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THE NOONER for January 28, 2013

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Good morning! I'll be a bit short as it's the final day of our legislative conference and I need to get down to hear Darrell Steinberg talk at our breakfast about the legislative year ahead. Also, I'm a bit Internet compromised this morning...oh, the horror!

We had a fun politics panel yesterday with John Myers, Matt Rexroad, Kathy Baron and me. We agreed that a top question that we'll be looking to see answered this year is how and when the leadership in both parties in the Assembly and Senate turns over and whether the large freshmen class in the Assembly can yield lasting power. The best question offered was "Is Jerry Brown the most powerful conservative in Sacramento?"

Mod Dem Senator Michael Rubio wants to make sure that this is the year of CEQA reform.

UNDER THE MATTRESS: The LAT reports that Cal-Fire, the state's wilderness firefighting department, has been storing money with the California District Attorneys Association rather than depositing it in the state general fund. The agency received the money through settlements from people responsible for fires, and totaled $3.6 million. Add this to the debate over that homeowner fire fee . . . 

CD17: Mike Honda's shop trots out the endorsement of Barack Obama for the Silicon Valley congressman's 2014 reelection, ending speculation that he might retire, providing an opportunity for Ro Khanna. While Obama's endorsement of Pete Stark didn't keep Eric Swalwell from Congress, Khanna worked as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce in the Obama administration. It's a bit harder story to run on if your former boss is endorsing someone else.

However, there are also mixed feelings among the Silicon Valley crowd about the effectiveness of Honda, who is one of the nicest guys in politics, but business leaders aren't looking for nice. Watch the immigration debate and the subject matter of the priority for skilled visas, which is the part of immigration reform that frequently puts Democrats in a pickle. (It is included in the Senate compromise released last night, although the devil is in the priority details.)

With Stark's departure, the oldest member of the Bay Area delegation is Nancy Pelosi at 72, and she's clearly planning on running in 2014. Honda is 71, Anna Eshoo is 71, Zoe Lofgren is 65, Jackie Speier is 61, and Swalwell is 32.

SD32: While Larry Walker pulls down the endorsements of Congresswoman Gloria Negrete McLeod and former Assemblymember John Longville, Norma Torres gets the Baca machine's support in the Democratic Party endorsement caucus. Walker didn't request consideration for the endorsement. Meanwhile, Republican Ontario mayor Paul Leon picks up the support of Democratic Party superdonor Kareem Ahmed.

AD07: West Sacramento councilmember Mark Johannessen (D) becomes the first candidate to jump in to the Sacramento area Assembly district. Perhaps there are still a few demands on his father's list for offering the lone Senate Republican vote on that 2002-03 budget. Maurice Johannessen, or MoJo as the Redding Republican was called, openly carried a card with a list of items he wanted, most notably a new veterans home in Redding. Termed out, he was appointed by Gray Davis to serve as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, a job he held for one year before Arnold Schwarzanegger fired him.

Dan Walters rains on the governor's balanced budget and pension reform parade, reminding readers that California has large outstanding pension and retiree health debts.

Meanwhile, California hasn't been reporting it actual jobless claims, leading Ezra Klein to ask whether that's skewing the national jobs picture too positively. 




Join your colleagues from around the state for a day of in-depth discussion on current and future issues facing public retirement in California at the 23rd Annual Southern California Public Retirement Seminar.

Thursday, February 28th, 2013 - 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM; Lakewood Civic Center, Lakewood, California (10 minutes from Long Beach Airport)

Registration Fee: $190

Register online or contact us directly


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California Pension Funds Still Face Huge Liabilities
Dan Walters @
CalPERS and its smaller cousins – especially the California State Teachers' Retirement System – still have multibillion-dollar unfunded liabilities, plus many billions more in retiree health care commitments that have remained unfunded.

Daniel Borenstein: Jerry Brown, Kamala Harris Ducking Legal Defense Of Bill To Curb Pension Spiking
Local @
Lawsuits in Contra Costa, Alameda and Merced counties could open door to abusive spiking in 17 other counties. But so far governor and attorney general have been missing, leaving judge wondering who will defend new law.

CIM Not The Main Candidates For Expansion, Say State Prison Official
Canan Tasci @
A state prisons spokesman said that while the Chino is a possible sites for more beds in the near future, prisons in San Diego and Ione are more likely candidates.

UC Berkeley Chancellor To Head Initiative For Public Universities
Larry Gordon @
After retiring in June, Robert J. Birgeneau will head up a national effort to help public universities in an era of reduced tax support and changing demographics.

Senate Group Reaches Immigration Deal
Manu Raju @
The broad agreement was put together by the influential Gang of Eight senators. | AP Photos

Moderate Michael Rubio Takes On California's Environmental Law
Torey Van Oot @
State Sen. Michael Rubio says he first wondered if something were wrong with California's environmental review law during his days as a Kern County supervisor, when he saw it used to slow wind and solar projects he considered green by their very nature.

Brown's Two Key Sentences
George Skelton @
The governor touched only briefly on streamlining environmental regulations in his State of the State address. But reformers were pleased.

What Brown Told The Legislature About CA's Destiny
In his 2013 State of the State Speech, Gov. Jerry Brown delivered one overarching message to his fellow Democrats who control the Legislature: You must look to the future and govern with prudence because you are entrusted with California’s destiny.

Elections Will Bring A Big Shake-up On L.A. City Council
David Zahniser @
Seven seats will have new members, the largest number of incumbent-free council races in more than a decade.

An Early Start To March 5 City Election
Rick Orlov @
For an increasing number of Angelenos, election day actually begins next week. Starting on Feb. 4, the City Clerk's Office will begin sending out ballots for the March 5 election to those folks who have registered to be permanent absentee voters. In the last mayoral primary, the vote-by-mail votes were nearly 38 percent of the ballots cast.

Brown Puts Former Prisons Critic Atop Oversight Agency
Gov. Jerry Brown says it's time for the federal courts to end their oversight of medical care and other operations within the California prison system, and he's named a somewhat surprising ally to help him make the case.

Paul Ryan Says Obama Seeks 'Political Conquest' In Second Term
Michael A. Memoli @
Paul Ryan this weekend called upon Republicans to remain united against a president he sees as bent on "political conquest" in his second term.

Immigration reform plan worked out by bipartisan Senate group
Erica Werner @
A bipartisan group of leading senators has reached agreement on the principles for a sweeping overhaul of the nation's immigration laws, including a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in this country.

UC Berkeley leader to head higher ed initiative
The University of California, Berkeley's outgoing chancellor plans to lead a national effort to study and advocate for public colleges and universities.

Homeless Advocates Object To Sacramento County's Plan For Parkway Permits
Brad Branan @
A proposal that events involving 50 or more people in the American River Parkway be required to have county permits has homeless advocates – including church groups – up in arms.

Days Of Small K-3 Classes Look Done For In California
Lisa Leff @
California embarked on an ambitious experiment in 1996 to improve its public schools by putting its youngest students in smaller classes. Nearly 17 years later, the goal of maintaining classrooms of no more than 20 pupils in the earliest grades has been all but discarded-- a casualty of unproven results, dismal economic times and the sometimes-fleeting nature of education reform.

Report Provides Tiny Picture Of California Gun Crime
Keegan Kyle @
In 1995, amid the most violent period of California’s history, an assemblyman and former sheriff’s deputy from Elk Grove identified gaps in the statewide gun policy debate.

Unarmed Man Killed By Deputies Was Shot In The Back, Autopsy Says
Wesley Lowery @
Jose de la Trinidad, a Culver City man fatally shot by L.A. County sheriff's deputies in November, was shot seven times, all from behind, according to his autopsy.

Secret Hearings In Case Of Chandra Levy Slaying
WASHINGTON -- A judge has been holding secret hearings in the case of the man convicted in the 2001 killing of Chandra Levy, the latest twist in a high-profile murder that went unsolved for years and captivated the public because of the interns romantic relationship with a California congressman.

The challenging math of passing immigration reform
Noam N. Levey @
WASHINGTON – Senators from both parties are expressing enthusiasm for pushing a comprehensive overhaul of the nation’s immigration system.

Boehner mum on immigration plan
Jake Sherman @
Speaker John Boehner is not taking a position on the bipartisan Senate immigration proposal.

Threat Of Automatic Cuts Costly To Federal Agencies
The drastic $85 billion in automatic spending cuts Congress approved in hopes of heading off another deficit showdown may or may not occur, but federal agencies say the threat has been disrupting government for months as officials take costly and inefficient steps to prepare.

Rove: 'Huge step' on immigration
Breanna Edwards @
The Republican gives the Senate progress on immigration a thumbs up.