Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

February 22, 2012
CA Finance director pleads no contest to DUI charge

California state finance director Ana Matosantos pleaded no contest Tuesday to driving over the legal limit for alcohol last year in downtown Sacramento.

Matosantos was sentenced by Sacramento Superior Court Judge James P. Arguelles to three years informal probation and two days on the sheriff's work program, for which she has the option of serving in home detention, according to her lawyer, Megan Virga.

The finance director also was required to complete a three-month DUI program and to pay a fine of $2,200, Virga said. The terms of her plea are standard for first-time offenders.

The California Highway Patrol reported that it arrested Matosantos on Oct. 28 at 12:30 a.m. on Sixth and P streets. Her blood-alcohol level was reported at 0.11, according to court records.

Sacramento Superior Court online records showed that Matosantos pleaded no contest to driving under the influence, but Virga said her client actually entered her plea to driving over the legal limit of 0.08 and that the driving under the influence count was dismissed.

February 22, 2012
Cruz Bustamante weighing bid for Congress in Central Valley

BB_cruz_bustamante_2006.JPGWill former Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamane join the race for a competitive Central Valley congressional seat?

Bustamante, who lives in Elk Grove but represented the Fresno area in the Assembly during the 1990s, told The Fresno Bee that he is considering a bid in the 21st Congressional District.

"I'm not ready to make any kind of announcement at this time," Bustamante said. "I've not made all my due diligence calls. An announcement is premature."

Democrats lost their top recruit for the competitive seat when Sen. Michael Rubio, D-East Bakersfield, withdrew his candidacy to focus on his family.

Republican Assemblyman David Valadao of Hanford, and Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive John Hernandez, a Democrat, are currently running for the seat. The Fresno Bee reported that Fresno City Councilman Blong Xiong, also a Democrat, is also considering entering the race.

Bustamante, a former Assembly speaker who lost a 2003 bid for governor in the recall election as well as a 2006 run for state insurance commissioner, told The Fresno Bee that he and his wife "need to figure out what we're going to do with the rest of our lives" now that their children are heading to college.

Read the full story here.

Michael Rubio decides not to run for Congress in 2012

PHOTO CREDIT: Then Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante speaks as then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger laughs behind him before the State of the State address on Jan. 5, 2006. Sacramento Bee/ Brian Baer

February 22, 2012
California State University faculty to vote on strike

In the midst of a contract fight, the statewide union representing California State University professors will vote this spring on whether to impose a "rolling" strike at all 23 campuses.

The California Faculty Association, which represents 23,000 professors, counselors and other campus staff, announced that its members will decide in late April whether to impose two-day strikes if mediation fails. Spokesman Brian Ferguson said the strikes could take place toward the end of the spring semester or next fall, depending on the status of talks.

The union said it opposes moving more courses into "extension" programs and wants greater restrictions on class sizes. Faculty also want general salary increases for the past two school years and oppose the chancellor's ability to reopen contract provisions on wages and benefits in the near future.

Faculty struck for one day in November at the East Bay and Dominguez Hills campuses over a separate contract matter.

The April strike vote comes after a series of state budget cuts and tuition hikes in recent years. The system lost $750 million in state funding this past year, while it raised tuition by 23.2 percent.

The CSU Chancellor's Office had no immediate comment Wednesday.

February 22, 2012
Obama campaign names seven Californians among co-chairs

President Barack Obama rolled out a list of national co-chairs for his re-election campaign that includes some familiar faces from both the political and entertainment worlds in the Golden State.

Seven Californians made the list of 35 co-chairs,including state Attorney General Kamala Harris, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and actress Eva Longoria. Also included on the list were Democratic Rep. Judy Chu, Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Executive Secretary-Treasurer Maria Elena Durazo, actor and former White House aide Kalpen Modi and CEO Marc Benioff.

The Obama campaign said in a statement that the co-chairs will "ambassadors for the President, advise the campaign on key issues, and help engage and mobilize voters in all 50 states."

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said in a statement that the individuals selected "share the President's vision for a future where every American can have a fair shot at success, where hard work pays off and responsibility is rewarded."

February 22, 2012
Jerry Brown's tax supporters push back at Molly Munger

Supporters of the tax measure proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown have gone public with their internal polling in their ongoing effort to persuade the backers of competing proposals to ditch their plans.

A memo on the poll, which was conducted over the weekend by Sacramento pollster Jim Moore, backs the Democratic governor's argument that a November ballot stacked with multiple tax measures will increase the likelihood that voters reject all the tax hikes.

"It reinforces the fact that if all three measures on the ballot, it will be a circular firing squad where everyone will lose," said Brown adviser Steve Glazer, who posted the polling memo on Twitter this morning.

Civil rights attorney Molly Munger's proposal to increase income taxes on all but the poorest Californians for 12 years to fund schools and early childhood education programs performed the worst in the statewide survey of 500 voters. Just 31 percent of voters said they would support that proposal, based on the title and summary drafted for one version of her measure. A second version, which sends some of the money to repay bond debt, was approved for signature-gathering yesterday.

The governor's plan, which would temporarily increase income taxes on Californians earning more than $250,000 and raise the sales tax by a half of a percentage point, won support of 53 percent of respondents, while a tax hike on millionaires proposed by the California Federation of Teachers and the Courage Campaign was backed by 55 percent of those surveyed.

Support for each proposal dropped below 50 percent when respondents were asked about the prospect of all three being on the ballot.

February 22, 2012
Sen. Sharon Runner announces she won't run for re-election

SharonRunner.JPGRepublican Sen. Sharon Runner, who is awaiting a lung transplant for a rare autoimmune disease, announced today that she will not seek re-election in November.

Runner has been absent from the upper house since January, when she disclosed that complications related to her condition required her to work outside of Sacramento. She said today that she expects to make a full recovery and will focus on "business and philanthropic efforts" after leaving office.

February 22, 2012
Ban on sports drinks at CA middle and high schools proposed

Sugary sports drinks would be banned during the school day at middle and high school campuses under legislation proposed this month in the Assembly.

Assembly Bill 1746 would restrict middle and high school sales of sports drinks - called "electrolyte replacement beverages" in the bill - to before and after each school day.

Sports drinks already are prohibited at elementary school campuses, according to Assemblyman Das Williams, a Santa Barbara Democrat who proposed AB 1746. The California Medical Association is among the sponsors of the bill.

Dr. James T. Hay, CMA president, said that there is a common misperception that sports drinks are healthy but many contain high-fructose corn syrup or other calorie-laden sweeteners linked to childhood obesity, the primary cause of type 2 diabetes.

AB 1746, if signed into law, would take effect in July 2013.

February 22, 2012
California's Barbara Boxer tied for 5th most liberal U.S. senator

California Democrat Barbara Boxer has long been considered one of the U.S. Senate's most liberal members, but according to the National Journal, she's in a five-way tie for being the 5th most liberal senator.

The Journal's ranking, based on voting records, has Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley and New York's Kirsten Hillibrand tied as the Senate's most liberal members, followed by a two-way tie between Hawaii's Daniel Akaka and Dick Durbin of Illinois for third and then five-senator tie for fifth.

Boxer is tied with Sherrrod Brown of Ohio, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Barbara Mikulski of Maryland and Tom Udall of New Mexico. Maryland's Ben Cardin came in 10th.

February 22, 2012
AM Alert: Field Poll's latest numbers just in time for GOP debate

With tonight's Republican presidential debate just hours away, the Field Poll has the most recent details of how California's GOP voters view the four hopefuls still in the race.

The bottom line: Rick Santorum isn't No. 1, as Real Clear Politics reports he is in some other polls, but he has pulled within six percentage points of Mitt Romney.

In California, Santorum is polling more strongly than Romney among strongly conservative voters, as well as among born-again Christians and those who identify with the tea party. David Siders has more in today's Bee. If you want even more numbers, click here to read the statistical tabulations prepared exclusively for Capitol Alert. You can read the publicly released poll at this link.

As for the debate, Santorum and Romney join Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul. CNN's John King moderates starting at 5 p.m. Pacific Time from Arizona. CNN is soliciting questions at and the CNN Politics Facebook page. For the Twitterati, it's encouraging use of the hashtag #CNNDebate.

Back in Sacramento, the Legislature isn't holding floor sessions, but there's no shortage of committee hearings and news conferences in the Capitol.

State Controller John Chiang, Sen. Kevin de León and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, all Democrats, join building industry representatives to talk up legislation to make commercial energy retrofits more affordable. That news conference starts at 10 a.m. in Room 1190.

Labor leaders are getting behind a proposal to regulate the wages, hours and working conditions of domestic workers. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and California Labor Federation leader Art Pulaski are scheduled to join Democratic Assemblymen Tom Ammiano and V. Manuel Pérez and others at an 11 a.m. presser in Room 317 to highlight the legislators' Assembly Bill 889.

Republican legislators, meanwhile, are unveiling pension reform legislation at 11:30 a.m. in Room 126. Senate Republican leader Bob Huff, Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway and other Republican lawmakers are expected to appear.

As for committee work, a joint Senate hearing will look at how to finance affordable housing and local economic development from 9:30 a.m. to noon in Room 4203. Listed speakers include Claudia Cappio of the California Housing Finance Agency, Marianne O'Malley of the Legislative Analyst's Office, Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, Jennifer Matz of the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development, Mike McKeever of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments and others.

The Senate Rules Committee will consider gubernatorial appointments starting at 1:30 p.m. in Room 113, with these appointees required to appear: Jennifer Shaffer, member of the Board of Parole Hearings; Robert Barton, inspector general, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; and Martin Hoshino, Corrections undersecretary.

For more information on the Senate's schedule, click here. You'll find the Assembly's schedule at this link.

SCHOOLS CHIEF: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is in Pacific Grove to address members of the California County Superintendents Educational Services Association at their annual leadership conference, starting at 4:30 p.m. at the Asilomar Conference Center.

ASH WEDNESDAY: Sacramento Catholic Bishop Jaime Soto leads Ash Wednesday services starting at 8 a.m. on the Capitol's west steps. This afternoon, legislators and others will take part in an Ash Wednesday "poverty simulation" in the basement of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacramento at 11th and K streets. Lawmakers expected to attend include Republican Assemblyman Katcho Achadijian, Democratic Sen. Carol Liu and Assembly members Julia Brownley, Roger Dickinson, Bonnie Lowenthal, Nancy Skinner and Mariko Yamada. That event starts at 1:30 p.m.


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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