Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

January 17, 2014
Candidate for California Senate special election abandons bid

Thumbnail image for lonni_granlund.jpg

Complaining that promised Sacramento dollars for her candidacy never showed up, Southern California real-estate agent Lonni Granlund has dropped out of the special-election race to succeed former state Sen. Bill Emmerson.

Granlund, a Yucaipa Republican, said in a statement that she had been recruited to run for the 23rd Senate District because "the prevailing sentiment was that the field of candidates was unimpressive and unable to tackle the state's anti-business philosophy."

"As a businesswoman I was viewed as someone with the skills to make a difference, but that's not enough in Sacramento," Granlund wrote on her campaign web site. "My friends, family and supporters generously stepped up to help reach the goals set for a viable campaign. Unfortunately the funding from Sacramento simply did not materialize."

Granlund, the ex-wife of former lawmaker Brett Granlund, continued, "As much as I would love to serve the people of the 23rd State Senate District, I cannot in good conscious continue in an underfunded campaign that has little or no possibility of success."

Granlund's dropping out comes two weeks before the filing deadline for the March 25 special election. A runoff, if no candidate gets a majority of the votes, is June 3.

Granlund's departure leaves Assemblyman Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga, as the presumptive favorite in the Republican-leaning 23rd, which wraps from Rancho Cucamonga to Hemet. Calimesa Councilman Jeffrey Hewitt and San Jacinto Councilwoman Crystal Ruiz also have filed statements of intent to run for the seat.

23rd Senate District

PHOTO: Lonni Granlund, courtesy of Granlund campaign website.

January 17, 2014
VIDEO: Political tussle over implications of California drought

jerrybrowndrought.jpgSAN FRANCISCO — The plainest reason for a governor to call a drought emergency is to focus public attention on conservation, and Gov. Jerry Brown spent most of a Friday morning news conference focused exactly on that.

But the Democratic governor is aware that an ongoing drought could have significant implications for water policies central to his administration, including his $25 billion plan to build two tunnels to divert water around the Delta to the south.

Brown sought to use the drought to his advantage, arguing that the project will improve long-term water management.

"I think it makes the case that more water can be saved if you have a Delta facility," he said.

Brown also suggested the state will press the federal government to accelerate environmental reviews of the project.

Restore the Delta, a group opposed of Brown's plan to build the tunnels, issued a statement immediately after the news conference.

With the state now in its third straight dry year, the coalition said "there is no surplus water to export."

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown declares a drought emergency in San Francisco on Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

January 17, 2014
VIDEO: California lawmakers dance with Coolio at back-to-session party


California lawmakers got to party like it was 1995 on Thursday night.

An annual back-to-session bash, courtesy of various special interest groups like the California Tribal Business Alliance, the California Bankers Association and the Distilled Spirits Council, allowed lawmakers and lobbyists to mingle among all the trappings of an opulent political event: a "cigar cabana," an ice sculpture, a taco bar and a martini station.

And, of course, some musical entertainment. In this case, the event's organizers enlisted hip hop artist Coolio to entertain the audience.

The event seemed to appeal mostly to the 20-to-30-something staffers who crowded close to the stage and shouted the lyrics to "Gangsta's Paradise" and "1 2 3 4" (lyrics: "1, 2, 3, 4, get your woman on the floor).

But a few legislators did join Coolio on the stage: Assembly members Rob Bonta, Steve Bradford, Sharon Quirk-Silva and Isadore Hall all availed themselves of the opportunity to get down.

Shortly after, an enthused Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, took the stage to rue the fact that this would be his last back-to-session bash - he is forced out of office by term limits at the end of 2014 - and to hype his colleague, Senator Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, as "the next pro tem of the California Senate," a distinction de León appeared to secure earlier this week.

PHOTO: Coolio performs at an event in Sacramento, Calif. on January 16, 2014. By Laurel Rosenhall/The Sacramento Bee.

January 17, 2014
Jerry Brown declares drought emergency, urges residents to reduce water use by 20 percent

brownfresnopresser.jpgSAN FRANCISCO - Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency Friday and urged residents to reduce water consumption by 20 percent statewide.

"Today I'm declaring a drought emergency in the state of California," Brown told reporters here, "because we're facing perhaps the worst drought that California has ever seen since records began being kept about 100 years ago."

The declaration come as the state suffers through dry conditions for a third straight year. It follows weeks of consideration by the Democratic governor amid pressure from lawmakers and water officials to act.

Brown had suggested for days that he was close to declaring the emergency, a formal act considered useful for raising public awareness and focusing the attention of federal officials who can accelerate some relief efforts.

In declaring an emergency, Brown directed state agencies to hire more seasonal firefighters, use less water and prepare a water conservation public awareness campaign.

Brown's appeal for conservation is voluntary, but he suggested the state could impose mandatory reduction measures if the drought lasts.

"As we go down the road - you know, January, February, March - we will keep our eye on the ball and intensify, even to the point of mandatory conservation," he said. "But we're not going to do that quite yet."

California is entering one of the driest winters on record after two dry years have already parched the state, depleted reservoirs and left streams and rivers running low. American River flows are at their lowest level in two decades, while Folsom Lake has receded so dramatically a Gold Rush-era mining town, long submerged, has been exposed.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday designated parts of 11 states, including California, as primary natural disaster areas due to drought. The designation, which includes Sacramento, Fresno and San Luis Obispo counties, makes certain farmers eligible for low-interest emergency loans to cover losses.

Meanwhile, water districts and local governments throughout the state have enacted conservation measures, including a water rationing order by city officials this week in Sacramento.

The last drought emergency in California was declared by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2009 and lifted by Brown in 2011.

Last year, with the state becoming drier once again, Brown issued an executive order directing the State Water Resources Control Board and Department of Water Resources to expedite their processing of voluntary water transfers.

Editor's note: This post was updated at 10:44 a.m. to include additional remarks by Brown.

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown addresses the media at Fresno City Hall on Monday, Jan. 13, 2014. The Fresno Bee/Eric Paul Zamora

January 17, 2014
AM Alert: Per-diem session gets lawmakers paid for long weekend

Assembly_chamber.JPGThe Legislature just came back in session last week, but lawmakers already have their first break to look forward to: Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. As a result, both the Senate and the Assembly will meet for brief, atypical Friday floor sessions at 9 a.m. before everyone heads home for the long weekend.

Not much is likely to happen, but it will allow legislators to collect their per diem allowances. Under the California constitution, lawmakers are granted tax-free living expenses on top of their salaries--as long as they are not out of session for more than three consecutive days.

According to the Assembly Rules Committee, the per diem rate was raised last month to $163 from $141.86 per day. That is still below its $173 peak from October 2008 to September 2009.

VIDEO: The path is clear for a landslide re-election for Gov. Jerry Brown, Dan Walters says.

APP-Y NEW YEAR: The Sacramento Bee is pleased to announce a major update and new design for the Capitol Alert Insider Edition app.

The new 2014 version:

  • Works on both your iPhone and iPad with a single subscription.
  • Offers faster access to our bills-to-watch guide and legislative directory, along with new district maps.
  • Includes a new section on legislative committees.
  • Lets Insider Edition app subscribers comment and share with one another.
  • Includes all the previous Insider features, including early access to Field Polls and Bee editorials on state topics and a curated Capitol Twitter feed. Easily email chiefs of staff, schedulers and legislative directors from within the app.

To subscribe, go to It's free this week, $19.99 a month after that.

IT'S OFFICIAL: Gov. Jerry Brown's press office sent out a mysterious e-mail yesterday saying that he would be making a "major announcement" in San Francisco at 10 a.m. As reported last night, Brown is expected to declare a drought emergency in California, which farmers and Central Valley lawmakers have been calling for for several weeks.

STOPPED IN ITS TRACKS: Should California's proposed high-speed rail finally get off the ground this year, construction would begin along a 130-mile stretch in the Central Valley. That region has voiced some of the loudest criticism of the plan, however, and calls to kill the project have only intensified. State Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, and Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, will be in Fresno today at 1:30 p.m. to announce new legislation aimed at stopping the project.

MLK EVENTS: Several local groups are planning rallies at the Capitol over the long weekend to commemorate King. On Saturday, Occupy Sacramento will host a march and noontime rally at the west steps "continuing the legacy of Dr. King" by calling for a living wage, immigrant rights and more. Monday's 33rd annual "March for the Dream" makes a stop at the north and west steps around 10:45 a.m. before continuing on to the Convention Center for a diversity expo.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, who turns 40 on Sunday.

PHOTO: Twenty-eight new assemblymembers undergo orientation inside the Assembly chambers on Nov. 12, 2008. The Sacramento Bee/Brian Baer

January 17, 2014
Dan Walters Daily: Jerry Brown will dominate November election

brownup.jpgWith a viable challenger yet to emerge, could Gov. Jerry Brown approach the record re-election rate of former Gov. Earl Warren?, Dan wonders.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown talks to members of the press on April 23, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua


Capitol Alert Staff

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. Twitter: @DanielSnowSmith

Jim Miller Jim Miller covers California policy and politics and edits Capitol Alert. Twitter: @jimmiller2

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. Twitter: @davidsiders

Christopher Cadelago Christopher Cadelago covers California politics and health care. Twitter: @ccadelago

Laurel Rosenhall Laurel Rosenhall covers the Legislature, the lobbying community and higher education. Twitter: @LaurelRosenhall

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers the Legislature. Twitter: @capitolalert

Koseff Alexei Koseff edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @akoseff

Dan Walters Dan Walters is a columnist for The Sacramento Bee. Twitter: @WaltersBee

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