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THE NOONER for February 21, 2012

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  • CD26 (Ventura) - added Assemblymember Julia Brownley (D)
  • AD41 (Pasadena) - added businesswoman Victoria Rusnak (D)
  • AD50 (West LA) - added documentary filmmaker Will Hess (N)
  • AD49 (Monterey Park) - removed Luis Ayala (D)

Sorry about the cluster on Friday [corrected Nooner]...that's what I get for trying to edit The Nooner through intermittent cell coverage on 101 North. Top recommendations again this year for the Stanford Inn in Mendocino (dog-friendly, including the restaurant), Raven's Cafe (vegan), Cafe Beaujolais, Mendocino Market for picnic sandwiches, and Frankie's for pizza.

FIREHOUSE: Friday is the deadline for bill introductions, so there will be no shortage of ideas coming from every angle of the Legislature's ideological spectrum. Keep track of the intros here.

HOUSEQUAKE: It is now official that Assemblymember Julia Brownley will be headed north into the crowded field running for the Ventura congressional seat. Observers noticed something was afoot when Democratic frontrunner Ventura Supe Steve Bennett bowed out. Here's the race as of today (candidates random, based on the current refresh of the ATC district page):

  • Jess Herrera (D) - Harbor Commissioner, Oxnard
  • Tony Strickland (R) - Member, State Senate
  • Linda Parks (R) - Supervisor, Ventura
  • David Cruz Thayne (D) - Businessman
  • Akiva Werbalowsky (R) - Permaculture designer
  • David Pollock (D) - Councilmember, Moorpark
  • Julia Brownley (D) - Member, State Assembly

On the Republican side, Tony Strickland became the immediate favorite upon entry, although Linda Parks is marketing herself as a moderate and, before last week's signing of AB 1413 (Fong), was considering running as an independent. Strickland was heavily recruited by the NRCC and his financial spigot should be wide open. 

With four Democrats, there has to be some very strong arm twisting to clear the field for Brownley. While highly unlikely, it's mathematically possible that votes could be spread across the candidates in a way that could result in two Republicans moving to the general, assuming Parks stays in and captures anti-Strickland votes. David Pollock has been the favorite of local party activists following Bennett's departure, while David Cruz Thayne and Jess Herrera have their eyes on moderates and the large 26.7% Latino CVAP. 

While Thayne isn't expected to go anywhere, having recently added Joe Trippi to his campaign effort led by Garry South, there will be significant pressure from Washington for other Democrats to drop their bid so that the momentum and money builds behind Brownley, setting up a ground zero election in November between Julia Brownley and Tony Strickland.

SURGE: Dan Walters: Democrats set to boost state Senate clout

WORD: @paulmitche11 - "@WaltersBee only question is if Dems lose their 2/3 in 2014 when they lose the Correa seat. Darrell really needs to win one extra for that"

In translation, Dems can get to 29 this year, with a sweep in SD05, SD17, SD27, and SD31. In 2014, Dems lose one seat (Lou Correa), so 28 would ensure a two-thirds majority of the 40-seat chamber through 2016.

As of today, SD17 and SD27 are very likely Dem, bringing the Dems to 27 votes. The other two are toss-ups and will likely rest on overall election dynamics in November.

INTERVENTION: The sad story of Alameda County Supervisor Nadia Davis Lockyer continues to get stranger. In stories over the weekend, it was revealed that she met Stephen Chickani while she was in rehab in 2010 (while running for supervisor against Bill's ex-girlfriend, Liz Figueroa). Also this weekend, Matier and Ross report that Chickani was arrested by the CHP for possession of controlled substances, DUI, and driving on a suspended license.

$$$: The governor picked up another $405,000 for his tax initiative campaign, including $250,000 from the State Council of Laborers. The committee has now banked $1.6 million. Notably, neither CTA nor SEIU has kicked in dough yet, even though they both have endorsed.

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Proposed Budget Shows Lower CalPERS Payment
Ed Mendel @
Under the new budget proposed by Gov. Brown, the annual state payment to CalPERS drops from $3.5 billion this year to $3.1 billion in the new fiscal year.

Meg Whitman Contributes $100,000 To Mitt Romney's Super PAC
Torey Van Oot @
Former GOP gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman pulled out her checkbook last month to boost her former boss Mitt Romney's presidential bid.

Initiative Glut Taking A Toll On State Resources
Local @
She paid the requisite $200 and submitted a handwritten, two-paragraph description of the proposed measure to the attorney general's office, gently suggesting that Attorney General Kamala Harris make any corrections needed.

Democrats Set To Boost State Senate Clout
Dan Walters @
When Republican Assemblyman Cameron Smyth decided to leave the Legislature rather than run for the state Senate this year, it virtually guaranteed that Democrats will achieve a two-thirds supermajority in the Senate, changing the Capitol's political dynamics.

Trying To Save $1 Billion On Seniors’ Health Care Could Backfire - Oc Watchdog : The Orange County Register
About 1.2 million California seniors and people with disabilities are dual-enrolled in Medi-Cal and Medicare. Their care, however, is fragmented, as no single organization coordinates their services.

700 Gather Outside San Quentin For Occupy Protest
John Wildermuth @
As many as 700 peaceful Occupy demonstrators gathered outside San Quentin State Prison this afternoon as part of a nationwide effort to call for prison reform. "It's been an amazing day," said Crystal Bybee, a...

Yemeni vote elevates vice president, ends Saleh's 33-year rule
The vote can hardly be called an election, as Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi is the only candidate. It is, however, a turning point for the impoverished Arab state, ending President Ali Abdullah Saleh's 33-year authoritarian rule.

Tax Plans Would Boost Schools But Leave Social Safety Net Vulnerable
As education groups battle over which California tax initiative would give the biggest boost to schools, advocates for low-income residents fear safety-net programs remain vulnerable no matter what happens on the ballot in November.

Should California Community Colleges Prioritize Enrollment To Help Students Graduate Earlier?
the end of this week, the @
By the end of this week, the Student Success Act of 2012 should be officially introduced in the Legislature, launching the debate on how to improve success rates at California’s community colleges. The Act is necessary to implement some of the 22 recommendations of the Student Success Task Force, which spent the last year developing the proposals and soliciting feedback at dozens of public hearings across the state.

Foes of part-time Legislature fire political shot at Shannon Grove
Jim Sanders @
Taking the gloves off, opponents of a proposal to convert the Legislature to part time took a personal shot today at the measure's sponsor - urging Assemblywoman Shannon Grove to voluntarily reduce her own salary and per diem payments.

Editorial: Voters should know who tries to buy elections
Voters have a right to know who tries to sway elections and influence politicians with their money. The Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Senate have an obligation to help bring about that transparency.

Santorum: Voters Should Get 'nervous' About Obama On Religion
Paul West @
Escalating his attack on President Obama over matters of faith and politics, Republican presidential contender Rick Santorum said Monday that Obama had been "particularly weak" in protecting religious liberty around the world and compared him to "tyrants" who want to limit the role of faith in their citizens lives.

New Districts Upend California Politics
Vauhini Vara @
Only one congressional seat in California changed parties in the past decade. Now, an independent redistricting process has turned the Golden State into a battleground where Democrats hope to pick up House seats this fall.

Lawsuit Filed Against Red-light Camera Operator, Victorville
A class-action lawsuit against Victorville and its red-light camera program alleges vehicle owners' due-process rights were violated and seeks millions of dollars in damages.

Redrawn lines for Santa Clara County Board of Education creates one non-incumbent seat, could pit two trustees against each other
Sharon Noguchi @
Boundaries have been redrawn for the Santa Clara County Board of Education, resulting in two trustees who will have to run against each other to retain their seats, and creating one district with no incumbent when the seat comes up for election in 2014.

House Transportation Bill Backs Offshore Drilling
Carolyn Lochhead @
Tea Party politics and trillion-dollar-plus federal budget deficits have turned this year's transportation bill upside down. Five-year transportation bills are traditionally bipartisan earmark fests that send hundreds...

A Very Rough Road For Community College Students
Carla Rivera @
Many community college students graduated from low-performing high schools that ill-prepared them for college, leaving them with bleak prospects.

Obama campaign: Romney, Santorum policies would grow deficit
Kathleen Hennessey and Michael A. Memoli @
In yet another sign of Rick Santorum's rising status, President Obama's campaign is taking aim at the former Pennsylvania senator.

Protesters outside San Quentin want prison reform
The Associated Press @
Hundreds of protesters who gathered outside California's San Quentin prison say they are demanding prison reform.

Redwood City school board considers putting $67 parcel tax on June ballot
Bonnie Eslinger @
Maybe the fourth time will be a charm. That's what the Redwood City school board may be hoping Wednesday when it decides whether to place a parcel tax on the June 5 ballot to raise about $1.7 million a year

Man Faces Possible Life Sentence If Convicted Of Housing Scam
Stuart Pfeifer @
Timothy Barnett, suspected of tricking desperate L.A. County residents into selling him their homes at steep discounts, could face life in prison under California's three-strikes law.