August 22, 2011 archive

Aug 22 2011

Flap’s California Afternoon Collection: August 22, 2011

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Amazon.com puts $2.25 million more into referendum drive

Amazon.com has poured another $2.25 million into its effort to overturn a law requiring some online retailers collect sales tax on purchases made by Californians, bringing the company’s total investment in the referendum qualification drive to more than $5 million.

The latest contribution to the committee funding the effort, “More Jobs Not Taxes,” was reported in a campaign filing posted Friday to the Secretary of State’s website.

Referendum proponents have until Sept. 27 to collect the 504,760 valid voter signatures needed to qualify for the next statewide ballot. If they hit that mark, the budget-related bill will be suspended until voters can act on the issue in the June 2012 statewide primary election.

Assembly Republicans get short end of the stick in money, too

To the victor go the spoils, apparently.

Holding a firm majority in the Assembly, Democrats’ cadre of office and committee staff exceeds Republicans’ by a higher percentage than the number of legislative seats that each party controls, records show.

Democrats hold 65 percent of the Assembly’s seats – 52 of 80 — but they control 77 percent of the employees tied to Assembly offices or committees, according to a computer sort of the Assembly staff roster.

Cumulatively, Democrats’ committee and office staffing costs total $3.1 million per month, compared to Republicans’ $664,116 – roughly 82 percent and 18 percent, respectively.

The computer sort was released by the office of Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, from data dated May 31 that is posted by the Assembly on its website for public review.

Spending was more proportional in monthly staffing costs for the Democratic and Republican caucuses, representing employees charged with serving all members of a particular party rather than one lawmaker or committee.

The Democratic Caucus had 129 aides costing $824,593 per month, while the Republican Caucus had 64 aides costing $411,366. The proportion of salary costs was 67 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

No strike this week by supermarket workers

Now that union members have voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, if necessary, a federal mediator is bringing both sides back to the bargaining table next Monday. The three big chains – Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons – have been negotiating with the United Food and Commercial Workers on a new contract since March, with little sign of a breakthrough (health care coverage is a key sticking point). From the Union-Tribune:

“We are pleased to get back to the bargaining table,” said [Mickey Kasparian, president of the Local 135 in San Diego and Imperial counties]. “Certainly, we will move forward to get a deal. But make no mistake about it: We will not have any more delay tactics by management. If we don’t get a deal done in an expedited amount of time, there will be a labor dispute.”

Odd political pairings in Camarillo

In opening his remarks at Saturday’s 80th birthday event for Hank Lacayo, Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, looked out upon the room and noted that it was obvious this was not “a Republican convention.”

Indeed, it was a fairly Democratic crowd, and Gallegly deserves credit for showing the grace to not only attend but also sit at the head table, along with his wife, Janice, for the entire, three-hour affair.

But it did make for some fairly unusual political pairings.

For instance, sitting about 20 feet from Gallegly, one of the state’s most outspoken proponents of tough policies on illegal immigration, was Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, the author of California Dream Act legislation and the man who wrote the short-lived state law giving illegal immigrants the ability to obtain driver’s licenses. There may be no two elected officials in all of California who are further apart on the question of how to deal with illegal immigrants.

Also in the room — and one of the speakers — was Anita Perez Ferguson, the Santa Barbara native who went on to become president of the National Women’s Political Caucus. Gallegly knows her better as the Democrat who ran a tough campaign against him in 1992. Perez Ferguson told me that she and Gallegly exchanged brief, cordial remarks.

Enjoy your afternoon!

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Aug 22 2011

California Internet Gambling Bills Won’t Move This Year

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Not really a shocker.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said today that he supports legalizing Internet gambling in California but does not want any legislative action on the issue this year, extending the big-money debate for at least another year.

Despite numerous hearings on the matter, Steinberg said in a letter to gambling interests and opponents, “significant, unresolved issues remain.” Disagreements include which games would be made legal and who would be eligible to operate the sites.

“We believe that well thought out, fair solutions to these differences can be reached, but not before the end of this legislative year on September 9th,” says the letter by Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Sen. Roderick Wright, the Inglewood Democrat who chairs the Senate’s Governmental Organization Committee that oversees gambling regulation.

California’s Indian tribes support online gambling but are split over bills that have so far been introduced. SB 40 by Sen. Lou Correa is sponsored by several card rooms and tribes, including the Morongo and San Manuel bands of Indians. Other tribes oppose the bill, saying it would exclude them from cashing in on the windfall that legal online gambling could bring.

So, this legislation will be “MILKED” by the Legislators for campaign contributions and will be considered next year.

Not a surprise at all.

Here is the letter:

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Aug 22 2011

CA-44 Poll Watch: Janice Hahn 47% Vs. Laura Richardson 24% Vs. Isadore Hall 7%

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Los Angeles City councilwoman Janice Hahn celebrates victory with her campaign staff in 36th Congressional District race Tuesday night July 12, 2011 at her election party at Ports O’ Call Restaurant in San Pedro. Hahn defeated Republican Craig Huey in a bitter contest for a Southern California House seat, preserving the party’s hold on the district and surviving an unusually tough race in a Democratic stronghold

Things are looking up for Rep. Janice Hahn.

The 44th Congressional District doesn’t technically exist yet, but its first election poll does.

Congresswoman Janice Hahn, one of three Democrats who have declared a run for the new San Pedro- Carson-Compton district, on Friday released poll results commissioned by her campaign that showed her as the pick of 47 percent of likely voters in the June 2012 primary.

Long Beach Rep. Laura Richardson had 24 percent and Assemblyman Isadore Hall of Compton took 7 percent; 22 percent were undecided.

Hall, an African-American who has been endorsed by the California Legislative Black Caucus, was unknown to 70 percent of the likely voters polled.

Hahn was viewed favorably by 60 percent of respondents, while Richardson was reviewed favorably by 37 percent.

Notably, the poll calculated Hahn’s favorability rating among African- American voters at 74 percent to 68 percent for Richardson, who is black.

The mark could be attributed to Hahn being the daughter of the well-loved Kenneth Hahn, who represented much of the inner city area on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors for 40 years.

And….. there is NO Craig Huey to run against in 2012, since Huey was apportioned into a neighboring Congressional District (although he could run in CA-44, but it is a very Democratic CD).

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Aug 22 2011

California Department of Motor Vehicles Employee to Be Arraigned for Issuing False Commercial Drivers Licenses

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Michelle Carbajal

Is is called fraud.

A Fullerton DMV employee accused of issuing 12 commercial drivers licenses after falsifying computer records in exchange for money is expected to be arraigned Monday.

Michelle Carbajal, 37, of Fullerton, faces a possible 22 years in prison if convicted of 19 felony counts of altering public documents and 19 counts fraud, according to a news release.

The dozen fraudulently approved licenses have been revoked, said Susan Kang Schroeder, chief of staff for the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Between June 10, 2009, and April 27, 2010, Carbajal accepted $23,000 from 12 people to alter their driver’s license records showing they passed the written and driving tests to obtain a commercial license and issued them permits, prosecutors said.

None of the drivers passed any of the tests, some of which were safety-related, including proper use of specialized brakes, pulling double trailers, being able to drive semi-trucks and other commercial vehicles.

The drivers were referred to Carbajal through a third party or parties, who are still unidentified, and it remains unclear how the money was split between her and the other person or persons, the district attorney’s release said.

“The drivers will not be prosecuted at this time because the information they provide will be vital to the prosecution of the defendant who was in the position of trust,” Schroeder said.

Carbajal who has worked with the State of California for nine years was arrested last Friday and the investigation is continuing.

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Aug 22 2011

Flap’s California Morning Collecton: August 22, 2011

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A morning collection of links and comments about my home, California.

Rubio headed to California for major speech

Just days after Marco Rubio’s election as Florida’s newest Republican U.S. senator, former First Lady Nancy Reagan wrote to him, asking him to speak at her husband’s presidential library.

“You’ve been identified as someone to watch on the national political scene. I’m looking forward to watching you in your new role,” she said, in an invitation that no admirer of her late husband, former President Ronald Reagan, could decline. “Americans are curious to get to know you. I believe the Reagan Library would be a great venue for you to deliver an address.”

Rubio will officially be someone to watch on Tuesday, when he travels to California for his first major speech outside of Florida or the U.S. Senate — as well as some fundraising for his just-launched political action committee. He’s expected to expound on a familiar theme of his own and Reagan’s at the former president’s library: the role of government in America.

Group protests at Ventura Youth Correctional Facility

Nearly 70 people gathered Sunday for a protest rally at the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility in Camarillo.

Chanting “Books not bars! Schools not jails!” those who attended came from across the state, hoping to bring attention to abuses they say are occurring within the facility.

Jaime Barillas said his 18-year-old son has been beaten by guards and had chemicals sprayed in his face. Barillas’s eyes welled up with tears as he explained how his son’s problems began when Barillas and his wife got divorced and the boy started hanging with a bad crowd.

“He’s been here the last eight months,” he said.

Barillas and others in attendance believe the state’s Division of Juvenile Justice is profiting by keeping youths incarcerated for longer than they should be.

“Every time he gets close to getting out of there something happens” to keep him locked up, Barillas said.

“You don’t want them to be rehabilitated!” Joaquin Diazdelon shouted through a megaphone. “You’re being exposed today!”

Diazdelon spent two years incarcerated in DJJ institutions in Northern California. He said he initially was sent to one after an attempted burglary in Fresno County. Now he said he works as a youth justice educator and speaks with lawmakers about the system.

Unemployment highest among teens, minorities, men

California’s unemployment rate remains the second-highest in the nation – 12 percent in July – but among some demographic groups, joblessness is even higher.

The unemployment rate among 16- to 19-year-olds in California was 34.2 percent last month, according to the state’s analysis of federal data [PDF]. That’s down from 34.5 percent a month earlier and 34.8 percent a year ago.

For non-white workers, unemployment over the past year has increased, from 12.4 percent to 13.4 percent. Whereas 11.6 percent of whites were out of work in July, 14.3 percent of Hispanics and 20.3 percent of blacks were unemployed.

While the unemployment rate in California is higher among men than women, over the past year, it has improved more for men than it has for women: Between July 2010 and July 2011, the unemployment rate among men fell from 13 percent to 12.5 percent. Among women, unemployment rose from 11 to 11.4 percent during the same time.

Many of the jobless Californians counted a year ago still are unemployed today: Slightly more than 1 in 3 – 727,000 people in all – have been out of work 52 weeks or more. Over the past year, the number of people unemployed a year or more grew 18.8 percent.

Unemployed workers are eligible for up to 99 weeks of jobless benefits. As of Aug. 16, the number of Californians who had exhausted all their benefits is more than 497,000, according to the state Employment Development Department.

Grocery union vote backs strike at Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons

Members of a union that represents 62,000 grocery workers at Vons, Ralphs and Albertsons supermarkets in Southern California voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike if an agreement on a new contract can’t be reached.

The strike authorization won the backing of more than 90% of the United Food and Commercial Workers members who voted, easily more than the two-thirds majority required, the union said.

The union said it would report the vote results Monday to a federal mediator trying to resolve the contract dispute.

Since the latest contract governing wages, healthcare benefits, and workplace rules expired in March. union and management negotiators have met more than 53 times. Healthcare benefits are a major area of contention.

Both sides said they would like to avoid a repeat of a four-and-a-half-month strike and lockout in 2003.

“We don’t want to strike,” said Rick Icaza, president of the union’s Local 770, the biggest of seven locals representing workers who would covered by a new contract. “We want to get back to work taking care of customers and our families. But the corporate owners of the supermarkets refuse to negotiate fairly to reach a compromise.”

In a statement, Ralphs spokeswoman Kendra M. Doyel called the strike authorization a commonly used negotiating tactic and said it did not necessarily mean a strike would be called.

“Ralphs, Vons and Albertsons remain committed to reaching a contract that is good for our employees and keeps these union jobs sustainable for the future.” Doyel said.

Enjoy your morning!

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