Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

October 13, 2011
California's Center for Governmental Studies to close

Leaders of California's Center for Governmental Studies announced today that the nonprofit think tank will close its doors after nearly three decades in existence.

"The recession has depleted our funding, and we cannot continue to operate CGS in its present form. The CGS board and leadership have therefore reluctantly concluded that it is necessary to close," CEO Tracy Westen and President Bob Stern said in a statement released today.

The Los Angeles-based nonpartisan center, founded in 1983, focused on governance and campaign issues, proposing reforms and promoting the use of technology to increase participation in the political process. It has produced more than 70 books and reports on various topics, including campaign finance, election systems and the initiative process.

October 13, 2011
Jerry Brown defends school tests he once sought to overhaul

BEVERLY HILLS - Gov. Jerry Brown said this afternoon that the school testing program he proposed overhauling in last year's gubernatorial campaign is a "good system" he is not inclined to dramatically revise.

The Academic Performance Index system, the Democratic governor said, is "a good one, and now what we have to do is use it."

Brown's remarks, at Milken Institute's State of the State Conference at The Beverly Hilton, came after a rift between Brown and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg on education policy surfaced Saturday, when Brown vetoed legislation in which the Sacramento Democrat sought to change how the state measures school performance, expanding measurements to include such factors as career readiness and graduation and promotion rates.

The legislation was a priority of Steinberg's and might have been an easy fit for Brown. Brown had said in his campaign education plan that the state's testing system was expensive and time-consuming and that "tests should not measure factoids as much as understanding."

In his education plan, Brown said, "state tests should be linked to college preparation and career readiness, but current tests were not designed to do this."

Though Brown said this afternoon that the system needs "some improvements," he defended it.

"I think the API is a good system," he said. "That's why I vetoed Steinberg's bill, because it would have marginalized the API."

In vetoing Steinberg's bill, Brown suggested establishing a system of local panels to observe teachers and examine student work, among other things, a position he reiterated today.

"I think we've reached a point where we have the testing assessment regimes pretty well in place," Brown said. "Now what we have to have is more on-site evaluation of teachers, following the model of accreditation."

October 13, 2011
Jerry Brown says pension changes will require public vote

BEVERLY HILLS - Gov. Jerry Brown said this afternoon that he will propose pension changes requiring a constitutional amendment and a public vote, though he declined to discuss them in any detail.

"You'll get all the details very soon," Brown told reporters after speaking at the Milken Institute's State of the State Conference at The Beverly Hilton.

The Democratic governor is expected next year to seek voter approval of tax increases. It was unclear if the measures would be paired.

Brown, who has said for weeks that he would propose a package of pension changes this fall, said today that "some of them will take constitutional changes."

He said, "There's no question that we're going to have to adjust our pensions so that the money coming in is going to be equal to what we can expect the money going out will be."

Brown, 73, was applauded when he said on stage, "I could actually probably say that I won't take my pension until I solve the pension problem."

Later, he said he was kidding.

"It might take me 10 or 20 years to get the job done," Brown told reporters. "I thought it would be a good challenge, but I don't want to make that challenge without a little more deliberative thought."

October 13, 2011
Former assemblyman to run again after five-year absence

After a five-year absence, former Assemblyman Rudy Bermudez will run next year for a seat in the lower house representing a newly drawn, predominantly Democratic district in Southern California.

"I still believe that I can make a difference," said Bermudez, a Norwalk Democrat who announced his candidacy Thursday.

Bermudez, initially elected to the Assembly in 2002, abandoned his seat in 2006 after failing to secure a state Senate post. He lost in the Democratic primary to Ron Calderon of Whittier, who won the seat and was re-elected last year.

Bermudez, a 30-year law enforcement and parole officer, is expected to be challenged for the 57th District Assembly seat next year by another Calderon, Ian, the son of current Assemblyman Chuck Calderon, D-Whittier.

Bermudez, if elected next year, could serve only two years in the lower house. His resume includes stints on the Norwalk City Council and school board.

Charles Calderon will be termed out of the Assembly next year and cannot run for the newly drawn 57th District seat.

The 57th District stretches from Norwalk and South Whittier to South El Monte and La Habra Heights. Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 20 percentage points.

Bermudez and Calderon are the only two Democrats who have reported any significant fundraising for the seat. Their coffers in July contained about $50,000 and $8,000, respectively, records show.

October 13, 2011
Gavin Newsom accuses California of growing lazy about jobs

BEVERLY HILLS - Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, continuing to press his jobs plan at an economic conference this morning, said California has been held back by a lackadaisical attitude about job creation that began long before the flagging economy's most recent downturn.

"We cleaned everyone's clock, we left everyone in the dust between 1950 and 1980 in California," Newsom said at the Milken Institute's State of the State Conference at The Beverly Hilton. "The last 30 years, we put up our legs, we sat back. We're like the aging high school football player who talks about the good ol' days."

He said the state has also suffered from partisanship in Sacramento.

"It's tribal," he said. "Democrats, Republicans."

Newsom, a Democrat, this summer proposed a jobs plan that included re-opening California's foreign trade offices and creating a Cabinet-level economic development office and "strike teams" to address regulatory and permitting matters. Newsom said the trade offices, disbanded in 2003, could be financed privately.

"There are so many things we can do where money is not the issue," he said. "The money's out there. What we lack are new ideas."

Newsom's jobs plan this year was overshadowed by Gov. Jerry Brown's own jobs agenda, including a legislative package that was largely defeated by Republican lawmakers.

Newsom will be upstaged again today. Brown, a Democrat, is scheduled for a one-on-one discussion with Michael Milken here this afternoon.

October 13, 2011
AM Alert: Jerry Brown goes one-on-one with Michael Milken

Gov. Jerry Brown, always good for an entertaining quote, will have plenty of opportunity today to wax eloquent on the state's budget and economy.

He'll participate in a one-on-one discussion with Michael Milken, who went on to become a philanthropist and anti-cancer crusader after his conviction for securities fraud, at the Milken Institute's 13th Annual State of the State Conference.

No webcast available, unfortunately, but The Bee's David Siders will be there - watch Capitol Alert for updates on the event, which begins at 1 p.m. at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Later, Brown will swear in Peter Gravett as secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs at the West Los Angeles Veterans Home.

In the week that California marked the 100th anniversary of the initiative, the Field Poll has a new poll examining opinions about the process.

One key finding: Seven in ten California voters now believe they are more likely than elected officials to "consider the broad public interest in making decisions about state
government policies and laws."

Just 42 percent said the same in 1982.

Click here to find the full poll, and here for tabulations produced exclusively for Capitol Alert.

CSU PRESIDENTS' PAY: The CSU Board of Trustees' Special Committee on Presidential Selection and Compensation will meet in Long Beach today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today as it works on developing its recommendations.

You can listen live to the audio stream here.

FRAUD VICTIMS: California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, unhappy about the way a state fund for corporate fraud victims is working, will hold a news conference today to call on Secretary of State Debra Bowen to stop delaying payments. The event is set for 10:30 a.m. on the north steps of the state Capitol.

CAKE & CANDLES: Happy Birthday to Sen. Bob Dutton, R-Rancho Cucamonga, who turns 61 today.


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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