Around The Capitol

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THE NOONER for April 23, 2012

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LIVE OR LET DIE: This Friday is the deadline for bills with a fiscal impact to get out of policy committee. It's going to be a long week in hearing rooms and at the Capitol's watering holes.

EARLY SUNSET: Last Friday, Nadia Davis Lockyer gave an in-depth interview to Julie Prodis Sulek of the Bay Area News Group, and then resigned as Alameda County Supervisor. We wish her the best in her recovery.

Since Alameda is a charter county, the supervisorial vacancy will be filled by the Board of Supervisors. If the board fails to appoint someone within 60 days, the authority to fill the vacancy moves to the governor, per the county's charter. Davis Lockyer's 2010 opponent, Liz Figueroa, had her residency challenged then, and it's unclear whether she lives in the supe district now.

LICENSE (TO FIRE) SUSPENDED: Also on the no-news end of the week day, Assemblyman Roger Hernandez was stripped of his ability to hire and fire staffers, following reports that the car that he was driving in his DUI stop was an Assembly pool vehicle only to be used in Sacramento. Additionally, the Pasadena Star-News reports "Assembly leaders are concerned the blood test might come back positive for a substance other than alcohol, the source said."


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DROPPED CALL: Anthony York and Shane Goldmacher may have a few more dropped calls following their story on AT&T published by the LAT yesterday. In the article, worked on for the last year (ergo Shane's byline), AT&T's legislative and political full monty is exposed for all to see. The blue death star responds by saying that, by giving huge sums to campaigns, sporting tickets to lawmakers, and having one of the strongest lobbying efforts, AT&T is simply being "active participants in the communities in which we live and work."

$$$: On Friday, Molly kicked in another $1.1 million. Signatures this week?

BK SUPREME: Nothing to see here.

TWENTY YEARS: Sunday marks 20 years since the Los Angeles riots. For those of us from SoCal, even those of us from behind the Orange Curtain, it was a life-changing event that shaped our views on race, police, and economic and social justice. Today, NPR has a feature on Rodney King, the man behind the firestorm who also tried to extinguish it.

MUAH: Superstar Nooner reader RB sent in an annual sponsorship check, along with several coupons for Peet's coffee. While I miss Espresso Roma, there's now a Peet's three blocks from my house, and I foresee lots of weekend AroundTheCapitol work being done there! Thank you, thank you, thank you!


Bills, Bills, Bills This Week At State Capitol
John Myers @
There's a growing debate about whether legislators under the Capitol dome are so busy introducing and debating bills that they are left with too little time to consider California's more systemic -- and serious -- problems. This week may bolster the "too many bills" contingent of that fight.

Action Slow So Far On Gov. Brown's Pension Reforms
Judy Lin @
It's been six months since Gov. Jerry Brown put forward his proposals to make the public pension system more affordable, yet action on his 12-point plan has been nearly imperceptible.

California Taxpayers Association Offers $7.3 Billion In Savings, Revenue Increases
Dan Walters @
The California Taxpayers Association handed ammunition Monday to opponents of this year's proposed tax increases - a report that outlines $7.3 billion in operational savings and non-tax "revenue enhancements" in state and local governments.

'No Party Preference' Is New Political Flavor In California
Torey Van Oot @
[Linda] Parks is one of 36 candidates with "no party preference" running for state and federal office in California this year, the first time the option is available for primary candidates.

Hollande, Sarkozy heading for runoff in France presidential vote
Kim Willsher @
Socialist challenger Francois Hollande and incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy will advance to a runoff presidential election after an initial round of balloting Sunday, but a far-right candidate shocked the political establishment by running a strong third.

As Primary Showdown Looms, An Electorate In Flux
John Howard @
With the June primary election approaching, the California electorate appears engaged in the political process but is increasingly disenchanted with both major political parties.

California Democrats Searching Under Every Fiscal Rock
Dan Walters @
With the state budget mired in deficits, Gov. Jerry Brown and legislators, especially his fellow Democrats, are searching under every fiscal rock for money to spend.

Voters Deserve A Do-over On Bullet Train Vote
George Skelton @
Republicans seek to put the brakes on the runaway rail project.

CalSTRS: On The Road To Ruin Or Recovery?
Each year that a contribution increase is delayed, the additional amount needed for full funding is expected to grow roughly half of one percent of pay, Milliman actuaries Nick Collier and Mark Olleman told the CalSTRS board earlier this month.

John Edwards' trial set to begin on campaign finance charges
Richard Simon @
GREENSBORO, N.C. — In a federal criminal case that has the markings of sex, money, betrayal and a handsome politician’s fall from grace, former presidential candidate John Edwards’ trial for alleged campaign finance violations opens Monday in Greensboro, N.C.

Community Colleges Consider Limits On Retaking Gym, Arts Classes
Erica Perez @
As constrained budgets and course cuts have made it harder for many students to get the classes they need, the California Community Colleges are taking further steps toward rationing course offerings and focusing resources on students who are pursuing degrees, certificates, transfer or career goals.

Defense: Edwards' effort to avoid 'humiliation' did not break law
GREENSBORO, N.C. – Two portraits of John Edwards emerged in opening arguments at the trial of the disgraced politician, who is accused of breaking campaign finance laws by accepting more than $900,000 in illegal contributions to help conceal an extramarital affair during his 2008 bid for president.

The Buzz: California's political watchdog pushing for personal liability in independent expenditures
Bracing for a flood of independent expenditures for candidates or causes in this year's elections, California's political watchdog agency is seeking to tighten state law to require more personal liability.

California judicial summit conference aims at healing political rift
Gov. Jerry Brown's Yale Law School classmate and close friend, Appellate Justice J. Anthony Kline, is mediating a judicial summit conference today that will attempt to heal the years-long political war that has divided the state's judiciary.

Court Documents Reveal Pg&e Likely To Take Hard Line On Issue Of Paying Punitive Damages
PG&E is aggressively fighting what could be the costliest fall out yet from the deadly pipeline blast in San Bruno -- a special lawsuit payout to explosion survivors that could reach billions of dollars in punitive damages.

In new L.A. budget, Villaraigosa calls for elimination of 669 city jobs
Kate Linthicum and David Zahniser @
The bulk of the job cuts in the mayor's $7.2-billion blueprint would affect civilian employees at the LAPD. Some officials quickly vowed to oppose any layoffs, saying city employees have repeatedly made sacrifices to solve the multi-year budget crisis.

Mirkarimi Ethics Hearing 'Uncharted Waters' For SF
John Wildermuth @
The city's slow-moving effort to oust suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi from office moves Monday afternoon to a misconduct hearing before the Ethics Commission, but don't expect any courtroom fireworks. Or even a courtroom.

Romney on spending: Guns triumph over butter
Andrew Taylor @
WASHINGTON -- Reducing government deficits Mitt Romney's way would mean less money for health care for the poor and disabled and big cuts to nuts-and-bolts functions such as food inspection, border security and education.

Easing The Burden Of Deferrals
A bill working its way through the state Senate would require the state to share the financial burden it causes the next time it delays money due K-12 districts. Only a portion of the short-term interest charges that many districts face when forced to take out short-term loans would be reimbursed. But SB 1491 at least would recognize that billions of dollars in late payments can create an expensive cash crisis for districts, many of them in low-income areas.

Viewpoints: Obama, Romney keep flip-flopping on immigration reform
President Barack Obama and likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney will spend the next several months drawing contrasts and trying to convince voters that they have completely different political philosophies.

Solar Power Producers Hesitate To Embrace New DWP Program
Catherine Saillant @
A pilot program would let building owners with solar panels reduce their power bills and sell excess energy to the DWP, but some say they're worried the new system will be plagued by the same delays and poor customer service as an older system.

Lawmakers Move To Curb Hospitals From 'capturing' Patients
The emergency room practices of a major California hospital chain have prompted new legislation to reduce what critics describe as a pattern of "capturing" insured patients in order to boost bills.