Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

February 21, 2013
California analyst rejects Gov. Jerry Brown's clean energy plan

LS SAN JUAN ENERGY.JPGThe nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office has so many complaints with Gov. Jerry Brown's plan for spending new clean energy money that it produced a separate 12-page pamphlet today to detail the problems.

Thanks to voter-approved Proposition 39, the state has $450 million to $550 million annually to spend on energy efficiency projects over the next five years. Brown proposed in his budget to devote all of that money to retrofitting K-12 schools and community colleges. The initiative did not specify that funds go toward education.

The money comes from a $1 billion annual tax increase that affects out-of-state corporations doing business in California.

The analyst's office found "many serious concerns" with Brown's plan from both a legal and economic perspective.

February 21, 2013
Kristin Olsen to move to smaller office after failed GOP move

Kristin_Olsen.JPGAssemblywoman Kristin Olsen was ordered to move immediately into a much smaller office in the wake of a failed effort within the Assembly Republican Caucus to oust its leader, Connie Conway.

The move was widely regarded as punishment for Olsen, R-Modesto, who had been touted by some Assembly Republicans as a potential successor to Conway.

The caucus decided nearly unanimously Thursday to retain Conway, with only one person voting no, members said.

"I don't know the exact circumstances of the reason for the move, but I do know that Assembly member Olsen was not the vote to vacate the chair," said Kim Nickols, Olsen's spokeswoman.

February 21, 2013
Cal Fire chief calls controversial fund 'an invaluable tool'

AP03102603912_PIRU_FIRE.JPGCalifornia's fire chief last week called his department's off-books fund "an invaluable tool" and said he "will not apologize for using it to improve our cost recovery efforts" in an internal memo obtained by The Bee.

Since 2005, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire, has paid the nonprofit California District Attorneys Association to house a special fund for training seminars and high-tech investigatory equipment. The fund collected $3.6 million overall and is being dissolved this month at the nonprofit's request.

While the fund has drawn legislative criticism and prompted a Department of Finance audit, Cal Fire Director Ken Pimlott vigorously defended the Wildland Fire Investigation, Training and Equipment Fund in a "monthly message" he sent last week to his employees. He said "recent incomplete and sensationalized media coverage" had "needlessly detracted from our successes and wasted valuable staff time and resources that would have been much better spent directly serving the public."

February 21, 2013
Assembly GOP nearly unanimous in keeping Conway as leader

20121203_HA_CONNIE_CONWAY.JPGAssemblywoman Connie Conway can breathe a little easier now.

After caucusing for about an hour Thursday, the 25-member Assembly Republican Caucus voted nearly unanimously not to replace the Tulare Republican who has held the top post for two years.

A motion to vacate the chair received only one vote, two members said privately. Caucus sessions are held behind closed doors.

Conway, who is termed out of the Legislature next year, leads a caucus still reeling from the loss of three seats in last November's election, a stunning party defeat that handed Democrats a supermajority in the 80-member house.

But President Barack Obama's decisive victory in California and statewide redrawing of political districts tended to favor Democrats in other political races as well -- the GOP lost two state Senate seats, for example.

Conway replaced Assemblyman Martin Garrick, of Solana Beach, as Assembly GOP boss in November 2010. She became the fourth Republican leader of the lower house in an 18-month period. Garrick opted not to seek a second term as caucus chief.

PHOTO CREDIT: Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway, R-Tulare, during the first day of session at the state Capitol in Sacramento on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012. Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee

February 21, 2013
Republican PAC hires Ruben Barrales in effort to elect Latinos

RubenBarrales.jpgA political action committee formed to help elect Latino Republicans to office in California has hired Ruben Barrales, a former White House aide and San Mateo County supervisor, to be its president and chief executive officer.

The group, GROW Elect, said in a prepared statement that Barrales' appointment "is part of an aggressive expansion" of its effort to elect Latino Republicans to local, state and federal offices.

The group last year involved itself mostly in local races and was a relatively small operation, spending less than $150,000. It was funded largely by Charles Munger Jr., a wealthy Republican activist.

February 21, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Subpoenas needed in parks scandal

Dan says lawmakers have finally started asking tough questions about the California Parks and Recreation Department's hidden-funds scandal, but he thinks they could be doing more.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

February 21, 2013
AM Alert: Student discipline, testing on school officials' agendas

20110831_HA_priority_schools0782.JPGVIDEO: The California Legislature is finally getting serious about investigating the Parks and Recreation Department's hidden funds, but Dan Walters says it's time to take the next step.

FIELD POLL: Gov. Jerry Brown's public approval rating is above 50 percent for the first time since he took office, David Siders reports in today's Bee. Click here to read the statistical tabulations compiled exclusively for Capitol Alert. Find the publicly released poll at this link.

Schools figure prominently today in Sacramento. It's day two of the California Association of African-American Superintendents and Administrators conference at Sacramento's Sheraton Grand, and state schools chief Tom Torlakson will be delivering remarks at 8 a.m.

Also in attendance will be Seth Galanter, the U.S. Education Department's acting assistant secretary for civil rights, discussing student discipline practices.

Nine blocks away, school officials will be taking a look at more than two decades' worth of data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a crucial benchmark for measuring school progress, in the five so-called "mega-states" of Florida, Texas, Illinois, New York and, you guessed it, California.


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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