Tag: Howard Berman

Flap’s California Morning Collection: February 7, 2012


Hearst Castle, San Simeone, California

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

On to today’s California headlines:

Competing California tax measures move ahead without Brown’s blessings

Gov. Jerry Brown had hoped that by now, he’d have the field all to himself in his appeal to voters for new taxes.

But Brown, whose plan would raise income taxes on those making $250,000 or more and hike the sales tax by a half cent, is feeling the heat from the left: two other groups who are seeking to place tax-hike initiatives on the November ballot made it clear Monday they are in the race for the long haul.

The campaign to raise taxes on millionaires, headed by the California Federation of Teachers, kicked off its signature-gathering campaign with rush-hour banner displays on highway overpasses throughout California. And wealthy civil rights attorney Molly Munger gave a full-throated defense of her separate tax-hike initiative at the California PTA’s state conference, promising she’d reach into her own deep pockets to ensure a win on behalf of schools.

“We’re going to get this on the ballot and we’re going to win, too,” Munger told reporters after addressing the PTA group, “because we’re prepared to not only get on the ballot but be sure it has a very strong campaign behind it.”

Another group with a tax-hike plan, Think Long, headed by billionaire Nicolas Berggruen, recently backed off from its ballot measure plans, a relief to Brown.

While the governor has said he worries that more than one tax-hike initiative could doom them all because of potential confusion among voters, people from both campaigns said they

believe more than one tax hike can survive November.

California: AFSCME Picks Berman Over Sherman

Rep. Howard Berman (Calif.) has won the endorsement of a second major labor union in the last month for his primary battle with fellow Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman.

The California arm of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees announced it is backing Berman, who “has been a tireless advocate for the rights of public employees, defending workers’ rights in the courtroom as a labor lawyer and working to achieving collective bargaining rights for thousands of California public employees during his tenure in the state Legislature,” said Barbara Blake, an executive board member.

Initiative would make Legislature part time, slash its pay

A proposal by Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) probably won’t make her many friends among her colleagues. She wants to reduce the Legislature to part-time status and cut its pay from $95,000 annually to $1,500 a month.

Grove is one of the organizers of an initiative that was approved Monday to begin circulating petitions toward qualifying for the ballot. The constitutional amendment would limit regular legislative sessions to 30 days each January and 60 days starting each May. In odd-numbered years, the legislative sessions would be devoted to budget issues.

In addition to slashing lawmakers’ pay, the measure would limit employment while they are in office. State financial officials say it could cut lawmakers’ salaries, travel and living expenses and staff costs by tens of millions of dollars annually.

Feds block cuts to California’s Medi-Cal program

The state’s effort to make Medi-Cal recipients dig into their wallets for co-pays was blocked by the federal government Monday.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration will appeal the decision, said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the California Department of Finance. Unless the decision is reversed, the state will need to shell out an additional $575 million in the next fiscal year, Palmer said.

The state wanted low-income residents using Medi-Cal to pay $5 for doctor visits, $3 for prescriptions and up to $200 for hospital visits.

But the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, which had to approve the change because Medi-Cal is part of the federal MediCaid program, said the state’s plan would violate part of the Social Security Act.

“We recognize the needs of states to keep costs down and are supportive of the goal to promote cost-effective use of health care services,” said Brian Cook, a spokesman for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of Health & Human Services. “We are denying this amendment as it is inconsistent with statute.”

Enjoy your morning!


Flap’s California Morning Collection: January 25, 2012


Hearst Castle, San Simeone, California

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

On to today’s California headlines:

Former GOP Sen. Sam Aanestad considering run for Congress

Former Republican Sen. Sam Aanestad is weighing a run for the Northern California congressional seat being vacated by retiring GOP Rep. Wally Herger.

The Penn Valley Republican said he learned of Herger’s decision after returning home from Mexico, where he had been vacationing without access to his cell phone or lap top, several days ago. Since then, he has been “making phone calls to see if there is any support” for a run for the newly drawn 1st Congressional District.

Aanestad, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2010, said the addition of a new partner at his Grass Valley oral surgery practice has given him the time and flexibility to run. He said the 12 years he spent serving in overlapping state Senate and Assembly districts makes him a good fit for the House district, which runs from Yuba City to the Oregon border.

Jerry Brown’s tax initiative has broad support, poll finds

An overwhelming majority of California voters support Gov. Jerry Brown’s idea of hiking taxes to raise more money for schools, but they’d much rather he ask somebody else to foot the bill.

A new survey from the Public Policy Institute of California found that 68% of likely voters said they support Brown’s idea to raise taxes on sales and upper incomes for five years. Brown is hoping to sell those ideas to voters in a ballot initiative this fall.

But in a separate question, the same voters said they dislike key pieces of Brown’s proposal. While 68% of likely voters said they support raising income taxes for high earners, 64% of those surveyed said they oppose raising the sales tax.

Brown’s tax plan includes both.

The survey reflects data that Brown considered when crafting his tax proposal. Voters are more likely to support tax increases, for example, if those new revenues are earmarked specifically for public schools.

California lawmakers to sue John Chiang over their pay

Democratic legislative leaders sued Controller John Chiang today for blocking their pay during last year’s budget dispute, a decision that drew scorn from lawmakers last summer.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez said the Democratic controller overstepped his bounds when he decided that lawmakers sent Gov. Jerry Brown a flawed budget last June and docked their pay. They said they are not suing for back earnings, but to ask the court whether Chiang can intervene this year if lawmakers face another budget dispute with Brown at the June 15 deadline.

The lawmakers filed in Sacramento Superior Court, hiring Arthur G. Scotland, retired presiding justice of the 3rd District Court of Appeal, as well as the Los Angeles firm Strumwasser & Woocher. The Legislature’s operating budget, financed by tax dollars, will pay for legal costs. Billing rates range from $435 per hour for the two lead attorneys to $130 per hour for a paralegal, according to the leaders’ offices.

Berman skips State of the Union speech to stay in L.A.

Rep. Howard Berman, locked in a contentious race  with fellow Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman for the same San Fernando Valley congressional district seat, isn’t  on hand for the president’s State of Union  speech tonight.   His staff says he’s right here in L.A.,  mixing work with a little campaigning.

While many members of Congress from both sides of the aisle  attend the annual speech and often comment  on it afterward, that’s never been Berman’s style, said Gene Smith, who retired from Berman’s House staff  and took on a new role as his campaign manager.

“Howard’s a workhorse, not a show horse,” Smith said in a gentle swipe at Sherman.

Enjoy your morning!


CA-30: Will Rep Brad Sherman Move to Ventura County?


Democrat Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman

If Democrat Rep. Brad Sherman is smart and wants to remain in the House, he will.

You see, the disagreement between him and Rep. Howard Berman goes back a few years and they have been redistricted into the same CD.

The new Ventura County Congressional District CA-26 is in turmoil with the retirement of GOP Rep. Elton Gallegly last Friday. There will be no incumbent in this race and the POLS are all scrambling.

No less than 7 candidates have expressed interest in the race, including Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett from Ojai, Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks from Thousand Oaks, California State Senator Tony Strickland who lives in Moorpark, two Democrats from Oxnard, one from Moorpark and one from Westlake Village.

It is rumored that environmentalists and the Ventura Public Employee Unions are pressuring Bennett to drop out of the race in favor of the nominally Republican Linda Parks. They are afraid that Bennett’s Supervisoral seat (Ventura, Ojai) will be lost to a Republican (Ventura County Fire Chief Bob Roper). The special interests are correct.

However, Linda Parks, a slow growth, public employee union loving environmentalist is in the second year of her four year term and has a “free ride.” Parks has pledged to run more as an independent than Democrat or Republican.

But, all of these machinations leave a hole for a Democrat who has some campaign cash to burn and this is where Brad Sherman comes in. He has plenty of money and has represented Thousand Oaks before. His former field staffer is former Thousand Oaks Mayor Larry Horner who is still very popular, particularly in the Westlake Village area.

Can Sherman beat Parks et. al in a top two primary?

I believe he could at least spend his way into a second place finish with either Parks or Strickland making the run off.

I don’t think D.C. Democrats will allow this seat to be contested by an independent and a conservative Republican.

So, when will Sherman make the switch? It will have to be soon – filing closes on March 9.


CA-30: Majority of House Democrats Back Rep. Howard Berman Over Rep. Brad Sherman


Democrat Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman

And, with Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett declaring his intention to run in CA-26 which is based primarily in Ventura County last week, Rep. Brad Sherman has no adjoining CD to which to bail. Now, his House Democratic colleagues appear to be abandoning him.

A majority of Democrats in the House’s California delegation have lined up behind Rep. Howard Berman (D-Valley Village) in his clash with fellow Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) for the same seat in Congress, the Berman campaign announced Friday.

Twenty-three of the 34 members of the delegation are backing Berman, who earlier marshaled other prominent Democratic elected officials, including Gov. Jerry Brown and the state’s senior senator, Dianne Feinstein.

“I’m proud to have so many of my California colleagues standing with me,” Berman said. “Our colleagues work day in and day out with Brad and me” and their endorsements show that “I’m more than just another vote or just another voice — I deliver.”

The Sherman campaign, which earlier lined up former President Clinton’s support and that of the Democratic Party of the San Fernando Valley, said it’s not impressed.

This race will be an expensive “Clash of the Titans.”

Two long-time and experienced Democratic POLS with no place to go but run against each other = perfect storm for the GOP.


CA-30 Rep. Howard Berman Hauls in $819 K in Third Quarter Fundraising


Rep. Howard Berman

Democratic Rep. Howard Berman is readying himself for a top-two election clash with Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman.

At least four Members of Congress donated money last quarter to Rep. Howard Berman (Calif.), who is running against fellow Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman in a redrawn Los Angeles-area district.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Jim Moran (D-Va.) were among his list of contributors, which also included big names in the entertainment industry.

Feinstein and Waxman had already announced they were backing Berman in his high-profile matchup with Sherman in the San Fernando Valley, where the two were both drawn into the 30th district. California Gov. Jerry Brown and LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa have also publicly backed Berman.

Berman reported raising $819,000 in the third quarter, and he ended September with almost $2.3 million in cash on hand. Sherman has yet to file his third-quarter report with the Federal Election Commission. Reports are due Oct. 15.

Celebrities and Hollywood producers donating to Berman include: Tom Hanks, his wife, Rita Wilson, Rob Reiner, Stephen Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen.

I continue to maintain, that Brad Sherman will move over to CA-26, if and when Rep. Elton Gallegly announces his retirement. If not, then he will have to choose Berman or the Republican Gallegly as his opponent.