Category Archive: Julia Brownley

Mar 28 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: March 28, 2012

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Fallbrook, California

Good Wednesday 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.

Governor Jerry Brown has some public events today.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s calendar today includes a California National Guard ceremony at which Col. Sylvia R. Crockett will be promoted to general.

It’s a milestone for the Golden State: She’s the first Latina to attain that rank in the California National Guard, according to the governor’s office.

Crockett, who’s now assistant division commander for the 40th Infantry Division as well as director of strategic communications for the California Military Department, started her career with the California National Guard in 1982. The ceremony starts at 11 a.m. in the the governor’s Capitol office.

Brown is also scheduled to speak with police chiefs, sheriffs, district attorneys and others at the 20th annual legislative day of the Alliance of California Law Enforcement. That talk starts at 1 p.m. at the Sacramento Convention Center.

On to today’s California headlines:

Calif. Democratic treasurer perpetrated $7M fraud

Democratic campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee defrauded at least 50 candidates, officeholders and political organizations out of $7 million in a scheme that dates back more than a decade, according to a court filing made Tuesday by federal prosecutors.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Sacramento filed the additional charges in federal court, providing the most detailed account to date in a case that has left some Democratic candidates scrambling for campaign cash in an election year.

Such filings typically are a prelude to a plea, but prosecutors would not confirm such a development or offer any further details.

Durkee, who heads Durkee & Associates in Burbank, was arrested in September and charged with suspicion of mail fraud after millions of dollars disappeared from the campaign accounts of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, other Democratic members of Congress and several Democratic state lawmakers.

The filing details a complex shell game in which Durkee shifted campaign money to cover an array of personal and business expenses.

In one example, $23,000 taken from Feinstein’s account was used to help pay American Express credit card charges from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Amazon.com, Disneyland, Trader Joe’s and Turners Outdoorsman.

Magic Johnson group to buy Dodgers for record $2B

A group that includes former Lakers star Magic Johnson and longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten agreed Tuesday night to buy the Los Angeles Dodgers from Frank McCourt for a record $2 billion.

The price would shatter the mark for a North American sports franchise, topping the $1.1 billion Stephen Ross paid for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins in 2009.

Mark Walter, chief executive officer of the financial services firm Guggenheim Partners, would become the controlling owner.

The deal, revealed about five hours after Major League Baseball owners approved three finalists for an intended auction, is one of several steps toward a sale of the team by the end of April. It is subject to approval in federal bankruptcy court.

“I am thrilled to be part of the historic Dodger franchise and intend to build on the fantastic foundation laid by Frank McCourt as we drive the Dodgers back to the front page of the sports section in our wonderful community of Los Angeles,” Johnson said in a statement.

As part of the agreement, the Dodgers said McCourt and “certain affiliates of the purchasers” would acquire the land surrounding Dodger Stadium, including its parking lots, for $150 million.

Rallying around Brownley

As expected, the region’s Democratic establishment is rallying around Assemblywoman Julia Brownley of Oak Park in the 26th Congressional District as party leaders and activists seek to consolidate enough support behind a single candidate to ensure a second-place finish in the June primary.

The challenge has been discussed here before at some length: With four Democrats on the ballot, a strong Republican in Sen. Tony Strickland of Moorpark and a strong independent in Supervisor Linda Parks of Thousand Oaks, Democrats are in danger of not qualifying a candidate for the November election under the state’s new primary election system, in which only the top two finishers, regardless of party affiliation, make it to general election ballot.

California courts scrap $2 billion tech project

One of the largest public technology projects in California history is history.

Faced with mounting criticism about the cost, the state Judicial Council, the policy arm of the courts, on Tuesday voted to pull the plug on a $2 billion computer upgrade for California’s 58 trial courts.

The decision ended a 10-year quest to electronically unify the nation’s largest state court system, a goal that ballooned in price as California hit its worst budget crisis in years.

The council chose instead to give local courts the ability to choose their own tech improvements, setting aside $8.6 million to study that issue and perhaps salvage scraps from the abandoned project.

The computer upgrade has divided a judicial branch trying to weather more than $600 million in budget cuts over the past three years. With courts cutting hours to the public and laying off workers, the tech upgrade became a primary target of critics who said judicial leaders should abandon the project and use the money to restore or maintain other operations.

Hundreds of court employees from the Bay Area and elsewhere rallied outside the state building in San Francisco to press for an end to the tech project.

“It’s just not the right time to go forward with this project,” Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge James Herman, a council member who prepared a report on the upgrade, said after a nearly all-day hearing.

And, finally, Dan Walters on the California Judicial Flap:

Enjoy your morning!

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Feb 21 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: February 21, 2012

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Santa Monica Pier this past weekend

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

On to today’s California headlines:

CA-26: Democrat Rep Brad Sherman is OUT and Assemblywoman Julia Brownley Is IN

Well, the rumors have born some fruit with California Assemblywoman Julia Brownley announcing over the long President’s Holiday weekend that she will run for Congress. Rep. Brad Sherman had coincidentally announced that he was remaining in CA-30 to duke it out with fellow Democrat Rep. Howard Berman for that Congressional seat.

Brownley lives in Santa Monica, but told Timm Herdt of the Ventura County Star that she would rent an apartment in Oak Park (unincorporated, Ventura County, but in CA-26) yesterday.

Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, stepping in after
Supervisor Steve Bennett dropped out last week, said Sunday she will be a
Democratic candidate in Ventura County’s new 26th Congressional
District.

Brownley, who lives in Santa Monica, has represented much of Ventura
County in the Assembly for the past five years. Her district includes
Port Hueneme, about half of Oxnard, Westlake Village and Oak Park —
areas that make up about 16 percent of the congressional district.

Brownley said she will move to an apartment in Oak Park this week.

Most, if not all of CA-26 is in Ventura County and Democrat Brownley,
while she represented Oxnard and Port Hueneme in the California
Assembly is from Santa Monica in Los Angeles County. Her carpetbagger
status (renting an apartment, in order to run for office in the
Congressional District – although federal law allows non-resident
candidacy, in any case) will be an issue.

With Ventura County Supervisor Steve benefit precipitously
withdrawing from the race, there was a Democratic Party void (i.e. a
well known Democratic POL candidate) and apparently Brownley will fill
it.

Now, whether Brownley can beat Thousand Oaks based Ventura County
Supervisor Linda Parks and/or Republican California State Senator Tony
Strickland in the June primary election (remember the top two advance to
the November general election) is another story. Plus, there are other
Democrats in the race which may dilute the Democratic vote.

Chevron’s influence in El Segundo comes under increased scrutiny

When El Segundo leaders last year were deciding whether to pursue a nearly ninefold tax hike on the Chevron oil refinery, they looked out to a City Council chambers filled with company supporters.

Employees and their families, school leaders and former elected officials argued the proposed increase to the refinery’s acreage tax was ill-timed and even wrong.

Whether they had any sway is difficult to know, but the council weeks later dropped the plan to put the hike on the April municipal ballot and instead entered into negotiations with Chevron. Those talks could win El Segundo millions of dollars more from the oil company if they go the city’s way.

But as both sides come to the table, Chevron’s influence in the town it helped found 100 years ago has come under scrutiny.

Tax plans would boost schools but leave social safety net vulnerable

As education groups battle over which California tax initiative would give the biggest boost to schools, advocates for low-income residents fear safety-net programs remain vulnerable no matter what happens on the ballot in November.

Proponents for three competing tax measures are focusing heavily on schools because voters prioritize education funding most. But it remains an open question how other programs will fare.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal raises several billion dollars for the state’s general fund that he says would help protect schools from severe reductions. But he has proposed deep cuts in welfare-to-work and child care in the first year even if his taxes pass.

Two rival plans largely bypass the state to send money directly to schools and counties. They leave unanswered how the state would close an estimated $9.2 billion deficit through June 2013.

“If tax revenues aren’t available to help balance the budget … it puts pressure on higher education, on health and social service programs, on parks,” said Jean Ross, executive director of the California Budget Project, which advocates for low-income residents. “It puts pressure on everything that isn’t constitutionally protected.”

Dan Walters: Democrats set to boost state Senate clout

When Republican Assemblyman Cameron Smyth decided to leave the Legislature rather than run for the state Senate this year, it virtually guaranteed that Democrats will achieve a two-thirds supermajority in the Senate, changing the Capitol’s political dynamics.

Having already won – via a 2010 ballot measure – the right to pass budgets by simple majority votes, Democrats would gain more power in the Senate over other issues, such as taxes.

That would, in turn, isolate Republicans in the Assembly, who are likely to retain more than a third of the lower house’s 80 seats this year, and could even gain one or two. They could still block tax increases, constitutional amendments and other measures requiring two-thirds votes.

The die was cast for a Democratic supermajority in the Senate when the state’s new independent redistricting commission redrew its 40 districts.

Enjoy your morning!

By the way, the California GOP Convention is coming up this weekend at Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport hotel in Burlingame.

California Republican Party members can look forward to hearing not only from GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich at their convention next weekend, but also from one of his former rivals.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty will speak at Saturday’s dinner along with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. KSFO (560 AM) radio host Brian Sussman will emcee the event.

Pawlenty, who quit the presidential race last August after a disappointing finish in the Iowa straw poll, is now co-chairman of Mitt Romney’s presidential bid.

Gingrich will be headlining Saturday’s luncheon at the convention, held Friday through Sunday at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport hotel in Burlingame.

Also on the convention’s speaker list are California Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Darrell Issa, who share the main attraction at Friday’s dinner with Republican National Committee Co-Chairwoman Sharon Day. The Sunday prayer breakfast will feature the Rev. Lou Sheldon, founder and chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition , which has offices in both Washington, D.C., and Anaheim.

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