Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

March 15, 2012
FPPC holds off on posting disclosure forms for California judges

California judges seeking to keep their financial disclosure forms off the Internet scored a temporary victory Thursday.

After a lengthy discussion that included testimony from judges opposing the posting and government watchdog groups, the Fair Political Practices Commission decided to continue to hold off on posting the forms while staff drafts guidelines for redacting information that could present a security threat. Those guidelines are expected to come up at the May meeting.

The California Judges Association is fighting implementation of a 2010 regulation requiring that the forms filed by certain elected officials, including the governor, legislators and county supervisors, are posted online. While the forms of other officeholders are already online, the posting of disclosures by judicial officers had been delayed due to concerns expressed by the judges.

The association argues that online posting of the Form 700s could put the judiciary and their families in jeopardy if some information included in the disclosures, such as a spouse's place of business or a property rented by a child, could be accessed with a click of a mouse. The group rejected a proposal by the Administrative Office of the Courts to allow judicial officers subject to the disclosure rules to submit a second copy of their form that omits information for online posting.

CJA President David Rubin, a San Diego judge, told commissioners that the association feels that keeping the forms offline, where they are still available as public records, strikes the right balance between "the public right to know and the security of judicial officers and their families."

Rubin and other judges appearing in front of the commission said limiting access to paper filings would ensure a "cooling-off" period and other safeguards to prevent disgruntled litigants or their family members from using information from the forms to seek vengeance.

"My address or the address of our spouses at work or at home or our kids addresses can get us killed," said Sacramento Judge Ben Davidian, a former FPPC chair. "And that's not just a joke and its not said lightly. It's true."

But Commissioner Ronald Rotunda questioned why a change to the current practices, which allow redaction of sensitive information such as home addresses, phone numbers and signatures in online postings, is needed. Given the current redaction policies, he said a change in regulation would only make access to financial disclosures contained in the form, such as stockholdings and other business interests, more difficult.

"It looks like this is more of a situation where the judges don't want the voters to know how rich they are... because it's the financial information that is going to be disclosed," he said.

California judges fight online posting of their financial statements

March 15, 2012
Molly Munger gives tax initiative campaign $1.5 million more

One day after Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Federation of Teachers announced an agreement to combine forces behind one tax hike proposal, civil rights attorney Molly Munger has dropped another $1.5 million into the campaign to qualify her own rival tax plan for the November ballot.

Munger has now contributed $3.4 million of her own money to her measure, which would raise an estimated $10 billion for schools and early childhood development programs by increasing personal income rates on a sliding scale for Californians making more than $7,316.

Brown's supporters have sought to persuade Munger to drop her effort, arguing that the presence of multiple tax measures on the November ballot increases the chances that voters will reject them all. That argument was central to the agreement between Brown and CFT, which had been circulating petitions for a tax hike on millionaires.

The campaign for Munger's measure, which is collecting voter signatures to qualify for the ballot, showed no sign of backing down after Wednesday's deal, saying in a statement that backers "don't anticipate that it will change our plans."

The new version of Brown's initiative, which was filed with the state attorney general on Wednesday, includes a greater tax hike on Californians making more than $500,000 than the Democratic governor had originally proposed. Those making more than $250,000 will still see an increase under the plan. The tax increases would be in effect for seven years. It also lowers a proposed four-year increase in the state sales tax from a half percent to a quarter percent. The Bee's Kevin Yamamura has more details in this story.

March 15, 2012
Ken Cooley is sole Democrat left in 8th District Assembly race

Larry Miles and Chris Parker have decided not to run in the 8th Assembly District, leaving Rancho Cordova Councilman Ken Cooley as the lone Democrat standing in the race for the newly drawn Sacramento County seat.

Cooley will be opposed by four Republicans, elections officials said. They include businesswoman Barbara Ortega, railroad engineer Phillip A. Tufi, technology company president John Flynn and Peter Tateishi, who is chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren.

One minor party candidate also has filed for the race, Libertarian Janice Bonser, a businesswoman.

Democrats hold a two percentage point edge over Republicans -- 40 percent to 38 percent -- in the district, which stretches from Citrus Heights south to the Wilton area.

Parker's and Miles' decisions not to compete for the seat leaves Cooley as his party's flag bearer.

Parker, an attorney with the Franchise Tax Board, ran unsuccessfully for the Board of Equalization in 2010.

Miles, an attorney, is a school board member for the San Juan Unified School District who lost to Richard Pan in the 2010 Democratic primary for the 5th Assembly District. The state later redrew legislative district boundaries.

Miles said he concluded that he could not generate enough support to win the Assembly seat. One consideration, but not the only one, was that he felt Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez was inclined to support Cooley, who is a "marvelous city councilman" and a good Assembly candidate, Miles said.

March 15, 2012
Tim Donnelly seeks plea deal in airport gun case

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly is seeking a plea deal on misdemeanor charges stemming from the discovery of a loaded firearm in his hand-carry luggage by screeners at Ontario International Airport.

"Tim has taken responsibility for it, so this isn't like we're going to have a trial or anything, to be candid with you," said Rod Pacheco, a former legislator and Riverside County district attorney who is Donnelly's attorney.

The Twin Peaks Republican, through Pacheco, pleaded not guilty to the charges at arraignment Feb. 24.

Pacheco said he met with prosecutors today, and has talked with them in the past, to explain threats made against Donnelly and other mitigating circumstances that should be considered in resolving the case.

"The justice system needs to mete out justice in a fair manner, taking into consideration various circumstances," Pacheco said, declining to comment on what he felt would be a fair disposition.

The case of a committed public servant bringing a gun to an airport by mistake is quite different than that of a gang member trying to sneak a weapon through airport security, Pacheco said.

Officials from the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office declined comment today.

March 15, 2012
AM Alert: Will sun shine bright on California judges' finances?

To post or not to post? California's watchdog agency is discussing whether to let judges keep their annual financial disclosure statements off the Internet.

The Fair Political Practices Commission already posts statements of economic interest for legislators, the governor and other constitutional officers. But the California Judges Association wants the judges' Form 700s to remain offline public records, as The Bee's Torey Van Oot reported last week.

Staff members, meanwhile, have "agreed to allow judges to submit a second version of their respective statements omitting sensitive information as a supplement to their original statements," the commission's general counsel and commission counsel told FPPC head Ann Ravel in a memo last month.

The FPPC will consider the matter at its meeting, which starts at 10 a.m. at 428 J St., Suite 800, in Sacramento. Click here for the agenda, and scroll down to Discussion Item 44 to find links to a staff memo and other documents.

Online gambling, meanwhile, gets all-day attention at a conference at the Crest Theatre conducted by Capitol Weekly and the University of California. Four panels will look in turn at financial impacts, sovereignty, technology and the politics. Sen. Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, gives the lunch keynote address. Listed sponsors include the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and the California Tribal Business Alliance.

Today's Dan Walters Daily explores Gov. Jerry Brown "paddling on the left" to compromise with the California Federation of Teachers on a tax ballot measure.

Under the dome, both the Assembly and the Senate convene at 9 a.m., with four budget panels meeting in the upper house at 9:30 a.m. or after the session adjourns.

The education subcommittee looks at Brown's proposals on the University of California and California State University systems, as well as Hastings College of the Law. You'll find that hearing in the Capitol's Room 3191. The health and human services panel, in Room 4203, considers CalFresh, In-Home Supportive Services, CalWORKs and related programs and departments. Another subcommittee has the California Department of Veterans Affairs, the Military Department and the state Emergency Management Agency on its agenda in Room 112. And in Room 113, the Office of the Inspector General and female offenders under the purview of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation both get a look.

For more information about other hearings, click here for the Senate's daily file, and click here for the Assembly's.

PRESSER: Legislative Republicans unveil Assembly Bill 1506 to repeal a new rural fire fee, whose legality they question and which they call a tax. Listed participants include Assembly members Kevin Jeffries, Paul Cook, Jim Nielsen and Kristin Olsen as well as Sen. Doug LaMalfa and Jon Coupal of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. The events starts at 10:30 a.m. in the Capitol's Room 127.

ELECTION 2012: Democrat Ami Bera, who's challenging GOP Rep. Dan Lungren, will join Democratic Assemblyman Richard Pan of Sacramento and others at Obama for America's watch party from 4 to 7 p.m. in its Sacramento headquarters at 6760 Folsom Blvd. for the premiere of Davis Guggenheim's documentary "The Road We've Traveled," a retrospective of the 2008 election and President Barack Obama's time in office. Lungren, meanwhile, is holding another in a series of town halls tonight at Rancho Cordova City Hall, 2729 Prospect Park Drive, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

CALLING ALL CANDIDATES: The Sacramento Bee is again publishing its Voter Guide for online and print. The online version will allow readers to enter their home address and see a "ballot" of candidates and initiatives just for their location. If you're running for office in the June primary in Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado or Yolo counties, you're invited to create a profile on our Voter Guide. If you haven't received an invitation from us through email, please contact Pete Basofin at

March 15, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Jerry Brown paddles on the left

Dan Walters discusses the new tax deal between the California Federation of Teachers and Gov. Jerry Brown.


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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