,, Around The Capitol
Around The Capitol
Around The Capitol

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THE NOONER for October 19, 2011

jump to the headlines


  • CD01 - added Pete Stiglich (R)
  • CD35 - removed Norma Torres (D)

Doing Legislator of the Year awards is a challenge in any year, and this year's contentious, highly polarized, legislative environment makes it more difficult. How do you define effective or "best"? In the good ole days, California Journal did a comprehensive survey that looked at the Legislature from multiple angles, such as effectiveness, intelligence, and ethics. Those at the top of the list celebrated while those at the bottom cried. 

There was no specific criteria, and the rationale behind the choices varied--passing legislation, stopping legislation, being a collaborative leader or being a firebrand. They are not necessarily my choices, and I didn't vote. I turned to a trusted group of media folks and political advisors wearing both Dem and Rep political stripes. Their job was to break any ties, which in the end didn't occur.

110 of the 120 legislators had at least one nomination and, no, I won't tell you the ten that didn't. On to the winners...

Senate Democrat

WINNER: Darrell Steinberg

  • "Successful at herding cats."
  • "Even if I don't agree with all of his policies, honesty, integrity and tenacity are underrated in this town. Plus, if you love someone with Autism, he's the closest thing to Superman."
  • "The courage to pursue tough policy."

Other compelling nominations:

  • Fran Pavley: "Forget St. Francis of Assisi. The patron saint of the environment in California is Fran Pavley."
  • Noreen Evans: "For bucking the "Old Boys Club" and exposing misogyny with the hit of a send button."
  • Joseph Simitian: "Consistently stands up for progressive causes and individual rights, and is effective when he does."
  • Leland Yee: "There is no doubt what he believes in and he walks his talk (even if you disagree)."
  • Kevin De Leon: "For the simple fact that he killed the Speaker's Vernon Bill. Name the last loser in the Speaker's race that was able to exact political vengeance by killing a Speaker's pet bill. More than a little bit of help from Portantino but he gets my vote anyway."

Senate Republican

WINNER: Anthony Cannella 

  • "Jumped right into the fire of budget negotiations as a freshman."
  • "Newbie stayed relevant all year."
  • "Seems to take a fair approach to many issues."

Other compelling nominations:

  • Bill Emmerson: "Helped to drive Amazon to make a deal that avoided referendum and achieved competitive fairness among retailers."
  • Bob Huff: "Got SB 161 to Gov and signed. Opposed by all employee unions as must kill. Nineteen thousand K-12 students are now protected from possible brain damage or possibly death as a result."
  • Sam Blakeslee: "Both well qualified by experience and education and has demonstrated a willingness to work with Democrats for common purpose."
  • Doug LaMalfa: "Who can resist a Senator who rocks the American flag tie and the cowboy hat?"
  • Bob Dutton: "Survived as leader. No new taxes. He likes Sutter Brown."

Assembly Democrat

WINNER: Anthony Portantino

  • "He fought the man and won."
  • "For calling a spade a spade when combatting overly zealous party discipline, and calling for greater transparency in Assembly budget matters."
  • "Independent."

Other compelling nominations:

  • John Perez: "Managed to get all incumbents into districts without fellow caucus members."
  • Gil Cedillo: "Passage of the DREAM Act (after working on it for 10 years) and the Governor signing it + signatures on the Towing Bill."
  • Betsy Butler: "Banning BPA has been an environmental goal for more than half a decade and as a freshman legislator she succeeded in doing just that! I'm glad she got BPA banned."
  • Bob Blumenfield: "He's smart, has integrity and works hard."
  • Fiona Ma: "If I don't vote for her I sleep on the couch."

Sure hope that last one was from Jason...

Assembly Republican

WINNER: Nathan Fletcher

  • "Way too many bills to be signed for a Republican."
  • "A new Republican that shows both style and substance. Our Gavin Newsom (plus substance)."
  • "First a stint as mayor of SD and then Governor with appeal across party lines. He's the most interesting member in either house."

Other compelling nominations:

  • Connie Conway: "Most thankless job in the Assembly."
  • Chris Norby: "I disagree with this SOB, but I respect that he always has a reasoned argument."
  • Tim Donnelly: "This is a man who made me stand up and cheer, as none other has since Tom McClintock served in our state Capitol." (plus 500 more words)
  • Brian Nestande: "He provides a good balance in the Caucus by understanding both the policy and political implications of issues."

I got a bit of flack for my comments on ranked-choice voting yesterday, particularly my insinuation that losers can win under the system. I was intending to mock the complicated nature of the system, not the value of it. Actually, I'm one of the few Californians that have voted for a ranked-choice voting system in Davis, although its implementation was blocked by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

On to the headlines...

Referendum On California Initiatives May Spark Political Chess Game
Dan Walters @
The current secretary of state, Democrat Debra Bowen, could overrule recent practice and declare that both the paycheck protection measure and the SB 202 referendum could not go to voters until November 2012. Bowen would certainly be under great pressure from her party and the unions to do that. Even were SB 202 to be overturned by voters, she could simply continue the practice of placing initiatives on the general election ballot, as the constitution says. She might face a legal challenge, but she would have the plain wording of the constitution on her side.

Conservative Activists Propose Initiative On Illegal Immigration
Kevin Yamamura @
Conservative activists have submitted an initiative proposal targeting illegal immigration by imposing limits on financial aid and Medi-Cal benefits while requiring California law enforcement to work with federal immigration officials.

Abel Maldonado's Short-term Loans To Campaign Raise Questions
Michael Doyle @
Former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado looks like he is playing yo-yo with his own money while he pumps up a campaign war chest intended for a high-profile House race in the redrawn 24th District.

Fallout Continues In Kristin Olsen Robocall Attack On Leland Yee
Jim Sanders @
Fallout continues from a Central Valley assemblywoman's robocalls to San Francisco Republican voters asking them not to elect Democratic Sen. Leland Yee as their next mayor in November.

NRCC Ad Ties Rep. John Garamendi To Obama, Solyndra
Kyle Trygstad @
The National Republican Congressional Committee is sending an early signal that it intends to compete in California in 2012.

Cain, Romney take heat in GOP debate
Republican presidential candidates brawled Tuesday over Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan and Mitt Romney's record on illegal immigration and health care as rivals hammered the two top-tier contenders in the liveliest GOP clash of the 2012 campaign.

Santa Clara County school board considers redistricting proposals
For the first time in nearly 20 years, an electoral redistricting plan may change the areas represented by members of the Santa Clara County Board of Education.

City Beat: Occupy Sacramento And City Hall At Odds As Protesters Stay Put
Ryan Lillis @
Setting up a potential showdown between a small group of protesters and city officials, Mayor Kevin Johnson said today the city should continue to uphold its anti-camping ordinance and clear the Occupy Sacramento group from downtown's Cesar Chavez Park at night.

Mitt Romney bashed on healthcare, immigration at Vegas debate
Paul West @
The 2012 Republican debates turned raucous, and highly personal, Tuesday night as front-running Mitt Romney got dragged into the fray over his Massachusetts healthcare plan and onetime hiring of illegal immigrants.

Pipeline Safety Bill Passes And Gets Another Push
A pipeline safety bill inspired in part by last year's explosion of an underground line in San Bruno gets another push today, hot on the heels of Senate approval. Politically, this apparent horse-after-cart timing deserves a look.

Calif. lawmakers question green tax break program
JUDY LIN, Associated Press @
California lawmakers are scrutinizing a tax break program intended to help alternative energy companies following the Solyndra bankruptcy filing.

Fallout continues in California Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen robocall attack on state Sen. Leland Yee
Jim Sanders @
Fallout continues from a Central Valley assemblywoman's robocalls to San Francisco Republican voters asking them not to elect Democratic Sen. Leland Yee as their next mayor in November.

The money primary: Where do the candidates stand?
Kim Geiger @
Last week marked the final time that presidential candidates will publicly disclose their fundraising and campaign spending before the first nominating contests of the 2012 election.

401k initiative collects most signatures ever
Supporters of the proposed "Comprehensive Pension Reform" initiative, including San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, boasted that the 145,027 signatures submitted to qualify it for the June ballot were the most in city history for any measure.

9 Arrested In 'occupy Sacramento' Protest
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento police say nine protesters associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement were arrested at a downtown city park.

Wave Of State Actions Could Hike Water Rates | Signonsandiego.com
Breaking San Diego news from The San Diego Union-Tribune: Classifieds, entertainment, sports, hotels and visitor information

Bachmann Returns To Bay Area A Diminished Candidate
Josh Richman @
Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann returns to the Bay Area on Thursday just a little more than month since her last visit to the region, but much has changed for her in that time.

Vegas debate: Romney faces withering attacks over healthcare
Michael A. Memoli @
plan, they turned their attention to the man long considered the tentative GOP front-runner -- Mitt Romney -- and his biggest liability -- healthcare reform.