Secretary of State Kevin Shelley predicts that voter turnout Tuesday will be 43 percent, 11 percent less than the 2000 presidential primary but about in line with the trend in primaries for several cycles before that one. Shelley said participation in the 2000 election was higher because both parties presidential contests were still hotly contested. He said the turnout in 1988 was 48 percent, in 1992 it was 47 percent and in 1996 it was 42 percent.
Posted by dweintraub at 3:49 PM
Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer has filed his petition asking the state Supreme Court to intervene in the San Francisco gay marriage case. The press release, and a link to the petition, is here. According to the release, the petition asks the court to:
1). Agree to hear this case to resolve the statutory and constitutional arguments regarding the legality of the City and County of San Francisco's issuance of same sex marriage licenses,
2). Declare as invalid the same-sex marriage licenses that have been issued by the City and County of San Francisco, and
3). Order the City and County of San Francisco to immediately cease and desist in issuing new licenses.
Posted by dweintraub at 3:29 PM
With 4 in 10 voters still undecided, former Secretary of State Bill Jones maintains a big lead in the Republican primary for the US Senate race this fall against Democrat incumbent Barbara Boxer, according to the latest Field Poll.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:51 AM
California voters narrowly disapprove of same-sex marriage, and disapprove of what Mayor Gavin Newsom is doing in San Francisco, but also don't support a constitutional amendment on the issue. So says the Field Poll.
Posted by dweintraub at 9:55 AM
Here is a five-minute audio clip the governor's office distributed of Schwarzenegger and Warren Buffett speaking at the beginning of a meeting with Wall Street types Wednesday. It is in this clip that Buffett, apparently no fan of understatement, compares his friend Arnold to FDR. Also in the clip, Schwarzenegger says he put Buffett on the speaker phone with legislators while they were negotiating the terms of bond deal in December, and that Buffett persuaded them that a repayment of as long as 15 years would be better than 7.
Posted by dweintraub at 9:50 AM
With the governor embroiled on the fringes of the gay marriage debate, his wife, Maria Shriver, plans to travel to San Francisco Thursday to stump for Propositions 57 and 58. Shriver, in her first appearance for the measures, will join Senate Leader John Burton, EPA Secretary Terry Tamminen and other environmental leaders at an event at the Presidio Officers Club. Polls show that Democrats, especially in the Bay Area, are the voters most opposed to Schwarzenegger's initiatives, largely because they are also the voters most opposed to him. In San Francisco, his popularity could not have been helped by his statements last week against gay marriage and his condemnation of Mayor Gavin Newsom's decision to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Seeking to at least minimize the no-vote, if not win them over, the campaign for Schwarzenegger's ballot props has been softening up the ground with television ads featuring the popular former mayor of San Francisco -- U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Now Shriver, Burton and the crew. Who's next? Gray Davis himself?
Posted by dweintraub at 3:22 PM
A month ago, John Kerry was ahead of John Edwards by a margin of 7-3 in California, with most Democratic primary voters intending to choose somebody else. But now all the other somebodies have dropped out of the race, and suddenly the state's preferences have changed. The latest Field Poll has Kerry up 60-19, with either senator leading Bush in a hypothetical match-up for this fall.
UPDATE: Columbia sociologist Duncan Watts explains the Kerry Cascade, via Slate Magazine.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:52 AM
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has appointed Lester Snow as director of the California Department of Water Resources. Snow is the former executive director of the CAL-FED Bay-Delta program, the state-federal partnership that seeks to build consensus on water issues among agriculture, urban and environmental interests. He is also the former general manager of the San Diego County Water Authority. Since 2001 he has been a principal at Saracino-Kirby-Snow, the water resource planning and management division of Schlumberger Water Services. He has also been the North American business development manager for Schlumberger Water Services. Prior to that, he served as the Mid-Pacific regional director of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Posted by dweintraub at 4:32 PM
Ted Costa and Howard Kaloogian, two men who helped get the Davis Recall off the ground before the professionals took over, are threatening this morning to recall Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer if he doesn't move quickly to stop the gay marriages ongoing in San Francisco. Kaloogian, a former assemblyman now running for the US Senate, made the announcement on Eric Hogue's Sacramento radio show, the same venue Costa used to solicit signers for the original petition to recall Davis a year ago. Costa was set to appear at a press conference with Kaloogian later today.
Lockyer on Monday night announced that he plans to ask the state Supreme Court to step in and issue a ruling in the case. But Kaloogian says he still plans to go foward with the recall to keep the pressure on.
UPDATE: Here is the statement from Lockyer's office:
Attorney General Bill Lockyer announced he plans to file on Friday an original action in the California Supreme Court, requesting that the court agree to decide the question of whether the City and County of San Francisco's approval of marriage licenses to same-sex couples is legal.
The Attorney General seeks the Supreme Court's intervention because he believes the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses violates California law, the Supreme Court has the authority to stop a charter city's violation of state law and that immediate action by the highest state court is necessary because this is a matter of statewide concern and urgency.
The Supreme Court may take the case, or direct the issue to an appellate or superior court. There is no period of time in which the Supreme Court must make its decision on whether to accept the case.
"The people of California who have enacted laws that recognize marriage only between a man and a woman, and the same-sex couples who were provided marriage licenses in San Francisco deserve a speedy resolution to the question of the legality of these licenses and the authority of San Francisco officials to provide them," Lockyer said.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:15 AM
The new Field Poll out this morning has Gov. Schwarzenegger’s bond measure, Proposition 57, leading 50-36, just a month after Field and others found it trailing badly. The poll shows that the double-barreled, bipartisan campaign is working. Republicans say they are more likely, by a 39-3 margin, to support the measure once they know Schwarzenegger is backing it. And Democrats says they are more likely, by a 27-3 margin, to vote for the bond once they hear that Democratic leaders are supporting it. Also: people who intend to vote yes are, not surprisingly, more likely to think that tax increases and deeper cuts will result if the bond measure fails.
Field also asked about Schwarzenegger’s job performance. The findings:
His rating is 56-26 (approve-disapprove), a bit higher than it was a month ago. It is 83-7 among Republicans and 37-42 among Democrats. It is 58-24 among men and 54-27 among women.
On the issues, Schwarzenegger’s approval rating is highest on the economy (54-30) and budget deficit (54-33). On taxes he is at 50-31, providing adequate government services at 50-27, the public schools at 46-30, higher education, 42-31, and “looking out for the interests of the poor,” at 38-35. He’s even on health care (31-31). His only negative rating is “matters relating to same-sex marriage,” where he stands at 39-42.
61 percent say Schwarzenegger does “what he believes is right” when making important decisions, while 28 percent say he does what is politically popular. Two years ago, 33 percent thought former Gov. Gray Davis did what he thought was right, while 57 percent thought he did what was politically popular.
The Legislature, meanwhile, has crept back from its own abysmal approval rating just before the recall (19-67) to a slightly more respectable but still poor 26-58.
In a confrontation between Schwarzenegger and the Legislature over the state budget, voters say they would back the governor, by a margin of 43-32. A month ago the spread was 48-30.
Finally, Field asked a question about the groping allegations that surfaced against Schwarzenegger during the campaign. Eight-one percent, including 79 percent of women, said the behavior had no effect on how they view his ability to govern.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:21 AM
Another blow to the budget: the state today lost its bid for a hearing at the US Supreme Court in a tax case that will cost the treasury somewhere between $600 million and $1.5 billion upfront and $180 million annually. Here is a story from this morning's Stockton Record describing the dispute and its fiscal consequences.
Posted by dweintraub at 3:03 PM
Gov. Schwarzenegger, on Meet the Press, endorses a constitutional amendment proposed by Sen. Orrin Hatch that would allow immigrants who have been citizens for 20 years to run for president. Here is the AP story via CNN.com.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:08 PM
Schwarzenegger tells Lockyer to act against San Francisco to stop the city from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Here is the story from the Bee.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:33 AM
A full web video of the extraordinary discussion among former Govs. Jerry Brown, George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson and Gray Davis on the question of whether California is governable is now online here. The joint interview was done for California Connected, a public television public affairs program, by host Lisa McRee. Among the nuggets: Deukmejian recommends legalizing all forms of gambling throughout the state, and Brown (backed by Wilson) suggests letting governors put initiatives on the ballot without a vote of the Legislature. Davis and Brown, meanwhile, say a return to the part-time Legislature might be in order.
Posted by dweintraub at 2:42 PM
Carole Migden, the former assemblywoman and chairwoman of the California Board of Equalization, plans to marry her partner of 20 years, criminal defense attorney Cristina Arguedas, in a ceremony today at San Francisco City Hall. Migden is the highest-ranking self-identified gay or lesbian official in the nation and was the author of California's original domestic partner laws. Mayor Gavin Newsom will officiate the ceremony.
Posted by dweintraub at 9:11 AM
The Legislative Analyst estimates that California's population will grow to 37.6 million by 2006. We are so used to the growth now that most people don't realize we are adding population each year equivalent to a city half again as large as the city of Sacramento. Click on the chart below for a full-screen version.
Posted by dweintraub at 9:02 AM
The Public Policy Institute of California Poll on the Republican U.S. Senate primary showed former US Treasurer Rosario Marin breaking through as the leading challenger to the establishment favorite, former Secretary of State Bill Jones. Jones is still leading, but has only 24 percent of the support, with Marin in second at 12 percent. Former Assemblyman Howard Kaloogian was at 5 percent with former Los Altos Hills mayor Toni Casey bringing up the rear at 2 percent.
Posted by dweintraub at 5:59 AM
Proposition 57, the governor's bond proposal, is trailing with less than two weeks to go before election day, according to a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California. The PPIC poll shows the measure behind, 38-41, with 21 percent of voters still undecided. The poll was taken before and after Schwarzenegger's ads for the measure started running on television, and the "no" votes declined as the ads began airing. Private polls, including surveys done for the campaign, are said to show the measure doing better than that, hovering above and below the 50-percent mark depending on the day. Schwarzenegger plans an all-out push for the measure in the final five days before the election. You can find the full poll here.
On the other propositions, the poll found:
Prop 55 (School bond) 49-36
Prop 56 (budget accountability) 41-40
Prop 58 (reserve plan) 52-23
Posted by dweintraub at 5:48 AM
Many insiders have been saying that San Quentin warden Jeanne Woodford would make a good choice by Schwarzenegger to reform the state Corrections Department, but those same people assumed she would never take the thankless job. Well, she has. The governor's office just announced the appointment.
According to the press release, this is her biography:
"Woodford served more than 25 years in corrections. Since 1999 she has been the warden for San Quentin State Prison where she was directly responsible for a budget of $110,000,000, 5,800 inmates and 1,500 staff. Prior to taking over as warden, Woodford served first as an associate warden and later as the chief deputy warden. Since first joining the staff as a correctional officer at San Quentin in 1978, she has served in several other positions including seven years as a correctional counselor and five years as a program administrator. She is also a member of several law enforcement and community organizations including the Association of Black Correctional Workers, the Sonoma State Alumni Association and the California Public Safety Leadership and Ethics Program. Woodford, 50, is a graduate of Sonoma State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice. She is a Democrat from Benicia, CA."
Posted by dweintraub at 3:11 PM
Attorney General Bill Lockyer has just issued a statement saying he strongly supports same sex "civil unions" (no mention of gay marriage) but will defend the state against a lawsuit from the city and county of San Francisco over the state's refusal to recognize San Francisco's same-sex marriage license. "The people of California have spoken," Lockyer said. Read the whole thing here.
UPDATE and CORRECTION: An earlier version of this item said Lockyer supported gay marriage. His statement, however, says only that he supports civil unions and extending the rights and responsibilities of marriage to domestic partners.
Posted by dweintraub at 3:05 PM
Yesterdays report by Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill wasnt exactly a warm embrace for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. But Hills conclusion might not be as bleak as it sounds at first blush a $7 billion gap in the budget a year from now even if Schwarzenegger gets everything hes asking for. And buried deep inside her report are a number of helpful ideas that could lead the governor back to a balanced budget.
First, on the bottom line. Hill says Schwarzeneggers reliance on a number of Davis-style one-time measures to balance the 04-05 budget will come back to haunt him. Beginning the 05-06 budget process, the governor would be facing a new gap between revenues and spending, to the tune of $7 billion.
But even using her number as a starting point, heres one way to deconstruct it and see why Schwarzenegger thinks he can get to a balanced budget without tax increases:
--Schwarzenegger is proposing to reserve $2 billion from his bond to use toward the 05-06 budget. That shrinks Hills shortfall number from $7 billion down to $5 billion.
--About $1 billion of Hills projected gap is due to her lower estimate of state revenues this year and next. If the Department of Finance is right and Hill is wrong, her gap shrinks to $4 billion. A bit more economic growth would accomplish the same thing.
--Hill assumes that the transfer of Proposition 42 money the sales tax on gasoline back to the general fund will end after this coming year. If lawmakers continue the transfer into 05-06, the gap shrinks to $3 billion.
--Schwarzenegger has yet to put a number on the savings that could be generated from any of the reforms he is proposing throughout the budget, or on potential savings from his California Performance Review, due June 30. If those efforts combined yield just $1 billion in 05-06, Hills gap shrinks to $2 billion in a general fund of about $80 billion.
Pretty soon Schwarzenegger is within shouting distance.
Of course, Hill also points out that perhaps $4 billion of Schwarzeneggers proposals are at risk of never coming to fruition. So thats the other side of the ledger. More on that later.
Beyond that, Hills report lists dozens of suggestions that Schwarzenegger and the Legislature could use this year or next to bring the budget closer to balance. They include more than $600 million of specific recommendations for the coming year and about $3 billion in cost-saving options that Hill doesnt recommend outright but offers for the consideration of policymakers. (Not all of them could be implemented, because in some cases, if you do one, you cant do the other). Beyond that, Hill offers a list of potential revenue-raisers that combined would generate about $3 billion a year without an increase in tax rates. They include:
--Mortgage interest deduction. Currently taxpayers can deduct interest on mortgages up to $1 million. Limiting that to $600,000, and to one home only, would raise about $525 million a year.
--Dependent exemption credit. Until 1997, the dependent exemption was equal to most other exemption credits. Beginning in 1998, the dependent credit was increased to more than three times the personal exemption. Equalizing them again would bring in about $885 million a year.
--Sales tax broadening. Expanding the sales tax to cover certain entertainment services, including cable television, sports, movie and amusement park admission, and private clubs would generate $500 million to $700 million annually.
--Teacher retention tax credit. Hill says this Gray Davis creation is the wrong way to retain teachers and sets a bad precedent by using the tax code to single out certain professions for special treatment. Repealing it would save $190 million.
--Research and development tax credit. Hill says evidence supporting the effectiveness of state-level R&D credits is weak, and Californias is the highest in the nation. Cutting it in half would generate $170 million.
--Subchapter S tax treatment. This tax break allows corporations to file their taxes so that income is taxed at the individual level rather than the corporate level. It was intended to help small- and medium-sized businesses. Limiting its use to companies with receipts incomes of $20 million or less would generate $300 million.
--Renters credit. Its been suspended before in tough times. Suspending or repealing it would generate $100 million annually.
--Dependent care tax credit. The dependent care credit subsidizes families who choose to put their children in day care as opposed to juggling their parenting or having one parent stay home. The credit is limited to those earning less than $100,000. Limiting it to families earning $50,000 or less would generate $80 million.
You can find her full report here.
Posted by dweintraub at 2:55 PM
Treasurer Phil Angelides this morning proposed an alternative to Gov. Schwarzenegger $15 billion bond and to the legally questionable "back-up" bond approved last year by the Legislature and former Gov. Gray Davis. The Angelides plan would retire the accumulated deficit in three years through a series of short-term loans repaid by raising taxes on high-income earners and dedicating a 1/4-cent share of the sales tax. Schwarzenegger's plan would retire the deficit in 9 to 14 years without raising taxes. The Angelides proposal focuses only on the accumulated debt and does not address the ongoing $15 billion structural gap in the budget. Under his scenario, without further long-term borrowing, Schwarzenegger and the Legislature would have to come up with an additional $3 billion in further spending cuts (beyond all of those already proposed) or new tax increases to balance the budget. Here is a link to the treasurer's web page laying out his plan.
Posted by dweintraub at 10:56 AM
Sen. Don Perata is considered a leading candidate to succeed John Burton as president pro tem. The SF Chronicle has uncovered some interesting things about the connection between his personal, business and political finances. Here is the latest installment.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:31 AM
Even if Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wins approval for his bond measure and all of his budget proposals, he still will face a budget gap of more than $7 billion a year from now and an ongoing shortfall of about $5 billion, Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill said in her comprehensive review of the governor's fiscal plan. Hill said another $4 billion of Schwarzenegger's proposals pose a significant risk to the state's bottom line because the chances of them being achieved are doubtful at best. Hill recommended about $600 million in additional budget savings and listed further options for about $3 billion in cuts and $3 billion in revenue without broad-based tax increases. "The economy will not solve this for us," Hill told reporters. "We need more ongoing solutions to get the state's fiscal house in order." Here is her full report.
Posted by dweintraub at 1:01 PM
I fielded a call from BBC radio this morning, asking me to comment on our good governor's plans to blow a hole in the Capitol roof to accommodate his cigar smoke. I told them that as far as I knew, Schwarzenegger had no such plan. This afternoon, the Don & Mike Show, fresh off a two-week suspension for allowing foul language on the air, reported the story on their newscast: Schwarzenegger plans to blow a hole in the Capitol dome as part of his effort to install a smoking lounge. Just in case, I checked with the governor's office. They officially confirmed: no plans for any demolition or altering of the Capitol. They have, of course, installed a donated tent, about 10 feet by 10 feet, in the center of the governor's (pre-existing) open air courtyard. The tent looks for all the world like a smoking tent, complete with ashtrays. But Schwarzenegger aides insist on calling the shelter a "deal-making tent."
UPDATE: Now the story. inching its way toward full urban legend status, is in the Washington Times. The governor's office had demanded a retraction.
Posted by dweintraub at 5:37 PM
Schwarzenegger has just called on San Francisco to obey the law. Here is his statement:
"I support all of California's existing laws that provide domestic partnership benefits and protections. However, Californians spoke on the issue of same-sex marriage when they overwhelmingly approved California's law that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. I support that law and encourage San Francisco officials to obey that law. The courts should act quickly to resolve this matter."
Posted by dweintraub at 5:17 PM
All eyes are on San Francisco, where the city spent the holiday weekend issuing marriage licenses to gay couples and where a legal challenge to the action will be heard in court today. The Chronicle reports here that the marraiges could face an unexpected administrative hurdle as well: the state won't recognize marriage licenses not recorded on an official state-approved form, and San Francisco altered theirs to accommodate same-sex couples. At some point, this suggests, the governor might have to weigh in. Mayor Newsom is defying state law but says the constitution's guarantee of equal protection overrides Proposition 22, the voter-approved measure that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman.
UPDATE: The first of two courts expected to rule on this today has delayed any action until at least Friday. Here is an AP story from the Bee. The second court is expected to rule later today.
Gov. Schwarzenegger, under pressure from conservatives to take some kind of action against Newsom, said through a spokesman today that he has nothing planned. Communications Director Rob Stutzman said that while the governor opposes gay marriage, he doesn't have any more standing than any other citizen to act against Newsom. "The best place for this to be resolved," Stutzman said, "is inside that courtroom."
Posted by dweintraub at 9:45 AM
Who are Schwarzenegger's key financial patrons, and why do they give? The AP takes a look at the 10 most active donors in this piece published in the San Diego Union-Tribune. The LA Times, meanwhile, compares Schwarzenegger's fundraising to that of his predecessor, Gray Davis, and concludes that the biggest difference is that the new governor is even more prolific than the last.
Posted by dweintraub at 9:17 AM
California exports rose slightly in 2003, up $1.7 billion to $93.9 billion, according to the Massachusetts Institute for Social and Economic Research, which tracks exports on a state-by-state basis. The increase is the first recorded since 2000. MISER seeks to track exports back to their state of origin, but the numbers here also reflect at least in part California's status as a port state that exports products made elsewhere in the United States. Click on the thumbnail of the graph below for a full image.
Posted by dweintraub at 8:57 AM
State revenues were $626 million below forecast for January. That's 8 percent less for the month than the Schwarzenegger administration projected in the budget released Jan. 9. Much of that shortfall, says the Department of Finance, is due to sales tax payments that were expected in January but are instead showing up in February. Personal income tax revenues were about on target for the month and corporate tax revenues were above proejctions, thanks to smaller than expected refunds. Here is the full report.
Posted by dweintraub at 2:08 PM
New York Times photo.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger goes for a Sunday morning Harley ride with NY Times reporter Charlie LeDuff. Reports the nation's paper of record:
"Mr. Schwarzenegger is a competent biker. Steady and sure, a model of precision. Through Malibu and into the canyons, he never put a foot on the pavement, never signaled with a hand, never turned his head. He smiled once for the camera."
Posted by dweintraub at 9:17 AM
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger can be funny when he is speaking off the cuff. His scripted jokes, however, tend to be pretty bad. Especially, for some reason, those dealing with Hollywood or the entertainment industry. And this week, one of those jokes has him in some hot water. But he doesnt seem to mind. Hes still using it, at least in a slightly edited form.
The San Jose Mercury reported Monday that Schwarzenegger, meeting with Silicon Valley CEOs last week, remarked on the condition of Californias economy:
People are poor in this state now. With the economy going down, people have no clothes anymore. Look what happened to Janet Jackson.
The joke got a few chuckles but also drew some murmurs of disapproval, the Mercury reported. In interviews with the paper, people who depend on services that Schwarzenegger has proposed to cut said they didnt find his quip funny at all. And while the Merc didnt quote anyone making the connection, the fact that Justin Timberlakes blouse-rip was a public display of the same sort of behavior toward women that Schwarzenegger has been accused of should have been a red flag for somebody in the governors office.
Undaunted, the governor rolled out the line again Wednesday in Tulare, according to the LA Times. In a speech to about 2,000 farmers at an Ag Expo in that Central Valley town, Schwarzenegger said:
"People are almost losing their shirts you have seen this happen with Janet Jackson."
Perhaps it is time for Schwarzenegger to retire this one. Not just because its insensitive, though. Because it isnt very funny.
Posted by dweintraub at 3:53 PM
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger this week won the support of the California Democratic Party for Props. 57 and 58 -- his $15 billion bond measure and proposed rainy day fund. But Schwarzenegger so far doesnt have the backing of his own Republican Party, and its not certain that he will get it. The party meets in convention next weekend in Burlingame, and the members gathered there, who tend to be predominantly from the partys conservative wing, will decide whether to endorse the governors measures. In that vein, party activists have been buzzing about a proposed resolution circulated by Charles Bell, a lawyer for the firm that represents Schwarzenegger in political matters. The resolution states that party funds could be spent to advocate support of public or legislative issues positions of an incumbent governor. Some party members think that means party funds could go to the Schwarzenegger measures and future endeavors even if the convention refused to endorse the initiatives. Bell told me today that this wasnt the intent, but he also said the resolution has been withdrawn and wont be voted upon at the convention. Bell said the proposal was a draft and was inadvertently submitted for consideration by an associate while he was out of the country and out of reach. I think it was misinterpreted, he said.
Posted by dweintraub at 3:19 PM
Sixty percent of non-English speaking children who begin attending California schools after kindergarten never become fluent in English, according to a study released today by the Legislative Analyst. And even for children who begin school here in kindergarten, immigrants from different countries master English at very different rates. Native speakers of Hmong and Spanish, for instance, learn English far more slowly than speakers of Mandarin and Korean. The differences are clear by the second grade, when more than 80 percent of Mandarin- and Korean-speaking students score at a level 3 or higher (out of 5) in reading English on the state's special test for English learners. Among students who speak Spanish or Hmong, fewer than 30 percent reach that level by the second grade. The findings raise important new questions about the cultural differences that might lead to the different results, and about the different techniques used to teach children English. Here is a link to the report.
This Legislative Analyst chart shows that while native speakers of Spanish and Mandarin start kindergarten with similar grasps of English, by third grade more than half the Mandarin speakers are reading and writing English at a level 4 or level 5 out of 5 while only about 15 percent of Spanish speakers have reached that level.
Posted by dweintraub at 11:46 AM
The state's prison system hired 1,000 new employees over the past three years without the authorization of the Legislature, the Schwarzenegger Administration has discovered. The disclosure came at a legislative hearing Wednesday at which lawmakers complained that the budgets they approve each year for the Corrections agency are basically meaningless. Here's an account of the hearing from the San Jose Mercury News.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:25 AM
California's population grew by another 600,000 in the year ending June 30, 2003, to nearly 36 million people, according to the latest numbers released today by the Department of Finance. For the first time this decade, the natural increase (births over deaths) was greater than the increase from net migration.
Posted by dweintraub at 4:57 PM
Top Democrats are flocking now to support Props. 57 and 58 -- the governor's ballot measures. Today Chairman Art Torres announced that the party will officially back the measures. And Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer also formally announced their support. This kind of backing will be most important when it comes to party-oriented slate cards, which will soon start flooding our mailboxes. The Democrat line will be "Yes on Everything" -- 55 through 58 -- and most of the top party officials and electeds support the governor's proposals. That can't hurt Schwarzenegger's cause.
Posted by dweintraub at 5:01 PM
Arnold Schwarzenegger has just emblazoned his name in gold letters above the word "Governor" that has long been the only identification outside the chief executive's office in the Capitol. Staff say the addition is not a sign of a new cult of personality but instead a favor to tourists who are clamoring to have their pictures taken near something, anything, with the movie star's name on it. "Californians are extremely thrilled," says Press Secretary Margita Thompson, "to have a governor of whom they can be proud." Thompson said the 20 letters cost a total of $80 -- not including the labor for affixing the name to the wall.
Posted by dweintraub at 12:45 PM
Schwarzenegger plans to revise his budget in April instead of the traditional May and then push lawmakers to enact it early, according to this story in the LA Daily News.
Posted by dweintraub at 7:24 AM
The television ads for Props. 57 and 58 -- the first pieces of Schwarzenegger's fiscal recovery plan -- begin airing today. They feature the Republican governor and Steve Westly, the Democratic state Controller, making a bipartisan pitch for the two measures. As has the rest of the campaign, the ad says the bond would refinance past debt but glosses over the fact that it also would provide revenue to help balance the coming year's budget. The spot also exaggerates the provisions of Prop. 58, saying it would require a balanced budget from now on when it fact it would still allow the same kind of borrowing that got the state into this mess. Having said that, the ad will probably be effective, because it plays to the voters' desire for bipartisanship and to be rid of deficit spending. With no organized opposition, this kind of campaign should be enough to pull the thing across the finish line March 2. You can see the ad for yourself at the campaign web site, here.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:55 AM
Schwarzenegger's pledge to save the taxpayers money by reopening contracts with state employee labor unions appears to be going nowhere. Among other things, this article from the Sacramento Bee quotes an official with the correctional officers union flatly disputing the governor's claim that the prison guards have come to the table and are cooperating.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:47 AM
From Sunday's Mercury News: Mike Murphy, a lead strategist for Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial campaign, decides not to lobby the administration after all. Murphy apparently changed course after the governor objected to his political adviser trading on their close association. Murphy's firm still intends to lobby the Legislature and will offer government affairs advice to clients seeking policy change in Sacramento.
Posted by dweintraub at 6:40 AM
The governor's office announced today that Schwarzenegger will keep the inspector general of the state prison system independent, reporting directly to him, and leave the budget for the office at its 2003-04 level pending a review, which might lead to an increase. That reverses moves announced in his Jan. 9 budget proposal, which would have cut the office's budget and moved it under the direction of the corrections agency secretary. Schwarzenegger also today asked the U.S. attorney's office to investigate the circumstances surrounding a 2002 riot at Folsom prison and the department's response to it.
Posted by dweintraub at 3:40 PM
There's been a lot of action in the last week or two on electronic voting systems. Consultants hired by the state of Maryland to try to crack their system succeeded, and were able to change vote counts on touch-screen voting machines, alter ballots and penetrate the central vote-counting computer. In response, Secretary of State Kevin Shelley has ordered new security measures for the March 2 election, including a parallel monitoring by the Secretary of State of touch screen voting systems and a requirement that vote-counting systems not be connected to the Internet during the election. You can see the rest of the order here. It is the first item on the page. Here is a San Jose Mercury News article on the issue. And here is a recent report from Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation and an early critic of the security of electronic voting systems.
Posted by dweintraub at 12:14 PM
Keep your eye on this story: San Diego Mayor Dick Murphy is facing tough questons in his reelection bid over a massive deficit in the city's pension fund, brought about by increased benefits, slumping investment returns and the city's deliberate underfunding of the system for several years. Similar problems are unfolding all across the state, thanks in part to state laws passed in 1999 and 2001 that set off a pension-increase bidding war among local governments. If the issue brings Murphy down, it could be a sign of things to come. Here is the latest story from the San Diego Union Tribune.
Posted by dweintraub at 11:35 AM
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger -- the man who doesn't need anyone else's money -- is asking New York financial heavyweights to pony up a half million dollars each to buy tables at a fundraiser he plans to hold with Gov. George Pataki later this month. The money would go toward the campaign for Props. 57 and 58, Schwarzenegger's bond and rainy day fund measures. As an outsider viewed by voters as a non-politician, Schwarzenegger might be able to do this indefinitely without it catching up with him. But he is playing fast and loose with the trust voters placed in him, and their faith that he would change "politics as usual." The ultimate test will be whether voters believe that the governor is acting in the interest of the state or in the interest of his donors -- or in his own interest in seeking and procuring donations. But even if Schwarzenegger governs from the heart and the head and not the campaign pocketbook, at some point the perception created by the massive size of these contributions begins to catch up to him. The sad thing is that an event like this is really just laziness. Schwarzenegger could probably raise the same amount with a ballroom-sized gala with a much smaller price tag and avoid creating the impression that he is a tool of Wall Street. He could, as they say in business, make it up in volume. Here is the story in the Bee.
Posted by dweintraub at 3:55 PM
Maria Shriver quits her job at NBC news, saying she can't successfully juggle her duties there and as the wife of California's governor. Here is a story from the Bee's website.
Posted by dweintraub at 2:46 PM
Schwarzenegger's campaign finance dealings are becoming increasingly complicated, with his various committees, loans, transfers and what have you. Also successful. He appears to be raising money at a faster rate than any governor in history, although that won't necessarily continue after the March 2 election, when voters will pass judgment on the first two pieces of his fiscal recovery plan. Still, not bad for a guy who once bragged that he didn't need anyone else's money. In any case, here is the latest newsletter from California Common Cause tracking the money and dividing it into interest groups. You will be downloading it from my site, because Common Cause doesn't provide this online.
Posted by dweintraub at 10:39 AM
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was all over the radio this morning, spending time with stations in San Diego, Sacramento and Los Angeles. He seems to have made a little bit of news here and there along the way. Among the morsels he dropped:
Schwarzenegger told Kelly Brothers at KFBK in Sacramento that he is going to create a commission to investigate problems in the prison system. This after the governor has taken hits for his admittedly ill-timed firing of the Gray Davis appointee who was the system's inspector general and his proposal to move the IG's office, which is supposed to be independent, under the auspices of the agency secretary. The excerpt, according to a transcript released by his office:
“Well, we are right now looking into setting up a blue ribbon commission to really study the whole prison system, and why there is such huge -- you know, why there are such expenses that come, and the overspending that has occurred, why is this kind of corruption going on. Then the code of silence, all of those things. We want to clean the place up; we want to really bring order in there, because it can't continue on like that. I've campaigned on that, that if I see something wrong with government, I want to fix it.
“And so, the only way to do it is, I think, by setting up an outside commission, let them go in there and really clean up the mess, because we don't to continue the way it is right now. And then we have also a great Secretary, Rod Hickman, who is terrific, who is in charge. He's a great leader, and so I think together with him we are going to be able to clean up the mess.
--On KFMB in San Diego with host Rick Roberts, Schwarzenegger gave an update on his negotiations over the issue of drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. He seemed to suggest that he is working toward a bill that would apply to immigrants who are working, which was one of the conditions Gray Davis once insisted upon but later dropped. It’s not clear from this wording that Schwarzenegger would insist on proof of employment, or if he just mentioned “working” as a way of generally describing the people he is talking about.
“So, now what I've said is, let's just get rid of the problem. So, I went to the original sponsor that took it through and had it passed -- it was Senator Cedillo -- and I said, "Why don't you get rid of this, and let's then afterwards do it the right way, so that California can feel safe, let's do it with the background check, and let's do it with insurance and all that." And so, that's what we worked out.
“So, now we are trying to figure out a way of how can we do that, and there are many, many people who are working on that, that are studying it, how we can bring all those things together so that California is safe while we are giving drivers license to people that are going to work. So, that's really what the whole thing is about. That's what we're working on right now.”
And on KNX in Los Angeles with Dave Williams, Schwarzenegger mentioned his latest internal poll results on Prop. 57, the $15 billion bond measure on the March 2 ballot. Schwarzenegger said his polls show the measure with the support of 48 percent of the voters, quite a bit higher than two independent polls released last month.
Question: “Governor, at this point it looks like the polls say that voters are resistant to Prop 57, the borrowing plan. Without that, as you said, the budget cap can't pass.”
Schwarzenegger: “Well, no. Actually, it was like that at the beginning, because people didn't understand what it was. They felt it was new borrowing. But when they found out that it is not, it's just refinancing, we have seen a tremendous change now in the polls. It started out with 36 percent or so, now it is around 46, 48 percent favorable. So, we are going totally in the other direction, so I think there's a good chance for this to pass.”
UPDATE: I missed this one earlier. Schwarzenegger also said (on KNX) that he would be willing to mediate the grocery strike if asked to do so.
Question: Governor, one final question here. The Southern California supermarket strike, as you know, is in its fourth month now. 70,000 workers losing money; so are 3 major supermarket chains. Will you intervene in this?
GOVERNOR: Well, if I'm asked I will. Right now I'll let them try to hammer it out, because there are some smart people there that are working on that. And you see, with all of those kinds of conflicts, it all has to do with the willingness to solve the problem. I think they're smart enough to figure out how to solve the problem. It's just are they willing? If they call me and ask me to intervene and to be an intermediary, I'm more than happy to do that, because I think that we need to have everyone go back to work and normalize the situation.
Posted by dweintraub at 4:02 PM
California's indispensable Legislative Analyst has just unveiled a new, more user-friendly website. For those of you outside the Capitol, the analyst's office, led by Elizabeth Hill, is the place to go for non-partisan, no-nonsense analysis of state government programs and the budget. The website is here.
Posted by dweintraub at 3:53 PM