War games

Mar 16, 2011

Tensions in the Capitol increased dramatically as the first floor votes loomed on a budget crafted by Gov. Jerry Brown and majority Democrats. But as the negotiations intensified, the voice of the people -- a cliche, but a nice cliche -- was heard: Most Californians want a chance to vote on the budget, a new poll shows.


From the Chronicle's Wyatt Buchanan: "A strong majority of California voters want a special election and support Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to shrink the state budget deficit by extending temporary tax increases for five more years, according to a survey by UC Berkeley and the Field Poll. Most California voters, however, would not support paying new or higher taxes to help close the state's $26.6 billion deficit."


"The poll showed 61 percent of all voters surveyed said they were in favor of calling a special election, and 56 percent of Republican voters surveyed said they wanted that, too. However, most of the Republicans - 61 percent - said they would vote against the tax proposal."


More from the poll: About nine out of 10 lawmakers are either conservative or liberal, but only about half of Californians fall into those cagtegories, notes the Bee's Dan Walters.


"That's another way of saying that the state's moderate Democrats, centrist Republicans and independent voters – half of the electorate – have only scant representation in the Capitol."


"The stark contrast between the political dynamics inside the Capitol and the reality outside its impervious granite walls is one of the major impediments to timely and effective political decision-making. Those inside the building engage in ideological gamesmanship. Those outside just want politicians to do their jobs, even if that requires compromise."


The eternal push by some Republicans to rewrite the state's principal environmental law, the California Environmental Quality Act, is gaining new momentum as five Republicans are demanding CEQA changes -- the same Republicans whose votes Brown is courting for the state budget.  The LA Times' Shane Goldmacher and Evan Halper have the story.


"Sweeping changes in the California Environmental Quality Act would stand little chance of approval through the normal legislative process, which Democrats — environmentalists' usual allies — control. But the governor's budget cannot pass without some Republican votes, and GOP lawmakers see an opportunity to win long-sought concessions."

"Environmentalists expressed outrage at the Republicans' bid. Bill Magavern, director of Sierra Club California, said that what the legislators want amounts to a "wholesale gutting" of the law."


Meanwhile, California may think of itself as the home of good public access to government, but a watchdog group gave the state a woeful D-plus in government transparency. Capitol Weekly's Malcolm Maclachlan has the story.


"But what may be most galling to politicos in the Golden State was who was on the top of that list: Texas. Texas, the home of California-bashing Gov. Rick Perry, tied for first place with Kentucky — a state John McCain won by 16 points in the 2008 presidential election. They received the only two solid “A”s on the list, with A- grades going to three other McCain wins: Indiana, Arizona and Louisiana."


"You have to go all the way down to No. 6 on the list to find a solidly blue state, Massachusetts — albeit one that elected Mitt Romney as governor in 2003 and tapped moderate Republican Sen. Scott Brown in 2009. Two other states won by Obama, Oregon and New Jersey, round out the top 10."


Perhaps the fiercest budget-linked negotiations target Gov. Brown's attempt to abolish redevelopment agencies. At the 11th hour, a new redevelopment proposal surfaced in the Capitol.


From Capitol Weekly's John Howard: "The plan emerged as leaders in both houses scheduled floor votes for the budget on Wednesday. As written, the budget facing the floor votes will eliminate California’s redevelopment agencies."


“We sent this to our members this morning, we are offering this as an alternative to the governor’s proposal,” said John Shirey of the California Redevelopment Association. He said the proposal conformed to voter-approved Proposition 22 and did not require borrowing, an issue raised by the state treasurer."


Finally, from our "Dumb Crooks" file comes the tale of the bank robber who was asked to show two forms of I.D. -- and did it. Of course, this happened in Texas, and that explains it. But still...


" A hapless bank robber who abided by a Dallas teller's request to provide two forms of identification before she could give him money is going to prison. A judge sentenced 49-year-old Nathan Wayne Pugh of Sachse to more than eight years on Tuesday."


"Pugh tried to hold up a Dallas Wells Fargo Bank in July. The teller stalled Pugh by telling him she needed to see two forms of ID. Pugh showed her his Wells Fargo debit card and a state ID card. He was captured as he tried to flee with $800."


Sounds like a scene from a Woody Allen movie...



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