End game

Jul 11, 2011

The increasingly negative campaigns to replace Jane Harman in the 36th Congressional District are nearing the finish line -- and not a moment too soon.


From the LAT's Jean Merl: "The California Democratic Party, which said it has had someone videotaping Huey at his Torrance headquarters, was on hand Sunday when the businessman was served a subpoena from his ex-wife, who says he owes some back child support. The episode over the disputed amount marked "a new low in the annals of campaign dirty tricks," said Huey campaign strategist Dave Gilliard. Noting that Hahn had been through a "bitter" divorce herself years ago, he added: "You would think she would have the decency to leave family matters private."

"A day earlier, it was Huey who attacked Hahn, claiming she had tried to trick voters into believing she was endorsed by former World War II POW Louis Zamperini of Torrance. A Hahn strategist called the allegation "absurd," pointing out that the political mailer featuring a photo of Hahn and Zamperini does not claim an endorsement. "It's more of a description of his respect for the Hahn family," said Hahn strategist John Shallman."


At the end of the day, Janice Hahn should wind up the victor, notes Gene Maddaus in CalBuzz.


"But she’s also facing a substantial enthusiasm gap, which has brought Huey within striking distance of an upset. Huey is a Tea Party guy with a 30-year background in direct marketing, and he’s employing all the tricks of the trade in his campaign."


"As a result, his supporters seem to be more motivated — more riled up — than Hahn’s — which is important in a super-low-turnout, mid-summer special election. But  it’s still not clear there’s enough of them to overcome Hahn’s overwhelming registration advantage."


"The campaign bears a resemblance to last year’s race in the 53rd Assembly District, which overlaps with the coastal portion of CD-36. Betsy Butler, an establishment Democrat, faced off against a no-name Tea Party opponent, Nathan Mintz, in a district with a 12-point Democratic advantage. Mintz was written off early but gave her a good run for it, losing by just 7 points."


"It was by no means an uplifting or resounding victory for Butler, but she got it done, and that’s probably what Hahn will do in CD-36. She’ll win ugly."


Meanwhile, back at Half Dome, a group wants to allow an unlimited number of people to make the final leg of one of the world's most spectacular hikes, rather than the current practice of allowing only those with permits to make the climb. The Chronicle's Peter Fimrite tells the tale.


"The group, SaveHalfDome.com, has begun an online petition drive urging the National Park Service to stop requiring permits to climb the world-famous precipice and allow more hikers to flirt with danger on the summit cables if they want to, preferably after a third cable is installed on the sloping granite slab."


"We're not asking the Park Service to do anything radical," said Mason Harrison, 25, of Washington, D.C., who began the campaign on Independence Day. "We think the radical position is to continue this permitting process that effectively closes down access to one of the most popular sites in the park system to thousands of people."


"The Park Service began limiting the number of hikers on the enormous sliced-in-half granite dome in 2010 to combat regular bottlenecks on the sloping 8,842-foot-elevation peak. As many as 1,200 people - including children, flabby tourists and the elderly - were making the grueling 17-mile round trip on weekends and then squeezing together onto the cables."


Redevelopment agencies around the state are considering whether to pay the state for the right to stay in existence -- an option allowed by the governor and Legislature. In Riverside's case, that tab is $31 million.


From Duane W. Gang in the Press-Enterprise: "The county must pay an estimated $31.7 million this year and pass an ordinance to participate in the voluntary redevelopment program. Supervisors take up a measure Tuesday to initiate that ordinance."


"In future years, the county would have to pay an estimated $7.5 million annually to maintain a redevelopment agency."


"Officials are recommending the county pay the initial payment out of its affordable housing fund."


"It would just knock out all the housing funding for the upcoming year. It is a major, major change," Supervisor Bob Buster said. "Redevelopment won't be the same going forward."


Here's a bit of a surprise: Jerry Brown has yet to appoint a judge after more than six months in office.  From Howard Mintz in the Mercury News.


"Brown's slow start in appointing judges to the state's bench, which numbers nearly 1,700 judgeships overall, is hardly a departure from his predecessors. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took a year to appoint his first batch of judges, and former Gov. Gray Davis unveiled his first judges nearly 10 months into his first term. Brown was sworn in as governor on Jan. 4."


"Although those previous governors did not inherit a Supreme Court vacancy, experts say judicial appointments generally do not rank at the top of the priority list for a new administration."


"This is not at all unusual," said Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Burt Pines, Davis' judicial appointments secretary. "Typically, judicial appointments have lagged behind executive branch appointments and other pressing issues. This year is a classic example. The governor faced an overwhelming budget challenge. You have to appreciate how that challenge can overtake everything else on the governor's plate."

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