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Governor Jerry Brown Takes Action to Try to Lower California Gas Prices


Sign of California Gas Prices

This is a screencap from last night and I understand prices have gone up even more this morning!

Californians are hurting with gasoline prices spiraling upward seemingly out of control. Now, California Governor Jerry Brown is taking emergency action to try to lower prices.

Gov. Jerry Brown took “emergency steps” Sunday to try to bring down record gas prices in the state.

He directed the California Air Resources Board to increase the fuel supply by allowing the immediate sale and import of cheaper and more available winter-blend gasoline.

The move would reduce the price of gas in California by 15 to 20 cents per gallon, probably within a few days, said energy expert Chris Faulkner of Dallas-based Breitling Oil and Gas.

“This would immediately increase the supply of gasoline in California,” Faulkner said, but he cautioned that it would take a few days for the governor’s move to be reflected at the pump.

“Gas goes up quickly and comes down slowly,” Faulkner said.

Winter-blend gasoline is a mixture that evaporates more quickly than gas sold in summer months. It’s considered more detrimental to air quality during warm weather.

Winter-blend gasoline typically isn’t sold until after Oct. 31.

I don’t mean to sound cynical, but Jerry Brown, a captive of the environmental lobby, really wants his tax increase measure, California Proposition 30, to pass in November. Voters would be less likely to vote for a sales tax increase if they are paying more for gasoline.

Of course, I doubt that Prop. 30 will pass anyway since Californians are not apt to increase their taxes in the horrible California economy.

Here is a video report from a local Los Angeles television station:


SD-27: Fran Pavley Leads Todd Zink in Fundraising


Democrat California State Senator Fran Pavley

In the critical California State Senate District 27, incumbent Senator Fran Pavley leads Republican challenger Todd Zink in fundraising.

Senate Republican leaders  are plowing money into the campaign of prosecutor Todd Zink for the 27th Senate District contest, but he continues to significantly trail in fundraising behind Democratic Sen. Fran Pavley of Agoura Hills, according to newly filed finance reports.

In a battleground district that Democrats hope will help them win a two-thirds Senate majority in November, the State Democratic Party and its leaders are countering with help of their own.

Zink, a deputy district attorney from Westlake Village, reported the maximum contributions of $3,900 each from Republican Sens. Bob Huff of Diamond Bar (the minority leader), Tom Harman of Huntington Beach and Tom Berryhill of Modesto, as well as loans for the same amount from Sens. Bill Emmerson of Hemet and Anthony Canella of Ceres.

The money helped Zink raise $76,165 from May 20 to June 30, ending the period with $81,051 in his campaign account. Pavley reported raising $111,416 during the same period, ending the period with $832,887 in the bank.

California Democrats really want this Senate seat to obtain the 2/3’rd majority in order to raise California taxes at will.

While the demographics for a GOP candidate are not bad, Zink is relatively unknown in the district and Pavley has been doing many events in the more conservative areas of Simi Valley.

This may be a close race despite the 10 to 1 money advantage by Pavley, but I suspect not.


Flap’s California Morning Collection: June 20, 2012


Redwood National Park, California

Good Wednesday 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.

On to today’s California headlines:

Vote remains close on Prop. 29 tobacco tax ballot initiative

The vote count for the June 5 tobacco tax ballot initiative remained tight Tuesday as elections officials across California continued tallying hundreds of thousands of uncounted ballots.

The measure, Proposition 29, was losing by 17,534 votes – or four-tenths of 1% — a gap that narrowed from 63,000 on election night, according to the California secretary of state’s office.

More than 4.9 million ballots already have been counted across the state. The secretary of state’s office estimates that, as of Tuesday morning, just over 370,000 ballots across that state remained uncounted. Shortly after the primary, there were more than a million uncounted ballots statewide.

The uncounted ballots consist of many cast by mail, as well as provisional and damaged ones.

Approved state budget still not a done deal

Majority Democrats may be able to crow over producing an on-time state budget, but that’s like claiming a trophy at half-time.

Though the Legislature passed the budget Friday, Gov. Jerry Brown and leading Democrats are still immersed in private talks to close out a number of divisive issues before they can seal the final deal.

Among those: So-called “trigger” cuts that would be automatically imposed if voters in November reject tax hikes, how to potentially erase 15 days from the school calendar, a 5 percent pay cut for thousands of state workers and ways to cushion blows to the poor and disabled.

Democratic leaders say their goal is to act on about 20 bills needed to implement the budget in the coming days, perhaps as soon as Thursday. Brown, also a Democrat, is reportedly sitting on the main budget bill until he sees the other so-called “trailer” bills. Then he can take his blue pencil and make deeper cuts, if necessary.

Brown has until June 27 to make up his mind on the budget and line-item spending vetoes.

Same-day voter registration bill moves forward in Legislature

Election seasons come and go, and with them public attention to the political process waxes and wanes.

“The really heartbreaking fact of the matter is that a lot of the excitement kicks in about two weeks before Election Day. But by then it’s too late, and a lot of people are left sitting on the sidelines,” said Kim Alexander, president and founder of the nonpartisan California Voter Foundation. “If we can engage people when they’re excited, we have an opportunity to create a lifelong voter.”

The Legislature on Tuesday moved closer toward embracing one way to help Californians seize that moment by allowing voter registration to take place through Election Day — an approach that has sparked sharp partisan divisions in the past.

On a party-line vote, with majority Democrats in support, the Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee approved a bill to allow same-day voter registration as soon as a new statewide computerized database is operational. The system will let elections officials check the status of all voters statewide.

The measure — AB 1436, by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, D-Los Angeles — has been approved by the Assembly and next heads to the Senate Public Safety Committee, which must consider the bill because it would increase the maximum penalty for voter fraud.

UCLA forecast: Economy to lag 3 more years — High unemployment, slow growth impede progress

California’s long slow slog out of the Great Recession will continue for at least three more years amid tepid job growth and persistent high unemployment, according to a forecast released today.

And there is a critical component still missing in the state and national economies, said the quarterly UCLA Anderson Forecast.

“There has been no recovery,” economist Edward Leamer, the forecast director, lamented in his outlook for the nation.

The problem is that growth in both gross domestic product and jobs has been weak since the recession ended in the second quarter of 2009.

“More of the same is in the cards, although the housing market is turning around, promising there will be growth in the years ahead, even with frugal consumers and frugal governments holding things back,” Leamer said.

He points out that in each of the previous 10 recessions, GDP — the value of goods and services produced in the U.S. — returned to its previous peak within two years. This time it has taken almost four years.

He forecasts GDP growth of 2.4 percent by the end of next year, increasing to 3.4 percent by the end of 2014.

Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist at the Kyser Center for Economic Research at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., said that the state and local economies will likely play out as UCLA predicts.

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters’ Daily video:’Two blows for open government’


Flap’s California Morning Collection: June 19, 2012


Yosemite, 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.

Vice President Joe Biden is in California today.

Vice President Joe Biden will hit California today to keynote the 40th Annual International Convention of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, in Los Angeles. AFSCME is celebrating its 75th anniversary.

Then he’ll travel north for a fundraiser at Sacramento’s Sutter Club. Tickets for the event, to raise money for the Obama Victory Fund, start at $500.

On to today’s California headlines:

California Dems resist Gov. Brown’s welfare plans

California legislators may have passed a budget, but Democratic leaders and Gov. Jerry Brown are fighting to a standoff over his proposal to restructure the state’s welfare program.

Brown is pressuring the Legislature for deeper cuts amid a projected $15.7 billion shortfall. Negotiations continued Monday with Democratic lawmakers resisting Brown’s proposal to reduce welfare spending, one of many issues still to be resolved before the state’s spending plan can be implemented.

Brown, a Democrat, wants to emphasize getting people back to work, while reducing aid for parents who aren’t meeting requirements under CalWORKS, the state’s welfare-to-work program. The governor’s office says his plan would save $880 million.

But Democrats say it’s foolish to pay for job training when there aren’t enough jobs to go around. They would rather preserve cash grants.

“It is inefficient and, quite frankly, foolish, to invest in training for jobs that don’t exist,” Assembly Speaker John Perez said last week before passing the initial budget plan.

Democrats want to extend existing cuts on county work training and child care assistance programs, but the move would save $428 million—less than half of Brown’s proposal.

Their differences on welfare remain a major sticking point as Democratic leaders seek the governor’s approval this week on bills that must be resolved before the budget can take effect.

Need a shoe shine? Assemblyman Das Williams will do it

In need of a shoe shine?

Assemblyman Das Williams is at your service.

The Santa Barbara Democrat is inviting his donors to get their footwear polished and fixed at Russo’s Shoe Repair across from the state Capitol tomorrow.

“They’re just one of those places that, I bring them a pair of shoes that looks like it’s on death’s door and they make ’em look magical,” said Williams, who is even offering to shine some himself.

An invitation touts the 5 p.m. fundraiser as a birthday celebration, but this party favor doesn’t come cheap.

Tickets to the event, which benefits Williams’ re-election bid, start at $1,000, though he says he’s letting invitees come for less.

Das Williams Shoe Shine Event

California schools facing shorter year

Sydney Walker is scared. She is worried her children, who attend San Juan Unified schools, won’t be prepared for college or classes next year if state lawmakers allow school districts to cut the school year by as many as 15 days.

That could shorten the school year to 160 days – tying California with Colorado for the shortest school year, and well below the national norm of 180 days.

Walker says she knows families who would have trouble finding child care if districts cut school days.

That’s what lawmakers are counting on, according to many education experts.

They say Gov. Jerry Brown, who proposed the shortened school year, and Democratic legislators are using the issue to get California residents to vote for a tax initiative in November.

Will the state budget wrap this week?

Only in Sacramento could lawmakers meet the deadline for passing a budget and still not have a spending plan.

Yet that’s where we are today after Democrats in the Legislature approved a $92 billion budget on Friday (to ensure they kept getting paid), but failed to take up the budget trailer bills necessary to actually implement the spending plan pending more negotiations with Gov. Jerry Brown.

The sticking point is CalWORKs, the state’s welfare-to-work program. The governor wants more cuts. The Democrats in the Legislature don’t.

Brown has until June 27 to sign or veto the budget plan approved by the Legislature. That gives the governor and Legislature nine days to cut a deal, or else lawmakers will have to approve a new budget package. The state’s new fiscal year starts July 1.

Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said he hopes to have it all wrapped up this week.

“It is certainly my goal — and I’m just, you know, one spoke on the wheel here — to get this wrapped up within several days,” he said. “That’s what I’m hopeful for. That’s what we’ll work towards and, you know, I’m relatively confident that we’ll be able to do so.”

Steinberg added: “We’re very close. We’re only a couple hundred million dollars apart. And when you consider past budgets and the gulf that existed in those negotiations long into July and August and September, this is different and I think it is better.”

Enjoy your morning and Dan Walters’ Daily video: ‘There’s a lot of waiting going on…’


Flap’s California Morning Collection: May 30, 2012


Fallbrook, California

Good Wednesday 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.

California Governor Jerry Brown will address County Supervisors.

Gov. Jerry Brown is scheduled to take his pitch for his compromise tax measure to the California State Association of Counties, whose members are in Sacramento today and Thursday for a legislative conference.

Brown is also expected to discuss his revised budget proposal at a luncheon scheduled at the Hyatt Regency across L Street from the Capitol, according to the program agenda for the event.

County supervisors will also be talking about realignment of health and human services as well as the end of redevelopment agencies.

Other listed speakers at the CSAC conference include Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Senate Republican leader Bob Huff, and Brown adviser Diane Cummins, all of whom address a general session starting at 8:30 a.m.

On to today’s California headlines:

The Board of Equalization is holding a public hearing on implementing last year’s Assembly Bill 155, re: Amazon Tax.

The Board of Equalization, meanwhile, is holding a public hearing on implementing last year’s Assembly Bill 155, the compromise legislation on collecting sales tax from and other Internet retail operations.

Alert readers will remember that Amazon agreed to drop its efforts to put a measure on the ballot in exchange for the state delaying collection of that tax until Sept. 15 of this year — that is, unless Congress comes up with a deal by July 31. (Capitol Alert is not holding its breath.) The meeting starts at 10 a.m. at 450 N St. Click here to read the agenda.

Romney Mines for California Gold in Hillsborough and Beverly Crest

While the Democrats have been busy mining Hollywood for campaign contributions, the Republicans’ presumptive nominee — La Jolla’s own Mitt Romney — will drop into both Northern and Southern California on Wednesday and Thursday for fundraisers thrown by some of the state’s GOP high rollers.

Thursday’s event is set for the art-filled Beverly Crest mansion of billionaire investor and philanthropist Tony Pritzker, heir to the Hyatt Hotels fortune. The 7:30 p.m. gathering is a dinner for the candidate with tickets going for $50,000 per couple. As with previous Romney fundraisers in Los Angeles, there likely will be a few Hollywood names and a large showing by the investment and finance communities.

Wednesday’s fundraiser is notable for site alone: The spectacular Carolands Chateau in the old-money Bay Area enclave of Hillsborough. Romney’s hosts include the home’s owners — Charles Bartlett Johnson, the billionaire investor and heir to the Templeton Franklin fortune, and his wife, Dr. Anne Johnson — along with former Secretary of State George Schultz and ex-California Gov. Pete Wilson.

The event’s co-chairs are a who’s who of the Northern California finance and technology elite, including Seagate CEO Steve Luczo, HP honcho and former gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman (who made her bones at eBay), Cisco director Brian Halla, private-equity chief Dick Boyce, Goldman Sachs’ Brad DeFoor, Pacific Private Equity’s Grant Finlayson and Romney’s one-time Bain Capital partner, Vince Tobkin.

Richard Riordan launches effort to court Latinos for GOP

Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard J. Riordan’s political moderation and penchant for reaching across party lines hasn’t always sat well with many of his fellow California Republicans. They’ve long derided him as a “RINO” (Republican In Name Only) and soundly rejected him for a more conservative pol when he ran for the GOP nomination for governor in 2002.

Now the wealthy businessman and philanthropist is playing the maverick again. He’s launched a campaign aimed at coaxing Latinos into the Republican fold — and he’s doing it without the state party’s involvement.

On Memorial Day, Riordan launched a radio ad campaign  under the auspices of Republicans Rebuilding California, a new political action committee he funded. The PAC will neither support specific candidates nor work with the party but is asking Latinos to consider “the Republican values: jobs, education and safety.”

Riordan has spent $43,000 on ads on bilingual and Spanish-language radio stations in areas where Republicans are in competitive races and there are large Spanish-speaking populations. They include Riverside, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties and the Central Valley communities of Modesto, Stockton and Bakersfield, according to a spokeswoman for the new organization.

California Senate passes framework for sports betting

The California state Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved legislation that would legalize sports betting in California if federal law is also amended.

Senate Bill 1390, by Sens. Roderick Wright, D-Inglewood, and Joel Anderson, R-Alpine, would make such betting legal at currently licensed gambling establishments, horse racing tracks or satellite wagering facility. The bill would not make betting legal anywhere that does not already have a license.

Federal law now prohibits these wagers, but Wright said he believes it “will be amended.”

“When this law is changed, and we believe it will be, you want California to be in the position to move forward with this,” he said.

Enjoy your morning!