Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

November 22, 2011
Lawsuit: Prop. 14 violates California minor party voters' rights

A group of voters from minor political parties is challenging California's new top-two primary system in the courts, arguing that the election process established under Proposition 14 is unconstitutional.

A lawsuit filed Monday in Alameda Superior Court claims that the new system, which sends only the two candidates who get the most votes in the primary, regardless of political party affiliation, to the general election, "severely burdens voter, candidate and party associational rights."

"By limiting access to the general election ballot, Prop. 14 effectively bars small political parties, their candidates, and their members from effective political association, precisely at the moment when the highest number of voters are engaged in the electoral process," the complaint reads.

The lawsuit also argues that the new system will make it more difficult for minor parties to remain recognized by the state as an official party, echoing a concern raised by the political party leaders who opposed Proposition 14 on the June 2010 ballot. Most minor parties qualify for the ballot by running a candidate for statewide office who receives at least 2 percent of the votes cast in a gubernatorial general election. Limiting the number of candidates on the general election ballot to two will effectively eliminate that option, minor party advocates say.

The complaint, posted below, was filed on behalf of eight voters registered with the Democratic, Green, Libertarian and Peace and Freedom parties. The suit claims that the plaintiffs will "suffer a substantially diminished ability to effectively participate in the electoral process as members of small political parties" under the new system.

This isn't the first legal challenge targeting Proposition 14. Several lawsuits seeking to block the law drafted to implement the new system have so far been rejected by state and federal courts.

Prop. 14 Complaint

November 22, 2011
Legislature schedules hearing on UC's use of police

The Legislature will hold a hearing next month to investigate the recent use of police force in response to protests on University of California campuses.

The joint hearing of the Assembly Higher Education Committee and Senate Education Committee will be held Wednesday, December 14, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez announced today.

"Like most Californians, I have been absolutely appalled at some of the incidents that have taken place in recent days against peaceful protestors," Pérez said in a statement. "Students, parents and the public deserve to have answers to the myriad of troubling questions these incidents have raised."

Police at UC Berkeley jabbed protesters with batons two weeks ago, and video footage of police pepper-spraying seated protesters at UC Davis last week has been watched by millions of people worldwide. UC leaders responded yesterday by announcing they'll conduct a "thorough examination of police procedures, protocols and training," and the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California is investigating the incidents.

November 22, 2011
Rick Perry to raise money at private fundraiser in Sacramento

Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry is coming back to donor-rich California to raise money, with a private fundraiser in Sacramento on Dec. 1.

The Texas governor is scheduled to attend a luncheon at The Park Ultra Lounge, located at 15th and L streets. A photograph with Perry will run you $1,000, according to an invitation. Lunch is $500 per couple.

Perry's hosts include Republican Sen. Tom Berryhill of Oakdale and Assemblymen Dan Logue of Linda and Jim Nielsen of Gerber. Also listed as hosts are Michael and Dean Spanos, sons of Alex Spanos, the Stockton developer and Republican benefactor.

Perry Invite

November 22, 2011
Police release Mary Hayashi booking photo on theft charge

hayashimugshot.JPGThe San Francisco Police Department has released a booking photo of Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi from her arrest last month on a felony grand theft charge.

The 45-year-old Castro Valley Democrat appears disheveled in the photo, a far cry from her fashionable appearance on the Assembly floor during her five years as a legislator.

Hayashi has pleaded not guilty to the felony charge of stealing nearly $2,500 in clothing - leather pants, a black skirt and white blouse - from a San Francisco Neiman Marcus store last month.

Hayashi is not expected to appear for further proceedings in San Francisco Superior Court on Dec 7, when a preliminary hearing is scheduled to be set.

A preliminary hearing will determine whether evidence is sufficient for Hayashi to face trial on the charge.

Hayashi, who will be termed out of the Assembly next year, was stopped outside Neiman Marcus by store security officers, who recovered the clothing and booked it into evidence.

November 22, 2011
California Teachers Association rejects tax overhaul plan

A sweeping tax overhaul unveiled this week by a billionaire-backed coalition of political leaders has drawn fire from the California Teachers Association, one of the most influential groups at the Capitol and on the campaign trail.

The Think Long Committee For California hopes to place initiatives on the November 2012 ballot to raise $10 billion in taxes each year, mostly by charging sales taxes on services. Half of that money would go to K-12 schools. But deep within the plan is a proposal to eliminate a constitutional requirement that California increase funding for schools in good years to compensate for prior cuts.

Education groups like CTA rely on that Proposition 98 requirement as leverage each year when negotiating school funding in the state budget.

The union's president, Dean E. Vogel, said in a statement, "The Think Long Committee Report was supposed to be a bipartisan path to rebuilding California's future, not a dangerous detour that would hurt students and the poor. Educators are alarmed by these recommendations to raise taxes on the poor, lower taxes for corporations, dismantle Proposition 98 - the state's minimum school funding law - and avoid repaying $10 billion already owed to public schools and students."

November 22, 2011
AM Alert: New challenge to California's "top two" primaries

Candidates and voters who belong to the Green, Libertarian and Peace and Freedom political parties are holding a news conference today to announce a new lawsuit challenging Proposition 14.

They don't like last year's initiative that created a new election system in which the top two vote-getters advance to a general election - regardless of party affiliation. The minor parties argue that the new system puts them at a disadvantage.

They'll announce details of their suit today at 11 a.m. in front of the Secretary of State's office at 1500 11th St.

BAY BRIDGE SAFETY: Under the Capitol dome today, the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee holds a hearing on bridge foundation inspection practices. It's a response to The Bee's reports by Charles Piller that raised questions about the testing and design of foundation piles that support the new Bay Bridge tower and freeway structures statewide.

"These are serious allegations, and the Committee will be asking Caltrans about its inspection policies and safeguards," committee chairman Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, said in a statement. "We need to know that inspections are reliable and that our bridges are safe."

Caltrans officials are expected to testify during the 1:30 p.m. hearing in room 112.

GOBBLE GOBBLE: Assemblyman Roger Dickinson and Senate pro Tem Darrell Steinberg are delivering 900 turkeys to Sacramento non-profits today at 2 p.m. at the Firehouse Community Center in Sacramento. The groups will distribute the birds to local families in need this Thanksgiving, all part of a charitable program called "Operation Gobble." Dickinson is also giving about 7,000 cans of food generated from his "Can you collect more cans than a 5th grader?" competition.

EDUCATION FUNDING: Supporters of a ballot initiative that calls for taxing oil extraction in California to dedicate funding for public education are kicking off their campaign this afternoon at Cal State Long Beach. You can learn more about their proposal at


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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