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

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

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

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

    For complete election results click here.

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

    For complete election results click here.

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

    For complete election results click here.

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    Tuesday, February 28, 2006

    Legislative leaders on D.C. swing

    Here are the critical comments of Fabian Nunez and Don Perata on the governor's D.C. tour:

    Nunez:“While we are pleased the Governor is finally engaging decision-makers in Washington, we are disappointed that he is returning to California empty-handed. With California Republicans in control of six key Congressional committees and with the Administration’s strong links to President Bush and Vice President Cheney, we were hopeful the Governor would have been able to obtain more than yet another visit by an administration official.”

    “Billions of dollars of federal cuts to California’s budget are looming, we’re owed millions in reimbursements from the Medicare fiasco, and the Governor is proposing a massive bond that relies on federal matching funds that are evaporating. It would have been nice to see some sign that California would be doing better than getting a 79 cents return on every dollar we send to Washington. The Governor has failed to deliver.”

    Perata:It’s disrespectful to the governor of the largest state in the nation when all he comes back with from Washington is a vague promise that the Homeland Security Secretary will tour the levees.

    The governor's bond proposal assumes a massive influx of federal funds, so the Bush Administration could at least have given some sign that that is even possible.

    The governor can better serve California lining up Republican votes in the legislature for an infrastructure bond. Here he’ll get the opportunity to succeed.

    Assembly GOP: Use 'First 5' Money for Education

    A group of Assembly Republicans led by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy introduced legislation today to take the 'First 5' money dedicated to outreach and use it to fund accelerated preschool programs.

    The 'First 5' money has come under scrutiny in recent weeks as it was used to air $23 million pro-preschool advertising only months before a universal preschool initiative is to appear on the ballot.

    According to the release:

    “Democrats and Republicans alike have questioned the lack of accountability and misuse of taxpayer funds by the First 5 Commission,” McCarthy said. “Instead of lining the pockets of wealthy Los Angeles advertising executives, we believe it is better to invest the people’s money in accelerated preschool programs that will help disadvantaged children across California.”

    Assembly Bill 2150 redirects funds currently spent by the First 5 Commission for mass media advertising and administration, and instead invests in accelerated preschool programs that will be implemented statewide. Under AB 2150, $42 million would be set aside for accelerated programs that give young students a leg up in reading, math, and social skills – potentially benefiting 120,000 young children currently not enrolled in preschool.

    Tran out, Daucher in

    Both the FlashReport and Orange Punch are reporting that Assemblyman Van Tran is dropping out of his state Senate race.

    That leaves the field fairly empty for Lynn Daucher who will face off against either Assemblyman Tom Umberg or Lou Correa, two Democrats that look to have a bruising primary.

    The Senate seat is considered the most (and only) competitive seat this fall. It would hardly alter the balance of power in the Senate (from 25-15 to 24-16, if the Republicans win) but would be big for bragging rights.

    Gov to Bush on Levees

    Yesterday Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sent a letter to President Bush requesting a federal disaster declaration for California levees.

    Mr. President, during the past two flood seasons, severe weather conditions have caused me to proclaim states of emergency in as many as 42 counties. In fact, as you know, less than two months ago I proclaimed states of emergency covering 34 counties in California and those same counties were declared disaster areas by the Federal government. These storms alone caused more than an estimated $400 million in disaster-related damages throughout California's coastal areas and the Central Valley, and further weakened critical erosion sites on project levees along the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers.

    Increasingly severe weather systems each season have accelerated the deterioration of the state's levee system to the point where they are now in danger of failing during the next major rainfall or earthquake. This worsening situation creates conditions of extreme peril to the public and property protected by the levees, to the environment, and to the very foundation of California's economy.

    Schwarzenegger met with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff yesterday--and Chertoff agreed to come tour the California levee system in the coming weeks.

    Poll: California still doesn't like Bush

    Here's the story in the Chronicle:

    More than half of all Californians, 56 percent, disapprove of Bush's performance as president, while just 36 percent approve, the poll showed. Vice President Dick Cheney fares only slightly better, with 53 percent viewing him unfavorably and 38 percent seeing him in a favorable light.

    But even worse are the Bush administration's approval ratings with regard to the handling of the Iraq war, the poll showed. Today, 65 percent of Californians surveyed oppose the president's handling of the war, and just 30 percent approve.

    You can find the full Field Poll here.

    Monday, February 27, 2006

    A Peek at the Ads

    Check out the Alliance for a Better California blog for a look at the new television ads for both Westly and Angelides.

    On the Air

    Westly has announced today that his campaign is going on the air in San Francisco, Sacramento, and Los Angeles--which covers 80 percent of the electorate (and a higher percent of Democratic primary voters).

    The Angelides campaign will unveil their first ad of the campaign later today as well.

    Dymally on Hickman

    Assemblyman Mervyn M. Dymally, chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, says that the resignation of Rod Hickman as head of the Department of Corrections leaves Gov. Schwarzenegger without an African American in his cabinet.

    Says Dymally:

    “The resignation of Mr. Roderick Q. Hickman as Secretary of California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation leaves the Governor’s cabinet without an African American.”

    What a sad commentary for a state with a diverse population such as California. Say what you want about Rod Hickman, but he was an honest broker with an impossible task. Prison reform has been historically difficult. To really address prison reform we must also examine a criminal justice system that emphasizes imprisonment instead of rehabilitation.

    Hickman will be remembered as a reformer who tried his best."

    The governor has named Jeanne S. Woodford acting secretary.

    Lose Pounds, Earn Dollars

    California Republican Assembly President Mike Spence has begun a very public weight-loss campaign to raise money for conservative candidates.

    Check out his site here.

    This, on the heels of Cruz Bustamante's pledge to lose 50 pounds, which News10 is documenting. But Bustamante, unlike Spence, hasn't tried to turn pounds into dollars just yet.

    Schnur on Angelides

    Republican political consultant Dan Schnur has penned a column picking apart Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides.

    There are really only two things you need to know about Phil Angelides: he’s not Arnold Schwarzenegger and he wants to raise taxes on rich people.

    Schnur later adds this:

    In other words, given the opportunity, most people will vote to tax the rich. But they’re much less likely to vote for a politician who wants do it for them. It may be a matter of trust. It may be a reluctance to cede control of the decision. But the political graveyards are full of former candidates who thought that one voter tendency necessarily led to the other.

    Not quite $120 million

    On the Meet the Press appearance, Schwarzenegger backtracked on the $120 million fundraising goal.

    Mr. Russert: And the estimates are you plan to spend $120 million dollars on your reelection effort. When you first ran, you...

    Gov. Schwarzenegger: That number didn’t come from me, may I remind you. It was some outsider that has nothing to do with us has said that, OK?

    So much for that.

    Meet the Press

    Gov. Schwarzenegger appeared on Meet the Press yesterday. Here's a transcript.

    Friday, February 24, 2006

    High school student gives governor $44,600

    The following appeared in Capitol Weekly today

    A Eureka high school student, and the daughter of a major Schwarzenegger donor, has given the maximum donation of $44,600 to the governor's reelection effort. The donation came on the same day as maximum donations from her mother, father and sister.

    All told, the Arkley family funneled $178,400 to the governor's reelection efforts in a single day earlier this month.

    "Most Californians would find it ridiculous that a high schooler can give so much money to a candidate when they themselves are unable to afford to do so," said Ned Wigglesworth, an analyst with, a campaign finance watchdog group. "Most high schoolers are worried about getting into college or maybe buying a new car, not a $44,600 contribution to a political candidate."

    Because Elizabeth Arkley is 18 years old, she, like any other adult, can donate up to $22,300 to Schwarzenegger for both the gubernatorial primary and general election. Elizabeth's parents, Cherie and Robin Arkley and her college-aged sister, Allison, each gave $44,600 to the governor's reelection camapign.

    "Even if she is 18, it highlights how out of whack California's system of funding campaigns is," says Wigglesworth.

    Bundling donations with multiple family members is an increasingly common trend used to fill campaign coffers. State Treasurer Phil Angelides' gubernatorial campaign has received donations of $22,300 from no less than seven members of the Tsakopolous family, while state Controller Steve Westly has had donors such as Hollywood producer Haim Saban bundle his donations of $44,600 with his wife Cheryl's contributions on the same day.

    But what makes the governor's recent donation noteworthy is the high school status of the donor.

    The governor's opponents were still quick to attack the governor for the donation.

    "This governor always says he has a special interest in California's kids," said Nick Velazquez, a spokesman for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Westly. "We just didn't know until now his interest was in shaking them down for campaign contributions."

    Brian Brokaw, a spokesman for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides, said that, "Considering Schwarzenegger started the year nearly half a million dollars in debt, it's no surprise he is scrambling to meet his $120 million fundraising goal for 2006."

    But the governor's campaign team defended the contribution. "The governor welcomes supporters from all backgrounds," said Katie Levinson, the campaign's communications director. "This contribution was made by an adult and is perfectly legal."

    The recent donations were hardly the first political contributions from the Arkleys. Robin Arkley, who owns the Eureka Reporter newspaper, gave the governor's California Recovery Team $250,000 in 2004, and shelled out more than $500,000 to the Yes on 75 committee last year. At the national level, Arkey gave more than $500,000 to an independent committee to defeat then-U.S. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle in 2004. He also donated $100,000 to President George W. Bush's second inaugural.

    But Wigglesworth says that the Arkleys failed to disclose additional donations made last year by their family-owned SN Servicing Corporation. Robin and Cherie Arkley are listed under "Race Investments LLC" in their major donor filings with the California secretary of state. But SN Servicing Corporation, which Mr. Arkley owns, gave the business-backed Citizens to Save California $250,000 and the Small Business Action Committee $100,000 last year.

    Robin Arkley was traveling Thursday and could not be reached for comment.

    Wigglesworth said TheRestofUs planned to file a formal complaint with
    the Fair Political Practices Commission on Friday.

    "Wealthy interests can already give too much money in California," says Wigglesworth. "The major donor filings do help inform Californians which wealthy interests are trying to influence the political process. But when major donors make incomplete filings, enabling them to avoid disclosure, it deprives Californians of knowing who is trying to influence our elections."

    You can also find the story here.

    Convention Time

    The GOP faithful will gather in San Jose this evening for the much-anticipated election year convention. In the comments section, what you do think is the best that Arnold can hope for coming out of this weekend? Does Schwarzenegger solidify his Republican base? Or do the rank-and-file members of the party continue to smoulder (over policy and political appointments) and--though not rescinding their endorsement--not come to the full aid of the governor come November? And with so thin a bench at the statewide level, who else can Republicans really turn to for help?

    Thursday, February 23, 2006

    Quote of the Week

    Former Assemblyman Scott Wildman, who recently withdrew from the race for the 43rd Assembly district, interviewed with the Glendale News Press about his leaving the race.

    "I had gone to Sacramento to do some exploratory fundraising with lobbyists and I was told it will cost over $1 million in terms of expenditures," said Wildman, who has raised about $80,000. "I can't kiss that much ass for the sake of holding public office."

    Read the full story here.

    PPIC on Environment

    The PPIC has a new poll out today about Californians and the environment. Read it here.

    Here are the highlights:

    *An overwhelming number of likely voters in California (87%) say candidates’ positions on the environment and coast will be important in the 2006 gubernatorial elections.

    *Latinos are more likely than whites (60% to 44%) to say the environmental policies of gubernatorial candidates are very important to them.

    *Across political parties, support is high for reducing ocean and beach pollution, even if it means paying higher taxes (Democrats 80%, independents 73%, Republicans 68%).

    *Partisan accord breaks down over offshore oil drilling: Eighty percent of Democrats and 69 percent of independents oppose it, while 51percent of Republicans favor it.

    *Many Californians are very concerned about fish or other seafood for sale having contaminants such as mercury (64%) and being commercially overfished (46%).

    New In Capitol Weekly

    I have two stories in this week's Capitol Weekly. The first is a look at Irving Moskowitz:

    California bingo and card club's Middle East connection

    To hear critics tell it, Dr. Irving Moskowitz uses funds from his California bingo hall--staffed by unpaid, predominantly Latino workers--to fund millions of dollars worth of controversial settlements in Israel, while leveraging his local philanthropy to all but control the small southern California city of Hawaiian Gardens.

    In August of 2004, this bingo king, who spent more than $2.1 million backing a failed 2004 initiative to allow the state's card clubs to have slot machines, was granted a permanent license by the Gambling Control Commission to operate one of the state's largest card clubs--right next door to the controversial bingo parlor.

    The story begins eighteen years ago in California's smallest city, a thumbnail sized nine-tenths of a square mile town with a predominantly Latino population of 15,000, and an average yearly income that hovers above $10,000, according to the latest census data...

    Read the rest here.

    The second story is about strange legislation in California.

    'Only in California' bills dot Capitol landscape

    If various members of the California Legislature had their way this year, there would be much stiffer penalties for a vampire drinking merlot while holding a can of paint in the trunk of a car that is smashing bird nests in a park.

    It's not as outlandish as it sounds.

    Legislators of both parties have introduced a flurry of bills to beat the Feb. 24 deadline for new legislation. And the aims of some of those bills are downright goofy.

    Read the rest here.

    Slow Start

    Sorry for the late postings today...More to come soon.

    Wednesday, February 22, 2006

    Rebuilding California, His Website

    Gov. Schwarzenegger's website has been stripped of its contents and is "under renovation."

    H/T New West Notes.

    Ludlow Resigns

    Martin Ludlow, the head of the powerful Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, announced that he is stepping down and was close to reaching a plea bargain with federal prosecutors. Ludlow is a close confidant of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

    The Los Angeles Times has the story.

    There is a good Times sidebar as well, covering how it was the involvement of union funds that doomed Ludlow.

    If Martin Ludlow had received improper financial assistance from an ordinary individual or business as part of his 2003 City Council campaign, he likely would have faced a hefty fine under local law and a few rough stories in the newspaper.

    Life would have pretty much gone on — as it has for some other members of the council.

    In 2002, for example, then-council President Alex Padilla was hit with a record $79,321 fine by the Los Angeles Ethics Commission for failing to abide by the city's spending cap during his 1999 campaign and for accepting two donations over the $500 limit.

    Padilla paid the fine and subsequently won a second term unopposed and was twice reelected as council president. He now is in the midst of a run for the state Senate.

    Ludlow, however, is alleged to have received at least $53,000 of assistance illegally funneled through a union, putting him in the crosshairs of a federal law that oversees dues paid by members of organized labor.

    It is an intersting angle, read about it here.

    Tuesday, February 21, 2006

    Enemy Territory

    Tomorrow afternoon, Democratic AG candidate Rocky Delgadillo is heading to Oakland to speak at an anti-Wal Mart rally calling for corporate reform of one of America's corporate giants.

    The rally, organized by, will take place in front of Oakland's new Wal Mart store. The outlet was built during the administration of Mayor Jerry Brown...Delgadillo's primary opponent this June.

    Wal-Mart has long been a touchstone for anger from the left of the Democratic party, as the company offers low benefits and low wages to keep cutthroat prices for the general public.

    He will be joined by others looking to tap into liberal ire. Oakland City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente who is running for mayor of Oakland. And the trifecta of state Senate candidates Johan Klehs, John Dutra and Ellen Corbett.

    Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Infrastructure

    The Institute for Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley has a page up about infrastructure in California.

    There is a history section, a background section, and a large selection of news stories.

    Go Bears!

    It's Official

    Dr. Phil Kurzner is officially out of the race for insurance commissioner.

    Check out his statement on his website here.

    Welcome to Monterey*

    *CORRECTION*: Only Steve Westly is in Monterey today. Angelides is elsewhere but his supporters are in Monterey announcing the endorsement.

    Both Democratic gubernatorial candidates Steve Westly and Phil Angelides are in Monterey today. At 10am this morning, Angelides is announcing the endorsements of "environmental advocates, teachers, firefighters and students”.

    Westly will be all around town, checking out the Center for the Future of the Oceans, the Blue Moon Café, the Farmer's Market in Downtown Monterey and in the evening a Town Hall meeting.

    Goldberg for Superintendent?

    The Daily News reports:

    With Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Roy Romer nearing retirement, the game has begun to find his replacement, and the name bandied about town the loudest and most consistently: Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg.

    "Chronicle Article is Misleading"

    Steve Westly is fighting backing against a San Francisco Chronicle article about his IPO sales.

    The article in the San Francisco Chronicle is misleading and any suggestion that laddering occurred is false. While I invite and expect scrutiny, I expect such scrutiny to be fair and accurate. This article is neither. There was no laddering and no laddering agreement...It is irresponsible for a newspaper to make such allegations when there is no evidence to support the charge.

    Unfortunately, Westly declined a Chronicle interview for the article in advance.

    When The Chronicle sought to interview Westly about the stock trades, campaign manager Jude Barry said he would speak for Westly.

    The original article appeared here.

    Monday, February 20, 2006

    Dorinson is Republican Party's New Communications Director

    Capitol Weekly has the breaking story.

    Patrick Dorinson, a former fundraiser in Bill Clinton's presidential campaign and former member of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's administration, has been selected as the new communications director of the California Republican Party.

    Dorinson has penned a column for this week's paper, documenting his shift from Democrat to Republican.

    I was a Democrat. But like Ronald Reagan and others before me, my political journey has led me to the Republican Party. This is my story of that journey.

    From 1987 until 1997, I worked on political campaigns for many Democrats including Al Gore and Bill Clinton. My politics were geared to the Democratic Leadership Council of which they were both members. This was the moderate wing of the Democratic Party that was formed after the 1984 Reagan landslide to try to move the party to the center away from the "San Francisco Democrats"- a phrase coined by another former Democrat, Jeane Kirkpatrick.

    Read the full column here.

    101 miles in AD 59

    The Pasadena Star-News profiled AD 59 over the weekend. It is a 101 mile district from end to end (via road)--that the paper describes as "Republican to the core".

    Read about the race to succeed Assemblyman Dennis Mountjoy.

    That's the Ticket

    The Contra Costa Times has an interesting look at the pair of Republicans running for governor and lieutenant governor.

    Typically in California, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor don't campaign as running mates -- but you would never guess it by watching Republicans Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tom McClintock lately.

    The 2006 campaign is still young, but Schwarzenegger, the incumbent governor seeking an uncertain re-election, and McClintock, a state senator from Ventura County running for lieutenant governor, look very much like a tag team.

    Personal friendship -- and political necessity -- have forged an alliance between the two that mirrors a presidential-vice presidential slate, with each shoring up the other's weaknesses.

    Still Around

    The Bakersfield California reports that the city of Bakersfield has let Willie Brown go as a lobbyist.

    No big deal, officials say. It's just that Brown was hired last year to try to get one bill passed. The job got done, and he is no longer in the city's employ, said city spokeswoman Rhonda Smiley.

    Brown was hired to lobby for a bill that would give Bakersfield a permanent seat on a panel that referees border disputes between local government agencies, the Local Agency Formation Commission.

    The bill passed, Brown earned his $5000 and that's that.

    Sunday, February 19, 2006

    Bipartisan Appointer

    Gov. Schwarzenegger continued his pattern this week of bipartisan appointments. On Saturday his office announced 12 appointments within the state bureaucracy, including 7 Democrats, 3 Republicans and 2 decline-to-states.

    Later in the day, he announced three judicial appointments to the Los Angeles County Superior Court, including two Republicans and 1 decline-to-state.

    The Microscope

    There is nothing like running for governor, as both Steve Westly and Phil Angelides are finding out. Both have already run (and won) other down-ticket statewide offices but the press (and the candidate's own opposition researchers) begin to dig deeper into their past for a gubernatorial run.

    Today, large stories probing the two Democrats past appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Sacramento Bee.

    Each was more than 2000 words long.

    The Westly piece looked into his IPO trades while an executive at eBay.

    His tax returns show that on 33 occasions between April and October 1999, Westly -- then an executive at the online auction house eBay and today a Democratic candidate for governor -- bought blocks of hot new dot-com stocks at the initial public offering price, a lucrative investment opportunity that underwriters steered to wealthy clients and other insiders.

    Then, after the market opened and public trading began, Westly bought more of the same stocks -- almost always an identical number of shares. He paid premium prices, sometimes as much as triple what he paid for the IPO.

    A Westly spokesman said Westly did nothing improper, but several experts consulted by The Chronicle said Westly's pattern of stock trading suggested "laddering," a scheme in which investment banks pump up the price of a new stock by requiring IPO purchasers to buy more of the stock after it opens for trading.

    The Sac Bee's long story today looks into Phil Angelides' environmental record, quoting environmentalists who laud him:

    "Phil's environmental credentials without a doubt are not just head and shoulders, but planets, above everyone else," said David Mogavero, a Sacramento architect and former Environmental Council of Sacramento (ECOS) president. "When he started in development, he ended up under Angelo's wing and did a bunch of things that were industry standard. But he's learned and evolved and now he understands what will be an effective approach. Is he perfect? No. But no one on the planet is perfect."

    But there are critics as well:

    "It doesn't matter to me all the pretty things he has done," said Jude Lamare, president of Friends of the Swainson's Hawk, who also was a former president of ECOS. "The bottom line is, Phil talks a good game, but his (open space) development and work against (threatened) species is scary."

    In either case, both candidates must brace for increasing media scrutiny.

    Friday, February 17, 2006

    No Clemency for Morales

    Gov. Schwarzenegger condemned rapist-murderer Michael Morales to die today when he denied clemency. Morales is set for execution at San Quentin next Tuesday.

    For those keeping that, Schwarzenegger has denied all 5 clemency pleas in his governorship.

    CalPERs rejects Richman amendment

    The AP has the story.

    The board of the California Public Employees Retirement System has voted to oppose a constitutional amendment that would institute a less generous pension system for government employees hired on or after July 1, 2007.

    The measure by Assemblyman Keith Richman, R-Chatsworth, would create a new defined benefit plan for those workers. It also would allow them to enroll in a voluntary, 401(k)-style defined-contribution plan.

    The vote was 10-0 with two representatives of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger abstaining. A 13th board member was absent.

    New LAO Retiree Health Benefits Report

    The LAO has released a new report this morning on Retiree Health Care: A Growing Cost For Government

    The key sentence is that "Costs for retiree health benefits have been rising rapidly-increasing faster than both inflation and the overall growth rate of government spending."

    The report goes on to detail the unfunded liabilities in the state's retiree healthcare system: Our educated guess is that unfunded retiree health liabilities for state government will total in the range of $40 billion to $70 billion and perhaps more. (This is based on the results of other liability valuations.) The unfunded retiree health liability may exceed the combined unfunded liabilities of CalPERS’ and CalSTRS’ pension systems-which were $49 billion, as of June 30, 2004.

    Below is a disturbing little graph from the report:

    You can read the full report here

    Legislative Family Feud

    From the Morning Report...this Wednesday, California legislators gathered for a family-feud style game at the Sutter Club to guess who their colleagues voted for in ten different categories at the 59th annual YMCA’s Model Legislature and Model Court.

    Team Democrat consisted of former Sen. John Burton as captain and Sens. Debra Bowen, Martha Escutia, Sheila Kuehl and Assemblymen John Laird and Gene Mullin. Team Republican was headed by former Sen. Jim Brulte and had Sens. Jim Battin and Dave Cox, and Assemblymembers Tim Leslie, Kevin McCarthy, and Sharon Runner.

    The Democrats won the game.

    Here are the vote winners:

    1. Members’ favorite car to drive?
    3rd Place: Toyota Highlander
    2nd Place: Honda Civic Hybrid
    1st Place: TIE: Toyota Prius Hybrid and Dodge Stratus

    2. Members’ favorite watering hole or restaurant?
    3rd Place: TIE: Simon’s and Pyramid Brewing Co.
    2nd Place: Esquire Grill
    1st Place: Chops

    3. Members’ favorite location for an interim hearing?
    3rd Place: Monterey
    2nd Place: Capitol
    1st Place: San Diego

    4. Members’ favorite excuse to get a floor pass?
    3rd Place: Legislative Business
    2nd Place: To go to the other house
    1st Place: Meeting

    5. Members’ choice of who they would most like to hear speak, in general, on the floor?
    3rd Place: Asm. Ray Haynes
    2nd Place: Asm. Tom McClintock
    1st Place: Asm. Dennis Mountjoy

    6. Best dressed Senator?
    3rd Place: TIE: Sens. Charles Poochigian and Dick Ackerman
    2nd Place: TIE: Sens. Liz Figueroa and Gilbert Cedillo
    1st Place: TIE: Sens. Don Perata and Jackie Speier

    7. Funniest Assemblymember?
    3rd Place: Asm. Greg Aghazarian
    2nd Place: Asm. John Laird
    1st Place: Asm. Dennis Mountjoy

    8. Best dressed Assemblymember?
    3rd Place: Asm. Fabian Nuñez
    2nd Place: Asm. Lloyd Levine
    1st Place: Asm. Mark Leno

    9. Most popular legislator?
    3rd Place: TIE: Asms. Juan Vargas and Kevin McCarthy
    2nd Place: Sen. Sheila Kuehl
    1st Place: Asm. Fabian Nuñez

    10. Smartest legislator?
    3rd Place: Asm. John Laird
    2nd Place: Asm. Tom McClintock
    1st Place: Sen. Sheila Kuehl

    Chron Blog Live

    After being dormant since last November, the San Francisco Chronicle political blog has gone live again in recent days.

    There are already postings about Schwarzenegger as policy wonk, the Yee-Nevin Senate battle (which I posted about three days earlier here), and more from an exclusive interview with Susan Kennedy.

    Press Club Goes Online

    The Sacramento Press Club has launched a Web site this week listing upcoming events and information on applying for the group's scholarships.

    The first speaker is Legislative Analyst Liz Hill, who will release the annual budget analysis “Perspectives & Issues" at next Wednesday's meeting.

    Check out the site here.

    Thursday, February 16, 2006

    If you build it, donors to come?

    Carmen Balber at ArnoldWatch has sent a letter to Gov. Schwarzenegger today calling on him to stop fundraising from any construction and development industry interests following an LA Times report this morning that the governor intended to raise $120 million for his reelection.

    As you begin this record-breaking fundraising effort, you will also be stumping for $222 billion in infrastructure spending. Each of the proposed bond-financed projects promises millions in contracts to the construction and development industry. This is an industry that has already contributed $12 million to your campaigns.

    An inherent conflict arises when donors give money in hopes of winning business with the state. State contractors should not be allowed to buy their way into the administration's favor. We call upon you to refuse donations from companies that stand to benefit from the proposed infrastructure bonds.

    Stanford Tree Axed

    As a recent Cal alum, I have to highlight this AP story. At last week's Cal-Stanford basketball game, Erin Lashnits, who is the student inside the lame Stanford Tree mascot was caught with a flask. When pulled from the suit and given a breath test she registered a .15 percent--nearly double the legal limit.

    The student admits to drinking but denies having a flask. ""I don't think these things lie, but I felt fine and I was certainly able to do my job."

    For those who haven't seen the Stanford band, part of the schitck is drunk-like revelry. So a spokesman said, "She wasn't doing anything offensive,'' Urmy said. "She was just jumping and dancing. The tree's movement is usually consistent with that of someone who's had something to drink.''

    Bush Filing the Ninth

    President Bush appointed two judges to the Ninth Circuit Court, which covers California as well as eight other Western states. One is the brother of Republican Sen. Gordon Smith of Oregon, Milan Smith, who is a former member of California's Fair Employment and Housing Commission. The other is Sandra Segal Ikuta, general counsel to the California Resources Agency.

    The ninth circuit court is the nation's largest federal appeals court.

    Card clubs draw full house and hold 'em

    The following appeared in Capitol Weekly today

    It's just before midnight and every table is packed. Forty-two people are milling around the edges of the room, watching and waiting. But they are not just there to observe--they are in line for a seat to play poker at Capitol Casino, a popular Sacramento card club.

    "We're almost up," says one of a pair of patrons who have been patiently passing the time for more than half-an hour.

    And this is on a Sunday--the club's slowest night of the week.

    Not so long ago, California card club owners were bemoaning their plight as Indian casinos sprung up across the state with slot machines and special permits for "house-banked" card games like black jack that are off-limits for card clubs.

    It was only a matter of time, they said, before card clubs would be driven out of business altogether. Card clubs and horse racing interests spent $25 million to push a failed ballot initiative to break what they feared would become the Indian casinos' stranglehold on gambling in California.

    But that was before the resurgence of poker.

    Fueled by televised tournaments, celebrity championships, online games and the fairy-tale success story of a man named Moneymaker, card clubs are flush with activity.

    "It's amazing what TV has done for poker. Now it's really booming," said Wayne Rogers, the swing shift supervisor across town at the Limelight card club.

    Six months ago, the Limelight switched to twenty-four hours a day of poker on weekends.

    "If you are making money, are you going to close?" asks Rogers, who often plays on nights he isn't working.

    According to data compiled by the attorney general's office, card club revenues have been steadily growing, from gross revenues of $377 million in 1998 to $656 million in 2004. And those figures do not include the boom in activity in the last year.

    The number of cardrooms in the state did not decline between 2004 and 2005 for the first time since at least 1998, and the number of tables at those cardrooms grew in each of the last two years after many years of decline.

    In more than two-dozen interviews with gamblers, dealers, floor managers and card club executives, everyone said that card club business is on the rise--particularly in the last twelve months.

    "Business is good," says Kermit Schayltz, president of the Golden State Gaming Association, which represents about 80 percent of the state's card clubs. "The last couple years, most clubs have seen at least a 25-50 percent increase [in revenues]. It has been a pretty phenomenal."

    The attorney general's office only began tracking revenues recently, after a 1997 bill by then-Sen. Bill Lockyer imposed stricter card club regulations and required extensive background checks into everyone involved in a California club's operations.

    One other provision of the bill, which established the Gambling Control Commission, placed a three-year moratorium on new card clubs in the state to protect existing businesses as Indian casinos multiplied across California. But that provision has been renewed, repeatedly and quietly, to extend until 2010.

    That means the windfall from the poker craze has been concentrated in existing clubs.

    "If you have fewer card rooms and more players, it is better for the card rooms," says Rogers.

    Like the five-table Limelight, the majority of the state's clubs are small operations with fewer than ten tables, according to Schayltz, who owns the eight-table Lucky Derby in Citrus Heights.

    This state currently has 94 licensed card clubs, down from 152 in 1998. The state's card club revenues are dominated by a few mega-clubs like the Commerce Casino, which has 243 tables, and Hawaiian Gardens, with 180 tables.

    Besides the guarantee of no new clubs for more than a decade, card rooms offer something most Indian casinos can't: proximity. In Sacramento, for example, there are several local clubs, but the closest Indian casino is Thunder Valley, forty minutes away. Gov. Schwarzenegger has said he will not approve tribal casinos in urban areas, unless forced to do so by Congress.

    "Casinos tend to be so far out there," says Becca Ridens, who works four nights a week as a cocktail waitress at the Limelight. "We get the home crowd in here."

    Still, poker enthusiasts and club owners alike point to one man with a golden name who has fueled the revival: Chris Moneymaker.

    In 2003, the then 27-year old entered an online $40 buy-in Texas Hold 'em poker tournament and won, earning entry into one of the largest, most prestigious poker tournaments, the World Series of Poker. The amateur underdog made the final table at the 839-player tournament and unseated the heavy favorite as more than 2 million viewers watched the final episode on ESPN.

    He won $2.5 million.

    "That was probably the catalyst that created the phenomenon of poker today, especially with a name like Moneymaker," says Schayltz. "It was something that only Hollywood would dream up but it was reality."

    Now, millions tune into televised poker championships, particularly of Texas Hold 'em, the variation of 7-card stud made popular by Moneymaker and hidden "lipstick" cameras that allow viewers to see what cards players are holding. Millions more play poker online. The renewed popularity of the sport has begun to wash away the stigma of poker as a sleazy hobby and slowly poker aficionados are trickling into local card clubs.

    Back at the Limelight, one of the dealers says that the club used to offer free poker games and lessons on Sunday mornings--but doesn't anymore because many patrons can get all the practice they want online.

    Ridens, the cocktail waitress, is amazed how the pace of business has steadily picked up since she started six months ago--no matter the day, no matter the time.

    So what do all these Sunday night patrons do come Monday morning?

    "I've been trying to figure that out since I got here," she says. "They just keep on coming."

    You can also find the article here.

    Pombo and Feinstein Together on Environment?

    Just days after a tough profile in the LA Times, Rep. Richard Pombo , who is known for his opposition to the Endangered Species Act, is teaming with U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein on an environmental bill to authorize $50 million for perchlorate contamination cleanup in California.

    Just odd timing.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2006

    PPIC Report on Schools

    A new report by the PPIC shows that teachers who are paid more and provided more training are more likely to stick with teaching.

    The AP reports:

    A moderate salary raise for new teachers boosts the chances they'll stay in the profession, but mentoring programs and training are even more effective, according to a new report.
    Providing just $4,400 more in annual pay increases the chances an elementary teacher would stay by 17 percent, according to the report released Wednesday by the Public Policy Institute of California.

    Teachers who were part of the state's Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program were 26 percent more likely to stay in teaching, according to the study, "Retention of New Teachers in California." The program costs the state about $3,370 per teacher.

    Read the report for yourself here.

    Poizner to get free ride?

    At the FlashReport Phil Paule is reporting that Dr. Phil Kurzner is going to drop out of the race for Insurance Commissioner. That would leave the path all but clear for moderate Republican Steve Poizner, who in 2004 ran for the Assembly and lost in a Democratic district in the Bay Area while spending millions of his own money.

    Gary Mendoza, the 2002 GOP nominee for Insurance Commissioner, is still announced for the race, but his fundraising has been anemic--with only $1700 cash on hand as of the latest filings. He has not been actively campaigning for months. Kurzner had $83,000 as of last month's filings, which is dwarfed by Poizner's $3 million--most of it self-given.

    A moderate, Poizner has drawn the ire of the more conservative wing of the Republican party, particularly for giving money to Democratic presidential candidates Al Gore and John Kerry.

    Kurzner's dropping out would be bad news for Cruz Bustamante, who himself only had $85,000 cash on hand, and was likely hoping that Poizner would spend some of his millions in a primary battle painting himself as conservative enough to be the GOP nominee.

    Assembly GOP Release Infrastructure Plan

    Assembly Republicans released their infrastructure plan today with the tagline "Build More, Build Now, and Spend Less." Many caucus members have a big poster on their door with the slogan and a semi-transparent map of California in the background. Ironically, the bottom of the poster (with "Spend Less") has the west coast of the state zig-zagging through a road in what looks remarkably like crack in the road.

    In any case, the key to the GOP proposal is ACA 27 which would require a "pay as you go" approach for infrastructure. Another two key proposals are ACA 4 which would lock up Proposition 42 revenues for transportation and AB 2028 that would require the Legislature to pay back all funds in the 2007-08 budget that have been diverted from Proposition 42 projects in recent years.

    The proposal includes an endorsement of design-build and more public-private partnerships in schools. And AB 2026 and 2027 reexamine some of the environmental rules around levees, including " suspending the requirement that “no net loss” of wildlife habitat may take place" during flood control efforts.

    Assembly Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said: “These reforms provide the tools we need to get the job done. Republicans believe we must adopt the reforms needed to build a stronger California. Our proposals will stretch infrastructure dollars to the fullest, and eliminate the roadblocks that have hindered vital projects for far too long.”

    A Republican in Los Angeles

    Gov. Schwarzenegger today appointed Tia Fisher to the Los Angeles County Superior Court. Fisher, 47, is a Republican who has served as a commissioner in the Los Angeles Superior Court since 2001.

    Some (mainly California Republican Assembly president Mike Spence) have complained that the governor has not appointed enough Republicans to the bench, particularly in Los Angeles.

    Lockyer sues H&R Block

    Attorney General Bill Lockyer filed a lawsuit against H&R Block today, alleging that the compnay broke 15 state and federal laws in marketing and providing high-cost refund anticipation loans mainly to low-income families.

    "Millions of Californians have placed their trust in H&R Block, and unfortunately H&R Block has repaid them by violating that trust," said Lockyer. "In marketing and selling these expensive loans, H&R Block has profited greatly, but deceived consumers, violated their privacy rights and taken money from California families who can least afford it. This lawsuit seeks to hold the company accountable for unlawful business practices, prevent future violations and compensate victims."

    The suit demands that H&R Block pay defendents restitution and $20 million in civil penalties.

    equire the defendants to pay restitution to harmed consumers, plus at least $20 million in civil penalties.

    A thirsty state

    There are two stories today about water in California. One is in the Stockton Record about the state's expensive thirst/

    California needs more water. But there are far cheaper ways to get it than building new reservoirs and dams - the hot topic surrounding Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's $35billion waterworks plan, which could send millions of flood-control dollars to San Joaquin County and the Delta.

    State Department of Water Resources Director Lester Snow said Tuesday that California will need at least 2million more acre-feet of water each year by 2030; that's enough to support about 8million people.

    The other is in the Oakland Tribune is about a new "peripheral canal" around the Bay Area

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger began campaigning Tuesday for water-related aspects of his $222 billion public works proposal that could resurrect a decades-old battle over a canal skirting the Bay Area Delta — a plan voters overwhelmingly rejected amid fears it would drain Northern California to quench the thirst of the south state.

    The governor's Strategic Growth Plan plan does not specifically propose a new Peripheral Canal, but administration officials said that as part of the effort, they are eyeing the ailing Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and a combination of remedies that include a smaller canal to divert river water around the east side of the region.

    Tuesday, February 14, 2006

    Nunez: Gov's package too big

    According to the Bee:

    Núñez, appearing at a breakfast meeting of The Bee's Capitol Bureau, said Assembly Democrats could support a more modest, four-year bond package of up to $30 billion. He said Democrats worry that debt-service payments on a larger package could cut into funds needed for public education.

    "We can't live with $68 billion," he said. "We don't want to go beyond $30 (billion)."

    Nunez also has the quote of the week (even if it's only Tuesday). On the debt cap, he said:

    "Let's just say it's like asking the Republicans to raise taxes."

    The story is here.

    Official Phil

    State Treasurer Phil Angelides announced that he took out papers to run for governor today.

    And it's a happy coincidence that I was able to do so on Valentine's Day - together with my own Valentine, my bride Julie; the eldest of our three daughters, Megan; and my parents.

    I wonder how that polled.

    Runners on Jesssica's Law

    Assemblywoman Sharon Runner and her husband Sen. George Runner write a column their efforts to qualify, and the importance of, Jessica's law.

    Read it here.

    In the driver's seat

    Dan Weintraub has a good column today about Sen. Don Perata's perspective on the infrastructure bond jostle.

    The analogy: Perata and Schwarzenegger are driving a car. Perata is behind the wheel. The governor is in the passenger seat. Sure, when they arrive at their destination, Schwarzenegger will jump out and the crowd will mob him. He's the celebrity.

    "I go park the car," Perata says, sounding self-deprecating. Then he adds: "But I am driving the car."

    It's worth a read.

    Monday, February 13, 2006

    Yee, Nevin Battle for Asian Vote in SD 8

    The contested Democratic primary for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Jackie Speier heated up today with a small press release war between Assemblyman Leland Yee and former San Mateo County Supervisor Mike Nevin.

    First, Nevin sent out a release touting that "San Francisco and Peninsula Asian Pacific American leaders have united to support" him.

    A long paragraph of endorsers followed with this quote from his campaign manager:

    “Leland Yee has taken the community for granted by being predictably unsupportive of other Asian candidates, so it’s no surprise that the Asian Pacific American leadership is not supporting him,” said Seamus Murphy, spokesman for the Nevin campaign. “They see in Mike Nevin a candidate who has a tremendous record of uniting Asian Pacific Americans and appointing them to leadership roles in local government instead of abandoning and dividing the community for selfish political gain.”

    Not long after, Yee's team responded with their own long paragraph of APA endorsers and the fact that Yee is the co-chair of the Asian Pacific American Legislative Caucus and President of the Asian Pacific American Caucus of State Legislators.

    And, of course, an euqally snide campaign manager quote:

    “Mike Nevin’s claim to have ‘united’ support in the Asian American community is laughable,” said Yee campaign manager Jim Stearns. “What is more serious is this out-of-touch politician’s complete ignorance of the broad diversity and interests of the Asian American community. Nevin touts no significant accomplishments, and most of his APA endorsements areeither San Francisco political payback or part of the San Mateo Countypolitical machine."

    The Donor Report

    Jerry Perenechio and his wife Margaret gave Gov. Schwarzenegger $44,600 for his reelection campaign this month. Perenchio is the CEO of Univision and one of the governor's largest contributors.

    Speaking of major Schwarzenegger donors, WIlliam Robinson, who gave the governor, the California Recovery Team, Citizens to Save California and the Republican party just shy of $4 million last year has weighed in with his wallet on behalf of a Democrat, Jerry Brown.

    Brown, the Oakland Mayor and attorney general candidate, received $11,200 from the DHL magnate in reports filed Friday.

    CRA Drops Endorsement Effort

    The California Republican Assembly is dropping its effort to take away the Republican party's pre-primary endorsement from Schwarzenegger. The resolution, which would be presented at the upcoming GOP convention, had little chance of passage.

    The OC Register has the story.

    Sunday, February 12, 2006

    About that retreat

    Assembly Republican caucus staffer Joe Justin blogs (or doesn't) about the caucus' policy retreat last week at the FlashReport.

    Schmidt Profile

    The Chronicle has a profileof Steve Schmidt, the governor's new campaign manager.

    The best parts of the story are the quotes, from fawning Republicans to fire-breathed Democrats.

    Friday, February 10, 2006

    The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California of the United States of the World

    The verdict is in: The Angels can have Los Angeles in their name even if they aren't in Los Angeles

    In the end, the battle between the city of Anaheim and the former Anaheim Angels over the team's name came down to one word: include.

    A jury ruled late Thursday that the Angels owner Arte Moreno did not breach a contract with the city when he changed the team's name to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim last January. In a 9-3 verdict, the jurors found that the new name was consistent with a 10-year-old stadium lease agreement, which only specified that the team name should include the word Anaheim in it.

    Oh well. They will never be the Giants.

    Westly announces campaign co-chairs

    For months, Phil Angelides has been touting his campaign chairs: Nancy Pelosi, Dianne Feinstein, Fabian Nunez and Barbara Boxer.

    Now Westly has countered with: t U.S. Rep. Grace Flores Napolitano (D-38), U.S. Rep. Diane E. Watson (D-33), State Senator Martha Escutia (SD-30), State Senator Carole Migden (SD-3), and Los Angeles City Councilman and Assembly Speaker Emeritus Herb J. Wesson, Jr.

    In the release Westly highlights the diversity of the list (though not this overtly)--which includes two Latinas, a black woman, a black man and an openly gay woman.

    “I am honored to have such distinguished and diverse leaders serve as co-chairs for my campaign to put California back on the right track with consistent leadership, a commitment to progressive values and fiscal responsibility, a higher ethical standard, and a results-oriented, nonpartisan approach,” Westly said.

    Priced Out

    The LA Times is reporting that it is harder than ever for the median-incomed Californian to buy a home.

    Read more here.

    Perata on air

    The Bee reports on Perata's TV ad campaign to push his infrastructure bond.

    No More Wiki for DiFi

    The Chronicle has a great little report that a former Feinstein staffer has been editting her entry on Wikipedia, the open source Internet encyclopedia.

    A former staff member "independently went on to Wikipedia to correct some material he felt was not appropriate," said Feinstein spokesman Howard Gantman. "The senator was not even aware of it."

    Read about it here.

    Thursday, February 09, 2006

    Nunez: Education “First, Second, and Third Priority”

    In a press conference with the Assembly Democratic caucus, Speaker Nunez said education was his top priority.

    We can do better than being in the bottom 10 states in the nation in education funding. We need to be in the top 10 – and make sure reforms come with this increase.

    The highlight of the release, though, was a poke at Ron Reiner's pre-school and Schwarzenegger's afterschool programs:

    We’ve got the Reinier initiative on early pre-school and the Governor wants to do after school programs, but we’re concerned with the actual school day in-between!

    Gov. says owes schools money

    In that same Mercury News story (see below) the governor said the government still owes California schools money:

    In a wide-ranging discussion, the governor also asserted that he wants to work out a multiyear plan to repay schools a $3 billion debt, a longstanding source of controversy.

    "Does the state of California owe them the additional $3 billion or whatever it is? Of course, that's the way Proposition 98 is written,'' Schwarzenegger said, referring to the state's school funding guarantee. "Our dispute was never should they get the money or not. I promised them the money.'' The disagreement, he said, was over when the money would be returned.

    California Teachers Association President Barbara Kerr Wednesday night said she was flabbergasted by the governor's acknowledgment that the state owes schools the money.

    "I'm sort of at a loss for words,'' Kerr said in a phone interview from Washington, D.C. "I'm glad that after this amount of time we're moving forward.''

    One-year plan is "unacceptable"

    The Merc reports that the governor is unwilling to lump all his bond proposals into a single year.

    Some powerful lawmakers, staggered by the duration and size of the proposed plan, have been suggesting just that. In a 45-minute interview Wednesday evening with the Mercury News, Schwarzenegger said he is willing to entertain many proposed additions and changes to his plan. But not that one.

    ``Sometimes you hear the rumbling that maybe they'll come down with a one-year plan or something like that,'' Schwarzenegger said, referring to lawmakers. ``It will be unacceptable. It's not the way to go. . . . You cannot fix the road conditions with a one-year plan.'' Nor, he said, can crammed classrooms, vulnerable levees and over-crowded prisons be resolved ``with a one-year deal.''

    It's notable because there have been many discussions in recent days about shortening the life-span of the infrastructure proposal.

    The Merc notes:

    One of the Legislature's top two Democrats is willing to entertain a longer-term plan, but perhaps not the five election cycles of borrowing Schwarzenegger wants. ``We would prefer it to be no more than two election cycles,'' said Steve Maviglio, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, D-Los Angeles.

    New in Capitol Weekly

    I have two stories in today's Capitol Weekly. The first is a look at the CTA and their endorsement process, called Going to interview with CTA? Be sure to look into the camera.

    Late last year, as dozens of Assembly candidates ushered themselves from one interest group interview to the next, almost all of them inevitably arrived at the door of the California Teachers Association (CTA), one of the most powerful and well-heeled political players in Sacramento.

    There, they faced something no other interest group in the state used: a video camera.

    The 335,000-member teachers union is the only major organization to videotape candidates, for the Assembly up to the governor's office, as they interview for the group's endorsement. The CTA has been videotaping candidates for more than a decade.

    Read the rest here.

    Also, I look at the Assembly races Richie Ross, the Democratic political consultant, is running this year in Ross lining up ducks for 2006 elections.

    Fabian Nuñez may be the longest tenured Speaker of the Assembly since Willie Brown, but more than two years before his term limits-mandated departure some say a quiet campaign has already begun to succeed him.

    As usual, veteran Democratic consultant Richie Ross is in the thick of it.

    Ross, who once served as chief of staff to Willie Brown, the legendary wheeler-dealer who outmaneuvered opponents to rule the Legislature's lower house for nearly 15 years, is running more candidates in open Democratic primaries this June than any other political consultant.

    Of the 25 races in which incumbent Assembly Democrats are either termed out, or opting to run for higher office, Ross has clients in eleven contests--double the next closest Democratic consulting firm.

    Read the rest of the story here.

    But more interesting for insiders, perhaps, is the list of Ross clients running. They are:

    For the Assembly
    Cathleen Galgiani AD 17
    Mary Hayashi AD 18
    Richard Alarcon AD 39
    Kelly Hayes-Raitt AD 41
    Scott Wildman AD 43
    Christina Chavez AD 45
    Andre Quintero AD 49
    Tony Mendoza AD 56
    Edward Hernandez AD 57
    Jeremy Baca AD 62
    Jose Solario AD 69

    Ira Ruskin AD 21
    Sally Lieber AD 22

    For the Senate
    Darrell Steinberg SD 6
    Rudy Bermudez SD 30
    Joe Baca SD 32
    Tom Umberg SD 34

    Sitting Senators (that will likely still be in office next session)
    Carole Migden SD 3
    Mike Machado SD 5
    Dean Florez SD 16

    For Statewide Office
    Deborah Ortiz Secretary of state
    Joe Dunn State controller
    Cruz Bustamante Insurance commissioner

    Wednesday, February 08, 2006

    Burn Rate, Spin Cycle

    Garry South at the Westly campaign is distributing a memo saying that for all the money Angelides is raising, he is spending a ton to do it.

    The first half of '05, Angelides raised $4.4 million into his gubernatorial campaign committee. During that same six-month period, his campaign spent $2.7 million. That's a "burn rate" (i.e., percentage of spending vs. funds raised) of 61% in the first half of '05. This is extraordinarily high for any type of campaign -- and especially in the "off year."

    During the second half of '05 (FPPC report filed Tuesday), he raised $4.6 million into his campaign account, and spent -- again -- $2.7 million. That's a "burn rate" of 59%.

    South's right. Angelides has been spending money fast--but that is in part because he has been actively campaigning for so long.

    Thomas, McCarthy and Congress

    There has been some speculation that powerful Bakersfield Rep. Bill Thomas is considering retiring, which would open up his congressional seat for former aide and current Assembly Republican leader Kevin McCarthy.

    Washington D.C.'s the Hill has the story.

    How's Cruz Doing

    If you want an update on Cruz Bustamante's very public weight loss campaign, check it out here.

    Tell Us How UC It

    The Senate Education Committee meets today (starting at 8:30) and UC president Robert Dynes is likely to face some hostile questions.

    The fireworks are in Room 4203 and the Chronicle has a preview.

    Genest the Bachelor?

    The Capitol Morning Report is reporting this morning that Director of Finance Mike Genest attended a briefing for reporters in the Capitol yesterday. Asked if on a recent trip to New York he lobbied Wall Street to improve the state's credit, Genest responded,“It’s like dating. You have to wait to be asked.”

    Tuesday, February 07, 2006

    Call Preschool Prop. 82

    This is not new news but good to post anyway. The Rob Reiner preschool initiative will officially be Prop. 82 on the June ballot.

    SEIU for Angelides

    The 600,000-member California SEIU announced that they have endorsed Phil Angelides for governor.

    Brown Says Brown Up

    The Jerry Brown for AG campaign is circulating a poll they commissioned that shows Jerry Brown leading Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo by some 30 points, with 45 percent of likely voters supporting Brown to 14 percent for Delgadillo.

    According to the release, the survey asked 370 registered California Democratic likely voters who they prefered.

    Gone Policying?

    Assembly Democrats are hard at work in Monterey this week, and Republicans have gathered in Simi Valley to discuss the caucus' policy approach for the year.

    New "Megatrend" Field Poll

    On February 4, the Field Poll released a study of three "megatrends" in California. They are more Latino voters, more inland (and conservative) voters, and more voters by mail.

    The voting by mail trend is particularly startling. Check out the graphic below:

    Read the full study here.

    And the Sacramento Bee has an overview here.

    SBC Now AT&T

    As an avid San Francisco Giants fan, I have to express my disappointment (though its no surprise) that the Giants stadium is once again changing its name. For those keeping score at home, that's three times in six years.

    First, way back in 2000, it was Pac Bell Park. Then Pacific Bell was bought by SBC, which, by the way, used to be called Southwestern Bell Corp.

    In 2004, the stadium was renamed SBC Park.

    Southern Bell Corp. was one of the many baby bells that broke apart from AT&T two decades ago. So now, the baby bell has bought the mama bell and renamed my favorite stadium: AT&T Park.

    What's a fan to do?

    Monday, February 06, 2006

    Preschool for All Builds Campaign Chest

    Rob Reiner's universal preschool initiative continues to pad its campaign coffers, most recently adding $150,00 last Friday from CA State Council Of Service Employees, which had already donated $150,000 to the campaign in late September.

    Arnold the Reformer

    Last Friday, GOP consultant Dan Schnur penned an interesting column about the governor what really got him elected in 2003. He goes into the paying of Susan Kennedy while she was a sitting member of the Public Utilities Commission and recommends a direction for his reelection.

    Read it here.

    Ackerman for BOE?

    Senate Republican leader Dick Ackerman has opened an account to run for the Board of Equalization in 2010...which is a good place to store his campaign coffers after he is termed out in 2008.

    Westly in Oroville

    The Mercury News' Laura Kurtzman followed Steve Westly around rural northern California last week, and today writes a profile
    of the trip

    Steve Westly began his campaign for governor last week in this tiny Butte County town, a place small enough to cushion his mistakes as he prepares for what promises to be a grueling race.

    The highlight of the story was this:

    Later, Westly was approached by a man who said he had been convicted years ago of a violent felony and wanted a pardon to buy a gun. Taken aback, Westly promised to consider it. But later, an aide called to say that Westly doesn't think violent felons should be allowed to have weapons.

    Giving Peace and Freedom a Chance

    Secretary of state Bruce McPherson has put the Peace and Freedom party back on the ballot.

    Read abou ithere.

    Saturday, February 04, 2006

    Federal Funds

    After a Jan. 17 letter to President Bush from Gov. Schwarzenegger, the federal government has declared a state of emergency from the winter storms that struck much of northern California around the new year.

    The declaration makes federal funds available to affected individuals in the 10 counties of Contra Costa, Del Norte, Lake, Marin, Mendocino, Napa, Sacramento, Siskiyou, Solano, and Sonoma.

    "This is great news for the many Californians who suffered as a result of the winter storms," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "The damage was terrible and I commend the federal government for heeding our request to provide assistance to the victims in rebuilding their property and their lives."

    Some reference to the "Collectinator" soon too follow, I'm sure.

    Nunez Radio Address: Clean Money

    In today's radio address Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez focused on the Clean Money Bill that the Assembly "passed out" last Monday.

    Let me tell you, the vote on this proposal was telling. Democrats voted for the clean money- clean elections law, while Republicans were dead-set opposed. Not one Republican Assembly Member could stand up for the reform and tell their corporate contributors to stand down. Assembly Democrats believe that clean money for clean elections is an idea whose time has come.

    But what Nunez leaves out is that Democrats only passed a toothless version of the bill with the phrase "for display purposes only" stripping the bill of the force of law. For more on that check out Capitol Weekly.

    Friday, February 03, 2006

    Assembly Budget Analysis In

    The Assembly Budget Committee, chaired by Assemblyman John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, has just released their analysis of the governor's budget.

    To fulfill your inner junkie, click here.

    About Schmidt

    The Washington Post today has a long retrospective on what went right with the Alito nomination for the White House and confirmation strategist Steve Schmidt, who is now coming to California to run Gov. Schwarzenegger's reelection campaign.

    Read it here.

    H/T to Calraces.

    Slow News Friday

    With the deadline for getting bills out of their house of origin behind us (Jan. 31), the first round of bond hearings in the past and campaign finance reports filed, today is an awfully slow news day around town.

    Schwarzenegger Raises $700,000 for Carona

    In a ballroom with 460 guests at a $1500-a-plate fundraiser, OC Sheriff Mike Carona set a fundraiser record for a local OC official last night.

    That certainly puts a perspective on the fundraising abilities of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He can raises heaps of money--and fast. So though he begins the year in debt and his rivals have many millions, he has six months to run unopposed and replenish his coffers.

    The Register has the Carona story.

    Thursday, February 02, 2006

    Dialing for Dollars?

    The Arnoldwatch blog is reporting that AT&T gave the governor $25,000 only weeks before Susan Kennedy was paid $25,000 while she still chaired the PUC.

    Kennedy's last major vote at the PUC, which came about two weeks after getting paid by the Governor's campaign, was to push a toothless replacement of the strong Telecommunications Consumer Bill of Rights that she repealed early in her tenure at the PUC. By putting this meaningless regulation in place before leaving, Kennedy was protecting the telecommunications industry from the potential move toward consumer protection that has been proposed by Commissioner Dian M. Grueneich.

    So where did that $25,000 that the Governor's Re-election Campaign paid Kennedy come from? None other than AT&T. According to Arnold's campaign report, on November 21st -- less than two weeks after it was reported that Kennedy was in line for a job with Arnold and two weeks before Arnold's campaign quietly paid Kennedy $25K -- AT&T gave the Gov two contributions. One for $12,300 and one for $12,700. Put 'em together and what have you got? Bibbity, Bobbity Bribe!

    Clooney for Governor

    Who says California politics is boring? I mean, we have Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor. Warren Beatty was stalking him for the last week of the special election and Rob Reiner is pushing a preschool initiative.

    Of course, Gary Coleman and a porn star ran for governor in the recall. And the Green party candidate for secretary of state is named Forrest Hill.

    So it should come as no surprise that Gale Kaufman, Democratic political strategist who led the charge against the governor is last year's special election, sent out the following list:

    CORRECTION:It was not Kaufman but Robin Swanson in her office that sent out the release


    Reason #10: When George Clooney played a doctor on E.R., the nurses actually liked Dr. Doug Ross. But nurses and other health care providers in California say Governor Schwarzenegger still hasn’t learned his lesson about making health care a priority or passing meaningful laws to lower the price of prescription drugs.

    Reason #9: When George Clooney played Batman, he was tough on crime, and brought criminals to justice in Gotham city. On Governor Schwarzenegger’s watch, more than 2,500 parole violators remain free.

    Reason #8: When George Clooney produced his “K Street” series on HBO, he tried to expose “pay to play” politics and the corrupting influence of special interest money in government. Governor Schwarzenegger, on the other hand, is now sending his newly-hired Chief of Staff Susan Kennedy around the state to meet with Republican donors.

    Reason #7: George Clooney made it big at the box office with “The Perfect Storm.” But Governor Schwarzenegger hasn’t weathered his political storms too well – and instead is taking a “whichever way the wind blows” approach to governing.

    Reason #6: As evidenced by George Clooney’s Golden Globes speech this year referencing corrupt Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Clooney is clearly not afraid to speak his mind. But at his most recent appearance at Sacramento’s Press Club, Governor Schwarzenegger did nothing more than dodge the important issues facing our state. That’s not leadership.

    Reason #5: In the movie “Red Surf,” George Clooney looked good in his flip-flops. But Governor Schwarzenegger’s flip-flops on issues ranging from funding public education to “living within our means” has voters confused about the Governor’s lack of direction.

    Reason #4: During the release of the movie “O Brother Where Art Thou,” we discovered that George Clooney could actually carry a tune. But Governor Schwarzenegger has changed his tune so many times, voters have tuned him out.

    Reason #3: “Good Night and Good Luck,” directed, written and produced by George Clooney himself, features a character who stands by his convictions in the face of adversity. But political conviction seems to be in short supply in the Schwarzenegger administration.

    Reason #2: With the movie “Syriana,” George Clooney exposes the corrupting influences of the oil industry. But Governor Schwarzenegger continues to take money from big oil companies to fund his re-election campaign.

    Reason #1: With “Oceans 11” and “12,” movie-goers actually wanted to see George Clooney in the sequel. But after such a divisive first-term in office, voters aren’t lining up at the polls to see Governor Schwarzenegger’s sequel. Who knows, they might even ask for their money back.

    CTA for Delgadillo

    In a boast for the Rocky Delgadillo campaign for attorney general, the California Teachers Association endorsed him today. Delgadillo is running against Oakland mayor and former Gov. Jerry Brown.

    Money Breakdown in the 50th

    Barry Jantz at the FlashReport has a good breakdown of the money situation in the 50th congressional.

    Interestingly, Democrat Francine Busby has more money than any of her Republican opponents, but when added together they dwarf her warchest.

    Brian Bilbray
    Cash on hand: $190,531

    Francine Busby
    Cash on hand: $371,161

    Richard Earnest
    Cash on hand: $200,778 (includes personal loan of $200,000)

    Howard Kaloogian
    Cash on hand: $153,108

    Bill Morrow
    Cash on hand: $213,896

    Scott Turner
    Cash on hand: $12,562

    Alan Uke
    Cash on hand: $190,248

    A look at downticket races

    In today's Capitol Weekly, I took a lot at the campaign filings of the down ticket races.

    Check it out here.

    Public campaign finance bill is for 'display purposes only'

    The following appeared in Capitol Weekly today

    On Monday, the Assembly passed sweeping legislation in a historic vote to reform campaign finance in California.

    Only it didn't.

    Lost amid the media reports and the cheering from advocates was a small provision, buried in the second-to-last paragraph of the 16-page bill. It stated that, "The provisions of this act are set forth for display purposes only and shall not be operative."

    That uncommon provision, inserted on Jan. 24, lowered the threshold for passage of the bill, which was sponsored by Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, from a two-thirds vote to a simple majority.

    It also stripped the bill of the force of law.

    If the bill, as passed by the Assembly, were to pass through the Senate unchanged and be signed by the governor it would do nothing, as it is "for display purposes only," according to legislative analysts.

    So while it was widely reported that legislation authorizing public financing of political campaigns cleared the Assembly, the reality was different: Hancock's bill would actually have to return to the Assembly without the "display purposes" provision--and pass with a two-thirds vote--to go into effect. Those votes are unlikely to come.

    Read the rest here.

    Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    SD 10 Forum

    What looks to be one of the most heated Democratic primaries for state Senate is the battle to succeed termed out Sen. Liz Figueroa, D-Fremont.

    It is a three-way scramble between Assemblyman Johan Klehs and former Assemblymembers Ellen Corbett and John Dutra.

    Tommorrow the trio will meet for the first time in the campaign (publicly, that is) to speak before the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

    It happens tommorrow at 8am at Philips Electronics in San Jose.

    North Coast Railroad to be Derailed?

    Today the Transportation Commission meets to consider de-programming the $5.5 million the North Coast Railroad, a proposed Eureka to Marin line, is expected to receive through the Traffic Congestion Relief program.

    The railline--or lack thereof--was the subject of a Dan Walters column, as an example of why state Legislature is a dysfunctional mess last June.

    Nation Introduces GI Bill for CA National Guard

    Assemblyman Joe Nation, D-Marin, announced today that he is introducing AB 1923, which will provide scholarships to members of the California National Guard to attend both California State Universities and California Community Colleges.

    Nation's office reports:

    Currently, the State of California is one of only two states that provides no education benefits for members of the National Guard. This is in stark contrast to those in the professional military who are eligible to receive the GI Bill. AB 1923 would provide tuition waivers for members of the National Guard beginning the day they enlist and expiring ten years from the enlistment date. This would allow members of the guard, if activated, to complete their education without fear of penalties for serving their country and California.

    The National Guard Association of California is sponsoring the bill.

    Less Peace and Freedom

    The Peace and Freedom Party has failed to qualify for the June ballot.

    That leaves six statewide parties: Democratic, Republican, American Independent, Green, Libertarian and Natural Law.