Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

November 30, 2012
Senate Democrat wants lower hurdle for library taxes

PK_YOLO LIBRARY 0274.JPGSen. Lois Wolk, a Davis Democrat, said Friday she will write a constitutional amendment making it easier for voters to pass library taxes and bonds.

Wolk's announcement came a day after Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said he will write a measure lowering the vote threshold for school parcel taxes. Democrats won supermajority control of both legislative houses in November's election, enabling them to place constitutional amendments on the ballot without GOP votes.

The latest proposal would lower the threshold for library parcel taxes and bonds from two-thirds down to 55 percent. According to the California Local Government Finance Almanac, all five library parcel taxes failed on the November ballot. But a proposal in Pomona received 60.5 percent, while another in Santa Barbara received 57.6 percent, enough to pass under Wolk's proposal.

Wolk said public libraries are strapped for money at a time when students must rely on them as schools shut their own libraries. She heads the Senate committee responsible for reviewing tax legislation.

"We've seen major reductions in hours and even closings," Wolk said in a statement. "Lowering the voter threshold to 55 percent will give more local communities the ability to keep libraries open and serving their needs."

PHOTO: Librarian Nora Gortze, right, checks in books for Becky Hallett, left, at a Yolo County branch library in 2009. Yolo County libraries reduced operating days due to staff furloughs that year. Paul Kitagaki Jr. / Sacramento Bee

November 30, 2012
Steinberg asks Brown officials to delay Healthy Families move

AOC_HealthFamily_059w.JPGSenate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg asked Gov. Jerry Brown administration officials Thursday to preserve a children's health care program for now, asking the governor to backtrack on one of his June budget demands.

Legislative Democrats reluctantly agreed to phase out Healthy Families in 2013 to satisfy Brown in budget talks in exchange for softer cuts to other programs that serve low-income Californians. Healthy Families serves more than 860,000 lower middle class children whose families earn too much to qualify for Medi-Cal but struggle to afford health insurance.

November 30, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Pension battleground is shifting

Dan Walters says bankruptcy court is the new home for California's pension debate.

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November 30, 2012
AM Alert: Challenge to ban on 'ex-gay' therapy goes to court

VIDEO: Dan Walters has the latest on California's public pension wars.

"EX-GAY" THERAPY: Four California therapists who work with people who want to suppress homosexual feelings are going to court today in Sacramento to try to block implementation of Senate Bill 1172. The bill - written by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, and signed in September by Gov. Jerry Brown - bans minors from therapy meant to convert gays to become straight. U.S. District Court Judge Kimberly J. Mueller will hear the case brought by the therapists, two sets of parents and two organizations that promote therapies to change sexual orientation, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality and the American Association of Christian Counselors.

Attorney General Kamala Harris, in documents filed with the court, argues that SB 1172 "is based on a broad consensus in the scientific community dating back to the early 1970's that homosexuality is not a disease, condition, or disorder in need of a 'cure.'"

"An injunction would expose some of society's most vulnerable members to treatment that the state and every major mental health organization in the country have condemned as an outmoded, ineffective, and potentially dangerous relic from an era when homosexuality was pathologized and criminalized," Harris wrote.

The case is being watched nationwide as similar therapies are scrutinized in other states.

FUNDRAISER ALREADY? November appears to be a jam-packed month for Sen. Juan Vargas. First came the election, when voters of the 51st Congressional District elected him to represent them in the U.S. House. Then -- though he'd soon be leaving the state Senate to take the job Congress -- Vargas and three other state senators flew off to Australia and New Zealand for two weeks of meetings with government officials and business executives, ostensibly to bone up on solutions in those countries that could help California. And today, not even sworn in yet as a congressman, Vargas is holding a fundraiser at a seafood restaurant in Washington, D.C., asking for checks to support his congressional campaign.

November 29, 2012
California ranks second in itemized deductions

California taxpayers rank second in the nation in itemized deductions as a share of income, a noteworthy fact as national leaders consider tax policy changes that may restrict how much people can itemize, according to the Tax Foundation.

Californians applied itemized deductions against one-fifth of their income in 2010, the Washington, D.C.-based group noted in a new chart. Maryland residents barely deducted more - 20.09 percent - to take the top spot.


Graphic: Tax Foundation

November 29, 2012
California will offer Powerball lottery next year

Powerball Jackpot.JPG
A day after lottery officials announced that winners in Arizona and Missouri will share the $580 million Powerball jackpot, California lottery officials decided the state will join the game.

The California State Lottery Commission voted unanimously today to approve new regulations allowing the state to participate in the Powerball game, which is run by the Multi-State Lottery Association. Californians should be able to play Powerball by April 8, 2013, said lottery commission spokesman Russ Lopez.

Offering the game in California is "part of a continuing effort to offer new and exciting products to players and increase sales," state lottery officials wrote in a staff report. The report says the state would net between $90 million and $120 million a year by offering Powerball, after accounting for decreased sales in other games such as SuperLotto Plus and Mega Millions.

The starting jackpot in those games is $7 million and $12 million, respectively, compared with Powerball's starting jackpot of $40 million.

"The Powerball jackpot also grows faster, increasing by at least $10 million per 'roll,'" the report says. "These jackpot levels rapidly build excitement among players."

PHOTO CREDIT: A Powerball player in Maryland checks her numbers Wednesday. Associated Press/Patrick Semansky.

November 29, 2012
California Senate budget head wants to lower tax increase hurdle

20110628_ha_senate_budget24483.JPGThe Democratic head of the Senate budget committee said today he wants California voters to lower the threshold for school parcel taxes from two-thirds to 55 percent.

Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, said he will introduce legislation Monday placing a constitutional amendment on the ballot making it easier for school districts and county education offices to raise taxes. Democrats this month won supermajority control of the Legislature for the first time in over a century, making it possible for them to place constitutional amendments such as Leno's on the ballot without GOP support.

California requires that two-thirds of voters approve parcel taxes for schools, though it only requires 55 percent support for school bonds. Districts typically use bonds for building improvements but parcel taxes to support operating expenses.

November 29, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: California lags behind other states

Dan Walters says California doesn't compare well to other states, particularly on fiscal matters.

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November 29, 2012
AM Alert: Naughty or nice

VIDEO: Dan Walters says California is lagging behind other states.

It's the time of year for list-making up in the North Pole -- and also here around the Capitol. Who's been naughty? Who's been nice?

Tonight the Citizen Hotel releases its fourth annual list - displayed in a Christmas window at 10th and J streets - calling out public figures for their deeds good and (mostly) bad.

The naughty list in 2009 included then-Assemblyman Mike Duvall, who bragged to a colleague about spanking a mistress wearing "eye-patch panties" - without realizing his comments were being recorded.

In 2010, the hotel's naughty list included then-Sen. Roy Ashburn, who was busted for drunk driving. He later came out as being gay despite a record of voting against gay rights measures.

And last year, the only California politician to make the Citizen's naughty list was former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Don't think we need to tell you why.

So which California politician do you think will be called out for naughty behavior this year? The list of possibilities is pretty long, just going over the criminal court docket. Tweet your guess today with the hashtag #naughtycapol. Then take yourself over to the Citizen for the 5:30 p.m. cocktail party, where the list will be revealed .

November 28, 2012
Richard Bloom declares win over Betsy Butler in Assembly race

Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom declared victory against sitting Assemblywoman Betsy Butler today after the gap between them rose to 1,246 votes in a hotly contested Los Angeles County Assembly race.

"We think this is insurmountable and that I'll be sworn in as an Assembly member on Monday," Bloom said via Twitter.

Neither Butler nor her campaign consultant, Parke Skelton, could be reached for comment. The latest tally shows Bloom with 91,498 votes, compared to Butler's 90,252. The two, both Democrats, are separated by roughly two-thirds of a percentage point.

November 28, 2012
Campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee gets eight years in fraud case

Durkee.JPGU.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller today ordered Kinde Durkee to serve eight years in prison for what has been called California's biggest case of campaign treasurer fraud.

Durkee pleaded guilty in March to mail fraud for taking more than $7 million from campaign accounts she controlled on behalf of Democratic politicians and other clients over a 12-year period. The hundreds of unauthorized transfers she made over that time resulted in six- and seven-figure losses for some clients, including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, and outgoing state Assemblyman Jose Solorio, and wiped out the accounts of some smaller committees and nonprofits she controlled.

In addition to the prison sentence, Mueller ordered Durkee to pay more than $10.5 million in restitution. She is turning over a 401(k) account worth about $90,000 and the government is auctioning of her office building later this week to raise more money

"I want to take this opportunity to apologize for my actions," Durkee said in a brief statement to the court. "To those who trusted me and I betrayed, to those who counted on me and I let down, to those who depended on me and I disappointed, I take full and compete responsibility for what I have done. I'm truly sorry for the hurt I caused to my former clients, my former employees, my friends and my family."

November 28, 2012
Minuteman Tim Donnelly testing waters for a 2014 governor bid

A conservative state legislator who is a former member of the anti-illegal immigration Minuteman Project is considering a run for California governor.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks, shared his plans to open an exploratory committee for a 2014 run in an interview with, a web video posted to a conservative website.

Donnelly, whose conservative stances and sometimes combative tactics have made him a lightning rod for controversy in the state Legislature, said he decided to consider a run "because there's just, there's nobody out there fighting for us."

"I believe that we as Californians can do heck of a lot better than Jerry Brown or anyone who wants to step into his footsteps, I don't care whether its Kamala Harris or Tony Villaraigosa or Gavin Newsom," he said of the possible Democratic contenders in 2014. "They're all going to push for the same ideas and I think California can do a lot better.'

November 28, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: The regents sending bad message on salaries

Dan Walters says Jerry Brown was right to oppose the UC Regents' salary decision

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November 28, 2012
AM Alert: Judgment Day

VIDEO: Dan Walters says he agrees with Jerry Brown's comments on the UC regents.

SLAMMER TIME: Today's the day a federal judge in Sacramento will set the sentence for the Democratic campaign treasurer who pleaded guilty to stealing at least $7 million from her clients. Prosecutors plan to ask that Kinde Durkee get eight years in federal prison, and Durkee's lawyer said last night that she would accept that punishment. Also today, we're likely to learn how much money Durkee will be responsible for repaying to her former clients - a long list that includes U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

LUNCH WITH A WATCHDOG: Political reform, public trust and civic engagement are the subjects of a lunchtime chat today by Ann Ravel, chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission. Ravel was appointed to head the state's political watchdog agency in March 2011. She's said she wants the agency to focus less on minor infractions and more on systemic abuses of power, and made headlines recently for going after a shadowy out-of-state group that contributed $11 million to the campaign against Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30 and another for the campaign finance measure aimed at unions, Proposition 32. Details about today's talk are here.

CALTRANS: Under the dome today, a Senate committee will examine the effectiveness and independence of peer-review panels that oversee California's major transportation projects. The hearing was called in response to a Bee investigation of a Caltrans bridge-review panel, and over doubts about the adequacy of oversight for the high-speed rail system.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Sandre Swanson, D-Alameda, who turns 64 today.

November 27, 2012
Attorney says bad business practices led to Durkee's troubles

A new court filing suggests that bad business practices and an inability to confront under-performing employees and non-paying clients sparked the most extensive campaign treasurer fraud in the history of California.

The document, filed ahead of Kinde Durkee's Wednesday sentencing hearing, provides the most detailed account so far of what led the Burbank-based campaign treasurer to take millions of dollars from political accounts she controlled on behalf of big-name Democrats and where the money went. Durkee, 59, pleaded guilty earlier this year to five counts of mail fraud in connection with the embezzlement scheme.

In a response to the probation office's sentencing recommendation, Durkee attorney Daniel V. Nixon wrote that "most of the (misappropriated) funds appear to have been used to keep the business running." not to fund a lavish lifestyle.

"Although a significant amount of money was used to pay for personal expenses, including mortgage payments and credit card charges, a great deal of the stolen funds were used to keep the business afloat and her employees employed," Nixon wrote. "Unfortunately, it spiraled out of control, she lost track of the amount of the shortfall and it ultimately reached a level that she will be unable to repay in her lifetime."

According to the filing, the trouble started in 1999 when Durkee assumed control of the campaign bookkeeping company where she worked after the firm's owner died. When financial problems at what became Durkee & Associates, including Durkee's reluctance to lay off staff and the firm's responsibility for paying fines that resulted from sloppy or incomplete filings, led to "serious cash flow issues,' Durkee began "borrowing" funds from one account to cover bills and make sure other clients' accounts could meet payment obligations and remain open.

Durkee also faced personal financial pressure because her husband was unemployed and she was caring for elderly parents, her attorney wrote.

Federal prosecutors are expected to ask a judge to sentence Durkee to eight years behind bars. Nixon wrote in the defense response that his client feels genuinely remorseful and believes the recommendation represents a "just and appropriate sentence."

"Ms. Durkee acknowledges that her conduct amounted to a serious criminal offense, she breached the trust placed in her by her clients and caused the campaigns to suffer significant monetary losses," he wrote. "She accepts full responsibility for her actions and will accept the sentence imposed by the court."

Click here to read the full document.

November 27, 2012
State auditor rips public health contracts, oversight

The California Department of Public Health mismanaged public funds for child abuse and injury prevention programs, violating state contracting laws and improperly spending millions of dollars on administrative costs, the state auditor said today.

State Auditor Elaine Howle said in a report that the Departments of Public Health and Social Services "exhibited weaknesses in their administration" of two relatively small funds established by the Legislature to support programs designed to prevent childhood injuries and abuse.

Howle said the Department of Public Health violated state contracting law when it contracted with the San Diego State University Research Foundation to administer the state's Kids' Plates Program, a prevention program for unintentional childhood injuries funded in part by the sale of special license plates. The department contracted with the research foundation from 2004 to 2010 without complying with provisions of state law prohibiting state agencies from contracting with private entities for work state employees could perform, the audit said.

November 27, 2012
Jerry Brown criticizes UC for raising new chancellor's pay

University of California regents drew criticism from Gov. Jerry Brown today as they hired Nicholas Dirks to be the next chancellor of UC Berkeley and agreed to pay him a salary $50,000 higher than outgoing chancellor Robert Birgeneau.

"The $50,000 increase above the incumbent, even though that incumbent has not received a pay raise, does not fit within the spirit of servant leadership that I think will be required over the next several years," Brown said during a telephone meeting of UC's governing board of regents.

Brown, who sits on the board but rarely participated in meetings until voters approved his Proposition 30 tax increase this month, voted against Dirks' compensation package which includes:

  • An annual salary of $486,800, of which $50,000 will be paid by private donors
  • An annual auto allowance of $8,916
  • A house on the Berkeley campus
  • Moving expenses
  • A one-time relocation bonus of $30,425 paid in installments over four years

Brown said UC needs to create a "new paradigm...which is a university that functions at a lower cost ratio than currently is the case."

"I've just come through a campaign where I've pledged the people that I will use their funds judiciously and with real stewardship, with prudence," the governor said, adding that he would continue to press UC "for greater efficiency, greater elegance, modesty."

"We are going to have to restrain this system in many, many of its elements and this will come with great resistance," Brown said.

November 27, 2012
California doesn't do well in state-to-state wellbeing match-ups

So how does California compare to other states in measures of economic, fiscal, educational and personal wellbeing?

Not so well, it appears, according to new national study by a heavyweight academic consortium and another report from the U.S. Department of Education.

"The States Project" is a joint effort of Harvard University's Institute of Politics, the University of Pennsylvania's Fels Institute of Government and the American Education Foundation. It gathered data on state and local government finances, educational attainment and other "fundamentals" to create the issue-by-issue and state-by-state comparisons.

Overall, California ranks 33rd among the state in what the project calls "best fundamentals," in which Virginia was No. 1 and Mississippi was No. 50.

November 27, 2012
Luis Alejo will vow to honor the Constitution, then to honor his fiancee

JV_050712_YES_04.JPGFor Assemblyman Luis Alejo, next week will be one that he'll never forget.

He'd better not.

The 38-year-old Watsonville Democrat will be sworn into office for his second term Monday, but the highlight of his week will come five days later, when he weds longtime love Karina Cervantez.

Alejo made headlines last May by surprising Cervantez with a marriage proposal on the floor of the Assembly after introducing her to colleagues as the love of his life, his best friend, and the smartest person he knows.

Alejo said that he would be the "happiest man on Earth" if Cervantez would be his wife.

"Karina Cervantez, would you marry me?," he asked.

Alejo said the wedding will take place Dec. 8 in San Juan Bautista Mission, followed by a busy month of Christmas and New Year's celebrations before the Legislature reconvenes in January.

"We don't have a (legislative) session to deal with at the same time, so we thought it would be a great time to make that commitment to each other," he said.

"But I'm getting nervous because it's less than two weeks away."

PHOTO CREDIT: Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, proposed to his fiancee Karina Cervantez on the Assembly floor during the session Monday, May 7, 2012. The Sacramento Bee/Jose Luis Villegas

November 27, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Let the 2014 race begin

Dan Walters notes that Leland Yee's announcement will set off a game of musical chairs.

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November 27, 2012
AM Alert: Musical chairs

VIDEO: The votes are still being counted in the 2012 election, but Dan Walters raises the green flag on the 2014 contests.

The last few months have been a game of musical chairs on California's higher education scene, as officials fill vacancies created by the retirements of three big deal chancellors: Jack Scott, head of the 110-campus California Community College system; Charles Reed, head of the 23-campus California State University and Robert J. Birgeneau, head of University of California, Berkeley.

In September, we saw Brice W. Harris, former head of the Los Rios Community College District, take over as chancellor of the statewide community college office. Earlier this month, UC Riverside Chancellor Timothy P. White announced he would leave to take the top position at CSU (where he asked for a 10 percent pay cut). And today, the musical chairs continues as University of California regents vote for an interim chancellor to fill White's position at UC Riverside and a new chancellor for UC Berkeley.

UC President Mark G. Yudof is recommending Nicholas B. Dirks as the 10th chancellor of UC Berkeley and Jane Close Conoley as acting chancellor of UC Riverside. Dirks is an executive vice president at Columbia University in New York and dean of its faculty for Arts and Sciences. Conoley is the dean of UC Santa Barbara's Gevirtz Graduate School of Education. Compensation packages for both will be made public after regents consider the appointments in closed session at 11 a.m.

COASTAL COMMISH: Speaking of musical chairs, Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez has appointed a new member to the California Coastal Commission to replace outgoing commissioner Mark Stone, a Santa Cruz Democrat who will be sworn in to the Assembly on Monday. The new Coastal Commissioner is Carole Groom, a San Mateo County Supervisor.

NEW JOB: Michele Pielsticker has joined the state Board of Equalization as Legislative and Research Division chief. Previously, she was an attorney with Sutherland Asbill and Brennan and general counsel to the California Taxpayers' Association. She has also been a consultant to the Assembly Revenue and Taxation Committee. Pielsticker replaces Margaret Shedd, who has retired.

LAW & ORDER: Under the dome today, the Little Hoover Commission holds a public safety hearing with panels on jail constraints, bail schedules and sentencing reform.

November 26, 2012
Richard Bloom doubles lead over Betsy Butler -- race nears end

Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom more than doubled his lead over Assemblywoman Betsy Butler today in a race between two Democrats for a Los Angeles County Assembly seat.

New totals show Bloom with 89,705 votes, compared to Butler's 88,817 - a gap of a half percentage point. The two were separated by 430 votes Friday.

With vote counting nearly complete, the new tally appears to spell defeat for Butler, who is finishing her first term in the Assembly and was backed by Assembly Speaker John A. Perez for the newly drawn district.

Parke Skelton, Butler's campaign consultant, said only that "it doesn't look very good, obviously."

"The trend is certainly going very strong against Betsy," Skelton said.

November 26, 2012
Federal prosecutors seek 8-year sentence for Kinde Durkee

Federal prosecutors plan to ask a judge this week to sentence Kinde Durkee to about eight years in federal prison for what's been called the "most extensive campaign treasurer fraud in the history of California."

The prominent Democratic campaign treasurer pleaded guilty in March to stealing at least $7 million from a list of big-name clients that includes U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Prosecutors had previously said the sentence could be as high as 11 to 14 years.

"Over the course of approximately 12 years, the defendant misappropriated millions of dollars from clients, used the money for her personal and business expenses, and prepared false campaign disclosure reports to hide the theft. ... This sentence will reflect the seriousness of the offense, provide just punishment and afford adequate deterrence," a sentencing memorandum filed by the U.S. Attorneys office reads.

November 26, 2012
Democrat Leland Yee announces 2014 CA secretary of state bid

Youth Sentences.jpgThe author of California's new law allowing residents to use the Internet to register to vote wants to be the state's next elections chief.

Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, has announced that he will to run for secretary of state in 2014, when he is termed out of the state Senate.

Yee, whose plans were first reported by The San Francisco Chronicle, spread the news on Twitter this morning.

"Excited to announce that I'm running for California Secretary of State. I want to expand on our recent election, tech, and open gov success," he wrote.

The former state assemblyman and San Francisco supervisor, who lost a bid for mayor there last year, will seek to replace Democrat Debra Bowen, who must leave the post in 2014 due to term limits. In addition to the online voter registration system, which is widely credited with helping boost turnout in the general election, Yee authored legislation to generate more cash for Cal-Access, the state's aging online campaign finance and lobbying database.

Yee is the first major candidate to formally launch a 2014 secretary of state bid, according to the Chronicle, though seven other potential candidates have filed paperwork signaling they could run.


California begins online voter registration

Bill doubling lobbyist registration fees heading to Jerry Brown

State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, addresses the Senate at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Sept. 2, 2011. The state Assembly approved Yee's measure, Friday, to allow juveniles who have been sentenced to life in prison, to submit petitions for reconsideration of their sentences after serving 15 years.(AP Photo/ Rich Pedroncelli)

November 26, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Cap-and-trade auction is latest wrinkle for state budget

Dan Walters says California's budget troubles aren't over.

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November 26, 2012
AM Alert: Add CA sales taxes to those 'Cyber Monday' bills

VIDEO: Even with the passage of Proposition 30, Dan Walters sees some trouble ahead for lawmakers trying to balance California's budget.

Californians surfing and other Web merchants for Cyber Monday deals today will see "sales tax" included in their checkout totals for the first time this year.

The change is the result of one of the biggest legislative battles of the 2011-2012 session: a bill requiring online sellers to collect sales taxes on purchases made by Californians. The onus was previously on the consumer to report and pay sales taxes owed for online goods themselves.

Amazon fought the first version of the measure approved by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, cutting ties with state-based affiliates that qualified the company as a tax collector and launching a referendum campaign to repeal the law. A later compromise gave the company and other online retailers a one-year reprieve, setting the September 2012 start date for the policy.

Meanwhile, with the official start of the 2012-2013 session just one week away, one key state legislative race is still up in the air.

Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom held onto a 430-vote lead over fellow Democrat Betsy Butler, an incumbent assemblywoman, as of last week's ballot-counting in the new 50th Assembly District. Counties have until Dec. 7 to report results to Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

San Rafael City Councilman Marc Levine has declared victory in the 10th District race, but Assemblyman Michael Allen - behind by 3,468 votes on the Secretary of State's website Friday - has declined to concede before more votes are tallied.

TOP TWEETERS: Who are your favorite Capitol types on Twitter? The Bee is compiling a list of stellar tweeters on California's political scene. We want your input. Who do you follow to keep up with the buzz in and around the Capitol? Send your suggestions to

November 23, 2012
Richard Bloom widens lead over Betsy Butler in LA Assembly race

Richard Bloom expanded his lead over sitting Assemblywoman Betsy Butler from just 79 votes to 430 in tallies released Friday afternoon by Los Angeles County.

The two Democrats are separated by just a quarter of a percentage point in a nailbiter for Los Angeles County's newly drawn 50th Assembly District seat.

Bloom, Santa Monica mayor, has 87,270 votes in the latest count. Butler, seeking a second legislative term, has 86,840 votes.

Los Angeles has about 155,000 ballots remaining countywide. An unknown number of those ballots, a small portion, is expected to be from the 50th Assembly District, which represents about 7 percent of Los Angeles County's voters.

Bloom said Friday that the race remains undecided as vote-counting continues -- and that tension builds as the gap grows or shrinks.

"Unfortunately, this is like being on being on 'Who Wants To Be a Millionaire,' except that they don't let you step out of the game, collect your winnings and leave," Bloom quipped. "You have to go to the next level."

Whoever wins the seat will be part of a Democratic supermajority in the Legislature. In the Assembly, Democrats will control 54 of 80 seats; in the Senate, 29 of 40.

* Updated at 5:10 p.m. Friday with Richard Bloom's comment and an estimate of ballots remaining countywide.

November 23, 2012
Senator-elect Galgiani says voters responded to issues, not mud

Reacting to her come-from-behind victory for a state Senate seat, Cathleen Galgiani said voters responded to a campaign in which she focused on legislative issues, not mudslinging.

The Stockton Democrat, who had trailed in ballot counting since Election Day, overtook Republican Bill Berryhill on Wednesday night to win the 5th District Senate seat in San Joaquin, Stockton and a tiny portion of Sacramento counties. Both currently are Assembly members.

Galgiani's campaign touted her support of California's proposed high-speed rail system and her efforts to create and develop UC Merced. She also cast herself as a protector of the San Joaquin Delta, water rights for farmers, and mental health care for youth, including those in the gay and lesbian community.

"I believe I made a case to the voters about what I have done as their Assembly member," Galgiani told The Bee. "I kept my message positive and I talked about my record and what I wanted to do if elected, and voters in my district responded."

November 23, 2012
Lobbyist Mike Kahl remembered as 'principled, strategic and tenacious'

Longtime California lobbyist Mike Kahl, who founded the firm that became Sacramento powerhouse KP Public Affairs, died Sunday of Parkinson's disease. He was 71.

Journalist Greg Lucas chronicled Kahl's career in an obituary posted to his California's Capitol blog:

Principled, strategic and tenacious, Kahl and his partner Fred Pownall, built one of the most respected and one of the biggest grossing lobbying firms in Sacramento, representing the oil industry, water districts, and timber concerns, among many other clients.

Kahl pioneered a lobbying style grounded more in the policy of an issue than in political contacts. He was successful at it because, in most cases, he had studied the homework twice while his opponents were skimming the Cliff Notes.

"He preached to all of us that you had to deal with good public policy. This wasn't going to be about whether you were a good guy or if people liked you," said K.C. Bishop, a long-time Chevron lobbyist who worked closely with Kahl. "Good, solid public policy would win in the end but you needed to do the work to get there."

Services will be held Saturday in El Cajon, where he lived at the time of his death with his wife Judy, according to Capitol Morning Report. Click here to read Lucas' full obituary.

Editor's note: This post was updated at 11:30 a.m. with Kahl's age.

November 21, 2012
Cathleen Galgiani defeats Bill Berryhill in hot Senate race

After trailing since Election Day, Democrat Cathleen Galgiani overtook Bill Berryhill by more than 2,100 votes Wednesday night, assuring her of victory in their hotly contested 5th Senate District race.

Thomas Lawson, Galgiani's campaign manager, said the trend is clear and that her victory will make Thanksgiving Day even sweeter.

Berryhill's campaign consultant, Duane Dichiara, stopped short of conceding defeat but admitted, "It's a tough row to hoe" now.

Galgiani inched ahead of her Republican opponent on the strength of her showing in San Joaquin County. She started Wednesday about 1,500 votes behind and now leads by 2,111 votes.

Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties currently are counting provisional ballots, which are ballots that are in question for some reason, such as a vote cast when the voter is not on the list at the polling place. A ballot will not be counted unless the question surrounding it is resolved.

About 1,600 provisional ballots remain uncounted in San Joaquin County and an estimated 2,100 in Stanislaus and Sacramento counties combined that stem from 5th District voters.

November 21, 2012
First cap-and-trade auction a bust for California budget

State environmental leaders this week hailed California's first cap-and-trade auction a success, but it was hardly so for the state budget.

Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers assumed three auctions this fiscal year would generate $1 billion total for the state, half of which they want to plug the state budget deficit. But most of the $289 million raised this month is dedicated for utilities and their ratepayers, leaving only $55.8 million for state purposes.

A low auction price for 2013 credits and low demand for future credits suggest that California will fall well short of its $1 billion projection this year. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office estimates that if trends hold in the February and May auctions, the state may only raise about $140 million in the first year.

November 21, 2012
Jerry Brown appoints aide to appellate justice job

Thumbnail image for 121121 Jim humes.JPGGov. Jerry Brown has named a long-time aide, Jim Humes, as a First District Court of Appeal associate justice.

If confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, the 53-year-old Democrat will fill the vacancy created by retired Justice Patricia Sepulveda and become the first openly gay justice to serve on the California Court of Appeal.

The job pays $204,599 per year. The court is based in Humes' hometown San Francisco.

Humes' résumé includes a 19-year state career, most recently as the Brown administration's executive secretary for legal affairs. As California's attorney general, Brown named Humes his chief deputy in 2007, capping a Justice Department career that started in 1993 and included leadership positions in its civil division and health, education and welfare section.

After earning his law degree the University of Denver, Humes worked for two Colorado-based law firms with stints in the Colorado Attorney General's Office from 1984 to 1986 and again from 1987 to 1993. He also holds a Master of Social Science degree from the University of Colorado and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Illinois State University.

November 21, 2012
Ferret lovers look for bill sponsor in newly-elected Legislature

ha_FERRETS.JPGNov. 6 wasn't a great day for California ferret lovers.

Two candidates supportive of legalizing ownership of the animals, including one who told the leader of the movement his wife wanted a ferret as a pet, lost in the general election balloting, leaving the informal lobby behind the cause to once again start its annual "Hunt for a Ferret Legislative Sponsor."

Despite having "no known supporters" in the new Legislature, Founder Pat Wright found a reason for hope in the election results.

"There was one person elected who had some ferret knowledge," he wrote to supporters in a newsletter this week. "Brian Maienschein was elected in the 77th Assembly district and met Alice Kaiser and her ferrets."

Wright called on his fellow ferret lovers, who have been working for years to persuade legislators and the Fish and Game Commission to allow ownership of the animals, to create a committee tasked with calling and visiting the newly elected San Diego Republican to seek his support.

Those efforts, however, could be in vain. Maienschein's campaign manager says the assemblyman elect has no recollection of interacting with the pets belonging to Kaiser, who Wright said had to move to Arizona after former Gov. Arnold Schwarzengger vetoed legislation related to the animals in 2004.

"Brian has not ever met a ferret and he will not be sponsoring legislation to legalize ferret ownership," campaign manager Lance Witmondt said.

Still, Wright wants to rally supporters to storm the Capitol in January and meet with staff in every office until someone agrees to carry their bill.

"We have 120 targets," he wrote. "Who's interested - please contact me!"

PHOTO CREDIT: A ferret plays in a plastic toy in early January 2011 at the home of an owner who did not want to be identified. Hector Amezcua, Sacramento Bee.

November 21, 2012
FPPC: Berryhill brothers illegally laundered $40,000 for campaign

The Fair Political Practices Commission has accused GOP state legislators Bill and Tom Berryhill of violating state campaign laws by laundering $40,000 to help Bill Berryhill's 2008 Assembly bid.

California Watch's Lance Williams reports:

The commission said that less than a week before the election, Tom Berryhill gave his brother's campaign $40,000 - more than 11 times the $3,600 donation limit set by state law - to pay for television advertising.

To mask the true source of the funds, the commission contended that Tom Berryhill steered the money through Republican central committees in Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties, which by law could accept as much as $30,200 per donor.

As soon as they got the money, the county committees funneled it to Bill Berryhill's campaign, according to the commission. Bill Berryhill then filed reports falsely claiming that the money came from the county committees and not his brother, the commission said.

The lawyer for Tom Berryhill, who now serves in the state Senate, and the GOP committees allegedly involved in the scheme told California Watch that his clients didn't break the law. He said the committees independently decided to give the money to Bill Berryhill's campaign. A hearing on the charges is set for June.

Bill Berryhill is now locked in a too-close-to-call race with Democratic Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani for a Stockton-based Senate seat. He currently leads by about 1,500 votes, according to results posted by the Secretary of State.

Click here to read the full California Watch report.

November 21, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Cap-and-trade money flows in California

Dan says it will be interesting to see how lawmakers spend the money flowing from the state's new cap-and-trade program.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

November 20, 2012
Richard Pan opens Senate committee - one day after Assembly win

Assemblyman Richard Pan opened a campaign committee to raise money for a possible Senate campaign just one day after winning re-election to the lower house from a newly drawn district he had moved into to run, records show.

The Sacramento Democrat signed documents to launch the "Dr. Richard Pan for Senate 2014" committee on Nov. 7, while absentee and provisional ballots were still being counted in Pan's easy victory over Republican Tony Amador. The filing was reported by the secretary of state's office Tuesday.

November 20, 2012
Obama administration issues proposed health care guidelines

As the country races toward a health care overhaul in the wake of President Barack Obama's re-election, his administration proposed rules today including one requiring insurers to cover everybody regardless of health condition.

The new regulations are intended to carry out the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which has survived a U.S. Supreme Court challenge and Republican opposition.

California leaders are closely reading the federal rules to determine how they will deploy the Affordable Care Act in the nation's most populous state. State lawmakers and a new state marketplace for subsidized health coverage - Covered California - will use the rules to guide how they shape health care in the next year.

November 20, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Will Democrats overreach?

Dan says the assumption that legislative Democrats will overreach with their two-thirds majority may not be so accurate.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

November 20, 2012
AM Alert: Operation gobble

VIDEO: Dan Walters questions assumptions that the legislative Democrats will overreach with their new supermajority power.

With Thanksgiving just two days away, isn't unusual to see politicians spending some quality time with turkey.

Before they roast, smoke or deep fry their own birds, at least three Sacramento-area legislators are taking part today in the annual tradition of distributing free turkeys to families in need.

The husband-and-wife team of Assemblywoman Beth Gaines and Sen. Ted Gaines are set to give out about 600 turkeys at their neighboring district offices in Roseville starting at 9:30 a.m. today.

Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, will join Elk Grove Mayor-elect Gary Davis and Sacramento City Councilmembers Darrell Fong and Bonnie Pannell will have 300 turkeys to share with families and nonprofits at Sacramento State University at 11 a.m.

The turkeys for both events were provided by Save Mart Supermarkets as part of "Operation Gobble," an annual partnership between water companies and politicians across the state. For those wondering, the value of those donated turkeys do count as behested payments that must be reported to the Fair Political Practices Commission.

TOP TWEETERS: Who are your favorite Capitol types on Twitter? The Bee is compiling a list of stellar tweeters on California's political scene. We want your input. Who do you follow to keep up with the buzz in and around the Capitol? Send your suggestions to

NEW JOBS: The chief of staff to outgoing Sen. Joseph Simitian, D-Palo Alto, will spend the upcoming session trying to influence bills from outside the Capitol. Cory Jasperson was hired by California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye to lead the court system's governmental affairs office. The Bay Area News Group's Josh Richmond has more on the hire at this link. Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, announced yesterday that he has hired Sylvia Tang as his new chief of staff. Tang, who ran her own fundraising firm, previously held positions in the offices of Controller John Chiang, Board of Equalization Member Betty T. Yee, Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, former Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, D-Fremont, and multiple state agencies.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Happy birthday to Sen. Leland Yee. The San Francisco Democrat turns 64 today.

The AM Alert will be taking a break for the holiday and will return on Monday. In the meantime, check Capitol Alert for breaking news.

November 19, 2012
California senator drops plan to ask voters for a car tax increase

Lieu.jpgDemocratic Sen. Ted Lieu is dropping a push to ask voters to triple the state's vehicle license fee rates.

The Torrance Democrat told the editorial board of the Los Angeles Daily News last week that he planned to introduce legislation to put a measure on the 2014 ballot asking voters to raise the state's vehicle license fee. He said increasing the rate from .65 percent to 2 percent -- the level it was before former GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger slashed the fee in 2004 -- could generate up to $4 billion a year for roads, public transit and other projects.

Lieu called his proposal at the time "a test to see what the two-thirds (majority) Legislature means," a reference to the supermajority vote required for lawmakers to place measures in front of the people.

But today he scrapped the plan, saying in a statement that "over the last few weeks California's political landscape has changed."

"I have listened carefully to those who have contacted my office or me. Additionally, more stakeholders weighed in on this important issue," Lieu said in a statement. "As a result, I will not be introducing the proposal. Instead, I will work with transportation stakeholders and the public next year on alternative ways to mitigate the transportation infrastructure problem."

PHOTO CREDIT: State Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, during a hearing at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Tuesday, May 8, 2012. AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli.

November 19, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: What will ambitious California Dems do?

Dan says California's up-and-coming Democratic officials may have difficulty advancing.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

November 19, 2012
AM Alert: California House delegation includes 14 newcomers

VIDEO: Dan Walters wonders what younger California Democrats will do, what with septuagenarians occupying in the governor's office and claiming both U.S. Senate seats as well as the House minority leadership role.

Secretary of State Debra Bowen has until Dec. 14 to certify the election for candidates running for something other than president, but one by one, the nail-biters have been dropping off the list.

The last two California House races were settled late last week, with Democratic challengers Ami Bera and Scott Peters edging out Republican incumbents Dan Lungren and Brian Bilbray, who conceded, respectively, in the 7th and 52nd districts.

This means that as of January, Democrats will hold 38 of California's 53 congressional seats, with Republicans holding the other 15. All in all, 39 incumbents will return to the 113th Congress.

The state's delegation will include 14 members -- 11 Democrats and three Republicans -- who are new to Washington. Among them are eight current or former state legislators: Republicans Doug LaMalfa, Paul Cook and David Valadao, and Democrats Jared Huffman, Julia Brownley, Gloria Negrete McLeod, Alan Lowenthal and Juan Vargas.

In addition to Bera and Peters, the other newcomers include Democrats Eric Swalwell, Tony Cardenas, Mark Takano and Raul Ruiz.

Bera and Peters weren't the only Democrats who bested incumbents running for re-election. Ruiz edged out GOP Rep. Mary Bono Mack, Swalwell beat fellow Democrat Pete Stark, and Negrete McLeod bested fellow Democrat Joe Baca.

Then there were the incumbent vs. incumbent races, both of which pitted two Democrats against each other down in the south state, where Janice Hahn beat Laura Richardson, and Brad Sherman won over Howard Berman.

Word was last week that Sherman withdrew his bid to become ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as Politico reported here, a sign he won't be forgiven anytime soon for one of the biggest money-sucking slugfests of the election.

As for Sacramento's musical chairs, a timely office pool might bet on when Negrete McLeod and Vargas will resign from the state Senate seats to allow for special elections to fill their seats.

November 16, 2012
Lungren concedes in race against Bera

Lungren 2012.JPGGOP Rep. Dan Lungren conceded defeat today in his tight race for Congress against Democratic challenger Ami Bera.

"I am satisfied that enough votes have been counted to determine that I will not be representing the citizens of the 7th Congressional District during the 113th Congress. It was a tough campaign and I accept the outcome," Lungren wrote in a statement.

It continued:

"I congratulate Dr. Bera in his victory and I wish him well as he accepts this new challenge. It is my hope that Dr. Bera approaches Congress, as have I, with a humble heart, respect for the institution and a desire to perform his duties in the best interest of the people he represents and the country."

The latest results for the 7th Congressional District showed Bera with 51.11 percent of the vote and Lungren with 48.89 percent. The race has been watched nationwide because it was so competitive and expensive.

With votes still being counted, the Associated Press called the race for Bera Thursday but Lungren waited to concede.

Lungren's defeat comes after a long career in politics marked by both wins and losses. Lungren, 66, won a race against Bera in 2010 and has represented the Sacramento region in Congress since January 2005. He represented a Southern California district for a decade in the late 1970s and 1980s. In the 1990s, he served eight years as California's Attorney General, then lost a bid for governor in 1998.

A timeline of Lungren's career is here.

See complete coverage of the Lungren-Bera race here.

PHOTO CREDIT: Republican Rep. Dan Lungren looks over his ballots after voting Nov. 6 at Gold River Discovery Center School in Gold River. (The Sacramento Bee, Randy Pench)

November 16, 2012
Online voter registration clearly a hit with young Californians

Youth really do let their fingers do the talking, apparently.

When offered the chance to register online to vote, hundreds of thousands of young Californians took advantage of the opportunity in the weeks leading up to the Nov. 6 presidential election.

Nearly half -- 49 percent -- of the 590,788 new voters who registered through California's nascent online system were between the ages of 18 and 29, according to the secretary of state's office.

Combining totals for online and paper applicants, the state registered 986,290 new voters in the 45 days before the Oct. 22 deadline. Of that number, 46 percent were ages 18 to 29, spokeswoman Shannan Velayas said.

Political analysts have attributed a surge of youth interest in casting ballots Nov. 6 to President Barack Obama's candidacy and to the Proposition 30 tax measure, which was touted as a way to raise billions and avert deep cuts to schools.

California does not maintain a statistical breakdown of its voter registration base by age, but pollsters routinely say that only a small percentage of eligible youth typically cast ballots.

The Field Poll had predicted that voters ages 18 to 29 would cast only about 13 percent of all ballots Nov. 6. That number, partly because of online registration, swelled to perhaps 20 percent, according to Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll.

November 16, 2012
Galgiani inching closer to Berryhill in hot battle for Senate seat

Republican Bill Berryhill continues to lead, but Cathleen Galgiani has cut into his margin considerably in their nail-biting battle for a Senate seat.

Berryhill, who once led by about 4,800 votes, ended Friday with a 1,465-vote advantage as counting of provisional and mail ballots continued in the 5th Senate District of San Joaquin, Stanislaus and a tiny portion of Sacramento counties.

The fight for the 5th Senate District was one of the most contentious statewide, with both parties targeting it for capture.

If she wins, Galgiani would represent the Democrats' 29th vote in the 40-member house, two more than necessary for a two-thirds supermajority. That extra cushion could be crucial to the party, at least in the early months of 2013, because two incumbent Democratic senators won seats to Congress in the Nov. 6 election. Once they resign from the state Senate, their strongly left-leaning districts would not pick a replacement for months.

In the Senate race pitting Berryhill against Galgiani, a majority of the ballots left untallied are from San Joaquin, the only county in which Galgiani has garnered more votes - by about 4,000 -- than Berryhill, a current Assembly colleague and fellow Stockton resident.

November 16, 2012
Nathan Fletcher to work for Qualcomm upon leaving Assembly

Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher will work for one of his district's largest employers, Qualcomm, when he leaves the Assembly next month.

The Legislature's only member not tied to a political party - the former Republican re-registered as an independent last March - will serve as Qualcomm's senior director of corporate development.

Fletcher, who announced the move Thursday in a Facebook post, is joining a global corporation that bills itself as a "world-leading provider of wireless technology and services."

Fletcher will not participate in government relations or lobbying activities as part of his new job, he said.

The 35-year-old legislator will assist with wireless health initiatives, mobile education, protection of intellectual property, and he will promote corporate citizenship, volunteerism and philanthropic activities, his announcement said.

"I believe in the power of innovation to improve people's lives," Fletcher said. "Qualcomm brings innovation to people across the globe. They are a great community partner and provide good-paying jobs for San Diegans. I am proud to join their team."

A two-term assemblyman, Fletcher ran unsuccessfully for San Diego mayor this year rather than seek re-election to the Legislature. His Assembly district stretches through San Diego, Escondido, La Jolla and Poway.

November 16, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: California has highest poverty rate, biggest income gap

Dan says two new reports about Californians' income provide some irony.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

November 16, 2012
AM Alert: California Democrats head to Bay Area gathering

VIDEO: Dan Walters says that in California, the rich have been getting richer and the poor have been getting poorer, which is strange for a state that prides itself on being egalitarian.

Members of the California Democratic Party's executive board head to the Bay Area this weekend for the party's first official gathering since Election Day. Members no doubt will celebrate their wins as they work through party business at the Westin San Francisco Airport in Millbrae.

Speakers during Saturday's general session include Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and Proposition 39 backer Tom Steyer. Sen. Leland Yee, the San Francisco Democrat who carried the state's new online voter registration law, will give the luncheon keynote speech that day. Find the agenda at this link.

Gov. Jerry Brown will also be in the Bay Area today -- he's scheduled to speak at 11 a.m. at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo. The U.S. Green Building Council event is at the Moscone Center in San Francisco.

In the south state, Attorney General Kamala Harris attends an all-day symposium at the University of Southern California, where she'll release a report on human trafficking. Listed keynote speakers at the lunchtime session include U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Mexican Attorney General Marisela Morales.

SERVICES: The funeral for Sacramento lobbyist Tim Howe is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 2620 Capitol Ave. in Sacramento. The veteran Democratic political consultant died at 66 of a heart attack Nov. 9 while cycling in the American River Parkway.

NEW GIG: Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher has posted on Facebook that he's joining Qualcomm as its senior director of corporate development after his Assembly term ends Dec. 2. Read more at this link.

November 15, 2012
Pollster: Younger voters didn't decide outcome of Prop. 30

Younger voters turned out in surprisingly high numbers on Nov. 6, but they didn't spell victory or defeat for Proposition 30 or other key ballot issues, according to the director of the Field Poll.

"It helped the margin of victory, but it didn't change the outcome," Mark DiCamillo said of a surge in balloting by voters ages 18 to 29 that bolstered support for the Proposition 30 tax measure.

DiCamillo estimated that the unexpectedly large youth vote raised the Proposition 30 tally by about four percentage points, but the measure won by nearly nine percentage points.

DiCamillo and Mark Baldassare, head of the Public Policy Institute of California, dissected election results Thursday at a session of the Sacramento Press Club.

Even more significant than the youth vote was the impact of ethnic-minority voters. They turned out in record numbers and tended to oppose Republican positions, the duo said.

November 15, 2012
Ami Bera ousts Rep. Dan Lungren in congressional race

Democrat Ami Bera has won his tight race against incumbent GOP Rep. Dan Lungren to fill the 7th District Congressional seat representing the suburbs of Sacramento.

The Associated Press called the race this afternoon as Bera's lead over Lungren had grown to almost 5,700 votes, according to the latest vote count.

Bera, an Elk Grove Democrat, led longtime Republican lawmaker Lungren by 184 votes on election night. His lead grew to about 3,800 votes on Tuesday.

As of today's count, Bera has 51.11 percent of the vote to Lungren's 48.89 percent.

November 15, 2012
Ami Bera's lead over Dan Lungren continues to grow

The tight race for Congress between Rep. Dan Lungren and Ami Bera is tilting further in Bera's favor. His lead has grown to almost 5,700 votes, according to the latest vote count released today.

Bera, an Elk Grove Democrat, led longtime Republican lawmaker Lungren by 184 votes on election night. His lead grew to about 3,800 votes on Tuesday in the race to fill the 7th District Congressional seat representing the suburbs of Sacramento.

As of today's count, Bera has 51.11 percent of the vote to Lungren's 48.89 percent. Brad Buyse of the Sacramento County registrar's office said officials still have more than 7,700 vote-by-mail ballots to count in addition to 31,000 provisional ballots.

The contest was one of the country's most expensive Congressional races this year, with outside groups spending more than $8 million - largely on negative advertising.

November 15, 2012
VIDEO: Gray 'Gravy' Davis roasted, tries saying 'What's up?'

Former Gov. Gray Davis will turn 70 next month, and to celebrate he subjected himself to a roast.

The event, which followed dinner with friends and former staffers Wednesday at The California Museum, included more than a few jokes about Davis' rigidity and prodigious fundraising.

The real highlight, though, was a video including clips of Davis playing himself, choking on a cigar, raising the wall - not the roof - and learning to say, "What's up?"

The video, presented by Jason Kinney, the Democratic strategist and former Davis aide, includes a clip of Davis recording a tribute suitable for any Assembly speaker's retirement - "The Assembly goes through speakers like I go through blue shirts and red ties," he says - and an interview with Davis' wife, Sharon, about the influence of her husband's political adviser, Garry South.

"He knows what's best for us," she says. "He takes polls, you know. He really takes a lot of polls."

November 15, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Will California Dems 'loosen up' on budget?

Dan says that building the next fiscal year's state budget will be "a big test" of the California Legislature's Democratic leaders.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

November 15, 2012
AM Alert: Is Proposition 8 referendum in the cards?

VIDEO: Dan Walters mulls whether Democrats in the California Legislature will "loosen up" on the state budget after years of cuts.

Will Senate leader Darrell Steinberg mention Proposition 8 at the Harry S. Truman Democratic Club luncheon he's headlining in downtown Sacramento today?

During a chat with The Bee's editorial board Wednesday, Steinberg said he could envision the Democrat-controlled Legislature using its new-found two-thirds majority power to put a gay-marriage referendum on a future statewide ballot.

"Depending upon what the Supreme Court might or might not do with Proposition 8, in coalition with stakeholders and the gay and lesbian leadership, if it were appropriate and necessary to put a repeal of Prop. 8 on the ballot with our two-thirds supermajority, I would be open to that," the Sacramento Democrat said.

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether to hear an appeal by groups that support the voter-approved 2008 ballot measure, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found the law unconstitutional, prompting an appeal to the high court. The court will announce whether it will take the case by the end of this month, which would set it on a path for a final ruling next year.

Today is also the day for "The Mark and Mark Show." Mark DiCamillo of the Field Poll and Mark Baldassare of the Public Policy Institute of California will be dissecting why voters voted the way they did in the Nov. 6 election. The luncheon is something of a tradition for the Sacramento Press Club, which is hosting the event. The deadline has passed, but you can read more about the event at this link.

DiCamillo will also be at Sacramento State this morning comparing the pre-election polls with the election results. He'll be talking with political scientists on topics such as polling methodology and accuracy from 10 to 11 a.m. in the University Union's Lobby Suite.

In election news, the Assembly has its Democratic supermajority. Jim Sanders reported Wednesday that Republican incumbent Chris Norby has conceded to his Democratic challenger, Fullerton Mayor Sharon Quirk-Silva, in the 65th Assembly District.

We're also expected updated numbers today in the Ami Bera-Dan Lungren race in the 7th Congressional District. The Scott Peters-Brian Bilbray matchup in the 52nd Congressional District still hasn't been called either.

In close same-party Assembly races, the Associated Press has finally called the 67th Assembly District race for Lake Elsinore City Councilwoman Melissa Melendez over fellow Republican Phil Paule, the district director for GOP Rep. Darrell Issa.

Here are other legislative races still up in the air. The lineups are still the same.

10th Assembly District: San Rafael City Councilman Marc Levine leads the incumbent, fellow Democrat Michael Allen.

18th Assembly District: Rob Bonta leads fellow Democrat Abel Guillen.

20th Assembly District: Bill Quirk leads fellow Democrat Jennifer Ong.

36th Assembly District: Republican Ron Smith leads Democrat Steve Fox.

40th Assembly District: Republican incumbent Mike Morrell leads Democratic challenger Russ Warner.

50th Assembly District: Richard Bloom leads the incumbent, fellow Democrat Betsy Butler.

5th Senate District: Republican Bill Berryhill leads Democrat Cathleen Galgiani.

HIGHER ED: Students leaders and members of the UC Student Association is holding a presser at the University of California regents' meeting to urge legislators and the regents to roll back tuition and reinvest in the university system. The event starts at 8 a.m. on the UCSF Mission Bay Campus.

Jon Ortiz contributed to this report with details on Senate leader Darrell Steinberg's visit to The Bee's editorial board.

November 15, 2012
Study finds California high in family-income inequality

California has one of the nation's highest levels of income inequality -- gaps between families in upper income brackets and those in middle and lower quintiles -- according to a new study by the Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

The left-leaning organization, whose California affiliate is the California Budget Project, found that in the late part of the last decade, California had the third greatest disparity between those in the top income brackets and those at the bottom of any state. Only New Mexico and Arizona had greater gaps.

When it came to the gap between those at the top and those in the middle, California had the second widest gap, lower only than New Mexico's. It also had the second largest increase in the gap between top and middle during the preceding three decades, from the late 1970s. Only Connecticut's gap grew more.

Nationally, the organization found that the richest fifth of households had average incomes eight times as large as those of the poorest fifth. It suggested that states with wide income gaps could close them with such steps as raising the minimum wage, making tax systems less regressive, strengthening benefits to low-income families and improving unemployment insurance benefits.

November 14, 2012
Norby concession assures Dems of Assembly supermajority

It's official: Democrats now have their Assembly supermajority.

Incumbent Republican Assemblyman Chris Norby conceded late today that he had been beaten by Democratic challenger Sharon Quirk-Silva in a newly drawn Orange County district.

"I wish my successor well," Norby said in a phone call from Honduras, where his family was spending time with his wife's ailing mother.

"I don't see any way of this turning out the way I'd like," Norby said of his prospects of overcoming Quirk-Silva in absentee or provisional ballots that remain uncounted. The two candidates were nearly 3,000 votes apart Wednesday.

Norby's concession means that Democrats will have 54 of 80 seats in the lower house next year.

Democrats also are assured of a supermajority in the Senate, marking the first time since 1883 that the party has wielded such power in the Legislature.

November 14, 2012
Yolo County almost becomes world-famous as acronym 'YOLO'

Yolo County, north of Sacramento, is home to UC Davis, the Cache Creek Casino and a county seat, Woodland, that still retains the flavor of its 19th century founding.

But it almost became world-famous this week for another reason -- its name.

The original Indian occupants of the area called it, as Anglicized, "Toloy-toy," and early white settlers shorttened that to "Yoloy," and later to "Yola" and finally, "Yolo," when it became one of California's first counties in 1850.

"YOLO," however, has also evolved into a texting and Twitter acronym meaning "you only live once." It was one of the finalists in the Oxford University Press USA's annual "word of the year" designation.

On Tuesday, however, "YOLO" lost out to "GIF," the extension designation for a certain kind of digital image that has morphed into a verb.

Or, as Oxford put it: "GIF verb to create a GIF file of (an image or video sequence, especially relating to an event): he GIFed the highlights of the debate."

November 14, 2012
Jerry Brown tells University of California to 'get more grounded'

Gov. Jerry Brown prodded University of California regents today to pursue online course offerings to reduce costs, saying the state's premier university system must "get more grounded" in its approach to education.

The Democratic governor's remarks came at a meeting of the UC's governing board, which postponed a vote on fee increases at Brown's request.

Brown had said in his campaign to raise taxes that his initiative, Proposition 30, would avert tuition increases this year. The measure's passage, however, does not prevent universities from raising other fees.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom had accused Brown during the campaign of making misleading statements about the extent to which tuition increases could be avoided. When Newsom pressed UC administrators today about the potential for future increases, Brown hardly contradicted him.

November 14, 2012
California faces $1.9 billion deficit

California faces a $1.9 billion deficit through June 2014, significantly smaller than in recent years after voters passed two tax initiatives last week, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office said Wednesday.

The Analyst's Office said in its annual precursor to the budget process that California faces a small deficit because spending is higher than expected and the state will not receive as much as Gov. Jerry Brown predicted from shutting redevelopment agencies. It also believes other revenues from a managed care tax and cap-and-trade auction will fall short.

But the 19-month deficit figure of $1.9 billion pales in comparison to the $13 billion gap the LAO predicted last November or the $25 billion shortfall it foresaw two years ago. The deficit includes a $943 million deficit in the fiscal year that ends in June.

"The state's economic recovery, prior budget cuts, and the additional, temporary taxes provided by Proposition 30 have combined to bring California to a promising moment: the possible end of a decade of acute state budget challenges," the LAO said in its report. "Our economic and budgetary forecast indicates that California's leaders face a dramatically smaller budget problem in 2013-14 compared to recent years."

The Analyst forecasts the possibility of surpluses starting at $1 billion in 2014-15, growing to more than $7 billion in 2017-18. But that depends on Brown and lawmakers restraining program growth, and numerous advocates are likely to ask for existing cuts to be reversed given the additional money available.

Brown said in a statement: "This report validates the hard work the state has done to cut its deficit and balance its budget over the long term. California is now on the path for a fair and sustainable budget as long as we continue to exercise fiscal discipline and pay down debt."

The governor's Department of Finance told the LAO last week that it had discovered $1.4 billion in extra money from an accounting change. The Analyst's Office said that "adjustment" for the 2010-11 fiscal year was unusually large. Without it, the deficit would have been $3.3 billion.

Post updated with quote and additional details at 12:45 p.m. and 2:15 p.m.

November 14, 2012
California legislators attend policy conference at Hawaii resort

More than a dozen California legislators are lodged in Hawaii's fancy Fairmont Kea Lani hotel this week -- hobnobbing and talking public policy with dozens of corporate, union and other officials that do business at the Capitol.

The annual invitation-only conference is sponsored by the California Independent Voter Project, a nonprofit public policy group that is funded through various business, labor and other groups.

Legislators' travel to Maui and their hotel tabs will be picked up by the nonprofit unless they opt to pay their own way.

Dan Howle, event organizer, declined to identify members of the California Legislature participating in the annual conference. He said they consist both of Republicans and Democrats. Several of the lawmakers are paying their own way.

November 14, 2012
New CSU chancellor requests 10 percent pay cut

Timothy P. White, California State University's incoming chancellor, has requested a 10 percent pay cut, saying in a letter to trustees, that he hopes the move will send a signal that "public higher education matters to all of us, and that we each must play a part in the rebuilding."

CSU's board of trustees met today in Long Beach to approve White's compensation package. He was in line to receive the same pay as outgoing Chancellor Charles Reed: a $421,500 salary plus a $30,000 supplement from CSU foundations. After rounding the pay cut White requested to his base salary, he will be paid $380,000 plus the $30,000 supplement.

White, 63, comes to CSU after four years at the helm of UC Riverside, where his pay in 2011 was $327,200.

In his letter to CSU trustees requesting the pay cut, White said voter approval last week of Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative does not alleviate all of CSU's financial problems.

"Despite the passage of Proposition 30, there remain grave economic issues to solve in California and the California State University. Indeed, the success of Proposition 30 was the voice of the voters and taxpayers of California to start to reinvest in education," he wrote.

"I also recognize that Californians expect me to properly steward these resources. Consequently, as l join the faculty, staff and students who have experienced cuts, salary freezes, and increased fees, I too must do my part."

The union that represents CSU professors has had a contentious relationship with Reed, frequently criticizing him for executive pay packages that the union felt were unfair.

Lillian Taiz, president of the California Faculty Association immediately posted her reaction to White's request on Twitter: "Looks like a fresh start."

Editor's note, 12:36 p.m.: This post was updated to reflect White's pay of $380,000.

November 14, 2012
Schwarzenegger reiterates criticism of GOP exclusivity

Five years ago, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered a speech to a state Republican convention, warning party activists that unless they became more inclusive and broadened their appeal, they would become irrelevant.

"In movie terms," the movie star-turned-politician told his fellow Republicans, "we are dying at the box office."

On Wednesday, Schwarzenegger issued a gigantic "I told you so" in the form of a Wall Street Journal interview.

He said that Republicans should not shy away from immigration and other hot button issues, but rather embrace them in positive terms.

"We cannot tolerate these offensive comments about women's rights and ridiculous plans for mass deportations," Schwarzenegger said. "We have always been a party of big ideas to move the country forward, and that is what we must communicate now. Not these petty attacks."

"We need to focus on expanding the tent instead of shrinking it," Schwarzenegger continued in the question-and-answer interview. "We need to find ways to include instead of exclude. The party has tried to move to the right, and now we can see that the action and the votes are more in the center."

November 14, 2012
California's poverty rate highest in U.S. by new federal measure

Nearly nine million Californians - almost a quarter of the state's residents - live in poverty under a newly devised federal standard, making the state's rate by far the highest in the nation.

The stunning number will fuel California's perpetual political debate over the state's "safety net" of health and welfare services, which have been reduced sharply due to budget deficits. With voter approval of new taxes, advocates for the poor are demanding that some of the benefit cuts be rescinded.

California's 23.5 percent poverty rate under the "supplemental poverty measure" (SPM) developed by the Census Bureau is approached only by the 23.2 percent rate in the District of Columbia. The highest SPM rate in any other state is Florida's 19.5 percent.

The state-by-state comparison is found in a Census Bureau report on the SPM, which is being tested as a replacement for the current way of measuring poverty, which is a half-century old.

The new, and still experimental, system includes broader data of income and outgo that have emerged since the system was created in the early 1960s, such as payroll taxes that reduce disposable income and government benefits that increase income.The new system also takes into account cost-of-living variations from state to state.

The steep climb in California's poverty rate under SPM, adding nearly 3 million to the poverty rolls, is apparently driven largely by the state's high cost of living.

Under the old - and still official - system, California's poverty rate is 16.3 percent, which translates into slightly over 6 million of the state's 38 million residents. That rate is somewhat higher than the national rate of 15 percent, but by no means the highest in the nation.

The national SPM rate is 15.8 percent, a fractional increase from the official rate, and California's SPM rate of 23.5 percent represents not only the highest in the nation, but the largest of any state's jump from the official rate to the SPM rate. In some states, the SPM rate actually is lower than the official rate.

November 14, 2012
Nancy Pelosi to stay as House minority leader

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced Wednesday that she will keep her position for the next two years.

The 72-year-old San Francisco Democrat first met with fellow Democrats in a closed-door caucus session.

Pelosi will still need to win election to the post, though that is all but guaranteed. Pelosi's career announcement capped an extended period of speculation that began even before the Nov. 6 election, in which Democrats gained a handful of seats but failed to reclaim control of the 435-member House.

November 14, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Latino vote in California may be encouraging to the GOP

VIDEO: Dan says the election results may have actually brought some positive news for California Republicans.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

November 14, 2012
AM Alert: No fees to see here

VIDEO: Dan Walters discusses the growing political clout of Latino voters.

FEE FREE: Having scrubbed the agenda of an item to increase fees at UC professional schools, Gov. Jerry Brown continues his Proposition 30 victory lap today with an appearance at the University of California regents meeting in San Francisco. A controversial student fee item on yesterday's agenda of the California State University trustees was met by a similar disappearing act after Brown announced he'd attend that meeting.

We're looking forward to seeing how Brown is greeted by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom at today's regents meeting. Newsom criticized Brown during the Proposition 30 campaign for misleading students on the extent to which his tax increase could avoid fee hikes at California colleges.

BLOGGING FOR DOLLARS: The Fair Political Practices Commission is hosting a conversation today to discuss how bloggers and others who are paid to communicate political messages online should disclose the source of their payments. It's an issue that drew the wrath a few months ago of Democratic political strategist Steve Maviglio and Republican blogger and state party official Jon Fleischman. Today's meeting is at 10:30 a.m. at 428 J Street in Sacramento. FPPC Chair Ann Ravel wants the political blogosphere to weigh in.

NEW JOB: First 5 California has named Camille Maben its new executive director. Maben previously worked for the state Department of Education, the Governor's Office of the Secretary of Education and the Assembly Education Committee. Maben is on the board of the Rocklin Unified School District.

ROASTED: Former Gov. Gray Davis will be in Sacramento tonight for a roast in honor of his 70th birthday. The event at the California Museum is being put on by his former chiefs of staff Lynn Schenk, Garry South and Dan Zingale. Former Sen. Art Torres will serve as MC.

Which leads to this suggestion for those into workplace bets: How many recall jokes can be stuffed into one roast?

November 13, 2012
Bera widens lead over Lungren in tight Congressional race

Democrat Ami Bera extended his narrow lead Tuesday over GOP Rep. Dan Lungren in the hotly contested 7th Congressional District, moving 3,824 votes ahead in the suburban Sacramento seat.

Bera now leads the longtime Republican lawmaker by a 50.81 percent to 49.19 percent margin in the latest tally of 235,628 votes.

The Lungren campaign estimates there remain nearly 40,000 ballots left to count in the race. "We want to see more ballots counted," strategist Rob Stutzman said Tuesday.

Though vote counting continues, Bera is in Washington, D.C. this week for legislative freshman orientation.

"There are still ballots remaining, but we are confident that Sacramento County voted for new leadership that will put the people first," Bera said in a statement.

Bera led Lungren by a mere 184 votes out of 180,000 counted at the end of Election Night.

The local battle was one of the country's most expensive races, as outside groups spent more than $8 million. The next vote update is expected to come Thursday.

Post updated at 3:55 p.m. with a Bera comment.

November 13, 2012
Jerry Brown asks UC to delay vote on professional school fees

For the second time this week, a California university system is postponing a vote on fee increases as Gov. Jerry Brown makes the rounds touting the success of his Proposition 30 tax measure - which was supposed to avert tuition hikes.

University of California regents announced today that at Brown's request, they are yanking an item from tomorrow's agenda in which the board was to consider raising fees at several UC professional schools, including schools of nursing, business, law and medicine.

"The governor, who serves on the Board of Regents by virtue of his office, asked for additional time to allow him to develop a better understanding of the policies and methodology involved in the setting of fee levels at individual graduate professional programs," said a statement from UC's Office of the President.

November 13, 2012
Michael Rubio, others drop bid for delay in Green Chemistry law

Just more than a month after Sen. Michael Rubio asked Gov. Jerry Brown to delay implementation of California's law to regulate toxic chemicals in consumer goods, he has dropped his request.

In a letter Friday to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, Rubio and six other lawmakers said they were satisfied with the department's plan to study the law's economic impact on regulated industries.

"We applaud your work on this important issue and look forward to working with you to protect all consumers in California, as well as our state's economic future," the letter said.

The state's Green Chemistry initiative, passed by the Legislature in 2008, has been delayed about two years. Environmentalists say the initiative is important to protect the public and the environment from toxins, while critics fear its impact on business.

Rubio has had a difficult relationship with environmentalists, only exacerbated since Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, announced this fall that Rubio would be chairman of the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality. The Central Valley Democrat was behind a controversial, failed effort this year to overhaul the California Environmental Quality Act.

November 13, 2012
Gov. Jerry Brown taps Marine Corps leader to run state parks

In the wake of a financial scandal at state parks, Gov. Jerry Brown tapped retired U.S. Marine Corps Major General Anthony L. Jackson to run the beleaguered department, he announced today.

Jackson, 63, served 36 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, most recently in charge of installations in the Southwest. He has worked with state and federal officials on renewable energy, fire suppression, state parks and off-highway vehicle use, according to Brown's office.

His appointment comes after the July resignation of longtime California Department of Parks and Recreation Director Ruth Coleman following a discovery that parks administrators had hidden more than $50 million. That revelation came after state investigators found parks officials conducted an unauthorized leave buyback program, using a surplus of cash that was never reported to the Department of Finance.

"Major General Jackson brings more than thirty years of problem-solving and management experience to Parks, serving most recently as the Commanding General of Marine bases across the Southwestern U.S. and tens of thousands of troops and civilians," Brown said in a statement. "Under Major General Jackson's leadership, I am confident that the stewardship of California's beaches, forests, estuaries, dunes and wetlands is in good hands and that the confidence and trust of Californians in our Parks Department will be restored."

Jackson is registered as a decline-to-state voter and will earn $150,112 annually as parks director.

November 13, 2012
Assembly Democrats capture tight race needed for supermajority

Democrats have captured one of the two tight Assembly seats they need to gain a supermajority in the lower house.

In a race too close to call on Election Day, Democrat Rudy Salas has defeated Republican Pedro Rios in the 32nd District of Kern and Kings county.

Salas' lead had grown from 268 votes last Tuesday to about 2,500 this morning through the counting of absentee and provisional ballots. Scattered votes have not yet been tallied, but not enough to alter the outcome.

In the other race critical to Assembly Democrats' supermajority hopes, Sharon Quirk-Silva continued to extend her lead over incumbent Republican Assemblyman Chris Norby in Orange County. Her lead of 1,004 after the precinct count widened to 2,222 votes this morning.

November 13, 2012
Jerry Brown thanks CSU for delaying vote on 'super senior' fees

Gov. Jerry Brown thanked California State University leaders today for postponing a vote - originally scheduled for this afternoon - on a controversial proposal to charge extra fees on "super seniors," course repeaters and students who take an extra-heavy course load.

The proposal had caused uproar among students and faculty, and threatened to steal some thunder from Brown's unusual appearance at the board of trustees meeting today in Long Beach, where he thanked students and faculty for their help in passing his tax measure, Proposition 30.

"You did heroic work here," Brown told them. "It did go against the trend and some people's expectations, but it really is sorely needed. Of course it's not a panacea so we are going to have to continue to manage our resources very carefully. I understand the fee proposal was an effort to do that -- to free up seats, to get more kids into the university. So we'll take a look at that. We all will, and I want to participate."

November 13, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Don't expect CA supermajority to produce big change right away

VIDEO: Dan says change will come slowly despite lots of speculation about the California Legislature's actions now that it appears Democrats have a supermajority.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

November 13, 2012
AM Alert: Ami Bera to attend congressional orientation in D.C.

VIDEO: Dan Walters says the likely supermajority in the California Legislature isn't going to result in change right away.

BERA GOES TO WASHINGTON: Count Ami Bera among the legislative freshmen in Washington, D.C., who start orientation this morning -- even though it's not yet clear the Democrat challenger has wrested Sacramento County's 7th Congressional District from Republican incumbent Dan Lungren.

The House Administration Committee that organizes the four-day event -- and that Lungren chairs -- invites all potential new members of Congress to attend the week-long series of sessions.

When Bera left Sacramento, his lead over Lungren stood at 1,779 votes, less than 1 percent of the ballots counted so far. While that was up from his 187-vote lead at Election Day's end, county officials had yet to count tens of thousands of ballots with the potential to affect the Bera-Lungren race. They're expected to update the totals later today.

While Bera stopped short of predicting victory Monday during a telephone interview from Washington, he said that he feels "confident the ballot total will continue to move in our direction."

A Lungren aide said the Gold River Republican returns to Washington today for the final weeks of the lame-duck session of the 112th Congress.

The Bera-Lungren contest was one of two undecided House races in California on Monday. In the other, Republican incumbent Brian Bilbray trailed Democratic challenger Scott Peters by six-tenths of a percentage point in the 52nd Congressional District.

On Monday, six congressional races remained unsettled nationwide.

Clicking this link will open counts for the congressional and state legislative races that remain too close to call. You'll find a county-by-county list of ballot reporting status at this link. The unprocessed county ballots report is here.

GOVERNOR'S CALL: Gov. Jerry Brown plans to attend the California State University Board of Trustees meeting in Long Beach at 10 a.m.

A brief press release from the governor's office released Monday afternoon didn't explain why Brown is attending the meeting. While he is a board member, the governor usually sends a proxy.

As The Bee's Laurel Rosenhall reports this morning, CSU faculty and students have targeted the board meeting to protest a proposal to charge new fees on "super seniors," course repeaters and those who take an extra-heavy class load.

Administrators say the fees will free up class space and make speed up graduation rates. Students say the plan would punish those already facing obstacles on the path toward a diploma -- and favor students with the ability to pay over those of modest means.

Brown barnstormed college campuses to get out the youth vote for his successful tax measure, Proposition 30, but he hasn't weighed in on the CSU fee proposal.

CRYSTAL BALL: Hedge fund billionaire and political activist Tom Steyer joins PPIC President Mark Baldassare for a wide-ranging conversation about California's future -- from climate change to fiscal reform to the role of the initiative process in policy-making.

Lauren B. Dachs, president and executive director of the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation will also speak. The conference runs from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the PPIC Bechtel Conference Center at 500 Washington St. in San Francisco. Click here to register and view the event online.

TOWN HALL: Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, is convening a public town hall meeting on criminal justice reform at the Milton Marks Conference Center Auditorium from 6 to 7:30 p.m. You can find more information about the event by clicking here.

November 12, 2012
Vote margins widen in three of Legislature's hottest contests

Leaders remain the same, but vote margins have widened since Election Day in three of California's most closely watched legislative races, records showed today.

For Democrats to gain a supermajority in the Assembly, Sharon Quirk-Silva must defeat Republican incumbent Chris Norby in Orange County's 65th District, and Rudy Salas must beat Pedro Rios in the 32nd District of Kern and Kings counties.

Quirk-Silva's lead has grown from 1,004 to 1,809 votes with the counting of an unspecified number of absentee and provisional ballots.

With new totals posted by Kern County late Monday afternoon, Salas extended his lead significantly over Rios -- from 268 votes to 2,503 votes.

In a Senate race pitting two incumbent Assembly members, Bill Berryhill's lead over Cathleen Galgiani has risen slightly, from 3,988 to 4,812 votes. Berryhill is a Republican, Galgiani a Democrat. Both live in Stockton.

The number of absentee and provisional ballots remaining to be counted was not available. Counties have about a month from Election Day to complete their tallies.

In two same-party Assembly races, featuring Democrats, Richard Bloom continues to lead incumbent Assemblywoman Betsy Butler in the 50th District of Los Angeles County, but his lead has dropped from 218 to 103 votes. Marc Levine has extended his lead over Assemblyman Michael Allen from 1,663 to 2,486 votes in the 10th District of Marin and Sonoma counties.

* Updated at 4:57 p.m. to add new vote totals from Kern County in the 32nd Assembly District race. Updated at 7:15 p.m. Tuesday to say that Berryhill is a Stockton resident.

November 12, 2012
Tim Howe, longtime political consultant and lobbyist, dies

By Robert D. Davila

Tim Howe, a Sacramento lobbyist and veteran political consultant who was a top aide to Democratic lawmakers, died Friday of a heart attack while cycling in the American River Parkway, his family said. He was 66.

Mr. Howe began his career in politics in 1965 as an aide in the Legislative Bill Room at the state Capitol. He graduated from UCLA and earned a master's degree in political science from the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He returned to California to work for Assembly speakers Jesse Unruh, Bob Moretti and Leo McCarthy and joined the Assembly Majority Consultants during the early 1970s.

He graduated from UC Davis School of Law in 1978 and ran Assemblyman Vic Fazio's campaign for Congress. He served as Fazio's chief of staff in Washington, earned a master of law degree in taxation from Georgetown University and practiced law in Sacramento from 1981 to 1987. He was chief of staff for Assemblyman Lloyd Connelly from 1987 to 1992. He worked as a lobbyist for George Steffes and Associates before starting his own lobbying firm, Tim Howe and Associates.

A Carmichael resident, Mr. Howe had a son, John, with his wife of 25 years, Patti Habel, who died of cancer in 2010. He also is survived by two children from a previous marriage, Robert Howe of San Francisco and Julie Starbird of Sacramento; a sister, Evonne Morrissey of Sacramento; and three grandchildren.

A service is planned for 11 a.m. Friday at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 2620 Capitol Ave., Sacramento. Donations may be made to the American River Foundation, 5700 Arden Way, Carmichael, CA 95608; Nor Cal Beagle Rescue, P.O. Box 580327, Elk Grove, CA 95758-0006; or Sacramento Food Bank, 3333 33rd St., Sacramento, CA 958917.

November 12, 2012
Latinos make big gains in legislative seats across nation

Latinos made big gains in state legislative bodies during last week's election, including the California Legislature, according to a report from the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

The organization called the increases "historic" and said that Latinos now hold legislative seats in 36 states with 70 state senators and 206 members of lower legislative houses.

New Mexico, with 46 Latinos, leads the nation, while California runs second with 26, up from 23 prior to the election. California's Latino legislators include two newly elected Republicans.

November 12, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Democratic 'reform' will be in eye of beholder

VIDEO: Dan wonders whether the "reform" measures the newly strengthened legislative Democrats have mentioned will really happen. Senate leader Darrell Steinberg, for instance, has talked about ballot initiatives.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

November 12, 2012
AM Alert: Vote counts continue in close California races

VIDEO: Dan Walters wonders whether California Democrats will really push for reforms.

Today is a state holiday, Veterans Day observed, so the business of government promises to gallop at a glacier's pace.

If you're looking for the latest numbers in the Ami Bera-Dan Lungren race, for instance, Sacramento County election officials don't anticipate an update until Tuesday.

In other close races, Republican Peter Tateishi conceded to Democrat Ken Cooley on Friday in the 8th Assembly District, but there were a number of other Assembly contests still too close to call late last week.

Republicans were hoping for a reversal of fortunes in the 32nd District, where Democrat Rudy Salas was leading Republican Pedro Rios, and in the 65th District, where Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva was leading Republican incumbent Chris Norby. Those are the two districts that Democrats say have pushed them to 54 seats, a two-thirds majority in the lower house.

Republicans held the edge in two other districts: the 36th, where Ron Smith was leading Democrat Steve Fox, and the 40th, where Republican incumbent Mike Morrell was leading Democrat Russ Warner.

Guaranteed Republican seats include the 5th District, where Frank Bigelow edged out former legislator Rico Oller, and the 67th District, where Melissa Melendez is leading Phil Paule.

Guaranteed Democratic seats include the 10th District, where Marc Levine was edging out incumbent Michael Allen; the 18th District, where Rob Bonta and Abel Guillen were battling it out; the 20th District, where Bill Quirk had an edge on Jennifer Ong; and the 50th District, where Richard Bloom was leading incumbent Betsy Butler.

Whoever prevails in those matchups, they feature a lot of new faces. So do the winners of the races that have already been called. By Capitol Alert's count, in fact, close to half of the Assembly members who'll get sworn in next month will need to learn where the rest rooms are. Stay tuned for more on who they all are.

November 11, 2012
Jerry Brown: California tax vote start of national tax hike sweep

Gov. Jerry Brown said in a television interview this morning that passage of his initiative to raise taxes has national implications, with California at the start of a broader movement to increase taxes on the rich.

"Revenue means taxes, and certainly those who have been blessed the most, who have disproportionately extracted, by whatever skill, more and more from the national wealth, they're going to have to share more of that," Brown said in a taped interview on CNN's State of the Union with Candy Crowley. "And everyone is going to have to realize that building roads is important, investing in schools is important, paying for the national defense is important, biomedical research is important, the space program is an indicator of the world leader - all that takes money."

November 9, 2012
Ken Cooley now an assemblyman after Peter Tateishi concedes

It's official: Democrat Ken Cooley is Sacramento County's newest assemblyman.

Republican Peter Tateishi conceded Friday to Cooley in the 8th Assembly District, stretching from Citrus Heights to south of Wilton. The vote margin between them had widened from about 4,900 to 7,400 in early counting of mail and provisional ballots.

"The trend is showing that it's not going to move," Tateishi said.

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez had named the newly drawn 8th District, in which Democrats hold a four percentage point lead in voter registration, as a targeted seat for capture by his party this year. Millions of dollars were spent by each side.

Pérez, benefiting partly from a wave of youth voters and supporters of Democratic President Barack Obama, has declared victory in seizing two more Assembly seats than his party had last year, giving it a supermajority, 54 of 80 seats.

Republicans have not yet conceded in two close Assembly races, however, one in Orange County, the other in Kings and Kern counties.

Cooley attributed his victory, in part, to months of door-to-door contacts with voters. The leader of his campaign, Andrew Acosta, said it helped that Cooley had a solid record of job creation and the "ability to work across party lines to get things done."

"I'm honored," said Cooley, an attorney, legislative aide and longtime Rancho Cordova councilman. "I'll continue to work with everybody, and try to work on what really matters -- we've got to grow jobs here in California. Everybody's got to work on that."

Tateishi, former chief of staff to Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren, said he left a message on Cooley's telephone voice mail to congratulate him and wish him well in his new job, which begins in December.

"I hope he lives up to his promise to be bipartisan," Tateishi told The Bee.

Tateishi said he was proud of his campaign but was outspent by millions of dollars. Campaign documents show that about $5 million was spent by Cooley or by groups on his behalf, compared to roughly $3 million for Tateishi.

"They ran a great campaign, an effective campaign," Tateishi said of Cooley's effort. "I didn't care for all their tactics but it was a winning campaign. You have to give them credit for that."

Cooley currently is on unpaid leave of absence from his job as legislative director to Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello. Earlier this year, he served as principal consultant to the Senate's insurance committee.

Cooley's resume also includes stints as chief of staff to former Assemblyman Lou Papan, 1977-85; chief counsel to the Assembly banking and insurance committee, 1988-91; and state counsel for State Farm Insurance Co., 1991-08.

* Updated at 5:07 p.m. to add comments from Cooley.

November 9, 2012
Bera lead over Lungren wider in Sacramento County House race

Democrat Ami Bera has widened his lead over GOP Rep. Dan Lungren in the 7th Congressional District, with the latest vote count this afternoon putting the challenger ahead by 1,779 votes in the suburban Sacramento swing seat.

The two rivals are still separated by less than one percentage point. Bera has won 50.43 percent of the 208,711 votes counted to Lungren's 49.57 percent. Election officials still need to process more than 100,000 ballots submitted throughout Sacramento County, a total that could include tens of thousands of votes in this race.

Bera led Lungren by 184 votes by the end of election night, when about 180,000 votes in the race had been tallied.

This year's battle between Lungren and Bera is one of the country's most competitive and costly congressional races. While Lungren beat Bera by seven percentage points in 2010, redistricting gave Democrats an edge in the suburban Sacramento seat. Outside groups poured more than $8 million into the contest, with pro-Bera forces outspending Lungren's allies by more than $2 million.

Sacramento County election officials plan to update the results again on Tuesday.

November 9, 2012
Moody's says Proposition 30 passage a boost to school credit

After previously threatening downgrades if Proposition 30 had failed, Moody's Investors Service said Thursday that voter approval of the tax initiative positively impacted the credit ratings of California's K-12 districts and colleges.

Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers enacted a June budget that put education funding at risk this year if voters had rejected the measure. Moody's warned before the election that it would have begun reviewing the most perilously positioned K-12 districts for a credit downgrade if that had come to pass.

"Passage of this proposition is credit positive for the state's K-12 school districts, community college districts and university systems because it averts the state executing a $6 billion, mid-year cut to education funding," Moody's wrote in its Thursday report.

Moody's observed that K-12 funding for the current school year will now remain about the same as last year. The ratings agency embraced Brown's plan to use extra cash to begin reversing delayed payments, which had forced districts to borrow to pay their bills on an annual basis.

The agency said that in the coming years, Proposition 30 revenues "could provide district with more revenues, assuming economic growth and taxable income rise above our current expectations."

Earlier this week, ratings house Standard and Poor's said the initiative's passage was a positive development for the state's credit rating as a whole. Analyst Gabriel Petek said that California could climb out of the ratings basement - its A- remains the nation's worst - if the state uses this period of increased taxes to enact permanent changes that steady the budget system.

November 9, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Is Kamala Harris headed east?

VIDEO: Dan speculates about the possibility of political "musical chairs" in Sacramento.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

November 9, 2012
AM Alert: More than 3 million votes left to count in California

VIDEO: Dan Walters says, "When you start playing musical chairs in politics, anything can happen." What about Attorney General Kamala Harris, for instance?

California's elections officials had tallied more than 9.6 million votes from Tuesday's elections by late Thursday afternoon, but they still have their work cut out for them.

How many ballots are left to count? More than 3 million, according to information that county officials had given the Secretary of State's Office by late Thursday. Los Angeles County alone had about 796,000 to go.

Elsewhere in the south state, San Diego County estimated about 475,000 left to count. The nail-biter in the 52nd Congressional District (entirely in that county) had Democrat Scott Peters up by 814 votes over Republican incumbent Brian Bilbray, late Thursday.

And in Riverside County, about 183,000 ballots were left to count. The 36th Congressional District race (entirely in that county) had Democrat Raul Ruiz up late Thursday by more than 4,500 votes over Republican incumbent Mary Bono Mack.

Sacramento County, meanwhile, has also been working through the 193,000 or ballots it has left. If you're waiting for new numbers on the Dan Lungren-Ami Bera race in the 7th Congressional District (again entirely in that county), we're hoping for an update after 3 p.m. Last we looked, Bera was up by 184 votes.

You'll find a county-by-county list of reporting status at this link. The unprocessed ballots report is here.

LECTURE: United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta is speaking at St. Marks United Methodist Church in Sacramento at 7:30 p.m. as part of its Moon Lecture Series. Click here for more information.

VETERANS DAY: The city of Sacramento is sponsoring a Veterans Day parade Sunday starting at 10 a.m. at 3rd Street and Capitol Mall. You'll find a flier at this link.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Both U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer and state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, celebrate their birthdays on Sunday. Boxer turns 72, and Pavley turns 64.

November 8, 2012
Connie Conway re-elected as Assembly GOP leader

Connie Conway was re-elected as Assembly Republican leader Thursday, two days after the GOP took a shellacking statewide that appears to have given Democrats a supermajority of seats in both houses of the Legislature.

Meanwhile, Democrats chose Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez
to remain as their leader, a move that was expected because of his past service and the party's apparent capture Tuesday of two additional Assembly seats, which would give it 54 of 80 seats.

Selection of Conway and Pérez were unanimous decisions of their respective caucuses.

"I'm very pleased, but I also understand the obligation that comes with that - and it's a serious one," said Conway, a former Tulare County supervisor.

"To make sure we are really unified," she said. "And to make sure that as a team we have goals, we express those goals, and that we try to move California in what we believe is the right direction."

November 8, 2012
Democrats' hard feelings over Arizona donor persist

For all the worry about the $11 million donation that conservative donors routed through an obscure Arizona nonprofit, Democrats scored huge wins Tuesday with a Proposition 30 victory and Proposition 32 defeat.

But Democrats remain angry over the contribution, whose true source has yet to be definitively known.

In a post-election conference Thursday in Sacramento, Democratic strategist Gale Kaufman made clear several times that she resents the October money infusion that helped fuel ads for Proposition 32, the anti-labor measure she worked against.

Kaufman said Democrats still intend to push for sanctions against people involved in the donation, at one point saying they will "fight to get the $11 million back." That was an apparent reference a state penalty for cloaking donors through an intermediary, which is a payment to the state general fund equal to the amount of the contribution.

November 8, 2012
CSU considers charging new fees on 'super seniors'

Would California college students work harder to pass a class the first time they take it if they had to pay an extra fee to repeat it? Would "super seniors" hurry up and graduate if they had to pay a penalty for sticking around?

California State University officials are betting that establishing three new fees will encourage students to meet their goals faster -- thereby freeing up space for 16,000 new students to get into classes on the crowded campuses. They are considering a three-prong plan that would charge extra fees to students who remain enrolled though they have enough credits to graduate, take extra-heavy course loads or repeat a class because they got a D or F the first time they took it.

"What's motivating this is to increase access so we have more students taking classes, and taking them in a more efficient way," Eric Forbes, CSU's assistant vice chancellor for student academic services, said in a phone call with reporters today.

CSU trustees are voting on the plan on Tuesday. It proposes these fees:

November 8, 2012
AM Alert: How did top-two primary affect election? What's next?

VIDEO: Dan Walters says that Tuesday's voters looked more like California's populace than in previous elections.

California's political types conduct an autopsy today of Tuesday's election at an all-day conference in Sacramento sponsored by Capitol Weekly, the University of California Sacramento Center and the nonprofit Leadership California Institute. A lot of big names will be there.

Political journalist Lou Cannon, who's the biographer of Ronald Reagan and a former senior White House correspondent for the Washington Post, delivers the keynote luncheon address.

The post-mortem will look at several issues, including the top-two primary's effect on the election. Those panelists include former Democratic consultant Paul Mitchell of Political Data Inc., Senate leader Darrell Steinberg's political consultant Lisa Gasperoni, Democratic consultant Andrew Acosta and UC Davis political science professor Robert Huckfeldt. Moderating is Marisa Lagos of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Moderating a discussion of the ballot proposition fights is Anthony York of the Los Angeles Times. That panel features Democratic consultants Gale Kaufman and Jason Kinney, Proposition 34 supporter Jeanne Woodford and Republican consultants Beth Miller and Aaron McLear.

Then there's the role of television, with former TV reporter Kevin Riggs, now with Randle Communications, moderating a panel that includes Republican consultant Kevin Eckery, Gov. Jerry Brown aide Steve Glazer, Sheri Sadler, who handled media for the Kamala Harris and Gavin Newsom campaigns, and Bay Area Council president Jim Wunderman.

Last but not least, The Bee's Amy Chance will moderate a look at the future, with author Mark Paul, Shawnda Westly of the California Democratic Party, UC Santa Cruz Dean Sheldon Kamieniecki and Lou Paulson of the California Professional Firefighters.

A meet-and-greet reception follows with newly elected members of the Assembly and the Senate. If you didn't cough up the $199 to attend, be patient. The event at 1201 K St. is being recorded for broadcast later on the California Channel.

Come back to Capitol Alert later. We'll be reporting on the squeaker races as the numbers come in.

November 7, 2012
Food activists look to other states after failed California measure

Organic farmers and others who backed Proposition 37 to label genetically engineered food said today that failure of the measure in California won't stop similar efforts in other states. They're looking north to Washington and Oregon and east to Connecticut and Vermont.

Even though 53 percent of California voters rejected Proposition 37, the measure gave a huge push to the the national movement to label genetically modified food, said Dave Murphy, a co-chair of the Yes on 37 campaign and executive director of Food Democracy Now.

"We won a moral victory," Murphy said. "We've exposed this issue nationally in a way that's never been done before."

Genetic engineering, also called genetic modifying, is a process in which scientists splice the DNA of one plant or animal and combine it with DNA from something else. Most often, the process is used to produce crops that are resistant to pests or can withstand being sprayed by weed killers such as RoundUp. Genetically modified corn, soy beans and canola are in thousands of common grocery products.

Some people oppose the technique, saying it is unnatural and could be harmful to the environment or human health. They want labels so shoppers who care about the issue can avoid GMOs at the store. Others say genetic engineering - also called biotechnology - is a safe way to produce food with desirable characteristics, and that special labels would imply a danger that hasn't been proven.

Anti-GMO activists are gathering signatures in Washington for a food labeling initiative they hope will make it on the November 2013 ballot, said Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association, a major contributor to the Proposition 37 campaign.

They're hoping to run an initiative in Oregon, Cummins said, though signature gathering has not begun there. If it makes the ballot it would be the second time Oregon voters are asked to require labeling of genetically engineered food; they rejected a similar measure 10 years ago.

Advocates are also working on GMO labeling bills they hope the legislatures in Vermont and Connecticut will soon consider, Cummins said. He said he doesn't expect the federal government to act on the issue.

"Most activists believe our power is in the realm of educating the public, putting pressure in the organic and natural food sector and working at the state level," Cummins said.

He likened the GMO labeling issue to efforts to legalize marijuana, which voters in Washington and Colorado approved Tuesday.

"Like with marijuana legislation, voters took matters into their own hands," Cummins said.

"I think we're going to get some victories in the next 12 months and this will put additional pressure on the federal government."

November 7, 2012
Mary Hayashi runs third in Alameda County board bid

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, who pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor shoplifting charge earlier this year, ran third this week in her bid for a seat on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.

Hayashi had been seeking the seat vacated by Nadia Lockyer, the estranged wife of state Treasurer Bill Lockyer, but faced a barrage of campaign hit pieces dwelling on her shoplifting incident. She garnered less than a fourth of the vote in the county's Second District, running behind Richard Valle and Mark Green.

Much of the anti-Hayashi campaign was financed by a faction of physical therapists who had feuded with the assemblywoman over legislation affecting their profession, as The Bee's Torey Van Oot detailed in this
Capitol Alert posting last month.

November 7, 2012
ACLU files lawsuit over Proposition 35's sex offender provisions

The American Civil Liberties Union has asked the courts to block provisions of California's new voter-approved law targeting human trafficking.

Proposition 35, which passed with 81 percent of the vote Tuesday, enacts harsher penalties for persons convicted of crimes related to human trafficking, a concept that gained broad support in polls and at the ballot box. But a less-noticed provision in the measure requires registered sex offenders to disclose to authorities aliases and service providers they use online.

American Civil Liberties Union's Northern California arm and Electronic Frontier Foundation believe that unconstitutionally restricts the First Amendment rights of registered sex offenders in the states. The groups filed a lawsuit challenging just those provisions related to the Internet identifiers in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Wednesday on behalf of two registered sex offenders and a group called California Reform Sex Offender Laws.

November 7, 2012
California voters OK most local tax and bond measures

California voters approved nearly three-fourths of the 240 tax and bond measures placed on their ballots by school districts and local governments, according to a compilation by Michael Coleman, an adviser to the League of California Cities.

Coleman said 85 of 106 school bond issues and 52 of 66 tax increases were approved by local voters, including a number of add-on sales taxes sponsored by city governments. Only three of those proposed sales tax measures were rejected and those approved ranged from a quarter-cent (the same as Proposition 30, a statewide ballot measure) to as much as a full cent.

Other approved tax measures included utility and hotel taxes, business license fees and, in some school districts and local governments, parcel taxes.

November 7, 2012
Jerry Brown urges 'prudence of Joseph' on future spending

Gov. Jerry Brown said today that he will not use an expected Democratic supermajority in the California Legislature to raise taxes further than were raised by passage of his ballot initiative Tuesday, urging "the prudence of Joseph" on spending in the next few years.

"We have to make sure over the next few years that we pay our bills, we invest in the right programs, but we don't go on any spending binges," the Democratic governor said at a news conference at the Capitol.

Brown said he will be guided by a biblical reference to seven years of plenty being followed by seven years of famine, and to the need in better times to save crops for less abundant years.

November 7, 2012
Race between Bera and Lungren could be up in the air for days

Democrat Ami Bera clung to a razor-thin lead this morning in his fight to unseat Republican Rep. Dan Lungren, though both sides cautioned that it could be days before a winner is declared in the 7th Congressional District.

The two-time rivals for a suburban Sacramento swing seat spent Tuesday night locked in a near tie, with both candidates pulling ahead by margins of fewer than 1,000 votes at different points in the night. Bera now leads by just 184 votes out of more than 176,000 ballots cast.

Many more ballots still need to be counted. County election officials have not yet tallied all the absentee and provisional ballots turned in by Election Day, but spokeswoman Alice Jarboe said the sheer volume appears to be "record breaking."

"I can tell just by the bins and all.... the pink return containers that are filling up these hampers," she said of the scene at the elections office this morning.

Lungren's campaign manager estimated that tens of thousands of unprocessed ballots remain, telling supporters in an email that "we may not know the outcome of this race for days or even weeks."

November 7, 2012
Opponents of Jerry Brown's California tax measure concede

If the photograph of a bottle of Scotch whiskey posted on Twitter early this morning by the spokesman for the campaign against Gov. Jerry Brown's ballot initiative to raise taxes wasn't a clear enough acknowledgment of defeat, the statement issued this morning was.

"While we are disappointed in the outcome of the campaign, the voters have spoken," the campaign against Proposition 30 said in a prepared statement. "We congratulate Governor Brown and his team on their victory and thank all the small business owners, taxpayers and other groups from every corner of the state for their extraordinary commitment to the 'No on 30' campaign."

The concession comes nearly 12 hours after Brown claimed victory.

Aaron McLear, who posted the photograph of the 12-year-old Cragganmore, wrote separately, "Anyone know of a good realtor in Incline Village?"

The Nevada town is just over the California border.

November 7, 2012
Election dominoes could impact timing for supermajority in CA

California Democrats are on track to secure a supermajority in both houses of the Legislature for the first time in more than a century.

But the domino effect of the balloting in other races raise questions about when -- and for how long -- Democrats would have a legislative supermajority.

November 7, 2012
Dems appear to have captured supermajority, GOP leader says

Senate Republican leader Bob Huff conceded this morning that Democrats appear to have captured a supermajority of both legislative houses.

Not all provisional and absentee ballots have yet been counted, but Huff said that he anticipates the majority party gaining at least the two additional seats in the Senate and two in the Assembly needed to gain a supermajority.

"Any time one party gets complete control, it's a very high level of responsibility," the Diamond Bar Republican said.

"With a two-thirds majority, there will be a tremendous temptation to tax our way to prosperity," he added.

Huff said he felt that Democratic successes Tuesday, both in passing the Proposition 30 tax measure and in capturing legislative seats, were due partly to turnout supporting President Barack Obama and partly to Gov. Jerry Brown's last-minute campaigning at college campuses, coupled with implementation of an online voter registration system expected to be attractive to youth.

Huff said he expects to hold Democrats accountable for overseeing the state's budget and the spending of new tax revenues.

* Updated Thursday to clarify that Democrats needed two additiional seats to claim an Assembly supermajority.

November 7, 2012
Jerry Brown: 'Big issues' remain after California tax vote

Gov. Jerry Brown, successful in his ballot initiative to raise taxes and buoyed by the prospect of Democratic supermajorities in the state Legislature, said this morning that the state still faces "big issues" and that the challenge for Democrats will be to "earn and maintain the people's trust."

"We have big issues," the Democratic governor said on CBS This Morning. "We still have a divided state, between, you know, the red and the blue. But we have a predominant Democratic majority now in the Legislature, and the challenge is what can we do with it? Can we earn and maintain the people's trust? And that's no easy thing."

Brown attributed the success of his initiative to raise taxes to an electorate tired of billions of dollars in state spending cuts.

"This has been a very tough fiscal program of austerity, $3 of cuts for every $1 of income, and I think that's the reason why people finally said, OK, enough is enough, 'We'll vote you some more money.'"

Brown said, "This January, we'll have the first balanced budget, probably, since 1998."

Brown, governor before from 1975 to 1983, was asked how he was feeling.

"Well I'm feeling good," he said. "But I mean, I've been around this business a long time, and I know that whatever happens one night there's always another challenge the next day."

November 7, 2012
Sherman over Berman tops 28 same-party California races

Twenty-eight California congressional or legislative races Tuesday pitted candidates of the same party against each other, a development made possible by the state's new top two primary system.

U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman easily beat congressional colleague Howard Berman in one of the most closely watched same-party races featuring two Democratic candidates.

Eight California congressional races featured same-party candidates - six pitting Democrats against each other, two Republicans.

The Assembly decided 18 same-party races - 11 Democrat, seven Republican.

In the Senate, Democrats squared off in two districts, but there were no all-GOP races.

Congressional returns in same-party races early Wednesday morning showed the following:


• Congressional District 8 - Republican Paul Cook over Gregg Imus, 16 percentage points.

• Congressional District 15 - Democrat Eric Stallwell over U.S. Rep. Fortney Pete Stark, 6 percentage points.

• Congressional District 30 - Sherman over Berman, 21 percentage points.

• Congressional District 31 - U.S. Rep. Gary Miller over Bob Dutton, 10 percentage points, in an all-GOP duel.

• Congressional District 35 - Democrat Gloria Negrete McLeod over U.S. Rep. Joe Baca, 10 percentage points.

• Congressional District 40 - Incumbent Lucille Roybal-Allard over Democrat David Sanchez, 18 percentage points.

• Congressional District 43 - Democratic incumbent Maxine Waters over Bob Flores, 42 percentage points.

• Congressional District 44 - U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn over fellow Democratic incumbent Laura Richardson, 20 percentage points.


• Senate District 13 - Democrat Jerry Hill over Sally Lieber, 34 percentage points.

• Senate District 15 - Democrat Jim Beall over Joe Coto, 16 percentage points.


• District 1 - Republican Brian Dahle over Rick Bosetti, 30 percentage points.

• District 2 - Democrat Wes Chesbro over Tom Lynch, 27 percentage points.

• District 5 - Republican Frank Bigelow over Rico Oller, 6 percentage points.

• District 6 - Republican incumbent Beth Gaines over Andy Pugno, 38 percentage points.

• District 10 - Democrat Marc Levine narrowly led Michael Allen, 1 percentage point.

• District 18 - Democrat Rob Bonta narrowly led Abel Guillen, 2 percentage points.

• District 19 - Democrat Phil ting over Michael Breyer, 16 percentage points.

• District 20 - Democrat Bill Quirk narrowly led Jennifer Ong, 2 percentage points.

• District 23 - Republican Jim Patterson over Bob Whalen, 10 percentage points.

• District 39 - Democrat Raul Bocanegra over Richard Alarcon, 18 percentage points.

• District 47 - Democrat Cheryl Brown over Joe Baca Jr., 12 percentage points.

• District 50 - Democrat Richard Bloom narrowly led incumbent Betsy Butler, less than 1 percentage point.

• District 51 - Democrat Jimmy Gomez over Luis Lopez, 20 percentage points.

• District 59 - Democrat Reggie Jones-Sawyer over Rodney Robinson, 6 percentage points.

• District 62 - Incumbent Democrat Steven Bradford over Mervin Evans, 44 percentage points.

• District 67 - Republican Melissa Melendez narrowly led Phil Paule, less than 1 percentage point.

• Distict 72 - Republican Travis Allen over Troy Edgar 12 percentage points.

• District 76 - Republican Rocky Chavez over Sherry Hodges, 16 percentage points.

* Altered Thursday to reflect that Rocky Chavez is a Republican.

November 7, 2012
Incumbents Michael Allen, Betsy Butler narrowly trail in nailbiters

Assembly Democratic incumbents Michael Allen and Betsy Butler were threatened early this morning with not joining the celebration of their party's anticipated capture of a supermajority in that house.

In two of California's most hotly contested races featuring opponents of the same party, Allen and Butler were narrowly trailing their opponents in nailbiters that remained too close to call.

Allen, D-Santa Rosa, was losing to Marc Levine by slightly more than 1 percentage point in the 10th Assembly District, with 100 percent of precincts counted but numerous absentee and provisional ballots remaining to be tallied. The district is in Marin and Sonoma counties.

Butler trailed Richard Bloom by only 291 votes out of nearly 72,000 counted, a margin of less than half a percentage point. They are running for a newly drawn seat in Los Angeles County, the 50th Assembly District.

California's top two primary system lays the groundwork for general elections pitting candidates of the same party. The top two vote-getters in the primary election run off in November, regardless of party.

In other key Assembly races, pitting Democrats against Republicans:

• Democrat Ken Cooley beat Peter Tateishi by 4 percentage points in a Sacramento County district stretching from Citrus Heights to south of Wilton.

• Democrat Al Muratsuchi was beating Craig Huey handily this morning, by 8 percentage points, in District 66. Ninety-six percent of precincts had been counted. The district is Los Angeles County.

• Democrat Jose Medina was trouncing Bill Batey, by 18 percentage points, in District 61. Sixty-four percent of precincts had been counted. The district is in Riverside County.

• Republican Pedro Rios was edging Rudy Salas, by less than 1 percent point, in District 32. Ninety-three percent of precincts had been counted. The district is in Kings and Kern counties

• Democrat Adam Gray easily beat Jack Mobley, by 12 percent points, in the 21st District of Merced and Stanislaus counties. All precincts had been counted.

November 7, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Latinos, youth change face of California electorate

VIDEO: Dan says Tuesday's electorate in California -- for once -- seemed to reflect the state's demographics.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

November 7, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: California reformers missed their chance

VIDEO: Dan says the forces behind Proposition 31 missed an opportunity.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

November 7, 2012
AM Alert: Supermajority? Not yet, but Dems can get the champagne ready

VIDEO: Dan Walters says the defeat of Proposition 31 "sets back the whole notion of reforming California's government," which he says the state needs.

They can't pour the champagne yet, but Democrats dreaming of controlling a supermajority of both legislative houses can unpack the bottle this morning.

Assembly Speaker John A. Perez declared Tuesday night that Democrats had secured two-thirds of the seats in the lower house, and trends in the Senate appeared to be following suit early this morning.

Entering Election Day needing two additional Senate seats to achieve a supermajority, Democrats were leading in four of five key districts: Fran Pavley led by 4 percentage points in District 27, with 97 percent of precincts counted; Richard Roth by 8 percentage points, District 31, 48 percent of precincts counted; Marty Block, 14 percentage points, District 39, 100 percent of precincts; and Hannah-Beth Jackson by 10 percentage points, District 19, 100 percent of precincts.

The key Senate race in which a Republican led early this morning was a nailbiter, with Bill Berryhill edging Cathleen Galgiani in a San Joaquin County-based district. The margin was 51 percent to 49 percent, with 100 percent of precincts counted.

The hard-fought, hotly contested 7th Congressional District race pitting Republican U.S. Rep. Dan Lungren against Democrat Ami Bera remains too close to call. Bera led 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent, with 100 percent of precincts counted but numerous absentee and provisional ballots remaining to be tallied.

In California ballot measures that saw no victor declared Tuesday night, the proposal to require labeling of genetically modified foods -- _Proposition 37 -- was defeated. It trailed 53 percent to 47 percent, with 93 percent of precincts counted. Meanwhile, the measure to repeal the death penalty, Proposition 34, continued to trail this morning, 53 percent to 47 percent.

In other ballot measures, Gov. Jerry Brown declared a victory for Proposition 30 and announced a press conference for 11 a.m. at the Capitol.

Of the two other tax initiatives, Molly Munger's Proposition 38 went down while voters approved Tom Steyer's Proposition 39 to close an out-of-state loophole for businesses.

Unions succeeded in defeatingProposition 32 on payroll deductions.

Voters approved Proposition 36 to change the state's "three-strikes" law. Proposition 35 on human trafficking also won handily, as did Proposition 40 to keep the new state Senate maps.

Proposition 33 on vehicle insurance rates, was getting trounced by nearly 10 percentage points this morning, with only 7 percent of precincts left to count.

In races too close to call Tuesday night, Democrat Julia Brownley held a 4 percentage point lead over Republican Sen. Tony Strickland in the 26th Congressional District. Longtime Democratic Rep. Henry A. Waxman led by 8 percentage points over independent Bill Bloomfield in the 33rd Congressional District. And Gloria Negrete McLeod led Rep. Joe Baca by 10 percentage points in the 35th Congressional District. Both are Democrats.

Here are the latest numbers in key races:

Assembly District 8, Democrat Ken Cooley over Republican Peter Tateishi, 4 percentage points.
Assembly District 65, Democrat Sharon Quirk-Silva narrowly ahead of incumbent Republican Assemblyman Chris Norby, 1 percentage point.
Assembly District 66, Democrat Al Muratsuchi over Republican Craig Huey, 8 percentage points.
Congressional District 9, Democrat Jerry McNerney over Ricky Gill, 8 percentage points.
Congressional District 15, Democrat Eric Swalwell over fellow Democrat Fortney Pete Stark, 6 percentage points.
Congressional District 30, Brad Sherman over fellow Democrat Howard Berman, 21 percentage points.
Congressional District 33, Democrat Henry Waxman over Bill Bloomfield, 8 percentage points.
Congressional District 36, Democrat Raul Ruiz over Republican Mary Bono Mack, 2 percentage points.
Congressional District 47, Alan Lowenthal over Republican Gary DeLong, 10 percentage points.
Congressional District 52, Democrat Scott Peters and Republican Brian Bilbray in nearly a dead heat, holding 50. 2 percent and 49.8 percent of the vote, respectively.

November 7, 2012
Assembly speaker says he has supermajority in lower house

Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez said tonight that Democrats have secured a supermajority in the lower house, a surprising development that could give the party the ability to raise taxes on their own if the Senate follows suit.

Democratic candidates led their GOP opponents in two swing Assembly districts early Wednesday morning, and an upset was brewing in a race between Fullerton Mayor Sharon Quirk-Silva and GOP Assemblyman Chris Norby. Quirk-Silva led Norby by 50.5 percent to 49.5 percent in the 65th Assembly District with 100 percent of precincts reporting. The difference amounts to 1,004 votes.

"This just gives us 54 people that we know are going to come together on day one to focus on improving the economy," Pérez said.

While Senate Democrats emphasized early and often their goal was to claim a two-thirds supermajority in the upper house, there was relatively little expectation the same would occur in the Assembly this year.

Gov. Jerry Brown asked voters for statewide tax hikes in Proposition 30 largely because he couldn't get them in the Legislature, where Republican votes were necessary for two-thirds approval. That may no longer be true.

"Let's be very clear," Pérez said. "This is something that nobody expected to be possible."

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, said early Wednesday he was not ready to declare victory but felt "very good" about his prospects for taking two-thirds control of the upper house.

Democrats only need to win one of three swing seats for that to happen, and two of those are in Los Angeles County, where results are lagging other parts of the state. If Democrats take both houses by a supermajority, it would be the first time a party has done that since 1933, Steinberg said.

"If we get there, and it's certainly possible, we will use it but also govern with humility," Steinberg said. "It's an even larger responsibility."

One irony: the two-house supermajority may have come on a night when Democrats asked voters for tax increases largely because they lacked the two-thirds control to do so on their own.

At least one Senate Democrat won a congressional seat Tuesday - Sen. Juan Vargas - so Democrats may need to win a special election before they can claim two-thirds control.

Kevin Yamamura contributed to this report.

November 7, 2012
Proposition 32 opponents declare victory

Opponents of Proposition 32 have declared victory.

In a statement released shortly before midnight, Lou Paulson, chairman of the No on Proposition 32 campaign, said, "By soundly rejecting Proposition 32, the voters of our state said 'no' to a deceptive initiative written by wealthy special interests, for wealthy special interests."

With 95 percent of precincts reporting, 56.2 percent of ballots cast have rejected the measure. "No" votes in populous Los Angeles County were running at 62 percent with a little less than half the precincts there reporting. Nearly three-quarters of the votes in San Francisco opposed the measure.

Organized labor targeted Proposition 32, which includes a provision to ban unions and corporations from using money deducted from paychecks for political purposes. Payroll deductions are unions' sole means of political funding. Corporations use other means to raise political cash that the measure doesn't limit.

The Yes on 32 campaign and independent committees that backed the measure raised about $60 million. Unions raised more.

"When you're up against one ot the most powerful interests in the state that's willing to spend $71 million, it's very difficult to pass an initiative," said Jake Suski, spokesman for the Yes on Proposition 32 group.

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November 7, 2012
Jerry Brown says 'yeah,' that was a victory declaration

Gov. Jerry Brown told supporters tonight that his campaign to raise taxes had "overcome a lot of obstacles," and that California is perhaps "the only place in America where a state actually said, 'Let's raise our taxes.'"

But it was not entirely clear to the audience that the speech he was delivering was a victory declaration.

As he was leaving the stage, a reporter asked him if it was.

"Yeah," he said. "Well, we're ahead. All the indications are that (Proposition) 30's going to win."

Brown said it was his "last talk" for the night but that he will hold a news conference on Wednesday at the Capitol.

In remarks to a few hundred supporters at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Brown said his campaign was "up against some pretty tough opposition."

"Here we are," he said. "We have a vote of the people, I think the only place in America where a state actually said, 'Let's raise our taxes for our kids, for our schools, for our California Dream."

November 6, 2012
California voters approve corporate tax hike for budget, clean energy

California voters approved a complex corporate tax change that would result in out-of-state firms paying an estimated $1 billion more annually for the state budget and clean energy programs.

The initiative was leading 59 percent to 41 percent late Tuesday with 43 percent of the vote counted.

Proposition 39 was backed almost entirely by billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer, who spent $32 million on the campaign.

The initiative would initially pump $500 million into the state budget and education in the first half of 2013. Thereafter, it would also devote about $500 million for clean energy, in addition to $500 million for the budget and education each year.

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November 6, 2012
Gov. Jerry Brown declares victory for Proposition 30

Gov. Jerry Brown thanked supporters for helping him secure passage of Proposition 30 Tuesday evening, saying "we had to overcome a lot of obstacles....We overcame them."

The measure held a narrow lead with 43 percent of the vote counted.

Proposition 30 is the linchpin to Brown's budget plan this year and in years to come as California faces ongoing challenges balancing its books.

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November 6, 2012
'Three strikes' change wins California voter approval

Voters have approved a revision of California's landmark Three Strikes sentencing law, passing a measure that eliminates 25 years-to-life sentences for inmates whose third felony offense is not a serious or violent crime.

Proposition 36 changes the 18-year-old law, considered the nation's toughest, by allowing inmates to seek new hearings if their third strike was not violent or serious, and is estimated to save the state $70 million to $90 million annually.

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November 6, 2012
Jerry Brown puts TV before party, calls results 'pretty good'

Gov. Jerry Brown said tonight that prospects of passing his initiative to raise taxes are "pretty good," though few at his election night party heard him -- or even knew Brown was speaking.

The Democratic governor made his remark in a brief appearance on NBC Nightly News, while supporters cheered speakers on stage at an election night party at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Sacramento.

Brown is scheduled to arrive later this evening, but not before doing another network interview.

A handful of reporters huddled around a television in the noisy ballroom with Brown on a TV. Later, as they were waiting for his second interview, a guest asked them to turn the channel back to the favorite at this party, MSNBC.

November 6, 2012
Proposition 38 rejected by voters

Voters on Tuesday handily rejected Proposition 38, an initiative raising income taxes on middle- and upper-class households for education.

Wealthy activist Molly Munger and her husband spent more than $47 million on the initiative this year, mostly on statewide advertising that tried to convince voters her measure was most beneficial for California schools.

In mid-October, Munger incurred the wrath of advocates for Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30 when she ran a week of ads criticizing his campaign as "misleading" and for allowing lawmakers to tap the money.

Though Munger had a well-funded campaign, she lacked the institutional support that Brown's enjoyed, plus her measure faced an uphill battle trying to convince middle-class voters to raise their own income taxes.

With about 18 percent of the vote counted, the measure was trailing, 74.5 percent to 25.5 percent.

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November 6, 2012
Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative leads in early exit polling

Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative led in an initial exit poll Tuesday evening, giving comfort to advocates who grew concerned when recent surveys showed flagging support in the final month of the campaign.

Proposition 30 led 53 percent to 47 percent in a California exit poll conducted for The Bee by Edison Research. The numbers are subject to change as the evening wears on.

The initiative would raise income taxes on top earners and the statewide sales tax by a quarter-cent on the dollar to generate roughly $6 billion annually for the state budget, which pays for education, social services and public safety. The tiered income tax hike kicks in retroactively for the 2012 tax year at $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for joint filers.

November 6, 2012
Pelosi's road to majority hits roadblock before CA polls close

PELOSIBB DNC 0382.JPGHouse minority leader Nancy Pelosi predicted earlier this year that the road to a Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives would run through California.

"Simply put, to win back the House, to succeed in our drive for 25 ... California Democrats will lead the way," the former House speaker said in a speech at the California Democratic Party convention last winter.

Not so much.

Television network projections showed Republicans securing another two years in control of Congress before the polls in California even closed today, thanks to GOP wins in other parts of the country.

Still, a handful of GOP-held seats in California are expected to be close calls tonight. Reps. Dan Lungren, Jeff Denham and Mary Bono Mack are among the Republican incumbents facing a serious challenge.


Democrats optimistic about keeping Senate; House likely to stay GOP-led

Democrats' chances of big California congressional gains dim

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November 6, 2012
Jerry Brown found 'human quality' in surrogate dog Sutter

Pet License Plates.jpgIt caused more than few eyes to roll when it was announced last month that Gov. Jerry Brown would dispatch his pet dog to visit Democratic field offices on behalf of Proposition 30, Brown's initiative to raise taxes.

But it was inexpensive, as campaign activities go, and it required no time of Brown's. Jennifer Fearing, of the Humane Society of the United States, would tour Sutter, the Pembroke Welsh corgi, around.

The press swooned.

Television and light newspaper coverage was abundant. In one city, Fearing said, Sutter "got the key to the city from the mayor - on a live shot!" As she arrived with Sutter at a campaign party this evening at the Sheraton Grand Hotel, Fearing said the two had logged 3,200 miles.

On Sunday, the Democratic governor had finished a series of campaign stops in Los Angeles when he was asked about the dog's involvement in the race.

"I think there are a lot of people who like animals, more than you think," Brown said. "And I also think there's a certain human quality that it adds ... in a campaign world which is very mechanical, driven by polls, focus groups and scripted commercials, to have an element of spontaneity."

There are certain liabilities that a politician accepts when he appoints an animal to be his surrogate, interacting with people on live television. But Sutter is exceedingly well behaved.

It may also be true, as Brown said, that "his favorability ratings are higher than mine."

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown and first dog, Sutter Brown, promote sales of specialty license plates in Los Angeles on May 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

November 6, 2012
Election Night Extra: What to watch for tonight

In case you missed it:

The Bee's online election coverage began at 7 a.m. Here are highlights:

Here's what to watch in California's legislative and House races.

Few problems were reported across California, and fraud isn't weighing heavily on voters' minds.

Charles T. Munger Jr. has spent more than a half-million dollars to tell Californians that yes on Proposition 40 means no.

Gov. Jerry Brown voted for Proposition 34 to abolish the death penalty and then planned to go hiking. Watch our video.

Minor political parties aren't doing very well in the election.

VIDEO: Dan Walters asks whether California elections should borrow from Oregon.

Returns from the East Coast have started trickling in, while tallies of California's vote-by-mail ballots turned in ahead of Election Day should be available at shortly after the polls here close at 8 p.m.

While you're waiting, check out The Bee's Election Central for photo, video and news related to California campaigns.

Use our interactive map to predict the outcome of the presidential vote.

Join us at SacBee Live and tell us if you voted and report what's going on at your polling place, in your neighborhood, at your workplace.

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November 6, 2012
Few reports of lines, aggressive poll monitors across California

By Jim Sanders

Long lines at the ballot box, overly aggressive poll monitors, malfunctioning machines - hundreds of complaints were reported about voting today, but generally they were minor and affected only a small fraction of Californians.
"By all accounts, everything is going very smoothly," Shannan Velayas, spokeswoman for the secretary of state's office, said about 3 p.m. Tuesday.

The election hotline manned by the secretary of state's office had received 6,700 calls by mid-afternoon, but only about 200 of them were complaints, Velayas said.

November 6, 2012
Munger spends $600,000 urging yes on Prop. 40

By Jim Sanders

The Election Day tally is in: Charles T. Munger Jr. has spent more than a half-million dollars to tell Californians that yes on Proposition 40 means no.

In other words, voting yes means opposing the referendum and retaining new Senate districts that were drawn for today's election. No group has formally campaigned to redraw those districts, which are supported now by both the Democratic and Republican state parties.

Even the sponsors of Proposition 40 have abandoned their measure, urging support of the new Senate maps. But Munger and others are concerned that voters mistakenly could check the wrong ballot box.

November 6, 2012
Minor political parties fare poorly this time around

By Jim Sanders

Today's biggest election loser?

Minor parties, perhaps.

Of 320 state and federal candidates on today's California ballot, only seven are members of minor parties.

A majority of the minor-party candidates are running for president -- Roseanne Barr, Peace and Freedom Party; Thomas Hoefling, American Independent Party; Jill Stein, Green; and Gary Johnson, Libertarian.

California's new top two primary system allowed only the two highest vote getters in the primary election to advance to today's runoff in state Senate or Assembly races -- and no minor party candidate survived in a district where both a Democrat and Republican squared off in June, records show.

Three minor-party candidates, all from the Peace and Freedom Party, remain in the running for legislative seats: Mary Catherine McIlroy, Senate District 9, based in Alameda County; Lee H. Chauser, Senate District 33, Los Angeles County; and Eugene Ruyle, Assembly District 15, Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

Five additional candidates are not tied to any party. Four of them are seeking a congressional seat - Marilyn Singleton, Terry Phillips, David R. Hernandez, and Bill Bloomfield. The lone independent seeking a legislative seat is Chad Walsh.

Only 5 percent of California voters are minor-party members. Twenty-one percent of the electorate expresses no party preference. Democrats lead Republicans in voter registration 43 percent to 30 percent, records show.

November 6, 2012
Voter fraud not among top concerns of California voters today

By Jim Sanders

Trivia quiz: What were the three most common election issues cited by the 1,900 callers to the secretary of state's statewide hotline during the first several hours of balloting today?

Answer: By far, callers had questions about the location of their polling place, whether they were registered to vote, or what to do with their vote-by-mail ballot, said Nicole Winger, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Debra Bowen.

There were no complaints of fraud, intimidation or other crime, and only a spattering of reports about a polling place that did not open exactly at 7 a.m., perhaps because an alarm clock malfunctioned, Winger said.

"The first two hours of election day, by all accounts, have gone very smoothly, Winger said shortly before 10 a.m.

She cautioned, however, that county registrars of voters also field calls about polling place problems, so the state would not necessarily be aware of every complaint fielded.

The secretary of state's hotline, for Californians who experience a problem casting their ballot, is (800) 345-VOTE.

In Sacramento County, long lines were not unusual the first two hours of balloting, with some polling places reporting up to 30 people waiting to vote, said Alice Jarboe, assistant registrar of voters.

Jarboe said long lines at peak periods are not unexpected, however, during presidential elections in a county of 700,000 voters.

No complaints of misbehavior at polling places had been received, she said.

November 6, 2012
Jerry Brown votes for measure to repeal death penalty

Jerry Brown.JPGOAKLAND - Gov. Jerry Brown this morning said he voted for a ballot initiative to repeal the death penalty, after declining during the campaign to say how he would vote on the measure.

The Democratic governor had maintained a careful distance from Proposition 34. Despite his longstanding moral reservations about capital punishment, Brown enforced the death penalty as state attorney general and promised during his gubernatorial campaign in 2010 to uphold the law if elected.

Brown's vote was as expected. He was 21 when he persuaded his father, then-Gov. Pat Brown, to grant convicted rapist Caryl Chessman a temporary stay of execution. Later, as governor from 1975 to 1983, Jerry Brown vetoed death penalty legislation, though his veto was overridden by the Legislature.

Near his home in the Oakland hills this morning, the governor was asked about Proposition 34 outside the fire station where he cast his ballot.

"I voted 'Yes,'" he said. "Of course."

PHOTO CAPTION: A Dalmatian dog watches as California Gov. Jerry Brown, left, votes Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, at a fire station in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

November 6, 2012
VIDEO: An optimistic Jerry Brown casts ballot, plans to go hiking

OAKLAND - Gov. Jerry Brown stood this morning at a stand of microphones down the road from his home in the Oakland hills, outside the fire station where he votes, optimistic his ballot initiative to raise taxes may do even better "than most of you are probably expecting."

Brown's campaign for Proposition 30, his initiative to raise the state sales tax and income taxes on California's highest earners, is expected to result in a close finish. The political implications are enormous for Brown, who has sought to raise taxes almost since taking office.

The Democratic governor acknowledged the difficulty he had in failed negotiations with the Legislature over taxes immediately after taking office last year, and later in his feud with the proponents of alternative tax proposals.

November 6, 2012
Students vote for two proposed tax increases in landslide in mock election

By Jim Sanders

While Californians were flocking to the polls this morning, the two proposed tax increases on this year's statewide ballot already had passed by a landslide in a mock election at one Sacramento-area high school.

Gov. Jerry Brown's Proposition 30 and the Proposition 38 income tax measure pushed by Molly Munger captured 82 percent and 62 percent of the vote, respectively, in voting by about 1,100 students at Florin High School in the Elk Grove school district.

President Barack Obama defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney almost as handily as the San Francisco Giants dumped the Detroit Tigers in the World Series. Nearly nine of every 10 voters gave Obama thumbs-up.

November 6, 2012
What to watch in California's House and legislative races

In addition to the presidential vote and eleven high-profile ballot measures, 154 congressional and state legislative seats are up for grabs today in California.

Changes to the state's political landscape, such as the top-two primary and political maps drawn for the first time by a citizens' commission, and heavy spending by outside groups in state and federal races have produced more competitive contests than in years past.

Those dynamics can make it hard for even the most observant political junkie to know where to turn his or her attention once the polls close at 8 p.m. To help, we've created an Election Day cheat sheet to describe some of the trends we're tracking and questions we'll be asking as we analyze tonight's results.

November 6, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Should California elections borrow from Oregon?

VIDEO: Dan ponders the possibility of all-mail voting in California.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

November 6, 2012
AM Alert: What to watch for on Election Day

Election Day has finally arrived.

First, the most important reminder: polls here in California open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. You can find your polling place via this link.

Still figuring out how to vote in those down-ticket races you haven't considered? Compare candidates and ballot-measure arguments with our Voter Guide.

We're guessing that 8 p.m. can't come soon enough for most of our Alert readers out there.

Political junkies are eagerly awaiting the results in the many close -- and costly -- contests on today's ballot. Others are just glad that their commercial breaks and mailboxes will soon get a break from all those political ads.

Even though President Barack Obama is expected to win handily in blue California, the fates of many down-ticket races and ballot measures are in play.

In addition to 11 statewide measures up for a vote, California is home to more competitive candidate races than in years past, thanks in part to the state's new political maps, drawn for the first time by a Citizens Redistricting Commission, and a new primary system that allows two members of the same party to face off on the fall ballot.

So what will we be tracking tonight? Here's a sample of some of the biggest questions heading into today's balloting:

•Will voters give a thumbs up to Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's tax increase? How will wealthy attorney Molly Munger's rival tax, Proposition 38, fare?
•Was labor's $66 million in campaign contributions and extensive ground game enough to hold off Proposition 32, which would make their ability to collect cash for political purposes more difficult?
•Will legislative Democrats hold a veto-proof supermajority in the state Senate for the first time in more than four decades?
•Which candidate will prevail in the dozens of competitive congressional and legislative races taking place across the state, including 28 featuring two members of the same party on the ballot?

We might not know all the answers tonight, especially in the closest contests. But we'll have you covered with what we do know throughout the day and night at

The Bee's online election coverage, which begins at 7 a.m., will include Election Day dispatches from throughout the Sacramento region, exit polling about what voters were thinking as they cast their ballot, live chats with reporters on various issues and, of course, results. Returns from the East Coast should start trickling in after 3 p.m., while tallies of absentee ballots turned in ahead of Election Day should be available at shortly after the polls here close at 8 p.m.

While you're waiting, check out The Bee's Election Central for photo, video and news related to California campaigns.

Use our interactive map to predict the outcome of the presidential vote.

Join us at SacBee Live and tell us if you voted and report what's going on at your polling place, in your neighborhood, at your workplace.

Share a photo: email

FIELD POLL: The record 18.2 million Californians eligible to vote in today's election isn't expected to lead to an all-time high in turnout levels. Field is estimating that 12.7 million residents will participate in the balloting, about 1 million fewer voters than in 2008. Laurel Rosenhall has more on the prediction and what it could mean for California contests in today's Bee. The full release is available here.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Assemblyman Jeff Gorrell, R-Camarillo, celebrates his 42nd birthday today. It's probably safe to assume he's hoping voters gift him a second term in the lower house.

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November 5, 2012
California officials consider civil, criminal action in mystery donation case

California regulators and attorneys said today they are seriously weighing next steps - including criminal charges - against parties involved in the $11 million contribution whose known trail leads through three different out-of-state nonprofits.

A lawyer for Americans for Responsible Leadership, the Arizona-based donor at the center of the controversy, appeared to acknowledge the possibility of future legal action in a letter he filed this morning with the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

Attorney Michael D. Bopp wrote that while new disclosures from Americans for Responsible Leadership and The Center to Protect Patient Rights may relate to state codes banning hidden intermediary contributions, the groups do not admit wrongdoing.

"While these letters relate to Cal. Gov. Code § 84302 and 2 CA ADC § 18432.5, we want to make it clear that they have been sent pursuant to a settlement agreement with the California Fair Political Practices Commission and that neither ARL nor CPPR admit any wrongdoing or that the letters are required by applicable law," Bopp wrote. "Further, ARL and CPPR reserve the right to contest any further proceedings that relate to the contributions discussed in the aforementioned letters."

Both FPPC Chairwoman Ann Ravel and state Attorney General Kamala Harris said today they are reviewing the matter to see whether further civil or criminal action is warranted. The state previously filed a lawsuit asking Americans for Responsible Leadership to submit records.

"What this committee agreed it had done is a clear violation of the state's money laundering prohibition," said Ravel, a Gov. Jerry Brown appointee.

Ravel said one civil penalty is that the recipient committee pay to the state general fund an amount equal to the contribution - in this case, $11 million. The party liable would be the Small Business Action Committee No on 30/Yes on 32.

SBAC spokeswoman Beth Miller said her group never was told that Americans for Responsible Leadership received its $11 million by way of two other nonprofits. Failing to disclose that information to a recipient committee is a potential violation of California Government Code § 84302.

SBAC immediately updated its campaign disclosure forms this morning to acknowledge contributions from The Center to Protect Patient Rights and Americans for Job Security.

"SBAC PAC had no knowledge that the contribution was from an intermediary," Miller said in a written statement. "As it does with all its donors, upon accepting the donation from Americans for Responsible Leadership SBAC PAC sent a donor advice letter explaining the organization's filing responsibilities. When SBAC PAC was informed this morning by the FPPC it amended its disclosure reports immediately."

November 5, 2012
Senate GOP leader 'cautiously optimistic' about blocking two-thirds

It's not just Democrats making a final push in the state's four competitive Senate seats.

Senate GOP leader Bob Huff hit the trail last week to boost candidates he needs to win to prevent Democrats from winning a veto-proof supermajority in the upper house.

The Diamond Bar Republican visited all four targeted races starting on Thursday, touring the 5th, 39th and 31st Senate Districts before landing at Republican Todd Zink's headquarters in the 27th Senate District today.

Huff said he's feeling good going into tomorrow's election, despite The California Republican Party's money challenges and California's new district lines, which the GOP sought unsuccessfully to have blocked by the court.

"We're actually feeling cautiously optimistic," he said.

November 5, 2012
Bill Clinton calls voters for Ami Bera in Sacramento House race

Some voters in Sacramento County are getting calls from former President Bill Clinton ahead of Tuesday's election.

The former president has recorded a robocall in support of Democratic congressional candidate Ami Bera, who is locked in a close race with GOP Rep. Dan Lungren in the suburban Sacramento 7th Congressional District. He's also featured in a call urging voters to oppose Proposition 32, a measure on campaign money fiercely opposed by unions.

Bera is one of at least 45 Democratic congressional candidates using the robocalls in the final days of the campaign, according to Roll Call newspaper. The former president also recorded calls for Jose Hernandez in the 10th Congressional District, Julia Brownley in the 26th Congressional District, Scott Peters in the 52nd Congressional District and Raul Ruiz in the 36th Congressional District.

Clinton has also campaigned alongside Democrats in California this year. He endorsed Bera and other Democrats running in competitive Northern California races during an October rally at University of California, Davis.

Click here to see the full list and listen to a recording.


Bill Clinton stumps for California Dems in tight congressional races

Dan Morain: Lungren, Bera vie for every last vote

Ad Watch: Deluge of ads at the wire

Editor note: an earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the seat Raul Ruiz is seeking.

November 5, 2012
Darrell Steinberg makes final push for CA Senate super majority

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is spending the final days of the campaign touring a handful of swing districts that could give his party a super majority in the upper house.

Democrats need to win two of four competitive Senate districts Tuesday to capture a two-thirds majority for the first time in more than 40 years. A super majority could allow Democrats in the upper house to approve tax increases and override vetoes without GOP votes. Assembly Democrats are not expected to hit two-thirds this year.

Steinberg was in Modesto Sunday for a campaign rally for Democratic Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani, who is competing against GOP Assemblyman Bill Berryhill in the Stockton-based 5th Senate District.

Steinberg, who campaigned with Sen. Fran Pavley in the 27th Senate District last weekend, has stops planned in two other swing seats today.

Spokesman Rhys Williams said the Sacramento Democrat will do an event with Assemblyman Marty Block in San Diego's 39th Senate District and campaign with Richard Roth in Riverside's 31st Senate District today. He'll also join Gov. Jerry Brown in Los Angeles to promote Proposition 30.

Senate GOP leader Bob Huff has also been campaigning in the competitive seats since last week. Read more about his schedule here.


California Democrats bid for two-thirds control of state Senate

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

Editor's note: This post was updated at 1 p.m. with information about Senator Huff's schedule.

November 5, 2012
Road map of contributions in Arizona nonprofit case

The actual donors behind the $11 million that landed in California's initiative battles last month remain a mystery, but two more layers became known Monday when the Arizona nonprofit in question revealed two other opaque nonprofits that routed the money its way.

Based on letters and campaign finance records, the money trail went like this:

On or before Oct. 15: Alexandria, Va.-based Americans for Job Security gave $11 million to Phoenix-based The Center to Protect Patient Rights.

Oct. 12 and Oct. 15: The Center to Protect Patient Rights served as an "intermediary" and gave $11 million to Phoenix-based Americans for Responsible Leadership.

Oct. 15: Americans for Responsible Leadership gave $11 million to the Small Business Action Committee PAC No on 30/Yes on 32.

November 5, 2012
FPPC says Arizona nonprofit laundered money to CA campaign

The state's campaign watchdog agency accused an Arizona nonprofit today of "money laundering" to donate $11 million this month and announced that two other nonprofits - Americans for Job Security and The Center to Protect Patient Rights - routed the money.

The Americans for Job Security is a nonprofit "business league" that does not have to disclose its donors. The group has run millions of dollars in ads against President Barack Obama.

The Center to Protect Patient Rights also does not have to disclose its donors as a 501(c)4. The Center for Responsive Politics reported the group has spent millions of dollars attacking Democratic congressional candidates this year and in 2010.

The Fair Political Practices Commission said in a release this morning that Americans for Responsible Leadership "sent a letter declaring itself to be the intermediary and not the true source of the contribution."

"Under California law, the failure to disclose this initially was campaign money laundering," FPPC wrote. "At $11 million, this is the largest contribution ever disclosed as campaign money laundering in California history."

Americans for Responsible Leadership donated last month toward a business committee opposing Brown's tax initiative, Proposition 30, and supporting a measure restricting union dues collection, Proposition 32. ARL attorneys argued that the FPPC was targeting the group because it opposed the governor's initiative.

Matt Ross, spokesman for Americans for Responsible Leadership, said in a prepared statement, "After late night discussions, Americans for Responsible Leadership and the FPPC reached a settlement. The Commission has received specific documents it requested."

Although it could not be confirmed, the Center to Protect Patient Rights has been connected to Kansas-based Koch Industries, whose owners, David H. Koch and Charles G. Koch, are conservative advocates.

In a September interview with Bee columnist Dan Morain, Center to Protect Patient Rights president Sean Noble offered little explanation about where its money comes from.

"Our goal is to promote freedom, and we support groups that do the same," said Noble, who once worked as chief of staff to an Arizona congressman and as a lobbyist opposing the federal health care overhaul. "It's very straightforward. There is nothing to expand upon."

Asked about reported ties to the Center to Protect Patient Rights, Koch Companies Public Sector spokeswoman Melissa Cohlmia said in an email, "Contrary to some media reports, Koch Industries, Charles Koch, and David Koch have not provided any financial support in favor of Proposition 32 and are not involved in this issue."

Asked further about Proposition 30, Cohlmia said, "Same goes for Prop 30 - no financial support and no involvement."

Attorney General Kamala Harris said by phone this morning that her office must still review whether there are any civil or criminal violations related to money laundering, though it is not pursuing any as of yet. Harris' office has represented the FPPC in its suit against Americans for Responsible Leadership.

"Whether it's the Koch brothers or Karl Rove, this was a brazen attempt to launder money through out-of-state shell organizations, and for the sole purpose of hiding it from the voters in California," Harris said.

Brown, who has kept up constant criticism of the Arizona donation for weeks, is campaigning for his initiative throughout the state today. Ace Smith, whose company, SCN Strategies, is running Brown's campaign, said on Twitter that the FPPC had unraveled a "truly evil money laundering scheme."

Editor's note: Updated throughout the morning to include comments from Harris, Ross, Smith and a Koch spokeswoman.

November 5, 2012
FPPC expects to reveal Arizona nonprofit donors today

The state's campaign watchdog agency expects to reveal today the names of donors behind an obscure Arizona nonprofit's $11 million contribution after the group reversed course and dropped its last-minute request with the U.S. Supreme Court.

Twenty-three hours before polls open Tuesday, the Fair Political Practices Commission expects to receive the donor names at 8 a.m. today, said FPPC Chairwoman Ann Ravel. She said the agency will make those names public.

Americans for Responsible Leadership agreed to turn over the names without submitting transaction records as the group faced a Sunday demand for information from the California Supreme Court. The FPPC asked the state's high court to force ARL to submit documents that would help determine whether the group violated campaign disclosure rules.

"The voters of California have achieved an important right to know who is funding politics in our state," Ravel said in an e-mail. "The hard work and persistence of the FPPC for transparency will not stop."

ARL said late Sunday it would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to block the California order, but the group withdrew its request early today. Ravel, a Gov. Jerry Brown appointee, said the FPPC still intends to investigate whether the group violated state rules.

The nonprofit donated last month toward a business committee opposing Brown's tax initiative, Proposition 30, and supporting a measure restricting union dues collection, Proposition 32. ARL attorneys argued that the FPPC was targeting the group because it opposed the governor's initiative.

November 5, 2012
Dan Walters Daily: Registration surge could help Jerry Brown

VIDEO: Dan says a surge in voter registration among young Democrats could help Gov. Jerry Brown and Proposition 30 on Tuesday.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

November 5, 2012
AM Alert: It's T minus one day until Election Day

VIDEO: Dan Walters says that the last-minute surge in voter registrations -- skewed toward young Democrats -- could help Gov. Jerry Brown and his Proposition 30.

If California's elementary, middle school and high school students were the state's only voters, only two of the 11 propositions on Tuesday's ballot would fail: Proposition 32 on campaign finance, and Proposition 34 to abolish the death penalty, though the latter just barely.

That tally comes from this year's statewide mock election, which Secretary of State Debra Bowen and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced last week. More than 250,000 students from 674 schools, including several in Sacramento, took part.

Other mock election results have Democrat Barack Obama winning in a landslide over Republican Mitt Romney, 69 percent to 23 percent, and Democrat Dianne Feinstein beating Republican Elizabeth Emken by a large margin as well, 66 percent to 34 percent.

The squeaker was Proposition 40, the redistricting referendum, which garnered only 50.16 percent of the youngsters' votes. Learn more at this link, where you can find full results and a list of participating schools.

California's real polls, of course, open Tuesday at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. The Secretary of State's Office will start providing unofficial election results at after the polls close and county elections officials begin to report their numbers.

In the case of nail-biters, a bit of patience may be in order. Counties have until Dec. 7 to complete their official canvass and certify final results to the Secretary of State's Office, which then has until Dec. 14 to compile and report the results.

NEW GIG: Senate Rules Committee aide Juan Carlos Torres has a new title: vice president of government relations at the California Medical Association. Most recently the committee's chief deputy director of appointments, Torres has also served as chief of staff to former Assemblyman Hector De La Torre and to then Assembly Majority Leader Marco Antonio Firebaugh. He also worked for then-Sen. Hilda Solis, now labor secretary, starting in 1996.

CAKE AND CANDLES: Assemblyman Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, turns 38 today.

November 4, 2012
California Supreme Court orders nonprofit to face audit

Update (8:24 p.m.) After the state court declined to extend the deadline, Americans for Responsible Leadership said it was attempting to contact the FPPC to comply with the order, while continuing to seek a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Update (5:08 p.m.): Americans for Responsible Leadership did not submit information to the FPPC by 4 p.m. as ordered and instead has asked the state court to extend its compliance window to 9 a.m. Monday as it seeks a stay from the U.S. Supreme Court, according to FPPC chairwoman Ann Ravel.

The California Supreme Court this afternoon ordered an obscure Arizona nonprofit to submit donation records immediately to state regulators related to an $11 million contribution the group gave in October.

The state's highest court issued its unanimous 7-0 decision at 3 p.m. after a telephone conference and gave Phoenix-based Americans for Responsible Leadership until 4 p.m. to comply.

The state Fair Political Practices Commission had asked the Supreme Court to force ARL to turn over e-mails and transactions data behind the donation, whose specific donors the group has never disclosed. The group gave $11 million to a business campaign committee established to oppose Gov. Jerry Brown's tax initiative, Proposition 30, and support a measure that would restrict union dues collection, Proposition 32.

The FPPC wants to review the information to determine before Tuesday's election whether ARL violated state rules requiring nonprofits to disclose donors if their money was earmarked for a specific initiative. If the FPPC finds a violation, it remains to be seen whether there is enough time to invoke administrative or legal procedures that would force ARL to disclose its donors by Tuesday.

ARL is directed by lesser-known Arizona GOP activists, and the group hired attorneys from a Virginia-based law firm with longstanding Republican National Committee ties.