Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

June 7, 2013
U.S. Attorney subpoenas Senator Kevin de León


Days after the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched two offices belonging to Sen. Ron Calderon, fellow Los Angeles-area Democrat Sen. Kevin de León said he received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney's office in Los Angeles.

In a statement, de León said he received a subpoena on Thursday. He added that he intended "to cooperate fully" but would not disclose any details of the request because the U.S. attorney's office had requested confidentiality. Officials have also kept mum on the reason for the searches of Calderon's offices.

"We assume it's related," to the searches of Calderon's offices, Greg Hayes, a spokesperson for de León, told Capitol Alert.

De León will be interviewed by a grand jury in July, said his chief of staff, Dan Reeves. When asked whether de León is a subject in the investigation, he said, "We've been advised that he is not."

PHOTO CREDIT: Senator Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, looks at his phone during the confirmation hearing for Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, for lieutenant governor on the Assembly floor on Thursday February 11, 2010. By Hector Amezcua/The Sacramento Bee.

June 7, 2013
California state parks officials plan flick-your-wrist admission

RP_Emerald_Bay_TAHOE_TOUR_BOAT.JPGNo, it's not called a California state "park" because cars get stuck in line at admission kiosks.

But park officials plan to speed up and simplify the entrance process, nonetheless, by installing equipment that will allow visitors to pay fees with the flick of a wrist, using ATM or credit cards. Legislation provided $750,000 to modernize the system in hopes of increasing revenue.

No longer would the emphasis be on asking visitors to pay with cash or check - and no longer would entrants have to drive up to an employee at a kiosk, spokesman Roy Stearns said.

Plans call for the automation to be installed soon at about a dozen locations, including Emerald Bay State Park at Lake Tahoe, Point Mugu in the Santa Monica Mountains and the San Luis Reservoir State Recreation Area near Pacheco Pass. The machines are equipped with encryption devices to deter ID theft, Stearns said.

The equipment will allow park visitors to pay for admission for an hour or two, perhaps a morning, not necessarily a whole day, Stearns said.

"Visitors can choose the payment and more closely tailor the hours of their visit to what they want," Stearns said.

Which could spice up lunch hours considerably, perhaps.

PHOTO: A tour boat circles around Emerald Bay at Lake Tahoe. Randy Pench/Sacramento Bee file, 2005

June 7, 2013
Obama lauds California's work on health care law

Phone Records Obama.jpgBy Herbert A. Sample, Special to The Bee

SAN JOSE - California's soon-to-be marketplace for individual health insurance was lauded by President Barack Obama this morning as a symbol of what his signature health insurance law was intended to do.

The president cited the lower-than-expected prices of health policies recently released by the state agency implementing the law in California. He noted that 2.6 million state residents will be eligible for subsidies to help pay the premiums, half of whom are Latinos, he added.

"In states that are working hard to implement this law properly, we're seeing it work for people, for middle class families, for consumers," Obama said at a brief appearance before reporters here before he flies to Southern California for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

He also stressed that health insurance consumers, whether employer-paid or self-financed, are enjoying improved coverage and protections afforded by the federal law.

Many opponents of the law predicted the law would result in "doom and gloom" and skyrocketing costs, the president said. Instead, competition and choice is "pushing down costs in the individual market." But he stressed that to make the program work well, uninsured Californians should utilize the online marketplace, dubbed Covered California, when it opens in October.

PHOTO: President Barack Obama pauses while speaking in San Jose Friday, June 7, 2013. AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

June 7, 2013
Obama defends intelligence gathering

Obama.jpgBy Herbert A. Sample, Special to The Bee

SAN JOSE - President Barack Obama this morning vigorously defended recently-unveiled classified programs that allow U.S. intelligence agencies to capture huge amounts of telephone call data as well as monitor email and internet traffic.

Speaking to reporters before he flies to Southern California for a meeting with the Chinese president Xi Jinping, Obama emphatically stated that no agency or government employee "is listening to your telephone calls."

Congress and a special federal court have long authorized the programs, and continue to oversee it, he said. Furthermore, some constraints were placed on them by the Obama administration after it took office in 2009. The benefit of the programs is to look for patterns that could identify potential terrorists threats, he added.

"There are some tradeoffs involved" between the need to thwart terrorism and civil liberties, the president said. Given that all three branches of the federal government are aware of and have authorized the programs, the American people should trust they will not be abused, he added.

AP video: Obama: 'Nobody Is Listening to Your Phone Calls'

PHOTO: President Barack Obama gestures during a statement about the Affordable Care Act, Friday, June 7, 2013, in San Jose, Calif. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

June 7, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Education is biggest piece in budget puzzle

With less than a week to go, Dan contemplates California's unsolved budget issues, particularly Gov. Jerry Brown's education reform plan.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

June 7, 2013
AM Alert: Jerry Brown to welcome Obama, meet with Xi Jinping

Xi_Jinping_Jerry_Brown_2012.jpgGov. Jerry Brown is looking at a schedule that takes him to the south state: President Barack Obama lands at the Palm Springs airport this afternoon, and Brown will be on the tarmac.

Obama starts the second day of his three-day visit to California at San Jose's Fairmont Hotel, talking up the federal health care overhaul.

Air Force One then heads to LAX to get Obama to a luncheon fundraiser. Former News Corp. bigwig Peter Chernin (whose new company's first feature film was "Rise of the Planet of the Apes") and his wife, Megan, are hosting the event, which benefits the Democratic National Committee, at their Santa Monica home.

Obama then heads to Palm Springs for his meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping today and Saturday at nearby Sunnylands, the Annenberg estate in Rancho Mirage. Their agenda "is designed to take a longer view of the security, economic and strategic challenges that unite and divide the nations," according to this Washington Post story.

Brown is scheduled to meet with Xi on Saturday around noon at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort and Spa. The two met in California last year when Xi was still vice president (hence the photo above), and the Democratic governor led a trade mission to China in April.

VIDEO: Dan Walters says the biggest piece in California's state budget puzzle belongs to education.

Former President Bill Clinton, meanwhile, is also breathing California air. He's giving the keynote speech this morning at the annual conference in Los Angeles of the California Association of Physician Groups. This evening, Clinton (who endorsed Wendy Greuel) is slated at a "block party" saying goodbye to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and hello to Mayor-elect Eric Garcetti.

CAPITOL STEPS: The America 4 Boston prayer canvas will be displayed on the north steps from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, with event organizers urging people to write a message or paint a picture in support of the Boston Marathon bombing victims. The canvas has already made stops in Florida, North Carolina, Kentucky and Colorado.

STATE BUDGET: The Legislature's constitutional deadline for passing a state budget is June 15. Today is June 7. Just saying.

PHOTO: Xi Jinping, left, then vice president of China, talks with Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown, center, and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, right, as they watch the Los Angeles Lakers play the Phoenix Suns on Feb. 17, 2012, in Los Angeles. Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press file


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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