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THE NOONER for September 13, 2011

[jump to the headlines]

Sorry about the lack of paragraph breaks for Yahoo e-mail users.  I may not fix it until after my vacation.  Meanwhile, read today's Nooner here.

DISTRICT UPDATES

  • CD35 - Moved Joe Baca from CD31 to CD35

$$$: Mimi Walters is in for another $25,000 for the Redistricting Referenda, making her the most generous member of the Senate's GOP caucus.

CUE LELAND (YEE, ALTHOUGH PERHAPS STANFORD TOO): Under plan, UC tuition could rise by 16% a year

And, in case you thought Vargas v. Ducheny was going to be a friendly squash match, you are wrong.

BACA'S CHOICE: In the ultimate Cee Lo to Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod, Congressman Joe Baca announced yesterday that he is running for CD35 rather than CD31, apparently leaving the latter available for Republicans Jerry Lewis or David Dreier. What this means to Baca Jr. and Jeremy Baca may require us to wait and see...as well as whether or not McLeod and Assemblymember Norma Torres stay in the race.

BUTLER'S CHOICE: Assemblymember Betsy Butler made it clear that she won't cave to pressure from local activists to stay in AD66 and will indeed run for AD50, setting up an ugly top-two primary with fellow Democrats Richard Bloom and Torie Osborn.

BALLOT BUMPING AND POST-DURKEE DEMOCRACY
For those of us that have been around the capitol for more than a fleeting moment, there are few things left to surprise. Under Democrat and Republican rule, we know about the gut and amends, rule waivers and other late night shenanigans.  My favorite non-germane amendment was switching SB 292 (Padilla) from a community college transfer bill to a bill to facilitate the transfer of the San Diego Chargers to Los Angeles.

As much as we complain about them, the place would be boring if it always played by the rules. However, the vote on SB 202 (Hancock) has left a bitter taste in the mouths of a lot of legislators and staff on both sides of the aisle.

SB 202 moves all but two ballot measures from the June primary election to the November general election, and permanently classifies primary elections as something other than a statewide election. (Term limits changes and cigarette taxes get to stay). Republicans, and Assembly Democrat Mike Gatto, were particularly irate that SB 202 kicked ACA 4, a "rainy day fund" measure from June 2012 to November 2014.  This measure was part of the 2009-10 budget deal. 

The public policy rationale is that more people vote in general elections, and the broadest electorate should be who decides such things as whether chickens should be able to flap their wings before we eat them (for the record, I voted to let them flap their wings).

What was this really about?  Well, as usual, it's all about the Benjamins. 

Labor wants to play offense and defense on ballot measures (initiatives and, perhaps, redistricting referenda) next year, and there will also be about a bunch of legislative races to influence, in both the primary and general. Oh, and there's that presidential thing.

To save money, labor wants to buy in bulk, and do so in November. It will be a lot cheaper waging war on "bad" ballot measures and promoting "good" measures if it can do it only in November. From slate cards to phone banks, it's a lot cheaper to only do it once. People may criticize labor's strategy over the last few years, but this was brilliant.

Now, the only problem is that there were a lot of Democrats that weren't crazy about the idea. Until Kinde Durkee.

The September 2 arrest of campaign treasurer Durkee on mail fraud shocked Democratic campaign circles. She was a trusted advisor and professional for many years for nearly 200 Democratic committees, ranging from the Young Democrats to Dianne Feinstein. That's a damn good pedigree.

Here are the losses we know about based on news reports and the complaint:

  • Los Angeles County Democratic Party: $200,000
  • Congresswoman Susan Davis: $250,000
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein: "wiped out" -- had $5 million on hand June 30.
  • Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez: $379,000
  • Assemblymember Jose Solorio: $677,000

And, the list is likely to grow, as sorting this out, particularly when Durkee can't help folks find the money will take some time.

Some of this money still may be somewhere. The fraud alleged in the complaint was that Durkee set up duplicate bank accounts at different banks.  According to the complaint, Jose Solorio had two different accounts at two different banks, one official and, uh, for Durkee. Therefore, there could still be undiscovered accounts with money still in them, or, worse, there could be more fraud.

But, even if some of the money is discovered, it may not be freed up for a couple of years as a trial sorts everything out and a "fair" redistribution is approved by the court. This is a mini-Madoff, and three years after Bernie's arrest, they are still sorting out the money. Thus, it is foreseeable that millions of dollars of Democratic campaign cash that was available a month ago will not be available in 2012. 

And, that's where SB 202 comes in. While many Democrats were not happy to cast a vote for SB 202, they had no choice. Labor needs time to charge up its depleted bank accounts and prepare for major ballot measures next November, including possibly taxes, union dues limits, pensions, redistricting and more. Labor additionally can argue that its public employee ranks have been reduced because of state budget cuts, and it thus needs more time to raise more money. This is the mother's milk of Democratic campaigns, and that was a very persuasive argument.

Labor wanted SB 202 before the Durkee scandal, but it wasn't clear the votes were there. After the scandal broke, however, SB 202 had a strong gust of wind behind its sails, even if a lot of folks still aren't sure they really wanted to be in that boat.

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On to the hottest headines on atc...

California's Health Care Politics Are Convoluted - Dan Walters @ sacbee.com
Health care - who gets what services from whom and who pays for them - lives at the junction of heavy-duty politics, big-time money and human emotion.

Jerry Brown Rallies Unions In Las Vegas, Slams Gop - latimesblogs.latimes.com
Fresh off a legislative session in which Republicans killed his tax plan, Gov. Jerry Brown went into campaign mode Monday, attacking the GOP in a barn-burning speech before thousands of union delegates at a labor convention in Las Vegas. Brown...

California State Senator Takes Swipe At Former Lawmakers - Kevin Yamamura @ blogs.sacbee.com
In a swipe at a potential rival for the 51st congressional district, Sen. Juan Vargas issued an oddly-timed press release Monday demanding that "termed out, drunk-driving legislators" step down from the California Unemployment Appeals Board.

Los Angeles Auto Insurance Executive Puts $8 Million Into Initiative Campaign - latimesblogs.latimes.com
Opponents, led by Consumer Watchdog, a Santa Monica activist group whose founder, Harvey Rosenfeld wrote Proposition 103, contend that Joseph's proposed initiative unfairly would rewrite the 1988 initiative to allow insurers to discriminate against drivers who are buying insurance after failing to have coverage during the previous five years.

Legislature Drops Surcharge For Energy Research - JUDY LIN @ pe.com
Lawmakers failed to renew a statewide utility surcharge before the end of their session, dealing a blow to Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to promote alternative energy and keep California at the forefront of the industry.

Mercury Chairman Pumps $8 Million Into Insurance Initiative Drive - Torey Van Oot @ blogs.sacbee.com
A top insurance industry executive has put more than $8 million into an effort to qualify an initiative affecting auto coverage rates for the 2012 ballot.

Ducheny to resign post with congressional run in the offing - signonsandiego.com
Former Democratic Sen. Denise Ducheny said she plans to resign her post on the California Unemployment Appeals Board on Tuesday, further signaling a run in the congressional district being vacated by Rep. Bob Filner.

Durkee May Be 'Bernie Madoff Of Campaign Treasurers,' Rep. Davis Says - latimesblogs.latimes.com
Kinde Durkee: U.S. representative calls Durkee the "Bernie Madoff of campaign treasurers."

Obama Proposes Tax Hikes On Wealthy To Pay For $447b Jobs Bill - Ian Swanson @ thehill.com
The White House said Monday that President Obama wants to pay for his $447 billion jobs bill by raising taxes on the wealthy and businesses.

Jerry Brown calls for 'war on unemployment' - David Siders @ blogs.sacbee.com
Gov. Jerry Brown said this morning that the powerful California Public Utilities Commission, which is controlled by Brown appointees, could reclaim some of what Brown lost when the Legislature last week sunk his bid to reauthorize an energy surcharge known as the public goods charge.

Under Plan, UC Tuition Could Rise By 16% A Year - Nanette Asimov @ sfgate.com
The University of California would raise student tuition by at least 8 percent - or as much as 16 percent - every year through 2016 under a plan that UC leaders will propose to the regents Thursday in San Francisco.

Another Durkee Client Reports Missing Funds - Brian Joseph and Tony Saavedra @ totalbuzz.ocregister.com
U.S. Rep. Susan Davis is the latest Kinde Durkee client to report missing money from her campaign account. Meanwhile, a political consultant for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein said the senator is still sorting out how much she may have lost.

California: The Atm Of Presidential Politics - Uncategorized @ nbclosangeles.com
The reality is that California will never be irrelevant in the Presidential nominating process—not as long as it maintains its status as the ATM of American politics.

Ross Douthat: President is askingfor a do-over with his new jobs package - sacbee.com
A week after President Barack Obama took the oath of office, Alice Rivlin, budget chief to President Bill Clinton, testified before a Congress that was about to consider sweeping stimulus legislation. In her remarks, Rivlin voiced her support for a swift and substantial federal intervention to prop up the sagging economy. But she offered lawmakers three warnings as well.

For Perry, Being Governor Has Perks - Kenneth P. Vogel @ politico.com
Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s humble origins and down home straight talk are central to his political identity, but for years Perry has enjoyed lavish perks and travel — mostly funded by a group of deep-pocketed supporters — that are allowed under his state’s lax ethics and campaign rules.

CalPERS To Invest $800 Million In California Public Works - sacbee.com
CalPERS today moved to create an $800 million fund to invest in California infrastructure - highways, bridges, ports, power-transmission lines and more.

Obama's Jobs Bill Offers $4 Billion For High-speed Rail - blogs.sacbee.com
The Obama administration on Monday rolled out its specific American Jobs Act, a 155-page wish list that includes $4 billion for high-speed rail. The proposed legislation states that at least 85 percent of the funds "shall be for cooperative agreements that lead to the development of entire segments or phases of intercity or high-speed rail corridors."

Davis and Feinstein accuse campaign treasurer - signonsandiego.com
Accusations against the campaign treasurer charged with embezzling $677,000 from an Orange County assemblyman are proliferating, with Rep. Susan Davis and Sen. Dianne Feinstein each saying they are out hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Obama Offers Jobs Bill, And The G.o.p. Balks - nytimes.com
WASHINGTON—President Obama sent his jobs bill to Congress on Monday, urging lawmakers to put aside “political games” and pass the $447 billion plan meant to increase hiring as the government struggles to curtail persistent high unemployment.

N.C. House OKs Same-Sex marriage ban - Mackenzie Weinger @ politico.com
It approves legislation to put a constitutional ban before voters in a statewide referendum.

Legislature drops surcharge for energy research - JUDY LIN, Associated Press @ signonsandiego.com
Lawmakers failed to renew a statewide utility surcharge before the end of their session, dealing a blow to Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to promote alternative energy.

Garcetti Gets Ready For Fundraising Fray - La Daily News - World @ dailynews.com
City Council President Eric Garcetti said his long-expected announcement last week that he will run for mayor in 2013 wound up being the best day -- and the worst -- of his political career.

Obama On Jobs Plan: 'no Games, No Politics, No Delays' - National @ mercurynews.com
President Barack Obama bluntly challenged Congress on Monday to act immediately on his new jobs plan