Category: California Fair Political Practices Commission

Apr 20 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: April 20, 2012

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San Diego, California

Good Friday morning!

The California Legislature is in session but there are no floor sessions scheduled for today.

Governor Brown will be attending the funeral of a Stanislaus sheriff’s deputy who was shot and killed April 12 as he tried to serve an eviction notice.

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

On to today’s California headlines:

Analysis says Calif. prison medical costs too high

As the state prepares to resume control of inmate medical care, it must find ways to reduce costs that are triple the national average, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office said Thursday.

The federal receivership that has been in place since 2006 has greatly improved the medical care of state prison inmates but also has caused costs to soar, according to the report. California spends $16,000 per inmate for health care services, compared to an average of $5,000 in other states.

The analysis was released less than two weeks before the state and attorneys representing inmates must report to a federal judge with recommendations on when the receivership should end and whether it should maintain some oversight role.

The Legislature should create an independent board to monitor prison medical care to make sure conditions do not deteriorate once the state retakes control, the report said. It also recommends that the state experiment with contracting for medical services to cut costs.

The state should rely more on telemedicine so physicians in urban medical facilities can treat inmates without physically traveling to remote prisons. The analysis also found that the receivership has not been consistent in using management safeguards that are designed to hold down medical spending.

The receivership already is following many of the recommendations outlined in the report, said Nancy Kincaid, spokeswoman for the receiver’s office.

The receivership began emphasizing telemedicine a year ago, Kincaid said. She acknowledged that while medical staff in some prisons follow the receivership’s uniform policy for controlling medical costs, those in other prisons must do a better job.

The receiver, J. Clark Kelso, uses private contractors when they are cheaper, she said, but is limited by a prohibition in the state constitution on using a contractor if a state employee can do the job.

She disputed the report’s comparisons with costs in other states, contending that many others don’t count their administrative, information technology or contract costs in their accounting.

Senate leader wants initiative process changed

The leader of the state Senate announced Thursday that he wants to put a measure on the November 2014 ballot to amend California’s initiative system.

Speaking before the Sacramento Press Club (full disclosure: this reporter is the president of the club), Sen. Leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said the state’s initiative system is broken and one need look no further than last year’s budget negotiations for proof.

Last year, as Total Buzz readers will recall, the then newly elected governor (Jerry Brown) wanted to put on the ballot a tax increase, but Republican legislators wouldn’t put up the votes necessary to send it to the voters. Steinberg said that’s wrong – the minority party was stopping the will of an overwhelmingly elected governor, all because the rules said ballot measures required a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.

Steinberg said that’s not fair and he named three changes he plans to pursue:

  •     Allow the Legislature, on a majority vote, to place on statutory initiatives on the ballot. Statutory initiatives include measures to raise taxes. (Steinberg said he wouldn’t change the vote threshold for putting constitutional amendment initiatives on the ballot.)
  •     Implement an “indirect initiative” process. That’s where initiative proponents refer their proposal to the Legislature after they’ve gathered the requisite number of signatures rather than directly to the voters. Once the proposal is before the Legislature, lawmakers have the option of amending it. Steinberg said 10 other states have similar processes.
  •     Allow the Legislature, with the governor’s permission, to repeal a voter approved initiative after 10 years. Steinberg said 23 other states have similar rules.

“It sounds obvious, but needs and priorities change,” Steinberg said. California can no longer afford to be governed by voter approved initiatives that exist in perpetuity, like propositions 13 and 98, two budget related ballot measures that have deeply affected the state’s finances.


Democrat Hodge lands Republican Bradbury’s endorsement

For decades, former Ventura County District Attorney Michael Bradbury has been a stalwart Republican with a fondness for throwing his name around in political campaigns. Although he keeps a much lower public profile these days, Bradbury is at it again — this time with a surprising twist. He’s endorsing a Democrat, Oxnard Harbor Commissioner Jason Hodge in the three-candidate primary in the 19th Senate District that includes Republican Mike Stoker, a former Santa Barbara County supervisor.

Although the public announcement was made just today, Hodge tells me that Bradbury “has been a very strong supporter from early on. I know Mike and Mike knows me, and he knows that I have a history of bipartisan cooperation.”

Stoker took the news with grace when I informed him of the endorsement this morning. “Now that I know he has an interest in the 19th Senate District race,” he said, “Mike Bradbury will be one of the first people I go see the day after the primary.”


State ethics czar wants disclosure when campaigns pay bloggers

Ravel acknowledged that her proposal might be controversial with some free speech advocates and bloggers, while others question whether blogs are worth the attention of regulators.

Former state Sen. Steve Peace, now head of the California Independent Voter Project, says Republicans read Republican-oriented blogs and Democrats read those aligned with their party’s ideology.  “I don’t think the blogs are very convincing,” Peace said at the conference. “They talk to people who already agree with them.”

Ravel said some bloggers have admitted to her that they have received undisclosed funding from partisan interests.

In 2009, Chip Hanlon, chief executive of the blog site Red County, announced that one of its writers had been let go after it was discovered the writer was taking payments from a consultant for gubernatorial candidate Steve Poizner “for favorable coverage.” Although candidates must disclose their spending, the true source of the funding is hidden when payments are made to consultants, who then pay the bloggers.

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters daily video: Will term-limits measure benefit politicians?

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Dec 12 2011

California Now Allowing Text Message Political Contributions

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I foresee some massive fraud problems here, but I suppose it is keeping up with the times.

Political donors are now free to contribute to their favorite California candidates via text message, says the Fair Political Practices Commission.

California is the first state in the nation to allow political contributions through what is becoming a popular method of donating to charities and disaster relief effort. (Heaven knows, a lot of our candidates need disaster relief!)

Here’s what the FPPC has to say on the subject:

California is the first state to allow campaign contributions by text message. The rules approved by the Commission in October are now in effect. The main goal is to broaden voter participation by offering a mechanism to include citizens in the political process who normally do not participate in campaigns and elections, particularly the younger generation.

It is now up to the wireless carriers and campaigns to implement systems that permit contributions by text message. The concept is similar to texting a donation to a disaster relief fund or a charity. A person can simply send a text message to donate to his or her favorite candidate or cause. The donation amount would be included in the donor’s monthly phone bill and when the bill is paid, the campaign would get the contribution.

If there is money to be had, the POLS for sure will try to access it.

Good luck with the record keeping and the disclosure though.

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Oct 13 2011

California OKs Political Donations Via Text Message

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Can approving online poker be far behind? Well, next year maybe.

California became the first state Thursday to allow people to make political campaign contributions via text messages.

“We have an obligation to bring more people into our democratic process,” said Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, which approved the change in a 3-to-0 vote. “This is one small step we are taking to allow this to happen and to allow people who can’t go to big fundraisers that are $1,000 a head or more to participate.”

“It’s now up to the industry to implement this and we realize it will take some time before that happens,” she said.

But the wireless industry was not happy with the new regulation, which places no limits on the amount of money a person can contribute via text message.

“We have an obligation to bring more people into our democratic process,” said Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, which approved the change in a 3-to-0 vote. “This is one small step we are taking to allow this to happen and to allow people who can’t go to big fundraisers that are $1,000 a head or more to participate.”

“It’s now up to the industry to implement this and we realize it will take some time before that happens,” she said.

But the wireless industry was not happy with the new regulation, which places no limits on the amount of money a person can contribute via text message.

“When we looked at the FEC’s reasoning, we realized we could do it and it was permissible under our laws,” Ravel said in an interview after the meeting.

In its discussion with the California commission, CTIA raised technical and practical concerns.

Specifically, the carriers said it could be a challenge to meet requirements of state and federal election laws, such as providing identifying information about a donor and making sure that donors are not foreign nationals, who are prohibited from making campaign contributions.

California election officials acknowledged there could be logistical problems but emphasized that it is optional for wireless companies to offer text messaging of campaign donations.

While it may be awhile for carriers to offer the service, “campaigns may be ready,” said Ravel. “We talked to some.”

I can see an entire system of abuse here, including foreign nationals gaming the system.

If the amount of money given in this way was limited to say $100 or so,then I think it will meet the intent on soliciting small contributions from many donors. Otherwise, the system will be abused/gamed by the campaigns and there will be rampant corruption.

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