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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    Thursday, March 30, 2006

    Opening training to open the records

    Gov. Schwarzenegger issued an executive order today directing the state's executive branch undergo training to ensure that members of the administration fully comply with public information requests.

    State agencies must participate in training sessions within thirty days.

    Here's what the governor had to say:

    "Access to information about the conduct of the people's business is a fundamental right that we must preserve at all costs," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "In order for California to truly be the 'sunshine state,' we need broad compliance with the California Public Records Act. Today, we are launching an effort to provide training to state officials who in turn will be required to train their staff."

    What's his name?

    Peter Hecht in the Sac Beelistened in to Phil Angelides appearance on the Al Franken show yesterday and has this little gem:

    When Franken asked Angelides if he had competition in the Democratic primary, Angelides failed to mention his opponent, state Controller Steve Westly. Instead, he spoke intensely of "the big choice in California," asking: "Do we want to keep retreating from the assaults from the right or do we want to stand as progressives and Democrats and say, 'Enough is enough.' "

    That wasn't quite enough for Franken.

    "Let me ask you this," Franken said. "Does your opponent in the Democratic primary have a name?"

    "Yes," Angelides responded, still refusing to serve it up. "He also has a checkbook. He's written $22 million in checks. He has a checkbook as big as Schwarzenegger's ego."

    Though Angelides couldn't bring himself to say "Westly" out loud, Franken said he hopes to invite the Democratic gubernatorial rival to be a guest on his show, although a Westly spokesman said no appearance is confirmed for this week.

    Wednesday, March 29, 2006

    California Progress Report

    Frank Russo has launched a new websitefor California Democrats.

    Ok, so the site is two weeks old and I was slow to post it. But it is worth a look. Of particular note is Hiram Johnson's corner, which is dedicated to "exposing phony use of the word "reform", "progressive," and more...".

    Reiner resigns

    This morning, Rob Reiner resigned as chair of the California Children and Families Commission.

    Reiner has served as chair of the commission since it began in 1999. He spoke with Gov. Schwarzenegger over the weekend and wrote this in his letter of resignation:

    "We agreed that we cannot let personal political attacks get in the way of doing the very best we can for California's children. For seven years I have volunteered as the chairperson of First 5 California, and I am proud of all that we have accomplished. We have touched the lives of over 3.4 million children across the state, from providing health insurance to preschool to parent education information to prenatal services. I applaud your appointment of Hector Ramirez as First 5's new chairperson, and I remain as committed today as I have ever been to improving the welfare of California's children."

    Reiner has come under attack in recent weeks for his role as the chief proponent of Prop. 82, which would create universal preschool in California, and simultaneously serving as chair of the commission, which spent $23 million promoting preschool in an ad campaign several months ago.

    Schwarzenegger only had kind words for Reiner in the press release.

    "Rob Reiner has always put California's kids first and I thank him for the great work he has done over the last seven years," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "Because of Rob's efforts, California has become a national leader in providing early childhood health and education services for our youngest children and their families."

    Reiner will be replaced by Hector Ramirez, another Democrat.

    Tuesday, March 28, 2006

    “If a politician tries to take credit for job growth, don't believe it."

    That sentence was just sent out by the Phil Angelides campaign. It was said by Gov. Schwarzenegger in last year's state of the state address.

    Here's the full release:

    “If a politician tries to take credit for job growth, don't believe it. Ladies and gentlemen, I did not create this record number of jobs.”

    Who said it? None other than California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in his January 5, 2005 State of the State address (click here to read the text of the speech on the Governor’s own website).

    Of course, Schwarzenegger’s name wasn’t on the ballot in 2005. But Election Year Schwarzenegger seems to have changed his tune. Now, his new ad and weekly radio address both boast about “500,000 new jobs.”

    It’s all part of Election Year Schwarzenegger’s attempt to cover up his record of debt and diminished opportunity. But Californians won’t forget that easily. They won’t forget the Governor’s relentless attacks on teachers, nurses, firefighters, students and working families. Try as he might, Election Year Schwarzenegger won’t be able to escape his own past.

    90 percent pass exit exam

    State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell reports that 90 percent of seniors passed the high school exit exam.

    "Nearly 90 percent of this year’s seniors have passed the California High School Exit Exam," O’Connell said. "This shows that students are acquiring the necessary knowledge and our high schools are focused on making sure students who graduate have the essential mathematics and English-language skills they will need to survive in the workplace or college."

    Researchers from the Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO), an independent evaluator of the CAHSEE, analyzed the success rate on the test for the class of 2006 as of the fall 2005 administrations of the test. HumRRO estimates that 89 percent of the class of 2006 have passed both the mathematics and the English-language arts sections of the CAHSEE.

    In raw numbers, an estimated 47,925 seniors have yet to pass both portions of the CAHSEE as of January. Passing the exit exam is one of a number of graduation requirements students must meet before they can earn a diploma.

    Below is the estimate by ethnic and economic groups:

    Percentage Passed as of January 2006

    All Students







    English Learner

    Economically Disadvantaged

    New minimum wage study

    The California Budget Project has a new study on the minimum wage. Below is a graph with some of the findings.

    Angelides on radio

    Phil Angelides is a guest on the Ronn Owens show this morning at 10am. Listen here.

    Schwarzenegger on immigration

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger penned a timely column today for the Los Angeles Times on immigration.

    Here's the meat of the column:

    First, immigration is about our security. The first order of business for the federal government is to secure our borders. And Washington simply must do a better job of it. We learned on 9/11 that not all those who cross our borders want to share in the American dream. A few want to replace it with a nightmare. If we don't know who is coming over our borders, we won't know what they might do. And in a post-Sept. 11 world, that is a risk we cannot take. Congress must strengthen our borders.

    That's why as governor of California, I have supported legislation to end human trafficking and stop the issuance of driver's licenses to those who aren't legal residents. By bringing folks out of the shadows and into the light, we help immigrants, and we help America.

    Criminalizing immigrants for coming here is a slogan, not a solution. Instead, I urge Congress to get tough on those illegal immigrants who are a danger to society. If an illegal immigrant commits a serious crime, he must leave the country — one strike and you're out. No excuses, no delays.

    Second, immigration is about our economy. The freest nation in the world, and the freest economy in history, depend on a free flow of people. Immigrants are here to work and contribute. I support efforts to ensure that our businesses have the workers they need and that immigrants are treated with the respect they deserve. We should pass a common-sense temporary worker program so that every person in our nation is documented.

    Monday, March 27, 2006

    How many jobs?

    Exactly how many jobs have been created since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was swept into office in the 2003 recall? That may sound like a bone of contention between Schwarzenegger and his foes, but it is actually an argument being played out among the pro-Schwarzenegger forces.

    The growth of the economy, and the reduction of the state's budget deficit are expected to be prominent Schwarzenegger campaign themes this fall.

    Today, the governor's campaign has released it first television ad of the campaign (though the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been airing pro-Schwarzenegger pieces for the last several weeks.) You can find the new ad here.

    Here's the text of the ad:

    "Tomorrow is going to be a little better than today for Californians because we've pulled our state back from the brink of bankrupcy. We've dramatically reduced the state's deficit, cut the unfair car tax, reformed the worker's comp system, and created 500,000 new jobs. Governor Schwarzenegger's leadership is making California work again."

    The exact number of jobs created, however, seems to vary awfully quickly. In their ads, the U.S. Chamber has been touting the governor's economic record, including 400,000, not 500,000, new jobs. Here's what the Chamber piece had to say:

    Remember? California was $22 billion in the red, the car tax tripled, jobs and businesses were leaving, a state literally in the dark. Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered. Repealing the car tax hike, cutting the deficit, refusing to raise taxes, helping create 400,000 new jobs, and expanding trade. There's hard work ahead. But with his heart in the right place, Schwarzenegger is helping California compete.

    Later today, Gov. Schwarzenegger is scheduled to tour Trademark Plastics in Riverside and "tout the more than 575,000 jobs that have been created in the state during the Schwarzenegger administration." The event is the first in a series planned to push the successes of the economy since Schwarzenegger took office.

    The campaign will almost certainly settle on an estimate of the number-of-jobs-created soon--but for a now a clear campaign of "Schwarzenegger helps economy" is emerging.

    First Schwarzenegger ad

    Today, the governor's campaign has released it first ad of the campaign. You can find it here.

    Here's the text of the ad:

    "Tomorrow is going to be a little better than today for Californians because we've pulled our state back from the brink of bankrupty. We've dramatically reduced the state's deficit, cut the unfair car tax, reformed the worker's comp system, and created 500,000 new jobs. Governor Schwarzenegger's leadership is making California work again."

    Al Alquist passes away

    The former state senator and husband of Sen. Elaine Alquist died at 4am this morning. According to Elaine Alquist's office:

    The 34-year veteran of the California Legislature was born on August 2, 1908 in Memphis, TN. Prior to serving four years in the California Assembly beginning in 1962, and the Senate for 30 years until 1996, Senator Alquist had a 40-year career with the railroads.

    As he took his last breath on his 13th wedding anniversary with his wife Senator Elaine Alquist (D-San Jose) by his side, his last words, said in a strong voice, were “love you.”

    Senator Al Alquist is survived by his wife State Senator Elaine Alquist; son Alan Alquist; stepsons Peter and Bryan White; grandchildren Ron and Jan Alquist, and Jasmine and Logan White.

    Gov's new media team

    Anthony York has the story about the latest additions to Schwarzenegger's campaign team, all White House veterans.

    Those other candidates

    Josh Richman in the Oakland Tribune yesterday took a look at the six unknown Democrats who hope face off against Schwarzenegger this fall.

    No, Warren Beatty did not have a last-minute change of heart. Yet six other Democrats have filed for June's gubernatorial primary, including four in the Bay Area. They are two physicians, a teacher, an attorney, a community activist and an engineer, and they believe basic Democratic values have gotten lost in California's political mix.

    "We weren't hearing anything from the main two candidates, and that was the main problem — that's why I decided to be a place on the ballot where Democrats could vote their true beliefs," said candidate Michael Strimling, 53, a Piedmont attorney whose Web site exhorts Democrats to vote their values.

    "Are you tired of Democrats who won't take firm progressive positions?" it asks. "You oppose the war and wiretaps. You are sickened by the governor putting debt on our kids, as he cuts education and health care. You wince as corporations get huge tax breaks. You worry about the cost of the explosive growth of prisons and the fairness of capital punishment."

    Strimling said he wants to provide "a strong anti-war stand, against wiretapping. ... None of the major candidates is saying anything about that. All they're doing is pumping money into television advertising."

    Schwarzenegger has some challengers, as well, Richman reports.

    THOUGH NOT as crowded as the Democratic gubernatorial primary ballot, the Republican ballot has three challengers keeping Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger company.

    Huntington Beach home builder Jeffrey Burns, 51, said he is running because "government has to be redefined" in terms of public workers' pensions, social benefits and immigration.

    There will not be enough young workers to support retirees in coming decades, he said, so the state and nation need a solid guest-worker policy rather than the hypocrisy with which illegal immigrants are treated now.

    "We've built this nation on immigrants ... and we've got to take a serious look about getting more in here because our kids are not going to be able to handle what the baby-boom generation is demanding," he said.

    William Chambers, 50, a railroad switchman/brakeman from Auburn, recently told the Red Bluff Daily News he believes Schwarzenegger tried to rely on his celebrity to get things done but has not listened to ordinary Californians.

    He blasted the governor's infrastructure bond proposal.

    "People have to realize that if they want anything within the state ... they, the taxpayers, have to pay for it."

    Robert Newman II of Redlands is a psychologist and a born-again Christian whose Web site — still active since his 2003 recall election run — asks voters to "prayerfully cast your vote."

    Saturday, March 25, 2006

    Money, money, money

    Who has what resources is becoming a constant refrain in the governor's race. The Sacramento Bee has a great graph today (see below) on who is being given what and by whom.

    In the flurry of campaign finance stories following this week's filing deadline, many focused on the growing gap between the money Phil Angelides has raised versus Steve Westly.

    The Chronicle read:

    The campaign financial reports released Wednesday were grim reading for state Treasurer Phil Angelides, the leader in the polls. Although he has a substantial $14.5 million in the bank, that's still $8.5 million less than the $23 million state Controller Steve Westly had on tap as of March 17, the closing day for the reports.

    The actual gap is somewhat less because Westly's report showed $1.6 million in unpaid bills.

    But the Angelides camp has taken issue with the $23 million figure. Here's what a recent memo to reporters said:

    Steve Westly lists himself as the Controller on the ballot, but on Wednesday, Westly used Arthur Andersen-style press releases and told reporters that he had $23 million in the bank.

    On Wednesday night, countless political observers spent hours clicking the refresh button, waiting for Steve Westly’s campaign finance report to appear online. When the report finally appeared (at 11:07 PM), we all learned that the Westly campaign is guilty of Bush-style fuzzy math.

    In reality, Westly has nearly $1.7 million in unpaid bills, a fact that his campaign conveniently ignored in an effort to artificially inflate his cash-on-hand total.

    The late night report also confirmed that Steve Westly has burned through every penny he has raised so far and is now relying solely on his personal fortune to fund his campaign.

    In any case, here's that Sac Bee graphic:

    Friday, March 24, 2006

    Three debates

    From the Angelides campaign:

    California State Treasurer and Democratic Candidate for Governor Phil Angelides today formally accepted three invitations to participate in debates with his Democratic Primary opponent.

    Angelides has agreed to participate in debates at San Jose State University in mid-April, the University of California, Davis, on April 17 and a debate sponsored by the California League of Conservation Voters in Los Angeles on May 3.

    Kaufman honored

    Gale Kaufman, the Democratic political consultant who organized last year's union assault on Gov. Schwarzenegger, was honored today by the American Association of Political Consultants.

    They gave her the "national campaign manager of the year" award/.

    Green for Angelides, Green for Westly

    The Sierra Club has endorsed both Phil Angelides and Steve Westly. The dual announcements by the candidates, however, only point out that they were endorsed.

    “I am honored to receive the Sierra Club’s endorsement,” said Angelides. “As a private citizen and as Treasurer, I have put environmental protection at the center of my work. As Governor, I will fight every day to protect California’s coastline, work hard to protect our forests and improve the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink. Protecting our environment will be at the top of my list of priorities.”

    “As Governor, Phil Angelides will continue the Sierra Club tradition of protecting the coast, our parks and public health from pollution,” said former Sierra Club Southern California Regional Representative Bob Hattoy. “Phil Angelides will ensure we preserve California’s precious natural resources for generations to come.”

    The Westly folks countered:

    Controller and State Lands Commission Chair Steve Westly’s campaign for Governor today announced Westly has been endorsed by the largest environmental organization in the state, Sierra Club California.

    Sierra Club California Senior Representative Bill Magavern said, “Sierra Club California is pleased to endorse your candidacy for Governor. We believe that you have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to environmental protection, and we are confident that you will continue to be a champion of California’s air, water and wild places,” in a letter sent today to Controller Westly.

    CA: Low home ownership

    A recent study shows that California near the bottom of home ownership rankings.

    Last year 57 percent of the state's residents owned their own home, the second-lowest total in the nation and 13.3 percentage points under the national average, said the analysis by the California Building Industry Association.

    Only New York had a lower ownership rate, 54.8 percent.

    Boosting the ownership rate to close to the nation's would boost property tax revenue by more than $4 billion a year, money that could help the state pay for infrastructure improvements, officials said.

    Ownership rates in most of California have been flat since the beginning of the decade, said Alan Nevin, the association's chief economist. At 47.4 percent, the Los Angeles metro area has the lowest homeownership rate in the state, down 1.5 percentage points since 1994. The highest rate, 67.2 percent, is in the Inland Empire.

    California has not been on a par with the nation in regard to homeownership since the 1960s, Nevin's analysis showed.

    For the rest of the story click here.

    Perenchios's chip in another $44,600

    Filings with the secretary of state today show that Univision CEO Jerry Perenchio and his wife Margaret each contributed $22,300 to Gov. Schwarzenegger's reelection efforts. Perenchio has been one of Schwarzenegger's biggest donors. The most recent donations maxes them out for the year.

    About Schmidt: Gov.'s campaign manager pulls in $78,000 in just six weeks

    Here's my online story in today's Capitol Weekly:

    After less than two months on the job, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign manager Steve Schmidt has been paid more than $78,000 in campaign funds. Schmidt received paychecks of $26,250 on February 17, March 3 and March 15. That puts Schmidt on pace to earn more than $470,000 during this year's governor's race. The figures come from public documents released this week by the secretary of state.

    Find the full piece here.

    Thursday, March 23, 2006

    Westly spends $7.2 million on TV related costs

    The Westly campaign filed their expenditure reports with the secretary of state too late yesterday to make most of today's papers. But a quick glance through shows that Westly spent $7.2 million on what is categorized as "T.V. OR CABLE AIRTIME AND PRODUCTION COSTS".

    The LA Times' Dan Morain takes a look at the rest of the reports.

    Schwarzenegger showed his fundraising prowess, receiving significantly more money than his Democratic rivals. He raised $5.2 million between Jan. 1 and Friday.

    That sum was sufficient to place his reelection campaign $3 million in the black. He had started the year $410,000 in debt.

    State Treasurer Phil Angelides, seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, raised $2.3 million during that period. Democratic state Controller Steve Westly raised $1.1 million. Also, $2.5 million came from his own wallet.

    Westly, who made a fortune at EBay, has spent nearly $26 million of his own money so far on his campaign. Angelides, also a millionaire, though not nearly as wealthy as Westly, has spent about $17,000 of his own funds on his gubernatorial run.

    Both men, seeking to establish themselves with voters, spent heavily in recent weeks — Angelides nearly $6 million, including $4.3 million to buy airtime for TV ads, and Westly, $6.3 million. Two hours before the midnight filing deadline, Westly had not filed a full report detailing, for example, the amount he spent on television advertising.

    Angelides had $14.5 million in his political bank account as of March 17. Westly had $23 million.

    "Women of the year" married to men of Legislature

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly today

    Three wives of legislators, two candidates for the Assembly, one mother-in-law, one mother and one domestic partner were among those chosen by legislators to be honored among as California's "women of the year."

    Each year, every California legislator is asked to pick one woman for the women-of-the-year award.Assemblyman Keith Richman, R-Northridge, selected his wife, Deborah, for the woman-of-the-year award in his district, with her brief biography saying she "has provided tremendous support for him in his efforts of public service."

    "She is most deserving of this honor not just for this year but for every year," the biography concluded.

    Assemblyman Jay La Suer, R-La Mesa, also nominated his wife, Lynn, for the award.

    "Lynn La Suer is an energetic member of numerous organizations, including serving on the Board of Directors of Olaf Wieghorst Museum and Rescue Task Force. Rescue Task Force provides immediate aid to people suffering from natural disasters and war. They were the first U.S. aid in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Sri Lanka," reads her biography.

    Democrats got into the significant-other selections, too.

    Assemblyman Ed Chavez, D-La Puente, chose his wife, Renee, as the woman of the year for his district. Renee Chavez is the mayor of La Puente and a candidate to succeed her husband for his seat in the 57th Assembly District.

    Sharon Stricker was the choice of Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, D-Los Angeles, for top woman in the 45th Assembly District. Sharon is identified as "Executive Director for the Los Angeles Center for Educational Research Stars Afterschool Programs."

    She is also Goldberg's domestic partner. The two were married in San Francisco in 2004.

    What do those four mate-selecting legislators have in common? They are all termed-out of office this year.

    Bev Hansen, a former assemblywoman who helped launch the year-of-the-woman program with former Assemblywoman Sally Tanner 20 years ago, says that she used a county-wide nomination process and a special committee to select her "woman of the year." But Hansen says she is pleased with the ongoing success of the program, especially with the increased participation from first lady Maria Shriver.

    "I want everyone to make selections of outstanding women--and if that's a wife or a partner of a legislator that's OK with me," said Hansen, who is now a partner of the lobbying firm of Lang, Hansen, O'Malley and Miller. Other legislators' choices were also all in the family.

    Sen. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, chose her mother, Nancy Speier, a 50-year teaching veteran in the San Mateo Union High School District adult-education program.

    "During that time, she has taught thousands how to reupholster furniture, and her classes were always fully enrolled," her bio reads.

    Sen. Martha Escutia, D-Montebello, picked her mother in-law, Delfina Briones. Delfina is the mother of Escutia's husband and Democratic consultant, Leo Briones.

    "Ms. Briones … founded the La Mirada Basketball Association, Junior All-American Football League and the La Mirada High School Booster Club." Some choices had a more overt political bent.

    Sen. Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, selected Christine Chavez, a candidate for the Assembly in one of the state's hottest Democratic primaries. The front page of Chavez's campaign Web site says "Join Gloria Romero!" who has endorsed Chavez, the granddaughter of labor leader César Chávez.

    Newly elected Assembly Republican leader George Plescia, R-San Diego, picked local Councilwoman Marie Waldron as his woman of the year. Her bio says she "is a proven fiscal conservative with a record of fighting for smaller government, no new taxes, and a strong economic climate for California."

    Sounds like a campaign slogan? Maybe that's because Plescia has endorsed Waldron's candidacy for the Assembly in the 74th district.

    In Monday's Senate floor speech honoring the selection of the women of year, first lady Maria Shriver boasted that, "This is an achievement that will never leave you. You will always be known as a California woman of the year. No one can take it away from you. You didn't come here because of who you were married to."

    Well, at least some of them didn't.

    Núñez to sponsor major cable deregulation bill

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly today

    Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez is drafting sweeping legislation that could fundamentally change California's phone, Internet and television landscape. The measure would centralize franchising for the state's multibillion-dollar cable market to allow telecommunication giants AT&T and Verizon to better compete with the state's existing cable-operators.

    California would become only the fourth state in the nation to allow telecommunications companies to apply for state-issued cable franchises. Since Texas became the first state to deregulate its cable industry last September, California is one of a dozen states that have discussed similar changes.

    Núñez is quick to say the legislation is "not fully cooked." The bill, AB 2987, does not yet contain any substantive legal language, but the speaker says a fleshed-out law could be coming in the next weeks. Participants in the high-stakes negotiations have been meeting quietly in the Capitol since last April.

    "The bread is being baked as we speak," said Núñez.

    What's at stake is the opening wide of the state's estimated $5 billion broadband market that provides millions of Californians high-speed Internet access and cable television. It is a growing market that both AT&T and Verizon are determined to enter. AT&T already has committed to spend $4.4 billion to upgrade its existing phone lines to high-speed fiber optic lines capable of transmitting video and Internet signals faster than DSL. The upgrade would reach out to 18 million customers in 13 states, including California.

    But under current state law, phone companies must negotiate separate cable-franchise agreements with each municipality into which they expand. That's the same system the cable companies have navigated over the last three decades. But AT&T and Verizon say the bureaucracy is outdated and ineffective.

    "If we had to follow a city-by-city process, and if we were able to secure one agreement a week, it would take over seven years to get all the approvals to roll out this new service in California," said AT&T spokesman Gordon Diamond. "[We are] supporting a statewide process that would … remove some of the barriers that exist right now to enter the video services market."

    The Núñez legislation, which is being co-authored by the chair of the utilities and commerce committee, Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, would allow cable and broadband providers to seek a single franchise agreement at the state level. The result, Levine and Núñez say, would be the investment of billions of dollars by the telecommunications industry to create a new, privately funded digital infrastructure for California.

    According to industry estimates, it costs $25,000 to $40,000 per mile of new overland fiber optic lines and more than $40,000 per mile of underground wiring.

    "I am looking at the biggest investment in technology infrastructure to reach as many Californians as possible," said Núñez. "I think the opportunities are endless."

    With both telecommunications firms and existing cable operators potentially offering high-speed Internet, television and voice services in the same area, proponents of the new policy say the average consumer may save on their monthly bill.

    "Ultimately I think that the more competition you have, you typically drive down the cost of the product," added Núñez, who has received more than $20,000 from cable and telecommunications companies since 2005.

    But Lenny Goldberg, a consumer advocate and lobbyist for The Utility Reform Network who has been involved in the legislation discussions, worries that the new regulations and competition may only benefit more affluent customers.

    "Often, you provide competition and the best services for the customer with the most money," says Goldberg. "The result is [that the] so-called benefits of competition go to the high-end and those people at lower incomes or poor locations are paying the disproportionate share of the costs."

    One of the central controversies of the proposed legislation is over what populations would be served by the new high-capacity fiber optic lines.

    Historically, cable providers have been required to "build out" to serve entire municipalities with their best available technology--without discriminating against racial groups or income levels.

    Even latecomers to the cable market have been required to expand via a "balanced build out"--serving affluent and poor neighborhoods equally. For example, Sacramento's SureWest recently was forced to offer cable service to both the wealthy Land Park neighborhood and the less affluent Oak Park area.

    But telecommunications companies would rather expand without such a "balanced build" requirement.

    "This is a private investment and we have to make sure we are spending our dollars and making our investment wisely," said AT&T spokesman Diamond.

    AT&T has said that its business model is to bring "Project Lightspeed," its fastest broadband, to 90 percent of "high-value" customers--defined by those who spend more than $160 a month on telecom and entertainment services.

    But the business plan calls for bringing the fastest "Lightspeed" technology to only 5 percent of "low-value" customers that spend less than $110 a month.

    Diamond emphasizes that "In no way should this be interpreted as saying that we are targeting affluent areas only. It couldn't be further from the truth. We want to provide our services to as many customers as we can."

    But cable operators say such customer selection is unacceptable.

    "It is classic redlining," said California Cable Television Association President Dennis Mangers, borrowing a term from other industries' past practice of charging higher rates to predominantly poor, ethnic communities.

    Both local government groups, which fear that certain cities or segments of cities could be left underserved, and the legislative sponsors sound committed to requiring some degree of a balanced build.

    In February, the board of directors of the League of California Cities adopted a telecommunications policy that demanded "all local community residents" have access "to all available telecommunications services." Further, the League agreed to demand "a reasonable timeframe for deployment of telecommunications service that includes a clear plan for the sequencing of the build out" throughout the municipality.

    Núñez was equally unequivocal.

    "The key thing first is you have got to be able to bring that fiber optic cable to everyone's doorstep," he said. Levine calls expanded broadband access the central goal of the legislation. "This bill is really about broadband deployment. [Cable television] is really the cash cow that makes broadband deployment financially possible," he said.

    There are several other unresolved issues with the legislation, including ensuring that any new state-issued franchise is revenue neutral to local governments--something all sides have committed to. Under current franchise agreements, most municipalities receive 5 percent of the cable company's gross revenues. That amounts to an estimated $250 million in local revenue in the state.

    The League of California Cities also wants to ensure the continued providing of public education and government (PEG) channels, as well as control over public rights-of-way (i.e. controlling the installation of cables underneath public property).

    These, and other sticking points, have been the focus of a series of unpublicized meetings--chaired by Assemblyman Levine with senior-level staff and industry stakeholders--that have been occurring in the Capitol since last spring. Mangers said those meetings have shown Levine, Núñez, and Sen. Martha Escutia, D-Montebello, who has her own telecom bill, to be "honest brokers" in the regulation changes.

    "The way we are going to do this is a level playing field where everybody wins, where there is a benefit to municipalities, a benefit to the state, a benefit to the customer," says Núñez. "That's the only way this is going to work."

    Wednesday, March 22, 2006

    Myspace, Myfriend, Mygovernor?

    As someone pointed out to me last night, state Treasurer Phil Angelides has an account on Myspace, the Internet networking Web site.

    It is updated regularly--most recently today. Phil's got himself a boatload of friends, too, at 1099. Anyone want to become number 1100?

    When a big family helps

    Assembly candidate Lou Papan is appreciating the size of the Tsakopoulos family.

    Elena Tsakopoulos gave $3200. Katina Tsakopoulos gave $3200. Chrysanthy Tsakopoulos gave $3200. Athena Tsakopoulos gave $3200. AKT Development (the Tsakopoulos-owned company) gave $3200. And Alexandra Tsakopoulos gave $3200.

    All this month.

    New polling

    Juila Rosen at the Alliance for a Better California reports that the SurveyUSA group has released another poll in the governor's race.

    The results are below, with last month's results in parenthesis. The biggest change for Schwarzenegger is a positive one--with an approval spike among independents.

    Approve 38% (32)
    Disapprove 58% (64)
    Not Sure 4% (3)

    All voters
    Approve 36% (32)
    Disapprove 61% (65)
    Not Sure 3% (3)

    Approve 17% (16)
    Disapprove 81% (82)
    Not Sure 2% (2)

    Approve 60% (60)
    Disapprove 36% (38)
    Not Sure 4% (3)

    You can find the full poll, methodology and all here.

    Village People

    For fans of the "YMCA", the Village People are coming to Sactown. They arrive at Sac State on April 6th at 7:30 in the University Union ballroom as part of the campus' Alumni Month.

    Hodo, also known as the "construction worker", graduated from Sac State in 1969.

    Eminent domain

    FlashReport blogger Dan Schnur suggests that Gov. Schwarzenegger take up the issue of eminent domain as his third bedrock Republican principal to rally GOP activists.

    Tom McClintock has spoken out forcefully against the ability of local government to acquire private property for the sake of economic development. So have any number of Democratic politicians representing the type of economically blighted communities most vulnerable to eminent domain claims. So not only is this an issue that can rally conservatives, but it doesn't come up with well-funded opposition attached to it the way other GOP priorities often do.

    He adds:

    Protecting property owners against the intrusion of local government is ideologically consistent with the populist/reformer image that he rode to the governor's office in 2003. We haven't seen much of Arnold the Outsider lately. Walters may be providing him with an opportunity to reclaim that mantle.

    Can an eminent domain fight rally conservative voters? I'll leave that to my fellow bloggers to ponder. But it seems like a natural fit for a governor who's already reclaimed the political center and now needs one more thing to shore up his right flank.

    Field Poll: Opinions on gay marrage, service in military

    The Field Poll has a new survey out about the opinions of Californians on gay marriage and service in the military.

    In 1997 45% of adults described homosexual relations as always wrong and 38% said they were not wrong at all. In the current survey, the proportion saying such relations are always wrong has declined to 32%, while those who feel they are not wrong at all has grown to 43%.

    The Chronicle has a breakdown.

    Attitudes on same-sex marriage also have changed, with 51 percent of Californians opposing same-sex marriage in the February poll and 43 percent approving of it, in contrast with 56 percent disapproval and 38 percent approval in 1997.

    When those polled were given the option of civil unions, they split evenly among the three offered categories, though: 32 percent favor marriage, 32 percent favor civil unions and 32 percent neither.

    Check out a handy Chronicle graph for the best breakdown.

    Tuesday, March 21, 2006

    Not Diebold

    Kim Alexander of the California Voter Foundation has posted that Secretary of State Bruce McPherson has approved voting equipment manufactured by Sequoia Voting Systems.

    The equipment includes Sequoia's electronic voting machine with a voter-verified paper audit trail printer, which is designed to satisfy both the federal accessibility and state security laws.

    Here's what else Alexander had to say:

    A few counties that owned earlier models of Sequoia's touchscreens without the paper trail printer will need to either use paper ballots in June, modify their existing equipment with a printer unit, or purchase entirely new machines before the June Primary. Riverside County chose the last option, and has already taken delivery of the new equipment. In Shasta, however, the registrar of voters put her board of supervisors on notice a few weeks back that she may fail to comply with the state paper trail law.

    Like the recent Diebold certification, Sequoia's came with conditions, many of which focus on the physical security of the removable memory card used in both vendors' electronic voting machines. There are new questions being raised, however, about whether these kinds of measures are adequate. Harri Hursti, the finish computer programmer who exposed security weaknesses in Diebold's optical scan voting system, recently traveled to Utah to take a close look at Diebold's latest electronic voting machine, the TSx. Access to the TSx was granted to Mr. Hursti by Emery County Clerk Bruce Funk. More details about this developing story are available from Bev Harris' Black Box Voting web site.

    Who gave?

    After last night's fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton, use Election Track to see who donated.

    Monday, March 20, 2006

    35 pounds

    That is how much weight Cruz Bustamante has lost since announcing his oh-so-public diet in January. The number comes courtesy of Bustamante himself, who Maria Shriver asked while on the floor of the state Senate today. Shriver, who was giving a speech to the Women of the Year, also made all the senators stand in the back of the room to let the women sit at their desks.

    "They're all in heels," Shriver said, asking for just "a little respect."

    Angelides' new ad

    State Treasurer Phil Angelides unveiled his latest ad today, which features his three daughters, Megan, Christina and Arianna.

    The ad ends:
    [Megan] “His name is Phil Angelides …”

    [Christina] “We know we’re lucky to call him dad…”

    [Megan]] “We hope California gets to call him Governor."

    It's not the first public involvement Angelides' kids have had in the campaign. His daughter Megan, wrote a column for Capitol Weekly and serves as her dad's campus organizer.

    You can find the ad here.

    The Alliance rallies

    The Alliance for a Better California, the union coalition that opposed Gov. Schwarzenegger's initiatives last fall, is organizing a rally tonight outside the governor's Beverly Hills fundraiser.

    Fed up with the Governor Schwarzenegger’s broken promises and failure to lead, the Alliance for a Better California is holding a rally outside the Governor’s Beverly Hills fundraiser with Senator John McCain, where the Governor is expected to raise an unprecedented $2 million in one night.

    No butts about it

    The AP has the story about the town of Calabasas banning smoking in public places.

    No more smoking in the park. Lighting up on the sidewalk could bring a fine. Dining on the restaurant patio? Don't bother asking for matches.

    One of the strictest tobacco bans in the nation went into effect in the Los Angeles suburb of Calabasas last week, making smoking off limits in public places where someone else might be exposed to secondhand smoke: indoor businesses, outdoor businesses, parks, outdoor cafes, even apartment building common areas.

    Sunday, March 19, 2006

    Schwarzenegger's spending

    The LA Times' Robert Salladay has a story today about how Schwarzenegger has spent his campaign money. It begins:

    lmost everywhere Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger travels, he is shadowed by another sturdy Austrian: Dieter Rauter, his stunt double on "Terminator 3" and other films.

    Rauter today is a member of the governor's vast and expensive political apparatus. When Schwarzenegger meets the public, Rauter's hand-held digital camera records the event for posterity, a service that has cost about $62,000 since Schwarzenegger entered politics about four years ago.

    Here's the "meat" of the must piece:

    Schwarzenegger hires scores of the best political operatives, travels exclusively by private jet and insists on a sought-after cinematographer to film his commercials — productions that involve casting agents, caterers, dry-cleaners. In flashiness and magnitude, his public appearances have exceeded anything else in modern California politics.

    The premium expenses show that although Schwarzenegger is working in Sacramento, he hasn't entirely left Hollywood. The platinum-plated operation has given a tactical advantage to his political foes, whose spending habits have been more efficient and traditional.

    Schwarzenegger's campaigns have written more than 8,100 checks totaling $142 million to promote nearly a dozen ballot initiatives, get him elected in the 2003 recall and launch his reelection effort. Fourteen campaign committees have existed to raise money for his causes.

    The governor spends tens of millions of dollars on public events, television ads, polling and other traditional political activity. But he has spent a smaller percentage than his opponents on the No. 1 task of any campaign: communicating with the public.

    The public employee unions that ran an anti-Schwarzenegger campaign during last year's special election spent about 75% of their money addressing voters through television ads, radio spots, phone banks and mailed brochures, according to state records. Schwarzenegger, who sponsored four ballot initiatives and lost every one, spent 63% of his cash communicating his message in those ways, the records show.

    But you should really read the whole thing.

    Saturday, March 18, 2006

    Villaraigosa Roast

    The LA Times has the low down on this week's roast of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

    Most of the jokes focused on the mayor's fondness for attention.

    "He's worked more red carpets than Heidi Fleiss," said Nuñez. "There was some trouble at the Oscars, though. First, he was embarrassed when he realized the nominated movie 'Hustle & Flow' really wasn't a documentary about the Department of Water and Power. Then, because he's so small and bronze, they tried to hand him to George Clooney."

    Gov's radio address

    In his weekly radio address this week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger focused on California's levees and the tour he led with Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

    He didn't make much mention of the failure of the bond negotiations for the June ballot.

    But here's what he did say:

    So I am very glad that this week the Senate voted to provide $1 billion in emergency funding and the Assembly voted to provide more than $4 billion to strengthen and rebuild critical levee areas.

    I look forward to signing a comprehensive flood control package that addresses all of our needs.

    Does that mean he signs the Senate/Assembly bill if it passes out of the other house? Or is he still waiting for a global infrasrtucture package?

    Friday, March 17, 2006

    Photo of the day

    What was being said when this picture was snapped?

    Schwarzenegger and Chertoff meet

    Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff came to California today, as promised, and toured California's levees with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    Here's the AP pool report:

    RANCHO CORDOVA -- After their helicopter tour, Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger received a 15-minute briefing on what causes levees to fail and how to fix. Les Harder, acting deputy director of the Department of Water Resources, and Lester Snow, the agency's director, made the presentations.

    The governor and Chertoff mostly listened quietly, although at one point Schwarzenegger questioned a figure Harder gave for how much it costs to repair levees. Harder said they cost $5,000 per square foot. Schwarzenegger said he'd heard figures as low as $300. Harder said that was what repairs cost 30 years ago, but today they cost from $1,000 to $9,000 and $5,000 is the average.

    Harder said Sacramento had a lower level of flood protection than New Orleans did before Katrina. He said if the Central Valley levee repairs are not sped up, there will probably be a levee failure before the work is done. When Harder requested federal assistance, Chertoff nodded his head but said nothing.

    Expect some pithy Democratic comment about "only a nod" to follow.

    UPDATE: As predicted, here's the chairman of the California Democratic Party, Art Torres,' statement:

    “Arnold will go to Washington D.C. for yet another fundraiser and photo-op and we’re here in California praying to St. Patrick that the governor will deliver the money to fix our levees.”

    Dem campaigns heat up

    The press release war between Phil Angelides and Steve Westly is heating up. Yesterday, a half-dozen emails went out from the campaigns to reporters (in fairness, some of those e-mails were not pithy "memos").

    The Angelides campaign continues to focus on Westly's wealth--and how much money he has donated to his campaign. Of particular interest is how he earned money from ‘spinning’, as the Angelides campaign says, which is receiving IPO allocations from investment banks doing business with eBay, ***

    Here's an excerpt from one Angelides release:

    From July 1, 2005 – December 31, 2005, Westly raised only $2.5 million from people who don’t share his first and last name, barely more than the $1.9 million he spent on overhead.

    History has shown that Californians demand more than just a big checkbook from their leaders. By this time eight years ago, Al Checchi had already spent $18 million in his attempt to buy the Governor’s office.

    Never one to learn from history or from his own consultant, Steve Westly appears to be preparing to steal a page from the Checchi playbook. But we’re reminded of the words of his consultant Garry South, who once said, “…regardless of how much money you spend – up to levels that can only be described as obscene – you can't fool the voters.”

    For their part, the Westly campaign responds that "Phil “Pay-to-Play” Angelides has 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."

    ***CORRECTION: The original post said "spinning" was related to stock options. It is not.

    Thursday, March 16, 2006

    McCain, McCain Go Away

    Two different groups today have now asked U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona not to come to California next for a scheduled fundraiser with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    Here's what the folks at Arnold Watch had to say:

    If McCain is the real McCoy of campaign finance reformers he should be a no-show at the Gov's bash, where the top ticket to get closest to Arnold goes for 100 grand.

    In a letter sent today, FTCR called on McCain to terminate his involvement and endorse the clean money elections initiative coming to the California ballot in November.

    "Your efforts to reform campaign financing drew the direct line between contributions and influence, and we are disheartened that you would stand by Mr. Schwarzenegger while he collects from his corporate benefactors," said the letter. It quoted Mcain's own statement in 1999 that the campaign finance system "'is nothing less than an elaborate influence peddling scheme in which both parties conspire to stay in office by selling the country to the highest bidder.'"

    Then, later this afternoon, the leadership of the Alliance for a Better California sent this letter:

    “Senator, we urge you to heed your own call when you say, ‘Soft money is really what’s harming American politics as we know it.’ By withdrawing your participation in the Governor’s upcoming event, you will send both the Governor and all Californians the clear message that you remain committed to eliminating the corruption and improper influence that soft money contributions foster.”

    New EPA chief

    In this story, Anthony York reports that Mary Ann Warmerdam is likely the next head of the state's Environmental Protectional Agency.

    Most of the speculation about the new head of CalEPA has focused on Mary Ann Warmerdam. Warmerdam, a former Farm Bureau lobbyist who now heads the Department of Pesticide Regulation, has received a tentative thumbs-up from environmentalists, a sign that she would likely sail through the confirmation process were the governor to pick her to be the new secretary.

    "She has started to turn DPR into the type of department that it should be," says the Sierra Club's Bill Magavern. "She has been inclusive and attentive to public participation. She's been more aggressive on enforcement. She's recognized the importance of urban pesticide use. I think she's capable and accessible and someone we could work with as secretary."

    With new law, chase for campaign cash becomes family affair

    The following appeared in Capitol Weekly today

    Housewives have donated more than $1 million to the three major candidates for governor. That's not as surprising as it sounds. Many of the homemakers share last names with big-money California contributors--Mrs. Spanos, Mrs. Perenchio and Mrs. Tsakopoulos.

    The 2006 gubernatorial election is California's first with contribution limits. And as the governor's race heats up, the campaigns are finding creative ways to raise money, including asking for donations from the spouses--and adult children--of major contributors.

    Two of the candidates, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Treasurer Phil Angelides, have even tapped their own wives for contributions. Julanne Angelides and Maria Shriver each gave their husbands the maximum $44,600 donation last December.

    "It is naive to think there isn't going to be money spent in politics," says Lance Olson, general counsel to the California Democratic Party, and the author of Prop. 34, the 2000 measure that imposed contribution restrictions.

    The new donation caps look unlikely to slow the flow of money in California politics. But where the money goes is changing. The new restrictions, much like at the federal level, are pushing big donations out of the candidate's hands and into party coffers and other independent expenditures.

    For the first time, donations to candidates for governor are limited to $22,300 for the primary, and $22,300 for the general election--for a maximum donation of $44,600. But donors can still give unlimited sums to the state's political parties--and joint candidate-party fundraisers are already in the works.

    Lance Olson says the increasing amount of money going to state parties is not "getting around" Prop. 34--it is the intended consequence.

    "[Prop. 34] was intended to take the money and direct it to the political parties," said Olson. "At least the theory behind that is that it insulates the candidates, to a degree, from the 'corrupting' contributions."

    But Gov. Schwarzenegger is actively raising money for the Republican Party that Olson says should be insulating him from big donations. In the invitation for a March 20 Beverly Hills fundraiser, Schwarzenegger asks "Platinum sponsors" to donate $44,600 to his campaign and another $55,400 to the party. "Gold sponsors" are asked to chip in $5,400 to the party, and "silver sponsors" are asked for $2,700.

    The party can use up to $27,900 per donation to directly support Schwarzenegger, with any other money going to other party building activities, such as voter registration drives.

    Kathy Bowler, executive director of the California Democratic Party, says that the while state Controller Steve Westly and Angelides are still focused on their own fundraising, "right after the primary is over, we assume there will be joint fundraisers."

    Just like federal officials whose contributions have been limited since 1974, California gubernatorial candidates are now being forced to build a campaign treasury without seven-figure checks.

    Kam Kuwata, a Democratic political consultant for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, says that the same dynamics that changed federal campaigns three decades ago are at work in California.

    "The key fundraising people were not necessarily the people who could write a huge check but the people who could call 2000 people with $1,000 checks," says Kuwata.

    Democratic political consultant Darry Sragow says that big donors still find a way to get money to favored campaigns.

    "A bigwig can only write a certain size check and that means the spouse and maybe the adult children of the bigwig, and the business associates of the bigwig all step in to fill the breach," he said.

    "The question is not who writes the check, it is how much money does the bigwig get credit for delivering to the campaign," adds Sragow. Contribution limits have brought about other parallels with the federal system, including the rise of independent expenditures.

    Last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a statewide ad campaign prominently featuring Gov. Schwarzenegger. But because the ad is categorized as independent issue advocacy, the Chamber is not required to disclose who paid for the ad, or how much is being spent.

    "They'll never admit it is for Schwarzenegger but is it is clearly intended to help the bond and Schwarzenegger's reelection," said Sragow, who is advises the state Chamber of Commerce on independent expenditures. "I think you will see more of this at the statewide level."

    Sragow said that state-level independent expenditures mirror the rise of so-called 527s independent committees at the federal level.

    "They are genetically related," said Sragow. "That [independent expenditures] in California and 527s at the federal level exist are proof that if you regulate any industry, people who are active in that industry will find a way around [those] regulations."

    Still, there are significant differences between the state and federal donation limits. For one thing, California candidates can still raise unlimited sums in committees they control--so long as the money goes toward an initiative campaign, not the candidate's own reelection. For another, direct federal donations to congressional candidates are capped at $2,000 per election versus $22,300 for governor's race--and donations to political parties are limited to $26,700 at the federal level.

    But any caps at all, say campaign finance observers, benefit wealthier office-seekers, because there is no limit to what candidates can contribute to their own campaign. All three major candidates for governor are multi-millionaires. Westly has contributed more than $20 million to his bid for the Democratic nomination and Schwarzenegger is expected to donate millions to his own campaign. Angelides is the "poorest" of the three, earning $11.6 million in the last seven years.

    Overall, this year's governor's race is expected to be the most expensive in California history, topping 2002's $120 million campaign.

    Kip Lipper: The Senate's go-to guy on environmental policy

    The following appeared in Capitol Weekly's special environmental section today

    One of the most influential voices in California environmental policy is a name hardly anyone outside the Capitol has ever heard. But for anyone who wants to pass a significant piece of environmental legislation, there's one senior staffer who comes to mind--Kip Lipper.

    His fourth-floor Senate office is so packed with boxes and overflowing with paperwork that some joke it is where he stores the Capitol's institutional memory on environmental issues. Others, including some legislators, have called Lipper the Senate's 41st senator--a designation that embarrasses him, his friends say.

    Bill Magavern, senior representative for Sierra Club, says Lipper, whose real first name is Kernan, is simply "the most influential Capitol staffer on environmental issues."

    Lipper prefers to work out of the limelight. When asked for to speak about his role in crafting environmental policy, he declined, saying he was a policy person, not a press person.

    "He is extremely talented and he probably knows as much as any three of us put together," said state Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica, who chairs the Senate Natural Resources Committee.

    But, adds Kuehl, "one of the things about Kip is that he very very assiduously understands the rule of staff. He doesn't have a vote." For Lipper, that means shepherding environmental legislation, but always leaving the credit for elected officials.

    Lipper's first legislative job was working in the district office of then-Assemblyman Dennis Mangers, D-Huntington Beach, in the late 1970s, trying to protect the Bolsa Chica Wetlands.

    "Lipper cut his environmental teeth on that issue," said Mangers.

    In 1980, Lipper moved to Sacramento to work for former Sen. Byron Sher, D-Palo Alto, where he stayed until Sher was termed out of office in 2004.

    During much of Sher's two-decade tenure in the Legislature, Lipper served as both Sher's chief of staff and as chief consultant to the Natural Resources Committee. From those dual posts, Lipper helped Sher craft many of the state's landmark pieces of environmental legislation.

    Those included the California Clean Air Act, the California Safe Drinking Water Act, the California Beverage Recycling Act and the Integrated Waste Management Act.

    In 2002, Lipper helped with legislation that requires energy companies to produce 20 percent of electricity from renewable resources. And in 2003, he helped Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, author a package of central valley clean air legislation--while still on Sher's staff.

    Though he is currently a staffer for Senate leader Don Perata, leadership in both legislative houses have sought Lipper's advice in the recent round of negotiations on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's infrastructure bond package. One senior Nuñez aide called Lipper "Mr. CEQA," a reference to the California Environmental Quality Act that has been a central bone of contention in the negotiations.

    "It's really Kip who shuttles from meeting to meeting and brings understanding and information to all the parties," added Kuehl, who credits Lipper's advice for Perata being "more green than I think people expected him to be" in the bond negotiations.

    Dan Jacobsen, legislative director for Environment California, says Lipper has three distinctive qualities that make him an effective staffer.

    "He understands policy incredibly well. He's incredibly accessible. And he has the ear of critical decision makers," said Jacobsen. "To me, those are the three best things you want to have in a staff person."

    Magavern says that Lipper brings the views of environmentalists to Senate leadership, pointing to Schwarzenegger's nomination of Cindy Tuck to the California Air Resources Board as an example. The appointment of Tuck, who had long represented agriculture, oil and big business interests, was vehemently opposed by the environmental community.

    The Senate eventually rejected her nomination and Magavern, among others, attributes her demise, in part, to Lipper's influence.

    For all his efforts in California, Lipper was honored on the floor of the House of Representatives in 2001 "for his outstanding work on behalf of the environment," by Rep. Hilda Solis, D-El Monte.

    Interestingly, Lipper is not the only member of his family to have worked the Capitol. His sister, Donna Lucas, is the former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Schwarzenegger.

    Lipper has had the occasional run-in with lawmakers.

    At the end of last year's session, columnist Dan Walters reported that Lipper had an encounter with Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, D-Davis, whose bill to expand delta protections against urban development was amended in the Rules Committee, for which Lipper works. Wolk was not informed of the amendments and demanded they be removed--though the Senate adjourned before the bill was taken up.

    But Wolk says it was all a misunderstanding--the bill has since passed--and that Lipper is an asset to the Legislature.

    "I was hoping he would come over to the Assembly at some point," says a laughing Wolk, "but I haven't been able to convince him to."

    Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    Frommer drops out

    Assemblyman Dario Frommer, D-Glendale, has dropped out of the race for state controller. Frommer was one of three announced Democratic candidates for the office, including state Sen. Joe Dunn, D-Garden Grove, and Board of Equalization member John Chiang.

    Here’s what Frommer had to say:

    For the past few months, I’ve been exploring a race for State Controller. I’ve been honored and humbled by the support and encouragement I’ve received from colleagues, friends, and family and from organized labor, law enforcement, firefighters, nurses, homecare workers and activists. Yet, today I have decided not to make the race, and I am doing so for one simple reason: my family.

    Frommer currently serves as Assembly Majority Leader and said he “look[s] forward to completing my term and to assisting Speaker Nunez as his Majority Leader as we begin this year’s budget negotiations.”

    That leaves Chiang and Dunn as the only two Democratic candidates in the race.
    As of the latest filing deadline, Chiang had $808,802.76 cash on hand and Dunn had $945,000. Interestingly, Frommer had out raised both—with $978,266.52 cash on hand.

    On the Republican side, Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, and former Assemblyman Tony Strickland are competing for the nomination.

    Cal-access redesign

    The secretary of state's website that tracks campaign donations and lobbying money just got a facelift.

    Check it out here.

    February Revenues Up

    The Department of Finance reports that February revenues were $312 million above the month's forecast. For those keeping track at home, that puts the state $141 million above forecast, year-to-date.

    About that deadline...

    Speaker Fabian Nunez is still trying to figure out if all these eleventh hour bond negotiations are already too late. Yesterday, he sent a letter to the secretary of state asking when the deadline was. Bruce McPherson replied that he had never moved the deadline from the original March 10 (last Friday). And that "if the Governor and the Legislature choose to pass measures beyond March 10th, they will need to truncate the public display period for the ballot labels. The March 10th deadline would have allowed for an eight-day public display period."

    He referred the question to the Department of General Services and the state printer who actually produce the ballot. So Nunez has written them as well, hoping for a response today.

    Schwarzenegger on bond deal

    The governor issued the followed statement last night on the bond deal:

    "Today was another day of productive talks with Senators and Assemblymembers on this important issue. Throughout the course of the negotiations, agreements and disagreements, the legislative leaders and I continue to work to find common ground to give the people of California what they deserve. This is about building new schools and fixing old ones, strengthening levees, reducing congestion and investing to make California a better place. I am committed to keep working and look forward to another day of meetings and discussions with my colleagues in the Legislature."

    McPherson Responds

    Here is Secretary of State Bruce McPherson's response to Nunez's letter yesterday. The gist of it is that the the secretary of state never did extend the deadline for the June ballot past last Friday:

    As previously conveyed to your staff, along with the staff of all of the legislative leadership and the Governor’s Office, March 10th was the last day to pass additional measures and ensure a successful administration of the June Primary Election.

    To repeat what I have stated on multiple occasions, if the Governor and the Legislature choose to go beyond this deadline, they will need assurance from the Department of General Services and the state printer that the ballot pamphlets can be printed and mailed in time to get essential information to the voters prior to casting their votes. It is my understanding that the Governor and the Legislature are aware of my concerns in this regard and have been working closely with the Department of General Services and the state printer.

    Secondly, if the Governor and the Legislature choose to pass measures beyond March 10th, they will need to truncate the public display period for the ballot labels. The March 10th deadline would have allowed for an eight-day public display period.

    Lastly, if the Governor and the Legislature choose to go beyond the March 10th deadline, any additional measures must include funding for a supplemental ballot pamphlet.

    As the State’s chief elections official, it is my top priority to ensure the integrity of every vote cast and that every voter has the information they need to make informed decisions on Election Day. On behalf of California’s voters, I urge you to keep in mind all of the issues I raised with you and your staff beginning with our first meeting on this issue on January 13th and articulated in the letter delivered to you the same day.

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    Keaton weighs in

    The Phil Angelides campaign has just sent out a letter to supporters from Diane Keaton, titled "Why I'm supporting Phil Angelides."

    Hey, why not use Hollywood stars to try to beat Hollwood stars.

    And for those who are really interested (or credit card fraud perpetrators), here is what Keaton's signature looks like:

    When's the paper due?

    Fabian Nunez has written to Secretary of State Bruce McPherson asking when the last possible minute to strike a bond deal is. The highlights are my own:

    There are a number of rumors circulating in the Capitol regarding the final date by which an infrastructure bond would have to be enacted in order to make the June 6, 2006, ballot. Our initial indications from your office were that last Friday, March 10, was the last permissible date. Then we heard that yesterday, March 13, was also acceptable to you. Today there are rumors that the deadline may actually be later this week.

    As you know, legislative leaders and Governor Schwarzenegger are engaged in on-going discussions on the terms of an historic infrastructure bond. This measure will address issues of critical importance to all Californians: traffic safety and congestion, flood protection, clean water, schools and parks. It really is a plan for California’s future.

    Our negotiations are distracted in part by the lack of clarity on the final date issue. Can our talks lead to a vote on the June ballot or must they be directed toward the November ballot? We, as negotiators, and more importantly, the public, need to know your official position on this issue.

    I attempted to contact you by phone to discuss this issue, but was unable to reach you. In view of the urgent nature of my question, I have taken the liberty of hand-delivering this inquiry to you. Please provide an answer today. Thank you in advance for your assistance with this important issue.

    Field: California solidly pro-choice

    The Field Poll has announced the results of another survey, this time on abortion. The findings: California remains a solidly pro-choice state.

    Currently, 64% of this state’s adults and 70% of its voters either believe there should be no change in existing abortion laws or feel that laws should be changed to make it easier for a woman to obtain an abortion. A similar 63% majority of adults and nearly three in four (73%) of this state’s registered voters want the current U.S. Supreme Court to uphold rather than overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision should it come up again for review. With regard to late-term abortions, 72% of California adults and 74% of voters support allowing this alternative if the health of the mother is in danger.

    You can find the full poll here

    Medi-cal turns 40

    Today is the 40th anniversary of Medi-Cal.

    It's their party, too

    Former California Senate candidate Michael Huffington and former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman are joining forces tomorrow for a southern California fundraising at Huffington's Los Angeles home.

    The money goes towards the ‘It’s My Party Too’ PAC which funds pro-choice and moderate Republicans.

    Monday, March 13, 2006

    Assembly postones session

    [UPDATE: Session is now 5pm]

    Friday was the Senate's turn to push back session as bond negotiations continued. Today, it looks like the Assembly's turn. Session was first scheduled for 2pm. Then it was pushed back to 3pm. Now its 4pm.

    In the building, a lot of people are moving around. I saw several Assembly GOPers huddling in the hallway outside of McCarthy's office, including Rick Keene, one of the lead negotiators for the bond package. Assemblyman John Laird, also on the bond conference committee, was hustling into the Speaker's office, as other Democrats were shufffling in and out of the building.

    All of which means nothing in particular other than all sides continue working toward a deal.

    New GOP press secretary

    The Republican Party officially announced today that Hector Barajas will be the party's next press secretary. He has been with the party for two years, working as deputy political director.

    You can find a recent editorial he penned here

    Reiner to town

    Rob Reiner, who is the man behind the Prop. 82 preschool initiative, is coming to Sacramento tomorrow to address the Sacramento Press Club at their monthly luncheon.

    When: Tuesday, noon
    Where Clarion Hotel

    Negotiations continue

    It sounds like many of the sides continue to negotiate for a bond deal this morning. Bill Bradley reports that a Big 5 is in the works, but the surest sign negotiations are continuing is the governor's changing schedule.

    Schwarzenegger was originally schedule to speak at the National Hydrogen Association's annual convention in Long Beach this morning, but has decided to stay in the Capitol instead. He will broadcast a taped address to the the convention-goers.

    Sunday, March 12, 2006

    What they voted on

    For the curious, here is the infrastructure package that the Senate voted on Saturday morning.

    And, in English, here is the Senate analysis.

    Playing Chicken with Money

    Matier and Ross has a little item in the Chronicle today about the Democratic primary and the two candidates trying to bleed one another dry of campaign funds.

    The Westly campaign has been shooting off memos this week about how they are going to be better funded going into the final stretch, with Westly writing 7-figure checks and Angelides not.

    From the Chron:

    The question is, which candidate can keep it up?

    There are about 12 weeks to go until the June primary. Angelides has an estimated $15 million to $17 million in the bank -- and he's already spending nearly $500,000 a month just to pay staff and keep the lights on in his campaign office.

    Westly, on the other hand, who has funded his campaign largely from his past eBay earnings, expects to report $24 million on hand in his next filing -- including a $2.5 million check that he just anted up himself as a sign he intends to go for broke.

    "You do the math," said Westly campaign strategist Garry South. "Unless Angelides is going to put in some of his own money, how can he keep spending like that?''

    Wishful thinking, insists Angelides campaign manager Cathy Calfo. She says her candidate has a 22,000-strong donor base -- and they are far from tapped out.

    "We will be able to raise the money we need for television to stay on the air to the end and deliver Phil's message,'' she said.

    Meanwhile, Arnold just watches from the sidelines without spending a dime -- or getting a scratch.

    All bonds all the time

    The Legislature and governor continue to work toward putting a bond package on the June ballot. On Friday night/Saturday morning, the Senate voted on a package put forth by Senate leader Don Perata, a Democrat. But every Republican there either voted 'no' or abstained.

    After the vote, Perata had this strongly worded statement:

    “So we’re going to go back to work ourselves, and whether or not we get anything on the November ballot remains to be seen. But I will tell you that for us to re-engage there is going to have to be a very clear set of negotiations set forward by the governor. He is going to have to tell us what he wants from us and how he wants to proceed because I don’t want to hear anymore that we don’t know what’s in this.

    You’ve got a responsibility just like I do. This was not delayed tonight because of Democrats, and I don’t think it was delayed tonight because of Republicans. It was delayed tonight because we did not have the leadership necessary.”

    “I don’t think there is anybody in here who does not want to get something done, and we still have an opportunity, but I think the best opportunity has passed us by. So let us redouble our efforts. In the future, I assume after what was said here this evening, that nobody is going to want to something pasted together over the weekend and thrown on your desk on Monday. I certainly don’t. That would be wrong.

    So we are now talking about November.”

    But today, Tom Chorneau in the Chronicle writes that negotiations are thawing for a June ballot deal, though a compromise still looks far off.

    "I've not given up," said Sen. Dick Ackerman, the Senate's Republican leader from Tustin (Orange County). "The governor is still in town working, so is the speaker, we're continuing to work."

    Officials said privately that Monday or even Tuesday has become the new deadline for the Legislature to place a measure on the June ballot.

    Friday, March 10, 2006

    Technical Difficulties

    The tool to post has been down all day. Sorry for no posts. Will write more when the site is working again.

    Thursday, March 09, 2006

    Move to Nevada?

    A new campaign will begin next week to lure California businesses to Nevada. The first stop on the anti-California bus tour will be the state in Capitol here in Sacramento.

    The Nevada Development Authority is launching a $1.2 million campaign to convince businesses to relocate out of the Golden State.

    Sacramento to be first stop on multi-market bus tour. The California State Capitol will be the site where the wrapped California Business Nut tour bus will be parked in front of the California State Capitol Building and will include street teams wearing TV T-shirts playing video segments that “size up” California’s business nut. Bags of peanuts that show “5 Ways to Lower Your Nut” will be handed out while a four-piece jazz band plays. During the entire multi-market bus tour, a 1/2 ton of peanuts will be given out.


    Back, back, back

    The legislative leaders and Gov. Schwarzenegger continue to negotiate for a bond deal today. And as negotiations have continued, floor sessions of both houses continue to be pushed back. As of now, floor sessions for both houses are scheduled for 6pm.

    Rumors are that any vote on a bond package--if there is a package deal--would begin on the Senate side, as there are only two GOP votes needed there to move the package to the Assembly. In recent days, both Democrats and Republicans have said that the Assembly Republican caucus is likely the biggest obstacle to achieving a bond deal for the June ballot.

    Dan Weintraub has the latest scuttlebutt on the bonds:

    A $48 billion package for the 2006 and 2008 elections.

    $38.6 billion in 2006, with $10.3 billion for schools, $19.35 billion for transportation, housing and air quality, and $9 billion for flood control, water and natural resources. Another $9.1 billion for schools would go on the ballot in 2008.

    The transportation piece by istelf is about $18 billion, with $6.5 billion going directly into roads and highways. Another $5 billion or so goes to rail and transit, $2 billion for goods movement, $1.8 billion for air quality and environmental mitigation, $1.8 billion for safety, including seismic retrofits, and about $950 million for transit oriented development and infill incentives.

    Late fundraising for No on 77 may violate FEC ruling

    The following appeared in Capitol Weekly today

    California's special election may have ended four months ago, but money continues to pour into the campaign to stop redistricting reform. Congress' top Democrat, Rep. Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco, is spearheading the fundraising for one anti-redistricting committee, which has raised more than $1.6 million since Election Day.

    The post-election money, more than $300,000 of which has come from California's Democratic congressional delegation, is going to pay back a $4 million loan from Democratic donor and Hollywood producer Stephen Bing.

    But money solicited by sitting members of Congress in 2006 may violate the 2002 McCain-Feingold federal campaign finance law. Last year, the Federal Elections Commission issued an advisory opinion that granted federal officials, like Pelosi, the right to raise unlimited sums to oppose Proposition 77. But as the calendar turned from 2005 to 2006, campaign finance watchdogs say, that right may have expired.

    The No on 77 committee has raised $1.39 million since the beginning of 2006, in an effort led by House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi.

    "Leader Pelosi is still fundraising for the No on 77 campaign," said Pelosi spokeswoman Jennifer Crider.

    But some campaign finance advocates see the fundraising activity as a potential violation of last year's FEC ruling.

    "I think it is fair to say the [FEC] advisory opinion doesn't cover fundraising [by federal officeholders] going into an election year," said Larry Noble, executive director of the Washington D.C.-based Center for Responsive Politics.

    In the ruling last August, five of the six FEC commissioners said that federal officials could raise unlimited funds to oppose the California initiative. But two of those commissioners argued in a letter that the ruling was "fairly narrow in scope" and applied only to ballot campaigns in off-years with no federal officials on the ballot, and the fundraising was limited to committees not controlled by federal officeholders.

    The complication is this: While there is still no limit on donations to the No on 77 committee, it is unclear whether last year's FEC decision permits federal officials to solicit contributions of more than $5,000 in an election year.

    Pelosi's office referred questions to campaign finance experts, but spokeswoman Crider said, "It is fundraising for the last year. Just like if a member has to retire their debt, they continue fundraising and it is considered for the that cycle. The FEC works in cycles."

    Ned Wigglesworth, an analyst with, a campaign finance watchdog group, said he believes Pelosi's activity violates last year's ruling.

    "If they are raising money in 2006 in amounts over the federal limits, we will file a complaint with the FEC investigating whether these members of Congress are violating the law," said Wigglesworth.

    Congressional Democrats continue to be committed to paying off the campaign debt. Rep. Zoe Lofgren of San Jose, who herself gave $35,000 to the anti-redistricting committee, said that though she has not worked to solicit donations, "I would certainly do my part until the debt is paid off." Many of the 2006 donors to the No on 77 committee have previously given money to Democratic causes, and Pelosi in particular.

    Of the 18 individual donors that have given to the No on 77 campaign this year, 13 have previously given donations directly to Pelosi, her political action committee, or the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee since Pelosi became minority leader in 2002.

    Sixteen of the individual donations in 2006 are above the legal $5,000 limit for contributions a federal official may solicit for a political action committee.

    The biggest donation in 2006 has been from the American Federation of State and Municipal Employees, which contributed $500,000 on January 19th. Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, the daughter of Sacramento developer Angelo Tsakopoulos, and Dinakar Singh of New York each gave $100,000 in January.

    According to Daniel Lowenstein, a UCLA law professor who served as chair of the No on 77 effort, the campaign continues to raise money to pay off its debts.

    "There was a very large loan from Steve Bing and it was given on the condition that the members [of Congress], especially Nancy Pelosi, would be raising money to pay it back," said Lowenstein.

    The issue of allowing members of Congress to raise unlimited funds to fight the initiative was first brought before the FEC by the unlikely duo of liberal Democrat Rep. Howard Berman of the San Fernando Valley and conservative Republican Rep. John Doolittle of Roseville. Though ideological opposites, both opposed Gov. Schwarzenegger's redistricting proposal and successfully petitioned the FEC to grant them the right to raise unlimited funds to battle the measure.

    If a complaint is filed with the FEC against federal officials soliciting donations in an election year, elections law experts are divided on how the commission might rule.

    Joe Birkenstock, former chief counsel to the Democratic National Committee and a Washington D.C. election law attorney, says there was no "common rationale" in last year's FEC ruling and that "it's hard to tell where the FEC would come out on this," though he expected the commission would "probably give it the green light."

    Making matters even more complicated, says Joe Sandler, another Democratic campaign finance attorney, is that since last August's decision, half the commissioners on the FEC have been replaced.

    Beyond the legal wrangling, some Republicans have criticized the post-election donations from Democratic members of Congress as playing politics.

    "It's a real testimony to their courage," said GOP consultant Wayne Johnson, who worked on the Yes on 77 campaign. "They don't want to face the voters to begin with and they don't want to stand up to the scrutiny of their contributions."

    But Lofgren said such charges are "ridiculous."

    "We all donated before the election too, and I don't think $10,000 is peanuts and all of us publicly oppose [the measure]," said Lofgren, who chairs of the California Democratic Congressional Delegation.

    In fact, only two California representatives, Bob Filner and Jim Costa, have donated exclusively after the election, though twenty-two California congressional Democrats have contributed since Election Day. Of the 33 members of California's Democratic congressional delegation, 28 donated to the Pelosi-backed No on 77 campaign. Pelosi herself chipped in $49,999.

    "We felt we ought to do our part if we opposed it," said Lofgren. "We should put our money where our mouth was."

    Donations have poured in from out-of-state, as well.

    Fifty different Democratic members of Congress from outside California and one congressional delegate from the Virgin Islands have donated to the No on 77 account all before the election. Each of those donations were for $1,000, though a few members, including Rep. Jack Murtha, D-PA, who recently vaulted into the national limelight after calling for withdrawal from Iraq, gave $2,000.

    Rep. John Doolittle is the only Republican congressman to donate to the committee, giving more than $8,000, a week before the election.

    Perata raises almost $1 million for infrastructure plan

    The following appeared in CCapitol Weekly today

    As legislative leaders and the governor have been negotiating the details of Gov. Schwarzenegger's proposed infrastructure bond package, Senate leader Don Perata has been raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to promote his own infrastructure plan.

    Since Feb. 1, Perata has raised $570,000 into a candidate-controlled committee, Rebuilding California, that he established last May. Since the committee's inception, Perata has raised almost $1 million--much of it in large contributions that do not fall under the Proposition 34 donation limits, because Rebuilding California is an issue advocacy account.

    The three top donors to the committee, each at $100,000, are insurance companies Ameriquest Capital and Mercury General, and John Moores, a University of California regent and owner of the San Diego Padres baseball team.

    Perata spokesman Paul Hefner said that the Senate leader, like other politicians before him, is using a non-Prop. 34 limited account because he is engaged in issue advocacy.

    "You can use a tennis racket to try to hit home runs but the rules say you can use a baseball bat so we are using a baseball bat," said Hefner. Much of the money Perata has raised comes from those interests with the most at stake in the details of the infrastructure package.

    Granite Construction, for example, donated $10,000 to Perata's account in December. Granite is one of a small number of companies with experience using design-build, a construction method that Schwarzenegger has proposed to expand in his infrastructure package.

    The Granite website describes the company as "a pioneer and leader in Design-Build" that has "built more than $4 billion in Design-Build projects in the last decade".

    Two other organizations that have been proponents of design-build, the Consulting Engineering and Land Surveyors and the Association of General Contractors kicked in $25,000 and $15,000, respectively. Other construction companies have given to Perata, as well. In February, CH2M Hill donated $12,000 and the Albert D. Seeno Construction company gave $50,000. Numerous real estate developers have also donated.

    In February, Sunset Development, Ponderosa Homes and the Vineyards at Marsh Creek donated $5,000, $15,000 and $25,000, respectively. Ponderosa Homes gave another $10,000 last October.

    New infrastructure invariably benefits real estate developers as better roads, less traffic, and a steady water supply drive sale prices up. But developers also have a particular interest in education bonds.

    If there is no state education bond money available to build new schools,local districts can levy fees on developers for up to the full cost of new school construction. By most estimates, the state still has $4 billion in unused education bonds, but education experts expect that money will be gone by 2008, so developers are keen to have sizable education bonds included in this year's infrastructure package.

    Other major Perata donors include two of the state's major utility providers, Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison, which each gave $50,000.

    One other notable donor is Jerry Perenchio, the billionaire owner of the Spanish-language television network, Univision, who gave $5,000. Perenchio is one of Schwarzenegger's largest donors.

    Perata is not the only politician to raise large chunks of money during the bond negotiations. Gov. Schwarzenegger's reelection campaign fundraising has recently started to pick up, garnering $1.78 million in contributions since the beginning of February.

    Hefner said that there is no conflict with donations coming from those with a stake in the infrastructure package.

    "The folks who are supporting our efforts are the folks who believe, as the senator does, that we need to take action on the problems of California's infrastructure," said Hefner. "And we are happy to have their support." Last year, the Rebuilding California committee spent $178,000, of $70,000 went to campaign consultant Sandra Polka and $3,000 went to Paul Hefner.

    This year, the money has largely funded television advertising in rural, typically Republican parts of the state. The campaign went on the air on Feb. 10 with a $275,000 ad buy and, according to Hefner, "We are still on the air."

    The money also went to fund the creation of the Web site,, which is promoted in the television spots and has received 8700 page views and 2,600 unique viewers since its launch.

    Hefner said the television ads are important to establish the Senate president pro tem's plan as different from Schwarzenegger's.

    "Our purpose here was not so much to build the pro tem's name said Hefner. "It was to give his proposal an identity separate from the governor because…the way to tank something right now is to attach the governor's name to it."

    Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    When's that deadline

    Every time the Legislature begins to run up against a deadline, there is talk that the deadline isn't totally "firm." John Myers at KQED posts that the deadline for the bond package, using recent history as a guide, may in fact be next Friday, March 17th, not this Friday as the secretary of state has previously said.

    Passing over Padilla

    More than a week ago, the San Fernando Valley Young Democrats endorsed Assemblywoman Cindy Montañez in her primary battle wtih L.A. City councilman Alex Padilla.

    But what wasn't reported was that the organization itself was founded but Alex Padilla back in 1994. On the organization's website its purpose reads:

    Founded in 1994, by Los Angeles City Council President Alex Padilla, Los Angeles Councilmember Tony Cardenas, and Stuart Waldman, Chief of Staff to Assemblymember Lloyd Levine, the San Fernando Valley Young Democrats serves as the premiere democratic organization for young professionals in the San Fernando Valley.

    It wasn't like Padilla didn't try for the endorsement, either. The president of the organization, Damian Carroll, gives "special thanks" to those candidates, including Padilla, that "took the time to come and address YD's".