Bench press

Mar 12, 2012

In some ways, the judiciary is a protected class and judges generally don't draw the kind of sustained media scrutiny that dogs many other officials. in California, elected officials are required to disclose their economic interests and have the information posted online, except for one group -- judges. The state's political watchdog, the Fair Political Practices Commission, is considering whether to require judges to submit to the same disclosure rules as other public officials.


From the Mercury News' Howard Mintz: "The Fair Political Practices Commission, which has the authority to mandate the disclosure, could decide by Thursday whether to start requiring judges to put the reports online along with the rest of the state's elected officials'."


"It will be interesting to hear if there is any information they can provide that would show they are so uniquely situated that special consideration should be made for them," said commission Chairwoman Ann Ravel."


Student anger over cuts in education is putting heat on lawmakers and there's little chance it's going to cool off in the near future. The LAT's Chris Megerian tells the tale.


"In fact, in the current academic year California's public colleges and universities began relying more on student dollars than on the state budget for the first time. With more tuition and fee increases due to kick in this fall, lawmakers are under pressure to provide relief by restoring some money for higher education."

"Public higher education in California is really in a crisis, probably the most severe crisis that most of us have seen in a generation," said Jaime Regalado, emeritus professor of political science at Cal State L.A. As more students take to the streets, he said, "it's going to become harder and harder and harder for the politicians to ignore."


Richard Milanovich, a pivotal figure in tribal political and financial circles who led the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in Riverside County, died on Sunday.


From Jim Miller and David Keck in the Press Enterprise: "Mr. Milanovich led the Agua Caliente tribe for more than three decades, during a time when tribal members moved from poverty to casino-fostered wealth. Mr. Milanovich became one of the most powerful people in California politics, negotiating — and sometimes clashing — with governors and legislative leaders while overseeing tens of millions of dollars in campaign spending that resonated as far away as Washington."


"Mr. Milanovich had battled cancer and other ailments in recent years, friends and associates said. He nevertheless continued to have a positive outlook, they said."


“Because of him, thousands of California Indians live a better life than they ever would have had,” Michael Lombardi, a member of the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians, near Coachella, said Sunday. “His leadership, his wisdom, his vision is going to be missed. He cannot be replaced.”


Now here's a surprise: Political moderates are a dying breed, at least when it comes to members of the House. Classifying members according to their votes on key issues provides a snapshot of the political alignments.


From AP via the Mercury News: "Few places are as polarized as California, where 26 Democrats are listed among the chamber's 100 most liberal members -- and six Republicans are listed among the 100 most conservative."


"Only nine of the state's 53 representatives -- six Republicans and three Democrats -- are regarded as centrists, a breed of politician that is increasingly rare."


"Bay Area lawmakers, all of whom are Democrats, lean heavily to the left. All four South Bay and Central Coast representatives -- Honda, Zoe Lofgren, Anna Eshoo and Sam Farr -- are ranked among the top 75 liberals."


Finally, some good economic news: California sales tax revenue rose 7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011, colmpared with the same period of 2010.


From the Bee's Mark Glover: "The estimate was based on early calculations of cash receipts. It provides fresh evidence that the state's economy is strengthening. Also Friday, the board issued final numbers for the fourth quarter of 2010, saying taxable sales in that period grew by $8.5 billion, or 7.1 percent, from the same quarter of 2009."


A number of San Diergo-area lawmakers went to such spots as Hawaii, Mexico and Italy on trips sponsored by nonprofit groups with fiscal links to special interests that have business before the Legislature.


From the U-T's Michael Gardner: "Those include corporations, utilities, labor unions and environmentalists. Often representatives of those contributors join the excursion, giving them access to lawmakers."


"California Common Cause, a good-government group, has long lobbied for tightening gift-giving rules and providing full disclosure of who is contributing how much to the nonprofit group listed as the trip’s sponsor."


“This is another way to get money into politics,” said Phillip Ung, policy director of California Common Cause.

And finally, we turn to our "Dog Days" file to learn about the doghouse designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. A youngster asked Wright in 1956 to draw up a home for his pooch and Wright, despite his reputatation for being a curmudgeon, did exactly that.

"I was probably his youngest client and poorest client," Jim Berger, now 68, said during a recent phone interview."


"Berger rebuilt the doghouse last year with his brother, using the original plans. It was featured in a documentary film and will be displayed during screenings starting this month.

Wright designed Berger's family home in the Marin County town of San Anselmo, prompting the then-12 year-old Berger to ask his dad if Wright would design a home for his black Labrador, Eddie."


He did ... 



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