Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

April 16, 2013
Villaraigosa drops Romney's name, wants 'friends to be bolder'

Villaraigosa_Press_Club.jpgWhen it came to fielding a question Tuesday on whether he's going to endorse someone to succeed him as Los Angeles mayor, Antonio Villaraigosa dropped a name that surprised many attending his lunch address at the Sacramento Press Club.

It wasn't Eric Garcetti or Wendy Greuel.

"You know, I said this to Mitt Romney yesterday on the telephone and I actually said it to him a couple months ago at a dinner right after the election, I have a lot of respect for people who are willing to put their name on the ballot, run for president of the United States, in this case run for mayor, so I hold both individuals in high regard."

Reporters in the room were abuzz -- and atwitter -- with speculation about why Villaraigosa has been dining and talking with last year's GOP nominee.

The Los Angeles Democrat -- a Democratic National Convention chairman and President Barack Obama campaign surrogate rumored on the short list for an administration appointment -- didn't give much more detail after his speech, except that he had previously met the former Massachusetts governor at a dinner with a guest list of mostly Republican leaders.

"You know, I have a couple of Republican friends who kind of think that I'm challenging my friends from time to time, and they like it," said Villaraigosa.

Villaraigosa didn't shy from challenging his friends during his remarks Tuesday, urging fellow Democrats in the California Legislature to get behind the education policies he supports that are largely opposed by powerful teachers' unions.

"I want to work the Democrats and Republicans alike," he said. "President Obama, Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, anybody who wants to move our country, our state, our cities to a better place."

And, for the record, Villaraigosa isn't endorsing Garcetti or Greuel -- the two Democrats competing in next month's runoff election -- for now.

"I did, after all, encourage my friends to be bolder and to speak out on the issue of education reform," Villaraigosa said. "And I'd like to see them swing to the fences."

PHOTO CREDIT: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa speaks before the Sacramento Press Club, in Sacramento on Tuesday, April 16, 2013. (AP Photo/ Rich Pedroncelli).

April 16, 2013
Lawmakers to probe CA utilities regulator's safety commitment

Pipeline Explosion NTSB.jpgState lawmakers are poised to blast the California Public Utilities Commission on Wednesday in light of a scathing report that questions the agency's commitment to safety.

The report, completed for the PUC by the Folsom-based Business Advantage Consulting, found that the commission's staff lack the leadership and tools needed to make safety a priority. Staff interviewed by the consultants detailed multiple issues stemming from what they called an "anti-safety" attitude held by the executive director, including "resistance to challenging utilities" and "resistance to leveling fines."

The 24-page report also blames a workplace culture that gives regulated industries too much "access to the PUC building, documents and personnel" for "sending the wrong message to both staff and regulated industries about accountability."

"The regulated industries and lobbyists come to the PUC and see how casual the attitude and culture is here," the report quotes one employee as saying. "As a result; they don't feel that they have to comply -- they are not worried. The message to them is that we are not paying attention."

April 16, 2013
CA Assembly committee OKs bill setting up statewide bail guide

hagman.JPGA bill establishing a statewide guide for bail amounts passed the Assembly Public Safety Committee on Tuesday with a bipartisan 6-0 vote.

Assembly Bill 1118 was introduced by Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, who owns Apex Bail Bonds. The firm has three offices in Southern California.

Hagman said the bill is needed to address inequities in bail amounts set for the same crimes. He said bail on a felony charge of grand theft could range from $5,000 in Placer County to $50,000 in San Bernardino County.

"This disparity creates unequal protection under the law," Hagman said.

Hagman's bill would give counties the option of adopting the advisory statewide bail schedule. The bail bonds industry would benefit from counties with high bail adopting a schedule that is affordable to people seeking bonds.

AB 1118 would require the Judicial Council to prepare, adopt and annually revise a statewide bail schedule by 2015 for all bailable felony, misdemeanor and infraction offenses, except for vehicular code infractions.

The California District Attorneys Association opposes the bill, saying that prosecutors agree with current law, which lets superior court judges in each county set their own bail schedule.

PHOTO CREDIT: Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, after a joint session in the Assembly chambers in Sacramento, Calif. on Monday, March 11, 2013. Hector Amezcua / The Sacramento Bee

April 16, 2013
Jerry Brown to comply with prison order if appeals fail

IMG_1636[1].JPGSHENZHEN, China - Gov. Jerry Brown said Tuesday his administration will prepare to release as many as 10,000 state prisoners if the state is unable to get out from under a court order demanding it reduce California's prison population.

Brown had said last week that he would not comply with the order "until the Supreme Court tells us that we're not on the right track," despite a federal court's threat to hold him and top prison officials in contempt of court.

"We certainly will appeal whatever we can appeal, and I think there is a lot of room there," the Democratic governor told reporters in Shenzhen, where he is concluding a week-long trade mission to China. "But at the same time, with the court threatening contempt at every level, when the Supreme Court gives these three judges the green light, then we have to do what they tell us, and we'll have a list of 9,000 or 10,000 of our finer inmates that will be ready for neighborhood visitations throughout California."

Brown said, "We're going to try to find the nicest of the nice, but I have to tell you, it's harder to get into prison now, there's not as many people hanging around."

A special, three-judge panel ordered the state in 2009 to reduce its prison population to improve health care conditions in the prison system, and U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton this month denied Brown's bid to move prison health care out from under federal control.

Brown has refused to decrease the prison population by the required 9,000 inmates to reach the court-ordered level.

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown tours the Shenzhen, China, headquarters of BYD Co., an electric car maker, on Tuesday, April 16, 2013.

April 16, 2013
Jerry Brown says environmental law overhaul unlikely for now

IMG_1628[1].JPGSHENZHEN, China - Gov. Jerry Brown acknowledged Tuesday he likely won't be able to overhaul California's signature environmental law in the current legislative session, citing overwhelming opposition from fellow Democrats.

The California Environmental Quality Act, Brown told reporters here, "is supported by some key groups within the Democratic Party, and I think it would be difficult for the Legislature to move that process forward."

Brown said he remains committed relaxing provisions of the law but that he has a large agenda, including the state budget, water infrastructure and high-speed rail. He said "the appetite for CEQA reform is much stronger outside the state Capitol than it is inside."

April 16, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Liberals unhappy with Jerry Brown's agenda

While Gov. Jerry Brown was enjoying a warm reception in China, his agenda got the cold shoulder from the liberal faithful at the California Democratic Party convention in Sacramento. Dan wonders if the timing of the governor's trip was a coincidence.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

April 16, 2013
AM Alert: Doctors, pharmacists, labor, Latinos lobby Sacramento

STATUECOINS.JPGIt's a busy day for interest groups at the California Capitol today, with a few heavy hitters marshaling their allies and meeting with lawmakers. Here's a quick rundown:

LABOR GETS SAUCY: It's the second day of the California Labor Federation's "joint legislative conference." Today's planned events include an 11 a.m. rally on the north steps of the State Capitol, featuring giant vats of gravy symbolizing corporate tax breaks. Addressing the crowd will be Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, Board of Equalization member Betty Yee, Art Pulaski of the California Labor Federation, Yvonne Walker of SEIU Local 1000 and Willie L. Pelote Sr. of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Participants will fan out after to meet lawmakers and hand them jars of gravy.

DOCTORS DIAGNOSE SHORTAGE: The California Medical Association is hosting its "legislative leadership conference" at the Sheraton Grand, which will feature addresses from executive director of Covered California Peter Lee, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, California Republican Party chair Jim Brulte and former Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, whose Mercury Public Affairs has been retained by the California Medical Association.


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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