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Feb 21 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: February 21, 2012

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Santa Monica Pier this past weekend

The California Legislature is in session. Today’s schedule is here.

On to today’s California headlines:

CA-26: Democrat Rep Brad Sherman is OUT and Assemblywoman Julia Brownley Is IN

Well, the rumors have born some fruit with California Assemblywoman Julia Brownley announcing over the long President’s Holiday weekend that she will run for Congress. Rep. Brad Sherman had coincidentally announced that he was remaining in CA-30 to duke it out with fellow Democrat Rep. Howard Berman for that Congressional seat.

Brownley lives in Santa Monica, but told Timm Herdt of the Ventura County Star that she would rent an apartment in Oak Park (unincorporated, Ventura County, but in CA-26) yesterday.

Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, stepping in after
Supervisor Steve Bennett dropped out last week, said Sunday she will be a
Democratic candidate in Ventura County’s new 26th Congressional
District.

Brownley, who lives in Santa Monica, has represented much of Ventura
County in the Assembly for the past five years. Her district includes
Port Hueneme, about half of Oxnard, Westlake Village and Oak Park —
areas that make up about 16 percent of the congressional district.

Brownley said she will move to an apartment in Oak Park this week.

Most, if not all of CA-26 is in Ventura County and Democrat Brownley,
while she represented Oxnard and Port Hueneme in the California
Assembly is from Santa Monica in Los Angeles County. Her carpetbagger
status (renting an apartment, in order to run for office in the
Congressional District – although federal law allows non-resident
candidacy, in any case) will be an issue.

With Ventura County Supervisor Steve benefit precipitously
withdrawing from the race, there was a Democratic Party void (i.e. a
well known Democratic POL candidate) and apparently Brownley will fill
it.

Now, whether Brownley can beat Thousand Oaks based Ventura County
Supervisor Linda Parks and/or Republican California State Senator Tony
Strickland in the June primary election (remember the top two advance to
the November general election) is another story. Plus, there are other
Democrats in the race which may dilute the Democratic vote.

Chevron’s influence in El Segundo comes under increased scrutiny

When El Segundo leaders last year were deciding whether to pursue a nearly ninefold tax hike on the Chevron oil refinery, they looked out to a City Council chambers filled with company supporters.

Employees and their families, school leaders and former elected officials argued the proposed increase to the refinery’s acreage tax was ill-timed and even wrong.

Whether they had any sway is difficult to know, but the council weeks later dropped the plan to put the hike on the April municipal ballot and instead entered into negotiations with Chevron. Those talks could win El Segundo millions of dollars more from the oil company if they go the city’s way.

But as both sides come to the table, Chevron’s influence in the town it helped found 100 years ago has come under scrutiny.

Tax plans would boost schools but leave social safety net vulnerable

As education groups battle over which California tax initiative would give the biggest boost to schools, advocates for low-income residents fear safety-net programs remain vulnerable no matter what happens on the ballot in November.

Proponents for three competing tax measures are focusing heavily on schools because voters prioritize education funding most. But it remains an open question how other programs will fare.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal raises several billion dollars for the state’s general fund that he says would help protect schools from severe reductions. But he has proposed deep cuts in welfare-to-work and child care in the first year even if his taxes pass.

Two rival plans largely bypass the state to send money directly to schools and counties. They leave unanswered how the state would close an estimated $9.2 billion deficit through June 2013.

“If tax revenues aren’t available to help balance the budget … it puts pressure on higher education, on health and social service programs, on parks,” said Jean Ross, executive director of the California Budget Project, which advocates for low-income residents. “It puts pressure on everything that isn’t constitutionally protected.”

Dan Walters: Democrats set to boost state Senate clout

When Republican Assemblyman Cameron Smyth decided to leave the Legislature rather than run for the state Senate this year, it virtually guaranteed that Democrats will achieve a two-thirds supermajority in the Senate, changing the Capitol’s political dynamics.

Having already won – via a 2010 ballot measure – the right to pass budgets by simple majority votes, Democrats would gain more power in the Senate over other issues, such as taxes.

That would, in turn, isolate Republicans in the Assembly, who are likely to retain more than a third of the lower house’s 80 seats this year, and could even gain one or two. They could still block tax increases, constitutional amendments and other measures requiring two-thirds votes.

The die was cast for a Democratic supermajority in the Senate when the state’s new independent redistricting commission redrew its 40 districts.

Enjoy your morning!

By the way, the California GOP Convention is coming up this weekend at Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport hotel in Burlingame.

California Republican Party members can look forward to hearing not only from GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich at their convention next weekend, but also from one of his former rivals.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will speak at Saturday’s dinner along with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. KSFO (560 AM) radio host Brian Sussman will emcee the event.

Pawlenty, who quit the presidential race last August after a disappointing finish in the Iowa straw poll, is now co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s presidential bid.

Gingrich will be headlining Saturday’s luncheon at the convention, held Friday through Sunday at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport hotel in Burlingame.

Also on the convention’s speaker list are California Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Darrell Issa, who share the main attraction at Friday’s dinner with Republican National Committee Co-Chairwoman Sharon Day. The Sunday prayer breakfast will feature the Rev. Lou Sheldon, founder and chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition , which has offices in both Washington, D.C., and Anaheim.

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