Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

June 4, 2013
Layoffs at Anaheim's Honda Center become CA state budget issue

HondaCenter2.jpgThe layoff of more than 500 unionized concession workers at Anaheim's indoor sports arena, the Honda Center, has become a bone of contention in the state's budget.

The Assembly's version of the budget contains language that would prevent Anaheim Arena Management, the city-owned Honda Center's operating firm, from claiming state enterprise zone hiring credits for replacing the workers with a new crew.

Three weeks ago, the company announced that it would lay off 500-plus concession workers that had been employed by Aramark, whose concession contract expires on July 1. Anaheim Arena Management, which is taking over concession operations itself, said it would hire replacement workers at wages ranging from $8 to $14 per hour.

The layoffs have sparked protests from United Here Local 11, the union that has been representing Aramark workers at the stadium, home to the Anaheim Ducks hockey team and site of many other entertainment events.

In support of the union, Assembly budget writers inserted language that would prohibit Anaheim Management from claiming hiring credits under the state's enterprise zone program. Meanwhile, however, Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed a broader overhaul of enterprise zones to, he says, concentrate its benefits more narrowly on areas of high unemployment.

Brown's enterprise zone proposal looms as one of the most contentious issues in the budget as the June 15 deadline for its enactment approaches. It arose during Tuesday's meeting of the two-house budget conference committee without resolution.

The Honda Center management said in a statement that "our decision to take food service in-house was based solely on our relentless pursuit of giving our customers the very best entertainment experience possible. It had nothing to do with California Enterprise Zone tax credits, which we never had any intention of utilizing."

Editor's Note: This post was updated at 5:43 p.m.. on June 4, 2013, with the Honda Center statement.

PHOTO: The Honda Center in Anaheim, in 2009. Orange County Register/Miguel Vasconcellos

June 22, 2012
California state spending increased 42 percent in 2000-10

Spending by California's state government increased by 42 percent between 2000 and 2010 on a per-capita, inflation-adjusted basis, the nation's 16th highest rate of spending growth, according to a new data compilation by the Tax Foundation.

Oklahoma topped the states with a 74 percent increase in per-capita spending during the decade, the Washington-based Tax Foundation concluded, expressing its findings via a map on its website. Alaska was lowest at 17 percent.

California's 42 percent growth was identical to that of neighboring Nevada and lower than Arizona's 46 percent, but markedly higher than Oregon's 26 percent, one of the nation's lowest. It was also a bit higher than Texas' 37 percent and Florida's 36 percent but similar to New York's 41 percent.

March 29, 2012
California officials say Child Support Services data now missing

By Jon Ortiz

California officials said Thursday that the state has lost sensitive personal data for hundreds of thousands of individuals, including names, Social Security and driver license numbers.

The Department of Child Support Services said data for some 800,000 parents, guardians and children on special storage devices went missing in transit between Colorado and California.

"We have no indication that there has been any breach," said department spokeswoman Connie DaMant.

The lost data involves a little less than one-fifth of the 4.3 million people in the 1.4 million cases the department tracks to make sure the children receive court-ordered financial and medical support.

There's little risk that the information could be compromised, since it was stored on uniquely formatted data cartridges, said Christine Lally, spokeswoman for the state's Technology Agency.

"It's not like if you or I found these on the street that we could pop them into our computer," Lally said.

Iron Mountain Inc., a firm that specializes in transporting and storing sensitive corporate data and documents, contracted with Fed Ex to return the cartridges from an IBM facility in Colorado. The state had shipped them there as part of an exercise in disaster preparedness.

The department learned March 12 that the cartridges were lost.

Child Support Services is notifying by mail anyone potentially affected. It also has posted information on its website and set up a toll-free hotline, (866) 904-7674.

Although officials say there's little chance of a breach, they're still recommending that anyone affected put a fraud alert on credit cards, watch bank accounts closely, examine benefits statements from health insurers and review credit reports.

May 2, 2011
VIDEO: May Day marchers protest Democratic Party

A typically low-key event on the last day of the California Democratic Party convention in Sacramento became hostile Sunday when May Day march organizers turned on Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers after they gave her the microphone.

Speaking in Spanish, Huerta told the protesters that their anger should be focused on the Republican Party, whose members voted for Arizona's SB1070, an anti-illegal immigration measure approved a year ago.

She asked Sacramento delegate Paramo Hernandez to let her speak as he shouted in Spanish: "We're fed up. The Democrats voted as well." Huerta got off the chair on which she was standing and walked away."Stop lying to people," Huerta yelled at Hernandez. Huerta also asked Al Rojas, a march organizer, to stop using Cesar Chavez' name. "She's trying to bait us," Rojas said in Spanish. He said he would debate her any time.

March 23, 2011
VIDEO: Senate panel probes readiness for major earthquake

Lawmakers took a look at whether California is ready for a major earthquake like the one that recently struck Japan at a Monday Senate Select Committee on Earthquake and Disaster Preparedness hearing.

See what utility companies and state officials had to say about the lessons learned from the Japan earthquake and tsunami in video highlights posted below:

January 12, 2011
Broken water pipe affects hundreds of state DOJ employees

water_main_break.jpgSara Drake, an employee at the state Attorney General's office leaves the Department of Justice building in downtown Sacramento which was closed because of a water main break. Photo by Hector Amezcua

Hundreds of employees were unable to work today at two California Department of Justice buildings in downtown Sacramento because of a broken water main, officials said.

Eight hundred workers were affected, an undetermined number of whom are expected to work from their homes or other offices, spokeswoman Becca MacLaren said.

The two DOJ buildings -- including the agency's Sacramento headquarters -- are not flooded but lack running water because of the broken pipe, which was discovered last night and is located in an alley nearby, she said.

The DOJ has no estimate on when the buildings will reopen.

August 3, 2010
Schwarzenegger talks about state-worker furloughs

ha_schwarzenegger48105.JPGWhen Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke this morning to the Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Fresno, he was asked, "Why did the state workers have to bear the brunt of fiscal mismanagement? When do we get our money back? When will the furloughs end?"

Bee colleague Kevin Yamamura was listening to the event live and caught the governor's answer, perhaps his most lengthy public statement on his furlough policy to date.

Check out his partial transcript, posted by Jon Ortiz over at our sister blog, The State Worker, plus a link to the audio of Schwarzenegger's remarks.

PHOTO CREDIT: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger leaves the state Capitol on Friday, July 9, 2010. Sacramento Bee/ Hector Amezcua

January 13, 2010
Cost of fighting furlough suits hits half-million

Capitol Bureau colleague Jon Ortiz reports over at the State Worker Blog that the state has now spent $513,933 on legal fees for furlough litigation.

Click here to read his post.

Jon is also keeping tabs on the 25 furlough lawsuits currently working their way through the courts in a spreadsheet you can view here.

Also on the furlough front, a battle between Controller John Chiang and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is heating up over whether a recent court decision means full pay should be restored for correctional officers. Andrew McIntosh has the story here.

December 7, 2009
Top Schwarzenegger official approved his own car permit

Bee colleague Andrew McIntosh reported in Sunday's Bee that a former State and Consumer Services Agency head and top Schwarzenegger official approved his own permit authorizing his use of a state vehicle for his weekly 534-mile round-trip commute from Sacramento to his home in Paso Robles.

Fred Aguiar was recently tapped as Schwarzenegger's new deputy chief of staff and senior advisor.

Click here to read McIntosh's story on Aguiar's state car use.

Fellow Capitol Bureau blogger Jon Ortiz has also posted the Vehicle Home Storage Permit that Aguiar signed off on over at the State Worker blog. Click here to see that document.

December 4, 2009
Assembly cuts Columbus Day and Lincoln's Birthday holidays

The Assembly has trimmed its paid holiday calendar to include two fewer days off next year.

Columbus Day and Lincoln's Birthday were officially stripped from the 2010 holiday calendar by the Assembly Rules Committee yesterday.

Those two paid days off were eliminated for state workers as part of the February budget agreement. The change didn't apply to legislative staff, but the Assembly and Senate decided to cut the Columbus Day holiday this year to keep their staffers' holiday schedule in line with the calendar for the state workforce.

My fellow Capitol bureau blogger Jon Ortiz has the full scoop -- as well as the fax from Assembly Chief Administrative Officer Jon Waldie confirming the final calendar -- over at The State Worker blog.

UPDATE 6:45 p.m: Senate President pro tem Darrell Steinberg spokeswoman Alicia Trost says the Senate Rules Committee is set to make the same change when it meets later this month to approve its 2010 holiday calendar.

"The proposed holiday schedule that will be voted on does not include Columbus Day or Lincoln's birthday," Trost wrote in an e-mail.

October 30, 2009
Keeping tabs on the furlough lawsuits

Fellow SacBee Capitol bureau blogger Jon Ortiz has compiled a handy spreadsheet tracking the 21 furlough-related lawsuits being fought in courts across the state.

Click here to download the spreadsheet over at The State Worker blog.

October 12, 2009
AM Alert: Case of the Mondays

Feeling well rested and ready to start the week after a weekend of watching for a water deal and waiting anxiously to see how your favorite bills emerged from the governor's desk?

We didn't think so.

As expected, the water talks droned on throughout the weekend and more than 700 bills got dealt with by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in the final hours leading up to his midnight deadline for acting on end-of-session legislation.

Despite a weekend-long marathon of negotiations, the clock ticked closer to 12 with no deal in sight before the midnight end of the bill signing period. At about 9:30 p.m., Schwarzenegger pulled back from his threat to veto legislation unrelated to water unless leaders "get the job done," saying enough progress was made to a special session on the issue.

"Over the past few days we have made enough progress in our negotiations that I am calling a special session on water. While we still have a few remaining issues to work out, I commend the legislative leaders for their focus and commitment to solving this crisis and I will weigh all the bills on their merits," he said in a statement.

Jim Sanders has the scoop on what went down in today's Bee. Click here for a list of legislation that Schwarzenegger acted on Sunday afternoon.

Speaking of those vetoes (and the threats behind them), Assembly Majority Leader Alberto Torrico has plans to introduce a bill today that would define the governor's threat to veto "a lot" of bills if a water deal wasn't sealed -- and similar actions by legislators -- as extortion.

Torrico wasn't amused by Attorney General Jerry Brown's "doilies and tea" response to requests to weigh in on whether the threats could be considered criminal, so he decided to take clarifying the law into his own hands.

Good luck finding a governor to sign that bill.

It's a good thing Capitol denizens can take the Columbus Day holiday as a brief respite to help lower their blood pressure after a weekend of waiting, watching and nail biting.

Oh wait, they can't.

The annual paid day off was axed for state workers as part of the February budget fix, and the Legislature altered its holiday schedule so it would be in line with the state workers' calendar.

The lost holiday has ignited a showdown between SEIU Local 1000 and the administration, with the union urging members to skip work and take the day as a paid holiday. As The State Worker columnist Jon Ortiz wrote last week, whether members go to work will be a test of how much power the union holds.

As for what's on tap today: the Senate Revenue and Taxation committee is scheduled to meet at 1:30 p.m. for an informational hearing on the tax commission's recommendations.

Have two cents (or more) on the matter?

What should be done to fix California's tax system is up for debate at the reader forum. Click here to join in on the debate, which is moderated by The Bee's Daniel Weintraub.

September 24, 2009
Thursday reading file


Demonstrations to protest state budget cuts to higher education are drawing large crowds of students, professors and workers at at all 10 University of California campuses today.

A judge has ordered the state to pay back about 7,900 State Compensation Insurance Fund back for 16 furlough days that were ruled to be illegal, plus interest.

The SCIF president also announced her resignation today.

Someone forgot to tell Democratic Sen. Alan Lowenthal that the Senate's Washington trip -- and his hotel room -- were canceled.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed a former employer to his chief of staff to a board that regulates horse racing.

Meg Whitman has joined Steve Poizner in signing Americans for Tax Reform's no-tax pledge.

Carly Fiorina, who's eyeing a bid for U.S. Senate, talks to about why she won't be at the Republican Party convention this weekend.

Fiorina's new "Carlyfornia"-centric campaign Web site is drawing chuckles from critics on both sides of the aisle.

California's selling state-owned buildings to raise cash. Some of the spots are named for some prominent California politicians.

Photo: A rally at UC Berkeley campus today. Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

September 3, 2009
Steinberg urges Schwarzenegger to reduce furloughs

Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has sent a letter asking Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to consider reducing the number of furlough days for state workers. He also plans to push legislation calling for unspecified budget cuts to offset the cost of one furlough day a month.

Check out the letter here.

Read more, including responses from the governor's office and SEIU Local 1000 at The State Worker blog.

August 13, 2009
The State Worker: Furloughs fought in courts

The legal buzz this week might be about the lawsuits filed againt Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over the line-item vetoes to the budget revision, but State Worker columnist/blogger Jon Ortiz has a column today about another war being fought in the courts:

SEIU and several other state worker unions together and separately have launched at least a dozen furlough lawsuits in San Francisco, Alameda and Sacramento courts. All contend that Schwarzenegger's furloughs are either illegal pay cuts or are misapplied.

Read his entire column here.

Got big plans for Furlough Friday? Share them with us at our Capitol & California forum. Check out how other furloughed workers plan to spend their day off and upload a picture of what you did here .


Capitol Alert Staff

Jeremy White Jeremy B. White covers California politics and edits Capitol Alert's mobile Insider Edition. Twitter: @capitolalert

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.

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

Micaela Massimino Micaela Massimino edits Capitol Alert.

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

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

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

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