Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

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.


Capitol Alert Staff

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

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

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

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

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

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

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

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

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