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‘Happy Fracking Day’ with Brown & Newsom

An El Dorado Hills artist who has a sort of personal history with Gov. Jerry Brown has once again immortalized him in sculpture – this time, taking him to task for letting oil and gas “fracking” proceed in the Golden State.

Laura Harling’s “Happy Fracking Day” sculpture won an Award of Merit in fine art at the California State Fair, where it’s on display.

(Click to enlarge)
Happy Fracking Day

The sculpture, 15¼” high and wide, 10½” deep, is described thusly on the artist’s website: “California Governor Jerry Brown and Lt Gov Gaven Newsom celebrate fracking. Only the 1% were invited to the party.”

Fracking Cake

Harling, 67, a Green Party member, said Monday she always been interested in politics and “the long history of environmental destruction by industry is impossible to overlook.

“When I first learned about fracking, it reminded me of the damage caused by hydraulic mining and gold dredging in my neighborhood,” she said. “I believe that fracking will be considered an even worse mistake in the future. I seem to find no end of ideas for my satiric sculptures by following the money.”

Harling – whom the Chronicle reported had worked way back in the day as a state janitor tasked with cleaning a much younger Gov. Jerry Brown’s apartment – has drawn inspiration from Brown and Newsom for past works as well.

It takes two to tango

Posted on Monday, July 14th, 2014
Under: Environment, Gavin Newsom, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Lt. Governor | 1 Comment »

New law allows wine tastings at farmers’ markets

Salud! Sláinte! Kanpai! L’Chayyim! Wine and hard cider vendors at farmers’ markets can now offer tastings under certain conditions, thanks to a bill signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

wine signBrown signed AB 2488 by Assemblyman Marc Levine, D-San Rafael, which had passed the Assembly and state Senate with unanimous votes.

The new law, effective immediately, lets wineries or cider makers who grow all of the fruit in their product to offer tastings to potential customers at farmers’ markets. But nobody’s going to get schnockered: Market managers still have discretion on whether to allow tastings; only one winery can offer tastes at a market on a given day; the tastings must happen in a cordoned-off area; and the grower can pour no more than three ounces of wine or cider per adult customer.

“The farmers’ market shopping experience involves tasting the product,” Levine said in a news release last month. “AB 2488 simply allows tastings at certified farmers’ markets where winemakers are already allowed to sell their products. This bill is a common sense solution for farmers’ markets, wineries and cider makers.”

Paul Kronenberg, president of the Family Winemakers of California, said wine like many other products is traditionally “sold through sampling. Consumers want to understand the wine, decide if they like it and decide if it is a good value.”

Posted on Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
Under: Assembly, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | No Comments »

Tuning in to ‘The Neel Kashkari Show’

Well, if November’s election goes as widely expected and Gov. Jerry Brown trounces Neel Kashkari, at least the Republican challenger has a new career waiting: Radio host.

NEEL KASHKARIKashkari, a former Treasury Department official from Laguna Beach, on Wednesday will do his third radio guest-hosting gig in as many weeks, filling in for Jillian Barberie to co-host the Mid-Day LA program on KABC 790 with John Phillips from noon to 3 p.m.

On Tuesday, he guest-hosted the Chris Daniel Show on News/Talk 580 and FM 105.9 KMJ in Fresno. And on June 20, he guest-hosted the John & Ken Show on KFI 640.

There’s no question that Kashkari is using these appearances for electioneering. In announcing the Chris Daniel Show gig, his campaign had said he would “be joined in-studio and on the phone by elected officials and community leaders to discuss a variety of issues including the state’s faltering business climate, the water crisis, Governor Brown’s ‘Crazy Train’ and making Republicans once again competitive in a predominately blue state.” An almost-identical statement preceded the John & Ken Show gig.

Federal Communications Commission regulations require that if a broadcast station lets one legally qualified candidate for public office use its facilities, “it shall afford equal opportunities to all other candidates for that office to use such facilities.”

This “equal-time rule” is applicable here, said Jonathan Kotler, an attorney and associate professor in the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Brown’s campaign would have to request the equal time, he said.

“The Brown campaign has to make a call – do they want the free time, or if I were their strategist, I’d think the best strategy would be to ignore him (Kashkari) because there must be a lot of people out there like me who have never heard of the guy,” Kotler said.

Besides, can you even imagine Brown hosting the John & Ken Show? They’d get so many calls that it would crash all of Southern California.

Asked whether the governor might seek equal time, campaign consultant Dan Newman replied, “Unlikely – he has a busy and demanding day-job.”

Posted on Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014
Under: Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Neel Kashkari | No Comments »

Kashkari wants Brown to do 10 debates/meetings

Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari on Monday challenged Gov. Jerry Brown to five formal debates and five town-hall meetings before November’s election, taking a page from Brown’s own campaign playbook.

Kashkari wants Brown to meet him for a debate and a town-hall meeting in each of five regions: the Bay Area, Sacramento, the Central Valley, Los Angeles and San Diego.

NEEL KASHKARI“The day after the June 2010 primary election you challenged your Republican opponent to 10 debates,” Kashkari wrote in his letter to Brown. “You said then that we must ‘tell people how we’ll manage their tax dollars, how we’ll hold down taxes, how we’ll make government work better and more efficiently, how we’ll fix our schools and how we’ll create jobs.’ I couldn’t agree more with those sentiments, which are as true today as they were four years ago.”

“Although you continually proclaim a ‘California comeback,’ the truth is that millions of families across the state are being left behind by the status quo you defend,” Kashkari wrote. “Governor, our state is ranked 46th in education, 47th in jobs, and 1st in poverty. In fact, your ‘California comeback’ has ignored the millions of Californians who are looking for work and whose children are stuck in failing schools. That you believe the status quo is acceptable underscores the need for a rigorous debate about the future of our state.”

Kashkari asked for a response by Friday “so we may begin the planning process.”

Brown campaign consulant Dan Newman said Monday afternoon that “we’ll certainly consider debating, providing we can work out the scheduling and details to offer something substantive and worthwhile to voters.”

Brown, seeking an unprecedented fourth term as California’s governor, got 54.4 percent of the vote in last week’s top-two primary. Kashkari, a former Treasury Department official from Laguna Beach, finished second with 19.4 percent, beating out tea party favorite Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Hesperia, who had 14.8 percent.

Read the full text of Kashkari’s letter, after the jump…
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, June 9th, 2014
Under: Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Neel Kashkari | 3 Comments »

Poll: Neel Kashkari and Tim Donnelly in dead heat

Tim Donnelly and Neel Kashkari, the two Republicans vying to make it into the top two with incumbent Democrat Jerry Brown in Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary, are in a statistical dead heat, a new poll finds.

Among likely primary voters, Brown leads with 50 percent while 18 percent favor Kashkari and 13 percent favor Donnelly – the first time any major public poll has showed Kashkari, a former Treasury Department official, leading Donnelly, a more conservative Assemblyman. But the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points, meaning the Republicans basically are neck-and-neck.

Among Republican likely voters, 32 percent said they would vote for Kashkari in Tuesday’s primary election, 21 percent said they would vote for Donnelly and 17 percent said they would vote for Brown, while 23 percent of Republican likely voters remain undecided.

It certainly seems Kashkari’s May ad blitz – funded in large part by $2 million from his own pocket – had an effect, as he had been polling far behind Donnelly before that.

Either way, November isn’t looking like much of a contest. If the general election were held today, Brown would defeat Donnelly 54-26 and Kashkari 55-27, according to the poll conducted May 21-28.

“Establishment Republicans beat Tea Party candidates in Georgia, Kentucky, Idaho and Oregon last week. If the trend continues in California — and there’s growing evidence it might — we may be witnessing a national trend towards a more moderate national Republican Party. If The Tea Party candidate wins in California, the internal party struggles will continue and likely exacerbate,” said Mike Madrid, co-director of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll, USC Unruh Institute Fellow and Republican strategist.

“With the Republican race in a statistical dead heat and with unprecedented levels of low voter turnout, a relatively small number of voters will be determining the ideological direction of the Republican party in California — and perhaps the image of the GOP nationally.”

Posted on Sunday, June 1st, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Jerry Brown, Neel Kashkari, Tim Donnelly | 3 Comments »

Steyer urges Brown to convene energy summit

San Francisco billionaire Tom Steyer has written a letter urging Gov. Jerry Brown to convene a “California Energy Summit” with the oil industry, clean energy companies, environmentalists and citizens to discuss things like a halt to fracking and levying an oil extraction tax.

The governor won’t commit.

“We haven’t received the letter yet, but the governor regularly speaks with Tom on climate change issues, as he does with a diverse group of academic, industry and environmental leaders,” Brown spokesman Evan Westrup said Thursday. “We look forward to continuing those discussions.”

Steyer – a former hedge-fund manager who has created NextGen Climate as a vehicle to influence the climate-change debate – wrote to Brown on Wednesday citing the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 96-percent downgrade in its estimate of how much oil current technology can recover from the Monterey Shale.

“In a single but far-reaching action, the federal government has completely dispelled the economic illusion hanging over the ongoing debate over new oil exploration and extraction in the State of California,” Steyer wrote. “With this new report, the Monterey Shale mirage is gone. Now, it is time to hit the reset button, call Big Oil’s bluff and force them to the table in an effort to finally give Californians a Fair Shake.”

Steyer wrote that he knows Brown has “long acknowledged that climate change is a real threat to California and our world. As recently as this week, you rightfully stated that California is ‘the epicenter of climate change.’”

“California deserves a Fair Shake for our climate, for our economy and for our families,” he wrote. “Our state currently gives Big Oil a unique $2 billion tax subsidy that no other state in the country offers. This must stop.”

Steyer is championing a movement to enact an oil extraction tax; California is the nation’s only oil-producing state that doesn’t charge such a tax.

“And local California communities deserve a guarantee that Big Oil cannot rush to extract oil through fracking or other experimental drilling methods until oil companies have proved, beyond a reasonable doubt, that they have the toughest, safest and most rigorous safeguards in place to ensure that California’s local communities don’t suffer for the sake of Big Oil’s bottom line,” Steyer wrote.

Brown in May 2013 said “the fossil fuel deposits in California are incredible, the potential is extraordinary.” Environmental groups urged Brown to support a fracking moratorium, but the governor resisted. In September, he signed a law creating new fracking regulations, including a permitting process, notification of neighbors, public disclosure of chemicals used and groundwater- and air-quality monitoring.

State Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, is carrying a moratorium bill now, but the Senate Appropriations Committee voted unanimously Monday to put SB 1132 into the suspense file – essentially putting it on indefinite hold. Mitchell issued a statement Thursday morning saying the new EIA report means “there’s no ocean of black gold that fracking is going to release tomorrow, leaving California awash in profits and jobs. We have the time, the need and, in SB 1132, the mandate to halt fracking while we determine if and how it can be done safely in California. Let’s pass the bill and halt fracking until due diligence can assure us it won’t put workers and residents in danger.”

Steyer concluded his letter to Brown by arguing the new facts “present an opportunity to hold an honest conversation about climate change and oil extraction in California.”

“Now is the time to act, and I urge you to convene stakeholders—from the oil industry and the clean energy, environmental and scientific communities, as well as local citizens — for an historic California Energy Summit to make sure that California gets a Fair Shake,” he wrote.

Posted on Thursday, May 22nd, 2014
Under: Environment, Global warming, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | 2 Comments »

What they’re saying about Brown’s budget

We’ve included some reactions to Gov. Jerry Brown’s May budget revision in our main story, but here are some more.

From Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego:

Toni Atkins“The Governor’s revised budget provides a solid starting point for the final phase of our deliberations. I am particularly pleased the Governor has built upon the framework Assembly Democrats proposed for a STRS solution earlier this year. That, and the Rainy Day Fund we are poised to pass this week, are two great steps forward to ensure California’s economic stability. As we finalize the budget over the next few weeks, we will also look to expand opportunity by combatting child poverty, improving access to higher education, increasing funding for transportation projects, and taking strides to expand affordable housing. Based on the Governor’s May revision and the more than 50 hearings the Assembly has already held, I am confident we are on track for another on-time, balanced budget – one that will help solidify the state’s fiscal position for years to come.”

From State Senate Budget Committee Vice Chair Jim Nielsen, R-Chico:

Jim Nielsen“The Governor should be commended for proposing to set aside $1.6 billion for the Rainy Day fund; and to pay down $11 billion in debt but this is a mere 3 percent of the state’s $340 billion debt.

“Unfortunately, his budget also includes increased spending on permanent programs that will inevitably take us back to deficit spending.

“More money needs to be set aside for the Rainy Day Fund and for emergencies like wildfires, natural disasters and public safety.

“State revenues are forecast to increase by $2.4 billion. While this appears to be good news, this is a veneer generated by a temporary tax that was promised for education and public safety; and will expire in three years.

“The high speed rail from Merced to Bakersfield is a boondoggle not worthy of precious taxpayers’ dollars.

“In the coming months, the Legislature must rectify the Governor’s failure to help counties protect their citizens by providing more funding for realignment. Counties need money for rehabilitation, inmate housing and supervision, and court costs.

“The administration is releasing the second class of realignment prisoners, making our communities more dangerous. State leaders shouldn’t wait for a catastrophe before we fix this ill-conceived program.”

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

Ellen Corbett“Coupled with last week’s bipartisan Rainy Day Fund agreement, today’s budget revision further sets California on track to fiscal health and economic growth so that all Californians may benefit from our state’s improving economy.”

“I praise the Governor’s short and long term commitment to supporting education at all levels, including career technical education at our state’s community colleges and high speed internet access at our K-12 schools that need it the most. California’s future depends largely on our continued investment in today’s students, so we must ensure that California’s education system is strong and offers students the needed preparatory tools to enter an increasingly global and technological job market.”

“I also thank the Governor for committing to help ensure the long term solvency of the teacher pension system. It is critical that we help secure the retirements of California’s educators.”

“I am pleased that the Governor’s revised budget also proposes significantly increased access to health care for millions of Californians through Medi-Cal and Covered California. We must certainly continue to restore the frayed safety net upon which many of my 10th State Senate District constituents rely during these still tough economic times.”

From State Board of Equalization member George Runner:

“The Governor is on the right track in proposing a budget that has no new taxes, contains ongoing expenses, pays down debt and begins to address the state’s growing pension costs.

“I just wish the Governor would repeal the fire tax and stop the bullet train.

“In addition, California continues to rank as the worst state to do business in an annual survey of business leaders.

“The next test for the Governor will be how he deals with legislators who want to raise taxes and spend billions more. Will he hold the line?”

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

Posted on Tuesday, May 13th, 2014
Under: Assembly, Bob Wieckowski, California State Senate, Ellen Corbett, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, state budget, Toni Atkins | No Comments »

Jerry Brown will lead trade mission to Mexico

Gov. Jerry Brown will lead a trade and investment mission to Mexico – California’s largest export market – in the last week of July, he announced Tuesday.

California’s neighbor has a role to play in the Golden State’s push to address its energy and environmental needs, Brown had said in his State of the State address in January.

“Reducing our oil consumption, two-thirds of which is imported by ships and tank cars, will take time, breakthrough technologies and steadfast commitment. It will also require that the countries which burn the most fossil fuel join with us,” he said at the time. “We’ve started building those partnerships with other states and countries like China. We will go to Mexico next. California can’t do this alone.”

A delegation of California government, business, economic development, investment and policy leaders will join Brown on this mission, which is being organized by the California Chamber of Commerce. The focus will be on boosting direct investment in the state, expanding bilateral economic and environmental cooperation, and connecting California businesses with new opportunities and partnerships.

Brown met last month with Mexican consuls general from cities across California.

The governor one year ago led a similar mission to China, during which he met with government leaders including China Premier Li Keqiang, opened the California-China Office of Trade and Investment in Shanghai and signed the first economic and environmental agreements ever between a subnational entity and Chinese Ministries. Brown later last year met with China’s President Xi Jinping in California to sign a climate-change pact; he also has signed pacts in the past year with leaders from Canada, Israel and Peru to combat climate change, strengthen economic ties and cooperate on research.

Posted on Tuesday, April 29th, 2014
Under: economy, energy, Environment, Gov. Jerry Brown, International politics, Jerry Brown | No Comments »

Neel Kashkari endorsed by Romney, Wilson & Issa

Struggling in the polls, Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari rolled out some high-profile endorsements Monday clearly aimed at shoring up his bona fides among the GOP rank and file.

Kashkari, a former Treasury Department official and asset manager from Laguna Beach, announced his endorsement by Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, former California Governor Pete Wilson, and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Vista.

“Democrats’ big-government policies have hurt the middle class and reduced opportunity for Americans across the country, and that’s the reason it’s so important to elect leaders like Neel Kashkari who understand how to jumpstart the private sector, fix our schools and get people working again,” Romney said in the news release. “Republicans in California and across the nation must unite behind candidates who will fight for our Party’s principles of fiscal responsibility and hard work – and I believe Neel is that candidate. He has demonstrated courage and steady leadership in tough times, and his resilience and focus is exactly what we need leading California today.”

Wilson called Kashkari “the right candidate with the right message to challenge Gov. Brown, support Republican candidates up and down the ticket, and help us grow the Party in the long term. California needs new, fiscally conservative leadership in Sacramento to strengthen our state’s economy, and that’s the reason I urge Republicans across the state to join me in supporting Neel this June.”

And Issa said “Sacramento Democrats have a disastrous record of passing job-killing laws and regulations that have destroyed the middle class; it’s clearly time for new leadership to help restore the strength of our private sector and put people back to work. I’m pleased to endorse Neel because he is an honest, hard-working person who is clearly committed to public service, and I believe he’s the right candidate to lead the Republican ticket in California this November.”

A Field Poll released earlier this month showed Kashkari, who entered the race in January, trailing far behind the generally more conservative Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, R-Hesperia, while both are being pummeled by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown. And just last week, a private poll found Kashkari trailing even fellow Republican Glenn Champ, a registered sex offender who’s running a religiously oriented campaign.

But Kashkari has had more fundraising success than any of his Republican rivals, and said earlier this month that he intends to launch targeted television ads and direct mail as vote-by-mail ballots go out starting May 5.

Posted on Monday, April 28th, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, Jerry Brown, Mitt Romney, Neel Kashkari | No Comments »

Neel Kashkari rolls out his education plan

State funding would be routed directly to schools so principals, teachers and parents can spend it as they see fit while much of California’s Education Code would be eliminated under a plan unveiled Tuesday by Republican gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari.

NEEL KASHKARIThe education reform legislation that Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law last summer was called the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), so perhaps Californians can think of Kashkari’s plan as EMLCFF: Even More Local Control Funding Formula.

Handing over the purse-strings to local educators and families would let them adopt new priorities and methods – perhaps including increased vocational training and lengthening the school day and academic year – even as they’re held to strict accountability standards, Kashkari says. He also wants charter schools to have the same level of funding and facilities as traditional schools, and would eliminate the cap that limits California to 100 new charter schools per year.

For higher education, Kashkari wants to tie state funding to campuses’ success rates – as measured by credits accumulated, students retained, courses completed and degrees awarded – while putting more UC and CSU courses online and offering free tuition to science, technology, engineering and math students in exchange for a cut of their future earnings.

Kashkari’s education plan, which he’s rolling out Tuesday morning at Central City Value High School in Los Angeles, is a cornerstone of a campaign he launched in January with the slogan, “Jobs and Education. That’s It.” The former Treasury Department official and asset manager from Laguna Beach says California’s schools rank 46th in the nation in reading and math, with a huge achievement gap leaving low-income kids wanting for an adequate education.

“California used to boast one of the best education systems in the nation, and we do know how to fix our schools,” Kashkari said. “States around the country have implemented bold reforms that can help improve educational outcomes for our students, both in our K-12 schools and in our institutions of higher education.”

Yet Gov. Jerry Brown “continues to pursue superficial measures that treat only symptoms instead of undertaking bold education reforms that will help lift student achievement and rebuild the middle class,” Kashkari accused.

Brown last year signed the LCFF legislation that changes the state funding formula for K-12 schools in a way that he hopes will help boost disadvantaged students’ academic achievement. It will send $2.1 billion more to school districts with high numbers of students who are from lower-income families, who have limited English proficiency, or who are foster children.

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

Posted on Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014
Under: 2014 primary, education, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown, Neel Kashkari | No Comments »