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Angry words as Democrats move budget forward

Lots of tough words are flying back and forth across the aisle as the Legislature has sent a Democratic party-line budget to Gov. Jerry Brown.

From state Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro:

“Today Democrats have passed a balanced budget and respected the state constitutional deadline and voters’ wishes. While this was the responsible thing to do, it is heartbreaking. Republicans were unwilling to give voters the option to avoid cuts and slashing funding for courts and education.”

“This deadline, and our commitment to meet it, has been known to all, including Republicans, since Proposition 25 passed last November. Republicans’ steadfast resistance to putting another option before voters – to ask whether to continue taxes at their current level instead of letting them expire – is undemocratic.

“The truth is we have no other option to pass a budget that is balanced. Without more revenue, the only option left is to make awful cuts. And these come after we already made $11 billion of tough cuts in March.

“There is no doubt we can do better – we must do better – for California and its future. I call on Republicans to consider the consequences of what is happening here today, and ask all Californians to contact Republican legislators and demand another option.”

“The bill now goes to the governor, who will continue to seek Republican support for an alternative to this harsh, all-cuts budget. All Californians should contact the governor and Republican legislators today to demand a more equitable solution.”

From state Senators Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto; Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres; Bill Emmerson, R-Hemet; and Tom Harman, R-Huntington Beach, the four Republicans seen as pivotal to a budget deal:

Tom Harman“Today’s actions prove that the bridge tax isn’t a stumbling block – it’s political theater. The real stumbling block for the Majority Party are the unions and trial lawyers demanding they block the reform proposals we have been pushing for months.

“Instead of a political drill, today we could have had a real bipartisan budget – one that allows voters to weigh in on Governor Brown’s tax proposal as well as a hard spending cap, significant reforms to our broken pension system, and improvements to California’s business climate to spur the economy and get people back to work.”

From Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom:

“Today, through their inexplicable refusal to engage in a responsible and balanced budget solution, Republican legislators have forced an additional $300M in devastating cuts to our public universities.

“For six months, Governor Jerry Brown and Democratic leaders have tried to work with Republican legislators to reach common-sense, common-ground solutions to California’s budget problems that would have minimized already enormous cuts to the University of California and California State University systems, the cornerstone of California’s economic engine.

“But, even after Democrats passed $12.5B of budget cuts in March, including $1B from higher education, Republican lawmakers have been incapable and unwilling to meet anywhere near the middle.

“These cuts are penny wise and pound foolish and threaten to further damage a stretched-to-the-limit public university system that was once the envy of the world. In volatile economic times, we should be investing in our universities to ensure we are producing the highly-skilled, educated workforce California needs to compete in the global economy.

“If Republicans want to walk the walk on job creation and attract and retain businesses in California, they should immediately return to the table and negotiate a good-faith solution that reverses these additional cuts to the State’s universities.”

From Board of Equalization member George Runner:

George Runner“Make no mistake, this Democrat budget isn’t about solving California’s fiscal problems—it’s only goal is to ensure lawmakers keep their paychecks flowing.

“When voters last fall granted Democrats their wish of majority-vote budgets, they demanded lawmakers forfeit their pay if those budgets are not approved on-time. But it was never the voters’ intention for lawmakers to approve a sham budget simply to keep their paychecks coming.

“What’s worse is that to protect their own pay, Democrats are poised to sacrifice the paychecks of thousands of California small businesses known as affiliates. Up to 25,000 of these Internet entrepreneurs will lose their affiliate status if Democrats approve a so-called ‘Amazon tax.’ According to the Board of Equalization’s analysis, ‘termination of affiliate programs would have an adverse impact on state employment’ and ‘lead to lower revenues.’

“The dumbest idea of all is the Democrats’ plan to sell state buildings for one-time revenue. If lawmakers want real one-time dollars, they should consider my proposals to raise billions in revenue by (1) granting an interest and penalty holiday to spur collection of delinquent tax payments and (2) selling-off aging debts owed the state.”

More, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
Under: Assembly, California State Senate, Ellen Corbett, Fiona Ma, Gavin Newsom, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Leland Yee, Lt. Governor, Mark Leno, state budget, Tom Harman | 4 Comments »

Lt. Gov’s kids now a Newsom twosome

Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and Jennifer Siebel Newsom announced the birth of their second child, Hunter Siebel Newsom, born in San Francisco at 9:18 a.m. today. Hunter is 20.5 inches long and weighs 8 lbs. 4 oz.

“The Newsoms and their 20-month old daughter Montana look forward to bringing baby Hunter home and spending time together with family,” according to the lieutenant governor’s news release.

Posted on Sunday, June 12th, 2011
Under: Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor | 1 Comment »

Canciamilla: Burton doesn’t speak for all Dems

Former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla, D-Pittsburg, accompanied Republican incumbent Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado to his campaign stop this afternoon in Walnut Creek. Per my article, he explained that serving with Maldonado in the Assembly convinced him that Maldonado is truly interested in working across the political aisle, and is a straight shooter who means what he says.

Canciamilla and Maldonado 10-29-10 -- photo by Josh RichmanCanciamilla said that’s why other moderate Democratic former lawmakers like John Dutra of Fremont and Joe Nation of San Rafael are on Maldonado’s side, too.

That reminded me of what happened last week when Dutra, now an independent, was named the head of a Democratic and independent voter coalition supporting Republican gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman: California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton unleashed his legendary ire.

“John (Dutra) is a nice guy, but if that’s the best she can do, her campaign is in more trouble than I think it is,” Burton had said at the time, noting Dutra finished third in a three-way Democratic primary for state Senate and since had abandoned the party.

So I asked Canciamilla if he was prepared to brave Burton’s raging rhetoric himself, and he replied with some of his own.

“I respect John but I think the years of drugs and alcohol have taken their toll,” Canciamilla said. “He doesn’t speak for all Democrats, and the extremes are entitled to their opinion but they shouldn’t be allowed to be the dominant voices in the debate.”

UPDATE @ 4:15 P.M.: While we’re on the subject of cross-party endorsements, Democrat Gavin Newsom‘s campaign sent out an advisory a few minutes ago announcing his endorsement for lieutenant governor by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Republican. “Running a city requires creativity and a commitment to solutions that work, regardless of their ideological origins,” Bloomberg said in the news release. “Mayor Newsom has demonstrated a dedication to innovative policies that protect the environment, improve the city’s education system, and create jobs. Gavin Newsom will bring this commitment to making government work for its citizens to Sacramento.”

Posted on Friday, October 29th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Abel Maldonado, Assembly, Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor | 6 Comments »

We knew the hair would come into it eventually.

I talked with Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado yesterday and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom today for a story we’ll publish next week about their contest for the lieutenant governor’s office. Here’s an amusing snippet:

Newsom blasts Maldonado for taking campaign money from oil and energy companies while opposing AB 32, California’s greenhouse gas emissions law, and other air and water protection efforts. Maldonado replied that he opposed AB 32 because the Legislature should enact regulations instead of leaving it to the California Air Resources Board, which doesn’t answer to voters; however, he opposes Proposition 23, the ballot measure to roll back AB 32, lest it discourage clean-energy sector investment. He added that he has always opposed off-shore oil drilling, and that Newsom is hypocritical given his personal ties to the Getty family of oil heirs and his own family’s investments in concerns such as Transocean, which operated the now-notorious BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig. “He’s oil soaked … His whole life is oil.”

“Maybe he’s referring to my hair,” Newsom quipped, adding the oil interests Maldonado cites were independent investments made on his wife’s behalf, having nothing to do with him.

Posted on Friday, October 15th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Abel Maldonado, Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor | No Comments »

Maldonado takes conservative heat on Prop. 8

A conservative group is calling Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, the Republican nominee to keep the job come November, “incompetent and dangerous” given his refusal to mount a legal defense of Proposition 8’s same-sex marriage ban while the governor is gone.

The Capitol Resource Institute, a Sacramento-based conservative advocacy group, issued a news release last Friday saying conservative leaders led by former Republican attorney general candidate John Eastman had asked to meet with Maldonado to discuss the issue.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown have declined to defend the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the November 2008 measure that amended the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. A federal judge has deemed the measure unconstitutional, and arguments have ensued about whether Prop. 8’s proponents – who were allowed to intervene in the trial to defend the measure – now have standing to appeal the judge’s ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“But Abel Maldonado is a supporter of Proposition 8 and hopefully more willing to honor the obligations of his office than the current Attorney General has been” Eastman said in Friday’s release. “Importantly, while the Governor is traveling outside of the State, all of the rights and responsibilities of the office of Governor rest with Mr. Maldonado.”

The CRI posted Maldonado’s office and campaign numbers on its website so supporters could call and urge him to file an appeal defending Prop. 8. Monday was the deadline for doing so, and the deadline came and went without any state action.

Today, the CRI issued a release saying Maldonado was challenged today on Eric Hogue’s KTKZ radio show as to his refusal to act on Proposition 8; Maldonado apparently said he’d been unable to deal with the appeal issue due to being consumed with the San Bruno disaster. Later in the interview, he indicated his inaction may have been more intentional, explaining he has a partnership with the Governor.

“We certainly appreciate the attention that Mr. Maldonado paid to San Bruno, but we will not allow him to exploit that disaster as an excuse for ignoring the necessary filing of this appeal,” CRI executive director Karen England said in the release. “The requests for the Lieutenant Governor to sign this appeal began prior to the San Bruno incident and were repeated with intensity for several days after the explosion.”

Eastman had prepared the necessary paperwork for Maldonado to file the appeal; all Maldonado had to do was pull the trigger, the release said. Said England:

Karen England“Let me be candid. Maldonado is incompetent and disingenuous if he says he could not find a few minutes to approve this filing in his first five days as acting governor. For several days his staff indicated they would call back with an answer and the Lieutenant Governor complained that the pressure from the public was so intense on Monday that they could not use their phone system. He could have freed those phones up immediately by giving the go ahead.”

“The Lieutenant governor position is the warm-up position for our next governor. Four or eight years from now conservatives will be looking for a candidate for governor. I know we do not want Maldonado on that list. For now, we believe that Maldonado should refrain from saying he is a supporter of Proposition 8. If he could not be bothered to assure that the initiative received a proper hearing in the courts, then he should not exploit the issue by claiming he backed the measure.”

Legally speaking, woe is the lieutenant governor who litigates on his own and then leaves the governor and attorney general to file follow-up paperwork. He’d be burning a lot of bridges, including the one that got him into office, for a ploy that wouldn’t gey far at all.

Politically speaking, it would’ve been electoral suicide for Maldonado to act on his own – or the CRI’s – initiative on Prop. 8 while Schwarzenegger was overseas. Maldonado is doing all he can right now to appear moderate in order to attract decline-to-state and crossover Democratic voters in his general-election showdown with Democratic nominee San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Appeasing the GOP’s most conservative edges won’t do him a lot of good come November. If Eastman’s ideology, including his same-sex marriage stance, was so popular with his own party, why’d he get creamed by Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley in the GOP primary for Attorney General?

Posted on Tuesday, September 14th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Abel Maldonado, Lt. Governor, same-sex marriage | 2 Comments »

SF Dem group snubs Newsom for Lt. Gov.

The political action committee of San Francisco for Democracy – a grassroots progressive group “inspired by the leadership of Howard Dean” – released its slate of endorsements yesterday for November’s election. The group endorsed Democrats for every congressional, legislative and statewide office – with the exception of the lieutenant governor’s office, for which San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is the Democratic nominee.

The group’s website indicates the 60 percent threshold for endorsement wasn’t reached for that race during an Aug. 17 endorsement meeting. I couldn’t immediately reach the group’s president or communication director this afternoon, and my query to Newsom’s campaign wasn’t immediately returned. The campaign of Republican incumbent Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado chose not to comment.

Two polls last month – one commissioned by Maldonado’s campaign, the other independent – showed Newsom and Maldonado in a statistical dead heat.

UPDATE @ 12:47 P.M. FRIDAY: First, I was mistaken in calling San Francisco for Democracy an “SF Dem group” – it’s a nonpartisan progressive club, president Tim Durning said in a voicemail he left for me this morning. Durning went on to explain that Green candidate Jimi Castillo and Peace & Freedom candidate C.T. Weber got enough support from members of the club that Gavin Newsom didn’t have enough left to break the 60 percent threshold required for an endorsement; Republican Abel Maldonado was “a nonfactor in the race,” he said.

Posted on Thursday, September 2nd, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Abel Maldonado, Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor, San Francisco politics | 6 Comments »

Newsom leads Maldo in fundraising for Lt.Gov.

Incumbent Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, the former state Senator from Santa Maria appointed and confirmed to the job earlier this year, today reported raising almost $127,000 and spending less than $12,000 from May 23 through June 30, leaving him with almost $90,600 cash on hand at mid-year.

That puts him well behind Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor Gavin Newsom, currently San Francisco’s mayor, who reported raising more than $345,600 and spending almost $452,800 from May 23 through June 30, leaving him with almost $495,000 cash on hand at mid-year.

Maldonado had been peddling some good news for his campaign earlier today – a Hill Research Associates poll that showed him neck and neck with Newsom, despite Newsom’s superior name recognition. The poll of 602 likely voters who were interviewed July 10-12 put Maldonado at 42 percent and Newsom at 41 percent, with a four-percentage-point margin of error.

The campaign’s news release said this poll – which I couldn’t find on Maldonado’s website to check the phrasing and framing, so I’ll take with a grain of salt until someone sends me a copy as I’ve asked – found Maldonado has strong cross-over appeal, pulling 23 percent of likely Democratic voters and holding a 2.5-to-1 favorability ration among Democrats. Newsom, the release claimed, is less likely to pull Republican votes due to his polarizing stances on same-sex marriage and so on.

Posted on Monday, August 2nd, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Abel Maldonado, campaign finance, Gavin Newsom, Lt. Governor | 1 Comment »

A coup in one of California’s third parties?

OK, we’re gonna get pretty far down in the weeds on this one, but hey, we’re all political junkies, right?

Chelene Nighingale, 43, a conservative anti-illegal-immigration activist and former nonprofit executive and small business owner from Palmdale, was asked by national Constitution Party leaders to run in California as an American Independent Party candidate for governor. Also seeking that nomination was AIP Chairman Markham Robinson, 66, a financial-planning software company owner from Vacaville.

With many vote-by-mail ballots yet to be counted, results as of Wednesday afternoon show Nightingale beat Robinson, 58.2 percent to 41.8 percent.

This is interesting – I hope? – because of the schism that this party has seen in recent years. The split happened in 2008 as one faction recognized Jim King of Montebello as AIP chairman and the other recognized Ed Noonan of Yuba City; the factions disagreed on foreign-policy issues and on the influence of national Constitution Party founder Howard Phillips on the state party.

King’s faction chose to remain affilated with the Constitution Party, but the Secretary of State’s office didn’t recognize it and so its candidates didn’t appear on California’s ballots; Noonan’s faction pulled out of the Constitution Party and joined a new national party – America’s Independent Party – founded by perennial candidate Alan Keyes, who went on 2008’s ballot as the AIP’s presidential candidate. Robinson later succeeded Noonan as the state AIP chair.

So if a Constitution Party-backed candidate just beat the sitting AIP chairman for the AIP’s gubernatorial nomination, it seems fair to say the battle for this party’s soul continues. In fact, King won the AIP’s nomination for lieutenant governor unopposed.

However, Noonan – also the founder of the “California Mormon Battalion,” who posted an anti-major-party article Monday entitled “Are you the devil’s prostitute?” – did vanquish the Constitution Party-supported Don Grundmann – a San Leandro chiropractor and herbalist bent on eliminating the Federal Reserve, the IRS and gay rights – and Al Salehi of Beverly Hills this week for the AIP’s nomination for U.S. Senate: Noonan with 39.4 percent, Grundmann with 33.9 percent and Salehi with 26.7 percent.

Perhaps the fighting is so fierce because the stakes are so small – the AIP as of May 24 had 397,136 registered voters statewide, 2.34 percent of California’s registered electorate. That does make it the largest of the state’s “third parties,” well ahead of the Greens and Libertarians, though some believe the AIP’s ranks are perpetually inflated by voters who want to be “independent” and accidentally register under the American Independent Party rather than signing up for decline-to-state status.

At any rate, however, the AIP seems unlikely to win any state or federal races anytime soon. But it sure is interesting to watch…

Posted on Wednesday, June 9th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Lt. Governor, U.S. Senate | 20 Comments »

A musical primary post-mortem

When I’m having a good day, or sometimes when I’m down, I sometimes give myself a gift on the limited budget available to me as a reporter: a 99-cent splurge on new iTunes song for my iPod. And so as the primary election winners strut and the losers lick their wounds, here are a few suggestions for songs they might want to add to their playlists:

Meg Whitman, the billionaire former eBay CEO who spent $71.1 million out of her own pocket to buy the Republican gubernatorial nomination: “Money” by Pink Floyd, or “Killer Queen” by Queen

Steve Poizner, buried under Whitman’s $71.1 million and a 37-percentage-point deficit in the election results: “Wipeout” by the Surfaris

Chris Kelly, who spent $12 million out of pocket to lose the Democratic primary for Attorney General to San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris by 17 percentage points; PG&E President and CEO Peter Darbee, whose company spent $46.4 million on the unsuccessful Proposition 16; and Mercury Insurance Group President and CEO Gabriel Tirador, whose company spent $15.9 million on the unsuccessful Proposition 17: “Can’t Buy Me Love,” by the Beatles

Carly Fiorina, who as the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate has had the last laugh after people snickered at her “demon sheep” ad attacking rival Tom Campbell: “Sheep” by Pink Floyd

Abel Maldonado, the appointed incumbent who – despite winning the GOP’s nomination to try to keep the lieutenant governor’s office – knows his party wants him and needs him but there ain’t no way it’s ever gonna love him: “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” by Meat Loaf

Gavin Newsom, the San Francisco mayor who won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor but might have his own words from 2008 on same-sex marriage come back to haunt him in November’s general election: “Like It Or Not,” by Madonna

Steve Cooley, the Los Angeles District Attorney who broke from California tradition by being a moderate capable of winning a Republican primary: “Middle of the Road,” by the Pretenders

Tom Torlakson, the Antioch Assemblyman who placed second and so will go to a November runoff – at which time he’s likely to pick up a lot of the Democratic votes that went yesterday to third-place finisher Gloria Romero, along with stronger Democratic turnout overall – against former school district superintendent Larry Aceves for state Superintendent of Public Instruction: “Time Is On My Side,” by the Rolling Stones

Mike Villines, the Clovis Assemblyman and former Assembly Republican Leader widely berated within the GOP for OKing a budget deal with tax hikes last year, who now is eight-tenths of a percentage point – 11,204 votes – behind political unknown Brian FitzGerald, an Insurance Department attorney from Napa who raised no money, in the GOP primary for Insurance Commissioner: “Living on the Edge” by Aerosmith

Brian FitzGerald, who might want to ask himself, “Well, how did I get here?” : “Once in a Lifetime,” by the Talking Heads

Posted on Wednesday, June 9th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, 2010 governor's race, Abel Maldonado, Attorney General, ballot measures, Carly Fiorina, Chris Kelly, Gavin Newsom, Kamala Harris, Lt. Governor, Meg Whitman, Mike Villines, political humor, Propositions, Steve Poizner, Tom Torlakson, U.S. Senate | 7 Comments »

Hahn concedes Lt.Gov. race to Gavin Newsom

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn, the scion of a political dynasty in her city, had seemed to have the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor wrapped up by early this year, standing well ahead of state Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, in the polls. That is, until San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom jumped into the race, only months after having scoffed at the idea of doing so.

At this hour, with about a quarter of the state’s precincts having reported in, Newsom leads Hahn by almost 23 percentage points, and Hahn just issued this statement:

The last several months of campaigning for Lieutenant Governor have been an amazing experience. I have traveled up and down the state and met so many new people and heard so many great ideas. And I learned that all of us really want the same thing – a better California.

I was so humbled by all the support I received. And I really enjoyed using this experience to educate people about the role of the Lieutenant Governor in California. Together, we focused on how the Lieutenant Governor can really transform our state. We can make higher education affordable and accessible to every young person. We can continue to protect the environment, but also focus on creating new jobs and getting every Californian back to work.

At the end of this hard fought campaign, I think we have made a difference – thanks to you.

I want to congratulate Gavin Newsom on running a good, clean campaign. He has done some groundbreaking work as mayor of San Francisco and I know that he will bring that experience to Sacramento to shake things up. I will be supporting him in November, and I hope that you will join me.

November is pivotal for Democrats. We must work together to elect Barbara Boxer, Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom and the entire Democratic ticket. This is our year. Let’s make California great again.

Posted on Tuesday, June 8th, 2010
Under: 2010 election, Gavin Newsom, Janice Hahn, Lt. Governor | 3 Comments »