Category: John Chiang

Apr 25 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: April 25, 2012

Reagan Library

Air Force One at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California

Good Wednesday morning!

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

Remember: Friday is the last day for policy committees to pass fiscal bills introduced in their house. So, there will be some action around the Capitol this week.

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

On to today’s California headlines:

Judge says state controller lacks power to block legislators’ pay

State Controller John Chiang acted beyond his authority when he withheld pay from state legislators after concluding the budget they had passed last year was not balanced, a Superior Court judge tentatively ruled Tuesday.

The Legislature meets its obligation to pass a budget when it sends the governor a bill that “on its face,” proposes spending that does not exceed revenue, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge David I. Brown wrote in a ruling that he will consider finalizing at a court hearing Wednesday.

State Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Assembly Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles) sued Chiang in January, alleging he improperly interpreted the voter-approved Proposition 25, which docks legislators’ pay if they fail to pass a budget by June 15 each year. The Legislature passed the budget by the deadline last year, but Chiang said it was not balanced and withheld their pay for 12 days.
Brown agreed with the legislators that the “Controller has no authority to review the Legislature’s estimate of General Fund revenues and appropriations for the coming fiscal year as set forth in the budget bill, to make his own assessment of whether the budget bill passed by the Legislature complies” with the Constitution “and to unilaterally enforce his opinion by deeming the salaries and expenses of the Members of the Legislature to have been forfeited…”

Case of mad cow disease discovered in Fresno County

The carcass of a dairy cow slated to be rendered at a Fresno County plant is infected with mad cow disease, federal and plant officials announced Tuesday.

The discovery of mad cow disease — only the fourth in U.S. history and the first in California — was made during routine testing of a carcass headed to the Baker Commodities plant in Kerman.

Federal officials would only say that the carcass came from a “Central California” dairy. Valley agricultural officials say they don’t know whose cow it was. The central San Joaquin Valley is one of the largest dairy producing regions in the nation, with hundreds of dairies.

In announcing the find, federal and state officials were quick to reassure the public that the food supply is safe.

“Milk and beef remain safe to consume,” said Karen Ross, California Department of Food and Agriculture secretary. “Because of the strength of the food protection system, the cow did not enter the food or feed supply.”

Dennis Luckey, executive vice president of Baker Commodities, said that as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s surveillance system, carcasses that come through the company’s dead-stock handling plant in Hanford are skinned and their brains randomly tested for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, before being rendered in Kerman. He said the plant generally services the central San Joaquin Valley.

The diseased carcass came into Baker’s Hanford plant last Wednesday, was tested that day and samples sent to a University of California laboratory. The results came back inconclusive, but further testing at a USDA lab in Ames, Iowa, confirmed the cow was infected.

Is a California public pension overhaul dying this year?

A key legislative committee isn’t going to act on a package of public pension reforms proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown and adopted by Republicans in their own bills.

Assembly pension committee chairman Warren Furutani said in a letter that surfaced today that GOP measures that mirror Brown’s 12-point reform plan won’t be heard in his committee. Furutani also co-chairs a special conference committee that is working on public pension reform, and bills could surface there.

“I believe it is appropriate this year to limit the bills considered this year in the policy committees to those that are not within the purview of the Conference Committee,” Furutani said in an April 18 letter to Assemblyman Cameron Smythe, R-Santa Clarita.

Dan Morain: Nurses union puts politics ahead of health

State Sen. Lois Wolk wants to encourage – not require – that health care workers get annual flu vaccinations if they come into contact with patients in hospitals.

No right-thinking person could possibly oppose her legislation. But in our dysfunctional Capitol, public health has become a contested issue. Too often, lobbyists place the interests of the organizations they represent ahead of what’s best for the rest of us.

Wolk’s main opposition doesn’t come from conservatives who want nothing to do with government. It comes from unions, specifically those that represent nurses and health care workers.

Bonnie Castillo, the California Nurses Association’s chief lobbyist, made a point of telling me that the union “highly recommends that all nurses receive vaccinations.”

But Castillo says Wolk’s bill steps on workers’ rights, or at least bargaining rights, by requiring that health care workers wear surgical masks if they refuse to get flu shots.

In her view, there are many reasons not to wear masks. They’re uncomfortable to wear. They might scare patients who might why the nurse is wearing one. Being required to wear a mask is like a “Scarlet Letter,” Castillo said.

“What’s really problematic is if you’re punitive and require nurses to wear a Scarlet Letter, which divulges private health information,” Castillo said. To which Wolk replied that Nathaniel Hawthorne would be insulted that the title of his great 19th-century novel had been so badly mangled and misused.

“They should be embarrassed,” the Davis Democrat said.

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters daily video – today discussing Prognosticating California’s population:


Jan 25 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: January 25, 2012


Hearst Castle, San Simeone, California

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

On to today’s California headlines:

Former GOP Sen. Sam Aanestad considering run for Congress

Former Republican Sen. Sam Aanestad is weighing a run for the Northern California congressional seat being vacated by retiring GOP Rep. Wally Herger.

The Penn Valley Republican said he learned of Herger’s decision after returning home from Mexico, where he had been vacationing without access to his cell phone or lap top, several days ago. Since then, he has been “making phone calls to see if there is any support” for a run for the newly drawn 1st Congressional District.

Aanestad, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2010, said the addition of a new partner at his Grass Valley oral surgery practice has given him the time and flexibility to run. He said the 12 years he spent serving in overlapping state Senate and Assembly districts makes him a good fit for the House district, which runs from Yuba City to the Oregon border.

Jerry Brown’s tax initiative has broad support, poll finds

An overwhelming majority of California voters support Gov. Jerry Brown’s idea of hiking taxes to raise more money for schools, but they’d much rather he ask somebody else to foot the bill.

A new survey from the Public Policy Institute of California found that 68% of likely voters said they support Brown’s idea to raise taxes on sales and upper incomes for five years. Brown is hoping to sell those ideas to voters in a ballot initiative this fall.

But in a separate question, the same voters said they dislike key pieces of Brown’s proposal. While 68% of likely voters said they support raising income taxes for high earners, 64% of those surveyed said they oppose raising the sales tax.

Brown’s tax plan includes both.

The survey reflects data that Brown considered when crafting his tax proposal. Voters are more likely to support tax increases, for example, if those new revenues are earmarked specifically for public schools.

California lawmakers to sue John Chiang over their pay

Democratic legislative leaders sued Controller John Chiang today for blocking their pay during last year’s budget dispute, a decision that drew scorn from lawmakers last summer.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez said the Democratic controller overstepped his bounds when he decided that lawmakers sent Gov. Jerry Brown a flawed budget last June and docked their pay. They said they are not suing for back earnings, but to ask the court whether Chiang can intervene this year if lawmakers face another budget dispute with Brown at the June 15 deadline.

The lawmakers filed in Sacramento Superior Court, hiring Arthur G. Scotland, retired presiding justice of the 3rd District Court of Appeal, as well as the Los Angeles firm Strumwasser & Woocher. The Legislature’s operating budget, financed by tax dollars, will pay for legal costs. Billing rates range from $435 per hour for the two lead attorneys to $130 per hour for a paralegal, according to the leaders’ offices.

Berman skips State of the Union speech to stay in L.A.

Rep. Howard Berman, locked in a contentious race  with fellow Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman for the same San Fernando Valley congressional district seat, isn’t  on hand for the president’s State of Union  speech tonight.   His staff says he’s right here in L.A.,  mixing work with a little campaigning.

While many members of Congress from both sides of the aisle  attend the annual speech and often comment  on it afterward, that’s never been Berman’s style, said Gene Smith, who retired from Berman’s House staff  and took on a new role as his campaign manager.

“Howard’s a workhorse, not a show horse,” Smith said in a gentle swipe at Sherman.

Enjoy your morning!