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Schwarzenegger cuts Nunez’ son’s prison term

Arnold Schwarzenegger on his last day as California’s governor has commuted the state prison sentence of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez’ son, who was involved in a fatal stabbing in 2008 near San Diego State University.

Esteban Nunez was serving a 16-year term in connection with the death of Luis Dos Santos.

“Santos’s death is tragic, and I do not discount the gravity of the offense. But given Nunez’s limited role in Santos’s death, and considering that, unlike (Ryan) Jett, Nunez had no criminal record prior to this offense, I believe Nunez’s sentence is excessive,” the governor wrote. “Accordingly, I commute Nunez’s sentence to the lower term for the crimes for which he was convicted: seven years in State prison.”

The commutation cites Nunez’ probation report in noting that he and his friends had been drinking and were turned away from a fraternity party before Jett picked a fight with Santos and Brandon Scheerer. “Not surprisingly, there are different versions of the fight. However, the following key facts are not in dispute: During the fight, Jett stabbed Santos once through the chest, severing his heart,” the commutation says, noting Nunez admitted to stabbing someone else in the stomach; Nunez, Jett and their friends then fled to Sacramento, where they burned their clothes and threw their knives in the Sacramento River.

Nunez, then 19 and with no previous record, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter with the use of a knife, as well as to assaulting and inflicting great bodily injury upon two other people; he was sentenced to a total of 16 years in state prison. Nunez applied for a commutation of his sentence on the ground that his sentence is disproportionate in comparison to the sentence for Jett, who actually inflicted the mortal wound upon Santos.

“Considering Nunez’s limited role in the killing and his clean prior criminal record, I believe his sentence is disproportionate in comparison to Jett’s. The lower terms for voluntary manslaughter (three years) and assault with a deadly weapon (two years each) would be more appropriate in light of these differences,” Schwarzenegger wrote.

UPDATE @ 5:50 P.M. MONDAY: Lots more on this today here.

Posted on Sunday, January 2nd, 2011
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, Fabian Nunez, State Prisons | 12 Comments »

FPPC clears Fabian Nunez of two complaints

California’s Fair Political Practices Commission has cleared former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, of accusations that he illegally lived high on the hog using campaign funds and funneled contributions through a nonprofit organization.

One FPPC letter to Nunez dated Oct. 14 deals with a complaint the commission received two years ago alleging that his and his committee’s spending “appeared inappropriate and were in violation of the personal use provisions of the Political Reform Act.” That complaint had included detailed listings of more than $155,000 in spending between January 2005 and June 2007.

Several days before this complaint was filed, the Los Angeles Times had run an article detailing some of Nunez’ spending at high-end restaurants, hotels and boutiques around the world.

The letter says the FPPC reviewed the complaint’s information, and notes that the Franchise Tax Board had audited Nunez’ campaign statements for January 2004 through December 2006, making no findings of impropriety.

“Based on our review, it appeared likely that the expenditures identified in the complaint were legitimate and would not violate the personal use laws,” the letter says. “Expenditures for items such as florists, food, gifts, meetings, fundraising and travel are routinely made by many candidates and officeholders using campaign funds, and these expenditures are reasonably related to a political, legislative or governmental purpose. For expenditures that may have conferred a substantial personal benefit on you, we determined that it appeared likely or that you would be able to establish that these expenditures were directly related to a political, legislative or governmental purpose.”

Based on that, the letter says, the FPPC didn’t conduct an in-depth investigation and has now closed its file on the matter.

In another Oct. 14 letter, the FPPC said it also has closed its file on a 2008 complaint that Nunez violated the Political Reform Act’s contribution-limit provisions in 2005 and 2006 with payments made through a nonprofit called Collective Space Inc. The complaint claimed some contributors who’d already maxed out their legal contributions to Nunez gave more money through the nonprofit for charitable events featuring Nunez and benefiting him politically.

This letter says the FPPC’s review found payments were made to Collective Space at Nunez’ behest even while he and his staff were involved with its events, but “this is not prohibited, and the Speaker’s or his staff’s involvement in the event, or the inclusion of the Speaker’s name in a charity event or its advertising, would not violate the Act or cause the payments to Collective Space to qualify as contributions.”

Posted on Tuesday, October 27th, 2009
Under: Assembly, campaign finance, Fabian Nunez, General | 3 Comments »

More from Schwarzenegger’s SF speech

The governor visited San Francisco today mainly to stump for the May special election budget-reform agenda, but lots of other topics came up during a question-and-answer period as well.

For example, he said he’s “absolutely” in favor of extending Legislative term limits; former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez had the right idea with last year’s Proposition 93, but would’ve fared better with voters if he’d packaged term limits with redistricting reform to prove he wasn’t “acting out of selfish reasons.” Nunez, along with then-state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, were among lawmakers who would’ve been “grandfathered” into longer tenures had the measure passed.

Lawmakers need two or three years just to learn the ropes and get up to speed, Schwarzenegger said today; under current rules, that’s half the time someone can spend in the Assembly. “I think it’s a disservice to the California people,” he said.

Lots more, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, March 12th, 2009
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, economy, education, Fabian Nunez, Global warming, May 2009 special election, State Prisons | No Comments »

What’s it like to be Fabian Nunez right now?

Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez has joined that small, sad fraternity of elected officials whose children stand accused of heinous crimes.

Esteban Armando Nunez, 19, and three others were arrested in Sacramento on Tuesday and charged with murder and assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the Oct. 4 slaying of a college student from Concord in San Diego. According to the arrest warrant, “Nunez said whatever happens, he would take the rap for it” and that “hopefully his dad would take care of it and could get them off on self defense.”

It’s heartbreaking, in so many ways — first and foremost for the family of Luis Santos, the young man killed in the incident. There can be no true, full justice for the loss of a child.

But you’ve got to feel for Fabian Nunez too, just as so many must’ve felt for Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums, whose son, Michael, has repeatedly been denied parole from his 15-to-life sentence for murdering a reputed drug dealer in 1979. Or for Oakland City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, whose namesake son is serving 14 years in prison as a serial rapist.

You’d have to feel for any parent who sees his or her child stand accused this way, to understand the doubt and dismay inherent in pondering what went so terribly wrong. Whether or not the parent had a close relationship, or any relationship at all with the child, seems to matter little when you know the person up there in jail togs and chains is your blood. As a courts reporter, I used to see that horror in parents’ eyes all the time; as a parent, I imagine I feel it every time I read a story like Dellums’ or De La Fuente’s or Nunez’s.

Even those whose kids stand accused of lesser crimes – think Jeb Bush’s Noelle, or Al Gore’s namesake son – must feel this pain, though they need not take upon themselves the pain of victims and their families.

Any parent of any defendant must feel this way, but I’d imagine that to endure it as an elected official means a certain sort of amplification: The public has chosen you to represent its interests, and now it sees your child as the very bogeyman you were elected to protect against. There will be no privacy for you during this painful process; all the eyes that watched your work will now watch your personal pain as well.

Then again, it could be so much worse. Just ask former state Senator and Secretary of State Bruce McPherson.

You don’t have to agree with a politician’s politics to empathize with him or her as a human being, as a parent. So think a good thought for Fred and Kathy Santos of Concord as they grapple with the tragic loss of their son, but think one as well for Fabian Nunez as he grapples with how and why his got so far away from him.

Posted on Thursday, December 4th, 2008
Under: Al Gore, Fabian Nunez, Ignacio De La Fuente, Ron Dellums | No Comments »

Jerry Brown’s 2010 campaign raises serious cash

That soft “whump” you might’ve heard if you were listening reallllllly hard yesterday was the sound of $205,000 being reported into Attorney General Jerry Brown’s “Jerry Brown 2010” campaign committee. All of it was raised in the second half of June, in increments of $12,000 or less, from an assortment of labor unions, attorneys and FOJs (Friends of Jerry).

The former Oakland mayor, elected to his current job in 2006, has been saying for a while that he might make a run for governor in 2010. (He can do so because the two terms he already served as governor, from 1975 to 1983, were before California’s term-limit law was enacted in 1990.) It’ll be a crowded Democratic primary field — among those confirmed or suspected to be interested in a 2010 gubernatorial run are, in no particular order, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, Treasurer Bill Lockyer, former state Controller Steve Westly, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez — but many say Brown is the man to beat, given his enormous name recognition and fundraising capabilities. This sudden burst of cash could be evidence that’s true.

See a list of all the donations reported Sunday by Jerry Brown 2010, after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, June 30th, 2008
Under: Bill Lockyer, Elections, Fabian Nunez, Gavin Newsom, General, Jack O'Connell, Jerry Brown, Sacramento | 1 Comment »

Quotable quotes on same-sex marriage ruling

I’ve been innundated by news releases today offering comments from elected officials, candidates, advocacy groups and your great aunt Bessie on the California Supreme Court’s decision striking down state law’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstituitional. There was room for but a fraction of them in our story, so if you want to read a slew of verbatim quotes, see ‘em (in no particular order) after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 15th, 2008
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barbara Lee, Don Perata, Ellen Tauscher, Fabian Nunez, General, Karen Bass, Leland Yee, Lynn Woolsey, Mark Leno, Nancy Pelosi, Sandre Swanson | 9 Comments »

New ad blasts GOP for yacht-tax loophole

Here’s the Courage Campaign‘s new television ad “re-branding California Republicans as the ‘Yacht Party’ for refusing to close a ‘yacht tax’ loophole despite an initial $16 billion state budget deficit.”

United Healthcare Workers-West and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, D-Los Angeles, are joining with more than 550 small donors to air the ads in Sacramento and San Francisco today and Thursday, and in Walnut Creek, Palm Springs, and other areas at times not yet determined.

The “Yacht Party” concept began on Calitics, a state politics blog. Netroots activists there came up with the term and then produced a one-minute YouTube video, created by blogger David Dayen; that video inspired this ad.

UPDATE @ 3:20 P.M. WEDNESDAY: Man, they make it TOO easy. This just in from the California Democratic Party:

Perhaps the fumes from the engines on their power yachts finally got to them. That’s the only logical explanation we can think of as to why the Assembly Republicans, breaking their own record for political tone-deafness, would have chosen the swanky new boutique hotel Le Rivage as the location for their caucus retreat.

Nestled into the banks of the Sacramento River, Le Rivage offers “elegant surroundings, select accommodations, impeccable service, and unique amenities combine to create the finest luxury hotel in California’s capital.” What unique amenities, you ask?

How about – you guessed it — “luxury yacht parking, long term and short term.”

According to the hotel’s website: Le Rivage Hotel proudly hosts Sacramento’s premier yacht parking. Conveniently located adjacent to the luxury hotel and on The Sacramento River. Le Rivage Marina includes

  • 25 permanent slips from 36-100ft vessels
  • Dual 50 amp service
  • Pump-out station
  • Boat catering
  • Short-term parking
  • Yacht sales
  • Use of hotel pool, whirlpool, and fitness center with berth rental

  • What better way for Assembly Republicans to celebrate their crowning legislative accomplishment of the new session thus far – their killing of the bill to close the “sloophole”?

    Posted on Wednesday, March 26th, 2008
    Under: Fabian Nunez | No Comments »

    Reporters want net access in state Capitol

    Sacramento reporters have been complaining for some time about a lack of Internet access in the state Capitol.

    Steve Geissinger — the Capitol Correspondents Association of California‘s president and a reporter for this newspaper — said perhaps the state and the CCAC, through fundraising, could forge a 50-50 deal so the deficit-plagued state doesn’t bear the whole cost of providing adequate Internet access for reporting on things such as — well, the deficit.

    At least one lawmaker reportedly agrees and has been talking with the CCAC about a deal, although this person asked not to be identified before an agreement is reached.

    Follow us after the jump for a letter the CCAC sent to state officials yesterday, including some comparisons that show just how far the supposedly high-tech Golden State has fallen behind… Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted on Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
    Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Assembly, California State Senate, Don Perata, Fabian Nunez, General, Media, Sacramento | 1 Comment »

    State budget deficit widens to $16 billion

    The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office budget review is out, and the news is grim: “Primarily due to the continued deterioration of the state’s revenue outlook, we project that the state’s budget shortfall (prior to any corrective actions) has increased to about $16 billion.”

    That’s up from about $14.5 million, and this increase essentially just ate up the corrective actions passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor last week. Read as: Back to square one.

    Furthermore, the LAO says Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggers’s “budget-balancing approach is fundamentally flawed.

    “Its across-the-board reductions reflect little effort to prioritize and determine which state programs provide essential services or are most critical to California’s future. In the absence of a credible plan that prioritizes state spending and revenues, we offer an alternative approach for the Legislature’s consideration. By making more targeted reductions and adding ongoing revenue solutions, we believe this approach offers the Legislature a better foundation to begin crafting a 2008‑09 budget that focuses on essential services.”

    In short, cuts alone aren’t the wise way to go; we must increase California’s revenues, too. The LAO suggests reducing, limiting or eliminating various tax credits, deductions and exemptions.

    Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez says the LAO report “makes it clear that a slash-and-harm, cuts-only approach of dismantling state government won’t fix our budget problem.

    “The report backstops our commitment to taking a balanced approach that includes eliminating tax loopholes and raising revenues so we will not have to close parks, lay off teachers, and put our state’s most vulnerable citizens at risk,” Nunez said. “We’ve taken care of half the problem with tough cuts, and with this outline, will continue careful deliberations to enact a budget that reflects the values of Californians rather than anti-tax martyrs.”

    Meanwhile, the Education Coalition — representing more than 1.7 million parents, teachers, school board members, school employees and administrators — has released a new radio ad featuring parents at a PTA meeting talking about the impact of the Governor’s proposed budget cuts to students and schools, and urging Californians to call the Governor and their Legislators to tell them “no more education funding cuts.” Listen to it here:

    UPDATE @ 12:54 P.M. WEDNESDAY: “Now that the Legislative Analyst’s Office has released its analysis of my 2008-09 budget proposal, I am looking forward to discussing the analysis and our budget with all four legislative leaders,” Gov. Schwarzenegger says. “While I believe that we should begin negotiations with all ideas on the table, I have been very clear in my position against raising taxes to fix Sacramento’s spending problem and our budget.”

    Posted on Wednesday, February 20th, 2008
    Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Fabian Nunez | No Comments »

    Yacht-tax loophole stays open

    Assembly Republicans voted down a bill today which would’ve closed a tax loophole letting those who buy yachts and aircraft avoid paying California taxes.

    The Assembly voted 47-18 for SBX3-8, but because tax matters require a two-thirds vote for passage, it failed. All Assembly Democrats voted for it, while 18 Republicans voted against it and 13 more Republicans failed to vote on it despite being present at the State Capitol today.

    The bill would extend from 90 days to a full year the amount of time a new yacht or aircraft bought out of state must be stored outside California in order to avoid the state’s sales and use tax. Closing the loophole would bring in an estimated $5 million this year and $21 million next year.

    Some might say that’s chump change, and in the context of the state’s $146 billion budget, it’s hard to argue. But critics would argue that while payments to schools are delayed, MediCal provider reimbursements are slashed, welfare cost-of-living increases are postponed, judicial vacancies go unfilled and far more draconian measures are considered to close the state’s enormous budget deficit, why would a fiscal conservative vote to maintain ANY tax loophole for ANYBODY? It’s not about the dollar amount, it’s about the philosophy, about the message it sends to the state.

    “We have just had to make serious cuts in health care and education to keep the state solvent,” Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, D-Los Angeles, says in his news release. “For Assembly Republicans to then turn around and cover up for wealthy yacht owners who hide their boats so they’ll pay less tax is nothing short of reckless and callous. The fact that even some Republicans who had previously supported this measure didn’t vote for it today is particularly troubling. Instead of closing ranks Republicans should be closing the yacht loophole. Be assured this matter is not finished: closing the ‘sloophole’ will be the top item I bring up in every budget discussion before any further cuts are to be considered.”

    The 18 Assembly Republicans who voted against closing the loophole are Joel Anderson, R-La Mesa; John Benoit, R-Palm Desert; Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto; Mike Duvall, R-Brea; Ted Gaines, R-Roseville; Martin Garrick, R-Carlsbad; Guy Houston, R-San Ramon; Bob Huff, R-Diamond Bar; Kevin Jeffries, R-Riverside; Rick Keene, R-Chico; Doug LaMalfa, R-Biggs; Bill Maze, R-Visalia; George Plescia, R-San Diego; Jim Silva, R-Huntington Beach; Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita; Todd Spitzer, R-Orange; Audra Strickland, R-Camarillo; and Mimi Walters, R-Laguna Niguel.

    And the 13 Assembly Republicans who Nunez said didn’t vote on the bill despite being in the State Capitol on Tuesday are Republican Leader Mike Villines, R-Clovis; Anthony Adams, R-Hesperia; Greg Aghazarian, R-Stockton; Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo; Paul Cook, R-Yucaipa; Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine; Bill Emmerson, R-Redlands; Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield; Shirley Horton, R-San Diego; Alan Nakanishi, R-Lodi; Roger Niello, R-Sacramento; Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster; and Van Tran, R-Costa Mesa.

    Posted on Tuesday, February 19th, 2008
    Under: Assembly, Fabian Nunez, General, Guy Houston | 6 Comments »