Jeff Gorell on Facebook: I took this out the back of a Marine Corps CH-53, deploying counter-measures over compound — in Sangin Khan Kalay, Helmand – Afghanistan
Category: Jeff Gorell
Feb 13 2012
Paradise Falls in Wildwood Park, Thousand Oaks, California
The California Legislature is in session. Today’s schedule is here.
On to today’s California headlines:
After Supervisor Steve Bennett’s dramatic decision Saturday night to end his campaign for the House, county Democrats left the state party convention Sunday wondering whether one of the three remaining announced candidates will emerge as a clear frontrunner or whether a new candidate will step in to try to fill that role.
Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, whose district includes much of Oxnard and Port Hueneme, said she “will be taking a very serious look” at entering the race, and former Ventura Mayor Richard Francis also is reconsidering a potential candidacy.
“It’s fluid,” said Democratic strategist Garry South, who is advising the campaign of Westlake Village businessman David Cruz Thayne. “Bennett was clearly the heavyweight in the race — at least the best-known candidate. And now it’s very late to be jumping into a race for Congress.”
For California Democrats attending the state party’s annual convention here over the weekend, the mission for 2012 was clear: deliver victory to President Barack Obama and win enough congressional seats to give the speaker’s gavel back to Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.
“We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines,” state Attorney General Kamala Harris said during a Saturday address to delegates. “We need to do whatever is necessary, day and night, night and day, to return President Barack Obama to the White House.”
While California is considered safely in Obama’s column this year, party leaders and elected officials roused delegates with talk of the 2012 “battleground” election here in the Golden State, touting opportunities to pick up newly drawn and GOP-held districts to help House Democrats get the 25 seats they need to reclaim the majority.
“This is the most important election that we have to deal with,” Pelosi told delegates Friday. “We have to swing for the fences.”
But in an election year when new districts and legislative turnover are producing fierce primary contests, some of the sharpest shots were fired at rivals in the same room.
“Don’t let the super PACs control this race,” Rep. Brad Sherman said of campaign committees formed in support of fellow Democratic Rep. Howard Berman Saturday, echoing the line of attack Pelosi used against Republicans for much of the weekend.
The remark came as the two San Fernando Valley Democrats vied for votes to win the party’s endorsement in the 30th Congressional District contest, one of 16 races where the party’s endorsement was still up for debate heading into the three-day convention.
The fight between the Berman and Sherman camps was the battle royale of the weekend, culminating with the two exchanging verbal blows in front of a crowd of several hundred delegates assigned to the district gathered to make a recommendation.
“By the way,” Berman shot back during the meeting. “Do you find it slightly pathetic that a guy who represents twice as much of the (newly drawn) district, started with $2 million more in cash on hand, finds it necessary this early in the campaign to spend all his time attacking and distorting his opponent’s record? Maybe a little insecurity here?”
Sherman came out ahead, but failed to hit the 60 percent threshold needed to be eligible for the endorsement. While talk of a challenge was rampant Saturday evening – Sherman declared he had a handwriting expert on hand in case the integrity of some ballots was in question – no endorsement was made in the race.
Top officials at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum have shown a knack for banking healthy chunks of unused sick leave on the public payroll — in one case, about 35 years’ worth.
Interim General Manager John Sandbrook, a retired University of California administrator, used the sick leave allotment for most of his university career to boost his annual pension by $655 a month for life, to nearly $183,000, UC figures show. The increase represents 418 days — the quota for all but two of his roughly 37 years within the system, which allows 12 sick days a year.
Sandbrook, 62, was hired by the Coliseum Commission to help stop spending abuses at the scandal-shadowed stadium, which is operated jointly by the city, county and state. The man he replaced last year, Patrick Lynch, left with more than nine years of accrued sick time, adding $1,630 annually to his retirement benefits, according to city and state records.
The practice is allowed under state rules but “smacks of pension spiking,” said David Kline, vice president of the California Taxpayers Assn. “I guarantee you will never find a private company that will allow any employee to accrue more than 30 years of unused sick time.”
Assemblyman Jeff Gorell of Camarillo needn’t worry about those contesting his reelection challenging any of his votes during the last year. That is because he has spent the time out of the country, serving on active duty in Afghanistan.
Gorell, a Naval Reservist, took office in December 2010 and left three months later for a one-year tour of duty as an intelligence officer overseas. He does not return until March 18, so on Friday his wife, Laura, stood in for him and announced her husband’s plans to seek reelection this year.
“Jeff is very excited to be coming home in March to resume representing his constituents in the state Assembly,” Laura Gorell said in a statement.
My California Assemblyman Jeff Gorell
Enjoy your morning!
Aug 29 2011
Sequoia National Park
But as signature gathering wraps up for the Stop Special Interests Now effort, I had caught wind of a new effort taking place (right now) behind closed doors in the State Capitol to try and thwart this important ballot measure. When you read this, you may not choose to believe it. Because this power-play is so audacious that it will make your head spin.
As you know, since the beginning of time, California has had two statewide elections every even numbered year – the “election year” as it is called. Of course this is augmented periodically by special elections as well. When an initiative is qualified for the ballot, it appears on the ballot in the next statewide election. This means that if the Stop Special Interests Now campaign turns in their signatures relatively soon, and they turn in enough, the initiative would appear on the upcoming June statewide ballot.
Or would it?
The State Constitution specifically provides in Article II, Section 8(c) that, “The Secretary of State shall then submit the measure at the next general election held at least 131 days after it qualifies or at any special statewide election held prior to that general election. The Governor may call a special statewide election for the measure.”
Apparently there are some who are advocating the tossing of over a hundred years of election tradition out the window, and to pass a law that would amend the elections code and state that the June primary is neither a “general election” nor a “special statewide election” – and thus in doing so hope to actually prevent (presumably henceforth) any ballot measure from being placed on the June ballot. Pretty audacious, don’t you think?
Calbuzz has picked up rumblings that California union leaders, their consultants and loyal Democratic retainers are quietly planning to jam a bill through the Legislature before the end of the session that would push onto the November ballot any initiatives that have or would otherwise qualify for the June election.
The idea is to guarantee that measures like “paycheck protection,” which would ban use of automatically deducted union dues for political purposes; “reforms” that would slash public-employee pensions to 60%; a requirement for secret ballots to determine union representation; or mandatory state spending limits all would face a November – that is, a larger and more Democratic – electorate, rather than a smaller, more conservative June electorate (when Republicans may have a competitive presidential primary and Democrats won’t.)
We stipulate that we have no on-the-record sources. What we have is pieced together from speculation circulating about such a maneuver, or sources aware of some of the closed-door discussions now under way among labor leaders and perhaps a legislator or two. Also from a close reading of the California Constitution and Elections Code.
The Legislature begins its sprint to adjournment with hundreds of bills still pending, with lawmakers maneuvering for positions to campaign on in much-changed districts next year, with lobbyists for moneyed interests packing Capitol hallways, and with dozens of fundraising events on tap to extract campaign cash from those interests.
It’s a yeasty mélange for the final two weeks, to say the least.
We know what the big conflicts – which all involve money – are likely to be. The biggest may be over a bill that would impose rate regulation on the multibillion-dollar health insurance industry, a full-employment act for lobbyists if there ever was one.
Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and consumer activists want Assembly Bill 52 to, they say, protect Californians from being gouged.
But the industry has some heavyweight allies, including state and local government agencies that purchase health insurance for their employees and perhaps Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration, which questions its potential costs.
AB 52 was one of the more than two dozen measures labeled “job killers” by the California Chamber of Commerce. But as the session winds down, three-quarters of them have died, leaving AB 52 and six others still alive.
One high-profile “job killer” that stalled was Senate Bill 432, which would have required hotels to use fitted bedsheets.
The union-backed bill was sidetracked last week in the Assembly Appropriations Committee for reasons that had nothing to do with its merits and everything to do with a nasty squabble over another high-profile bill that would disincorporate the city of Vernon, a tiny industrial enclave near downtown Los Angeles.
Before leaving this spring for a 12-month military deployment in Afghanistan, Assemblyman Jeff Gorell told me he had put together a “three-part plan” to make it possible for him to become a candidate for re-election next year.
Option A — the one that creates the least stress and hassle for Gorell — is now available, thanks to an act of the Legislature.
Here was the problem: Gorell will not return from active duty until after the early March deadline for candidates to file for office in 2012 has passed. Under current law, only the candidate can submit the completed paperwork to county elections officials. Had that law not changed, Gorell would have been forced to either use his one personal leave to return to California to file the paperwork, or would have had to fly a notary public notarized in California to Afghanistan to he could have his signature on the papers notarized.
Effective Jan. 1, there will be an easier option, thanks to a new law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown this summer. The law allows perspective candidates who are are deployed on active military service outside the state to grant limited power of attorney to another party to file their candidate papers.
Enjoy your afternoon!