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

    Tuesday, January 31, 2006

    Angelides Reports $18.4 million Cash-on-Hand

    While the official filings have not been posted with the secretary of state, Phil Angelides reports that he raised more than $4.5 million in the 2nd half of 2005

    During the last six months of 2005, over 7,400 donors contributed to the Angelides for Governor campaign, bringing the total number of Angelides contributors to more than 21,000 – also a record number for a gubernatorial challenger at this stage in the campaign.

    The 9th and Partial-birth Abortion

    The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today ruled that the federal Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003 is unconstitutional.

    Here's what U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein had to say:

    “The Ninth Circuit did the right thing today. Roe v. Wade made it clear that a woman’s life and health must be protected. Those pushing for a ban on what they call partial birth abortion failed to succinctly define the medical procedure they seek to ban and they have refused to protect the woman’s health. For these reasons, the Ninth Circuit struck down the law.

    Interestingly, today, the Senate voted to confirm Judge Alito to the Supreme Court where he will likely hear cases involving a woman’s health very soon. It is my hope that he follows the path of his predecessor, Justice O’Connor, by supporting the compromise created by Roe and Casey, rather than putting his personal views above the law. Unfortunately, I fear he may not.”


    As Steve Westly travels to Chico today in a whirlwird tour, Phil Angelides announced endorsements of a slew of local officials from the Chico area.

    Former Chico Mayors Michael McGinnis, Karl Ory, Mardi Worley, Jim Owens and Shelton Enochs, former Council Member David Guzzetti, and Doris Smith, the Chair of the Butte County Democratic Central Committee, all announced they are supporting Angelides for Governor.

    It was a well-timed announcement for the Angelides campaign that will likely make it into most of the local coverage in the area.

    Angry Cabbies

    If there is one thing you want to avoid, it is an angry cab driver. Often those yellow-colored cars whiz through town, screeching to a stop--or running signs and lights altogether. I remember one time in New York riding in a cab with a driver who got so furious with always-jay-walking New Yorkers that he reached out the window and smacked one as we flew by.

    All of which is to say that I will be going nowhere near the Department of Parking and Traffic in San Francisco today as the city's cabbies protest "lack of enforcement of hotel white zones, which they say are occupied illegally by limousines and luxury sedans."

    It is a legitimate gripe, but something about a cabbie protest is inherently worrisome.

    California Congress of Republicans Endorsements

    They are:

    Arnold Schwarzenegger for governor
    Sen. Tom McClintock for Lt. Gov.
    Bruce McPherson for Secty. of State
    Sen. Abel Maldonado for Controller,
    Sen. Chuck Poochigian for Attorney General
    Steve Poizner for Insurance Commissioner
    Board of Equalization 3rd District Michelle Steel
    Board of Equalization 4th District Eric Siddall

    The interesting picks are Steve Poizner and Sen. Abel Maldonado, both of whom are the more moderate Republicans in those races, along with incumbents Schwarzenegger and McPherson. That makes for a pretty moderate set of candidates.

    Alito In

    The Senate officially has confirmed Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.

    In a message to Alito, Frist said: "Today, you will become the 110th justice to serve on the court throughout America's history. It is a seat that is reserved for few -- but that impacts millions."

    O'Connor's seat has long been viewed as pivotal since for years she has been the swing vote in a series of 5-4 decisions on social issues. Roberts replaced a fellow conservative, the late William Rehnquist, so he did not change the balance on the court.

    Reuters has the story.

    Monday, January 30, 2006

    Brown Raises $4.26 million

    Oakland Mayor and Democratic AG candidate Jerry Brown announced that he has raised $4.26 million with some $3.66 million cash on hand.

    This comes of the heels of primary opponent Rocky Delgadillo, city attorney of Los Angeles, announcing that he had raised $3.1 million.

    In a taste of the spin that will come in the next several days as campaign filing reports trickle in, Brown's campaign wrote:

    While Delgadillo released total figures on Friday he deliberately omitted the figure for his cash on hand. Considering that Delgadillo has only raised a total of $3.1 million, it is impossible for him to be anywhere near the $3.66 million that the Brown campaign has on hand.

    Speaking of spinning, the Westly campaign, which released their $24 million raised two weeks before the deadline, is trying to downplay the amount of money that Angelides will announce tommorrow, saying $8.4 million is holdover money from 2002 and that PAC money can't be used in the race for governor.

    Schwarzenegger Signs SB 517

    Governor Schwarzenegger today signed Sen. Gloria Romero's SB 517, which will "exempt eligible pupils with disabilities from the requirement of passing the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) as a condition of receiving a high school diploma this year. The exemption will apply to eligible disabled students through December 31, 2006."

    Here's what Schwarzenegger said in a statement:

    "Today we have given many high school students and their families peace of mind as they prepare for graduation. It is incumbent upon us to ensure through uniform standards that our children are receiving the best possible education but we must also be vigilant that our disabled students are not penalized. While the overwhelming majority are able to pass the exit exam, we must continue our collaborative search for ways to ensure that all of our special education students are prepared for success."

    I thought he dropped out...

    Bill Simon deposited $89,000 into his account for Treasurer on January 23rd.

    That would be several months after he announced that he was dropping out of the race.

    Anyone know what gives?

    CTA for Angelides

    Angelides continues to gather union endorsements with the California Teacher's Assocation weighing in over the weekend.

    Last year the CTA spent around $50 million fighting the governor and his initiatives.

    Saturday, January 28, 2006

    Sheehan for Senate?

    The AP is reporting that anti-way activist Cindy Sheehan may run against U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

    Read the story here.

    Friday, January 27, 2006

    GOP Lambasts Leno

    On the Assembly floor yesterday, Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said, "Now, as a result of further conversations with members of our caucus, I am prepared to take an amendment to lower that 100 down to 25. And in fact it increases the penalty from a misdemeanor to allow for it to be charged on a first time offense, personal use, in one’s own home, to be charged as a felony," according to a press release.

    The release, from the California Republican Party, goes on:

    What Chairman Leno does not explain is that those 24 items that only qualify for a misdemeanor crime could be DVDs that hold up to 9,000 images each. That brings the total possession of child pornography allowable as a misdemeanor offense to 216,000 images.

    There is no logical explanation why the Chairman of the Assembly Public Safety Committee thinks it is appropriate to charge a person in the possession of up to 216,000 pictures of child pornography with a misdemeanor, carrying the same punishment as fraudulently avoiding the payment of a railroad fare.

    Leno has long been a target of Republican ire as chair of the Public Safety Committee.

    The Mulholland Response

    The day before yesterday I wrote that Westly would be airing ads in the neck of the woods of Democratic strategist Bob Mulholland. In an e-mail with the subject "Good Morning Chico."

    Actually next week, I'll be talking to: the California Professional Firefighters, the staff for Boxer & Feinstein & Pelosi and the Speaker about their efforts over the next few months for State Treasurer Phil Angelides for Governor.

    Delgdaillo: The Good and Bad

    Yesterday, Democratic Attorney General candidate Rocky Delgadillo announced that he had raised more than $3.1 million to challenge Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown for the nomination.

    Then the LA Times reported this morning that "

    Read that story here.

    Thursday, January 26, 2006

    David Crane: Arnold's other Democratic adviser

    The following appeared in Capitol Weekly today

    Much has been made about high-profile, high-powered Democrats in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration, from his wife, Maria Shriver, to his chief of staff, Susan Kennedy. Then there's Bonnie Reiss, a close Schwarzenegger friend who serves as one of his most trusted senior advisers, and Daniel Zingale, Shriver's chief of staff.

    But there is another Democratic powerbroker in the Horseshoe, a long-time Schwarzenegger confidant who is as influential in the administration as he is invisible to the public: David Crane.

    "He is involved in all of the key deliberations that I have been a part of," said Sunne McPeak, secretary of the Department of Business, Transportation and Housing. "He is one of the key policy advisers the governor has brought in from the very beginning."

    Crane has also been appointed by the governor to the California State Teachers Retirement System (CalSTRS) board. But now, as he comes up for a confirmation vote before Senate Rules, Democrats say his nomination may be in jeopardy.

    So who is David Crane?

    His official position is special adviser to the governor for jobs and economic growth. It is a job that gives Crane, 51, a policy portfolio--the enomony--close to the governor's heart. But Crane's power is not derived from his job titles, but his relationship with Schwarzenegger.

    "Like a number of senior advisers, if he wants access he can get it," says Cassandra Pye, a former Schwarzenegger deputy chief-of-staff.

    Crane, who is almost universally regarded as both bright and abrasive, is one of only a small number of confidants that "Arnold and Maria." as he calls them, have in the Capitol. He has known the pair for more than two decades, debating with them about the finer points of public policy for just as long.

    Soon after Schwarzenegger was swept into office in 2003, he named Crane, a self-made multi-millionaire like the governor, to his transition team and then as his economic adviser.

    Though a Democrat, Crane's economic philosophy sounds distinctly libertarian. He advocates against government intervention in private business and touts his admiration for conservative economist Milton Friedman.

    "Governments don't create jobs, and if they are not careful they can kill jobs," Crane told an audience of business leaders at a San Francisco luncheon last summer.

    Charged with wooing new companies to the state, and preventing current companies from leaving, Crane decries government-given economic incentives for businesses. Instead, he advocates leveraging Schwarzenegger's celebrity and trying to sell the state as is, at no cost to taxpayers. He was a driving force behind the trade missions to both Japan and China.

    Free-market thinking deeply permeates Crane's vision of the world.

    He has called defined benefit pensions "non-market deals" and burdensome "special privileges." And though the governor is currently calling for a hike in the minimum wage, Crane has called the minimum wage a "œmarket distorting mechanism."

    When asked to prove his Democratic credentials, Crane points to the 1960 Democratic platform.

    "The 1960 Democrats were very much a pro-growth party and I am very much a pro-growth Democrat," he says.

    Crane's limited government economic philosophy is deeply rooted in his experience as a businessman, associates say. In 1979, he joined a small firm, Babcock & Brown, in San Francisco. At the time, the company had four employees and one office. Over the next two decades, it blossomed into a multi-national corporation with 18 offices, in 13 countries and 600 employees.

    Crane didn't do too poorly for himself, either. In filings with the Fair Political Practices Commission last year, Crane declared eleven separate investments worth more than $1 million.

    Rick Koffey, a former partner with Babcock & Brown who worked with Crane, says that he was central to the success of the firm.

    "David's judgment on investment decisions was critical to the growth and stability of Babcock & Brown," Koffey told Capitol Weekly.

    The company also has ties to Schwarzenegger. In 1997, Babcock brokered the governor's controversial jet-lease deal with Singapore Airlines, allowing the governor to defer paying taxes on millions in income.

    The company declined to comment on whether Crane worked on that account, though Crane has said that he and the governor "did some business together" in the past.

    Crane's main charge at Babcock & Brown was managing and investing the company's assets, a job that Koffey says Crane did extraordinarily well, and a likely reason he was appointed to the CalSTRS board.

    But Crane's confirmation, which had tentatively been scheduled for January 25, was postponed as the Senate continued to research his past. Senate sources say he is on the leadership's target list, and his confirmation looks uncertain, at best.

    As a CalSTRS trustee, Crane would help direct the investments of more than $130 billion in the teacher's retirement fund. But first Crane must pass through a hostile Senate Rules Committee that already rejected the lone Schwarzenegger nominee last year that supported a shift to a defined contributions pension system.

    Crane openly endorsed the governor's defined contribution pension proposal in 2005, beaming that he "just loved" Schwarzenegger's 2005 state of the state address. At the San Francisco luncheon he said, "All the governor proposed would be a limitation to some of these special privileges held by government employees…so I fully support the governor's agenda."

    Senate Democrats are not the only ones who have had their feathers ruffled by Crane. Critics and friends alike note his argumentative nature, and willingness to debate anyone about anything.

    "He will never retreat from an argument and debate, which can be enduring and
    perplexing at times," says McPeak, who works regularly with Crane. Pye calls him "excruciatingly honest" and "willing to argue with a wall." And those are his supporters.

    Crane's critics condemn his argumentative nature as a sign of hard headedness and arrogance. Economic development, they say, is government giving business the "helping hand, or extra push" it needs to succeed or stay in California.

    But Crane sees any government offered incentives as an impediment to the free-market.

    "We are as a state missing opportunities because we may not be able to raise it to the appropriate level of awareness in the governor's office," said one administration official, on the condition of anonymity. "He's right there: We have to go through humps and jumps to get that."

    Wayne Schell, president of the California Association for Local Economic Development, says that fewer of his member organizations are now going to Crane for assistance.

    "I don't hear from members who are happy with what he has done," said Schell.

    Schell summarizes what he sees as Crane's controversial approach to economic
    development:"If you lose one job, two more will follow, that's just the nature of California," said Schell. "I just don't agree with that. I don't want to lose the one. And those two that are behind? When are they coming?"

    Many officials at regional economic development organizations were unwilling to publicly criticize Crane, fearing they would alienate the administration's main conduit for state-level economic development help. But numerous people, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, all used the word "arrogant" to describe Crane.

    Former Schwarzenegger deputy chief of staff Pye, who is now a senior vice-president for APCO Worldwide, says some of the complaints are simply a result of Crane's free-market philosophy.

    "[The] classic economic development executive isn't necessary in business to promote that point of view," she said.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2006

    On the air

    So that's what $24 million buys.

    Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Westly is going on the air in Chico with a limited buy later this week.

    “Next week in Chico, we start this campaign on the ground, on the web, and on the air,” said Westly.

    I wonder whether Angelides strategist and Chico resident Bob Mullholland will be watching.

    For Title and Summary

    A couple new initiatives settled at the AG's office today for title and summary:

    The “Auto Insurance Discounts Act” and the "The California Clean Money and Fair Elections Act of 2006"

    Van de Kamp to Chair Justice Commission

    The Senate Rules Committee today appointed former California Attorney General John K. Van de Kamp to lead the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, a nonpartisan commission studying how to improve the state's criminal justice system, according to a release.

    For a little Van de Kamp catch-me-up check out Capitol Weekly's John Howard's Where are they now?.

    Like Leaches and the U.S.S.R.?

    Republican Sen. Roy Ashburn pens a column in today's Bakersfield Californian that compares the minimum wage hike to leaches and wage control in the Soviet Union.

    Prior to the advent of modern medicine, practitioners in the middle ages treated their patients on gut instinct. If something seemed like a good idea, they tried it.

    One popular cure-all was the intentional bleeding of patients or the application of leaches, regardless of symptoms. Lacking scientific studies on the results of their treatments, many practitioners continued such practices even though their patients frequently died.

    Though medicine eventually did away with such ill-conceived and dangerous practices, that kind of backward reasoning can still be found in many present-day practitioners of politics and economics.

    Sound strongly worded? Read it for yourself.

    Bee Writer Joins Governor

    Sacramento Bee reporter Gary Dehlson, who covered the governor, is now joining his staff as a speechwriter.

    The Bee has a brief story.

    High Speed Rail Slowed Down

    I would imagine the tone at the California High Speed Rail Authority later this afternoon in Santa Clara will be somber. After not being included in the governor's ten-year $222 billion infrastructure plan ($105 billion of which goes to transportation), rail advocates are licking their wounds. To make matters worse, Democrats haven't exactly jumped onto the high speed rail bandwagon, instead focusing on the lack of housing in the governor's bond.

    A Growing Team

    The Washington Post today reports on Gov. Schwarzenegger's growing campaign team, which is "not always a formula for nimble politics."

    Schwarenegger predicted as much soon after the special election when he announced, "You know, if you look at my history, I've probably never fired anybody. I just add. I have always a difficult time with that. And also, because like I said, I'm the one to blame, and so I blame myself. I feel sorry that my team was not part of a winning team, but that's just the way it is sometimes."


    The AP is reporting that the federal budget will cost California at least $3.1 billion over the next five years.

    Tuesday, January 24, 2006

    Schwarzenegger: Let voters decide assisted suicide law

    At a speech at the Sacramento Press Club, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said that California voters should decide if assisted suicide is legal.

    Reuters has the story.

    Corona for Harkey

    In what continues to be a heated battle in the Republican primary in the 35th Senate district. Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona endorsed Diane Harkey today.

    She is running against current Assemblyman Tom Harman.

    COPS endorse Westly

    Today the California Organization of Police and Sheriffs endorsed Democrat Steve Westly for governor.

    Hiltzik and Hewitt

    LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzik in his Golden Stateblog continues to take on radio host on blogger Hugh Hewitt.

    Hewitt takes a swipe at the LA Times, Hiltzik defends his paper and takes a swipe at Hewitt. And back and forth they go.

    Both blogs are worth a read.

    A scandal-in-waiting?

    Jamie Court, president of the Santa Monica-based Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, pens a column decrying the state of lobbying in Sacramento in today's LA Times.

    It is worth a read.

    Boxer on Alito

    U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer announces her vote on Judge Alito this morning in Los Angeles. Safe money is on a "no" vote.

    Hearings Begin Today

    In the Senate and Assembly , hearings begin today on the governor's various infrastructure bonds. Staffers have described the process as "three-dimensional chess" as progress in made in policy committees, changes may be adopted in conference committee, and big issues with be hustled over to occassional Big 5 meetings.

    That is Capitol jargon for really really hard for the press to figure out what is going on.

    But the press has picked up that there are real concerns with the bond package. Just look at the top of Rough&Tumble where a slate of stories cover the issue.

    Today there are several hearings. At 2pm the Assembly looks at the flood management bonds (Room 447). The Senate does the same at 9:30 in room 112. The Senate begins hearings on the court infrastructure bonds at 1:30 (Room 4203) and the transportation bond at 1:30 as well (Room 3191).

    I wrote about the likely showdownin that hearing in today's Capitol Weekly.

    The issue of how transportation projects are prioritized, and which ones would receive new bond money, will be among the most contentious debates over the transportation bond. That debate officially begins today, when the Senate Transportation Committee begins informational hearings about the bonds.

    At the center of debate is the Schwarzenegger proposed centralization of project-choosing authority, a shift, administration officials argue, that is necessary to fast-track the most important projects in the state.

    Under current law, three-quarters of any new capital expenditures in the state
    transportation system are determined by regional transportation agencies, through the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), with the remaining quarter determined by CalTrans.

    Democrats, local government officials, and even some Republicans are balking at the governor's proposal to have administration officials--not local officials or legislators--control the purse strings of billions in proposed new transportation bonds.

    And tommorrow, Assemblyman Gene Mullin, a Democrat, will hold a hearing asking the question, "Should housing be included in the infrastructure bond?". I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that Mullin's answer is yes, particularly considering he is the chair of the Housing and Community Development Committee.

    Let the bond politicking begin!

    Calraces returns

    The political website of the GOP consulting firm Meridian Pacific has returned to the net. They offer "inside commentary on California politics."

    So far so good.

    Matt Rexroad suggests that Richard Pierre Prosperrun for U.S. Senate. He also took a look at SD 10 in what is one of the more interesting Democratic primaries this year.

    I am adding a link on the right.

    Monday, January 23, 2006

    New Law, New Lawsuit

    One of the many laws that went into effect on January 1, 2006 was a law to ban marketers from sending unsolicited junk faxes. Sponsored by Sen. Debra Bowen, that law is now being challenged in federal court in Sacramento by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. A judge began to hear arguments this morning.

    For some background, check out this story.

    Orlov's Column

    Rick Orlov's column in the LA Daily News is worth a read today.

    He talks about the search for a Feinstein replacement, the jockeying between Padilla and Montanez in Senate District 20, and our German-speaking governor.

    Sunday, January 22, 2006

    Not so Fast...

    Some of the Republicans at the private meetings that the press have been portraying as rallying sessions for conservatives against what they see as Gov. Schwarzenegger's tilt to the left (see below) are now saying the meetings are being misportrayed.

    Again, the Register has the story. But the story only quotes Mike Spence as recanting on the account of the event.

    Mike Spence, president of the California Republican Assembly, described the gathering as a small, private meeting of conservative leaders.

    "We talked about our vision in the conservative movement going out 10 years from now and the things we need to do to make it happen," he said.

    "The press has mischaracterized what the meeting was about," Spence said. "This was a very positive meeting about our future."

    That would be the same Mike Spence, who said, two days earlier in the LA TImes:

    "We're expecting the governor will go all out to stop us from expressing our views … " said Mike Spence, president of the California Republican Assembly, a grass-roots organization. "There will be a conflict at the state convention between those of us who want to support Republican ideas and those who want to be pro-governor."

    And the same Mike Spence who said to the Mercury News in December:

    Despite the governor's assurances, one conservative who has been most outspoken against Kennedy said he was not mollified, nor were the activists who do the political grunt work necessary to win elections.

    ``It's not over,'' said Mike Spence, the president of the California Republican Assembly. ``We still have the February convention. The governor, if he proposes his big general obligation bond, there's going to be another big fight over that, and I think the dissatisfaction is going to continue.''

    That would be the same Mike Spence who had the quote of the Susan Kennedy saga, saying in the LA Times, ""She embodies everything I have spent my life opposing. It obviously raises more problems and concerns about where he is headed next year."

    But suddenly Spence changed his tune, telling the Register:

    "We had people here who are supportive of the governor and those who are not. It was a mix of leaders. It wasn't to get together to plan for one day in February. It was a very positive meeting."

    Saturday, January 21, 2006

    Republicans are Astir

    Conservative activists are preparing for the upcoming Republican Party convention in order to "air their greivances" with Gov. Schwarzenegger, who they see as leaning too far left as his failed special election last year.

    The OC Register has the story that there are five currently circulating resolutions denouncing various Schwarzenegger appointments and initiatives. They are:

    Demand that Schwarzenegger fire top aide Susan Kennedy, a former Gov. Gray Davis Cabinet member, from her post by March 15 or risk losing the Republican Party's endorsement for governor.

    Denounce the governor's budget, which the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst said spent $7billion more than last year and would increase the state's deficit by about $2billion.

    Criticize the governor for appointing more Democrat judges than Republicans.

    Attack his plan to increase the minimum wage by $1 to $7.75 by 2007.

    Criticize the governor's $222billion plan to borrow money and increase fees to build roads, water projects, levees and other public needs.

    The Register points out that, "This kind of rebuke is not unique to political parties, especially Republicans. In 1991, activists at the party convention tarred, feathered and hanged an effigy of then-Gov. Pete Wilson after he proposed a budget that would raise taxes by $7billion to patch a $14billion deficit."

    In any case, it is a sign that activists are astriring--and looking to be heard.

    Clinton Coming

    Democratic presidential hopeful (we think) and U.S Hilary Clinton is coming to California next Saturday. Here's the details:

    • Nob Hill Masonic Auditorium •
    • 1111 California Street, San Francisco •
    • Doors open at 7:00 p.m. for a no-host reception •
    • Program begins at 8:15 p.m. •

    Friday, January 20, 2006

    So Sue--Or File a Ethics Complaint Against--Him

    The California Young Democrats continue to stay atop the California Observer by announcing that they are filing an ethics complaint against Gov. Schwarzenegger's new communications director, Adam Mendelsohn. This in only his first week on the job.

    In today's Los Angeles Times, he is quoted as saying:

    "We feel very confident that the Republican Party, in the end, will endorse Arnold Schwarzenegger," said Adam Mendelsohn, the governor's new communications director.

    “This administration consistently acts as if it is above the law,” said Stacy Berger, Executive Director of CYD. “State law requires a firewall between government work and campaign work. Whether it’s the chief of staff running around the state campaigning while being paid by taxpayers or the governor’s legislative secretary offering special access to donors, this practice is not only immoral, it’s illegal.”

    The Westly camp sent out a missive blasting the Mendelsohn quote earlier today.


    For those keep track at home, this Sunday will mark the 33rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Clearly, the California Young Democrats are keeping track.

    They announced today that they would be distributing Rockstar energy drinks to those legislators with high pro-choice marks.

    "Anti-choice legislators, on the other hand, were given wire hangers as a reminder of the brutal and oftentimes lethal history of back-alley abortions before Roe v. Wade," according to a statement released this morning

    "Legislators that have a 0-20% or “anti-choice” voting record were given a wire hanger—a “tool” often used in back-alley abortions because it was illegal for pregnant women to receive medical treatment."

    I know that the hanger will shock a lot of people,” said Crystal Strait, California Young Democrat President. “But just imagine the horror young women went through before 1973 because they couldn’t get the medical attention they needed and were forced to use a hanger as a medical device.”

    I didn't see anything about "wires" in a Chronicle story today about the new tactics of abortion opponents and pro-choice activists.

    CALPIRG by the Numbers

    CalPIRG has released its annual legislative scorecards. Not surprisingly, most of the legislators that got the highest scores are Democrats.

    In the Assembly the highest scoring Republican (with CALPIRG 38 percent) was Shirley Horton. She was followed by Alan Nakanashi at 20 percent.

    The lowest scoring Democrat was Nicole Parra at 69 percent. Three others (Calderon, Arambula and Matthews) tied at 75 percent.

    For the full Assembly, click here.

    On the Senate side, the "top" Republican was Sen. Abel Maldonado at 29 percent, followed by three at 24 percent (McClintock, Denham and Ashburn).

    The lowest rated Democrat was Kevin Murray at 60 percent, followed by Mike Machado and Dean Florez (each at 76).

    For the full Senate, click here.

    It is telling that of the 120 legislators only two scored between 30 and 68 percent.

    Murray to Chair Conference Committee

    Sen. Kevin Murry will chair the conference committee that will decide the shape and size of the infrastructure bond proposals. This after Murray was announced as the replacement for Sen. Carole Migden as the head of the powerful appropriations committee.

    Reiner donates to O'Connell

    Superintendant of Schools Jack O'Connell is running unopposed for reelection this year. But that didn't stop movie producer and preschool hawker Rob Reiner from justing donating $5,000 to his reelection.

    Thursday, January 19, 2006

    Westly to Gov: Stop "Double Dipping"

    Democratic candidate for governor Steve Westly sent a strongly-word letter to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger today denouncing his practice of paying senior staffer not only state salaries but also through campaign funds.

    You should not be supplementing the salaries of your senior staff with campaign funds. Having private industries and individuals partially pay the salaries of your senior government staff creates a clear conflict of interest. This is exactly the sort of blurring of ethical lines in government that you campaigned against, Westly wrote.

    He went on (not at all surprisingly) to relate the practice to the governor not releasing his personal taxes. (The Westly campa has been railing on this for some four months now),

    The letter ends, "I ask you, on behalf of all concerned Californians, to immediately end this policy of “double-dipping” in an effort to restore Californians’ badly shaken faith in state government."

    Death Penalty Moratorium Dead

    Assemblyman Paul Kortez's, D-West Hollywood, attempt to halt executions in California for two years failed in committee today. The bill is dead for the year.

    The AP has the story.

    Gov to meet with U.S. Health Secretary

    At 11am this morning Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is scheduled to meet with U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt to discuss the "transition of nearly one million vulnerable Californians" to the Medicare part-D prescription drug plan.

    Abramoff's former firm sets up shop in Sacramento

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly

    The former lobbying firm of Jack Abramoff, the Washington insider who recently pleaded guilty to multiple felony charges of fraud, bribery and tax evasion, is coming to Sacramento.

    Greenberg Traurig, which severed ties with Abramoff in early 2004, has merged with Livingston & Mattesich, the Sacramento-based government affairs firm that counts State Farm Insurance Companies, Novartis Pharmaceuticals, and Miller Brewing Co. among its biggest clients.

    Gene Livingston, who founded his 15-person Sacramento government-lobbying firm Livingston & Mattesich in 1982, and was named one of 10 most "powerful lawyer-lobbyists in Sacramento" in 1998, says his merger with Greenberg Traurig was a "business decision." The move transforms the powerful Sacramento firm into a company with tremendous resources. Greenberg Traurig is comprised of some 1,400 lawyers, 17 corporate offices, and hundreds of "clients that do business in California."

    But the timing of the Ambramoff scandal and the joining of companies could
    hardly be described as ideal for business.

    He assures his clients that, "Livingston & Mattesich had an impeccable reputation for integrity and we are still the same people." He quickly notes that he has not lost any business as a result of the merger.

    Livingston & Mattesich officially joined Greenberg Traurig last October, but filings on January 12th with the secretary of state's office officially shifted clients from the old firm to the new. But many of the clients have personal relationships with lobbyists at the old firm, who will continue to handle accounts after the merger.

    "Some clients have asked for additional information about the firm's role with Abramoff," says Livingston.

    One of the biggest among those clients, State Farm Insurance Companies, voiced confidence in Livingston's new firm.

    "We have had a longstanding relationship with Livingston & Mattesich and have developed a close bond with them and our interest is with the people and not the name of the firm," says Bill Sirola a spokesman, State Farm Insurance Companies, saying the company had no intent to change lobbyists.

    This is not the first inroad Greenberg Traurig has made in California. The firm already operates offices in Orange County, Los Angeles and Silicon Valley. Now they will add the state's eleventh largest lobbying firm to the list, according to total billings filled last session.

    In the days following Abramoff's plea bargain with federal prosecutors, sixty-five different members of the 109th Congress--and President Bush--all rushed to return tainted donations from Abramoff to charity. Their giving totaled some $420,000.

    Greenberg Traurig has worked especially hard to distance itself from the man who helped put the firm on the political map.

    Following Abramoff's plea, the company issued a terse statement: "Almost two years ago, Jack Abramoff revealed to the firm conduct we found unacceptable. The firm demanded and obtained Mr. Abramoff's immediate resignation. This week's developments validate that action."

    After cutting Abramoff loose in early 2004, they hired an internal investigator to delve into their former employee's affairs. Company executives cooperated with prosecutors, negotiated settlements with Abramoff victims, and even earned the praise of Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, for assisting in the overall investigation.

    Abramoff's recent plea agreement goes so far as to cast the firm as an oblivious victim of their former employee's fraudulent schemes, not a knowing accomplice.

    Still, the long shadow of what has become the biggest bribery scandal in Washington in decades continues to surround the firm.

    Founded in 1967, the firm has been politically active for decades. Greenberg Traurig lawyers represented George W. Bush in the weeks following the controversial 2000 election-- which was prior to Abramoff's arrival. But it was Abramoff, who joined Greenberg Traurig in 2000, who was the "rainmaker" who helped the firm's lobbying receipts skyrocket from 35th to third among D.C. lobbying firms, according to the National Journal. He claimed close relationships with much of the congressional leadership, particularly with then-Majority Leader Tom DeLay, and the White House, leveraging those relationships for clients.

    And though the company has won kudos from some of Abramoff's strongest Congressional critics, at least one lawsuit, filed by the Lousiana Coushattas, an Indian gaming tribe, is still pending against the firm. The firm also has connections to CaIifornia Republican Congressman John Doolittle. Doolittle's former chief of staff once worked for Abramoff and reportedly served as an intermediary in the hiring of Doolittle's wife's firm, Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions Inc., by Greenberg Traurig. Julie Doolittle's firm received a subpoena last year from the grand jury investigating Abramoff.

    Doolittle's spokespeople have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, or any connection between the hiring of his wife and his duties as a congressman. Doolittle is one of only a few members of Congress who has refused to return any Abramoff donations, saying through representatives that doing so would only give the appearance of wrongdoing.

    Back in Sacramento, Livingston isn't expecting the Abramoff scandal to quietly scandal to quietly whither away.

    "I think that Abramoff is going to be in the news until the November elections," he says.

    But he is taking it all in stride.

    And yes, Livingston admits, "there have been a few jokes made by fellow lobbyists here in Sacramento."

    You can find this story here

    Counties concerned about governor's health care plans

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly

    On January 9, in the last of a month-long series of coordinated leaks, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that his 2006-07 budget would include $72.2 million to increase outreach and enrollment in Medi-Cal and Healthy Families programs.

    "Right now more than 400,000 children in California eligible for state health care programs are not enrolled," Schwarzenegger said. "That is unacceptable."

    But when the budget was released on January 10, health advocates were dismayed to discover that one of the centerpieces of the governor's proposal, a $20.8 million grant to counties to perform outreach to uninsured children, would be dwarfed by $42.4 million in budgetary "savings" achieved by freezing county administrative and overhead costs.

    "The governor is giving with one hand, and taking away twice as much with the other," said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, a nonprofit advocacy organization. "The $72 million is not even a full restoration of what we were doing before the budget crisis."

    The administration defended the cuts as unrelated to the outreach. "You are comparing apples and oranges," said Sabrina Lockhardt, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services. "The freeze is in administrative costs and does not impact direct services."

    But Frank Mecca, who is the executive director of the County Welfare Directors Association of California, says that while cutting administrative and overhead costs sounds benign enough, the reality is that such cuts directly impact counties' abilities to provide health coverage.

    "The Department of Finance is characterizing the cuts as papers clips and Xerox machines when really we are talking about the people that get children health coverage," says Mecca.

    In California, most healthcare services are administered at the county-level, from welfare assistance to hospital services to enrolling new members in Medi-Cal and Healthy Families.

    Advocates and administration officials alike characterize the Healthy Families and Medi-Cal programs as a success, with the two combined providing health insurance to nearly 4 million California children, nearly 90 percent of those eligible for the programs.

    Both programs are heavily subsidized by the federal government, with about half of Medi-Cal's and two-thirds of Healthy Families' costs absorbed at the federal level. Since 1998, when Healthy Families began, the program has grown to an enrollment of more than three-quarters of a million children. But the program's very success makes reaching out to the approximately 400,000 eligible but uninsured kids all the more difficult.

    "We are trying to get that last group enrolled," said David Topp, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services. "Anytime you are at a 90 percent plus success rate, you start getting a lower return."

    Besides expressing frustration with what they call Schwarzenegger's sleight-of-hand budgeting, many Democrats argue that the current difficulty in enrolling new kids is one reason the governor should consider expanding program eligibility.

    Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, chair of the health committee, argues that the best way to reach out to the last group of the eligible but unenrolled kids is simply to expand the eligibility of the programs.

    "I am not convinced that the money going to outreach is going to result in increased enrollment unless we also make the program easier to access," said Ortiz.

    But administration officials are dedicated to enrolling eligible children first. And the governor's $20 million for outreach, they say, is the first step.

    "We absolutely believe enrollment will grow," says Topp. "It is a key part of the governor's agenda for this year and it is something he is absolutely committed to."

    Curiously, while the governor's budget does account for expected enrollment expansion from proposed application simplification (expecting 12,000 new enrollees), it includes no new money for enrollment growth as a result of the new outreach efforts.

    Because both Medi-Cal and Healthy Families are entitlement programs, any eligible child who enrolls would automatically be paid for by the state. Topp says that the impact of outreach on enrollment was excluded from the budget because such estimates are simply too difficult to make.

    "It's not like a typical budget process," he says, "where you say we hereby appropriate $100 million to fix potholes."

    For some Democrats, it is just one more reason they have lost faith in the governor's commitment to children's healthcare.

    "It is disappointing that the administration continues to look for cuts in vital county services in health and human services," laments Mecca, "particularly in a year when clearly resources are allowing us to make multi-million investment s in other segments of the budget."

    You can find this story here

    Wednesday, January 18, 2006

    Schwarzenegger to Bush: Declare California a Disaster Area

    The governor sent off a letter to President Bush today asking that he consider declaring parts of the state a disaster after following the late December storms:

    I request that you declare a major disaster for the State of California as a result of a series of warm Pacific storms that struck California beginning on December 19, 2005 and continuing through the New Year's weekend, wrote Schwarzenegger.

    This series of powerful winter storms brought heavy rain throughout the state along with high winds, mudslides, and flooding. Northern California counties bore the brunt of the storms, with rainfall totals in the northern counties averaging four inches in a 24-hour period. Levee overtopping, breaching, and river flooding occurred in more than a dozen coastal and inland counties, including the Russian, Napa, Feather, and Sacramento rivers, as well as flooding of numerous small creeks that impacted additional counties, forcing more than 375 individuals to seek services at American Red Cross shelters. The California Department of Water Resources closely monitored the water levels and levees throughout the state and was forced to open 10 gates on the Sacramento weir for the first time since 1997.

    He goes on with more examples. You can read the full letter here.

    A word with Mendolsohn

    Yesterday Jon Fleishman posted an interview with the governor's new communications director, Adam Mendolsohn.

    The most interesting response was Mendolsohn's to Fleishman's question about dealing with reporters:

    FR: Do you have a philosophy or a style of doing business with reporters?

    AM: For me, the most important part of dealing with reporters is trying to understand their job. They are under a tremendous amount of pressure to get stories that are well reported, fresh, and accurate. It is our job to protect the people we work for and try to get positive stories. It is a natural, unavoidable tension that does not have to be aggressive. If you understand what reporters need in order to be successful and give it to them (without compromising your loyalty to the organization), the good reporters will reciprocate. Hopefully, you can build up their respect for you by respecting them. If the respect is not on both sides, then it is problematic.

    You can read the whole thing here.

    Yee's Senate Site

    Assemblyman Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, has launched his official website for his bid for State Senate. It is looks like a quality site--and it is only of note because it is certainly the first site I have seen where an official has a Tagalog (one of the main languages of Filipinos) version of the site.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2006

    Van Tran In

    It has been rumored for a while, but the OC Register reportstoday that Assemblyman Van Tran, R-Westminster, will run for the Senate seat that Sen. Joe Dunn is vacating due to term limits.

    Double Trouble

    As pointed out in the Roundup this morning, the Chronicle and Mercury News have two startlingly different takes on yesterday's speech by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in San Francisco. They are the top two stories on Rough&Tumble as well. Check out the difference between the article titles and the leads:

    New' Schwarzenegger gets surprisingly warm welcome -- A tough crowd -- the toughest -- was supposed to be on hand when Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger showed up unexpectedly Monday to address the annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast in San Francisco. Carla Marinucci in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/17/06

    Schwarzenegger gets a hostile response -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to mend fences with labor Monday by appearing at a union-sponsored breakfast in honor of Martin Luther King in San Francisco. After a few scattered boos, the audience listened politely to his speech and laughed at his Terminator jokes. Laura Kurtzman in the San Jose Mercury Josh Richman in the Oakland Tribune -- 1/17/06

    JLAC Today

    Today, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee begins its hearings on the UC compensation practices. Chaired by Assemblywoman Nicole Parra, the hearings should be a free for all for all those legislators looking to jump on the UC compensation media bandwagon.

    The fun begins at 2:30 pm in room 447.

    Monday, January 16, 2006

    Happy MLK Day

    It's pretty quiet in downtown Sacramento today. What with most of the hustle and bustle coming from state workers, any state holiday makes for quite the little ghost town.

    Read up on Martin Luther King Jr. to remember why you have off today.

    A Quieter Death

    After the media frenzy surrounding the execution of Stanley "Tookie" Williams last month, San Quentin will put to death another inmate just after midnight tonight, barring any last minute surprises.

    Clarence Ray Allen, 76, will be the oldest inmate executed since the state restored capital punishment in 1978.

    Sunday, January 15, 2006

    International Ink

    It is usually a sign that California politics has gone mainstream when Time, Newsweek, U.S. World and News Report, or the Economist start picking up state stories.

    Well, Schwarzenegger’s bond proposal has gone mainstream. This week’s Economist features a brief piece on the governor’s bond proposal (it is premium content for those who don’t subscribe).

    The problem is that the magazine (which is one of the best reads around) mangles quite a few of the facts, most of which is in a single paragraph:

    The governor's director of finance, Michael Genest, insists this is manageable. The state's structural deficit—some $14 billion in his boss's first budget, for 2004-05—will be $4.7 billion in 2006-07 and probably disappear altogether in 2007-08. As for the ten-year plan's $223 billion price-tag, some 70% of that will come from the private sector and the federal government. The rest will come from $68 billion in taxpayers' bonds.

    Rather than go away, the administration is estimating that the structural deficit will grow next year to some $5.4 billion. And 70 percent does not come from the private sector and federal government. Some $47 billion (of the $222 billion total) will come from state gas taxes already collected and dedicated (via Proposition 42) to transportation projects. Another $68 from bonds. And there is more money expected from local governments as well, including some $15 billion in water infrastructure.

    That said, the Economist is always worth a read.

    An Overview

    Bob Salladay at the LA Times has a good overview of the various sticking points in the bond proposals.

    Saturday, January 14, 2006

    Bickering over Self-Funders

    The two Democratic campaigns for governor have begun a press release battle over self-funding. Last Thursday, Westly strategist published a strong rebuttal to the Angelides campaign's front-runner status. In it, he wrote, " This will be the first time in his electoral career that Angelides will face an opponent who is 1) well-funded (probably better-funded)..."

    Later that day, Westly's campaign made available their fundraiser report two weeks early--in order to highlight the campaign's $24 million warchest, $20 million of which was donated by Westly himself.

    The Angelides campaign pointed out what one-time Davis advisor South said about self-funders when he was running a campaign against one (Al Checchi in 1998):

    ''I think what it says is California politics is becoming more and more a roller derby for rich people,'' South said. ''We have candidates with the flimsiest of credentials looking in a mirror one day and checking their checkbook balance and deciding they want to be governor. It will be up to the voters to decide if this is unsettling or not.--LA Daily News, March 8, 1998

    The Westly campaign has countered wtih a list of past donations Angelides has made to his own campaigns (though none are anywhere near $20 million), which he has done in several election cycles.

    At the end of the release, the campaign writes, "It’s clear that when it comes to self-financing, Treasurer Angelides and his team have no business criticizing Steve Westly's decision to invest his own money into his bid to win this campaign and put California back on the right track."

    Looks like the kiddy gloves are beginning to come off.

    Friday, January 13, 2006

    On Proposition 49

    Proposition 49, the 2002 Schwarzenegger-sponsored afterschool initiative, has been in the news lately. That's because nearly four years after its approval the measure is going into effect in the next budget, with some $400 million going toward the afterschool program.

    With the budget still chronically imbalanced some have called for the governor to go back to voters and hold the implemtation of the measure until sunnier fiscal days. In today's Bee,

    But both Democratic and Republican lawmakers - as well as the nonpartisan legislative analyst - have suggested that the Legislature sponsor a measure on the June ballot that would delay the proposition's implementation or allow more flexibility in how much money must be spent on such programs.

    Asked if he would consider either alternative, Schwarzenegger said, "Well, no." He defended after-school programs, saying they give children something to do on weekday afternoons instead of getting involved with gangs, guns, alcohol and sex.

    I just thought I would share one funny response I was e-mailed to the governor's argument:

    I don’t know how they think they’re going to get these kids that are having tons of sex and then getting drunk and shooting s--t every day after school to come to some daycare program and play kickball. Maybe it’s just me.

    Between Friends

    Former President Pro Tem of the Senate John Burton was just appointed to the State Bar Attorney Diversion and Assistance Program Oversight Committee by current Pro Tem Don Perata

    Friday the 13th

    Just to note what today is...

    Reiner Qualifies Initiative

    Today, Secretary of State Bruce McPherson is expected to announce that Rob Reiner's preschool initiative has qualified for the June ballot. According to a campaign release,

    Late Thursday, the Preschool for All campaign received notification that the initiative would appear on the June ballot. The Preschool for All campaign submitted 1,036,647 signatures to local election officials in November 2005. The measure required 598,105 valid signatures to qualify.

    The Chamber of Commerce was quick to respond:

    “With all the real and pressing problems facing this state, the last thing we need to do is raise taxes $2.4 billion to create a new government run bureaucracy to replace our current system of preschools,” said Allan Zaremberg, President & CEO of the California Chamber of Commerce.

    Thursday, January 12, 2006

    Firefighters Weigh In

    The California Professional Firefighters announced their June primary endorsements today. And it looks like they went with the all-long-last-name team (besides Ortiz).

    GOVERNOR: Phil Angelides
    LT. GOVERNOR: John Garamendi
    ATTORNEY GENERAL: Rocky Delgadillo
    SECRETARY OF STATE: Deborah Ortiz (D)
    Bruce McPherson (R)
    TREASURER: Bill Lockyer
    CONTROLLER: Dario Frommer (D)
    Abel Maldonado (R)

    The Nitty Gritty

    So now that the governor has introduced his bond proposals, how will they move through the Legislature?

    The first step was finding people to carry his bills. That has been done. On the Senate side, Pro Tem Don Perata has waived the required 30-day waiting period for policy committees to hear the bills. In the Senate, those bills are SB 1163 (infrastructure and courts), SB 1164 (education), SB 1165 (transportation), and SB 1166 (water and flood protection).

    At the same time, both houses have bills are tha headed to conference committe. They are Senate Bills 81, 82, 83, 84 and 85 and Assembly Bills 147, 148, 149 150 and 152.

    That committee will be comprised of Senators Kevin Murray, Wes Chesbro and Dennis Hollingsworth as well as Assemblymembers John Laird, Judy Chu and Rick Keene.

    Both the conference committee and the policy committees are expected to begin meeting on the week of January 23, with March 15 (tentatively) the deadline for placing the bonds on the June primary ballot.

    About that warchest...

    Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Westly (and one-time eBay exec) just announced he has $24 million in his campaign account.

    Most of that money came from Westly himself, who deposited $20 million of his own money.

    See that here.

    Gov to Chertoff: "Concerns" over Homeland Security Money

    The governor sent a letter today to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, CCed to the California Congressional delegation, urging that he reconsider the proposed allocation of homeland security funds.

    The two areas Schwarzenegger says need more money are Sacramento and San Diego:

    I do not believe that the results of the current formula accurately or fairly reflect risk, as populous, high-risk cities such as Sacramento and San Diego are now only eligible to receive sustaining funds, and are at risk of losing UASI funding entirely in Fiscal Year 2007.

    The Sacramento region is not only home to the governing capitol of the world's sixth largest economy, but its multiple rivers, levees and dams are part of a system that serves the water needs of more than twenty million Californians. For example, Folsom Dam is critical to flood control, water and power supply and a terrorist strike on the dam would have immediate and serious effects on power and water supplies and could release up to one million acre feet of water stored in Folsom Lake resulting in debilitating floods. In addition to the physical infrastructure in the Sacramento region, well-reported cases of terrorist connections to a mosque in Lodi and the radicalization of inmates at Folsom prison illustrate some of the threats to the Sacramento region and support the need for continued UASI funding.

    The San Diego region is home to the nuclear power plant at San Onofre, the Port of San Diego and the entire infrastructure that comes with being the nation's seventh largest city. While it has been stated that the region's military presence is a deterrent and not itself vulnerable to a terrorist attack, terrorists have already succeeded in attacking one of our nation's most important military assets, the Pentagon, and have consistently, and successfully, targeted American military installations overseas. Additionally, the port of entry at San Ysidro on the Mexican border is the busiest in the world, with approximately 50 million people crossing into the United States through it every year. While federal agencies at the border work very hard to prevent the smuggling of terrorists across the border, it would be imprudent to end homeland security efforts there.

    For the full letter
    click here.

    CalPERS Purring...

    CalPERS had a good 2005.

    The fund, which is responsible for the pensions of 1.4 million state works earned 11.2 percent investment return last year.

    Click here for more.

    A decade ago...

    There is a new blog out there will thoughts about the last Assembly Republican Majority--which occured almost exactly a decade ago.
    Check it out here.

    One more candidate

    Former mayor of Del Mar Richard Earnest is announcing his candidacy for the 50th congressional district today.

    Governor's Bond Plan Would Monopolize State's Debt for More than a Decade

    The following appeared in Capitol Weekly today

    Once again, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is thinking big--proposing the largest investment in the state's infrastructure in its history.

    But lost amid the sheer size of the governor's $222 billion infrastructure package and $68 billion in proposed bonds was the potentially powerful new debt ceiling that could fundamentally change how--and perhaps more importantly--which state programs receive government funding.

    As written, the governor's infrastructure plan would essentially monopolize the state's entire general obligations bonding capacity for most of the next twenty years, boxing out any group whose pet projects are not contained in the package.

    "We want to cover the whole field," says Mike Genest, Schwarzenegger budget guru and current Director of Finance. "We want to take all the bonding capacity that we think is prudent for the state…and use the money wisely instead of letting it get chipped away with this or that flight of fancy."

    Here's how: By setting a new general obligations bond debt ceiling at 6 percent of general fund revenues and proposing new bonds that take the state within inches of that very ceiling (literally within 0.09 percent in the closest year), the Schwarzenegger administration effectively boxes out any other group seeking to leverage the state's borrowing capacity.

    Under the governor's proposal, the state wouldn't have any bonding wiggle room until 2020, though Genest admits that "iron-clad enforcement" of the ceiling would be difficult.

    Still, a strict ceiling would mean that any new voter-approved bonds--for investments like stem cell research, hospitals, or new state parks, none of which are included in the governor's plan--would have to wait at least a decade and a half to be implemented.

    "It would not only lock up the borrowing capacity, it would lock up any flexibility in the budget whatsoever," said Assemblyman John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, who is the chair of the budget committee and was recently appointed to the conference committee that will ultimately determine the shape of the bond.

    Some Democrats are not only frustrated by the governor's set of priorities--the package includes no money for new parks, affordable housing or high-speed rail--but also his usurping of the state's entire borrowing capacity.

    "We don't believe we should tie the hands of future generations on how they can spend their money," said Speaker of the Assembly Fabian Nunez.

    In a typical decade, the state's voters approve tens of billions of dollars in bonds for various projects--from education to transportation to prison construction. The state's voters have approved more than $97 billion in borrowing through more than 60 bonds since 1980.

    But instead of using the bonding capacity piecemeal as the state has historically done, the governor is proposing to leverage all the borrowing at once.

    Tim Blake, a senior vice president who tracks state debt for Moody's Investors Service in New York, says that the governor is proposing what is "roughly a doubling a baseline projection of new bonds" for the next decade, cornering the California general obligations bond market. G.O. bonds are the only state bonds without a dedicated revenue stream, and are guaranteed through the state's general fund.

    John Ellwood, a professor of public policy and budgeting at UC Berkeley, says the cap, above all, is about politics.

    "The first take is that he put that cap in there as a sweetener to conservatives. He can pretend to be fiscally conservative while introducing massive borrowing," says Ellwood. "But he could be shrewder than that. He could be saying I am going to lock in my priorities."

    And those interest groups not included on the governor's list of priorities are beginning to chafe about being left in the cold.

    "If the way this bond is set up is so that it elbowed aside all other important needs of the state such as parks, affordable housing and habitat and water protection, that would be a major concern," said Bill Allayaud, state legislative director of the Sierra Club.

    Specifically, the governor's "strategic growth plan" is a set of five bonds in 2006 totaling some $25.2 billion, with about half going to education, $6 billion to transportation, $3 billion to flood control and water, $2.6 to prison and jail construction, and $1.2 to rebuild the court system.

    The rest of the $68 billion package is spread across biennial elections until 2014, with another $10.2 billion in bonds appearing before voters in 2008, $18.9 billion in 2010 and education bonds of $8.7 and $5 billion appearing in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

    Even with the proposed debt cap, Republican response to the size of the package has been tepid.

    "What we don't want to do is get trapped into setting a figure… and then looking for a list of projects to do," said Assemblyman Rick Keene, R-Chico, who will be the Assembly's lone Republican on the bond conference committee. "To set a figure artificially of say, $60 billion, and to say for sure we will spend it--and we may not even spent it wisely--we really want the decision making to be different than that."

    Other Republicans have expressed dismay at the $68 billion figure, particularly from a governor who less two years ago proclaimed his intent "to tear up the credit card and throw it away."

    But Genest says the package is more like a mortgage than a credit card--a long-term investment that promises pay dividends.

    And like most first-time home buyers, the mortgage is likely to be the only borrowing California can afford in the near future.

    Says Genest, "That is the nub, that is the key thing in the strategy, is to do exactly that."

    Wednesday, January 11, 2006

    Alliance Member to Weigh in on Dem Primary

    Thus far, most of the unions that composed the Alliance for a Better California that spearheaded the movement against Gov. Schwarzenegger's special election have remained neutral in this year's Democratic primary.

    The California Federation of Teachers has endorsed Phil Angelides, but the California Teacher's Association and the California Correctional Peace Officer's Association have not.

    Tomorrow, the firefighters union (officially, the California Professional Firefighters) will announce their endorsement. This is not so much the endorsement itself, but the potential financing that could come along with it.

    Yee Pulls Endorsement

    Assemblyman Leland Yee announced the endorements of LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Speaker Fabian Nunez for his Senate run today.

    Stealing My Thunder below I just posted two bill carriers of the governor's bond package that I knew when the Speaker's office released a list of all the bill carriers. Here they are:

    AB 1831 (Jones) — Courts
    AB 1833 (Arambula) — Jails and Public Safety
    AB 1836 (Daucher) — Education
    AB 1838 (Oropeza) — Transportation
    AB 1839 (Laird) — Water and Flood Control

    SB 1163 (Ackerman) — Courts
    SB 1164 (Runner) — Education
    SB 1165 (Dutton) — Transportation
    SB 1166 (Aanestad/Machado)— Water and Flood Control

    Interestingly, almost all the Assembly bills are being carried by Democrats (minus Daucher) but in the Senate the bills are being carried by Republicans.

    Jones to Carry Court Bond

    Assemblyman Dave Jones, D-Sacramento, will carry the governor's court and public infrastructure bond. The general obligations bond will be $1.22 billion in 2006 and an additional $1 billion in 2010.

    Oropeza to Team with Governor

    Democrat and chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee Jenny Oropeza will carry the governor's transporation bonds, her office released today.

    Here's what she had to say:

    “While we may not yet agree on the specifics of his proposed infrastructure bond, I’m confident we share many of the same goals to improve transportation, air quality and traffic safety,” said Oropeza, who put formally introduced AB 1838 late Tuesday. “The final version will serve the transportation needs of all Californians.

    “One of my top priorities for AB 1838 is that any new construction does not exacerbate air pollution and includes components of the Air Quality Bond I announced last October.”

    “I commend the governor for including in his proposed budget full funding for Prop. 42 and a $920 million payment toward the $2.3 billion borrowed over the past three years.”

    Firebaugh drops $50,000

    Former Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh recently deposited $50,000 into his campaign for Senate District 30, in what has shaped up to be a three-way race between three one-time Assemblymen: Firebaugh, Rudy Bermudez, and Ron Calderon.

    "Quick and Dirty"

    The California Budget Project released its annual "quicky and dirty analysis of the budget yesterday. You can find it here.

    The LAO will release its analysis Overview of the 2006 07 Governor’s Budget. tomorrow morning.

    Tuesday, January 10, 2006

    Budget Has Landed

    Gov. Schwarzenegger unveiled his budget this afternoon. The ambitious can read it here.

    The first floor of the Secretary of State's office was hectic as reporters, Cabinet secretaries, legislators and press secretaries hustled and bustled about.

    Both Nunez and Perata sharply criticized the governor's spending on health and human services. When asked how he would pay for the programs being cut, Nunez said "I can tell you where a half-a-billion dollars is"-- a reference to Proposition 49, the governor's afterschool initiative that goes into effect in this budget.

    Nunez later said that he would offer to go to the ballot with the governor to postpone the implementation of the measure.

    Feinstein to Question Alito

    Today is a busy day. The governor is releasing his budget. The Assembly public safety committee is expected to torpedo several Republican bills. And Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito's hearings continue on Capitol Hill.

    For those who see that Alito's appointment is significant (it is), and are curious to watch California Sen. Feinstein question him, tune in at 12:35 pm today.

    Two-Bill Gil?

    Sen. Gil Cedillo, who is best-known around the Capitol for his relentless drive for licenses for illegal immigrants, is holding a press conference today to push for two bills: drivers' licenses and a minimum wage bill.

    There has been talk around the Capitol that Cedillo would carry such a bill. The big question was whether or not it would contain indexing. According to the release, the minimum wage hike will come "with an annual cost of living adjustment"--also known as indexing of some sort.

    Children's Health

    After months of rumbling that the governor would introduce some type of comprehensive children's healthcare plan this January, he revealed that his proposal is much more modest: a $72 million investment to expand outreach programs to existing programs, namely Healthy Families.

    An estimated 400,000 kids are currently eligible for the program but remain unenrolled.

    The Union-Tribune has the story.

    Assemblymembers Named to Conference Committee

    Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez has named the three Assembly representatives to the conference committee.

    They are budget chair John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, and appropriations chair Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park and budget vice-chair Rick Keene, R-Chico.

    It looks like Nunez tapped some Assemblymembers (particularly Chu and Laird) that he has already entrusted to high ranking Assembly positions.

    Monday, January 09, 2006

    Fat Lip

    I am not sure what exactly the joke is that the governor got a fat lip between the State of the State and the release of his budget. But here's a picture, courtesy of NBC in San Diego.

    To Conference Committee

    Later this week, the legislative leaders are expected to announce the gathering of a large conference committee to hammer out the details of a Legislature-approved bond.

    Three bonds, Nunez's, Perata's and Schwarzenegger's, will all go into the committee for discussion. What will come out is anyone's guess, but it is interesting that while Republicans have traditionally played the role of whittling down such bonds in conference, this time it will be the Republican governor's bond that is the biggest.

    Girding for the 12th

    State Senate district 12 is expected to be one of the few Republican-held seats that Democrats challenge for in 2006. But before that happens current resident Sen. Jeff Denham is preparing for battle by padding his campaign chest with hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    Last year alone, Denham raised some $1.2 million, most of which came from various Republican county party apparati and the state party. Toward the end of the year, San Diego sent him $25,000, Merced $70,000, Stanislaus $57,500, Monterey $50,000 and the state party another quarter million.

    The most talked about challenger is Assemblyman Simon Salinas, most recently known as the 41st vote needed to pass the gay marriage bill in the Assembly last year. If he does not run, former Assemblyman Fred Keeley may.

    Under the Radar

    If anyone is looking for a long story about the state of the governor's governorship that is a little below the radar check out this from the California Magazine.

    In Stitches

    The governor was in a minor motorcycle accident yesterday afternoon, riding his Harley Davidson with his son Patrick, 12. According to a statement, "Both were wearing helmets and were released from St. John's Hospital after treatment for minor cuts and bruises. The other driver was not injured."

    "Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger received 15 stitches to repair a cut lip today after a minor traffic accident near his home in Los Angeles. The accident occurred at around 3:15pm when another driver backed into a street in front of Governor Schwarzenegger as he rode his Harley Davidson motorcycle. The Governor was unable to avoid the vehicle in his path and collided with it at a low speed.

    Both are OK and the guv is expected to keep appointments for today.

    Sunday, January 08, 2006

    Hopes for Housing?

    When the governor rolled out his $222 billion infrastructure package at last week's State of the State, housing advocates had to be hoping for a bone or two to be thrown their way.

    It didn't happen. But the bond proposals of both legislative leaders do include monies for housing. Now affordable housing advocates are trying to leverage those proposals to be included in the governor's mega-bond and mega-infrastructure proposal.

    John Hill has the story in today's Sac Bee.

    "We're disappointed" at not being included in Schwarzenegger's proposal, said Chris Bender, a spokesman for Housing California, a coalition of more than 1,000 nonprofit developers and other housing organizations. "But we're encouraged by the fact that we're in these two other bonds. ... We feel like we're in a pretty good negotiating position."

    The last infusion of affordable housing money came in 2002 when voters approved Proposition 46, a bond which provided $2.1 billion for the cause.

    Saturday, January 07, 2006


    With a $222 billion infrastructure plan, one might think that nearly every infrastructure plan possible is being proposed by the governor.

    But some ideas that have been bantered about for years are being left in the dust, most notably high-speed rail.

    The AP has the story.

    Friday, January 06, 2006

    Fit, Fat or Otherwise

    The fittest city in California is San Francisco, ranked 7th in the nation in a new study. California's next fittest city is Sacramento (11), followed by Oakland (19).

    Among the bulging waist towns, according to Men's Fitness, Los Angeles is third fattest, followed by Long Beach at number 7, Fresno (22) and San Jose (24th fattest).

    The fittest city in America is...Baltimore? Read it all here.

    The Bond

    Today the governor will zig zag the state promoting his "Strategic Growth Plan" bond.

    So what's in it, read the gov's own overview here.

    Stuck Between a Rock and a $68 Billion Bond

    Policy aside, last night's speech was a piece of shrewd political maneuvering. The LA Times looks at how Gov. Schwarzenegger made life harder for his Democratic rivals.

    Neither Democrat could much fault Schwarzenegger's calls for vast public construction projects, a higher minimum wage, cheaper prescription drugs or a freeze in university enrollment fees — even if they questioned the timing or details. By and large, he was pushing ideas long championed by Democrats.

    And for the Republican party faithful (and legislators) there is little to do but hope to focus the direction of the massive bond toward a conservative bent. Some conservatives were already grasping at the 6 percent debt service cap as the lone sign post that the governor remained a fiscal conservative last night. The reality is that right now, the California Republican Party needs the governor. Period.

    As GOP strategist Bill Whalen said months ago, "The Republican Party is like the San Francisco Giants. With their superstar, they’re a good team, but without him, the team is suspect."

    Listening to Republican legislators last night inside the "spin tent," many seemed ill at-ease with the proposed bond but unwilling to step on their party leader's toes.

    Also in the tent, Duf Sundheim, chairman of the Republican party, stood watching the speech, arms-crossed and eyes focused.

    He dutifully answered questions about the bond, the minimum wage hike and other seemingly-Democratic proposals, while expressing both skepticism and hope ( "the devil is in the details" is officially the most overused phrase of the State of the State spin room).

    Reactions to the Speech

    Check out Capitol Weekly for the big wigs reactions to the speech.

    Also here is the text of the speech.

    Thursday, January 05, 2006

    In their words

    Each of the legislative leaders wrote a column for today's Capitol Weekly, outlining their strategy and priorities in 2006. It's worth a read.

    Don Perata: Senate Democrats eye basics: Roads, schools, health care and energy

    Dick Ackerman: For Senate Republicans, improving infrastructure is the top priority.

    Kevin McCarthy: Addressing Long-Term Problems Should Be Legislature's Top Priority

    Fabian Nunez: Assembly Democrats: Quality education must take center stage

    Democrats prepare for potentially bloody primary battle

    The following appeared in Capitol Weekly today

    With just more than six months until the June gubernatorial primary, Democrats are bracing for what is expected to be a bitter and intense battle for the right to face Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in November.

    Though two big-name Hollywood Democrats flirted with a run, the field has ultimately thinned to two--state Treasurer Phil Angelides and Controller Steve Westly--both of whom are little known outside of Sacramento and are recognized by less than half of California voters.

    Some party leaders are holding out hope for bloodless primary, but each candidate has surrounded himself with battle-scarred veterans with a history of brutal campaigns and a penchant for the jugular.

    "When you run for governor, everything you have done in your entire life is open for examination. That's the way it works," said Garry South, a one-time aide to Gov. Gray Davis and now a senior strategist for Westly.

    Though the race is still in its infancy, Westly has already gone on the offensive, criticizing both Angelides and Schwarzenegger for failing to release a decade of tax returns, saying that Angelides "has developed a pattern over the years of resisting full disclosure."

    The fact that the ten-year tax window dips into Angelides' past as a Sacramento-area real estate developer and land speculator is no accident. It is a chapter of the treasurer's past that most observers expect the Westly campaign to highlight.

    For its part, the Angelides camp, which polls show ahead by 11 or so points in the head-to-head match-up, has countered that Westly is a politician "with his finger in the wind," an opportunist who stood side by side with a popular Schwarzenegger in early 2004, but now opposes the governor because it is politically expedient.

    "The fact is from day one, even when his poll numbers were at 70 percent, I stood up to this governor when he was doing the wrong thing," Angelides told Capitol Weekly.

    With all this before the campaigns have really kicked into gear, some among the Democratic faithful are worried that a nasty primary will severely damage the eventual nominee.

    "I am hoping for it not to be a bitter primary. I am going to do all I can to try to make it that way," said Art Torres, chairman of the California Democratic Party. "The overall campaign has to be as positive as possible for both the candidates because that will bode us well in November."

    But history does not bode well for Torres. Angelides earned a reputation as a win-at-all-costs campaigner as far back as 1994, when he ran for state treasurer against former Senate leader David Roberti. In one memorable television advertisement, Angelides attacked Roberti's anti-abortion position by highlighting the murder of an abortion doctor in Florida.

    South says the ad so offended him that Angelides is the only Democrat running for statewide office he did not vote for in 1994--or since. Angelides defeated Roberti in that primary, but lost to Republican Matt Fong in the Republican tide of the fall of 1994.

    Late last year, the Angelides campaign hired Bob Mulholland, a brusque former advisor to the Democratic party, known for his confrontational tactics.

    South helped secure Gray Davis' reelection in 2002 by taking out attack ads during the Republican gubernatorial against Richard Riordan, is helping shape strategy for Westly, positioning him as the moderate in the race--the "electable" alternative to a more liberal Angelides.

    "Angelides has been shrill and strident and has moved way too far to the left," says South. "And if he is the nominee, the [Republicans] will slice him and dice him like a Veg-O-Matic."

    "He will turn out like a Democratic Dan Lungren," adds South, a reference to Davis' conservative Republican opponent who was trounced at the polls in 1998.

    The hirings of South and Mulholland have many Democrats bracing for an expensive, and nasty campaign.

    "They start out with good intentions until one of them falls behind and they say 'screw this'. Then they go to the Armageddon strategy and all hell will break loose," said Bruce Cain, director of the UC Washington Center. "And with Bob Mulholland on one side and Garry South on the other, you have some guys that know how to get down and dirty."

    Despite the intensifying rhetoric, the two candidates tend to agree on many of the state's hot-button issues. They both support gun control, strict environmental protections, abortion rights and gay marriage.

    Both were Democratic activists from a young age, though Westly, now 49, first ran for elected office in 2002, while Angelides, now 52, launched a failed bid for Sacramento City Council at 19 years old and has since served as Democratic party chairman, and two terms as state treasurer.

    The issue that has most divided the candidates is new taxes.

    While California voters have been characteristically schizophrenic on government spending, simultaneously demanding both lower taxes and better services, Westly has tried to walk that fine line with them, refusing to embrace calls for higher taxes.

    But Angelides has been more clear, decrying budget debt and spending cuts, leaving higher taxes as the only viable option to fill the state's schools, healthcare system and transportation needs.

    On Wednesday, in his first major policy speech of the campaign, Angelides announced his plan to rollback all the Schwarzenegger-approved tuition and fee hikes at California colleges, admit 20,000 new students to state schools, expand Cal Grants, and double the number of college counselors.

    As for who would foot the bill, he said, "We can close corporate tax loopholes; we can ask millionaires to chip in; we can collect uncollected taxes; we can fund this."

    The event typified Angelides' early campaign strategy. It is the strategy of the front-runner, focusing his fire on Schwarzenegger, with nary a mention of his primary opponent.

    Even Angelides' campaign team is more focused on the governor, and President Bush, than they are Steve Westly. "The governor this week has started to read from an election year script," said Angelides spokesman Dan Newman. "It fits the Bush-Rove strategic plan of going into an election year and embracing moderate rhetoric that is different from the way you govern."

    You can read the piece here as well.

    Wednesday, January 04, 2006

    The Fong-Lamar-Arnold Connection

    The Chronicle is reporting today that the governor has hired a new campaign manager, Steve Schmidt.

    Schmidt, a White House aide, was part of the elite "Breakfast Club" that met daily with Karl Rove to plan Bush's reelection strategy.

    But before Mr. Schmidt went to Washington, he worked in California on the campaign of Matt Fong in 1998. The new communications directory for the governor, Adam Mendelsohn, also worked with Schmidt on that campaign.

    In fact, the pair also worked together on the campaign of one-time Republican presidential aspirant Lamar Alexander.

    And now, they are reunited again.

    Carol Corrigan Confirmed

    Gov. Schwarzenegger's choice for the Supreme Court was quickly confirmed today by the Senate. Schwarzenegger had this to say:

    "I want to congratulate Justice Corrigan on her confirmation as the newest justice of the California Supreme Court. She is an accomplished jurist, brilliant legal scholar and well-respected member of the legal community with the education, skills, experience and integrity necessary to serve in this position. I have full confidence she will continue to be a thorough, fair and conscientious justice and will serve the people of California with honor and dignity as a member of our state's highest court."

    Tribes Cut State $25 Million Check

    The five Indian tribes that comprise the California Tribal Business Alliance have sent the state $25.2 million as their quarterly payment. Those tribes have paid $159 million in all since negotiating their compacts.

    The tribes in the California Tribal Business Alliance are the Pala Band of Mission Indians, the Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians, the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians, the United Auburn Indian Community, and the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians.

    Pancakes with Perata

    Senate Leader Don Perata invited the press to come to IHOP (the Informational House of Perata) this morning for some hot-off-the-griddle discussion of the coming legislative session.

    Unfortunately, neither the pre-made pancakes nor the remarks were particularly hot-off-the-griddle. Perata adopted a tone of working with the governor this year and putting the special election debacle of 2005 behind. His top priority remains the infrastructure bond, and intends to put it on the June ballot, if at all possible.

    He estimated California's additional bond indebtedness borrowing capacity at another $20 to $25 billlion, though he said there is no definitive number. He also did not reveal the specific size of his bond proposal, but said that all the details would be hammered out in a conference committee where all the various bond proposals would end up.

    As for why the urgency of a June ballot, he compared legislators to college students, saying that people in the Capitol simply work better with an impending deadline.

    Nunez: Redistricting and Term Limts Together

    In his first speech of the year on the Assembly floor Speaker Fabian Nunez said that the Assembly would help put a measure on the June ballot to address voters' concerns over the redistricting process. But along with it, he hinted that there would also be something to allow legislators to serve all fourteen years of their legislative eligibility in a single house.

    That could only be a good thing for Nunez, who would then be eligible to remain Speaker for nearly another decade.

    Angelides unveils 5-point education plan

    In a town-hall style event in Sacramento today, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides announced his first act as governor (if elected): He would roll back all the fee and tuition hikes Gov. Schwarzenegger has approved for higher education.

    That would lower the fees for a community college degree by $500, a CSU degree by $2000, and a UC degree by $5000, Angelides said.

    The other points in the plan include adding 20,000 new California college students, doubling the number of public school counselors, raising the income threshold for those eligible for Cal Grants and reinvesting state property and taking the money and investing it in schools.

    Calling All Legislators

    Floor sessions resume today in both houses at noon.

    Tuesday, January 03, 2006

    Democrats for Lower Taxes?

    Assemblywoman Patty Berg and Sen. Wes Chesbro announced today that they will introduce a bill to provide tax breaks to North Coast residents who have been impacted by the recent slate of storms.

    E is for Emergency

    The governor today has now declared a state of emergency in 16 counties affected by the recent swell of storms and flooding.

    They are: Butte, El Dorado, Lake, Lassen, Marin, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sutter, Yolo, and Yuba.

    LAO: Bonds Key to Improving Infrastructure

    The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office has released a report on California's infrastructure needs and how the state could finance improvements. You can read the full report here

    As far as financing is concerned, here is the key paragraph:

    In theory, we could fund all of our infrastructure needs upfront through the direct appropriations of taxes and fees under a pay-as-you-go approach without any borrowing. However, this is not realistic, given the large volume of our infrastructure needs, the importance of having this infrastructure available within the foreseeable future, and the substantial magnitude of tax and fee increases that direct appropriations would necessitate. Thus, although direct appropriations and renting/leasing may be able to play an important role in addressing our infrastructure needs, borrowing through the use of bond financing will have to play a significant role.

    Schwarzenegger to Boost Education by $4 Billion

    The governor to continues to trickle out the specifics of the budget and the State of the State address. Today, the governor and Secretary of Education Alan Bersin announced that the governor will propose what they call "the largest investment in the quality of our schools ever proposed for K-12 education in California."

    "Nothing is more important than education because how we prepare our children today will shape the California of tomorrow," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "That is why I am very happy to announce that my education budget for the coming year will increase our investment in our children by $4 billion, the largest increase in our entire state budget ever, bringing total education spending to nearly $11,000 per student."

    The education (and union) coalition that opposed the governor in last year's special election had previously announced that they would seek $5.5 billion in new education funds.

    Part of the governor's proposed $4 billion ($428 million of it) will be kicked towards Proposition 49, the afterschool initiative that Schwarzenegger used as a launching pad for his political career.

    The announcement comes on the heels of the release that Schwarzenegger will "buy back" the recent tuition hikes approved by the UC and CSU systems.

    New Blog

    HacknFlak anonymous contributor Marvin Lucas has launched "her" own blog The Samish Shop.

    I will be adding a link in the "From the Left" section.

    O Canada

    Yesterday, Gov. Schwarzenegger sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to allow for the importation of cheaper drugs from foreign countries:

    Dear Senator Frist, Senator Reid, Speaker Hastert and Minority Leader Pelosi,

    As you begin work on developing the agenda for the upcoming 2006 congressional session I urge you to make passage of legislation that will allow American consumers to import safe prescription drugs from other countries a top priority.

    Democrats quickly countered that the governor had vetoed bills the last two years that would have made drugs cheaper.

    Happy New Year

    Welcome to 2006 and welcome back to the Legislature. Posting will resume at the usual rate starting today.