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THE NOONER for April 9, 2012

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The Legislature is back today, and policy committees face a three week sprint to clear bills that need to be heard by Approps. Meanwhile, budget subs go through the motion waiting for the Easter Bunny to bring a basket full of golden eggs. 

Meanwhile, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings sent in a lucky red envelope with $125,000 for the ballot measure to eliminate the death penalty. The initiative, written up by Adam Nagourney in the NYT over the weekend, is currently undergoing random sample. It needs 75.2% to qualify without a full count and 68.4% to qualify. With random samples from 42 counties, it is currently at 76.6% validity.

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MONEY MATTERS: I usually understand when and why money flows in California politics, but I'm scratching my head over a half mill contribution from the national United Carpenters to Jerry Brown's tax measure committee. That committee has been in hibernation since the compromise, with labor and Democratic legislators taking over the fundraising responsibility. Likely, the carpenters were just a bit slow in cutting and mailing their check and the money will be sent over to fund the very expensive signature campaign for the compromise.

THE QUOTE: Melissa Griffin in the SF Examiner writes: "'Mirkarimi’s political life is finished and he should resign,' Democratic strategist Nathan Ballard told me. 'He’s like Bruce Willis in 'The Sixth Sense' — everybody knows that Ross Mirkarimi is dead except Ross Mirkarimi.' Ouch!"

LOSE SOME, WIN SOME: Chuck DeVore may have left California for Texas and likes to write about how much better government and the business environment is in the Lone Star state, but California has gained a new resident--Chris Dudley. Dudley is the former Portland Trailblazers center who was the GOP's candidate for governor in 2010. Dudley's wife took a job in Sandy Eggo, and he's joining her there.

OUGHTA BE A LAW: Apparently the flashing white bicycle lights that are very popular are not allowed under the vehicle code, writes Gary Richards in the Oak Tribune. Any of our superstar legislator readers want to fix this? 

California State Government Hiring Slowed In 2011
Jon Ortiz @
California state government hired 25 percent fewer employees last year, according to new payroll figures, although departments still added thousands of workers while squeezing their budgets during the economic downturn.

Van Jones, Mr. Dreamy, Talks Obama, 9/11, Jobs
Carla Marinucci @
Van Jones, a pioneer among the nation's eco-activists, has made his mark from the Bay Area - where he's headed three major community organizations - to the White House, where he served as President Obama's "green jobs czar."

Felton Affordable Housing Project's Demise Cost Taxpayers At Least $1.5 Million
Jason Hoppin and Kimberly White @
The statewide elimination of redevelopment programs has thrown affordable housing projects into doubt, but one recently scuttled housing deal is demonstrating just how costly good intentions can be.

California High-speed Rail Plan Still Has Shaky Finances
Dan Walters @
When the state's bullet train impresarios unveiled a much-revised plan for the statewide project last fall - with campaign-style hoopla, one should note - they said it settled all of its outstanding questions and doubts. Not by a long shot.

California Should've Been A Primary Decider
George Skelton @
A June primary leaves the state with no power to pick the nominee when we hold 15% of the delegates needed for the nomination.

Poll: Swing voters lean to Obama but identify closer with Romney
Independent voters in battleground states lean slightly in President Obama’s favor at this early stage in the campaign, but a new poll shows that the same voters who like Obama better also tilt more toward Mitt Romneyon the political spectrum, particularly on economic priorities.

Facebook To Buy Mobile Photo App Instagram For $1 Billion
As Facebook prepares for an initial public offering of stock later this spring, the deal is the first major purchase by the worlds most popular social networks of another online property with millions of users.

AM Alert
Micaela Massimino @
Spring recess over, California legislators are back in Sacramento, with the Assembly meeting at noon and the Senate at 2 p.m. Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, is expected to adjourn the Assembly floor session in memory of the seven people killed in Oakland last week at Oikos University.

Task Force Seeks To Change California's Mental Health Commitment Law
Lee Romney @
Self-appointed group says California's 1967 law has failed the mentally ill unable or unwilling to seek help.

Job Front: California National Guard Aims To Cut Joblessness In The Ranks
Darrell Smith @
California's National Guard - the nation's largest and busiest National Guard force - is facing an employment crisis, and a new initiative is attacking the issue head-on.

Some Romney advisers don't like his health law
Jennifer Haberkorn @
Two members of his Health Care Policy Advisory Group have opposed to his Massachusetts plan.

Legislative Panel Working On 'Hybrid' Pension
Ed Mendel @
At a hearing in February, the committee was briefed on the cash balance plan of the California State Teachers Retirement System, a pension supplement that guarantees a bond-based rate of return on individual investments.

California State Worker Unions Reach Tentative Labor Pacts With Jerry Brown
Four unions representing a combined 24,000 state employees have reached tentative agreements with the Brown administration to extend their existing contracts for another year.

Santa Rosa Workers Agree To More Furloughs
Santa Rosa city workers Eddie Torres, left, Todd Lockhart and Tua Poueu work on a section of asphalt on Waltzer Road, where a utility crew had to repair a water leak, in 2010.

Nonprofit Founded By TV's Dr. Oz Seeks To Get City's Youths Off Couches, Into Fitness
Jennifer Garza @
Last year, Michelle Bouchard and Dr. Mehmet Oz, the TV talk show host, visited Sacramento. They noticed the problem of childhood obesity here was similar to what they had seen in many cities across the country.

Ex-Ukrainian prime minister owes Marin $2 million in back taxes
Nels Johnson, Marin Independent Journal @
Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko may find an inquiry from Marin County tax collector Roy Given waiting when he is released from the federal prison at Terminal Island on Nov.

The Caucus: Elizabeth Warren Raises Twice as Much as Brown in Massachusetts Senate Race
Elizabeth Warren brought in $6.9 million compared with $3.4 million for Senator Scott P. Brown last quarter in the high-stakes Massachusetts Senate race.

Obamas frolic on White House lawn during Easter egg roll
Stacy A. Anderson @
WASHINGTON -- In an annual family-friendly rite of spring, President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle kicked off the White House Easter Egg Roll on Monday, joining tens of thousands of youngsters and their parents in a day of racing, reading, sports and crafts on a breezy, sun-splashed South Lawn.

Biofuel Firms Face Uncertainty Over Future Government Help
The South San Francisco firm has deals with the likes of Chevron and Honeywell. Its algae-based fuel was used in October for an unprecedented commercial airline flight. And in December it won a piece of a $12 million contract to supply biofuel for the Navy.

Wife of congressman runs for Calif. Assembly seat
The Associated Press @
A tense political drama is unfolding in the Santa Clarita Valley, where the 69-year-old wife of Republican Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon has decided to seek political office herself. Her main rival in the June state Assembly primary is a former staffer to her husband.

States With Highest Gas Prices Back Obama
Yousur Alhlou @
There is a curious relationship between a state's gas prices and presidential politics. The higher the price of gasoline, the higher President Obama's prospects of winning that state. Obama's electoral map to victory...

For Mitt, The 'Pivot' Is Never Having To Say He's Sorry
When he compared restarting his boss's campaign to an Etch A Sketch, Eric Fehrnstrom, Mitt Romney's flack, committed a gaffe in precisely the sense that journalist Michael Kinsley meant it - "when a politician tells the truth." But the gaffe is less important than the fact it illuminates: that on the issues, Romney has more positions than the Kama Sutra (ht Garry South).

Challenger Fights Pete Stark -- With Pete Stark
Josh Richman @
Eric Swalwell, the young Democratic upstart who's taking on veteran incumbent Rep. Pete Stark, D-Fremont, is taking a page from another young upstart's playbook: Pete Stark.