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Buchanan appointed to chair state reorganization committee

Joan Buchanan

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, has been appointed chairwoman of a special committee that will examine Gov. Jerry Brown’s executive branch reorganization proposal.

Buchanan is more than capable of this task. But sheesh, what did she do to earn this thankless assignment? Hit  Speaker John Perez’ car in the state garage? (Just kidding. About the car.)

Here’s the news release her office just put out:

Assemblymember Joan Buchanan Appointed Chair of Special Committee on Governor’s Reorganization Plan

(Sacramento, CA)—Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) announced that Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez has appointed her Chair of a new special committee that will assess the Governor’s Reorganization Plan No. 2, a plan that will reorganize several agencies and departments of the executive branch.

“The Governor has presented the Legislature with a broad proposal to streamline the administrative functions of the Executive Branch,” Buchanan stated. “I look forward to our discussions on how to make California state government as efficient, accessible, and responsive to the needs of the public as possible.”

Assemblymember Buchanan is currently the Chair of the Budget Subcommittee on State Administration, which has held a number of hearings in the past few months to evaluate some of Governor Brown’s other proposals to reorganize the executive branch. She is also the Chair of the Select Committee on Government Efficiency, Innovation, and Technology.

The committee membership will include members with diverse expertise in the areas the Governor has proposed to reorganize. Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian (R-San Luis Obispo) will serve as Vice Chair, with Assemblymembers Bill Berryhill (R-Stockton), Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento), Linda Halderman (R-Fresno), Isadore Hall (D-Los Angeles), Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward), Alyson Huber (D-El Dorado Hills), Kevin Jeffries (R-Lake Elsinore), Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), V. Manuel Pérez (D-Coachella) and Norma Torres (D-Chino) filling out the rest of the special committee’s membership.

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Assembly looks at wasteful health care district spending

A friend and a foe of the Mt. Diablo Health Care District, targeted by local regulators for transfer to the city of Concord to eliminate costly elections and overhead, are among the speakers at Wednesday morning’s Assembly hearing on health care district.

Assembly Committee on Accountability and Administrative Review Chairman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, will lead the hearing starting at 9:30 a.m., which will be aired via webcast at the California Channel.

Mt. Diablo Health Care District board chairman Jeff Kasper is scheduled to speak, along with district critic and Contra Costa Taxpayers Association Executive Director Kris Hunt.  Contra Costa Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill will also testify. (Speaker list updated on 4/10/2012. LAV)

The Local Agency Formation Commission last month voted to dismantle five-member elected health care district board and turn over its limited remaining duties to Concord’s city council. The district hasn’t run a hospital since 1996. Since then, four civil grand juries and the Local Agency Formation Commission’s hired consultant have concluded that the district has spent the vast majority of its property tax proceeds — $240,000 a year — on elections, overhead and legal bills, with very few dollars going to community services or programs.

Mt. Diablo is a piker compared with other health care districts, according to a recent Bay Citizen analysis of similar agencies statewide.  It found a Peninsula district, for example, with $43 million in reserves that refused to help subsidize health insurance for the poor. It reported that 30 of 74 of California’s taxpayer-funded health care districts no longer run hospitals but continue to collect public dollars, diverting that money for administrative and legal costs, along with benefits for their directors.

“Allegations of administrative waste, wrong doing, and lack of appropriate spending priorities persist, while unmet health care needs linger in their communities,” wrote the committee in a news release about the hearing. “The committee will aim to uncover if health care districts are still the best use of public funds and if they are using their resources to promote public health and welfare, especially given the current health care environment in the state.”

The committee said witnesses will include representatives from the Peninsula Health Care District in San Mateo, the Beach Cities Health District in Redondo Beach, Mt. Diablo Health Care District in Concord, the Legislative Analyst’s Office, health care advocates and the Association of California Healthcare Districts.

The testimony will focus on the health care districts’ current and former purpose, funding mechanisms, Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) oversight, the current challenges of healthcare service delivery, if the health care needs of the state are being met and case studies of health care district expenditures, the committee said.

 

 

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Money race for open East Bay Assembly seats

The East Bay’s open-seat Assembly races are seeing some fierce financial competition, according to campaign finance reports due yesterday.

In the 18th Assembly District, Alameda Vice Mayor Rob Bonta, a Democrat, raised the most from Jan. 1 through March 17 – $76,066.30 – and has loaned his own campaign $7,500; spent $94,323.96 during that period; and had $142,087.82 cash on hand as of March 17. Peralta Community College District Trustee Abel Guillen of Oakland, another Democrat, raised $64,929.24 and has loaned his campaign $13,650; spent $43,991.95; and had $132,944 cash on hand as of March 17. And AC Transit Director-at-Large Joel Young of Oakland raised $32,645.00 and has loaned his campaign $50,000; spent $42,566.85; and had $161,919.94 cash on hand as of March 17. I couldn’t find any fundraising by Rhonda Weber of Alameda, that race’s sole Republican.

In the 20th Assembly District, Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk, a Democrat, raised $32,174.70 and has loaned his campaign $96,000; spent $40,916.18; and had $130,435.08 cash on hand as of March 17. Hayward optometrist Jennifer Ong, another Democrat, raised $33,699.00 and has loaned her campaign $48,100; spent $119,021.85; and had $91,266.06 cash on hand as of March 17. I couldn’t find any fundraising by New Haven Unified School District Trustee Sarabjit Cheema, a Democrat; Hayward Councilman Luis Reynoso, a Republican; or Union City Mayor Mark Green, a nonpartisan candidate.

In the 11th Assembly District, Oakley Councilman Jim Frazier, a Democrat, raised $58,008 and has loaned his own campaign $2,500; spent $91,901; and had $90,543.67 cash on hand as of March 17. Union negotiator Patricia Hernandez of Rio Vista, also a Democrat, raised $19,866.56; spent $34,991.11; and had $15,614.53 cash on hand as of March 17. Retired fire chief Gene Gantt of Vacaville, another Democrat, raised $14,570 and has loaned his own campaign $3,000; spent $26,941.89; and had $16,142.19 cash on hand as of March 17. Suisun City Vice Mayor Mike Hudson, a Republican, raised $40,078.19, spent $40,763.95 and had $594.10 cash on hand as of March 17. Former Vacaville Mayor Len Augustine, a nonpartisan candidate, raised $19,488.99, spent $6,291.50 and had $13,547.49 cash on hand as of March 17. I couldn’t find any fundraising by Democrat Charles Kingeter, a programmer from Suisun City.

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Assembly dream job?

About to graduate from college but don’t have a job lined up? The pay isn’t great but the benefits sound good.

The application period has opened for the 2012-2013 Jesse Unruh Assembly Fellowship Program, an 11-month stint working in the California Legislature.

Fellows earn $1,972 a month plus health, dental and vision benefits. Participants learn about politics and policy, and attend weekly academic seminars where they may earn graduate credits from California State University-Sacramento.

The application deadline is Feb. 22. Applicants must be on track to earn their undergraduate degrees by September.

Download the application at www.csus.edu/calst/assembly.

 

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Assemblywoman Hayashi charged with shoplifting

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley

East Bay Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi has pled not guilty to a charge she shoplifted more than $2,400 in Neiman Marcus clothing on Sunday from the ritzy San Francisco department store, prosecutors say.

The Hayward Democrat has been charged with one count of felony grand theft.

Hayashi spokesman Sam Singer called the incident a “mistake and a misunderstanding.”

“The assemblywoman apologizes for the distraction this has caused,” Singer said. “She is a firm believer in the justice system and hopefully, it will be cleared up shortly.

“Mary has never been arrested for anything. The worst thing she ever got was a speeding ticket.”

Authorities say she was caught on video surveillance walking out of the Union Square retail outlet Sunday around 12:15 p.m. with leather pants and other assorted clothing, said Stephanie Ong Stillman, a San Francisco district attorney spokeswoman.

Neiman Marcus security staff apprehended Hayashi, whose husband is Alameda County Superior Court Judge Dennis Hayashi, outside the store with $2,445 worth of unpaid clothing items.

Prosecutors have video evidence, Stillman said.

Hayashi could face up to three years in jail for the charge, however she has no criminal history, Stillman said.

Hayashi, known for her fashion and style, is undoubtedly hoping for a swift and positive resolution.

The 45-year-old lawmaker will term out of the Assembly next year.

She has opened a committee to run for state Senate in 2014 in the newly configured District 10, whose incumbent, Elaine Alquist, D-Fremont, will term out in 2012.

She had raised nearly $200,000 for her bid as of June 30, according to state campaign finance records.

In 2009, Hayashi earned $115,000 for her state position and her husband made $165,000 on the bench.

 

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Oakley mayor enters AD11 race

Oakley Mayor Jim Frazier

Oakley Mayor Jim Frazier will run for state Assembly next year in a newly carved district that encompasses most of East Contra Costa County and a majority of Solano County.

The 52-year-old Democratic general contractor’s decision to enter the state contest also ends speculation that he will challenge Contra Costa Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho in her re-election bid.

Unlike an upstream fight against a two-term incumbent supervisor, the new 11th Assembly District is wide open. It includes Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Knightsen, Discovery Bay, Bryon and Bethel Island along with Vacaville, Fairfield, Rio Vista and Isleton. (Click here to see a map of the district.)

Frazier is the first to officially declare his candidacy in the heavily Democratic 11th District (19 percentage points Democratic) although others are evaluating the option. Open seats typically draw more people.

Campaign strategy will also change under the state’s new top-two primary rule.

In the past, the primary winner who hailed from the predominant party was almost guaranteed victory in the general election. Next year, the top two vote-getters in the June contest will face off again in November regardless of party affiliation.

Jobs, education and transportation will top Frazier’s policy priority list, he said via telephone prior to his scheduled 4 p.m. today announcement press conference in Oakley.

Frazier also announced endorsements from Democratic Reps. John Garamendi and Jerry McNerney, state Sens. Mark DeSaulnier and Lois Wolk, and Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla.

He was elected to the Oakley City Council in 2008 after serving on the city’s planning commission and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority’s citizen advisory committee.