Flap’s California Morning Collection: August 26, 2011


Marina Del Rey – Mother’s Beach at dawn

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

Bill to kill state’s death penalty shelved in Assembly committee

California’s death penalty has new life.

Legislation seeking to eliminate the death penalty was shelved today in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Senate Bill 490 would have placed before voters in November 2012 a measure to close death row and replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole.

Sen. Loni Hancock, a Berkeley Democrat who proposed the measure, said she withdrew SB 490 from consideration after its fate became clear.

“The votes were not there to support reforming California’s expensive and dysfunctional death penalty system,” Hancock said in a written statement.

“I had hoped we would take the opportunity to save hundreds of millions of dollars that could be used to support our schools and universities, keep police on our streets and and fund essential public institutions like the courts,” she said.

Gov. Jerry Brown, before the bill was shelved, suggested that he might support placing the death penalty before voters.

Brown declined to discuss SB 490, but said that in general, “When we have deep, troublesome issues that create gridlock in the Legislature, going back to the people can be a way to break the gridlock.”

SB 490 was fiercely contested, with opponents saying that the death penalty provided a deterrence to murder and that eliminating it would betray the families of homicide victims.

A Field Poll last year found that 70 percent of Californians support the death penalty.

Golden State, get ready: Here’s Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s whirlwind CA fundraising schedule

Texas Gov. Rick Perry better junk those cowboy boots and don running shoes when he hits California next month for the first time as a GOP presidential candidate.

In the 48 hours after the Sept. 7 Reagan Library debate, he’ll be going non-stop for two days, picking up cash every step of the way across the Golden State.

His two-day fundraising schedule in California, as published by Politico.com, doesn’t give him a lot of time to down much of that rubber chicken on the circuit. Perry will be hobnobbing with a crowd of big donors and big pols — backers who include former state party chair Shawn Steel and his wife, Board of Equalization member Michele Park Steel;San Diego Chargers owner Dean Spanos, former CA Assemblyman Mike Villines, and Gregory Slayton, a former Silicon Valley insider and big GOP fundraiser who was appointed Consul General to Bermuda by President George W. Bush.

  • On Sept. 8, the morning after the debate, he’ll be at a 7:30 a.m. VIP reception and photo op, followed by breakfast at the Hyatt Aventine on La Jolla Village Drive in San Diego. (Not far, as we noted in Twitter, from Mitt Romney’s $12 million waterfront mansion in the same neighborhood.)
  • That’s followed by a noon VIP reception and lunch at the Ialand Hotel in Newport Beach.
  • That’s followed by a 5:30 p.m. VIP reception and photo op at the home of Paula Kent Meehan in Los Angeles.
  • That’s followed by a Host Committee Dinner at the home of Carla and Fred Sands in Los Angeles.
  • On Friday, Sept. 9, Perry will be hitting a 7:45 a.m. VIP reception and photo op with breakfast in Bakersfield at the Bakersfield Inn.
  • That’s followed by his Silicon Valley stop, a noon VIP reception and lunch at the Four Seasons Hotel in East Palo Alto.
  • That’s followed by a 5:30 p.m. reception and dinner in Fresno, at The Downtown Club.

Ploy to Block “Amazon Tax” Vote Outrageous

On the very day Governor Brown spoke about job creation, legislators are concocting an outrageous ploy to prevent the people from voting to overturn the ‘Amazon Tax.’

Clearly these lawmakers are afraid the public is poised and ready to vote down the failed ‘Amazon Tax’ that is costing our state jobs.

Instead of continuing their attack on out-of-state online retailers, the Governor and Legislature ought to be asking these companies how we can work with them to get Californians back to work.

Ex-California official defends socializing with celebs on public dime

An appointee of former Gov. Pete Wilson wasted $51,000 hobnobbing with celebrities, attending the Golden Globe Awards, World Magic Awards, a Julio Iglesias concert and other events while claiming he was recruiting for an “anti-stigma” program at the Department of Mental Health, a state audit said Thursday.

Arthur Kassel, a Beverly Hills resident who recently retired from the state, denied his time was wasted, even though none of the celebrities he talked to ever did a public event or radio ad shedding light on the unfair stigma suffered by the mentally ill.

He said money was never budgeted to allow the anti-stigma program to move forward.

“People who have mental illnesses have no voice,” Kassel said. “We were hoping if the buidget ever got fixed in California that we would be able to do a star-studded show to tell people what the problems are.”

Kassel, who also described himself as a special advisor to Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, was not identified by name in the audit, which refers to him only as a “senior official.” But Kassel confirmed he was interviewed by auditor-investigators about his work attending celebrity events for the “anti-stigma” program.

State auditor Elaine Howle disagreed that the money was well-spent, noting neither Kassel nor his supervisor “could identify any measurable benefit that the state garnered as a result of the senior official’s interaction with celebrities at social and entertainment events in the name of Mental Health’s anti-stigma program.”

Enjoy your morning!


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