Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

March 2, 2014
Ron Calderon to take indefinite leave from California Senate


Sen. Ron Calderon has agreed to take an indefinite leave of absence from the Senate, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg announced on Sunday.

Under the cloud of an FBI investigation, Calderon's presence in the Senate has been a source of controversy for months. Before a grand jury indicted Calderon on 24 felony counts last week, the Montebello Democrat had already surrendered his committee assignments.

Now he will exit the Senate for the foreseeable future. After Calderon's arraignment last Friday, Steinberg gave Calderon a week to resign, take a leave of absence or face an expulsion vote.

In a statement, Calderon stressed that he has not been convicted. He pleaded not guilty last week to a litany of charges that he had influenced legislation in exchange for bribes.

"This is not a resignation since I still have my day in court," Calderon said in a statement. "However, due to the nature and complexity of the charges, and the discovery materials that I will have to review, I expect this to be a lengthy period of absence continuing until the end of the session in August."

While he will not be eligible for the $163-a-day per diem payments lawmakers draw, Calderon will continue to receive a full salary.

Calderon will be the second Democratic senator in a matter of days to go on leave from the Senate amid legal troubles. Sen. Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, who has been convicted of eight felony counts stemming from lying about his residence, announced he would step away earlier this week.

With Calderon's departure, Democrats have fallen below the two-thirds majority that had allowed them to pass new taxes, move measures to the ballot and enact "urgency" bills without Republican assent.

March 2, 2014
Jerry Brown worries about marijuana legalization and 'potheads'

brownmics.jpgGov. Jerry Brown said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that "fiscal discipline is the fundamental predicate of a free society," but it may help if everyone isn't getting stoned.

Expressing reservations about legalizing marijuana for recreational use, Brown said a great nation requires a more alert citizenry "than some of the potheads might be able to put together." Washington and Colorado have legalized the drug, and a Field Poll in December found majority support for legalization in California.

Not from Brown.

"Well, we have medical marijuana, which gets very close to what they have in Colorado and Washington," the Democratic governor said in a taped interview. "I'd really like those two states to show us how it's going to work. The problem with anything, a certain amount is OK. But there is a tendency to go to extremes. And all of a sudden, if there's advertising and legitimacy, how many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation? The world's pretty dangerous, very competitive. I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put together."

Brown, who was on "Meet the Press" to discuss California's drought and his own politics, has made similar remarks on marijuana legalization before, but he got a chuckle out of moderator David Gregory.

"As a TV guy," Gregory said, "I know a good sound bite when I've heard one."

PHOTO: Gov. Jerry Brown talks to members of the press after speaking at a rally for crime victims in Sacramento on Tuesday, 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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