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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

A Weblog by
Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

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« January 2005 | | March 2005 »
February 28, 2005

Nursing wounds

Time Magazine weighs in on Schwarzenegger's problem with the nurses' union.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:40 PM

February 25, 2005

Inclined to reelect

The latest Field Poll shows voters are inclined to reelect Schwarzenegger if he runs in 2006:


The Bee story is here.

The full poll is here.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:25 AM

February 24, 2005

Ads defend school spending plan

The governor's campaign team has released the text and sound of a radio ad they have begun airing to counter the CTA's campaign critical of his education spending plan. The ad features a teacher, a different one in each region, telling listeners that the governor is increasing spending on schools, not cutting it. The speaker also slams the union for opposing reforms that would give more power to local districts.

"They just want more money for more of the same," the teacher says.

You can listen to one of the ads here.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:00 PM

Competition and moderates

A reader who attended a conference on redistricting this morning told me that the discussion produced some healthy skepticism about the widely repeated belief that competitive districts tend to produce moderates. This reader said no one had ever seen any data to back up that thesis, and even some people pushing redistricting reform said they doubted it was true. Well, it's true. Here's the data.

Take the Assembly districts drawn by the court in 1991. Look at the voter registration spread just before the 2000 elections, the last in those districts. You could go back and look at it every year, since it did change some year to year, but it's faster and a pretty good approximation to just pick one year and apply it to the decade for that district.

Next isolate the districts where voter reg was within 5 points. Now this isn't truely competitive, since historically, a 5-point edge for the Republicans is not a competitive district. But we'll start with that base. Then we will look only at districts where the Democrats had an edge of 5 points or less, which most people I think would agree is a true toss-up district.

In those Democrat-plurality toss-up districts, here are the members who held the seats in the 1990s:

AD 10: Bowler, Pescetti
AD 24 (just over a 5-point spread in 2000): Quackenbush, Cunneen, Cohn
AD 53 Bowen, Nakano
AD 60:Horcher, Miller, Bob Pacheco
AD 76: Gotch, Davis, Kehoe
AD 78: Alpert, Wayne
AD 80: Bornstein, Battin, Kelley

Now I think most observers would say that these folks generally, though not completely, represent moderates from both parties (and also some rather odd ducks).

Among the Republicans, Paul Horcher's career was ended when he voted for Willie Brown for speaker. Anthony Pescetti famously voted for a Gray Davis budget. Dave Kelley voted for Pete Wilson's big tax increase. Chuck Quackenbush and Jim Cunneen were classic Silicon Valley mods. Even Jim Battin and Larry Bowler, though not considered centrists, had their moments.

Among the Dems: Rebecca Cohn, Debra Bowen, George Nakano, Mike Gotch, Susan Davis, Christine Kehoe, Dede Alpert, Howard Wayne, Julie Bornstein. For the most part, moderates.

Interestingly, those 5 percent-close districts that lean Republican are not as reliable, and in fact have produced some of the most conservative members of the Legislature, for whatever reason. Among them: Brulte, Alby, McClintock, Strickland, Mountjoy, Pringle, Baldwin, LaSuer. That's good evidence, I think, that such districts really are not competitive in most parts of the state. But we should note that this category also produced Richard Rainey, Keith Richman, and Ken Maddox, all of whom were known as Republican moderates. So I wouldn't completely wipe them from the list.

If you want to stretch the definition of competitive just a bit further, to districts that are within Dems +8 or less, you can add Jack O'Connell, Brooks Firestone, Mike Machado and Barbara Mathews to the list, all of whom I think are considered moderates.

So in conclusion, with the proviso that competitive and moderate are both subject to debate, I do think that the evidence from the 1990s pretty clearly shows that the more competitive the district, the more moderate the members tend to be.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:42 PM

Remap poll entrails

A reader just asked me why I thought non-partisans in the Field Poll showed the lowest level of support for Schwarzenegger's redistricting proposal. The results:

Republicans: 61-24
Democrats: 42-47
No party/other: 38-52

That's a good question, given that a fair redistricting would tend to at least modestly increase the number of centrists in the Legislature, which you'd think would appeal to people who are not registered with a party.

One answer might be that non-partisans are not necessarily centrist. They might be people who are on the fringes, outside the mainstream of either party.

Another possibility is that the redistrcting issue seems like (and is) "inside baseball" and thus immediately turns off those people who already are turned off by the major parties. They see it as something that doesn't concern them.

Another answer in the poll is also intriguing and related. The more you know about redistricting, the more you support the governor's plan.


great deal/some: 56-33
only a little: 46-42
nothing at all: 39-45

This suggests to me that a good campaign aimed at educating everyone with some focus on non-partisans would probably put the measure over the top.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:59 AM

Special election cost

Aside from the specifics on the issues in the Field Poll, much is being made (mainly by Democrats) of the public's distaste for a special election once they hear how much it will cost. This reminds me of the Davis recall campaign, when the same issue at first appeared salient but later faded. Until I see otherwise, I'll assume that California voters like to vote, and when you give them a chance to change state policy, they'll take it. Voters tend to forgive the cost of a special election as the voting draws near and they lick their chops at getting another chance at direct democracy.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:21 AM

Field Poll on gov's measures


The Bee's graphic showing results from the latest Field Poll. Find the full version and story here.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:08 AM

February 23, 2005

Fighting Back

Look for the governor's people to announce on Thursday that he is going on the air with radio ads responding to the CTA's attack on his budget policies. I'm told the ads, like the CTA's, will feature school teachers. And they will say you shouldn't believe what the union has been telling you about school funding.

Posted by dweintraub at 5:06 PM

Red ink

Schwarzenegger’s people might have reached a new zenith in hokey today when they staged an event at Cal Expo to promote his budget reform plan.

The governor appeared inside a black-draped exhibit hall in front of a fake, miniature Capitol building, complete with a gold dome. At his side was a massive spigot from which water colored red was flowing in a wide stream. At the appointed moment, Schwarzenegger climbed the steps to the faucet and pulled a giant lever to shut off the “red ink.”

It was painful to watch, but will probably make great television on the news tonight.

Question: if Schwarzenegger is so determined to stop the red ink, why doesn’t he propose and push a budget that balances spending and revenues? His plan for the coming year still includes anywhere from $3 billion to $6 billion in borrowing, depending on who is doing the counting.

Here is a picture of Arnold standing in front of the fake Capitol:


Posted by dweintraub at 12:38 PM

February 18, 2005

Common Cause with the governor

You've got to love the arrogance of Jamie Court, he of Harvey Rosenfield's Consumer Watchdog outfit, lecturing Common Cause against its budding alliance with Schwarzenegger on redistricting reform. To hear Court tell it, Common Cause shouldn't align itself with the governor on an issue the group cares about because Schwarzenegger raises a lot of money and plays it close to the edge with campaign finance rules.

From the Bee:

Critics such as Court charged that Common Cause was risking its own reputation as a reform organization by siding with Schwarzenegger on redistricting when he is under attack for his political fund raising, another top Common Cause reform priority.

First, Common Cause has been pushing for independent redistricting for at least 25 years, long before Court and his group came on the scene in California. I'd trust them to pick and choose their own allies on this issue without advice from him.

Second, while I heartily agree with Court that we should be watching Schwarzenegger's fund-raising like hawks, isn't it a little hypocritical for Court to be leading that charge, when his own organization, long suspected of being a front for the trial lawyer lobby, refuses to disclose the sources of its contributions?

Posted by dweintraub at 7:34 AM

February 17, 2005

Common Cause backs redistricting reform

California Common Cause has endorsed, in concept, the governor's redistricting proposal. They want a few tweaks and it's apparently too late to make them and get the measure on the ballot via initiative. Perhaps their support will be enough to bring Democrats around to supporting a compromise plan. But it's not clear what the group will do if the only option is one of the governor's initiative measures. And Common Cause doesn't like the idea of re-doing the maps mid-decade.

Here are their principles:

1. A selection process that begins with a diverse pool of individuals who do not have direct ties to politicians, lobbyists or directly interested groups, that involves the legislature in narrowing the pool, and that requires fair partisan representation.

2. A redistricting panel and criteria that prioritizes California’s racial, cultural, and ethnic diversity.

3. Fair criteria for drawing the state and congressional district lines that include an emphasis on the Voting Rights Act, communities of interest, and competitiveness, as well traditional criteria such as equal population, and contiguity.

4. A transparent and public process with public hearings, publication of all maps, transcripts and materials, involvement of expert review, and a ban on ex parte communications.

5. Redistricting should take place once a decade, following the release of Census data.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:58 PM


Jerry Brown has started a blog. I expect it to be better than your average poli-blog. I hope he doesn't disappoint.

Posted by dweintraub at 7:08 AM

February 16, 2005

CalPERS opposes pension proposal

The CalPERS board voted 9-3 to oppose Schwarzenegger's plan to offer new state and local employees only a 401-k style retirement plan rather than the defined benefit pensions most workers get now. Only the governor's appointees endorsed the plan. Here is a press release from the system explaining the vote.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:41 PM

Local control

Senate Leader Don Perata, a teacher for 16 years, endorsed a major move toward local control in education in a speech to the Sacramento Press Club today.

We don’t tell cops how to police, firefighters how to fight fires or doctors how to save lives. Why should teachers be any different?

We add new sections to the education code each year - now the size and as readable as Joyce’s Ulysses - and then the next class of legislators spends their term making exceptions or changing directions.

We are caught in a circle without escape. I’m tired of spinning my wheels.

Schools must have more local control and flexibility. We don’t have all the answers here.

You can read the whole thing by downloading this file.

Posted by dweintraub at 1:27 PM

February 15, 2005

January revenues

The Department of Finance is out with the report on January revenues. General fund tax receipts were $420 million above the forecast for the month (issued with the governor's Jan. 10 budget proposal) and $706 million above projections for the ficsal year. The full report is here.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:13 PM

Graduation rates

The Manhattan Institute has published a national study of high school graduation rates that ranks California 38th among the states, at 67 percent. For white students, the state is ranked 22nd, at 76 percent. You can find the full report in pdf form here.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:26 PM

February 11, 2005

Bruce McPherson

As expected, Gov. Schwarzenegger has announced his nomination of former state Sen. Bruce McPherson to succeed Kevin Shelley as secretary of state. Not my first choice, but not a bad pick, either. At least from a political perspective. It's going to be very difficult for the Democrats in the Legislature to reject McPherson with a straight face. He's no ideologue, he's a good guy, he knows a bit about the office. As far as I know his integrity has never been questioned.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:13 AM

Carve out?

The UCLA Faculty Assn. has filed a ballot measure with the AG's office that mirrors Schwarzenegger's pension reform proposal with one exception: it would leave in place the defined benefit pension plan for University of California employees. The UC plan is fully funded and in surplus. The faculty group is apparently hoping that when the time comes to start gathering signatures, the governor will choose their proposal rather than his original plan and thus avoid opposition from the university and its employees.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:43 AM

February 10, 2005

Like concrete cracked by a jackhammer

George Will on the "California Revolution."

Posted by dweintraub at 10:53 AM


The Legislative Analyst calls Schwarzenegger's drug discount proposal "a reasonable starting point" but offers suggestions for improving it.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:38 AM

February 9, 2005

Regulating oil prices, profits

Advocates of petroleum regulation have received title and summary and clearance from the Attorney General to gather signatures for their initiative to create an oil regulatory commission in California. The commission's job would be to keep prices "fair and reasonable" and to limit refinery profits to no more than 5 percent. So we want low prices and low profits in the oil industry. I could get into that. Sounds like a good idea. Maybe we should create a Grocery Regulatory Commission too and do the same thing for food. Oh, wait. Wal-Mart has driven prices to rock-bottom, forces its suppliers to trim profits and itself has a profit margin of less than 5 percent. All without a commission giving them marching orders. AND WE HATE THEM FOR IT! Right? Hmmm.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:02 PM

Governor's allies sue over fundraising rule

Citizens to Save California, the group of Schwarzenegger allies formed to raise money for his ballot measures this year, has sued to try to overturn an FPPC regulation that limits Schwarzenegger's involvement with the committee. Election Law blogger Rick Hasen has more details here.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:13 PM

February 8, 2005

Learning English

I haven't looked at the details, but this sounds like good news: the percentage of non-native English speakers in the California schools rated "advanced" or "early advanced" by the state's English Language Development Test has nearly doubled since 2001, from 25 percent to 47 percent.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:05 PM

Prop. 98

The Legislative Analyst has published an incredibly lucid primer on Proposition 98, explaining its purpose, its formulas, and its effects on education spending over the years. The report also analyzes how Schwarrzenegger's budget reform proposal would change 98 and concludes that the governor's measure would produce more auto-pilot spending, not less. You can find the report here.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:18 PM

Redistricting update

Recall sponsor Ted Costa's initiative to reform redistricting has its title and summary and is ready for circulating, Costa tells his supporters today. The measure is isimilar to a proposal by Assembly Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and endorsed by Schwarzenegger with one major difference: they've dropped an earlier provision that called for districts, whenever possible, to have party registration within 7 points of each other. That competitiveness criteria never made sense in a reform that was seeking to ban the use of partisan registration as part of the process.

Political consultant David Gilliard, meanwhile, is still awaiting title and summary for a remap initiative that is similar to Costa's except in two major respects: it postpones the redistricting of the congressional seats until 2011 and deletes the requirement that any new plan go before the voters at the same time that candidates are running in the new districts. Gilliard, working with congressional Republicans, is trying to persuade the governor's team to leave congressmen out of the mid-decade redrawing of the boundaries.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:40 AM

Taking politics out of running elections

Election Law blogger Rick Hasen suggests that the Secretary of State's office be converted into an appointed position insulated from politics by making it a long-term appointment subject to bipartisan confirmation by the Legislature.

UPDATE: Former State Sen. Barry Keene responds:

The first question is whether the function involves sufficient discretion, in addition to expertise, that it requires accountability not just for competence, but for objectivity (i.e., non-partisanship). Clearly, based on the experiences in Florida, Ohio, and now California, it does. That cuts heavily against the creation of a 10-year "dictatorship". However, that does not mean that an elected office is the only way to create the needed accountability. Transparency and an unpaid bipartisan board, appointed by the Governor subject to Senate confirmation, for staggered terms, to select and oversee a chief elections officer that serves at the pleasure of a majority of the board is the intelligent way to go.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:13 AM

Gov: Shelley successor near

Gov. Schwarzenegger will hold a 10 a.m. meeting to discuss with aides his options for nominating a new Secretary of State and expects to make a decision today, he told talk radio host Eric Hogue (KTKZ) in an interview this morning. Schwarzenegger said he intends to pick someone with a "bipartisan philosophy" who can "bring integrity back" to the office in the wake of Kevin Shelley's resignation.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:02 AM

February 7, 2005

Cali pop: 36,591,000

California's population grew by nearly 600,000 in the year ending June 30, 2004, according to new numbers released today from the Department of Finance. Just over half (52.7%) of that increase came from the natural growth of births over deaths, while 38.1 percent came from foreign immigration (legal and illegal) and 9.2 percent from domestic migration.

Other highlights from the release:

Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties posted the highest numerical population gains and account for over half of the State's growth. Growth in Los Angeles and San Diego was due primarily to natural increase while growth in Riverside and San Bernardino was due to new residents from within the United States, including other counties in California.

Natural Increase was the primary source of growth in the state but for only 17 counties. Eleven counties experienced natural decrease (more deaths than births during the year) – Amador, Calaveras, Inyo, Lake, Mariposa, Modoc, Nevada, Plumas, Sierra, Trinity, and Tuolumne. Eight counties had net domestic out-migration – Alameda, Marin, Monterey, San Benito, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Sierra.

Forty counties grew primarily from net migration. Of these, 33 counties had more domestic migration than immigration. Immigration was the primary source of migration growth in Contra Costa, Imperial, Mendocino, Merced, Napa, Sonoma, and Sutter counties.

County population totals range from 1,289 persons in Alpine, the least populated county, to over 10.1 million in Los Angeles, the state's most populous county.

Population change ranged from the highest growth rate of 4.45 percent in Riverside, the state's fastest growing county, to a 1.81-percent population loss in Sierra County.

Twenty-five counties experienced a higher growth rate than the state while 33 counties grew more slowly. Sierra was the only county that experienced a modest population loss.

Our largest counties, Los Angeles and Orange, are home to 36 percent of Californians. Another 31 percent of the state's population settled in the next six most populous counties –– San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Santa Clara, Alameda and Sacramento.

The release is available in pdf format here.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:20 AM

Shelley's successor

Whom should Schwarzenegger appoint?

George Skelton at the LA Times (registration required) suggests that maybe Schwarzenegger shouldn't nominate a Latino Republican because the Legislature's Latino Democrats wouldn't like it.

"They would no doubt kick up a ruckus among Democratic Latino lawmakers who'd view them as threats," Skelton writes.

Nothing against Bruce McPherson, who is Skelton's first choice for the job, but I think Schwarzenegger should do exactly the opposite of what Skelton recommends. He should nominate either Gary Mendoza, the state's former Corporations Commissioner, or Rosario Marin, the former U.S. Treasurer. Both are qualified for the job and either would send a message that the Republican Party is open to any and all ethnic groups.

And I wouldn't be too concerned if Latino Democrats caused a ruckus.

As for the Democrats demanding a caretaker appointee who won't run for reelection, that's their right. But Schwarzenegger shouldn't give them a free pass. He should nominate his top choice and force them to reject that person. Then he can talk about a caretaker.

Posted by dweintraub at 9:18 AM

February 4, 2005

Shelley quits

Secretary of State Kevin Shelley has resigned amidst multiple investigations into his administration of federal funds, his campaign fundraising and his treatment of subordinates in his office.

This is the second statewide official to be forced to resign in five years, following the departure of Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush. In both cases, the officers were accused of using public resources to further their political ambitions. One used fines collected from insurers. The other was alleged to have used federal money meant to help the counties increase voter turnout.

No amount of rules or regulations can stop that kind of behavior from someone determined to circumvent the law. But the Legislature ought to consider at least looking at whether there's anything more that can be done to make sure that the line is drawn clearly, and that everyone understands it.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:07 PM

AP: Shelley to resign

The Associated Press is reporting that Shelley is set to announce his resignation any minute.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:02 PM

Shelley announcement

Kevin Shelley, through his campaign operations, has scheduled a press conference for 4 p.m.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:59 PM

The graying of the speaker's staff

Everyone knows that Treasurer Phil Angelides fancies himself as the anti-Arnold. When the governor says up, Angelides says down, or the other way around, just to be make sure everyone knows he is the leader of the loyal opposition. But a funny thing is happening to the staff of another top Democrat, Speaker Fabian Núñez. It’s becoming the home for former Gray Davis aides, mostly from the communications shop. Steve Maviglio, a former Davis press secretary, is heading up communications, and he’s got former Davis assistants Nick Velasquez and Alex Traverso now on the staff. This week, Nunez named Vince Duffy, a former Davis speechwriter, as his press secretary. These guys are all pros. But for the speaker’s sake, let’s hope they don’t do for him what they did for the last governor.

Clarification: Nick Velasquez has been working for Núñez since December, 2003, before he was speaker. I didn't mean to imply that he was brought onto the staff my Maviglio. I also didn't mean to imply that these guys were somehow responsible for the downfall of Davis. If anything, they did too good a job communicating his actions to the public. Finally, I forgot one: Gabe Sanchez, another former Davis spokesman, heads up communications for the staff, out of the speaker's Los Angeles office.

Posted by dweintraub at 11:41 AM

February 2, 2005

Shelley hearing postponed

Legislative leaders have announced that the Joint Legislative Audit Committee scheduled for Thursday, at which Secretary of State Kevin Shelley was scheduled to testify, has been postponed until Feb. 22 so that each party's counsel can review 5,000 pages from the state audit report.

Posted by dweintraub at 4:22 PM

Walsh to head OPR

Sean Walsh, who as a Schwarzenegger campaign spokesman got in hot water over his response to the groping allegations, is joining the government as director of the Office of Planning and Research. The former Pete Wilson press secretary is perhaps best remembered for turning the annual state budget release into a leak-fest. A document that traditionally had been kept under wraps until the last minute became, in Walsh's hands, a means of generating days of narrowly drawn stories, some positive for the governor, others getting bad news out of the way. Walsh has been out of government since 1998, doing mostly political communications. During the recall campaign while working for Schwarzenegger he directed reporters to criminal court records of a woman with the same name as one of the candidate's accusers. The accuser later sued for libel, but the case was dismissed.

Posted by dweintraub at 12:00 PM

February 1, 2005

January revenues

January revenues are in the books, and it was another good month for the treasury. Personal income tax payments (not including withholding, the numbers for which I haven’t seen yet) were about 16 percent above the forecast made just a few weeks ago, an increase of about $425 million. Corporate tax revenues, meanwhile, continued their torrid pace, coming in at more than double the forecast, up $237 million above expectations. Together, then, the two revenue sources produced somewhere in the neighborhood of $650 million more than Schwarzenegger budgeted. If that’s a trend and not a blip, it would clearly ease the governor’s budget situation and give him more room to negotiate with Democrats. It still would have to be a very big trend, however, to appreciably change the dynamic for 2006-07, a year out. And it could, in a perverse way, make it worse. If the state collects an extra billion or two this year and then spends it, that would just make next year’s problem harder to solve.

The personal income tax numbers, by the way, take into account the newly implemented millionaire’s tax surcharge for mental health.

Posted by dweintraub at 3:48 PM

Sweeney named as JLAC counsel

Legislative Republicans have named James Sweeney has their choice for independent counsel on the Joint Legislative Audit Committee as it investigates Secretary of State Kevin Shelley. Sweeney is the managing partner and founder of Sweeney, Davidian and Greene, a Sacramento law firm, and from 1997 to 1998 served as chief counsel to then-Secretary of State Bill Jones.

Posted by dweintraub at 2:37 PM

Genest moves to HHS

Mike Genest, the former legislative analyst staffer and aide to Sen. Jim Brulte who was chief deputy at finance under Donna Arduin is moving on, to the Health and Human Services Agency, where he will be undersecretary.

Posted by dweintraub at 10:08 AM



At Crossroads, a panel of experts and the public debate the future of health care in California. We'd like you to join the conversation.

Daniel Weintraub


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