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THE NOONER for March 7, 2014
After more than four great years as a reporter and blogger, I'm going to be leaving the Los Angeles Times later this month. The decision was a difficult one, especially since covering the governor for the paper is the only job I've ever wanted since I started covering Sacramento back in 1997. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do next, but I’m banking on the fact that being able to write in complete sentences is a skill that can be put to good use somewhere.
I've learned so much at the Times, and am happy to see an infusion of young talent at the paper and throughout the Capitol press corps. But with my 40th birthday on the horizon, the time seemed right to step away and take a deep breath and take stock. As mid-life crises go, it seemed cheaper than buying a sports car and getting pectoral implants. I care deeply about this state and its future, and may get a bit more involved in some issues I am passionate about.
I also hope to continue to share information and observations about this state and its politics, but I'm not sure exactly where or what form that may take. In the meantime, I'll be going through the bucket list: taking another crack at Gravity's Rainbow, honing my Spanish skills, cooking the entire French Laundry cookbook, and preparing for the upcoming season of Game of Thrones.
Though the future remains undefined, one thing remains certain: I’m not going anywhere. But I am entertaining all reasonable offers. You can find me at @anthonyyorklat for now or at any place around the Capitol with a decent espresso and a wireless connection.
For those that you don't know, Anthony and I started working together in 2005 by writing The Roundup together virtually in the wee hours of the morning, which we did for three years. It was a great experience and then I needed more time to during the worst budget years to fight for community colleges. He eventually moved on and left our baby in the hands of our friend John Howard, and I started The Nooner in 2011 primarily to look at election consequences of redistricting.
Anthony and I, along with a handful of other people whose names you know, have this deeply burning fire-in-the-belly for this state and its people. We text/email/call each other 24/7/365 to borrow on each other's experiences to interpret the developments of the day. Sure, we love politics, but we love far more the people that toil in politics and policy to make this state better.
I have no doubt that after taking a breather from the grind of a daily deadline, our friend Anthony York will be carrying his great experience from the Los Angeles Times, Capitol Weekly, and Capitol Alert/Bee to the next project that will make us proud and strengthen our state.
AURAL PLEASURE: Speaking of Anthony, he joins John Myers for this week's Capitol Connection podcast, hopefully not for the last time.
DEADLINE: Today is the filing deadline for state and local offices on the June 3 ballot. If no eligible (non-term limited) incumbent files, the deadline is extended until Wednesday, March 12.
MICRA: The petition firm seeking signatures for the initiative to lift medical malpractice caps and require drug testing for doctors have ordered more signatures at $1 per hit. The campaign had "called in" the signatures 10 days ago and, with a legislative deal seeming unlikely, appear to have been coming up short. The proponents of the initiative have until March 24 to submit 504,760 valid signatures a may just be spooked by the recent failure of the AB 1266 referendum, which submitted 619,387 signatures but failed with validity of only 78.7% for valid signatures of 487,484.
REFORM-MINDED: Democrats propose fewer, cheaper gifts for state lawmakers [John Myers @ News10] - "With weeks of scandal headlines leaving what many worry is a collective cloud over the California Legislature, Democrats in the state Senate have decided it's time to do something."
The limits would apply to state officials and designated employees and, by the press release, don't appear to affect the current limits for local government officials and designated employees.
DRAINED: California positively gets a negative from Tesla on battery factory [Jerry Hirsch @ LAT] - "Tesla has already ruled out California for the plant costing as much as $5 billion and employing 6,500 workers. Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas are in the running."
DEMOCRATS CONVENE: Today, the California Democratic Party gathers for its annual convention at the Westin Bonaventure in downtown Los Angeles. In addition to trying to determine which elevator was used for In the Line of Fire, the main order of the business will be finalizing the consent calendar endorsements and sorting out those that were referred from regional endorsing caucuses to the convention. The caucuses take place tomorrow and the floor votes will be on Sunday (when there will undoubtedly be several challenges to quorum).
Last month, at regional caucuses, if a candidate received 70% of delegate votes for endorsements, that candidate was placed on the consent calendar. If one candidate received 50% but not 70%, the race will be subject to the caucuses tomorrow afternoon. At those caucuses, non-incumbents need 60% to be added to the consent calendar and incumbents need 50%. These caucuses are only of state central committee members (convention delegates), meaning they are smaller than the regional events which included county central committee and club members.
Here's a list of all of the endorsement recommendations.
Also competing for endorsements this weekend are statewide officials. All endorsements are uncontested except for Controller and Secretary of State. In the former, Speaker John A. Peréz and BOE member Betty Yee will seek the endorsement; in the latter, Derek Cressman, Alex Padilla and Leland Yee hope for the party's nod.
SCAVENGER HUNT! At the convention, delegates can take part in the Fiona Ma Scavenger Hunt, with the most difficult challenge being "Hug Eric Bauman. (And, don't hug Bob Hertzberg)."
For those attending, e-mail me your observations and updates! Confidential unless you want credit.
COLOR ME PURPLE: Poll: Half of all millenials independent [Natalie Villacorta @ Politico] - "Half of millennials identify as independents up from 38 percent in 2004, according to a new poll. These are the highest levels of political disaffiliation the the Pew Research Center has recorded for any generation in its 25 years of polling."
ELECTIONTRACK DAILY E-MAIL: Now that there is is a steady stream of $1,000+ contributions from state candidate-controlled committees, ElectionTrack is busy again. There's a group of true geeks that have been getting a daily e-mail at midnight of all "late" (large) contributions reported that day. You can sign up in the window in the upper left of www.electiontrack.com. The e-mail is a bit basic, as I wrote the script a long time ago. I'll try to improve it this cycle.
"LATE" CONTRIBUTIONS: Additionally, the $1,000+ contributions are now being posted to the AroundTheCapitol.com district pages. They are under fundraising in the final column.
GO AGS: UC Davis establishes center for coffee science study center; possible major to follow [Edward Ortiz @ SacBee]
MERCY RULE: Los Angeles Clippers 142, Los Angeles Lakers 94
THE TOE: The good doc yesterday rewrapped my toe into an entire soft cast of my foot and swapped out my savvy cane for crutches for up to six weeks. This is going to be fun.
DEPT OF CORRECTIONS: I committed the ultimate sin and labeled Amy Howorth an attorney, while the SD26 candidate is actually mayor of Manhattan Beach.
#CAKEDAY: Light those candles for Victor Arranaga, Claire Conlon (BIG 3-0!), Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald (Sunday), Liz Mooney McGuire.
TOP HEADLINES ON AROUNDTHECAPITOL.COM AS OF 12:00PM
California Controller John Chiang proposes prefunding state retiree health care
Jon Ortiz @ sacbee.com
A new tally of unfunded state retiree health care costs shows long-term obligations grew by hundreds of millions of dollars last year, prompting Controller John Chiang to propose a plan on Thursday to chip away at the debt..
Mayor Quan touts Oakland's progress in state of city address
Will Kane @ sfgate.com
In an hourlong, winding talk that felt more like a classroom discussion of city government than a soaring pronouncement of Quan's intention to win re-election this year, the mayor touched on an array of issues, including a drop in violent crime, falling unemployment, the city's balanced budget, a booming regional economy and her efforts to keep Oakland's three major sports teams within city limits.
Lawmaker Proposes Making California Secretary Of State Post Nonpartisan
Melanie Mason @ latimes.com
The office of secretary of State would be stripped of partisan affiliation under a new proposal by Assemblyman Jeff Gorell.
The Initiatives Are Not Blooming
Timm Herdt @ vcstar.com
As of Tuesday, 48 proposed ballot initiatives had been reviewed and cleared for circulation, with the goal of garnering a place on the November ballot. Fear not, however, those of you fearful of contracting ballot fatigue. Most of them are either the pipe dreams of would-be reformers who never had a prayer of raising the $1.5 million or so needed to actually place something on the ballot, or glorified news releases from politicians who could get a cheap one-day story by filing a proposal.
California School Spending Goal Would Cost $36 Billion More
Dan Walters @ blogs.sacbee.com
Representatives of the Education Coalition told a state Senate budget subcommittee Thursday that despite increases in school spending in the current state budget and promises of more in the next one, California still needs to spend much more money on education.
State Senate Is Down To One Black Member, Who's Not Happy About It
Patrick McGreevy @ latimes.com
Wright took a leave of absence pending a May 16 court hearing in which he will ask a judge to invalidate a jury’s verdict that found the senator guilty of eight felonies, including perjury and voter fraud. Prosecutors said Wright lied when he said he lived in the 35th Senate District.
Special Education Needs A "Do-Over" State Panel Told
Jane Meredith Adams @ edsource.org
Eight minutes into a public meeting on how to reform the stateâs vast special education system, the woman who ran special education in California for nine years came up to the microphone. Alice Parker was blunt.
The Buzz: John Burton pledges neutrality in Dem races for California controller, secretary of state
the numbers @ sacbee.com
As California Democrats open their annual convention in Los Angeles today, the party’s leader has declared neutrality in the two competitive statewide Democratic primary fights: controller and secretary of state.
'House of Cards' mind-set threatens young activist interest
In California, a state where real-life political corruption scandals are in the headlines, it's also no wonder that idealistic, engaged teens like Isabelle Gardner, a junior at Marin Catholic High School and co-leader of the Marin County Youth Commission, may soon be the rare exception. A half-century after President John F. Kennedy's call to arms - "Ask not what your country can do for you" - political scientists and politicians alike express concern that young Americans' inclination toward activism is being dampened by cultural messages that public service is for backstabbers and suckers. Feeling disconnected"With cynicism at all-time high - and the approval rating for Congress and the Legislature so low - we're seeing that people don't feel connected," said Alison Howard, a political science professor at Dominican University in San Rafael. Especially young people, who don't know anything except what they see on television, which is negative. Because the hard-working (public servants) who go to work every day just don't get covered. To Patrick Dorinson, who has worked for Republican governors and now hosts a political radio talk show in Sacramento, the problem is that public service "has become a business, like everything else." Mary Marcy, president of Dominican University, says schools and colleges can take a role in bumping up those numbers with efforts that counter "a cynicism that is tangible and disheartening." The answer at Dominican was to open the doors to Congress to Campus, a program sponsored by the Stennis Center for Public Service, which brings former House members on campus to teach classes, run seminars and engage in discussions on the challenges and payoffs of local public service. [...] she's the district manager for the Sutter County Resource Conservation District, where she works with natural resources officials and helps farmers navigate state water regulations.
California Water Official Hopes For End To Zero Allocation | Business | Fresnobee.com
Lewis Griswold @ fresnobee.com
How much money do people make in the education field in the Valley? Consult our database.
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed's Budget: Booming Economy Won't Help Much To Restore Services
The fiscally conservative Democrat's proposed funding plan for the budget year that begins in July follows a similar theme of very slow growth seen in the past two years. Before that, capping a decade of deficits, San Jose leaders three years ago slashed services, laid off city employees and cut pay to close a $115 million shortfall.
California Legislature Considers Ethics Reform Bills
Patrick McGreevy @ latimes.com
A spate of political scandals has prompted a flurry of legislation aimed at restoring the public's trust.
Calif. Analysts Doubt Highway Patrol Aircraft Need
JUSTIN PRITCHARD @ sacbee.com
The California Highway Patrol's fleet of airplanes and helicopters may be getting old, but state lawmakers should not fund the purchase of replacements until the state police force justifies why it needs 26 new aircraft, according to the independent Legislative Analyst's Office.
Economix Blog: Three Worthwhile Initiatives in the Obama Budget
Within the proposed federal budget are at least three ideas that deserve serious consideration: spending on infrastructure like roads and bridges, job training and early childhood education, writes an economist.
Obamacare Extension Of Nonconforming Health Plans Won't Affect Many Californians
Tracy Seipel @ mercurynews.com
In California, even if the state Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown approve the extension by changing current law, most of the 1.1 million Californians whose nonconforming plans were canceled last year wouldn't likely benefit, a state Insurance Department official said Thursday.
Fremont-based Water Agency May Declare Emergency Shortage, Enforce Mandatory Restrictions
Chris De Benedetti The Argus @ contracostatimes.com
That could be southern Alameda County's stark new reality as people who water lawns too often could get slapped with a misdemeanor if the Alameda County Water District board declares an emergency water shortage Thursday with mandatory limits on landscape irrigation.
California Lawmaker Wants To Stop 'execessive' School Superintendent Pay | Pass / Fail | 89.3 Kpcc
Join Alex Cohen and A Martínez for a conversational and witty look at the issues people are buzzing about.
'House of Cards' mind-set threatens Millennials' idealism
Carla Marinucci @ sfgate.com
In a country obsessed with the Machiavellian exploits of "House of Cards" and its villainous lead character, Frank Underwood, it's no wonder that Millennials like Juleah Cordi - hopeful, passionate about causes and totally hooked on politics - are in danger of becoming a vanishing species.
Calif. High-Speed Rail Agency Will Appeal Judge's Latest Ruling
Tim Sheehan @ fresnobee.com
The California High-Speed Rail Authority plans to appeal a court ruling that would send the agency to trial on whether its planned bullet train can live up to performance requirements required under state law.
Neel Kashkari Represents A New Image For California GOP
Dan Walters @ sacbee.com
Neel Kashkari is young, smart, accomplished, articulate and relatively moderate, and embodies Californiaâs incredible cultural diversity. He is, in other words, exactly the sort of candidate that the California Republican Party must offer voters if it is ever to become relevant again. And itâs too bad, therefore, that heâs wasting his energy on a campaign for governor he cannot win.