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Tom Torlakson outspent Larry Aceves 5-to-1

Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson‘s 2010 campaign outraised and outspent his rival’s in last year’s election by about 5-to-1, according to campaign finance reports filed last night.

Larry AcevesThe longtime lawmaker from Antioch raised about $2.47 million and spent about $2.49 million in 2009-10, while the campaign of Larry Aceves, a former school administrator from Fremont, raised about $504,000 and spent about $501,000.

The candidates’ campaign committees don’t tell the whole story, however – each had substantial independent expenditures made on his behalf.

The Association of California School Administrators funded an independent expenditure committee supporting Aceves to the tune of almost $2.46 million in 2009-10.

Still, Torlakson had the money advantage: An IE committee created in May by the California Federation of Teachers, the California Teachers Association and the California School Employees Association spent about $3.95 million in 2010 on his behalf.

Torlakson and Aceves were the top two vote-getters in a crowded field of 12 candidates in June’s primary; Aceves actually finished on top with 19.2 percent of the vote to Torlakson’s 18.6 percent. But in November’s runoff for the nonpartisan seat, Torlakson dominated with 54.6 percent of the vote to Aceves’ 44.9 percent (as a write-in candidate drew off 0.5 percent of the vote).

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A musical primary post-mortem

When I’m having a good day, or sometimes when I’m down, I sometimes give myself a gift on the limited budget available to me as a reporter: a 99-cent splurge on new iTunes song for my iPod. And so as the primary election winners strut and the losers lick their wounds, here are a few suggestions for songs they might want to add to their playlists:

Meg Whitman, the billionaire former eBay CEO who spent $71.1 million out of her own pocket to buy the Republican gubernatorial nomination: “Money” by Pink Floyd, or “Killer Queen” by Queen

Steve Poizner, buried under Whitman’s $71.1 million and a 37-percentage-point deficit in the election results: “Wipeout” by the Surfaris

Chris Kelly, who spent $12 million out of pocket to lose the Democratic primary for Attorney General to San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris by 17 percentage points; PG&E President and CEO Peter Darbee, whose company spent $46.4 million on the unsuccessful Proposition 16; and Mercury Insurance Group President and CEO Gabriel Tirador, whose company spent $15.9 million on the unsuccessful Proposition 17: “Can’t Buy Me Love,” by the Beatles

Carly Fiorina, who as the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate has had the last laugh after people snickered at her “demon sheep” ad attacking rival Tom Campbell: “Sheep” by Pink Floyd

Abel Maldonado, the appointed incumbent who – despite winning the GOP’s nomination to try to keep the lieutenant governor’s office – knows his party wants him and needs him but there ain’t no way it’s ever gonna love him: “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” by Meat Loaf

Gavin Newsom, the San Francisco mayor who won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor but might have his own words from 2008 on same-sex marriage come back to haunt him in November’s general election: “Like It Or Not,” by Madonna

Steve Cooley, the Los Angeles District Attorney who broke from California tradition by being a moderate capable of winning a Republican primary: “Middle of the Road,” by the Pretenders

Tom Torlakson, the Antioch Assemblyman who placed second and so will go to a November runoff – at which time he’s likely to pick up a lot of the Democratic votes that went yesterday to third-place finisher Gloria Romero, along with stronger Democratic turnout overall – against former school district superintendent Larry Aceves for state Superintendent of Public Instruction: “Time Is On My Side,” by the Rolling Stones

Mike Villines, the Clovis Assemblyman and former Assembly Republican Leader widely berated within the GOP for OKing a budget deal with tax hikes last year, who now is eight-tenths of a percentage point – 11,204 votes – behind political unknown Brian FitzGerald, an Insurance Department attorney from Napa who raised no money, in the GOP primary for Insurance Commissioner: “Living on the Edge” by Aerosmith

Brian FitzGerald, who might want to ask himself, “Well, how did I get here?” : “Once in a Lifetime,” by the Talking Heads

Dems highlight budget cuts’ impact

Their caucus having kowtowed to the Republican minority and Gov. Schwarzenegger on much of the budget agreement, Bay Area Legislative Democrats are keeping a busy schedule of complaining about the agreement’s impacts.

Assembly Select Committee on Schools and Community chairman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, and Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco, are holding a hearing this morning in San Francisco, bringing Bay Area school officials, teachers, parents and community members together to talk about the steady decline in state education funding.

“When kids throughout California return to the classroom this fall, they will find fewer teachers, less resources and larger class sizes,” Torklakson, formerly a classroom teacher, said in a news release. “The cuts we make to education on the state level impact every community, every school and every student. It’s important that we know how.”

Among those testifying will be San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Garcia; Mt. Diablo Unified School Board President Gary Eberhart; West Contra Costa Unified School District Associate Superintendent Wendell Greer; United Educators of San Francisco Vice President Linda Plack; 25-year teaching veteran Theresa Jimenez; and United Teachers of Richmond President Pixie Hayward Schickele.

At the same time three miles away, state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, will headline an event announcing his new legislation to restore funding to the state Department of Public Health’s Domestic Violence Program, which Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger eliminated with a line-item veto.

The program provides funding to 94 domestic violence shelters and centers across the state, and Yee says cutting off the money puts domestic violence victims and their children in danger while increasing the state’s health care and law enforcement costs. Yee’s bill would move $16.3 million from the state’s victim’s compensation fund (which he says has a $136.2 million balance) to the Domestic Violence Program.

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Lawmakers endorse ‘Clean Money’ ballot measure

Its path to the June 2010 primary ballot cleared by a federal judge last week, the California Fair Elections Act – which will ask voters whether to test out public financing of political campaigns by applying it to the races for Secretary of State in 2014 and 2018 – has now been endorsed by 18 Bay Area lawmakers.

“One year from election day, our campaign is off to a running start,” said campaign spokesman Mike Roth. “These strong, early endorsements from Bay Area legislators send a clear message that the California Fair Elections Act is gaining the momentum we need to bring about the changes voters want to see in Sacramento.”

The endorsement of state Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, was a gimme, as she authored the law that’s putting the measure on the ballot. Today’s other endorsers are state Senators Elaine Alquist, D-San Jose; Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro; Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord; Mark Leno, D-San Francisco; and Leland Yee, D-San Francisco; as well as Assemblymembers Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco; Jim Beall Jr., D-San Jose; Joe Coto, D-San Jose; Paul Fong, D-Cupertino; Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley; Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo; Fiona Ma, D-San Francisco; Ira Ruskin, D-Redwood City; Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley; Sandre Swanson, D-Oakland; Alberto Torrico, D-Newark; and Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch.

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Rally for ‘Social Security fairness for teachers’

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland; Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley; and Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, are expected to join President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s niece, union officials and others Saturday for a rally “for Social Security fairness for teachers.”

Organizers say as many as 3,000 teachers might gather for the event from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. this Saturday, May 30 in the Berkeley Community Theater at Berkeley High School, 1930 Allston Way, to demand the repeal of legislation which currently keeps teachers and other public-service employees in California and 14 other states from receiving the earned Social Security benefits they’ve paid for and believe they’re entitled to.

Bills are pending in Congress – H.R. 235 by Rep. Howard Berman, D-Los Angeles, and S.484 by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. – that would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision and the Government Pension Offset.

The WEP requires that someone’s Social Security retirement or disability benefit be reduced when they’re also entitled to a pension from a job in which he or she didn’t pay Social Security tax; the GPO can reduce or eliminate the Social Security benefit for spouses, divorced spouses, and surviving spouses who also receive a pension based on their own work for federal, state or local government that was not covered by Social Security. Both became law in 1983.

The activists behind this rally say these provisions “have financially disadvantaged teachers for decades” by requiring that teachers who worked in the private sector before or during their teaching careers can’t collect full Social Security from deceased spouses or get the same Social Security payouts as other workers even if they paid in the same amounts. These provisions affect not only teachers but many other public-service workers including police, firefighters, and government service workers, they say.

The Assembly earlier this month voted 62-13 in favor of Torlakson’s Assembly Joint Resolution 10, urging Congress and President Barack Obama to repeal the provisions; the resolution is now pending before the state Senate.

Saturday’s rally is being organized by The Grassroots Committee For Social Security Fairness; co-sponsored by the California Retired Teacher Association; and supported by labor groups including the California Teachers Association and the National Education Association.

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Damned if we do, damned if we don’t

What they’re saying about Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s bad-and-worse May budget revision proposals…

State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento:

“The message from the Governor’s May Revise is clear. California’s budget deficit continues to grow because of a National and International economic crisis that can be felt in every classroom, boardroom and unemployment office in the state. While Californians will have a chance to affect our budget deficit in next week’s election, it doesn’t change the fact that there are difficult choices ahead for this Legislature and the Governor. Regardless of what happens on May 19, on May 20 we will begin to respond to this fiscal challenge swiftly and responsibly, doing the best we can with the money we have.”

From Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles:

“The deep cuts included in both of Governor Schwarzenegger’s budget proposals reflect the impact the extended national recession continues to have on California. We have consistently said that all issues must be on the table, so we will closely examine each and every one of the Governor’s proposals announced today. We understand the people of California don’t care about politics-as-usual when it comes to solving the budget, and we will reject any stunts or gimmicks that get in the way of serious solutions. Californians are frustrated and families who depend on services from the state –whether schools or firefighting or health care for children – are worried. We will work to solve the budget deficit in a way that protects a safety net for the most vulnerable among us, acknowledges the fact we need an educated workforce to keep our economy going, and respects the strains all Californians are facing in this economy.”

From you:

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What’s that? You have nothing to say about it? But the governor himself today challenged every Californian, “If you don’t like the cuts, sit down with a pen and pencil and figure out where the money is going to come from.”

Hey, it’s even easier than that: Go use Next 10’s nonpartisan “California Budget Challenge,” a free online educational tool that lets users try to balance California’s budget and see how their choices will affect the state five years into the future. Everyone should take a stab at it, in order to understand what’s really at stake here.

More feedback on the governor’s proposals, after the jump…
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