Campaign season

Sep 12, 2011

When voters approved creating an independent commission to draw legislative districts, then expanded that commission's authority to include congressional seats, they surely felt they were done with redistricting for a while. Not so: A group has been given permission to circulate petitions to try and defeat the congressional districts at the ballot box.


From the LAT's Jean Merl: "Opponents of new congressional district maps recently drawn by a citizens commission may begin a petition drive for a referendum effort to overturn the maps, the secretary of state's office announced Friday."


"Proponents of the referendum, led by Republicans who feel the maps unfairly put their party at a disadvantage in coming elections, now have less than 90 days in which to collect the 504,760 registered voter signatures required to put the matter on the June 2012 ballot."


"Earlier, another group of Republicans began collecting signatures for a referendum to overturn the California Citizens Redistricting Commission's set of state Senate maps."


Speaking of redistricting, Los Angeles County is ground zero and the fight is focusing on the powerful Board of Supervisors, notes the Bee's Dan Walters.


"The big issue is whether Latinos, now half of the county's population and a third of its voters, should receive another seat – and if so, who will lose out. Latino rights groups are threatening legal action if the second seat doesn't materialize. Asian Americans, who far outnumber blacks, are pressing for representation, too."


"Molina has a plan to create a second Latino seat by wiping out what has been traditionally a Jewish seat centered in the "west side" of Los Angeles. And while he can't seek re-election to the board because of term limits, Yaroslavsky is hopping mad, calling it "a bald-faced gerrymander" that would disenfranchise his white, affluent and liberal constituents."


"He and the two Republicans are blocking Molina – so far. But the alternative for another Latino seat would be to erase a Republican seat – the likely outcome of a plan backed by Ridley-Thomas – and under the county charter, any redistricting must obtain votes of four members."


Gov. Brown has on his desk a measure that would push all initiatives onto November ballots, when turnout is traditionally highest. An obvious powerm play? Sure. But so what?


From CalBuzz's Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine: "Masquerading as a good government reform, SB 202, by Sen. Loni Hancock of Oakland, was a power play by labor unions and the Democrats to allow the greatest number of voters to have a crack at ballot measures that often have major, long-term consequences for the state."


"Exactly as we predicted, the bill was jammed through at the last minute by majority votes in both houses of the Legislature. There would have been virtually no awareness or discussion of the issue except that Calbuzz (and FlashReport, followed by others) wrote about it nearly two weeks before the deed was done."


"It’s not how the system should work, but it is how the system does work. Moreover, it’s the right thing to do and Gov. Jerry Brown should sign it."


"Why? Because a) elections have consequences, b) Republicans have proved themselves unwilling to actually participate in governing and c) it’s better that big changes in the law and Constitution should be voted on by the widest possible electorate."


When it comes to tax plans,  it's been a double-whammy this year for Gov. Brown, who just can't seem to get the Legislature to do what he wants. The Bee's Kevin Yamamura has the story.


"If the Democratic governor learned anything this year, it's that obtaining supermajority tax votes is every bit as difficult as veterans of recent Capitol battles warned."


"Brown staked his claim in the final month on a $1 billion package that would have raised taxes on out-of-state companies like Detroit automakers and cigarette-maker Altria Group in order to sprinkle small tax breaks among California businesses and individuals."


"On the eve of Friday's legislative deadline, the governor celebrated an accord with two Assembly Republicans in a Capitol news conference. Labor and small-business leaders flanked Brown and Democratic lawmakers. He acknowledged it was half a deal, absent Senate support, but noted, "We celebrate small victories."


"Less than 36 hours later, it went from small to none."


The Amazon deal hatched in California that allows the retailer to delay collecting sales taxes for a year in return for withdrawing its ballot referendum challenging the state's new law, may signal a national online tax shift, notes John Woolfolk in the Contra Costa Times.


"The latest sign of the sea change is a deal hatched in California with Amazon in which the online behemoth agreed to drop its multimillion-dollar referendum campaign and commit to collecting sales tax a year from now unless Congress imposes new national rules."


"It's really kind of significant because it's an agreement by Amazon to do what it's refused to do all across the country," said Danny Diaz, spokesman for the Alliance for Main Street Fairness, a Washington, D.C.-based coalition of large and small retailers trying to close the online sales tax loophole."


"While Seattle-based Amazon is hardly the only online retailer, it's the big fish in the Internet commerce pond, with 33,700 employees and 2010 sales of $34.2 billion. Founded in 1994, Amazon has aggressively fought efforts to collect sales taxes in states where it has no on-the-ground presence."


And from our "Up, Up and Away" file comes the tale of the amorous couple that wanted to join the MIle-High Club and wound up getting U.S. fighter jets scrambled and the defense system put on alert.   


"Two people "making out" in a restroom on a Frontier flight from Denver to Detroit caused authorities to scramble fighter jets, bomb squads and alert FBI and police on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, ABC News reported."


"On Sunday afternoon, the Transportation Security Administration was notified of "passengers allegedly behaving suspiciously onboard Frontier Airlines Flight 623," Denver FBI spokesman Dave Joly said in a statement."


"Out of an abundance of caution," the North American Aerospace Defense Command scrambled F-16 at 3:30 p.m. EDT to shadow the flight until it landed safely at Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Joly said."


"Three passengers were taken into custody for questioning, Frontier Airlines spokesman Peter Kowalchuck said in a statement, but no arrests were made."  


Wait. Two people making out, but three taken into custody. This is getting better....



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