These are my links for December 28th:
- Union pickets gain special protections from state justices -”Signature gatherers and protesters may be ejected from privately owned walkways outside a store, but labor unions may picket there peacefully, the California Supreme Court decided Thursday.
- The state high court unanimously agreed that private walkways in front of stores, unlike public areas in shopping malls, are not open forums accessible to anyone who wants to assemble to express a view. But the justices split, 6 to 1, in upholding two state laws that prevent courts from issuing injunctions against peaceful labor pickets on private property.The laws protecting labor pickets are justified “by the state’s interest in promoting collective bargaining to resolve labor disputes,” Justice Joyce L. Kennard wrote for the courtCalifornia “may single out labor-related speech for particular protection or regulation” as an exercise in the economic regulation of labor relations, Kennard wrote.”
- House members did not violate rule with Countrywide loans, ethics panel says -”The House Ethics Committee said Thursday it found no violations among House members whose mortgage loans went through the VIP section of Countrywide Financial Corp., the company whose subprime loans helped cause the foreclosure crisis.The committee said nearly all the allegations of favored treatment involved loans that were granted so long ago that they fell outside the panel’s jurisdiction. The committee added that participation in the VIP program did not necessarily mean borrowers received the best loan deal available — and most lawmakers were not even aware they were placed in a VIP unit.Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, and Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, were among the House members whose names were on the original list of VIP loans.The actions of unnamed House staff members were harshly criticized. Emails indicated they reached out to Countrywide lobbyists for help with their personal loans, but those actions also were too old to remain in the committee’s jurisdiction. The panel said that if the incidents had been more recent, the staff members could have faced discipline.”
- GINGRICH AND NOLAN: Criminal justice reform saving states billions -”These victories for reform are the result of a growing movement among conservatives to offer alternatives to our current criminal justice policies. Both of us are part of the Right on Crime initiative which has united many prominent conservatives, including Jeb Bush, Ed Meese, Grover Norquist and William Bennett, to advocate sensible reforms that have proven effective at keeping communities safe while saving taxpayer dollars.Right on Crime supports effective programs that are less costly alternatives to prison such as drug courts, rehabilitation and programs that impose swift and certain sanctions.These conservative policy initiatives have attracted the support of leaders from across the political spectrum. The victories for criminal justice reform may not get as much publicity as the stories of gridlock emanating from Washington. Nevertheless, they are proof that even in times of great partisan tension, leaders on the left and the right can set aside their differences and make good public policy based on conservative principles. The result is safer communities and fewer victims.”
- State GOP eyes Brulte as possible savior -”The buzz is growing about the prospects of former state Senate GOP Leader Jim Brulte becoming the next chairman of the struggling California Republican Party.”He has no opposition and he wants it,” said former CRP Chairman Shawn Steel. “He’s been meeting with people to talk about it. He’s the guy, probably more than anyone else in California, who can raise money for the party and at the same time speaks conservatism. And he speaks above the bickering of different factions.”"Brulte has not made any public comments about the job, which state party Central Committee members will fill at their March convention. Incumbent Chairman Tom del Beccaro is not seeking reelection.The state GOP this year fell below a 30 percent share of registered voters. It is perpetually short on cash, holds no statewide offices, and is particularly weak among the growing Latino and Asian electorates.
Brulte spent 14 years in the state Legislature, serving as leader in both chambers. The Rancho Cucamonga consultant is known, respected and affable. And he’s advocated more minority involvement in the party since at least 1998.
Rancho Santa Margarita attorney Steve Baric is vice chairman of the party and would be a likely candidate for the top spot, but is expected to stand aside if Brulte runs. The two are friendly and share the view that the party needs to rise above infighting if it’s to return to relevancy in the state.
The only state constitutional office occupied by a Republican is the state Board of Equalization District 3 seat, held by Michelle Park Steel – who also happens to be Korean American and is married to Shawn Steel. The couple moved from the Palos Verdes Peninsula to Surfside in 2011. She is planning to run in 2014 for the supervisorial seat of John Moorlach, who is termed out.
- Californians to Watch: Peter Lee will launch California’s health exchange -
- Fiscal cliff stumble could doom California’s budget recovery -”Gov. Jerry Brown and California lawmakers struck an upbeat tone in recent weeks as they enjoyed their most positive budget outlook since the economic downturn.Whether that mood survives the winter depends on Washington.State budget experts say the biggest immediate threat to California finances is a recession triggered by automatic federal cuts and tax hikes, absent a political deal to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.”The state’s biggest federal program, Medi-Cal, is spared from automatic cuts. But a new recession could threaten the state tax revenue that serves as the lifeblood for California government.”
- Political winners, losers of ’12 emerge -Many people won’t be sorry to see 2012 in the rearview mirror – it’s been a political year dominated by a limping economy and a bruising and expensive national election, only to end at the edge of a “fiscal cliff.” The political reverberations are being felt in California, where the year in politics was also colored by concerns over taxes, spending and red ink staining the budget. California’s players in the political drama included labor unions, millionaires, consultants, celebrities and elected officials at all levels – starting at the top in Sacramento. Winners and losers emerged, and here are a few, starting with the losers:
- California Republican Party: It was, to borrow the words of Queen Elizabeth II, an “annus horribilis” for the GOP in California, where Republican voter registration on Ronald Reagan’s home turf withered to 29 percent. The party’s board of directors moved for a financial reorganization and state party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro decided not to run for re-election. In November, Democrats grabbed a two-thirds majority in both the state Senate and Assembly. In Congress, the much-touted “young guns” drive to elect GOP congressional candidates drew blanks – newcomer Ricky Gill lost to Democrat Jerry McNerney, and former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado lost to Democrat Lois Capps.