Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

December 15, 2011
Arnold Schwarzenegger 'proud' of Jerry Brown on environment

SAN FRANCISCO -- Hours after Gov. Jerry Brown issued a spirited attack on politicians who doubt the significance of climate change, Brown's predecessor -- former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- praised Brown but urged a spirit of inclusiveness.

"To me, it made no difference if a Democrat had a great idea or a Republican had a great idea, or if someone from the outside had a great idea, or if someone from within the office had a great idea," Schwarzenegger said this afternoon at Brown's conference on climate change at the California Academy of Science in San Francisco.

"The more inclusive you are about this, and the less you villainize anybody, the better you're off," he added.

Earlier today, Brown said, "The main thing we have to deal with in climate change is the skepticism, the denial and the cult-like behavior of the political lemmings that would take us over the cliff."

Schwarzenegger, a Republican, said the campaign to combat climate change could be won by talking about health benefits and the jobs that the green energy sector could create, not ice caps and rising sea levels.

"The ordinary person that lives in the middle of the country somewhere doesn't relate to rising sea levels, they don't relate to melting ice caps," Schwarzenegger said. "They want to have a job."

Brown, a Democrat, was a pioneer for environmental causes when he was governor before from 1975 to 1983, and Schwarzenegger's environmental advocacy often frustrated members of his own party.

Schwarzenegger said he was "proud" of Brown, and Brown's press secretary, Gil Duran, said on Twitter while Schwarzenegger was speaking, "If every Republican was as smart as @Schwarzenegger on the subject of climate change, the world would be a much better place."

Schwarzenegger's appearance came while the actor was on a break from filming a movie.

"It's great to be here, and it's also weird, in a way," Schwarzenegger said.

Less than 24 hours before, he said, he was "slamming a guy's head against the rail of a bridge."

December 15, 2011
Jerry Brown criticizes 'political lemmings' of climate change

California Climate Change Jerry Brown.JPGSAN FRANCISCO -- Gov. Jerry Brown railed this morning against politicians who doubt climate change, calling "political lemmings" the chief obstacle in combating global warming.

"The main thing we have to deal with in climate change is the skepticism, the denial and the cult-like behavior of the political lemmings that would take us over the cliff," Brown said at a high-profile conference on climate change at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

The Democratic governor said climate change has lengthened the state's fire season and quickened its snowmelt, affecting agriculture and taxing public infrastructure.

He acknowledged that Californians have been "squeezed" by the flagging economy, but he said investment is necessary to stem the effect of climate change. He is expected next year to propose a peripheral canal or another way to move water through or around the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

"It will cost money," he said. "But if we don't do that and the levees collapse in one of these extreme events, we could run out of fresh water."

Brown championed environmental causes when he was governor before, from 1975 to 1983, and he has sought in his return to Sacramento to continue with the work of his Republican predecessor, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Brown signed legislation in April requiring California utilities to obtain one-third of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020, and he has said he will promote the creation of 20,000 new megawatts of renewable energy by that year.

Schwarzenegger, who signed Assembly 32, California's landmark greenhouse gas-reduction law, is scheduled to speak at Brown's conference this afternoon.

Brown's criticism was well-applauded at the invitation-only event.

"Ninety-seven percent of the scientists who research climate change are people who, from their own understanding of the science, are completely convinced that greenhouse gases are associated with climate change and global warming," he said. "But when you go into the political class, then it's a very different thing."

In a panel discussion with Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, Brown was asked if people should be dissuaded from living in areas prone to environmental damage.

Brown said his house in the Oakland hills is near a fault line, in an area susceptible to mudslides and fires.

"But I figured at my age," he added, "I could take the risk."

PHOTO CREDIT: California Gov. Jerry Brown gives opening remarks at the Governor's Conference on Extreme Climate Risks and California's Future at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. The event includes Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

December 15, 2011
MEMO: Secretary of state staff tries three fixes for Cal-Access

Bringing California's digital campaign and lobbying disclosure database back online takes more than a simple reboot.

The aging Cal-Access system was built using 13 different programming languages, 90 disk drives and an operating system so old and uncommon that there are only a couple of people in the entire country with the knowledge and expertise to tackle the issues.

That's made pinpointing the problem responsible for taking the site offline for most of the last two weeks as difficult as finding a fix.

"It's almost like we need a Rosetta Stone to deal with these 13 languages," Secretary of State Debra Bowen said in an interview Wednesday.

As reported in today's Bee, Bowen's staff is currently trying three separate methods for restoring Web access to the site, including rebuilding the original disk storage system. While it likely won't be a permanent fix for the 12-year-old database, Bowen said she hopes the strategies will bring more stability to the site.

Tech savvy readers, or anyone interested in a blast from computer science past, can read the full Cal-Access diagnosis and a rundown of the recovery methods in the following memo issued by the secretary of state's office:

CALACCESS Short Explainer December 2011


California website's glitches block online tracking of campaign donations

Tech troubles continue for CalAccess campaign finance site

December 15, 2011
AM Alert: What can California do about extreme weather?

California isn't a stranger to what meteorologists call extreme weather events.

Many years produce a fire season. Sometimes a "pineapple express" storm unleashes an atmospheric river, which The Bee's Matt Weiser likens to "California's version of a hurricane". If Sacramento's levees broke, the Capitol building would get rather soggy.

Enter Gov. Jerry Brown's conference today on "extreme climate risks and California's future."

The invitation-only, all-day event at San Francisco's California Academy of Sciences will consider questions such as, "What do climate-driven extreme weather events mean for California?" and "What actions will protect California and help our state prosper?"

Brown will give opening remarks, after which he'll participate in a panel called "The Global Climate Challenge" along with Rajendra Pachauri, who heads the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Virgin Group founder Richard Branson.

This afternoon, Global Green President Matt Petersen talks to former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger about his perspective on the state's leadership in the nation on climate change issues.

Click here to read the full agenda, which also lists other speakers and panels. The conference will be streamed live at the governor's website, Viewers may also submit questions to conference speakers through that site.

HIGH-SPEED RAIL: The House Transportation Committee looks at California's high-speed rail project starting at 10 a.m. To read more about what's at stake, Michael Doyle previewed the hearing in this Capitol Alert post. The hearing will be webcast live at this link.

WATER: The state Senate Energy Committee, chaired by Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles, holds a hearing beginning at 11 a.m. to assess the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power's progress toward reaching its energy efficiency and renewable energy goals. Click here for more information.

OCCUPY: Occupy Sacramento activists are rallying on the Capitol's west steps at noon to commemorate the ratification of the Bill of Rights on Dec. 15, 1791, highlighting the First Amendment. The rally, which will also protest federal defense funding, follows a march from Cesar Chavez Park.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, turns 70 today.

December 15, 2011
Cal Lutheran forecast sees weak recovery in California

Bill Watkins, who heads the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at California Lutheran University, has consistently been the most pessimistic of economists who closely follow the California economy, and the center's latest report is no exception.

Watkins, who for many years headed a similar organization at the University of California, Santa Barbara, believes that the state is fated for a long and slow economic recovery that will lag behind the national recovery, with persistently high unemployment rates.

"It is amazing how California, which once led the world in economic vigor and change, is now so resistant to any change," says a summary of the center's quarterly forecast. "Its economic joints are becoming arthritic, and its arteries clogged, faster than those of its aging population."

The forecast points to the state's losing more people to other states than in-migration, weak home prices and "very weak" economies in the state's Central Valley as signals of the continued economic malaise.

Economists in other public and private venues, especially at UCLA's Anderson School and Beacon Economics, have been more optimistic about the state's recovery from the worst recession since the Great Depression, and the state government's own economists generally are more optimistic as well.

More details from the Cal Lutheran forecast can be found here.


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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