Molly and Jerry

May 8, 2012

Civil rights litigator Molly Munger and Gov. Brown are pushing rival tax-hike measures for the November ballot, but Munger says the two can work together. Hey, it could happen.


From the Bee's Kevin Yamamura: "On Monday, she chatted with The Bee: Is there any time to cut a deal at this point, or is it just full steam ahead on your initiative, and the governor is full steam ahead on his?"


"Well, there's no time to blend the two initiatives to create one on the ballot. But there is time, and it's something we're very interested in doing, to find a path where we can run a cooperative campaign that maximizes the chances we get a successful outcome this fall."


"What would a path like that consist of?"

"It would take a lot of good thinking by very smart people. The default setting for campaigns is head-to-head and hard-fought. But I know that we certainly would like to work on it, think with the governor and his team about it. And we're optimistic that there is a path to some sort of cooperative approach here that would be a good thing to do."


San Diego mayoral contender Nathan Fletcher was able to duck a controversial vote when the Assembly speaker granted his request to be replaced on the Revenue and Taxation Committee.


From the U-T's Michael Gardner: "Fletcher had asked Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, to replace him on the committee because he was planning to stay in San Diego to tout San Diego City Council President Tony Young’s support for his education agenda. Other local officials were also on hand to endorse the plan."


"Nevertheless, his absence may have allowed Fletcher to avoid a tough tax vote just before the June 5 primary for mayor. His spokeswoman, Amy Thoma, said he has concerns with the measure but is working with the speaker on a possible compromise."


"Perez was carrying the legislation, Assembly Bill 1500, that would have changed California’s approach to taxing certain out of state corporations, a policy called the “single sales factor.” A Perez spokesman said he expects Fletcher will rejoin the committee."


The clash of the titans -- make that Google and Oracle -- continues in court in a complex, three-part battle over copyright infringement. In Round 1, it looks like both sides may have a chance to celebrate. Or not.


From the Chronicle's Casey Newton: "Observers said the split outcome gave both sides reason to applaud - Oracle because the jury agreed that Google had copied its code, and Google because jurors weren't all convinced that the copying represented infringement."


"If the jury had come back and said there's no infringement here, that would have taken care of that," said Bruce Wieder, an intellectual property attorney at Dow Lohnes and adjunct professor of law at Georgetown University. "Now the question is, what about the defense of fair use? And the answer to that is, we don't know the answer to that."


"Monday's verdict came after the first part of a three-phase trial in which Oracle is seeking more than $1 billion in damages - although without a decision in its favor on the copyright issue, Oracle is unlikely to be awarded anywhere near that amount."

People have increasingly turned thumbs down on tobacco use -- and that's a good thing. But it bodes ill for the state in its efforts to raise money from taxing tobacco. And it's especially difficult when the state depends on a tobacco settlement and finds out that the incoming revenue is barely enough to cover the nut.


From the California Budget Project: "The steady decline in smoking is unquestionably positive from a public health perspective. But what does it mean for states, such as California, that sold bonds backed by annual payments from tobacco companies following a landmark 1998 settlement?"


"A recent New York Times article suggests an answer: Reductions in smoking could mean that several states, including California, will receive payments that are too small to cover the principal and interest due on the bonds. Why? Because the size of the payments partly depends on how well cigarettes are selling."


"Less smoking leads to smaller payments. States could dip into reserves to make up the difference – California already has done so – but “if smoking keeps declining at the current pace, some of the reserves set up as backstops will run dry,” according to the Times. “At that point, investors – including individuals, insurance companies and mutual funds – will be at a loss” because states, in general, are not legally obligated to step in and make the payments with their own tax dollars."


President Mark Yudof says that despite spiraling tuition, class cuts and reductions in state support, the UC system maintains its accessibility to low-income students. 


From the Fresno Bee's Heather Somerville: "Financial aid has helped maintain access for low-income and immigrant students, even as tuition has almost doubled in the past five years. Yudof said 40% of students at most campuses are from families earning about $45,000 or less per year. More Hispanic and first-generation students are enrolling at the University of California at Merced."


"The campus had one of the largest populations of these students, with more than 12,000 applications for about 1,400 freshman spots for the fall, Chancellor Dorothy Leland said.

One year of tuition and fees for an undergraduate resident is $12,192. When calculating in financial aid, the average tuition is closer to $4,400."


"The system has responded to budget pressures by raising tuition every year since 2001-02. The UC budget proposes no tuition increases next year, but the system's finances hinge on voters passing a new tax proposal in November. State funding for the UC has dropped by $1 billion in the last decade; since 1990, state support per student has been cut in half."
Speaking of higher education, CSU's trustees are expected to decide whether to freeze presidential salaries amid complaints from the public that the pay levels are excessive. It's second time the board has grappled with the issue.
From the Press-Telegram's Kelly Puente: "The meeting at the CSU Chancellor's Office in Long Beach is expected to draw student and faculty protesters outraged over what they say are exorbitant presidential salaries in a time of tuition hikes, enrollment freezes and cuts to courses."

"Under the proposal, state-funded salaries for the 23 campus president would be frozen, but new presidents could still receive higher salaries than their predecessors with supplements from nonprofit campus foundations. The policy would be in effect until 2014."


"A special board committee on presidential selection and compensation will discuss the proposal Tuesday, but the full board is scheduled to vote on it Wednesday."

Mental health care for military veterans is in a woeful state, but a federal court said that it is beyond its capacity to fix.


From the Chronicle's Bon Egelko: "Claims of systematic delays and neglect in mental health care for the nation's military veterans are beyond the power of courts to address, a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Monday in ordering dismissal of a 5-year-old suit by veterans groups."


"At a trial in 2008, Department of Veterans Affairs documents showed that the system took an average of 4.4 years to review veterans' health care claims, that more than 1,400 veterans who had been denied coverage died in one six-month period while their appeals were pending, and that 18 veterans per day were committing suicide, much higher than the rate among the general population."


"Declaring that "the VA's unchecked incompetence has gone on long enough," a panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 a year ago that vets groups could ask a federal judge to order changes in the system. But at the Obama administration's request, the full appeals court granted a new hearing before a larger panel, which ruled Monday that courts lack authority to order system-wide changes in veterans' health care."


And from our ever-popular "Sex and the Catholic Church" file comes word that Australia doesn't have enough marriageable men and that women shouldn't be too picky. We don't buy it either.


Kerin's comments came in light of research by demographer Bernard Salt. According to Salt, there are 1.3 million women and 1.343 million men between the ages of 25 to 34 living in Australia, the Herald Sun reported."


"But of those 1.3 million men, only 86,000 are actually "marriage material," because the other men are already married, gay or in a serious relationship, according to Salt's calculations. Salt himself, however, seems a little picky: he also excluded men who are single parents and men who earn less than $60,000 a year."


"Concerns about a "man drought" in Australia are not new. BBC News reported in 2008 that there were 100,000 more females than males living in Australia, and the gender imbalance was especially bad in Australia's coastal cities. The imbalance was caused by thousands of Australian men in their 20s and 30s leaving the country to travel or to find work, according to the BBC."


Life down under...

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