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

E-mail Shane


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




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

    U.S. Sen.
    Feinstein 59.7
    Mountjoy 34.9
    Gov.
    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
    Treasurer
    Lockyer 54.8
    Parrish 37
    Controller
    Chiang 50.9
    Strickland 40.1
    Insur. Comm.
    Poizner 50.7
    Bustamante 38.9

    For complete election results click here.


    Gov.
    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
    Treasurer
    Parrish 56.4
    Richman 43.6
    Controller
    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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    Friday, April 28, 2006

    Congrats

    To Alicia Dlugosh, Sen. Don Perata's press secretary, who is getting married in Napa this weekend.

    Fleischman still going

    FlashReport author Jon Fleischman continues his anti-Susan Kennedy writings this week:

    Anyways, I really didn't intend on rehashing the whole "Why did the Governor hire a liberal Democrat to run his office" shtick -- I've done that plenty on these pages. But, since I have brought it up, for the record, I will ask that she get the boot, and that we get a Chief of Staff in there that actually looks to Ronald Reagan as a hero, instead of Jane Fonda.

    After getting that off his chest, he suggests Kennedy go campaign for Angelides:

    My idea was that Kennedy should take some time off this Friday and over the weekend, and "work" the Democratic Convention for her old boss, Angelides. Besides being theraputic (if she feels remorse for 'selling out her people' to work for the GOP Governor) -- Kennedy must have hundreds of relationships with the many delegates who will be at that convention. Perhaps we could even orchestrate some sort of 'faux-resignation' where she fakes a principled resignation from the Governor's office ("I am sick and tired of working for a Governor that won't raise taxes!") and actually go into the convention as kind of a hero/lost sheep returning to the fold.

    She can give a keynote address, where she talks about how California needs a Governor like Angelides who will raise taxes and bring more socialized spending programs to the state. She can vouch for the fact that while she had been in the Governor office, she had to battle with Republicans every day, and deal with a boss who actually had a natural dislike for big-government solutions to solving the problems of California.

    Her speech, along with personal attacks that she can coordinate with her old flack, Bob Mulholland, should propel her old boss Angelides into an endorsement, giving him some much needed momentum.

    The Dems are coming!

    It's convention time as about 1800 Democrats trickle into Sacramento for their annual convention today.

    Thursday, April 27, 2006

    Westly's rainbow coaltion

    Yesterday, Steve Westly announced yet another co-chair to his campaign, newly elected Assemblyman Ted Lieu. That helps to continue to diversify Westly's seemingly diverse-on-purpose campaign co-chairs. The rest are: U.S. Rep. Grace Flores Napolitano (D-38), U.S. Rep. Diane E. Watson (D-33), State Senator Martha Escutia (SD-30), State Senator Carole Migden (SD-3), and Los Angeles City Councilman and Assembly Speaker Emeritus Herb J. Wesson, Jr.

    Or, translated, a white male candidate with a two latinas, one LGBT community member, two black women, one black male, and now one Asian as co-chairs.

    Westly launches FPPC complaint

    The Westly campaign is asking the FPPC, the state's elections and campaign watchdog, to investigage any misconduct or coordination between the Angelides campaign and the recent Tsakopoulos-backed independent expenditure.

    There is certainly no "smoking gun" of coordination in the Westly letter, in fact, they simply present the possibility of the two working together.

    FYI, the Chronicle has a story today about how the FPPC has fewer teeth--and staff--than a decade ago.

    New appointees

    Schwarzenegger announced some new appointments today, including two new members to the California Transportation Commission, Robert Alvarado, a Democrat, and Larry Zarian, a Republican. The CTC is likely to play an important role in distributing any new transportation funds created through a bond package.

    The governor also tapped Eric Csizmar, a former Republican consultant to the Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committees, as deputy legislative secretary.

    Lockyer subpoenas oil companies

    Attorney General Bill Lockyer has announced that he is subpoening documents from "21 California refineries, and obtain information from the chief executive officers and other relevant officials of oil companies operating in California, to determine whether the firms are profiteering and gouging consumers."

    "While California drivers cut back on essentials so they can gas up their cars, oil companies continue to rake in multi-billion dollar profits," said Lockyer. "The companies and their CEOs keep telling us to avert our eyes from the profits and focus on their costs. But they want us to take their word on faith. They never provide the numbers, so we can see exactly how much of their skyrocketing margins are costs and how much are profits. Long-suffering California drivers deserve to know that information. I intend to get it."

    The leading targets of the subpoenas are ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, Valero, Shell, and BP.

    New Bee

    Sure, I am a day late and a dollar short, but the Sac Bee website has been redesigned.

    Surf-turf war hits high tide in Capitol

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly

    Last summer, Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, quietly slipped a resolution across the Senate desk to officially proclaim Santa Cruz, California, as "Surf City USA." It was a simple resolution, he thought.

    But eight months, three legislative resolutions, three angry cities, two competing museums and one pending trademark later, it is clear that however laid back the state's surfer culture is, the legislative wrangling for surfing bragging rights is anything but.

    The Simitian measure came only months after the city of Huntington Beach had submitted an application to trademark the term Surf City USA, reviving a gnarly, years-old rivalry between the two seaside surfing towns.

    After the Simitian bill went public, an Orange County Register editorial fired back that Santa Cruz would be "better named Latter-Day Hippie Capital of the USA" than Surf City USA.

    "My constituents in Santa Cruz county are a little perplexed and bemused that one part of the state thinks it has an exclusive claim to fame on this issue," said Simitian, who views his nonbinding resolution as a way to put the federal trademark office "on notice" that other California townships have a claim to the surf-city moniker.

    And in a Zen-like surfer moment, Simitian says, "Surf City is a state of mind, not a place, and I don't think you can trademark a state of mind."

    Santa Cruz dates its surfing history back to 1885, when three Hawaiian princes surfed on locally produced redwood boards at the mouth of the San Lorenzo River. That would make Santa Cruz the site of the first surfing in California, as Simitian's bill proudly points out.

    But so far Huntington Beach surf aficionados, who claim surfing started in California in 1910 in Huntington Beach, have scuttled the Simitian measure, preventing it from ever coming to a floor vote.

    Morrow paddles out

    The latest wave in the surf-turf war came this January when Sen. Bill Morrow, R-Oceanside, decided to memorialize a surfing museum in his northern San Diego district. Morrow authored a resolution, SCR 69, to designate the California Surf Museum as the "official museum of surfing history, art, culture, heritage, and memorabilia for the State of California." But the Santa Cruz and Huntington Beach folks, each with museums of their own, would have none of it.

    Simitian immediately approached Morrow, who at the time was in the middle of a congressional campaign, with a proposed amendment to recognize that the state's surfing history "is reflected by the many surfing museums" in the state. Morrow agreed to the amendment in early March.

    But Assemblyman Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach, was unsatisfied.

    Last month, in the middle of a bare-knuckled Senate campaign he won by a razor-thin 236 votes, Harman found the time to author ACR 131. The bill--a direct affront against Morrow's measure--would recognize the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum as "the official museum of surfing for the state".

    On why there is some much controversy over surfing, Morrow says, "I don't know if it is so much about surfing as it is about Huntington Beach. What's in the water down there?"

    "The last thing I expected was this fight," he added.

    Both measures are now moving through the Legislature, with the first to complete the process becoming the nonbinding law of the land.

    Size does matter

    The language of the resolutions themselves boasts the credentials of the museums and their surrounding surf communities.

    The Simitian measure touts the Santa Cruz's "11-world class surf breaks," but Harman counters that Huntington Beach "embodies the ultimate surfing culture" with its "8.5 miles of wide, sandy beaches."

    Huntington Beach claims the "most heavily surfed beach on the West Coast" and has "the largest surfing event in the world" every year. But Santa Cruz is home to Jack O'Neill, who "invented the wet suit," and now has a local surfing contest held there in his name.

    "Surfers are by nature very territorial and very proud," said Jane Schmauss, acting director and co-founder of the California Surf Museum in Oceanside. Morrow's Oceanside measure, which was written at the request of Schmauss, focuses more on the museum itself, and its 20,000 annual visitors, than on the city of Oceanside.

    "The California Surf Museum has photographs, surfboards, and blueprints of classic surfboard shapes, and has in its permanent collection the earliest documented surfboard in California," reads the measure.

    "We are not saying we are better than any of the other surf museum," says Schmauss. "We are saying our name is the California Surf Museum and we would be honored with the title."

    Harman tries to shoot the curl

    But Harman's Huntington Beach measure--introduced two months after Morrow's--has a head start toward gaining official state recognition. While neither Simitian's nor Morrow's measures have received a vote, Harman has guided ACR 131 through one Assembly committee, onto the consent calendar, and right past the Assembly floor--all on unanimous votes. The bill now sits in the Senate Rules Committee, awaiting a committee assignment.

    In the meantime, Harman has asked Morrow not to move his measure because Huntington Beach is currently not represented in the Senate, after John Campbell left last fall to take a seat in Congress. Harman recently won the primary for that seat and is expected to win election to the Senate in June.

    "Senator Morrow has agreed to hold his bill temporarily in the Senate," said Harman. "Huntington Beach does not have a senator representing that area." But while Morrow waits, Harman continues to push his bill through the process. There has even been talk of a bipartisan Santa Cruz-Huntington Beach alliance.

    "We got an informal approach on would you be willing to join forces with the folks from the Huntington Beach in opposing the Oceanside museum," said Sen. Simitian. "I said absolutely not."

    Simitian says the legislative surfing contest is, in large part, "just a harmless bit of fun," especially considering all the measures are nonbinding resolutions. But, he adds, all the hoopla over a sport and culture known for being laid-back is rather odd.

    "The commercialization and commodification of Surf City seems to be wholly inconsistent with the culture of the surfing world," said Simitian.

    Seriously, dude.

    Capitol Hyatt still off limits for Democrats

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly

    This weekend, as Democrats from across California descend on Sacramento forthe state party's semi-annual convention, they have snatched up hotel rooms at an early every hotel in the Downtown area.

    Every hotel, that is, except the Hyatt Regency.

    "We don't do the Hyatt," said Democratic Party executive director Kathy Bowler.

    That's because the Hyatt--located only a block from the convention center and across the street from the Capitol--is a non-union hotel. The convention materials sent out to members of the Democratic faithful make no mention of the Hyatt, though the party does recommend six other hotels, five of which are farther from the convention center than the Hyatt, including the Radisson hotel, which is 2.8 miles away.

    Bowler is quick to emphasize that the Democratic Party never stays at non-union hotels during conventions--in Sacramento, San Jose, Los Angeles or elsewhere. But the Sacramento Hyatt, located at 12th and L streets, has a particularly contentious history with Democrats and their union backers that dates back almost 20 years.

    The hotel first opened in 1987 and has been a non-union establishment ever
    since. Joe McLaughlin, president of the local hotel-employees union UNITE HERE says the Hyatt broke a promise to be open to unions from the beginning. Union volunteers picketed in front of the hotel for two years after it opened.

    Then there are the stories of Democratic legislators who unknowingly have accepted, and then backed out of, speaking engagements at the hotel. Former Senate President Pro Tem Dave Roberti, who led the Senate from 1980 until 1994, says he only walked into the building once.

    "I was scheduled to give a speech to a group from out of town and they had no idea about the history of the Hyatt," said Roberti, who says that none of his staffers patronized the hotel. "I think I went through a backdoor and I left that same way."

    But Republicans regularly hold events in the Hyatt. In fact, the hotel's luxurious penthouse suite is home to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger whenever he is in Sacramento. He paid $6,000-a-month in campaign funds to the Hyatt in his first year in office, and has since set up a nonprofit foundation to pay for his Hyatt residence.

    The seriousness with which legislative Democrats take the Hyatt moratorium varies from member to member. Almost no Democratic legislator holds events there.

    But the passage of time and the advent of term limits have softened the opposition of many Democrats to the Capitol's most convenient hotel, as fewer and fewer legislators and legislative staffers remember the contentious pickets of the 1980s.

    "I admit, I have sinned," says Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, who started his political career as a labor organizer in Los Angeles.

    "I have gone to the Hyatt on a number of occasions, but only to meet the governor at his suite. Beyond that, I don't go there."

    But Núñez added that, "Democrats have got to be supportive of hotel-restaurants workers. The best way to show that we support them is to put our dollars where they are paid a decent wage."

    McLaughlin, the local hotel union leader, was more oblique. "Democrats want union people to vote for their candidates. If they come out against us [by patronizing the Hyatt], we come out against them," he said.

    Besides living there, Schwarzenegger regularly schedules events at the Hyatt. Since 2005, Schwarzenegger-controlled committees have spent more than $87,000 on meetings, meals and lodging there. And the night before the Democratic convention, Schwarzenegger has a major fundraiser scheduled at the Hyatt, asking "platinum sponsors" to donate $44,600 to his campaign and another $55,400 to the Republican Party.

    The Alliance for a Better California, the labor organization whose protests dogged the governor throughout last year's specialelection campaign, are scheduled to protest the Hyatt fund-raiser.

    But, says Alliance spokeswoman Robin Swanson, "the protest has everything to do with the governor and nothing to dowith the location." Swanson points outthat the Alliance protests Schwarzenegger'smajor fund-raisers everywhere, includingthe unionized Sheraton Grand.

    Schwarzenegger's own residence at the Hyatt has sparked little union ire. That's because it is viewed less as an anti-union, and more as a pro-cigar statement, says McLaughlin. The only other Capitol-convenient hotel is the Sheraton, which has sealed windows and no open-air patios, even for its penthouse suites. Schwarzenegger's Hyatt residence, in contrast, features a spacious terrace on which the governor can smoke his signature stogies, say several sources close to Schwarzenegger.

    The most commonly used "Democratic" alternative to the Hyatt is the unionized Sheraton Grand, located only two blocks away at 13th and J streets. It is the first hotel listed in the party's convention materials. And it was the site of many of the Democratic campaign parties following last year's special election.

    But ironically, the current Sheraton general manager, Gunter Stannius, previously worked as the general manager of the Hyatt.

    "I never had a problem working in a union environment," says Stannius, who moved from the Hyatt to the Sheraton in 2000.

    "I don't want to have a stamp saying we are Democratic hotel," he said. "I want a stamp that we are a great hotel."

    Privately, many Democrats have groused that the Hyatt remains on the do-not-patronize lists. In 2003, Hyatt workersrejected a vote to unionize.

    And some Democrats see the never-ending boycott ascounterproductive, especially as the Hyatt'sbusiness continues to boom. More than aweek before the Democratic convention,the hotel was booked solid through the weekend.

    "The previous governor wouldn't speak at our hotel. Gray Davis, shall we say, 'recommended' to legislators not to patronize hotels that were non-union," said Brenda Miller, director of sales and marketing at the Hyatt. "But that seems to have gone by the wayside with Schwarzenegger."

    But McLaughlin says the boycott will continue until he can force the Hyatt to unionize, though that looks unlikely. "It's a standoff," he said. So the Hyatt is here to stay. It's just that Democrats, for the foreseeable future, won't be staying there.

    Wednesday, April 26, 2006

    Angelides turns to...Dukakis??

    The Angelides campaign just sent out an e-mail from former Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, asking for donations that will be matched dollar for dollar.

    Interestingly, though, the money goes to "beat Governor Schwarzenegger," not Steve Westly, his primary opponent.

    YOUR $25 + a $25 match = $50 to beat Governor Schwarzenegger.
    YOUR $50 + a $50 match = $100 to beat Governor Schwarzenegger.
    YOUR $100 + a $100 match = $200 to beat Governor Schwarzenegger.

    Kennedy, Angelides and foosball

    Just when you thought that Susan Kennedy was out of the news...

    Tim Herdt has a column today about a gift from Kennedy to Phil Angelides, many years ago.

    Kennedy developed a friendly relationship with the Angelides family and once gave them a gift for their Sacramento home: a foosball table.

    To be precise, a customized foosball table. Kennedy assigned identities to each of the wooden characters whose figures rapidly slide and spin in the course of a game, alternately striking and blocking the ball.

    On one side were figures from the Clinton administration; on the other, prominent Republicans. Whenever anyone played the game in the Angelides household, the competitors were always the same. It was the Democrats versus the Republicans.

    When Kennedy shocked the Sacramento political establishment by signing on as the Republican governor's chief of staff, Julie Angelides told me recently, one of her daughters was so offended by the defection that she suggested pasting Kennedy's photo to one of the Republican players.

    As a foosball player, she'd changed teams.


    Go read the column to see what Herdt thinks the change has meant for Gov. Schwarzenegger.

    A new IE in Ma-Reilly race

    The Chronicle reports today (you have to scroll down) that there is a new independent expenditure campaign for San Francisco Assembly candidate Fiona Ma.

    A couple weeks back, I reported here that IEs were expected for Ma, because of her past working for former Senate leader John Burton. The Chronicle reports today that the committee supporting Ma was actually formed by Burton himself:

    Well, this week the tap started opening with an independent group called Leaders for Effective Government -- a political action committee that had been fallow for some time -- taking out $33,000 in TV ads in support of Ma.

    The move is interesting in that, a few years back, then-state Senate President Pro Tem John Burton -- a godfather of local politics and a big backer of Ma's -- helped set up that group with a $1.5 million donation.

    Governor taps lame duck to conduct gas price investigation

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly today

    Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger this week called on California Energy Commission Chairman Joe Desmond to investigate possible price gouging by big oil companies, as gasoline prices across much of the state topped $3 a gallon. But Desmond has only two weeks left on the job--and likely won't be there to see the investigation through.

    Desmond's nomination must be confirmed by both the Senate Rules Committee and the full Senate before May 10 in order for him to keep his post. But the Senate, led by President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, has refused to even schedule a confirmation hearing. Without such a confirmation, Desmond will be forced to leave the post by May 11th.

    Perata opposes electricity market deregulation, expansion of coal-fired power and new fees on power customers--all of which Desmond has previously advocated.

    "Joe Desmond's performance as chair of the California Energy Commission is the chief argument against his appointment to the post," said Perata spokeswoman Alicia Dlugosh. "If Desmond were as pro-consumer as he is pro-coal and as interested in protecting ratepayers from high prices as he is in protecting himself from open meeting and conflict of interest laws, there might have been a different story."

    At a Tuesday press conference Desmond announced that the energy commission's investigation would include potential gasoline market manipulation at both the wholesale and retail level. In a letter to Schwarzenegger, Desmond said an initial report would be delivered to the administration by June 15--more than a month after he leaves the commission.

    Regarding Desmond's departure mid-investigation, energy commission spokeswoman Claudia Chandler said that, "The governor has asked the energy commission to move with this and we will," referring all other questions to the governor's office.

    Schwarzenegger spokeswoman Margita Thompson said the governor continues to support Desmond, 41, in his post as chairman.

    "The governor supports Joe Desmond. Joe Desmond is his nominee and the governor hopes that Senator Perata will bring Joe Desmond up for a vote," said Thompson.

    But in a January meeting with the governor, Perata made clear that the Senate would not confirm Desmond as chair of the energy commission. At the end of that month, Schwarzenegger still reappointed Desmond, who had originally been selected last May to finish the unexpired term of William Keese.

    Perata responded by not scheduling a confirmation hearing.

    "Mr. Desmond's actions and inaction in office provide more than sufficient grounds for senators to oppose his nomination," said Dlugosh.

    Chief among the Democrats' complaints is that Desmond favors a return to electricity market deregulation, the increased use of coal-fired power, and surcharges on smaller electricity customers.

    Prior to his appointment to the commission, Desmond was the president and CEO of Infotility, Inc., an energy consulting and software development firm. Before that he served as an executive in several energy firms, and worked as the marketing and demand planning administrator for a publicly owned utility.

    It is uncommon for the Senate to simply let a gubernatorial appointee's term lapse without a confirmation hearing. In 2004, Schwarzenegger appointed Nancy Drinkard to the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, which is tasked with overseeing the state's parks, forests, and other wilderness resources not under federal authority. Drinkard's nomination was strongly opposed by the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, and she never received a hearing.

    As gas prices have topped $3 a gallon, Schwarzenegger turned to Desmond, and the energy commission, to investigate any "market manipulation, price gouging or unfair business practices employed by oil companies."

    The energy commission completed a similar investigation last fall that found no foul play, but that study was limited "solely on retail gasoline prices," Desmond wrote to the governor this week. This year, Desmond wrote, "We will extend our analysis to the wholesale market."

    Beyond the preliminary June 15 report, the energy commission also promised an "updated report" by the end of September that includes an analysis of the summer's gas prices. That report would come a full four months after Desmond's departure.

    Tuesday, April 25, 2006

    Westly taps Trippi

    Joe Trippi, the former campaign manager for presidential candidate Howard Dean, sent out an e-mail to Steve Westly supporters today titled, "Steve is the one to take on Arnold."

    I've known Steve Westly for well over 20 years. I am not sure Steve thought that I would go off and run a campaign like Howard Dean's for President -- and to be honest I didn't think I'd see Steve running for Governor of California.

    But I have to say that I am not surprised. All our friends back then wanted to make a difference -- hell we were going to change the world -- make people's lives better. In different ways, I think we all have, and I know that Steve has.


    Trippi, after asking for money and support, ends:

    Whatever difference I have made in politics, it all started with conversations with Steve years ago. I am contributing to his campaign today in the hopes that all of us can make a difference together. Please do what you can to help Steve become our next Governor.

    Brown is back

    With Democratic Party Chairman Art Torres still recovering from recent cancer surgery, he has asked that former Speaker Willie Brown chair this weekend's state convention in his stead.

    "My good friend former San Francisco Mayor and Speaker Emeritus Willie Brown has agreed to help Chair our state Convention in my place. I am grateful for his many years of service to the Democratic Party and most of all, I am grateful for his friendship,” said Torres.

    Here's what Brown had to say:

    “I am honored and delighted that I am able to fill in as Convention Chair for my longtime friend and colleague, Senator Art Torres. My friendship with Art goes back more than 40 years. I look forward to an exciting and successful Democratic Convention.”

    Prop. 82 announces campaign chairs

    They are: Assemblymember Wilma Chan, Beth and Bob Lowe, Laurene Powell Jobs, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor Gavin Newsom, Richard & Nancy Riordan, Rob Reiner, Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, Service Employees International Union, California State Council, California Teachers Association, Susan Sandler and Steve Philips.

    Interestingly (or not), Reiner was listed eighth in that list.

    Delgadillo to hit the air

    Attorney General candidate and Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo is hitting the airwaves with his first ad buy of the campaign. Recent polls have showed him lagging far behind, Oakland Mayor and former Governor Jerry Brown. The campaign reports that the ads will begin airing this evening.

    While we are on the subject of Delgadillo, what possible reason would the Bee title this story "Delgadillo savors underdog role" instead of "Rocky savors underdog role".

    Lion's den

    Phil Angelides is set to address the California Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Business Legislative Summit at 9am this morning.

    Monday, April 24, 2006

    Gov. creates new crime victim advocate, investigates gas prices

    Gov. Schwarzenegger today created the position of Crime Victim Advocate by executive order. Read the order here.

    And tomorrow Schwarzenegger is expected to appear with the father of Jessica Lunsford, the Florida rape and murder victim whose death has spawned the Jessica's law movement.

    The governor also sent a letter today to California Energy Commission Chairman Joe Desmond to investigate the rising prices of gas in the state.

    What concerns me the most is that there seems to be no relief in sight. Gasoline prices are approaching all time highs, yet we are months away from the summer months. Just last week, the California Energy Commission reported in its Petroleum Watch, that, "On April 10, 2006, the average statewide retail price for regular-grade gasoline rose for the sixth consecutive week to $2.81 a gallon, almost 7 cents more than last week and 37 cents greater than February 27, 2006....

    I therefore call on the commission to immediately investigate the prices of gasoline, with particular emphasis on retail gasoline prices and any significant changes in prices charged by the petroleum industry gasoline sold in California and the reasons for those changes. Additionally, you should investigate these issues as they relate to the wholesale market. Should you find instances of market manipulation, price gouging or unfair business practices, I instruct you to report this to me and turn the evidence over to the California Attorney General without hesitation. I also direct you and your commission to conduct a thorough investigation of the profits, both before and after taxes, of the industry as a whole and of major firms within it, including a comparison with other major industry groups and major firms within them as to profits, return on equity and capital, and price-earnings ratio.

    Plescia announces "team"

    New Assembly Republican leader George Plescia has announced the rest of his leadership team:

    Ø Republican Caucus Chair: Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian, R-Stockton
    Ø Assembly Budget Committee Vice-Chair and Assistant Republican Leader: Assemblyman Rick Keene, R-Chico
    Ø Assembly Appropriations Committee Vice-Chair and Assistant Republican Leader: Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster
    Ø Assistant Republican Leader: Assemblywoman Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Niguel
    Ø Assistant Republican Leader: Assemblyman Mike Villines, R-Fresno
    Ø Assistant Republican Leader: Assemblyman Van Tran, R-Garden Grove
    Ø Chief Republican Whip: Assemblyman Bill Emmerson, R-Redlands
    Ø Chief Republican Whip: Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale
    Ø Republican Whip: Assemblyman John J. Benoit, R-Palm Desert
    Ø Republican Whip: Assemblyman Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar
    Ø Republican Whip: Assemblyman Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks
    Ø Republican Whip: Assemblyman Todd Spitzer, R-Orange

    Westly and new auditors

    The California Republican Party sent out a missive today criticizing Steve Westly's proposal that as governor he would hire more auditors, saying he still has open positions in his office as controller. Here's what Patrick Dorinson, GOP communications director, had to say:

    "Before Steve Westly proposes building an IRS-like army of additional auditors to pay for his proposals, he should concentrate on filling the 15 empty auditor positions currently advertised on the Controller's website. It seems he should first learn how to efficiently run his office before he asks Californians to elect him Governor."

    And if you are an auditor in need of employment, the link to the controller's office openings is here.

    Cable bill up today

    AB 2987, the cable regulations bill being pushed by Speaker Fabian Nunez and Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, is coming up for a hearing today in Utilities and Commerce, and is the subject of dueling press conferences later today.

    The hearing is at 3:00 pm in Room 437.

    New CTA ads

    Michael Der Manouel has a post that the CTA is airing some anti-Schwarzenegger radio ads.

    A Westly reply

    Phil Angelides has been campaigning for months as the real Democrat who "stood up" to Arnold. It is the heart of his television advertising, the heart of his speeches and even at the center of the new Tsakopoulos-backed independent expenditure campaign.

    And, as of today, I hadn't seen a particularly adept, and pointed, reply from Team Westly about his early 2004 campaigning with Schwarnegger. But the end of this L.A. Times piece has one:

    Westly told the same group he had "stood up against Gov. Schwarzenegger" when they disagreed on school cuts and other matters. He also reminded crowds at both gatherings that organized labor and every prominent Democrat in California had supported the 2004 debt measure — and that the only major ally of Angelides in the opposition campaign was a conservative Republican state senator.

    "The question I have is, why was my primary opponent running around the state with Tom McClintock?" Westly said.

    Saturday, April 22, 2006

    Goodness gracious gas prices



    The Associated Press has taken this fabulous picture of 4 dollar gasoline prices in California. See it for yourself here. The price is for full service high octane gas. And, of course, it is in Beverly Hills.

    H/T L.A. Observed.

    The latest on the Angelides IE campaign

    This weekend, there have been several new developments in the pro-Angelides independent expenditure campaign. The first is the backers have been revealed and how much they have invested has become public. As has been expected, the major funding is provided by Angelo Tsakopoulos and his daughter Eleni Tsakopoulos. The elder Tsakopoulos chipped in $3.75 million and Eleni another $1.25 million. The California Professional Firefighters tossed in another $11,000. The Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) and the Sacramento County Deputy Sheriffs Association also have signed on to the campaign, but haven't donated any money.

    The overall size of the ad buy is $5 million. As Bill Bradley points out, that money will not go as far as candidate spent funds. That's because federal regulations put a cap on the price television stations can charge directly to campaigns. No such limits exist for independent expenitures. And because the Tsakopoulos buy has come in late, they are likely to pay a premium for ad placement. The ads are set to begin running on Sunday.

    The ad itself is a positive spot. It features firefighters and police officers, with a siren soundtrack playing in the backdrop. The ad describes Angelides as the "only" candidate to have stood up for them, the Sacramento Bee reported today.

    Another interesting development is the past campaign work of the assistant treasurer of the independent expenditure campaign. On Friday, the Westly campaign sent out a missive that Vona L. Copp, the IE assistant treasurer, had previously worked as treasurer for “Rescue California – Recall Gray Davis” committee. She also has worked as treasurer for U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren, and Assemblymembers Chuck Devore, Guy Houston and Alan Nakanishi. "Now, why would supposed big Democrats like the Tsakopouloses hire the former treasurer of the committee that funded the recall of Democratic Gov. Davis as an official of their own “independent” expenditure committee?," asked Garry South.

    The real question is whether anyone in the general public will care about any of this...or whether they will simply see the ads on TV.

    State job loss

    For the first time since last spring, the state reported a net loss in the number of jobs last month. The LA Times has the story

    Builders stopped hiring last month. They needed 9,400 fewer workers in March, the second-biggest monthly drop in construction workers since 1995, the state Employment Development Department reported.

    It's possible that this tumble, which was largely responsible for last month's overall net drop of 10,800 payroll jobs, is a bad omen for the state. But economists pointed out that it also has been raining a lot, which might be a mitigating factor. Construction slows in wet weather, and so does construction hiring.

    Is construction in a tailspin or just suffering from a rain delay?

    "That's the $64,000 question," said Howard Roth, chief economist for the state Finance Department. But he added that it was logical that the drop was prompted by more than weather.

    "We've already seen a slowing in home sales, and we've already seen a slowing in [construction] permits," Roth said. "The next step would be to see some slowdown in construction jobs."

    Schwarzenegger interview

    Gov. Schwarzenegger will appear tomorrow on This Week with George Stephanopoulos on ABC.

    Friday, April 21, 2006

    Assembly candidate's office robbed

    Ronnie Gail Caplane, a candidate to replace termed-out Assemblywoman Wilma Chan, D-Okaland, had her campaigfn headquarters vandalized yesterday.

    The AP has the story.

    A thief broke into the campaign headquarters of a state Assembly candidate Thursday morning and stole a computer hard drive with information on thousands of donors and supporters, the candidate said.
    Ronnie Gail Caplane said someone broke through a window of the office, tossed around papers and furniture and took the hard drive.

    "My breath is just taken away," she said. "It's just the insult of it all. Like it's not hard enough to run for office as it is."

    Caplane said she does not believe the burglary was politically motivated and said most of the database information was stored and can be recovered. She said the crime would not expose donors to identity theft.

    Hiltzik's blog suspended

    The LA Times' Michael Hiltzik has been taken off of his own Golden State blog at the latimes.com website. Here's the message from the editors:

    The Times has suspended Michael Hiltzik’s Golden State blog on latimes.com. Hiltzik admitted Thursday that he posted items on the paper’s website, and on other websites, under names other than his own. That is a violation of The Times ethics guidelines, which requires editors and reporters to identify themselves when dealing with the public. The policy applies to both the print and online editions of the newspaper. The Times is investigating the postings.

    The Washington Post has the story.

    And the Hiltzik critics, Independent Sources, Hugh Hewitt, and Potterico are all over the story.

    IE to hit the air

    Bill Bradley has the lateston the independent expenditure campaign going forth for Phil Angelides.

    A Coalition of Firefighters, Cops, Deputy Sheriffs, Home Builders, and Developers,” spent just under $600,000 so far on cable TV advertising time over two weeks in the Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento, Fresno, Monterey, Bakersfield, and Santa Barbara markets. No broadcast TV time has been bought as yet, but pro-Angelides sources say that is coming.

    The official Angelides for Governor campaign, meanwhile, remains off the air.

    While the role of longtime Angelides patron and business partner Angelo Tsakopoulos, regarded as the Sacramento area’s leading developer and one of California’s richest men, and his associates looms larger, the firefighters union and the other labor members of the new group are insistent that their actions are independent of the official Angelides campaign.

    “We approached Angelo Tsakopoulos to fund this effort,” says California Professional Firefighters spokesman Carroll Wills of his union. “He didn’t approach us. We’re happy to have his backing.” Nor, he says, did the Angelides campaign direct them to approach Tsakopoulos. “Of course we would go to Angelo Tsakopoulos for his contributions and his help with funding this,” he said. The close Angelides-Tsakopoulos relationship is very well known in California political circles.

    Speaker: Investigate gas price-gouging

    Later today, Speaker Fabian Nunez will call on Gov. Schwarzenegger to direct the California Energy Commission to investigate the price of gas in California-- and if the oil companies have been "gouging" state consumers.

    Thursday, April 20, 2006

    Call him Mr. Secretary

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has appointed James Tilton as acting secretary of hte Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

    Here's his bio:

    Tilton, 57, of Sacramento, has served as a program budget manager for the Department of Finance since 2003. He is the program budget manager for the unit responsible for the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, State and Consumer Services Agency, Criminal Justice, Judiciary, Labor and General Government. Tilton was previously the assistant program budget manager for the Capitol Outlay Unit and executive secretary to the State Public Works Board from 1998 to 2003. Before joining the Department of Finance, he served in the Department of Corrections as deputy director for administrative services from 1985 to 1998, where he was responsible for peace officer selection, personnel, training, budget, offender information and environmental health and safety. While serving in the Department of Corrections, Tilton was also chair of the Correctional Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission. His experience also includes serving as principal program budget analyst for the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency for the Department of Finance from 1984 to 1985, director of expenditure forecasting for the Commission on State Finance from 1980 to 1984 and budget analyst for the Department of Finance from 1976 to 1980.

    Update:Assemblyman Rudy Bermudez had these harsh words to say about Woodford's resignation:

    “I welcome the resignation of Jeanne Woodford from her current post as Acting Secretary of the Department Corrections and Rehabilitation. The Department is in dire need of new and proven leadership to initiate reform and restore public trust in our prison system.”

    A bumper crop

    The UC system has accepted a record 55,242 California applicants for admission, up 10 percent. The LA Times has the story.

    Democrats line up to 'sue' President Bush

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly today

    Kelly Hayes-Raitt says she is suing President George W. Bush. Christine Chavez is touting her "legal challenge" against the president's education policies. Joe Baca says he joined the suit because the president has "lost sight of education." Rudy Bermúdez rails against the "burdensome" provisions of Bush's signature No Child Left Behind Act.

    All four are candidates in contested Democratic primaries this June. And all four are clients of Democratic political consultant Richie Ross. In fact, a group of thirteen Ross clients, and one non-Ross candidate, have banded together to file an amicus brief in a federal-court case against the Bush administration's education policies.

    At least two of the candidates, Hayes-Raitt and Chavez, have been publicizing the amicus brief in their campaigns.

    But some are calling the move a Ross-engineered election-year stunt to win support for his candidates in left-leaning Democratic primaries. All 14 signatories of the brief are running for office this year, and all but one face a contested primary election.

    Assemblyman Joe Baca, D-Rialto, who is running for the state Senate against fellow Assemblywoman Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, said that Ross approached him with the idea of a group legal action.

    "He had brought the idea to us and I thought it was a great idea," said Baca. Ross did not return calls for comment.

    "It is almost like they are running as some kind of team across the state," said Parke Skelton, a Los Angeles-based Democratic political consultant who is running campaigns against four signers of the amicus brief.

    The lone signatory of the brief that is not a Ross client is Los Angeles City Council member Alex Padilla, who is running for the Senate against Assemblywoman Cindy Montañez, D-San Fernando. Padilla said he heard about the brief, which was filed on March 31, on a trip to Sacramento and wanted to join in. Asked if it was odd that he was the only non-Ross client to sign onto the amicus brief, Padilla replied, "It wouldn't be the first time I stood out in a crowd."

    In a recent e-mail to supporters, Assembly candidate Hayes-Raitt urged the recipients to, "Join Kelly in Suing President Bush!" But the original lawsuit was filed months ago, and not by Hayes-Raitt. The National Education Association (NEA) first filed the suit last April, and a federal judge dismissed the case last November. The amicus brief, which is a legal document expressing support for the plaintiff, was filed in support of the NEA's appeal.

    "Kelly is being monumentally dishonest with voters when she says she is suing President Bush," said Skelton, who is the consultant for Julia Brownley, a candidate running against Hayes-Raitt. "This is someone else's lawsuit. She and a number of other candidates have filed an amicus brief as a cheap political stunt. It is an attempt to mislead and deceive voters and to claim credit for work that she hasn't done."

    But Hayes-Raitt defended publicizing the brief as part of a long record of opposing the Bush administration.

    "We've got a president who isn't funding education. We've got a governor doing the same and I look at our state Legislature and say where is the leadership on this," said Hayes-Raitt, who is running in a crowded five-person primary in Assembly District 41. "My question is why aren't people in California doing this?"

    Another Ross client, Chavez, who is running in Assembly District 45 in Los Angeles, recently sent a letter to supporters announcing her "legal challenge to President Bush's unequal funding policies." In an envelope stamped "federal court documents enclosed," Chavez asked her supporters to contribute $5 to help pay for the $20,000 cost in legal fees for the challenge, promising that the money would not be used for political purposes but that "every dollar will be used to fight the President's attacks education."

    Assemblyman Rudy Bermúdez, D-Norwalk, who is running for Senate against fellow Assemblyman Ron Calderon, D- Montebello, said he and Assembly candidate Tony Mendoza came up with the idea and pitched it to Ross. Both Mendoza and Bermudez are Ross clients.

    "This was an idea Tony and I had … and the others have come on board," said Bermudez. "It was a way of sharing the costs. It is very expensive to do these amicus briefs."

    The message of a candidate suing the president is likely to play well among Democratic primary voters, says Allan Hoffenblum, a monitor of state elections and publisher of the California Target Book.

    "The primary races right now, they are so gerrymandered, the one who comes across as the most liberal is going to win," says Hoffenblum. "If you are Democrat running in a safe Democratic seat you are bashing Bush and, if you have time, you bash Schwarzenegger."

    The remaining signatories of the amicus brief are Assembly candidates Mike Davis, Mary Hayashi, Ed Hernandez, Curren Price, Jose Solorio and Jeremy Baca, the younger brother of Joe Baca. Senate candidate and former Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Assemblyman Jerome Horton, D-Inglewood, who is running for the Board of Equalization, also signed on to the brief.

    Longtime budget gurus prepare for battle

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly

    As the budget negotiations heat up this summer, attention invariably will turn to the Big Five, the much-ballyhooed set of meetings between the governor and the four legislative leaders. But as five of the state's top elected officials huddle in a gubernatorial conference room, Craig Cornett will be seated just outside in the hallway.

    It will be Cornett's sixth year in that hall. As Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez's point man on the budget, Cornett is part of what is sometimes referred to as the "Little 4," the anointed budget gurus of each of the legislative leaders.

    It is the job of Cornett, along with his Senate Democrat counterpart Diane Cummins and Republicans Jeff Bell and Peter Schaafsma, to translate the decisions of the Big Five into what eventually will become the annual budget. But the job is much more than that. Both Cornett and Cummins, in particular, are said to wield incredible power in shaping the intricacies of the $114 billion, 700-page document.

    "The thing I like about the budget is it is the broadest, boldest statement of public policy every year," says Cornett.

    Cornett, however, does more than counsel the speaker on the budget. In 2004, Cornett was part of a small team of senior staff that developed what became propositions 57 and 58, the governor's $15 billion economic-recovery bond package. He says negotiating that package was a highlight of his two-decade California budgeting career.

    "That was incredibly important for the state. If we had not gotten that $15 billion bond, we would have been in serious, serious trouble," said Cornett. During this year's mega-bond negotiations, Cornett has coordinated the staff-level negotiations for Assembly Democrats. And when Núñez and Schwarzenegger met privately to try to hammer out a deal, Cornett was often Núñez's lone staffer at those meetings.

    With the advent of term limits, members of the Assembly are limited to a maximum of six years, increasing the role of staff, like Cornett, with years of experience, particularly in complex fields like the budget.

    "People like Craig Cornett are the thread that keep this institution together," says Núñez. "He is a guy who in my view not only knows more about the budget than just about anybody in this building, but the institutional memory that he carries with him is just invaluable."

    Cornett has been working around the California budget ever since he graduated from public-policy school at the University of Texas. In 1983, he was hired by the Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) and "was promoted really rapidly," according to Mike Genest, who worked with Cornett at the LAO, and now is the director of the Department of Finance.

    "I would say he is one of the very top guys. He is very widely regarded because of his expertise and willingness to listen," said Genest, who is in charge of crafting Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's annual budget. "He is soft-spoken … but iron-willed."

    In 2001, then-Speaker Robert Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, coaxed Cornett into the Legislature to serve as the Assembly Democrats' budget specialist. He has remained in that role under speakers Herb Wesson and Núñez. Cornett's budget tenure in the Assembly began with the last breathe of the dot-com boom, ran through the bloated deficits of 2002 and 2003, and has continued with the slow crawl toward fiscal balance under Governor Schwarzenegger.

    Now, Cornett is among a small crew of longtime budget analysts that are crucial to producing the annual budget, most of whom have worked together for more than two-decades. Genest has been around the budget since 1981, starting in the LAO. Cummins, the budget expert for Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, spent 20 years at the Department of Finance before shifting to the Senate in 1999. Elizabeth Hill, the Legislative Analyst, has worked at the LAO for 30 years and has headed the agency for two decades. Brad Williams, the LAO's fiscal and economic forecaster, began at the LAO in 1978. Assembly Republican budget man Schaafsma started at the LAO in 1976. Only Senate Republican budgeter Bell, who has been working on the budget since 1997, has less than 20 years experience.

    "This is a small little world," says Cummins. "I think a lot of us have a lot of experience, and even though our bosses all have different perspectives, we work well together. There is a lot of camaraderie--we have a budget to produce."

    Everyone affiliated with writing the budget describes Cornett as decent, intelligent and a straight-shooter.

    "The thing that sums him up is he's got an uncommon ability to be 10 times smarter than anyone in the room without making you 10 times less smart," said Christopher Woods, chief consultant to the Assembly Budget Committee.

    Throughout the Capitol, most staffers are reticent to admit too much influence over legislation, saying they give recommendations to elected officials but don't make decisions. Cornett is no different. But he does admit that the budget is a different beast than most policy areas. "There is a lot of detail in the budget so the staff is critical to that," he said.

    Looking ahead to this summer's budget, Cornett said that elements out of the control of the Legislature are likely to drive the dynamics of the negotiations. The current fiscal year has produced better than expected revenues, on the order of $2.3 billion, and "better revenues always make it easier," says Cornett. But uncertainty about the exact size of the windfall makes for treacherous decision-making. In addition, he says, there are several outstanding lawsuits against the state, each of which could cost California's budget coffers hundreds of millions of dollars.

    And, of course, there is the state's seemingly intractable structural deficit, now estimated at $5 billion.

    "It overhangs everything," he said.

    Woodford out

    The Chronicle has the story about how Jeanne Woodford, the acting secretary of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Department of Corrections, has quit after two months on the job.

    But two sources familiar with the prison system who asked not to be named for fear of being ostracized by the administration said Woodford is quitting in part because the governor's office had indicated to her that she would not get the top job permanently. She was named acting secretary after Hickman resigned.

    Woodford had also clashed with the state's prison guards union and landed in hot water with U.S. District Court Judge Thelton Henderson almost immediately after taking over. Henderson wrote a letter to Woodford in March saying he was "deeply disappointed" in her after she issued a memo listing her priorities that did not include court-ordered changes.

    Woodford did not return a phone call for comment left at her home. It was not clear Wednesday night when her retirement would become effective.

    Field: Down ticket races

    The latest Field Poll is out today, with results of the down-ticket races. And it shows that most voters are...drum roll please...undecided.

    Lieutenant Governor
    Garamendi: 31%
    Speier: 21%
    Figueroa: 12%
    Undecided: 36%

    Attorney General
    Brown: 59%
    Delgadillo: 18%
    Undecided: 23%

    Controller - Dem
    Chiang: 16%
    Dunn: 15%
    Undecided: 69%

    Controller - GOP
    Strickland: 23%
    Maldonado: 14%
    Undecided: 61%

    Treasurer - GOP
    Parrish: 16%
    Richman: 13%
    Undecided: 71%

    Secretary of State
    Ortiz: 21%
    Bowen: 18%
    Undecided: 61%

    Wednesday, April 19, 2006

    Two years ago today...

    Where were you two years ago today? Don't remember? That's ok. Most probably don't. But in the Capitol, Gov. Schwarzenegger and colleagues are celebrating the "Second Anniversary of Historic Workers’ Comp Reforms".

    Listen to the governor's press conference here.

    New Assembly GOP leader George Plescia said, "With a strong vision for a growing California economy, Governor Schwarzenegger brought Democrats and Republicans together to fix our broken workers’ compensation system. The historic reforms the governor signed into law two years ago have lowered premiums by more than 40 percent, with more relief on the way. At the same time, we ensured that injured workers will receive the quality care they deserve."

    And caucus chair Greg Aghazarian added, "Two years ago, I was pleased to join my Democrat and Republican colleagues in working with Governor Schwarzenegger to craft historic workers’ compensation reforms that have lowered premiums, reduced fraud and abuse, and protected quality care for injured workers. As we move forward, I hope my colleagues will stand firm in protecting reforms that have made a real difference in the lives of many Californians, so rates will continue to drop even further, while also providing injured workers with the medical care they deserve to get back on the job.”

    The endorsers

    State Treasurer Phil Angelides is gathering in San Francisco today with two of his big-name endorsers, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

    New in Field

    The Field Poll continues to release polls at a rapid race.

    Today, show's U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein holding a lead over GOP challeneger Dick Mountjoy, 59-31 percent.

    And to think that Mountjoy's voters represent a higher percentage that Davis had in polls at the lowest points before the recall.

    Tuesday, April 18, 2006

    Clean money campaign bill up tomorrow

    The backers of AB 583, by Assemblywoman Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, held a press call this morning to discuss the fate of the bill, which comes up for a hearing in the Senate Elections committee tomorrow.

    Susan Lerner, the executive director of the California Clean Money Campaign, said she was "cautiously optimistic about the bill’s progress" and that “still something subject to amendment and improvement."

    The committee is a major hurdle for the legislation.

    Trent Lange, vice president of the California Clean Money Campaign, announced the results of a study the organization has commissioned on the interplay of money and politics in California. He said that the legislative candidate with the most money in 2002 and 2004 won 95 percent of the time.

    Looking at open seat primaries, in which there is no natural incumbent, the statistics were similar. The highest spender won 93 percent of those races, as well.

    The result, Lange said, showed "a dominant effect of money in campaigns."

    A new frontrunner strategy?

    After last week's Field Poll that showed Steve Westly with a 11-point advantage over primary opponent Phil Angelides, many have wondered how that will change both campaign's strategies.

    For months, Angelides had essentially ignored Westly. On a radio show with Al Franken, Angelides wouldn't even say Westly's name. Angelides had focused his fire on Gov. Schwarzenegger, trying to define himself in terms of his would-be general election opponent.

    But now with polls showing Westly in the lead, his team sent out a missive yesterday criticizing, not Angelides, but Schwarzenegger.

    In September of 2003, then-recall candidate Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “The people of this state do not trust their government…. They feel it is corrupted by dirty money, closed doors, and backroom deals.” [New York Sun, September 19, 2003]

    Sunday’s Los Angeles Times provides us with fresh evidence that Arnold Schwarzenegger has come to embrace the system of “dirty money, closed doors, and backroom deals” he once attacked.


    Is that a sign that now Westly will start to focus his fire on Schwarzenegger, not Angelides?

    Monday, April 17, 2006

    Plescia takes over

    Today is Assemblyman George Plescia's first day as Assembly Republican leader. Kevin McCarthy has moved next door...to a decidedly smaller office suite.

    Sign of the times...

    I just stumbled across this gem of a photo:



    A hat-tip to Brian Dennert

    A taxing day

    Taxes are due today. Gov. Schwarzenegger is pushing that Californians that are eligible take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit, saying "The Earned Income Tax Credit is so important because it can ease the tax burden by thousands of dollars for California's working families, but not everyone who is eligible is taking advantage of it Hard working Californians are missing out on nearly $1 billion in tax refunds. That's why Maria and I are very focused on making everyone aware of the Earned Income Tax Credit and other ways to put money back into the pockets of hard-working Californians."

    And Schwarzenegger, the FlashReport reports, is meeting with anti-tax leaders later this afternoon.

    Hiltzik on cable regulations

    The Los Angeles Times' Michael Hiltzik has a column today about the cable access bill moving through the Legislature.

    I have a simple rule of thumb for determining whether my cable TV service is overpriced: Is it a monopoly? Then it's overpriced.

    And let's face it: Virtually every cable TV operation in the country is a monopoly.

    In principle, therefore, we should welcome the efforts of the phone companies Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. to offer cable-style video services to the home in competition with the Comcasts and Time Warner Cables of the world. The record shows that when a genuine rival enters a cable TV market, subscription rates plummet. (Satellite TV doesn't have as marked an effect, because dish TV has its own inadequacies and can't provide broadband Internet service as conveniently as cable or DSL.)

    But the question raised by a bill in the state Assembly is whether it's necessary to wipe out all local regulation of cable services in order to achieve the nirvana of video competition. AB 2987, sponsored by Democratic Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez and Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys), chairman of the Utilities and Commerce Committee, would do just that.

    Ballot titles

    Harrison Shephard at the LA Daily News takes a look at all the various ballot titles that candidates use.

    One of the candidates in the race for the Assembly District 41 seat lists himself on the ballot as a "national security analyst."

    But he doesn't work for the government or a think tank. He describes his occupation that way for the June primary because he provides unpaid articles and research for anti-illegal immigration groups.

    Another candidate in the same race calls himself an "author."

    But he's published just one story in an anthology.

    An activist for disability issues, he supports himself primarily through public disability assistance payments.

    Then there's the candidate who calls herself a "city women's commissioner."

    But she makes her living by running a political communications business and resigned from the commission three months ago.

    The situation just a sampling of candidate occupation titles from area races illustrates a long-standing problem voters will face in the June primary: Some candidates are little-known and what's allowed on the ballot to describe a person's occupation can be subject to heavy spin.

    Friday, April 14, 2006

    Padilla hit $1 million

    The California Chronicle reports that Senate candidate in SD 20 Alex Padilla has raised $1 million.

    Shelley still in news

    Resigned former Secretary of State Kevin Shelley was dinged yesterday by the FPPC for accepting a contribution in a state office building. The fine is $5,000.

    Homeless Lieber

    Assemblywoman Sally Lieber is living on the streets. Literally. The Mountain View Democrat is spending some time living as a homeless person to "experience first-hand the challenges of life on the street."

    Last night, she slept at the Community Homless Alliance Ministry in San Jose.

    Burton to oppose Prop. 82

    Former Senate leader John Burton, D-San Francisco, is announcing today that he is opposing Proposition 82.

    Thursday, April 13, 2006

    Johnson drops $250k against Reiner measure

    Major California donor Franklin Johnson of Palo Alto just donated more than $250,000 to defeat Prop. 82, the Rob Reiner preschool initiative on the June ballot. It is hardly the first poitical spending Johnson has made, though there isn't a particularly partisan trend.

    He gave half a million dollar to support the 2004 stem cell measure, $25,000 to Gray Davis in 2001, $100,000 to support Prop 39 in 2000.

    Last year, he gave Schwarzenegger's initiative committee $10,000, gave the Yes on 77 campaign $127,000 in non-monetary support and spent about $50,000 to defeat Prop. 73.

    Sunny Sacramento, Flooding elsewhere

    Gov. Schwarzenegger added nine more counties to the list of those he has declared in a state of emergency due to recent rains. According to his office, "Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today proclaimed a state of emergency in the counties of Alameda, El Dorado, Kings, Marin, Placer, Santa Cruz, Sonoma, Tulare and Tuolumne a result of a series of severe rainstorms and flooding in those areas that commenced on March 29, 2006."

    DoE Factbook

    The Deparment of Education has released its annual Factbook on California schools today. There are loads of interesting school statistics to skim through:



    Number of school districts, 2004-05
    Unified....................................................................329
    Elementary.............................................................562
    High..........................................................................88
    Other........................................................................74
    Total...............................................................1,053

    Number of public schools, 2004-05
    Elementary..........................................................5,555
    Middle.................................................................1,226
    Junior high...............................................................28
    High.....................................................................1,129
    K–12.........................................................................96
    Continuation...........................................................519
    Alternative..............................................................243
    Community day......................................................318
    Special education...................................................135
    Other......................................................................372
    Total...............................................................9,372

    Number of students in public schools, 2004-05
    Kindergarten and grades one through eight...........................................4,352,813
    Grades nine through twelve.........................1,915,383
    Ungraded programs..........................................53,993
    Total........................................................6,322,189


    There there are stats on teacher pay:

    Average salaries, 2003-04
    Full-time teachers
    Common administrative districts..................$ 64,608
    Elementary districts........................................57,498
    High school districts........................................59,818
    Unified districts...............................................57,294
    Statewide average..........................................57,604

    School site principals
    Elementary school level...............................$ 96,656
    Middle school level ........................................89,137
    High school level...........................................101,889
    Unified districts...............................................93,398
    Statewide average..........................................92,458

    Superintendents
    Common administrative districts.................$141,782
    Elementary districts......................................115,436
    High school districts......................................138,818
    Unified districts.............................................139,590
    Statewide average........................................127,418

    You can find the full Factbook here.

    A clean campaign, please

    In the last two weeks, the Democratic primary has heated up as state Treasurer Phil Angelides has begun directly criticizing Steve Westly, particularly Westly's choice to campaign with Gov. Schwarzenegger in early 2004. So today, Westly sent a letter to Angelides today saying:

    With less than two months remaining until the June 6 primary election, I believe it is time for bothof us to take a positive campaign pledge.

    But the letter hedges and Westly himself does not pledge a clean campaign, or so the letter seems, unless Angelides does.

    I am prepared to pledge publicly not to be the first to initiate any paid advertising in this primary
    campaign that attacks the other by name. I would like to ask you to do the same. Everywhere I go
    in California, voters are fed up with negative campaigns – and that includes the overwhelming
    majority of Democratic voters.


    That is not quite a clean campaign pledge, but asking for Angelides to make one and saying Westly will follow suit. The disclaimer of "any paid advertising in this primary campaign that attacks the other by name" seems awfully specific, as well. What about ads that say "my primary opponent....[insert negative comment here]"?

    Two 'moderate' San Francisco Democrats face off in a political showdown

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly

    Of the two Assembly districts that include portions of San Francisco, Assembly District 12 (AD 12) is the "conservative" one. The district spans the western portion of San Francisco and parts of northern San Mateo County, and as it zigs and zags through the middle of the city, it dodges the Castro, Haight, and Mission districts--the heart of progressive San Francisco.

    This year's race between San Francisco Supervisor Fiona Ma and political newcomer Janet Reilly can be characterized as a race between two relatively moderate Democrats. In a city known for producing progressive firebrands, neither candidate has rallied the city's progressive community in what is expected to be one of the year's costliest and most competitive Democratic primaries.

    Ma openly supports the death penalty and said in an April debate that the Ellis Act, the state law that allows property owners to evict renters when selling land, "is sometimes the only way for some people to become homeowners and I support it."

    In that same debate, Reilly, a pro-choice Catholic, quoted former first lady Hilary Clinton on the abortion issue, saying the practice should be "safe, legal, and rare," a stance Clinton has used to appeal to party moderates. But while the two qualify as moderates in San Francisco, they're still liberal Democrats in California.

    Both candidates are pro-choice, gay-marriage supporters, who have vowed to fully fund education and advocate for a single-payer universal health-care system.

    And like many internecine San Francisco political battles, this race is going to be expensive. The cost of the campaign is expected to top $2 million, as both camps have turned down voluntary spending limits. Ma already has raised more than $1 million, and Reilly has countered with more than $500,000. Despite the high-cost primary affair, the candidates have agreed to agree on many of the state's hot-button issues....

    Read the rest of the piece here.

    Gov to release taxes

    Gov. Schwarzenegger will release his tax returns tomorrow for reporters to view...though the campaign has not announced how many years of taxes they will make available.

    Wednesday, April 12, 2006

    35th tightens

    Tom Harman's razor-thin lead has gotten even smaller, up by less than 300 votes now.

    TOM HARMAN (REP) 37608 38.8%
    DIANE HARKEY (REP) 37319 38.5%

    Yes on 82, Yes on Me

    Both Democratic gubernatorial candidates are announcing their endorsement of Proposition 82, Rob Reiner's pre-school initiative today.

    HacknFlak Hiatus

    For followers of the anonymous blog Hack n Flak, the webmaster has announced the site is going on hiatus.

    Results in 35th

    Harman wins the "primary".

    You can find the live results here.

    Results in the 50th

    It's not "new" news by now, but Francine Busby and Brian Bilbray will be in the runoff in the 50th. Check out the voting results here.

    CSEA endorsements

    The California State Employees Association announced its endorsements yesterday. Here they are:

    John Garamendi for Lt. Governor
    Joe Dunn and Abel Maldonado (dual endorsement) for State Controller
    Cruz Bustamante for Insurance Commissioner
    Betty Yee for Board of Equalization District 1
    Richard Perry for Board of Equalization District 2
    Jerome Horton and Judy Chu for Board of Equalization, Dist. 4.

    They are currently staying neutral in the races for governor, attorney general, secretary of state and superintendent of public instruction.

    Here's some of the key endorsements in contested legislative races:

    SD-8 Leland Yee (D)
    SD-20 Cindy Montanez (D)
    SD-26 Mark Ridley-Thomas (D)
    SD-28 Jenny Oropeza (D)

    Not Abel to find property

    In his ballot statement in the race for state controller, Sen. Abel Maldonado writes:

    “As Controller, I will also work to return billions of dollars in unclaimed private property held by the state. But, returning your assets back to you can’t wait…link to the Controller’s office to see if the state is holding assets you own.”

    Problem is, says the campaign of opponent Tony Strickland:

    Unfortunately for Maldonado, if you follow the link and see the list of people who have carelessly lost track of their money, you find none other than Abel Maldonado himself. Seems he misplaced over $2,000 of his own money, and the current Controller, Steve Westly, has apparently been unable to find the campaigning state legislator.

    You can find Maldonado's lost property here

    Just search for: Abel Maldonado

    Money in

    The Angelides campaign has seen an influx of money in the last day totalling nearly $70,000. And of of the recent donors is Paul Pelosi, investment banker and husband of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who gave $1,000.

    Tuesday, April 11, 2006

    The minimum wage

    Two Republican senators do battle today on the opinion pages of the Los Angeles Times. The first, Sen. Tom McClintock, argues that raising the minimum wage is a bad idea.

    THE MOST important thing for any poor person trying to improve his or her condition is, of course, a job. It is the entry-level job that accords impoverished workers — even those with no skills, no references and no employment record — the invaluable opportunity to succeed and to prosper. It is literally the first rung up the ladder of success.

    If that is true, then the most vicious governmental policy would be one that eliminates entry-level jobs, making it harder for the poor to get a foothold in life. Yet that is precisely what the state of California is preparing to do. Legislation is now moving through the Legislature that would in effect declare that anyone whose labor is worth less than $7.75 an hour will be denied entry-level employment.


    On the other side is GOP Sen. Abel Maldonado, who carried the governor's bill to raise the minimum wage that was shot down in committee last week (or maybe the week before). He argues:

    I KNOW FIRSTHAND how the minimum wage affects California's low-wage earners and small-business employers. As a young man, I worked long hours in the strawberry fields alongside my father, who also worked for minimum wage. My mother and father understood the daily struggle of providing the necessities for their children while earning only the lowest allowable wage.

    Later on, through years of hard work, faith and perseverance, my parents turned a half-acre strawberry farm into a 6,000-acre family business that today employs more than 200 people and ships produce around the world. To this day they have not forgotten their roots or the times when our family went without, and you can be sure they have instilled this appreciation into my siblings and me.

    Time to vote

    There are two elections taking place today. The first is in the 50th congressional where a crowded field of Republicans and Democrat Francine Busby are battling to follow disgraced Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham into Congress.

    The FlashReport has a pollthat shows Busby oh so close to 50 percent.

    And in Orange County, the battle between Diane Harkey and Tom Harman will come to a close to replace former Sen. John Campbell (now in Congress).

    Monday, April 10, 2006

    NYC Mayor gives to Schwarzenegger

    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has given the maximum $44,600 donation to Gov. Schwarzenegger's campaign.

    New Schwarzenegger ad

    Although he is unopposed in June, Gov. Schwarzenegger is going on the air with a second campaign ad, this time focusing on the environment. The text of the ad is much the same as his previous spot on the economy:

    Tomorrow is going to be a little better than today for California families...Because our children will enjoy 25 million newly protected acres of land. Cleaner air, with millions spent removing polluting cars from our streets. Reducing greenhouse gasses. And, better protection for our ocean and coastline. Governor Schwarzenegger's leadership is making California work again.

    Listen to the ad here.

    Schwarzenegger in WSJ

    In a column today, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plops himself directly in the political center of the heated immigration debate.

    Already we hear so much talk about so many false choices. We are told that in a free society it's not possible to have border security. We are advised that in order to secure the borders, we must deport 12 million people. Never mind that we don't know who they are or where they are, and that it could cost up to $230 billion to do it.

    I reject these false choices, and Congress should too. I salute the members of both parties in Congress who are conducting a civil, serious discussion on this issue. I urge them to agree on legislation based on a simple philosophy: control of the border . . . and compassion for the immigrant. These are the twin pillars around which we must construct a new immigration policy. They are both essential elements in our overall immigration strategy. Without both, our strategy is destined to collapse.


    He also seems to back away from his support of the Minutemen, writing "The presence of the citizens' groups along our border is a reminder of the federal government's failure to do its job. Government officials, not private citizens, are responsible for our borders."

    Sunday, April 09, 2006

    Kennedy profile

    Soraya Nelson at the OC Register has a profile of Susan Kennedy, Gov. Schwarzenegger's chief of staff.

    Saturday, April 08, 2006

    Levine gives radio address on cable access

    Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys, delivers this week's Democratic radio address on a bill he and Speaker Fabian Nunez have introduced to open the cable market to phone companies.

    Each and every Californian deserves new technology. But our old laws are holding us back from realizing this potential.

    My legislation removes the city-by-city cable franchising laws that have stifled competition and outlived their usefulness.

    If there’s one thing we know, it’s that competition brings choice, and choice drives up quality and brings down prices.

    This legislation will promote competition and protect important revenue streams for local governments. Allowing competition into the video service marketplace will benefit—and not detract from—the local tax base of your local community.


    The legislation met mixed review from the cities and counties. The California State Association of Counties said:

    While California counties appreciate the efforts of Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez and Assembly Member Lloyd Levine in focusing attention on the issue of video franchising, AB 2987 misses the mark...

    The proposal outlined today falls short of the goal of providing a streamlined franchising process while maintaining the important social obligations of those who use the public rights of way. Depriving local governments of the tools necessary to maintain oversight will negatively impact California’s 36 million residents.


    The League of Cities added, "“We have deep concerns, however, about a number of issues in AB 2987."

    Friday, April 07, 2006

    Plescia taps Aghazarian

    Newly elected Assembly Republican leader George Plescia has chosen Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian as Republican caucus chair.

    New Capitol Weekly Salary Search

    Once again, Capitol Weekly has releasedit's searchable salary database.

    And, once again, some trouble-makers are flooding this system searches. This time the focus is on Margita Thompson, Gov. Schwarzenegger's press secretary, who has been "searched" 145,000 times.

    Angelides presser

    State Treasurer Phil Angelides is continuing to press the differences between himself and his primary opponent Steve Westly this week. At 10am today, Angelids is hosting a press conference with the California Federation of Teachers " on the critical issue of fully funding public education".

    Thursday, April 06, 2006

    The news in brief

    Today is one of the busier news days in recent memory. First, there is the Democratic primary heating up (see below).

    Then, Frank Russo on the California Progress Report has a letter from Sen. Perata supporting AB 583, the publi financing of campaigns measure.

    Then there's John Garamendi, who underwent surgery earlier this week, getting the endorsement of the Teamsters.

    In a Senate hearing, yesterday Democrats killed an attempt to fully fund the Fair Political Practices Commission. The bill, SB 1120, was sponsored by Sen. Deborah Ortiz. Sens. Kevin Murray and Gloria Romero voted against the bill, committee chair Debra Bowen voted for it. Sen. Chuck Poochigian did not vote, and Sen. Jim Battin was absent. This from Ortiz's office:

    CORRECTION:In the item on the FPPC yesterday, I misreported the vote. Murray voted for the bill, and Romero, declined to vote.

    The FPPC’s current funding ($6.1 million in 2005-06) is about the same as its funding fifteen years ago ($6 million in 1990-1991). But because of increases in salaries, benefits and expenses, the FPPC has one-third fewer employees than it did in 1990 (91 versus 60 currently). At the same time, the number of complaints the FPPC has received has risen: The FPPC averaged 858 cases a year during the past seven years, compared to 675 cases per year during the prior seven years.

    The lack of resources forced the FPPC last fall to close 225 cases that it had investigated and deemed prosecutable. It also meant the FPPC’s Legal Division was able to meet a 21-day statutory deadline in only 40% of the 213 advice letters sent in 2004.


    And a note from the opposition to the reelection of Schools Superintendent Jack O'Connell, Grant McMicken. He is a teacher running for the seat and has commented on this blog before, and now has received the endorsement fo Assemblyman Tim Leslie, who briefly considered a run for the post.

    Check out his campaign site here.

    Lastly, the California Budget Project has released a report responding to Gov. Schwarzenegger's campaigning last week on strong job growth in the state. The report is titled: "California’s Job Growth Was Strong, But Wage Gains Were Weak Between 2003 and 2005."

    Primary action

    The Democratic primary for governor really kicked off with the debate on Voz y Voto.

    "On the tough fights that have faced this state, too often Steve Westly cuts and runs,'' the treasurer [Phil Angelides] said. "He does what's easy, not what's right.''

    The Westly retort:

    "The difference between myself and the treasurer is that the treasurer has never seen a tax he doesn't like," Westly said. "He supports raising the income tax, the sales tax, taxes on alcohol, [the commercial property] tax, taxes on farm equipment. And, my friends, the list goes on."

    And this from Angelides:

    "What voters deserve is an examination of the records,'' he said. "If Mr. Westly thinks he can buy his way into the governor's office without an examination of his record or of where he wants to take this state ... he's wrong.''

    AT&T, cable operators ratchet up campaigns

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly

    On the air and in the Capitol, a battle is brewing between the giants of the cable and telecommunication industries. In the last quarter of 2005, AT&T spent a company record $1.6 million in lobbying fees. All the money they spent on lobbying the Legislature was tagged for "future legislation"--and it was all spent while state legislators were on vacation.

    Before detailed legislation even has been introduced, the multi-million dollar media and lobbying campaign to ease access for phone companies to California's burgeoning broadband market has begun.

    Last week, AT&T began airing advertisements in the Sacramento region, calling for the California Legislature to be a "catalyst" for increased competition in the cable market. But in a sign of the acrimonious debate to come, the ads only could be seen on broadcast networks because Comcast, the local cable operator, refused to sell advertisement to its would-be competitor.

    "As one would in battle, they first try to soften the territory with television and newspaper ads," said Dennis Mangers, president of the California Cable Television Association (CCTA), , citing the phone companies' efforts in other states that are considering opening their cable markets.

    The center of debate is a bill authored by Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez and Assemblyman Lloyd Levine, D-Van Nuys that would allow phone companies to apply for a single state-issued cable franchise. Under current law, phone companies must negotiate separate cable-franchise agreements with each municipality into which they expand, a process that is both time-consuming and expensive. Núñez and Levine are expected to unveil the details of their measure in a press conference this Thursday.

    An AT&T spokesman said the bill was "absolutely" the company's top legislative priority this year. Same for the cable companies. "It is certainly our number one legislative priority at the national, state and local level," said Craig Watson, vice president of Charter Communications, a major cable operator.

    Since 2005, the CCTA has donated to 109 of the 119 sitting California legislators--contributing some $700,000 to political campaigns in the state.

    AT&T has donated to 85 sitting legislators, contributing more than $500,000 to various campaigns. The majority of legislators who did not receive donations are termed out of office in 2006. Just last week, AT&T gave $25,000 to the Democratic State Central Committee.

    California, which is home to the nation's largest cable market, would become the fourth state to create a state franchising system, and is one of a dozen considering similar reforms. And if the experiences of the other states are any guide, the California debate will be fierce, intense and expensive.

    Texas became the first state to deregulate its cable industry last September. In that state, SBC Communications, which is now part of AT&T, and Verizon hired a combined 161 lobbyists during a special legislative session.

    Phone-company lobbyists outnumbered the 150-member Texas House, according to a report by the watchdog group Texans for Public Justice. SBC spent up to $6.8 million and Verizon up to $1.8 million in lobbying fees, the report said.

    "There is a David and Goliath analogy here," said cable representative Mangers. "To put this in perspective, the new AT&T effort to buy BellSouth would make them larger than all of the country's cable companies combined."

    But an AT&T spokesman quickly dismissed that comparison. "[The cable operators] are the ones with 80 percent market share in the video-services market and we have zero, so to say that is just not true," said AT&T spokesman Gordon Diamond. "They want to do anything they can to delay our entrance into the marketplace."

    Last week, AT&T filed a scathing complaint with the Federal Communications Commission against the nation's cable operators. The letter lambasted what AT&T called cable's "heavy-handed attempts to skew the political debate" by refusing to run phone company television spots.

    "The notion that the cable industry should be free to prejudge whether Americans hear the facts about wireline video competition betrays the arrogance of power," reads the complaint. "The incumbent cable operators have reacted to this new competitive threat by seeking to strangle it in its infancy."

    The voice-over in the television ads, which are broadcast on networks, announces, "We are on the edge of a whole new era of choice in TV for consumers across California."

    The ad concludes by urging legislative action: "The California Legislature can be the catalyst." Despite the political overtones of the ad, the spot does not qualify as issue advocacy and the amount spent is not public record.

    AT&T also has purchased print advertising, including a full-page advertisement in the Sacramento Bee last week, according to Diamond. The company also has bought politically targeted Internet advertising on Rough & Tumble, a popular information clearinghouse for California news, and The Roundup, a morning e-mail created by the editors of Capitol Weekly.

    The cable operators said they have no intent of getting into a spending war with the phone companies--a war, they admit, they would be sure to lose. "Given the huge resources of our opponents, we don't have any fantasy that we can duplicate or match the quantity of lobbying potential that is marshaled by the phone companies," said Charter Communications spokesman Craig Watson.

    But, Mangers added, "I have been assured that I will have the resources to properly express the cable industry's views with the Legislature."

    Cable companies have been airing their own advertisements on cable networks promoting themselves.

    Three of the four biggest cable operators in the state also have bolstered their lobbying operations in recent months. Comcast, the state's largest cable provider, has hired two new contract lobbying firms this year, Norwood and Associates and Nielsen-Merksamer, according to records filed with the secretary of state.

    Charter hired the lobbying firm Public Policy Advocates on March 1. And Time Warner recently has dedicated a lobbyist to its cable division, according to Mangers, who himself is employed by a statewide association of cable companies.

    Meanwhile, AT&T, which merged with SBC Communications last year, has kept nearly all the in-house and contract lobbyists employed by the formerly separate companies. Only Sloat, Higgins, Jensen and Associates was let go, as the firm had a conflict of interest because it simultaneously represented Verizon, the second largest phone company in the state.

    That gives AT&T a permanent lobbying core of four full-time lobbyists, plus contracts with five leading lobbying firms: Platinum Advisors; KP Advocates; Aaron Read and Associates; GCG Rose Kindel; and Pillsbury, Winthrop, Shaw, and Pittman.

    "If you take a look at the California market, and how highly motivated the phone companies are … to get special breaks in legislation they are seeking, you can imagine what they might spend in this populous state," lamented Mangers.

    Reiner turns to "master of disaster" for PR help

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly

    Exit stage left: Rob Reiner. Enter stage right: Mark Fabiani. Hollywood producer Rob Reiner tried to scamper off the center of California's political stage last week, resigning as chair of a state commission for children he helped create seven years earlier. On the day of his resignation, Reiner was out of town, unavailable for comment.

    In his stead was Mark Fabiani, a hired-gun Democratic operative who specializes in crisis communications.

    "Rob is someone that volunteered his time and spent millions of his own money, all in the interest of improving the quality of life for kids," said Fabiani, defending his newest client.

    Fabiani, along with business partner Chris Lehane, has earned the nickname "master of disaster"--a public-relations guru that specializes in crisis communications. It is a reputation the pair honed in the Clinton White House, serving as counsel to the president during the Monica Lewinsky and Whitewater scandals.

    Now Reiner, a film director and producer, has cast Fabiani in a supporting role to help him fend off growing allegations of misspending taxpayer money.

    The First 5 California Children and Families Commission, which Reiner chaired, spent $23 million in public money on advertising that promoted preschool last winter. Reiner had recused himself from the controversial advertising decisions, as he is backing a June 2006 ballot measure that would raise income taxes on wealthy Californians to pay for universal preschool.

    But at the request of the Legislature, the state auditor is preparing a broad review of the First 5 ad spending, while state Sen. Chuck Poochigian, R-Fresno, is demanding an investigation into the spending by the attorney general.

    "You cannot use taxpayer dollars to fund a political agenda. That is precisely what Rob Reiner did,"said Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks, who called for the audit and sent a letter to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, signed by the entire Senate Republican caucus, urging the governor replace Reiner.

    Meanwhile, the most recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) showed support for Reiner's Proposition 82 preschool measure sagging, dropping 14 points, from January to March, to 52 percent.

    Reiner's public-relations predicament will hardly be Fabiani's first. In 2000, he served as deputy campaign manager for Al Gore's presidential run, and headed up the post-election effort to discredit former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris during the contentious recount. Four years later, Miramax hired Fabiani and Lehane to counter right-wing attacks on filmmaker Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11.

    "Employing the Clinton strategy of '92, we will allow no attack on this film to go without a response immediately," Moore said at the time. "And we will go after anyone who slanders me or my work, and we will do it without mercy."

    And to do that, Moore turned to Lehane and Fabiani.

    Later that year, three-time gold medal Olympian Marion Jones turned to the Democratic operatives to manage her public image amid doping allegations. And in 2001, at the height of the California energy crisis, former Governor Gray Davis hired Fabiani and Lehane as energy advisers. After their hiring, Davis' rhetoric quickly turned against President George W. Bush and "price-gouging energy companies, many of whom reside in Texas." Hired for $30,000-a-month in public money, the pair left unpaid after a taxpayer group sued over a conflict of interest because both Lehane and Fabiani previously had received $10,000 from a California energy company.

    "Fabiani is fantastic," says former Davis political adviser Garry South. "There is no one better than him at keeping a cool head, looking at facts and public perceptions and reacting to them."

    Fabiani also works as special counsel to the San Diego Chargers, a football team owned by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's second-biggest donor, Alex Spanos. Spanos has given Schwarzenegger-controlled committees more than $2.6 million.

    "Those are completely different areas of work," said Fabiani. "There is obviously no connection between the two."

    Fabiani now will try to turn public attention away from Reiner and back toward the kids that he says will benefit from the preschool initiative. Reiner has donated more than $600,000 in money and service to the preschool campaign. Fabiani would not comment on whether he advised Reiner to resign his post on the First 5 commission.

    "The opponents of the proposition have been focusing their attacks on Rob and it is clear after the last month or so that they have no intent on opposing the initiative on the merits," said Fabiani, who has been hired not by the campaign, but as Reiner's personal spokesman.

    "Mark is handling Rob's personal stuff so the rest of us can focus on the campaign," said Roger Salazar, a Democratic consultant who recently joined the Yes-on-82 campaign.