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Buchanan appointed to chair state reorganization committee

Joan Buchanan

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, has been appointed chairwoman of a special committee that will examine Gov. Jerry Brown’s executive branch reorganization proposal.

Buchanan is more than capable of this task. But sheesh, what did she do to earn this thankless assignment? Hit  Speaker John Perez’ car in the state garage? (Just kidding. About the car.)

Here’s the news release her office just put out:

Assemblymember Joan Buchanan Appointed Chair of Special Committee on Governor’s Reorganization Plan

(Sacramento, CA)—Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-Alamo) announced that Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez has appointed her Chair of a new special committee that will assess the Governor’s Reorganization Plan No. 2, a plan that will reorganize several agencies and departments of the executive branch.

“The Governor has presented the Legislature with a broad proposal to streamline the administrative functions of the Executive Branch,” Buchanan stated. “I look forward to our discussions on how to make California state government as efficient, accessible, and responsive to the needs of the public as possible.”

Assemblymember Buchanan is currently the Chair of the Budget Subcommittee on State Administration, which has held a number of hearings in the past few months to evaluate some of Governor Brown’s other proposals to reorganize the executive branch. She is also the Chair of the Select Committee on Government Efficiency, Innovation, and Technology.

The committee membership will include members with diverse expertise in the areas the Governor has proposed to reorganize. Assemblymember Katcho Achadjian (R-San Luis Obispo) will serve as Vice Chair, with Assemblymembers Bill Berryhill (R-Stockton), Roger Dickinson (D-Sacramento), Linda Halderman (R-Fresno), Isadore Hall (D-Los Angeles), Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward), Alyson Huber (D-El Dorado Hills), Kevin Jeffries (R-Lake Elsinore), Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), V. Manuel Pérez (D-Coachella) and Norma Torres (D-Chino) filling out the rest of the special committee’s membership.

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Early cash winners emerge in East Bay races

The money race in East Bay state legislative contests reveals a handful of early leaders in the open seats, according to campaign finance reports filed this week.

Democrat and Oakley Mayor Jim Frazier, one of five declared candidates in the new open Assembly District 11 seat, substantially out-raised his opponents by threefold as of Dec. 31, 2011, the end of the last reporting period.

In Assembly District 18, the new western Alameda County seat, Alameda Councilman Rob Bonta and AC Transit board member Joel Young, both Democrats, reported similar numbers and outpaced the other two declared candidates.

In Assembly District 20, which includes Union City and San Leandro, Democrat and Hayward Councilman Bill Quirk has a large financial lead but largely due to a personal loan.

Savvy observers will rightly note that the filing period doesn’t open until Feb. 13 but the most successful candidates are often those who get an early start and  lock down contributions and endorsements.

Here’s a cash rundown for East Bay state legislative candidates:

Assembly District 11: New district in east Contra Costa County and large swath of  Solano County

  • Jim Frazier, Democrat and Oakley mayor: $109,709 in total contributions; $97,874 cash in the bank; and loans of $2,500.
  • Patricia Hernandez,  Democrat and chief negotiator at Union of American Dentists and Physicians, Rio Vista: $38,050 in total contributions; $30,349 cash in the bank; and no loans.
  • Gene Gantt, Democrat and retired fire chief, Benicia: $29,404 in total contributions; $28,510 cash in the bank; and no loans.
  • Len Augustine, independent and former Vacaville councilman: No filing.
  • Mike Hudson, Republican and Suisun City councilman: No filing.

Assembly District 14

  • Susan Bonilla, Democratic incumbent, Concord: $211,666 in total contributions; $40,735 in the bank; no loans.

Assembly District 15

  • Nancy Skinner, Democratic incumbent, Berkeley: $358,626 in total contributions; $400,066 in the bank; and no loans.

Assembly District 16

  • Joan Buchanan, Democratic incumbent, Alamo: $101,500 in total contributions; $7,188 in the bank; loans unpaid from 2008 campaign of $100,000.
  • David Haubert, Republican and Dublin Unified School District trustee: $46,624 in total contributions, $42,601 in the bank; no loans.

Assembly District 18 (New open seat in western Alameda County including Oakland, Alameda, San Leandro.)

  • Rob Bonta, Democrat and Alameda councilman: $161,883 in total contributions; $132,239 in the bank; and loans of $7,500.
  • Abel Guillen, Democratic and Peralta Community College District Trustee: $118,584 in total contributions; $107,040 in the bank; loans of $13,650.
  • Kathy Neal, Democrat and Alameda County Democratic Central Committee member: $47,029 in contributions; $30,946 in the bank; and loans of $4,750.
  • Joel Young, Democrat and AC Transit District board member: $154,078 in total contributions; $171,827 in the bank; and loans of $50,000.

Assembly District 20 (open)

  • Sarabjit Cheema, Democrat and New Haven Unified School District trustee: No filing.
  • Mark Green, independent and Union City councilman: No filing.
  • Jennifer Ong, Democrat and eye doctor, San Leandro: $126,892 in total contributions; $93,734 in the bank; loans of $48,100.
  • Bill Quirk, Democrat and Hayward councilman: $170,156 in total contributions; $134,717 in the bank; and personal loan of $96,000.

State Senate District 7

  • Mark DeSaulnier, Democratic incumbent, Concord: $269,760 in total contributions; $217,754 in the bank; no loans.

State Senate District 9

  • Loni Hancock, Democratic incumbent, Berkeley: $335,174 in total contributions; $272,377 in the bank; no loans.
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Redevelopment advocates fight back

Organizations that represent California’s cities and redevelopment agencies have filed a lawsuit challenging recently passed legislation that all but eliminates  redevelopment as a separate entity.

The League of California Cities, California Redevelopment Association and the cities of San Jose and Union City filed will challenge in the bill as unconstitutional in the state Supreme Court, citing voter-approved Proposition 22 which barred state raids on local funds.

Read on for their joint release sent out a few minutes ago.

SAN FRANCISCO — Today, the League of California Cities (League), the California Redevelopment Association (CRA) and the cities of San Jose and Union City filed a petition with the California Supreme Court, challenging the constitutionality of AB 1X 26 and AB 1X 27, the two redevelopment bills passed as part of the state budget in June. AB 1X 26 eliminates redevelopment agencies. AB 1X 27 allows agencies to continue to exist (albeit on life-support) if they agree to pay their share of $1.7 billion this year and $400 million annually in perpetuity.

The lawsuit also requested the California Supreme Court to issue a stay to prevent the legislation from going into effect until the Court can rule on the merits of these claims.

The central claim in the lawsuit is that AB 1X 26/27 violate Proposition 22, the constitutional amendment passed by 61% of California voters in November 2010, just eight months ago. Proposition 22 was passed by voters to “conclusively and completely prohibit State politicians in Sacramento from seizing, diverting, shifting, borrowing, transferring, suspending, or otherwise taking or interfering with” revenue dedicated to local government. The revenues protected by Proposition 22 specifically include the annual increments of property taxes allocated to California’s 400 redevelopment agencies.

Continue Reading

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Senate votes to close smoking loopholes

Legislation to close loopholes in California’s groundbreaking anti-smoking laws has passed the Senate on a 25-14 vote.

Senate Bill 575 by state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, strips from the law most of the earlier exemptions that permitted smoking in some work environments of certain sizes including hotel lobbies, bars, taverns, banquet rooms, employee break rooms and warehouses. Smoking would be banned in private homes used as daycare centers during operating hours.

DeSaulnier did agree to reinstate the exemption for private smokers’ lounges such as tobacco shops.

Violation of the law is punishable by fines of $100 for the first violation, $200 for a second within one year, and $500 for a third and for each subsequent violation.

Read on for the full release. Continue Reading

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Controller will withhold legislators’ pay

California Controller John Chiang will withhold state legislators’ paychecks starting June 16 if they fail to approve a balanced budget within the next two weeks.

The provision is part of Proposition 25, which voters approved in November. Some analysts had concluded that Legislature’s March budget satisfied the requirement but Chiang disagrees.

Here’s what the controller had to say today:

SACRAMENTO – In response to recent questions regarding the impact of Proposition 25, Controller John Chiang today announced he will permanently withhold Legislators’ salary and per diem beginning on June 16 if they fail to approve a balanced budget in the next two weeks.

“Presenting the Governor with a balanced budget by the Constitutional deadline is the most important, if not most difficult, job of the California Legislature,” Chiang said.  “In passing Proposition 25 last November, voters clearly stated they expect their representatives to make the difficult decisions needed to resolve any budget shortfalls by the mandatory deadline, or be penalized.  I will enforce the voters’ demand.”

Proposition 25, titled the “On-Time Budget Act of 2010,” was approved by voters November 2, 2010.  The initiative lowered the vote requirement for passing a budget from two-thirds to a simple majority.  It also required members of the Legislature to forfeit their salary and reimbursement for travel and living expenses incurred from June 16 until “the day that the budget bill is presented to the Governor.”  Payments forfeited will not be paid retroactively.

Recently, questions have been raised regarding whether the budget passed by the Legislature had to be balanced, or if the budget bills passed in March would suffice.  The Controller’s analysis of these issues concludes Proposition 25 cannot be read in a vacuum, and must take into account the provisions of Proposition 58 (passed by voters on March 2, 2004), the intent language found in Proposition 25, and the voter information and campaign materials upon which the voters relied.

Proposition 58 states, “[T]he Legislature may not send to the Governor for consideration, nor may the Governor sign into law, a budget bill that would appropriate from the General Fund, for that fiscal year, a total amount that …exceeds General Fund revenues for that fiscal year estimated as of the date of the budget bill’s passage.”  Because Propositions 58 and 25 overlap in the same section of the Constitution and address the same topic, they must be read together.  A copy of the Controller’s full legal analysis can be found here .


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AD15: Buchanan holds big money lead

Abram Wilson

Abram Wilson

Joan Buchanan

Joan Buchanan

Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, posted a major financial lead over GOP nominee Abram Wilson in campaign finance reports filed yesterday.

Buchanan reported $301,331 in the bank and $92,200 in contributions between May 23 and June 30, the last reporting period.

Wilson, in contrast, showed a bank balance of $163,376 and raised $25,529 in the last period. He personally loaned his campaign $17,900.

The incumbent has not dipped into her own wallet, despite her willingness to do so in the past. Buchanan spent $800,000 of her own money on her failed 10th Congressional District special election primary in 2009.

Wilson is challenging Buchanan in the Nov. 2 general election.