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THE NOONER for December 18, 2014


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KINGS TICKETS! I'm staying in Portland (Go Ducks!) through the New Year and am thus giving away some more Kings tickets for the holiday season! The first three respondents to the following question will have a choice (in answering order) of Sunday's (12/21) game against the Lakers, Friday, December 26 against the Suns, or Saturday, December 27 against the Knicks.

QUESTION: Which mother-son duo represent the only statewide electeds in California history, let alone the fact they came from separate parties?

Email your answer to First come, first served.

SURVEY: Well, our number of subscribers has climbed by another 1,000 to 8,673 active readers. So, it's time to ask those of you who haven't filled out The Nooner Survey to do so. It helps me know what you want me to focus on, as well as to let advertisers know our basic readership demographics. Of course, it is anonymous!

LEADERSHIP: Yesterday, Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de León announced his picks for committee chairs and other leadership posts for this session.

The Bee's Laurel Rosenhall writes:

"Sen. Ricardo Lara has landed one of the most powerful committee chair assignments in the California Legislature, overseeing the Senate Appropriations Committee that decides the fate of hundreds of bills each year.

Lara, a Bell Gardens Democrat, is closely allied with the Senate's new leader, Kevin de León, who announced the committee chairmanships on Wednesday. Other key assignments include Sen. Bob Hertzberg – who has said he is interested in tax reform – landing the governance and finance chairmanship, and Sen. Mark Leno maintaining his position as chair of the Senate's budget committee."

The picks will formally be adopted by the Rules Committee when the Legislature returns in January. Here's the release, and below are the picks:

Majority Leader: Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel)

Majority Whip: Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis)

Democratic Caucus Chair: Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino)

Democratic Caucus Vice-Chair: Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg)

Agriculture: Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-Stockton), Chair

Appropriations: Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), Chair

Banking and Financial Institutions: Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego), Chair

Budget and Fiscal Review: Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), Chair

Budget Subcommittee #1 – Education: Senator Marty Block (D-San Diego), Chair

Budget Subcommittee #2 - Resources, Environmental Protection, Energy and Transportation: Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis), Chair

Budget Subcommittee #3 - Health & Human Services: Senator Holly J. Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), Chair

Budget Subcommittee #4 - State Administration and General Government: Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside), Chair

Budget Subcommittee #5 – Corrections, Public Safety and the Judiciary: Senator Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), Chair

Business, Professions and Economic Development: Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo/Santa Clara Counties), Chair

Education: Senator Carol Liu (D-LaCañada/Flintridge), Chair

Elections and Constitutional Amendments: Senator Benjamin Allen (D-Santa Monica), Chair

Energy, Utilities and Communications: Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), Chair

Environmental Quality: Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont), Chair

Governance and Finance: Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), Chair

Governmental Organization: Senator Isadore Hall, III (D-South Bay), Chair

Health: Senator Ed Hernandez, O.D. (D-West Covina), Chair

Human Services: Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg), Chair

Insurance: Senator Richard D. Roth (D-Riverside), Chair

Judiciary: Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), Chair

Labor and Industrial Relations: Senator Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia), Chair

Legislative Ethics: Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel), Chair

Natural Resources and Water: Senator Fran Pavley (D- Agoura Hills), Chair

Public Employment and Retirement: Senator Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), Chair

Public Safety: Senator Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), Chair

Transportation and Housing: Senator Jim Beall (D-San Jose), Chair

Veterans Affairs: Vacant


California Senate's fiscal outlook hinges on complex spending formula [Jim Miller @ SacBee]:

A major ingredient in the state Senate's recently revealed fiscal troubles, which prompted the layoffs of more than three-dozen workers last month, is that the formula controlling legislative budget growth came in much lower than expected for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

The 2014-15 [State Appopriations Limit] was 0.48 percent, down from 5.9 percent in 2013-14. That large drop mostly stems from significant shifts in per capita personal income between late 2012 and late 2013, according to information about the SAL compiled by the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office.

Changes in personal income dominate the SAL formula. "Therefore, the low growth rate of personal income from 4Q2012 to 4Q2013 made the 2014-15 SAL growth factor unusually low," Chief Deputy Legislative Analyst Jason Sisney explained in an e-mail.

And for 2015-16? There have been no big IPOs or changes in federal tax law. Barring an unexpected downturn in the economy, the SAL should be in the 4 percent to 6 percent range, according to the LAO. That level of SAL would allow the Senate budgets to in crease enough for the upper house to avoid more layoffs, Senate officials have said.

Black teen exonerated 70 years after execution [AP] - "More than 70 years after South Carolina sent a 14-year-old black youth to the electric chair in the killings of two white girls in a segregated mill town, a judge threw out the conviction, saying the state committed a great injustice. "

THE SOFA DEGREE: It's been awhile since we've taken a look at our Sofa Degree list of 25 books that, if read, will give you the background in California politics and policy that you won't get in the standard political science program. So, as I begin my holiday shopping today (early for me), it's a great time to look at the list for gift inspiration for those politicos in your life.  


#CAKEDAY: Happy Birthday to Mark Tayor and, whoa, me!

As I pass the milestone of 42 years on this planet sometime today, I'm blessed to be with my mom and grandmother in Portland, and to have such an amazing community to interact with daily. As you know, I just left an organization for which I worked for nearly 20 years, or essentially half my life. Nevertheless, nothing has changed.

While I'm hanging out in Portland right now and am candidly wearing an Oregon Ducks sweatshirt as I type, I continue to be absolutely enamored with our state, along with the politics and policy developed there. Oregon is cool, but there is no more dynamic state than that admitted on September 9, 1850 that we know as "California" (Alta California). I praise our Mexican-American residents who pre-dated us, as well as the early explorers (my family was was part of Lewis & Clark) that opened up the west.



  • KERRI KASEM -- the daughter of radio broadcasting legend Casey Kasem discusses AB 2034 (Gatto), which would grant children access to an elderly or sick parent, in this exclusive interview:

    Know a current or former elected official in Southern California we should interview? Our TV program reaches California's #1 zip code for campaign contributions. Send suggestions to:
  • California State Association of Counties (CSAC) is seeking two legislative advocates. Great opportunity to work in a challenging, professional environment on behalf of California counties. Salary DOQ; excellent benefits. Interviews expected week of 1/26/15. More details available here. Send cover letter/resume to DeAnn Baker at
  • Natomas Home to Lease: 10 minutes to Capitol and Airport; 2br/2ba/2car, single-level on quiet street.  Vaulted ceilings, large closets/storage, fireplace, covered patio, refrigerator, washer/dryer. Close to freeways, shopping, restaurants, entertainment. $1295/mo.+ deposit includes gardener. No pets or smoking. Contact Bob Wenger: or 916-359-1169.



Brown Aims At Retiree Care Costs
Jon Ortiz @
It's official: Gov. Jerry Brown’s January budget proposal will include a plan to reduce the nearly $72 billion in unfunded promises the state has made to pay retiree health benefits. Now how to pay it? Answer: Money in the rainy day fund that voters approved just last month, Proposition 2. At least next year. The legislative analyst says at least $1.8 billion in the fund next year could be used to pay down those amassed obligations because they fall within the definition of debt.

A Smart California Tax Bill Points The Way To Needed Reform
He's a freshman state senator showing no fear, no hesitation and seemingly no political sense. His first bill is a huge, historic tax hike.

California Senate Announces Committee Chairmanships | The Sacramento Bee
Laurel Rosenhall @
Sen. Ricardo Lara has landed one of the most powerful committee chair assignments in the California Legislature, overseeing the Senate Appropriations Committee that decides the fate of hundreds of bills each year.

Ellen Corbett Goes To Work For Hayward School District
Josh Richman @
Corbett, 59, who spent most of the past 24 years in local or state elected offices, will serve as the district's new executive director of institutional advancement, communications and government relations -- a newly created post that will pay her $167,822 annually. Her salary as Senate Majority Leader was $97,315.

Unions Will Push $15 Minimum Wage On 2016 Ballots In Sacramento, Davis
2015 Book of Lists Party

California Drought: We Need 11 Trillion Gallons Of Water In The Bank
A series of rainstorms — one of which was powerful and destructive for residents statewide — helped deposit needed moisture to California, but it’s going to take 11 trillion gallons of water in storage to recover from the drought , NASA scientists said this week.

Maureen DiMarco dies at 66; state Cabinet's first education secretary
Maureen DiMarco, an outspoken education activist who was appointed California's first Cabinet-level education secretary in 1990 but resigned six years later after policy disputes with Gov. Pete Wilson, died Saturday at her home in Sacramento. She was 66.

Chol Soo Lee, famed for murder conviction and release, dies at 62
Bob Egelko @
Chol Soo Lee, who served nearly 10 years in prison for a Chinatown murder before a second jury cleared him, and whose case inspired a Hollywood film about the lawyer who helped win his freedom, died Dec. 2 in a San Francisco hospital from complications of a gastric disorder, friends said. Several eyewitnesses picked him out of a police lineup, and a jury in Sacramento, where the case had been transferred, convicted him of first-degree murder in 1974. [...] the Korean American community had organized a campaign to support Mr. Lee and raised more than $120,000 for his appeals, arguing that he had been wrongly convicted of the 1973 murder, and noting that he bore no resemblance to witnesses’ initial descriptions of the killer. A series of investigative reports by journalist K.W. Lee in the Sacramento Union bolstered the case for his innocence, and in February 1979 a Sacramento judge, heeding arguments by prominent defense lawyer Leonard Weinglass, overturned the conviction, ruling that prosecutors had wrongly withheld evidence from the defense. The reversal of the murder conviction also eliminated the legal grounds for his death sentence, and in January 1983, a state appeals court overturned his conviction for the prison stabbing. Prosecutors who had won his initial conviction continued to describe him as a hardened criminal, and Mr. Lee, by his own admission, lapsed into crime and drug use after his release.

Ferguson-area school district strips power from black voters, ACLU says
The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit against a school district that serves Ferguson, Mo., alleging that the district disenfranchises black voters.

Lawyer Haywood Gilliam confirmed as federal judge
Bob Egelko @
The Senate has confirmed President Obama’s nomination of Haywood Gilliam, a San Francisco business lawyer and former federal prosecutor, to become a federal judge. Gilliam, 45, a graduate of Yale University and Stanford Law School, was an assistant U.S. attorney in San Francisco from 1999 to 2006, the past two years as chief of the office’s securities fraud section. [...] he has practiced business law, most recently as a partner since 2009 at Covington & Burling, where he is vice chairman of the firm’s white-collar defense and investigations group, handling securities, antitrust and other commercial cases.

Am Alert: Michael Peevey Ends Turbulent Tenure As CpUC President | The Sacramento Bee
VIDEO: State and local governments are big economic players in California, Dan Walters says.

Upheaval at state utilities commission seen as chance for change
Jaxon Van Derbeken @
The state’s Public Utilities Commission meets for the last time this year Thursday facing a leadership vacuum and a fresh scandal involving one of the five gubernatorial appointees who regulate California’s electricity and gas monopolies. Commission President Michael Peevey’s 14-year tenure on the panel comes to an end this week, and Executive Director Paul Clanon, who oversees day-to-day operations, told staffers that he is retiring at the end of the year “to study music.” Commissioner Mike Florio’s future is the subject of speculation after Pacific Gas and Electric Co. released an e-mail from a fired vice president indicating that Florio had promised to help the company obtain a favorable outcome in a rate-setting case stemming from the 2010 San Bruno disaster, a tragedy that continues to haunt the commission. Other important posts at the regulatory agency are either vacant or being filled temporarily, including the heads of its legal and safety divisions. Environmentalists praised him for pushing utilities to embrace green technology, but in recent months he was tarred by PG&E e-mails indicating he would trade favorable commission rulings for donations from the company to a pet political cause. Both Peevey and Clanon were architects of the commission’s “voluntary compliance” approach to regulation leading up to the San Bruno blast that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes. [...] he’s now facing criticism for a January 2014 e-mail from since-fired PG&E Vice President Brian Cherry, who reported to his bosses that Florio was willing to write a favorable decision for the utility in a case that will decide whether consumers must pay for $1.3 billion in gas-pipeline improvements. Florio has apologized for e-mails he sent to PG&E offering his help in selecting an administrative law judge for the rate case, saying he didn’t know the rules against back-channel communications with utilities. Tom Long, an attorney for the consumer watchdog group where Florio worked as a lawyer for three decades before joining the commission, said Florio was in the wrong if he was willing to ensure a favorable outcome in PG&E’s rate case.

Congress Extends Tax Credit For Wind Power, But It Won't Help
Chris Clarke @
By a 76-16 vote, the U.S. Senate last night extended the federal Production Tax Credit for wind power facilities until the end of 2015, but the extension is unlikely to serve as an incentive for new wind turbines.

Martins Beach owner challenges judgeâ
Peter Fimrite @
A billionaire Peninsula property owner filed a motion to throw out a judge’s order that he open the gate to Martins Beach, upping the ante in a long-running frackas over public access to the sandy cove. The motion, filed Tuesday evening in San Mateo County Superior Court, seeks a new trial in a case that has drawn international attention because it appears to challenge California laws protecting citizen rights to visit the coast. Khosla, who is known for his backing of bold, eco-friendly projects and is a darling of some Democratic politicians, paid $32.5 million in 2008 for the property, which includes 45 leased cabins along the coastal cliffs. The sandy saga began in March 2013 when the Surfrider Foundation filed a lawsuit accusing Khosla of violating the California Coastal Act of 1976 by painting over a billboard welcoming people to the beach, putting up a locked gate in front of Martins Beach Road and hiring armed guards to keep people out. The judge tentatively ruled in July that the failure by the co-founder of Sun Microsystems to obtain a permit from the California Coastal Commission before blocking access to Martins Beach was, in fact, illegal, but Khosla has steadfastly refused to open the gate. On Dec. 8, the Coastal Commission sent Khosla’s legal team a letter saying the technology titan can be fined $11,250 a day in civil administrative penalties dating back to Sept. 19, 2011 when he was first notified that he was violating the Coastal Act. Khosla’s lawyers sent a letter to the Coastal Commission Tuesday arguing that he has the right to keep the gate closed during inclement weather based on an ambiguity in Judge Mallach’s ruling, which said the gate must be opened “to the same extent that it was unlocked and open at the time defendants purchased the property.” Khosla’s attorneys have also complained about an attempt by the the county to force Khosla to operate what he claims is a money-losing business by charging only $2 a vehicle, the price in 1972 before California's coastal development laws went into effect. “His attorneys appear to be playing some kind of game with the court's order,” said Joe Cotchett, the lead attorney for Surfrider, adding that Khosla also placed large boulders on the property to block people from parking.

San Jose City Manager Ousted As New Mayor Starts Leadership Changes
Mike Rosenberg @
San Jose's top appointed official resigned Wednesday just before incoming Mayor Sam Liccardo was set to lead a City Council vote to terminate him, paving the way for sweeping leadership changes in Silicon Valley's capital.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson Wants Police To Consider Body Cameras | The Sacramento Bee
Ryan Lillis and Marissa Lang @

Obama commutes sentences of eight prisoners convicted on drug charges
President Obama commuted the sentences Wednesday of eight prisoners serving lengthy terms for drug charges, but it was only a fraction of the 6,561 who applied for his help.

Business Groups Cheer Obam's Move To Normalize Cuba Relations
Andrew Khouri @
President Obama's decision to start normalizing relations with Cuba gives American business a fresh opportunity on an island once known as a travel hub for the U.S. jet set.

After Blue Shield Pulls Out Of Zip Codes, Consumers See Limited Insurance Options -
Capital Public Radio's Health Reporter Pauline Bartolone traveled to an area where insurer Blue Shield of California withdrew from the individual market in 2014. This is the second of a three-part series. 

McCain And Flake Echo Goldwater And Arizona's Independent Tradition
Cathleen Decker @
Arizona sometimes seems like the Rodney Dangerfield of states, politically speaking, squished between the blue behemoth of California and the red swagger of Texas, a state seeking respect  whose votes have rarely, if ever, made the difference in a national race.

State To Fight Lawsuit By Impoverished Students
Jane Meredith Adams @
State finance officials last week granted the California Department of Education $3.4 million to fight a lawsuit that demands the state fix disruptive conditions in some high-poverty schools where students allegedly are being denied the fundamental right to an education.