Election year price tag will be a whopper

Feb 16, 2016

Initiatives and ads related to California's ballot this year are projected to reach over half a billion dollars spent by the time all votes are cast.


John Myers in The L.A. Times: "In an election year in which Californians, by virtue of the state's relative insignificance in the presidential campaign and a fairly tepid U.S. Senate race, have been spared the brunt of nonstop politicking, political experts say the storm is coming."


"We're going to have a deluge of political ads, of all forms," said Ned Wigglesworth, a Sacramento-based campaign strategist whose firm has done an early projection of what will be spent on statewide ballot measure campaigns this fall."


"The bottom line: an initiative season in the Golden State that could see total spending of at least $452 million — and perhaps even hitting half a billion dollars — by the time the final votes are cast."


Despite California's drought, regulations at the Folsom reservoir still see water pumping southward due to old U.S. Army standards... regardless of the reservoir's capacity.


From Ryan Sabalow, Phillip Reese and Dale Kasler in The Sacramento Bee: "Northern California’s El Niño winter has been on pause lately, with barely a drop of rain for two weeks. Yet federal dam operators recently increased the flows out of Folsom Lake by thousands of acre-feet a day as a precaution against flooding. They did so even as the reservoir sat 40 percent empty."


"The dam operators weren’t acting on their own initiative. They were adhering to a 60-year-old manual, drawn up by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, that requires them to release water when Folsom Lake rises to a specified height. The requirement holds even if no major storms are forecast, and the state is trying to conserve water during the fifth year of an epic drought."


"Similar operating manuals, all created by the Army Corps, govern flood-control releases at 33 dams in California. The vast majority haven’t been updated since at least the 1980s; Folsom’s manual dates to the year the reservoir opened, in 1956."


The California State Controller is putting together a "green bond" market for investors who wish to contribute to environmentally responsible projects.


Natalie Jacewicz in San Jose Mercury News: "California Treasurer John Chiang is embarking on a national tour this month aimed at seducing investors with an environmentally friendly investment alternative."

"The state already has invested in these "green bonds," created to enable environmentally responsible projects, and issued them on a small scale."


"Now Chiang wants to plant a full-fledged green bond market. Individuals and institutions, such as mutual funds and hedge funds, will have the opportunity to invest. The bonds promise to appeal to environmentally minded investors, as well as those looking to diversify portfolios overly dependent on fossil fuels -- in case future climate change regulations sprout up."


The Bay Area and Central Valley may see high-speed rail travel long before Southern California does.


Matier & Ross in The Chronicle: "High-speed trains would roll into the Bay Area from the Central Valley years before they start going to Los Angeles, under a dramatic strategy change that the state is on the verge of approving."

"One big reason: The Caltrain commute line between Gilroy and San Francisco is poised to get an early infusion of cash to help pay for its $1.7 billion conversion to electric power. That conversion is essential for high-speed rail."

"Plus, the South Bay, Peninsula and San Francisco constitute a huge potential market for bullet trains. A promise of early Bay Area service could build political support for the overall system and attract private investment that is badly needed to build out the $68 billion rail line."


Speakking of voting, something called the "undervoting" phenomena may play a critical role in California's primary this year. 


Capitol Weekly's Paul Mitchell tells the tale: "Elections are about choices.  For many California voters, these choices are put in stark partisan terms: casting ballots strictly for all Democrats or all Republicans."


"But the state’s new open primary gave us a new twist.  Voters in the primary election can now choose to stay within their own partisan silos, just voting among candidates within their party. Or they can stray, picking candidates that appeal to them regardless of party."


"Then, come November, these voters just might find that their legislative or congressional race has two candidates from the same party vying for a seat.   The open primary allows the top-two candidates to advance to the November ballot, regardless of party."


Finally, from our "Bon Appetit" file, we find that It's not every day cannibalism gets in the way of true love.


"The Seattle Aquarium said its Valentine's Day tradition of public octopus mating was canceled this year due to cannibalism fears stemming from the male's size."


"The aquarium said its annual event, which features two octopuses mating for the enjoyment of the public, was called off Sunday because officials feared the male octopus, Kong, would merely eat any female he encountered."


"Officials said Kong weighs in at 70 pounds, making experts concerned that he would eat any of the available female octopuses, which weighed only 30 to 40 pounds."


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