August 24, 2011 archive

Former California Governor Pete Wilson Joins Effort to Overturn California State Senate Redistricting Plan

Presidential Candidate Rudy Giuliani is endorsed by former California Governor Pete Wilson

Former Governor Pete Wilson is most importantly helping to raise money for the referendum qualification.

Former Gov. Pete Wilson has joined efforts to overturn new district boundaries for the state Senate, saying they would increase Democrat control of the Legislature and result in higher taxes for Californians.

Wilson and other GOP leaders have sent out a fundraising appeal to help finance a referendum drive that would give the state’s voters a chance to repeal the maps drawn by a Citizens Redistricting Commission. The GOP leaders say in a five-page memo to several thousand potential donors that the new districts could help give Democrats a two-thirds majority in the Senate.

“Democrats are perilously close to gaining the ability to raise our taxes and expanded our already bloated government — unless we take immediate action,” said the mailer from Wilson, California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro and Senate Republican Leader Bob Dutton of Rancho Cucamonga.

“The state Senate lines drawn by the California Redistricting Commission virtually guarantee a Democrat Super-majority in the California State Senate in 2012,” the mailer added. “A successful drive to put a referendum on the June 2012 ballot is the best way to prevent this from happening.”

The group Fairness & Accountability in Redistricting has raised about $500,000 toward its goal of $2.5 million to pay for the signature drive kicking off next week, said David Gilliard, the political consultant in charge. The group must collect more than 504,000 signatures in 90 days to qualify the referendum.

I think it is going to be a difficult task to raise the necessary funds, especially looking at a Presidential election year approaching.

Seriously, the money can be better spent in GOP outreach and other party building activities.


Hookah Use on the Rise as Fewer Californians Smoke Cigarettes


This is not a good development on the health front.

Cigarette smoking in California has fallen sharply in recent years, but new research finds that hookah use is on the rise, especially among young adults.

Between 2005 and 2008, the number of California adults who had ever used a hookah jumped by more than 40 percent, to 11.2 percent among men and 2.8 percent among women, according to researchers at UC San Diego. Among young adults ages 18 to 24, 24.5 percent of men and 10 percent of women had used a hookah in 2008.

The findings, based on data from the California Tobacco Survey, offer the first look at hookah use in the state over time. The study was published online last week in the American Journal of Public Health.

What are the demographics of hookah use?

In California, hookah use is most prevalent among 18- to 24-year-olds, men, whites and those with college educations. Its use among women, who are not the traditional consumers of smokeless tobacco products, is rising rapidly: Among all adult women, use jumped 47.4 percent between 2005 and 2008, the study found.

The data do not show whether people currently smoke a hookah or how often, but future surveys will ask these questions, Al-Delaimy said. Still, he said, more education and policies are needed to curb hookah use.

“The education level about it is very low,” he said.

Earlier this year, Al-Delaimy published a study that found 59.5 percent of high school students believed a hookah was more socially acceptable than cigarettes, and 46.3 percent believed it was safer. About 26 percent of the students, all from San Diego County, said they had smoked a hookah before.

Al-Delaimy said hookah lounges, which are especially popular with college-aged adults, encourage the water pipes’ use. He and his fellow researchers called on policymakers to consider bans on hookah lounges, which they said imply that hookah smoking is safer and more socially acceptable than cigarette smoking.

Just to be clear: Smoking tobacco in a hookah is NOT safe. It is smoking a tobacco product just like cigarettes and its use will KILL you. The same health problems with cigarettes and cigars WILL occur – lung disease and cancer.

The same goes for the second hand smoke that is generated by smoking a hookah.

As far as hookah lounges are concerned – just say NO.


Video: Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s Speech at the Reagan Presidential Library




Here is the entire speech from last night at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

It was a good, steady speech.



California Man Proposes Marriage Via a Comic Strip


F-Minus by Tony Carrillo

Very California, no?

For the past six months it’s been a dating ritual: After dinner, Cierra Howard and Kevin Timpson would sit side by side reading the comics pages, sometimes doing the characters’ voices aloud.

On Monday, Howard, 23, and Timpson, 26, had dinner at at her Sacramento apartment then turned to her favorite strip, “F Minus,” by Tony Carrillo. Howard did a doubletake when she read her name on a banner flying from the strip’s cartoon airplane.

“Cierra, will you marry me? – Kevin,” it read.

Confused, she looked up, and there was her boyfriend down on one knee, holding a ring.

In what certainly ranks among the more unusual marriage proposals, Timpson, a grocery clerk and student, sought the help of Carrillo, an Arizona cartoonist, to pop the question to his girlfriend, who works in marketing at a Folsom firm.

Congratulations on your engagement and your Spring wedding.


Flap’s California Morning Collection: August 24, 2011


The California Legislature is in session today

The California State Senate’s Schedule is here and the Assembly is here.

On to the links:

State agency’s mishandling of land costs millions, auditor finds

The State Lands Commission has mismanaged public property, costing millions of dollars in lost revenue by not renewing expired leases, keeping rents at market level or evicting delinquent tenants, the state auditor concluded Tuesday.

“The commission has not always managed its more than 4,000 leases in the State’s best interest with the result that it has missed opportunities to generate millions of dollars in revenues for the State’s General Fund,’’ Auditor Elaine Howle wrote to the Legislature, which asked for the report.

The agency manages lands the state acquired from the federal government at statehood, including river and lake beds, submerged lands along the coast and school property.

The review found that the commission missed opportunities to generate up to $8.2 million in just some of the leases looked at by auditors. The commission is supposed to review rents periodically and increase them if necessary, but auditors said the agency failed to conduct the reviews promptly, “causing it to lose $6.3 million in increased rent it may have been able to collect.’’

Howle estimated that the state lost $1.6 million from 10 leases where the rent was delinquent but the lessee was able to remain on state land. In one case, a boating service company in Crockett had not paid any rent since 1989, but the commission had not taken action to remove the tenant.

As Budgets Continue to Shrink, the Lines Will Grow in California Civil Courts

Lines at a courthouse are kind of like hurt feelings in a divorce: they are expected, they are unavoidable, but, hopefully, they are dealt with quickly.

For the romantically estranged residents of San Francisco, however, the wait for a divorce may soon drag on longer than the life span of most Hollywood marriages, as a series of cutbacks threatens to cripple the civil courts. Under a plan unveiled last month and due to take effect this fall, San Francisco will close 25 courtrooms, reduce clerks’ hours and lay off more than 175 employees, effectively bringing much of the business of the court to a crawl.

Katherine Feinstein, the presiding judge of San Francisco Superior Court, said the average time for a divorce would be at least 18 months. All manner of other civil matters — small claims, civil and class-action lawsuits, probate and conservatorship cases, and big-money complex cases — will also probably take longer to settle.

“The civil justice system in San Francisco is collapsing,” Judge Feinstein said.

But San Francisco is hardly alone in seeing hours or services cut; other California counties have already made cuts or are expected to soon.

Tax Increases Killing Jobs

Gov. Jerry Brown and the Democratic Legislature finally have discovered that California has to create more jobs. The governor last week appointed banker Michael Rossi as his new Jobs Czar.

Yet Brown, the Democratic Legislature and the L.A. Times’ tax-obsessive columnists continue to push for higher taxes. They might pause a bit and consider Illinois, which vies with California and New York for the country’s worst state business climate.

Earlier this year Illinois increased taxes to close a budget deficit. The results are in: total devastation to state jobs. The Illinois Policy Institute reported:

Illinois started to create jobs as the national economy began to recover. But just when Illinois’s economy seemed to be turning around, lawmakers passed record tax increases in January of this year. Since then, Illinois’s employment numbers have done nothing but decline.

Data released today by the bureau confirms this downward trajectory. When it comes to putting people back to work, Illinois is going backwards. Since January, Illinois has dropped 89,000 people from its employment rolls.

The costliest executions in America

Alarcon did, in fact, recite all the particulars of his indictment of a dysfunctional system.

Because the state does not spend enough on lawyers to handle death penalty appeals, he noted, the backlog in California is three times the national average. Because the state requires direct appeal to the Supreme Court, death penalty cases make up 20 percent of the court’s workload. It takes four or five years just to appoint a defense attorney to handle the initial appeal, and another three years or more to appoint counsel for habeas corpus proceedings.

“The cost of maintaining the death penalty has become an onerous financial burden on California taxpayers,” he testified.

But Alarcon offered some ideas other than abolishing capital punishment: amend the Constitution to allow appellate courts to handle capital appeals; change the evidentiary standards so that prosecutors could seek the death penalty only when they have extraordinarily strong evidence such as DNA samples; put an extra $85 million a year into hiring attorneys at the state’s Habeas Corpus Research Center.

The bottom line of Alarcon’s and Mitchell’s findings is that the system is horribly broken and has become a bottomless money pit. It has become, they write, “the most expensive and least effective death penalty law in the nation.”

Because voters established it, only voters can fix it. And voters can’t be expected to make sound decisions unless they know all the facts — and until now, no one has ever told them how much it costs.

Enjoy your morning!