Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

November 1, 2011
GOP senator wants to put high-speed rail back on the ballot

GOP Sen. Doug LaMalfa wants to send California's high-speed rail project back to the ballot in light of revised cost estimates.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority today released a revised business plan projecting that the total cost of the proposed bullet train could be $98.5 billion over 20 years, far exceeding previous estimates.

LaMalfa, a vocal critic of the project, blasted the authority's earlier cost projections and pledges for federal and private dollars for the project, saying authority members and supporters "have known all along that these targets would not be met."

The Richvale Republican said he plans to introduce legislation that would ask California voters to reconsider the $9 billion in bonds approved for the project in 2008. The bill would likely require two-thirds legislative approval.

"The voters were deceived in the original go-around with highly optimistic ridership and cost numbers that have not been born out," LaMalfa said in an interview, adding that the larger figures ""should have been in front of the voters to begin with so they would have the truth."

November 1, 2011
Local officials file initiative to protect future funding

Counties and local law enforcement groups filed an initiative today that would require the state to continue paying them billions of dollars each year for new duties such as housing inmates and overseeing parolees.

The measure, dubbed the "Local Taxpayers, Public Safety and Local Services Protection Act of 2012," does not ask voters to raise taxes. It would enshrine a new arrangement in which California gives local governments a 1.06-cent share of the state sales tax, worth about $5.1 billion, as well as a portion of state vehicle taxes.

The money would pay for the state's "realignment" plan that began Oct. 1, which transferred significant functions to the local level. The most controversial involves redirecting new inmates and parolees to county supervision. Local officials want a constitutional guarantee they will continue receiving money to carry out those duties, as well as functions such as mental health care, substance abuse treatment and child welfare services.

The coalition includes the California State Association of Counties, California State Sheriffs' Association and Chief Probation Officers of California. Leaders of the groups have said that even though their initiative does not include tax hikes, they are still willing to join a broader team of school officials and business leaders working with Gov. Jerry Brown to ask voters for a tax hike next November.

November 1, 2011
Democratic Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani says she is gay

BB BUDGET VOTE 0449 galgiani.JPGDemocratic Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani has publicly come out as a lesbian.

In an interview, the 47-year-old Livingston Democrat told the Stockton Record that it was not until after her 2006 election to the Assembly that she knew she was gay.

Galgiani told the newspaper that she hoped talking about her life would provide support for youth dealing with issues related to their own sexual identity.

"It sickens me that young people would think about taking their lives because of who they are," Galgiani said in the interview.

Galgiani's spokesman confirmed the report, saying the statement came during an interview on high-speed rail and other issues.

Galgiani's announcement brings the total number of openly gay state lawmakers to eight. Her addition would make the Legislature's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Caucus, formed in 2002, the country's largest caucus recognizing openly gay legislators in the country, according to the gay rights advocacy group Equality California

Galgiani, who is termed out of the Assembly next year, is planning to run for a competitive Senate seat in the Central Valley next year. Her opponents in the 5th Senate District race are expected to include Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, R-Ceres, and San Joaquin Supervisor Leroy Ornellas, R-Tracy.


Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani launches state Senate run

PHOTO CREDIT: Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton, casts her vote on the budget cuts portion of the Democratic budget plan during the Assembly floor session, Tuesday Dec. 16, 2008. Brian Baer, Sacramento Bee.

November 1, 2011
Federal lawsuit filed against California congressional maps

Critics of California's new congressional districts are taking their case against the political maps to federal court.

Former GOP Rep. George Radanovich and four other plaintiffs announced today that they will file a lawsuit in federal district court arguing that the lines drawn by the California Citizens Redistricting Commission violate the Federal Voting Rights Act and the 14th Amendment.

The lawsuit, which will likely be filed later this week in Southern California, will argue that California's 14-member commission violated the law by intentionally not creating majority African-American and Latino congressional districts in Los Angeles County when it drafted the state's 53 congressional districts, according to a release.

"The California Redistricting Commission chose to put politics above the law when they drew the new congressional lines," Radanovich said in a statement. "We are confident the Court will agree with us to right this wrong and order new lines to be drawn."

November 1, 2011
High-speed rail officials defend project cost, urge approval

Releasing a business plan this morning that projected it could $98.5 billion over 20 years to build California's high-speed rail project, the California High-Speed Rail Authority sought to remake the project's beleaguered image while pressing the Legislature to let it move forward.

"This plan represents a new day, a new time and a new beginning" for the project, said Tom Umberg, chairman of the rail authority board.

Authority officials lined up to speak to reporters at the California State Railroad Museum. A podium was set up in front of a Northwestern Pacific locomotive, its cow-catcher jutting out.

"High speed rail will be hard to do and hard to accomplish," said Dan Richard, a rail authority board member.

However, he said, it will be "worth it for the citizens of California."

The full report can be read here.

November 1, 2011
Legislative staff member Carlota Gutierrez dies

Gutierrez Carlota.JPGCarlota Gutierrez, a former reporter and legislative staff member, died last week at age 54.

Gutierrez, who worked under three Assembly speakers, had in recent years battled ALS -- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), which is sometimes referred to as "Lou Gehrig's Disease -- a degenerative disease that affects the nervous system.

A paid obituary published in today's Bee recounts her career:

Ms. Gutierrez served as Miss Sacramento, 1978, work as a sports reporter for Univision National Network, San Francisco in 1984 later producer and host for KOVR-TV, Channel 13, Sacramento. She subsequently worked as a media consultant for the California State Legislature with State Assembly Speaker Willie Brown in 1990, then State Assembly Speakers Cruz Bustamante, Antonio Villaraigosa, public liaison for State Treasurer Philip Angelides. After briefly working Western Integrated Network, went back to the State Legislature in 2002 managing media for Senator Liz Figueroa, Senator Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Senate Democratic Caucus. Carlota was very active in the Latino and Asian community and will be sorely missed.

Memorial services have been scheduled for the weekend. For more information, click here to read the full obituary.

November 1, 2011
AM Alert: A pivotal moment for high-speed rail

The California High-Speed Rail Authority seeks to answer its doubters today, unveiling a new business plan at 11 a.m. at a spot that showcases a different kind of train - the California State Railroad Museum.

The Sacramento Press Club, which saw the authority cancel an announcement event twice, has to be feeling snubbed, but at least the visuals will be better. Authority Chair Tom Umberg will be there, along with board members Dan Richard, Mike Rossi and Jim Hartnett, and CEO Roelof van Ark.

Much is riding on the reception to the plan, which needs legislative approval to proceed with building the first phase of the project in the Central Valley.

PARK CLOSURES: Assemblymen Roger Dickinson and Jared Huffman are holding a joint hearing of the Committees on Accountability & Administrative Review and Water, Parks & Wildlife to review plans to shut down 70 state parks - and any efforts to keep them open.

The 9 a.m. hearing in Room 437 at the Capitol will be televised on the California Channel.

ENGLISH LEARNERS: The Senate Select Committee on College and University Admissions and Outreach holds a 10 a.m. hearing today at the Fresno Board of Education on the question of "English proficiency as a barrier to college admission."


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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