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May 24 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: May 24, 2012

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Santa Monica, California

Good Thursday 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:

Approval of Gov. Jerry Brown slips in public opinion poll

The honeymoon is ending for Gov. Jerry Brown.

For the first time in a major California poll since Brown took office, a plurality of likely voters disapproves of the job he is doing, according to a Public Policy Institute of California poll released Wednesday.

The margin is pencil-thin – 43 percent disapprove while 42 percent approve – but follows more than a year of relatively favorable marks for the Democratic governor. In April, Brown’s job approval rating among likely voters was 47 percent.

Brown’s dip in public opinion was registered in the days immediately after his announcement last week that California’s budget deficit had grown to $15.7 billion, up from $9.2 billion in January.

Prop 29 support plummets, new poll finds

If anyone ever tells you that money doesn’t matter in California politics, show them the results of the new statewide poll on voter support for Proposition 29.

The initiative — which would add an additional $1 tax per pack of cigarettes and use the money for cancer research — is still ahead in the new poll… but not by much.

The poll from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California finds that 53 percent of those surveyed now say they’ll vote for Prop 29.  Which sounds good, until you consider that in March 67 percent supported the measure.

Meantime, opposition has gone up from 30 percent in March to 42 percent now.

Put it all together and Prop 29 — which was winning by a whopping 37 points two months ago — is now only ahead by 11 points.

The big change since March: the anti Prop 29 bonanza of television ads.  Tobacco companies ponied up some $40 million to kill the initiative, which gives them about a 7-1 advantage in campaign cash over Prop 29 supporters like the American Cancer Society and cyclist Lance Armstrong.

Special-interest spending floods Cailfornia races in new political landscape

As federal super PACs continue to pour money into the presidential and congressional contests, state-level independent committees are spending big to influence the outcome in California’s legislative races.

Independent expenditure committees, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts, are active in more than a third of state races on the June 5 ballot, spending more than $7 million to support and oppose candidates.

The spending, which will grow as groups ramp up mail pieces, radio and television ads and in-person appeals by paid staff in the final days of the primary campaign, is expected to easily exceed the more than $7.4 million in independent spending the Fair Political Practices Commission tracked in the 2010 legislative primary contests.

While a U.S. Supreme Court decision opened the door to unlimited special-interest spending in federal races in 2010, the use of independent committees became the norm in California state elections a decade earlier.

Observers say the number of competitive races this year, a product of redistricting, a new primary process and turnover in the Legislature, is driving numbers up.

LAUSD will pay $200,000 settlement over alleged sexual harassment by former Superintendent Ramon Cortines

Los Angeles Unified will pay $200,000 and give lifetime health benefits to settle a sexual-harassment allegation filed by a facilities executive against retired Superintendent Ramon Cortines, officials said Wednesday.

Scot Graham, who has worked in the Facilities Division for 12 years and is now director of leasing and asset management, claims that Cortines made unwanted sexual advances during a weekend spent at the superintendent’s second home in Kern County in July 2010.

Graham’s attorneys notified the district in March – nearly a year after Cortines retired – that he intended to file a sexual-harassment claim.

Hoping to avoid potentially expensive litigation, the school board met three times in executive session before voting 4-3 on Tuesday to approve the deal.

The settlement gives Graham $200,000 cash, plus lifetime health benefits that officials valued at roughly $250,000. In exchange, the 56-year-old Graham agreed to retire from his $150,000-a-year job on May 31.

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters’ Daily video: Will independents thrive on June 5?

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