April 23, 2012 archive

Apr 23 2012

Updated: AD-48: State Democrats Worried About Roger Hernandez – More Than Alcohol?

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California Assemblyman Roger Hernandez who represents AD-48

First, State Assembly Leadership Democrats briefly strip Assemblyman Roger Hernandez of hiring and firing powers because he has been accused of a DUI while driving a State Assembly car.

But, more importantly is the last sentence in the story which says, while everyone in and out of the 48th Assembly district awaits his blood test – that there may be other substances involved besides alcohol.

Hernandez was arrested March 27 on suspicion of drunk driving in Concord. At the time of his arrest, Hernandez was driving a state Assembly pool car, a Toyota Camry Hybrid assigned for Hernandez’s use in Sacramento.

The results from a blood test administered by the Concord Police Department after his arrests are expected by the end of this month.

Assembly leaders are concerned the blood test might come back positive for a substance other than alcohol, the source said.

Stay tuned….

Hat tip on this story to Scott Lay at The Nooner.


Update:

Well, I guess the crap hit the rotating appliance, politcal screaming has ensued by the majority California Assembly Democratic Leadership and Scott Lay has issued a sort of explanatory post (not on the web) about Roger Hernandez.

The problem is that the story has changed. Here was the original story in the Pasadena Star News in total as published at this link as of the time of this post:

State Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, D-West Covina, was with a Kaiser lobbyist in state-issued Camry hybrid when he was arrested March 27 on suspicion of driving under the influence, sources said Friday.

After nearly a month of turmoil stemming from his arrest, Hernandez announced Friday that he has forfeited the use of a car from the Assembly motor pool. He has denied any wrongdoing.

“Having reviewed the Rules of the Assembly, I learned I should not have used a state vehicle for travel outside the Capitol to the Bay Area, and I apologize to my constituents and colleagues for doing so,” Hernandez, 36, a former West Covina City Councilman, said in a prepared statement. “I do believe pending test results will make clear that I was in fact driving within the law.”

Results from a blood test administered by the Concord Police Department after his arrest are expected by the end of this month, officials said.

Assembly leaders are concerned the blood test might come back positive for a substance other than alcohol, a source close to Assembly Speaker John Perez said Friday.

Jon Waldie, chief administrative officer for the California State Assembly, said Hernandez was given a “refresher course” on rules relating to the use of state vehicles.

“There is a policy that requests his car stay in Sacramento,” Waldie said.

Waldie said there are no rules covering after-hours socializing between legislators and lobbyists.

In 2009, Assemblyman Mike Duvall, R-La Habra, was caught on an open microphone bragging about his extramarital affair with a lobbyist. He later resigned.

Hernandez’s office declined further comment.

West Covina City Councilman Fred Sykes said the word of Hernandez’s arrest “broke his heart.”

“He has gone from a lawmaker to a lawbreaker,” Sykes said.

The longtime Hernandez supporter said the arrest sets a poor example for the young people who look up to Hernandez.

“It’s such a struggle to have someone rise to his level,” Sykes said. “He was an example of what I have tried to tell our young people to be.”

Now, here is the updated story which I linked above and Scott Lay referred to in his Nooner:

Democratic leadership briefly stripped state Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, D-West Covina, of his ability to hire and fire staffers, a state Assembly source said Friday.

The move came as the Assembly Rules Committee admonished the state lawmaker for driving a state car outside of the Sacramento area. It was rescinded after Hernandez relinquished the use of a state car.

Jon Waldie, chief administrative officer of the state Assembly described Hernandez’s announcement as “voluntary”.

“The Assemblyman has all the same rights afforded every member to hire and terminate their staff,” Waldie said in a statement issued Friday evening.

Hernandez was arrested March 27 on suspicion of drunk driving in Concord. At the time of his arrest, Hernandez was driving a state Assembly pool car, a Toyota Camry Hybrid assigned for Hernandez’s use in Sacramento.

The results from a blood test administered by the Concord Police Department after his arrests are expected by the end of this month.

Assembly leaders are concerned the blood test might come back positive for a substance other than alcohol, the source said.

Now, do you see the differences?

And, now some comments from Scott Lay who has been taking some flack from the Speaker’s Office (this is quoted from Scott’s e-mail release):

…In one of the strongest responses to a legitimate news source, the Speaker’s Office has issued denials to several of the alleged facts in the Pasadena Star-News article I linked to and quoted from earlier today.

Robin Swanson, Communications Director for Speaker Perez, states: “The National Enquirer has more reliable sources, and more responsible reporters and editors than the Pasadena Star-News and Glendale News Press. After speaking with an editor, it’s become clear to me that they are more interested in emulating a teenager’s online slam-page full of innuendo than in reporting actual facts.”

Assembly Speaker John Perez also released the following statement late Friday: “Like all Californians, Assemblymembers deserve due process and for all the facts to be presented. While that is taking place, I support Assemblymember Hernández’s decision to voluntarily relinquish his access to drive Assembly pool vehicles.”

San Gabriel Valley News reporter Frank Girardot says that he and fellow reporter Brian Charles “stand by our story.”

The story has been significantly amended since a Friday version, dropping the reference to a Kaiser lobbyist as passenger, saying Hernandez gave up the car “voluntarily,” and that he was only “briefly” limited in his ability to hire and fire staff. And, his reported companion’s affiliation is no longer in the story.

Anyway, I’m sure that this story has not run its course, but I have to agree with the Speaker . . . let’s let the facts come out through the investigation….

Now, tomorrow, I will be calling the Pasadena Star-News and find out what is what. And, I bet some other reporters will be asking Assemblyman Hernandez who was in the car with him when he was stopped for the alleged DUI.

In the meantime, we will all wait for that blood test which seems to be taking a long time (at least for us in the media) in coming.

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Apr 23 2012

AD-48: State Democrats Worried About Roger Hernandez – More Than Alcohol?

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California Assemblyman Roger Hernandez who represents AD-48

First, State Assembly Leadership Democrats briefly strip Assemblyman Roger Hernandez of hiring and firing powers because he has been accused of a DUI while driving a State Assembly car.

But, more importantly is the last sentence in the story which says, while everyone in and out of the 48th Assembly district awaits his blood test – that there may be other substances involved besides alcohol.

Hernandez was arrested March 27 on suspicion of drunk driving in Concord. At the time of his arrest, Hernandez was driving a state Assembly pool car, a Toyota Camry Hybrid assigned for Hernandez’s use in Sacramento.

The results from a blood test administered by the Concord Police Department after his arrests are expected by the end of this month.

Assembly leaders are concerned the blood test might come back positive for a substance other than alcohol, the source said.

Stay tuned….

Hat tip on this story to Scott Lay at The Nooner.

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Apr 23 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: April 23, 2012

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Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad

Good Monday morning!

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

Remember: Friday is the last day for policy committees to pass fiscal bills introduced in their house. So, there will be some action around the Capitol this week.

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

On to today’s California headlines:

Cost of public retiree health care soars in California

As Stockton contemplates a bankruptcy filing, cities, counties and school districts throughout California are grappling with the same issue that has led the delta port city to the brink of insolvency – soaring costs for retiree health care.

San Francisco, which once allowed its public employees to qualify for full retiree medical benefits after working just five years, is projected to pay $153 million in retiree health care costs this year, about 5 percent of the city’s general fund.

The Ventura County city of Thousand Oaks capped its contributions for retiree health care at $435 a month but still faces a $12.6 million unfunded liability for the perk, an amount equal to about 18 percent of the city’s general fund budget.

The Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second largest school district, promises 100 percent lifetime health benefits to retirees, their spouses and dependents. It now faces $10.3 billion in long-term unfunded liabilities for the benefit, 1 1/2 times the district’s annual budget.

And at the state level, retiree health care costs have ballooned from $560 million annually a decade ago to a projected $1.7 billion in the coming fiscal year, almost 2 percent of general fund spending.
The benefits’ costs are expected to double for the state and local governments over the next 10 years.


Action slow so far on Gov. Brown’s pension reforms

It’s been six months since Gov. Jerry Brown put forward his proposals to make the public pension system more affordable, yet action on his 12-point plan has been nearly imperceptible.

That has led Republican lawmakers to accuse the Democrats who control the Legislature of stalling. Democrats acknowledge the slow pace, yet say they are making progress and intend to enact reforms before the session ends in August.

“It’s not as fast as I would like, but it’s complicated,” Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said this week during an appearance before the Sacramento Press Club.

He said Democrats have an obligation to deliver pension reform, particularly as they will ask voters in November to approve hikes to the income and sales taxes. But he also said they have “a different take” on parts of the governor’s plan.

Brown’s reform packaged called for increasing the retirement age to 67 for new, non-public safety employees and having local and state government workers pay more toward their pensions and retiree health care. Among other changes, the governor would put new workers in a hybrid plan that includes a 401(k)-style vehicle.

Frustrated that Brown’s reform package had not been translated into individual bills, Republican lawmakers earlier this year did it themselves. They submitted a legislative package that copied Brown’s 12-point plan and asked that it be heard by the Conference Committee on Public Employee Pensions, which has held five hearings throughout the state reviewing retirement benefits for public employees.

‘No party preference’ is new political flavor in California

Congressional candidate Linda Parks isn’t one for conventional choices.

As she tells voters in a recent television ad, her favorite ice cream flavor is not chocolate or vanilla, but the nuts-and-marshmallow-loaded Rocky Road.

And her chosen party preference on the June 5 ballot?

“None.”

“I’ve had longtime supporters tell me, ‘I don’t even know what party you are.’ And I like that,” said Parks, a Ventura County supervisor who has been both a member and, more recently, a punching bag of both the Republican and the Democratic parties. “I like the fact that they can’t peg me as one party or the other.”

Parks is one of 36 candidates with “no party preference” running for state and federal office in California this year, the first time the option is available for primary candidates.

Her candidacy for the 26th Congressional District is getting attention because of the chance she’ll succeed in becoming the first independent elected to the House of Representatives since 2004.

No-party-preference candidates make up just a fraction of the more than 500 people running for state and federal office on the June ballot. But some observers say a win – or even a good show – by Parks or other no-party-preference candidates could pave the way for more independents to run for elected office in California.

“In this climate with the tea party and the Occupy movement and the anti-incumbent sentiment, if it turns out that that does translate into ‘no-party-preference’ candidates winning, we can expect to see all sorts of people shedding their party affiliation in the future,” said Kimberly Nalder, an associate professor in the California State University, Sacramento, Department of Government.

Tobacco marketing targets low-income, black youth, researchers say

Tobacco marketing is targeting California’s low-income and African American youth, according to researchers who examined advertising throughout the state.

Academic researchers funded by the state’s Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program found that there was greater visibility of menthol cigarette advertising at retailers near high schools where there are larger African American student populations.

According to the most recent statistics issued by the Federal Trade Commission, the tobacco industry spent $10 billion on marketing in 2008.

“There is a systematic targeting (of disadvantaged communities) by the tobacco industry, which is an extraordinary public health problem,” said Lisa Henriksen of the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who presented the research at a legislative briefing in Sacramento last week. “The addition of menthol to cigarettes makes it easier to smoke and more difficult to quit.”

Henriksen’s research [PDF], published last year, found that as the proportion of black students increased at a California high school, so did the share of both menthol-related advertising and Newport brand promotions at nearby retailers. The study looked at all cigarette advertising, but specifically analyzed promotions and price discounts for Newport and Marlboro, two of the most popular brands with underage smokers, researchers said.

Enjoy your morning and here is Dan Walters discussing California unemployment numbers:

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Apr 23 2012

Flap’s California Blog @ Flap Twitter Updates for 2012-04-23

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