Jun 9, 2011

Gov. Brown's budget push for a September election on taxes is dangerous and dicey, according to one of Brown's most important allies, the SEIU. The Bee's Kevin Yamamura has the story.


"As Gov. Jerry Brown presses Republicans for a mid-September election on taxes, a major Democratic labor ally warned Wednesday that going to the electorate is "terribly fraught with peril."

"David Kieffer, executive director of the Service Employees International Union California State Council, instead wants lawmakers to reach a bipartisan agreement to extend taxes in the Legislature."


"He said his group is not obligated to finance a fall tax campaign and would have to weigh that multimillion-dollar expense against spending in 2012 legislative races."


"It's my members' money," Kieffer told The Bee's Capitol Bureau. "And if I went to my members and my board and said we can either play heavily and do good politics in 2012 or we can lose an election with this money, I think I don't even have to pose the question to get the answer."


Speaking of the possible election, the talk-show duo of John and Ken changed their position on going to voters, and then -- surprise! -- so did Republicans in the Capitol.


From the LA Times' Shane Goldmacher: "Gov. Jerry Brown and Democrats in the Legislature have long complained that Republicans in the Legislature take their policy cues from radio hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou."


"The timing of Republicans' new position in budget talks –- that they would now support an election on tax extensions, but not a "bridge tax" until that election -– will likely only add fuel to that fire."


"The new GOP stance comes only days after Kobylt and Chiampou, whose KFI-AM (640) drive-time show reaches more listeners than any other non-syndicated talk program in California, changed their own opinion on the matter."


"After months of pillorying Republicans who dared to negotiate about a special election on extending current vehicle and sales tax rates to help balance the budget -- calling for the "head on a stick" of any GOP legislator who would relent to Brown's proposal -- Kobylt announced last Thursday that he had changed his mind."


The Democrats, meanwhile, set the stage for the budget fight just days before the constitutional deadline. The Contra Costa Times' Steve Harmon tells the tale.


"Legislative Democrats sent revised budget plans to both houses Wednesday night that would restore nearly $1 billion in spending and that seek a yearlong extension on taxes that could jeopardize any opportunity for an on-time deal."


"Lawmakers are racing against a June 15 constitutional deadline to approve a balanced budget. If they fail to meet it, they will not be paid after that date until they reach an accord on how to close a $9.6 billion revenue gap."


"Though Democrats have the power to approve a budget with a majority vote, they need four Republicans -- two in either house -- to approve any revenues. There was little sign the two parties are close to an agreement."


"Votes on the budget could come as early as Thursday, though nothing has been scheduled as Gov. Jerry Brown continues to meet with Republicans seeking a deal on pension rollbacks, regulatory fixes and a spending cap."


The quality of food in prisons has been a long-standing concern, but here's a foodie tale with a twist: the saga of kosher. Capitol Weekly's Malcolm Maclachlan has the story.


"But the kosher meals are the most expensive on a per-meal basis, partly because they require ongoing supervision from a rabbi or a qualified Jewish layperson. This can be a problem, since Jews only make up about 1 percent of state prison inmates. In the state’s overall population, Jews account for about 3 percent of the total."


"They’re also heavily concentrated in urban areas. Take, for instance, the town of Chowchilla. It houses about 7,800 female prisoners in two facilities. The nearest synagogue is 19 miles away in Merced."

"In fact, Chowchilla is a key place Corrections has been actively trying to recruit a rabbi, said Paul Verke, a spokesman with the department."


"Verke says the kosher food/rabbi problem was a “staffing issue” and that no inmates were being denied their proper religious meals, which are required under a variety of laws. He said enrollment in the Halal,  Kosher and Vegetarian Meals program has been growing steadily."


With all the digital tools that available, a sampling of Capitol staffers said they still prefer the traditional ways of communicating with constituents and members, including one-on-one meetings and the telephone.  


From Capitol Weekly's John Howard."Those are some of the findings in an unusual survey of staffers’ communications and technology preferences conducted by StrategyOne for Edelman, an international public relations and communications firm, and Capitol Weekly. The questionnaire was posted for several weeks and the findings were compiled last month."

"The California staffers said their members are using Facebook and blogs in dramatically greater numbers – a five-fold increase in Facebook over the past three years, from 17 percent to 91 percent, while there was a four-fold increase in blogs during the same period. Email also has grown in use over the past three years."

"But they also expected those levels would decline over the next three years, while the use of YouTube and instant messaging would increase dramatically."

'Since 2010, similar surveys of political staffers have been conducted in Washington, D.C., London, Brussels, Paris and Berlin."


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