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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