Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

March 21, 2014
Arnold Schwarzenegger finds buddy for crushing things with tank

Schwarzenegger_speaking.jpgIt's like a scene from one of his action blockbusters: Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger rolls in on an M47 Patton tank, plowing through a taxi, 66 birthday cakes, bubble wrap and a giant Easter egg to the strains of "The Final Countdown."

"I finally have achieved my lifelong dream," he says. "Come to LA, and crush things in my tank!"

The video, which has been viewed more than 8.7 million times since it premiered online March 12, was part of a fundraising campaign by Schwarzenegger for his After-School All-Stars organization, which runs programs for almost 90,000 low-income youth across the country.

The simple hook, inspired by a Reddit Q&A: One lucky donor and a friend would be chosen to join Schwarzenegger in Los Angeles and spend an afternoon crushing things with the tank he drove in the Austrian Army. (Schwarzenegger acquired the tank two decades ago when it was decommissioned by the Austrian government and it now resides at the Melody Ranch film studio.)

This week, Schwarzenegger announced a winner: Alex Mihelick of Dallas, Texas, who will get an all-expenses paid trip to Los Angeles to crush a car and other things to be determined.

The campaign also brought in more than $500,000, which will be matched by Schwarzenegger.

"I am very excited about all of this," he said in a statement. "Because so many people donated money, so many kids will have the chance to dream big and reach all of their goals in school and life."

PHOTO: Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks after being honored by the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 4, 2011. The Associated Press/Mark J. Terrill

March 21, 2014
Jerry Brown taps aide to lead Employment Development Department

EDDOffice.JPGGov. Jerry Brown has named one of his top aides to head California's Employment Development Department.

Patrick Henning, 41, becomes department director after serving as Brown's chief deputy appointments secretary since 2011. Henning's father, Patrick W. Henning, led the department for several years under former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Before joining the Brown administration, Henning lobbied for the California State Council of Laborers and held positions at the state Labor and Workforce Agency (which oversees the employment department) and the Department of Industrial Relations.

Henning's résumé also includes four years in Washington, D.C. as a legislative assistant for former Congressman Vic Fazio and as congressional liaison and special advisor to President Bill Clinton.

Brown's appointment ends a 14-month stretch that Chief Deputy Director Sharon Hilliard served as the department's acting director. During that time the EDD has endured deep federal funding cuts, a computer system snafu and a recent revelation that a former EDD official brushed aside federal assistance that would have collected hundreds of millions of dollars in benefit overpayments.

Henning, a Democrat, will earn $150,112 annually as director.

PHOTO: Binders full of resources at the Employment Development Department office in Sacramento. The Sacramento Bee/Randall Benton

March 21, 2014
California's employment picture: Good news and bad news

jobless.JPGThe good news is that with a recent surge of employment, California has regained virtually all of the million-plus jobs it lost during what many call the Great Recession.

The Employment Development Department reported Friday that California's unemployment rate, which hit a high of 12.4 percent in 2010, dropped to 8 percent in February. California had added 336,000 non-agricultural jobs in the previous 12 months.

The bad news is that despite regaining those lost jobs, California still has one of the nation's highest jobless rates, surpassed by only a handful of other states, and it's still well above the national average of 6.7 percent.

How can that be?

It's because over more than seven years of economic decline and recovery, California's population has grown and therefore so has its potential workforce, and the unemployment rate is the percentage of the labor force that doesn't have jobs.

California's lowest unemployment rate in recent history was 4.8 percent for a few months in late 2006, when about 850,000 of the state's 17.8 million available workers were unemployed.

In the 7-1/2 years since then, California's labor force has grown by 800,000-plus to 18.6 million but the state has only 193,000 more people employed, leaving 640,000 more Californians without jobs than there were in 2006. Hence, with 1.5 million unemployed, the state has a much-higher unemployment rate now than it did then.

Two other factors also round out California's employment picture, and undercut somewhat the positive news of recent job gains.

One is labor force participation - the percentage of Californians of working age who either are working or seeking work. That's just 62.2 percent, the lowest rate in more than three decades, according to EDD. Were more Californians between the ages of 16 and 64 to join the labor force and seek work, the state's unemployment rate would be higher.

The second is what the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics calls "U-6" - the percentage of the labor force that's not only unemployed, but involuntarily working part-time or "marginally attached" to the labor force. BLS calls it "labor underutilization."

For 2013, California had the nation's second highest U-6 rate, 17.3 percent. And in Los Angeles County, which has more than a quarter of the state's population, it was 19.8 percent.

PHOTO: A group meets during a workshop for unemployed people at a community center in Corona, Calif., Aug. 7, 2012. The New York Times/Monica Almeida

March 21, 2014
AM Alert: Assembly committee explores racial biases on college campuses

SJSU_march.JPGSan Jose State University was embroiled in controversy last fall when news surfaced that an African-American student had allegedly been subjected to racially charged harassment by four white roommates, including being nicknamed "Three-fifths," as slaves were counted for census purposes, and having a bicycle lock fastened around his neck.

The incident led to a $5 million claim against the university by the student and to the creation of the Assembly Select Committee on Campus Climate in January to explore issues of diversity, tolerance and student safety at California's public colleges and universities.

The committee, chaired by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, and including a bipartisan roster of 14 other members, will hold its first meeting at 12:30 p.m. at San Jose State's Morris Dailey Auditorium. The university's president, Mohammad Qayoumi, is scheduled to testify, as are students and faculty from other Bay Area schools, local law enforcement and several anti-discrimination groups.

SWITCHING TRACKS: With California pushing to graduate more college students faster, the state community college system has been developing a new degree program that would ease transfers to a California State University campus. Colleen Moore, a higher education researcher at Sacramento State, discusses the effectiveness of the program at a talk sponsored by Public Policy Institute of California, noon at the CSAC Conference Center on 11th Street.

READY TO RIDE: As transportation network companies like Uber and Lyft soar in popularity, the state and federal government face mounting questions over how to regulate them. California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones leads an informational hearing on insuring this growing industry at 1 p.m. in Room 112 of the Capitol.

ACA-NNIVERSARY: The fourth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act is this weekend, so Health Access has released a report on implementation efforts in California, including pending legislation such as SB 1005, which would extend health care subsidies to undocumented immigrants.

TEACHER'S LOUNGE: The California Federation of Teachers holds its annual convention in Manhattan Beach this weekend. State Attorney General Kamala Harris is scheduled to deliver the keynote address on Saturday morning and state Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, will be honored.

NEW JOB: Welcome back to Amanda Fulkerson, who joined the office of the Assembly Republican Caucus this week as press secretary. Before a stint as chief communications officer for Las Vegas' school district, she worked in the Capitol as chief of staff to former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado.

CELEBRATIONS: An early happy birthday to state Sens. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, who turns 41 on Saturday, and Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, who turns 45 on Saturday.

PHOTO: Champagne Ellison, left, a senior at San Jose State University, marches Nov. 21, 2013 in a protest over reported racial hazing of an African-American freshman by his dormitory roommates. San Jose Mercury News/Karl Mondon



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Capitol Alert Staff


Amy Chance Amy Chance is political editor for The Sacramento Bee. achance@sacbee.com. Twitter: @Amy_Chance

Dan Smith Dan Smith is Capitol bureau chief for The Sacramento Bee. smith@sacbee.com. Twitter: @DanielSnowSmith

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

David Siders David Siders covers the Brown administration. dsiders@sacbee.com. Twitter: @davidsiders

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

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

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers the Legislature. jwhite@sacbee.com. Twitter: @capitolalert

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

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

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