Adios Republicanos

Mar 29, 2012

Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, the handsome politico with a glittering war record who wants to be mayor of San Diego, has long been seen as a rising star in the Republican Party. No longer: He is bolting the party to become an independent, declaring that the GOP is bedeviled by "petty games."   


From Carla Marinucci and Marisa Lagos in the Chronicle: "t's a bold move for Fletcher, who with Republican Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield had been viewed as among a handful of potential Republican candidates for high-profile statewide races, including U.S. Senate and congressional seats."


"The move also represents an ominous sign for the California Republican Party, which has seen its voter rolls decline as it tacks increasingly to the right in the solidly blue state."


"Fletcher, who earned the wrath of some Republicans by working with Gov. Jerry Brown and other Democrats on key tax issues, said he has "always been willing to step up and do what my conscience told me was right."


More on Fletcher's departure  from the folks in San Diego who know him best, from the U-T's Craig Gustafson.


"Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, one of four high-profile candidates running for San Diego mayor, left the Republican Party Wednesday to become an independent — shaking up the race with less than 70 days left before the primary."


"Fletcher said the change in party status has been a long time coming. He has repeatedly expressed frustration at the polarizing state of politics and what he says is the gamesmanship in Sacramento that puts party loyalty ahead of public interests. He has also split with the party on major issues, such as his support of repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy."


"Critics question his motivation, noting he has been trailing badly in the polls."


California's complex law to curb greenhouse gas emissions includes a state-sponsored auction at which companies could buy credits to continue operating at existing levels until they get better equipment and ratchet down on emissions. But that long-awaited auction just got delayed.


From Katrina Schwartz at KQED's Climate Watch: "The surprise announcement came at a hearing called to discuss what to do with proceeds from the sale of permits to emit greenhouse gases, the first of which is expected to flow into state coffers late this year."


"Nichols’ announcement stole the headlines, though she said that the new auction date will not affect the overall timeline for implementation and that August will now be a “practice auction.”


“We’ll give everybody a free round in August where the auction won’t really count,” Nichol told me. “So that gives all the stakeholders, including of course, all the companies that are going to have to be purchasing allowances at the beginning an opportunity to see how the system will actually work.”


Sepeaking of greenhouse gases, California refineries apparently produce more of them than any other emitter in the nation. San Francisco's KPCC tells the tale.


"A new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists reveals that California oil refineries emit 19 to 33 percent more greenhouse gasses than any other comparable region in America."


"According to Inside Climate News, while California refineries have worked hard over the last 17 years to combat pollutants, dirtier and harder to clean types of crude oil (such as Canadian tar sands oil) have undone any progress by forcing the facilities to work harder to process — and create more CO2 emissions. California refineries are also known for removing sulfur earlier in the cleaning process, which contributes to the elevated emissions."


“With respect to emissions intensity, California officials have been running around claiming California’s oil refineries are so much more energy efficient, that they are just cleaner… Obviously they were wrong,” said Greg Karras, a senior scientist with Communities for a Better Environment who wrote the study."


Much of the public pension focus lately has been on CalPERS, but the teachers' retirement system, CalSTRS, also has a major funding gap.

From CalPensions' Ed Mendel: "For more than five years, CalSTRS has been trying to get the Legislature to raise contribution rates. It has explored getting the power to raise contribution rates, pursued more aggressive lobbying and even issued a $600,000 public relations contract."


"Teacher unions, one of the most powerful groups at the Capitol, are consumed by historic cuts in school funding and teacher layoffs. School districts are said to have had more than $20 billion in reductions in the last four years."


"Now the annual increase in contributions needed to get CalSTRS to full funding in 30 years, more than $4 billion, is approaching the total amount of contributions CalSTRS received from all sources last fiscal year, $5.3 billion."


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