Higher ed lobbies gubernatorial candidates

A higher education nonprofit organization, The Campaign for College Opportunity, is asking California’s 2010 gubernatorial candidates to sign a pledge of support for improved access to higher education and higher graduation rates.

The Los Angeles-based organization, led by California Business Roundtable president and California State University system trustee Bill Hauck, has a goal to boost by 1 million the number of college graduates by 2025.

That’s the year when the state will have 1 million fewer grads that it needs to supply the workforce, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

The Campaign for College Opportunity advocates for higher education legislation. (Correction: Per the organization’s spokesman Marty Trujillo, the organization has not taken a position on Democratic Assembly Speaker John Perez’ jobs bill, which would fully fund the state’s higher education system and cut recent tuition fee hikes.)

It’s all part of the brewing public relations convergence between the battle over the state’s crumbling budget and the fight between Democrat Jerry Brown and Republican Met Whitman over the governor’s seat.  The governor is one of the three approvals — Assembly and Senate are the other two — required to pass a state budget and everybody knows it.


SCOTUS ruling and California’s ‘open carry’ law

The U.S. Supreme Court, ruling 5-4 this morning in a challenge to Chicago’s handgun ban, ruled that the Second Amendment’s guarantee of an individual right to bear arms applies to state and local gun control laws.

As a practical matter, this means all kinds of state and local gun restrictions will now be subject to more judicial scrutiny. For California, it confirms the already-strong likelihood that AB 1934 – the pending bill that would outlaw “open carry” of unloaded, unconcealed firearms in public places – quickly will be met with a lawsuit if it’s signed into law.

AB 1934’s author is Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, D-San Diego; her office said she wasn’t available to be interviewed today, but issued this statement:

Lori SaldanaWe are reviewing the Justices’ decision in consultation with counsel and giving it the careful consideration required of a Supreme Court ruling. That said, we see nothing in the MacDonald decision that would suggest that it applies to legislation like AB 1934.

Justice Alito on page 40 of his decision reiterates the court’s reassurances in Heller that this decision should not be interpreted as overturning firearm regulations passed by the states and municipalities:

“We made it clear in Heller that our holding did not cast doubt on such longstanding regulatory measures as ‘prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill,’ ‘laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.’… We repeat those assurances here. Despite municipal respondents’ doomsday proclamations, incorporation does not imperil every law regulating firearms.”

Responsible Citizens of California is helping to lead the fight against AB 1934, and press secretary Yih-Chau Chang posted several celebratory blog items on the group’s website today.

“To Assemblywoman Lori Saldana, I would highly recommend that you withdraw the California anti-Open Carry bill, AB 1934, before you are further embarrassed when it fails in the State Senate or is found to be unconstitutional in a court of law,” he wrote. “This dog-and-pony show you dragged out into the public eye to parade in front of your liberal base just before your Assembly career ends was nothing more than a bid for votes to try and start your CA State Senate career. You had better wise up and withdraw AB 1934 while you can still save some political face.”

The Assembly passed Saldana’s bill earlier this month on a 46-30, party-line vote, and the state Senate Public Safety Committee approved it last week 4-3; it goes next to the state Senate Appropriations Committee, and then to the state Senate floor. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has not said whether he’ll sign it if it reaches his desk.


November’s ballot measures get prop numbers

Secretary of State Debra Bowen just rolled ’em out, and here they are —

Proposition 18: Safe, Clean, and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2010 ($11.1 billion bond measure)

Proposition 19: legalizes recreational marijuana use. (Too bad this wasn’t Prop. 20, as proponents would’ve been able to say they’re “For 20.”)

Proposition 20: adds Congressional reapportionment to the authority of the citizens’ redistricting commission created by Prop. 11 of 2008

Proposition 21: establishes $18 annual vehicle license surcharge to help fund state parks and wildlife programs, with free admission to state parks for all surcharged vehicles

Proposition 22: bars state government from taking, borrowing, shifting or restricting use of tax revenues dedicated by law to fund local government, community redevelopment or transportation projects

Proposition 23: rolls back AB 32, the state’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions law, until the state’s unemployment rate drops to 5.5 percent or less for four consecutive quarters

Proposition 24: repeals recently enacted corporate tax breaks letting businesses carry back losses, share tax credits, and use a sales-based income calculation to lower taxable income.

Proposition 25: reduces legislative vote requirement to pass a budget from two-thirds to a simple majority.

Proposition 26: increases legislative vote requirement to impose state levies and charges from a simple majority to two-thirds.

Proposition 27: eliminates citizens redistricting commission created by Prop. 11 of 2008, putting all reapportionment authority back in the Legislature’s hands.


Bay Point man’s ride beats a mule

Democratic Party activist Greg Enholm, of Bay Point, sent over a photo of his role as owner and driver of the silver and black 2006 Chrysler Sebring convertible used to convey Assemblymembers Nancy Skinner of Berkeley and Dave Jones of Sacramento in Saturday’s San Francisco Pride Parade.

Greg even kindly offered to drive me in his convertible if I am ever invited to ride in a parade. That would be a step up for me. The last time I rode in a parade, I was a passenger in my former employer’s (Reno Gazette-Journal) entry in the Nevada Day Parade in Carson City. It was a lovely Western-style wagon pulled by … mules.


With friends like these…

Remember all that U.S.-Russia buddy-buddy stuff that was going on last week as Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited the Bay Area – rubbing elbows with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in Silicon Valley and San Francisco – and Washington, D.C., where he split an order of fries with President Barack Obama?

Not so fast.

The U.S. Department of Justice just announced the arrests yesterday of 10 people who either allegedly were long-term, “deep-cover” secret agents for Russia or allegedly were involved with that intelligence ring.

Four couples and two individuals were arrested at their homes or other sites in Montclair, N.J.; Yonkers, N.Y.; New York City; Boston; and Arlington, Va. One defendant named in the two complaints remains at large.

All of the defendants are charged with conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government without notifying the U.S. Attorney General, which is punishable by up to five years in prison. Nine of the 11 named defendants are also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.


Unions unveil third Brown TV ad

The union-funded organization campaigning for gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown, California Working Families for Jerry Brown for Governor 2010, has released its third video ad.

Watch the 30-second ad, titled “World,” below or at www.CaliforniaWorkingFamilies.com.

GOP opponent Meg Whitman’s camp immediately sent out this response:

“Governor Brown’s ideology of more taxes, more spending, and more regulations is the real enemy of middle-class Californians. Jerry Brown Incorporated is a political conglomerate of unions and special interests determined to defend Sacramento’s status quo and launch misleading attack ads against Meg. Jerry Brown Inc. is learning that voters know Meg Whitman is the only chance for middle-class Californians to get meaningful tax relief, accountability in Sacramento and the jobs our state desperately needs. Meg’s plan eliminates the start-up tax for middle-class entrepreneurs and the capital gains tax for smaller investors, and it provides a new tax credit for middle-class homebuyers. What is Jerry Brown offering? Nothing.”