Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

March 1, 2012
Jerry Brown reports financial interests, beer stein from Perez

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez has given Gov. Jerry Brown a beer stein, the governor disclosed today.

The Los Angeles Democrat, it would seem, would like Brown to drink in style: In a statement of economic interest filed with the state, Brown listed the value of the December gift at $125.64.

The Democratic governor also reported receiving a dinner valued at $104.58 from a California building association. On Valentine's Day last year, the president of Delancey Street Foundation, a program for former drug addicts, ex-convicts and others, gave Brown $75 in flowers.

Except for the three gifts, Brown's financial interests remain largely unchanged from the previous year. They include six interests valued at between $100,001 and $1 million. Among those, Brown holds stock in Health Fusion Inc., a medical office software company. Anne Gust Brown, the first lady and former Gap executive, holds stock in Jack in the Box.

March 1, 2012
Ogilvy named tentative winner of health exchange PR contract

A tentative winner has been announced for a $900,000 public relations contract to help California implement federal health care reform: Sacramento's Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide .

Ogilvy was chosen this week by the California Health Benefit Exchange to create a statewide marketing, outreach and education strategy designed to help reduce the number of Californians lacking health insurance.

The state exchange is charged with creating a new insurance marketplace for individuals and small business to buy competitively priced health plans beginning in 2014.

Ogilvy's selection is tentative pending a five-day protest period, ending March 7.

The contract is considered a plum of California state public relations contracts partly because the winner of the initial $900,000 pact, through October 2013, will be in key position to obtain a subsequent contract that could total tens of millions of dollars to launch the exchange.

The PR powerhouse made headlines earlier this year for quitting a $9 million contract with the state's high-speed rail authority.

In a letter to rail officials, Ogilvy said that it was "unable to develop a solid working relationship with your agency, and that impeded the kind of top-notch work we are accustomed to providing our clients."

March 1, 2012
Price would rise as clothes come off under CA strip bar measure

Cheap thrill? Forget it. The cost of nude entertainment in California would rise under legislation that seeks a pound of flesh for, well, a pound of flesh.

Assembly Bill 2441 would slap a $10-per-person tax on nightclubs, bars or restaurants that combine booze with live nude entertainment. Costs could be passed on to customers.

Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, proposed the measure to generate money for sexual assault-related counseling, crisis intervention, rape prevention, community education, victim advocacy. and evidence testing in rape cases.

"There is a clear nexus between alcohol consumption and violence against women," Williams said of targeting what he calls strip bars. "This (bill) only affects those that serve alcohol."

The legislation defines nude entertainment that would be subject to the tax as exhibitions involving a naked body or display of any portion of genitals, buttocks or a woman's nipples.

If signed into law, however, the bill would apply only to live shows featuring partial nudity because state law already prohibits naked employees in businesses serving alcohol.

Williams doubts that AB 2441 would dent demand or hurt profits.

"Men will continue to go to strip bars -- and you know what? They'll feel better about it because they'll be funding a needed service for women," he said.

Prospects for Williams' measure appear dim, however. The bill requires a two-thirds supermajority for passage -- at least two GOP votes in the Assembly. Republicans have pledged not to raise taxes.

Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, a Gerber Republican who serves as the Assembly GOP point man on state budget issues, said that Democrats need to quit pinpointing causes to use as leverage in seeking to extract more money from Californians.

"No means no. ... To me, it's looking for justification to raise taxes," Nielsen said of the proposal.

* Updated at 5:35 p.m. to explain that state law currently prohibits full nudity in businesses serving alcohol.

March 1, 2012
Steinberg: Fish & Game Commission head acted 'like a jackass'

ZUMA_Fish And Game Chief-thumb-250x421-23295.jpgSenate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg joined the debate today over the embattled head of the state Fish and Game Commission's Idaho cougar hunt, blasting Dan Richards for acting "like a jackass."

"When you hold a high public position you have a responsibility to act with decorum, act with respect towards the office and, you know, what's he doing?" the Sacramento Democrat said in response to a reporter's question. "You want to make your political point, make your political point at some other stage in your life when you're not an appointee and serving under a governor."

Richards, the commission's president, has been the subject of criticism and calls for resignations since a picture surfaced online of him posing with a mountain lion he killed on a hunting trip in Idaho. California banned hunting mountain lions, which is legal in Idaho, via the ballot in 1990.

Forty members of the Assembly signed a letter last week asking Richards, an appointee of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, to resign. A group of GOP lawmakers later came to his defense. Steinberg said in a meeting with reporters that he wouldn't mind if Richards, whose term ends next January, "just sort of slithered out of office early."

But with Richards telling the Assembly in a letter, "There is ZERO chance I would consider resigning my position," at least one member is reportedly considering a resolution to oust him with a majority-vote in both houses.

Steinberg said he is not "completely shutting the door" on the idea of a vote to remove Richards from office, but he would prefer to see the Senate "stay focused on the people's priorities," such as the budget.

'I think the guy ought to quit being a distraction and make whatever political point he wants to make on his own time or his own dime, but I'm weary on spending a lot of time on anything other than the core priorities that we have to accomplish this year," he said.

Richards reiterated his intent to stay put this afternoon, telling KFI AM talk radio hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou "I'm not leaving." He said a legislative vote to kick him out of his job "basically would be saying lets remove independent voices on all commissions."

Richards blamed Humane Society of the United States for pushing out the photo and sparking the campaign to oust him, citing long-running disagreements and political differences. He said he did not expect to see such a large public backlash for sharing a photo that captures "what we do as sportsmen."

"Of course, I didn't know it would lead to anything like this," he said of the reaction to the photo. "I expected that potentially there might be some folks who (would) not necessarily enjoy it or appreciate or be in favor of it that would see it, but I didn't have any idea if would get anywhere near what it is right now."

And for those wondering, the hunting enthusiast said the cougar he killed tasted "really good."

"It's like a pork loin and it's white meat and it's really good," he said.

Fish and Game Commission head says defiantly he won't resign

Photo credit: Whitehotpix/

Editor's note: This post was updated to clarify that Steinberg didn't call directly for Richards to step down. This post was updated at 4 p.m. with quotes from Richards.

March 1, 2012
Memorial planned after death of former lawmaker Norm Waters

Former Democratic Assemblyman Norman Waters, who served 14 years as a legislator, died at his Amador County home this week at age 86.

Waters served in the Capitol from 1976 to 1990, ultimately losing his seat to Republican David Knowles in one of California's closest races that year.

The Assembly adjourned today in Waters' memory, with Assemblywoman Alyson Huber, D-El Dorado Hills, memorializing him by saying that his service and work ethic left a lasting impression on constituents.

"Everywhere I go in those counties, they say to me, 'We haven't had someone this present in our county since Norm Waters,'" she said. "That's what they remembered about him, that he was always in his district fighting for constituents."

His Assembly career included stints as leader of the Rural Caucus and of the Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee.

In his final legislative campaign, Waters portrayed himself as "The Last Rancher," a working cattleman on 600 acres of tree-dotted land, a "good old boy" in a stuffy Legislature of 9-to-5, suit-and-tie types.

Political observers attributed his 1990 loss partly to fast growth and an influx of conservatives into his largely rural district, stretching from Placer to Mono counties.

March 1, 2012
Group seeking to repeal California death penalty to turn in signatures

Supporters of a proposed initiative to repeal the death penalty in California plan to begin turning in nearly 800,000 voter signatures today in hopes of qualifying for the November ballot.

The initiative, which is backed by a group called California Taxpayers for Justice, would replace California's capital punishment with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment without parole. Supporters say the change, which would apply to inmates currently on death row, would save the state millions.

A recent Field Poll, however, showed more than two-thirds of California voters continue to support the death penalty.

Proponents need 504,760 valid voter signatures to secure a spot on the November ballot. The campaign said on its Twitter account that it will turn in nearly 800,000 petition signatures. A campaign committee formed to support the measure reported raising more than $1.3 million through the end of 2011. Major contributors include branches of the American Civil Liberties Union, Google executive Robert Alan Eustace, Hyatt Development Corporation CEO Nicholas Pritzker and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

Proponents have scheduled press conferences throughout the state to begin filing the signatures. Listed speakers at a 10 a.m. event in Sacramento include Don Heller, the author of the 1978 initiative that reinstated the death penalty, and the mother of two murder victims.

Editor's note: This post was updated at 10:49 a.m. with updated numbers from the campaign's press conference and Twitter account.

March 1, 2012
AM Alert: Capitol agenda includes welfare and self-driving cars

California's safety net gets scrutinized for the second day in a row as the Senate Budget Committee considers Gov. Jerry Brown's proposals for cutting and redesigning the state's CalWORKs and child care programs.

Listed speakers include Brian Uhler and Rachel Ehlers of the Legislative Analyst's Office, state schools chief Tom Torlakson, representatives of the departments of Finance and Social Services, program recipients and others. See how the Assembly committee handled Brown's welfare proposals on Wednesday in Kevin Yamamura's report.

Both the Assembly and the Senate meet at 9 a.m. The Senate Budget Committee is set to start its hearing in the Capitol's Room 4203 at 9:30 a.m. or after the session adjourns in the upper house. Read the committee agenda at this link. The LAO report on Brown's proposals on CalWORKs and child care can be accessed here.

Outside the Capitol, Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla teams up with Google officials to tout his Senate Bill 1298, which would establish guidelines for so-called "autonomous vehicles" in California. He's even expected to show up in Google's self-driving car. The curious can watch a video taken last year from the back of the thing and posted on Youtube. The presser starts at 10 a.m. on the west steps.

Death penalty opponents, meanwhile, announce filing signatures aimed at qualifying a ballot measure to repeal the death penalty and establish life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Listed speakers include El Dorado County Supervisor Ron Briggs, whose father, former Sen. John Briggs, sponsored the 1978 ballot measure reinstating California's death penalty. The Bee's Carlos Alcalá talked to the younger Briggs earlier this week. The event starts at 10 a.m. in the Secretary of State Office's courtyard, 1500 11th St.

Democrats, Republicans and nonpartisans don't agree on much, but they agree on this: Congress is doing a lousy job. In fact, only 12 percent of voters in each of those groups approve of the way things are going in Washington, according to the latest Field Poll.

For more numbers, click here to read the statistical tabulations compiled exclusively for Capitol Alert. You can find the publicly released poll itself at this link.

CHAMBER: Sacramento Metro Chamber members will hear from Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor at a luncheon during their annual legislative summit at the Sutter Club, 1220 9th St., Sacramento.

MUSIC: The Glendora High School Orchestra will be performing at noon on the Capitol's west steps.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Democratic Assemblywoman Alyson Huber turns 40 today.


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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