Judgment day

Feb 11, 2010

While Jerry Brown has yet to declare his candidacy for governor, groups backing his bid are preparing to spend tens of millions of dollars on his race through independent expenditure committees, which are free from the state's campaign finance restrictions.


"Within 48 hours this week, two independent committees were formed that could fundamentally change the way political campaigns are run in California.

"Spooked by the prospect of running against a Republican gubernatorial candidate with virtually unlimited resources, allies of Attorney General Jerry Brown have pledged up to $40 million in two separate independent expenditure committees to boost Brown’s gubernatorial ambitions.

"The creation of the two committees is a tacit admission that, within the current confines of California’s campaign finance law, Democrats felt they would not be able to compete with the vast personal resources of former EBay CEO Meg Whitman or Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner.

“Clearly, it’s in reponse to Whitman’s money,” said Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies “She’s upping the ante there. If she were not spending this much money, I don’t think you’d see this kind of activity.”

But Stern said the large independent expenditure committees come with potential risks for Brown as well.

“If voters don’t like the ads coming from these committees, they won’t get mad at Burkle or  the carpenters. They’ll get mad at Brown.”


CW's John Howard looks at the more aggressive role the LAO's office has taken since Mac Taylor took over.


"In a Capitol known for treachery, trauma and turmoil, the Legislative Analyst’s Office, or LAO, is an anomaly. Created in 1941 after suspicious lawmakers were fed up relying on the governor’s office to provide accurate budget information, the legislative analyst has developed into a Capitol institution. Taylor is only the fifth person to hold the job in nearly 70 years; one of his predecessors, A. Alan Post, served for 28 years, and Taylor’s immediate predecessor, Elizabeth Hill, served for 23 years. Taylor was appointed 16 months ago."


Sen. Abel Maldonado's nomination as lieutenant governor will be on the Assembly floor this morning, and the Central Coast Republican faces an uphill battle for confirmation. A Senate committee will continue its hearings on the state budget, as Democrats are expected to show their hand on some major counter-proposals to Gov. Arnold Scwharzenegger's spending plan.



Democratic state senators pushed the first budget cuts of 2010 through a key committee Wednesday, slicing government payroll costs by 5% and cutting $811 million from the prisons' healthcare budget.

The votes were the first on budget matters since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called a special session last month to address California's roughly $20-billion deficit. Lawmakers deferred decisions on how much to cut from California schools and social services -- the state's costliest programs -- until summer budget talks.

"This is kind of like the easy part," said Sen. Bob Dutton
(R-Rancho Cucamonga), vice chairman of the budget panel that passed the measures."


Rep. Diane Watson will officially announce her retirement today, and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass is expected to announce her candidacy to replace Watson.The maneuvering formalizes what's been rumnored around the Capitol for weeks, and maybe explains why the Speaker has spent so much time in D.C. over the past year...


A new study finds a proposed change in the state's primary voting system will not end rampant partisanship in Sacramento. But George Skelton says they're worth trying.


"One current example of the need for an open primary and less party partisanship is the Assembly Democrats' lining up against the confirmation of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's nominee for lieutenant governor, Republican Sen. Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria.

"Ironically, Maldonado is responsible for pushing Prop. 14 onto the ballot. And that's particularly offensive to Democratic politicians.

"An open primary "will be unlikely to change California politics overnight," McGhee writes. "There may be a long period of adjustment before the state arrives at a new, potentially more moderate equilibrium."

"Fine. The body politic is sick and suffering. Let the healing begin."


Amen, Brother George.


Meanwhile, state lawmakers got their ya-yas out by screaming at members of the Schwarzenegger administration Wednesday for travel costs, vehicles and other expenses.


"I find these expenditures to be an insult and very disrespectful to every furloughed state employee, to every taxpayer who has been working very hard to make ends meet, who is driving an old car on its last legs when this state chooses not to do the same," said Assemblywoman Audra Strickland (R-Thousand Oaks), vice chairwoman of the committee investigating the spending.


And finally, from our Don't Taze Me Bro Files, AP reports, "A Wisconsin man was accused of repeatedly shocking a male dance instructor with a stun gun, claiming the instructor was a "sinner" who "defiles married women." A Dane County prosecutor said the suspect, 59, hastily arranged a dance lesson at the instructor's Madison home and showed up with a stun gun and sledgehammer last Friday. The criminal complaint said the man told a detective that his church does not condone touching while dancing and that he was going to scare the instructor "and tell him to leave the women alone."


We see another reality show idea, or at least a way to jazz up the next season of Dancing With the Stars...

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