Around The Capitol

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THE NOONER for March 18, 2014

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  • Lots of changes are still being made to the district pages, with formal ballot titles, websites, and candidates being added/removed as counties update their candidate lists.

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  • @BacteriaBear - "Welcome to the first official day of the next Speaker's race. Want to review the odds @UnrulyUnruh? Who's in, who's out?"
  • @UnrulyUnruh - "@BacteriaBear I think the next two years are going to be like a frat party - we're going to see a lot of freshmen try to screw each other."

MADAM SPEAKER: Yesterday, Toni Atkins was formally elected via unanimous voice vote as Speaker of the State Assembly. She becomes the third woman, first openly lesbian, and first San Diegan to hold the post.

Jon Fleischman asks why Republicans joined in the vote for Atkins. "I can think of at least one instance (ask Senator Mimi Walters about it) where this unanimous voice vote for a Speaker was used in a hit piece against a Republican. And while I didn’t support the candidate who made the attack, it was to some extent a righteous hit. My Assemblymember is a Republican, and I certainly did not vote for them with the idea that they would rubber-stamp the election of a liberal Democrat Speaker."

I just miss the suspense of a roll call vote, even though it's been 20 years since there was actual suspense. I arrived at Davis that fall and will never forget Paul Horcher pounding the desk and yelling "BROWN" on December 5, 1994. For the younger folks, if you haven't grabbed James Richardson's biography of Willie Brown off the revised  Nooner Sofa Degree list, and read about the 1994-95 antics, you are ill-prepared for a career in and around the Capitol. If you want a good taste, read pages 372-382 now on Google Books.

Meanwhile, Jerry Brown made his way to the Sheraton last night to keynote the California Labor Federation's convention. It is noteworthy that one of the keynote opportunities to the state fed will be by Anthony Cannella (R), who appears to be getting a pass this cycle despite being in a Democratic district. 

AFFIRMATIVE INACTION: SCA 5 (Ed Hernandez) was dropped from this year's legislative agenda, when Speaker John A. Pérez referred the issue to a task force. Proponents of the proposal, which would allow voters to consider restoring the ability of public universities to consider race in admissions, wanted Democrats to act on the proposal this year while they have a nominal supermajority. If the votes were there, it would likely have been to put the measure on the November 2016 ballot.

The effort stalled when three Senate Democrats--Ted Lieu, Carol Liu, and Leland Yee--wrote a letter to Speaker Pérez on March 11 urging the measure's progress be slowed. All three had voted for the measure on January 30, but then became part subject to a heavy lobbying campaign largely by residents of East Asian descent fearing that changing admissions criteria would hurt their communities. Of course, 61% of Asian voters opposed Proposition 209, according to exit poll results.

Pérez's action also has to recognize that the mobilization against SCA 5 could hurt his second most vulnerable member, Sharon Quirk-Silva. AD65 has the ninth highest percentage of Asian citizen voting age population, and Asian voters will likely decide whether Democrats hold the seat or send Young Kim to Sacramento. A vote by Quirk-Silva to put SCA 5 on the ballot could end the Democrats Assembly supermajority.

Some have asked why Ted Lieu weighed in on this issue when it wasn't really necessary and while he is in a heated battle for CD33. Well, CD33 is one of only 12 congressional districts in California in which the Asian CVAP (9.9%) is greater than the Latino CVAP (8.9%). While being reliably Democratic, the district also has the fourth highest white population in the state.

This issue will continue to grow as do the economic benefits of a university degree, and if you think the biggest fight about rationing admissions slots was that leading up to 1996, you are likely mistaken. Meanwhile, Tony Quinn draws a parallel to the state's ugly history of Anti-Asian discrimination and concludes:

Supporters of SCA 5, which included all Democrats in the State Senate until the recent uproar, argue that "underrepresented minorities" need preferences because their enrollment numbers are not keeping up with population growth. But the only way to solve this is to reduce the number of "overrepresented minorities" and that would be Asians.

Actually, if you restored affirmative action AND increased resident slots at UC, this would not necessarily be the case. If the state had maintained its investment and UC kept the share of international/out-of-state students constant at 2000's 6.0%, there would be 4,953 more slots for California residents. That would cost the state about $50 million to buy the slots, or less than 0.05% of the state budget.

Does maintaining our universities as mostly meritocracies keep California on the cutting edge of innovation? Of course.

However, liberal and conservative economists and demographers alike are growing increasingly concerned about the widening socioeconomic gaps that many argue will limit economic growth and eventually threaten sociopolitical stability. A university degree still has the effect of making breaking generational barriers to the economic ladder. I hope Speaker Pérez's task force is bipartisan, talks candidly about ensuring an "All-In" California, be it race, socioeconomic status, or geography. 

SD26 (Coastal Los Angeles): Both Isadore Hall and Chris Holden have withdrawn their endorsement of Betsy Butler, following an endorsement scuffle in AD62. From the releases:

Holden cited Butler’s bid to seek the Democratic Party’s endorsement for both the Senate seat and the 62nd district Assembly seat, which prevented other Democrats in the 62nd district from having a legitimate shot at receiving the party’s nod, as the reason for withdrawing his support.

Holden said, "Your actions have barred any candidate from having the California Democratic party’s endorsement for the June primary. As such, I will be withdrawing my support for your State Senate race."

"I was deeply disappointed by Betsy Butler's attempt to block Assembly candidate Autumn Burke from receiving the endorsement of the California Democratic Party at the pre-endorsement conference last month," said Hall. "Although I respect Betsy and have always enjoyed a good working relationship with her, I can no longer support her campaign for State Senate."

HOPES AND ANGST: Debra Saunders: California GOP halts orgy of panic

OC: Clerk-Recorder Candidate Sues Elections Chief [Norberto Santana Jr. and Nick Gerda @ Voice Of OC]

ABANDONED: Ron Unz has dropped his proposed initiative to raise the state's minimum wage to $12/hour. 

FROM THE DATA GEEK: Do dead and moved people vote? [Paul Mitchell @ Political Data Blog] - "Congressional District 33, the open seat after Rep Henry Waxman’s retirement, has big named candidates in a field of 17 hopefuls. There will be millions of dollars spent targeting voters with mail, phones, precinct walking, emails and other outreach. . . . But, this also is the district with the most "moved" voters in the state. And it has the second highest number of voters who have died, but not yet been taken off the voting rolls. For a precinct walk, this can be frustrating, but worse yet, for a mailing this can quickly drain precious campaign resources."

TAKING ISSUE: Chron reporter Carla Marinucci took issue with John Hrabe's piece yesterday that concluded Marinucci was fed a piece on Neel Kashkari's voting record from his campaign. She tweets "Too bad @johnhrabe never contacted me on this story - it is totally false" . . . "Again, John: Your story is wrong. I confirmed w every RegofVoter named in story. I expect you to correct."

CLARIFICATION: In yesterday's piece about write-in candidates, I asked whether a write-in who earns a regular spot in a top-two general election deserves to win if a candidate dies, withdraws, or is convicted of a felony. That would only be if the write-in came in first place becase the voters knew the favorite candidate was no longer likely or able to serve. However, in all cases, if that favorite candidate comes in first, the results would hold and the vacancy would be declared when the Legislature convenes. A special election would then be held.

POINT TAKEN: A reader challenges my use of the word "runoff" to describe the November general election between the top two. The term "runoff" is customarily used to denote the narrowing of an election field following the failure of a candidate to gain a majority of votes, which is not necessarily the case in the top two. Thus "general" is preferred.

#CAKEDAY: Light the candles for Shannon Grove and Joe Mathews!




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Gov. Brown Takes Swipes At GOP, Praises Labor Unions
Phil Willon @
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown gave a rousing pro-worker speech to a ballroom filled with union representatives Monday night, thanking organized labor for helping pass his vote-approved tax hike in 2012 and worker's compensation reform and vowing to be "around for the next five years."

Political high jinks give ammunition to S.F. Prop. B opponents
[...] on Monday, the Alliance for Jobs and Sustainable Growth, an advocacy group made up of business and labor interests that is lining up against the measure, sent a letter to the Department of Elections demanding that Golinger's pro-Prop. The alliance's executive director, Vincent Courtney Sr., also filed a complaint with the City's Ethics Commission accusing Golinger of violating a city prohibition on false campaign advertisements and the code of conduct for registered campaign consultants. Political opposition limitedSeveral public officials have questioned the measure, but apparently no one wants to be the politician in favor of giving voters less say in city matters. Supporters see the ballot measure as empowering voters to protect the waterfront from high-rise hotels and luxury condominiums, like the 8 Washington project near the Ferry Building that was soundly defeated at the polls in November. The measure would impact three major projects currently in the works: the Giants' planned development, the Golden State Warriors' plan to build an arena complex at Piers 30-32 and developers' efforts to add housing and business space at the industrial Pier 70. Douglas Carstens, an attorney for the initiative's sponsors, which include limited-growth advocates from the 8 Washington fight and the local chapter of the Sierra Club, paid little attention to Golinger's ballot argument move, questioning its import to the greater issue of whether voters have the authority to decide what is done on tidal lands that are held in trust for the people of the state but overseen at the local level.

L.A.'s Top Budget Official Warns Against Expanding City Services
David Zahniser and Emily Alpert Reyes @
L.A.'s top budget official on Monday advised the city's elected leaders to resist the temptation to expand services, saying they should work toward eliminating a recurring deficit by 2018 instead. In a 37-page report, City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana said a rebounding economy and greater stability in the city's own finances have created new pressure to add or expand local government. He recommended that council members focus on other initiatives, such as reducing entry-level city salaries and securing new health-care concessions from the workforce.

States Looking At $0 Community College Tuition
Nothing sparks consumer demand like the word "free," and politicians in some states have proposed the idea of providing that incentive to get young people to attend community college.

Disorderly bus shelter in Tenderloin gets the book
Tenderloin Station Capt. Jason Cherniss was a prime mover in the effort to have the shelter at the corner of Eddy and Leavenworth removed. The captain had some cringe-inducing personal experiences, from witnessing open drug use to a frequent offender using the shelter as a urinal while two elderly residents were waiting for a bus. [...] with the shelter walls concealing the lawbreakers, they had cover and protection. Golinger, who is in favor of Proposition B, the waterfront height-limit legislation, seized on an election loophole and submitted 25 arguments "against" B. (See John Coté's story on the front page.) Since there was a lottery to pick the person who would write the opposing view, and there were only 27 arguments in all, Golinger gamed the system. [...] that goes back to the first premise - that the voters are paying attention. [...] the only reason Golinger - as a member of the public - was able to submit the arguments is that no elected official wants to put his or her name on the opposition.

Speaker Atkins Will Face Tough Issues
Michael Gardner @
On this day, it was all cheers for San Diego Democrat Toni Atkins, the newly-elected Assembly speaker who overcame her own hardscrabble childhood to become a champion for others.

California Asian-Americans Show Strength In Blocking Affirmative Action Revival
Katy Murphy @
Stunned by an unexpected uprising within their party's minority base, Democratic lawmakers on Monday dropped a push to reverse California's 16-year-old ban on affirmative action in college admissions.

John Pérez shelves affirmative action measure
Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross @
Legislative leaders shelved a measure Monday that would have allowed California's public universities once again to consider race when deciding which students to admit.

Office of State Senator Tom Berryhill subject of discrimination complaint
The office of State Senator Tom Berryhill, R-Twain Harte, has been accused of "discrimination, harassment and retaliation," according to a discrimination complaint filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

GOP Pollsters: Bashing Obamacare Still Best Tactic In 2014
Alex Rogers @
As House Speaker John Boehner brands Republicans as the party of alternatives, GOP pollsters tell TIME that with midterm elections closing in, the party of "Hell, No!" isn't going away any time soon

Bill to increase campaign disclosure fails
Democrats in the state Senate fell one vote short in their effort to force political nonprofit groups to reveal their donors this election season, a response to $15 million in anonymous contributions during the 2012 campaign.

Edtracker: Edsource's Guide To Education Legislation
Last year legislators passed the Local Control Funding Formula, transforming how schools are funded and held accountable. They ended decade-old state standardized tests and created a roadmap for introducing new tests. And they approved a chunk of change for implementing the new Common Core standards.

Poll: What’s the future for pension proposals?
Jon Ortiz @
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed has officially suspended efforts to place a pension-change measure on the November ballot, but he also plans to come back with another proposal in 2016. Peer into your crystal ball, then take our poll. (Can’t see it? Click here.)

4 Democrats In State, All Freshman House Members, Facing Tough Elections
Jean Merl @
Scott Peters, Ami Bera, Julia Brownley and Raul Ruiz are defending seats the GOP hopes to win back this year.

National Briefing | Washington: 5 Million Have Enrolled for Coverage Under Health Law, White House Says
s health care law, an increase of about 800,000 in the last two weeks.

Illinois primary: Venture capitalist leads GOP race for governor
Mercury News wire @
CHICAGO (AP) -- Illinois voters will choose a Republican on Tuesday to try to win back the governor's office in a race that already has drawn intense interest from labor unions worried that the leading candidate could weaken them in the same way GOP governors have in other states across the Midwest.

Rem Koolhaas picked to design S.F. residential tower
Millennium Partners bid $70 million, while the third team, Golub & Co., was willing to pay $49 million for the property, said city project manager Mike Grisso. While it will undoubtedly generate astronomical rents, at least 27 percent of the units must be affordable to residents making 60 percent of area median income - $58,250 for a family of four. Koolhaas' firm, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, is best known in San Francisco for its design of the Prada store near Union Square, a 10-story boutique clad in bead-blasted steel with 8,000 portholes instead of windows. Muni officials deemed it a success and are starting to roll out the red carpet to other areas where transit-only lanes are marked with signs and pavement lettering - but are largely ignored. Supervisor Mark Farrell will make a motion Tuesday to change the way legislation pending before the Board of Supervisors is available to the public - the first step toward a system that would allow citizens to comment on proposed laws as they wind their way through the legislative process. The motion, which the board would have to approve, would require the board's clerk to post legislative proposals online within three days of introduction in a format that allows individuals outside of government to download and manipulate the data.

Ap California State News Wire | Union Democrat | Sonora News, Sports, & Weather, Angels Camp, Twain Harte, Jamestown - Ap Nation / World
>Union Democrat | Sonora News, Sports, & Weather, Angels Camp, Twain Harte, Jamestown

U.S. Orders Syria To Close Its Embassy In Washington
Paul Richter @
WASHINGTON -– The Obama administration marked the third anniversary of the start of Syria's civil war Tuesday by ordering Damascus to close its embassy in Washington and expelling its diplomats, though it did not break diplomatic relations with President Bashar Assad ’s government.

Senate GOP Leader Says Democrats' Gamesmanship Today Was Cause of Campaign Finance Reform Defeat
s campaign finance disclosure and transparency laws.

Another Challenge To Transgender Law |
Be relevant, respectful, honest, discreet and responsible. Commenting Rules

New School Funds Should Go To Needy Students First, Group Says
Teresa Watanabe @
A citywide coalition of community groups is demanding that 80% of $1 billion in new school funding headed to L.A. Unified be spent on needy students according to decisions made by local schools rather than district bureaucrats.