Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

June 5, 2013
Anne Gust Brown discusses life with Jerry, role in running state

RB_Anne_Gust_Brown_1_2012.JPGAnne Gust Brown, first lady and special counsel to Gov. Jerry Brown, was the focus Wednesday of a She Shares luncheon at Sacramento's Sutter Club. In an interview with Karen Breslau of the Dewey Square Group, she discussed her own career and life with the Democratic governor. Here are the highlights:

On another career she'd like to have: "I wish I could be a singer, and I am completely tone deaf. This whole Linda Ronstadt thing maybe has gotten under my skin. I wish I could stand up and sing like she does, but I can't."

On Brown's preparation for a trip to his ancestral homelands: "He's reading all about Prussia. ... He's regaling me with all these wars I've never heard of."

On her relative anonymity: "It's hard in my household to get any attention, between my husband and the dog."

On someone who inspired her: "Jerry's mother, Bernice, was a first lady. She was really very, very bright, graduated high school at 14, went to Berkeley, then ... sort of had to put most of it aside to raise her family and follow her husband's career. I think she did it with a lot of grace and good humor."

On whether she's responsible for the fact that the Brown administration has women in many senior positions: "I did have the good taste to go track down (chief of staff) Nancy McFadden. I had to sort of twist her arm. She was not interested. So I will take some credit for that."

On how the couple puts aside work and relaxes: "First of all, I have a husband who thinks that his job is like a vacation. He's like, 'What do you mean get away from work? This is like a vacation.' I say, 'Honey, that is so not true.' To come home and talk about it incessantly is just nirvana for him. ... I'm the one who has to find ways to get away from him and the dog ... and go get a massage or do something."

On her "special counsel" title: "That was more Jerry's thought than mine. He just feels that we do work together so closely. ... I may be the first first lady who's a lawyer, and I do operate in that sort of capacity, so I think he wanted to acknowledge that."

On the Democrats' legislative supermajority: "We'll see how super it is. Many of these Democrats who have been elected are not from districts that are highly Democratic. It's not like they're all going to be on the same sheet."

On her ability to "manage" the governor: "He likes to pretend he's managed, but he's not very easily managed. He does what he wants most of the time. (Nancy McFadden and I) do have to corral him sometimes, because he's a man who is really amazing in how much he thinks about things. ... He's always exploring new ideas and new ways. Sometimes we do need to manage him to what we need to decide today. I can be pretty good about that."

With reporters, Gust also discussed whether she was the still-anonymous voice on an answering machine who called Meg Whitman a "whore" during the gubernatorial campaign:

"I listened to that tape, and I couldn't hear the word in question. I couldn't hear it at all. ... I don't know who it was. I'm not saying it couldn't have been me. I thought OK, it probably was me. ... By the eighth time listening to it, I thought it wasn't really worth my time."

PHOTO CREDIT: California Gov. Jerry Brown, left, and first lady Anne Gust Brown deliver signatures for a tax measure to the county registrar's office in Sacramento in May 2012. Randall Benton / Sacramento Bee file, 2012

June 5, 2013
Latino Caucus says FBI did not search its office

This post has been updated to include a statement from the Senate Sergeant-at-Arms

By Jim Sanders

FBI agents at the state Capitol raided two offices connected with Sen. Ron Calderon on Tuesday, and did not search any office space used by the Latino Legislative Caucus, Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Tony Beard said on Wednesday.

Officials with Senate leader Darrell Steinberg had said that the federal search warrants involved both Calderon's office at the Capitol and the caucus office across the street at 1020 N street.

But today Beard said that was in error and the N street office searched by the FBI is used only by Calderon.

"One of those offices was erroneously identified as an office of the Legislative Latino Caucus, based on an outdated roster of room numbers," Beard said in a statement. "The Legislative Latino Caucus moved into new offices earlier this year. Both offices that are subject to the sealed search warrants are the offices of Senator Calderon; one in the Capitol building and the other in the Legislative Office Building."

The FBI has not disclosed the reasons for the searches. The probe originated in the Los Angeles office of the agency.

June 5, 2013
Debate over California's Prop. 13 still hot 35 years later

howardjarvis.jpgProposition 13, Howard Jarvis' iconic property tax limit measure, was passed by California voters 35 years ago this week - but the debate over its provisions is just as heated now as it was then.

Just last month, the Assembly Appropriations Committee stalled action on a bill that would have indirectly changed the measure by redefining when property transfers trigger reassessment for taxes. Assembly Bill 188 by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, was aimed at raising assessments of business-owned property when more than 100 percent of the ownership entity changed hands in a series of transactions. Current law triggers reassessment only when more than 50 percent changes ownership in one transaction.

AB 188 was a partial movement toward what tax mavens call a "split roll" - one that taxes different kinds of property differently. A full split roll, however, would require a constitutional amendment, approved by voters, to change Proposition 13's limits. Some liberal groups, especially labor unions, have proposed such an amendment, saying that it would counteract a shift of property tax burden from business property to residential property, but have not yet attempted to place one on the ballot via initiative.

Recently, a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California asked a sample of voters whether they would support basing commercial property taxes on "current market value" and 56 percent said they would. However, the California Taxpayers Association, a business-backed organization, criticized the poll's methodology, saying that using the phrase "current market value" did not "state that the proposal in question would be a massive tax increase on businesses, and did not include any context that would let respondents know that such a tax increase would result in job losses, higher consumer costs for goods and services, and higher rents for many Californians."

Cal-Tax followed up on that criticism Wednesday with a report contending that since Proposition 13's passage in 1978, there has not been, as critics allege, a shift of tax burden from business property to homes, which change hands more frequently.

June 5, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: The forces of secrecy

With AB 246 on the Governor's desk, Dan worries the forces of secrecy will win out over the forces of open government in California.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

June 5, 2013
AM Alert: Union rally mobilizes in Sacramento


Yesterday health care, today contract negotiations. A day after masses of people converged on the State Capitol to advocate for more Medi-Cal funding, thousands more are expected to arrive today to show solidarity with SEIU Local 1000's push for a new collective bargaining agreement with California.

The current contract is scheduled to expire on July 1, and SEIU has been actively negotiating since mid-April. Jon Ortiz has been covering the unfolding drama on The State Worker blog, where he noted that Gov. Jerry Brown said he was "aiming low" in trying to secure a deal.

VIDEO: Dan Walters finds more evidence that the desire for secrecy is beating out the drive for transparency in Sacramento.

PLASTIC'S PURPOSES: Here's an odd coincidence: the American Chemistry Council is putting on an event on the north steps today highlighting the success of various plastic recycling programs. That event starts at 10 a.m.; at 1:30 p.m., the Assembly Select Committee on Coastal Protection is holding a hearing on plastic pollution and coastal ecosystems.

A bill by that committee's chair, Assemblyman Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley, dealing with marine plastic pollution is languishing on the suspense file, while a Senate plastic bag ban died on the floor and an Assembly bag ban was held and is now a 2-year bill. The American Chemistry Council opposed the Stone bill, and while it took no position on the bag bans this time it has in the past represented bag makers who, unsurprisingly, were against a prohibition.

SOCIAL SERVICES: Advocates continue to push the governor to take advantage of more robust revenue by undoing social services cuts enacted during the lean years. Organizations under the umbrella of the Health and Human Services Network of California, whose members include organizations like the Western Center on Law and Poverty, Health Access and the California Immigrant Policy Center, are highlighting statistics about California's poverty rate during a noon conference on the east steps. Speeches by advocates and Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, will be bracketed by afternoon and morning visits with lawmakers, many of whom have showed a similar appetite for a more generous budget than the one Brown is proposing.

AUDIT AUDACITY: The Joint Legislative Audit Committee is considering several candidates for scrutiny today, including the process by which Child Protective Services removes kids from households, CalPERS investment portfolio managers and the finances of the UCLA & UCSF medical centers. Starting at 10 a.m. in room 444.

POVERTY PROBLEMS: A related hearing will be examining a new report by the Campaign for College Opportunity on low-income families and economic mobility in California. Starting at 2:30 p.m. in room 437.

GUST BROWN GATHERING: A "She Shares" series hosting prominent female speakers will today feature California First Lady Anne Gust Brown. Brown will be speaking from noon to 1:30 p.m. at the Sutter Club on 9th street. No word on whether Sutter the Dog will be attending Sutter the Club.

PHOTO CREDIT: Service Employees International Union (SEIU) members rally on Friday, July 16, 2010. By Michael Allen Jones/The Sacramento Bee.


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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