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THE NOONER for October 31, 2011

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DISTRICT UPDATES

  • SD10 - updated analysis
  • AD04 - updated analysis
  • AD06 - added retired business executive Reg Bronner (D)
  • AD09 - updated analysis

On Friday afternoon, Matier and Ross revealed that termed-out Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi was arrested and charged with felony grand theft for leaving Nieman Marcus with $2,445 work of clothing for which she hadn't gone to the register. The Capitol community was abuzz, quickly spreading the details, including that one of the items was "leather pants."

Now, professors Feeney and Poulos at UC Davis's King Hall would be upset if I didn't say that I presume she is innocent, so let's get that out of the way. If she stands behind her not guilty plea, a jury will be able to consider the veracity of her justification that she sat down for a snack in the store's cafe, got distracted by texting, and thus forgot to check out with a friendly clerk on another floor. 

Perhaps prosecutors can use this tweet from The Economist: "It is now possible to scan someone’s brain and get a reasonable idea of what is going through his mind econ.st/tRfCw4"

This is The Nooner and it's political season, so let's move on to the political ramifications.

Mary Hayashi was planning to run for SD10 in 2014, and with $191,000 in the bank, was considered to be the favorite. Regardless of what pans out of the shoplifting case, she can no longer be seen as such, particularly since she has quite a few accumulated enemies. Even if doubts are cast that she shoplifted, spending that kind of dough at Nieman Marcus in this economy is not the best for a Democrat catering to working class voters in the East Bay. This story will not die quickly. The most likely beneficiary for the Senate seat is former Assemblymember Alberto Torrico.

Now, what happens if Hayashi resigns from office?

If she resigns before November 18, there will be a special election sometime before the June election. The governor would have 14 days to issue a proclamation, which if within 180 days of an election, can be consolidated. If she resigned before that, which I see as very unlikely if she resigns at all, the governor would have 14 days to issue a proclamation and would have a window of 112-126 days out in which to set the election. A primary would automatically be held eight weeks before the election date called in the proclamation.  If she resigns at all, it is very likely that it would lead to a special election in June and a March primary. Unlike "regular" elections, in a special, if a candidate gets 50% of the vote in the primary, they win it outright. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters go to the general, regardless of party.

Why is this particularly interesting?

Well, the election would be held for the current AD18, which overlaps with three new districts--AD16, AD20 and AD25. AD16 and AD25 both have incumbents running, Joan Buchanan and Bob Wieckowski respectively. AD16, however, is an interesting race among three declared candidates--Union City councilmember Mark Green (N), optometrist Jennifer Ong (D) and Hayward councilmember Bill Quirk (D).

Any of the three candidates for AD20 would have a huge advantage come November if they were able to win the special and gain the title "Assemblymember," not to mention a nice fundraising advantage. However, they would have to win a special in the old AD18, meaning that their June campaign would spread not just from the East Bay cities of the new AD20 of Hayward, Union City and Fremont, but also into the Tri-Valley of Dublin/Pleasanton and all the way down to Santa Clara. This would be very expensive and laborious, but the payoff would be huge. It's even theoretically possible that a candidate could win the special election for the old AD18 and not be among the top two moving on to the general for the new AD20. Or, if we got into this situation, would a candidate with significant personal funds jump in the race with a singular focus of winning the special in the old AD18 and using that momentum to win the new AD20?

All of this is hypothetical, as there are no signs that Hayashi will resign. However, Democrats may put the pressure on her if the story continues. With national attention now focused on a public square fifteen miles north of Hayashi's district over the jobs and the economy, Democrats don't want "shoplifting" or "Neiman Marcus" in the news cycle.

And, for those wondering, conviction of a felony does not expel a member from office, although membership on committees, compensation and expenses are automatically suspended. Regardless of conviction, Article IV, Section 5 of the state constitution provides that the Assembly determines the qualifications of its members, and may remove a member by a two-thirds vote for whatever reason.

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The most fortunate person of the Hayashi story, however, may not be Torrico, but rather Ana Matasantos. Matasantos, the Director of the Department of Finance, was arrested last Thursday night and booked for driving under the influence. She called the governor, admitted a lapse of judgement and offered to resign. According to the governor's spokesman, the governor did not accept her resignation.

Which brings up the old adage "Be good to people on the way up, because you'll need them on the way down." Mark Martin, Carla Marinucci and Greg Lucas used it in their Chronicle story wrapping the resignation of Kevin Shelley and drawing a parallel to Gray Davis. Matasantos is personally liked, was trusted by Governor Schwarzenegger and Governor Brown alike, and is seen as an honest broker across the aisle. Contrast that with Hayashi, who is on at least her third chief of staff in her five years in the Assembly, and has plenty of other detractors.

My question is, why doesn't Matasantos get a car and driver? After all, if 120 legislators can drunk dial the sergeants for a ride, shouldn't the state's leading budgeteer have the same privilege? After all, is there any job in Sacramento that justifies one too many than Director of Finance?

MESSAGE FROM THE DEAN: The governor's pension plan "won't go anywhere, however, unless Brown uses his brawn to shove it through the Legislature. And there wasn't much indication during the plan's unveiling that he would." [George Skelton @ LA Times]

ICYMI SUNDAY BLOGGING: John Myers's Reporter's Notebook: pension politics, GOP candidate recruiting, and DiFi's free shot

AURAL STIMULATION: John Myers, David Siders and Anthony York and the governor's 12-step pension plan on Friday's Capital Notes Podcast (really, you should just subscribe to it in iTunes)

RANDY PERRY: AURAL STIMULATOR: Passion, politics link lobbyist couples [Laurel Rosenhall @ Sac Bee]

THE MISSING 33%: Middle income student attendance declines at UC [Samantha Schaefer @ OC Register]

THE LIBERAL GUILT MEME: Are we in the 1% or not? [Phillip Reese @ Sac Bee]

WILLIE'S WISDOM:

"I was in Sacramento the other day, speaking to a group for up-and-coming Republican and Democratic hopefuls for the state Legislature.

"I told them to escape the trap of partisan politics - that it was time for Republicans to look beyond the Tea Party and for Democrats to look behind the pull of the labor unions.

"Then I told them the truth, that running for public office nowadays is accepting that you have succumbed to a terminal illness."

UNSOLICITED ADVICE: Bee Editorial Board: On redistricting, GOP should just call it a day: "Domination by one party is not healthy. California needs a strong Republican Party. But instead of trying to attack the redistricting commission, the Republican should devote its time to finding candidates who can attract independent voters, appeal to ethnic voters, and win contested races."

eureka!, spin us some headlines before the ghouls and goblins appear...

TOP HEADLINES ON AROUNDTHECAPITOL.COM AS OF 12:00PM
Brown Has Two Reasons To Push Pension Reform
George Skelton @
latimes.com
Capitol Journal: It's necessary for state and local governments, and it's vital to the rest of his own agenda.

California Legislature Drops Ball On Marijuana
Dan Walters @
sacbee.com
Did California's Legislature become dysfunctional because voters adopted too many contradictory ballot measures, or were those ballot measures merely responding to the chronic inability or unwillingness of the Legislature to deal with substantial issues?

Bob Filner's Pension: $82,000, At Least
Liam Dillon @
voiceofsandiego.org
Like his Republican counterparts, Democratic mayoral candidate Bob Filner argues San Diego's pension system needs an overhaul.

Election Laws Tightening In Gop-run States
David G. Savage, Washington Bureau @
latimes.com
Republicans are tightening election laws on several fronts in states like Florida. Democrats say it's an effort to prevent voting by students, the elderly, the poor, the disabled and minorities -- and to unseat President Obama.

Proposition 13: Tax Breaks For The Big Boys
Peter Schrag @
californiaprogressreport.com
It's been just a third of a century since the passage of Proposition 13 in June, 1978. In that time few of its offspring have caused more damage than the great loopholes allowing corporations to evade hundreds of millions in local property taxes that they’d owe in any fair and economically rational revenue system.

Herman Cain Calls Sexual Harassment Claims 'False' And 'Baseless'
James Oliphant @
latimes.com
Presidential candidate Herman Cain defiantly rejected allegations Monday that he sexually harassed two employees during the 1990s while he was the head of a trade association in Washington, calling the claims "false" and "baseless."

Why Labor Is Nuts To Fight Brown On Pensions
Phil Trounstine @
calbuzz.com
Let's stipulate that public employee pension costs are not the fundamental cause of California's financial problems. We can even accept the argument from the union-backed Californians for Retirement Security that "the average public pension in California is $26,000-a-year," that “three-quarters of CalPERS retirees collect $36,000 or less" and that “public pensions equal just 3% percent of California’s budget."

Election laws tightening in GOP-run states
David G. Savage, Washington Bureau @
latimes.com
Republicans in states like Florida are making it more challenging to vote or to register others. Democrats say it's an effort to disenfranchise students, the elderly, the poor, the disabled and minorities -- and to unseat President Obama.

Ballot Measure Would Eliminate Collective Bargaining Rights For Public Employee Unions
sbsun.com
The End Public Sector Bargaining Act would eliminate collective-bargaining rights for public employees such as teachers, nurses, police officers and firefighters. It is similar to a Wisconsin law passed this year.

GOP presidential candidate Cain team denies sexual harassment report
Kasie Hunt, Associated Press @
mercurynews.com
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain kept his Washington campaign schedule Monday even as his team accused "inside-the-Beltway media" of attacking him with allegations that he sexually harassed two women while he was the head of the National Restaurant Association in the

Education: Battle On To Increase Graduation, College-going Rates
pe.com
In the San Bernardino-Riverside-Ontario area, dropouts in 2010 totaled some 27,700 students, who, as underemployed workers, cost the region billions of dollars in lost purchases, investments and state and local tax revenues, according to the Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington, D.C.-based policy and advocacy group.

Editorial: On redistricting, GOP should just call it a day
sacbee.com
Some people just cannot take no for an answer, no matter how embarrassing the situation becomes.The California Republican Party's unrequited desire to overturn the California Citizens Redistricting Commission's work is enough to make you squirm in discomfort.

SF Mayoral Race Defies Description Or Prediction
Josh Richman @
contracostatimes.com
San Francisco voters are rubbing their aching temples and the nation is watching agog as a city renowned for outlandish politics grapples with whats arguably its most tumultuous mayoral election ever.

Keystone Pipeline Protest Heading To White House
Carla Marinucci,David Baker @
sfgate.com
The crowd of wealthy Democratic fundraisers and donors who protested outside President Obama's $5,000-a-head San Francisco fundraiser last week - dubbed the "powerful and the POd" - aren't going away. This week, they're...

Passion, Politics Link Lobbyist Couples
sacbee.com
Amy Brown listens to husband Randy Perry serve up some pre-dinner harmonica tunes at their Clarksburg home last Wednesday night. One of more than a dozen married couples in Sacramento's lobby corps, they make a point of keeping their personal and professional lives separate.

Senate, House to take up dueling jobs proposals this week
Lisa Mascaro @
latimes.com
Congress is fully engaged this week, with the House and Senate in session and a menu of legislative offerings as Democrats and Republicans struggle to dominate the jobs front -- perhaps the top issue among voters.

The Caucus: Obama Likely to Factor into Re-Election Chances for Senate Democrats
nytimes.com
If incumbent Democratic senators are tempted to distance themselves from Mr. Obama by skipping a campaign event or two, they are probably wasting their time.

Signing Of AB 250 Takes Big Step Toward Deeper, Richer Learning For All Students
Michael Matsuda @
toped.svefoundation.org
Among many important education bills signed by the governor in October, perhaps none was more vital than AB 250, authored by Assemblywoman Julia Brownley and sponsored by State Superintendent Tom Torlakson. Known as the Curriculum Support and Reform Act of 2011, AB 250 mandates that the state align curriculum frameworks with the new Common Core State Standards in mathematics and English language arts, an action, according to TOPed, "which will put muscle and flesh on the skeleton of the basic standards to better guide teachers on what students are expected to know and be able to do.''

Ed Lee's Opponents Seek Leg Up In Ranked Voting
John Wildermuth @
sfgate.com
Ed Lee is a liar, a lousy administrator and a crooked politician who hates the poor, loves Republicans and is little more than a puppet for his corrupt, well-connected buddies. And he seemed like such a nice guy a few...

Studies challenge wisdom of GOP candidates' plans
mercurynews.com
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Key proposals from the Republican presidential candidates might make for good campaign fodder.