Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

February 26, 2014
Ami Bera's post offends some Rancho Cordova Republicans


A picture is worth a thousand words. Or, in this case, a maximum of 140 characters.

Earlier this week, Rep. Ami Bera's office posted a Facebook message asking constituents for ideas about how to cut government spending.

"It's inexcusable that your hard-earned taxpayer dollars are too-often wasted on misguided on inefficient government spending," stated the post, which has since been removed.

The accompanying photograph was of the Rancho Cordova sign, and the same image had been used before on other posts by the Elk Grove Democrat.

Still, some city officials weren't happy with the implication. Rancho Cordova Councilman David Sander responded to the congressman on Twitter: "If you are looking for government waste, you are looking about 2,400 miles too far west!"

Sander said he was alerted to the post by the city's mayor, Dan Skoglund. Both Republicans have endorsed one of Bera's opponents, ex-Republican Rep. Doug Ose, but insisted the matter was unrelated.

February 26, 2014
Jerry Brown names Eleni Kounalakis to trade post

ha_jbrown00189.JPGGov. Jerry Brown announced Wednesday he has formed an advisory council on international trade, appointing as its chairwoman Eleni Kounalakis, the businesswoman and daughter of Sacramento developer Angelo Tsakopoulos.

Kounalakis is involved in Democratic politics and is a former U.S. ambassador to Hungary.

Brown, a Democrat, said in a prepared statement that the California International Trade and Investment Advisory Council will advise Brown's Office of Business and Economic Development, or GO-Biz, on international trade and investment for California businesses.

"As the economy recovers, California is well-positioned to expand its reach into foreign markets," Brown said in a prepared statement. "Under the leadership of Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis, this council will help the state do just that."

Brown has taken a heightened interest in international trade during the second half of his third term, traveling to China last year and announcing he plans next to visit Mexico. Brown held talks in San Francisco on Wednesday with the ambassador of Peru, Harold Forsyth, and president of Portugal, Aníbal Cavaco Silva.

PHOTO: Governor-elect Jerry Brown, speaks at a press conference a day after he defeated Republican Meg Whitman at his Oakland campaign headquarters on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

February 26, 2014
UC Berkeley students file complaint on campus sex assaults

berkeleycampus.jpgThirty-one current and former UC Berkeley students filed a federal complaint Wednesday morning alleging the university has mishandled sexual assault cases on campus, creating a hostile environment for female students.

In a petition to the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights seeking a formal investigation, the students charged that UC Berkeley procedures discourage victims from reporting sexual assaults, favor assailants in the adjudication process and re-victimize survivors.

"They are deliberately indifferent to this and they know what they're doing and they've been doing this for years," Sofie Karasek, a Berkeley junior who helped organize the complaint, said in an interview. "It's jeopardizing the safety of students on campus."

The Berkeley grievance is the latest in a wave of filings at universities nationwide alleging violations of Title IX, the landmark 1972 anti-sex discrimination law. Under Title IX, institutions receiving federal financial assistance must conduct impartial investigations of sexual assault.

Students at dozens of schools have filed Title IX complaints since the Department of Education issued a letter of clarification about the law three years ago, including groups at the University of Southern California and Occidental College, both of which are now being investigated by the Office for Civil Rights.

Claire Holmes, a spokeswoman for UC Berkeley, said the university couldn't comment on the complaint because they had not seen it yet, but had been taking "meaningful steps that really address these issues."

February 26, 2014
California has a quarter of foreign-born U.S. residents

Citizens.JPGCalifornia is home to a quarter of the nation's foreign-born residents and they also make up more than a quarter of California's 38 million residents, according to a new Census Bureau report.

Furthermore, the report reveals, nearly a quarter of the nation's noncitizens under 35 years old - 2.3 million persons - are found in California.

No other state comes even close to California's number of foreign-born residents, 10.2 million. The state with the next-largest number, New York, has 4.3 million.

The data come from surveys that the Census Bureau conducts between the decennial censuses.

PHOTO: New citizens are sworn-in during a special naturalization ceremony at Sacramento's Memorial Auditorium on Sept. 18, 2013. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua.

February 26, 2014
Republicans push for vote to expel Rod Wright

rod_wright.jpgOne day after Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg announced state Sen. Rod Wright will take an indefinite paid leave of absence, three Republican senators said they will push for Wright's expulsion during the upper house's next regular floor session, on Thursday.

The move comes several weeks after a Los Angeles County jury found Wright, D-Baldwin Hills, guilty of eight counts of voter fraud and perjury related to charges he lied about where he lived.

Steinberg, D-Sacramento, announced Tuesday that Wright will continue to receive his $95,291 annual salary while on leave. His sentencing has been postponed until mid-May.

Republican Sens. Steve Knight, Joel Anderson and Andy Vidak said in a statement Wednesday that they will move for a two-thirds vote on a resolution to expel Wright.

In a resolution, the senators write, "The Senate leadership has had, since January 28, 2014, the option of requesting Senator Wright to resign from the Senate but has not done so."

Steinberg said in a prepared statement that "Senate leadership has already moved swiftly and decisively to address" the matter.

"Senator Wright has taken a leave of absence until his criminal case is resolved," Steinberg said. "He's not coming back unless the judge sets aside the verdict. Period."

He said, "These Republican resolutions will be addressed if they are brought up on the floor."

Editor's note: This post was updated at 2:23 p.m. Wednesday to include Steinberg's remarks.

PHOTO: Sen. Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, sits in the state Senate on Monday, Feb. 3, 2014. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

February 26, 2014
Correa takes over key committee in Rod Wright fallout

Correa.JPGSen. Lou Correa will take over the powerful Senate Governmental Organization Committee in the fallout over the paid leave of absence granted to Sen. Rod Wright on Tuesday.

The change, expected Wednesday afternoon, will be made by the Senate Rules Committee as it deals with other committee vacancies left by Wright, D-Baldwin Hills, according to a copy of the committee agenda.

While Correa, D-Santa Ana, will become chair of the committee that deals with gambling and liquor legislation, he will relinquish the chairmanship of the Banking and Financial Institutions Committee to Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa.

A Los Angeles County jury found Wright guilty of eight counts of voter fraud and perjury stemming from charges that he lied about where he lived when he ran for the state Senate in 2008. Senate leader Darrell Steinberg has put off any final resolution of Wright's status in the Senate until the judge confirms the verdict, expected at his sentencing in mid-May. But as pressure from Republicans and others mounted, Wright on Wednesday went on indefinite leave of absence.

Other changes include:

* -- Sen. Carol Liu, D-La Canada Flintridge, will replace Wright on the budget committee.

* -- Wright will be stripped of his posts on the Energy, Utilities and Committee, the Human Services Committee, and four select committees.

PHOTO: Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, hugs Senator Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, as the Senates passes the California State budget plan. Photo taken Thursday Feb. 19, 2009. The Sacramento Bee/Hector Amezcua

February 26, 2014
AM Alert: California groups push for bigger social safety net

RBCapitolBuilding2.JPGWith California experiencing its first budget surplus in years, advocacy groups from across the state are visiting Sacramento in hopes of convincing the Legislature to spend those billions instead of putting them into a rainy day fund, as Gov. Jerry Brown would like.

In town for its lobby day is the HHS Network of California, a coalition of health and human services organizations that is calling for the restoration of cuts to the state's social safety net. After a rally at noon on the north steps of the Capitol, members of the group will meet with lawmakers to push for anti-poverty legislation, including a bill from state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, that would authorize state welfare and food stamp benefits for individuals who have been convicted on drug charges.

Slated to join the HHS Network of California at their rally is Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, chair of the Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, which is scheduled to meet at 1:30 p.m. in Room 126 of the Capitol.

VIDEO: Democrats' Senate supermajority appears headed for the history books, Dan Walters says.

SEÑOR GOVERNOR: Brown may be a governor, but he'll play international diplomat today in San Francisco. He meets with the ambassador of Peru, Harold Forsyth, at 10 a.m. to sign an agreement expanding California's partnership with the country, and then at 11 a.m. with Portugal's President Aníbal Cavaco Silva.

EDUCATION LEGISLATION: State Sen. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, announces a bill to change the process for dismissing teachers who have been accused of inappropriate conduct with students at 11 a.m. in Room 113 of the Capitol.

DEMOGRAPHIC OUTREACH: The Asian & Pacific Islander Legislative Caucus sponsors a roundtable discussion on engaging meaningfully with California's Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities at 10 a.m. in Room 317 of the Capitol. Among the guests is Karthick Ramakrishnan, a professor of political science at UC Riverside who studies the politics of the AAPI community.

HEALTH CARE TALK: Following a coffee and dessert reception, Stuart Peacock, director of Canadian Centre for Applied Research in Cancer Control, discusses the economics of health care and setting priorities for services in difficult economic times at the UC Center Sacramento on K Street at 3:30 p.m.

February 26, 2014
Dan Walters Daily: Democratic supermajority evaporates in Senate

Dem_caucus.JPGAfter much speculation over its potential, the Democratic supermajority may just be an asterisk in California political history, Dan says.

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

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

PHOTO: Senator Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, walks to a Democratic caucus meeting on Feb. 3, 2009. The Sacramento Bee/Brian Baer


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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