Apr 12, 2011

Kam Kuwata, the soft-spoken Democratic political strategist with a sterling reputation, supreme networking skills and a genuine fondness for reporters, has died at the age of 57. 


From Michael Doyle in the Sacramento Bee: "Los Angeles police officers found Kuwata's body on the office floor of his condo in Venice, according to an e-mail sent by a Kuwata family member. Friends and family members had reportedly alerted police after becoming concerned about not being able to reach him."


"Out-of-touch was out-of-character for Kuwata. During a robust political career that began with service as a grunt for the late Democratic Sen. Alan Cranston, Kuwata roamed through a famously wide universe of elected officials, newshounds, gossip-swappers and golfing buddies."


"Kam was the ultimate networker, maybe one of the original ones," said former Los Angeles-area congresswoman Jane Harman. "He operated at light speed. He also had a lot of personality, in what used to be a big body."


California's political watchdog, the Fair Political Practices Commission, has approved a $60,000 fine against Inland Empire potato producer Larry Minor for making illegally making campaign donations in other peoples' names. Jim Miller at the Press-Enterprise has the story.


"The Fair Political Practices Commission also approved fines against former Inland lawmaker Ray Haynes and the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians near San Jacinto."


"In February, Attorney General Kamala Harris announced a 14-count indictment of Minor, the owner of San Jacinto-based Agri-Empire, for $66,400 in illegal political donations. The money went to the state Senate campaign of Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone in 2009 and the Assembly campaign of former Banning councilwoman Brenda Salas in 2006."


"Authorities said Minor gave the contributions in the names of employees and family members. Neither candidate knew the money's true source, officials said. On Feb. 16, Minor pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, agreed to a $60,000 fine and promised to make no political contributions for three years."


Speaking of the Inland Empire, rookie Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of San Bernardino is happily in the middle of a 'full-blown war' with Democrats. The LAT's Mike Mishak has the story.


"He had nothing against Democrats, he said. In fact, he and fellow Republicans intended to find Democrats who "actually believe in jobs and understand how jobs are created," build political bridges to them and pass laws to put people back to work."

"But the 44-year-old former member of the Minutemen, who has two antique rifles mounted in his Capitol office, made no apologies for the violent pantomime..."

"Donnelly, a married father of five with a degree in English from UC Irvine, rode voter rage and an anti-illegal immigration platform to victory in November. Saying he wanted to "take the people's anger and channel it into action … so that they know somebody's listening," he wasted no time creating legislation to import Arizona's controversial immigration law, block in-state tuition rates for undocumented students at state colleges and fight limits on greenhouse gas emissions."


The interminable planning and development for a Peripheral Canal -- or some version of it -- ran into yet another roadblock when a Stockton judge ruled that state employees can't go onto private property in the Delta to start designing the project.


From Matt Weiser in the Sacramento Bee: "San Joaquin Superior Court Judge John P. Farrell ruled Friday that the access sought by the state Department of Water Resources amounted to a "taking" of land without adequate compensation or protections, Keeling said."


"The state intends to enter private land and drill for soil samples, as deep as 200 feet, to find the best route for a canal or tunnel to divert a portion of the Sacramento River's flow out of the estuary and directly into state and federal Delta water diversion pumps near Tracy.'


"The proposal is the cornerstone of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, a project largely funded by Delta water users to obtain approval for a new canal or tunnel, as well as habitat restoration efforts. The court decision is likely to cause substantial delays in planning the canal project.'


The Bay Area's gasoline prices are the highest in the country -- now there's a surprise -- but drivers aren't turning to public transportation to escape the spiraling costs, and that is a surprise. The Bay Citizen's Katherine Mieszkowski tells the tale.


"Gas in San Francisco is now selling for an average of $4.22 a gallon, according to In San Jose, a gallon costs an average of $4.19, according to That’s compared to a national average of $3.76.


Gas is averaging over $4 a gallon in most of California, according to Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for, which operates both sites.  In the past three months, prices have jumped 70 cents…"


"Bay Area drivers may complain about the cost of gas, but they are not abandoning their cars."


“We have not seen a decline in bridge traffic attributable to the rise in gas prices,” said John Goodwin, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Toll Authority. Toll-bridges in the Bay Area have seen a steady decline in traffic since 2004, dropping 1 to 2 percent each year, the result, Goodwin says, of higher tolls, the economic downturn and construction on the approach to the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, as well as gas prices."


And from our "Urban Myths Validated" file comes the tale of two LAPD motor cops who won a $2 million suit against the department for being forced to -- you guessed it -- write traffic tickets to fill a daily quota. Busted!


"A jury awarded a pair of Los Angeles police officers $2 million Monday after determining that LAPD supervisors had retaliated against the officers for complaining about alleged traffic ticket quotas."

"Howard Chan and David Benioff, both veteran motorcycle officers with the department's West Traffic Division, sued the department in 2009, alleging that they had been punished with bogus performance reviews, threats of reassignment and other forms of harassment after objecting to demands from commanding officers that they write a certain number of tickets each day, according to the suit."

"Ticket quotas are illegal under state law, since they can pressure police to write spurious tickets to meet the goal. The line between setting a quota and pushing officers to increase their productivity is a delicate one for field supervisors, who are often under pressure themselves to generate more citations."

Enough said...

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