Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

July 22, 2013
For Sacramento baseball, it's still political


It turns out the federalist system doesn't just apply to governing.

In baseball as in politics, states enjoy the autonomy that comes with having identities and duties distinct from the federal government. Take the Sacramento Rivercats, a Triple-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics whose mid-game mascot race mirrors the version in our nation's capital.

During every home game for the major league Washington Nationals (who enjoy a not-insignificant fan base at The Bee's Capitol Bureau), people dressed in big-headed costumes of five of America's most venerated presidents race around the ballpark.

Until late last season, Teddy Roosevelt had never won. His woeful performance against George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln (William Howard Taft was added this season) spurred a grassroots pro-Teddy movement, including the blog Let Teddy Win. Our 26th president finally crossed the finish line first shortly after the Nats clinched their first playoff birth.

In Washington, fans cheer for racing presidents; in Sacramento, naturally, past California governors are vying for the victory.

"I think (the President's Race) sort of inspired this," said River Cats spokesman Mark Ling.

And reputations forged in politics can carry over to sports. Already saddled with the undesirable legacy of being the first recalled governor in California's history, Gray Davis endures the Teddy Roosevelt-like ignominy of never having defeated his opponents, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ronald Reagan since the contest began at the start of the 2012 season.

Actually, Davis did manage to eke out a single win - but it was short-lived.

"We recalled it," Ling said.

PHOTO: Ronald Reagan records another victory. Courtesy of The Sacramento River Cats/Sara Molina.

July 22, 2013
AM Alert: Auditor assesses Covered California health exchange

LSCOVEREDCA2.JPGWe're a little late on this one (call it summer recess-induced lethargy), but the State Auditor has produced a report assessing how the state is faring with Covered California, its insurance exchange mandated under the federal health-care overhaul.

California committed to building the exchange early, unlike Republican-controlled holdout states. It also had the largest uninsured population of any state as of 2011, so people are watching this carefully.

Financial stability is a big unknown, and the auditor's report punts on the issue, saying it's impossible to know whether the state's exchange will be solvent until it's up and running. The key variable, of course, is whether uninsured Californians actually enroll -- something officials have acknowledged in committing "a significant amount of its federal funds" for outreach, the report concludes.

The report also gives Covered California a passing grade for spending oversight, including putting in place conflict-of-interest disclosure requirements and pursuing independent audits of how it uses federal money. Despite a statutory ability to keep contracts secret, the exchange has released details on contracting and has followed rules of basic competitiveness on the contracts it has handed out, the auditor's office found. The report, however, dings it for moving slowly on hiring staff for new support centers.

VIDEO: Constant turnover in the Legislature has produced a few upcoming elections that Dan Walters is watching with interest.

TEACHER TRAINING: Local chapter presidents of the California Association of Teachers are gathering at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose today for the start of a four-day training conference. (The CTA, on a related note, registers in our newly updated lobbying database as having spent the third-most of any group in 2011-2012, although spending $771,000 less than in the previous session).

REEVALUATING REALIGNMENT: The Board of State and Community Corrections is meeting at the Resources Building today, where members will be considering a partnership with the Public Policy Institute of California that would gauge how counties, newly tasked with realignment-related responsibilities, track offenders.

PHOTO: Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee addresses the media in Sacramento as the California's health exchange announced its premiums under the new federal health care program on May 23, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Lezlie Sterling.

July 22, 2013
Dan Walters Daily: Stakes high in big-money special elections

The huge sums of money that special interests are spending on Tuesday's two special elections show they know how big the stakes are, Dan says.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.


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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