzenegger has appointed Mike Genest as chief deputy director and acting director of the DOF.

    Campbell, a former state senator, congressman and senate candidate (against DiFi in 2000), brought a politician's touch to a complex staff job, earning rave reviews from both sides of the aisle.

    His departure coincides with that of chief of staff Pat Clarey and communications director Rob Stutzman, both of whom have joined the Schwarzenegger initiative campaign.

    Looks like an awful lot of turnover in the Governor's office.

    Whenever the News is Broken...

    Blame these guys.

    Signatures and Vetoes

    As the Senate and Assembly pass a torrent of legislation in the final week of session, much of it ends up on the Governor’s desk. So far he has signed far more bills than he vetoed (63 signed yesterday, versus 11 vetoed) but some of those bills will cause small political controversies.

    One veto is AB 738, a Joe Nation, D-San Rafael, bill that requires petition circulators who are paid to wear a badge that reads “paid signature gatherer.”

    “I am dismayed the Governor decided to veto a voter oriented, good government piece of legislation,” said Assemblymember Joe Nation in a press release. “However, I understand this bill would have adversely affected his govern-by-initiative approach by forcing paid signature gatherers to reveal their true identity to voters.”

    For a Governor who angles himself as a man of the people (which is increasingly difficult given his poll numbers), such some potatoes legislation seems to me like an obvious signature. Disclosure of that kind hardly seems unpopular.

    Let’s see what kind of press the Nation office can grab on the issue.

    Up...and Down

    Just to make sure he wasn't completely left out of the news cycle, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement through his press secretary following the gay marriage vote.

    "The people spoke when they passed Proposition 22. The issue subsequently went to the courts. The Governor believes the courts are the correct venue for this decision to be made. He will uphold whatever decision the court renders."

    Looks like gay marriage supporters have an uphill battle for a gubernatorial signature.

    Tuesday, September 06, 2005

    Gay Marriage A Go

    Just before 8pm, after more than an hour of intense debate, the Assembly passed AB 849, a bill legalizing gay marriage, putting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in the hot seat as he now must decide whether to veto or to sign the legislation.

    Feinstein for Angelides

    Phil Angelides pulled in the what, arguably, is the biggest endorsement yet in the gubernatorial primary--Sen. Diane Feinstein.

    If Steve Westly wants to angle himself as the moderate in the race (which he appears to be trying to do), this is a tough blow.

    Still, endorsements are hardly all-powerful. But when they come from California's most popular politician, they do tend to hold some sway.

    Low Lying Fruit

    There are only three more days in the legislative year (leaders of both the Senate and Assembly have vowed to call it a year on Thursday). But both houses of the legislature are avoiding the big ticket items today and postponing them for later: gay marriage, raising the minimum wage, the “million solar roofs” initiative, etc.

    Instead they are focusing on low-lying fruit—minor issues that do not evoke public controversy.

    Tomorrow is (or is currently planned to be) the big vote on gay marriage. Leno fell three votes short in June. He now touts the endorsement of the United Farm Workers (which he hopes will sway more socially moderate Latino legislators), but his prospects for passage look questionable at best.

    In the 53rd...

    In the race to replace Mike Gordon, Republican Assembly candidate Mary Jo Ford reports the endorsement of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association today.

    Interesting, because she has been angling herself as the "independent" in the campaign.

    Monday, September 05, 2005

    Of Arnold and Taxes

    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's comments on the Eric Hogue show late last week are looming large given the results of the latest Field Poll.

    The key initiative in the Governor's "year of reform" remains Prop. 76, the Live Within Our Mean Act, which would empower the governor to make mid-year budget cuts if the budget fell out of whack. Without such power, Schwarzenegger hinted that raising taxes may be necessary to right the fiscal ship of state.

    Governor:"Absolutely. Absolutely. Then we have to look at raising taxes. Because this is the only option we have in order to create the money. This is why I tell people, vote yes on Proposition 76, and make sure that we do everything we can to pass this proposition so that we force our legislators once and for all to live within their means and not to continue spending money and to keep making promises to people that they can't keep."

    Well, the latest Field Poll shows that only 19 percent of likely voters support the initiative. Despite the Governor's penchant to (insert corny movie star reference here), 19 percent is a helluva number to overcome in an initiative campaign.

    The governor's tax comments could motivate the Republican base to come out in full force to support Prop. 76--or they could alienate loyal Reeps from a governor whom some believe has already strayed too far from the party platform.

    The Chronicle has a good graph of the poll results here.