Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

May 6, 2013
FPPC proposes $2,500 fine related to Chris Kelly's 2010 AG bid

ChrisKelly.jpegPotential Sacramento Kings partial owner Chris Kelly has agreed to pay California's political ethics watchdog agency a $2,500 in fine to settle bookkeeping issues from his 2010 attorney general run.

An investigation by the Fair Political Practices Commission found that Kelly's campaign failed to accurately report more than $7 million in expenditures during his 2010 Democratic primary campaign, which he lost to Attorney General Kamala Harris.

The fine is on the agenda for approval at the commission's May 16 meeting.

A spokesman for Kelly's campaign wrote in an email that the the former Facebook chief privacy officer "cooperated with the investigation and has agreed to pay the minor administrative penalty levied for the one violation."

Kelly, who has remained active in policy issues related to public safety since his attorney general run, is part of a group of investors seeking to purchase the Kings to keep the team in Sacramento.

PHOTO CREDIT: Chris Kelly. Sacramento Bee file photo

May 6, 2013
White House 'deeply concerned' about Boxer's levee bill

JV_BOXER 017.JPGIt seemed like it could be a slam-dunk in a Congress that can't agree on much of anything.

But California Sen. Barbara Boxer's bipartisan effort to pass legislation to fund flood control, navigation and storm recovery projects hit a snag Monday when the White House issued a statement highly critical of the bill, which Boxer's Environment and Public Works Committee approved unanimously in March.

The Water Resources Development Act, which authorizes projects such as the Natomas Levee Improvement Program, was expected to move to the Senate floor for debate Tuesday, but the fate of some of its more controversial provisions wasn't clear. Committee staff said Monday night that amending language would be announced Tuesday to address concerns about the bill, and noted that the White House statement did not actually oppose its broader goals.

The White House said it was "deeply concerned" about language in the bill that would fast-track environmental reviews for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects. Critics, especially Republicans, say that such studies take far too long and burden communities with government bureaucracy. But environmentalists say the process is necessary to protect communities, the environment and taxpayer funds.

May 6, 2013
FPPC: Michael Rubio real estate transactions didn't break laws

MicahelRubioPicture.JPGCalifornia's political watchdog agency has determined that a former state senator who engaged in real estate transactions with a friend and campaign donor did not violate the state's political ethics laws.

The Fair Political Practices Commission had been reviewing both a short sale and a loan related to properties owned by former Democratic Sen. Michael Rubio, who resigned in February to take a job directing California governmental affairs for Chevron Corp.

Shortly after Rubio stepped down, it was revealed that a company managed by San Joaquin Refining Co. President Majid Mojibi purchased a Bakersfield home Rubio put up for a short sale after he had to move to remain eligible to represent the Central Valley's 16th Senate District. That company, DCM Asset Management, also provided Rubio with a loan to purchase a $681,000 home in El Dorado Hills last year when he was unable to receive a traditional mortgage. Rubio later sold the five-bedroom house back to Mojibi, whom he describes as a close personal friend, and began renting it.

The El Dorado Hills transactions, first reported by The Bee, was later disclosed in Rubio's annual Statement of Economic Interests form. That form also showed that Rubio was involved in another real estate deal with ties to the Mojibi family.

Those exchanges raised questions about whether the loan and the sale violated the Political Reform Act, which limits elected officials to $440 in gifts from a single source per year. A central issue for the ethics agency officials was whether the terms of the loan Rubio received would have been available to the general public.

May 6, 2013
Jerry Brown calls climate change reason for budget restraint

firebrown.jpgGov. Jerry Brown, who is preparing to submit a revised budget proposal for the coming fiscal year this month, has found a new argument for financial restraint: Climate change.

At a news conference today to kick off Wildfire Awareness Week, the Democratic governor said he will "do everything I can to deal with forest fires," but he said the bigger problem is how people adapt to climate change.

"It doesn't look like the people who are in charge are going to do what it takes to really slow down this climate change, so we're going to have to adapt, and adapting is going to be very, very expensive," Brown said. "That's another reason why we have to maintain some budget discipline."

Brown, who has urged lawmakers of his own party to resist spending despite the state's improving revenue outlook, said weather is "becoming more intense" as a result of climate change and will "cost a lot of money and a lot of lives."

Brown's remarks come amid a fire season that is off to an unusually fast start, with firefighters battling blazes throughout the state.

In that effort, officials said they will spend whatever is necessary.

Natural Resources Secretary John Laird said an emergency firefighting fund is in "reasonable shape," but that, "The message is clear: We will do whatever it takes to fight the fires and worry about that later, because public safety is first."

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown leaves a news conference that was to start Wildfire Awareness Week at a hanger at the CAL Fire Aviation Management Unit at McClellan on Monday, May 6, 2013. Hector Amezcua / Sacramento Bee

May 6, 2013
Jerry Brown calls prison case 'mystifying,' vows appeal

brownmemorial.JPGGov. Jerry Brown today called "mystifying" the continuing legal pressure on his administration to reduce California's prison population, as he reiterated his pledge to appeal the case as far as the U.S. Supreme Court.

"I find it rather mystifying why we're in this predicament, but I am following the law, and I'm exercising my rights as an American citizen to present the arguments as I see them and to seek final adjudication in our highest courts," Brown told reporters after a memorial ceremony for law enforcement officials in Sacramento.

Brown's remarks follow his administration's submission Thursday of a court-ordered plan to reduce the state's prison population, even as state officials vowed to appeal. The administration claims overcrowding in state prisons has been addressed and that inmate health care is sufficient.

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 a federal judge in April denied Brown's bid to remove prison health care from federal control. The three-judge panel is insisting that the state reduce its prison population by about 9,500 more inmates by the end of the year.

The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the three-judge panel in 2011. Asked why he thinks the state could prevail in court this year, Brown said, "Well, because it's many years later."

He said the state has spent billions of dollars on the prison system since the nation's highest court last considered the matter.

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Jerry Brown attends a memorial ceremony for law enforcement officers on Monday, May 6, 2013 in Sacramento. David Siders/Sacramento Bee

May 6, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Brown 'not a wily old politician for nothing'

It may look like Gov. Jerry Brown is playing a high-risk game by tussling with the feds over California's prison population, but Dan says it reflects the governor's political skill.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

May 6, 2013
AM Alert: Cannabis advocacy groups lobby California Capitol

20120410_PK_POTCLUB_0627.JPGAfter legalizing medical pot back in 1996, California has lagged behind decriminalization standard-bearers such as Colorado and Washington state. Americans for Safe Access and its California counterpart are in Sacramento today, arguing for updated legal standards as part of their lobby day.

Bills of interest include Assembly Bill 473, which would establish a marijuana-regulation arm within the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, and Senate Bill 283, which would keep people convicted of drug offenses from losing their eligibility for CalWORKs and CalFresh.

Separately, marijuana activists will be protesting a crackdown on dispensaries with a series of rallies across California. The demonstrations, organized by the Patient Advocacy Network, include a noon protest outside the Sacramento Federal Building. The cannabis confluence is apparently a coincidence -- Americans for Safe Access and the Patient Advocacy Network did not coordinate their efforts, a spokeswoman tells Capitol Alert.

Gov. Jerry Brown's decision to challenge the federal government over California's prison population is a "win-win" for the governor, Dan Walters says.

PEACE OFFICERS MEMORIAL: The California Peace Officers Memorial Foundation is holding a ceremony today to honor officers who have fallen in the line of duty. The service is this morning, near the California Police Officer Memorial off 10th Street. The memorialized officers are Deputy Robert Lee Paris Jr. of the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department and Officer Kenyon M. Youngstrom of the California Highway Patrol. Speakers at the ceremony will include Gov. Jerry Brown, Attorney General Kamala Harris, Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joseph Farrow and Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana.

LATINO SPIRIT AWARDS: The California Latino Legislative Caucus hosts its 12th annual Latino Spirit Awards celebration to honor leaders for the work in public service, film, athletics, literature and art. Honorees this year include former U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who previously served in both the state Senate and the Assembly. Click here to see the full list and their bios. They'll receive their awards on the Assembly floor.

MOTORCYCLE MANDATES: Bike enthusiasts from the American Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education are rolling into town today for a "motorcycle and freedom awareness" rally on the east steps at 11 a.m. (apparently we are in the midst of National Motorcycle Awareness Month). Expected attendees include Sens. Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar; Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield; Rod Wright, D-Inglewood; and Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres; as well as Assembly members Tim Donnelly, R-Twin Peaks; Brian Jones, R-Santee; Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga; and Marie Waldron, R-Escondido.

EDUCATIONAL EXCHANGE: In honor of California-Mexico Advocacy Day, a delegation from our neighbors down south will be meeting with legislators today. In keeping with this year's theme of bolstering California and Mexico working together on higher education, Mexican higher education officials will be meeting with representatives from the University of California system and the Senate's Select Committee on California-Mexico Cooperation is holding a 3:30 p.m. hearing on educational exchanges.

PHOTO CREDIT: An employee collects money from customers after they bought marijuana at HopeNet in San Francisco. Paul Kitagaki Jr./ Sacramento Bee file, 2012


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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