Bare bones

Apr 19, 2012

A pair of San Diego state senators -- Democrat Juan Vargas and Republican Joel Anderson -- want to limit the pay of all state employees to no more than the governor's $173,987 annual salary. Their proposal passed it's first policy hurdle when a Senate committee approved it. It has a long way to go, but given election-year politics and the public's exasperation with big government salaries, this is likely to be a huge issue this year.


From the U-T's Michael Gardner: "Among those cited: the controversial $400,000 paycheck for new San Diego State University President Elliot Hirsch. Others included a prison surgeon, $784,595; a prison dentist, $446,531 and a chief executive at Caltrans, $359,502."


“It is hard to justify asking voters to increase their own taxes when 9,000 employees make more than the governor,” said David Wolfe, legislative director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association."


"Vargas said it’s important to note that the vast majority of state workers are “living a lower middle-class lifestyle ... A lot of rank-and-file employees get scapegoated because the public sees these gigantic salaries.”



California's lieutenant governors never seem to have enough to do, and the latest example is Gavin Newsom: Lt. Gov. Newsom, a San Francisco Democrat, is going to host a weekly, hour-long talk show on Current TV.
From the Chronicle's Carla Marinucci: "The network said Tuesday that Newsom will host the weekly hour-long "Gavin Newsom Show" beginning in May. The former San Francisco mayor's show will have "a decidedly California touch as Newsom interviews notables from Silicon Valley, Hollywood and beyond."

"Newsom, in an interview Wednesday, said he will continue his day job as second in command to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown - a job in which he has at times, publicly expressed frustration. The lieutenant governor said he does not believe there is any conflict of interest in taking the TV job, and said he is "donating the (Current TV) salary to charity" to avoid the appearance of any conflict."


Pete Stark, the venerable -- very venerable -- Bay Area congressman has issued a public apology to rival Eric Swalwell, who he accused last week of taking bribes. Stark's allegation raised a firestorm of criticism in the public and among fellow Democrats.


From Josh Richman  in the Contra Costa Times: "Swalwell is fighting an uphill battle against the 40-year incumbent in the newly drawn 15th Congressional District, which includes Hayward, Pleasanton, Dublin, San Ramon, Livermore, Union City, part of Fremont and unincorporated areas such as Castro Valley, Fairview and San Lorenzo. Campaign finance reports show Swalwell raised $100,930, while Stark raised $60,255 in 2012's first quarter, but Swalwell had far less cash on hand as of March 31 -- $93,311 to Stark's $551,342. Hayward businessman Chris Pareja, a conservative independent, also is in the race."


"Stark had leveled the original accusation against Swalwell during an April 10 candidates' forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Eden Area at Hayward City Hall. Stark had said Swalwell took "hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes" from the Lin family -- among Dublin's most prominent real-estate developers -- in exchange for his votes on zoning issues..."


"Swalwell's campaign is centered on the claim that Stark has been in Washington, D.C., for too long and has lost touch with his constituents."


Ross Mirkarimi, the beleaguered and suspended sheriff of San Francisco, has provided a starkly different account of the confrontation with his wife that led to his ouster from office.


From the Chronicle's Heather Knight: "Since the New Year's Eve fight, Mirkarimi has pleaded guilty to false imprisonment, a decision he said he made so he could reunite with his family and still serve as sheriff. But, ironically, the plea led to his suspension and possible removal from his job - and now his wife and son are in her native Venezuela indefinitely."


"Mirkarimi said he and his wife, Eliana Lopez, had a 15-minute "horrible quarrel" as he drove them and their 2-year-old son, Theo, to lunch at Pizzeria Delfina. Lopez said she wanted to take Theo to Venezuela for an extended stay, which angered Mirkarimi because her last trip had lasted two months."


"Mirkarimi also learned during the car ride that she had obtained an attorney, which he said hit him like an "atom bomb." "What I did was turn our car around, a Dodge minivan, against my wife's wishes," Mirkarimi said. "I didn't want us to be arguing in public about a very sensitive subject."


Yet another Calderon hopes to become a member of the California Legislature. This time, it's Ian Calderon, son of Assemblyman Charles Calderon. The latter's two brothers, Ron and Tom, also have served. You need a program to keep count.


From the Bee's Jim Sanders: "Charles is the second-highest ranking member of the Assembly. His brother Ron is a state senator and another brother, Tom, is a former assemblyman running to return to the lower house. All are Los Angeles County Democrats."


"The Calderons are known as moderate Democrats with a pro-business bent. Charles said the reputation can be a mixed blessing – for example, though Ian is very pro-union, some labor groups have been slow to endorse him, he said."


Ronald Reagan did it, George Murphy did it, Al Franken did it and even Fred Dalton Thompson did it. Now another celeb wants to go into politics -- reality TV star Kim Kardashian is thinking about running for mayor of Glendale. There are problems, of course.


From Bob Strauss in the LA Daily News: "Would the reality TV celebrity start City Council meetings with naked yoga workouts? Would she abdicate the post after 72 days, the amount of time her marriage to Kris Humphries lasted?"


"Probably most pertinent, at least for the citizens of Glendale: Is she serious?"


"One teeny problem, of course: You can't run directly for mayor of Glendale, which kind of suggests that she's not taking this all that seriously," noted Jack Pitney, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and a resident of Glendale-adjacent La Crescenta. The Glendale mayorship is a primarily ceremonial position, and it's not chosen directly by the voters. Every April, the five members of the Glendale City Council select one of their own to be mayor for a one-year term. So, Kardashian would have to get elected to the council first. Those elections are held at two-year intervals; the next one's in 2013 for two seats, the other three go up in 2015, then two again in 2017, et cetera."


SoCal seafood is getting a close look from a marine-protection group called Oceana, which says half the samples at outlets in L.A. and Orange counties were mislabeled.


From Capitol Weekly's John Howard: "The targeted species included those that were found to be mislabeled from previous studies and those with regional significance, namely wild salmon, Dover or other regional soles, red snapper, yellowtail and white tuna,” Oceana reported."

"More than half – 55 percent -- of the 119 samples collected were mislabeled under federal guidelines. The catch included 18 different types of fish and fraud was detected in 11 categories, “with snappers, white tuna and yellowtail being the most frequently mislabeled,” Oceana said."


“Snapper,” particularly, is an elastic term. Each of the 34 fish sold with the word “snapper” in the label was mislabeled under federal rules. “Even according to California law, only one 'Pacific red snapper' was labeled properly,” according to the report."


And from our "Who Says the Workers' Comp System is Unfair?" file comes the tale of the woman who was injured while having sex on a business trip and, thus, is eligible for benefits.


"The Judge ruled that “if the applicant had been injured while playing a game of cards in her motel room she would be entitled to compensation” and the fact that the woman was engaged in sexual activity rather than some other lawful recreational activity while in her hotel room does not lead to any different result."


"The woman, who cannot be named, challenged the rejection of her workers' compensation claim for facial and psychological injuries suffered when a glass light fitting came away from the wall above the bed as she was having sex in November 2007..."


"The male friend said in his statement at the time that they were "going hard” and he did not know if they bumped the light or it just fell off. “I think she was on her back when it happened but I was not paying attention..."

Timing is everything...


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