Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

March 28, 2012
California Teachers Association gives $1.5 million to tax effort

The influential California Teachers Association reported giving $1.5 million today to Gov. Jerry Brown's effort to raise taxes.

The donation, the single largest yet reported, is a lift for a campaign committee that is racing to collect signatures after Brown and the California Federation of Teachers brokered a deal this month on components of the tax plan.

"I think we have a decent chance to get it passed," the Democratic governor told a luncheon crowd in Sacramento today. "I'm going to do everything I can."

In the same filing, the CTA, which represents some 325,000 teachers and education workers throughout the state, reported donating $1 million to the California Democratic Party.

March 28, 2012
California's Kinde Durkee to enter plea in fraud case on Friday

A court date to enter a plea in the fraud case against Democratic treasurer Kinde Durkee has been set for Friday at 11 a.m.

Durkee, a veteran treasurer who managed the campaign accounts of some of California's top Democrats, is expected to plead guilty to charges stemming from allegations that she embezzled millions from her clients. Politico has reported that prosecutors are expected to seek 11 to 14 years in prison as part of a plea agreement.

The owner of the Burbank-based Durkee & Associates, who was arrested last fall, is accused of stealing millions from her clients to cover personal and business expenses. Prominent clients affected by the scheme include Sen. Dianne Feinstein, state Assemblyman Jose Solorio and Reps. Loretta Sanchez and Susan Davis. The U.S. Attorney's office filed additional charges Tuesday, detailing an embezzlement scheme that resulted in $7 million in losses for at least 50 victims.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California declined further comment on the order granting the calendar request. The arraignment and entry of plea will be heard by Judge Kimberly J. Mueller at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento. Durkee's attorney has not responded to a request for comment.

Updated charges filed against California treasurer Kinde Durkee
Kinde Durkee to plead guilty in embezzlement case

March 28, 2012
Jerry Brown on 'poor Pete' and other governors, deficits past

Gov. Jerry Brown was late to speak at an Alliance of California Law Enforcement luncheon this afternoon, and his remarks were hardly his most inspired.

But before finishing, the Democratic governor offered perhaps his most complete assessment yet of the lineage of California's budget deficit, starting in 1959, with a deficit he said Gov. Goodwin Knight left Brown's dad.

"And then, when my father left and Reagan came in as governor," Brown said, "he left him a deficit."

March 28, 2012
VIDEO: Jerry Brown defends proposal label of 'Millionaires' Tax'

Even though his tax initiative includes a sales tax increase and higher income taxes on people who earn at least $250,000 a year, Gov. Jerry Brown said this afternoon that he can call it a "Millionaires' Tax" because people who make that much money will likely become that rich.

"Because everybody who makes $250,000 becomes a millionaire very quickly if you save," Brown told reporters after a speech in Sacramento. "You just need four years."

The Democratic governor launched a campaign website today that calls his proposal a "Millionaires' Tax," while explaining the proposed tax increases in detail on a secondary page.

He said this afternoon that he hasn't seen the website and would review it for accuracy. He included a link to the site in a tweet earlier today.

"Yeah, but we, I still haven't seen it," Brown said. "But I do think it is a Millionaires' Tax. It taxes millionaires."

March 28, 2012
GOP sees four Democrat-held Cal congressional seats as winnable

A new appraisal by the National Republican Congressional Committee claims that state-by-state redistricting has enhanced GOP chances of retaining control of Congress by making 16 seats held by Democrats vulnerable, including four in California.

The NRCC memo written by its executive director, Guy Harrison, was revealed in a National Journal article Wednesday.

The memo says that Democrats Lois Capps of Santa Barbara, Jim Costa of Fresno and John Garamendi of Walnut Grove are potentially vulnerable. It also lists the vacant 21st Congressional District in the lower San Joaquin Valley as winnable by a Republican. Costa would have been the 21st District incumbent, but opted to move into the 16th District after Democratic Congressman Dennis Cardoza decided to retire.

March 28, 2012
Bill Monning drops bill to restrict California food trucks

Legislation to ban food trucks from selling near school campuses was shelved Wednesday.

Assemblyman Bill Monning said he lacked the votes to pass his measure, Assembly Bill 1678, but he remains committed to a crackdown on the sale of non-nutritious foods to children.

Monning's proposal would have banned food trucks from selling within 500 feet of a campus from breakfast until dinner time on any day that students are attending classes. Some exceptions would have been allowed, such as if the food truck were on private property or was operating through a formal agreement with a school district.

"For years, Californians have worked to remove sodas and unhealthful snacks from school grounds," Monning said. "Vendors are bringing these very items back to the school gate using the mobility of ice cream trucks, pushcarts, and other portable units. This undermines the statewide nutrition improvements that we have established."

Monning said he will continue meeting with supporters of his bill to craft a different legislative solution.

"It wasn't ready for prime time," he said of AB 1678.

* Amended at 5:26 p.m. to reflect an amendment that would have allowed mobile sales no closer than 500 feet from a school, not 500 yards.

March 28, 2012
Hearing portends battle over California workers compensation

A lengthy hearing in the California Assembly on Wednesday indicated that one of the Capitol's longest-running political wars is being reignited.

It's over the rules governing workers compensation, the multibillion-dollar system that provides medical care, rehabilitation and financial support to those with work-related injuries and illnesses, what those in the Capitol call "work comp."

March 28, 2012
Jerry Brown: Combat training may aid in work with legislators

Gov. Jerry Brown, who has had some difficulty working with the Legislature, suggested this morning that combat training might help.

Marking the promotion of California National Guard Col. Sylvia R. Crockett to the rank of general, Brown told Crockett, whose job will include interacting with the Legislature, that she is "taking on the most difficult mission of all -- dealing with the legislative branch."

"You'll have to call forth all the skills and training that you got for combat," the Democratic governor said.

Crockett may already have a knack for politics. She told Brown, who was also governor from 1975 to 1983, "You're the first man I ever voted for."

March 28, 2012
Committee formed to back California candidates with 'courage'

MM SCHWARZENEGGER 163.JPGOne of several new independent committees hoping to influence elections for the California Legislature under the state's new top-two primary system is stepping up its efforts.

Govern for California, an effort to back state legislative hopefuls who display "courage," filed paperwork to create an independent expenditure committee last week.

One of the group's co-founders, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger adviser David Crane, said the group has identified up to five candidates -- two Democrats, two Republicans and one decline-to-state -- to potentially support in the June primary.

March 28, 2012
California Gov. Jerry Brown calling his plan a 'Millionaires' Tax'

When Gov. Jerry Brown reached a tax compromise with the California Federation of Teachers and liberal activists, apparently their "Millionaires' Tax" slogan was included in the deal.

Brown launched a new campaign website today whose front page calls the proposal a "Millionaires' Tax" even though it contains a quarter-cent sales tax increase and starts hiking income taxes at $250,000 for single filers and $500,000 for couples. The site explains these particulars only on a secondary "frequently asked questions" page.

CFT and its coalition previously circulated a tax plan that taxed only those making at least $1 million or more, single or married. Its initiative had been polling best partly because it had the "Millionaires' Tax" label.

The governor's website does say his tax plan would pay for more than schools. It notes the plan would fund "health and dental care, childcare, police, fire, parks, transportation and programs for seniors, disabled and the poor." Brown had faced criticism since launching his original initiative last year for implying that all new tax money would fund schools rather than other parts of the state budget.

March 28, 2012
LA County leads nation in population inflow and outflow

As California's economy boomed and then plummeted during the latter years of the previous decade, more people (372,331) left Los Angeles County for homes elsewhere than any other county in the nation.

However, as a new U.S. Census Bureau statistical study found, more people (212,882) also moved into Los Angeles County during the 2005-2009 period than to any other county.

The study covered only movements within the nation, not migration from and to other countries.

Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties in Southern California and Alameda County in Northern California ranked among the national leaders in both outflow and inflow of residents.

The Southern California counties also ranked highly in what the Census Bureau calls "origin flow" -- high numbers of destinations for those moving out. Los Angeles, for instance, was second only to Maricopa County, AZ, in the number (1,091) of other counties to which the ex-Angelenos moved, indicating they scattered widely around the nation.

San Diego was 4th on that list, San Bernardino 15th, Orange County 16th and Riverside 19th.

Conversely, while Maricopa County was also No. 1 in the variation of places from which its new residents came, called "destination flow," San Diego was 3rd highest, with its new residents coming from 795 other places in the country. Los Angeles was 4th at 741 previous homes.

Edited at 11:23 a.m. to reflect that study covered only movements within U.S.

March 28, 2012
Tehama GOP pulls party chair's speaking invite over endorsement spat

There's no need for Tom Del Beccaro to R.S.V.P. to the Tehama County Republican Party's upcoming Lincoln Reagan Dinner.

The northern California GOP group publicly uninvited the state party chairman to its May gathering this week, citing a split over endorsements in the newly drawn 3rd Assembly District.

"The TCRP, by unanimous vote, has affirmed that our speaker must be someone that upholds our adherence to Republican values and principles," Chairman Ken Say wrote in a letter to Del Beccaro. "Unfortunately, we no longer believe that you meet that criteria and have voted to invite speakers that the TCRP believe to meet that standard."

Members of the Tehama group are upset that the state party's board of directors opted to endorse Assemblyman Dan Logue, R-Marysville, over Tehama County Supervisor Bob Williams, the candidate who won the county party's endorsement. In an open letter circulated Tuesday, Say accused the party board of violating its own bylaws by invalidating his group's endorsement.

"We, the Tehama County Republican Party, at the local level, will continue to support the Republican candidates that represent our best interests and not some unknown person picked by a "star chamber" in an illegal procedure," Say wrote.

Del Beccaro defended what he called an "unprecedented" endorsement process created in response to the state's new primary system, saying in a statement that the "overwhelming majority of decisions the party made were well received."

"There were exceptions - proving the adage that you cannot please everyone, especially in politics," he said in the statement. "Going forward the Party will move toward a more broad based process that will engage Republicans voters directly."

March 28, 2012
Rival sues over Beth Gaines' ballot title of 'small business owner'

BethGaines.JPGAssembly candidate Andy Pugno has filed suit challenging Assemblywoman Beth Gaines' designation of herself as a "small business owner" for the June primary ballot.

Pugno's nine-page complaint, filed Tuesday in Sacramento County Superior Court, contends that Gaines' ballot designation is misleading.

"The facts reflect that Gaines currently serves as a full-time member of the California State Assembly, and may spend nominal time on the side as a marketing consultant," the complaint said.

March 28, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Judicial Council pulls the plug

VIDEO: Dan Walters reports that the state Judicial Council has pulled the plug on a costly and controversial computer system.

Have a question you'd like Dan to answer? Post it on our Facebook page.

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

Read Dan Walters' columns here.

March 28, 2012
AM Alert: National Guard ceremony on Jerry Brown's agenda

DAN WALTERS DAILY: Dan's latest video report dissects the California Judicial Council's decision to yank the rug out from under the courts' controversial computer management system.

Gov. Jerry Brown's calendar today includes a California National Guard ceremony at which Col. Sylvia R. Crockett will be promoted to general.

It's a milestone for the Golden State: She's the first Latina to attain that rank in the California National Guard, according to the governor's office.

Crockett, who's now assistant division commander for the 40th Infantry Division as well as director of strategic communications for the California Military Department, started her career with the California National Guard in 1982. The ceremony starts at 11 a.m. in the the governor's Capitol office.

Brown is also scheduled to speak with police chiefs, sheriffs, district attorneys and others at the 20th annual legislative day of the Alliance of California Law Enforcement. That talk starts at 1 p.m. at the Sacramento Convention Center.

Meanwhile, there's no shortage of committee meetings under the dome, with a joint Senate-Assembly hearing considering the impact of a 2004 law on workers compensation disability benefits for permanently injured workers. Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is among the listed speakers at the hearing, which starts at 9:30 a.m. in the Capitol's Room 2040.

The Senate Education Committee is looking at new requirements for schools with high suspension rates, among other measures, starting at 9 a.m. in Room 4203. The Senate Rules Committee considers governor's appointees with Claudia Cappio, executive director of the California Housing Finance Agency, and Ronald Chapman, Kathleen Billingsley and Daniel Kim of the Department of Public Health required to appear. That hearing starts at 1:30 p.m. in Room 113.

The terms "mentally retarded" and "mental retardation" would be dropped from state documents and laws under Senate Bill 1381, which comes up before the Senate Health Committee, whose meeting starts at 1:30 p.m. in Room 4203. The Assembly Public Employees Committee, meanwhile, looks at the "Public Employees Bill of Rights" -- as Jon Ortiz reports on sister blog The State Worker.

For more information on those hearings and a host of others, click here for the Senate's daily file, and click here for the Assembly's.

Elsewhere in Sacramento, public pensions come up for debate at the Sacramento Press Club's luncheon, where Marcia Fritz, president of the California Foundation for Fiscal Responsibility, and Dave Low, chairman of Californians for Retirement Security, go head to head on the issue.

Teachers' pensions are the focus tonight at a free seminar hosted by the Press Club at The Bee's main office. Listed speakers include Fritz, as well as Ed Derman of the California State Teachers' Retirement System, Jason Sisney of the Legislative Analyst's Office and Jennifer Baker of the California Teachers Association. That event starts at 6:30 p.m. on the third floor, 2100 Q St., Sacramento. RSVP to

ELECTION 2010: The group California Common Sense is releasing a report this morning that details donations to California races in 2010. Expect big numbers.

LEGISLATORS' VOTING RECORDS: How often has a California legislator broken party ranks, abstained or switched sides? The Sacramento Bee has a database of the voting records of every member of the state Senate and Assembly. Enter a lawmaker's last and first names to see how he or she voted, or enter a bill number to see how every legislator voted on it. Check it out at this link.


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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