Gathering storm

Jan 27, 2012

At least two major groups -- California Forward and Think Long -- aimed at reforming California government are hooking up to get an omnibus measure before voters on the November ballot.  It all comes down to money and at least one of the groups, fueled by billionaire Nicolas Berggruen, has got it.


From KQED's John Myers: "The news release announcing the new partnership also hints at some private polling that's been done on the Cal Forward initiative. And no doubt one thing going in its favor will be the lack of a well-funded opposition campaign. After all, who's going to fight an initiative that purports to both streamline government and offer new transparency?"


"When Think Long announced last week that it wasn't pursuing its own reform plan for 2012, the safe money was a partnership with California Forward, given the numerous ties between the two groups (in the VIPs involved) and the general approach of both groups to systemic governance changes. So this news isn't surprising. But it is a shot in the arm for those who have been looking for a bipartisan and non-governmental approach to reform."


Amid a federal crackdown, an initiatiative is being crafted for November that would regulate and tax medical marijuana and the medical dispensaries that provide it. Capitol Weekly's John Howard tells the tale.


"The campaign committee was formed last week and proponents have filed the measure’s language with the state attorney general’s office. Backers include the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which hopes to organize dispensary workers, and the California Cannabis Association, which represents dispensary operators, patient-growers, advocates and others within the industry."


"The proposed initiative comes amid a federal crackdown on major marijuana growers and dispensaries, in which federal prosecutors across California are forcing shutdowns of the operations. The prosecutors say California’s medical marijuana industry violates federal law as well as state law, which bars for-profit sales."


When it comes to educational issues, shifting state law and the state budget is leaving parents confused. 


From Sharon Noguchi in the Mercury News: "For decades, California parents with kids nearing their fifth birthday knew that right about now, they needed to start thinking about registering for kindergarten. But a new law, a funding crisis and California's Byzantine budgeting ways have turned that certainty on its head. Not only parents, but also schools and even state officials are confused about who can start school in August."


Meanwhile, legislation has moved through the Assembly that would lift the 16-year-old ban on media interviews of specific prison inmates. Similar efforts have been vetoed in the past, and the ultimate fate of the latest attempt remains uncertain. 


From  Josh Richman in the Political Blotter: "Since the ban on pre-arranged inmate interviews went into effect in 1996, bill author Tom Ammiano noted, eight versions of this bill have been vetoed by three governors. “Independent media access to prison inmates is a critical part of keeping our prisons transparent and accountable while providing information to the public,” Ammiano, D-San Francisco, said in a news release."


Redevelopment agencies are approaching their last gasp, as attempts to extend their existence are petering out.


From Jim Miller in the Press-Enterprise: "On Thursday, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said a Senate measure, SB 659, to push back the deadline until April 15 is “not going to happen.” A spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker John A. Perez, D-Los Angeles, had a similar assessment. Local governments need to look forward instead of focusing on legislation to postpone next week’s deadline, said Steinberg, D-Sacramento."


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