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THE NOONER for August 19, 2013
SD02: Senate staffer and North Coast native Chris Lehman confirmed today that he's in the SD02 race.
BENCH CLEARING?: Supervisor's Fall From Grace Shakes Up the Political Landscape [Dr. David McCuan @ PublicCEO]
AURAL PLEASURE: John Myers and Anthony York tickle our ears with the Capitol Connection podcast.
BUDGET CUTTER: Tim Donnelly saves taxpayer dollars byyanking his kid from public school over the transgendered students bill.
NEW AND IMPROVED! NYT's Adam Nagourney reviews Jerry Brown 2.0.
THE LAUNDRY: Following GOP cash leads to questions [Garth Stapley @ ModBee] - "In 2011 and 2012, Stanislaus County's Republican Party quietly became a player in state political finance, taking $1.7 million from big spenders and funneling most of it to superheated campaigns throughout California."
$$$: Another insurer antes $5m up against MICRA cap lift, bringing the total to $17.5 million.
SANDY EGGO: Filner's resign/remain is up to 81%/14%. [SurveyUSA]
SB 594: As I wrote Thursday, I believe SB 594 (Hill) is one of the worst gut and amends of the session, and passed out of Assembly Judiciary yesterday with skeptical "yes" votes, but no "no" votes (video at 51:00). The bill seeks to curtail ballot measure activity of the League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties (CSAC), and is strongly supported by one of their former allies, the California Professional Firefighters (CPF), among others including other labor organizations, "good government" groups and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.
The intent of the bill may be good in ensuring public resources are not spent on ballot measures, which I agree with. Specifically, the bill would characterize proceeds of business operations of such organizations that come from local agencies, like conference attendance fees or proceeds from financing programs, as "public resources." That's not the problem.
The problem is vague language which keep any staff person of a covered organization from saying "Yes on the Water Bond" because they are paid from an organization that receives any public funds (even if a small percentage) and, while non-public funds can be segregated (as my organization does), it is very difficult to account for and segregate every employee's time. Unions do this now, and it's a huge pain in the butt, but gets even harder when you have organizations like, well, let's have an example...
Let's use the Association of California Water Agencies, a 501(c)(1) according to GuideStar. I don't know its position on this bill and haven't talked to anyone there. If I was CEO there, I could segregate all the money received from public agencies or through business activities with public agencies. However, I am being paid a salary from the general account, which assumedly includes public funds as defined by SB 594. But, as a 60-hour a week employee, how do I account for my time advocating for the water bond which I would assumedly be doing as much as possible?
The bill is specifically targeted at the League of Cities and CSAC, and 501(c)(3) organizations are exempted, so I have no personal stake. However, other education organizations I work with closely will be affected when promised amendments are made.
Ironically, much of labor's revenue comes from public agencies as well, although it's passed through the paychecks of its members or through entrepreneurial endeavors related to members or public agencies. I hear this attack all the time about critics of the community college unions I work with closely, so there is some hypocrisy to SB 594.
To the politics: strong supporter California Professional Firefighters and its local unions were instrumental in the qualification of Proposition 65, which led to the compromise Proposition 1A to limit cash grabs from local government by the state in November 2004. CPF and the League broke their alliance in 2010 when Proposition 22 was on the ballot to extend Prop. 1A to transportation money (but, notably and unfortunately for cities, not redevelopment).
While nobody will say exactly what the fight is over, many point to the cities that have declared bankruptcy and a longstanding fight over the ability for unions to pursue binding arbitration with local agencies upon impasse for employees prohibited by law from striking.
In 2000, SB 402 (Burton) was signed into law by Gray Davis to provide local law enforcement and firefighters the right to binding arbitration. The bill was hotly contested but received bipartisan votes as the combination of labor and law enforcement drew interest on both sides. After it was enacted, however, the City of Riverside sued to block it and, by 2003, the State Supreme Court found the bill conflicted with the constitution's provision that "The governing body shall provide for the number, compensation, tenure, and appointment of employees." (Article XI, Section 1(b)). The League supported Riverside's case and, despite the collaboration on Prop. 1A, unions have not forgotten and have continued to want binding arbitration, particularly in light of municipal bankruptcies in Vallejo and Stockton.
The bill is also a reminder that the rule of germaneness that we learned about when we started as legislative staffers or intern lobbyists is a joke. Until August 7 (when the Senate wasn't even officially in town), the bill dealt with education career pathways.
Under the rules of the Assembly and the Senate, "An amendment to any bill, other than a bill stating legislative intent to make necessary statutory changes to implement the Budget Bill, whether reported by a committee or offered by a Member, is not in order when the amendment relates to a different subject than, is intended to accomplish a different purpose than, or requires a title essentially different than, the original bill." (Assembly version)
Of course, the determination of germaneness is up to the presiding officer and can be appealed by the membership of the house, but with Democrat majorities in both houses, upholding that determination is not an issue.
Gut and amends are necessary, as is ignoring the germaneness rule sometimes. Right now, I'm working on legislation to fill a deficit of around $90 million to community colleges from last year's budget because redevelopment money didn't materialize as expected. It's a non-controversial item, but we need a legislative vehicle to authorize the expenditure, and I'll take any vehicle possible. However, when something is as legally complicated and politically divisive as SB 594, it just invites disgust about the institution of the Legislature that those of us love.
Should the League of Cities and CSAC, and all trade organizations, raise and segregate non-public funds? Absolutely. But, the chilling of speech by the vague language of SB 594 is an overreach, and this is a political fight rather than a legitimate concern about a current issue.
Finally, I have friends on both sides of this legislative fight and have no direct interest in it. I hated Prop. 1A and 22 sponsored by the League as overreaches and they were dealt a huge responsive political blow through redevelopment dissolution. For me, this is really just the venue for an end-of-session rant, and I thank you for listening.
TOP HEADLINES ON AROUNDTHECAPITOL.COM AS OF 12:00PM
Skimming "Excess" Pension Investment Earnings
Ed Mendel @ calpensions.com
Growing costs of under-funded pensions are taking money from other programs. Optimistic earnings forecasts are said to hide crushing debt. And the long-term viability of public pensions is questioned as similar private-sector benefits disappear.
Half Of California Voters Report Difficulty Paying For Health Care, Poll Finds
David Siders @ sacbee.com
Half of California voters say they are paying more for health care than they were a year ago, and the same percentage of voters say their health care costs are hard to afford, according to a new Field Poll.
Marijuana Industry Eager To Pay Taxes -- And Cash In On Deductions
Rob Hotakainen, McClatchy Washington Bureau @ mcclatchydc.com
As Congress wrestles with big budget cuts, one budding industry wants to help out the federal government with a novel message: Tax us, please.
Editorial: Was $7 billion from Prop. 63 spent wisely?
the Editorial Board @ sacbee.com
California spent $7.4 billion between 2006 and 2012 from an income tax on millionaires approved by voters who hoped to improve care for people who suffer from severe mental illness.
BART managers, like unions, among best compensated
Like BART's unionized workers, the agency's top managers earn compensation packages that are not quite at the top among transit systems nationwide - but they're not far from it. Union leaders, defending requests for double-digit percentage pay increases, fire back that managers have been lining their own pockets generously while asking workers to pay more toward health care and pension benefits. Near the topDespite the vitriolic rhetoric, a comparison with hundreds of transit agencies around the state and nation shows that BART is on the high side of average for senior management compensation, but not at the very top - similar to findings of an earlier Chronicle study of union pay. Among the heads of five of the nation's busiest transit systems, BART General Manager Grace Crunican makes less than three of them - with the chairman of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority taking the top spot at $350,000. Critics inside and outside the unions say BART's managers find other ways to pad their wallets, such as sometimes vesting earlier than union workers do in the system's health care plan so they can leave early with lifetime benefits. Private sectorBART brass says those techniques are just in the cost of doing business, much the way overtime swells the wallets of many union workers - such as, in an extreme example, the $180,000 one BART police sergeant made in 2011 in extra shifts. "There are higher wages, stock options and other things at private companies that the public sector can't offer, so we have to do other things like quicker vesting and severance," said BART board President Tom Radulovich. Bryant pointed, for example, to Crunican's "sweetheart deal" letting her vest next month in BART's lifetime health coverage plan after two years on the job, not five as required for other employees. [...] even the five-year vesting deadline for lifetime health, as well as the generous pension plan, is abused by managers, she said. Identical dealsOne odd twist of the negotiations process at BART is that whatever pay raises the unions receive apply to management workers as well, even the general manager.
Legislature May Decide Soon If Coastal Commission Can Levy Fines
Los Angeles Times @ latimes.com
Backers say the bill would provide an important tool to help the commission to protect California's coast.
Ac Transit Workers Reject Tentative Contract Agreement
Natalie Neysa Alund, Bay Area News Group @ insidebayarea.com
Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192, which represents about 1,800 bus drivers, mechanics, dispatchers and clerical workers among others, voted on Saturday 576-257 to reject the proposed contract, according to a statement released by the union.
California Republicans Turn To Immigration To Fight Extinction
Jake Sherman @ politico.com
Eleven of the 15 districts held by Republicans are a quarter or more Hispanic. | AP Photo
Officials Miss A Potential Solution For San Diego, Ontario Airports
Dan Walters @ sacbee.com
As San Diego evolved from a sleepy Navy town into a big city with tourism, its major industry, its waterfront airport, became woefully inadequate.
Poway Schools Rely On Mello-roos Tax Machine - For Lunches, Signs, And Old School Repairs
Joanne Faryon @ kpbs.org
Mello-Roos taxes, paid by homeowners in new developments, are a virtual ATM for the Poway Unified School District. The District has accumulated so much surplus in these special taxes it spends some of the money in neighborhoods that pay no Mello-Roos at all.
AC Transit union rejects contract offer
Amalgamated Transit Union Local 192, whose members include bus drivers, mechanics, dispatchers and clerical workers, voted 567 to 257 to turn down the contract proposal, according to union spokeswoman Sharon Cornu. The contract included a 9.5 percent raise and improved safety conditions, but also called for increased employee contributions to medical benefits.
Rough Seas Ahead As Lawmakers Embark On Plan To Save Lake Tahoe | Mcclatchy
Michael Doyle, McClatchy Washington Bureau @ mcclatchydc.com
WASHINGTON — Lake Tahoe has friends in high places, like Capitol Hill.
Political Blotter: House Democrats urge Brown to sign TRUST Act
Josh Richman @ mercurynews.com
California Democrats press Gov. Jerry Brown to sign a bill that would limit state law enforcement agencies' cooperation with federal immigration efforts; also, new insight into the nation's food-stamp hot spots.
McCain Takes His Work Home to Arizona, Promoting an Immigration Bill
Senator John McCain, the most senior member of the Senate group that drafted the bill pending in the House, is working against time to get the legislation passed.
New Field Poll: Half of Californians say they're paying more for health care this year than last
Paul Rogers @ mercurynews.com
California residents support Medicare and Medi-Cal in new Field Poll, while half say health care costs are difficult for them to afford
Dan Walters Daily
Jeremy B. White @ blogs.sacbee.com
Soon after staff working for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg issued a report faulting state spending on a payroll project, one of Steinberg's big policy accomplishments also came in for criticism.
The Buzz: Favorite phrase at Senate hearing investigating defunct computer project? 'I wasn't here'
Jon Ortiz @ sacbee.com
Officials with the California State Controller's Office spent the better part of three hours last week explaining how their defunct project to overhaul the state payroll system fell victim to vendors' shoddy work and other factors.
Mixed Reaction To Santa Rosa Skipping 2014 Tour Of California | The Press Democrat
BRETT WILKISON @ pressdemocrat.com
Clear Lake is a mark of climate change in California. Satellite measurements of the shallow, 68-square-mile lake's surface water temperature show a pronounced warming since 1992.
Hurdles, expectations for next Oakland police chief
The new chief will face an array of challenges: persistent violence, scarce resources, a population suspicious of anyone in uniform, immense pressure to complete a decadelong reform effort, and a testy political establishment at odds over the role of police in the community. The mayor, through a spokesman, says she will find someone who can do it all, while an East Oakland councilman said he wants a no-nonsense chief who will knock heads and, if necessary, ignore the mayor's crime-fighting advice. A prominent attorney said the city must find a die-hard reformer intent on fixing a crooked police force. [...] a religious leader said the city shouldn't even bother hiring a new chief until the department is clear of federal oversight. In 2012, the federal judge overseeing the case appointed a monitor and compliance director to oversee the department and implement unfinished reforms, including getting officers to report each other's misconduct and implementing a computerized early-warning system to identify abuse-prone officers. [...] Donelan, president of the Oakland Police Officers Association, said the Police Department desperately needs permanent leadership. Achieving reformsBut John Burris, a prominent civil rights attorney who filed the suit that led to the 2003 settlement, said reform has to be the department's top priority.
San Diego Mayor's Saga Shows No Sign Of Going Away
Los Angeles Times @ latimes.com
Efforts to remove Democrat Bob Filner from office in the face of sexual harassment allegations could take months to play out.
Filner, The Groper, Is Worse Than Weiner, The Wagger « Calbuzz
As one brilliant Democratic consultant neatly summed up the matter:
Christie to back GOP Senate nominee
Maggie Haberman @ politico.com
He has kept his distance from his party's candidate in the N.J. special election.
Amid New Egyptian Protests, U.S. Lawmakers Conflicted on Cutting Aid
As supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi, held more protests Sunday, some American lawmakers pushed for a cutoff in aid while others called for a more measured approach.