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THE NOONER for December 16, 2014


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TURNOUT: Well, the official election results are in, and we can now look at actual turnout statistics. Final turnout was 42.20% of registered voters. That's a little better than the 39.27% that I came up with using a primary:general turnout ratio of midterm elections since 1982, but it certainly is embarrassing. It's 16.82% lower than the 59.02% average of the previous 8 general midterm elections. It is the first time in history (at least since 1910) that turnout has fallen below 50%, although the Gray Davis re-elect was close at 50.57%.

On October 14 I wrote "So, we start with a baseline of 39.27%, and then the question becomes whether other voters are stirred up enough to turn out. My bet is in the mid-40% range, which would set a record of a low for a gubernatorial election." So, we landed in between the ratio I came up with and my actual "bet."

Here's a chart:


Turnout in Primary and General Elections

November 2014 Turnout

Dan Walters writes today on Los Angeles's efforts to increase turnout in municipal elections by proposing moving city elections from odd-numbered years to coincide with statewide general elections.

COLLATERAL IMPACT: The biggest impact of the turnout could be lowering the bar for qualifying ballot measures using the initiative process, which is based on the number of votes that were cast for governor. The new requirements will drop the signature requirement from 807,615 to 585,486 for initiative constitutional amendments (8%) and from 504,760 to 365,879 for statutory initiatives and referenda (5%).

Last month's turnout made the next four years the easiest and cheapest to qualify initiatives in California. I'll leave that to you whether that is good or bad.

TURNAROUND: Brulte, Dhillon to seek reelection as state GOP leaders [Seema Mehta @ LAT] - Jim "Brulte highlighted the party’s recent victories -- notably blocking Democrats from having super-majorities in the state Senate and Assembly -- as he announced he would seek another two-year term in a letter to the state GOP’s Board of Directors."

PARTY PARTY: Tonight at Mayahuel the Sacramento County Young Democrats are hosting their annual holiday fundraiser, at which they will honor Ami Bera and Richard Pan for their support of the group, as well as offer awards to their members of the year. [event flyer]

GOOD WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT: Watchdog: Public overtime pay surges [Teri Sforza @ OCR]:

Several California firefighters managed to triple their base salaries by working tons of overtime last year, according to competing data on city worker pay released Monday by the state controller and the California Policy Center.

The phenomenon of rocketing overtime, according to the reports, hit its apex in Richmond, where one city firefighter had base pay of $113,892 and overtime of $279,105. His total compensation in 2013, including the value of health and pension benefits: $508,893.

Maybe I should change my current job search strategy! And, a thank you to Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones for the very kind letter to me about my work. The classy commish . . .

Speaking of jobs . . .

VETOED: Oakland Coliseum board rejects former Republican lawmaker for top post [Matthew Ariz @ MercNews]:

The board that runs Coliseum and the Oracle Arena will conduct another executive director search after changing its mind about giving the job to a former Republican lawmaker who was opposed by labor leaders.

Guy Houston, former Dublin mayor and assemblyman, was poised to lead the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority in September, when he received preliminary backing from the eight-member board.

But before the board took a final vote, news surfaced of decade-old fraud allegations, and unions lobbied against his candidacy, citing his voting record in Sacramento.

PLEASE DON'T BREAK IT! Longtime readers know that I am a huge fan of San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels. Yesterday, it was announced that InterContinental Hotels Group, the London-based owner of a broad spectrum of hotels ranging from the InterContinental chain to Holiday Inn.  The thought that some of the best hotel restaurants in America are going to now be owned by the Brits is scary!

SAD: The most searched places on Google Maps in 2014:

  1. Walmart
  2. Starbucks
  3. Target
  4. McDonald's
  5. Home Depot

And, we get by with a little help from our friends.

#CAKEDAY: Happy Birthday to Adam Berkowitz and Brandon Roberts!




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Sanchez Doesn't Rule Out Bid For Senate If Boxer Retires - The Orange County Register

Asian Americans Make New Push For L.A. Council Seats
Nearly 30 years ago, legislative aide Mike Woo shattered a barrier, becoming the first Asian American to win a seat on the Los Angeles City Council .

California Senate Leader Calls For Pension Funds To Pull Out Of Coal | The Sacramento Bee
David Siders and Jon Ortiz @
He said his proposal will not extend to petroleum and gas.

Brulte, Dhillon To Seek Reelection As State GOP Leaders
California GOP chairman Jim Brulte, widely credited with reviving the state Republican party’s fortunes, announced Monday that he would seek reelection to the post.

Activists Seek Reforms In Ethics And Transparency In Sacramento | The Sacramento Bee
Ryan Lillis @
Two groups active in city of Sacramento politics said they will push for ethics and transparency reforms similar to those that were part of the failed strong-mayor ballot measure.

CPUC commissioner tied to e-mail saying heâ
Jaxon Van Derbeken @
A California Public Utilities Commission official offered to write a favorable opinion on a $1.3 billion gas rate case if Pacific Gas and Electric Co. “did not like” one from another commissioner, according to an e-mail the company was forced to disclose by a judge’s order. The e-mail — from ousted PG&E Vice President Brian Cherry to two colleagues who were also fired — is just the latest in a string of embarrassing revelations that have shaken the oversight agency in the wake of the San Bruno pipeline explosion in September 2010. PG&E officials had already twice objected to the proposed administrative judge to commission officials — including Florio — through back channels and appeared to have gotten the judge they wanted. [...] Florio has escaped repercussions from the interactions, with much of the focus on outgoing commission President Michael Peevey, whose chief of staff had promised to help company executives who were trying to get a judge of their choice in a key gas rate case arising from the San Bruno explosion that killed eight people and injured nearly 60. The so-called judge shopping scandal came to light in September when PG&E fired Cherry and two other executives and released e-mails implicating the two commissioners and high-ranking agency staff members. In another internal e-mail between the executives, Peevey appears to broker a deal that would swap favorable treatment in a regulatory case for the company’s help fighting a ballot measure that would stall the state’s greenhouse gas limits. In e-mails released earlier, Peevey’s top aide, Carol Brown, promised a PG&E vice president that she would try to get his preferred administrative law judge appointed to the rate case that Florio offered to second-guess.

Federal Ruling A Win For California's Bullet Train | The Sacramento Bee
The Sacramento Bee is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Plastic Bag-ban Supporters Complain Referendum Drive Is Misleading
Supporters of a state ban on single-use plastic grocery bags filed a complaint Monday, calling for the secretary of state to investigate allegations that opponents seeking to overturn the measure are misleading voters to get them to sign petitions that would place the matter on the ballot.

Jeannie Oropeza Picked To Head Hr For The California Senate | The Sacramento Bee
Laurel Rosenhall @
Jeannie Oropeza, an administrator with the California Department of Education, has been named the new head of human resources for the state Senate, replacing Dina Hidalgo who retired this fall amid complaints of nepotism and favoritism.

Daniel Borenstein: Ubiquitous Contra Costa Pension Spiking Spreads Across All Income Levels
The study, prepared by staff of the Contra Costa County Employees Retirement Association and released last week, examined records for 3,881 government workers in that pension system who retired from 2004 to 2014.

Richmond Police Chief Magnus says heâ
Richmond Police Chief Magnus says he’d hold protest sign again Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus, who set off an avalanche of emotions when he held up a “#Black Lives Matter” sign at a local protest, says he wouldn’t hesitate if placed in the same situation. The police chief said he and about a half dozen other members of his command staff were at a community center when the protest began Dec. 9, and that a woman he was chatting with “on issues of the day” asked if he would hold the sign. The Richmond Police Officers Association said in a release that the chief was violating state law against politicking in uniform. “It certainly wasn’t intended to be a political statement,” Magnus said, adding that he was not campaigning for any candidate or ballot measure. “I can understand how it is hard for a lot of police officers, especially given what has gone on in some the protests — the violence ... the anti-police sentiment,” Magnus said. [...] the reaction to Magnus’ sign waving, which gained nationwide attention, continues to roll in. Has he learned a lesson from the decision to hold the sign?

First Draft: Today in Politics
As they plow through backlogged presidential nominations, Senate Democrats are defending a rule change that allowed them to break a nominee filibuster with a majority vote.

Congress quietly ends federal government's ban on medical marijuana
Tucked deep inside the 1,603-page federal spending measure is a provision that effectively ends the federal government's prohibition on medical marijuana and signals a major shift in drug policy.

Ex-D.A. Terence Hallinan suspended from practicing law
Jaxon Van Derbeken and Bob Egelko @
Former San Francisco District Attorney Terence Hallinan has agreed to be suspended from practicing law in California for 90 days for using a bank account he had designated for client funds as his personal account, the State Bar said Monday. [...] the court said his misconduct — commingling personal funds in a client trust account — was “willful” and was aggravated further when he failed to respond to letters from bar investigators in August and September. According to the disciplinary order, he deposited $88,500 from his property management company, BallyHallinan Properties, into a Bank of America account he had designated for client trust funds between January and July 2013. Lawyers establish trust accounts to hold funds for their clients, such as damages or settlements from a third party, or funds that the client has asked the lawyer to hold. “When your personal money is in a trust account, it seriously jeopardizes client money,” said Los Angeles attorney Diane Karpman, an expert on legal ethics. Another reason for the prohibition, she said, is that lawyers might otherwise use trust accounts to hide their funds from tax collectors or an estranged spouse. [...] the bar said the misconduct was aggravated by the multiple financial transactions — 117 in a single year — and by Hallinan’s failure to respond to the investigators’ letters. In response, the judge declared a mistrial and ordered the city to pay the defense’s legal costs. The bar said a 90-day suspension, the standard penalty for the violation, is justified because Hallinan’s record of public service “does not outweigh (his) aggravating circumstances of a prior record of discipline and multiple acts of misconduct.”

Campaign Finance: Every Election Is the Most Expensive Election. Or Not.
Changes in population, inflation and campaign finance laws, among other variables, render some comparisons practically meaningless.

Most Schools Solve Web Issues For Computer Testing :: Si&a Cabinet Report :: The Essential Resource For Superintendents And The Cabinet
Kimberly Beltran @
That welcome – though somewhat surprising – news comes as the California Department of Education prepares to award some $26 million in state grants aimed at making sure all K-12 schools have the Internet capacity needed to administer the computer-based Smarter Balanced tests.

San Jose City Executive Escorted Out By Security Gets New City Job With 71 Percent Pay Cut
Alex Gurza, who had served as the San Jose's top labor negotiator during its contentious battles with its employee unions over pension reform and other key issues, had made $222,921 a year as a deputy city manager, one of the top appointed positions in City Hall.

Obama: Spending bill vital to government workers, especially military
President Obama said Monday that the new government spending bill is important to U.S. troops and others serving the country and that he plans to sign the measure.

Top 10 Measures Likely To Appear On November 2016 California Ballot :: Fox&hounds
Below are the top ten measures most likely to appear on the November, 2016 ballot: