Category: Timm Herdt

May 02 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: May 2, 2012

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Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, Oceanside, California

Good Wednesday morning!

The California Legislature is in session. California Assembly and State Senate Floor Sessions will begin at noon.  Today’s schedule is here.

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

California Governor Jerry Brown is in Los Angeles today promoting a Pet Lover’s License Plate.

California’s first dog, Sutter Brown, has a barking gig in Los Angeles today.

Sutter is joining Gov. Jerry Brown, actor Pierce Brosnan and dog whisperer Cesar Millan to promote the state’s Pet Lover’s License Plate, which would help fund spay and neuter programs. The presser starts at 2:30 p.m. at Petco, 1873 Westwood Blvd.

How is Sutter getting to L.A.? “FedEx,” joked Brown spokesman Gil Duran via Twitter.

Yeah, right. The Humane Society’s Jennifer Fearing tweeted: “Gas up the @HumaneSociety Prius! Road trip with @SutterBrown! I’m bringing sandwiches, per his request.”

The governor, who recently signed Assembly Bill 610 to extend the period of time for pre-ordering the plate, will take part later this afternoon in a Milken Institute 2012 Global Conference discussion on attracting and keeping out-of-state investment.

On to today’s California headlines:

California tax revenue $3 billion less than target, report says

The legislative analyst’s office has a new number that is adding to California’s financial headache: $3 billion. That’s the total amount that tax revenue has lagged behind goals set by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration in the current fiscal year.

The shortfall was detailed in a report released on Tuesday by the nonpartisan office, which provides budget advice to lawmakers.

Much of that gap comes from a disappointing April, the most important month for income taxes. Income taxes were $2.07 billion short of the $9.43-billion goal, and corporate taxes fell $143 million short of an expected $1.53 billion, according to the report.

When April’s poor results are tacked on to earlier shortfalls, the state has fallen about $3 billion behind tax goals, the LAO said. The ratings agency Standard & Poor’s already cautioned Tuesday that poor tax revenue was imperiling California’s financial recovery.

Dan Walters: California’s school finance system is both convoluted and irrational

Thousands of California teachers were given layoff notices a few weeks ago because state law requires the slips to be sent out each spring if administrators and trustees believe cuts are needed to balance their budgets.

Later this month, the districts must decide whether to continue or rescind those layoffs on the assumption that by then they’ll know the state of their 2012-13 finances.

That’s problematic in any year, because the Legislature, which supplies most of the schools’ money, typically doesn’t settle the state budget until weeks or even months later.

A law passed by voters in 1988 is supposed to govern what schools receive, but its numbers are subject to annual manipulation, such as “deferring” payments for a year or more.

State and local school financing has dropped by about $700 per pupil since 2008 and 20 percent of state appropriations are being deferred, thus requiring districts to use their reserves or borrow money.

24 San Fernando Valley schools seek charter status

Two dozen high-performing Los Angeles schools are seeking to become charter campuses in search of more money and increased flexibility.

The list reads like an honor roll of academic excellence. Every school has surpassed the state’s target score of 800 on the Academic Performance Index, which is based on standardized tests.

Although many of the schools considered the move in hopes of greater funding, campus officials said they also began to see the benefits of increased freedom over such things as curriculum, testing and schedules.

“Finance is one key factor but not the only one,” said Jose Cole-Gutierrez, who directs the charter school division of the L.A. Unified School District.

The Board of Education heard from several supporters of the schools’ plans Tuesday; it’s expected to vote on the proposals in June.

Charter schools are free from some restrictions that govern traditional schools. Independent charters sever most ties with the school system; L.A. Unified provides periodic oversight.

The 24 San Fernando Valley schools don’t want to go that far. They are seeking to become “affiliated” or “dependent” charters. Affiliated charters are still bound by the district’s union contracts, for example.Becoming a charter of any sort results in a key advantage: The schools get a block grant from the state — about $385 per student — that can deliver more dollars with fewer rules.

“It’s quite positive” for the schools, said L.A. Unified Supt. John Deasy, adding that the increased money comes from the state, not from district resources, during a period of sweeping budget cuts.

Herdt: Attack of the independent voters?

Steve Peace is a former Democratic lawmaker from San Diego, producer of the cult satire film “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes,” and co-chairman of the Independent Voter Project.

He also was the behind-the-scenes architect of Proposition 14, the measure that created the top-two primary system in California that will debut in June. Under its rules, the major parties are no longer guaranteed a ticket on November’s general election ballot.

Only the top two finishers in each race will move on, and candidates’ party labels guarantee them nothing. Every voter can vote for any candidate. It is a jungle-style system that Democratic and Republican party leaders abhor.

Peace likes that last aspect just fine. In fact, it’s largely what led him to embrace the independent voter movement and to advocate for the top-two primary.

Unless they adapt, Peace believes that political parties are destined to go the way of landline telephones and 2D movies.

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters Daily Video: The Golden State’s population slows:

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Feb 29 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: February 29, 2012

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California Railroad Museum, Sacramento, California

Good Morning and Happy Leap Year!

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

Events around the Capitol:

  • IMMUNIZATIONS: Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, unveils his Assembly Bill 2109, intended to ensure that parents are given accurate information about immunizations. The event runs from 2 to 3:30 p.m. in Room 444.
  • MORTGAGES: Attorney General Kamala Harris is joining Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and others to unveil what they’re calling the Homeowner Bill of Rights, a package of bills that would reform the mortgage process in the state. The presser starts at 11 a.m. in the Capitol’s Room 1190.

On to today’s California headlines:

Support for gay marriage takes dramatic leap in California, new poll shows

A new poll shows gay marriage has arrived in California – in public opinion if not in state lawbooks.

Golden State registered voters now favor same-sex unions by 59 percent to 34 percent, a 25-point gap that is the largest margin of support for the issue in the three-plus decades the Field Poll has been asking the question.

The new Field survey shows support has leapt markedly in the three and a half years since California voters approved Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, 52.3 percent to 47.7 percent.

The poll showed increases in support virtually across the board – among voters under 64, non-white voters, Catholics, Republicans and nonpartisans.

Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said the move to a 25-point gap goes beyond the gradual increase in support that has been expected as young voters age and “replace” older voters in the electorate.

“This is now showing that opinions are changing irrespective of generational replacement,” DiCamillo said. “This is real change.”

As more states approve same-sex marriage – Washington and Maryland this month became the seventh and eighth states where legislatures have given their OK – the legal battle in California continues.

Game official: cougar killing no one’s business

California Fish and Game Commission President Daniel Richards said Tuesday that there is “zero chance” he will resign over a photograph showing him grinning as he holds up the body of a mountain lion he shot, killed and ate in Idaho recently.

In a letter addressed to Assemblyman Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, one of dozens of public officials who called for Richards’ resignation in recent days, Richards blasted lawmakers and others for their criticism of his hunting expedition and mocked their condemnation of the kill.

Richards wrote that he did eat a cougar for dinner, did not use a high-powered rifle and said he has “consistently supported” conservation efforts as a commissioner when they were backed by scientific evidence. He compared his actions to a California official gambling in Nevada.

While it’s legal to kill the big cats in Idaho, California has banned the hunting of mountain lions since 1972, and voters have twice renewed that restriction. After the photo surfaced online this week, at least 40 lawmakers and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom called for his resignation.

Newsom, in a letter, said the “actions call into question whether you can live up to the calling of your office,” and “do not reflect the values of the people of California.”

Richards was unapologetic.

Dan Walters: California legislators show their hypocrisy over hunting issue

Dan Richards, who chairs the California Fish and Game Commission, is under fire in the Capitol because he killed a mountain lion in Idaho and posed with his trophy for a picture that was later published on a hunting publication website.

Forty Democratic legislators signed a letter to Richards saying he should resign. “Your actions raise serious questions about whether you respect the laws of the people of California and whether you are fit to adequately enforce those laws,” the lawmakers told Richards. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom later joined the chorus.

So let’s get this straight.

First of all, Richards is not Dan Richard, who chairs the state’s High-Speed Rail Authority and has more than enough controversy of his own.

Back to Richards, the Fish and Game Commission chairman.

Mountain lion hunting is illegal in California, thanks to a ballot measure approved by voters in 1990. It is, however, not illegal for mountain lions to hunt human beings, as several attacks attest.

Nor is it illegal to hunt mountain lions in Idaho, and Richards’ trophy was perfectly legal. “I’m glad it’s legal in Idaho,” he told the Western Outdoor News website.

So Richards appears to be guilty only of offending the sensibilities of the Legislature, whatever they may be.

Herdt: Has the California GOP hit bottom?

Attending California Republican Party conventions in recent years as an observer has always been something of a surreal experience. They are gatherings of like-minded people who enter into convention halls and then pretend that there is no world outside.

I first attended one of these events in 1998. At that time there were 5.3 million Republican voters in California, 7 million Democrats and 2.6 million independents.

Fourteen years later, there are about 1 million more independents, about a half-million more Democrats — and about 200,000 fewer Republicans.

In other words, over the last 14 years the California electorate has grown by the equivalent of the entire population of Nebraska, but not a single one of those Cornhuskers chose to register as a Republican.

Enjoy your LEAP morning!

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Feb 08 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: February 8, 2012

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Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, Oceanside, California

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

On to today’s California headlines:

California Gov. Jerry Brown denies parole for 71 murderers

California Gov. Jerry Brown pardoned 21 people in his first year in office and rejected parole for 71 first- and second-degree murderers who had been recommended for release by the parole board.

Brown did allow for the early release of just one person, Tung Nguyen of Garden Grove, who was convicted of first-degree murder for his role in a motel-room killing in a dispute over money. Nguyen served as a lookout and did not know that his friend had stabbed the victim in the leg, according to a report from Brown’s office. The stab wound punctured the victim’s femoral artery, and he bled to death.

Nguyen was just 16  at the time.

Democrats gear up to fight part-time Legislature measure

A Democratic political strategist and a former Democratic assemblyman will help lead opposition to a proposed ballot initiative that would reduce California’s Legislature to part-time.

Political consultant Steve Maviglio, former spokesman for Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, said today that he has joined forces with Burbank attorney Dario Frommer, a former Assembly majority leader. Fundraising has not yet begun, Maviglio said.

The group will butt heads with Assemblywoman Shannon Grove, R-Bakersfield, and with Ted Costa, the head of a political watchdog group, over the duo’s proposed constitutional amendment.

The secretary of state’s office gave the green light Monday for proponents of the proposal to begin collecting the 807,615 valid voter signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot.

Backers hope to encourage the election of citizen legislators who have outside sources of income and are not so politically ambitious that they become overly dependent upon powerful special interests.

The measure calls for the nation’s most populous state to meet three months per year – and for lawmakers’ pay to be cut from $7,940 per month to $1,500 per month – or $18,000 annually.

Jerry Brown affirming more releases of killers than Schwarzenegger, Gray Davis

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown is far more likely to allow the release of paroled killers from prison than either of California’s two previous governors, newly released records show.

Brown let stand 331 of 405 – roughly 82 percent – of decisions to parole convicted killers by the state Board of Parole Hearings last year, according to an annual report to the Legislature released Tuesday.

By comparison, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger permitted the release of only about 27 percent of paroled killers, while Democratic Gov. Gray Davis’ numbers were even lower – about 2 percent.

California’s governor has a constitutional right to affirm, modify or reverse such parole board decisions. Brown reversed 71, modified one, and sent two back to the board to reconsider.

Herdt: A way to keep score in California politics

As he was wrapping up his just-concluded term as mayor of Ventura, Bill Fulton observed that the job was not without its political challenges.

“It’s pretty easy to be the mayor of Berkeley and it’s pretty easy to be the mayor of Bakersfield, but it’s pretty hard to be the mayor of both at the same time,” he said.

The point, for those unfamiliar with those two California cities, is that their politics are mostly homogeneous — polar opposites, to be sure, but internally homogeneous.

It’s more challenging to be an elected official in a city such as Ventura, where voters hold politically divergent views.

Thanks to redistricting, many politicians around the state now running for Congress and the Legislature are about to find out what it was like being in Fulton’s shoes.

Dan Walters: Proposition 8 ruling is aimed at U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

“Proposition 8’s only effect … was to withdraw from gays and lesbians the right to employ the designation of ‘marriage’ to describe their committed relationships,” the ruling declared, concluding, “the people of California violated the equal protection clause.”

Assuming that the case reaches the U.S. Supreme Court and that Kennedy is the deciding vote on the issue, would he agree?

Kennedy, a Sacramentan who worked for then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, is notoriously unpredictable, sometimes siding with the four liberals on the court and sometimes with the four conservatives.

But even were he to help overturn Proposition 8, the larger issue of whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry would remain unclear.

That would take another case and another day.

Enjoy your morning!

Here is a video of my former State Senator Tom McClintock discussing the economy with the Congressional Budget Office.

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