Political lapdog?

Feb 23, 2011

It's still early days, of course, but Gov. Brown's just-announced appointee to the chair of the state's political watchdog, the Fair Political Practices Commission, is sending signals that she's not happy with the aggressive posture the FPPC has adopted over the past of few years under Ross Johnson and Dan Schnur.


First, from Patrick McGreevy in the LA Times: "The new chief of the state's campaign finance watchdog agency said she may try to keep complaints of wrongdoing against public officials off the Web until they have been substantiated."

"Federal attorney Ann Ravel, appointed chairwoman of the state Fair Political Practices Commission by Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday, said she shares concerns of politicians who grouse about the agency's practice of posting unresolved complaints on its website."


Second, from the Bee's David Siders: "Recasting a commission that has become increasingly aggressive in its oversight of campaign finance and ethics rules, Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday appointed as its chairwoman a lawyer who said the agency could deal more fairly with the officials it regulates."


"Ann Ravel replaces Dan Schnur atop the Fair Political Practices Commission. Ravel, a U.S. Justice Department official who worked for decades in local government, said she will try to "make the rules more clear and more transparent" to government."


Speaking of appointees, Gov. Brown has removed two members of the CalSTRS board who were appointed by his predecessor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Times' Marc Lifsher tells the tale.


"Kram is president and chief executive of Content Partners, a Los Angeles firm that buys films in the secondary market from other investors. Content Partners' co-chairman, Paul Wachter, is Schwarzenegger's financial advisor."


"Percy, a recent graduate student at Stanford University's Department of Economics and Public Policy Program, helped write a controversial study commissioned by Schwarzenegger's office. The research estimated that the state's three biggest public pension funds were $400 million short of the amounts needed to meet future obligations to retirees."


In the battle over abolishing redevelopment agencies, the irony is sublime: The League of Citites, which protects redevelopment agencies, used the same argument last fall that Brown is using now in his attempt to get rid of them.


From Timm Herdt in the Ventura County Star: "In their official ballot argument for Proposition 22, the head of the association's Fire Chiefs Department and the president of the California Police Chiefs Association wrote that property taxes should be used "to fund vital local services like 911 response, police and fire protection."


"It's the same argument that Gov. Jerry Brown is using these days as he makes his case to disband the state's 400-plus local redevelopment agencies and to instead spend the property tax revenues they now receive on bread-and-butter services for California taxpayers."


Some 2,500 government workers gathered in Capitol Park to show solidarity with their counterparts in Wisconsin and other states, where public-employee unions are under attack. The Bee's Jon Ortiz reports.


"Participants in the union-sponsored rally held printed and handwritten signs: "We stand with Wisconsin workers!" and "United we bargain. Divided we beg!" A few signs called for labor action: "Wisconsin general strike NOW!"


"The event -- sponsored by the California Teachers Association, SEIU Local 1000, AFSCME, the Sacramento Central Labor Council and the California Labor Federation -- was pulled together quickly over the holiday weekend. Speakers exhorted the crowd to cheer for collective bargaining rights and insisted that the "attack on public employees" is spreading. Indeed, the crowd was buzzing with the news that California Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, R-Costa Mesa, has introduced a bill to end union bargaining of public pension terms."


And now we leave the world of reality and head to Nevada, where U.S. Sen. Harry Reid wants to outlaw those legal bordellos that dot that state's rural landscape. He said the move will attract business to the state, but as the Fark wag noted, doesn't Reid know that capitalism works best when someone's getting screwed?


"But what the Nevada Democrat got was an outcry of opposition from brothel owners and prostitutes looking to protect their livelihood and tepid responses from the legislators he asked to do the legal dirty work of running bordellos out of the state."


"The gallery in the Assembly chambers went silent Tuesday when Reid paused for applause after he told lawmakers from both houses that "the time has come for us to outlaw prostitution."


"Lawmakers from both major parties shied away from his suggestion that they could improve Nevada's beleaguered economy by driving brothels out of the state and inviting other businesses in."


And so it goes...

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