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

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

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

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

    For complete election results click here.

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

    For complete election results click here.

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

    For complete election results click here.

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    Wednesday, May 31, 2006

    Log cabin weighs in

    The Log Cabin Republicans have released their endoresments in the 2006 primaries. For statewide races, they only endorsed in competitive races, though the organization stayed neutral in the competitive Tony Strickland/Abel Maldonado race.

    Treasurer: Keith Richman

    Senate and Assembly
    SD-10 Laura Riffle
    SD-34 Lynn Daucher
    AD-6 Michael Hartnett
    AD-9 William Chan+
    AD-23 Mark Patrosso+
    AD-25 Bill Conrad
    AD-27 Michael Morrison
    AD-37 Bob Larkin
    AD-38 Mary Barrientos
    AD-42 Steven Mark Sion+
    AD-45 Samantha Allen-Newman
    AD-48 Brenda Carol Green+
    AD-53 Mary Jo Ford
    AD-67 Dianne Harman
    AD-76 Ralph Denney+

    + indicates Log Cabin member candidates

    The group also oppposes Props. 81 and 82.

    Anglides' latest ad

    With six days left until Election Day, state Treasurer Phil Angelides has released the TV ad political insiders have been expecting for months.

    The ad, titled "Twins", is a series of black and white images of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Steve Westly, Angelides' opponent, embracing. The images come from the 2004 campaign for Proposition 57 and 58, when Westly and Schwarzenegger campaigned alongside one another.

    The script is as follow:

    "Steve Westly....Arnold Schwarzenegger called Westly his twin, because Steve Westly was his strongest ally, even while Schwarzenegger was cutting education, health care and aid for the disabled.

    Even today, Westly and Schwarzenegger are the same on funing our schools. Both oppose closing corporate tax loopholes and asking multimillionarires to pay their fair share again.

    California doesn't need another Schwarenegger twin."

    With ominous music in the background, the ad depicts several images of the "twins" making public appearances together.

    It ends with the closest of embraces: a hug.

    See the ad for yourselfhere.

    Bill deadline time

    Bill deadline must be approaching as the hallways outside the Assembly are overflowing with lobbyists.

    This Friday is the deadline for all bills to get out of their house of origin.

    Crane postponed--again

    Senate leader Don Perata yet again postponed a Rules Committee vote on Schwarzenegger adviser David Crane's appointment to the powerful CalSTRS board.

    It was a surprise move at the 1:30 hearing this afternoon. About fifteen minutes into the hearing, Perata said he wanted to postpone Item 5, Crane's appointment.

    Sen Jim Battin, the Republican vice-chair, turned to Perata and asked, "What's your reason on Mr. Crane?"

    Perata replied, "Because I want to." And that was it.

    For more on Crane's appointment, read this.

    Tuesday, May 30, 2006

    Floor session fever

    With the house of origin deadline this Friday, the state Assembly is going gung-ho to pass out the remaining bills.

    Today, they passed 137 bills. That leaves 228 bills left on the docket...meaning the Assembly will convene bright and early tomorrow at 9:30 and is likely to stay until the early evening.

    But for today, many members are off to the annual California Roast, where former Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy will be the subject of many a joke (and even some funny ones, we hope).

    The MC for the evening: Dennis Mountjoy.

    Boost for Popp

    The 45th Assembly district is one of the most competitive and interesting Democratic primaries in the state. The race features several prominent candidates, including Christine Chavez, grand-daughter of labor leader Caesar Chavez, Kevin DeLeon, a close friend of Speaker Fabian Nunez, Elena Popp, the choice of popular and departing Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg, and local activist Gabriel Buelna.

    Well, the Popp campaign has gotten a boost in the last week with the endorsement of both the Los Angeles Times and La Opinion, the highest circulation Spanish-language paper in the state. The district, currently reprsented by Goldberg, was drawn in hopes of electing a Latino lawmaker, making the La Opinion endorsment all the more important.

    Several polls show the race very tight. It's certainly a race to watch.

    Budget conference committee members named

    Speaker Fabian Nunez has picked Assemblyman John Laird, the budget chair, Assemblyman Rick Keene, the Republican budget vice-chair and Assemblywoman Judy Chu, chair of appropriations.

    Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata has named Sen. Wes Chesbro, chair of the budget committtee, Sen. Denise Ducheny and Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth, vice-chair of budget and the lone Senate Republican on the conference committee.

    Friday, May 26, 2006

    Arambula returns

    So it was a shorter trip to 'the doghouse' than anyone expected.

    Late this afternoon, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez reappointed Assemblyman Juan Arambula as chair of the Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy.

    “Assemblymember Arambula and I have mutually agreed that he is the best qualified person to chair the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy,” said Speaker Núñez. “There is important work to be done in California on a host of economic development issues, particularly for the Central Valley.”

    Earlier this month, Nunez had yanked the chairmanship from Arambula after the Fresno lawmaker refused to support the Assembly Democrat-backed bond package.

    Arambula was disappointed the bond package did not contain provisions for water storage in the Central Valley. He was the only Democrat to abstain from all four bond votes (one other Democrat was not present).

    After the vote, Nunez withdrew Arambula's chairmanship and moved him to the smallest office in the building, squeezed on the fifth floor in what is known as "the doghouse". Despite the new chairmanship, he remains in the postage-stamp sized 391 square feet office.

    “I look forward to continuing the important work of the Jobs Committee,” said Arambula. “I appreciate Speaker Nunez's trust and support. We will work together to strengthen California's economy and create good jobs for the residents of the San Joaquin Valley.”

    Thursday, May 25, 2006

    Second to one

    A new set of educational achievemnet scores once again put California at the bottom on the heap. The Oakland Tribune has the story.

    As the old education joke goes, thank goodness for Mississippi.

    Were it not for that Southern state, California would rank dead last nationally in science test scores — with 50 percent of its fourth-graders falling below basic achievement levels, according to national scores released Wednesday.

    In eighth-grade, California tied with Hawaii for second-to-last place, with Mississippi again pulling up the rear on what federal officials call the nation's report card.

    New Hampshire and North Dakota sat at the top of the national heap in science scores, with 17 and 18 percent of fourth-grade students falling below basic, respectively.

    The National Assessment of Educational Progress includes a representative sample of more than 300,000 fourth-, eighth-and 12th-grade students tested nationwide between January and March of 2005.

    The scores released Wednesday were not all bad for the Golden State: California's students posted the largest gains in the country.

    Angelides drops $500k

    State Treasurer Phil Angelides has deposited $500,000 into his run for governor, his first major self-donation of the campaign.

    As election nears, direct mail misleads

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly today

    As the June primary nears, voters' mailboxes across the state are filling up with campaign propaganda. But some of these pieces of direct mail, long a staple of political campaigns, aren't completely on the up and up. Some are downright untruthful.

    "More and more consultants don't even care whether mail is truthful or not," said former GOP consultant Allan Hoffenblum, who is now an elections analyst. "They only care that the mail works."

    With gerrymandered districts that tend to favor one political party, almost every legislative seat in the state will be decided in the upcoming June primary. The powers of incumbency, combined with districts' heavy partisan registration advantages, ensure that vast majority of June victors will serve in Sacramento for the next several years.

    Such high-stakes elections have set the stage for some serious mudslinging. Accusations of malfeasance and misleading voters are flying in the Los Angeles-area Senate race pitting Assemblywoman Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach, against former Assemblyman George Nakano, D-Torrance.

    Nakano's first mailer of the campaign contained a checklist of his accomplishments, both in and out of the Legislature. One bullet point was, "Own children attended local public schools." Nakano had a check; Oropeza did not.

    Problem is, Oropeza doesn't have children.

    "I have never seen anything like that in my life. You have got to know that you are going to offend people," said Oropeza's campaign consultant Parke Skelton. "It is kind of hard to send nonexistent children to public school."

    Three more bullet points on the Nakano checklist tout bills that the former Assemblyman supported to test student performance, make schools safer and provide money for English language classes. Oropeza did not vote for any of those measures, the mailer intones. But all those bills came to a vote in 1999 and 2000--before Oropeza was ever elected to the Assembly.

    "That was pretty appalling," says Skelton.

    But the Oropeza campaign has sent out its own piece that Team Nakano has condemned. In it, Oropeza attacks Nakano for voting "NO" on SB 5, which she describes as voting "not to protect low-income neighborhoods from toxic and polluting industries." But SB 5 covered a different topic altogether--and was a bill that Nakano supported.

    "It was a typo. I just screwed it up," said Skelton, who produced the mailer, saying the real bill was SB 89.

    But the Nakano campaign wasn't done. It turns out that Nakano didn't vote "NO" on SB 89, he didn't vote at all--because he was hospitalized. At the time, Nakano had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and had surgery to remove the tumor only months later.

    "As a cancer survivor herself, one would think that Ms. Oropeza would have the integrity not to make scurrilous attacks against other cancer survivors," said Nakano consultant Gale Kaufman. "Sadly, that is not the case here."

    Camp Oropeza contends that Nakano voted on the day in question, and that there was no way of knowing in advance that he was hospitalized.

    Days later, a missive from Nakano's campaign accused Oropeza of taking "political grandstanding to a whole new level," after she touted the passage of her Fair-Campaign Pledge bill out of the Assembly. The bill makes more public the list of candidates who pledge to run "clean" campaigns.

    And all that direct-mail commotion is from a single legislative race.

    In the Central Valley's 25th Assembly District race, GOP hopeful Bill Conrad sent out what many observers are calling the nastiest hit piece in recent memory, attacking primary opponent Tom Berryhill for having a heart transplant.

    "Tom Berryhill doesn't have the HEART for State Assembly," reads the headline. In a smaller font, the mailer notes that the "average lifespan of a heart transplant recipient is 7 years," then goes on to say that "Berryhill's transplant was six years ago.''

    Berryhill himself was dismayed by the piece.

    "Conrad showed his lack of honor and dignity by producing a mailer that is false, distasteful and hurtful to my family and to so many others," he said. "This type of negative campaigning really keeps some good candidates from running for office."

    The heart transplant smear is not the only questionable part of the mailer. "Truth 1" on the backside says that Berryhill only moved into the 25th district after losing another election in the 26th district. That's technically true, but Berryhill moved before the 2001 redistricting, meaning he didn't enter into the district until after the lines were drawn around his new home.

    "I don't know what he is talking about," said Berryhill spokesman Bob Phelan. "Unfortunately, he is delusional. Conrad is a desperate candidate and he is going to lose."

    Back in Los Angeles, in the crowded primary in the 41st Assembly District, Democratic candidate Barry Groveman put out a mailer with a picture of himself in front of a podium with a Sierra Club logo. "Groveman joins Sierra Club in opposing LNG plant," reads the caption.

    But the Sierra Club endorsed Groveman's opponent, Kelly Hayes-Raitt. And Groveman signed an agreement to not use the logo with the club's approval. Howard Strauss, chair of the Sierra Club's state political committee, sent a letter to Groveman denouncing the "misleading and improper use of the Sierra Club name and logo."

    Hayes-Raitt said the mailer undermines the public trust. "Here we have a man who is a lawyer and certainly understands the law," she said. "And he explicity violates an agreement he has with the Sierra Club. That undermines my trust in him."

    Hoffenblum, who specialized in direct mail when he ran campaigns, says the increasing negativity of mail pieces--and the decreasing reliability of the information presented, are hurting campaigns.

    "[Mail] is becoming more shrill and as a result it is losing credibility," he said. "The effective hit piece is the exception, not the rule."

    Schwarzenegger friend's fate still on hold

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly today

    After a contentious, two-hour hearing of the Senate Rules Committee, the political fate of one of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's closest advisers remains up in the air.

    David Crane, Schwarzenegger's top economic adviser and close personal friend, was grilled by Democrats Wednesday, who questioned Crane about his close relationship with the governor and his credentials to serve on the powerful CalSTRS board. The board directs the investment of billions of dollars in teacher pensions.

    In a surprise move, Crane testified that he was willing to give up his post as economic adviser if he were confirmed to the board. The decision, which Crane informed Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, of yesterday, caught the pro tem off guard, causing him to postpone a vote until next week.

    "I was absolutely convinced that he was conflicted," said Perata after the hearing. "I told him I thought he should stay as the governor's adviser on economics. … I think it is a curious choice and I don't understand it."

    Crane, a Democrat, was first appointed to the CalSTRS board by Schwarzenegger last July, and this is now the fourth time he has had his confirmation vote postponed. Members can serve on the board for up to one year without Senate confirmation.

    Two other sitting Schwarzenegger-appointed CalSTRS trustees, Kathleen Brugger and Elizabeth Rogers, were unanimously confirmed to the board Wednesday.

    At the hearing, Crane, who was joined by Schwarzenegger Legislative Secretary Richard Costigan, faced tough questions from Sen. Debra Bowen, D-Marina del Rey, about his perspective on the role of a STRS board member. The central bone of contention was Crane's stance on a potential shift to defined- contribution pensions, a move that is anathema to many Democrats and their union backers.

    At one point, Bowen chastised Crane for having "a very head-in-the-sand approach."

    Crane sidestepped most of the questions on his pensions philosophy, saying it was up to the elected Legislature to make such decisions. "I am agnostic on the issue," Crane said, though he supported the governor's pension reforms in 2005 and has called defined benefits a "special privilege."

    Earlier this year, Crane was one of only two votes that did not oppose a proposal by Assemblyman Keith Richman, R-Northridge, that would have shifted the state away from defined-benefit public pensions.

    Crane received the open support from both of the Republican members of the Rules Committee, Sen. Jim Battin, R-La Quinta, and Sen. Roy Ashburn, R-Bakersfield.

    "If you are not qualified to do it, I don't know who is," said Ashburn. But a parade of union and teacher groups, including SEIU, the California Teachers Association, and the California Federation of Teachers, testified in disagreement.

    "He makes people nervous and unsettled and I number myself in that category," said Perata.

    Crane needs the support of at least one Democrat, either Bowen, Perata, or Sen. Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, to move forward in the confirmation process.

    CalSTRS trustees first became a political hot potato last year, when Schwarzenegger was pushing his special-election reform package. The package originally included shifting state pensions from a defined-benefit system, where retirees are guaranteed a certain sized paycheck, to defined contribution, where they receive payments based on the amount they contributed.

    But Schwarzenegger's proposal was dealt a setback when the 12-member CalSTRS board of trustees rejected the proposal, with the only dissenting votes coming from then-Director of Finance Tom Campbell and Schwarzenegger-appointed trustee Kathleen Smalley.

    Schwarzenegger responded by yanking the rest of his appointees off the board. The Senate retaliated by rejecting Smalley's confirmation.

    Perata characterized last year's pension battle as "an outright assault on public employees" and added that "the specter of that has not yet passed". Crane, along with the Brugger and Rogers, were appointed to replace the removed trustees.

    Perata concluded the hearing saying that Crane is "still wearing the same colors" as the governor and carrying his flag, with out without a post in the Horseshoe, complicating the newly politicized pension board appointment. The Rules committee meets again next Wednesday.

    Wednesday, May 24, 2006

    She's on the air

    Sen. Liz Figueroa announced that her campaign for lieutenant governor is launching TV ads today. She unveiled two spots both of which focus on her creating the Healthy Families program. The campaign says the ads will "air in heavy rotation".

    It's baaaaaack

    The exit exam was reinstated today by the California Supreme Court.

    Here's (part) of what the governor had to say:

    Today's ruling is a victory for the children of California and for our future as a state. The exit exam ensures that our schools are living up to their responsibility by giving our students the skills and the knowledge they need to succeed in college and in the workplace. Postponement would have deprived us of the best tool we have to measure how well schools are doing their job.

    The MySpace race

    So the two Democratic candidates for governor are competing just about everywhere. Both are organizing rival bus tours. Steve Westly and his backers urge that we jump on the Westly wagon. Phil Angelides wants to tour the coast and tout his Democratic (and environmental) credentials.

    The two have given competing speeches at the Sacramento Press Club--and for each the opponent has sent representatives to the back of the room to spin the media.

    The two are competing on the airwaves--with multi-million dollar ad buys that have saturated the airwaves.

    They have competed in televised debates--shooting sharp barbs back and forth.

    Of course, one little noticed competition is online--with MySpace. And in that battle Angelides is kicking Westly's online you-know-what.

    Angelides: 1355 friends

    Westly: 179 friends

    Both are pretty active myspacers users (or, rather, their staff is). Westly last logged in yesterday. Angelides logged in today. And both are doing substantially better than lieutenant governor hopeful John Garamendi, who has only 51 friends. And much much better than Garamendi opponent Jackie Speier, who has all of 0 friends. Liz Figueroa, the other Democratic lite gov candidate doesn't have a MySpace profile.

    Unfortunately for Phil, which is what most of his MySpace well-wishers call the state treasurer, some of his 1355 friends aren't yet eligible to vote.

    One pro-Phil user, pRiNcEsS, wrote, " im really only 12 so i cant vote. my parents r both independent but i wanna b a democrat." Another Phil booster, ANdy, writes, "phil, if i was 18 i would vote for you in a secong but i still have a year. i believe in your platform. your support is impressive. comment me back dude."

    One of Westly's commenters, *So Cali Princess*, (his first comment, actually) is excited about his candidacy. "Thanks for not being evil!" she writes. Others chime in with more excited "Go Steve!" sentiments.

    By the way, Angelides is a Gemini looking for "Networking, Friends" and "Californians interested in a better future for our state!"

    And, really, who isn't.

    Poizner column

    Republican insurance commissioner candidate Steve Poizner pens a piece on the FlashReport today on why he is running for IC--and why you should vote for him.

    Crane up for vote

    Top Schwarzenegger adviser and friend David Crane is coming up for a vote today in Senate Rules. Read about it here.

    Tuesday, May 23, 2006

    June to impact enviro legislation

    Susan Smartt, executive director of the California League of Conservation Voters, pens a piece at the California Progress Report today that the June primaries will decide the fate of environmental legislation in California.

    At the end she breaks down, what could happen.

    On the Democratic side, we face the possible loss of the working environmental majority in the Senate and continued stalemate in the Assembly. Based on our analysis of who is running for which seat, the following scenarios are likely:

    Current reliable pro-environmental Senate votes: 20
    Number needed to pass or defeat legislation: 21
    Potential losses of reliable Senate votes: 7
    Potential gains over existing poor environmental votes: 0
    Best case outcome—Total environmental votes: 18
    Worst case outcome—Total environmental votes: 13

    Current reliable pro-environmental Assembly votes: 27
    Number needed to pass or defeat legislation: 41
    Potential losses of reliable Assembly votes: 3
    Potential gains over existing poor environmental votes: 10
    Best case outcome—Total environmental votes: 38
    Worst case outcome—Total environmental votes: 28

    And while we are on the topic of left-leaning sites, Speak Out California has an endorsement breakdown of some of the state's leading races.

    Dunn hits airwaves

    Sen. Joe Dunn, who is running for state controller against fellow Democrat and BOE member John Chiang, is hitting the airwaves with an ad touting himself as "the man who cracked Enron."

    You can find the ad here. The ad buy is in the Los Angeles and Bay Area media markets on network TV and should be on the air for the final two weeks until Election Day, said a campaign spokesperson.

    Angelides to speak at Press Club

    Democratic gubernatorial candidate and state Treasurer Phil Angelides will address the Sacramento Press Club today at noon.

    A page from Angelides?

    One of the Democratic candidates for governor just sent out the following missive to supporters:

    Arnold is at it again...

    On Monday night he was in Houston, Texas to hit up some of George W. Bush’s biggest donors for campaign cash. Oil giant ConocoPhillips gave Schwarzenegger $22,300, Bush appointee Harriet Miers’ law firm gave $5,000, and Dallas billionaire Harold Simmons gave $25,000. Schwarzenegger even met with Bob Perry, who funded the “Swift Boat” TV ad against John Kerry in 2004, and Fred Zeidman, who worked with shamed lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

    That’s why it’s more important than ever that we build a strong grassroots base of support. We don’t want $22,300 from a big oil company – we want $100 contributions from 223 real Californians. Help us meet our goal.

    That sounds an awful lot like the tune the Angelides campaign has been playing for the last year. But this e-mail came from the Westly camp, which recently has been airing attack ads against Angelides for taking oil company money.

    Monday, May 22, 2006

    Rating rises

    California's fiscal rating went up today, this time according to Moody's Investors Service, one of the nations biggest credit raters. The state's credit rating was upgraded from A2 to A1.

    Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Phil Angelides sent out a not-too-impressed statement:

    “While the rating upgrade from Moody’s is welcome news, the action still leaves California’s bond rating next to the bottom, better only than Louisiana’s A2. And in raising California’s rating up a tick, Moody’s issued a warning identical to that of Standard & Poor’s two days earlier: ‘California’s rating remains low compared to other states due to its ongoing fiscal challenges. The most immediate challenge is the state’s stubborn structural budget gap.’

    “Thus in the space of a week, two major bond rating agencies have clearly corroborated my warning and that of the Legislative Analyst that while state revenues have improved, California’s economic condition will remain insecure until the state produces balanced budgets.

    “We must do better – to gain a respectable credit rating, California must have a truly balanced budget that protects education. Even in a year when the state has received billions in unexpected revenue, Governor Schwarzenegger has failed to confront the structural deficit by proposing a balanced budget. His revised budget would continue to shift the burden of today's deficits onto the backs of future generations.”

    Speier hits the air

    Sen. Jackie Speier, who is running for lieutenant governor in a three-way race with Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi and Sen. Liz Figueroa, will begin airing ads statewide the middle of this week.

    Speier has raised more than $2.7 million for her run--much more than either of her competitors. The first ad (find it here) recounts the Jonestown trauma she endured twenty-some years ago. The secondtouts her legislative accomplishments.

    Both are narrated by Peter Coyote, the actor.

    The campaign reports the ad will be airing in the following markets: Los Angeles, San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, San Diego, Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, Fresno-Visalia, Monterey-Salinas, Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis Obispo, Bakersfield, Chico-Redding, and Eureka.

    (Also, posting has been lacking but should be up to speed again starting today)

    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    New Angelides site goes after Westly

    The Angelides campaign has launched a new website: “THE TRUTH ABOUT WESTLY".

    It prominently features Angelides ad featuring footage of Westly promising to run a clean campaign and then a Sac Bee headline saying Westly launched the first on-air negative ad.

    And then, the site asks, "How can we count on Westly to fund our schools when he breaks his own word?"

    New in CW

    The week's CW features previews of legislative and statewide.

    Also, GOP consultant Dan Schnur interesting piece on the Democratic primary.

    It's hard to believe, but there are less than 211 weeks left before the Democratic primary for governor. The primary that matters, anyway, the one between Antonio Villaraigosa and Gavin Newsom in June of 2010.

    That ought to be enough to make you want to read it.

    Darry Sragow and Tony Quinn also have election-related columns.

    New Links

    I am adding a couple of new political links today. The first is the relatively new Mercury News On Politics blog, which for the last which has featured reporter Kate Folmar's blow-by-blow analysis of the development of a negative ad campaign.

    The second is another left-of-center site, The Bayne of Blog, which Randy Bayne has been updating regularly.

    Schwarzenegger's million-dollar woman

    As governor's fund-raiser, Renee Croce is at center of Arnold's donor empire

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has paid her more than Rob Stutzman, Marty Wilson, Bob White and Steve Schmidt--combined. She has earned more than George Gorton, Mike Murphy, Jeff Randle or Don Sipple.

    Her name, unknown to all but the upper echelon of Republican consultants, donors and candidates in California, is Renee Croce and she is at the epicenter of the governor's elaborate and record-breaking fund-raising apparatus.

    All told, Croce has earned $1.163 million from six different Schwarzenegger-controlled campaign accounts dating back to 2002, plus more than $29,000 for travel and meals and $76,000 for reimbursed expenses. Only one other Schwarzenegger consultant has earned within a quarter million dollars of that figure.

    "She was the queen of Orange County fund raising and she has elevated herself to empress of California fund raising," said GOP consultant Kevin Spillane, who worked with Croce on Richard Riordan's 2002 bid for governor. "She is the gold standard."

    Her official title with the Schwarzenegger campaign is finance director, a post she uses to corral millions in donations for the governor's varied initiative and reelection campaigns.

    "Renee is the fundraiser who calls, makes the ask, and collects the check," says Stutzman, Schwarzenegger's former communications director.

    It's a job that puts the governor and Croce in near constant communication. "I am with him a couple times a week," Croce told Capitol Weekly in her first interview since joining Team Schwarzenegger in 2002.

    Croce has outlasted almost every other Schwarzenegger political confidant. Since his first campaign, the governor has cycled through three campaign managers, two chiefs of staff and an endless parade of spokespeople. Schwarzenegger has kept only one other consultant, Jeff Randle, on his campaign payroll as long as Croce, who began fund raising with the then-actor during his 2002 after-school initiative campaign.

    Asked why she has lasted so long, Croce laughed. "I don't question that." But George Gorton, who was Schwarzenegger's first political adviser and architect of the after-school campaign, says Croce's longevity is a simple matter of dollars and cents.

    "While you and I can have an opinion about my or Mike Murphy's strategy, you can't argue about Renee's results," says Gorton, who is the only other consultant to have earned $1 million from Schwarzenegger, though 80 percent of his fees came from the Proposition 49 campaign in 2002. "The money is either in the bank or it isn't."

    And, with Croce, the money has been in the bank.

    For Schwarzenegger's political-career-launching after-school measure, she helped the movie star raise nearly $10 million. She did it by inviting potential donors like Paul Folino, a high-tech company executive, to private dinners with Schwarzenegger in the fall of 2001.

    "Renee actually introduced me to the governor," Folino fondly recalls. "She invited my wife and I up to his home for dinner."

    Folino was so impressed by Schwarzenegger that he immediately joined the campaign. He has since become one of Schwarzenegger's most generous individual donors, contributing more than $1.3 million to the governor's network of fund-raising committees.

    "Renee is really the one that made it happen," says Folino.

    There are countless other major contributors that Croce has mined for donations, though Croce declined to name them. "That's not my style," she said.

    Her style, which colleagues describe as part gentle, part aggressive, has been successful. Schwarzenegger-controlled campaign committees have amassed more than $120 million since he launched the after-school initiative. He is expected to raise another $60-to-$75 million for his re-election this year, after his handlers publicly floated, and then backed away from, an original $120 million goal.

    Croce's work for Schwarzenegger isn't her only job, though in an election year she says it takes up "150 percent of my time." She is also the membership director for the Los Angeles chapter of the New Majority, centrist Republican club that supports moderate Republican candidates. Croce has earned $54,000 from New Majority this election cycle.

    The second job blends well with the first: The New Majority has long supported Schwarzenegger, calling his re-election "the strongest focus" of the organization in 2006. And New Majority backers, including Folino, have donated an estimated $10 million to Schwarzenegger. New Majority members dot the list of gubernatorial appointments, including A.G. Kawamura, the state's secretary of Food and Agriculture.

    Tom Tucker, a founder and first chairman of New Majority, says Croce and her connections to Southern California's elite were critical to the launch of his organization.

    "At the time, we were political neophytes and she was really helpful to us to understanding politics and the system," said Tucker. As New Majority plans to launch two more chapters in the Inland Empire and San Diego later this year, the membership directors, which are de facto fund-raisers, are both close Croce associates.

    As the finance director for an incumbent governor and membership director of one of the state's best-heeled interest groups, Croce is perched at the pinnacle of the California fund-raising world.

    "She is the hot fund-raiser of the moment," says Doug Boyd, who spent the last six years as treasurer of the California Republican Party.

    She got there quickly. Her first real fund-raising job was for former Assemblyman Bill Filante's bid for Congress in 1992. By 1998, she caught her first big break: then-Gov. Pete Wilson offered her the post of finance director in his final year in office, after many of his leading donation-getters had jumped ship for the gubernatorial campaign of Dan Lungren. In 1999, when New Majority was launched, she served as membership director. By 2002, she was a sought after commodity, working for Schwarzenegger, Republican governor hopeful Richard Riordan, and eventual GOP nominee Bill Simon, who paid her more than $100,000.

    Now, Croce has what is known as "the list." It contains the names and numbers of all the potential Republican donors she has identified. Croce's "list" is considered the best in California.

    Croce says her relationships are even more important than the list. "It is like a relational database, knowing who is connected where and to what ... who lives where, who is friends with what, where do these people travel. … That is the most important thing."

    Croce's fund-raising successes have created a political storm of sorts. No other aspect of Schwarzenegger's governorship has come under as much scrutiny. In his memorable campaign announcement on Jay Leno's Tonight Show, Schwarzenegger vowed that he didn't need to take special-interest money.

    But critics have denounced his record-breaking fund raising, headed by Croce, as disingenuous. It was the first in a pattern of broken promises that labor groups tattooed to the governor in last year's special election.

    "He promised to be different and he promised not to raise special-interest money," says Robin Swanson, a spokeswoman for the Alliance for a Better California, the union coalition that led the battle against last year's special election. "He said it over and over in the campaign. He has broken that promise a thousand times over."

    But Croce says those critics--and the public--misunderstand the nature of political donations.

    "People are so nice they don't ask for anything or want anything," says Croce of donors. "What they want is just to be part of a process."

    The above first appeared in Capitol Weekly today

    The kings and queens of the California political quotation

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly today

    What do the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, Los Angeles Daily News, San Jose Mercury News, Oakland Tribune, Reuters and the Associated Press have in common?

    They all quoted Sherry Bebitch Jeffe the day after last month's Democratic convention.

    Jeffe isn't with either the campaign of state Controller Steve Westly or state Treasurer Phil Angelides. She isn't even a Democrat. But Jeffe, a political analyst at the University of Southern California, is one of California's leading opinion-slingers.

    Often pithy, and always on-the-record, she is a standby of the Capitol press corps, racing to meet daily deadlines with an insatiable need of a good quote.

    "I was in the room. I had watched the whole convention," says Jeffe. "I was the only analyst there."

    As Election Day nears, the phones ring more and more often for the small cohort of oft-quoted California political experts. "It heats up as elections come along," says Barbara O'Connor, a communications professor at California State University, Sacramento. "I probably get 25 calls a week."

    O'Connor, Jeffe and the state's two other leading quotemeisters, Bruce Cain, a political science professor at UC Berkeley, and Jack Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College, don't advertise their services. But everyone covering California politics knows who they are--and how to get in touch with them.

    The system works like viral marketing. Once an academic is quoted as an expert observer of California politics, the pundit's name makes its way into other reporters' Rolodexes.

    Then another reporter calls. Then another. And another.

    "Once they see a commentator quoted, that's what they look for," says Pitney, who says that LexisNexis, the searchable Internet newspaper database, has compounded the number of calls he receives.

    Academics like those in the "Big Four" say what reporters, striving for objectivity, can't.

    "I don't care about puffing one side up or trashing the other," says Jeffe. "There are things that an analyst can say that a reporter ought not be saying in his or her own words."

    Picking up their phones for reporters who are on tight daily deadlines doesn't hurt either.

    "The reason I get quoted is I actually call people back," says O'Connor, who shares her home, office and cell-phone numbers with reporters. "You have to accept it as a priority, as part of your work product as a professor. … I don't speak in sound bites but I know how to."

    Pitney agrees. "I usually return phone calls promptly," he said. "And I speak in short sentences."

    If this year's primary-election season is raising the call volume of the state's leading political analysts, it is nothing compared to the zoo that was the 2003 recall election.

    "The greatest call volume I ever got was the day after Schwarzenegger announced his candidacy," says Pitney, who followed Gov. Schwarzenegger's career before he jumped into the recall race. "I got 27 calls in one day from reporters all over the world, from Australia to Japan."

    O'Connor describes the media descent on Sacramento during the recall as "nightmarish," with a peak of 61 reporters calling her for insight the night of the Schwarzenegger debate.

    And O'Connor, along with Cain, who was working in Washington, D.C., at the time, were supposed to be on sabbatical.

    "It didn't seem to prevent people from finding us," she quipped. These four top academic quote-machines each followed very different paths to becoming California political gurus. None of them were born or raised in the Golden State.

    Pitney hails from upstate New York, and got his start with California politics 3,000 miles away--in Washington, D.C., on the staff of GOP Rep. Jerry Lewis of San Bernardino. He moved to California more than two decades ago and is considered the only one of the four with right-leaning tendencies.

    While at graduate school at Rutgers University in New Jersey during the 1960s, Jeffe studied under visiting scholar Jesse Unruh, then-speaker of the California Assembly. After that semester, she moved out to California and began working for Unruh, a Democrat, on higher-education issues. She joined the faculty at USC in the early 1970s. A former Democrat, she considers herself a nonpartisan observer.

    O'Connor, originally from Texas, started her career in politics working for U.S. Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota. After his failed presidential bid, she started teaching political communications at CSUS. Soon after helping launch the local radio station KXPR, then-Gov. Jerry Brown appointed O'Connor to the California Public Broadcasting Commission.

    She has closely followed the California political scene ever since, and says she gives analysis without bias, though admits to having a left-leaning political slant.

    Cain, born in Boston, moved to California in the late 1970s. The Assembly Democrats hired the former Rhodes scholar to help redraw the state's political maps in what became a bitter and political redistricting in 1981. "Since I was hired by the Democrats, to many Republicans I still have partisan blood on my hands. I've worked hard to rehabilitate myself since then," Cain told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2001.

    After the redistricting battle, he rejoined the academic world--and is usually quoted as a neutral observer.

    So do these four--and a whole host of other, less-often quoted pundits--impact the state's political landscape?

    In 1994, Clint Reilly seemed to think so. Reilly was the campaign consultant for state Treasurer Kathleen Brown's gubernatorial bid and he tried to take Jeffe out for a few drinks--on him.

    "Clint Reilly tried that," said Jeffe. "He brought two or three members of his staff on the Kathleen Brown gubernatorial campaign out. I don't let my sources pay. I learned that from the L.A. Times," where she has contributed periodic columns since the 1980s.

    O'Connor says that by lending her voice she hopes to help make sense of the political world for an apathetic and angry public. "I view this as my community-service role," she said.

    Pitney was less optimistic about the importance of his role. "I would be surprised if it were any kind of major impact," he said.

    Still, the calls keep on coming. Cain's name has appeared in 289 articles in the San Francisco Chronicle since 1995. That's a rate of almost one every two weeks--for more than a decade.

    Bebitch, who has appeared in 155 Chronicle stories herself and has an exclusive contract to provide on-air analysis for NBC-affiliate stations, says she has kept her quoting standards.

    "[Reporters] will call me about something I know absolutely nothing about and I am not about to blather on about it," says Jeffe. "I have turned down Bill Maher, Inside Edition and Entertainment Tonight. My analysis only goes so far."

    Wednesday, May 17, 2006

    Humdinger....$1 milliion to preschool

    Someone not named Westly just contributed a cool million dollars to a political cause.

    Rob Reiner and his wife Michelle contributed $250,000 and $750,000 respectively to the Preschool for All campaign. That comes on the heels of a $500,000 donation by Michelle Reiner earlier this month.

    California: An improving student

    The Department of Finance reports that "Standard and Poor's, one of the three financial rating agencies that determines California's creditworthiness – has upgraded the state's credit rating in the wake of the May Revision from 'A' to 'A+'".

    Lockyer backs assisted suicide

    Attorney General Bill Lockyer sent a letter today in support of AB 651, Assemmblywoman Patty Berg's assisted suicide legislation.

    Here's what Lockyer had to say:

    "The extensive, and important, safeguards in AB 651 will ensure that the choice made by a terminal patient is informed, deliberate and voluntary. Anyone who has been forced to stand by while a loved one suffers helplessly in the final days of life knows that this measure will provide emotional and physical relief to those who want to leave this life with such peace and dignity as modern medicine can provide."

    The legislation is sitting in the Senate.

    Tuesday, May 16, 2006

    High speed slows down

    Rail? What rail?

    Judging by recent legislative action, there is more interest in high-speed Internet than rail lines (see AB 2987 by Nunez).

    The Legislature voted again today to push back California's high-speed rail bond. In a bill that passed out of the Senate Transportation committee, the fast-trains-creating-bond has been postponed to the 2008 ballot. This after the bonds were pushed back to 2006 in 2004. Voters approved fast moving rail travelling from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2002.

    The media cycle

    It looks like Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the legislative leaders are going to eke out every last ounce of free media attention they can get for the infrastructure bond package.

    Today, the governor appeared in the Bay Area (in or near Sen. Perata's district) to tout the transportation bond, authored by Mr. Perata.

    And then the governor officially signed the transportation bond late this morning. Press releases ensued. From the governor:

    “This great bond is what can happen when Democrats and Republicans work together,” said Gov. Schwarzenegger in Orinda. “California will be a better place to live because of the work we did in Sacramento, and Sen. Perata, legislative leaders and the entire legislature deserve credit for this momentous accomplishment.”

    From Nunez:

    “Today we make good on our commitment to the people of California to give them the opportunity to invest in a faster commute, better access to public transit and safer roads. This $20 billion transportation bond is the result of a tremendous bipartisan effort that we should all be proud of. Democrats and Republicans in the legislature rolled up their sleeves and did the hard work Californians expect of them.”

    My guess is more releases are to follow, as well as an event at a levee, announcing the levee bond, an event at the school announcing the education bond, and a housing event to announce the housing bond. Spread out one-a-day, of course, and in different parts of the state to maximize coverage.

    Another $5 million

    Steve Westly reports donating another $5 million to his gubernatorial campaign, bringing the total amount donated to $32.5 million.

    *The original post had $32 million, which is incorrect.

    Monday, May 15, 2006

    Like husband, like wife

    Later this morning, Assemblywoman Audra Strickland is hosting a press conference to press for her bill, AB 2621, which would eliminate the sales tax on gasoline. The bill, which comes before the Assembly Revenue and Taxation committee today, may garner some added attention as fuel prices have shot up in the last two months.

    The Strickland bill comes only a couple weeks after another Strickland, her husband, former assemblyman and GOP state controller candidate Tony Strickland, made some news by giving away loose change at area gas stations to compensate motorists for the state's sales tax on gasoline.

    LA Mayor to be featured in preschool ads

    The Yes on 82 campaign announced that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will be featured in two of the campaigns first three ads, with teachers starring in the third. One of the two Villaraigosa ads will be in Spanish.

    Eminent Domain to make fall ballot

    Jon Flesichman the story.

    Today, the Protect Our Homes Coalition will announce that they are turning in over a million signatures in County Registrar offices all around the state, virtually assuring that this important measure to protect Californians from eminent domain abuse will appear on the November ballot.

    Assemblywoman Mimi serving as the Honorary Chairman of the Coalition, and she will be announcing the big news formally later today.

    Sunday, May 14, 2006

    SEIU chips in

    The SEIU chipped in $100,000 to the Preschool for All campaign today.

    Saturday, May 13, 2006

    The extra spin zone

    Yesterday, the Steve Westly for governor campaign released the first real negative television ad of the campaign. This after circulating a letter sent to Team Phil Angelides last month asking for a "clean campaign" pledge.

    Unlike most of Westly's ads, this one has not been immediately posted on his site.

    The ad attacks Angelides for advocating a litany of tax proposals from income taxes to alcohol taxes.

    The ad has spurred some strong press releases from both campaigns.

    From Brian Brokaw, Angelides' press secretary:

    Steve Westly’s candidacy has been flailing since Phil Angelides won the endorsement of the California Democratic Party. To quote Steve Westly: “Desperate candidates do desperate things.” Westly's negative ad is as bogus as his “positive campaign pledge” and as phony as his school funding plan. This is further evidence that Californians can’t count on Steve Westly.

    Though, it is the Westly campaign that has launched the television ad, they are, not surprisingly, blaming Angelides for going negative first.

    But as bad as the last month has been, it pales in comparison to the slash job Angelides pulled during Wednesday’s debate. This was the last straw. Phil Angelides launched a deeply personal and nasty attack on Steve Westly both during and immediately after the debate by comparing Westly to Tom Delay, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and Richard Nixon.

    Folks, if this is not a negative attack in a Democratic Primary, we don’t know what is!

    That's from Nick Velasquez, Westly's press secretary.

    With less than a month before E-Day, let's wait and see what happens next.

    Angelides' schedule heats up

    With only a few weeks before Election Day, state Treasurer Phil Angelides campaign schedule is heating up. Today he makes appearances back to back to back to back to back to back to back appearances in southern California, starting a few hours ago at the LA Labor Federation, moving on to an event with Speaker Nunez, another event with Sen. Gil Cedillo, another event with Assemblyman Mark Ridley Thomas and then three more events to close the day in Malibu.

    And after a huge week for the governor, with the bond deal and the budget, Gov. Arnold Schwarznegger is keeping a low profile with no publicly scheduled events today.

    Friday, May 12, 2006

    Big money

    Besides Steve Westly giving himself another $5 million yesterday, other big money is flowing as Election Day approaches.

    The governor has raised quite a bit in the last three days, including maximum donations from Bob and Doylene Perry, Kelly Day, Kroger/Ralphs Grocery, Marie Jubela, Patricia Edwards, William Hilton, Rancho Mission Viejo and the Miller Brewing Co.

    Yesterday, the secretary of state reported that

    Pat Stryker of Colorado chipped half a million into the Yes on 82 campaign long with $500,000 from the California Teachers Assocation.

    Jonathan T. Soros, son of Democratic financier George Soros, chipped in another $25,000.

    Thursday, May 11, 2006

    Speaker is nonspeaker

    Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez refused to cross a picket line Wednesday to give the commencement speech to UC Berkeley students. The story is here.

    As a Berkeley alum, that's lame. If there was any chance of a potential problem, it should have been worked out in advance.

    Go Bears!

    Correction:The original post said the commencement was today. It was on Wednesday.

    Westly drops another $5 million into race

    State Controller Steve Westly has contributed another $5 million to his campaign for governor today, according to reports filed with the secretary of state.

    That donation brings Westly's total contributions to his campaign to $27 million--more than state Treasurer Phil Angelides has raised in total.

    "When it came to the communications program, we realized that the Westly could write a check and spend as much money as he wanted," Cathy Calfo, Angelides' campaign manager told me earlier this week.

    And with four weeks until Election Day, Westly has done just that.

    "While Steve Westly is supported by thousands of Californians, campaigns in California are very expensive endeavors and he's augmenting that support with his own personal investment in his candidacy," said Nick Velasquez, Westly's press secretary.

    In yesterday's debate, Angelides accused Westly of trying to buy his way into the governor's office. "If you think you can just put $22.5 million of your own money to try to buy the governorship without examining your record, you're wrong," he said.

    Early last month Team Angelides made the decision to take their own television ads off the air for three weeks as Westly had begun buying air time more than three months before Election Day. While the Angelides campaign was off the air, a $5 million independent expenditure campaign was launched by former Angelides employer and Sacramento-area developer Angelo Tsakopoulos and his daughter Eleni. The ads aired statewide.

    To match Westly's own contributions to his gubernatorial bid, Angelides would have had to raise the maximum contribution of $22,300 from more than 1200 donors--a monumental task. Of course, as Dan Weintraub has pointed out, "And even if he did that, Westly could simply write another check and start the money race all over again."

    It's an emergency!

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has called yet another emergency as a result of the rains this Spring--this time for " severe road damage" in forty counties.

    The counties are Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Fresno, Humboldt, Kings, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Marin, Mendocino, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Yolo, and Yuba.

    Now that's a mouthful. Noticably missing are San Francisco, Orange, San Diego and Los Angeles (there are only 58 counties in the state total)--which account for a large portion of the state's population.

    The governor also sent a letter today to President George W. Bush asking for a major disaster declartion for California.

    All for Asians

    Today, the California Republican Party sent out a release saying the GOP "celebrates Asian and Pacific Islander Month."

    Diversity represents one of California's strengths, and the California Republican Party is committed to reaching out to Asians and Pacific Islanders who share the Republican values of family, education, and entrepreneurship.

    That are not the only ones reaching out to the Asian community in this election year.

    Yesterday, Steve Westly, along with his wife Anita Yu, launched "Asian Americans for Westly". Steve Westly's Web site even has a button on the top of the page to translate it into Chinese. The front of the Chinese Westly site, unlike the English version, shows a picture of Westly with his wife, Anita Yu, herself a Chinese immigrant.

    Gov: Don't Drill Offshore

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger just sent a letter to California's congressional delegation strongly stating his opposition to weaking the moratorium on offshore drilling.

    I strongly oppose any efforts to end or weaken the federal moratorium on oil and gas leasing off the coast of California and I will fight any effort to expand offshore drilling as long as I am Governor. This current movement to lift the ban is nothing more than a weak attempt to cater to oil interests in the face of high gasoline prices. I encourage you to move your focus instead to reducing our consumption of fossil fuels and supporting development of alternative fuels such as ethanol in order to diversify our energy portfolio.

    The governor goes on to say he is "extremly disappointed" with the decision of the House Appropriations Committee, saying it will add "additional scars to our beautiful coastline."

    "Rather than watching the sun set on the western horizon each day, millions of Californians and visitors will now see grotesque oil platforms in plain sight," he wrote.

    Pombo Polling

    Hank Shaw at the Stockton Record has a story this morning showing waning support for incumbent GOP congressman Richard Pombo. Of note in the piece is that Wayne Johnson, Pombo's political consultant, seems to take the dip in the numbers seriously.

    Pombo consultant Wayne Johnson said the campaign's internal polling does not match the Greenberg poll, but he did acknowledge that voters are sour on Congress in general.

    "The atmospherics are depressing for any incumbent in Congress right now," Johnson said. Still, he said the order of questions in the Greenberg poll could have skewed the results.

    "You get people in a hanging mood and it can dramatically affect the result," he said.

    All about Phil: Angelides is strategist in own campaign

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weeklytoday

    Political pros chart the course of almost every major campaign in California. The state's top strategists increasingly are wooed and pursued as more and more candidates turn over the reins of their campaigns to these hired-guns.

    But not Phil Angelides.

    The state treasurer, and candidate for governor, instead has hired his longtime friend, Cathy Calfo, as his campaign manager. Calfo, who has managed each of Angelides' three previous statewide runs, has never run a statewide campaign for another candidate.

    With a friend managing his bid for governor and with no high-profile consultant giving him strategic advice, those close to Angelides say the man behind the campaign and in front of the cameras is one and the same. So, whether there is ultimately blame or credit to go around after the June primary, much of it will rest with Angelides himself.

    In other words, it's all about Phil.

    "He is certainly not an empty suit automaton with consultants winding him up, programming him full of focus-group-tested hand gestures and having him read poll-tested dribble on a teleprompter," said Dan Newman, Angelides' campaign-communications director in a non-too-subtle jab at rival Steve Westly, who has surrounded himself with political professionals.

    But as Angelides, the former chairman of the California Democratic Party, stumbled in early polls, at one point falling behind Controller Steve Westly by double-digits, some blamed the candidate-centered structure of the campaign for Angelides' sagging support.

    "It is never a good idea for a candidate to serve as their own strategist because they need someone who has some distance and perspective," says Darry Sragow, a Democratic consultant and veteran of five statewide campaigns. "It is no different than the idea that an attorney shouldn't be his or her own client or a doctor shouldn't be his or her own patient.

    "And Phil has that reputation," adds Sragow.

    Few candidates have successfully run for governor in recent years without an outside consultant at the helm of their candidacy. The last winning candidate with a reputation for calling his own shots was Jerry Brown, who was first elected governor in 1974, well before the current 24-hour media cycle. Even former-Gov. Gray Davis, the consummate micro-manager, turned to spinster Garry South to run his 1998 bid for governor.

    Today, South is the chief strategist for Westly. Team Westly also includes David Doak, a veteran television-ad producer, and former Davis aide Roger Salazar. Of course, Westly, like Angelides, has personal friends in high posts within his campaign. Greg Larson, who Westly has known since their days at Stanford, is the campaign's vice chairman. Paul Rosenstiel, another college buddy, is the policy director.

    As Angelides slipped behind Westly, criticism among Friends of Phil centered on the campaign's lack of response to Westly for the first months of the campaign, the decision to go off the air with television ads last month, and the quality of Angelides' ads themselves. Political insiders have begun rumbling about who is really making the critical decisions in the campaign.

    "When political insiders get together and talk about this campaign the questions come up: 'Who is Angelides' strategist? Who is doing the TV ads? Who is calling the shots?' And the answer is we don't know so it must be Phil," says Sragow.

    Some Democrats say there have been serious missteps by the Angelides campaign along the way. "It feels like they never really believed that Westly would spend his money," said another Democratic consultant, who spoke on the condition on anonymity. "They were surprised and seemed caught flat-footed. And that seems outrageous."

    But Calfo, a former executive director of the state party in the early 1990s, dismisses concerns about the way the Angelides campaign has been run. She says the recent dip in the polls was expected and that, following the party's endorsement, Angelides' numbers are rebounding.

    "We expected to drop in the polls," said Calfo. "[In] California politics … if one person is on television and one is not, polls are going to pick up on that."

    Calfo says that with a self-funded opponent like Westly, a multimillionaire former dot-com mogul, the campaign had no choice but to husband its resources months before Election Day.

    "When it came to the communications program, we realized that the Westly could write a check and spend as much money as he wanted," said Calfo. "And we made a commitment that when they started we would go up on the air as well, just to make clear that we were in the game. We also made a decision, at that time, that if it came down to it, we would be disciplined and we would go off the air."

    But when Angelides' ads were taken off the air, both the Field Poll and Los Angeles Times were querying voters. The result: a swing in the results--and the campaign's momentum--for Westly.

    Calfo says that the Angelides campaign has invested heavily off the airwaves, particularly in "ground-organizing efforts," that include courting high-membership Democratic clubs and labor organizations, most of which have lined up behind the Angelides campaign.

    But when asked who was the campaign's chief strategist, Calfo demurred. "I don't think that any of the labels that people commonly use necessarily apply here," she said.

    Team Angelides has hired political consultants for advice. Paul Maslin, a veteran of many Democratic campaigns, is Angelides' pollster. Saul Shorr, a Philadelphia-based consultant, is producing the television advertising. And Bob Mulholland, a former strategist for the state party, joined the campaign late last year.

    But that pales in comparison to the army of consultants that surrounds Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has, in the last three years, hired nearly every major Republican consulting firm in California. Schwarzenegger's latest team, headed by campaign manager Steve Schmidt and communications director Katie Levinson, comes directly from the White House.

    Republican strategist Dan Schnur, a veteran of past gubernatorial races, says that Angelides central role in his own campaign has hurt his candidacy. "Even the most brilliant political strategist is at a disadvantage acting as his own consultant," he said.

    Schnur says that Angelides is running an "emotionally indulgent campaign," vowing to be the anti-Arnold long after "it has become apparent that is a message with limited appeal, even in a Democratic primary."

    "Angelides is saying it is not enough to hate Arnold Schwarzenegger, it is about how much you hate him and how long you have hated him for," says Schnur. "That is not good enough."

    Democratic consultant Sragow, who is unaffiliated with either campaign but counts Westly as a friend, says that one of the biggest difficulties with candidate-as-strategist is simply time management.

    "Only the candidate can go out and give a speech," says Sragow. "Lots of people can be strategists. Only one person can be the candidate."

    Facing Senate rebuke, Desmond gets new gig

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly today

    The day before California Energy Commission chairman Joe Desmond would have been forced to resign his post without Senate confirmation, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger created a new, high-paying position in the state Resources Agency specifically for Desmond.

    On Wednesday, Schwarzenegger appointed Desmond undersecretary of energy affairs for the Resources Agency. It is a brand new job that will allow Desmond to coordinate the governor's energy initiatives and provide counsel to the administration on energy policies, said a Schwarzenegger spokeswoman. "He is an expert," said Schwarzenegger press secretary Margita Thompson. "The governor values his expertise and the state and administration are fortunate to have his expertise on these issues."

    The new job pays $123,255 per year.

    Desmond was first appointed by Schwarzenegger to head the energy commission last May to complete the unexpired term of predecessor William Keese.

    But Desmond ran afoul of Senate Democrats, led by Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, who disagreed with Desmond on several critical energy issues, including electricity-market deregulation, expansion of coal-fired power and new fees on power customers--all of which Desmond has at one time advocated.

    In a January meeting with the governor, Senate Leader Perata made clear that if the governor were to appoint Desmond to a full term as energy-commission chairman, the Senate would not confirm Desmond.

    But Schwarzenegger still reappointed Desmond as chairman on January 27.

    Desmond would have had to be confirmed both by the Senate Rules Committee and the full Senate by May 10. But, under Perata's direction, the Senate never scheduled a confirmation hearing for Desmond, who, before being appointed as undersecretary for the Resources Agency, would have been forced to step down.

    "The administration and governor were hopeful that Mr. Desmond would receive a fair hearing and confirm by the Senate," said Thompson. "He is eminently qualified to serve as chair of the energy commission."

    On Wednesday, Perata sounded pleased to have Desmond gone from the energy commission.

    "That job may prove to be a better fit for Mr. Desmond," said Perata of the undersecretary post. "I look forward to a new appointment to chair the energy commission that is more appropriate in terms of the agency's mission."

    Desmond first joined the Schwarzenegger administration in 2004 as a deputy secretary of energy at the Resources Agency. Prior to working in state government, 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.

    Desmond's new post does not require Senate confirmation

    Wednesday, May 10, 2006

    CTA backs another Republican

    Last month, I reported that the California Teachers' Association, a powerful union lobby that usually backs Democrats, was endorsing Republican incumbent Bruce McPherson in his race for secretary of state.

    Yesterday, an announcement came over the wires that the CTA is backing yet another Republican this year: Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced.

    “Senator Jeff Denham has stood up for education in California and has supported our teachers, students and schools,” said CTA President Barbara E. Kerr. “He has fought for increased education funding and the California Teachers Association is proud to recommend him.”

    Denham's Senate seat was considered by most to be the most vulnerable (registration-wise) to a potential Democratic challenger this year. But no legislative Dems jumped into the race, as Denham has built a formidable war chest, tallying up more than $1.5 million.

    Up and up

    The projected revenue windfall for the state continues to climb by the day. A few days ago the number most commonly bantered about was $4 billion. A few months ago, the Legislative Analyst's Office estimated that the state would take in more than $2 billion than expected. Now, the Chronicle is reporting the real number may be more than $5 billion.

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will propose using $3.2 billion in unexpected revenue that has surged into the state treasury to pay off looming debts and to shore up reserves for next year's budget, administration officials said Thursday.

    The governor's revised budget, due out Friday, benefits from a windfall in tax collections this year that are expected to be more than $5 billion higher than January estimates.

    Tuesday, May 09, 2006

    Haynes for Maldonado

    Conservative Assemblyman Ray Haynes has endorsed Sen. Abel Maldonado in his race for state controller. Maldonado, a moderate Republican who sponsored Gov. Schwarzenegger's minimum wage legislation earlier this year, is running against former Assemblyman Tony Strickland, who is an anti-tax advocate.

    “Abel is a true fiscal conservative having won the ‘Hero of the Taxpayer’ award from Americans for Tax Reform. We need Abel in the Controller’s office because he will find the waste in state government and make it more accountable to the taxpayer. Abel has my full confidence and vote,” stated Assemblyman Haynes.

    It is certainly an interesting endorsement.

    Bonds on the ballot

    The bond package now has proposition numbers for the fall ballot. As the Los Angeles Times reported this morning, the first item on the ballot (which usually has the best chance of passing) is Prop. 1A, the Prop. 42 "fix".

    The second item (Perata's top priority all along) is the $19.9 billion transportation bond. That will be Prop. 1B.

    Interestingly, the third item on the ballot will be the housing bond, which was the most controversial (among Republicans) of the bond measures. That bond passed with the bare majority of needed Republican votes in both the Senate and the Assembly. The $2.8 billion housing bond will be Prop. 1C.

    The $10.4 billion education bond will be Prop. 1D and the flood protection bond will be Prop. 1E.

    Drowning Prevention Month

    The governor has declared May "Downing Prevention Month." For more information click here

    May is also officially Arthritis Awareness Month, Asthma Awareness Month, Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month, Older Americans Month and American Stroke Month--all thanks to Sen. Elaine Alquist, as I reported a couple of months ago.

    A preview?

    There are few who doubt that the recently passed bond package will be central to the governor's re-election campaign. And his public events today, though done stateside, offer a small preview of that.

    A day after zig-zagging across the state in an airplane with the four legislative leaders (and earning press attention in almost every major newspaper), Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is touting his package in the Central Valley today. Specifically, he is going to from Chico to Merced to Bakersfield (three different media markets) to advertise the $1 billion included in the bond package to upgrade Highway 99. It is a sign that Schwarzenegger will likely not only use the bond to show his bipartisan nature, but also to point to specific projects in specific communities that he has brought to fruition.

    And most everyone likes a new road in their neighborhood or an upgrade to their local freeway, relieving traffic and headaches.

    The governor started his day today at 9:15 in Chico, and then moves on to Merced at 11:15 and then down to Bakersfield by 1pm. There is some irony that the governor is touting the potential improvements to Highway 99, but then flying over, not driving on, the freeway.

    After the bond package passed through the Legislature last week, Dan Schnur described it as the governor's re-election bond. It looks like the governor will certainly try to make that happen.

    Monday, May 08, 2006

    He's 80!

    Assemblyman Mervyn M. Dymally, D-Compton, turns 80 this Friday.

    In his years in politics, here is a list of some of Dymally's former staffers:

    Former Assembly Speaker Robert J. Hertzberg, Hon. Willard Murray Sr., *Hon. Bill Greene, Hon. Teresa Hughes, Hon. Art Torres, *Hon. Julian Dixon, Hon. Victor Frazer, former Sacramento Mayor Joe Serma Jr., Lynwood Mayor Letecia Vasquez, Hon. Richard Alatorre, Hon. Robert Farrell, Hon. Patricia Moore, Hon. Lynn Dymally, Hon. Kenneth Orduna, Hon. Mark Dymally, Hon. Albert Robles, Hon. Clarence Wong, and the Hon. Gwen Moore.

    New poll: Angelides up by 10

    You can find the SURVEYUSA poll here.

    Here's a summary of the results:

    According to the poll, conducted roughly a month out from the June 6 primary, Angelides gets 41% of the vote compared to 31% for Westly. The poll results show 17% prefer some other candidate while 11% are undecided.


    The exact question posed and overall results are as follows: If the Democratic Primary were today, and you were standing in the voting booth right now, who would you vote for? Phil Angelides? Steve Westly? Or some other candidate?

    Dems to campaign with Schwarzenegger

    The Chronicle blog reports that the Democratic legislative leaders, who are flying all over the state today with Gov. Schwarzenegger and their Republican legislative counterparts, will continue to campaign for the bond package through the fall.

    "Whatever it takes to get that done, we'll do," Nunez said, asked if Democrats would campaign with Schwarzenegger through the fall. "Absolutely, we'll be campaigning together ... whatever (is) the most effective message to the voters, that's the message we're driving home."

    That certainly sounds like good news for the governor's reelection campaign and not such good news for whomever the Democratic nominee is.

    Arnold, Fabian, Don, Dick and George's Excellent Adventure

    The Big 5 are hitting the road this morning, zig-zagging across the state to tout their bond package. The governor and the legislative leaders will hold media availabilities on the tarmacs of four California airports. They started their day in Oakland (at 9:30) moved on to Burbank (for an 11:30) and then are planning on hitting Santa Ana (12:45) and then San Diego (2pm).

    Local 1000's 3000

    SEIU Local 1000 is plannning a major rally today at the Capitol (they are estimating 3000 people). The rally is set to begin at noon.

    Sunday, May 07, 2006

    A bad title

    I generally try not to harp on one topic over and over. But this one's worth repeating.

    Today, a story in the Oakland Tribune looking at AG candidate Rocky Delgadillo is titled "Delgadillo relishes the underdog role".

    Why not use the name "Rocky" in a story with the word "underdog" in the title?

    Running statewide

    Tim Herdt at the Ventura County Star has a long story on running statewide.

    Still, some choose to run for these down-ticket offices, to take on a lonely campaign, to seek to make themselves known to a vast and largely apathetic electorate. They pack their bags for a humbling journey of frequent rejection that takes them to a numbing repetition of receptions, luncheons, cocktail parties and interviews.

    They travel without entourage to Humboldt, Red Bluff, Bakersfield, Palm Desert — anywhere they can line up even a room full of people willing to lend an ear or write a check. They seek jobs that few voters know exist, and still fewer have a notion what they do: controller, treasurer, secretary of state, superintendent of public instruction, insurance commissioner, attorney general, lieutenant governor.

    These are the minor leagues of California politics, where many prospects toil and from which sometimes a star emerges. These are the offices that can launch the careers of governors and U.S. senators. Pat Brown and George Deukmejian were first attorneys general. Jerry Brown, Pat's son, was secretary of state. Gray Davis was both controller and lieutenant governor. Alan Cranston was controller.

    It is a curious thing, running statewide. I mean, how does an average voter decide between John Chiang and Joe Dunn (the two Democrats running for controller), or Abel Maldonado and Tony Strickland (the two Republicans). Few California voters will know any of the candidates, let alone know them well enough to make a truly informed decision.

    Assemblyman Keith Richman, running for treasurer, is quoted later in the story saying that his campaign polled 15 percent name recognition in the state. Even that seems hard to believe.

    When the Field Poll queried name ID a few months back, almost every candidate (besides the Jerry Browns and Cruz Bustamantes of the world who have run for/been governor) registered somewhere in the "teens". But I am pretty sure a portion of those who "know" the candidates say that because it seems like the right, civically responsible thing to say.

    I mean, imagine taking a survey, being asked about 20 folks--who are running for office statewide--that you have never heard of. Some names, magically, start to sound familiar.

    In any case, Herdt's piece is worth a read.

    Friday, May 05, 2006

    New huge anti-Garamendi IE

    Capitol Weekly's John Howard has the breaking story.

    Foes of Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi are poised to put $2.4 million into an independent expenditure committee that will attack the commissioner's proposed auto insurance rating regulation, Capitol sources said.

    Much of the money will be spent on a direct-mail campaign targeting 1.5 million people in 52 counties. The money will be provided by several major auto insurance companies, including State Farm, Farmers, Allstate, Safeco and 21st Century.

    Garamendi, a candidate for lieutenant governor, faces Sen. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, in the June Democratic primary. Speier heads the Senate Banking, Finance and Insurance Committee, and has been critical of Garamendi on a number of insurance-related issues. The insurers' committee is not connected with Speier's campaign.

    The direct-mail effort will target zip codes in which auto rates would rise under the proposed regulation, urging recipients to contact Garamendi and voice their opposition to the regulation.


    In the wee hours of the morning last night, the California Legislature struck a deal on a bond package.

    The LA Times has the story.

    Here's some details:

    Transportation (SB 1266) -- $19.925 billion;

    Housing (SB 1689) -- $2.850 billion;

    Education (AB 127) -- $10.416 billion; and

    Flood Protection (AB 140) -- $4.09 billion

    There also was AB 142 that appropriates $500 million in general funds for levee repair and SCA 7 which is the so-called Prop. 42 "fix".

    There were two other policy bills, AB 1039 and AB 1467, which change environmental regulations for repairing levees and bridges and allow for more public/private partnerships for goods movement.

    Thursday, May 04, 2006

    Assembly votes to lower community college fees

    The Assembly Budget education subcommittee voted today to lower community college fees in the state from $26 to $20 per-unit.

    The lowering of fees will cost the state approximately $75 million.

    Bond deal nears

    The legislative leaders are gathering today starting at 1pm to continue to hammer out details of a bond deal. There are floor sessions expected later tonight.

    Parental-notification rematch likely for November ballot

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly

    The proponents of last year's failed parental-notification initiative are back, pushing a nearly identical measure for this year's November ballot. Buoyed by $2 million from conservative financier and newspaper owner James Holman, the campaign already has collected 700,000 signatures--100,000 more than is needed--to place a measure on the fall ballot.

    The campaign intends to turn those signatures, and more, in to counties across the state by mid-May, setting up a rematch of last year's abortion debate during the fall's gubernatorial election.

    "We've gathered more than 700,000 signatures and we are planning on qualifying for the November ballot," said campaign spokesman Albin Rhomberg.

    Only days after voters defeated Proposition 73 last fall, backers of the measure, which requires teens to wait 48 hours and notify a parent before obtaining an abortion, gathered and decided to rerun the campaign in 2006. They filed this year's nearly unchanged initiative with the attorney general's office on November 30, only three weeks after the special election.

    "Given its popularity, given the polling, it would have been defeatist not to give a larger, representative sample of California voters the chance to pass this," says Rhomberg.

    But Kathy Kneer, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, says the redundant initiative campaign is a distortion and politicization of the initiative process.

    "This is really playing political games and putting our teens' health and safety at risk," said Kneer, whose organization led the fight against Proposition 73 and will head up opposition to the latest measure. "It's very frustrating because we would rather spend time and money preventing teen pregnancy to begin with."

    But Rhomberg says last year's parental-notification measure did not fail because it was unpopular. Instead, he says, the initiative fell victim to "a skewed electorate" that voted "no on everything." All eight measures in last year's special election lost. But Proposition 73 finished the closest, with 52.6 percent of voters opposing the measure and 47.4 percent of voters supporting it.

    "We won a majority of counties, we won in a majority of Assembly districts and congressional districts," says Rhomberg. "Except for that peculiar turnout we would have won."

    But Kneer derided the theory as a wild scenario. "I don't think they are going to win this second time," she said.

    While the 2006 initiative is essentially the same as last year's, one key provision has been changed. The 2005 measure defined abortion as "the death of the unborn child, a child conceived but not yet born." That definition sparked outrage among abortion-rights activists, who charged that it was an attempt to slip new pro-life language into the state constitution. It also became a theme of last year's campaign to defeat the measure.

    The new version of the initiative defines abortion differently, as "the use of any means to terminate the pregnancy of an unemancipated minor, except for the purpose of producing a live birth." Like last year's measure, there is a clause allowing minors to avoid parental notification by appearing in juvenile court.

    Since last fall's election, Life on the Ballot, the campaign committee raising money for the measure, has taken in more than $2.3 million, the lion's share of which ($2 million) comes in loans from James Holman. Don Sebastiani, who also supported last year's measure, has contributed another $200,000.

    "It is politics of one individual being able to buy and influence the process," says Kneer. "The voters have already spoken and we are having this fight because of one man: James Holman. That's just a sad statement."

    In last year's special election much was made of parental notification being used as a tool to mobilize conservative-Christian voters for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's initiatives. Although the governor did not actively campaign for Proposition 73, he supported the measure, saying, "I wouldn't want to have someone take my daughter to a hospital for an abortion or something and not tell me. I would kill him if they do that."

    The governor's campaign declined to comment on any impact a parental-notification measure would have on his campaign this fall.

    Most Democrats, meanwhile, are simply frustrated that they will have to wage a war they thought was won last year. At last weekend's Democratic convention, a Planned Parenthood table was distributing small green stickers that said, "No, again!"

    "It's a strain," says Kneer.

    California leg roundup: beer, erectile dysfunction and the FPPC

    The following first appeared in Capitol Weekly

    As the weather heats up in Sacramento, so does the legislating. This month dozens of bills are moving from committees to the floor, across the rotunda and back again. This week Capitol Weekly is taking a look at some of the less-noticed measures up for consideration. And we start with everyone's favorites: sex, drugs and alcohol.

    Newly elected Assembly Republican leader George Plescia, R-San Diego, is pushing a measure to take popular erectile-dysfunction (ED) drugs like Viagra off the list of medications covered by state's Medi-Cal laws. The bill, A.B. 2885, would make it so Medi-Cal can only cover those ED drugs subsidized by federal payments. But ED medications are not eligible for federal financial assistance. The bill is sponsored by the Department of Health Services, which estimates savings of $1 million.

    This is the second piece of ED legislation that Plescia has carried in as many years. Last year, he introduced a measure to prevent registered sex offenders from access to ED drugs under the Medi-Cal program.

    Senator Kevin Murray, D-Los Angeles, is carrying alcohol legislation. In February, Murray introduced a measure to allow for beer tasting in the state--with sample servings of up to 12 ounces. The measure is co-sponsored by Anheuser-Busch, which argues that the current lack of free beer tasting "makes it difficult for the beer industry to compete in California."

    But the measure met opposition from within the beer community, including industry heavyweights Coors, Miller and Heineken. At the end of April, Murray stripped his S.B. 1548 of any legal language, leaving it as a simple intent bill, though it remains scheduled for a hearing on May 10. Murray's office says the senator and Anheuser-Busch intend to continue to push the legislation this year.

    Read the

    Wednesday, May 03, 2006

    Former Kennedy aide 'Joins Arnold'

    Susan Kennedy's former chief of staff during her time as a commissioner on the California Public Utilities Commission has reunited with Kennedy--this time on the staff of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Brian Prusnek, 28, of San Francisco, was appointed deputy cabinet secretary for Schwarzenegger today. Before serving as Kennedy's chief of staff he was an energy advisor to Commissioner Kennedy from 2003 to 2005 and a regulatory analyst for the PUC from 2001 to 2003.

    Prusnek is registered decline-to-state and his new gig pays $90,000.

    Also appointed today was Elizabeth Ashford Perry as Schwarzenegger's deputy communications director. Perry, a Democrat, previously worked for the Administrative Office of the Courts, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and as a consultant at the United Nations.

    Microsoft to pay state $70 million

    The AP has the story.

    Microsoft will pay $70 million to thousands of California government agencies in the latest legal settlement spurred by price-gouging allegations against the world's largest computer software maker.

    The proposed truce covers a wide range of taxpayer-backed agencies -- from local school districts to regional transportation systems -- that bought Microsoft products dating back to 1995.

    If the settlement gains court approval later this year, Microsoft will divide the $70 million among the eligible government agencies as they buy computers, printers and software, including brands that compete against Microsoft.

    More states of emergency

    Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency in four additional counties today due to heavy rains and floodwaters. Odd thing's sunny outside. And has been for a least a week (or at least not raining).

    The governor's announcement applies to Lake, Madera, Napa, and Nevada counties.

    Here's the relevant part of his official proclamation:

    I, ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, Governor of the State of California, find that conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property exist within the counties of Lake, Madera, Napa, and Nevada resulting from severe weather conditions, heavy rainfall, and floodwaters commencing on March 29, 2006, and continuing.

    But March 29? That's more than a month ago, which seems odd when citing storms to declare a state of emergency.

    UC's Dynes under fire

    Sens. Abel Maldonado, R–Santa Maria, and Gloria Romero, D-Los Angeles, are holding an event right now where they are expected to call for UC president Robert Dynes to resign.

    Earlier this morning Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced, called on UC Regents Chairman Gerald Parsky to fire Dynes (though Denham's office referred to 'Richard' not 'Robert' Dynes).

    The heat keeps turning up on the UC system.

    Latest on bond deals

    The four legislative leaders gathered this morning in the speaker's office to continue working toward a bond deal. Steve Maviglio, the speaker's deputy chief of staff, says that Speaker Fabian Nunez remains optimistic that the a deal will be reached and legislation will be on the floor on Thursday.

    The four leaders are reconvening this afternoon at 4pm.

    New Angelides ad

    The Phil Angelides for Governor campaign has released a new campaign ad featuring health care workers, teachers, firefighters, police and the Sierra Club all singing his praises.

    Bond deal close

    Greg Lucas in the Chronicle reports that a bond deal is on the horizon.

    Lawmakers may vote this week on a bond package of more than $35 billion to relieve highway congestion, build new schools and shore up the state's deteriorating levees.

    A Senate vote on four public works bonds, which also includes money for emergency preparedness and affordable housing, could come Thursday. If the measures are approved by both houses of the Legislature, voters would have their say on the borrowing program in November.

    Tuesday, May 02, 2006

    Yacht Tax update

    John Myers has a great little item about the $45 million the state has brought in by closing a "yacht tax" loophole.

    LaMalfa joins FlashReport

    Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa has joined the ranks of the contributors to Jon Fleischman's FlashReport today. As Fleischman points out he is the first legislator to join the blog.

    Oh yes, as an added bonus, Doug was elected in 2002 to the California State Assembly, and as such, becomes the first member of the State Legislature to be a regular contributor to the FlashReport. So I am sure that we will also be hearing plenty of his insights on how things work (or don't work) in the State Capitol!

    LaMalfa hasn't posted there just yet.

    UC audit published

    The California state auditor Elaine Howle has released her report on UC compensation issues. Find it here.

    Nunez for Dunn

    Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez has endorsed Sen. Joe Dunn for state controller.

    Monday, May 01, 2006

    Tribes make quarterly payments

    Members of the California Tribal Business Alliance sent in their quarterly payments to the state for $33.7 million.

    CDP endorsements

    Here are the Democratic endorsements for contested primary seats:

    Governor: Phil Angelides
    Secretary Of State: Debra Bowen
    Board Of Eq 4: Judy Chu

    State Assembly
    AD11 Mark de Saulnier
    AD12 Fiona Ma
    AD16 Sandre Swanson
    AD41 Julia Brownley
    AD44 Anthony Portantino
    AD45 Kevin DeLeon
    AD48 Anthony Willoughby
    AD49 Mike Eng
    AD56 Tony Mendoza
    AD57 Ed Hernandez
    AD61 Nell Soto

    State Senate
    SD20 Cindy Montanez
    SD26 Mark Ridley-Thomas
    SD28 Jenny Oropeza
    SD30 Rudy Bermudez
    SD32 Gloria Negrete-McLeod

    Bee endorses Delgadillo

    The Sac Bee today endorsed AG candidate Rocky Delgadillo.

    "It's a close call, but Delgadillo is the better choice," reads the editorial.

    Over the weekend, the Delgadillo campaign stopped Brown from winning the Democratic party endorsement, which, combined with the Bee editorial, a campaign missive calls "the second blow to Brown in as many days." Still, Delgadillo is trailing Brown by substantial margins in publicly released polls.

    Bugging out

    The Bee's Buzz column today has an fun item about Westly, a poster, and a labor meeting over the weekend.

    Steve Westly's Democratic gubernatorial campaign ran into trouble with the labor caucus at the state Democratic convention this weekend when one of his campaign volunteers held up an enlarged copy of his "positive campaign pledge."
    The problem? The sign lacked the "bug" symbol that denotes when an item is made by union workers.

    "Anything that doesn't bear a union label, we don't allow in our caucus," said Jim Gordon, chairman of the labor caucus. "It's scab material. ... The material is what was offensive, not the candidate."

    Westly spokesman Nick Velasquez said the campaign produced the sign in-house and thus didn't add a "bug."

    "I doubt that a single blown-up pledge that was produced by us and not sent out to a professional printer is reflective of his position on working families," Velasquez said. "It's a little silly."

    GOP to denounce Dem walkout

    A gathering of Republican senators and assemblymembers will gather outside the Senate chambers later this morning to denounce the May 1 boycott by Democratic legislators.

    "California Has Too Many Problems to Shut Down Legislature," reads the release.

    It continues:

    Senate and Assembly Republicans today will denounce legislative Democrats for shutting down the California Legislature in support of the illegal immigration boycotts throughout the state. Republicans will be at the Capitol ready to work on the state’s most pressing issues, like the multibillion-dollar budget deficit, crumbling roads and failing levees.