Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

March 29, 2012
Santorum plays the Jelly Belly card in California fundraising trip

By Torey Van Oot

FAIRFIELD - Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum sought to sell his conservative credentials to California Republicans Thursday, using a stop at the Jelly Belly Candy Company to the compare himself to one of the sweet's most famous fans - late President Ronald Reagan.

Santorum told the crowd gathered at the Fairfield company's factory store that the country needs a leader who will emulate the policies and approach of the conservative icon, who was enshrined in two candy-created portraits hanging outside the room where his afternoon rally was held.

"I've been in consistency with the Reagan vision," he said. "He stood for life. He stood for the integrity of the family."

March 29, 2012
California officials say Child Support Services data now missing

By Jon Ortiz

California officials said Thursday that the state has lost sensitive personal data for hundreds of thousands of individuals, including names, Social Security and driver license numbers.

The Department of Child Support Services said data for some 800,000 parents, guardians and children on special storage devices went missing in transit between Colorado and California.

"We have no indication that there has been any breach," said department spokeswoman Connie DaMant.

The lost data involves a little less than one-fifth of the 4.3 million people in the 1.4 million cases the department tracks to make sure the children receive court-ordered financial and medical support.

There's little risk that the information could be compromised, since it was stored on uniquely formatted data cartridges, said Christine Lally, spokeswoman for the state's Technology Agency.

"It's not like if you or I found these on the street that we could pop them into our computer," Lally said.

Iron Mountain Inc., a firm that specializes in transporting and storing sensitive corporate data and documents, contracted with Fed Ex to return the cartridges from an IBM facility in Colorado. The state had shipped them there as part of an exercise in disaster preparedness.

The department learned March 12 that the cartridges were lost.

Child Support Services is notifying by mail anyone potentially affected. It also has posted information on its website and set up a toll-free hotline, (866) 904-7674.

Although officials say there's little chance of a breach, they're still recommending that anyone affected put a fraud alert on credit cards, watch bank accounts closely, examine benefits statements from health insurers and review credit reports.

March 29, 2012
Gov. Jerry Brown's finance office questions GOP budget plan

Gov. Jerry Brown's Department of Finance responded late this afternoon with a line-by-line retort to the budget proposal that California Republican legislators unveiled this morning.

"A number of these proposals have been overstated in value or blocked by the courts," said Finance spokesman H.D. Palmer.

Among the highlights:

• Finance believes the plan to take $1.3 billion in mental health funds and $131 million in First 5 money would be illegal. It also believes cuts to In-Home Supportive Services and prisons face legal hurdles. Republicans respond that Democrats pursued similar measures in the past. Some legally questionable moves survived because Democrats convinced groups not to sue; Republicans say they believe the same moves can occur again.

• Finance says the $400 million in state worker savings could not be reached by reducing operating expenses. The Republican plan suggested the reduction could also occur through a once-monthly furlough or 4.6 percent pay cut.

• Finance says the state could benefit by $520 million to $880 million by eliminating the funds for affordable housing, lower than the $1 billion that Republicans are counting on.

• Finance says that savings from inmate pharmaceutical costs and revenues from selling ad space on highway electronic signs are overstated. Republicans say they have leeway because they are not counting revenues from Facebook's public stock sale.

Updated with Republican responses.

March 29, 2012
Pugno campaign seeks to serve Beth Gaines at the Capitol

photo (1).JPGAssemblywoman Beth Gaines, R-Rocklin, had good reason to avoid her office today.

The campaign manager for Andy Pugno, Gaines' GOP rival in the 6th Assembly District, staked out the hallway outside her Capitol office for hours in hopes of serving the Rocklin Republican with a lawsuit.

Pugno, a Folsom attorney, filed a lawsuit earlier this week challenging Gaines' use of "small business owner" as her job title on the ballot. Gaines says it's accurate because she and husband Ted Gaines, a state senator, own their own insurance company. Pugno's complaint says telling voters that is her "principal profession, occupation or vocation" is misleading because the company was just incorporated in late January.

The case was scheduled to be heard this morning in Sacramento Superior Court. But the question was put on hold after lawyers for Gaines successfully argued that the case should not be heard because their client had not been personally served with the paperwork. Pugno said the judge told his attorneys that they can return later today to make their case if they are able to serve Gaines.

With the clock ticking to make changes to ballot language, Pugno campaign manager Jim Dutra headed to the Capitol to try to serve Gaines there, arriving at the benches outside her fourth-floor office at about 11:30 a.m. The assemblywoman had not returned to her office as of 1:30 p.m. An aide said she was expected to be in and out of the office throughout the day but was not currently there.

March 29, 2012
Judge rules candidate can be an 'astronaut' after all

josehernandez.JPGA Sacramento judge has ruled that Jose Hernandez, who flew in the shuttle Discovery three years ago, can use the ballot designation of "astronaut" in his current congressional bid.

The San Joaquin Valley Democrat is challenging freshman Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, for California's 10th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Balloting is in June.

A lawsuit filed by the Sacramento law firm of Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk argued that a ballot designation of "astronaut" for Hernandez would violate state elections law because he has left NASA.

But Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lloyd G. Connelly disagreed, and ruled this afternoon that Herrnandez can keep the moniker.

Ballot designations must reflect one's current profession or vocation, or one held during the previous calendar year, the lawsuit said.

The challenge was filed after Hernandez sought a ballot designation of "astronaut/scientist/engineer."

Hernandez flew aboard the shuttle Discovery between Aug. 28 and Sept. 11, 2009. He subsequently left NASA in January 2011.

The suit notes that Hernandez reported to the clerk of the House of Representatives that he received $150,000 last year for serving as the "executive director for strategic operations" with MEI Technologies.

Connelly said the fact that Hernandez worked for NASA only two weeks in 2011 does not mean that he cannot be called an astronaut that year, which also included service at MEI technologies that drew upon his scientific and engineering background.

A key question is whether the ballot designation of "astronaut/scientist/engineer" is misleading as to the cumulative work performed by Hernandez during the 12-month period, according to Connelly.

"Given the scope of the work performed in 2011, the court does not believe it is (misleading)," Connelly said.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jose Hernandez, a former NASA astronaut from Stockton, announces his run for Congress on Monday, Oct. 11, 2011. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

March 29, 2012
California Common Sense dissects money in 2010 elections

California Common Sense is out with a new report on spending in the 2010 elections, calculating that more than $358 million was spent on California campaigns, which set a new high.

Its findings include these:

"Among Assembly races, Democratic candidates outnumbered Republican candidates 94 to 58 and fundraising strongly favored Democratic candidates. Democrats received 93% of union donations, 80% of PIA donations, 75% of trade association donations, and 70% of corporate donations.

Among Senate races, Democratic candidates outnumbered Republican candidates 19 to 14 and out-raised Republicans by more than a 3:1 ratio. Democrats received 92% of all union donations, 88% of trade association donations, 80% of PIA donations, and 70% of corporate donations."

Researcher Sydney Evans, author of the report, said he was struck in retrospect by just how much Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman spent.

"She basically singlehandedly (accounted for) a third of the money in the entire election season," he said. To identify overall trends, therefore, he also made calculations that eliminated personal spending by candidates from the data.

"You see some of the real California politics at work when you take away some of the outliers," he said.

The group also produced plenty of customizable charts of the spending.

March 29, 2012
California commission defers action on state officeholder pay

Much talk, no action -- yet. California's Citizens Compensation Commission spent two hours today discussing state officeholder compensation, but no decisions were made and none of its members suggested raising pay of legislators or other statewide officeholders.

Chairman Tom Dalzell said he suspects that the state's budget crisis would bar any pay hike, even if there were sentiment to do so when the commission reconvenes in May to consider any written motions submitted by members.

Today, commissioners identified several issues they may want to consider in the future -- whether senators should be paid more than Assembly members because of larger districts, for example, and whether California's prohibition on legislative pension benefits should be taken into consideration in comparing pay to other states.

March 29, 2012
Actress Geena Davis to lead California women's commission

geenadavis.jpg Geena Davis has a new leading role to add to her resume.

The Academy Award-winning actress has been elected to chair the California Commission on the Status of Women. The leadership decision was announced at an event at Mount St. Mary's College held to unveil a new report by the agency, which promotes equality and justice and advises lawmakers on issues that affect the state's female population.

"I am honored to lead the critical work of the Commission to improve the lives of all women and girls in California," Davis said in a statement announcing her new post. "It's not just an issue of gender equality; it's also an economic issue. Addressing inequalities is good not only for women, but also for California as a whole."

Davis, who founded the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, was appointed to the commission by fellow film star and then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010. Her new lead could be short lived, however. Gov. Jerry Brown called for eliminating the nonpartisan agency in his 2012-2013 budget proposal. His office says the move would save the state an estimated $270,000.

PHOTO CREDIT: Geena Davis in 2005 Associated Press/ Kathy Willens)

March 29, 2012
Steinberg: GOP budget plan is 'rehash' with one-time fixes

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said Thursday he considers the Republican budget plan a "rehash" that is legally questionable and would not solve California's fundamental budget problems.

Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats have gone all-in on their multibillion-dollar November tax initiative, which they say will spare the state from deep education cuts this year and from deficit problems in the future.

Republicans issued their own budget plan Thursday to refute that argument, saying that Democrats do not need higher taxes to fully fund schools and that a growing economy and spending restraint will rescue the state in the coming years.

March 29, 2012
California lawmakers don hoodies in support of Trayvon Martin

Jon Ortiz has used Storify to tell the tale, collecting photos, tweets and other information from the Web. This post will take a little time to load, but it's worth the wait.

March 29, 2012
California lawmaker arrested on suspicion of drunk driving

RogerHernandezBookingPhoto.JPGBy Jim Sanders

A California lawmaker was arrested this week for suspicion of drunken driving.

Democratic Assemblyman Roger Hernandez was arrested in the parking lot of the Crowne Plaza Hotel after he failed a field sobriety test and refused to take a breathalyzer test, Concord Police Chief Guy Swanger said.

Officers stopped Hernandez's white Toyota Camry about 2 a.m. Tuesday after they observed the car weaving from side to side in its lane on Concord Avenue, then turn suddenly onto Meridian Park Boulevard without signaling, Swanger said.

Hernandez, a first-term assemblyman who serves as the Democratic Caucus's assistant majority whip, was taken intially to the Concord Police Department for a blood test and later booked at the Contra Costa County jail in Martinez, Swanger said.

The West Covina lawmaker said Thursday that he had been visiting a friend in the Bay Area shortly before the incident occurred. He said he is confident that test results will show he was not drunk.

"After dinner I had a couple of drinks and because of the late hour I decided to stay in the town of Concord," Hernandez said.

March 29, 2012
Republicans propose California budget with state worker pay cut

Legislative Republicans rolled out a budget plan Thursday that relies on cutting state worker pay, eliminating affordable housing funds and using pots of money dedicated for mental health and childhood development.

Republicans believe their plan eliminates the state's $9.2 billion deficit without new taxes and preserves the same amount of funding for education that existed last year. They say it undercuts Gov. Jerry Brown's argument that voters must pass higher taxes in November to spare schools from deep reductions.

"The state budget is a reflection of priorities and there is no reason to hold our schools hostage to the uncertainties of the proposed tax increase initiative that may not benefit our students," GOP legislative and budget leaders wrote in a joint letter. "With political will, we can work together in a bipartisan manner to ensure that our schools are protected from trigger cuts, whether the Governor's tax initiative is ultimately accepted or rejected by the voters."

Democrats have all but written off Republicans in this year's budget process because they have majority-vote budget authority and are going directly to voters for a tax hike on sales and upper-income earners. Brown has said that if voters reject the tax hike, the state will need to cut about $2.4 billion in K-14 classroom funds, equal to three weeks of school, as well as cut $200 million each from the state's university systems.

March 29, 2012
VIDEO: California lawmakers don hoodies

A handful of state lawmakers wore gray-hooded sweatshirts this morning at this morning's session, taking up the symbol of solidarity and protest that has sprung up around the country over the slaying of Trayvon Martin.

Sen. Curren Price, who gaveled the session to order, wore one of the hoodies over his suit jacket and tie. Other Democrats, including Juan Vargas, donned the sweatshirts bearing "In memory of Trayvon Martin" stenciled in black letters on back.

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, put on his sweatshirt before addressing the Senate.

Martin's Feb. 26 death has reignited a national debate about race. The 17-year-old was wearing a hoodie when he was shot and killed in Sanford, Fla., by George Zimmerman, a self-described neighborhood watch captain. Zimmerman claimed self-defense under Florida's "stand your ground" law and has not been charged.

Martin's family and those who support them say he was a victim of racial profiling and that law enforcement officials haven't adequately investigated the teen's death.

Hoodie-wearing protesters around the country have said Martin's killing is part of a larger pattern of injustice against African American men. On Wednesday, Rep. Bobby Rush, a Democrat from Illinois, wore a hooded sweatshirt on the floor of the House of Representatives. Rep. Gregg Harper, a Mississippi Republican who was presiding over the chamber, kicked Rush out of the chamber for violating a dress code ban on hats.

March 29, 2012
GOP's Linda Halderman and Democrat push guest worker bill

halderman.jpgA Fresno Republican has joined forces with a Coachella Democrat to push legislation aimed at granting worker permits for undocumented immigrants who have been living for years in California.

Republican Linda Halderman and Democrat V. Manuel Perez are co-authors of the measure, Assembly Bill 1544. They jointly shared their views in an opinion article in today's Bee.

The two Assembly members said it's time to end the predictable chorus of "Deport them all!" from the political right wing, and "Amnesty for all!" from liberal Democrats.

"We're tired of waiting for a federal solution," they wrote. "We're tired of politics as usual. And so we are taking a risk."

March 29, 2012
AM Alert: Lawmakers don hoodies in Trayvon Martin's memory

DAN WALTERS DAILY: Dan's video report lays out California's recent history on workers compensation as well as a likely scenario for an upcoming war in the Legislature.

Today's sartorial choice under the dome may well be a hoodie.

Both the Assembly and the Senate have floor sessions set for 9 a.m., and members of the Black, Latino and Asian Pacific Islander caucuses are holding a news conference afterward to urge justice for Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teen who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer last month. They'll be donning hoodies in solidarity with Martin's family members, who have called him a victim of racial profiling.

Word is that Sen. Roderick Wright, a Southern California Democrat, plans on adjourning the upper house in memory of the teen and has encouraged members to wear hoodies as the chamber is adjourned. The presser starts at 10 a.m. in the Governor's Press Room, Room 1190.

With Cesar Chavez Day being celebrated Friday, the Legislature starts its spring recess after the Assembly and the Senate adjourn. Both houses will reconvene April 9.

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is visiting Northern California, with a stop in Fairfield this afternoon for a public rally at the Jelly Belly Candy Co. followed by a reception there. The campaign is soliciting contributions of $5,000 per host couple, $2,500 for a patron and $1,000 for a sponsor, according to an announcement for the event. You can see a flier for the rally at this link.

Santorum has a second fundraiser on his calendar tonight as well at the Alamo home of Ubokia CEO Mark Pine and his wife, Becky, where the tickets aren't quite so steep. You can find that flier here. (H/t to the Bay Area News Group's Josh Richman, who reported this last week.)

Two ballot titles come up for hearings today in Sacramento Superior Court: Democratic congressional candidate Jose Hernandez's use of the word "astronaut" and GOP Assemblywoman Beth Gaines' use of the term "small business owner." Today's the day that the Secretary of State's Office issues a certified list of candidates, so the judges won't be dawdling over their decisions.

TREE PLANTING: State and Consumer Services Agency Secretary Anna Caballero is joining Japan's Consul General Hiroshi Inomata at 10 a.m. to recognize the centennial anniversary of that nation's donation of cherry blossom trees to the United States. Japan has donated three trees that will be planted in Capitol Park by the Vietnam Memorial.

NATIONAL GUARD: Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez and Major General David S. Baldwin, who is adjutant general for the California National Guard, are announcing the Assembly's $500,000 contribution to help establish a pilot program, "Work for Warriors," intended to reduce unemployment and underemployment among the state's Guard members. The event starts at 11:30 a.m. in the Capitol's Room 317.

TOWN HALL: Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, is hosting a town hall from 7 to 9 p.m. at the California High School Theater in San Ramon on the controversial health care overhaul. Listed speakers include Herb Schultz, a regional director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Diana Dooley, secretary of California's Health and Human Services Agency; and Brent Barnhart, director of the state Department of Managed Health Care.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, celebrates his 43rd birthday today.

March 29, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Let the work comp war commence

VIDEO: Dan talks about the upcoming legislative war over workers' compensation in California.

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.


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

More Capitol Alert

Capitol Alert on Twitter

Popular Categories

Now on


November 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Monthly Archives

Latest California Clips