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Oct 19 2011

Flap’s California Morning Collection: October 19, 2011

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San Francisco Cable Car

The California Legislature is not in session.

California Governor Jerry Brown today is entertaining Dell CEO Michael Dell who is bring jobs to the Golden State.

Gov. Jerry Brown goes high tech today as he joins Dell CEO Michael Dell in Santa Clara for a ribbon-cutting ceremony opening the firm’s newest research and development center.

Afterward, Dell holds a career fair to recruit hundreds of employees for the center. Nearly 1,500 Dell employees are now based in the Bay Area, according to a news release. The event, which starts at 10:30 a.m., will be webcast on the governor’s website at www.gov.ca.gov.

On to today’s headlines:

Dan Walters: Referendum on California initiatives may spark political chess game

A referendum to overturn Senate Bill 202, one of the most controversial measures to emerge from the 2011 legislative session, was given the green light this week to collect signatures.

Opponents of the measure have until Jan. 5 to collect 504,760 signatures of registered voters to place the issue on the ballot.

We don’t know whether they’ll spend several million dollars to qualify the referendum, but assuming that they do, it sets up what could be a complex game of political chess.

SB 202, written and passed in the session’s final hours, declares that initiative ballot measures can appear only on a November general election ballot, or in a special election, thus overturning 40 years of having them appear in both primary and general elections.

Democrats and labor unions fashioned the bill, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who as secretary of state in 1971 allowed initiatives to appear on primary ballots even though the state constitution limits them to general and special elections.

Whether purposefully or coincidentally, Brown took advantage of his legally dubious decision by sponsoring a political reform measure on the 1974 primary ballot to aid his campaign for governor that year.

The unions and their Democratic allies sought SB 202 because of a pending initiative measure that would make it more difficult to extract union campaign funds from members’ paychecks.

They believe that so-called “paycheck protection” would have a stronger chance of approval at the June 2012 presidential primary since Republican voter turnout is likely to be relatively high and that of Democrats relatively low.

If the referendum qualifies, it also would appear on the next general or special election ballot. More importantly, until voters decided its fate, SB 202 would be suspended. Referendum sponsors might hope that suspending SB 202 would mean that the paycheck measure would appear on the June primary ballot.

See how much California congressional candidates raised

California’s congressional hopefuls have been busy building their campaign bank accounts ahead of the 2012 elections.

Reports tallying how much cash flowed in and out of the accounts during the most recent fundraising period, which ended Sept. 30, were due over the weekend. We’ve created a spreadsheet of the totals reported by campaign committees for incumbents and others planning to run on next year’s ballot to aid our alert readers keeping track of the bottom line.

Click here to open the spreadsheet in a new window. Full reports from the third quarter can be found on the Federal Election Commission’s website.

CA-24: The games candidates play
Saturday was the deadline for candidates for federal offices to file campaign fundraising reports for the third quarter. Candidates for Congress often tout these reports to show off their fundraising prowress, to create buzz about their campaigns and scare off potential opponents. As a consequence, they try to make them seem as impressive as possible.

They go to great lengths to do so, and Exhibit A is the campaign of former state Sen. Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria, running as a Republican challenging incumbent Democrat Lois Capps of Santa Barbara in the new 24th Congressional District, which includes a small sliver of Ventura County, consisting of Ventura residents who live near the coast west of Seaward Avenue.

Maldonado reported cash on hand as of Sept. 30 of $603,769. But that total includes an on-again, off-again, on-again loan to himself of a quarter-million dollars. The money has been shuffled in and out of his campaign account to coincide with the reporting periods. On June 30, the final day of the second quarter, Maldonado made the $250,000 loan to the campaign. On July 1, the first day of third quarter, his campaign paid him back. Then on Sept. 30, the final day of the third quarter, a new quarter-million dollar loan was deposited in his campaign account.

Number of Californians entering foreclosure jumps in third quarter

A big August surge in foreclosure actions by Bank of America and Bank of New York sent the number of California homeowners entering foreclosure to levels not seen in a year.

The third-quarter jump in notices of default, the first formal step in the foreclosure process, came after such filings had dropped to a three-year low earlier this year. Defaults were up 25.9% from the prior quarter, according to according to San Diego-based DataQuick, a real estate information service.

Banks have fired up the foreclosure-processing machinery in recent months after a long lull as they tried to negotiate settlements with regulators over faulty foreclosure practices. That slowdown created a backlog after a slew of investigations were launched following last year’s so-called robo-signing scandal, where banks used improper practices and documents to foreclose on troubled homeowners.

“Obviously, some lenders and loan servicers have begun to plow through their backlogs of delinquent loans more aggressively,” DataQuick president John Walsh said in a statement.

California properties received an estimated 71,275 notices of default during the three months ended Sept. 30, with some properties receiving multiple notices due to more than one loan. The majority of those loans were from the peak bubble years of 2005, 2006 and 2007, when lending practices were at their loosest, DataQuick said.

Separate third-quarter data released earlier this month by the Irvine-based firm RealtyTrac showed the number of homes entering foreclosure surged in states where repossessions take place largely outside of the courtroom. These nonjudicial states include California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon and Washington.

Experts said that these Western states would experience any foreclosure surge first, as it is easier to get the process rolling again in these places.

Enjoy your morning!

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