Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

November 15, 2011
Retired Justice Carlos Moreno among Jerry Brown appointees

Gov. Jerry Brown has appointed retired California Supreme Court Justice Carlos Moreno to the California Commission on Access to Justice, a panel that considers ways to improve access to the courts for poor people.

Moreno, 63, retired from the state Supreme Court earlier this year. The Los Angeles Democrat's appointment to the unpaid position was one of 11 appointments Brown's office announced this afternoon.

The other appointments included these:

Caroline Godkin, 38, of Sacramento, appointed deputy director of legislation for the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Godkin, a senior fiscal and policy analyst at the Legislative Analyst's Office since 2008, is to be paid $98,280 a year. She is not registered to vote, Brown's office said.

Deborah Hoffman, 45, of Sacramento, appointed assistant secretary of communications at the California Environmental Protection Agency. Hoffman, communications director for Sen. Fran Pavley since 2009, is to be paid $93,408. She is registered decline-to-state.

Sepideh Khosrowjah, 51, of El Cerrito, appointed policy adviser at the Public Utilities Commission. Khosrowjah, chief of staff and an energy adviser to Public Utilities Commissioner Mike Florio since January, is to be paid $113,736 a year. She is a registered Green Party voter.

Beth Willon, 57, of Sacramento, appointed assistant director of external affairs at the Department of Mental Health. Willon was previously a communication specialist at Lucas Public Affairs and was communications director for Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, when he was lieutenant governor. Willon, a Democrat, is to be paid $103,560 a year.

November 15, 2011
Laurel Rosenhall talks higher education on Capital Public Radio

The University of California regents canceled their meeting this week for fear of violent protests.

California State University trustees could vote on a proposal to raise tuition 9 percent starting in the fall of 2012.

The Bee's Laurel Rosenhall talked to Jeffrey Callison this morning on Capital Public Radio's program "Insight" about California's higher education systems, including the impacts of the Occupy movement, the state's budget cuts and labor issues such as the upcoming faculty strike.

If you missed the show, you can listen to the archived broadcast by clicking here. Her interview is during the first 12 minutes of the show.

November 15, 2011
Assemblywoman Alyson Huber to relocate in bid for third term

Assemblywoman Alyson Huber will move into a neighboring district to seek re-election to a third and final term in the lower house next year.

The El Dorado Hills Democrat, whose district was redrawn recently to tilt strongly to the right, will seek to represent the 8th Assembly District stretching from Citrus Heights south to the Wilton area, spokesman Andrew Acosta said.

Huber, in a written statement today, said that she now represents about 40 percent of the residents in the new 8th District, created by the state's independent redistricting commission.

"I am proud of the work that I have done in the state Assembly and have consistently tried to cross party lines to overcome gridlock and tackle the issues facing our communities and this state," Huber said in the statement.

"It is clear that we will be facing more hard choices in the coming months, but this will not deter me from my fight for sunset review to ensure that the many branches of state government are operating effectively and efficiently," she said.

Democrats have a slight voter registration advantage over Republicans in the 8th District, roughly 40 percent to 38 percent.

No incumbent Assembly member now lives in the district, which includes the cities of Citrus Heights and Rancho Cordova, and the Sacramento County communities of Carmichael, Arden Arcade, North Highlands, Wilton and Rancho Murieta.

Three months ago, Rancho Cordova Councilman Ken Cooley announced plans to seek the 8th District seat but said he would bow out if the 39-year-old Huber opted to relocate and run. He confirmed that position today.

"I strongly support her re-election, and I look forward to working very hard to that end," Cooley said.

Another Democrat, attorney Chris Parker, recently opened a campaign committee to raise cash for an 8th District campaign. Parker, 36, has been an attorney with the Franchise Tax Board since 2004.

Peter Tateishi, chief of staff to Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren, is expected to be among GOP candidates for the new Assembly seat.

* Updated at 2:25 p.m. to add quote from Ken Cooley.

November 15, 2011
VIDEO: Christmas tree arrives at California's Capitol building

The Capitol Christmas tree arrived on the west lawn this morning, hauled in from El Dorado County and lifted from a flatbed truck by crane.

The 40-foot-tall white fir is 15 feet shorter than last year's. It was donated by the U.S. Forest Service's Institute of Forest Genetics. As is customary, the tree will be decorated with hand-crafted ornaments made by people with developmental disabilities.

A tree-lighting ceremony, the Capitol's 80th annual, will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 7.

November 15, 2011
Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi's grand theft case still in limbo

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi must wait a little longer for a preliminary hearing date in her grand theft case.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Gerardo Sandoval, in proceedings lasting only a few minutes Tuesday, continued the felony case until Dec. 7. At that time, a date is expected to be set for a preliminary hearing, which will detemine whether evidence is sufficient to place Hayashi on trial.

Hayashi's attorney, Douglas Rappaport, requested the continuance Tuesday to provide time for obtaining information about the case from the Neiman Marcus store where Hayashi was arrested, said Omid Talai, spokesman for the San Francisco District Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors asked that Hayashi be required to attend the Dec. 7 court hearing, but Judge Sandoval waived her appearance at Rappaport's request, Talai said. Hayashi currently is free on $15,000 bail.

Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, is accused of stealing nearly $2,500 in clothing -- leather pants, a black skirt and a white blouse -- from a San Francisco Neiman Marcus store last month.

The 45-year-old lawmaker, wife of a Bay Area judge, was stopped outside the store by Neiman Marcus security officers, who recovered the clothing and booked it into evidence.

Hayashi has pleaded not guilty. Through a spokesman, Sam Singer, the lawmaker has said she was distracted by using a cellphone while shopping inside Neiman Marcus and mistakenly stepped outside, where she was stopped before she could correct her error.

"It's a silly little case that got blown out of proportion," Rappaport said this week.

After Hayashi's arrest, San Francisco police officers said she had passed several Neiman Marcus cash registers at which she could have purchased the clothing.

Prosecutors said that Hayashi had walked away from the store -- Bay Area News Group reported the distance at 50 to 100 feet -- before she was detained by store security officers.

Maximum sentence is three years in prison for grand theft, but first-time offenders typically do not receive such stiff sentences. Prosecutors have declined to comment on Hayashi's likely punishment if convicted.

* Updated at 3 p.m. with additional information about today's San Francisco court proceeding.

November 15, 2011
Kings County sues to stop California high-speed rail line

HSRimage1.jpgKings County and two residents have sued the California High Speed Rail Authority, alleging it is violating the terms of Proposition 1A, the $9.9 billion bond measure that is funding part of the project.

The Fresno Bee reports the suit was filed Monday.

According to the suit, the authority's construction of the Valley portion of the rail line illegally uses Prop 1A bond funds for a non-electric, or conventional, rail line. The suit states that because the proposition called for an electric rail system, the use of proposition funds for a non-electric rail line -- even in the "preliminary" stage -- violates state law.

Redwood City attorney Michael Brady, who is representing Kings County and co-plaintiffs John Tos and Aaron Fukuda, said the authority failed to seek approval from the Public Utilities Commission and federal agencies following the passage of Prop 1A.

The suit also challenges the state's obligations to pay for the Valley rail line under current cost and grant projections. Under Prop 1A, bond funding could not exceed 50% of the funds spent on the Valley rail segment. Currently, the U.S. Department of Transportation has granted about $3 billion, which equates to a total of $6 billion available for the first segment. The total cost of the segment is estimated over $30 billion, the suit says.

Read the full Fresno Bee story here.

November 15, 2011
AM Alert: California campus protests feature flash mobs, guerrilla theater

At California State University, Fullerton, students are planning a 1 p.m. flash mob.

At CSU Los Angeles, they'll perform a piece of guerrilla theater titled "Chancellor Reed and the Board of Trustees Exposed."

UC Berkeley will serve as the site for a daylong protest organized by a group known as Occupy Cal.

Unhappiness over tuition hikes is prompting plenty of action on California's college campuses today. More protests are planned for Wednesday, and the UC Board of Regents has taken the rare step of cancelling its meeting this week, citing the possibility of violence and vandalism.

Find Laurel Rosenhall's story here.

MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, holds its Los Angeles Awards Gala today, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Westin Bonaventure.

They'll pay tribute to singer Linda Ronstadt, community activist Roland Palencia and Antonia Hernandez, president & CEO of the California Community Foundation.

Among those scheduled to make presentations: actresses Eva Longoria and Carla Jimenez and singers Pepe Aguilar and Nydia Rojas. Individual tickets are $275.

INSIGHT: Catch The Bee's Laurel Rosenhall this morning at 10 a.m. on Capital Public Radio's "Insight" with Jeffrey Callison, 90.9 on your FM dial. The two will discuss higher education, from tuition hikes and protests to future budget plans.

HIGH-SPEED RAIL: The new bullet train business plan gets an airing today in Palo Alto. Led by Assemblyman Rich Gordon, chair of the budget subcommittee that handles transportation, the 1:30 p.m. public hearing is available online here. Select Channel 29.

Rail authority CEO Roloef Van Ark and board members Jim Hartnett and Michael Rossi are scheduled to appear.

PLANNING AHEAD: This year's Christmas tree lighting on the Capitol steps is set for 4:45 p.m. on December 7. The tree, a white fir from El Dorado County, will be lit with 10,000 LED lights.


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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