March 7, 2012 archive

Mar 07 2012

AD-38: Are Nuclear Weapons Buying a California Assembly Seat for Patricia McKeon?

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Rep. Buck McKeon and his wife, Patricia, a candidate for California Assembly

Well, the defense contractors that have a stake in House Armed Services Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon certainly want to curry favor.

The donations made by the four companies were distributed fairly evenly between committee Republicans and Democrats, but skewed slightly more towards the GOP signers on average.

Leading the way was Committee chairman Buck McKeon (R-Cal.). The four companies have given him $318,900 over this period, almost double what the runner up, former representative Ike Skelton (D-MO) — his predecessor as chairman — received. McKeon has long has a reputation as a friend of the defense industry in general — Salon reported in February that the defense industry firms have rushed to support his wife’s California Legislature race this year — and he has a number of key defense plants in his district, including one where work has been conducted on the new strategic bomber.

According to McGehee, of the Campaign Legal Center, “On the Armed Services Committee there is a tacit understanding between members and the military construction sector — ‘you scratch my back (with campaign contributions), I’ll scratch yours (by supporting policies that help your industry). And it’s all cloaked in patriotism and national security to protect it from criticism or harsh scrutiny.”

Spokespeople for House members and companies alike deny there has been any quid pro- quo.

“Funding from special interests does not always mean something unethical is afoot,” said McKeon spokeswoman Alissa McCurley. “Chairman McKeon receives input from senior military leaders as part of routine Congressional oversight. Those views, along with those of Committee professional staff members, are what sets his annual priorities.” She added that “President Obama’s own statement that nuclear weapons will be key to our national defense” make McKeon’s worries about the arsenal’s decay reasonable.

After reading the entire piece linked above, you can see how donating a few $ hundred thousand to Patricia’s California State Assembly race is chump change compared to the $ billions that are tied up in defense contracts, including a new strategic bomber.

And, what a great way to conceal/launder excessive political contributions to Rep. Buck McKeon, which are regulated by federal law. Sort of like, when Buck paid his wife for her campaign work.

These two POLS are pretty sharp in getting paid twice by the special interests and legally too.

But, do voters in AD-38 really want to elect an assembly member that votes based on how much money they can personally collect or one who makes decisions on what is best for the state.

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Mar 07 2012

Video: No Love Lost Between California Governor Jerry Brown and Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom?

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So says the San Francisco Chronicle in their video embedded above.

Gov. Jerry Brown was at the Chronicle Tuesday for an editorial board meeting (mostly to sell his tax plan), and we asked him about how Gavin Newsom is doing in the number two, largely ceremonial, spot of lieutenant governor.  

The two former Bay Area mayors, you may remember, have a rocky past (in part because of personality, and in part because Newsom also had his sights set on the governor’s office two years ago before dropping out of the race) .  

“I think he’s well within the tradition,” Brown said when asked whether he’s satisfied with the job Newsom has done.  

Ouch.

I would say this is an understatement – Attorney General Kamala Harris and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa take note!

By the way, anyone have bets whether Brown at age 74 will run for re-election in two years?

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Mar 07 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: March 7, 2012

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El Cajon Hills, California

Good Morning.

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

On to today’s California headlines:

Anti-tax groups put brakes on California spending cap initiative

Fiscal conservatives seeking a constitutional cap on state spending suggested Tuesday they likely will wait until 2014.

Proponents have been concerned that the state spending cap would be buried on the November ballot with tax initiatives and a proposal to limit union dues collection, said Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

The California Taxpayers Association, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and Small Business Action Committee want to reset the state’s spending limit at the 2010-11 level. They would cap spending growth based on a formula tied to population and cost-of-living increases. The measure was cleared for circulation on Feb. 8, but proponents have yet to gather signatures.

Waiting until 2014 could be a blow for the California Republican Party. Chairman Tom Del Beccaro in recent weeks has touted the spending cap initiative as central to motivating GOP voters to polls in November and winning targeted legislative races.

“There was no question we had the resources to qualify,” Coupal said. “The issue was whether the business community was having second thoughts about whether we’d have the resources to run a credible campaign. I think they looked at the political landscape much like we did and saw some of the tax measures on the ballot and some of the proposals in the Legislature and felt like the timing was not right for spending cap.”

Some Initiatives Flush With Cash, Others Bare

It’s by no means a perfect way to measure the eventual outcome at the polls, but money often talks loudest in campaigns for or against ballot measures in California. And at this juncture, the money recorded in publicly filed fundraising reports has some interesting things to say.

In a nutshell: tobacco is king… and Governor Jerry Brown’s dialing for dollars is paying off.

First, a look at the two initiatives on the June 5 statewide primary ballot. Neither has received much attention — in part, perhaps, because of all the focus on the looming November initiative war.

When it comes to money, one June campaign stands out: opposition to the Proposition 29 tobacco tax increase.

Prop 29 seeks to add $1 in taxes to each pack of cigarettes sold in California, with the money (backers estimate $700 million a year) earmarked for cancer research. As you might expect, the battle lines here are drawn largely between anti-smoking groups and Big Tobacco.

The main campaign in support of Prop 29 has had only one significant contributions so far in 2012, a $1.5 million check from cycling champion Lance Armstrong. The campaign reported less than $250,000 in cash at the end of 2011, and will clearly need more big bucks like those from Armstrong… as the anti-Prop 29 campaign has come in with guns blazing. In just the first eight weeks of 2012, the campaign collected $12 million — most of which came from two large checks, one from Altria/Philip Morris ($7 million) and one from R.J. Reynolds ($3 million).


Thousand Oaks City Council picks Joel Price to fill vacant seat

After 16 interviews over the course of three hours, the Thousand Oaks City Council selected Joel Price on Tuesday night to fill a vacant seat on the council.

The vote was 3 to 1 to appoint Price to the seat vacated by Dennis Gillette, who has retired due to health concerns. Price will serve out the remainder of Gillette’s term beginning March 22 and ending in November 2014.

Councilwoman Claudia Bill-de la Peña cast the dissenting vote, calling an appointment the worst solution to filling the vacancy. The two other options the council passed on were to leave the seat empty until the city held a special election in November or to adopt an ordinance allowing the council to appoint someone until a special election in November.

During his interview, Price told the council his priorities were public safety, particularly in light of the shift of certain inmates from prison to local jails, along with maintaining open space and stabilizing the economy.

Price, a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department, told council members he had considered running for council once he retired.

Jerry Brown: ‘It’s good that we have old politicians around’

Gov. Jerry Brown, who will turn 74 next month, found himself last night in the company of an older politician, a rare enough occurrence Brown’s thoughts turned to age.

“It’s good that we have old politicians around,” said Brown, in San Francisco to welcome Israeli President Shimon Peres, 88, to Temple Emanu-El. “There’s a lot of these young ones, and they give us a lot of energy, but we need the wisdom of those who’ve gone through all the struggles.”

The Democratic governor recalled meeting Peres some 40 years ago, when Peres was promoting Israeli bonds.

Enjoy your morning!

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Mar 07 2012

California State Senator Sharon Runner Released from the Hospital

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Sharon Runner

California State Senator Sharon Runner

Good news!

Sen. Sharon Runner is being released from the hospital less than two weeks after receiving a new set of lungs.

Runner’s office announced on Feb. 24 that the Lancaster Republican had received a double lung transplant and was recovering at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Runner, who was elected to the Senate in a 2011 special election, has suffered for years from a rare autoimmune condition called limited scleroderma.

While Runner said at the time of her campaign that her condition had improved, infections related to the disease landed her back on the transplant list and prevented her from returning to the Capitol this year.

In addition to praising the work of her doctors and surgeons, Runner thanked the family of her anonymous organ donor in a statement released by her office.

“Without this person’s generosity, I would not be able to continue my community activism and public service,” she said. “This person’s family and friends will always be in my prayers.”

Senator Runner who has already announced she will not be running for re-election later this year will return to her duties in the Capitol by late spring, according to her office.

This is VERY good news.

Senator, have a good recovery!

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Mar 07 2012

Flap’s California Blog @ Flap Twitter Updates for 2012-03-07

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