Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

February 14, 2013
VIDEO: Yee details threat, says it won't stop gun control effort

RB_Leland_Yee_3.JPGSen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, has gotten menacing notes before, but this time was different.

The message that appeared in Yee's inbox about four weeks ago was much more explicit, Yee said at a press conference Thursday afternoon in his Senate office.

The email warned Yee to stop pursuing gun control legislation; if Yee persisted, the author -- who described himself as a trained sniper -- warned he would assassinate the senator in or around the state Capitol building.

"The threat was unlike any of the other ones I've received in the past," Yee said. "In the past I've received racial slurs, rants about my ethnicity and culture, about China. But instead this was a rather detailed, deliberate and exact set of strategies as to how he would carry out that threat."

Particularly worrisome were the signs of a concrete plan, Yee said. He said his training as a psychologist has taught him that detailed plans are usually a red flag indicating that someone is closer to action.

Yee said he immediately notified his chief of staff, who turned the case over to the Senate sergeants. They passed it on to the California Highway Patrol, and on Tuesday authorities arrested a suspect in Santa Clara County whose apartment contained explosive materials and a firearm. Authorities detonated some bombs they found onsite, Yee said.

The senator has been harassed before, notably when he received a disturbing fax after denouncing radio host Rush Limbaugh. Despite the most recent threat, Yee said he has not requested additional security and would not change his agenda.

"Let me make it very, very clear - I'm going to make it crystal clear - that despite this particular threat and any other threats I am not going to be deterred from addressing the issue of gun violence in this community and this state," Yee said.

PHOTO CREDIT: Sen. Leland Yee, D- San Francisco, speaks to members of the press in his office at the Capitol in Sacramento on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013. Randall Benton / Sacramento Bee

February 14, 2013
Carry-a-condom law proposed by San Francisco assemblyman

LS_STD_1_CONDOM.JPGArrested for carrying condoms?

No longer, under proposed legislation to bar police from using condoms against prostitutes.

Assembly Bill 336 would disallow possession of one or more condoms as evidence of sexual solicitation in arrests or prosecutions.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano contends his bill could save lives.

The measure would eliminate the dilemma of sex workers choosing between carrying condoms to prevent disease or abandoning such protection for fear of arrest, according to the San Francisco Democrat.

"We have to encourage safe-sex practices, not frighten people into spreading disease," Ammiano said in a written statement.

AB 336 would not legalize prostitution or bar police from arresting offenders based on other evidence, including presence in suspect areas, manner of dress, approach to cars, or possession of sex toys, lubricants or cash.

"They can still arrest people under the law," Ammiano said. "They would only be prevented from using as evidence the one thing that protects public health: condoms."

PHOTO CREDIT: Nick Mori, a health educator with Sacramento County, opens a packet that includes condoms during a public health fair at Sacramento State. Lezlie Sterling / Sacramento Bee file, 2011

February 14, 2013
Ban on flea-market animal sales proposed by California lawmaker

Durell_20081003_0070_puppies.JPGPuppies, kittens and other live animals could not be sold at flea markets or swap meets under legislation proposed this week by a Sacramento legislator.

Assemblyman Roger Dickinson's measure, Assembly Bill 339, would make first offenses an infraction punishable by a fine of up to $250. If an animal suffers or is injured, however, the charge can be hiked to a misdemeanor and the fine to $1,000.

Dickinson, D-Sacramento, said that puppies, kittens, baby rabbits, turtles, exotic birds, reptiles and birds commonly are sold at swap meets and flea markets, often in close proximity and sometimes in crowded pens lacking adequate food or water.

AB 339 would "alleviate the suffering of these animals, ensure that public health and safety is protected, and safeguard consumers," Dickinson said in a written statement.

California law currently bans the sale of live animals on streets, highways, parking lots, carnivals and boardwalks.

Eight local governments in California have passed ordinances banning or limiting animal sales at swap meets, Dickinson said.

PHOTO CREDIT: Two pitbull pups wait for adoption at Sacramento's Animal Care Services, Nov. 8, 2008. Robert Durell / Special to The Bee

February 14, 2013
Auditor: CA parks officials warned about hidden funds in 1999

MC_ CSP_BRANNAN.07.JPGState finance officials warned the parks department as early as April 1999 about unreported budget surpluses that went unresolved until last year, a new California State Auditor report finds.

Despite that warning, Department of Parks and Recreation officials continued to sweep accounting differences under the rug until last year, when state attorneys and The Bee investigated the issue.

The current parks budget officer told auditors that she discovered the difference in February 2011 when she joined the department. But two former high-level officials told her to keep quiet because state budget writers might impose deeper funding cuts to the department.

The new audit also questioned the way in which state officials threatened to close 70 parks in previous budget discussions. It said that threat was "premature" because the department had never determined the amount needed to operate all 278 state parks at the 2010 level, a comparison basis that would have been necessary to properly assess how many parks to shutter.

PHOTO CREDIT: A deck juts out into the water at Brannan Island State Recreation Area, a California state park that's a maze of waterways through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Manny Crisostomo / Sacramento Bee file, 2010

February 14, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Why no strings on higher education money?

Dan says allocating more funding for higher education isn't enough: Gov. Jerry Brown should help ensure that money is being spent wisely.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

February 14, 2013
AM Alert: Valentine's Day event pushes back against abuse

MAJ STATE CAPITOL.JPGVIDEO: Gov. Jerry Brown could do more to make higher education more accountable and efficient, Dan Walters says.

The National Organization for Women is trying to transform Valentine's Day into an occasion for raising awareness of violence against women, with a day the organization is calling One Billion Rising.

Sacramento's contribution will be a noon to 1 p.m. event on the state Capitol's west steps, featuring a dance and a rally featuring representatives of the California chapter of NOW, the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence and the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault.

The broader political context points to the U.S. Capitol, where the federal Violence Against Women Act is awaiting a vote in the House after the Senate recently passed it. Republicans have been wary of reauthorizing the bill because of added protections for immigrants, LGBT women and Native Americans.

In another inventive use of Valentine's Day, Assemblyman Isadore Hall, D-Compton, will be introducing legislation to require all pornographic actors to wear condoms. (Voters in Los Angeles County passed a similar measure last year.) Hall will be joined by Michael Weinstein, the president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, and Darren James, a former adult film actor who contracted HIV. The presser starts at 11 a.m. at the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles.



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Capitol Alert Staff


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

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

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee. smith@sacbee.com

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

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert. mmassimino@sacbee.com

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

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. dsiders@sacbee.com. Twitter: @davidsiders

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

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