Tag Archive: CALPERS

Feb 20 2013

The California Flap: February 20, 2013

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California Cap and Trade

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 is here.

An important deadline to remember:

  • February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.

Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.

On to today’s California headlines:

  • Mistake in First California Carbon Auction Raises Questions About Secrecy – California’s cap-and-trade program to cut greenhouse gases resumed this week with its second auction of carbon allowances to industrial polluters. The market is being closely watched around the world, and billions of dollars are at stake. But some nagging questions are lingering from the first auction. The state’s first-ever carbon auction last November was a very exclusive online event, open only to bidders and regulators at the California Air Resources Board (CARB). Four days later, Mary Nichols, who heads the board, declared it a resounding success, saying the auction came off “without a hitch.”
  • Second cap and trade California auction needs big bucks – In a private and somewhat secret event on Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed state budget inched a little more towards balance… or further towards a multi-million dollar hole created by what’s turned out to be relatively low demand for greenhouse gas pollution credits. It was the second of three initial auctions of carbon dioxide credits, and the first since November’s offering came up significantly short in revenues available to the state. Net proceeds won’t be revealed by the California Air Resources Board until Friday.  The first auction brought in $55.8 million, less than a third of the $200 million expected in the governor’s budget through the end of June.
  • We predicted there was no California tax ‘windfall’ – The bottom line is that people react to tax increases. When he was plumping for the $6 billion Proposition 30 tax increase last fall, Gov. Jerry Brown touted a study by two Stanford sociologists that rich people supposedly don’t leave to avoid paying higher taxes. I debunked that study here and here. Wayne Lusvardi did so here. In about two months we’ll know much more about how Prop. 30 — and the federal Obamacare and fiscal cliff — tax increases have affected tax receipts and employment.
  • CalPERS to sell all its stock in two gun manufacturers – The nation’s biggest public pension fund is taking a stand against gun violence by voting to sell all its investments in two firearms manufacturers: Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. and Sturm, Ruger & Co. On Tuesday, the Investment Committee of the California Public Employees’ retirement System voted to sell about $5 million worth of the gun makers’ stock and other securities. Some of the two companies’ products — particularly assault weapons and cheap handguns, known as Saturday night specials — are illegal in California. They “present a significant danger to the health, safety and lives of California residents, including our members, no matter where such weapons are sold or trafficked in the United States,” read the motion approved by the CalPERS board’s Investment Committee in a 9 to 3 vote. Representatives of Smith & Wesson and Sturm, Ruger did not respond to requests for comment on the CalPERS vote.
  • California Insurance commissioner touts new plan for CA health-care regions – Saying the Legislature’s existing proposal could exacerbate rate shock, state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones unveiled his own proposal Tuesday for dividing California into geographic regions for implementing federal health-care reform. Jones vowed to appear Wednesday before Senate and Assembly health committees to push his 18-region plan instead of existing legislative proposals for six regions in 2014 and 13 regions in 2015. “I believe very strongly that we should draw regions in a way that minimizes rate increases,” Jones said. Because costs of providing health care differ among communities, residents could find themselves paying higher or lower premiums based on the extent to which regions drawn by the state differ from those currently used by health insurance firms.
  • A Mighty Wind – California Flatulence Jokes
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Feb 08 2013

The California Flap: February 8, 2013

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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 is here.

An important deadline to remember:

  • February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.

Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.

On to today’s California headlines:

  • California Ballot Prop Would Force State Takeover of Utilities – Activist Ben Davis, Jr., who led the 1980s initiative campaign to close the Rancho Seco Nuclear Power Plant near Sacramento, now has an even more ambitious initiative project in the works. The measure, which was cleared for signature-gathering Monday by Secretary of State Debra Bowen, would abolish the state’s investor-owned power companies — including Southern California Edison (SCE), Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), and replace them with the publicly owned “California Electrical Utility District.” The measure must gain 504,760 voter signatures by July 1 to qualify for the ballot.
  • Environmental groups, unions team up to oppose CEQA push – The battle lines are being drawn in the upcoming legislative fight over California’s environmental review laws. More than a dozen environmental, labor and social justice groups announced Wednesday that they are joining forces to oppose an expected push to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act. Members pledged to fight “radical reforms that would limit public input into land use planning, threaten public health, and weaken environmental protections.” The group, CEQA Works, includes the California League of Conservation Voters, Planning and Conservation League, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club California, the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, State Building and Construction Trades Council, United Food & Commercial Workers and the League of Women Voters of California.
  • The Pension Fund That Ate California – CalPERS’s advocacy for higher benefits and its poor investment performance in recent years have locked in long-term debt in California and driven up costs, problems for which there are no easy solutions. As former Schwarzenegger economic advisor David Crane, a California Democrat, has said of the fund’s managers and board: “They are desperate to keep truths hidden.”
  • Budget analyst warns that Los Angeles is at a financial crossroads – Los Angeles’ top budget analyst warned that the city could lose 500 cops and be forced to close jails, cut the Fire Department and make other public-safety cuts if a proposed half-percent sales tax doesn’t pass on March 5. Los Angeles is at a financial crossroads, City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana wrote in a detailed report released Thursday. Although the city has made significant budget savings in recent years, without new money, the city could have to reverse hard-fought police staffing gains. Santana’s report comes as voters consider the Measure A half-percent sales tax increase on the ballot and as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa prepares his final budget for 2013-14. “While we are starting to see the `light of the end of the tunnel,’ the security provided by this optimistic picture is still very fragile and not an accurate reflection of the structural problems that the city is facing,” Santana said.
  • Former Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton visit Monterey Peninsula – Former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton visited Monterey for a couple of hours Thursday for a private event. Their visit was not part of this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, said the golf tournament’s director. A Monterey official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the presidents were speaking to AT&T employees, and the company’s clients, about business-related issues. The presidents went from Monterey Regional Airport to Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa on Cannery Row before 5 p.m. They left the hotel within minutes of each other about 7:15 p.m., each of them waving to a crowd of about 20 people. Aaron Braasch, 6, a student at Lincoln Elementary School in Salinas, was with his parents when they saw the presidents leave the hotel. He said he would tell his teachers about it Friday. His parents, Debbie and John, said they were happy their son got to see a piece of history.
  • California Democrats to push 10-bill package on gun control in Senate – State Senate Democrats on Thursday finalized a package of 10 gun-control bills they will pursue this year, and received backing for the measures from the mayors of Los Angeles and San Francisco. Among the bills, Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) called for outlawing possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines over 10 rounds. The sale of such magazines had been banned, but Hancock said some possessors of the clips have been able to escape prosecution by claiming they were purchased before the law was changed. Senate President Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) proposed a ban on the future sale, purchase and manufacture in California of semi-automatic rifles that can accept detachable magazines. “The truth of the matter is that we can save many lives by curbing the proliferation of rapid-fire weapons,” Steinberg told reporters at the Capitol. “We can save lives by getting guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.”
  • CalPERS projects $200 million state rate hike – Annual state pension payments to CalPERS are expected to increase $200 million to a total of $4 billion in July. But the rate may go higher as the powerful pension board takes a new look at its risks and policies. The nation’s largest public pension fund last week gave a joint legislative committee an update on its funding status and plans for the future, as required by recent legislation. “For the year 2012-13 our state contribution rate was $3.8 billion,” Anne Stausboll, CalPERS chief executive officer, told legislators. “That is projected to be $4 billion in the coming fiscal year. That rate will be finalized in May, and we have a very open process leading up to that.” The giant pension fund covers 1,576 local governments and non-teaching employees in 1,488 school districts, but the annual payment for state workers draws the most attention.
  • California’s Baby Boomers on Track to Overwhelm State’s Younger Working Adults – USC’ Dowell Myers says The Day of Demographic Reckoning has come upon us. We share his thoughts because he’s the lead researcher on a recently released report from the University of Southern California and the Lucile Packard Foundation, “California’s Diminishing Resource: Children.” Myers and his team analyzed data from the 2010 census and the American Community Survey to conclude that we’re coming up on a rather large problem, economically speaking. “It’s been sneaking up on us gradually, and it has finally arrived,” Myers told The California Report. “The oldest Baby Boomer turned 65 last year, and now 18 years of Baby Boomers are going to cross that line.”
  • Judge seeks California’s out-of-state prison plan – Gov. Jerry Brown must explain to a federal court by the end of Wednesday how he plans to fit 9,000 inmates currently housed in out-of-state facilities back into California lockups. U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton directed California to explain in writing its exact plan to stop sending inmates to private prisons as far as Mississippi. The administration announced its intention to return the inmates months ago, at the same time it also seeks an end to court-ordered prison population caps. Karlton’s order requires California to stipulate the total number of inmates the state plans to return to California prisons from out-of-state facilities, the planned timetable for their return, and where the state plans to house those inmates. As of Jan. 30, according to state prison population reports, California had 8,852 inmates in four prisons run by Tennessee-based Corrections Corp. of America.
  • Ann Ravel: In pursuit of transparency – Ann Ravel, California’s political watchdog, captured public attention in November when she squared off against an obscure but well-heeled group calling itself Americans for Social Responsibility. The Arizona-based nonprofit poured $11 million at the 11th hour into the California campaign opposed to Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative, Proposition 30. On the eve of the election, the group admitted it was an intermediary and not the true source of the contribution as Ravel, the chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission, demanded disclosure. “We will continue in this matter and all others to ensure that the people of California know who is funding political activity in this State,” she noted.
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Jan 28 2013

The California Flap: January 28, 2013

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Thousand Oaks, California

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 is here.

An important deadlines to remember:

  • February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.

Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.

On to the morning’s California headlines:

  • Elections will bring a big shake-up on L.A. City Council – Voters across Los Angeles are poised to engineer the biggest shake-up on the City Council in a dozen years, sending seven newcomers into office in a series of contests that will unfold between March and July.Although the mayoral campaign has grabbed most of the attention this election year, with millions raised by the five leading candidates, the stakes are just as high for the city’s powerful 15-member legislative body.Term limits and other factors — illness and the election of a sitting councilman to higher office — have created the largest number of incumbent-free council races in more than a decade. Six current council members depart June 30 and a seventh — Tony Cardenas — already has moved to Congress.
  • Dan Walters: California pension funds still face huge liabilities – The California Public Employees’ Retirement System has reported – with no small elation – that it has recouped virtually all of the $95 billion in investment losses it sustained during the global financial crisis.A steadfast investment strategy and a generally rising stock market are responsible for the recovery, CalPERS says.
    The good news comes just a few months after Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature enacted a pension reform plan they say will shrink the long-term liabilities of CalPERS and local pension systems.
  • Secret hearings in case of Chandra Levy slaying – A judge has been holding secret hearings in the case of the man convicted in the 2001 killing of Chandra Levy, the latest twist in a high-profile murder that went unsolved for years and captivated the public because of the intern’s romantic relationship with a California congressman.The meetings, held sporadically behind closed doors at the courthouse over the last several weeks, raise questions about what comes next in a criminal case that appeared resolved by the 2010 conviction of Ingmar Guandique. The illegal immigrant from El Salvador is now serving a 60-year prison sentence in Levy’s death, but the hearings could signal a problem with the prosecution of the case.
  • Brown puts former prisons critic atop oversight agency – Gov. Jerry Brown says it’s time for the federal courts to end their oversight of medical care and other operations within the California prison system, and he’s named a somewhat surprising ally to help him make the case.Jeffrey Beard, who testified four years ago that California’s prisons were dangerously overcrowded, began work last week as secretary of the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
  • California becoming less family-friendly – Sacramento lawmakers of both parties share some responsibility. The dominant progressives’ regulatory and tax agenda continues to reduce economic prospects for younger Californians, leading many young families to exit the state. In contrast, older Anglos, the bulwark of the now largely irrelevant GOP, are committed to massive property tax breaks because of Proposition 13. Add good weather and the general inertia of age, and it’s not surprising that families might flee as seniors stay.Other factors work against parents, prospective or otherwise. The knee-jerk progressive response to our demographic problems usually entails more money be sent to the schools.But they rarely include the student-oriented reform measures such as those enacted in New Orleans (where I am working as a consultant). The poor performance of public education, clear from miserable test results and dropout rates, makes raising children in California either highly problematic or, factoring the cost of private education, extremely expensive.
  • Mickelson and the Sports Star Tax Migration – America’s top-grossing golfer Phil Mickelson drove himself into a bunker on Jan. 20 when he said that federal and California state tax hikes had made him contemplate making “drastic changes” in his life—including, it was widely assumed, moving to a no-income-tax state such as Texas or Florida. But he was only stating publicly what many professional athletes are mulling privately.
  • Obamacare & California: State media ignore coming headaches – Gov. Jerry Brown’s eagerness for California to be the first state to implement the federal Affordable Care Act is being reported matter-of-factly by state newspapers. Completely absent is any big-picture explanation of what this will mean for health providers, companies and individuals in the Golden State. We’re less than a year away from the state implementing policies that give employers a financial incentive to stop providing health coverage and that give individuals, especially the young, an incentive to not buy health insurance. I wrote about these enormous looming headaches last week for the U-T San Diego editorial page:
  • California prison reform’s unintended consequences – The prison reform law that shifted responsibility for non-violent felons from the state to the counties is also affecting the management of more serious and violent offenders who have completed their prison terms, presenting a challenge for reform supporters and potentially undermining public support for the change.Since the passage of Assembly Bill 109, also known as prison realignment, people who violate the conditions of their parole go to jail rather than prison – including those with sex offenses and other serious and violent crimes on their records.But because of jail overcrowding, some county jails can’t house people for technical parole violations — including bad drug tests and missing appointments with parole agents. That lack of consequences can make it more difficult for parole agents to compel people to stay within the conditions of their release from prison and to keep track of offenders who are released from jail early.
  • LAUSD plans to add 1,000 new campus aides for security at elementary schools – The Los Angeles Unified School District plans to make more than 1,000 new hires to bolster security at hundreds of campuses in a move some critics have called “security on the cheap.”More than 400 LAUSD elementary school campuses are slated to receive 1,087 campus aides – a minimum of two on each campus – as early as March 1, LAUSD school board president Monica Garcia told the Daily News on Friday.The $4.2 million plan comes a month after the Dec. 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. that killed 20 first-graders and six adults.

    “Another two people on each campus can help us maintain a safe environment that can ease the minds of our employees, parents and students,” Garcia said. “This way we can focus on reading and writing, teaching and learning.”

  • AEG, Koreatown developer help fund L.A. sales tax campaign – The developer of a proposed downtown Los Angeles football stadium and the company behind two planned apartment towers in Koreatown have provided about two-thirds of the funds for the group backing a half-cent sales tax increase in the city, according to the first report released in the campaign.The committee for Proposition A on the March 5 ballot reported that it had raised $185,000 by Jan. 19, with $100,000 coming from stadium developer Anschutz Entertainment Group. The City Council, which is seeking the tax increase to address a $220-million budget shortfall, approved AEG’s proposed stadium last year, which involves the demolition and reconstruction of a section of the city’s Convention Center.
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Jan 22 2013

The California Flap: January 22, 2013

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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 is here.

Some important deadlines to remember:

  • January 25, 2013: Deadline to send bill ideas to the California Legislative Counsel for drafting.
  • February 22, 2013: Deadline to introduce bills.

Each member of the Assembly and State Senate are allowed to introduce up to 40 bills in this two year legislative session.

On to the morning’s California headlines:

  • California engineers question high-speed rail oversight – As California prepares to embark on its largest public works project in decades, a union that represents state engineers is questioning whether all the construction work will be thoroughly scrutinized.Contractors submitted bids this week to design and build the first 30-mile stretch of track for the $68 billion high-speed rail system, which eventually is designed to link Northern and Southern California by trains traveling up to 220 mph. The contract they sign is expected to be for up to $1.8 billion to build the initial segment in the Central Valley.The documents outlining the requirements for the bids say the independent contractor that would design and build the first phase of the project would hire the inspectors charged with testing the work on that segment, running from Madera to Fresno. The inspections would then be submitted to the California High-Speed Rail Authority.Critics, including lawmakers and a state engineers union, say the arrangement could present a conflict…
  • CalPERS nears a record $260 billion in assets – The California Public Employees’ Retirement System is poised to top a record $260 billion in assets, the market value it held before the global financial crisis wiped out more than a third of its wealth.The largest U.S. public pension, with half of its money in publicly traded equities, was worth $253.2 billion on Thursday, or about 97% of the pre-recession high set in October 2007. The fund returned 13% in 2012, about the same gain as the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index.”A lot of the improvements in portfolio returns is simply reflective of the return of the market,” Chief Investment Officer Joe Dear said. “But there is still an important lesson there, which is that when the crisis was full on, we didn’t drastically reduce our equity exposure.”
  • Tobacco tax hike eyed for 2014 state ballot – Get ready for another round of tobacco tax wars, California initiative style.And count three big reasons for a do-over of the electoral skirmish in 2014: the relatively low level of the existing tax, the narrow margin of the vote in 2012, and the fact that it may now be a fight not over bureaucracy and research but rather college tuition.”I think the right measure, going to the right revenue source is going to be the magic combination,” says Democratic strategist Jason Kinney. “And that’s why I think so many people are looking at it.”
  • Jerry Brown’s budget is a boon to California’s unions – Gov. Jerry Brown continues to pose as an iconoclast who is willing to make the tough choices necessary to keep California afloat, but the budget he released recently is more evidence that he remains the cat’s paw for the state’s public-sector unions.“I want to advance the progressive agenda,” Brown said at the press conference unveiling his supposedly balanced budget, “but consistent with the amount of money people made available … I respect and embrace my role of saying ‘no.’”But he certainly has said yes to union demands. The budget is the culmination of Brown’s campaign to convince Californians to raise taxes on themselves. They complied by approving Proposition 30 to help the school kids, yet Brown has played games with that money — earmarking some of it for union pay hikes as a payback for all that help during the Nov. 6 campaign, according to GOP leaders.
  • California death penalty: Will state follow Arizona, which has resumed executions after a long hiatus? – When Arizona prison officials injected condemned rapist and murderer Richard Stokley with a single, fatal drug dose last month, it marked the state’s sixth execution of the year in the nation’s second busiest death chamber.Now that California voters in November narrowly preserved the death penalty, Arizona’s path could foreshadow the future for this state, where not a single one of the 729 death row inmates have marched to execution in seven years.As in California, interminable legal tangles once shut down Arizona’s death penalty system as the state executed only one inmate, who volunteered to die, from 2001 to 2010. But Arizona emerged from numerous court battles that removed all of the legal roadblocks that remain in California.The result has been 11 executions since October 2010, nearly the number California has carried out since it restored the death penalty in 1978. Significantly, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, often the last word for death penalty appeals in the …
  • Plenty of green carpool stickers remain available in California – Green stickers for plug-in hybrids: 9,022. Limit: 40,000. Expire: Jan. 1, 2015 White stickers for electric vehicles and those running on alternative fuels: 21,770. Limit: None. Expire: Jan. 1, 2015. Yellow stickers for hybrids: 85,000. Ended July 1, 2011.
  • Brown seeks to reshape California’s community colleges – With a slate of bold and controversial budget proposals, Gov. Jerry Brown has placed a renewed focus on the state’s struggling community colleges, the world’s largest system of two-year schools that are often overshadowed by the University of California and Cal State systems.The governor’s recommendations are aimed at keeping community colleges affordable, keeping classes accessible and moving students faster through the system to allow them to graduate or transfer to a four-year university at higher rates. Brown’s spending plan must clear the Legislature, and some college officials have vowed to oppose — or at least try to modify — some portions.
  • Medicare Pricing Delay is Political Win for Amgen, Drug Maker – Just two weeks after pleading guilty in a major federal fraud case, Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology firm, scored a largely unnoticed coup on Capitol Hill: Lawmakers inserted a paragraph into the “fiscal cliff” bill that did not mention the company by name but strongly favored one of its drugs.The language buried in Section 632 of the law delays a set of Medicare price restraints on a class of drugs that includes Sensipar, a lucrative Amgen pill used by kidney dialysis patients.The provision gives Amgen an additional two years to sell Sensipar without government controls. The news was so welcome that the company’s chief executive quickly relayed it to investment analysts. But it is projected to cost Medicare up to $500 million over that period.
  • Dan Walters: Public debts cloud future for California cities – The tendency among local officials – much like their brethren in the state Capitol – is to make financial commitments with little thought to long-term consequences.That’s how our governments dug themselves into deep budget holes – spending revenue windfalls on new services, giving employees big pension and health care benefits retroactively, and borrowing for grandiose projects without economic viability.Three of California’s cities rode that path into bankruptcy. While one, Vallejo, has emerged, two others, Stockton and San Bernardino, are still ruminating over which creditors will take haircuts.Stockton’s situation is especially egregious because it committed all of those fiscal sins. Its biggest debt is money it borrowed to pay its pension obligations, a double whammy.

    In fact, most public debt in California is in the form of pension promises whose dimensions depend on assumptions of pension fund earnings.

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Mar 14 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: March 14, 2012

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Santa Monica, California

Good morning!

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

Lower expectations at CalPERS; bigger bills for cities, schools

America’s largest public pension system is about to swallow a bitter pill — and the pain will be felt in most every city in California.

Critics have derided the California Public Employees Retirement System for years over its allegedly rose-colored glasses: CalPERS, and most every other public pension system in California, officially expects to earn 7.75 percent on investments.

Last year, CalPERS earned 1.1 percent.

The Orange County  Employees Retirement System earned just 0.74 percent.

One could say reality came knocking Wednesday, when a CalPERS committee argued over whether the giant retirement system should lower its expectations to 7.25 percent, or 7.50 percent.

Some have urged it to go far lower than that. Understand that the lower the assumed return, the more the state and cities have to kick in to pension plans to meet the promises they’ve made to workers. Returns change; what they’ve promised to pay does not.

The CalPERS committee finally settled on a .25 percent reduction in its expected return rate — to 7.5 percent. That recommendation will go to the full CalPERS board on Wednesday for approval.

If adopted:

  •     This means that cities will see their required pension payments rise — between 1 percent and 2 percent for general workers, and between 2 percent and three percent for more expensive public safety workers, beginning next year, according to a CalPERS “warning” that went out last month.
  •     Throw in price inflation and wage inflation, and you’re looking at cities and the state paying pension bills that are 4 percent to 5 percent higher for general workers, and 7 percent to 8 percent higher for public safety workers, CalPERS said.

Postal cuts could force change in Calif. voting

California lawmakers and election officials worried about the effect of postal closures on elections are considering extending the voting period for mail-in-ballots, a move that could delay results by days or even weeks.

Election officials are concerned that longer delivery times will disenfranchise tens of thousands of absentee voters after the U.S. Postal Service begins closing post offices and mail distribution centers this summer.

During a joint legislative hearing Tuesday, lawmakers, county registrars and Secretary of State Debra Bowen discussed the possibility of changing California election law so ballots must be merely postmarked by Election Day. Currently, they must be in the hands of election workers by the time polls close to be counted.

Bowen acknowledged the change could mean the end of same-night election results, with nearly half the California electorate voting absentee.

“You hate to make changes with a gun to your head,” she said.

About 40 percent of California voters are registered for permanent absentee ballots, compared with 5 percent in 2000. Nearly 6 million residents voted by mail in 2008, the last presidential election.

A new ‘Cathie Wright’ will be on Simi Valley ballots

Growing up the daughter of a woman who served 20 years in the California Legislature and was the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor in 1994, Victoria Catherine Wright said she learned a few things about politics from her mother.

One thing former Sen. Cathie Wright taught her is that political candidates shouldn’t put relatives on their campaign payroll, she says.

“She believed that you shouldn’t pay family,” Wright said. “They should work for you just because they believe in you.”

Last week, Wright decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps, filing to become a candidate in the 25th Congressional District. Using her middle name, she will be on the ballot as “Cathie Wright” — the same name longtime Simi Valley voters remember from the 1980s and 1990s.

She will be taking on a fellow Republican, incumbent Howard “Buck” McKeon of Santa Clarita, an elected official who hasn’t followed the Wright family wisdom about not paying relatives from campaign funds.

McKeon has long paid his wife, Patricia, as a campaign staffer. An analysis by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call last year found McKeon led all members of Congress in that category, having paid his wife $264,000 from his campaign account since 2007.

“What that means is that people are donating money to his campaign and he’s pulling it out and putting it in his family’s pockets by paying his wife,” Wright said.

Calif. bill would ban violent fans from games

Call it the “no-root” list.

A state assemblyman from Los Angeles who was infuriated by the near-fatal beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stow outside Dodger Stadium last year has introduced a bill that would create a list of hooligans banned from attending professional sporting events.

It’s a roster no fan would want to make, and would be published online by the state, like the Megan’s Law database of sex offenders. Unlike typical sports rosters, this one would feature a criminal history rather than stats like batting average.

People convicted of serious or violent felonies at sports arenas would qualify for bans of up to five years. Those caught attending a game anyway would be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine.

“We have a situation where a lot of people are now afraid to take their kids to a ballgame,” the bill’s author, Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, said Tuesday. “People go to games and have a couple cans of courage, and then they take the fun out of it for the rest of us.”

And, Dan Walter’s Daily Video:

Enjoy your morning!

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