Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

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 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.


Capitol Alert Staff

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

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

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee.

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

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

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

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

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

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