Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

October 31, 2012
Judge confirms ruling against mystery donor to ballot campaigns

A Sacramento Superior Court judge confirmed tonight her ruling against an obscure Arizona campaign group, saying the failure to investigate the source of its funds would cause irreparable harm to California voters.

Judge Shelleyanne W.L. Chang's final ruling ordered Phoenix-based Americans for Responsible Leadership, which donated $11 million to kill Gov. Jerry Brown's tax increase in Proposition 30 and support the campaign finance measure Prop. 32, to turn over information to state regulators on Thursday.

It's still far from certain, however, that voters will learn of the group's donors before Tuesday's election. The group said it will appeal, and it is unclear whether the courts can sort out the issues in expedited fashion or, even if they do, whether the state Fair Political Practices Commission will determine that donor disclosure is warranted..

"We are disappointed in the today's court ruling," Matt Ross, the Sacramento-based spokesman for the group's Virginia legal team, said in a prepared statement. "We have asserted all along that the FPPC does not have the authority to issue an audit in advance of the election. We continue to believe so and will appeal this case."

October 31, 2012
Final decision delayed in $11 million donor disclosure case

A Sacramento Superior Court judge withheld her final ruling this afternoon after listening to attorneys debate whether an out-of-state group must subject itself to an audit of its donors.

Judge Shelleyanne W.L. Chang could issue her decision later today.

Attorneys for the state's campaign watchdog agency and Phoenix-based Americans for Responsible Leadership debated whether the state could immediately audit the obscure group.

October 31, 2012
Gavin Newsom criticizes Jerry Brown in KGO Radio interview

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom two weeks ago criticized Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative approach, suggesting to KGO Radio in San Francisco that the governor was slow to hit the campaign trail and that he was telling college students "something that's not true."

Newsom spoke to KGO on Oct. 17, a day after Brown appeared at UCLA in the first of several appearances at state colleges and universities. But the interview got little statewide notice until Bee columnist Dan Morain referenced Newsom's caustic words for Brown in today's Bee. Though both Democrats who support Proposition 30, Newsom and Brown have endured a difficult relationship.

Newsom, who sits on the University of California Board of Regents and the California State University Board of Trustees, emphasized several times in a four-minute interview that Brown was misleading college students by suggesting Prop. 30 would avert tuition increases. That has since become a central part of Brown's campaign message.

"My big concern is, we went down yesterday and said there will be no tuition increase if you support this," Newsom said. "That's just not true. You can't say things like this."

October 31, 2012
Groups spend more than $20 million on CA legislative races

Independent groups have spent more than $20 million on state legislative contests ahead of Tuesday's election.

The heaviest spending has occurred in two Sacramento-area seats so far. Independent expenditure committees reported spending nearly $2.7 million through Oct. 30 on the 5th Senate District battle between Republican Assemblyman Bill Berryhill and Democratic Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani. The Stockton-based seat is one of three swing districts that could determine whether Senate Democrats win a two-thirds majority in the upper house.

The 8th Assembly District is home to the second most expensive race, with outside groups dropping more than $2.5 million. Democrat Ken Cooley and Republican Peter Tateishi are fighting for that suburban Sacramento seat.

Spending by independent expenditure committees is certain to increase in the last week of the campaign, as the groups make their final appeals to voters. The committees can raise and spend unlimited amounts on state elections, provided they do not coordinate with candidate campaigns.

October 31, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Why is Jerry Brown campaigning at colleges?

Dan says Gov. Jerry Brown may be spending too much time on campus as he campaigns for Proposition 30.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 31, 2012
AM Alert: Jerry Brown, Jon Coupal fire salvos in Prop. 30 war

VIDEO: Dan Walters wonders why Gov. Jerry Brown is spending so much time on college campuses instead of trying to woo middle-age voters.

With six days to go before Election Day, Gov. Jerry Brown is in Los Angeles today, delivering what's being billed as a major luncheon address on his tax measure, Proposition 30. The Town Hall Los Angeles event starts at 12:30 p.m. at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. Registration is closed, but you can learn more at this link.

Meanwhile, Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, and John Kabateck, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business of California, hold a No on Proposition 30 presser at 2 p.m. in San Diego at Tuna Harbor Park.

Stay tuned for the latest Field Poll to be published Thursday gauging voter's views on both Brown's measure and Molly Munger's Proposition 38.

Back in the capital, a Sacramento Superior Court judge conducts a hearing at 1:30 p.m. in Department 44 on the Fair Political Practices Commission's lawsuit against an Arizona nonprofit over its anonymous $11 million campaign contribution. The judge has tentatively ruled that the FPPC has the authority to audit a nonprofit before an election, The Bee's Kevin Yamamura reported in this post.

The hearing was postponed from Tuesday after the group's lawyers had a hard time getting here from Virginia because of Sandy's grip on the East Coast. If the tentative ruling holds, the state wants the group, Americans for Responsible Leadership, to give the FPPC its donor information by 4 p.m. Thursday so the agency can do an audit before Election Day.

Down in the south state, Daphne Phung of California against Slavery holds a Yes on Proposition 35 presser at 11:30 a.m. in front of San Bernardino City Hall with San Bernardino County Supervisor Josie Gonzales and San Bernardino District Attorney Michael Ramos to urge voters to back the anti-human trafficking measure.

In other campaign news, recording artist MC Hammer will be in Stockton next Monday to back Rep. Jerry McNerney, the Democratic incumbent facing Republican challenger Ricky Gill in the Central Valley's 9th Congressional District. (Hat tip to Josh Richman of the Bay Area News Group.)

That would be the @MCHammer who tweeted last week: "Without Prop. 30, our schools and colleges face an additional $6 billion in devastating cuts this year. #YesonProp30." He also directed several tweets to California university campuses.

October 30, 2012
Court says Arizona group must provide donor information in CA election

A Sacramento Superior Court judge tentatively ruled Tuesday that an obscure Arizona nonprofit must document the source of its $11 million initiative contribution, siding with the state's Fair Political Practices Commission.

The state campaign watchdog agency and Gov. Jerry Brown have railed against Phoenix-based Americans for Responsible Leadership for cloaking its contributors, saying voters deserve to know who is behind the eight-figure check. The funds went to a business committee opposed to Brown's tax initiative, Proposition 30, and supportive of a measure restricting union dues collection, Proposition 32.

FPPC chairwoman Ann Ravel has said her agency is trying to determine whether ARL violated state campaign disclosure rules, which require a nonprofit to reveal its contributors if funds were earmarked for an initiative effort. The commission is seeking everything from donor e-mails to financial transaction records to determine if a violation took place, which would trigger further action that could lead to public disclosure.

Judge Shelleyanne W.L. Chang wrote in a tentative ruling this afternoon that the FPPC has the authority to audit a nonprofit before an election and agreed that voters "will suffer irreparable harm" because they will never know the donors they potentially have the right to know.

October 30, 2012
Feud with Mary Hayashi enters Alameda supervisor race

Democratic Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi's last days in the lower house apparently won't mark the end of her long-running battle with a faction of physical therapists.

A Southern California physical therapist who has battled for years with the Castro Valley Democrat over legislation affecting his trade is leading a new committee aimed at derailing the termed-out legislator's bid for an open seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

MORALS PAC, which stands for Masses Organizing Research Against Lying and Stealing Opposing Mary, distributed its first anti-Hayashi mail piece this week. The piece hits Hayashi not on legislative actions opposed by physical therapists, but her 2011 arrest on suspicion of taking more than $2,000 worth of clothes from a San Francisco Nieman Marcus without paying.

The mailer, designed as a riff on a movie poster for the 1998 comedy "There's Something About Mary," says the candidate's "political ambition and lavish lifestyle is starting to cloud her judgment and her ability to be an effective politician."

"Shoplifting is obviously a much more newsworthy thing than patients being denied access to physical therapy services," said Paul Gaspar, the physical therapist chairing the committee.

Hayashi, who pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor shoplifting charge, maintains the theft was not intentional. She is one of four candidates seeking to replace former Supervisor Nadia Lockyer, who stepped down earlier this year after her struggle with addiction and issues with her marriage to state Treasurer Bill Lockyer's became public.

Gaspar said the effort was created out of concerns that Hayashi will use the vacant supervisor seat as a stepping stone to return to the Legislature in 2014, when a state Senate seat in her area will be up for grabs.

"There's a pattern of behavior here with her dishonesty and the way she's acted not in the public's or the patients' best interest," he said.

Hayashi's political strategist could not immediately be reached for comment on this ad.

SomethingaboutMary1st Mailer

October 30, 2012
Ami Bera puts focus on women's health issues in final stretch

fluke.JPGDemocratic congressional candidate Ami Bera is making issues surrounding women's reproductive health central to his closing argument in the 7th Congressional District.

With one week to go until Election Day, the Elk Grove Democrat brought in activist Sandra Fluke to speak to supporters, and launched a new television spot attacking GOP Rep. Dan Lungren on his positions on abortion and access to contraception.

Bera framed the issue as a personal one when speaking to supporters at his Elk Grove campaign office this morning, citing his experiences as a doctor and a father to a teenage girl. But he also slammed the Republican-controlled Congress for "rolling back" health care access for women while the economy is in rough shape, calling such actions the "greatest travesty."

"They've forgotten what they were elected to do," he said.

October 30, 2012
California's litigation rate fuels long-running Capitol battle

One of the California Capitol's longest running conflicts pits personal injury attorneys against business, professional and insurance lobbies over the rules governing lawsuits -- who can sue whom and collect how much.

The conflict has continued in dozens of specific legislative and ballot measure battles over such issues as pain and suffering damages in medical malpractice cases, third-party liability for injuries, auto insurance underwriting standards and "bad faith" handling of insurance claims.

Just this year, the "tort warriors," as they have been dubbed, clashed over lawyer-backed legislation that, if enacted, would have overturned a state Supreme Court decision limiting recovery of medical costs to those actually paid, rather than what medical care providers billed.

It's also been a media war as the contending factions constantly exchange allegations about the extent of litigation in California.

October 30, 2012
New problem for Roger Hernandez: Woman claims he struck her

Thumbnail image for Roger Hernandez.JPGA 31-year-old woman has obtained an emergency order against Assemblyman Roger Hernandez, claiming that the West Covina Democrat caused "visible injury" by striking her with a belt and slamming her against the wall during an argument last summer.

The woman "fears for her safety due to Hernandez using cocaine," according to her application for a protective order, which was signed by a judicial commissioner Sunday.

The incident marks Hernandez's second brush with the law this year. He was arrested in March on a charge of drunken driving in Concord, but later was acquitted of the charge in a jury trial.

Hernandez, through his chief of staff, characterized the incident as a personal matter and referred calls to attorney Anthony Falangetti, who said, "I can tell you flat out that all of this is a complete fabrication, it's totally bogus."

Hernandez and the woman had been involved in a relationship, but no longer are, Falangetti said. He declined to elaborate.

Asked specifically about the allegation of cocaine use, Falangetti called it "ridiculous" and "absurd." Hernandez will submit to a drug test to refute that accusation, the attorney said.

The newly issued emergency order was served Sunday on Hernandez. It will remain in effect until 5 p.m. Friday, after which the woman must decide whether to seek a temporary restraining order in court.

October 30, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Candidates campaigning against future employers?

Dan says some of the campaign messages in this year's legislative and congressional races are a little odd.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 30, 2012
AM Alert: Limbaugh target Sandra Fluke to campaign for Ami Bera

VIDEO: Dan Walters says campaigns are slamming more than their opponents this election season.

NOT A FLUKE: A woman made famous by Rush Limbaugh is coming to Sacramento today to help Democrat Ami Bera in his effort to land a seat in Congress. Sandra Fluke was a Georgetown law student when she testified to a Congressional committee earlier this year about requiring health insurance plans to cover birth control. Her 15 minutes soon followed when Limbaugh called her a slut.

Bera, who is trying to replace Republican Rep. Dan Lungren in the race to represent the 7th Congressional District in suburban Sacramento, sees today's event as an opportunity to play up the candidates' contrasting positions on abortion.

"There's a real difference in how Dan Lungren views the individual freedoms of women, the issue of choice, and how I view it," Bera said Monday.

PROPOSITION 30: Gov. Jerry Brown continues his push for the Proposition 30 tax increase today with a noontime rally on the campus of Cal State Los Angeles. His campaign is billing it as an event with Latino leaders, and says Brown is expected to be joined by Angelinos Sen. Kevin de León, Assemblyman Gil Cedillo and Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association.

MOCK THE VOTE: Secretary of State Debra Bowen will be at Sacramento's Mira Loma High School today promoting a mock election program that more than 1,300 California schools are participating in this year. Students will be casting unofficial votes for President, U.S. Senate and the 11 statewide ballot propositions. Bowen will offer up some mock tricks and mock treats when she announces the results tomorrow. Mwahahahaha.

October 29, 2012
Arizona group cites 'Citizens United' ruling in opposing FPPC

Attorneys representing an obscure Arizona nonprofit that spent $11 million this month on California initiative wars today cited the federal "Citizens United" campaign speech ruling as one reason the group does not have to disclose its donors.

Americans for Responsible Leadership faces a lawsuit from the state Fair Political Practices Commission, which has demanded the group turn over communications and transactions data related to an $11 million check ARL gave a business campaign committee this month. FPPC chairwoman Ann Ravel said the commission is trying to determine whether the group violated California disclosure rules.

The group's money has gone toward fighting Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, Proposition 30, and supporting a measure restricting union dues collection, Proposition 32.

October 29, 2012
Jerry Brown urges student vote for tax measure, $250 refund

CHICO - Gov. Jerry Brown suggested this afternoon that his campaign to raise taxes will make no major changes in the final week before Election Day, calling his prospects "darn good" despite flagging support in public surveys.

Rallying several hundred students at California State University, Chico, Brown appealed to students to turn out for the election in part for the tuition refund checks they are promised if Proposition 30 passes.

"It's pretty simple," Brown said. You know, 'Yes' means money into schools, 'No' means money out of schools. 'Yes' means $250 in your pocket, 'No' means no $250 in your pocket. It's pretty simple. This is about third grade arithmetic. It's money in or money out."

October 29, 2012
Assembly candidate's illegal entry becomes campaign headache

Republican Pedro Rios' candidacy has sparked controversy in a Central Valley Assembly district after it was publicly revealed that he came to the United States, at age 9, as an undocumented immigrant.

Rios, who is now a legal citizen, is running against Democrat Rudy Salas in the 32nd Assembly District of Kern and Kings counties.

Reporter Jose Gaspar, in a Bakersfield Californian column, describes the local Republican Party as in "damage control mode" over the Rios revelation.

Read Gaspar's column here.

October 29, 2012
See which California legislators are most loyal to their party

With Election Day just over a week away, many California legislators and candidates are highlighting their interest in working across the aisle.

But voting records suggest those promises won't translate to frequent splits from the party line once they get to Sacramento.

An analysis of voting records by The Bee's Phillip Reese found that even the most independent legislators voted against the majority of members of their party less than 10 percent of the time.

See the full analysis, as well as a ranking of the most and least independent legislators when it comes to party loyalty, at this link.

October 29, 2012
Think tank report slams Jerry Brown's school finance plan

Gov. Jerry Brown has been seeking implementation of a "weighted student formula" that would give more school money to districts with high levels of poverty and other educational impediments and low levels of achievement.

But the proposal has been a hard sell in the Legislature, because districts that would lose money under the redistribution plan are opposed. This year, the Legislature passed only legislation that would create a "task force" to study the issue, but Brown vetoed Assembly Bill 18, saying, "a task force ... may actually delay action on reforms" and adding, "Rather than create a task force, let's work together and craft a fair weighted student formula."

The issue is expected to be joined again in 2013, but prospects for increasing overall school financing are dim. Brown's own tax measure, Proposition 30, is fading, and a rival tax measure just for schools, Proposition 38, is faring even worse. And without more money to lubricate the politics of the situation, districts that would lose under a weighted formula would be even less willing to accept it.

Brown's proposal, which has never been fully fleshed out, is now receiving flak from another source, Education Trust-West, an education think tank based in Oakland. It has issued a report that enthusiastically embraces a weighted formula, noting that only a handful of states are not using such a system, but says that Brown's proposal may fall short.

October 29, 2012
California teacher unions rated as nation's 6th most powerful

California's teacher unions - principally the huge California Teachers Association - are the nation's sixth strongest when it comes to raising money and influencing politics and educational policy, according to a new study by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an educational think tank in Washington, D.C. The group, which includes former U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige on its board, advocates for charter schools.

The report was issued just a week before California teacher unions' fundraising prowess and influence are tested by two big ballot measures, Proposition 30, which would raise taxes by $6 billion a year, and Proposition 32, which would severely curtail unions' ability to raise political funds from their members. The CTA and other unions support the former and oppose the latter and at the moment, both appear headed for defeat.

October 29, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: 'Wild attacks' in the forecast this week

Dan says that Californians can expect "the people who think they're losing" to make "wild attacks on their opponents" in the last week before Election Day.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 29, 2012
AM Alert: Brace for the final onslaught of mailers and TV ads

VIDEO: Dan Walters forecasts "wild attacks" this week before Election Day.

It's down to the wire. Expect mailers stuffing your postal box and wall-to-wall TV ads demanding your eyeballs.

As Matt Rexroad, Yolo County supervisor and Republican consultant, tweeted last week, "I don't really know congressmen (Jerry) McNerney or (Dan) Lungren -- but I am kind of sick of seeing them on my television."

Secretary of State Debra Bowen will be announcing the latest official statistics on registered voters Friday. The last certified numbers from Sept. 7 showed more than 17.2 million Californians are registered. Since then, more than 679,000 state residents have been added to the voter rolls, and county officials will be hard at work this week to finish up their eligibility check of the last-minute registrants who made the Oct. 22 deadline.

Friday's total may be a record. The record high thus far, set in February 2009, topped 17.3 million. And the vote-by-mail ballots are already streaming in.

Other examples of democracy in action include a women's rights march today to protest Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, and his votes on equal pay and other issues. That event starts at 11 a.m. at the Westfield Galleria Mall in Roseville. Listed participants include California NOW president Patricia Bellasalma.

Meanwhile, the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy in Sacramento and others are hosting a panel discussion tonight of Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30 and Molly Munger's Proposition 38, two of the three tax initiatives on the ballot.

Dan Schnur, the director of the USC Unruh Institute of Politics, will moderate. Panelists include Juliet Musso, a professor of state government at USC Price School of Public Policy; John Kabateck, the co-chairman of the No on 30 campaign; Sharon Scott Dow, who's representing the Yes on 38 campaign.

The event runs from 6 to 7:45 p.m. at USC State Capital Center, 1800 I St., in Sacramento. Call 916-637-8981 for more information.

And lest you think most folks won't make it that far down the ballot, a new USC Dornsife / Los Angeles Times poll finds that 88 percent of registered voters say they vote on every race and issue, according to this Los Angeles Times blog post.

October 26, 2012
Matt Cate, head of state prison system, resigns to lead county group

RB Cate 3.JPGMatt Cate, who oversaw a dramatic, court-ordered reduction of California's prison population as secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, is resigning, the Brown administration confirmed this afternoon.

Cate will become executive director of the California State Association of Counties.

Cate was instrumental in the controversial shifting of responsibility for newly convicted, low-level offenders from prisons to county control last year, helping Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, implement the shift.

October 26, 2012
Jerry Brown: 'Only God' can watch over every state employee

SAN MATEO -- Gov. Jerry Brown this afternoon downplayed a Los Angeles television station's report of Caltrans employees using state rental trucks for personal purposes, saying "only God" can watch over every one of the state's hundreds of thousands of public employees.

"Caltrans has been looking at it. I would be glad to look into it," the Democratic governor said after a speech to the California state conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

"If somebody took some time off to do something, we'll find it, but, you know, to blow it up like it's some major thing -- there are 300,000 employees in the state of California, and I'd like to watch over all of them, but I think only God can accomplish that."

The report, by CBS 2 in Los Angeles, included video surveillance it said showed state workers using rental vehicles to run personal errands during business hours. It included video of a confrontation between Brown and reporter David Goldstein in which Brown said Goldstein is "like a thug."

October 26, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Do Willie Nelson lyrics tell Prop. 30's fate?

Dan invokes some lyrics penned by singer-songwriter Willie Nelson and wonders, given the latest polls, whether they're going through Gov. Jerry Brown's head.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 26, 2012
AM Alert: Jerry Brown heads to UC Santa Cruz, NAACP confab

VIDEO: Dan Walters mentions singer-songwriter Willie Nelson and Gov. Jerry Brown, not quite in the same sentence.

With Election Day looming, Gov. Jerry Brown takes his pitch on Proposition 30 to UC Santa Cruz today, with a news conference scheduled for 9:30 a.m. at Quarry Plaza.

Brown then heads to San Mateo, where he'll give a luncheon talk at the California state conference of the NAACP.

The governor stood Thursday with San Francisco business leaders backing the measure, continuing his attack on opponents of the measure, as David Siders reported in this Capitol Alert post.

"Finally," he said of the Fair Political Practices Commission suing a mystery Arizona nonprofit that has dropped $11 million into a business committee opposing Prop. 30 and supporting Prop. 32. A court hearing is scheduled Tuesday.

State schools chief Tom Torlakson, meanwhile, heads to Gonsalves Elementary School in Cerritos for a Yes on Prop. 30 presser this morning with school superintendents from Los Angeles and elsewhere in Southern California. Los Angeles Community College students have scheduled their own Yes on 30 event. They'll be walking from City Hall to the governor's office on N. Spring St. this afternoon.

Back in the north state, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom talks jobs as he delivers a keynote talk and moderates a panel on green economy partnerships. The event, hosted by the state Public Utilities Commission, runs from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. in the commission auditorium at 505 Van Ness Ave. in San Francisco. Click here for more information.

This weekend, a group of cyclists backing Proposition 37 on food labeling leave the San Francisco Ferry Building on Saturday morning and plan to meet up Sunday morning at the downtown Sacramento farmers market at Eighth and W streets, then ride to the Capitol at noon. They're calling themselves the Ride to Know.

CAKE AND CANDLES: There's no shortage of birthdays to celebrate. Secretary of State Debra Bowen, turns 57 on Saturday, while Sen. Mark Wyland, R-Solana Beach, turns 66 the same day. Two other legislators mark their natal days on Sunday, with Sen. Bill Emmerson, R-Hemet, turning 67, and Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, turning 47.

October 25, 2012
Charles Munger drops another $13 million into ballot measure fights

Wealthy heir Charles Munger Jr. has ponied up another $13 million to kill off Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30 tax increase and to pass the anti-union Proposition 32, according to new campaign finance reports.

The donations, made over the last two days, brings Munger's stake in the measures to some $35 million.

The money was sent to the Small Business Action Committee, the same organization that has received an $11 million contribution from an unknown Arizona-based group that has not disclosed its donors. That transaction has drawn interest from California's Fair Political Practices Commission, which went to court Thursday to compel Americans for Responsible Leadership to provide more documentation before the Nov. 6 election. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

Munger's latest contribution comes as new independent polls show support plummeting for both Brown's tax measure and Proposition 32, which Munger supports. Proposition 32, opposed by more than $60 million in contributions from unions, would prevent labor from feeding its political accounts from employee payroll deductions.

Munger's sister, attorney Molly Munger, has contributed $32.4 million to the effort to pass Proposition 38, a rival tax increase measure. It, too, is flailing in the latest polls.


October 25, 2012
Sacramento judge sets hearing Tuesday on $11 million donation

A Sacramento Superior Court judge scheduled a court date for Tuesday -- one week before the Nov. 6 election -- to consider whether an Arizona-based nonprofit must provide transaction data related to an $11 million donation made this month.

The state Fair Political Practices Commission sued little-known nonprofit Americans for Responsible Leadership to obtain information related to the eight-figure check and determine whether the group violated campaign disclosure laws. The group donated $11 million to a business committee that is fighting Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, Proposition 30, and supporting a measure to restrict union dues collection, Proposition 32.

After a brief hearing in a packed courtroom today, Judge Barry Loncke asked both sides to submit court filings by Monday ahead of a hearing Tuesday morning, saying the court needed more time to consider whether Americans for Responsible Leadership must provide records.

October 25, 2012
VIDEO: Jerry Brown says slipping tax measure still has 'very good chance'

SAN FRANCISCO - With public support for his tax measure falling below 50 percent for the first time two weeks before Election Day, Gov. Jerry Brown said this afternoon that the numbers are "a little puzzling" but that the campaign can still be won.

"I think we have a very good chance," Brown said at a press conference with business leaders here. "I'm not going to let anything slow me down between now and Election Day."

The Democratic governor's remarks follow the release last night of a Public Policy Institute of California poll showing support among likely voters for Proposition 30 fading to 48 percent, down from 52 percent last month. Forty-four percent of likely voters oppose the proposal to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners.

October 25, 2012
California group pushing online poker falls apart

An organization of tribes and card rooms formed two years ago to lobby for legal Internet poker in California has disbanded after spending more than a million dollars on the unsuccessful effort.

The California Online Poker Association announced today that it dissolved, a day after rumors began flying that it was disintegrating because of infighting among members.

"The decision was based upon insufficient progress within the Legislature toward the passage of an online poker bill," Ryan Hightower, the group's spokesman, said in a statement.

A handful of bills over the last three years have proposed regulating and taxing online gambling within California. But they collapsed after the state's gambling interests fought over who would profit from the new business.

October 25, 2012
Both sides use gas tax as a line of attack in Bera-Lungren race

lungrengas.JPGThis month's record-high gas prices continued to fuel attacks in the 7th Congressional District race today, as Rep. Dan Lungren again accused his rival of supporting policies that could drive up prices even more.

"The idea that all we need to do is raise taxes and drive down consumption is one that frankly may work with the elite in San Francisco, but it doesn't work very well with those of us in this district who have to live, to work, to take their kids to school, take their kids to soccer practice and things like that," the Gold River Republican said at a press conference at a Citrus Heights gas station today.

Lungren's attacks are based on comments Bera made on a telephone town hall held during the 2010 race between the two rivals. The Elk Grove Democrat said in response to a participant's question that increasing the gas tax to reduce use is "worth exploring." Bera says now that he has never supported such a policy.

October 25, 2012
Food labeling initiative Proposition 37 sliding in the polls

Proposition 37, which asks voters to require labels on genetically engineered food sold in California, is dropping in the polls as the well-funded opposition campaign pounds airwaves and mailboxes with arguments against the measure.

A USC Dornsife / Los Angeles Times poll released today shows 44 percent of surveyed voters support the initiative, down from 61 percent in September. The same poll shows those opposing it growing from 25 percent to 42 percent.

Those results are similar to recent polls released by Pepperdine University and the California Business Round Table, which showed support this month at 48 percent, down from 67 percent in September.

The No on 37 campaign has raised $35.6 million, according to MapLight, while the Yes campaign has raised $7.7 million. The opposition is funded largely by companies that make pesticides and genetically modified seeds that contain pesticides. They are running multiple television ads arguing that Proposition 37 would raise grocery prices and that genetically engineered food is safe.

October 25, 2012
California redistricting may have blocked Dem hopes for majority

When California's new independent redistricting commission unveiled its maps for 173 legislative and congressional districts last year, Republicans were dismayed.

That dismay turned to anger upon publication of an article describing a clandestine campaign by Democratic political operatives to affect the makeup of the commission and its decisions, and public claims by Democratic leaders that they might pick up as many as eight more congressional seats in California as they sought to reclaim control of Congress.

Those expectations have been throttled back to a possible gain of two or three seats in California. The consensus among political odds-makers now is that Democrats have no chance of retaking Congress this year, in part because they can't count on big gains in California's 53-member delegation.

Those lowered expectations are confirmed in a new study by the liberal Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law of the nationwide impacts of redistricting. Its report implies that California's independent redistricting, in fact, may have doomed the Democrats' chances.

October 25, 2012
State watchdog agency sues shadowy Arizona campaign donor

The state Fair Political Practices Commission sued an Arizona nonprofit this morning as it tries to determine whether the group illegally cloaked donors behind an $11 million contribution now playing a pivotal role in two state initiative contests.

Phoenix-based Americans for Responsible Leadership gave $11 million this month to a business committee opposed to Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, Proposition 30, and supportive of a measure that would restrain union dues collection, Proposition 32.

The state FPPC filed suit this morning, asking the Sacramento Superior Court to force Americans for Responsible Leadership to provide communications and transactions data between donors and the nonprofit. The matter is slated for a 2 p.m. hearing today.

October 25, 2012
Jeff Denham plans to sue Democratic committee over TV spot

Rep. Jeff Denham says he is going to court to get a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ad attacking his record on veterans off the air.

The Turlock Republican announced yesterday that he will file a lawsuit against the national Democratic organization. His campaign consultant Dave Gilliard called that ad's claims that the congressman voted to cut military pay and increase congressional salaries" false and defamatory." Gilliard said he expects the lawsuit to be filed today.

The DCCC defended the spot in a statement: "It comes as no surprise that Congressman Denham doesn't want voters to know he voted to protect his own pay but not pay for the troops but he can't run away from his record no matter how hard he tries.".

Denham, a former state legislator, is facing a challenge from Democrat Jose Hernandez in the 10th Congressional District. Outside groups are spending heavily in the race ahead of the Nov. 6 election.

Editor's Note: This post was updated at 10:58 a.m. Oct. 25, 2012 to include the DCCC statement.

October 25, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Jerry Brown accuses foes of 'Orwellian' tactics

VIDEO: Dan talks about Gov. Jerry Brown, author George Orwell and "Orwellian propaganda."

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 25, 2012
AM Alert: PPIC poll isn't good news for Propositions 30 and 38

VIDEO: Dan Walters talks about George Orwell and "Orwellian propaganda."

Gov. Jerry Brown continues stumping today for his tax initiative, Proposition 30, as a new Public Policy Institute of California poll finds that support for it among likely voters has dropped below 50 percent.

The outlook for Molly Munger's rival measure, Proposition 38, is even less bright, as David Siders reported last night.

Dean Bonner of PPIC will give a rundown of the survey results at a luncheon talk today. Lunch will be provided, and there's no charge to attend, but the organization requests advance registration. Click here for more information and to register.

The event runs from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the CSAC Conference Center, 1020 11th St., second floor, in Sacramento.

DEADLINE: Today is the day that political action committees controlled by state candidates as well as PACs backing or opposing state candidates must file a campaign disclosure statement for the period of Oct. 1-20.

MANAGED CARE: Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, conducts an oversight hearing of the Assembly Health Committee assessing managed care program initiatives at the state Department of Health Care Services. Find it in the Capitol's Room 4202 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

PORTS: Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, heads a hearing of the Select Committee on Ports at the Port of Los Angeles administration building from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The topic is port energy.

October 24, 2012
Poll: Jerry Brown's tax measure slips below 50 percent

Public support for Gov. Jerry Brown's ballot measure to raise taxes has fallen below 50 percent two weeks before Election Day, according to a new Public Policy Institute of California poll.

Forty-eight percent of likely voters support Proposition 30, down from 52 percent in September, according to the poll released tonight. Forty-four percent of likely voters oppose the initiative.

The survey comes as Brown makes a final push around the state to rally support for his proposal to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners.

The outlook for Proposition 38, the rival tax measure backed by wealthy civil rights lawyer Molly Munger, is even dimmer than for Brown's. Just 39 percent of likely voters support it, according to the poll.

Brown's job approval rating has held about steady, at 42 percent of California adults and 45 percent of likely voters. Disapproval of the state Legislature stands at 68 percent of likely voters surveyed.

Pessimism about the state's overall direction has declined since September, with 53 percent of Californians now saying the state is heading in the wrong direction, compared to 60 percent last month. Still, 80 percent of Californians believe the state is in a recession, according to the poll.

October 24, 2012
Congressional robocalls escalate Berman-Sherman contest

It's difficult to believe that the Southern California shootout between two veteran Democratic congressmen, Howard Berman and Brad Sherman, could get any nastier after their recent physical confrontation. But it has.

A political website, BuzzFeed Politics, reports that two other Southern California congressmen, Democrat Henry Waxman and Republican Elton Gallegly, have recorded robocalls to voters in the San Fernando Valley's 30th Congressional District in which they disparage Sherman's character.

Gallegly terms Sherman's grabbing Berman during a debate "unacceptable" while Waxman, Berman's long-time partner in a local political organization, calls Sherman "an embarrassment."

Also Wednesday, the House Democrats' No. 2 leader, minority whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland, endorsed Berman, who has received backing from virtually every prominent California Democrat, including Gov. Jerry Brown.

Berman, however, needs all the help he can get. Polls have shown him running behind Sherman, who has represented most of the 30th CD in the past. The two were thrown together in the redistricting plan written by a voter-approved independent state commission.

October 24, 2012
Beware the barbarians? New group sends mail in Senate race

With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, barbarians are entering the fray in the heated 5th Senate District race.

A new committee going by the name of "Barbarians at the Gate" is sending mail pieces opposing Democrat Cathleen Galgiani in her bid for the San Joaquin County swing seat.

The committee, first noted by daily political email newsletter The Nooner, has reported spending almost $12,000 so far.

Chris Orrock, who is working as a political consultant for the committee, said the name is "just a reference to what's happening in California politics."

"It can be taken any way. It can be that there's barbarians at the gate of California trying to take over, or it could be that there's other people behind the gate trying to defend it," he said.

Orrock, who is president of the Elk Grove Republicans, said the barbarian PAC isn't connected with that organization.

As for who is backing the PAC, Orrock described its contributors as "business sources in the Central Valley." He said forthcoming reports will list donors supporting the initial mail piece, which targets Galgiani's support for high-speed rail.

Orrock's committee isn't the only group spending in the battle between Galgiani and Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, R-Stockton. Independent expenditure committees have dropped nearly $2 million to influence the outcome of the race, which could determine whether Senate Democrats win a two-thirds majority in the upper house.

RELATED POSTS:

Stealth group of corporations funds pro-GOP campaign in Senate races

Independent spending on CA legislative races nears $5 million

October 24, 2012
California has lowered number of medically uninsured children

California, the nation's most populous state, also has the nation's largest number of medically uninsured children, but has lowered that number sharply in recent years, according to a new study by Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute.

Ironically, however, the study attributes that decline from 2009 to 2011, in part, to the state's Healthy Families program, which was repealed this year as part of the 2012-13 state budget, saving $13 million. Children who had been insured under Healthy Families are now being shifted into the Medi-Cal program, a move that has angered children's health advocates.

Georgetown's Center for Children and Families calculates that the number of medically uninsured California children dropped from 890,998 in 2009 to 744,797 in 2011 and the proportion from 9.5 percent of the state's children to 8 percent, just slightly above the national rate of 7.5 percent.

The 2011 rates ranged from a high of 16.2 percent in Nevada to a low of 1.7 percent in Massachusetts, the latter reflecting the universal health insurance program instituted by the state's former governor, Mitt Romney, now the Republican candidate for president. California's 8 percent rate was the 35th highest among the states.

October 24, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Californians 'getting a dose of democracy'

VIDEO: Dan says that Californians, like other Americans, are "getting a dose of democracy" in the weeks before Election Day, thanks to more competitive races.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 24, 2012
AM Alert: California campaigns go full throttle

VIDEO: Dan Walters says Californians are "getting a dose of democracy" these days, just like in other states.

With the election just two weeks away, candidates are scrambling for recognition, trying to draw attention to their work for better levees, fresh food, green jobs, and on behalf of little people. Here's what some campaigns are up to today:

Democratic Rep. John Garamendi, in a fierce competition to hold onto his seat in Congress, holds a morning press conference at the Freeport Regional Water Project Facility in Sacramento on what he describes as the need to strengthen the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta levees and conduct a cost-benefit analysis of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. Also on the agenda are a few more candidates on next month's ballot: Democrats Sen. Lois Wolk and Assemblywomen Mariko Yamada and Cathleen Galgiani, and Republican Assemblyman Bill Berryhill.

In the afternoon, Garamendi and two other Democratic congressional candidates --Ami Bera and Jose Hernandez -- will be joined by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to walk precincts in Sacramento and Modesto. In addition to pushing their own campaigns, the candidates will ask voters to approve Proposition 30 and reject Proposition 32 -- key goals for organized labor.

Labor leaders are also coming out today for Tom Steyer, the (former) hedge fund manager behind Proposition 39. He is holding a presser in San Francisco touting support for his measure from business, labor and environmental leaders. Joining him will be Art Pulaski of the California Labor Federation; Jim Lazarus of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce; Timothy Donovan of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, David Hochschild of Solaria, Lisa Hoyos of the BlueGreen Apollo Alliance, David Festa of the Environmental Defense Action Fund, and Brian Brennan of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

Democratic Assemblyman Richard Pan, running for re-election, is touring the Fresh Producer's program at Hiram Johnson High School in Sacramento, a program that promotes healthy eating. Scheduled to appear with him are Sacramento City Council members Kevin McCarty and Jay Schenirer.

Democratic Assemblyman Jared Huffman, who is running for Congress, presents a resolution declaring October as "Dwarfism Awareness Month." Huffman joins members of Little People of America for an 11 a.m. presser on the Capitol's north steps.

And lest we forget that there are also a couple guys running for president. Republican Mitt Romney will headline a rally this morning in nearby Reno, at 11:45 a.m. at the Reno Events Center. President Barack Obama touches down in California briefly this evening to tape an appearance on the Jay Leno show.

NEW JOB: Jack Scott, the former legislator who retired last month as chancellor of the state's 112 community colleges, has landed a new gig as a higher education consultant. He's joining the College Brain Trust, a Sacramento firm that provides advice to community colleges, private colleges and other education agencies.

October 23, 2012
Californians had fourth highest state-local tax burden in 2010

Californians paid the nation's fourth highest state and local taxes in 2010, as a percentage of personal income, and 13th highest on a per-capita basis, according to an annual compilation by the Washington-based Tax Foundation.

The tax burden snapshot reflected, in part, temporary income and sales taxes that then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had enacted in 2009.

Those taxes have since expired, due to rejection by voters, but Gov. Jerry Brown is sponsoring a new income and sales tax measure, Proposition 30, on the Nov. 6 ballot that would raise about $6 billion a year, or roughly 0.37 percent of personal income.

The Tax Foundation pegs Californians' state-local tax burden in 2010 at 11.2 percent of personal income, more than a percentage point higher than the national average of 9.9 percent and topped only by No. 1 New York at 12.8 percent, New Jersey's 12.4 percent and Connecticut's 12.3 percent. Alaskans had the lowest burden of 7 percent, largely reflecting the state's massive oil extraction revenues.

It was slightly higher than the 11 percent calculated for California by the Tax Foundation for 2009. Since 1977, the state's lowest level was 10.2 percent in 1985.

In per capita terms, Californians paid an average of $4,934 in state and local taxes in 2010, based on an average per capita personal income of $43,919, 13th highest. Connecticut topped the states at $6,984 per capita.

October 23, 2012
Andy Pugno releases radio attack and asks donors to keep it on the air

Assembly candidate Andy Pugno, whose strapped coffers have forced him to run a low-profile campaign, launched a radio offensive this week attacking opponent Beth Gaines as an "insider politician" who is "hiding from voters."

Pugno and Gaines, a two-year assemblywoman, are Republicans vying for the newly drawn 6th District Assembly seat, based in Placer County but stretching into Folsom, Fair Oaks, Orangevale and El Dorado Hills.

Pugno said his 60-second ad began running Monday on about a half-dozen radio stations.

"The message of the ad is that California's problems have been caused by insiders from both parties and real change requires replacing the insiders with new blood," the Folsom attorney said.

Pugno's campaign has been strapped for cash, and in an email Monday to donors, he asked for immediate financial help to keep his radio ad running through Election Day, Nov. 6.

"At a cost of $110 each time the ad runs, we urgently need to raise additional funds - and quickly - to keep this ad on the air," Pugno's e-mail says.

Disclosure statements showed that Pugno's campaign had $29,314 in cash and $132,205 in debts through Sept. 30.

Gaines characterized the ad's claim that she hides from voters as an unfair act of desperation by Pugno. She works hard to attend community events and listen to people throughout the 6th District, she said.

"My job is to stay connected to constituents, and I'm very proud of how connected I am," said Gaines, who easily finished first in the June primary while Pugno edged Democrat Reginald "Regy" Bronner to secure a spot in next month's runoff.

Pugno countered that his point is that Gaines does not identify herself as a sitting legislator in her ballot statement, which has been "widely recognized, particularly in this anti-incumbent environment, as a strategy for downplaying or hiding incumbency status."

The following is a transcript of Pugno's radio ad:

October 23, 2012
More than 1 million Californians have already voted by mail

Election Day is still two weeks away, but more than 1 million Californians have already cast a ballot.

That's according to vote-by-mail data tracked by Political Data, a firm that provides campaigns and others with voter information. The firm's latest tracking numbers show that county election officials have reported receiving ballots from about 12 percent of the state's 8.3 million residents who vote by mail.

Voting by mail has continued to grow in popularity in California. Almost half of California's 17 million registered voters now opt to receive an absentee ballot.

Political Data has gone beyond counting the number of ballots returned this year. The firm is also tracking the partisan breakdown of the early voters, including using past election performance and political donations to project the leanings of voters who don't declare a party preference. Its latest full report, distributed by firm vice president Paul Mitchell, can be viewed here.

October 23, 2012
Tom Steyer leaving San Francisco hedge fund he founded

Tom Steyer, the billionaire backer of Proposition 39 and prominent Democratic Party donor, announced Monday he plans to leave the San Francisco-based hedge fund he founded.

Steyer, 55, told investors at his Farallon Capital fund that his long-time deputy will run the $20 billion portfolio, according to Reuters.

Steyer has nearly singlehandedly backed Proposition 39, an initiative that would result in higher California taxes for multistate corporations based elsewhere. The roughly $1 billion generated would flow to the state budget and clean energy programs. Steyer has donated nearly $22 million toward the initiative this year.

October 23, 2012
Jerry Brown defends tax initiative, says 'I hate spending money'

Gov. Jerry Brown, campaigning in Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley for his ballot initiative to raise taxes, said on "Good Day LA" this morning that his initiative is not a "shell game" aimed at funding non-education programs.

He also described himself as a governor who loves to "cut stuff" but is need of additional revenue.

"I've hacked away," Brown said on the popular morning show two weeks before Election Day. "We've cut the blind and disabled, we've cut redevelopment. We've cut salaries 5 percent. My own salary's been cut 23 ... 23 percent. The Legislature's been cut 23 (percent)."

October 23, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Slate mailers just another commercial venture

VIDEO: Dan says it's the time of year for "slate mailers" to arrive.

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See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 23, 2012
AM Alert: Bill Clinton in California - again

VIDEO: The election is two weeks off and slate mailers are starting to show up. Dan Walters says they're not worth much.

California may not be seeing much in the way of presidential campaigning this election season, but the newly re-drawn congressional districts have led to plenty of competitive races for the House - and all the hoopla that accompanies a real political fight. More evidence of that is on display today as former President Bill Clinton hits the Golden State for the second time this month.

Two weeks ago Clinton came to UC Davis to endorse four NorCal congressional candidates. Today he'll be at UC Irvine, stumping for five SoCal congressional candidates. Getting the nod from the Democratic Party's big dog are: Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (CD26), Sen. Alan Lowenthal (CD47), Scott Peters (CD52), Raul Ruiz (CD36) and Mark Takano (CD41).

PROP. 30: Gov. Jerry Brown makes four campaign stops today in his pitch to get voters to approve his Proposition 30 tax increase. He's scheduled to appear at events in Los Angeles, San Diego, Bakersfield and Fresno.

CEQA: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is raising money tonight for his 2018 run for Lieutenant Governor at the home of Sacramento attorney Tina Thomas and her husband Bill Abbott. Thomas is an expert in land-use law and co-wrote the book, "Guide to the California Environmental Quality Act." She has represented major developers including Angelo K. Tsakopoulos and Mark Friedman, and worked on former state Treasurer Phil Angelides' unsuccessful campaign for governor in 2006. Steinberg, you may remember, has said that overhauling CEQA is a high priority for him in the upcoming legislative session. Tickets for tonight's event start at $250.

I-POKER: The National Congress of American Indians continues its annual conference today at the Sacramento Convention Center with a discussion about Internet gambling. Several attempts to legalize online gambling have fallen flat in California but the issue is still percolating here and across the country as tribes see a potential money-maker and state governments see a source of tax revenue. Speaking today are Mark Macarro, chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians; Robert Martin, chairman of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians; Jason Giles, executive director of the National Indian Gaming Association; and W. Ron Allen, chairman of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe.

SENATE: The state Senate is holding two hearings today: The Elections committee meets in Santa Ana to discuss voter participation, while the Health and Human Services committee discusses developmental centers under the Dome.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Best wishes to Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, D-Davis, on her 62nd birthday.

October 22, 2012
Jerry Brown's dog, Sutter, dispatched to help tax campaign

Some politicians reward their campaign volunteers with dinner or a signed photograph. Gov. Jerry Brown will let you meet his dog.

The California Democratic Party announced this afternoon that Brown's Pembroke Welsh corgi, Sutter, will visit 30 Democratic field offices throughout the state on behalf of Brown's initiative to raise taxes. The animal will appear on a "limited edition Sutter Brown trading card" available to volunteers, the party said.

"With only two full weeks left before Election Day we're unleashing our cutest and cuddliest secret weapon out into the field," party spokesman Tenoch Flores said in a prepared statement.

Brown can use all the help he can get. His tax measure, Proposition 30, hangs precariously above 50 percent in public opinion polls.

Brown has previously brought his dog to campaign events. At a news conference in August, the pet came dressed in a red vest with Proposition 30 stickers on it.

October 22, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Vote early; ignore mail attacks

VIDEO: Dan says the mud is flying in California races, with highly competitive contests this year for Assembly, Senate and House seats.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 22, 2012
AM Alert: UC Davis students test app in Obama-Romney debate

VIDEO: With competitive races across California for Assembly, Senate and House seats, Dan Walters suggests voting early and ignoring the hit pieces landing in the mailbox.

Tonight's the last debate between President Barack Obama and former Gov. Mitt Romney, and UC Davis students will have their smartphones fired up and ready as they watch it.

About 50 students there will join their counterparts at at least six other universities across the country to field-test a new app, co-designed by a UC Davis faculty member, that gathers real-time reactions to allow instant polling on a large scale.

Amber Boydstun, assistant professor of political science and app co-designer, will be on hand along with Mindy Romero, a researcher with the UC Davis Center for Regional Change, at the debate-watch gathering in the UC Davis Emergency Operations Center. The debate runs from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time. Poll results will be released Tuesday morning.

Hmm. What new meme will pop up during the debate to replace Big Bird and "binders full of women"?

Back in Sacramento, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar gives the keynote talk at the National Congress of American Indians' 69th annual convention and marketplace. He's expected to discuss the Obama administration's relationship with the tribal governments of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Salazar will also introduce the department's new assistant secretary for Indian affairs, Kevin K. Washburn, a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and the former dean of the University of New Mexico School of Law. The convention is being held at the Sacramento Convention Center, 1400 J St., and Salazar is set to speak at 10:30 a.m.

ELECTION 2012: Today's the deadline for registering to vote in the Nov. 6 election. If you're a procrastinator and live in the Sacramento area, the Secretary of State's Office is hosting a registration drive, complete with balloons and costumed characters, at Cal Expo's main gate. Find it at Exposition Boulevard and Heritage Way from 11 a.m. to midnight. You also have until midnight to submit an online application at RegisterToVote.ca.gov.

October 21, 2012
VIDEO: Broadening appeal, Jerry Brown says tax initiative about jobs

OAKLAND - For the second time in as many days, Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday said his ballot measure to raise taxes is about jobs, seeking just more than two weeks before Election Day to broaden its appeal.

The Democratic governor had previously focused his campaign for Proposition 30 almost exclusively on education and the $5.4 billion in cuts to schools and community colleges the initiative would prevent this year.

The initiative would also help bolster the state budget, however, and Brown's message had become muddled in controversy with Molly Munger, the proponent of a rival tax measure, about Proposition 30's relative benefit to education.

Brown told the congregation at Acts Full Gospel Church in Oakland on Sunday that the initiative is "very important to schools, to families, to jobs and to California's future."

He was even more explicit about jobs at a campaign event in San Francisco the previous day.

"I say Proposition 30 is about jobs, because it's about kids and teachers, and they produce the brains and the skills that make the jobs of the future possible," Brown told members of the California Teachers Association on Saturday. "So Proposition 30 is about a lot of things. It's about kids, it's about teachers, it's also about the credit rating in California, it's about social harmony, it's about hope, and it's about those who've been most blessed to have an opportunity to give something back."

Brown's campaign stop at the Oakland church on Sunday was his second of the day, following a brief address at Third Baptist Church in San Francisco. In both appearances he cited a passage from the Gospel of Luke that has long been used by politicians and by Brown in his tax campaign at least since August.

"To those whom much is given, much will be required," Brown said in Oakland. "Much will be required. And this Election Day, you make sure it's required, for our kids, for the schools, for the jobs."

October 20, 2012
VIDEO: Jerry Brown, an 'all-purpose candidate,' takes call from space

SAN FRANCISCO - It is less than three weeks before Election Day, and Gov. Jerry Brown is finally out and about, reveling in his characteristically awkward, unscripted stride.

In one speech lasting less than 15 minutes, the Democratic governor described his desire to limit his hand gestures while speaking and to be an "all-purpose candidate," before taking a message he said came from outer space.

Brown, taking to the podium a sign for Proposition 30, his Nov. 6 ballot measure to raise taxes, said, "I'm going to hold onto it, so that way I won't make as many gestures."

He said, "I don't know where I learned that, but I'm talking more and more with my hands."

October 20, 2012
Jerry Brown accuses anti-tax group of illegal money laundering

SAN FRANCISCO - Gov. Jerry Brown on Saturday accused opponents of his Nov. 6 ballot measure to raise taxes of illegal money laundering, saying the committee that accepted an $11 million donation from an out-of-state group is shielding the identities of its donors because it is ashamed of them.

"I think it's crucial to find out about this stuff, and I think the law of California is violated in this respect: A committee, when it gets money, particularly of $11 million, has a duty to understand where it comes from," Brown told reporters after speaking to members of the California Teachers Association at a campaign event here. "Is this money from a foreign source? That's illegal. Is it money from terrorists? That's illegal. Or what? So, in order to assure yourself that everything is up and up, you've got to find out where it is."

October 19, 2012
FPPC focusing on getting violations fixed before Election Day

The Fair Political Practices Commission is relying on more than the threat of fines after ballots are in to enforce California campaign laws well before the Nov. 6 election.

Officials at the state political watchdog agency have been sending cease-and-desist letters to campaigns violating the Political Reform Act, advising them that they could face fines or other penalties if they don't change their actions.

"You can pay a fine after Election Day, but the damages are already done," Enforcement Division Chief Gary Winuk said. "This way, the public has the information before they decide -- the election is fair."

It's worked four times so far.

The latest case involved contributions that a committee controlled by San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed gave to an independent expenditure committee supporting Rose Herrera, who's running for San Jose City Council. Such a transaction isn't allowed under campaign finance laws.

The cash had already been spent, so it was too late for the independent committee to return the contribution. But the committee's lawyer detailed in a letter to the FPPC the efforts his clients made to keep the mailers funded by the illegal donations out of voters' homes. That included sending a representative to stop the presses at the political mail printer.

"The Committee representative was successful in stopping the distribution of two of the pieces," the letter reads, "though one piece had already been sent to the post office this afternoon."

October 19, 2012
Group calls for FPPC investigation of mystery Arizona money

121019 cressman.JPGAs details emerge about an out-of-state group that dumped $11 million into California politics this week, a good-government organization this morning called for an investigation into who is behind the money.

California Common Cause has asked the state's political watchdog commission to examine Phoenix-based Americans for Responsible Leadership and its contribution to an independent committee backing a controversial campaign finance measure on the Nov. 6 ballot, Proposition 32, and opposing Gov. Jerry Brown's tax proposal, Proposition 30.

"You know, $11 million doesn't just drop out of the sky," said Derek Cressman, Western regional director for Common Cause.

October 19, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Cash flows in California, on Sacramento airwaves

VIDEO: Dan says there's lots of campaign cash flowing in California, despite the lack of a competitive race at the top of the ticket.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 19, 2012
AM Alert: Jerry Brown, Molly Munger give tax initiatives the hard sell

VIDEO: Dan Walters says there's one segment of Sacramento's economy that's doing well. Think campaign ads.

Gov. Jerry Brown takes his tax-initiative campaign to Burbank, where he's scheduled at speak at 12:45 p.m. today at the annual business forecast conference of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, which backs his Proposition 30.

Brown continues his push this weekend as California Teachers Association members and others knock on doors and make calls in 25 cities statewide urging voters to back the measure. The governor will speak in San Francisco on Saturday, joining the union's vice president, Eric Heins, and Bay Area teachers at an 11 a.m. news conference at the SEIU Local 1021 office at 350 Rhode Island St.

Meanwhile, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson is walking precincts in Santa Rosa on Saturday morning and holding a news conference Sunday morning in San Jose. Heins will join Sacramento teachers Sunday at another presser. That one starts at 11 a.m. at the CTA's Natomas office, 4100 Truxel Road.

Lawyer-activist Molly Munger will hit the campaign trail herself this weekend, with an appearance in Sacramento at the third annual United Latinos Voter Education Forum talking up her rival tax initiative, Proposition 38.

Other listed speakers at the forum include former California Supreme Court Justice Cruz Reynoso, who'll be making a case for the state budget-related Proposition 31. That event runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Sacramento State in the University Union's Redwood Room. Click here for more information.

CAPITOL STEPS: Firefighters mark the 10th anniversary of the California Firefighters Memorial in Capitol Park with a vigil starting at 6 p.m. tonight on the north steps. The annual memorial ceremony starts at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, and 40 names will be added to the memorial wall. Firefighters will gather at 10 a.m. and walk to the memorial for the ceremony. Click here to read the program.

POLITICAL COLLECTIBLES: Campaign posters, political posters and other memorabilia abound at a collectors' gathering Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sierra 2 Center, 2791 24th St., Sacramento. Admission is $3, with kids and students with ID getting in for free.

PROP. 8: West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon portrays Judge Vaughn Walker in a reading of Dustin Lance Black's Prop. 8 play, "8," on Saturday night at the Crest Theatre, 1013 K St., Sacramento. The reading starts, appropriately enough, at 8 p.m. Tickets run from $18 to $80, and proceeds benefit the American Foundation for Equal Rights.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, celebrates his 38th birthday today, and Attorney General Kamala Harris turns 48 on Sunday. Natal wishes to both.

October 18, 2012
Jerry Brown stumps for Prop. 30 at Sacramento City College

prop30jerrybrown.jpgGov. Jerry Brown rallied hundreds of students at Sacramento City College today as he continued the campaign to get college students excited about his Proposition 30 tax increase.

"The idea of Proposition 30 is to put some more money into state coffers so we can pay for schools and colleges and the University of California. This is a crucial opportunity," the governor told the crowd gathered in a small courtyard on campus.

Proposition 30 involves two temporary tax increases: raising sales taxes by a quarter cent on a dollar for four years and income taxes for seven years on those making more than $250,000.


October 18, 2012
Guns, grenades found at home of GOP assemblyman's aide

San Bernardino County law enforcement authorities discovered guns, ammunition and grenades at the Hesperia home of a legislative aide who was arrested earlier this week.

Rebecca Tennison, who works as a field representative for Assemblyman Steve Knight, R-Palmdale, and her husband were both arrested at their home Tuesday, according to a report published in several Los Angeles News Group publications.

The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports:

At about 3:45 p.m. deputies responded to a call of a man with a gun. The caller alleges that a man came to his home and yelled at him about his barking dog then pointed a gun at him. ... Deputies went to the Tennison home located in the 14000 block of Harding Court in Hesperia to talk to him, but when he answered his door he slammed it in the deputy's face refusing to talk about the incident according to a sheriff's news release.

Rebecca Tennison came out of the house, and refused to listen to deputies making the situation worse according to authorities.

Knight's declined to comment on the incident itself earlier this week, but told the paper that the "assemblyman and his staff are committed to being there for Rebecca and her family during this difficult situation."

His office said late Thursday that Tennison had been arraigned and that the charges against her had been reduced to a misdemeanor offense of not following the orders of an officer.

Click here to read the full story.

Editor's note: This post was updated at 3:36 p.m. with additional information from Knight's office.

October 18, 2012
Taxpayer group sues Cal State for advocating on Prop. 30

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has sued the California State University alleging a professor at the Monterey Bay campus sent students an email advocating in favor of a tax measure on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The email is from Professor Ernest Stromberg, director of the humanities division, according to the lawsuit. It urges students to help pass Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's attempt to raise taxes to alleviate the state budget deficit. The email notes that students will face higher fees and fewer classes if Prop. 30 fails, while they stand to receive a $498 refund if the initiative passes.

The state plans to cut CSU funding by $250 million if voters reject the measure.

October 18, 2012
Trouble sorting through the ballot? Try new 'Proposition Song'

The nonpartisan California Voter Foundation has released "The Proposition Song" to introduce voters to the 11 ballot measures whose fate will be decided in the Nov. 6 election.

The nonprofit group, which tracks the state's election process, produced similar ditties for the 2000, 2006 and 2010 elections.

Foundation President Kim Alexander wrote the lyrics to this year's song, which features a traditional folk melody. She and five musician friends recorded it Oct. 3 at Capital Public Radio's downtown Sacramento studio.

"We hope our new 'Proposition Song' gives voters an entertaining and informative alternative to the negative campaign advertising filling our state's airwaves," Alexander said in a written statement.

October 18, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: 'Parent-trigger' law shaking up schools

VIDEO: Dan says a recent court decision over California's "parent-trigger" law is a potentially revolutionary development in the battle over school control.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 18, 2012
AM Alert: Jerry Brown takes ballot campaign to Sac City College

DAN WALTERS DAILY: Dan talks about a recent court decision concerning California's education system and the state's new "parent-trigger" law.

Gov. Jerry Brown takes his campaign for Proposition 30 to Sacramento City College today, joining Senate leader Darrell Steinberg and others to urge students and faculty to support the tax initiative.

Other listed speakers at the rally include Taylor Valmores, president of the college's student senate; Brice Harris, the incoming California Community Colleges chancellor; Sacramento City College President Kathryn Jeffery; and Jeff Freitas, the secretary-treasurer of the California Federation of Teachers. The event starts at noon in the Arts Court Theatre courtyard, 3835 Freeport Blvd.

Brown is also scheduled to attend a Yes on 30 fundraiser later today at the Walnut Grove home of former Assemblyman Rusty Areias, now of California Strategies, and his wife, Julie. Tickets to the 5 p.m. reception run from $1,000 to $25,000.

Speaking of Proposition 30, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association says it's filing a lawsuit in Monterey Superior Court against California State University, Monterey Bay, claiming that university personnel used taxpayer-funded resources to urge students to vote for the tax initiative. The Bee's Laurel Rosenhall took a look in this story earlier this week at how the Prop. 30 campaign is playing out at campuses across the state.

FUNDRAISERS: Other Sacramento-area fundraisers today include an Oktoberfest reception tonight at the Sierra 2 Center for Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones' reelection bid in 2014, coffee at Chicory on 11th Street for Assemblyman Jim Nielsen's run in the 4th Senate District's special primary, a Wicked'wich food truck lunch at Cesar Chavez Park to benefit Assemblyman Richard Pan's reelection campaign this year, and a reception this evening for Rep. Tom McClintock's reelection bid at the Lincoln home of Ken and Sandy Campbell.

October 17, 2012
Sacramento TV one of country's busiest markets for political ads

Lungrenadwatch.jpgFeel like your commercial breaks are filled with campaign spots for candidates and ballot measures?

They probably are.

TV watchers in the Sacramento media market are getting pounded with campaign spots at levels close to those seen in some of the country's top swing states for the presidential election.

The region's media market currently ranks 8th in the nation for political ad buys and related filings disclosed in the last week, according to data collected by the Sunlight Foundation's Political Ad Sleuth site.

October 17, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Jerry Brown's battle with Mungers continues

VIDEO: Dan says Gov. Jerry Brown is "not out of the woods yet" with the Munger family on Proposition 30.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 17, 2012
AM Alert: Watchdogs, pimp killers and Congress

Political advertising season is in full swing, as anyone who's turned on a television or opened a mailbox this week can attest. To help you identify the half-truths and distortions in many of the ads you see, The Bee is sorting fact from fiction with our regular Ad Watch feature. Unsure about a political ad you just saw? Check out the whole collection of our Ad Watch pieces here.

ON THE TUBE: Speaking of television, between watching those political ads you might want to check out Dr. Phil. Sen. Leland Yee will be on the show today touting his Senate Bill 9 that gives some juveniles convicted of murder the chance to get out after serving 25 years. The show will highlight the case of Californian Sara Kruzan, who was 17 in 1995 when she killed her alleged pimp. The show airs in Sacramento today at 10 a.m. on channel 31 and at 3 p.m. on channel 13.

IN THE FLESH: The region's congressional representatives are both holding press conferences today: Democratic Rep. Doris Matsui of Sacramento will be at the HALO health clinic to highlight a new program to provide health care to Sacramento County's low-income residents. Republican Rep. Dan Lungren of Gold River will be at a business in Rancho Cordova to receive endorsements from the Sacramento Metro, Elk Grove, Folsom, Hispanic and Rancho Cordova Chambers of Commerce.

BALLOT EXPLAINER: Anyone confused about the 11 propositions on the California ballot this fall can attend a forum tonight intended to unpack the details, explain the pros and cons and tell you where the money is coming from in each fight. Panelists for the forum organized by Sacramento State's Project for an Informed Electorate include Nick Robinson, head of the Institute for Governmental Studies library at UC Berkeley; Philip Ung of California Common Cause; and Kim Nalder, a professor of government at Sacramento State. It's tonight at 6 pm at the Sacramento Public Library Galleria, 828 I Street.

TAXING THE WEALTHY: It's not just the subject of Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30, it's also the subject of some research by academics at Princeton and Stanford. They'll be presenting their work, "Flight of the Millionaires? Experiments in Taxing High Incomes in New Jersey and California" at the UC Center Sacramento on Monday. The talk is free but you must register by today. Here's all the info.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Happy birthday to Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, who is turning 55.


Editor's note, 11:50 a.m.: This post has been updated to correct the description of SB 9.

October 16, 2012
Mystery Arizona group sends $11 million to fight unions, Gov. Jerry Brown

A shadowy Phoenix-based group contributed $11 million Monday to a campaign committee funding attacks on Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative and supporting a measure curbing union dues collection, a new campaign finance report shows.

Americans for Responsible Leadership gave the donation to Small Business Action Committee PAC, which is backing Proposition 32 and opposing Proposition 30. Before the latest contribution, the PAC had been heavily reliant on more than $20 million from Charles Munger Jr.

A spokeswoman for the Small Business Action Committee said she didn't know where Americans for Responsible Leadership got its money.

October 16, 2012
VIDEO: 'Don't be complacent,' Jerry Brown urges students at Prop. 30 rally

LOS ANGELES - Gov. Jerry Brown urged college students this afternoon to rally support on campus for his Nov. 6 ballot initiative to raise taxes, saying that by doing so they can avoid a tuition increase.

"My plea to you is, don't be complacent," the Democratic governor told about 200 students at a rally at the University of California, Los Angeles. "You can avoid that tuition hike."

The event marked the start of what Brown said will be a "full-on campaign" for Proposition 30, his initiative to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners. The measure would avert about $5.4 billion in cuts to schools and community colleges this budget year, but it would also have a direct impact on college students: If the measure fails, University of California officials have said they will raise tuition by about 20 percent.

"A lot is riding on this election," Brown said.

October 16, 2012
California has by far most immigrants from Asia to U.S.

California is home to nearly a third of the nation's 11.6 million Asian immigrants, according to a new Census Bureau report, and the Los Angeles metropolitan area has the nation's largest urban concentration.

California's 3.7 million Asian-born immigrants are 10 percent of the state's population and are three times as numerous as No. 2 New York's 1.2 million. The Philippines are California's largest source of Asian immigrants, with nearly 900,000 from that nation counted by the Census Bureau, but the state also has the nation's largest populations of immigrants from China, India, Vietnam and Korea.

The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana metropolitan region is home to 1.6 million Asian immigrants, according to an addendum to the main report, slightly larger than the New York metropolitan area's Asian immigrant population.

The San Francisco-Oakland area ranks third in the nation with 707,000, while the San Jose area is fifth at 420,000 and San Diego is 10th at 269,000.

The report covers only those born in Asia, not their American-born offspring and descendents. The overall Asian population of California is estimated at more than 5 million.

October 16, 2012
Outside groups spend big in 7th Congressional District race

Congressional hopefuls put their fall cash hauls on public display Monday, the filing deadline for third quarter fundraising reports.

But those reports, which covered money raised and spent through Sept. 30, don't show the full picture of spending in many contested races. Much of the big-money action in House races across the country this year is coming from super PACS and political party committees.

That's the case in the 7th Congressional District, where Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, and Elk Grove Democrat Ami Bera are locked in a tight race.

October 16, 2012
Group for 'courageous' candidates sits out November campaign

A new political committee created to back California legislative candidates with courage has decided not to drop cash on the general election races.

Govern for California was launched last year by Democrat David Crane, a former adviser to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, investor Ron Conway and WalMart Board of Directors member Greg Penner, who are both registered without a party preference. The committee was one of several new political efforts created in the wake of California's new political maps and top two primary system.

October 16, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Session over but fights continue

VIDEO: Dan says the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown may have finished their work for the 2011-12 session, but some groups are still fighting battles..

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 16, 2012
AM Alert: Jerry Brown hits the campaign trail

VIDEO: 'Tis the season of rule-making, Dan Walters says in today's video post.

PROPOSITION 30: Gov. Jerry Brown will be at UCLA today, stumping for his Proposition 30 tax increase. It's likely the first of several campaign events he'll hold on college campuses in the next three weeks, as the governor tries to motivate a hard-to-nudge crowd: students. As we reported in today's Bee, many students so far are unengaged - even though their tuition will rise or fall with the fate of Proposition 30.

DEBATE: President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney square off again tonight for their second debate, a town hall format in which audience members will ask questions on domestic and foreign policy. If you think Obama is going to try to bring a stronger game this time, drink!

Well, maybe not at this hour. But perhaps you'd like to take your favorite debate-watching drinking game to one of these viewing parties:

  • Metro Edge - the Sacramento Metro Chamber's group for under-40 professionals - is hosting an event at the California Museum, touting mingling, munchies, and a panel of pros dissecting the issues. Kitty O'Neal of KFBK moderates the panel including Sac State Professor Emeritus Barbara O'Connor, Yolo County Supervisor Matt Rexroad, GOP consultant Tony Quinn, political blogger Greg Lucas and others. All the details are here.
  • The University of Southern California's Sol Price School of Public Policy hosts a 6 pm debate-watch followed by a 7:30 pm discussion with Janet Denhardt, a professor of public administration. It's at USC's State Capital Center, 1800 I Street, Sacramento. For more information, email kawilson@usc.edu or call 916-637-8981.

NEW JOB: Kim Belshé, former Secretary of the Health and Human Services Agency under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, is the new executive director of First 5 LA, the county-level agency created by Proposition 10 in 1998 that promotes the well-being of children from birth to age five.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Best wishes to Assemblyman Warren Furutani, D-Gardena, on his 65th birthday.

October 15, 2012
Legislator says officials 'should be shot' as lousy tax stewards

Assemblyman Mike Morrell's opponent released videotaped remarks of a campaign speech in which the Republican incumbent said that government officials "should be shot" for how they handle tax money.

Democrat Russ Warner's campaign released the tape today, calling Morell "too extreme for our Democracy."

Warner, fighting Morell for San Bernardino County's 40th Assembly District seat, said the controversial remarks came during an appearance by Morell at the Salt and Light Conference in Highland on Sept. 29.

Morell was videotaped saying the following:

"Government picks winners and losers. So what I decided to do in California; study how good of a job does government do with our tax money in helping the poor. ... (Laughter from the audience) ... Somehow I don't think you guys think they do very well. Well, let me tell ya. Let me tell ya. It ain't very good. I mean, it's, they should be shot."

October 15, 2012
Munger phasing out ad critical of Gov. Jerry Brown initiative

Wealthy attorney Molly Munger is phasing out her ad critical of Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, her campaign said.

Munger formed a committee earlier this month to point out flaws in Brown's Proposition 30, which raises $6 billion in taxes on wealthy earners and sales to help the state budget and schools. She launched a 30-second ad last week that called Brown's campaign misleading and depicted politicians taking money from a schoolhouse.

The statewide ad, backed by nearly $5 million in new donations from Munger, sent chills through education groups and labor unions supporting Brown's initiative. Many leaders called on Munger to drop her ad, including state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, who is supporting both measures.

October 15, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Campaigns' audience shrinks as voting starts

VIDEO: Dan notes that political campaigns are now pitching to a steadily declining audience of voters.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 15, 2012
AM Alert: Jerry McNerney, Ricky Gill debate in Stockton

Update: Because of incorrect information provided by event sponsors, this post has been updated in two instances. it now includes the correct link to the webcast of the Delta hearing. It also has been changed to reflect that the Sac State initiative discussion will be at 3 p.m. today. Updated at 9:48 a.m. Oct. 15, 2012.


Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, and his GOP challenger, Ricky Gill of Lodi, face off tonight in what's expected to be their only debate in the nationally watched battle for the Stockton-based 9th Congressional District.

In addition to the McNerney-Gill matchup, two Assembly candidates will also debate at the same forum: Stockton Republican K. Jeffrey Jafri, a retired electrical engineer described by the Stockton Record as "a frequent candidate for public office," and Stockton City Councilwoman Susan Eggman, a Democrat.

Jafri and Eggman are vying in the new Stockton-based 13th Assembly District, where at last count Democrats held a 14-point voter registration advantage over Republicans. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. at Long Theater, 1041 Dave Brubeck Way, at the University of the Pacific's Stockton campus. The university is co-hosting the event with the League of Women Voters. It starts at 6 p.m.

Earlier today, the Senate Select Committee on Delta Stewardship and Sustainability, headed by Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, meets at 9:30 a.m. at Contra Costa County board chambers, 651 Pine St., Room 107, in Martinez to talk about policy and financing for actions aimed at bettering the Delta's fish populations and water reliability. Listed speakers include Phil Isenberg, Delta Stewardship Council chairman, as well as Ken Vogel, chair of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy, and others. The link for the hearing webcast can be be found at Wolk's home page at this link. Information on the hearing can be found at this link.

Elsewhere in the Bay Area, Monday, Fair Political Practices Commission Chairwoman Ann Ravel joins Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, and others to talk up his Assembly Bill 481, which is aimed at increasing campaign disclosure requirements for independent expenditure committees. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the measure in September. Ravel was a sponsor. That presser starts at 10 a.m. at Alquist State Building in San Jose.

DAN WALTERS DAILY: Dan says that Californians already returning vote-by-mail ballots, campaigns battle to engage an audience that shrinks day by day. Watch the video at this link.

CYBER-THREATS: Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, is at Folsom Lake College's Community Room today at noon with Alan Paller, founder of a cyber-security training institute in Bethesda, Md., to discuss what Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has called the possibility of a "cyber-Pearl Harbor" attack.

FOOD: Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, conducts a hearing of the Select Committee On California Food, Local, Organic, And Sustainable Systems, at Santa Rosa City Hall starting at 1:30 p.m. The topic: sustainable food and wine production.

PROPOSITIONS: Sacramento State's Project for an Informed Electorate has set up two forums on the ins and outs of the 11 propositions on the November ballot. The first is today at 3 p.m. at the university's Hinde Auditorium in the University Union. The second will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Sacramento Public Library Galleria, 828 I St.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, turns 53 today.

October 12, 2012
Jerry Brown to start 'full-on' tax campaign Tuesday

OAKLAND - Gov. Jerry Brown, who has done little public campaigning for his Nov. 6 ballot initiative to raise taxes, said tonight that he has been busy fundraising but will launch a "full-on campaign" of events starting Tuesday in Los Angeles, the state's largest media market.

"It's definitely a very close and challenging race, and I'm going to spend the next three weeks doing everything I can to make sure we put it over the finish line," the Democratic governor said after an appearance in Oakland. "This will be a full-on campaign."

Brown, whose Proposition 30 seeks to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners, said he has been "very busy" raising money, including at a fundraiser Thursday night in Sacramento.

He said his appearance Tuesday will likely be at the University of California, Los Angeles.

"You have to raise the money," Brown said over salmon cakes at a restaurant here. "This is not a free good. I've got to be on the phone ... calling people. When you ask people to give you 35 million bucks, it takes time. You have to eat, you have to drink, you have to talk, you have to sit, you have to stand. And I do all of that."

Brown's remarks come after Molly Munger, the proponent of a rival tax measure, unloaded on Brown with a television ad this week criticizing his initiative. Her measure, Proposition 38, would raise income taxes on all but California's lowest-income earners.

Brown, who also started campaigning relatively late during his 2010 gubernatorial run, held a handful of events at schools earlier this year. He billed an August press conference as a "kickoff" to his campaign, though his public appearances were few.

Brown said the initiative campaign is only now beginning to resonate with undecided voters.

"Now's the time," he said. "We didn't need to do this a month ago."

Brown acknowledged the difficulty of persuading undecided voters to support his initiative, however, saying people "who are undecided tend to vote 'No.'"

Brown was in Oakland to address a gathering of faith-based community organizations. He was speaking in a tented area of a restaurant when someone outside heckled him for his recent veto of legislation that would provide overtime and other job-related protections to caregivers and other domestic workers.

Brown acknowledged the heckler, saying, "This is part of speaking truth to power, so that's good."

Later, Brown said he is "very concerned about domestic workers, that they be treated right," but he also worried about the cost of the legislation to "ordinary people who have to take care of their mother or father or their aunt or their uncle, and they need someone to come in."

Brown said further study is in order.

"This is a very personal thing. I've had two cousins and one aunt die in the last 12 months, and they all had live-ins, and they all were not subject to this law," he said. "So I think we've got to ... see how it works."

October 12, 2012
Molly Munger believed brother wasn't spending against Brown

Molly Munger, who has spent nearly $36 million on tax initiative Proposition 38, said she believed her brother was not financing the campaign against a rival tax increase measure, Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30.

Charles Munger Jr. has contributed $22 million to the Small Business Action Committee PAC, designed to both oppose Brown's tax measure and to support Proposition 32, a campaign finance measure aimed at curbing union power.

Her brother, she said, "has assured me his money is going to 32 and not 30. I don't know where they're getting their money...The first time he put money into that PAC, I called him and said, 'What are you doing? And he said, 'I'm doing what I always said I was doing, I'm backing 32 ... He said, 'It's all for 32, that's my deal with that PAC.'"

But the math suggests that Charles Munger Jr.'s money has to be flowing to No on 30. SBAC has spent $5.9 million so far on No on 30 ads - yet the PAC has only collected $2.2 million from contributors not named Charles Munger Jr.

Beth Miller, SBAC spokeswoman, said the committee "does not accept contributions earmarked for any specific measure...All donors understand that it is up to the discretion of SBAC PAC regarding how any funds are spent."

October 12, 2012
VIDEO: Howard Berman and Brad Sherman get physical in debate

Here's the You Tube video of the debate last night in which California Democratic Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard Berman went nose to nose -- literally.

"You wanna get into this?" Sherman asks at one point -- before law enforcement interceded.


The two veterans are battling for one redrawn House seat in the San Fernando Valley.

Related: Read the AP story about the debate here.

October 12, 2012
AM Alert: 'Unprecedented situation' also called 'murder-suicide'

Now that the talking heads have dissected last night's No. 2 match-up between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, California political junkies can go back to watching what's being called a "murder-suicide."

That's one of the terms showing up in recent emails and conversations bouncing around the state's education community, should Molly Munger's ads attacking Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30 take down both that proposal and her own Proposition 38.

"This is an absolutely unprecedented situation in California politics," Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California, told The Bee's Kevin Yamamura. Read his story at this link.

Those propositions -- and the other nine on the ballot -- get an in-depth look in The Bee's print edition Sunday, which includes a 22-page special voter guide for the Nov. 5 election. Ready to mark your ballot? You can also access our online voter guide at this link.

Californians, meanwhile, have until Monday, Oct. 22, to register to vote in that election. You can now register online at registertovote.ca.gov. But registering online isn't automatic. As the Secretary of State's Office explains in this FAQ, "Your county elections official will contact you when your voter registration application is approved or when more information is needed to confirm your eligibility."

Keep in mind that the deadline is midnight the night of Oct. 22 to submit your application online. If you're submitting a paper application, it must be postmarked or hand-delivered that day to your local elections office.

On the campaign front, one of this weekend's fundraisers that caught our eye is a birthday reception and dinner Sunday benefiting Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom's 2014 re-election committee. Tickets start at $1,000. Newsom is hosting the event at the Marin County home he shares with his wife, Jennifer Siebel Newsom.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Two Rancho Cucamonga Republicans celebrate their natal days this weekend. Sen. Bob Dutton turns 62 on Saturday, and Assemblyman Mike Morrell turns 60 on Sunday. Birthday wishes to both.

October 11, 2012
Dollars to Andy Pugno this week are bucks to fight gay marriage

Two donations for the price of one?

Assembly candidate Andy Pugno made supporters an offer today that he hopes they can't refuse: For every dollar donated to his debt-ridden campaign this week, an equal amount will be sent to the group defending Proposition 8, the state's same-sex marriage law, in its fight at the U.S. Supreme Court.

"This would be an offer to both support my campaign and help support a charitable cause at the same time," the Republican candidate and Folsom attorney told The Bee.

Pugno's fundraising appeal said that a "generous financial supporter of Proposition 8" will match up to $25,000 in campaign contributions he receives through Sunday.

October 11, 2012
Molly Munger says Jerry Brown using 'impostor strategy' to win votes

Tax proponent Molly Munger said Thursday she plans to fund her Proposition 38 efforts up to Election Day and has no reason to back away from an ad critical of Gov. Jerry Brown's tax campaign.

Munger has become the focal point of California political conversations this week after launching an ad Tuesday that calls Brown's campaign "misleading." She said, in an interview with The Bee, the governor's Proposition 30 campaign was pursuing an "impostor strategy" by claiming the mantle of boosting school funding and sidestepping Sacramento politicians.

Public polls have shown Brown's initiative hovering just above 50 percent while Proposition 38 has been in the low 40s. Munger, a wealthy attorney who has spent more than $30 million on her campaign and attacking Proposition 30, said her own polls show "a nearly dead heat" and both below 50 percent, though she would not provide data.

October 11, 2012
California legislators rarely break from party line in floor votes

How often do California state legislators break from their party line when voting on bills?

Hardly ever.

An analysis by The Bee's Phillip Reese shows that Democrats voted the same way as most of their fellow party members 99 percent of the time in the 2011-2012 legislative session. Republicans voted with GOP colleagues 94 percent of the time.

Click here to see the full analysis.

October 11, 2012
AM Alert: Biden, Ryan debate; Sacramento State hosts viewing

Given last week's debate performance from President Barack Obama, tonight's debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin promises to draw more eyeballs than many such No. 2 matchups.

Capitol denizens, if they wish, may take their eyeballs to a viewing of the debate at Sacramento State. What's at stake? As McClatchy Newspapers' Lesley Clark reports in this story, Democrats want to regain momentum after last week's debate while Republicans hope to boost their numbers.

Both sides have been trying to lower expectations before Biden and Ryan meet at Centre College in Danville, Ky., a town of about 16,000 where officials have suspended garbage collection and closed roads in advance of the event.

Martha Raddatz, the senior foreign affairs correspondent for ABC News, will moderate. Raddatz was ABC's White House correspondent during former President George W. Bush's last term, her bio says. She's also the author of "The Long Road Home -- A Story of War and Family" about the war in Iraq.

The format this time divides the 90 minutes into nine time segments. Raddatz will ask an opening question in each segment, and Biden and Ryan will each have two minutes to respond. The moderator will use the rest of the time left in each segment for discussion of that question. The debate will cover both foreign and domestic issues.

The debate runs from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time. The Sacramento State viewing starts at 5:45 p.m. in Amador Hall, Room 150, at 6000 J St. Hosting the viewing is Professor Kim Nalder, the director of the Project for an Informed Electorate. Audience members will be polled both before and after the debate.

October 10, 2012
State schools chief calls on Molly Munger to stand down

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson tried to intervene Wednesday in the ongoing tax initiative fray by calling on wealthy Proposition 38 proponent Molly Munger to remove her ads attacking Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30.

Torlakson, one of the few state leaders backing both measures, said he has personally expressed "deep concerns and disappointment" to Munger about her Tuesday launch of ads criticizing Brown's campaign for allowing politicians to take money from schools.

"I have urged Molly Munger, in the strongest possible way, not to air any such advertisement," Torlakson said in a statement released by the Brown campaign this afternoon. "I consider this to be the kind of negative campaigning that will confuse voters and turn them away from favorable consideration of either measure. I am concerned that this anti-Proposition 30 advertisement will create additional confusion about the two measures and lead to the defeat of both. This would be a tragic outcome our schools and our students cannot afford."

Torlakson said that his own polling shows that any negative ads have "a high probability of turning voters against both," though his office declined to release data backing up that claim.

Munger's campaign established a separate account to run ads attacking the governor's initiative, and she contributed $3 million Monday for that purpose. Her spokesman, Nathan Ballard, said Munger felt compelled to run the ad because Brown's initial Yes on 30 spot claimed to bypass Sacramento, a mantle she felt her initiative owned.

October 10, 2012
Independent spending on CA legislative races nears $5 million

Independent groups are dropping big bucks to influence dozens of state legislative races, spending more than $4.8 million on television ads, mail pieces and other campaign activities since the beginning of August.

Not surprisingly, more than half that spending has targeted three competitive Senate races that could determine whether Democrats hold a two-thirds majority in the upper house.

October 10, 2012
Molly Munger opens separate committee to attack Prop. 30

Wealthy attorney Molly Munger, who wants voters to raise income taxes for education and state budget relief in Proposition 38, has formed a new committee for the express purpose of critiquing rival tax initiative Proposition 30.

Munger contributed $3 million Monday to the new Committee to Defend Prop. 38 to fund a new round of statewide ads critical of Gov. Jerry Brown's initiative.

October 10, 2012
AM Alert: Voters say they know best

With 11 statewide measures on the November ballot, voters will soon get plenty of opportunity to speak their mind. Which is just how they prefer it, voters said in a new Public Policy Institute of California study released last night.

PPIC found that more than eight in 10 Democrats, Republicans and independents said they believe voters should have a say in state spending and taxes rather than leaving it up to the Legislature and governor.

The superior wisdom of the voters is one of the only things the divided electorate could agree upon. Elsewhere in its report, PPIC said that Democrats and Republicans have grown more polarized than in 2000. More Democrats consider themselves "liberals" now than before (52 percent versus 46 percent in 2000), while more Republicans consider themselves "conservatives" (70 percent versus 58 percent in 2000).

On a related note, PPIC will hold a morning-long event today at the Sheraton Grand Sacramento to discuss recent changes in California governance, such as reducing the budget vote threshold from two-thirds to simple majority in the Legislature. Registration starts at 9 a.m.

Elsewhere in Sacramento, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. to emphasize disaster preparedness with the American Red Cross. He will discuss a new "Capital Region Ready" program that helps locals prepare for natural disasters "including catastrophic floods, wildfires and earthquakes."

The event will take place at Garcia Bend Park, which abuts a levee along the Sacramento River.

And the campaign to repeal the death penalty will hold a 2:30 p.m. press conference featuring Brian Banks, a linebacker with the United Football League's Las Vegas Locomotives who was wrongly convicted of rape in 2002. The Locomotives are in town to play the Sacramento Mountain Lions.

Banks was exonerated earlier this year and had served five years in prison. Though Banks didn't face a death sentence, the Proposition 34 campaign wants to make the case that others could wrongly be on death row.

Finally, happy 45th birthday to Lieutenant Gov. Gavin Newsom. We just, ugh, God, hope he can avoid the indignity of celebrating in Sacramento.

Editor's note: The Proposition 34 press conference has been moved to 2:30 p.m.

October 9, 2012
Bill Clinton stumps for California Dems in tight congressional races

clinton.jpgFormer President Bill Clinton rallied thousands on the quad of UC Davis this morning, endorsing four California Democrats running for Congress and encouraging Californians to vote for Proposition 30 and against Proposition 32.

Clinton endorsed current Reps. John Garamendi and Jerry McNerney as well as challengers Ami Bera and Jose Hernandez. The four contests they're in are among the most competitive in the nation, and the national Republican and Democratic parties are spending big to try to take the seats.

The districts at stake span a 200-mile swath of the northern Central Valley from Modesto to Yuba City.

"The four people I'm on the stage with -- two in Congress, two trying to get there -- each in their own way, they represent the American dream," Clinton said. "They prove that a commitment to shared prosperity works better than 'trickle down, you're on your own.'"

October 9, 2012
Tax rival Munger unloads on Gov. Jerry Brown initiative

Molly Munger, an attorney who has spent more than $30 million on the Proposition 38 campaign to raise taxes, launched an ad today criticizing Gov. Jerry Brown's rival tax increase measure, Proposition 30, for allowing "politicians" to "take" money away from schools.

Her proposal would raise income taxes on all but the poorest residents to generate $7 billion annually for education and early childhood programs and $3 billion for the state budget.

Brown's campaign, meanwhile, continued accusing Munger and her brother, Charles Munger Jr., of trying to damage education funding in California.

October 9, 2012
Live stream: Bill Clinton hosts rally at UC Davis

President Bill Clinton is on the UC Davis quad this morning for a rally hosted by the Davis College Democrats. He'll be endorsing four Nor-Cal Democrats who are running for Congress in competitive races.

Watch the event live via the Fox40 News live stream here.

Related story: Bill Clinton stumps for Democrats.

October 9, 2012
AM Alert: Bill Clinton stumps for Democrats in Davis

clinton_threeB.jpgPresident Bill Clinton is scheduled to appear on the UC Davis quad this morning for a rally hosted by the Davis College Democrats. He'll be endorsing four Nor-Cal Democrats who are running for Congress in competitive races. The candidates getting a boost from the 42nd POTUS are Congressman John Garamendi (CD3), Congressman Jerry McNerney (CD9), Ami Bera (CD7) and Jose Hernandez (CD10).

Thanks to the "top two" primary system, the race for California's 5th Assembly District is one of nine that pit Republican against Republican for the Nov. 6 general election, as The Bee's Jim Sanders reported yesterday. Frank Bigelow and Rico Oller, who are competing to represent the district that stretches from South Lake Tahoe to Yosemite will be at an election forum tonight in Placerville. The forum at the Folsom Lake College El Dorado Center also includes education funding panelists to discuss propositions 30 and 38 and criminal justice experts who will address propositions 34, 35 and 36. It's at 6 p.m. at 6699 Campus Way in Placerville.

Congratulations to Assemblyman Mike Gatto and his wife Danielle on the birth Saturday night of their second daughter, Evangelina Felicity. Big sister Elliana said via press release that she's excited to share her toys with the newest resident of the 43rd Assembly District.

The bookends of California's education system are the focus of two hearings under the dome today: Improving child care for the littlest Californians is the focus of a 12:30 p.m. hearing of the Assembly Select Committee On High Quality Early Childhood Education in Room 126. Improving graduation rates for California State University students is the subject of a 1:30 p.m. briefing in Room 127.

Friends and family will remember Al Wagner today at a 10 a.m. memorial at Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield. Wagner, a Democratic strategist who had worked for Senators Michael Rubio and Dean Florez, died unexpectedly last week at age 56. The church is live-streaming the memorial here.

Photo caption: Students and faculty listen to former President Bill Clinton at a rally on the campus quad sponsored by the Davis College Democrats on Tuesday morning. Photo by Renee C. Byer / rbyer@sacbee.com

October 8, 2012
Nutrition group says Prop. 37 foes are mischaracterizing its position

A national group of nutritionists says its position on the safety of genetically-engineered foods has been misrepresented by opponents of Proposition 37 in the California voter guide.

"We are concerned that California's voters are being misled to believe the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals is against Proposition 37, when in fact, the Academy does not have a position on the issue," said a statement from Ethan A. Bergman, president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

October 8, 2012
Dan Logue drops out of 4th Senate District special election

With four weeks to go until Election Day, Assemblyman Dan Logue is abandoning his bid for an open state Senate seat because of health issues.

Logue was one of six candidates seeking to replace former Sen. Doug LaMalfa in the 4th Senate District. LaMalfa, who is running for Congress in a safe GOP district, resigned at the end of the legislative session so that the special primary for his seat could be consolidated with the November general election.

Logue's campaign said today that the Marysville Republican has been advised by his doctor to lay low while he recovers from kidney damage caused by an adverse reaction to antibiotics. While he will remain an active candidate in the 3rd Assembly District, where he is running for a third term, his health issues will prevent him from campaigning in the special election for the 4th Senate District, which spans 12 Northern California counties.

October 8, 2012
Beth Gaines receives new boost from Charles Munger Jr. group

Assemblywoman Beth Gaines once again is getting a campaign boost from a group funded largely by wealthy Stanford physicist Charles T. Munger Jr.

Munger's Spirit of Democracy reported spending about $80,000 on Gaines' behalf last week in her 6th District Assembly race against Andy Pugno, a Folsom attorney.

The two Republicans are fighting to represent a newly drawn Assembly district that is based in Placer County but extends into Folsom, Fair Oaks, Orangevale and El Dorado Hills.

October 8, 2012
Yes on 30 asks Munger to avoid 'destructive course of action'

A day after Molly Munger said she would air television ads pinpointing flaws in Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, a coalition of educators, politicians and labor leaders called on the wealthy attorney to "re-think this destructive course of action."

Munger has already contributed more than $30 million toward her own measure, Proposition 38, which would hike income taxes on all but the poorest Californians to increase funding for schools and the state budget. Her measure trails Brown's Proposition 30 in polls, and she said Sunday on NBC 4 in Los Angeles that she will now air ads that make a "distinction" between her proposal and the governor's -- often a euphemism for attack spots.

The Yes on 30 campaign responded today with a letter calling on her to avoid negative attacks, asserting that school supporters "know well that it is our students who will pay the price if you insist on risking billions of dollars in cuts to our schools and universities just to pass your initiative."

October 8, 2012
Despite plea for cash, Andy Pugno's Assembly bid running on fumes

Andy Pugno is not really "running" against Beth Gaines for the Assembly - he's just limping along, judging from newly filed disclosure statements.

Pugno reported outstanding debt of $132,205 and campaign contributions totaling just $59,524 from July 1 through Sept. 30, a pittance for an Assembly race in which the opponent is a sitting lawmaker.

Gaines, by contrast, reported collecting more than twice as much during the three-month period, $125,850.

October 8, 2012
AM Alert: Obama continues fundraising swing through California

Fresh off his latest visit to Los Angeles, President Barack Obama makes a stop in Kern County this morning to formally announce a national monument honoring labor organizer César Chávez of the United Farm Workers.

The national monument will make its home on the site known as Nuestra Señora Reina de la Paz in Keene, some 35 miles southeast of Bakersfield. La Paz was the home and workplace of Chávez as well as the UFW national headquarters, and includes his grave site. If you're down that way and didn't register for the dedication, you're way too late to think about attending, according to the Bakersfield Californian.

Before heading to Keene, Obama is scheduled to attend a breakfast fundraiser this morning with former President Bill Clinton at the Pacific Palisades home of Michael King of King World Productions.

Then Obama heads from Keene to San Francisco for another concert fundraiser, this one at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Individual tickets cost up to $2,500, with John Legend and Michael Franti scheduled to perform.

Chefs Alice Waters and Tyler Florence will also lend their culinary skills to a fundraiser dinner. It'll cost $20,000 a plate to get in the door. Expected guests include 49er Alex Smith.

CAPITOL STEPS: Assemblyman Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, joins Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones and representatives of Crime Victims United and other organizations to highlight what they see as negative effects of public safety realignment and to propose reforms. The presser starts at 11 a.m. on the west steps.

MARCH: Seniors and health care advocates are holding a Columbus Day march and rally starting at 11:15 a.m. at Rep. Tom McClintock's Granite Bay office, 8700 Auburn-Folsom Road, to protest the Elk Grove Republican's stance on converting Medicare to a voucher program.

October 7, 2012
Former CA Lt. Gov. Mervyn Dymally dies at 86

Mervyn Dymally, a former California lieutenant governor who served in Congress and the state Legislature, has died, CBS Los Angeles reported tonight. He was 86.

Dymally's wife said in a statement reported by the CBS affiliate that her husband "passed away very peacefully" in Los Angeles this morning.

"He lived a very extraordinary life and had no regrets," the statement read.

The news of the longtime politician's passing spread quickly on social media Sunday evening.

"Prayers to family and friends of Hon. #MervynDymally. My revered mentor. 52AD thanks you for your lifetime service" Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Compton, posted on Twitter.

The full CBS LA story is posted at this link.

October 7, 2012
Jerry Brown calls for switch to winter-blend fuel to ease gas prices

Gov. Jerry Brown called on state regulators today to allow the early sale of less expensive, winter-blend gasoline in California, a measure he said could bring down spiking fuel prices.

"Gas prices in California have risen to their highest levels ever, with unacceptable cost impacts on consumers and small businesses," the Democratic governor said in a prepared statement. "I am directing the Air Resources Board to immediately take whatever steps are necessary to allow an early transition to winter-blend gasoline."

Brown's action follows a request by the California Independent Oil Marketers Association for permission to produce winter-blend fuel before the state's typical, Oct. 31 switchover date. The request is subject to review by the California Energy Commission.

October 7, 2012
Molly Munger calls Jerry Brown's ads 'utterly deceptive,' plans to counter

Accusing Gov. Jerry Brown of running "utterly deceptive" ads in his campaign to raise taxes, Molly Munger said on a Los Angeles TV show this morning that her own tax campaign will air television ads making a "distinction" between her measure and Brown's.

Munger, the chief proponent of Proposition 38, said on NBC 4's "News Conference" that a series of ads released by Brown last week unfairly cast his initiative, Proposition 30, as the most helpful for schools.

"It is utterly deceptive," she said. "And so you really can't be in a situation where 30, which is really a budget patch, is going around saying that it's the schools initiative, when we - who are really the schools initiative - you know, are being asked not to say anything."

Munger said, "If you're going to say that you're something you're not, we do have to say, 'Well, actually, that's not the case.'"

October 6, 2012
Bill Clinton coming to Davis to endorse Democratic candidates

Former President Bill Clinton is coming to the Sacramento area Tuesday to throw his support behind four Democrats running in some of the country's most closely watched congressional races.

Clinton is scheduled to appear alongside incumbent Democratic Reps. John Garamendi and Jerry McNerney and challengers Ami Bera and Jose Hernandez at a 10:30 a.m. rally at the University of California, Davis, campus.

All four candidates are running in districts that are considered top targets by both Democrats and Republicans as they battle for control of the U.S. House of Representatives. National party organizations and federal super PACs are already spending heavily in the Sacramento media market, which covers all four seats.


October 5, 2012
Prop. 38 camp vastly outspent Gov. Jerry Brown, still trails

The still-lagging tax initiative financed by wealthy attorney Molly Munger spent more than seven times Gov. Jerry Brown's campaign committee through September, new campaign finance filings show.

Munger's Proposition 38 reported spending $26.8 million during the first nine months of the year, compared to $3.5 million over the same period for Brown's Proposition 30. The main differences were her widespread television ads and spending far more on campaign advisers.

Brown's committee had $22.2 million in cash on hand as of Sept. 30, while Munger's committee had $1.4 million. But the cash number may matter little when it comes to Munger, who has thus far has been willing to refill her campaign coffers as often as necessary.

October 5, 2012
Looking at Proposition 30 like your household expenses

It is undoubtedly challenging for voters to understand how Gov. Jerry Brown's tax hike initiative, Proposition 30, will fund schools and other state programs.

Whenever an initiative provides new money for the complicated state budget machine, campaigns on both sides can interpret potential budget scenarios in their favor. That is what we've seen as the Yes on 30 side claims that all new funds will go to schools, while the No on 30 side claims the money won't benefit education.

As we pointed out in analyses of the Yes on 30 ad and the No on 30 ad, both approaches are misleading.

October 5, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Misleading Prop. 30 ads raise critical question

VIDEO: Dan ponders the political consulting calculus that results in misleading TV ads on Proposition 30.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 5, 2012
AM Alert: Obama to make another stop at California ATM

With a month to go before the general election, President Barack Obama is coming back to California this weekend to collect campaign cash, first in Los Angeles at a concert fundraiser followed by a high-dollar dinner.

Concert performers booked for Nokia Theater L.A. Live on Sunday include Katy Perry, as well as Earth Wind and Fire, Jon Bon Jovi, Jennifer Hudson and Stevie Wonder. San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro of Democratic National Convention fame is also scheduled to speak.

The concert was already sold out, last Capitol Alert checked. Tickets started at $250 apiece and went up to $10,000 if you wanted a photo op with the president along with the music. Tickets to the dinner, hosted by Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks Animation, range from $25,000 to $40,000 per person, according to this online registration form.

Former President Bill Clinton, meanwhile, will headline a fundraiser breakfast for Obama on Monday in Los Angeles, while Obama heads to San Francisco for another concert fundraiser.

October 4, 2012
How California newspapers advise voters on ballot measures

California voters will decide the fate of 11 ballot measures this year, including such heavyweight issues as Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed tax increase and the latest version of a years-long fight over union political power.

That means that the state's newspapers have many opportunities to recommend yes or no votes on the measures to their readers.

Scott Lay, a veteran Capitol political operative and blogger, has assembled a chart showing which side major newspapers are taking. It's in his "The Nooner" blog.

October 4, 2012
Anti-tax group sues to end state fire fee, wants refunds

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association announced today that it is suing to end a $150 annual state fire fee imposed on California's rural residents and obtain refunds for those who have already paid.

The group alleges in Sacramento Superior Court that the fee, which the state began collecting in August, amounts to a tax that was illegally approved without the necessary two-thirds majority of lawmakers.

Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative Democrats approved the measure as part of their 2011 budget deal, while the state Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and Board of Equalization were charged with carrying out the program.

The state is assessing owners of an estimated 825,000 rural parcels $150 annually, with a $35 credit for those who already live in a fire district. The parcels are contained in the "State Responsibility Area" for which the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection claims responsibility outside city boundaries. Brown argued that it is legitimate to ask rural residents to pay higher costs for fire prevention in the wake of larger developments on once-rural lands that face greater wildfire risks.

In the wake of a 2010 initiative sponsored by anti-tax and business organizations, it is harder for lawmakers to pass fees on a majority vote. Money paid must provide a direct benefit to the payer. In its lawsuit, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association suggests there are too many differences in Cal Fire services provided across the state to justify a uniform fee -- and thus the charge should have been considered a tax requiring a two-thirds vote.

"This is putting a huge stress and strain and fear on rural property owners," HJTA President Jon Coupal said. "It is taking away from the ability of local fire districts to communicate effectively with their own members ... and when this thing is all done, it's going to be a monumental waste of time and money."

October 4, 2012
CSU names head of UC Riverside as new chancellor

California State University trustees have picked a leader from the state's other public university system to replace outgoing chancellor Charles Reed.

Timothy P. White, who heads the University of California's Riverside campus, will take the top position in the Cal State system, overseeing 23 campuses that serve 427,000 students and employ 44,000 faculty and staff.

White, 63, has been in charge of UC Riverside since 2008. During his time there the campus established new graduate schools - in public policy and medicine - and served more minority students than any other UC campus.

October 4, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Political season in full swing

VIDEO: Dan says it's time to get ready for the barrage of political ads.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 4, 2012
AM Alert: Barbara Boxer talks up hot-button issue of Medicare

VIDEO: As the season of political ads descends upon us, Dan Walters asks, "Are you ready to have your intelligence insulted?"

With health care much on the minds of California voters, Sen. Barbara Boxer will be talking up President Barack Obama's efforts to strengthen Medicare while talking down the House Republicans' proposal to convert it into a voucher program in which beneficiaries shop around for coverage. Boxer's presser starts at 1:30 p.m. at the San Francisco Senior Center on Beach Street.

If you're looking for coverage closer to the dome, The Bee's Anita Creamer recently talked with Sun City Lincoln Hills denizens for this story. (Residents are split on whether Obama or Republican Mitt Romney would best handle the issue.)

The California Community Colleges board, meanwhile, is meeting in Sacramento to consider ways to alleviate the City College of San Francisco's fiscal problems, which The Bee's Laurel Rosenhall mentioned in this story detailing accreditation sanctions that face community colleges statewide.

That board meeting starts at 1 p.m. in the chancellor's office, 1102 Q St. Click here to read the agenda. You'll find an executive summary at this link. The San Francisco Chronicle's Nanette Asimov has previewed the college's plan to remake itself, which may include laying off teachers and clerical employees and axing some programs, such as enrichment classes.

California female veterans also meet today at a women's leadership conference under the auspices of the state Department of Veterans Affairs. Retired Navy Cmdr. Zoe Dunning, whose SmartVoter.org bio says she stood next to Obama as he signed the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell," will deliver the keynote address at the all-day event. Click here to learn more.

RALLY: Health care workers and advocates rally at Cesar Chavez Park at 4 p.m. as they seek support in developing recommendations to reduce the incidence of asthma in the Central Valley. Listed speakers include Health and Human Services Secretary Diana Dooley, with the American Lung Association and SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West among the event's sponsors.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, celebrates her 60th birthday today.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the site of the rally on reducing asthma rates. It is at Cesar Chavez Park, not the Capitol steps. The Bee regrets the error.

October 3, 2012
Charles Munger gives $10 million for Prop. 32, against Prop. 30

Editor's note, 2:03 p.m.: This post has been updated with responses from Beth Miller, spokeswoman for the Small Business Action Committee.

Republican activist Charles Munger Jr. has given more than $10 million to an independent committee supporting Proposition 32's campaign finance provisions and opposing Proposition 30's tax increase, according to a new state filing.

The committee has bought millions of dollars in advertising to support Proposition 32 and given some of the cash to a different campaign fighting Gov. Jerry Brown's tax measure.

October 3, 2012
VIDEO: Jerry Brown's tax campaign airs first TV ad

Gov. Jerry Brown's campaign to raise taxes went up this morning with its first television ad, painting Proposition 30 as an effort to protect school funding from "Sacramento politicians" - without once mentioning the tax increase or the fact it is a Sacramento politician proposing it.

"As state controller, my job is to watch the money," state Controller John Chiang says at the top of the ad. "I support Prop. 30 because it means no more school cuts with strict accountability. Sacramento politicians can't touch the money, and Prop. 30 requires annual audits posted online for everyone to see."

The ad includes no mention of the Democratic governor, whose public approval rating is only middling.

The campaign later said the ad is part of a series of five ads, two of which feature Brown.

October 3, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Schwarzenegger's new book missing one apology

VIDEO: Dan says Arnold Schwarzenegger missed his chance to apologize. Editor's note: This replaces an earlier version in which Dan misspoke in characterizing a judge's ruling on Schwarzenegger' commutation of a sentence.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 3, 2012
AM Alert: Get your democracy on

It's debate day for presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. And appropriately enough, anyone looking to participate in the democratic process has a few entry points around the Capitol today.

First, UC Davis is launching its California Civic Engagement Project with a 9 a.m. event introducing its nonpartisan data repository and research initiative. The project, part of the UC Davis Center for Regional Change, plans to collect civic engagement data from a broad range of sources and make them publicly available. Learn more about it at 9 a.m. at the UC Sacramento Center, 1130 K Street.

Also this morning, Sacramento State is hosting a forum on the "Implications of Proposition 30 for California Public Education and the Capital Region," featuring leaders from the local business and education scenes. On the line-up: Sacramento State President Alexander Gonzalez, Five Star Bank President James Beckwith, UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, New Faze Development CEO Allen W. Warren, business school dean Sanjay Varshney, Campaign for College Opportunity executive director Michele Siqueiros, and many others. PR mavens (and former political reporters) Kevin Riggs and Marcey Brightwell will serve as moderators. The event runs from 8:30 to noon at the Sac State Alumni Center on State University Drive South.

The presidential debate kicks off at 6 p.m., and with it, at least three debate viewing parties around town:

  1. The USC Sol Price School of Public Policy in Sacramento hosts a debate watch and invites the public to join a post-debate discussion with senior fellow Robert Denhardt. At USC in Sacramento, 1800 I Street.
  2. Sac State Government Professor Kimberly Nalder hosts a group viewing. She'll poll audience members before and after the debate and moderate a post-debate discussion with political scientists. Sacramento State campus, 6000 J Street, Sequoia Hall, Room 301.
  3. The Sacramento County Young Democrats and the Democratic Party of Sacramento County are watching at the MiX, 1525 L Street, Downtown Sacramento.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Best wishes to Sen. Christine Kehoe, D-San Diego, on her 62nd birthday.

VIDEO: Dan Walters says Arnold Schwarzenegger should apologize for the most outrageous thing he did as governor.

VOTER GUIDE: The Bee's online Voter Guide, with details about dozens of state and local races, is now live.

October 2, 2012
Former Capitol aide, political strategist Al Wagner dies

Al Wagner, a Democratic strategist and former legislative employee was found dead Monday, according to the Fresno Bee.

Wagner, 56, retired from Democratic Sen. Michael Rubio's staff earlier this year. He previously served as chief of staff to former state Sen. Dean Florez.

Click here to read more from Fresno Bee colleague John Ellis.

October 2, 2012
Local California voters also asked for new taxes and bonds

While three multi-billion-dollar tax measures on the November ballot are getting much media attention, dozens of local governments and school districts are also asking voters to issue bonds and raise taxes or fees, according to a report compiled for the League of California Cities.

Michael Coleman, a fiscal policy advisor for the California Society of Municipal Finance Officers and the League of California Cities, wrote the report, which covers more than 350 local measures, including 237 seeking bonds, taxes or fees, nearly half of which are school bond issues that total more than $14 billion. Three of the measures are initiatives while the rest were placed on the ballot by the affected agencies.

There are also 25 school parcel tax measures, 34 city or county sales tax increases and 23 non-school parcel taxes. The local tax increases placed before voters this year reflect widespread fiscal angst in local governments. Three California cities have already filed for bankruptcy this year and a number of others have declared financial emergencies.

October 2, 2012
Effect of California workers' comp overhaul hinges on new rules

The Legislature's overhaul of California's workers' compensation system - which provides benefits to workers for job-related illnesses and injuries - will reduce employers' costs, but how much will depend on how Gov. Jerry Brown's administration implements the new rules, the Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau says.

With pre-reform losses to workers' compensation insurers still mounting, the organization says, it's impossible to make a recommendation to the state insurance commissioner on how premiums should be adjusted, if at all. Therefore, it's recommending that no changes in premiums be made next year until the reforms are implemented and their effect can be weighed.

October 2, 2012
AM Alert: Chugga Chugga Choo Choo

Toddlers and politicians have at least one thing in common. We're not talking about occasional temper tantrums or a fondness for being on camera. No, we're talking about the train museum. Toddlers and politicians alike seem to be crazy about the place.

Assemblyman Roger Dickinson will be at the Railroad Museum in Old Sac today to tout the signing of AB 146, which adds an additional member to the California Air Resources Board to represent the Sacramento region. An experimental low-emission locomotive will be on display for the 11 a.m. presser featuring the Sacramento Democrat. Also listed to appear: Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna, CARB Executive Officer James Goldstene, Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce President Roger Niello and Kori Titus, CEO of Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails.

ARNOLD TIME: With the release this week of "Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story," The Bee takes a look back at Arnold Schwarzenegger's years in Sacramento with an interactive timeline illustrating key events and colorful quotes from his governorship. See it here.

MONEY TIME: For California races, Friday is the deadline to submit campaign finance reports for the period ending Sept. 30. For federal races, campaign finance data is now available via new public data sets from MapLight. They include all federal contributions, independent expenditures (including super PACs), and candidate and committee totals. MapLight says it will do regular updates with the most current data from the FEC. Check out the Google Fusion Tables here.

NEW JOB: Bill Ainsworth has left the state Board of Equalization for a new job as press secretary to state Treasurer Bill Lockyer. He replaces Joe DeAnda, who moved to the California Public Employees' Retirement System.

October 2, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: California population stats can be quirky

VIDEO: Dan says Susanville may not be the best place to meet men after all.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 1, 2012
Poll finds strong -- but shaky -- support for labeling genetically engineered food

An overwhelming majority of California voters favor Proposition 37, which would require new labels on genetically engineered foods, according to a poll released today. But support is likely to erode in the next month as Californians are exposed to more ads against the measure, says the study by agricultural economists at Oklahoma State University.

The poll, which was paid for by a university endowment, found that 76.8 percent of California voters said they plan to vote "yes" on Proposition 37 to require more labeling of food. But almost half of those people (46 percent) switched to a "no" vote when asked if they would still support the measure if it increased food prices. Support also diminished after poll respondents were shown an ad urging they vote against Proposition 37.

October 1, 2012
Jerry Brown surpasses Reagan, Deukmejian for most bills signed

Gov. Jerry Brown has now signed more regular session bills - 12,744 - than any other governor since 1967, surpassing George Deukmejian and Ronald Reagan with a flurry of bill signings this year, according an analysis by the Senate Committee on Governance & Finance.

The third-term Democratic governor signed 876 regular session bills this year, announcing the last of them on Sunday.

Deukmejian and Reagan signed 12,530 bills and 12,486 bills, respectively, during their eight-year tenures, according to the analysis.

Brown, governor before from 1975 to 1983, has now vetoed a total of 773 regular session bills, the fewest of any governor since the "pocket veto" era ended in 1967.

Brown vetoed 120 regular session bills this year. His veto rate this year of 12 percent is slightly lower than the 14 percent rate he posted in 2011, as well as the average veto rate of 13 percent since 1967.

As governor before, he vetoed fewer than 5 percent of regular session bills.

October 1, 2012
Michael Rubio, others urge delay in Green Chemistry law

Less than a month after Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg announced Sen. Michael Rubio would be chairman of the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality, Rubio and 15 other lawmakers today asked Gov. Jerry Brown to delay implementation of California's law to regulate toxic chemicals in consumer goods.

The lawmakers said in a letter to Brown that the state's Green Chemistry initiative should be delayed until a thorough analysis of its economic impact is completed.

"It is without contention that the range and scope of these regulations is wide and can impact every manufacturer, business and consumer in California and beyond," the lawmakers say in the letter.

October 1, 2012
Storify: Critics pan Schwarzenegger book, fans line up for autographs

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took to the airwaves to promote his new book, "Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story." Initial reviews were mixed, but fans were excited to pick up the memoir, especially those who waited in line at the first official book signing.

October 1, 2012
CA high-speed rail funding gets little love at candidate forum

California's bullet train won little support from congressional hopefuls from the Sacramento region Sunday, with just one of five congressional candidates participating in an election forum vowing to vote for federal funding for the project.

Third Congressional District candidate Kim Vann , Rep. Dan Lungren, and 9th Congressional District candidate Ricky Gill, all Republicans, and Democrat Ami Bera, who is challenging Lungren in the 7th Congressional District, all came down against funding construction of the high-speed rail line, citing the high cost of the project.

"We have failing infrastructure all over the state," said Vann, a Colusa County supervisor. "Until we address the failing infrastructure that we have, we shouldn't be planning for something that we cannot afford today."  

October 1, 2012
DreamWorks founders give $100,000 to Proposition 30

Hollywood giants Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen gave a combined $100,000 toward Gov. Jerry Brown's tax hike initiative.

A campaign finance filing showed that the founders of Universal City-based studio DreamWorks SKG contributed to Brown's initiative committee Friday. Paramount Pictures acquired the company for $1.6 billion in 2006.

The three have contributed heavily in the past to California campaigns. Spielberg and Katzenberg gave to Schwarzenegger's initiative drives, while Geffen gave to Brown and a 2008 committee opposed to a same-sex marriage ban.

The donations came two days before Brown announced he signed bills extending an annual $100 million film tax credit until 2017. The program, initiated by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers as part of a 2009 budget deal, was scheduled to end in 2015.

October 1, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Jerry Brown's tax measure on the edge

VIDEO: Dan says Jerry Brown's political future is riding on the success of Proposition 30.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

October 1, 2012
AM Alert: Your presidential debate schedule

VIDEO: Dan Walters looks at new poll numbers on Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, Proposition 30.

Now that the governor's bill-signing deadline is in the rear-view mirror, the biggest thing up next is, of course, the November election.

The first presidential debate is set for Wednesday with President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney discussing domestic policy. Jim Lehrer of PBS NewsHour moderates from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time at the University of Denver, with six 15-minute segments expected to focus on the economy, health care, the role of government and related topics.

Next Thursday, Oct. 11, Vice President Joe Biden and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan go head to head at Centre College in Danville, Ky., in the only vice presidential debate. Martha Raddatz, who is senior foreign affairs correspondent at ABC News, will moderate.

Obama and Romney face off again the following week at a town hall at Hofstra University, where undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization will ask questions on foreign and domestic issues. The two will then each have two minutes to respond. That second debate will be moderated by CNN's Candy Crowley on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

The third presidential debate will focus on foreign policy and use the same format as their first. Bob Schieffer of CBS will moderate the event at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., on Monday, Oct. 22.

All debates start at 6 p.m. Pacific Time and run for 90 minutes. The Commission on Presidential Debates says there will be no opening statements but candidates may make two-minute closing statements. Obama seems to already be making his in this ad.

Many voters believe candidates approve the questions ahead of time. "As if," writes Gwen Ifill of PBS, who moderated the vice presidential debates in 2004 and 2008. Ifill debunks that myth and four others about presidential debates in this Washington Post article.

(She's also often asked: "Is Sarah Palin really as pretty close up?")

NEW GIG: The California Budget Project has a new executive director: policy analyst Christopher Hoene, who has been director of the Center for Research & Innovation at the Washington, D.C.-based National League of Cities for the past five years. Hoene starts his new job today. Click here to read the official announcement.



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Capitol Alert Staff


Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. jwhite@sacbee.com. Twitter: @capitolalert

Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. achance@sacbee.com. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee. smith@sacbee.com

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. ccadelago@sacbee.com. Twitter: @ccadelago

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert. mmassimino@sacbee.com

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. lrosenhall@sacbee.com. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. dsiders@sacbee.com. Twitter: @davidsiders

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. dwalters@sacbee.com. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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