Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

January 23, 2013
Ex-Treasury official Neel Kashkari mulling run for CA office

Financial Stability Neel Kashkari.JPGNeel Kashkari, a Republican executive who worked for the U.S. Treasury Department at the height of the financial crisis, is reportedly weighing a run for public office in California.

Kashkari, 39, announced today that he is stepping down from his job as management director for Pacific Investment Management Co., a Newport Beach investment firm. He expressed an interest in entering public service in California in multiple interviews published today and has launched a website touting his biography and leadership bona fides.

"I'm not the typical California Republican. I'm the son of immigrants," Kashkari told the Wall Street Journal. "I come from modest upbringing. I have a successful track record. I'm an optimist. And I think something can be done if people work together."

Kashkari, who says he now lives in Orange County, was a key figure in implementing the $700 billion bank bailout effort, known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program, during President George W. Bush's second term. He stayed at the department for the start of Barack Obama's presidency before leaving to join Pimco in 2009.

January 23, 2013
New proposal would lower voter threshold for police, fire taxes

20121208_Sacramento_Police_Fire.JPGA newly proposed constitutional amendment would lower the threshold for California's local voters to pass special taxes for police or fire agencies.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 3 is the latest in a string of measures that would allow local voters to approve revenue-raising tax proposals by a 55 percent majority rather than by two-thirds.

Democrats could place such constitutional amendments on the ballot without Republican support, since they control the governor's office and have supermajority control of both legislative houses.

Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said the legislative push to ease voter tax thresholds is a reflection of state and local government's "insatiable appetite" for money.

January 23, 2013
Sacramento GOP consultant files suit against Lance Armstrong

JV AMGEN LANCE START.JPGSacramento-based Republican strategist Rob Stutzman and local chef Jonathan Wheeler have filed a class-action lawsuit against Lance Armstrong and his publishers, alleging that the infamous cyclist deceived readers in a 2001 best seller.

The 59-page suit lays out various "misrepresentations" in Armstrong's "It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life." It says Armstrong credited his Tour de France success to training, diet and drive while denying that he ever used banned substances.

The suit was filed Tuesday in Sacramento's U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, alleging unfair business practices, fraud, false advertising and deceit. The complaint seeks, among other things, attorney's fees and refunds for California customers who purchased the book.

In the face of overwhelming evidence that he used drugs during his career, Armstrong was stripped last year of his seven Tour de France titles before revealing to Oprah Winfrey last week that his perfect comeback from cancer was a "myth."

Reached by phone Wednesday, Stutzman declined to comment on the suit.

Not known for working with trial lawyers, Stutzman served as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's communications director during the former bodybuilder's first term in Sacramento. The suit says Stutzman read Armstrong's book cover to cover.

January 23, 2013
California unions gain membership, bucking national trend

Union Membership.JPGBucking a national trend of declining labor union membership, California's unions saw a tiny uptick in 2012, according to a new report from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Nationwide, the proportion of wage and salary workers belonging to unions dropped from 11.8 percent in 2011 to 11.3 percent in 2012, the BLS said, but in California, it increased from 17.1 percent to 17.2 percent.

California was one of just 14 states that saw union gains. That translated into an increased in union membership from 2.4 million to 2.5 million, the majority of them state, school and local government employees.

New York has the nation's highest union membership proportion, 23.2 percent, while North Carolina has the lowest, 2.9 percent. California's rate is fifth highest behind New York, Alaska, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Washington state, but the Golden State's number of union members is by the far the largest of any state.

PHOTO CREDIT: This Feb. 28, 2011 file photo shows protests at the state Capitol in Madison, Wis. The nation's labor unions suffered sharp declines in membership last year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Wednesday. (AP Photo/ Andy Manis, File)

January 23, 2013
Debt ceiling vote gives Ami Bera chance to act on campaign pledge

LS AMI_BERA_FLUKE 4.JPGA political maneuver by House Republicans to include a "No Budget, No Pay" provision in legislation to temporary suspend the federal debt ceiling has given freshman Democratic Rep. Ami Bera the chance to act on one of his key campaign pledges.

The main purpose of the bill, which passed the House of Representatives on a vote of 285-144 today, was to prevent the government from going into default for at least four months by temporarily lifting a $16.4 trillion cap on federal borrowing.

But it also included language to withhold pay for members if their chamber doesn't pass a budget plan. The move was seen as a political poke at the Senate, which hasn't adopted a full budget resolution in years.

January 23, 2013
Social scientist, football star among inductees to California Hall of Fame

MONTANA RETIREMENT.JPGA social scientist, labor activist and football star are among the newest class of inductees named by Gov. Jerry Brown and first lady Anne Gust Brown to the California Hall of Fame.

The inductees, announced today, are the late anthropologist and social scientist Gregory Bateson, actor Warren Beatty, football star Joe Montana, labor activist Dolores Huerta, the late designers Charles and Ray Eames, the founding brothers of Warner Bros., and Ishi, the famous American Indian.

At least one of the inductees - Bateson - impressed Brown long ago. While governor from 1975 to 1983, Brown appointed Bateson to the University of California board of regents.

"The Golden State shines brighter thanks to the talent and creativity of
these trailblazers," Brown said in a prepared statement. "Their contributions to
California are truly inspiring."

The annual Hall of Fame event was started by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and first lady Maria Shriver in 2006. Brown and Gust Brown will present medals to the living inductees and to family members of posthumous inductees at a ceremony on March 20 at The California Museum.

PHOTO CREDIT: San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana is seen in this Jan. 12, 1990 file photo. AP Photo/ Jack Smith

January 23, 2013
Ohman: Darrell Steinberg's Microsoft play

Ohman123.jpegCheck out Bee cartoonist Jack Ohman's latest effort on Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg and the Kings. See other Ohman cartoons here.

January 23, 2013
New bill would offer holiday 'thank you' to California's soldiers

TRAVEL CALIF PARKS032.JPGFor serving the country, California active-duty soldiers or war veterans could use state parks for free on Memorial Day and Veterans Day under newly proposed legislation.

Republican Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen of Modesto proposed the measure, Assembly Bill 150.

The bill would require participants to be California residents and to show current military identification or proof of honorable discharge.

Park entrance fees also would be waived for anyone riding in the same vehicle as the participating armed services member or veteran.

PHOTO CREDIT: Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Lawrence K. Ho. / Los Angeles Times file, 2009.

January 23, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Phil Mickelson and taxes on the wealthy

Dan says golfer Phil Mickelson had a point when he threatened to leave California to escape high taxes.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

January 23, 2013
AM Alert: Education on the agenda

VIDEO: Dan Walters says golfer Phil Mickelson probably isn't the only affluent person reconsidering his decision to live in California.

State education officials will face more criticism today for what advocates see as a failure to provide adequate instruction to English learners in public schools. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center are holding a press conference at the ACLU of Southern California's Los Angeles office, starting at 10 a.m.

The Public Policy Institute of California is holding a forum on accountability in K-12 education. Participants will include Susanna Cooper, principal consultant in Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's office; Jonathan Raymond, superintendent of the Sacramento City Unified School District; David Lesher and Paul Warren of the Public Policy Institute of California; and Crystal Brown, president of the organization Educate our State. Starting at noon at the CSAC Conference Center.

A little context: the federal government recently rejected California's application to be exempted from some of the more punitive parts of the No Child Left Behind Act, saying California's proposal (states need to submit a blueprint of reforms to be considered) did not do enough to incorporate student test scores into teacher evaluations. The push to work test scores into teacher accountability measures has been a major part of the national education reform debate.

A reminder that Gov. Jerry Brown will be delivering his State of the State address tomorrow, starting at 9 a.m. in the Assembly Chambers.

Sen. Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, is holding a community forum in San Jose to get input on spending the money for energy efficiency the recently passed Proposition 39 is likely to generate. From 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in Independence High School's multi-purpose room.

Robin Umberg, deputy secretary for veterans homes in the California Department of Veterans Affairs, will be speaking to reporters at the Veterans Home of California in Fresno today, starting at 11 a.m. On Tuesday, the Little Hoover Commission, a watchdog agency, began probing whether the state's Veterans Affairs Agency is doing enough to provide services.

The Greenlining Institute is holding a discussion on covering election reform in California. Speakers will include Eugene Lee, director of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center's voting rights project; Kathay Feng, executive director of California Common Cause; Dean Logan, registrar of voters for Los Angeles County; Rosalind Gold of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund; Mindy Romero, director of the UC Davis California Civic Engagement Project; and Michelle Romero of the Greenlining Institute. The event begins at noon in the Sacramento Convention Center Complex, room 201.


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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