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Daniel Weintraub

California Insider

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Sacramento Bee Columnist Daniel Weintraub

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« August 31, 2006 | | September 5, 2006 »
September 1, 2006

Trouble for bonds?

The poll this week by the Public Policy Institute of California included some surprises, particularly for supporters of the governor's infrastructure bonds on the November ballot.
Those polled showed the most support for the affordable housing bond, Proposition 1C, with 57 percent in favor, even though that was the proposition assumed to be most in trouble. The least favorable infrastructure proposal was the transportation bond, with 50 percent support, even though Californians generally list roads and highways as their top priority.
The results suggest that dollar amounts may affect how voters view these proposals. The housing bond is the least expensive, at $2.85 billion, and received the most support. The flood control bond, costing $4.1 billion, was the second most popular in the poll, followed by education bond ($10.4 billion) and the transportation bond ($19.9 billion).
Also surprising: Seemingly low support (40 percent yes, 45 percent no) for Proposition 84, a ballot initiative to finance water, parks, flood control and conservation projects. Supporters blame the Attorney General's ballot description and say they haven't started their campaign yet.
-- Stuart Leavenworth

Posted by dweintraub at 2:37 PM

Don the Ripper

Give credit to Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata for his masterful job of making it seem like the Assembly killed flood control legislation this year, even though his hand was on the knife.
The Bee's front page headline was "Flood bill killed in Assembly."
The Stockton Record reported that the package "drowned in the Assembly under a tsunami of opposition that ranged from builders to farmers to local governments to the California Chamber of Commerce."
Lost in this blood bath was the fact that the Assembly, not the Senate, set the table for debate on flood control this session. Perata only brought along the knife set. Slicing and dicing, Perata chopped up the Assembly's bills and then reassembled parts of them into an omnibus package at the last minute.
The smorgesborg bill, AB 1665, included elements taken from legislation authored by Assemblymen John Laird and Dave Jones, who then urged Assemblywoman Lois Wolk to endorse the package. Wolk was preparing a floor statement in support. But then some sharp eyes noted that language written by Perata and Sen. Mike Machado of Linden could have created some unintended nightmares for local governments.
One provision would have required cities to demonstrate that any levee upgrades they performed would not add to flood risks downstream. That's a pretty tall order.
In 1986, for instance, flooding and levee breaks in Yuba County prevented a wall of water from surging down the Sacramento River toward Sacramento. Arguably, if Yuba fixes their levees, Sacramento will bear more risks during such flood events in the future.
Does that mean Yuba shouldn't be allowed to upgrade its levees? I doubt that anyone would argue such. Yet Machado and Perata's provision might have created such an effect.
Thus, the bill died in the Assembly. That may have been Perata's intent. He also was able to create some Assembly infighting and end up with a result that satisfied one of his major campaign contributors, the California Building Industry Association.
All in all, a pretty good day for the Don.
--Stuart Leavenworth

Posted by dweintraub at 2:09 PM



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Daniel Weintraub


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