CA redevelopment agencies take plea to governor

The California Redevelopment Association and League of California Cities have sent Gov. Jerry Brown an eight-page letter outlining all the ways the pending Wednesday dissolution of redevelopment agencies is a bad idea.

Read the full letter here.

Among the critical issues they spell out:

  • Possible bond defaults
  • Loss of taxpayer funds
  • Possible violations of federal law
  • Stranded public infrastructure projects
  • Loss of critical staff to implement the law

“Both organizations want to collaborate with the governor and Legislature in order to prevent harm to the public interest and to keep California on track in its economic recovery,” the league wrote on  CA Cities Advocate.

They had hoped to win passage of  a pending bill (SB 659 Padilla) that would postpone the deadline to April 15, but Brown has been quoting saying he saw no reason to “delay the funeral.” The California Supreme Court struck down in December legislation that would have allowed redevelopment agencies to stay in business in exchange for cash payments toward the state deficit.


California, meet Propositions 28 and 29

Secretary of State Debra Bowen has announced the numbers for the two measures set to appear on the June 5 ballot, and interested Californians now can submit arguments to be considered for inclusion in the state’s official voter information guide.

Here are the ballot measures, with their official titles and summaries as written by the state attorney general’s office:

Proposition 28 – Limits on Legislators’ Terms in Office. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. Reduces the total amount of time a person may serve in the state legislature from 14 years to 12 years. Allows a person to serve a total of 12 years either in the Assembly, the Senate, or a combination of both. Applies only to legislators first elected after the measure is passed. Provides that legislators elected before the measure is passed continue to be subject to existing term limits. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: No direct fiscal effect on state or local governments. (09-0048)

Proposition 29 – Imposes Additional Tax on Cigarettes for Cancer Research. Initiative Statute. Imposes additional five cent tax on each cigarette distributed ($1.00 per pack), and an equivalent tax increase on other tobacco products, to fund cancer research and other specified purposes. Requires tax revenues be deposited into a special fund to finance research and research facilities focused on detecting, preventing, treating, and curing cancer, heart disease, emphysema, and other tobacco-related diseases, and to finance prevention programs. Creates nine-member committee charged with administering the fund. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Increase in new cigarette tax revenues of about $855 million annually by 2011-12, declining slightly annually thereafter, for various health research and tobacco-related programs. Increase of about $45 million annually to existing health, natural resources, and research programs funded by existing tobacco taxes. Increase in state and local sales taxes of about $32 million annually. (09-0097.)

People can submit arguments for or against any measure, and those selected for the official ballot guide will be on public display from Feb. 21 through March 12.

State law gives first priority to arguments written by the initiative’s proponents, and then to bona fide citizen associations, and then to individuals. No more than three signers are allowed to appear with an argument or rebuttal to an argument. Ballot arguments can’t exceed 500 words and rebuttals can’t exceed 250 words; all submissions should be typed and double-spaced, and can be hand-delivered to the Secretary of State’s Elections Division at 1500 11th Street, 5th Floor, Sacramento, California 95814; faxed to (916) 653-3214; or emailed to VIGarguments@sos.ca.gov. If faxed or emailed, the original copies must be received within 72 hours. The deadline for ballot arguments is 5 p.m. next Tuesday, Feb. 7; the deadline for rebuttals is 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16.


President Obama to raise funds in SF on Feb. 16

President Barack Obama will be in San Francisco to raise campaign funds on Thursday, Feb. 16.

Chris Cornell in LA last monthThere’ll be a reception at a location yet to be named (when he did something like this last April, it was at the Masonic Auditorium on Nob Hill), featuring a performance by Grammy-winning performer Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave fame. Tickets will cost $100 for general seating; $1,000 for preferred seating; and $7,500, which includes preferred seating and an individual photo with President Obama (but you can have additional people in your photo at a cost of $2,500 per head).

There also will be a much smaller, 60-person dinner (like the one he did last April at salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff’s house) at the San Francisco home of novelist Robert Mailer Anderson and his wife, Nicola Miner, at $35,800 per person. The president will make remarks and take questions at this event, for which the food will be prepared by Michael Tusk, chef and owner of Quince and Cotogna. The dinner will include a musical performance too, but the artist hasn’t been named yet.

As I’d reported when Vice President Joe Biden was coming to town this month, donors can choose to buy a $10,000 package that will include admission and a photo at the President’s bigger event on Feb. 16; admission and a photo at First Lady Michelle Obama’s not-yet-scheduled March event; and entry into other events between now and November. (It’s only $7,500 if you forego the photo with the president.)

As usual, the first $5,000 of a contribution will go the president’s reelection campaign, with half earmarked for the primary election and half for the general. The rest – up to $30,800 – will go to the Democratic National Committee, although the donor can designate that money for a specific recipient somewhere.


Four Californians on Romney’s Latino committee

Four of the 28 members of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s national Hispanic Steering Committee are from California.

“President Obama’s policies have been especially devastating to Hispanic families. Over 2.5 million Hispanics are unemployed today, with the unemployment rate at 11% for Hispanics,” Romney said in the news release. “President Obama does not understand that what makes our country great is our people, not the government. These leaders understand that for our economy to recover, we must free the entrepreneurial spirit that made this the greatest nation in the history of the Earth.”

At a glance, the committee looks pretty Florida-heavy, which isn’t surprising considering the death-match Romney and Newt Gingrich are fighting in that state’s winner-take-all primary next Tuesday.

But, among those serving on the committee are:

    Hector Barreto, who was named in 2001 by President George W. Bush to serve as administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. He resigned in 2006 after an internal investigation revealed the SBA had distributed post-9/11 aid to businesses around the country that had neither requested nor needed it, and after criticisms of a slow response to the Gulf Coast hurricanes of 2005. He now runs an Irvine-based international business consulting firm and general insurance agency.
    Allen Gutierrez of Mission Viejo, who during the Bush Administration was senior advisor to the SBA’s chief operating officer as well as senior advisor to the Office of International Trade. He’s founder and president of the MCA Group, which does federal and private-sector procurement, special events management and multicultural marketing; he’s also executive director of The Latino Coalition, a Los Angeles-based national organization – of which Barreto is board chairman – that represents Latino interests with senior executives of Fortune 500 companies and government agencies.
    Aner Igelesias of Bradbury, president of the King Ranch Market supermarket chain and a member of the Latin Chamber of Commerce, the Unified Grocers Committee, the Mexican-American Grocers Association and the American Grocers Association.
    Hector Barajas of Sacramento, communications director for Revolvis Consulting and a political analyst for Univision and Telemundo. Barajas has served as spokesman for the California State Senate Republican Leader and Caucus, the California Victory 2008 campaign, the Republican National Committee, and the McCain/Palin 2008 and Bush/Cheney 2004 presidential campaigns.

See the entire list, after the jump…
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Court rejects GOP request to stay state Senate maps

The California Supreme Court let stand the use of newly drawn Senate district maps in 2012 crafted by the independent redistricting commission even though voters may have the chance to reject them in November.

After reviewing the pros and cons, the justices concluded in a ruling released a few minutes ago that the redistricting commission’s “certified map is clearly the most appropriate map to be used in the 2012 state Senate elections even if the proposed referendum qualifies for the ballot.”

Read the full ruling here.

The California Republican Party had asked the courts to intervene, arguing that redistricting legislation required a stay if a ballot measure challenging the boundaries was likely to qualify for the ballot. The Republicans’ referendum is in the hands of election clerks, who are verifying signatures. But the outcome won’t be known until Feb. 24, well after the candidate filing period opens Feb. 13.



Bill on media access to prisoners advances

The Assembly voted 47-22 today to pass a Bay Area lawmaker’s bill that would lift the ban on media interviews with specific inmates in California’s prisons.

Since the ban on pre-arranged inmate interviews went into effect in 1996, bill author Tom Ammiano noted, eight versions of this bill have been vetoed by three governors.

“Independent media access to prison inmates is a critical part of keeping our prisons transparent and accountable while providing information to the public,” Ammiano, D-San Francisco, said in a news release.

“Despite the thousands of prisoners who participated in a state-wide hunger strike last year over conditions in the prisons, it was near impossible to get unbiased information about what was happening due to these restrictions,” he said. “Inmates kept in secure housing units (SHU) have no visitation or telephone privileges and information about their solitary confinement punishments are largely unknown to the public even though a disproportionate number of inmate suicides occur in the SHU.”

Ammiano said he’s carrying AB 1270 to increase transparency and public accountability from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which has a $9.2 billion budget.

Sumayyah Waheed, campaign director for the Books Not Bars program of the Oakland-based Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, said in Ammiano’s release that prisons tend to be out-of-sight, out-of-mind for anyone not directly impacted by them. “That’s a recipe for rampant abuse, which is too often the story inside prisons. As taxpayers, we have a right to know what goes on behind prison walls. This bill offers a much-needed step forward in making prisons accountable to the public.”

Full disclosure: The California Newspaper Publishers Association (of which my employer is a member) and the Pacific Media Workers Guild (of which I’m a member) among this bill’s supporters, as is the California Correctional Peace Officers Association and an array of civil-rights groups. There’s no registered opposition to it, according to an Assembly committee analysis from last week.

Still, three Democrats – Wes Chesbro, D-Arcata; Alyson Huber, D-El Dorado Hills; and Norma Torres, D-Pomona – crossed the aisle to vote with most Republicans against the bill. The only Republican who voted for it was Steve Knight, R-Palmdale. And 11 members – four Democrats and seven Republicans – didn’t vote.

The bill now goes to the state Senate.