,, Around The Capitol
Around The Capitol
Around The Capitol

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THE NOONER for December 12, 2011

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  • CD37 - added activist Mervin Evans (D)
  • AD79 - added community organizer Clovis Honore (D)
  • AD79 - added professor/activist Pat Washington (D)

TWEET DU JOUR: @hall_cb "God has been delivering his message in church. Then he realized all you assholes are in the bar watching football #newtactic #Tebow #awesome"

DATE: December 12, 2011
TO: The Honorable Debra Bowen, Secretary of State
FROM: Scott Lay
RE: Cal-Access is Dead.

I don't need to tell you that we have a major problem. For the last week and a half, the Cal-Access database that catalogs candidate, campaign finance, and lobbyist information has been down for all but a handful of hours.

The failure comes as no surprise to those that have watched the state's neglect of the database over time. In fact, I had lunch with a couple of friends a few months ago when we predicted the database was going to die soon. Ouch . . . I can't believe how quickly the prediction came true.

It is time for you to declare that Cal-Access is dead. Yes, we can duct tape it and keep it running for another week perhaps, but that's not a solution. Let's move on and build something that California's citizens deserve.

Check out the database of my home state of Oregon. Look at the way you can search contributions and expenditures! Search committees by election! Yes, I know we were ranked in the top 4 systems in 2007. However, that was the same year as the iPhone launched and, from what I can tell, we haven't made any improvements since then.

The first year I actively worked with the Legislature was 1993-94, when I was a student advocate causing trouble at Orange Coast College with Paul Mitchell. In a young Assemblywoman from the South Bay, we saw someone who grasped the emerging Internet and wanted to use its power to make public information widely available. We cheered your AB 1624, which made legislative information available to those of us far from the Capitol that couldn't afford subscription services. Some may say that we had a schoolboy crush on you--a poligeek--something that we dreamed of being.

Cal-Access, which dates its legacy to SB 49 by Betty Karnette in 1997, and was enhanced by Kevin Shelley in 2003, has simply fallen behind the times and was never built envisioning the technology revolution that this state has led. We have simply let the world pass us by. It's time to go back to the drawing board and reinvent our filing and disclosure systems.

Don't believe those that suggest that a new system will cost $10-20 million. That's the old way of thinking, one that is fueled by consultants and IT companies that see government only as a client. Today, bigger and more complex databases are built with $100,000 and a few cases of Red Bull. However, this means starting over and scrapping Cal-Access, which I believe is not only the sole solution, but the better solution. But, we need to start now.

Let's build a database that allows easy back-end downloading, like the Legislative Data Center with bill information, the Federal Elections Commission or, ugh, even the State of Texas. Let's have lobbying reports and Form 700s that are submitted with strong data structures, making them easier to search and index.

Let's build it on open source solutions, and secure the commitments of Google, the foundations, the universities and others to help us build and host it. Lots of us are ready to help. Just give us the word.

Debra, I've admired you for a long time. The neglect of Cal-Access is not your fault, and I know you can't go to the governor to ask for a chunk of cash to fix this broken system.. However, with California's most exciting and unpredictable elections in a generation on deck for next year, your tenure as Secretary of State will be measured by this moment.

13 "HIGHLY COMPETITIVE" SEATS: Just the Facts: Redistricting [PPIC]

AD72/AD74: Councilman's Address May Change Campaign Plan [Michael Miller @ OC Now/LA Times]

...why not pull an Alarcon?

UNDERSTATED: Wonkbook: The real unemployment rate is 11 percent [Ezra Klein at WaPo]

NOOOOOOO: Politico's tireless blogger and tweeter Ben Smith is moving to BuzzFeed, a site that, well, ain't Politico.

FROM FOURTH TO FIRST: On October 10, the Broncos and Newt Gingrich were both in fourth place and now lead their respective divisions.

Governor Steps Out Of Limelight To Work On Budget
Wyatt Buchanan @
When Gov. Jerry Brown took office in January, he almost immediately began a full-scale blitz of public appearances and interactions with the press. He publicly wooed Republicans and myriad interest groups in Sacramento,...

Bid To Trim Pension Fails, $7.7 Million Settlement
A backdoor attempt by CalPERS to trim an absurdly generous pension backfired, resulting in a $7.7 million payment last year to the heirs of a man who retired as a top state Senate aide more than 40 years ago.

Octa: No State Money Until Fixes Made To High-speed Rail Plan - Voice Of Oc | Orange County's Nonprofit Investigative News Agency: This Just In: The Orange County Transportation Authority, High-speed Rail Authority, Mismanagement, Legislative Analyst, Fie
The Orange County Transportation Authority is set Monday to urge leaders of California's proposed $98-billion high-speed rail project to slow down and fix the project's financing problems before tapping into billions in state taxpayers dollars.

Penn State Scandal Spurs California Legislation
On politics in the Golden State

Vote Delayed On Permit For Proposed Hb Desalination Plant - Voice Of Oc | Orange County's Nonprofit Investigative News Agency: Oc Coast: Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board, Desalination, Huntington Beach, Poseidon Resources, Surfrider Foundati
The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board has postponed until February a decision on whether to approve a permit that would allow Poseidon Resources' proposed Huntington Beach desalination plant to draw water directly from the ocean.

Mitt Romney spars with Vietnam vet over gay marriage
Maeve Reston @
New Hampshire voters pride themselves on vetting and testing their candidates, and Vietnam veteran Bob Garon waited for more than two hours at a Manchester diner Monday to get Mitt Romney’s views on the proposed repeal of New Hampshire’s law permitting gay marriage.

Let's Make Textbooks Affordable
George Skelton @
Making textbooks truly affordable, or even available free, is the least we can do for California's beleaguered college and university students. And the state would ultimately benefit.

Legal Traps Could Stop California's High-speed Rail Project
Dan Walters @
The California High-Speed Rail Authority has an obvious financial problem as it seeks to build a statewide bullet train system.

Top 100 Delinquent Taxpayers Owe $419m
Sam Pearson @
Amid a crippling state budget deficit and a national debate over raising taxes on the wealthy, the California Board of Equalization has added 16 new companies and individuals to its list of unpaid delinquent sales and use taxes for the fourth quarter of 2011.

California Braces For More Budget Slashing With Possible 'Trigger' Cuts
Local @
As Gov. Jerry Brown gets ready to pull the trigger on more budget cuts this week, lawmakers and interest groups are bracing to see how devastating the cuts will be.

Justices Agree to Hear Challenge to Arizona Immigration Laws
The Obama administration challenged parts of the tough immigration law in court, saying it could not be reconciled with federal immigration policies.

Jan Brewer 'confident' Supreme Court will uphold immigration law
Michael A. Memoli @
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer said Monday that she welcomed the Supreme Court's decision to hear arguments about the state's controversial illegal immigration law.

Romney Didn't Bargain For A Bitter Fight
Mark Z. Barabak @
Mitt Romney counted on his business background winning him favor with GOP voters concerned about the economy. But now victory seems to rest with whichever candidate will be able to pummel Obama.

Gingrich Endorses 'marriage Pledge'
Newt Gingrich became the latest Republican candidate to endorse the so-called marriage pledge, a controversial document put forward by an influential evangelical group in Iowa that opposes same-sex marriage and abortion.

California Senator Threatens Boycott Over Lowe's Ads
Local @
A state senator from Southern California was considering calling for a boycott of Lowes stores after the home improvement chain pulled its advertising from a reality show about Muslim-Americans.

One Black Woman's Personal Mission To Reelect Obama
Mark Z. Barabak @
The president has commanding support among African Americans, but that's not good enough for political dynamo Gerri Hall of Flint, Mich. She's determined to see him get an even bigger black vote than in 2008 -- and he'll likely need it.

Supreme Court to review Arizona immigration law
David G. Savage @
The Supreme Court, dealing a setback to the Obama administration, said Monday it will consider reviving Arizona’s law that targets illegal immigrants and gives more enforcement power to local police.

High court could look at state immigration laws
MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press @
The Obama administration is waging a furious legal fight against a patchwork of state laws targeting illegal immigrants. The Supreme Court has its first chance Monday to jump into the fray.

GOP Sends Mixed Signals On Payroll Tax Cut
Eliza Newlin Carney @
Two key Senate Republicans delivered mixed messages today over whether they're prepared to resolve a standoff with Democrats over extending the Social Security payroll tax cut, which is set to expire Jan. 1.

Rick Perry Heckled Over Gays In Military Campaign Ad
Paul West @
Rick Perry took another shot at Mitt Romney 's offer of a $10,000 bet, but the Texas governor found himself under fire himself Sunday, heckled at a campaign stop over anti-gay bias, including by a man identifying himself as a Marine veteran from the Iraq war .

How Gingrich Stole Romney's Christmas
A few minutes before ABC's obviously stoned Diane Sawyer asked the six candidates her first question, a check of Intrade, the famed wisdom of crowds online prediction market, showed the probability of Mittens winning the GOP nomination listed as 47.2% to 33.6% for Newt Gingrich.

1,700 gal. of diesel fuel spills at UC Berkeley
The Associated Press @
A diesel fuel tank at the University of California has overflowed, spilling about 1,700 gallons that flowed into nearby waterways.