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THE NOONER for November 24, 2014



Happy Turkey Week from the Nooner's Portland office, where I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving with my mom and extended family. On the drive up over the last couple of days, I listened to the first nine episodes of the Serial Podcast from This American Life. Absolutely amazing journalism. So, if you have a long road trip this week, I highly recommend it. You can subscribe to it in iTunes, or stream from the site. And, make sure to listen to it in order. 

Another great aural pleasure is this week's Slate's Amicus podcast, which looks at the issue of when somebody is too mentally ill to execute. Albeit from a left-leaning perspective, the podcast raises some fascinating issues related to the case of Scott Panetti, who is scheduled to be executed in Texas on December 3.

Panetti was the subject of a SCOTUS decision authored by Anthony Kennedy that held that an individual could not be executed if he were so mentally ill that he could not discern the purpose of the punishment. The Court then remanded the case to allow lower-level courts to examine the facts of Mr. Panetti's mental capacity, and those courts found that he had sufficient capacity, at least at the time of trial. Yes, a trial in which he represented himself wearing a cowboy outfit and purple neckerchief and attempted to call Jesus Christ to the witness stand. 

Anyway, the facts are fascinating, and the podcast is worth a listen, regardless of where you stand on the death penalty or this particular case.  

Here are the updates in the two outstanding races. The numbers next to the vote total are the changes from the last report.

AD39 (East San Fernando):

  • Patty Lopez (D) - 22,558 (+681)
  • Raul Bocanegra (D-inc.) - 22,139 (+487)

AD66 (Torrance):

  • David Hadley (R) - 54,090 (+913)
  • Al Muratsuchi (D-inc.) - 53,345 (+1,297) 

The results in the update shouldn't be unexpected. In AD66, we're seeing the typical partisan bias for Democrats in late absentees and provisionals. However, in AD39, the partisan bias is split between the two Democrats, thus no race tightening. While Friday was a good update for Muratsuchi, it's highly unlikely there are enough votes left to count to close the current 745-vote margin.

LA Weekly's Hillel Aron looks at the random ballot quirk that may have helped Patty Lopez earn a ticket to Sacramento:

Says [Paul] Mitchell, "For decades, it's been there’s Democrats and Republicans. You just go down the row. The tenth race, out of nowhere, there's two Democrats on the ballot. How many voters would have noticed that the tenth race is different than ninth?"

In summary, on the ballots in AD39, based on the statewide alphabetical ballot rotation by office in each county, the Democratic candidate landed in the first spot. Then, in the only Dem on Dem race in AD39, Patty Lopez landed in the top spot while fellow Democrat Raul Bocanegra was in the second. So, some "ticket" voters quickly filling out a ballot punched top spot nine times and then may have seen "Democratic" as Lopez's party preference in the first spot and marked it. 

THE DEAN SPEAKETH: Gov. Jerry Brown has plenty of weapons to fight UC's Janet Napolitano [George Skelton @ LAT] - "Brown has plenty of weapons to use — including a nuclear option. He and the Legislature could completely blow up UC's scheme by reducing state funding by every dollar raised from increased tuition. Then they could negate the students' burden by using the state savings to provide tax credits for the tuition-payers."

HIZZONER SPEAKETH: Jerry Brown's UC tuition battle may boomerang [Willie Brown @ SFChron] - "That's quite a showdown looming between Gov. Jerry Brown and University of California President Janet Napolitano. My money is on Napolitano."

PROFESSOR QUINN SPEAKETH: How To Blow Nine Congressional Districts [Tony Quinn @ Fox & Hounds] - "It was quite a feat. Congressional Republicans had a chance to win nine Democratic-held House seats in California and blew every one of them – actually ending up down one seat in an election when nationally the House GOP has its largest class since the Hoover Administration. How they blew these seats is a story in itself."

MONEY MATTERS: California campaign spending boosts business-friendly Democrats [Jeremy B. White @ SacBee] - "Hoping to reshape the Democratic coalition governing the California Legislature, business-backed outside groups spent millions during the 2014 election cycle to elect Democrats they believe will be more sympathetic to their interests. Newly elected Democratic candidates aided by business-funded groups posted an impressive record. In seven out of 10 races to fill open seats, the Democratic candidate who benefited from independent spending by business groups prevailed."

ELECTION, WHAT ELECTION? Election turnout in state was far worse than previous low [John Wildermuth @ SFChron] and Record low Orange County election turnout continues downward trend [Martin Wisckol @ OCR]

NEXT! I missed these two articles by John Hrabe looking at the positioning for a possible 2016 U.S. Senate opening if Barbara Boxer doesn't run for reelection:

THREE FINGERS: If you missed this catch by NYG's Odell Beckham Jr., you must watch it. Jason Kottke explains how Beckham prepared to make exactly that catch.

PANDA NO MAS? Report: Pablo Sandoval going to Red Sox - You might think the biggest losers in this are the Giants, but it's really those street vendors that sell all those knitted panda hats. Their economy has collapsed.

NEW BEGINNINGS: On Friday, I posted on Facebook about my decision to leave my position at the Community College League of California, and I've provided that post below the birthdays.

#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Kristin Bertolina Faust and Allison Joe!

#GHOSTSOFCAKEDAYSPAST: I missed Prophet Walker's birthday, which was yesterday.


Well, as the League's Annual Convention continues, the news is now widely circulated that I resigned from the League recently to find a better work-life balance. Spending 33% of one's time on the road is just not conducive to relationships or personal health, and it was taking a toll on both.

I will always love the Community College League of California and the fact I got to advocate for community colleges for 20 years--from intern to CEO. I also appreciate the love, support, and encouragement of the board, staff, and members through the ups and downs of our advocacy through good and bad times in the state over the years.

As I seek out my next path, I hope that the League is able to find an outstanding leader committed to innovation, organizational stability, student equity, and student success. And, to the staff, I love you all!





  • California Voices for Progress is seeking a State Director to work with influential people to fight for policies that combat climate change, promote economic and educational opportunity for low-income and middle class Americans, and strengthen democracy. The Director will lead the state office and work with members to take action on policy priorities at the federal and state level.
  • The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network is seeking an experienced well-qualified advocate to direct its state legislative program. The State Legislative Director will serve as ACS CAN’s primary lobbyist at the State Capitol responsible for developing and executing its legislative agenda. Requires expertise in health policy, especially the Affordable Care Act, Medi-Cal and other access to care issues, and substantial experience working at State Capitol as legislative staff and/or lobbyist. Minimum salary: $85,000. For further details and to apply please visit:



California Campaign Spending Boosts Business-friendly Democrats | The Sacramento Bee
Jeremy B. White @
Hoping to reshape the Democratic coalition governing the California Legislature, business-backed outside groups spent millions during the 2014 election cycle to elect Democrats they believe will be more sympathetic to their interests.

CalPERS Retirees Outnumber Active Workers Soon
Ed Mendel @
In a few years CalPERS retirees are expected to outnumber active workers, a national trend among public pension funds that makes them more vulnerable to big employer rate increases.

University Of California: The Hidden Cost Of Tuition Hikes
As tuition soars, so does taxpayer-funded financial aid, becoming a larger -- though often-overlooked -- piece of the UC funding picture. Each time the state cut the university's budget during the Great Recession, UC hiked tuition, and the state, in turn, gave ever-greater sums of tuition grants to help low-income students pay for their UC educations. UC itself last year granted students $775 million out of its own funds.

Twenty Years After Prop. 187, Attitudes Toward Illegal Immigration Have Changed Dramatically In California
Josh Richman and David E. Early @
But when President Barack Obama last week signed executive orders to protect about 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, there were only muted protests in the Golden State. And polls show that more Californians back Obama on this than oppose him.

Gov. Jerry Brown Has Plenty Of Weapons To Fight Uc's Janet Napolitano
Gov. Jerry Brown may have met his match in Janet Napolitano. And the University of California president definitely is confronting a skilled adversary in the governor.

Snail-mail The Solution To Slow Silicon Valley Vote Tallies?
More than three out of four Santa Clara County voters already cast mail-in ballots -- among the highest rates statewide. And with outdated precinct equipment producing slower election night results than almost any other California county, Santa Clara County board of supervisors President Mike Wasserman said it's time to consider dropping traditional polling places altogether rather than spending millions of dollars on new machines.

Twist Of Fate Excludes Many From Obama's Immigration Plan
The timing of their deportations means tens of thousands of otherwise qualified people will not be able to rejoin their families.

Latino Voters Strongly Support Obama Immigration Action, Poll Finds
President Obama's decisions on immigration last week have angered Republicans , but have drawn strong support from a key audience, Latino voters, according to a new survey.

UC students plan walkout Monday to protest tuition hikes
J.K. Dineen @
The planned rally and march, which will include a noon walkout, comes five days after students took over Wheeler Hall in what was called a “symbolic reclamation of higher education.” [...] UC Berkeley Police have said officers would take action only in the event of “significant property damage or violence.” On Wednesday 21-year-old UC Berkeley student Jeff Noven was arrested on suspicion of vandalism and inciting a riot outside the UCSF Mission Bay campus in San Francisco, where the regents met earlier in the day to discuss the tuition hike. While most students will head home Wednesday for Thanksgiving break, student organizer Hannah Berkman said some students would likely remain at Wheeler Hall. “This is supposed to be a public university that is accessible to everyone no matter your financial resources,” said Berkman.

Obama Defends Legal Reasoning Behind His New Immigration Plan
President Obama argued Sunday that his plan to suspend enforcement of U.S. immigration law for certain violators won't clear the path for a future Republican president to take similar executive actions regarding tax laws he or she doesn't like.

How Obama's Immigration Orders Jam The GOP
What Reform? Another ignorant response, masquerading as deep concern for Democracy, is the assertion that by executing his orders Obama has killed any chance for comprehensive immigration reform in Congress. What chance?

D.A. Gascon fundraiser might have been unlawful
District Attorney George Gascón’s deputies appear to have stepped over the line when they hosted an after-hours re-election fundraiser for the boss the other evening at Ted’s Sports Bar & Grill across from the Hall of Justice. Seventeen prosecutors — mostly misdemeanor deputies — lent their names to the party invitation that was circulated to the rest of the office. Some of the eager deputies made a direct appeal for contributions from the 50 or so fellow prosecutors and office employees who attended the Nov. 13 gathering, an apparent violation of city and state political conduct rules. issued a 10-page memo with updated rules governing political activity, and he warned that “city officers and employees may not solicit political contributions from other city officers and employees, even while off duty.” No sooner did we point out the the rules to Gascón’s office than his political team shot off an e-mail thanking everyone who had cut a check, but telling them that “in an abundance of caution, we are returning your contribution to assure compliance with the California Good Government Code.”

New book about El Sistema paints unflattering portrait
When Geoffrey Baker, a music professor at Royal Holloway, University of London, traveled to Venezuela to work on a book about El Sistema, he was expecting to write a predictably upbeat account of the country's much lauded classical-music education system.

Burbank Fights 'Dirty' In Battle To Conserve Water
Chad Garland @
Thanks to California's persistent drought, the city of Burbank is resorting to "dirty" tactics in the fight to conserve water.

Trendy 'Twitter town' stretch also ranks among dirtiest streets in S.F.
Matier and Ross @
Mid-Market’s "Twitter town" isn’t just one of the trendiest streets in San Francisco — it’s also one of the filthiest, according to a new survey by the city’s controller’s office.

Gov. Jerry Brown has plenty of weapons to fight UC's Janet Napolitano
Gov. Jerry Brown may have met his match in Janet Napolitano. And the University of California president definitely is confronting a skilled adversary in the governor.

Is This Ballot Responsible for Patty Lopez's Bizarre Upset Over Raul Bocanegra?
Hillel Aron @
Barring an enormous cache of Bocanegra votes hiding under a desk or a dramatic recount by the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters, Lopez is going to Sacramento.

Debate Coming About How To Fund Infrastructure Upgrades, Pure Water, Other Programs |
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UC Students Plan Walkouts As Tuition Hike Looms
Students on campuses across the UC system plan to stage "walkouts" Monday at noon to protest proposed tuition hikes, organizers said.

Political Memo: In Partisan Washington, Health Law Faces Grave Legal Technicalities
The Affordable Care Act faces grave danger because legislative repair work that was once routine has grown impossible.

California drought: S.F. wants to add this to your tap water
Kurtis Alexander @
Most city spigots, which, since the 1930s, have gushed water from Yosemite’s pristine Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, will start delivering the Sierra supply blended with a splash of local groundwater — by many measures, a far inferior source. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission recently began digging in and around Golden Gate Park in hopes of drawing underground flows into the mix within the next two years. The move is designed to increase and diversify the city’s water reserves as California faces its worst drought in a generation. “We don’t think people will notice a difference with what they’re drinking,” said Jeff Gilman, the water agency’s groundwater project manager. In nine blind trials that the agency conducted with the public, people showed only a slight preference for Hetch Hetchy water over the new blend, while 20 percent expressed no preference at all. A panel of food writers from The Chronicle found only subtle differences between the two supplies. Wine writer Jon Bonné noted a “mineral presence” in the blended water, which he said did not diminish the taste and was potentially a positive. The groundwater, which will be drawn from a basin that extends beneath western San Francisco down the Peninsula, is rich in calcium, magnesium, sodium and other stuff that commonly spills into underground flows. Tests of the basin last year found nitrates in the water at levels that exceeded state standards. The nitrates, a nitrogen-oxygen compound that can make people sick when consumed in high doses, come from fertilizers and leaky sewage pipes that infiltrate the soil. City water officials say the nitrates will be diluted to safe levels as the groundwater is mixed with the Hetch Hetchy supply. Sodium hydroxide will be added to the groundwater, to raise its PH and reduce its natural acidity. Fluoride is also added to the current supply as a public health measure. City water officials say reintroducing the groundwater — a project expected to cost $66 million — is one of the best ways to boost supplies during times of severe drought or crisis, such as an earthquake severing links to Hetch Hetchy. David Sedlak, an environmental engineering professor at UC Berkeley and co-director of the Berkeley Water Center, said the city’s plan makes sense.

Football: Upland's Josh Woods is emerging as MVP candidate
Add the name of Upland senior linebacker-running back Josh Woods to the candidates for MVP in Southern California football.

Historical Commission Member Restores Jfk Plaque | Dallas Morning News
We published a blog item last week, after I noticed that the plaque had been defaced. I had hoped that the right person would get in touch with the right person so the repairs could be made before thousands descend on Dealey Plaza for the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.