Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

April 18, 2013
For Mike Rossi, it isn't easy finding Beijing's Duck de Chine

rossi.JPGOne remarkable thing about Gov. Jerry Brown's trip to China this past week is that, for a governor who can be difficult to keep organized and on schedule, it was largely a logistical success.

That is with one minor exception: getting Mike Rossi to dinner at Duck de Chine.

One night last week, Brown was dining at the Beijing restaurant when a text went out that he was looking for Rossi, his unpaid senior jobs adviser.

Rossi - "My man, Rossi," occasionally, in the governor's vernacular - was miles across town, his six-foot-two, 210-pound frame sandwiched between two reporters in the back seat of a cab. A mix-up had sent Rossi and several other members of Brown's trade mission in a bus from the U.S. embassy to the wrong restaurant, a second, considerably less famous Duck de Chine.

Back at the hotel, Rossi's deputy, Brook Taylor, thought they still could catch up to Brown.

"It's 10 after 8, it takes 20 minutes to get there," Taylor said. "Yeah, we should go."

Rossi ordered a car, and he and Taylor piled in. Twenty minutes later, the scenery began to look familiar and they pulled out a map. The driver glanced at it and nodded confidently, though the map was upside down.

Once more, Rossi had been delivered to the same, wrong Duck de Chine. The driver's cell phone rang, emitting an otherworldly sound, and the 69-year-old former bank executive started laughing.

He said, "You can't get upset about these things."

PHOTO CREDIT: Mike Rossi, Gov. Jerry Brown's senior jobs adviser, rides a delegate bus in Beijing as Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, looks on. David Siders / Sacramento Bee

April 18, 2013
CA lawmakers OK funds to take guns from prohibited owners

RB_Gunshops.JPGA day after Congress rejected a package of bills aimed at tightening restrictions on gun ownership, California lawmakers moved in the opposite direction, increasing funds for a program that confiscates weapons from people who are prohibited from owning them because of mental illness or violent criminal pasts.

The state Assembly voted 57-10 to approve Senate Bill 140, which devotes $24 million to the state Department of Justice for its Armed Prohibited Persons Program. The program compares databases of gun buyers to others listing people who have committed crimes that make them ineligible to own guns. Law enforcement agents then go to the homes of people on both lists and confiscate their weapons.

April 18, 2013
Auditor: CA special license plate money not collected, misspent

BB TERROR PLATE 0009.JPGCalifornia's state auditor has found shortcomings in management and oversight of special license plate programs meant to provide funding for causes like Lake Tahoe, anti-terrorism efforts and state parks.

The report, released today, found that the state has failed to collect more than $22 million in revenue that should be generated by the special plate holders in the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 fiscal years. In some cases, agencies appeared to spend the money they did receive on "unallowable or unsupported" expenditures.

California motorists can elect to order special plates benefiting one of 11 causes. Revenue from the sales go to state-run accounts like the Yosemite Fund.

But that hasn't always happened, for instance, with a fund intended to "fight threats of terrorism in the Golden State." The audit found cases where revenue collected for that fund as well as money meant to benefit environmental programs was not used for the designated purposes.

Fixing the problems, the Department of Motor Vehicles responded, may require such a costly computer upgrade that the program may not be financially viable.

April 18, 2013
UC admits more out-of-state students

MC_CHINESE_UCDAVIS_01.JPGUniversity of California campuses admitted a record high number of students for this fall, data released today show, including fewer in-state residents than last year and more students from other states and countries.

Across campuses statewide, UC admitted 82,850 students for fall enrollment as freshmen, amounting to an acceptance rate of 59.2 percent. Although UC admitted more students than it did last year, it also received more applications, so the statewide acceptance rate was down, meaning a smaller portion of those who applied have been invited to attend. The admissions include 1,354 fewer California residents than last year and 3,915 more non-Californians.

"California students continued to make up the lion's share of admitted students - 60,089. The overall number of admitted state residents varied slightly by campus -- some increased, a few decreased, and others stayed the same," says a statement from UC's Office of the President.

"The slight decline in the number and proportion of admitted students who are Californians reflects the fallout from years of severe budget cuts to UC, which has enrolled thousands of California students for whom it received no state funding."

April 18, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Jerry Brown keeping questionable company?

Dan notes that the Pulitzer committee honored a New York Times story on the excesses of Chinese officials just as Gov. Jerry Brown was concluding his China trip, casting a shadow on Brown's praise for Chinese officials.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

April 18, 2013
AM Alert: Lawmakers tell Gov. Brown to get back to work


Nothing like returning from travel abroad to a reminder of the deadlines that drew closer while you were gone. With Gov. Jerry Brown returning from his business-bolstering voyage to China, the leaders of health committees from both houses will be pushing him today to move on expanding Medi-Cal.

Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, and Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, are holding a press conference this morning urging the governor to move quickly on enlarging California's Medi-Cal rolls (the federal health care law ensures that, for the first few years, the federal government picks up the tab for the expansion). They will be joined by Laphonza Butler, president of SEIU California, and Anthony Wright of Health Access California. 11 a.m. in room 317.

VIDEO: Brown seemed impressed by the speed with which the Chinese government is able to tackle some projects. Dan Walters says that praise is probably misplaced.

LABOR LAWS: Members of the California Society for Human Resource Management will be at the Capitol today promoting a pair of bills, SB 607 and AB 907, that would exempt employers from the requirement to pay overtime after eight hours of work in a day.

SHINE ON: The University of California Center Sacramento is hosting a talk today on the sun's role in climate change -- like most relationships, it's more complicated than you think. From noon to 1:30 at 1130 K Street, featuring Dan Lubin of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

EDUCATION VIEWS: The governor's plan to overhaul school funding has been pretty well dissected in the Legislature by now -- today the Public Policy Institute of California takes a look at how the constituents feel with a lunchtime talk examining Californians' perspectives on education. From noon to 1:30 p.m. in the basement of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on 11th and K streets.

EDUCATION SUMMIT: Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar, is also delving into education today with a conference at Fullerton College. From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the Campus Theatre facility.

SAC STATE SENATORS: A couple of high-powered alums are attending a "Hornets Policy and Politics" event for former Sacramento State University students tonight. Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, and Sen. Cathleen Galgiani, D-Stockton will be hosting the get together -- Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, who is not an alum but taught at Sac State, will also be there. Starting at 5:30 p.m. at Cafeteria 15L.

JOB MOVE: Former assemblyman, state senator and California Community Colleges chancellor Jack Scott has been appointed to the California Student Aid Commission.

Happy birthday to Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, who is 66 today.

PHOTO CREDIT: "They're doing what in Sacramento without me?" April 16, 2013 by Vincent Yu/The Associated Press.


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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