Category Archive: Flap’s California Afternoon Collection

Apr 13 2012

Flap’s California Afternoon Collection: April 13, 2012

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Thousand Oaks, California

Good Friday the 13th afternoon!

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

There are no floor session scheduled for today.

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

On to today’s California Headlines:

Jerry Brown tells Legislature to ‘man up,’ make cuts

Gov. Jerry Brown said this morning that the Legislature should “man up” and make spending cuts, acknowledging the state budget deficit is likely larger than he previously thought.

The Democratic governor, in an interview on the Bay Area talk radio station KGO 810, said the deficit is “probably bigger now” than the $9.2 billion he estimated earlier this year.

“We’re trying to be as prudent as we can,” Brown said. “That’s why the Legislature has to man up, make the cuts, and get some taxes and we’ll make it.”

Legislative Democrats have resisted many of Brown’s proposals to reduce spending, and his demand that cuts be enacted by March fell flat.

Brown’s “man up” remark was reminiscent of when Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called legislative Democrats “girlie men” in 2004, also in a budget dispute.

“Uh-oh …” Aaron McLear, Schwarzenegger’s former press secretary, said on Twitter, “sounds a lot like ‘Girly Men.’”

In the radio interview, Brown promoted his November ballot initiative to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California’s highest earners, but he backpedaled from his previous characterization of the initiative as a “Millionaires’ Tax.”

“I’m not calling it that,” he said.


Poll: Nathan Fletcher jumps to second in San Diego mayor race

Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher received oodles of media attention when he left the Republican Party and re-registered as an independent amidst his campaign for mayor of San Diego.

And it may be paying off.

A San Diego television station reported Thursday that its poll shows Fletcher jumping from third place in the race to succeed Mayor Jerry Sanders into a solid second, just two percentage points behind City Councilman Carl DeMaio, a Republican, with Democratic Rep. Bob Filner dropping into third place.

O.C. Tea Party movement shifts its focus

Three years after the Tea Party started, activists in Orange County say the movement has evolved in several different directions. And not always for the better, some say.

“I attended my first Tea Party rally two years ago at the O.C. Civic Center in Santa Ana,” said Corona del Mar business owner Nancy Vanderpool, 63. “The focus was on taxation. With the advent of the health-care bill, focus began to switch gradually to the constitutionality of the bill. From there, it has become more diverse.

“Although I definitely disagree with the premise of the health bill, I believe the two separate issues have caused the fervor to die with regards to over-taxation and government spending. Maybe we need to get back to its original platform.”

She suggested the health-care bill should be framed by the Tea Party as a form of taxation that leads to bigger government.

Costa Mesa’s Tom Pollitt sees a different shift in the Tea Party – a move toward a more pragmatic, local focus – but with as much activity as ever.

“We are doing less rallies and spending more time getting involved in the local issues,” said Pollitt, 68, a Newport Mesa Tea Party member. “We cannot change national issues, but we can change what happens on a local level. We still believe in limited government, less spending, and less regulation.

“In O.C. you can go to a Tea Party event almost every night of the week on any topic from pensions, Agenda 21 to voter fraud. We are being informed, getting involved, and are inspired to get out the voters for change.”

Cal Chamber lists ‘jobs killer’ bills

Nearly two and a half years into California’s recovery from its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, more than 2 million state residents are officially unemployed.

Another 1 million are either underemployed–working part-time or temporary jobs when they really want full-time, permanent work–or so discouraged by the state job market that they’ve dropped out of the labor force.

Against that backdrop, the California Chamber of Commerce released this week its annual list of “job killing” legislation currently under consideration by lawmakers inS acramento. The chamber identified 23 bills, five of which particularly stood out to me.

They include:

AB 1963, by Assembly member Alyson Huber, D-Dorado Hills; and AB 2540, by Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles. The bills would impose a new tax-and-use base on a number of services. It would fall hard on the state’s small businesses that will not benefit from proposed reductions in other tax rates (which probably wouldn’t materialize anyway).

AB 1439, by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, would automatically increase the state minimum wage each year by the rate of inflation, even during an economic downtown. This may appear beneficial to workers, but it really is not.

For when the minimum wage increases, it puts upward pressure on all wages. That raises overall labor costs for businesses, discouraging them from hiring new workers.

AB 1808, by Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, would significantly expand the definition of “public employee” to include employees of private employers where a public agency “shares” in the employment decisions of those privately-employed workers.

The legislation is a sop to public employee unions, seeking to grow their ranks to further increase their political influence in the state capital, by recruiting in private workplaces.

Enjoy your weekend!

And, here is Dan Walters talking about California income tax collections:

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Apr 12 2012

Flap’s California Afternoon Collection: April 12, 2012

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Lombard Street, San Francisco, 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:

FEC delays decision in Durkee embezzle case

The Federal Election Commission on Thursday raised sharp questions but came to no firm conclusion over Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s bid for greater fundraising leeway in the wake of embezzlement by her former campaign treasurer.

The punt will give the FEC more time to consider whether California politicians ripped off by former treasurer Kinde Durkee can solicit additional funds from individuals who have already reached their contribution limit.

“We’re all sympathetic to your client,” FEC commissioner Ellen Weintraub told Feinstein’s attorneys Thursday morning, “but it’s still a hard question.”

Though the commission’s legal staff had recommended rejecting Feinstein’s request, the commissioners during a two-hour hearing indicated they thought it was a close call. Several voiced concern over the potential “implications” for other campaigns of granting Feinstein’s fundraising request.

“We have to do some special thinking,” Commissioner Steven Walther said. “We’re in a tight spot, and we need to think this one out.”

Feinstein wants contribution limits be lifted following revelations that Durkee had embezzled millions of dollars from dozens of campaign treasuries. Feinstein’s campaign alone reported losing at least $4.5 million under Durkee’s scheming. The FEC’s reasoning will apply to other former Durkee clients as well, and will also be closely attended to by the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission.

Court: Managers don’t have to ensure lunch breaks

In a case that affects thousands of businesses and millions of workers, the California Supreme Court ruled Thursday that employers are under no obligation to ensure that workers take legally mandated lunch and rest breaks

The unanimous opinion came after workers’ attorneys argued that abuses are routine and widespread when companies aren’t required to issue direct orders to take the breaks. They claimed employers take advantage of workers who don’t want to leave colleagues during busy times.

The case was initially filed nine years ago against Brinker International, the parent company of Chili’s and other eateries, by restaurant workers complaining of missed breaks in violation of California labor law.

But the high court sided with businesses when it ruled that requiring companies to order breaks is unmanageable and those decisions should be left to workers.

The opinion written by Associate Justice Kathryn Werdegar explained that state law does not compel an employer to ensure employees cease all work during meal periods, instead saying the employee is at liberty to use the time as they choose.

“The employer is not obligated to police meal breaks and ensure no work thereafter is performed,” Werdegar wrote.

The court’s decision could greatly reduce the numerous class-action lawsuits surrounding the issue that cost companies millions of dollars in legal costs.
“The courts are making it clear that you have to create a system and a procedure that fully allows employees an opportunity to take breaks and meal periods, and if they do that they do not have to be Big Brother and individually monitor each employee to ensure that they’ve taken every bit of their breaks,” said Steve Hirschfeld, founder and CEO of the Employment Law Alliance, an employer-side legal trade group.

Deadly shooting revives concerns about USC’s neighborhood

It started as a typical evening for Ming Qu and Ying Wu, two graduate students from China studying electrical engineering at USC.

After a night at the library, Qu drove Wu to the house where she was renting a room less than a mile from campus. He double parked in front of the home early Wednesday morning to continue talking.

At around 1 a.m., a gunman approach Qu’s BMW and opened fire, killing both students in an attack that shocked USC and rekindled long-held concerns about safety around the university.

Qu attempted to run for help after he was shot in the head and was found collapsed on a nearby porch, police said. Wu was found shot in the chest, slumped over in the passenger seat of the car parked on a tree-lined stretch of Raymond Avenue just south of Adams Boulevard.

The students, both 23, were close friends who spent evenings chatting on the front porch of the house where Wu lived, according to police sources, who requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing. But on Wednesday, it was raining, so police believe the pair decided to stay in the car, which friends said was a 2003 model that Qu bought for about $10,000.

Police suspect a lone assailant of carrying out the killings, but LAPD Capt. Andrew Smith said investigators had little to go on and are examining all motives, including that the gunman was trying to rob the pair. More than a dozen Los Angeles Police Department homicide detectives canvassed the area Wednesday, going door-to-door to search for witnesses and reviewing intersection cameras for clues.

USC, south of downtown Los Angeles, has long dealt with worries about crime in the neighborhoods around the campus. But in recent years, some of those concerns have eased as crime plummeted, the university expanded and some of those neighborhoods, such as West Adams, gentrified.


California senators call for a vote on Jerry Brown’s pension plan

California’s ranking Senate Republican and one of the GOP’s representatives on a special pension committee have fired off letters to Gov. Jerry Brown and their Democratic colleagues in the Legislature, calling for a key committee vote on the governor’s pension reform plan later this week.

Republicans have embraced Brown’s plan and put it word for word in two bills. Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff of Diamond Bar and Sen. Mimi Walters of Laguna Niguel on Tuesday signed the letters delivered to Brown and pension conference committee co-chairs Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, and Assemblyman Warren Furutani, D-Gardena, pushing for a vote Friday when the committee meets in Southern California.

They asked Brown to “join us to demand immediate legislative action on your twelve point pension plan, which we believe represents the first steps that must be enacted to get our runaway pension system under control.”

Molly Munger puts $2 million more into California tax measure

With just weeks left to gather the signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot, civil rights attorney Molly Munger has poured another $2.15 million into her proposal to raise income taxes to fund schools.

Munger, president of The Advancement Project, is the sole financier of the “Our Children, Our Future Measure.” The proposal would raise taxes on a sliding scale for almost all California earners, routing the revenues directly to school districts and early childhood development programs.

Supporters of Gov. Jerry Brown’s rival tax measure, which would temporarily raise income taxes on high earners and increase the state sales tax by a quarter percent, have tried to persuade Munger to drop her measure to avoid confusion and mixed messaging that could arise with more than one tax hike in front of voters in November.

The Munger camp must collect roughly 504,000 valid voter signatures by to make it on the ballot. They likely need to submit those petitions signatures to elections officials by mid-May to be certified in time for the 2012 election.

Enjoy your afternoon!

And, lastly, Dan Walters explains why the City of Los Angeles may have to declare bankruptcy.

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Feb 10 2012

Flap’s California Afternoon Collection: February 10, 2012

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Qualcomm Stadium, Home of the San Diego Padres, San Diego, California

On to the pre-weekend California headlines:

California Democrats converge on San Diego

California Democrats will begin sketching out a roadmap to the November election and beyond when they converge thousands strong on the state party convention this weekend in San Diego.

The priorities of the more than 3,000 party activists, delegates, volunteers and elected officials expected here are many: Re-electing President Barack Obama and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, pushing to regain control of the House of Representatives, electing a supermajority in the state Legislature and passing tax increases in the fall.

They also will be keenly focused on a lesser-known ballot measure that would limit the ability of unions to raise political funds from their members.


Pete Schabarum, ‘father of term limits,’ revisits the issue

The “father of term limits” says he isn’t pleased with the way things turned out.

With another proposal to tinker with  Legislature service allowances on the June ballot, The Times caught up recently with former longtime Los Angeles County Supervisor Pete Schabarum. The blunt-spoken Republican won fans and foes when he upended state government with his 1990 ballot measure imposing limits on how long state politicians can stay in office. Several local governments and some other states soon followed suit.

Reached at his home in the desert community of Indian Wells, Schabarum said he had hoped his measure would encourage a new breed of “citizen legislator” who would serve the state for a short period of time and then return to private life, giving others opportunities to bring fresh ideas and new perspectives to government.

Instead, many elected officials who want careers in politics engage in a near-constant rotation among posts.

“The guys and gals who are seeking office are always looking beyond where they land for the next jump,” Schabarum said. “They spend most of their time in office looking for their next job.”

What would he do differently if he’d know then what he knows now?

“I probably  would have provided longer timelines but not made it so they could bounce around from one house [of the Legislature] to another.”

Will he vote for a measure on the June 5 ballot that would shorten a legislator’s allowance from 14 years to 12?

“We’ll see,” replied Schabarum,  83.

SUSPENSE IN SANDY EGGO

Democrats convene at the Hilton Bayfront in San Diego this weekend for their annual convention and, unlike many party gatherings, there is a lot to watch.

The best part of the weekend is 4:45-6:45 tomorrow evening, when the endorsing caucuses meet. These caucuses are held for districts in which a candidate had more than 50% and less than 70% at the regional conferences held in January.

Generally, candidates need 60% vote in tomorrow’s caucuses to get on the “consent calendar” for state party ratification on Sunday. However, an incumbent only needs 50%+1, which is rubbing some activists wrong

In districts where there are two incumbents (CD30 – Berman/Sherman), a candidate needs 60%.

California budget still imperiled by cash crunch

California’s tax revenues continue to pour into the state’s coffers well below what Gov. Jerry Brown forecast in his budget, a worrisome sign amid indications of an economic upturn.

State Controller John Chiang issued a report Friday showing that tax receipts in January were $528 million lower than the governor assumed in the budget he released a few weeks ago. That budget already assumed a $9 billion deficit.

“January’s revenues were disappointing on almost every front,” Chiang said in a statement.

The good news — or what passes for good news in the land of California budgeting — is that Chiang said the state is no longer in danger of entirely running out of cash next month. The Department of Finance will shift funds around and take out short-term loans to avoid falling as much as $3 billion in the red.

But the continuing lagging tax receipts are another dose of cold water on some who are hoping for an easier budget year.

Federal judge dismisses GOP’s political map suit

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by a group of Republicans challenging California’s newly drawn congressional maps, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission announced Friday in its latest court victory.

U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Wilson dismissed the challenge led by former congressman George Radanovich. Republicans, who have been trying to halt new district boundaries that could diminish their political clout, had argued that the commission improperly used race as a factor in creating voting districts.

The Los Angeles-based federal judge found that the California Supreme Court already considered and rejected the petition.

“Once again the work of the Citizens Redistricting Commission has been affirmed against baseless partisan attacks,” said commission chairwoman Jeanne Raya in a statement. “The federal court has found that the commission’s process complied with the law and was fair and representative.”

Attorneys representing Republicans did not immediately return a request for comment. They have the option to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court over the federal Voting Rights act.

The decision marks the fifth time the 14-member citizens redistricting commission has been able to fend off a legal challenge.

Enjoy your weekend!

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Feb 09 2012

Flap’s California Afternoon Collection: February 9, 2012

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U.S. President Barack Obama gives details of the $26 billion deal to settle charges of widespread mortgage fraud by some of the nation’s largest banks in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, February 9, 2012. Pictured (L-R) are Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Attorney General Eric Holder,Obama, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, Indiana Attorney General Gregory Zoeller and Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.

These are my links for February 9th from 15:10 to 15:18:

  • Obama administration reaffirms support for California high-speed rail -

    “Despite a series of a cautionary reports by outside agencies and groups, the Obama administration is reaffirming its commitment to California’s $98.5-billion bullet train project.

    U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood traveled the state this week and met privately with Gov. Jerry Brown Thursday to discuss the embattled project, issuing a statement of support through the governor’s office.

    “Over the past week, I have traveled all over the Golden State and have found a strong base of support for the California High-Speed Rail project, from workers who will build it, manufacturers that will supply the trains to run on it and businesses that will benefit from using it,” LaHood said. “The Obama Administration is committed to High-Speed Rail because it is good for the economy and the nation. I look forward to working with Governor Brown to make this project as successful as possible.”

    For the White House, California appears to be the lone subscriber to the president’s vision for high-speed rail. Facing budget deficits and sluggish growth, Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin have all scrapped their proposals.”

  • Carmen Trutanich will run for L.A. district attorney -

    “Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich announced Thursday he will run for district attorney, ending months of speculation.

    “I love my job as City Attorney, but I can’t do my job to protect residents — nor can our local police and sheriffs — without a crime fighting partner in the DA’s office,” Trutanich said in a statement.

    Trutanich collected nearly $1 million in donations last year, amassing a campaign war chest that dwarfs those of the declared candidates. Five prosecutors with the district attorney’s office — including Alan Jackson, Bobby Grace, Jacquelyn Lacey, Danette Meyers and Mario Trujillo — are also vying to replace retiring Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley.”

  • How the housing settlement might affect you -

    “The legal settlement reached Thursday among five big banks, the federal government and 49 states won’t fix the housing market, but it should help two categories of homeowners who are plentiful in California.

    The $25 billion settlement has provisions aimed at people who are behind in their payments and under threat of foreclosure and for those who have kept up with their payments but whose homes are worth less than they owe.

    People in the first category – those behind in their payments – will be eligible to have the principal they owe on their loans reduced, making it easier for them to catch up and remain current.

    People in the second category will be eligible to refinance their loans even though they might not be able to meet the usual loan-to-value ratios required by banks.

    It is these people who have probably been the most frustrated by the collapse of the market. They are generally employed, have good credit, and have kept paying on their loans even as many others have simply walked away from their homes and their loans and handed the bank the keys.

    For their trouble, though, these folks have been told they cannot refinance to take advantage of historically low interest rates because their new loans would still be for more than their homes are worth, or at least too big to provide the 20 percent cushion banks typically require between the value of the loan and the value of the home.

    It’s not yet clear how many of these people will be allowed to refinance, and exactly what the rules governing the process will be. All of that will be hammered out over the next six to nine months as the settlement is implemented.

    The settlement covers loans owned and serviced by Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo.”

  • Mortgage, foreclosure deal could help homeowners, housing market -

    “In unveiling a landmark $25-billion settlement of investigations of foreclosure abuses, federal and state officials said Thursday they were holding the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers accountable for the problems while also providing help to up to 2 million homeowners affected by the collapse of the housing market.

    “This isn’t just about punishing banks for their irresponsible behavior,” Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said at a Washington news conference. “It’s also about requiring them to help the people they harmed by funding efforts to help homeowners stay in their homes.”

    The deal between federal officials, attorneys general from California and 48 other states, and the five servicers — Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase Co., Wells Fargo Co., Citigroup Inc. and Ally Financial Inc. — was completed after more than a year of negotiations to settle investigations into foreclosure improprieties, such as robo-signing.

    “Today we pick up another piece of the wreckage caused by the foreclosure crisis,” said Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan.

    The settlement sets new national standards for mortgage servicing, to be overseen by an independent monitor, that officials said would end the frustrating runarounds by consumers who try to get their mortgages modified or make other changes.”

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Feb 08 2012

Flap’s California Afternoon Collection: February 8, 2012

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Newt Gingrich is coming to California

These are my links for February 8th:

  • Another Shot at Tax Break Democrats Love to Hate -”For the last several years, Democrats have been relentless at trying to undo a hotly debated tax incentive for large corporations that was signed into law as part of the 2009 deal. And now they’re launching another shot.

    The 2012 edition of “Cancel That Corporate Tax Break” at the state Capitol kicks off with a novel, and perhaps politically powerful, proposal from Assembly Speaker John Perez: use the resulting $1 billion in extra tax revenue to dramatically downsize the cost of a college education for middle-class families.

    Perez formally introduced his plan Wednesday afternoon, to be contained in two bills — AB 1500 and AB 1501. One bill will modify the state law allowing national corporations to calculate their tax liability based on their sales revenues inside California; the second bill will create a need-based scholarship for all UC and CSU students whose families make between $70,000 and $150,000 a year… a scholarship paid for with the higher corporate tax revenues.

    Perez called it a matter of “tax equity” in a conference call with reporters launching his PR blitz, and even suggested that easing the financial pressures of California college students could itself provide an economic stimulus, given the widely agreed on importance of higher education to the state’s economy.”

  • California pension reform group suspends initiative campaign -”A group that hoped to put a sweeping public employee pension reform measure on the November ballot is suspending its campaign.

    “It’s a sad day for pension reform in California,” said Aaron McLear, spokesman for Sacramento-based California Pension Reform.

    Although the group had drafted two measures that qualified for signature collection, it couldn’t raise the $2 million or so needed to mount the petition effort for either one. “

  • Assembly speaker wants to trade tax breaks for scholarships -”Assembly Speaker John Pérez announced Wednesday he will push to end corporate tax breaks in order to lower tuition by two-thirds for middle-class, California students at state universities.

    “The pressures of the recession and massive fee increases have eroded, or even ended, the dream of higher education for too many California families,” Pérez (D-Los Angeles) said in a statement. “Now it is time for our state to reinvest in our system of higher education.”

    The plan would be financed by canceling $1 billion in tax breaks that benefit large, out-of-state corporations and began in 2009.

    The additional revenue would finance scholarships for students whose families make less than $150,000 a year but earn too much to qualify for financial aid. If eligible, California State University students would save $4,000 per year, and University of California students would save about $8,200 per year.

    Roughly 150,000 CSU students and 43,000 UC students could be affected by the plan.”

  • It’s California time for Newt Gingrich -”Newt Gingrich is headed to California next week to bolster his campaign’s dwindling bank account.

    Spokesman R.C. Hammond announced Wednesday that Gingrich would hold eight fundraisers in the three-day swing through the Golden State. He’ll then head to friendly territory in Georgia — the state he represented for 11 terms in the U.S. House — to stump and enlarge his warchest. Georgia is a part of a slew of states that vote on Super Tuesday or March 6.”

  • Vin Scully on working: ‘I don’t want to lose my friends’ -”In the March issue of Golf Digest, Dodgers broadcaster (and former CBS golf announcer) Vin Scully talks about his love of the game and of just being out on the course. “The crack of the bat in baseball is a gorgeous sound,” he tells Guy Yocom. “But you don’t quite get the full effect unless you’re very close to the field, because the roar of the crowd often gets to you before the crack of the bat does. In golf, there is all that delicious silence, so the sound of a top pro hitting the ball is so pure. The feeling the pro gets—that sweet sensation that goes through the hands, up the arms and into the heart—the sound gives the fans a taste of that.”

    Scully shares some favorite experiences on the course at Bel-Air Country Club with the late columnist Jim Murray and others, such as Sandy Koufax. He also shares some of his fears about retirement and why he’s coming back next month for his 63rd season with the Dodgers at age 84.”

  • The State Worker: California pension reform group suspends initiative campaign -”A group that hoped to put a sweeping public employee pension reform measure on the November ballot is suspending its campaign.

    “It’s a sad day for pension reform in California,” said Aaron McLear, spokesman for Sacramento-based California Pension Reform.

    Although the group had drafted two measures that qualified for signature collection, it couldn’t raise the $2 million or so needed to mount the petition effort for either one.

    In November, Calfornia Pension Reform submitted a proposal to put future state and local public employees into defined contribution plans and another measure that would have shifted future workers into hybrid pensions. In January, it received the title and summary for both, intending to determine which would poll better and then shop that plan to potential campaign donors.”

Enjoy your afternoon!

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