Tag: Howard Berman

May 23 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: May 23, 2012

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Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo, Carmel, California

Good Tuesday 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.

President Obama and Republican Speaker Boehner are in California today hitting up donors for campaign cash.

President Barack Obama is back in California for the second time this month, scheduled for two campaign fundraisers this evening in the Bay Area.

First up, dinner in Atherton where tickets cost $38,500 a pop, then a reception at the Fox Theater in Redwood City, where tickets start at $250 and Ben Harper is scheduled to play. Obama won’t be venturing any farther east than that before Air Force One heads out on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Republican House Speaker John Boehner will be in the Bay Area himself tonight at a fundraiser co-hosted by California Reps. Jeff Denham, Dan Lungren, Wally Herger and David Dreier. Tickets top out at $35,800 for the reception at Stacey and Tom Siebel’s Woodside home.

On to today’s California headlines:

Brown makes pitch to business leaders for tax hikes

Gov. Jerry Brown hopes that if he can convince business leaders to support his tax-hike initiative, otherwise skeptical voters might just go along with it.

But, he acknowledged Tuesday, it won’t be easy for business groups to go against their philosophy of resisting taxes, so he called on them to “think of something larger than just your small place, wherever you are” to help the state get out from underneath a $15.7 billion deficit.

“This is a bigger challenge than usual, but California is the biggest state and certainly the most creative and most dynamic,” he said in a 25-minute address to the state Chamber of Commerce’s 87th annual Host Breakfast. “But along with innovation, we have to have another virtue — and that’s called courage.”

Since he released his revised budget last week, the governor has been fending off criticism within the state and outside. Conservatives derided his budget, saying California is going the way of Greece, a nation forced to take drastic action to avoid default.

Dan Walters: Jerry Brown struggles on three fronts on state budget

As the state budget’s deficit widens, Gov. Jerry Brown is being thrust into a three-front political battle.

He must not only persuade voters to pass his sales and income tax package, but, implicitly, persuade them to reject a rival tax measure just for schools.

Meanwhile, Brown is pressing liberal Democratic legislators to ignore their political DNA by making deeper cuts in health and welfare programs, not only to close the deficit but to bolster appeals to voters for new taxes.

“It’s not easy,” Brown told hundreds of business and civic figures gathered Tuesday in Sacramento for the annual Host Breakfast.

“We’re getting there,” Brown continued. “We’re making the cuts. But we also need the revenues.”

Brown had been cultivating business groups to support his original tax plan, but they cooled when he shifted gears to satisfy rivals on the left, reducing the sales tax element and sharply boosting income taxes on high-income taxpayers, including many attendees at Tuesday’s event.

California Legislative Analyst OKs mortgage settlement cash shift

Part of California’s share of a national legal settlement with five big mortgage banks can be used to help fill a $15.7-billion hole in the governor’s proposed budget, the state Legislature’s non-partisan policy advisor recommended.

The Legislative Analyst’s Office on Tuesday reported that the $411 million should be used for a variety of general purposes in the current spending year and the one that begins July 1.

Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris, who reached the settlement with other state chief law officers, wanted to use about one-tenth of the $411 million to defray her department’s legal costs and the balance on mortgage-related financial counseling and education.

The bulk of California’s share of the settlement money, $17.6 billion, is not being sought by Gov. Jerry Brown. The funds are earmarked to provide direct benefits to homeowners trying to lower payments on their mortgages. It also will cover damages for borrowers who were unfairly or illegally foreclosed upon during the recession of 2007-09 and its aftermath.

But Brown announced that he wants to use the $411 million to pay interest on housing bonds and to fund housing anti-discrimination programs.

In a report to lawmakers, the analyst’s office report stressed that grabbing the settlement money “makes sense given the state’s fiscal situation” because “the settlement provides damages that were awarded directly to the state that are not being held in trust for particular individuals.”

Howard Berman, Brad Sherman jockey over credit for 405 Freeway expansion

Congressmen Howard Berman and Brad Sherman – locked in a heated congressional race – tussled Tuesday over which politician is responsible for the recent expansion of the 405 Freeway.

Both politicians helped secure funds for the 405 widening near the Ventura (101) Freeway, but it’s unclear which did more of the heavy lifting to make the expansion a reality.

Berman appeared Tuesday at a press event overlooking the traffic-clogged 405 to argue he was responsible for securing $130 million in federal funds that kick-started the project.

“It was a great victory,” Berman said, looking down at the 405 from atop the Sherman Oaks Galleria. “(Valley residents) might not feel that victory now, but when this project is completed, they will see the wisdom.”

The highway widening, planned decades ago, has become an unexpected campaign issue between Berman and Sherman.

The two longtime incumbent Democrats are pitted against each other in the June 5 primary after the redistricting process put them both in the same 30th Congressional District. The race also includes Republican candidates Mark Reed and Susan Shelley. The top two vote-getters will move on to the general election in November.

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters’ Daily video:Prop. 29 would raise over $700 million a year

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Apr 04 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: April 4, 2012

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Santa Monica, California

Good Wednesday morning!

The California Legislature is adjourned for Spring/Easter break and will resume on April 9, 2012.

On to today’s California headlines:

Santa Monica College to probe campus police use of pepper spray on students

Santa Monica College officials plan to launch an investigation into a clash in which campus police used pepper spray on a group of disgruntled students outside a Board of Trustees meeting, a college spokesman said today.

About 30 students were treated for pepper spray exposure outside a board meeting room Tuesday evening, and three people were taken to hospitals, said Capt. Judah Mitchell of the Santa Monica Fire Department.

More than 100 students converged Tuesday evening on the meeting room where the trustees and several college administrators were discussing a two-tiered system of fees due to go into effect this summer, significantly increasing the cost of attending the college, said Patty Del Valle, a counselor at the college.

The meeting room was too small to hold all the students expected to attend, so an adjacent overflow room was opened, equipped with a closed-circuit video link, said college Public Information Officer Bruce Smith.

But the students wanted to express their displeasure in person, and when some of them attempted to get into the board meeting room, police used pepper spray on them, he said.

The pepper spraying and what led to it will be the subject of an investigation, according to Smith, who said officials of the two-year college probably would issue a statement and possibly hold a news conference today.

Campus police tried to limit the number of students inside the board meeting room to about 12 or 13 people, Del Valle said. Some students shouted “Shame on you,” and “Let us in.”

“The crowd was very spirited . There was some degree of turmoil,” Smith said, adding that no arrests were made.

Mitchell estimated about 200 students came to the meeting to protest. Smith put the number at a little over 100.


Proposition 8 campaign architect leaves Sacramento firm

Sacramento political consultant Frank Schubert, who guided Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage to victory in 2008, announced today that he is leaving the firm he founded.

Schubert suggested his advocacy for conservative causes — opposing abortion rights and same-sex marriage — was hindering Schubert Flint Public Affairs’ work with corporate clients.

Schubert was back in the news this year with the release of “Question One — The Battle for Same-Sex Marriage in America,” a documentary about his work on the Maine ballot measure to repeal a same-sex marriage law passed by the Legislature in 2009.

Schubert said his new company — Mission: Public Affairs LLC — will work on national “conservative and social issues.”

Besieged California marijuana advocate vows to ‘fight on’

A day after federal agents rousted him from his apartment and seized his famed Oakland cannabis college, a renowned California marijuana advocate said Tuesday he knows “they can indict me any day” and “arrest me any time.”

So Richard Lee, the founder of Oaksterdam University and the architect of an unsuccessful 2010 ballot measure to legalize marijuana for recreational use in California, hid in plain sight Tuesday.

He quietly pushed his wheelchair to the base of San Francisco City Hall, where hundreds of people, waving signs reading “Cannabis is Medicine,” barely noticed him as speakers made fiery condemnations of a months-long U.S. government crackdown on medical marijuana businesses in the state.

The rally, scheduled before Monday’s raid of Lee’s properties, was staged to protest property forfeiture letters targeting landlords of medical marijuana dispensaries in San Francisco. Members of the city’s Board of Supervisors promised to expedite permits for marijuana stores seeking to reopen in new locations if they are closed by the U.S. government.

Meanwhile, the crowd, which later marched on the nearby U.S. courthouse here, chanted, “Stop the war on Oakland!”

California: Brad Sherman Leads Howard Berman in Internal Poll

An internal poll for California Rep. Brad Sherman found him ahead of fellow Democratic Rep. Howard Berman by 27 points in a potential general election matchup that is expected to be a close race as November nears.

Sherman took 52 percent to 25 percent for Berman, while 23 percent remained undecided in the poll conducted by the Feldman Group. In the top-two primary, Sherman led with 40 percent, followed by Berman with 17 percent and Republican businessman Mark Reed with 12 percent. Another Democrat, two Republicans and a Green Party member totaled 13 percent, while 20 percent were undecided.

The survey of 500 likely primary voters was conducted March 26-28 and had a 4.4-point margin of error. The results were similar to a Feldman Group poll conducted for Sherman in August.

“Sherman remains better known and more popular in the San Fernando Valley, especially in the portion of the district that he represents now, which has almost double the number of voters as Berman’s current district,” Diane Feldman said in a polling memo.

Sherman currently represents just more than half of the redrawn 30th district, which includes the homes of both members of the Foreign Affairs Committee. They opted not to run in neighboring districts to avoid the matchup, and both are likely to advance beyond the June 5 all-party primary and continue the contentious campaign through November.

Enjoy your morning!

Lastly, Dan Walter’s discusses all of that California Lottery money going to California schools:

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Feb 22 2012

CA-30: Sen Barbara Boxer Endorses Rep Howard Berman

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Rep. Howard Berman

California Senator Barbara Boxer has entered the Democratic Party intra-fight in the San Fernando Valley by endorsing Rep. Howard Berman.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-California) has decided to endorse Rep. Howard Berman (D-Valley Village) in his bruising intraparty fight with Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) for a newly drawn San Fernando Valley congressional district seat.

In a letter  to Berman dated Monday, Boxer said she was abandoning her position of neutrality because of a mailer the Sherman campaign sent out which Boxer said “outrageously tries to connect you to the San Bruno tragedy.”

The Sherman campaign sent the mailer to call attention to an independent expenditure by a PG&E, which has contributed $10,000 to support Berman.  PG&E is operating as a “super PAC” — a corporate campaign organization that can spend unlimited amounts for or against candidates so long as they do not coordinate with the candidate they are supporting.  At least one other super PAC has contributed to elect Berman.

Sherman has urged Berman to sign a pledge aimed at neutralizing Super PACs, which Sherman expects to play a big role helping reelect Berman over himself.  Berman so far  has ignored Sherman’s entreaty to “sign the pledge.”

The mailer refers to 2010’s PG&E pipeline explosion in San Bruno that killed eight people, injured others and leveled homes.  “Instead of spending money to make their pipelines safer, PG&E is donating to a Super Pac set up to elected Congressman Howard Berman,” the mailer says.

California’s senior Senator Democrat Dianne Feinstein has already endorsed Rep. Berman.

One has to wonder at this point whether Rep. Brad Sherman may be reconsidering his decision to not move to Thousand Oaks or Oak Park and run in CA-26?

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Feb 20 2012

CA-30: Rep Brad Sherman Will Face Off Against Rep Howard Berman and NOT Move to Thousand Oaks

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Guess Rep. Brad Sherman does not want to move out to Ventura County and will stay put in the Valley.

The congressman isn’t trading Sherman Oaks for Thousand Oaks, according to Sherman’s campaign consultant, Parke Skelton.

“No, Brad Sherman is not running in the 26th,” Skelton said in an email Friday.

So it’s on to Tuesday night, when Sherman and Berman are scheduled to square off in their second debate of the campaign, a forum sponsored by the Jewish Journal.

Republican California State Senator Tony Strickland has to be considered the front-runner in the CA-26 race (Ventura County) and will face NO incumbent Congressional incumbent.

Looks like this seat will remain Republican.

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Feb 13 2012

Flap’s California Morning Collection: February 13, 2012

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Paradise Falls in Wildwood Park, Thousand Oaks, California

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

On to today’s California headlines:

Bennett’s departure from House race clears field for new frontrunner

After Supervisor Steve Bennett’s dramatic decision Saturday night to end his campaign for the House, county Democrats left the state party convention Sunday wondering whether one of the three remaining announced candidates will emerge as a clear frontrunner or whether a new candidate will step in to try to fill that role.

Assemblywoman Julia Brownley, D-Santa Monica, whose district includes much of Oxnard and Port Hueneme, said she “will be taking a very serious look” at entering the race, and former Ventura Mayor Richard Francis also is reconsidering a potential candidacy.

“It’s fluid,” said Democratic strategist Garry South, who is advising the campaign of Westlake Village businessman David Cruz Thayne. “Bennett was clearly the heavyweight in the race — at least the best-known candidate. And now it’s very late to be jumping into a race for Congress.”

California Democrats take shots at Republicans – and each other

For California Democrats attending the state party’s annual convention here over the weekend, the mission for 2012 was clear: deliver victory to President Barack Obama and win enough congressional seats to give the speaker’s gavel back to Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

“We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines,” state Attorney General Kamala Harris said during a Saturday address to delegates. “We need to do whatever is necessary, day and night, night and day, to return President Barack Obama to the White House.”

While California is considered safely in Obama’s column this year, party leaders and elected officials roused delegates with talk of the 2012 “battleground” election here in the Golden State, touting opportunities to pick up newly drawn and GOP-held districts to help House Democrats get the 25 seats they need to reclaim the majority.

“This is the most important election that we have to deal with,” Pelosi told delegates Friday. “We have to swing for the fences.”

But in an election year when new districts and legislative turnover are producing fierce primary contests, some of the sharpest shots were fired at rivals in the same room.

“Don’t let the super PACs control this race,” Rep. Brad Sherman said of campaign committees formed in support of fellow Democratic Rep. Howard Berman Saturday, echoing the line of attack Pelosi used against Republicans for much of the weekend.

The remark came as the two San Fernando Valley Democrats vied for votes to win the party’s endorsement in the 30th Congressional District contest, one of 16 races where the party’s endorsement was still up for debate heading into the three-day convention.

The fight between the Berman and Sherman camps was the battle royale of the weekend, culminating with the two exchanging verbal blows in front of a crowd of several hundred delegates assigned to the district gathered to make a recommendation.

“By the way,” Berman shot back during the meeting. “Do you find it slightly pathetic that a guy who represents twice as much of the (newly drawn) district, started with $2 million more in cash on hand, finds it necessary this early in the campaign to spend all his time attacking and distorting his opponent’s record? Maybe a little insecurity here?”

Sherman came out ahead, but failed to hit the 60 percent threshold needed to be eligible for the endorsement. While talk of a challenge was rampant Saturday evening – Sherman declared he had a handwriting expert on hand in case the integrity of some ballots was in question – no endorsement was made in the race.

L.A. Coliseum Commission officials cash in on unused sick leave

Top officials at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum have shown a knack for banking healthy chunks of unused sick leave on the public payroll — in one case, about 35 years’ worth.

Interim General Manager John Sandbrook, a retired University of California administrator, used the sick leave allotment for most of his university career to boost his annual pension by $655 a month for life, to nearly $183,000, UC figures show. The increase represents 418 days — the quota for all but two of his roughly 37 years within the system, which allows 12 sick days a year.

Sandbrook, 62, was hired by the Coliseum Commission to help stop spending abuses at the scandal-shadowed stadium, which is operated jointly by the city, county and state. The man he replaced last year, Patrick Lynch, left with more than nine years of accrued sick time, adding $1,630 annually to his retirement benefits, according to city and state records.

The practice is allowed under state rules but “smacks of pension spiking,” said David Kline, vice president of the California Taxpayers Assn. “I guarantee you will never find a private company that will allow any employee to accrue more than 30 years of unused sick time.”

California lawmaker to seek reelection after year in Afghanistan

Assemblyman Jeff Gorell of Camarillo needn’t worry about those contesting his reelection challenging any of his votes during the last year. That is because he has spent the time out of the country, serving on active duty in Afghanistan.

Gorell, a Naval Reservist, took office in December 2010 and left three months later for a one-year tour of duty as an intelligence officer overseas. He does not return until March 18, so on Friday his wife, Laura, stood in for him and announced her husband’s plans to seek reelection this year.

“Jeff is very excited to be coming home in March to resume representing his constituents in the state Assembly,” Laura Gorell said in a statement.

My California Assemblyman Jeff Gorell

Enjoy your morning!

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