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Another dramatic momentum shift in GOP gubernatorial primary?

Mike Murphy, the chief strategist for Meg Whitman’s gubernatorial campaign, has been itching to release his own internal polling showing that his boss has resumed her dominance over her GOP rival, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.

Campaign sources say that, with two weeks left in the race, he may gather reporters real soon for a conference call trumpeting Whitman’s internal numbers, now that polls appear to be consistently going her way.

Last week, Murphy had downplayed the Public Policy Institute of California survey showing Poizner closing to within 9 percentage points, saying it hadn’t captured a mood shift that was breaking Whitman’s way big time — after she’d blown a 50 percentage-point lead.

A SurveyUSA poll, released Sunday night, gave glimpse to that apparent momentum shift, with Whitman stretching her lead from 2 percentage points to 27 (54 percent to 27).

The SurveyUSA poll, which critics don’t much like because of the robo-call, push-button mechanics, had more certainty than one commissioned by Daily Kos, which gave Whitman a 10 percentage point lead and had more undecided voters. Murphy said the SurveyUSA poll matched up with numbers he’s seeing in other private polls. Republican primary voters, he said, are returning to Whitman after giving her a second look.

“Every private track and our own internals are showing similar numbers, give or take 5 or 6 points,” he said. “To me, that’s a confirmation that things are moving our way.”

Murphy said that a number of factors have turned the momentum around. First, Democrats’ attacks on Whitman have backfired. “Republicans are starting to understand that Jerry Brown is doing everything he can to help Steve Poizner. That’s the wrong kind of endorsement.”

Murphy said he is convinced that the much-maligned ad of Whitman speaking directly to the camera and complaining about Poizner’s attacks worked.

“It worked like a charm,” Murphy said. “People are starved for information. They like ads when candidates talk to the camera. So we did 60 seconds to break through the clutter and push back on two things bothering voters the most” about Whitman’s campaign, which were her position on immigration and her past endorsement of U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer. Here it is:

Pivoting off that ad, the campaign put up new 30-second spots tearing into Poizner as a liberal, as seen here:

And the ads were supplemented by a heavy voter-to-voter contact effort — unanswered by Poizner: through the mail and by phone.

Poizner’s “one-note” campaign — hammering the anti-illegal immigrant issue (seen here:)

helped raise his profile, but “he hasn’t done anything” to fill out a larger picture of who he is and how he’d govern, Murphy said.

He noted that Poizner’s team, which  touted internal polls a couple weeks ago when it was riding a strong anti-Whitman wave, hasn’t been so loud about its internals lately.

Jarrod Agen, spokesman for Poizner, said that polls — internal and public — are showing “this race is much closer and that we’re within striking distance. The reality is it’s going to come down to the last two weeks and which candidate can convince more undecided voters.”

Poizner’s tough, bracing talk on illegal immigration is “cutting through” to voters and works better with primary voters than the establishment backing Whitman has played up, Agen said. Whitman on Monday released an ad with Mitt Romney, the former Republican presidential candidate (and her ex-boss), Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State, and Jon Coupal, president of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, showing their support:

“We think that’s a huge error on their part, showing other establishment Republicans endorsing Meg,” Agen said. “Last week, we saw everybody who used that method lost (in primaries around the country). We’re in a cycle of changing the status quo, reforming the establishment. And Meg is running as the establishment candidate.”

Poizner’s team doesn’t plan on showing internals any time soon, but not because they lack for confidence, Agen said. “When we released them last time, we were in a gap when there weren’t any polls out and we wanted to show people that things were shifting. With the PPIC poll just out and others to come out, there’s no reason to release another poll.”

Unless you’re Mike Murphy, and you have another momentum shift you’d like to share.

Posted on Monday, May 24th, 2010
Under: 2010 governor's race, Meg Whitman, polls, Republican Party, Republican politics, State politics, Steve Poizner, Uncategorized | No Comments »

What will the governor’s next job be?

Dorinson

Dorinson

You read it here first: Former California GOP spokesman Patrick Dorinson, a communications consultant and author of the Cowboy Libertarian blog, predicts that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s next job will be that of national green jobs czar, the post held previously held by the fired Van Jones.

Dorinson says he was watching the governor make the post-National Governors Association conference talk-show circuit, where Schwarzenegger  criticized Republicans for failing to cooperate with President Barack Obama and the jobs agenda. Schwarzenegger also had a private meeting with Obama.

“It came to me, Arnold wants the green jobs czar job,” Dorinson says. “He can travel around the country saying ‘That’s faaahntahstic!’ There are no responsibilities.”

Dorinson predicts an announcement around Christmastime or just after the first of the year. I’ll put it on my calendar and put Dorinson’s predictive powers to the test.

Do you have a prediction? Send it to me at lvorderbrueggen@bayareanewsgroup.com.

Meanwhile, Jones has landed on his feet.

As my colleague Josh Richman wrote today, Jones has a new job. The 41-year-old will serve at Center for American Progress as a senior fellow to lead its new Green Opportunity Initiative. He also has been appointed distinguished visiting fellow in the Center for African American Studies and in the Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Jones is the Oakland social- and environmental-justice activist and author who went to Washington last year as Obama’s “green jobs czar,” only to be let go in the face of conservative criticism.

Posted on Wednesday, February 24th, 2010
Under: Schwarzenegger, State politics | No Comments »

East Bay legislators dubious about state water deal

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord

I talked with three Contra Costa state lawmakers via telephone this morning about their views on the Big Five water talks under way in Sacramento today. I did not hear much optimism about a the chances of a deal by tonight’s deadline.

Sen. Mark DeSaulnier and assemblymembers Joan Buchanan and Tom Torlakson view the closed-door talks on the controversial and complex subject as unlikely to produce a package that will attain either legislative or public support, and urged the resumption of public hearings.

DeSaulnier of Concord, who scuttled his planned trip to Spain this week in order to participate in the California water negotiations, called Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s move to hold hostage 700 bills on his desk pending a water deal counter-productive.

“The governor’s unique talents are unsuits for this time right now in Sacramento,” DeSaulnier said. “He just not very good at negotiation.”

“What’s the rush?” he added. “Are they worried it will start raining and with the drought over, the pressure will be off to pass reforms? I think we can get a deal but we need to do it with continued public hearings and public discussion, not artificial deadlines.”

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo

Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch

Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch

Even if the Big Five emerge today or Saturday arm-in-arm with a package, the East Bay legislators say the question of how to pay for it remains a huge sticking point.

All three say they oppose financing the estimated $8 billion to $12 billion package through general obligation bonds. Repayment of general obligation bonds comes right of the top of the state’s general fund, which means the money cannot be used elsewhere.

They favor the use of revenue bonds, which are repaid by water users including residents, businesses and farmers.

“It the midst of these horrible deficits, and we’re facing additional horrendous challenges next year, do we want to cut more from schools or higher education?” said Torlakson, D-Antioch.

“The payment on a $12 billion bond is $700 million a year,” said Buchanan, D-Alamo. “If we are going to pass legislation and ask voters to pass a bond, we need to ask how we’re going to pay for it.”

Buchanan also says that she and other Delta area lawmakers will demand sufficient time to evaluate any proposal and talk with their constituents.

“A half a million people live in the Delta and the impacts of new policies could last decades,” Buchanan said. “You can bet that I and my staff will be reading every word.”

Postscript: DeSaulnier’s trip to Spain was, ironically, a Senate-sponsored event to study the country’s national water system. “I learned more about water by staying home,” DeSaulnier said.

Posted on Friday, October 9th, 2009
Under: California Assembly, California Legislature, California Senate, Environment, State politics, water | No Comments »

Arnold: It’d be easier if you’d just do what I say.

Though building support for the special-election budget reform agenda was his main goal, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger touched on other topics in a Q&A session with the Bay Area Council on Thursday in San Francisco – and one of those topics is how hard it is when people disagree with him.

The governor went on a bit of a tirade against dissent, first talking smack about U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger’s 2007 order reducing the operation of pumps in the Delta to protect the endangered Delta Smelt, then about a three-federal-judge panel’s moves toward ordering the release of certain inmates to reduce California’s chronic and unconstitutional prison overcrowding, and then about Clark Kelso, the receiver empowered by a federal judge to demand $8 billion from the state to correct unconstitutional, decades-long underfunding of prison health care.

“It’s not productive for the state to have so many chefs in the kitchen,” the governor grumped. “Those are the kinds of things that make it very difficult.”

But his ire wasn’t just directed at the federal courts. Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, he said, opposes him on fiscal policy at every turn, he said: “He’s running for Congress now, so that’s good.”

And he cited state Controller John Chiang’s and state Treasurer Bill Lockyer’s opposition to his plans to cut state salaries last year. “How does a coach win a basketball game when all of the players are running off in different directions?” Schwarzenegger asked.

Maybe that’s why he’s so hot for Proposition 1A, which would give the governor new authority to unilaterally reduce some spending for state operations and capital outlay and eliminate some cost-of-living increases, all without legislative approval – shoo, you pesky compromises; begone, consensus! Also, maybe he’s forgetting that these federal judges’ job is to hold California to its obligations under federal law and the U.S. Constitution, and that the Democratic statewide elected officials he’s knocking are with this state’s majority party while he’s in the minority.

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

Posted on Thursday, April 23rd, 2009
Under: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barack Obama, Bill Lockyer, John Chiang, John Garamendi, Sacramento, state budget, State politics | No Comments »

Governor announces local appointments

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced a handful of appointments of East Bay residents to local boards:

Robert Brown, 42, of Pleasant Hill, has been appointed to the Contractors State License Board. He has been a member of the board since 2005. Brown has worked for California State Automobile Association as director of corporate affairs since 2005, senior manager for governmental affairs from 2000 to 2005 and media relations manager from 1999 to 2000. From 1994 to 1999, Brown served as the assistant secretary at the State and Consumer Services Agency and, from 1996 to 1999, he served as the deputy director for communications and education at the Department of Consumer Affairs. From 1993 to 1994, Brown served as a legislative aide to California State Senator Frank Hill. He worked as a field representative to U.S. Senator John Seymour from 1991 to 1992 and was an assistant to the director at the California Arts Council from 1990 to 1991. From 1989 to 1990, Brown worked as a research policy consultant for the U.S. Department of Education. This position requires Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Brown is a Republican.

Steven Limrite, 44, of Concord, has been appointed to the Contra Costa County Fair Board of Directors (23rd District Agricultural Association). He has served on the board of directors since 2001. Limrite has worked for Contra Costa County as a fire district dispatcher since 2005, sheriff’s supervising dispatcher from 1992 to 2005, sheriff’s dispatcher from 1989 to 1992, call taker from 1988 to 1989 and a reserve sheriff’s deputy from 1986 to 1988. He is a member of the Cal-Western Appaloosa Show Horse Association, Incorporated Board of Directors and the Ewa-Tom-Likhim Appaloosa Horse Club Board of Directors. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Limrite is a Republican.

Louis Mangini, 84, of Pleasant Hill, has been appointed to the Contra Costa County Fair Board of Directors (23rd District Agricultural Association). He has served on the board of directors since 1983 and has owned Mangini Farms since 1941. Mangini is a member of the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Posse Executive Board of Directors and serves on the Contra Costa County Farm Bureau Board of Directors and Rogers Ranch Board of Directors. He is a member of the Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Mangini is a Republican.

Byron Parsons, 76, of Antioch, has been appointed to the Contra Costa County Fair Board of Directors (23rd District Agricultural Association). He has served on the board of directors since 2001 and currently serves as president. Prior to retiring, Parsons worked as a senior buyer for E.I. DuPont de Nemours from 1956 to 1996. He currently serves as the chair of the East Contra Costa Transit Authority Board of Directors, is a member of Kiwanis Club of the Delta-Antioch and is a charter member of the Antioch Historical Society. Additionally, Parsons is past president of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce and former mayor of Antioch. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Parsons is a Democrat.

Per Peterson, 48, of Berkeley, has been appointed to the Diablo Canyon Independent Safety Committee. He previously served on the committee from 2004 to 2007 as an appointee of Attorney General Bill Lockyer. Since 1990, Peterson has worked as a professor for the Nuclear Engineering Department at the University of California, Berkeley. Additionally, he has worked as a mechanical engineering faculty member for the Accelerator and Fusion Research Division at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory since 1999. Peterson served the University of California, Berkeley as chair of the Nuclear Engineering Department from 2000 to 2005 and the Energy and Resources Group from 1998 to 2000. He served at the Nuclear Engineering Department at the University of California, Berkeley as an associate professor from 1994 to 1998 and as an assistant professor from 1990 to 1994. From 1988 to 1989, Peterson was an assistant specialist for the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of California, Irvine and, in 1988, he worked as a guest researcher at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. From 1985 to 1988, Peterson served as a research assistant in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of California, Berkeley and, from 1982 to 1985, he worked as an engineer at Bechtel National, Incorporated. Peterson serves as the current chair of the Gas Turbine-Modular Helium Reactor Academic Advisory Group for General Atomics, the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Initiative Advisory Committee and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Additionally, he serves as co-chair of the Generation IV Proliferation Resistance and Physical Protection Experts Group and is a former member of the Fusion Power Associates Board of Directors and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Peterson is also a fellow of the American Nuclear Society. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Peterson is a Democrat.

Antonio Spampinato, 60, of Richmond, has been appointed to the Contra Costa County Fair Board of Directors (23rd District Agricultural Association). Since 2005, he has served as an independent medical interpreter. Additionally, he owned ChoriPan King Catering Service from 2004 to 2006. From 1997 to 2004, Spampinato co-owned and was the training director of the Healthflow Learning Center. Previously, he worked as a consultant for the California Office of AIDS from 1986 to 2000. Spampinato worked for the California Department of Health Services as a public health consultant in the Rural Health Division from 1984 to 1986 and as a public health consultant in the Hypertension Control Program from 1982 to 1984. He is a member of the Federation Wado Kai San Francisco. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Spampinato is registered American-Independent.

Paul Spinola, 40, of Brentwood, has been appointed to the Contra Costa County Fair Board of Directors (23rd District Agricultural Association). Since 1997, he has owned Spinola Farms. Additionally, Spinola has worked as a journeyman ironworker through the Iron Workers Local #378 since 1987 and is currently the general foreman for GSE Construction at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. He is a member of the Contra Costa County Farm Bureau and currently serves as president. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Spinola is a Republican.

Louis Stout, 73, of Pleasant Hill, has been appointed to the Contra Costa County Fair Board of Directors (23rd District Agricultural Association). He has been self-employed as a consultant doing business under Louis E. Stout Consulting since 2007. Prior to retiring, Stout worked as a senior manager and director of federal programs for Shaw Environmental and Infrastructure from 1999 to 2007. Prior to that, he was a senior vice president for Inner City Fund Kaiser International, Incorporated from 1997 to 1999 and was general manager and director of government programs for International Technology, Incorporated from 1989 to 1997. From 1986 to 1989, Stout worked as the western regional director for URS Consultants environmental remediation programs and, from 1983 to 1986, he worked as a senior program manager of government environmental remediation programs for Black and Veatch Engineer Architects. From 1980 to 1983, he worked as a program manager for Collins and Ryder. Stout served in the U.S. Army from 1960 to 1980 and served as a combat engineer and public works engineer retiring as a lieutenant colonel. He is a member of the American Public Works Association, a life member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and a senior fellow in the Society of American Military Engineers. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Stout is a Republican.

Lynette Tanner-Busby, 59, of Martinez, has been appointed to the Contra Costa County Board of Directors (23rd District Agricultural Association). She has served on the board of directors since 1996. Since 1989, Tanner-Busby has worked as the executive director for the Contra Costa Centre Association. Prior to that, she worked as a community relations director for TCI Cable from 1988 to 1993. Tanner-Busby is a member of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, the Contra Costa Council, the Martinez Planning Commission and the John Muir Health Women’s Group. Additionally, she is chair of the Contra Costa Centre Area Municipal Advisory Council. This position does not require Senate confirmation and there is no salary. Tanner-Busby is a Republican.

Posted on Wednesday, July 9th, 2008
Under: Schwarzenegger, State politics | 1 Comment »

California Democratic Party takes initiative positions

The California Democratic Party’s executive board met a few days ago and voted on its positions on the ballot measures on or appeared headed to the Nov. 4 general election ballot: (The Democratic Party sent out a corrected list today, which is reflected below.)

YES – Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century.

YES – Treatment of Farm Animals. Statute.

YES – Children’s Hospital Bond Act. Grant Program. Statute.

NO - Waiting Period and Parental Notification Before Termination of Minor’s Pregnancy. Constitutional Amendment.

YES – Nonviolent Offenders. Sentencing, Parole and Rehabilitation. Statute. *

NO - Criminal Penalties and Laws. Public Safety Funding. Statute.

NO - Renewable Energy. Statute.

NO - Limit on Marriage. Constitutional Amendment.

NO - Criminal Justice System. Victims’ Rights. Parole. Constitutional Amendment and Statute. *

NEUTRAL - Bonds. Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Renewable Energy. Statute.
NO – Redistricting. Constitutional Amendment and Statute.

*NOTE: a press release sent yesterday incorrectly stated the CDP’s position on two propositions.  On the Criminal justice system, victims’ rights initiative, the correct position is NO.  And on the sentencing of violent offenders initiative, the correct position is YES.

Posted on Wednesday, June 18th, 2008
Under: 2008 presidential election, Democratic politics, Propositions, State politics | No Comments »

Record numbers vote on Feb. 5

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen has confirmed what most election officials have already said: A record number of residents voted in the Feb. 5 primary. Nine million Californians cast ballots, nearly 1.2 million more than the prior record set in March 2000.

Here’s what her office sent out after the official certification of the election results:

SACRAMENTO – A primary record nine million Californians voted in the February 5, 2008, Presidential Primary Election in California, according to results that Secretary of State Debra Bowen certified today.That’s nearly 1.2 million more voters than the previous primary election record of 7.8 million, set in March 2000. In all, 57.71% of registered voters cast ballots in the February election, marking the highest primary turnout on a percentage basis since 1980. The highest-ever percentage turnout in a primary was nearly 73% in 1976.

General elections tend to draw far more voters to the ballot box. The highest number of voters in a general election was nearly 12.6 million in 2004; the highest percentage turnout for a general election was nearly 88.4% in 1964.

“The closeness of the Republican and Democratic contests, and the ability to truly help pick the next presidential nominees, clearly motivated Californians to head to the polls in record numbers for a primary election,” said Secretary Bowen, the state’s chief elections officer. “I hope voters, particularly people who registered for the first time to vote in the February election, will keep up the momentum and head to the polls again in June and November.”

The certified election results are available on the Secretary of State’s website at http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/sov/2008_primary/contents.htm. Hard copies of the Statement of Vote are available to the media upon request from the Secretary of State’s Communications Office at (916) 653-6575.

The Statement of Vote includes presidential results broken down by party, county, and Congressional District. It also includes statewide and county-specific results for the seven statewide ballot measures that were on the February ballot.

The Secretary of State’s office will release a Supplement to the Statement of Vote by July 13. It will include more details on how votes were cast by Senate, Assembly, Board of Equalization, and county supervisorial districts, as well as by city.

The last day to register to vote in the June 3, 2008, Statewide Direct Primary Election is May 19. The last day to request a vote-by-mail ballot is May 27.

Posted on Tuesday, March 18th, 2008
Under: 2008 June primary, State politics | No Comments »

Refunds are really pricey loans, AG says

California Attorney General Jerry Brown’s office reports that the state’s top lawyer filed a request for an injunction today in San Francisco Superior Court to block tax service company H&R Block from “telling its customers that tax refunds can be obtained within two days, without disclosing that such payments are actually expensive loans.”

Here’s what Brown’s office sent out via email a few minutes ago:

“H&R Block incorrectly tells its customers that a tax refund can be obtained within two days–these payments are loans, not legitimate tax refunds,” Attorney General Brown warned. “Consumers should know that such quick payments result in high interest rates and heavy fees.”

It takes between 8 and 15 days for the Internal Revenue Service to send refunds to individuals who use direct deposit and 21 and 28 days to obtain a refund by mail. H&R Block, however, told customers that they could get their refunds within two days. These payments were actually loans offered by H&R Block that has annual percentage rates, including fees, of 80% or higher. According to publicly filed documents, millions of Californians have received these loans since 2001.

California law and the Internal Revenue Service require that tax preparers distinguish between tax refunds and “refund anticipation loans” that are based upon the expected tax refund amount. According to California Business and Professions Code Section 22253.1 (a), “any tax preparer who advertises the availability of a refund anticipation loan shall not directly or indirectly represent the loan as a client’s actual refund.”

At a hearing this afternoon, the attorney general asked the San Francisco Superior Court to issue a preliminary injunction prohibiting H&R Block from continuing to represent its loans as tax refunds. The Court has scheduled a hearing to decide the matter on April 3rd.

Investigators in the attorney general’s office called H&R Block offices throughout California, requesting information about how long it would take to get tax refunds. Two-thirds of the H&R Block representatives told investigators that refunds can be sent to taxpayers within two days, without disclosing the fact that it was actually a loan.

Most of the people who get the loans receive the Earned Income Tax Credit. People who earn this credit typically make between $10,000 and $35,000 and have several dependents, making them especially vulnerable to high-interest loans.

“For years, H&R Block has not disclosed the fact that a two-day return is a loan, not a true tax refund,” said Brown. “It is shocking that the company still continues this unlawful business practice and fails to properly train its employees.”

Today’s request for an injunction is part of an ongoing lawsuit against H&R Block, filed in 2006, alleging that the company engaged in false or deceptive advertising in its marketing of high-cost loans to low-income families. California’s lawsuit alleges that H&R Block violated IRS rules prohibiting the company from directly providing loans. According to the lawsuit, the company provided customers with the loan applications, filled out the applications, and sent the applications to the banks. H&R Block also provided customer’s loan money on an “Emerald” ATM card that came with heavy fees and costs.

Defendants in the case include H&R Block Services, Inc.; H&R Block Enterprises, Inc.; H&R Block Tax Services, Inc.; and Block Financial Corporation. Last year, H&R Block’s total revenues exceeded four billion dollars.

For more information on California’s lawsuit against H&R Block, visit: http://ag.ca.gov/newsalerts/release.php?id=1261&year=2006&month=2

Posted on Friday, March 14th, 2008
Under: State politics, taxes | No Comments »

California government stalls on information highway

California is the epi-center of the high-tech universe, right?

Not so in the Capitol, where the press has almost no access to the Internet. Instead, reporters must rely on sketchy cell connections from inside the thick-walled chambers.

But a colleague of mine, Steve Geissinger, who works for MediaNews and this newspaper in its Sacramento Bureau, said today that a state lawmaker wants to help solve a complaint by reporters about a lack of Internet access in the state Capitol.

The legislator, who asked not to be identified before an agreement is reached, believes that the deficit-plagued state should not bear the cost, or at least the whole expense, of providing adequate Internet access for news gathering.

Geissinger, also the president of the Capitol Correspondents Association of California, said that perhaps the state and the CCAC, through fundraising, could forge a 50-50 deal with California, which lags behind many other states in the vital area.

The following is a letter CCAC sent Capitol officials yesterday:

From: Steve Geissinger, president, Capitol Correspondents Association of CA

To: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mr. Speaker of the Assembly, Mr. President pro Tem of the Senate

Re: Response to reporters’ complaints about lack of Internet access in the Legislature

CCAC Board Member Jim Miller prepared this comprehensive briefing for the Board of Directors of the Legislature-mandated CCAC, which voted to request that the Governor’s Office, the Senate and the Assembly attempt to solve the problem. Any consideration you can give the matter, even in these lean fiscal times, would greatly serve the public interest.

The briefing:

“California is behind many other states in providing wireless access at the state Capitol, according to a review by the Capitol Correspondents Association of California.

At a time when wireless networks are available anywhere from libraries to Laundromats, the Capitol in the home state of Silicon Valley lacks any Wi-Fi hot spots open to the public.

Reporters who want to file from the Capitol have limited options.

They can tap out stories on BlackBerries.

Another approach is paying to use an aircard with a laptop computer. Reporters can check e-mail, file stories, read the wire – anything they would normally do at their desks. An aircard relies on a cell-phone signal. Unfortunately, the Capitol’s thick walls hamper cell-phone signals and users sometimes get kicked off, particularly in committee rooms.

In the Senate, some reporters use the computers on the press desks to write and file a story through Internet e-mail accounts such as gmail or yahoo. There is no way, though, for a reporter to connect to their editorial system.

The same goes for computers in the Assembly press bay, where firewalls also limit Internet use.

Not all California government buildings are Wi-Fi wastelands.

The Cal-EPA building offers free wireless. As part of Gov. Schwarzenegger’s Broadband Initiative, the Department of General Services has create pilot Wi-Fi sites at the Zig, the Office of State Printing, the Secretary of State’s Office, the State Museum, and the Library and Courts Building.

There has been talk over the years about also bringing Wi-Fi to the Capitol, but nothing is imminent, said department spokesman Eric Lamoureux.

Cost is a hurdle at a time when the state confronts an estimated $14.5 billion shortfall.

Creating a wireless network in the Capitol would require extensive wiring, signal amplifiers, and access points, said Sohrab Mansourian, the Assembly’s IT expert. “It’s a project,” he said.

Another concern is online security. Officials worry that an open Wi-Fi network in the Capitol would be vulnerable to hacking and other problems.

Many statehouses elsewhere offer at least some level of Internet access to members of the media and other visitors. Here is a sampling of those, based on information provided by members of the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors:

Connecticut: Wireless access is free in the Capitol.

Florida – The press has wireless access in both houses.

Georgia – The state provides wireless in the press areas of the both legislative chambers, and across the street at the press offices.

Hawaii – Wireless access is free in the Capitol’s public areas and in committee rooms.

Kansas – Wi-Fi was added as part of a recent Capitol renovation process. Users must get a user name and a password from the state’s legislative services division.

Louisiana – There is no Wi-Fi. There are several Internet hookups for the press. There also are three computes available for use by the public or press who don’t have assigned offices.

Maine – There has been a Wi-Fi system in the state capitol for six years.

Michigan – There is free Wi-Fi service for the press and the public in both the House and Senate, including in committee rooms across the street from the capitol.

Missouri: The Senate provides free wireless that works well in the chamber and adequately on most of the Senate side of the building. The House charges $150 per year for wireless access on its side of the building, which works well throughout the House side.

Nebraska – The state installed a wireless network in the Capitol last year. The press has access with a password in the (one-house) legislative chamber and all hearing rooms. One area is available for the public.

Oregon – There has been free wireless access since fall 2006.

Pennsylvania – Wi-Fi is available to the public in several hearing and briefing rooms.

South Carolina – The statehouse has free wireless access for everyone.

Texas – The Senate chamber has Wi-Fi, as do the budget committee meeting rooms in both houses. The House lacks wireless, but there are half a dozen ethernet connections for reporters to use.

Virginia – There is Wi-Fi service for both the press and the public.

Washington – The state has provided wireless Internet for free to anyone in or around the Capitol for about two years.

West Virginia – The state charges about $200 a year for Wi-Fi access in the Capitol.”

Posted on Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
Under: California Legislature, State politics | 2 Comments »

Bowen to speak in Walnut Creek on voting machines

California Secretary of State Debra Bowen will speak at the Feb. 21 meeting of the Lamorinda Democratic Club about her decision to decertify touch-screen voting machines in more than 20 counties.

First elected in 1992 to the state Assembly to represent constituents in west Los Angeles County, Bowen served three terms before being elected to the state Senate. She served two Senate terms prior to being elected in 2006 as California’s Secretary of State, the sixth woman in state history elected to statewide constitutional office.

The event begins at 7 p.m. at the Contra Costa County Jewish Community Center, Koret Auditorium, 2071 Tice Valley Blvd. in Walnut Creek. The cost $10 per person and it is open to all residents.

For more details, call 925-210-7337 or visit www.lamorindademoclub.com.

Posted on Thursday, February 14th, 2008
Under: Calendar, Election reform, State politics | No Comments »