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THE NOONER for May 9, 2013

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CONTROLLER: Revenues for April came in $119.9 million below projections, leaving the year-to-date General Fund tax collections $4.56 billion over the January budget projections.

WILLIE HORTON RETURNETH?: GOP Gov. candidate Maldonado to lead charge for ballot measure to end early prison releases [Carla Marinucci @ SFChron] - "Former California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, the Republican running to challenge incumbent 3-term Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014, filed papers Wednesday to form a committee in support of a ballot measure to end early prison releases, sources say."

[for more on the story, select a paywall, any paywall: Paige St. John & Seema Mehta @ LATDavid Siders @ SacBee, Timm Herdt @ VCStar]

Most people will blow off yesterday's announcement by Maldonado as a headline generator in the quiet time leading up to the revised budget, which will have Brown in the news through next week. While that's true, there is something deeper happening. The Republican Party, or perhaps Maldonado on his own, have decided to pivot back to public safety as its defining issue.

The announcement yesterday wasn't simply an attempt to land a body blow against Brown, but rather a commitment to run a gubernatorial campaign together with a ballot initiative that would repeal a key part of the governor's budgetary solutions of the last couple of years.

Since 2003, the gubernatorial candidates for the Republican Party (Schwarzenegger and Whitman) have run on budget and deficits. These were the key issues following the state's budget collapse, and followed the low-turnout 2002 squeaker over Bill Simon, who was vastly outspent. After the surprisingly easy victory of Proposition 30 last November (which likely would have failed on the ballot in 2010 or 2014), the issue of budgets and deficits are unlikely to be dominant next year. In fact, voters will probably next engage in that debate in November 2016. What will take it's place? Maldonado, and Republicans generally, hope it will be public safety.

Not since 1998 has public safety been a significant issue in a gubernatorial campaign and, I wonder, are the voters ready to make it one?

In March, only 3% of voters named "crime, drugs, gangs" as their top state issue in PPIC's poll. Contrast that with September 1998, when 30% (37% with drugs) of voters identified the same issues as their top issue.

The 1998 election was set up after a decade of crime and immigration being the top issues, forged by the 1990-92 recession and a demographic bubble that some have argued magnified crime rates. This set up the 1998 election with crime as a driving force, even though it was subsiding and the state's prosperity was growing rapidly. And, with Gray Davis garnering the support of the then-powerful California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), the Democrat coasted to victory over the truest law-and-order gubernatorial candidate in modern times, Dan Lungren. Yes, this is the election in which Davis proclaimed that, if elected, "I would be death on violent crime!" The LAT reported that CCPOA spent $2.1 million on Davis's 1998 election, which was only part of its $5.3 million in spending that year. After being a key partner in the prison building boom and law-and-order efforts of Pete Wilson, CCPOA switched to focusing on the contracts of its members.

Fast forward fifteen years and the voters just don't have crime on their mind. And, I'm one notthat believes that politicians (at least in one cycle) can tell voters how they should prioritize their issues. In most of politics, policy debates don't drive issues--events drive issues. Meanwhile, the behemoth CCPOA that fueled the public safety theme in the 1990s has been rocked by internal division and a recent $4.96 million verdict. Despite their challenges, the union spent $2 million to get Brown elected in 2010, and negotiated a favorable contract, considering the state's budget condition.

Maldonado's plan is to sponsor a ballot initiative that will roll back Governor Brown's public safety realignment under the guise that the public is threatened by having lower-level offenders in county jails and the likely release of even lower-level offenders from county jails to make room for the former prisoners. AB 109 has certainly had its problems, both administrative and on the public safety side. However, sex offenders being re-arrested because they lived too close to a school or were looking at kiddie porn on their computers is not the sort of Willie Horton example that can galvanize, and mobilize, the public.

Finally, where will the money come from to qualify and campaign for the initiative? Maldonado will have a hard enough time raising money next year--conservatives will be skeptical of him early on and Brown will likely keep a lot of big business on the sideline. Only an organization like CCPOA can step forward and make a ballot measure a reality. But, will they break from Brown?

This is a bit of a Hail Mary for Maldonado, but given what's available in the playbook, it may be the only shot he's got. Unfortunately, a lot of stars have to align to make it a reasonable one.

[As always, I welcome your feedback...this is simply an early morning first take...]

THE GAME PLAN: California GOP leader shares election strategy [Erica Felci @ Desert Sun] - "'Winning elections is not tough. In a neighborhood election, the candidate who most looks like, sounds like, has the shared values and the shared experiences of the majority of the people in the neighborhood, that is the winner,' [Jim] Brulte said. . . 'The neighborhoods of California are changing. And we Republicans have failed to react to that change quickly enough.'"

THE DOUBLE X-FACTOR: Why Are Women Practically Non-Existent on L.A. City Council? [Hillel Aron @ LA Weekly] - "Councilman Jose Huizar's veteran chief of staff, Ana Cubas, is running to be the first Latina to represent the far Eastside in Council District 14, where she has long toiled. But the Los Angeles Times editorial board is backing lifer politician Curren Price for CD 14, curiously mouthing the establishment mantra that what L.A. really needs is another longtime, male, Sacramento legislator like Price serving on the muddled City Council. But if Cubas loses, women might re-establish a toehold on the L.A. City Council as quickly as July 23. That's because, on May 21, a big chunk of the Valley will vote in a special election to choose two finalists for a July 23 runoff for City Council District 6, which has no representative since Tony Cardenas jumped ship to join Congress. Most people expect two capable and personable Latinas, LAUSD Board of Education member Nury Martinez and former Assemblywoman Cindy Montanez, to make the CD 6 runoff set for late July."

TRENDING: Democrats are happy with the vote-by-mail trend for Rubio's SD16 special.

SQUEEZED: OC Loses $73 Million Property Tax Lawsuit Against State [Norberto Santana Jr. @ Voice of OC] - "In his decision, Judge Robert Moss ordered Orange County Auditor Controller Jan Grimes to reverse the allocation of property taxes back to the state. For the county, the budgetary implications of the ruling are stark. In 2012, supervisors avoided budget cuts, in part, by deciding along with former Auditor-Controller David Sundstrom to not forward the property taxes back to the state."



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  • Learn to lobby more effectively. Veteran lobbyist Ray LeBov offers his introductory “Legislative Process / Lobbying 101” and advanced “Lobbying 201” seminars June 6-7. $250 each. Valuable for principals and support staff at lobbying firms, organizations that employ lobbyists, public agencies, membership associations. Info / registration: or 916-442-5009.
  • Civil Litigation Manuals and Civil Procedure Classes for San Diego, Orange, and Los Angeles counties. For more information, visit
  • California League of Bond Oversight Committees: Second Annual CaLBOC Statewide Conference - May 10, 2013 in Sacramento - Keynote speakers Bill Lockyer and Assemblymember Joan Buchanan - More info and registration
  • Join Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, Councilman Steve Hansen, Supervisor Phil Serna, the Rev. Faith Whitmore and Dr. Claire Pomeroy as they are honored as recipients of Four Freedoms Awards at the Sacramento Stonewall Democrats' 9th Annual Gala, Wednesday, May 15 at the Red Lion Hotel Woodlake Conference Center, Sacramento. Purchase tickets @




Video: Abel Maldonado touts initiative to repeal prison realignment
David Siders @
Abel Maldonado, who is preparing to challenge Gov. Jerry Brown in next year's gubernatorial race, said today he will file a ballot initiative to repeal California's prison realignment, an issue Republicans consider a potential liability for Brown.

GOP Gov. Candidate Maldonado To Lead Charge For Ballot Measure To End Early Prison Releases
Carla Marinucci @
Former California Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, the Republican running to challenge incumbent 3-term Democratic Gov.Jerry Brown in 2014, filed papers Wednesday to form a committee in support of a ballot measure to end early prison releases, sources say.

Abel Maldonado blasts Jerry Brown on prison realignment, touts initiative to repeal law
David Siders @
Abel Maldonado, who is preparing to challenge Gov. Jerry Brown in next year's gubernatorial race, said Wednesday he will file a ballot initiative to repeal California's prison realignment, an issue Republicans consider a potential liability for Brown.

Maldonado, Mulling Gubernatorial Bid, Hits Brown's Prison Policy
Seema Mehta @
Abel Maldonado , in his first public move since announcing that he was considering a run for governor, on Wednesday attacked Gov. Jerry Brown ’s prison policy, arguing that Brown has made Californians unsafe by allowing certain criminals serve their sentences in county jails instead of state prison.

Legislators Take Steps To Rein In California Public Utilities Commission
Steven Harmon @
Members of an Assembly panel voted to wipe out the PUCs $1.4 billion budget to force the regulatory agency to justify how it spends its money. The PUC would also be stripped of its ability to start programs and entities that generate ratepayer hikes without the approval of the Legislature under language approved by the Assembly Budget subcommittee on Resources and Transportation.

CalPERS Says San Bernardino Has The Money To Pay Its Pension Debt - Capitol And California - The Sacramento Bee
File, 2012. CalPERS says the bankrupt city of San Bernardino has enough money to pay what it owes the pension fund.

OC Loses $73 Million Property Tax Lawsuit Against State
An Orange County Superior Court judge Wednesday ruled against the county in its lawsuit against the state Department of Finance over more than $73 million in disputed property taxes.

Unions, Lawmakers Line Up Against Koch Brothers
Patrick McGreevy and Chris Megerian @
SACRAMENTO — California legislative leaders and 10 public employee unions announced opposition Wednesday to any sale of the Los Angeles Times and other Tribune Co. newspapers to a pair of wealthy brothers who fund conservative causes throughout the country.

Former CalPERS Executive Pleads Innocent To Conspiracy Charges
Dale Kasler @
Former CalPERS Chief Executive Fred Buenrostro pleaded innocent today to conspiracy charges in connection with the pension fund's bribery scandal.

Former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado Criticizes Brown's Prison Policy
Paige St. John and Seema Mehta @
Maldonado calls Brown's handling of prison crowding an early-release 'shell game.' The Republican says there's a 'good shot' he'll run for governor.

Perez seeks revision of 'rainy day' ballot measure
The state Assembly speaker on Wednesday proposed changing a rainy day fund measure on the November 2014 ballot that had been negotiated by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Republican lawmakers three years ago to decrease budget volatility.

CalPERS Says Insolvent San Bernardino Has Cash To Pay Its Bill
Dale Kasler @
CalPERS says the insolvent city of San Bernardino has enough money to pay its past-due bill to the giant pension fund.

Maldonado launches drive to repeal inmate shift
Potential GOP candidate for governor Abel Maldonado is leading a campaign to ask voters to repeal a law that has shifted responsibility for tens of thousands of criminals from state prisons to county jails.

California Capitol Fight Between Charities Done For The Year
Torey Van Oot @
An ongoing political fight between Goodwill Industries and for-profit companies that accept used clothing in collection boxes has been put on hold in the California Capitol.

John Chiang: California’s Books Still Look Good
By Josh Richman Wednesday, May 8th, 2013 at 10:18 am in Jerry Brown, John Chiang, state budget.

$2 Per Pack Tobacco Tax On Fast Track In California Legislature
Patrick McGreevy @
A proposal to raise the tobacco tax by $2 per pack of cigarettes cleared its first policy committee Wednesday, although Republicans objected.

David Siders @
Abel Maldonado, who is preparing to challenge Gov. Jerry Brown in next year's gubernatorial race, said today he will file a ballot initiative to repeal California's prison realignment, an issue Republicans consider a potential liability for Brown.

State Working Poor Lack Education Opportunities, Report Says
Carla Rivera @
California has the highest number of working poor families in the nation, but the state does an ineffective  job of providing educational opportunities to boost them out of poverty, according to a new report released Wednesday.

Immigration bill amendments could improve or kill measure
The Senate will begin a historic debate Thursday that could overhaul the nation’s immigration system. Senators will get their first crack at modifying or killing legislation proposed by a bipartisan group of eight colleagues. The so-called Gang of Eight introduced the measure in hopes of offering a long-elusive solution to the immigration problems that have plagued the nation for decades. It’s the first real effort in six years. The road ahead is full of political peril.

Police Union Puts Another $850,000 Into Bid To Elect Greuel
David Zahniser @
The union that represents Los Angeles police officers put another $850,000 into the effort to elect mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel , according to a report posted Wednesday by the city’s Ethics Commission.

Interest Groups Reveal Shared Money, Election Role
SACRAMENTO, Calif.—More than six months after the November election, two major California political interest groups are revealing the joint role they played in ousting two incumbent Democrats from the state Assembly.

The Buzz: Former California lawmaker suggests state take control of CalPERS insurance program
A former California Assembly member suggested this week that legislators should consider reining in CalPERS' control of its long-term care insurance program if it follows through with its plans to increase premiums for some policies by 85 percent.

Census: Blacks Voted At Higher Rates Than Whites In 2012
Dan Balz and Ted Millnik @
The 2012 election produced another demographic milestone in the changing face of the nation as African Americans voted at a higher rate than whites for the first time, according to a Census Bureau report released Wednesday.