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Fabian Nunez to lead campaign vs. ‘Six Californias’

Former California Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez will chair OneCalifornia, the effort opposing the “Six Californias” ballot measure pushed for 2016’s ballot by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper.

Fabian Nunez“Six Californias is an impractical, unworkable, and unconstitutional scheme that is undermining the California brand throughout the world just as our state is making an economic comeback,” Núñez said in a news release. “Our state’s diversity has always been its strength; tearing it up into six pieces is a solution in search of a problem that does nothing to address the challenges we face as a state that we need to tackle with the greatest talent pool imaginable: nearly 40 million Californians.”

The measure would split California into six states, each with its own government; much of the Bay Area, plus Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, would become the state of Silicon Valley. California’s northernmost parts would become Jefferson, as some counties up there have wanted for years; some North Bay counties would become part of North California; Stockton, Fresno and Bakersfield would be among Central California’s largest cities; Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara would wind up in West California; and San Diego would anchor South California.

The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office reports Draper’s plan to split California – now 14th among the 50 states in per capita income – would create both the nation’s richest state (Silicon Valley) and its poorest (Central California).

Núñez, 47, who served as Speaker from 2004 to 2008 and is now a partner at Mercury Public Affairs, will lead a political and legal drive against the measure. OneCalifornia was founded by Forward Observer CEO and former Gov. Wilson Cabinet Secretary Joe Rodota and Steven Maviglio, former press secretary and now a Sacramento-based Democratic political strategist.

A Six Californias spokesman didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment Thursday.

DRAPER map 022514Draper, 56, of Atherton, in July filed about 1.3 million petition signatures Tuesday in hopes of qualifying the measure for the November 2016 ballot. Six Californias has yet to report any contributions by anyone other than Draper, who has put $5.2 million into it so far.

The deadline for counties to report signature verification is next Friday, Sept. 12, and OneCalifornia claims the qualification rate so far isn’t looking good: The measure is below the 71.0% validity rate required to qualify for the ballot in a majority of potential “states” and below the 67.4% validity rate required for a full count in half the “states.”

“I hope this will be a short-term gig,” Núñez said of his OneCalifornia leadership. “For our state’s sake, I’m hoping voters will not have to endure further discussion of a such an ill-conceived and meritless idea that’s become the subject of late night talk show jokes.”

If enough signatures are verified, however, Núñez says the OneCalifornia committee will explore a legal challenge. Based partly on my reporting, the OneCalifornia committee has called for the Secretary of State to investigate reports of signature-gathering fraud by the firm Draper hired, Carlsbad-based Arno Political Consultants.

UPDATE @ 3:44 P.M.: “These guys are spending an awful lot of time on something they don’t believe to be real,” Six Californias spokesman Roger Salazar said Thursday. “It’s no secret political insiders don’t like Six Californias because it decentralizes power to regional leaders. Six Californias gives us a chance, a choice and a change.”

UPDATE @ 4:30 P.M.: Draper just issued a statement about Fremont-based electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors’ decision to site its first battery “gigafactory” in Nevada. Note that Draper is an investor in Tesla and Steve Jurvetson – who with Draper and John Fisher founded a prominent venture-capital firm – sits on the company’s board of directors:

Tim Draper“Today California has lost another opportunity to create more jobs, and improve our economic environment. Losing Tesla to Nevada is just another reminder that our state needs change. California has high unemployment and the percentage of people living below the poverty line is steadily increasing. Our state needs a massive investment in infrastructure and a streamlined process to help grow and keep businesses.”

“How much longer do we tolerate a monolithic, job losing California? We continue to live in the state ranked worst in the nation for business. Six Californias gives us a chance, a choice and a change—and more jobs.”

“Six Californias is our opportunity to solve the many problems we face today. Six Californias gives us an opportunity to create a better future for all 38 million of us. Six states that are more representative and accountable. Six states that embrace innovation and strive to improve the lives of residents. With Six Californias we can refresh our government. California is a beautiful place to live. Let’s make it a great place to thrive.”

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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.

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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.”

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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…
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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.

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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… Continue Reading