Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

October 12, 2011
California remap commission asks for lawsuits to be dismissed

The commission that drew new political districts for California this year has asked the California Supreme Court to toss out lawsuits challenging lines for Congress and the state Senate.

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission's legal response said its maps complied with constitutional requirements and that the lawsuits rely "exclusively on the unsupported factual speculation and legal conclusions of a single, shared 'expert' -- whose preferences they would substitute for the Commission's public process, measured deliberations, and careful exercise of its constitutional mandate."

The commission's lawyers also moved to strike a declaration supporting the lawsuits and filed by Tony Quinn, a GOP consultant and co-author of "The Target Book" guide to California congressional and legislative districts and races, who said the maps were insufficient.

Quinn's opinions, the commission's lawyers responded, in part, are "irrelevant because they consider expressly the effect of redistricting on incumbents and other political candidates, a criterion that the California Constitution prohibited the Commission from considering in its line-drawing process."

October 12, 2011
Bid to reverse California school instruction bill won't qualify

An effort to repeal a new law requiring that California school instruction includes the contributions and role of gay and lesbian individuals has failed.

Opponents of Senate Bill 48 announced today that they fell short of the roughly 504,000 voter signatures needed to qualify a referendum of the law for the 2012 ballot. Today is the deadline for submitting those signatures to election officials.

"In the end, 90 days was too short a time to accomplish such a large task," referendum organizers wrote in an email blast titled "We fought the law and the law won."

SB 48, signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown in July, requires public school instruction to include the role and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, people with disabilities and members of different cultural groups.

The referendum effort, led by Pacific Justice Institute and an arm of Capitol Resource Institute, failed to attract major funding to back their qualification campaign. Organizers sent a flurry of last-minute appeals for volunteers and signatures in recent days, telling supporters yesterday that it would take a "miracle" to collect enough petitions by today's deadline.

October 12, 2011
GOP strategist Marty Wilson joins CalChamber

marty.bmpThe California Chamber of Commerce is beefing up its political team ahead of the 2012 elections, hiring veteran GOP strategist Marty Wilson to lead its campaign operations.

Wilson, who recently served as a top strategist for Republican Carly Fiorina's 2010 U.S. Senate bid, has left his day job as founding partner of Wilson-Miller Communications to become CalChamber's vice president of public affairs.

CalChamber CEO Allan Zaremberg said in a statement that Wilson will "play a key role in CalChamber's focused efforts to identify and support pro-jobs candidates from both political parties who will work to improve California's economy."

"2012 is one of the most important election years in decades, particularly for the California legislature. Their boundary lines have, for the first time, been drawn by a citizens commission rather than themselves and we will have an open primary, due to Proposition 14, where the top two candidates -- regardless of party -- will run off in the general election," Zaremberg said. "In this new political environment, Marty's experience and credibility will be extremely valuable to the business community as we work to identify and elect legislators who will be focused on job creation."

Beth Miller, a founding partner at Wilson-Miller, said the firm "remains focused and committed to providing the extraordinary level of service our clients have come to expect from us."

"Although we will miss him at Wilson-Miller we understand his decision to join the Chamber and work toward creating a better business climate for California," she said in a statement.

It is unclear whether Wilson will retain a financial stake in the firm. Inquiries sent to Miller and the Chamber were not immediately returned.

October 12, 2011
Ami Bera touts fundraising, undeterred by Obama's polling

cdc_ami_bera_2.JPGAs he gears up for a rematch against GOP Rep. Dan Lungren, Democrat Ami Bera says he isn't concerned about the outlook for the Democrat on the top of the ticket next year.

Strong turnout for President Barack Obama could give Bera a boost on the ballot in the Sacramento region's newly drawn 7th Congressional District. Democrats currently hold a less than one-point voter registration advantage over Republicans in the district, which covers area that would have been won by Obama in 2008.

But the president's job approval rating among Californians has dropped to an all-time low of 46 percent, according to the results of a Field Poll released last month. Bera distanced himself from the country's commander-in-chief in an interview today, saying his campaign isn't banking on riding the president's coattails to Washington

"We're not building our race on President Obama. We're building it on the residents who live here," the Elk Grove doctor said. "This has to be about getting Sacramento working again and building the regional economy."

Lungren spokesman Rob Stutzman said while an unpopular president from his party won't help, Bera will have greater challenges to face in his race against his client.

"The problem for Dr. Bera is that he is actually more liberal than the president and does not fit this district well," he said in a message. "At the end of the day it won't be Barack Obama that brings down Dr. Bera, it will be that his view are out of step with the (district)."

Bera, who lost last year's run against Lungren by seven percentage points, announced today that he raised $325,000 in the fundraising period that ended last month, bringing his total cash on hand to $708,000 going into the final quarter of 2011. Lungren has not yet released his fundraising numbers, which must be filed by Oct. 15. The Gold River Republican, who had raised $328,000 as of June 30, will release his figures Friday, Stutzman said.

Bera, who has consistently out-raised his opponent, said he is encouraged by his fundraising figures and the number of small-donors from California chipping in.

"I think folks are just looking for something different," he said.

Editor's note: This post was updated at 9 a.m. on Oct. 13, 2011 with added statements from Rob Stutzman.

PHOTO CREDIT: Congressional candidate Ami Bera talks with supporters Thursday, January 28, 2010 during a small fund-raising party if Fair Oaks. Carl Costas, Sacramento Bee.

October 12, 2011
California cities warn of 'public safety crisis'

As California begins redirecting new inmates and parolees to counties this month, nine big-city mayors are asking the cash-strapped state for money to address a "brewing public safety crisis."

The mayors, including Sacramento's Kevin Johnson and Los Angeles' Antonio Villaraigosa, contend in a letter they sent Thursday to Gov. Jerry Brown that his "realignment" plan will result in higher police costs. Villaraigosa led the charge earlier last week by calling the program "political malpractice" and saying his city needed to move 150 police officers to help the probation department supervise offenders.

The mayors have asked Brown for "an immediate guaranteed funding stream for city-related realignment costs." Cities also want funding as part of a November 2012 ballot initiative being considered by the governor to enshrine realignment dollars in the state constitution, said Villaraigosa spokeswoman Sarah Sheahan.

"On behalf of millions of Californians who reside in our cities, we respectfully request your immediate attention to a brewing public safety crisis that could threaten the success of the recently-launched realignment program," the mayors' letter states. "As a result, we believe the safety of our cities could be at risk."

October 12, 2011
AM Alert: Crime and punishment

The interim policy summit of the day is "Crime & Punishment Revisited: Sentencing in a Post-Plata World," hosted by the UC Davis School of Law beginning at 9 a.m.

Organizers say it's a well-timed event.

California is seeking to navigate the terrain between the U.S. Supreme Court's decision earlier this year in Brown v. Plata - which requires the state to cut its prison population - and the state's budgetary decision to shift responsibility for some offenders to the counties.

Participants include Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, retired Sacramento County Sheriff (and KFBK talk radio host) John McGinness, Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Steve White, Sacramento Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, Dept. of Corrections & Rehabilitation Secretary Matthew Cate and Stuart Drown, executive director of the Little Hoover Commission. Gov. Jerry Brown will be represented by deputy legislative secretary Aaron Maguire.

The event, which ends at 4:30 p.m., will be webcast live at

Local retailers who want online companies to collect sales taxes are in Washington, D.C., where they are urging Congress to develop federal law on the issue.

Legislation to collect the taxes in California, you might remember, is on hold to give all parties time to hammer out a federal solution.

Among the Californians on the trip: Mike Jacubowsky of Chain Reaction Bicycles in Redwood City; Alzada Knickerbocker of The Avid Reader in Davis; Brian Perry of the California Cartridge Company in Visalia and Anne Mery of The Grove in San Diego.

They'll join small business owners from Arkansas, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Utah.

The group will participate in a 1 p.m. ET press conference with Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier of California and Rep. Steve Womack, an Arkansas Republican.

Raman Singh, chief minister of the Indian state of Chhattisgarh, will visit the Capitol to talk to California lawmakers about the Golden State's use of solar energy. He'll be meeting with Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and Brown.


Capitol Alert Staff

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee.

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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