Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

February 11, 2013
Jeremy Renner to portray late Capitol reporter Gary Webb

RPGARY WEBB4NYTIMES.JPGModesto native Jeremy Renner is set to play late Capitol investigative reporter Gary Webb in the upcoming film, "Kill the Messenger," according to news reports.

Webb worked in the Capitol press corps for the San Jose Mercury News, which published the 1996 "Dark Alliance" series alleging CIA ties to the U.S. crack cocaine market. After several major publications disputed Webb's claims, the Mercury News reassigned him and he ultimately left the paper in 1997. He published a book in 1999, "Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras and the Crack Cocaine Explosion," that further detailed his story.

Webb later worked in the state Assembly as a committee consultant, investigating subjects such as a failed state Oracle Corp. contract, and at the Sacramento News and Review. He committed suicide in 2004 at his Carmichael home.

OC Weekly managing editor Nick Schou wrote the 2006 book "Kill the Messenger: How the CIA's Crack-Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb" that serves as the basis for the new film.

PHOTO CREDIT: Gary Webb sits amid documents in his Carmichael home on June 2, 1997. The Sacramento Bee/Randy Pench

February 11, 2013
National mental health push sends Steinberg to New York

RP STEINBERG TABLE.JPGSenate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg is back on the East Coast this week as part of his ongoing push to expand funding for mental health services nationwide.

Steinberg announced plans to campaign for a $10 billion investment in preventing and treating mental health issues across the country in the wake of the December shooting at a Newtown, Conn. elementary school. He took his call for creating a national mental health initiative modeled after California's Proposition 63 to Washington, D.C., last month, when he spent several days meeting with members of Congress and Obama administration officials.

Now, the Sacramento Democrat has flown to New York City for two days of media interviews and meetings with finance and political leaders, including former Gov. George Pataki.

February 11, 2013
Silicon Valley has nation's 2nd highest concentration of wealthy

A tony suburb of New York City has the nation's highest concentration of high-income households, but Silicon Valley ranks No. 2 and eight of the nation's 25 wealthiest communities are in California, according to a new Census Bureau report.

The Bridgeport, CT, area has the highest concentration with 17.9 percent of its households having incomes in the top 5 percent, the report said, with San Jose and other Silicon Valley communities in second place at 15.9 percent.

San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont ranks No. 4 at 13 percent, just behind Washington, DC, and its suburbs. Napa is No. 10, with the Santa Cruz-Watsonville area No. 11, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana No. 15, Santa Barbara-Santa Maria No. 16, San Diego and vicinity No. 18 and Santa Rosa-Petaluma No. 23.

February 11, 2013
VIDEO: Dancing for health care at California Capitol

The prospect of a single-payer health care system has advocates dancing in the streets -- or at least on steps of the state Capitol.

Health care professionals, medical students and advocates gathered at the Capitol for a raucous rally in favor of a single-payer system on Monday. The demonstration, which was organized by the California Health Professional Student Alliance, featured a sea of white lab coats -- many of them bearing the insignia of local medical schools -- and a choreographed number by scrubs-clad dancers.

Speakers urged the adoption of a government managed, single-payer health care system, saying anything short of that would be inadequate. Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, said the Obama administration's health care overhaul bill was only a start.

"As you know, we're currently trying to move California forward with implementation of the affordable care act," Monning said. "In my view this represents a stepping stone to achieving true universal coverage and a healthcare system based on the promotion of health and wellness, not the treatment of disease and illness."

Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, called a single-payer system "the only model where we can achieve true universal healthcare." You can see the dance routine below:

February 11, 2013
Live chat replay: Texas vs California: Rick Perry, Jerry Brown and the fight for jobs

February 11, 2013
Bill targets use of smart car technology for California teens

Cell Phone Driving (1).jpgCalifornia minors are already banned from using their smart phones behind the wheel, even with a hands-free device. But new legislation introduced in the state Senate last week would expand those rules to include the use of new smart car technology while driving.

Senate Bill 194, by Stockton Democrat Cathleen Galgiani, would expand the state's ban on talking on the phone and texting while driving for motorists under 18, prohibiting those drivers from using any "electronic wireless communications device," even if it's hands free. The aim of that change is to make sure drivers with provisional licenses don't use touch-screen or voice-command technologies that have been introduced in new car models. Mercedes-Benz USA, for example, made headlines last month by announcing a new feature that provides Facebook access through a car.

February 11, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: California cancels another tech boondoggle

California's State Controller John Chiang has nixed a multimillion-dollar IT contract, and Dan wonders why "the cradle of the technological revolution" has such a hard time installing new tech and computer projects.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

February 11, 2013
AM Alert: U.S. Geological Survey experts talk earthquake risk

US_NEWS_CALIF-EARTHQUAKE-WARNING_LA.JPGVIDEO: Another canceled contract reminds Dan Walters of California's chronic issues with government-managed technology projects.

We're hearing rumbles about a Senate talk today. Risk-reduction experts from the U.S. Geological Survey -- including Dr. Lucy Jones, pictured at right -- will be talking about the potential of an early earthquake warning system.

The floor presentation comes as Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, has introduced Senate Bill 135 to create a statewide early warning network.

Lone Star beer or pinot noir? Spurs or surfboards? As Gov. Rick Perry seeks to lure businesses from California to Texas, come back to Capitol Alert at noon today for a live debate about the relative merits of the two states, their job climates and their governors.

Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters and reporter David Siders will discuss and take questions from readers. Capitol Bureau Chief Dan Smith will moderate. They'll be joined by Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist Bud Kennedy.


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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