Tag Archive: Flap’s California Blog Links

Dec 28 2012

The California Flap: December 28, 2012

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Jim BrulteFormer Republican California State Senator Jim Brulte

These are my links for December 28th:

  • Union pickets gain special protections from state justices -“Signature gatherers and protesters may be ejected from privately owned walkways outside a store, but labor unions may picket there peacefully, the California Supreme Court decided Thursday.
  • The state high court unanimously agreed that private walkways in front of stores, unlike public areas in shopping malls, are not open forums accessible to anyone who wants to assemble to express a view. But the justices split, 6 to 1, in upholding two state laws that prevent courts from issuing injunctions against peaceful labor pickets on private property.The laws protecting labor pickets are justified “by the state’s interest in promoting collective bargaining to resolve labor disputes,” Justice Joyce L. Kennard wrote for the courtCalifornia “may single out labor-related speech for particular protection or regulation” as an exercise in the economic regulation of labor relations, Kennard wrote.” 
  • House members did not violate rule with Countrywide loans, ethics panel says -“The House Ethics Committee said Thursday it found no violations among House members whose mortgage loans went through the VIP section of Countrywide Financial Corp., the company whose subprime loans helped cause the foreclosure crisis.The committee said nearly all the allegations of favored treatment involved loans that were granted so long ago that they fell outside the panel’s jurisdiction. The committee added that participation in the VIP program did not necessarily mean borrowers received the best loan deal available — and most lawmakers were not even aware they were placed in a VIP unit.Rep. Elton Gallegly, R-Simi Valley, and Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, were among the House members whose names were on the original list of VIP loans.The actions of unnamed House staff members were harshly criticized. Emails indicated they reached out to Countrywide lobbyists for help with their personal loans, but those actions also were too old to remain in the committee’s jurisdiction. The panel said that if the incidents had been more recent, the staff members could have faced discipline.”

     

  • GINGRICH AND NOLAN: Criminal justice reform saving states billions -“These victories for reform are the result of a growing movement among conservatives to offer alternatives to our current criminal justice policies. Both of us are part of the Right on Crime initiative which has united many prominent conservatives, including Jeb Bush, Ed Meese, Grover Norquist and William Bennett, to advocate sensible reforms that have proven effective at keeping communities safe while saving taxpayer dollars.Right on Crime supports effective programs that are less costly alternatives to prison such as drug courts, rehabilitation and programs that impose swift and certain sanctions.These conservative policy initiatives have attracted the support of leaders from across the political spectrum. The victories for criminal justice reform may not get as much publicity as the stories of gridlock emanating from Washington. Nevertheless, they are proof that even in times of great partisan tension, leaders on the left and the right can set aside their differences and make good public policy based on conservative principles. The result is safer communities and fewer victims.” 
  • State GOP eyes Brulte as possible savior -“The buzz is growing about the prospects of former state Senate GOP Leader Jim Brulte becoming the next chairman of the struggling California Republican Party.”He has no opposition and he wants it,” said former CRP Chairman Shawn Steel. “He’s been meeting with people to talk about it. He’s the guy, probably more than anyone else in California, who can raise money for the party and at the same time speaks conservatism. And he speaks above the bickering of different factions.””Brulte has not made any public comments about the job, which state party Central Committee members will fill at their March convention. Incumbent Chairman Tom del Beccaro is not seeking reelection.The state GOP this year fell below a 30 percent share of registered voters. It is perpetually short on cash, holds no statewide offices, and is particularly weak among the growing Latino and Asian electorates.

    Brulte spent 14 years in the state Legislature, serving as leader in both chambers. The Rancho Cucamonga consultant is known, respected and affable. And he’s advocated more minority involvement in the party since at least 1998.

    Rancho Santa Margarita attorney Steve Baric is vice chairman of the party and would be a likely candidate for the top spot, but is expected to stand aside if Brulte runs. The two are friendly and share the view that the party needs to rise above infighting if it’s to return to relevancy in the state.

    The only state constitutional office occupied by a Republican is the state Board of Equalization District 3 seat, held by Michelle Park Steel – who also happens to be Korean American and is married to Shawn Steel. The couple moved from the Palos Verdes Peninsula to Surfside in 2011. She is planning to run in 2014 for the supervisorial seat of John Moorlach, who is termed out.

     

  • Californians to Watch: Peter Lee will launch California’s health exchange - 
  • Fiscal cliff stumble could doom California’s budget recovery -“Gov. Jerry Brown and California lawmakers struck an upbeat tone in recent weeks as they enjoyed their most positive budget outlook since the economic downturn.Whether that mood survives the winter depends on Washington.State budget experts say the biggest immediate threat to California finances is a recession triggered by automatic federal cuts and tax hikes, absent a political deal to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.”The state’s biggest federal program, Medi-Cal, is spared from automatic cuts. But a new recession could threaten the state tax revenue that serves as the lifeblood for California government.”

  • Political winners, losers of ’12 emerge -Many people won’t be sorry to see 2012 in the rearview mirror – it’s been a political year dominated by a limping economy and a bruising and expensive national election, only to end at the edge of a “fiscal cliff.”  The political reverberations are being felt in California, where the year in politics was also colored by concerns over taxes, spending and red ink staining the budget.  California’s players in the political drama included labor unions, millionaires, consultants, celebrities and elected officials at all levels – starting at the top in Sacramento.  Winners and losers emerged, and here are a few, starting with the losers:
  • California Republican Party: It was, to borrow the words of Queen Elizabeth II, an “annus horribilis” for the GOP in California, where Republican voter registration on Ronald Reagan’s home turf withered to 29 percent. The party’s board of directors moved for a financial reorganization and state party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro decided not to run for re-election. In November, Democrats grabbed a two-thirds majority in both the state Senate and Assembly. In Congress, the much-touted “young guns” drive to elect GOP congressional candidates drew blanks – newcomer Ricky Gill lost to Democrat Jerry McNerney, and former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado lost to Democrat Lois Capps.
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Feb 09 2012

Flap’s California Afternoon Collection: February 9, 2012

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U.S. President Barack Obama gives details of the $26 billion deal to settle charges of widespread mortgage fraud by some of the nation’s largest banks in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, February 9, 2012. Pictured (L-R) are Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Attorney General Eric Holder,Obama, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, Indiana Attorney General Gregory Zoeller and Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.

These are my links for February 9th from 15:10 to 15:18:

  • Obama administration reaffirms support for California high-speed rail -

    “Despite a series of a cautionary reports by outside agencies and groups, the Obama administration is reaffirming its commitment to California’s $98.5-billion bullet train project.

    U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood traveled the state this week and met privately with Gov. Jerry Brown Thursday to discuss the embattled project, issuing a statement of support through the governor’s office.

    “Over the past week, I have traveled all over the Golden State and have found a strong base of support for the California High-Speed Rail project, from workers who will build it, manufacturers that will supply the trains to run on it and businesses that will benefit from using it,” LaHood said. “The Obama Administration is committed to High-Speed Rail because it is good for the economy and the nation. I look forward to working with Governor Brown to make this project as successful as possible.”

    For the White House, California appears to be the lone subscriber to the president’s vision for high-speed rail. Facing budget deficits and sluggish growth, Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin have all scrapped their proposals.”

  • Carmen Trutanich will run for L.A. district attorney -

    “Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich announced Thursday he will run for district attorney, ending months of speculation.

    “I love my job as City Attorney, but I can’t do my job to protect residents — nor can our local police and sheriffs — without a crime fighting partner in the DA’s office,” Trutanich said in a statement.

    Trutanich collected nearly $1 million in donations last year, amassing a campaign war chest that dwarfs those of the declared candidates. Five prosecutors with the district attorney’s office — including Alan Jackson, Bobby Grace, Jacquelyn Lacey, Danette Meyers and Mario Trujillo — are also vying to replace retiring Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley.”

  • How the housing settlement might affect you -

    “The legal settlement reached Thursday among five big banks, the federal government and 49 states won’t fix the housing market, but it should help two categories of homeowners who are plentiful in California.

    The $25 billion settlement has provisions aimed at people who are behind in their payments and under threat of foreclosure and for those who have kept up with their payments but whose homes are worth less than they owe.

    People in the first category – those behind in their payments – will be eligible to have the principal they owe on their loans reduced, making it easier for them to catch up and remain current.

    People in the second category will be eligible to refinance their loans even though they might not be able to meet the usual loan-to-value ratios required by banks.

    It is these people who have probably been the most frustrated by the collapse of the market. They are generally employed, have good credit, and have kept paying on their loans even as many others have simply walked away from their homes and their loans and handed the bank the keys.

    For their trouble, though, these folks have been told they cannot refinance to take advantage of historically low interest rates because their new loans would still be for more than their homes are worth, or at least too big to provide the 20 percent cushion banks typically require between the value of the loan and the value of the home.

    It’s not yet clear how many of these people will be allowed to refinance, and exactly what the rules governing the process will be. All of that will be hammered out over the next six to nine months as the settlement is implemented.

    The settlement covers loans owned and serviced by Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo.”

  • Mortgage, foreclosure deal could help homeowners, housing market -

    “In unveiling a landmark $25-billion settlement of investigations of foreclosure abuses, federal and state officials said Thursday they were holding the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers accountable for the problems while also providing help to up to 2 million homeowners affected by the collapse of the housing market.

    “This isn’t just about punishing banks for their irresponsible behavior,” Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said at a Washington news conference. “It’s also about requiring them to help the people they harmed by funding efforts to help homeowners stay in their homes.”

    The deal between federal officials, attorneys general from California and 48 other states, and the five servicers — Bank of America Corp., JPMorgan Chase Co., Wells Fargo Co., Citigroup Inc. and Ally Financial Inc. — was completed after more than a year of negotiations to settle investigations into foreclosure improprieties, such as robo-signing.

    “Today we pick up another piece of the wreckage caused by the foreclosure crisis,” said Illinois Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan.

    The settlement sets new national standards for mortgage servicing, to be overseen by an independent monitor, that officials said would end the frustrating runarounds by consumers who try to get their mortgages modified or make other changes.”

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Feb 08 2012

Flap’s California Afternoon Collection: February 8, 2012

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Newt Gingrich is coming to California

These are my links for February 8th:

  • Another Shot at Tax Break Democrats Love to Hate -“For the last several years, Democrats have been relentless at trying to undo a hotly debated tax incentive for large corporations that was signed into law as part of the 2009 deal. And now they’re launching another shot.

    The 2012 edition of “Cancel That Corporate Tax Break” at the state Capitol kicks off with a novel, and perhaps politically powerful, proposal from Assembly Speaker John Perez: use the resulting $1 billion in extra tax revenue to dramatically downsize the cost of a college education for middle-class families.

    Perez formally introduced his plan Wednesday afternoon, to be contained in two bills — AB 1500 and AB 1501. One bill will modify the state law allowing national corporations to calculate their tax liability based on their sales revenues inside California; the second bill will create a need-based scholarship for all UC and CSU students whose families make between $70,000 and $150,000 a year… a scholarship paid for with the higher corporate tax revenues.

    Perez called it a matter of “tax equity” in a conference call with reporters launching his PR blitz, and even suggested that easing the financial pressures of California college students could itself provide an economic stimulus, given the widely agreed on importance of higher education to the state’s economy.”

  • California pension reform group suspends initiative campaign -“A group that hoped to put a sweeping public employee pension reform measure on the November ballot is suspending its campaign.

    “It’s a sad day for pension reform in California,” said Aaron McLear, spokesman for Sacramento-based California Pension Reform.

    Although the group had drafted two measures that qualified for signature collection, it couldn’t raise the $2 million or so needed to mount the petition effort for either one. “

  • Assembly speaker wants to trade tax breaks for scholarships -“Assembly Speaker John Pérez announced Wednesday he will push to end corporate tax breaks in order to lower tuition by two-thirds for middle-class, California students at state universities.

    “The pressures of the recession and massive fee increases have eroded, or even ended, the dream of higher education for too many California families,” Pérez (D-Los Angeles) said in a statement. “Now it is time for our state to reinvest in our system of higher education.”

    The plan would be financed by canceling $1 billion in tax breaks that benefit large, out-of-state corporations and began in 2009.

    The additional revenue would finance scholarships for students whose families make less than $150,000 a year but earn too much to qualify for financial aid. If eligible, California State University students would save $4,000 per year, and University of California students would save about $8,200 per year.

    Roughly 150,000 CSU students and 43,000 UC students could be affected by the plan.”

  • It’s California time for Newt Gingrich -“Newt Gingrich is headed to California next week to bolster his campaign’s dwindling bank account.

    Spokesman R.C. Hammond announced Wednesday that Gingrich would hold eight fundraisers in the three-day swing through the Golden State. He’ll then head to friendly territory in Georgia — the state he represented for 11 terms in the U.S. House — to stump and enlarge his warchest. Georgia is a part of a slew of states that vote on Super Tuesday or March 6.”

  • Vin Scully on working: ‘I don’t want to lose my friends’ -“In the March issue of Golf Digest, Dodgers broadcaster (and former CBS golf announcer) Vin Scully talks about his love of the game and of just being out on the course. “The crack of the bat in baseball is a gorgeous sound,” he tells Guy Yocom. “But you don’t quite get the full effect unless you’re very close to the field, because the roar of the crowd often gets to you before the crack of the bat does. In golf, there is all that delicious silence, so the sound of a top pro hitting the ball is so pure. The feeling the pro gets—that sweet sensation that goes through the hands, up the arms and into the heart—the sound gives the fans a taste of that.”

    Scully shares some favorite experiences on the course at Bel-Air Country Club with the late columnist Jim Murray and others, such as Sandy Koufax. He also shares some of his fears about retirement and why he’s coming back next month for his 63rd season with the Dodgers at age 84.”

  • The State Worker: California pension reform group suspends initiative campaign -“A group that hoped to put a sweeping public employee pension reform measure on the November ballot is suspending its campaign.

    “It’s a sad day for pension reform in California,” said Aaron McLear, spokesman for Sacramento-based California Pension Reform.

    Although the group had drafted two measures that qualified for signature collection, it couldn’t raise the $2 million or so needed to mount the petition effort for either one.

    In November, Calfornia Pension Reform submitted a proposal to put future state and local public employees into defined contribution plans and another measure that would have shifted future workers into hybrid pensions. In January, it received the title and summary for both, intending to determine which would poll better and then shop that plan to potential campaign donors.”

Enjoy your afternoon!

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Feb 05 2012

Flap’s California Afternoon Collection: February 5, 2012

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These are my links for February 5th:

  • Dan Walters: Democrats may be Jerry Brown’s big hurdle on budget -

    “Gov. Jerry Brown and his fellow Democrats in the Legislature settled on a hastily revised state budget last June – after Brown had vetoed legislators’ first version – and pronounced it to be balanced and timely.

    “My colleagues and I have voted on a responsible budget,” Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, told constituents in a newsletter, adding, “While we have projected additional revenues, we have also identified further tough cuts if these revenues are not realized. We are charged with the responsibility to pass a balanced budget on time. Democratic lawmakers have done so.”

    Dickinson wasn’t alone in crowing to constituents about the budget. But it wasn’t on time, nor was it balanced, as Capitol insiders suspected then and we know for certain seven months later.

    The quickly revised budget hinged on a sudden, even miraculous, projection by Brown’s bean counters that the state would receive another $4 billion in revenue. But in December, they acknowledged that more than half of the windfall won’t show up, thus triggering some spending cuts, although not enough to offset the missing income.

    If anything, the situation has deteriorated.”


  • Red-light cameras boost coffers, rile drivers -

    “California has the most expensive red-light camera tickets in the world – the fine is so steep that one camera in Oakland generates more than $3 million a year – and a Fremont man is launching a protest group to do something about that.

    If Roger Jones has his way, that freezing dread that knifes through a driver the moment he sees the overhead flash of a traffic camera will become a thing of the past.

    But he’s facing quite an uphill fight against officials hungry for the cash the cameras sweep in and police who are convinced they make the roads safer.”


  • Neophyte Democratic candidate joins Berman/Sherman race -

    “If the battle between Democratic Reps. Howard Berman of Valley Village and Brad Sherman of Sherman Oaks for a newly drawn San Fernando Valley congressional district is a clash of two Goliaths, as some have suggested, then the contest just got another would-be David.

    Vincent Gilmore, a 31-year-old gardener who lives in Van Nuys, recently announced that he is making his first bid for elected office by joining what is expected to be one of the costliest, most watched House races in history. The Democrat said he isn’t taking donations and is spending as little as possible “for ethical reasons.” He’s relying mainly on a website — www.vincegilmore2012.com — and YouTube videos to reach voters.”


  • Nurses flex their political muscle in Sacramento and across California -

    “Rose Ann DeMoro is always ready for another fight.

    And why not? During the past decade, the leader of the California Nurses Association has won so many of her battles.

    Largely because of CNA efforts, California is poised to become the first state where registered nurses make an average salary above $100,000.

    The union helped defeat gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman in 2010 and has become a political force, throwing financial support behind candidates for offices ranging from Santa Rosa City Council to state attorney general.

    And more recently, nurses flexed their muscles with a series of one-day walkouts in support of other hospital employees who are in tough contract negotiations.

    “This is a significant career with responsibility for life and death,” DeMoro said. Hospitals, she said, “are looking to make more money off the backs of nurses. That’s not going to happen.”

    The health care industry bristles at CNA tactics, including last Tuesday’s one-day nurse walkout at Kaiser Permanente hospitals alongside striking workers from the smaller National Union of Healthcare Workers. Hospital officials say the solidarity strikes put patients at risk.”


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