March 2012 archive

Mar 28 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: March 28, 2012

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Fallbrook, California

Good Wednesday morning!

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

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

Governor Jerry Brown has some public events today.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s calendar today includes a California National Guard ceremony at which Col. Sylvia R. Crockett will be promoted to general.

It’s a milestone for the Golden State: She’s the first Latina to attain that rank in the California National Guard, according to the governor’s office.

Crockett, who’s now assistant division commander for the 40th Infantry Division as well as director of strategic communications for the California Military Department, started her career with the California National Guard in 1982. The ceremony starts at 11 a.m. in the the governor’s Capitol office.

Brown is also scheduled to speak with police chiefs, sheriffs, district attorneys and others at the 20th annual legislative day of the Alliance of California Law Enforcement. That talk starts at 1 p.m. at the Sacramento Convention Center.

On to today’s California headlines:

Calif. Democratic treasurer perpetrated $7M fraud

Democratic campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee defrauded at least 50 candidates, officeholders and political organizations out of $7 million in a scheme that dates back more than a decade, according to a court filing made Tuesday by federal prosecutors.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Sacramento filed the additional charges in federal court, providing the most detailed account to date in a case that has left some Democratic candidates scrambling for campaign cash in an election year.

Such filings typically are a prelude to a plea, but prosecutors would not confirm such a development or offer any further details.

Durkee, who heads Durkee & Associates in Burbank, was arrested in September and charged with suspicion of mail fraud after millions of dollars disappeared from the campaign accounts of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, other Democratic members of Congress and several Democratic state lawmakers.

The filing details a complex shell game in which Durkee shifted campaign money to cover an array of personal and business expenses.

In one example, $23,000 taken from Feinstein’s account was used to help pay American Express credit card charges from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Amazon.com, Disneyland, Trader Joe’s and Turners Outdoorsman.

Magic Johnson group to buy Dodgers for record $2B

A group that includes former Lakers star Magic Johnson and longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten agreed Tuesday night to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt for a record $2 billion.

The price would shatter the mark for a North American sports franchise, topping the $1.1 billion Stephen Ross paid for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins in 2009.

Mark Walter, chief executive officer of the financial services firm Guggenheim Partners, would become the controlling owner.

The deal, revealed about five hours after Major League Baseball owners approved three finalists for an intended auction, is one of several steps toward a sale of the team by the end of April. It is subject to approval in federal bankruptcy court.

“I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise and intend to build on the fantastic foundation laid by Frank McCourt as we drive the Dodgers back to the front page of the sports section in our wonderful community of Los Angeles,” Johnson said in a statement.

As part of the agreement, the Dodgers said McCourt and “certain affiliates of the purchasers” would acquire the land surrounding Dodger Stadium, including its parking lots, for $150 million.

Rallying around Brownley

As expected, the region’s Democratic establishment is rallying around Assemblywoman Julia Brownley of Oak Park in the 26th Congressional District as party leaders and activists seek to consolidate enough support behind a single candidate to ensure a second-place finish in the June primary.

The challenge has been discussed here before at some length: With four Democrats on the ballot, a strong Republican in Sen. Tony Strickland of Moorpark and a strong independent in Supervisor Linda Parks of Thousand Oaks, Democrats are in danger of not qualifying a candidate for the November election under the state’s new primary election system, in which only the top two finishers, regardless of party affiliation, make it to general election ballot.

California courts scrap $2 billion tech project

One of the largest public technology projects in California history is history.

Faced with mounting criticism about the cost, the state Judicial Council, the policy arm of the courts, on Tuesday voted to pull the plug on a $2 billion computer upgrade for California’s 58 trial courts.

The decision ended a 10-year quest to electronically unify the nation’s largest state court system, a goal that ballooned in price as California hit its worst budget crisis in years.

The council chose instead to give local courts the ability to choose their own tech improvements, setting aside $8.6 million to study that issue and perhaps salvage scraps from the abandoned project.

The computer upgrade has divided a judicial branch trying to weather more than $600 million in budget cuts over the past three years. With courts cutting hours to the public and laying off workers, the tech upgrade became a primary target of critics who said judicial leaders should abandon the project and use the money to restore or maintain other operations.

Hundreds of court employees from the Bay Area and elsewhere rallied outside the state building in San Francisco to press for an end to the tech project.

“It’s just not the right time to go forward with this project,” Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge James Herman, a council member who prepared a report on the upgrade, said after a nearly all-day hearing.

And, finally, Dan Walters on the California Judicial Flap:

Enjoy your morning!

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Mar 28 2012

Flap’s California Blog @ Flap Twitter Updates for 2012-03-28

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Mar 27 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: March 27, 2012

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Santa Barbara Mission, Santa Barbara, California

Good Tuesday morning!

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

The California Assembly’s Daily File is here and the California State Senate’s here.

On to today’s California headlines:

Mitt Romney has an ambitious California fundraising schedule.

The Republican frontrunner will start the day at the home of Stockton developer Alex G. Spanos, then move south to Irvine for a luncheon event with conservative policy advocateDavid Horowitz in Irvine. Irvine Company chairman Donald Bren is among those attending that one.

Then it’s on to dinner with the likes of former Los Angeles Mayor Dick Riordan former state Republican Party chair Shawn Steel at the Hyatt Century Plaza hotel in Los Angeles.

California legislative Democrats balk at Jerry Brown’s budget cuts

In a show of good faith one year ago, legislative Democrats slashed Medi-Cal, cut universities and reduced welfare grants to slice the state deficit 13 weeks before the constitutional deadline.

But this year Democrats are refusing to go along with Gov. Jerry Brown’s most controversial reductions, spurning his demand to have cuts in place by March.

They oppose Brown’s plan to halve the amount of time that unemployed adults can receive welfare-to-work benefits and to slash grants to children. Assembly Democrats have voted against his proposal to cut scholarship aid for 26,000 low-income students through higher grade requirements for Cal Grants.

Brown wanted lawmakers to fast-track his cuts again because he said the state can save more money the earlier it reduces programs. But Assembly Democrats have rejected welfare and Cal Grant cuts, while Senate Democrats say they will wait until at least May before making any real decisions.

Opponents’ Web attacks can make things sticky for candidates

http://www.18indictments.com/

Even some of Richard Alarcon’s campaign supporters had to concede that the website slamming the politician was cleverly done.

The site had an interactive Monopoly-style board game that drew attention to the legal troubles of the Los Angeles city councilman, who is running for state Assembly this year.

A click on the video brings up a commentary about a grand jury’s 18-count felony indictment against Alarcon and his wife, stemming from the district attorney’s allegations that they lied about where they lived and voted fraudulently. It does not mention that the couple have pleaded not guilty to all counts and have not yet gone to trial.

“What bothers me is that people can hide in a digital disguise and not accept responsibility for what they say,” Alarcon said.

“Where I grew up, when you had something to say to someone, you said it to their face,” he said. In more than 30 years in politics, he added, “I’ve always put my name behind any statement that I’ve ever made.”

The online hit at Alarcon is just one of many smear websites, phony Twitter accounts and attack YouTube videos that are rapidly becoming staples of political campaigning in 2012.Social media sites are giving candidates myriad new ways to reach voters. But they’re also offering platforms to opponents who want to smear them, often anonymously and in ways the candidates have trouble fighting.

Smear tactics are nothing new in politics, of course. But Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other social media sites offer a trove of new material for opposition researchers. That can include an unfortunate photo from a party, a regrettable tweet or a video ripe for distortion.

L.A. more densely populated than N.Y.C.? Believe it

When it comes to density, Southern California is No. 1.

U.S. Census figures released Monday peg the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim area as the most densely populated area in the country.

By comparison, the New York-Newark, N.J., area is fifth when it comes to overall density.

But is it density or sprawl?

Stacy Vidal, a Public Information Officer at the U.S. Census Bureau said the Los Angeles region was pushed to the top of the list because residents on the West Coast are more spread out than the East Coast, where population levels tend to drop off as you leave the city centers.

For instance, density levels are higher in Manhattan than Los Angeles. But once you leave Manhattan, the number of residents per square mile begins to drop as you get into the suburbs.

In comparison, the suburbs of L.A. are highly developed and packed with more people per square mile. As a result, the overall L.A. urban area is more dense.

The Census data illustrates how the region developed and how the economics of housing have influenced density in Southern California. Buyers head out to places like the Lancaster and Palmdale to find affordable housing, said Daniel J.B. Mitchell, an emeritus professor at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.

“People are priced out of the core areas,” Mitchell said. “The places that growing are places where there is lower cost land, the outlying areas.”

And, lastly here is Dan Walters on why the California pension reform battles will be waged in San Diego rather than Sacramento:

Enjoy your morning!

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Mar 27 2012

Flap’s California Blog @ Flap Twitter Updates for 2012-03-27

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Mar 26 2012

AD-38: Patricia McKeon Drops a Dime on Scott Wilk

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Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley and Assembly Candidate Patricia McKeon

At first, Republican California Assembly candidate Patricia McKeon denied that she implicated her husband, Rep Buck McKeon’s former staff member and Assembly race competitor Scott Wilk in a complaint about the website: Really Patricia?.

Last Friday, March 23, 2012, the SCV Lincoln Club held a 38th Assembly District GOP Candidate Forum. All three candidates, Patricia McKeon, Paul Strickland and Scott Wilk, agreed to participate in this Candidate Forum and were present which is where this story unfolds.

The forum format was indicated as follows; each candidate would give an opening statement; a question and answer period on the issues would follow; concluding with a closing statement from each candidate. It also included, in accordance with President Reagan’s 11th Commandment, no personal attacks on fellow GOP candidates would be allowed.

During the forum the following question was asked: “You mentioned you signed the unity pledge honoring Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment. Mrs. McKeon, it has been suggested that your campaign asked Steve Cooley, our District Attorney, and one of your supporters, to investigate Scott Wilk over an anonymous website that has been critical of your candidacy. Would you care to clear the air about this rumor?”

Patricia McKeon, in a rather indignant tone, claimed at the forum that she made a “general inquiry” of the District Attorney’s office about a website that was sharing negative information about her dealing as Rep. McKeon’s paid treasurer. She went on to claim that she did “not say who” was behind the anonymous websites that used her name and personal information. She emphasized that in her letter to District Attorney Steve Cooley that “…I did not ever, ever, ever, indicate one person ever…” was behind these “sites that were very vitriolic.”

You can listen to Patricia here.

But, then….. this letter appeared.

So, what gives, Patricia?

I mean, I can understand that you were not happy with a website that had an address with your name in it and which took a very critical view of your life and your assembly candidacy.

I can also understand that you would seek forensic computer experts to discover who was sliming you and an attorney to make them stop.

But, the Los Angeles County District Attorney? A criminal investigation?

Well, Patricia, the price is fair enough – the public pays. And, besides Steve Cooley, the LA County District Attorney has endorsed your candidacy. Maybe you will get some preferential treatment, who knows?

What a waste…. AND then you lie to the Santa Clarita Lincoln Club about the flap, play all Reagan 11th commandment and holier than thou.

Let’s face it, Patricia McKeon dropped a dime, slung some mud and hoped it would stick to her former friend, husband’s staff member and fellow Republican.

Admit it Patricia, you attempted a political “dirty trick” against Scott Wilk. If you have ANY evidence that Scott Wilk was behind Really Patricia?, hire that private attorney and sue him. Come on now.

Anyone want to be that this never happens?

This is not the way, Patricia McKeon’s dirty, strong-armed campaign rolls.

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