September 1, 2011 archive

Sep 01 2011

California Governor Jerry Brown Says NO to Amazon.com Sales Tax Holiday Proposal

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Last night my sources said the deal was dead. But, I guess Governor Moonbeam wanted to pile on Amazon.com and provide political cover for his buddies in the California Legislature.

Gov. Jerry Brown said this morning that he’s leaning against Internet retailer Amazon.com’s proposal to put off enforcing a new law that taxes online purchases in exchange for the company launching several California distribution centers that would create several thousand new jobs.

“I’m concerned about anything that will reduce revenue going forward because we have a very uncertain economy,” the governor said shortly after speaking at an awards ceremony at Sacramento’s Radisson Hotel honoring California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation employees. “Look, we need more revenues unless we’re going keep curbing schools, courts, corrections.”

I have not heard today about any movement on the bill, AB 155. There was a newser earlier in the day with Democrat Senate Leader Steinberg and some business leaders discussing the Amazon Tax but it is all moot unless they can get three GOP Senators to flip.

The Legislature has another week to run, so stay tuned.

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Sep 01 2011

Los Angeles Marathon Founder Bill Burke Makes $1.2 Billion Offer for Los Angeles Dodgers

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Do you think Frank McCourt is interested?

Frank McCourt has been offered $1.2 billion to sell the Dodgers, The Times has learned.

The bid is headed by Los Angeles Marathon founder Bill Burke and funded in part by Chinese investors, according to a letter sent to McCourt on Tuesday. The letter was disclosed to The Times by two people familiar with its content but not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Please, Frank, take the money and run……

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Sep 01 2011

In 18 of 26 of California Metropolitan Areas, Minorities Consist of More Than Half of the Population

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More darkly shaded areas indicate that minorities make up more than 50 percent of the population as of the 2010 Census

California racial demographics have dramatically changed over the past few decades.

In all but eight of California’s 26 metropolitan areas, minorities make up more than half the population.

Eleven of California’s 26 metro areas are among the largest 100 in the nation, and in all except the Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville metro area, whites account for less than 50 percent of the population.

In 2000, minorities made up more than half the population in 14 major metro areas nationwide, and only five in 1990, according to the study.

The study calculated the share of the population represented by white residents from the 1990 Census through the 2010 count. The results for the 11 California metros that are part of the study are in the table below.

The chart:

Now, is there any wonder how and why California GOP registration has fallen to historic lows?

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Sep 01 2011

Craig Huey: California Redistricting Is the Same Old Bias

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South Bay businessman Craig Huey

Craig Huey is not the only one who is dissatisfied with the California Citizen’s Redistricting Commission. But, here are his thoughts.

Broken promises. Politics as usual.

This best describes the final district boundaries drawn by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission.

And these flawed, politically biased districts will last 10 years.

The result: uncompetitive races, incumbents who never lose, districts that divide cities and boundaries that make no sense, especially from the viewpoint of the “communities of interest” criteria specified by voters.

For example, Torrance, in the new congressional district boundaries, is now divided in two, diminishing its importance to politicians. And El Segundo is no longer with the other Beach Cities in Assembly representation, a plan that will ignore the city’s unique interests.

At every turn since the release of new maps for congressional, Assembly, state Senate and Board of Equalization districts, the process has been shrouded in secrecy and double-dealing. Input from South Bay residents was simply ignored.

Voters had decided the corrupt policy of legislators drawing their own boundaries, which created gerrymandered districts designed to be safe for the party in power, had to go. They hoped an “independent” commission would provide change for the better. But that didn’t happen.

Consider what the commission has done to what was the South Bay’s 36th Congressional District: Torrance is carved in two. The cities of the Palos Verdes Peninsula are in, as they should be. But Lomita is now in a new district – with zero connection to the rest of the South Bay. San Pedro, Harbor City and Wilmington got yanked out, too, as if they’re not part of the South Bay at all.

Yet while the new gerrymandered district leaves out South Bay cities, it marches up into Los Angeles, all the way to the Ventura County line. Santa Monica, Malibu, Beverly Hills and Agoura – in the San Fernando Valley – are added! We have Hollywood, too.

The commission used Dockweiler Beach – where no one lives – to make the new district contiguous. That is the epitome of gerrymandering.

The same politically based travesties divided up the South Bay’s Assembly and state Senate districts, too.

Well, Craig the new maps are not set in stone as referendum signature petitions are being circulated and if successful, the California Supreme Court will end up drawing the district boundaries.

There may yet be a “FAIR” district where you can challenge Rep. Janice Hahn in 2012.

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Sep 01 2011

Flap’s California Morning Collection: September 1, 2011

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Santa Barbara Mission

The California Legislature is in session today.

Lengthy senate sessions M-F this week. Noon-5pm today then 10am start times thru Friday- which btw is the last day to amend bills on floor

The California State Senate’s Schedule is here and the Assembly is here. The Assembly has a floor session scheduled for 9 AM today.

And, there are more POL’S fundraisers today:

Speaking of breakfast, legislators’ fundraisers are still in full swing, with breakfast events scheduled for Democrats Lois Wolk and Kevin deLeón and Republicans Jean Fuller and Joel Anderson. Evening events benefit Democrats Nancy Skinner, Charles Calderon and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez.

On to today’s headlines:

Amazon makes offer to persuade California to drop sales tax collection law

Amazon.com is offering to build a number of distribution centers and hire more than 1,000 workers if California lawmakers back away — at least temporarily — from their efforts to force the Internet giant to collect sales taxes on purchases made by customers from the Golden State.

The proposal was made in the form of draft legislation at a meeting Tuesday night between Amazon lobbyists and representatives of companies that belong to the California Retailers Assn.

Backers of California’s effort to collect about $300 million a year in unpaid taxes on Internet sales dismissed the Amazon compromise as a ploy. “It’s a totally cynical maneuver that’s part of their game that they try to play in every state that keeps them from getting the sales tax,” said Lenny Goldberg, a legislative advocate for the California Tax Reform Assn.

According to an informal memo based on a description of the deal by an Amazon lobbying firm, Greenberg Taurig, Amazon wants the state Legislature to repeal a law that took effect on July 1. The statute requires Amazon and other out-of-state Internet sellers to collect California sales taxes.

Amazon, so far, has said it would not do so and is bankrolling a referendum campaign to repeal the law.

Amazon wants California to refrain from forcing it to collect the sales tax until at least January of 2014.

In return, Amazon would hold the signatures it’s already collected and drop its effort to repeal the sales tax collection law on the June 2012 ballot. Amazon also would build build two fulfillment centers, one in Northern California and one in Southern California, with approximately one million square feet of floor space and 1,000 employees.

Amazon further offered to send its customers annual statements listing their total purchases and advising them that they owe California use tax on the goods, the memo said.

The use tax, which is paid by the buyer, is the same basic rate of 7.25% for the sales tax.

The retailers association confirmed that the meeting took place and dismissed the proposal as “not serious.”

Retailers President Bill Dombrowski said the deal “will only prolong the harm to small businesses that employ Californians.”

“We’re looking at their proposal,” said Retailers President Bill Dombrowski.

For its part, Ned Wigglesworth, a spokesman for the Amazon referendum campaign, declined to discuss the matter.

Amazon showdown over sales tax to fizzle?

In a move that could forestall a big ballot box showdown, Amazon.com has told traditional retailers it would agree to an online sales tax — but only if it’s delayed two years to give Congress time to pass a national law.

Under Amazon’s proposal, the company would go along with a sales tax for goods purchased online — as long as the tax is uniformly enforced across the country, according to sources involved in talks with the company. As part of the possible deal, Amazon is also offering to create 7,000 distribution center jobs in California and drop its push for an initiative to bar such a tax.

Amazon’s new position emerged from intense Capitol efforts to call a truce in a war that has seen California vote to impose the tax, Amazon respond by circulating petitions for a referendum to overturn the tax, and legislators taking steps to invalidate any such referendum.

“We’re trying to find a way to not have World War III,” said one brick-and-mortar retailer, whose group believes it’s unfair that Amazon doesn’t have to collect the tax. “There seems to be real interest in reaching an accord.”

A spokesman for Amazon declined to comment on the developments.

The political obstacles to a national agreement on online taxes are steep, and some Democratic leaders in California worried Wednesday that Amazon’s proposal for a two-year delay in California’s efforts to impose its own online sales tax is too much to pay for an uncertain outcome in Washington, D.C.

One leader of the group of traditional retailers said he was wary of Amazon’s offer.

“The so-called deal that Amazon has proposed is not serious,” Bill Dombrowski, president of the California Retailers Association, said in a statement. “Amazon is an out-of-state company with an unfair advantage over California businesses, and it is seeking a complete repeal of the law and another exemption from any further state action.

“Again and again, Amazon continues to demonstrate that they do not care about California businesses, taxpayers or communities,” Dombrowski said. “This deal will only prolong the harm to small businesses that employ Californians.”

It was not immediately clear how the Legislature would make up for the $200 million in revenues it is expecting to get from sales taxes Amazon was supposed to collect in the fiscal year that began July 1. Top Democrats such as state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, have said that the state desperately needs that revenue.

But Republican leader Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, said Steinberg was working with him to put together a bill that could gain bipartisan support.

“They had a very informative meeting,” Dutton said. “I wanted to encourage the individual retailers and their associations to get together with Amazon to work this out. It would be a win-win for them and people of California.”

Earlier this week, Senate caucus leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, said he doubted Republicans would sign on to the effort to stop Amazon’s referendum.

“My guess is the caucus will take a position against (AB 155) in favor of letting the political process work,” Huff said. “As much as there might be merit in policy and we want to protect brick-and-mortar stores, there’s a bigger play in motion now. This bill is an end run around the political process.”

Huff indicated he would be in favor of allowing Congress to settle the issue.

“The retailers have made some good arguments, but this is one that would be better addressed nationally, or in the context of some kind of tax reform that makes a more level playing field for everybody,” Huff said.

Republicans may be hesitant to agree to any deal. Grover Norquist, the father of anti-tax pledges that Republicans break at risk of political retribution, sent a letter earlier this week to Republicans telling them that a vote to thwart their referendum was as good as a vote for taxes.

Bill to regulate California health insurance rates stalls

A controversial push to give state regulators the power to reject proposed increases in health insurance rates has stalled in the state Senate.

Assembly Bill 52, by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles, would let the state insurance commissioner or the director of the Department of Managed Health Care reject or modify proposed rate increases found to be “excessive,” “inadequate” or “discriminatory.”

The bill cleared the Assembly on a party-line vote in June. But Feuer has decided to hold off on any action this year, saying he does not have the votes to win approval from the Senate before the first year of the legislative session ends next week.

“Despite an outpouring of strong support from small business, working families and consumers throughout CA, the bill has hit a temporary roadblock in the Senate,” Feuer said in a statement. “Right now, not enough senators are prepared to vote for any form of health insurance rate regulation.”

A Feuer spokeswoman said the Los Angeles Democrat will continue to work for the bill’s passage next year, when the Legislature returns for the second leg of its two-year session.

Goodwin Liu confirmed to Calif. Supreme Court

Barely three months after Senate Republicans denounced Goodwin Liu as a left-wing extremist and torpedoed his nomination to a federal appeals court, he was lauded as a brilliant and open-minded legal scholar Wednesday and confirmed to a seat on the California Supreme Court.

The Commission on Judicial Appointments voted 3-0 to endorse Gov. Jerry Brown’s nomination of the 40-year-old Liu to succeed retired Justice Carlos Moreno as the only Democratic appointee on the seven-member court.

Liu will be sworn in to office by Brown today and join the court in time for Tuesday’s critical hearing on Proposition 8, the 2008 initiative that outlawed same-sex marriage in California. The justices will consider whether California law allows the measure’s sponsors to represent the interests of the state and its voters in appealing a federal judge’s decision that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional.

Enjoy your morning!

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