Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

February 19, 2014
Neel Kashkari scolded by producer: 'We don't cuss on the air'

kashkarikfbk.jpgNeel Kashkari finished the first segment of an interview on KFBK radio in Sacramento on Wednesday when a producer bounded into the studio, having just hit the "dump" button to keep a comment Kashkari made off the air.

"We don't cuss on the air," the producer, Julie Kingsley, told the Republican candidate for governor.

Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury Department official, was asked about his time running the federal bank bailout known as the Troubled Asset Relief Program when he described himself as "the guy you send in when, pardon me, the s--- is hitting the fan."

The host, former Sacramento County Sheriff John McGinness, asked Kinglsey, "Did you catch that?"

She did, and Kashkari apologized repeatedly.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he told Kingsley. "I'm sorry about that."

Kinglsey said she hesitated briefly before dumping the comment. She said "I wouldn't expect it from a gubernatorial candidate," and she told Kashkari, "You should know better than that."

The incumbent governor, Jerry Brown, has used the same language on rare occasions, and there was chuckling in the studio at the break.

The interview continued. Afterward, Kashkari held his arms apart and assessed his performance.

"Second segment," he said. "No swearing."

PHOTO: Neel Kashkari prepares for an interview at KFBK radio in Sacramento on Feb. 19, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/David Siders

February 19, 2014
Obama 'birther' critic Orly Taitz files for California AG race


Last month, Orly Taitz was in a federal courtroom in Sacramento as part of her unsuccessful effort to wrest the presidency away from Barack Obama.

In June, the attorney-dentist-real estate agent from Orange County might appear on the statewide ballot in a long-shot bid to oust California Attorney General Kamala Harris.

Taitz, who secured 3 percent of the vote in her U.S. Senate run in 2012, has filed paperwork to seek the state's top law enforcement position via an unknown party. Among the pledges listed on her campaign website: Nullification of unconstitutional spying on law-abiding state residents and ending the "unconstitutional discriminatory Obamacare tax levied on some of the citizens of CA and waived for corporations."

She also would "prosecute state officials who ignored all evidence brought by law enforcement and experts showing Obama to possess citizenship of Indonesia, fabricated Selective Service certificate, fabricated birth certificate and a CT Social Security number which failed both E-verify and SSNVS."

Taitz is widely known for trying to document her belief that Obama lied about his birthplace and therefore is ineligible to serve as commander in chief.

Taitz previously ran in the Republican primary for secretary of state in 2010.

Harris, a Democrat with more than $3 million in her reelection war chest, said she isn't taking anything for granted ahead of next month's filing deadline.

"I am superstitious. I really am," she told a meeting of the California Newspaper Publishers Association on Wednesday. "Let's have this conversation after March 7."

PHOTO: Attorney Orly Taitz, who filed suit to stop the counting of electoral votes, is greeted by supporters outside the federal courthouse in Sacramento last month. (Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli)

February 19, 2014
Health insurance enrollment tops 825,000 in California


Some 828,638 Californians enrolled in health coverage via the state health insurance exchange through the first two weeks of February, officials said Wednesday.

The tally puts Covered California on pace to exceed its projected base enrollment for the first six months of the program through March, Executive Director Peter V. Lee said. Some 626,210 enrollees are eligible for subsidies through January, Lee said, and roughly 8 in 10 have paid their first month's premium.

In a conference call with reporters, Lee stressed the goal is not meeting projections but making sure everyone is covered.

The exchange has made progress in enrolling young people and Latinos, he said. Enrollment of Spanish-speakers represented about 11.5 percent in January, compared with 5 percent during the first three months of enrollment. Exchange officials have outlined several initiatives to boost enrollment among Spanish-speakers and Latinos.

Sign-ups among 18-to-34 year olds also increased slightly to 26 percent. Federal officials have said they need 40 percent of enrollees to be under age 35.

PHOTO: The executive director of Covered California, Peter V. Lee, speaks to members of the media during the launch of Covered California in Rancho Cordova on Oct. 1, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton.

February 19, 2014
Jerry Brown, legislative leaders to announce drought aid


Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders on Wednesday will unveil plans to spend roughly $680 million on efforts to alleviate the impacts of California's drought.

The proposal elaborates on a plan Senate leader Darrell Steinberg had been working on to expedite approval of water recycling and stormwater reuse projects by adding emergency food and housing assistance to farmworkers who will be out of work due to the drought, according to sources familiar with the legislation.

Today's announcement -- set for the Governor's Office of Emergency Services at Mather Field -- comes five days after Brown joined President Barack Obama on a visit to Fresno to talk to farmers about the drought and tout federal assistance including money for livestock losses, watershed protection and summer food programs.

The plan being announced today would direct roughly $475 million toward local governments that are ready to build drought alleviation projects. The money would come from Proposition 84, a water bond voters approved in 2006.

The bill also calls for spending roughly $50 million -- largely from a housing bond voters approved in 2006 -- to provide emergency food and shelter to people who are out of work because the farms they normally work on are fallow due to drought.

Another roughly $40 million from cap-and-trade funds would be spent on water efficiency projects that save energy, while roughly $80 million from a 2006 flood bond would be available for projects that prevent flooding while making more water available for dry times, such as infrastructure to capture storm water.

PHOTO: Farmer Tom Muller walks out to a fallow field at his farm in Woodland on February 13, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/ Randall Benton

Editor's note: This post was updated at 11:55 a.m. to delete a reference to a specific bill number.

February 19, 2014
AM Alert: Noreen Evans revives push for California oil extraction tax

oil_rig.jpgThough previous efforts have proved unsuccessful, state Sen. Noreen Evans has once again introduced a bill for a tax on companies that extract oil in California. The Santa Rosa Democrat will discuss the legislation during a rally at 10 a.m. at Sacramento State's Hinde Auditorium.

Evans notes that California is the only major oil-producing state in the country without an oil severance tax, and her bill would impose a 9.5 percent levy on oil companies to fund higher education, state parks and health and human services programs. Evans' office estimates that it would generate about $2 billion in annual revenue.

While introducing an oil severance tax in California has been a major goal for many environmentalists, and Evans has made it a priority for her final year in the Senate, the legislation faces a tough road. A similar bill she authored last year was held in committee. Gov. Jerry Brown also rejected the push during the announcement of his budget proposal in January, saying, "I don't think this is the year for new taxes."

VIDEO: The Legislature is more interested in playing political games than legislating so far this session, Dan Walters says.

BUDGET BRIEFING: Still got questions about Brown's budget proposal? Bring them to the California Budget Project's annual briefing, starting at 10:30 a.m. at the CSAC Conference Center on 11th Street. The nonprofit organization plans to discuss Brown's budget priorities, their implications for low- and middle-income Californians and how that could shape the budget debate in the months ahead.

CALSTRS CRUNCH: Though Brown's budget aims to address California's so-called "Wall of Debt," the state still faces tens of billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities, including the California State Teachers' Retirement System. The Assembly Committee on Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security will discuss the pension's long-term funding needs during a hearing at 10:30 a.m. in Room 444 of the Capitol.

HITTING THE ROAD: A couple of candidates for statewide office swing through Sacramento today on their campaigns: Attorney General Kamala Harris, who announced her re-election bid last week, headlines the California Newspaper Publishers Association's Governmental Affairs Day with an interview at 1:15 p.m. at the Sacramento Convention Center. Gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari will speak with the Sacramento State College Republicans at 5 p.m. at Sac State's Sequoia Hall.

LIVING HISTORY: In honor of Black History Month, Arthur L. Burnett, Sr., the first African-American U.S. magistrate, reflects on the Civil Rights Movement and his work in the Kennedy administration in the early 1960s at the California Department of Education on N Street at 11 a.m.

CELEBRATIONS: Happy birthday to Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, who turns 74 today.

PHOTO: Waves crash in front of an oil rig at Seal Beach, Calif., on Jan. 20, 2010. The Associated Press/Nick Ut

February 19, 2014
Dan Walters Daily: Instead of legislating, Legislature busy playing political games

Bob_Wieckowski.JPGNot much has happened in the Legislature so far this session, Dan says, except publicity-grabbing hearings that benefit politicians in an election year.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

PHOTO: Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski asks a question during an Assembly Insurance Committee oversight hearing at the Capitol on Nov. 6, 2013. The Associated Press/Genevieve Ross


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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