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THE NOONER for July 5, 2011

Happy return-to-work day or, if you're like me, happy lets-stretch-this-baby-one-more-day day.  So, just a couple of notes on the news of the day, and then back to my few remaining hours in Vegas.  

It's been a great weekend, but it would have been a better weekend if I had one of those stem cell institute salaries. To find out who else is doing quite well amidst the miserable economy, check out John Chiang's updated database of 256,222 state government and 123,406 CSU employees.  Of course, if you want names, you better check the SacBee's database.

Dan Walters believes that the death penalty is too expensive and too rarely carried out to justify, and endorses Loni Hancock's SB 490.

The Bee's Laurel Rosenhall writes that Facebook wants to convert the reach of its social network into political clout in Sacramento, while the Latino Legislative Caucus would just as happily fly under the radar, pens Jim Sanders.

Speaking of political clout, CW's John Howard draws the connection between a $71 million budget veto to the Division of Law Enforcement at the AG's office, and the refusal of its union to support the governor's election.

Meanwhile, Fred Keeley, former Assemblymember and now Santa Cruz Treasurer, writes on CalBuzz that the on-time budget and redistricting process demonstrate that reform is alive and well in California.

That's enough...few rolls of the dice left before flying home...

Group That Opposed Brown During Campaign Takes Big Budget Hit - John Howard @ capitolweekly.net
The budget drafted by Gov. Brown and his fellow Democrats includes a two-year, $71 million hit to the Division of Law Enforcement in the state attorney general’s office, a move that would eliminate hundreds of law enforcement personnel, including some 300 members of the California State Law Enforcement Association, a state workers’ union.

Dan Walters: California's death penalty punishes taxpayers, not killers - Dan Walters @ sacbee.com
"Today we're not tough on crime," Hancock continued, "we're tough on the taxpayer. Every time we spend money on failed policies like the death penalty, we drain money from having more police officers on the street, more job training, more education, more of the things that would truly make for safer communities." She's absolutely correct.

Public Employee Unions Push Bargaining Bills - Ed Mendel @ calpensions.com
Bills strengthening the hand of public employee unions in bargaining for pay, pensions and working conditions are moving through the Legislature, usually on party-line votes with Democrats in support and Republicans opposed.

Teachers Union Throws Kids Under The Bus - KATY GRIMES @ calwatchdog.com
In an 11th hour budget move, Democrat lawmakers slipped a bill through the Assembly and Senate on behalf of the California Teachers Association. It protects teacher jobs over the educational rights of California’s children.

OC Lawmaker Takes Thousands From Plumber Unions, Authors Bill To Help Plumber Group - taxdollars.ocregister.com
It may be just a coincidence, but Orange County Assemblyman Jose Solorio has introduced legislation that could benefit an association dominated by the same unions who have given him tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions over the years.

National Education Association Gives President Obama An Early Endorsement - latimes.com
The National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union, voted Monday to support President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election bid, despite tension between the president's reform agenda and rank-and-file educators.

Battle Over California's Three Strikes Law Reflected In Faces Of Now-Freed Prisoners For Life - Tracey Kaplan @ contracostatimes.com
The law was passed by both the Legislature and voters in 1994 after several high-profile murders committed by ex-felons sparked public outrage.

Facebook Works To Make Friends At California's Capitol - Laurel Rosenhall @ sacbee.com
Facebook has emerged as a political player in the state Capitol – and not just because lawmakers are using the site to make "friends."

Arizona Conservatives Scramble After Campaign Finance Law's Defeat - Nicholas Riccardi @ latimes.com
Conservative political neophytes have steadily taken over Arizona politics since voters passed the Clean Elections Act in 1997. With part of the law struck down by the Supreme Court, conservatives are scrambling to come up with new ways to finance challengers to more centrist Republicans.

Editorial: Senate Must Step Up For Health Rate Review - sacbee.com
California's health insurance companies continue to squawk about a bill that would require them to justify rate increases – and give state officials authority to deny unreasonable increases.

Russian Lawyer Was Tortured Before Dying In Prison, Review Finds - Sergei L. Loiko @ latimes.com
The death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in Moscow's Sailor's Silence prison was described Tuesday in a report by the Presidential Human Rights Council, which called for an investigation into possible corruption on the part of officials involved in the imprisonment of Magnitsky on tax evasion charges.

Ending CSU Campus Audits Will Decrease Transparency, Critics Say - Erica Perez @ californiawatch.org
A budget trailer bill that gets rid of individual financial audits at the 23 campuses of the California State University system has some observers concerned about losing a layer of financial scrutiny.

Veil drawn on donors to Latino caucus-controlled California nonprofit - Jim Sanders @ sacbee.com
Special interest groups are donating money to causes supported by California's Latino legislators – potentially buying influence – without any public disclosure.

Slow Track For Finance Reform - toped.svefoundation.org
In reorganizing many funding streams and categories into three, AB 18 would vastly simplify the current system. But equity is in the mind of the beholder. In promising to hold all districts harmless, AB 18 would initially lock in disparities in legacy funding and idiosyncratic differences in special-purpose funds known as categorical programs. Some districts, for example, get much more adult education funding than others. Los Angeles Unified gets a disproportionately large allocation of Economic Impact Aid for minority children.

New Breed Of 'Super PACs', Other Independent Groups Could Define 2012 Campaign - washingtonpost.com
One commercial accuses the president of worsening the deficit and says, “It’s time to take away Obama’s blank check.” Another attacks Republican tax and Medicare policies, saying, “We can’t rebuild America if they tear down the middle class.”

Stem Cell Agency's Top Salaries Stand Out On State Roster - Jack Dolan @ latimes.com
The 50-person grant-making body will pay a Los Angeles investment banker $400,000 to serve as its new part-time board chairman, pushing the combined salaries of its two top officials to nearly $1 million per year.

Dem Leaders Announce Support For Extended Payroll-tax Holiday - Meghashyam Mali @ thehill.com
Despite warnings it will undermine Social Security, House Democratic leaders are lining up behind a White House proposal to extend a payroll-tax cut beyond this year.

Medicare And Medicaid Could Lose Billions In Budget Talks - Robert Pear @ mercurynews.com
Obama willing to make cuts if Republicans accept tax increases

Viewpoints: Nothing In The Constitution Stops Lawmakers From Fixing Corrupt City - Michael G. Colantuono @ sacbee.com
Kathleen Sullivan's June 21 opinion on this page – "Law aimed at Vernon is likely unconstitutional" – mistakenly claims the Legislature lacks power to disincorporate the failed Southern California city of Vernon.

Keeley: Spirit Of '76 Alive In The Reform Movement - Fred Keeley @ calbuzz.com
The moment we have agreed upon to celebrate as the beginning of our democracy and independence, is a moment to pause and reflect on the California version. A democracy that was born in the middle of the 19th Century, reformed itself in the early 20th Century, made great strides in education, higher education, transportation, water supply, and economic development in the mid-20th Century, and sadly declined in the late 20th Century, now is being refreshed by the kind of Spirit of ’76 that we celebrate on the 4th of July and the Progressive Reform era of the early 1900s.

Medical Marijuana Lobbyist's Fundraiser For DA Raises Legal, Ethical Questions - Matt Drange @ californiawatch.org
Wearing a black cocktail dress and maroon high heels, Jessica Ryan balanced a check-filled leatherbound guestbook in one hand and a mojito in the other. A secretary for one of the top medical marijuana lobbyists in Sacramento, Ryan flashed a smile as she greeted each of the roughly three dozen people who gathered in a private penthouse loft in Midtown Sacramento on Wednesday evening. Some came dressed in suits; others wore jeans and short-sleeve checkered shirts. But all were there for the same thing – to donate money to Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos and celebrate medical marijuana and “its exciting future in California.”

Ex San Francisco Public Defender / CPUC Commissioner Geoffrey Brown Denies Wrongdoing; Threatens Legal Action Against Complainant in Connection with Sham Charity CaliforniaALL - lesliebrodie.posterous.com
Brown, according to confidential sources familiar with the situation, categorically denies any wrongdoing on his part.In reaction to complainant's request for an inquiry to the State Bar of California Board of Governors (See http://tinyurl.com/californiaallbog ) Brown immediately sent the complainant a cease

School Officials Violated Law In Failure To Stop Gay Student's Bullies - californiawatch.org
The Tehachapi Unified School District violated civil rights law by failing to stop the persistent bullying of Seth Walsh, a 13-year-old gay middle school student who committed suicide, federal investigators have concluded.

Deukmejian Says Successors, Legislators Failed On Budget - blogs.sacbee.com
Now 83 and still living in the same modest Long Beach home that he and wife Gloria bought more than a half-century ago, Republican Deukmejian is the subject of a lengthy