Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

January 31, 2013
Former State Board of Education head C. Hugh Friedman, dies

C. Hugh Friedman, a past president of the California State Board of Education who was married to former Democratic Rep. Lynn Schenk, died Tuesday.

Friedman, whose death was reported by the U-T San Diego today, had leukemia. He was 81.

The Board of Education wasn't the only political appointment received by the longtime University of San Diego School of Law professor. The U-T recaps his service:

Mr. Friedman also served on numerous national, state and local boards and commissions, having been appointed by President Bill Clinton and California Govs. Gray Davis, Jerry Brown and Ronald Reagan.

Among his many positions, Mr. Friedman served on the California State Air Resources Board from 1999 to 2004 and on the White House Conference on Small Business Commission from 1993 to 1996. He was the president of the California State Board of Education from 1982 to 1984, and he served as the president, vice president and director of the Del Mar Fair Board between 1982 and 1986.

Friedman's wife, a Democrat, was secretary of the California Business, Transportation and Housing Agency during Gov. Jerry Brown's first two terms in office and chief of staff to former Gov. Gray Davis. She served one term in Congress in the 1990s.

Click here to read the full U-T San Diego obituary.

January 31, 2013
FPPC examining changes to California lobbyist disclosure

RCB_20121205 ANN RAVEL 0091.JPGCalifornia's political watchdog agency is moving to crack down on loose lobbying reporting requirements that have allowed interest groups to hire former politicians as consultants and launch ad campaigns to push their agenda with virtually no financial disclosure.

Ann Ravel, chair of the Fair Political Practices Commission said today that she has assigned a working group to take on issues raised by a Bee investigation earlier this month. Interest groups that spend the most money trying to influence policy in California's Capitol spend the bulk of it in secret, The Bee found, because disclosure forms allow them to report huge sums in a catch-all "other" category that requires no detailed reporting to authorities.

"We're going to make it a fairly broad mission to look at any issues relating to lobbying that should be cleaned up with respect to the payments -- things included that shouldn't be, and lack of clarification -- as well as any other matters that are in the scope of the FPPC's authority," Ravel said.

"We're happy to talk about making recommendations for legislation as well," she added.

The FPPC could require more detailed disclosure by lobbyists and the groups that hire them, but other aspects involved in regulating the lobbying industry -- such as changing the definition of who must register with the state as a lobbyist -- would have to be changed by the state Legislature.

Ravel said the working group would include representatives of various Capitol interests, including lobbyists, watchdogs and political lawyers. Jim Cassie, president of the Institute of Governmental Advocates, the association that represents Sacramento lobbyists, said his group would be happy to participate.

"We think we can make a difference in this debate," Cassie said. "Clearly we're part of it."

January 31, 2013
Assemblyman gets a firsthand look at crime -- as burglary victim

State of the State Curt Hagman.JPGMemo to thief: Wrong victim.

When Sacramento thieves stole his briefcase from a state-owned car, Assemblyman Curt Hagman took matters into his own hands Monday night -- tracking two suspects to a gasoline station off Interstate 80.

"We start walking toward the car, then they gun the engine and try to run us over," said Hagman, who is no stranger to confronting crime suspects as the owner of Apex Bail Bonds. He also is a longtime volunteer captain for a sheriff's disaster assistance team.

Hagman and California Highway Patrol Lt. Rick Campbell gave the following account of the Chino Republican's firsthand look at Sacramento crime Monday -- as a burglary victim:

January 31, 2013
How does California economy compare to other states?

Comparing California to other states has become a common exercise among politicians, academicians and in the media.

So how does California really shape up? Next 10, an organization dedicated to looking into California's future, commissioned David Neumark and Jennifer Muz of the University of California, Irvine, to produce a voluminous study of California's economy vis-à-vis other states. Among its findings:

January 31, 2013
Bipartisan group of California lawmakers backs immigration overhaul


A bipartisan group of state lawmakers lauded the federal government's pursuit of immigration changes in a press conference today, saying the issue is particularly urgent in California given the state's huge immigrant population.

"Modernizing our antiquated and dysfunctional immigration system will uphold our nation's basic values of fairness, equality as well as opportunity," said Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, author of a resolution urging the federal government to act.

January 31, 2013
As California grows slowly, Latinos will be biggest bloc

Although California's once-soaring population growth has slowed markedly, the state will surpass 50 million by 2050, and by then, Latinos should be nearing a majority, according to a new set of population projections by the state Department of Finance.

Meanwhile, the state's once dominant white population will continue to shrink, becoming smaller than the Latino contingent by early 2014, and the state will become markedly older as the huge Baby Boom generation moves into retirement years.

The 2010 census counted 37.3 million Californians, and population growth, once well more than 2 percent a year, has dropped to under 1 percent. The new projections see 40.6 million by 2020, 44.3 million by 2030, 47.7 million by 2040, 50.4 million by 2050 and 52.7 million by 2060.

January 31, 2013
California climbs out of bond ratings basement

Standard & Poor's upgraded California's general obligation bond rating from A-minus to A today, a significant move that lifts the state out of the ratings agency's basement.

In the midst of recessionary state budget woes, S&P lowered California from A-plus to A in February 2009 and down to A-minus in January 2010. The agency last week dropped Illinois to A-minus in the face of pension funding problems, a downgrade that now gives the Midwest state the dubious worst-in-the-nation status.

S&P last year signaled that California might eventually be due for an upgrade after the state's finances and cash flow showed signs of strength. The agency has embraced recent efforts by Gov. Jerry Brown, lawmakers and voters to raise taxes and restrain spending.

January 31, 2013
Jerry Brown recruiting business delegates for China trade trip

Organizers of Gov. Jerry Brown's April trade mission to China are recruiting prospective delegates with the promise of meetings with "high ranking officials" and events to promote California to potential Chinese investors, among other activities.

The cost? A "participation fee of $10,000" to cover expenses, according to an invitation posted online and linked to on Twitter by Michael Ammann, president and CEO of the San Joaquin Partnership, an economic development group.

January 31, 2013
Michelle Rhee talks romance and CA politics in new book

MichelleRhee.jpgAfter her speech Tuesday night as part of the Sacramento Speakers Series, education advocate Michelle Rhee sold early copies of her new autobiography, "Radical: Fighting to Put Students First."

The book, which will be released publicly on Tuesday, includes many anecdotes about her relationship with Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and a description of her advocacy group's fledgling attempts to shape policy in California's Capitol.

The book release follows The Bee's look at Rhee's organization on Sunday. Read some excerpts from the book on the jump.

January 31, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Hidden money and false poverty

Like the state parks department, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection has been caught hiding money after pleading for more funding. Dan wonders if that's a coincidence.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

January 31, 2013
AM Alert: Getting behind the immigration overhaul

VIDEO: Dan Walters discusses the latest revelations of a supposedly cash-strapped state agency getting caught with a hidden pot of money.

Lawmakers are holding a press conference pledging their support for a federal immigration overhaul. Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, will be joined by Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres; Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens; Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez, D-Coachella; Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo; Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento; and Assemblyman Jeff Gorell, R-Camarillo. Starting at 10:30 a.m. in room 317 of the State Capitol.

There's obviously a good deal of wrangling to come before the Senate bill assumes its final form, but it bears noting that it calls for a commission of governors, attorneys general and border denizens to help shape a tougher enforcement framework. Gov. Jerry Brown has already said he hopes to play a role in the national immigration push, so it will be interesting to see how he might interact with gubernatorial counterparts like Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona, a Republican and leading antagonist of the Obama administration.


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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