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THE NOONER for May 3, 2012

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Good morning from Dana Point, where it's cold and rainy. Later today, challengers to Darrell Issa in this district will be debating at MiraCosta College, but Issa won't be there. I'll get back to looking at districts tomorrow...there is too much other news to soak up my morning hour of Nooner time today.

Yesterday, an independent expenditure report was submitted by "Vote Matters" in favor of Joe Coto and against Jim Beall for SD15, and for Proposition 29. Oakland-based committee supporting Prop. 29...think we might know who is behind this...

Anyway, the money from Vote Matters is old money that came from tribes and other interest groups that gave to another committee, California Matters, which closed up shop last year and turned over its funds to Vote Matters. 

AD46: The hot race for the Sherman Oaks-Van Nuys Assembly district is getting more contentious as the IEs start coming in. EdVoice and the Charter Schools Association has come in big for Brian Johnson. Yesterday, LA County Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman sent a cease and desist letter to EdVoice, demanding that it stop using the name "Democrats for Education Reform" in its IE efforts. The party did not endorse in the race. 

CTA hasn't played yet in the race in which it has endorsed Andrew Lachman, and it's unclear if the charter spending for Johnson (over $200,000 already) will be matched.

GO/NO GO TIME: With one week left before signatures need to be turned in, SEIU has dropped its two healthcare initiatives after reaching agreement with the California Hospital Association, reports the LAT's Michael Mishak. The agreement "facilitates" discussions between non-union hospitals and the union.

As both the governor's tax plan and the Munger initiative begin submitting signatures, the LA Times editorializes "Munger should stand down."

Meanwhile, California Forward is beginning to submit signatures for its ballot measure, and the word is that they have plenty of signatures for the constitutional amendment. However, with growing anxiety by labor and some local government groups, there is a buzz that a deal might drop the initiative and replace it on the ballot with a modified, but still significant, government reform constitutional amendment approved by the Legislature. 

The play would drop the most contentious issues--"pay as you go" for legislation and "Community Strategic Action Plans"--but keep things such as 72 hour notice requirements for legislation, a 2-year budget cycle and performance-based budgeting. The compromise needs two-thirds votes of both houses and it sounds like the votes might come together before next week's practical deadline to submit signatures.

John Myers looks at what is likely to be on the November ballot.

FRENEMIES: The California Labor Federation is dropping mail criticizing Democrat Henry Perea for not supporting "dual tracking," which allows homeowners to stave off foreclosure while going through loan modification. Don't expect it to hurt Perea's reelection chances in AD31, but it's a shot across the bow from labor for future runs.

DISMISSED: The perjury and voter fraud case against Richard Alarcon has been dismissed by Superior Court judge Kathleen Kennedy, finding that the district attorney failed to present exculpatory evidence to the grand jury.

TRIPLE FLIP: Assembly Budget Chair Bob Blumenfield has perfected the airport security footwear removal process, flipping each shoe from his foot to his hand with perfect flips. 

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SEIU Drops Initiatives As Part Of California Hospital Accord
Michael J. Mishak @
A labor union that pushed a pair of ballot measures to rein in excessive hospital billing and expand healthcare for the poor has dropped them -- in exchange for an agreement that, among other things, enlists the hospital industry in the union's organizing efforts.

Darrell Steinberg says pension reform legislation still on track
Jon Ortiz @
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said this week that public pension reform legislation is still on track for this year, although he wasn't sure about the timing.

UC Davis Leaders Unveil Plan To Reform Handling Of Protesters
Darrell Smith @
UC Davis leaders have laid out a list of proposed reforms in the wake of last November's pepper-spraying of students by campus police.

Moody's Applauds Plan To Let UC Campuses Set Own Tuition
Kevin Yamamura @
Ratings agency Moody's Investors Service applauded a new University of California, Berkeley proposal to give each UC campus more autonomy, particularly when it comes to setting tuition rates.

UC Looks Beyond California To Make Ends Meet
Kevin Yamamura @
Pinched by state budget cuts, the University of California system has set its sights on a lesser tapped resource: well-off students from beyond the Golden State.

California's Truly Loopy Tax Loophole
George Skelton @
Giving companies doing business in California a tax incentive not to hire or invest here is costing the state $1 billion a year. It's time to change the law.

Report: SF School District Violated Special Education Laws
Trey Bundy @
The San Francisco Unified School District has violated more than 100 special education regulations in the past year, according to a recent report by the California Department of Education. The violations include failing to properly assess students' disabilities, implement federally mandated services and employ qualified staff to work with special-needs students.

Ad Watch: 'Interview' With Assembly Candidate Pugno Is Heavy On Fiction
A 60-second radio ad opposing Assembly candidate Andy Pugno is airing in the Sacramento area this week through the California Tribal Business Alliance, which spent $25,000 for it. The ad is a fictional interview with Pugno, running against fellow Republican Beth Gaines for the 6th District seat in Placer, El Dorado and Sacramento counties. Below is the ad and analysis by The Bee's Jim Sanders...

Brown's Tax Hike Finishes Signature Gathering
John Myers @
Supporters of Governor Jerry Brown's tax increase initiative believe they've got the signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot, less than seven weeks after hitting the streets.

FPPC Shelves Plan To Require Disclosure By California Political Bloggers
contrast, mandatory disclosure would have created an entirely new category of disclosure, by bloggers themselves, that reader @
The director of California's political watchdog agency is shelving her proposal to require bloggers to disclose payments they receive from political campaigns.

Lawmakers Try To Limit Hospital Executives' Pay Packages
accessing this site, you accept our @
California lawmakers on Wednesday approved a bill that would require taxpayer-funded health care districts to restrict lavish payouts to executives.  ...

Refunds Fill Californians' Wallets But Could Drain State Budget
Chris Megerian @
California taxpayers had a good April -– they're getting more than $2.6 billion in income tax refunds. But that's bad news for the state’s bottom line, because accountants expected to pay out only $2 billion.

UC Berkeley's John Yoo Torture Suit Tossed Out
Bob Egelko @
John Yoo, the UC Berkeley law professor who advised President George W. Bush on interrogation of terror suspects, can't be sued for allegedly authorizing a prisoner's harsh treatment even if it amounted to torture, a...

Faltering In Special Education, LA Unified Seeks Answers
Joanna Lin @
After failing for the eighth straight year to meet service delivery targets for special education, Los Angeles Unified School District has begun interviewing staff to understand why records indicate thousands of students with disabilities are not receiving their prescribed services.

CSU Listens Up, Reconsiders Presidents' Pay Policy
Nanette Asimov @
California State University trustees say they are finally getting the message that they can't afford to pay campus presidents ever higher salaries. On Tuesday, the trustees will consider axing a policy adopted in...

California school districts wary on tax hike
Gov. Jerry Brown wants K-12 districts to plan for the next school year as if voters will pass his $9 billion tax hike in November, but the vast majority of them are refusing to do so, according to a new Legislative Analyst's Office survey.

Judicial Council Opposes Fast-tracking Environmental Challenges
The Judicial Council, the policy arm of the California court system, has come out against legislation that would fast-track legal challenges to development projects under the state's landmark environmental law.

Negative ads increase dramatically during 2012 presidential election
Morgan Little @
A study by Wesleyan University shows a staggering leap in negative advertising during the 2012 presidential campaign, coinciding with a huge growth in spending by outside groups eager to influence voters.

Health-care issue emerges in races
Jonathan Allen and Jennifer Haberkorn @
In 2012 House and Senate races, the president's health care law is re-emerging.

Third-party Candidate For Potus: Anyone? Walker?
Alexander Burns and Emily Schultheis @
Eyes are on David Walker, former U.S. comptroller general, as a potential independent candidate. | AP Photo

Calderon Replaces Vargas On Mortgage Conference Committee
Torey Van Oot @
Sen. Ron Calderon is replacing fellow Democratic Sen. Juan Vargas on a newly created joint conference committee on legislation to tackle mortgage and foreclosure issues.