PolitiCal

On politics in the Golden State

Category: Jerry Brown

Rick Perry heading to California to recruit business

PerryTexas Gov. Rick Perry has found a way to keep himself in the media spotlight: nipping at the heels of Gov. Jerry Brown.

Perry caused a media splash this week when he took out a statewide radio ad urging California businesses to relocate to the Lone Star state.

Now, Perry is following up with a three-day swing through the state that will take him to San Francisco, the Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and Orange County, according to a release from Perry's office.

Brown this week dismissed Perry's efforts as a "a big nothing," noting that people from around the world continually come to recruit California's talent.

Perry recently recruited Jeff Miller, a major fundraiser for California Republicans, to relocate to Austin to help in Perry's efforts to attract California businesses.

ALSO:

Millions misspent? Gov. Jerry Brown finds it 'boring'

California passes up millions for prison healthcare, report says

Gov. Brown dismisses Texas' job-poaching efforts as 'a big nothing'

-- Anthony York in Sacramento

[email protected]

@anthonyyorklat

Photo: Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Credit: Associated Press

Tea party lawmaker tests fundraising waters for gubernatorial bid

TimDonnellyGovernor

A self-described tea party Republican lawmaker is testing the fundraising waters for a possible California gubernatorial bid.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks) sent supporters an email Thursday asking them to contribute to his exploratory campaign and weigh in on his potential candidacy via Facebook.

"As recent as two years ago, if you had asked me if I would ever consider running for governor, I would have called you crazy," the lawmaker wrote. "A lot has changed."

A former member of the volunteer border patrol group known as the Minutemen, Donnelly was elected in 2010 on an anti-illegal immigration platform. Known for his bombastic style, the lawmaker has become one of the Legislature's most ardent supporters of gun rights and recently introduced a proposal that would allow school districts to spend education funds to train teachers, administrators and janitors to use firearms.

He made headlines last year after being detained by police at Ontario International Airport when security screeners found a loaded pistol and an ammunition magazine in his briefcase. Donnelly called the incident an "honest mistake," saying he had simply forgotten the firearm was in his bag.

So far Donnelly has the field to himself. His bid, however, poses a challenge for California Republicans, who have signaled a desire to soften the party's harsh rhetoric on issues such as immigration after years of self-inflicted wounds and declining voter registration numbers. With Democrats holding supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature, the party has been pushed to the sidelines in the Capitol.

On Thursday, Donnelly asked his supporters to help him shape his agenda.

"Ever since I was elected to the State Assembly two years ago, I've had the chance to see firsthand how our state's leaders have abandoned the dreams of ordinary Californians, mocked our cherished values, and extinguished the spirit of freedom," he wrote. "All it takes is an irate minority to change the course of history."

As of Thursday afternoon, his Facebook page had 2,975 "likes." State records show he received a single $1,000 donation after announcing his exploratory committee last year.

ALSO:

Making law by talking 'war'

A conservative assemblyman gets in his right jabs

Tim Donnelly gets fine, probation after plea on gun charges

-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

Photo: Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-Twin Peaks) at the Capitol. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

Judge seeks California's out-of-state prison plan

This post has been updated. See below for details.

Gov. Jerry Brown must explain to a federal court by the end of Wednesday how he plans to fit 9,000 inmates currently housed in out-of-state facilities back into California lockups.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton directed California to explain in writing its exact plan to stop sending inmates to private prisons as far as Mississippi. The administration announced its intention to return the inmates months ago, at the same time it also seeks an end to court-ordered prison population caps.

Karlton's order requires California to stipulate the total number of inmates the state plans to return to California prisons from out-of-state facilities, the planned timetable for their return, and where the state plans to house those inmates. As of Jan. 30, according to state prison population reports, California had 8,852 inmates in four prisons run by Tennessee-based Corrections Corp. of America.

[Updated, 4:50 p.m. Feb. 6: Brown's lawyers filed papers late Wednesday afternoon arguing that the end of private prison contracts has no bearing on the delivery of mental health care to inmates, the core issue before Karlton.

[Nevertheless, California said its 4,527 inmates will finish their prison terms out of state. An average of 110 inmates are paroling out of those prisons each month.The remaining 4,325 will be returned in stages through June 30, 2016.

["The gradual return of these inmates will allow the state to avoid bunking inmates in prison gymnasiums or other makeshift housing units again," state lawyers told the court.]

A three-judge panel that includes Karlton recently gave California an extra six months, until December 2013, to reduce its prison crowding to 137.5% of design capacity. The state has said it expects to be over that mark even without the return of out-of-state prisoners. Brown contends further reductions are not necessary and in January he issued an executive order claiming the 2006 "emergency proclamation" that allowed prisoners to be moved against their will is terminated, as of this coming July.

Karlton's order for more information did not come out of the three-judge panel, but was delivered in Coleman vs. Brown, the class-action lawsuit over mental health care for inmates. Along with a general bid to lift court-ordered prison caps, Brown's lawyers filed a motion seeking to terminate that case. Karlton has set a March hearing.

In the interim, he ordered Matthew Lopes, the special master overseeing inmate mental health care, to produce as quickly as possible a report detailing inmate suicides for the first half of 2012. Lopes recently filed his annual report on the status of prison mental health care, raising concerns over what he said is a climbing suicide rate in California prisons.

ALSO:

Millions misspent? Gov. Jerry Brown finds it 'boring' 

California passes up millions for prison healthcare, report says

Gov. Brown dismisses Texas' job-poaching efforts as 'a big nothing' 

 --Paige St. John in Sacramento

Environmentalists and unions band together to fight CEQA changes

Environmentalists and labor unions are banding together to fight efforts to overhaul California's landmark environmental law.

Organizers said the new coalition, made up of dozens of advocacy groups and dubbed "CEQA Works," was formed to counter an aggressive campaign by business groups to make changes to the California Environmental Quality Act. While legislation has yet to be introduced, Gov. Jerry Brown has called on the Legislature to streamline the law to help speed the state's economic recovery.

Environmentalists fear a repeat of last year, when lawmakers tried and failed to push through last-minute changes that activists said would have gutted CEQA.

"CEQA is the most foundational environmental law in California," said Bruce Reznik, executive director of the Planning and Conservation League, one of the coalition's founding members. "We decided we couldn’t sit on the sidelines anymore and wait for bad things to happen."

Signed into law by Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1970, the measure requires developers to go through a lengthy public process detailing their projects' potential environmental effects and how those would be mitigated.

Business groups have long complained that activists, labor unions -- even corporate competitors -- abuse the law by filing frivolous lawsuits to delay and kill development. The Silicon Valley Leadership Group and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce are leading an effort to streamline environmental reviews and limit legal challenges.

But environmentalists argue that claims of delays are exaggerated. Less than 1% of all projects in the state face CEQA lawsuits, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

Nevertheless, Reznik said the new group will offer its own proposals to update CEQA, including increased electronic record-keeping. "I think there is a recognition that things can be improved in CEQA," he said. "We’re not just the group of no."

ALSO:

Environmentalists, unions fear last-minute CEQA changes

State gives initial OK to $1.4 million for lawsuit settlements

Assembly speaker vows action on public pensions, 'regulatory reform'

-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

twitter.com/mjmishak

Millions misspent? Gov. Jerry Brown finds it 'boring'

APphoto_Bank Apartments

Gov. Jerry Brown, a self-proclaimed penny pincher who takes pride in flying Southwest and crashing at the homes of friends instead of hotels while away on state business, was uncharacteristically blasé when asked about millions of dollars that appear to have been spent improperly by the state’s firefighting agency.

The funds have been reported about extensively, first in the Times and the Wall Street Journal, and followed by stories in other major media outlets.

Asked if he could talk about the issue during a news conference in West Sacramento, Brown said he couldn’t, as he hadn’t read any of the coverage. “I find it a relatively boring story, to tell you the truth,” he said. “But I’ll certainly look into it. If there’s a few million bucks lying around and someone didn’t put it in the right account, we’ll figure it out. We appreciate you bringing these things to my attention because nobody else did.”

The comments rankled GOP legislator and prompted Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar) to issue a statement a couple of hours later.

“After the $40-million state parks fund scandal, the governor assured us there were no other hidden pots of money to be found in the depths of state government,” Huff said in the statement. “But just weeks later, we see there’s a completely different money-hiding scandal unfolding at CalFire. I can’t speak for the governor, but 'boring' is the last word I would use to describe these very disturbing revelations of hidden funds.”

Huff went on: “Thousands of people worked a lot of hours to produce those 'few million bucks' the governor so casually dismisses. As my father used to say, if you take care of the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves.”

ALSO:

GOP legislators want feds to investigate fire fund

Former governors call for changes to environmental law

California passes up millions for prison healthcare, report says

-- Evan Halper in Sacramento

Photo: A bank vault in Richmond Va. Credit: Mark Gormus / Richmond Times-Dispatch

Ex-governors call for changes to environmental law

Three of California's former governors have banded together to urge an overhaul of the state's landmark environmental law, saying the 40-year-old measure needs to be "modernized" to help speed the Golden State's economic recovery.

The message echoes that of Gov. Jerry Brown, who called for changes to the California Environmental Quality Act in his State of the State address last month.

Former Govs. George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson and Gray Davis made their case in the pages of the Sacramento Bee on Sunday, arguing in an op-ed that CEQA has become "the favorite tool of those who seek to stop economic growth and progress for reasons that have little to do with the environment."

The measure requires developers to go through a lengthy public process detailing their projects' potential environmental effects and how those would be mitigated. Business groups have long complained that activists, labor unions -- even corporate competitors -- abuse the law by filing frivolous lawsuits to delay and kill development.

"While CEQA's original intent must remain intact, now is the time to end reckless abuses of this important law -- abuses that are threatening California's economic vitality, costing jobs and wasting valuable taxpayer dollars," the ex-governors wrote.

They suggested "requiring petitioners to disclose their economic interests; adding certainty to the CEQA time line; avoiding duplicative reviews; and lessening opportunities for unjustified litigation and delay."

Environmentalists have said the claims of delays are exaggerated. Less than 1% of all projects in the state face CEQA lawsuits, according to the Public Policy Institute of California.

Last year, environmentalists and labor unions persuaded legislative leaders to kill a proposal by state Sen. Michael Rubio (D-East Bakersfield) that would have streamlined environmental reviews and limited lawsuits. They argued that the measure would have effectively gutted CEQA.

Rubio has said he intends to redouble his efforts this year, and state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) has declared a CEQA overhaul one of the upper house's top priorities.

ALSO:

Environmentalists, unions fear last-minute CEQA changes

State gives initial OK to $1.4 million for lawsuit settlements

Assembly speaker vows action on public pensions, 'regulatory reform'

-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento

twitter.com/mjmishak

California finances praised but not upgraded by Moody's

Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown gestures as he delivers his State of the State address on Jan. 23. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

A major Wall Street rating agency said Monday morning that Gov. Jerry Brown's latest budget proposal shows California's finances are on the mend. 

But the agency, Moody's Investors Service, cautioned that California's progress could easily stall given the state's roller-coaster reputation.

"The state's improving economy, combined with recent tax increases and spending controls, has put the state on a path to large surpluses, although one that is typical of the boom-and-bust revenue and economic cycles of California," said a statement from Emily Raimes, Moody's vice president and senior credit officer. 

Moody's did not upgrade California's credit rating from "A1," which leaves it as one of the lowest-rated states in the nation.

Another major ratings agency, Standard & Poor's, upgraded California's finances last week. The shift means it has moved out of last place (a position now held by Illinois) but remains second-to-last with a credit rating of "A." 

Bill Lockyer, the California state treasurer, said the upgrade is proof that Brown and lawmakers have made "decisions that have been tough and painful but correct."

ALSO:

California escapes the ratings cellar

California taxes surge in January, report says

Jerry Brown, lawmakers get higher marks in new poll

-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento
twitter.com/chrismegerian

Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown delivers his State of the State address on Jan. 23. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

Gov. Jerry Brown's post-Super Bowl TV appearance: Atop Bay Bridge

The slot after the Super Bowl has been used to launch major network television shows as "The Wonder Years" and "The A-Team." This year's postgame in San Francisco will go to, among others, Gov. Jerry Brown.

The governor will join KPIX-TV's  live prime-time special, “A Super Night on the New Bay Bridge” from high above the San Francisco Bay on Sunday night, where he will launch an official 200-day countdown until the opening of the new span of the bridge after the big game.

According to a press release from the Bay Area television station, the show "will feature live postgame Super Bowl coverage from the Superdome" and will be anchored by some of the local CBS affiliate's on-air talent. "The prime-time special will also present new information about the plan to close the Bay Bridge for five days, when it will reopen, and the activities being considered to celebrate its completion."

The new span is scheduled to open Sept. 2.

The event fits the image of "Brown the builder" that the governor has cultivated throughout his first term. While overseeing the opening of the bridge this fall, Brown is also calling for major public works investments in water and high-speed rail. 
 
Earlier this year, the state Dept. of Transportation agreed to pay a public relations company to promote the bridge. The governor canceled the contract, saying he knew nothing about it until it was brought to his attention by the Sacramento Bee.

ALSO:

Senator gets free trip to Super Bowl for campaign fundraiser

Former L.A. prosecutor among those pardoned by Jerry Brown

Torrance attorney Gavin Wasserman named to campaign watchdog panel

— Anthony York in Sacramento

Former L.A. prosecutor among those pardoned by Jerry Brown

Gov. Jerry Brown granted 128 pardons and commuted the sentence of one prisoner last year, his office reported Friday.

Among those who received a pardon was George Schwartz, a former prosecutor and deputy Los Angeles city attorney, who was convicted of soliciting sexual favors from a female defendant in return for promising to help her obtain a lighter sentence.

In April, he commuted the sentence of Shirley Ree Smith, who was convicted of killing her grandson in 1997, saying he had “significant doubts" about her guilt.

Brown announced 79 of the pardons and the commuted sentence last year. On Friday, as required by law, Brown submitted a report on all of the pardons and commuted sentences for the year, which included the 49 previously unannounced cases.

Most of the pardons were for people who had been convicted of nonviolent drug offenses and had long since served their sentences. Brown noticed that since their convictions, all of those granted a pardon had gone on to be upstanding citizens.

Since taking office in 2011, Brown has been far more liberal with his pardon power than his predecessors.

Brown has now pardoned 149 people in his two years in office. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pardoned  16 people during his seven years in office. Gray Davis granted no pardons during his five years as governor.

ALSO:

Jerry Brown announces 21 pardons

Brown commits to major Medi-Cal expansion

Torrance attorney Gavin Wasserman named to campaign watchdog panel

 --Anthony York in Sacramento

Jerry Brown reports more than $9.7 million in two political accounts

BrownBudget

Coming off a major victory with the passage of Proposition 30 last year, Gov. Jerry Brown has more than just political capital. He’s got a lot of actual capital, too.

Brown has more than $2.6 million left over from the Prop 30 campaign. That money can be used for other ballot measures, but most of it cannot be used for his 2014 reelection campaign.

The governor’s political bank account has more than $7.1 million, and election day is still nearly two years away. More than $1 million of that money was raised in the last half of 2012, most an afterthought to the more than $30 million the governor collected for his tax initiative on last fall’s ballot.

By comparison, the California Republican Party reported just $236,000 in the bank with nearly $200,000 in debts.

Brown’s financial standing reflects his strong political position in the wake of Prop 30’s passage. The state’s budget has stabilized, he says, and a new survey from the Public Policy Institute of California shows voters more optimistic about the state’s direction.

--Anthony York in Sacramento

 

Photo: California Gov. Jerry Brown. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press

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