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THE NOONER for January 23, 2012

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  • CD31 (San Bernardino) - added attorney Justin Kim (D)
  • AD33 (SB High Desert) - added John Coffey (D)
  • AD62 (Inglewood) - added publisher Lynette Bigelow (D)

TWEET DU JOUR: @pourmecoffee - "Happy Birthday to Sully Sullenberger, who can pilot jets in the Hudson better than some cruise ship captains in the sea."

Gung hay fat choy -  Chúc mừng năm mới - Saehae bok manhi baduseyo - If you, like me, haven't kept all those resolutions, here's your chance to start again with the spirit of the Dragon.

Democratic Party Pre-Endorsement Conference Results

The Democratic Party held pre-endorsement conferences around the state over the weekend for state legislative and congressional races. Candidates receiving 70% of the vote of delegates to the conferences will be placed on the "consent calendar" for endorsement at the party's February 10-12 convention. If one candidate receives more than 50% but less than 70% of the vote, the endorsement for that district will be considered at caucuses held at the convention. The candidate that received over 50% is listed here for reference, but they are not the only eligible candidate for the endorsement for that district at the convention caucuses. Here's the official guide from the California Democratic Party.

I'm only listing races with multiple serious Democrats here. Incumbents and candidates who are the only serious Democrat in the race are generally not listed simply for brevity. It is possible or even likely that I have left a race out.

Closely Watched Democratic Assembly Races

  • AD08 - No consensus
  • AD13 - No consensus
  • AD10 - Michael Allen - over 70%
  • AD18 - No consensus
  • AD20 - Bill Quirk - over 70%
  • AD21 - Adam Gray - over 70%
  • AD29 - Mark Stone - over 70%
  • AD39 - Raul Bocanegra - over 70%
  • AD41 - Chris Holden - over 70%
  • AD46 - No consensus
  • AD47 - 50% - to convention
  • AD49 - Ed Chau - over 70%
  • AD50 - Betsy Butler - 50% - to convention
  • AD51 - Jimmy Gomez - 50% - to convention
  • AD57 - Rudy Bermudez - 50% - to convention
  • AD58 - No consensus
  • AD59 - Reggie Jones-Sawyer - over 70%
  • AD63 - Anthony Rendon - over 70%
  • AD69 - Julio Perez - 50% - to convention

Closely Watched Democratic Senate Races

  • SD09 - Loni Hancock - over 70%
  • SD13 - No consensus
  • SD15 - Jim Beall - 50% - to convention
  • SD19 - Hannah-Beth Jackson - over 70%
  • SD27 - Fran Pavley - over 70%
  • SD31 - Steve Clute - 50% - to convention

Closely Watched Democratic Congressional Races

  • CD02 - No consensus
  • CD10 - Jose Hernandez - over 70%
  • CD26 - Steve Bennett - over 70%
  • CD30 - Brad Sherman - 50% - to convention
  • CD31 - No consensus
  • CD35 - Joe Baca - 50% - to convention
  • CD38 - Linda Sanchez - over 70%
  • CD44 - Janice Hahn - over 70%
  • CD51 - Juan Vargas - over 70%
  • CD52 - Lori Saldana - 50% - to convention

DOES IT MATTER? The party endorsement could play a significant role in districts with multiple Democratic candidates in the top-two primary, and in a few races that may go to November with two Democrats. While some outsiders will label the process as driven by activists, others will label it as packed with appointees of elected officials to the state central committee, who in turn get to vote in caucuses.

These appointments were key to Betsy Butler's showing yesterday in AD50, which has left activists frustrated. According to Torie Osborn's supporters, Butler received 64 votes, including 5 appointed by the Assemblymember herself and 42 who were appointed by Speaker John Perez. (I haven't confirmed the veracity of these numbers). Butler's showing came as a surprise, as she has been capturing the support of local Democratic clubs, but that's different than members of the Democratic State Central Committee.

John Myers has a great roundup of what the weekend means.

GOP SITS OUT: @FlashReport - "People keep emailing me about the State GOP's pre-primary endorsements. U.S. Rep. McCarthy shut down the grass roots, so they will be rare."

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$$$: The committee behind the governor's tax initiative reported over the weekend pulling in $1.45 million. Notable: $500k from California Hospitals (Medi-Cal) and $250k from Oxy Petrolium, which is happy with the gov's plan rather than oil severence tax, and $303k from tribes.

CONSOLATION: Following HBJ's weekent capture of the SD19 pre-endorsement, Jason Hodge trots out an endorsement by Speaker John Perez.

ON SECOND THOUGHT: The Voice of OC reports that Pala is not planning on an independent expenditure for Michele Martinez in AD69, following the cell phone conversation heard around the Twitterverse.

PARTLY SUNNY: Friday's monthly unemployment report for December showed continued signs of economic recovery in the Golden State, albeit sluggish. "The unemployment rate fell to 11.1% in December from 11.3%, the Employment Development Department reported Friday. Employers added 10,700 workers to their payrolls last month on top of a revised 24,700 in November. . . However, California's unemployment rate remains well above the national jobless rate, which was 8.5% in December. More than 2 million workers are still jobless. And payroll employment is still 825,000 jobs below its January 2008 peak." [Marc Lifsher @ LA Times]

#NOTHELPING: CalPERS says that it earned only 1.1% on its portfolio in calendar year 2011.

MEMO TO CANDIDATES: I won't watch a video with the subject line "Latest video - check it out" with no other text in the message. #CandidateOrChineseHacker

#QWERTYFAIL: Today is National Handwriting Day. What is this thing called handwriting?

California Civil Service Unions In Denial On Pension Costs
Dan Walters @
Whenever someone suggests that California's public employee pension systems need reform, civil service unions react dismissively, often with attacks on the credentials or even the morals of critics.

Political Blotter: Citizens United foes launch amendment drive
Josh Richman @
A national good-government watchdog group is launching a coast-to-coast campaign to have voters urge Congress to reverse the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and limit political spending by amending the U.S. Constitution. Common Cause's 'Amend 2012' campaign will aim to place initiatives on this November's ballots -- either by gathering petition signatures or through legislative action -- that would urge Congress to act.

New Pension Forecasts: What If Earnings Falter?
A new advisory panel, following a move by CalPERS last year, recommends that public pensions take a small step that touches on a big issue: What happens if pension fund earnings fall below the forecast?

The Caucus: Supreme Court Rebuffs Conservative Group on Health Care Lawsuit
Despite mounting pressure to have Justices Elena Kagan and Clarence Thomas removed from a case challenging President Obama's health care policy, the Supreme Court refuses to intervene.

Berman V. Sherman: Politics V. Politics In CD 30
It’s tough to improve on the capsule summary of the race between Howard Berman and Brad Sherman in California’s 30th Congressional District offered up by our friend Gene Maddaus at the LA Weekly: A battle “to determine which bald, Jewish Democrat who voted for the Iraq War will continue to represent the San Fernando Valley.”

Friant Got Little For $1 Million Diverted To Redevelopment Agency
Kurtis Alexander @
The little-known redevelopment agency set up by Fresno County 20 years ago to help modernize the small town is being shut down, in part because of state law and in part because of its failure.

The Pension Clock Is Ticking
George Skelton @
Gov. Brown wants 'something real' in the way of reform, but he isn't conveying a sense of urgency in resolving the complex issues.

Dan Walters: California civil service unions in denial on pension costs
Whenever someone suggests that California's public employee pension systems need reform, civil service unions react dismissively, often with attacks on the credentials or even the morals of critics.

Dems Pre-endorsements Presage Tough 2012
John Myers @
For casual political watchers, it may be hard to believe that small gatherings of diehard Democrats in January will decide who wins races for the Legislature or Congress come November.

Republican National Committee To Woo Latinos
Carla Marinucci,Joe Garofoli @
With former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's robust South Carolina primary win injecting a new uncertainty into the contest for the GOP presidential nomination, the campaign battleground now moves to Florida and Nevada -...

Higher Taxes, Little Relief
Home-to-school transportation comprises a little more than 1 percent of total Proposition 98 funding, but, because of the quirks in the formula, the funding’s impacts vary greatly among districts. In a few districts in Humboldt County and in remote regions like Death Valley Unified School District, it amounts to $600, even $1,000-plus per child, compared with an average statewide of $55 per child. Districts like those can’t simply move money around to keep the buses going; a cut of that magnitude could put them under.

John Boehner: Obama's State Of The Union Message 'pathetic'
Lisa Mascaro @
House Speaker John A. Boehner called President Obama 's upcoming State of the Union speech "pathetic" for rehashing stale Democratic priorities, even as Republicans are doubling-down on their own policy agenda that found little traction outside the GOP-led House.

State higher education spending sees big decline
CHRISTINE ARMARIO, AP Education Writer @
State funding for higher education has declined because of a slow recovery from the recession and the end of federal stimulus money.

Issue of the week: Pensions
THE ISSUE: On Wednesday, a Senate-Assembly conference committee will convene to consider part of Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to reduce state pension costs. Brown wants to offer hybrid plans to new state employees that would include traditional defined-benefit pensions and 401(k)-style retirement funds.

3 Calif. Municipalities Sidestep Pension Debate
While most of the state's roughly 480 cities and towns are entangled in a heated debate about future pension costs, three small cities in Contra Costa County are quietly sitting on the sidelines.

Education: Cost Of School Lunches Keeps Rising
Tacos, chicken nuggets, pizza and other cafeteria favorites are costing more this year as Inland schools grapple with new federal rules for student meal pricing.

Arab League calls for Syrian president to hand off power
Amro Hassan and Alexandra Zavis @
The regional bloc's proposals come after a meeting to review the findings of an observer mission. It also seeks the formation of a unity government in Syria to prepare for early elections.

New York's Redistricting Process Led by Insiders
Even at a time when many states have faced controversy and litigation over redrawing political lines, New York stands out. It is one of the last states in the nation to move forward with the decennial redistricting process, creating an enormous advantage for the already advantaged incumbents in Congress and the State Legislature.

Few S.C. voters jump on Colbert-Cain train
Kim Geiger @
Satirist Stephen Colbert’s push for protest votes in the South Carolina primary fell flat last night as former candidate Herman Cain took just over 1% of the vote in the GOP presidential primary.

Mitt Romney Tells 'interrupters' At Rally To 'take A Hike'
Maeve Reston @
Mitt Romney opened an aggressive new phase of the Republican presidential campaign as he cruised into Florida on Sunday night — casting Newt Gingrich as an unethical politician whose temperament and unreliability led to his ouster as speaker of the House in the 1990s.

Nomination Of Watchdog Moves Rate Debate Closer - La Daily News
Melissa Pamer, Staff Writer @
The nomination of Fred Pickel as a watchdog over the Department of Water and Power clears the way for the agency to once again push for a series of steep rate hikes.

San Francisco Police Probed
A videotape found more than a year ago by a defense lawyer in a routine drug case has helped spark this city's biggest police-misconduct probe in years—one of numerous investigations into law-enforcement practices being conducted nationwide by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Don't Have A Job? California Bill Would Keep Employers From Screening You Out
Jim Sanders @
Job applicants sought – but only if they don't need work. The message in some job advertisements these days is pretty blunt: Don't bother sending a résumé if you're not bringing home a paycheck already.

Expert: SF Sheriff Mirkarimi Should Step Aside
Rachel Gordon @
One of San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi's chief responsibilities is to hold his subordinates accountable for misconduct. But facing three criminal charges involving domestic violence, his effectiveness in that role...