Tobacco companies wield significant clout in the Legislature through lavish campaign contributions and aggressive lobbying -- and some lawmakers make out better than others, according to a new study by an anti-tobacco group.
From the AP's Adam Weintraub: "The tobacco industry spent $9.3 million over the past two
years to fight cigarette taxes, support candidates and influence politics in
California, an anti-smoking group said in a report issued Tuesday."
"The report by the American Lung Association in California
said political spending by tobacco interests over the past decade totaled
almost $100 million, with cigarette maker Philip Morris USA Inc. accounting for
more than half the total."
"The report is the latest by the association documenting
political spending by the tobacco industry, which spikes when cigarette taxes
or tobacco regulations are in play at the Capitol or at the ballot box."
The legislator who received the most tobacco cash Sen. Bill Emmerson, reports Jim Miller in the Press-Enterprise.
"Emmerson, R-Hemet, received $21,000 during the two-year
session from Philip Morris USA Inc., Reynolds American Inc., and California
Distributors Association Inc., according to the report entitled "Tobacco
Money in California Politics."
'The money received by Emmerson was almost three times the
average of 57 legislative colleagues who also received tobacco-industry
donations in 2009-10."
"Big tobacco continues to use its vast financial
resources for campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures to oppose bills
and ballot initiatives that would benefit public health by reducing tobacco
use," said Jane Warner, President & CEO of the American Lung Association
Among California redevelopment agencies, the big question is worthy of the Bard: To pay or not to pay? In Redding, local officials have come up with their answer. They'll pay.
From Scott Mobley in the Record Searchlight: "Redding officials grudgingly agreed to hand over $5.9
million to the state so the city’s redevelopment agency may start doing deals
"The City Council, which doubles as the agency board,
voted unanimously this afternoon to approve the one-time payment to the state
in concept. The council may vote formally as soon as Aug. 2."
"This is like taking medicine you don't like,"
council member Rick Bosetti said."
"Today’s vote allows the city to resume work on buying the
Dana Drive Costco store for a new police station."
Redding isn't the only town that's going to stick around: San Diego is buying in, too. From Liam Dillon in the Voice of San Diego.
"The City Council voted to buy back into redevelopment Monday night, paying an estimated $70
million this year and $16 million annually after that to schools and other
local governments. Without the payment, redevelopment would have gone away
through a bill passed as part of the state's budget vote last month."
"The council plans to hold meetings in neighborhoods where
redevelopment now exists to determine what projects should be delayed or
cancelled, the Union-Tribune reported."
"Redevelopment supporters also filed a long-anticipated lawsuit yesterday alleging the state redevelopment laws
were unconstitutional for numerous reasons, including that it violates a ballot
measure passed last November that prohibits the taking of redevelopment funds.
The League of California Cities and California Redevelopment Association
advocacy group filed the suit with the California Supreme Court in the hopes of
receiving an expedited ruling."
Rep. Maxine Waters, a Los Angeles Democrat and an institution in California politics for nearly four decades, is demanding that the House Ethics Committee drop the case against her.
From the LAT's Richard Simon: "Waters' lawyer, Stanley Brand, said the documents
included allegations that there was misconduct among the committee staff
members who investigated the Democratic congresswoman, and further action by
the panel would be "irremediably tainted."
"Simply put," Brand said, "this committee
can never conduct an impartial and unbiased inquiry."
"Waters, a South Los Angeles political fixture since the 1970s, has been accused
of intervening on behalf of a bank where her husband owned stock and served on
the board. But the case against her, growing out of an investigation that began
two years ago, has been sidetracked by strife within the committee."