Aug 22, 2012

Youthful, ardent voters may be seen as the future of democracy, but the question is, where are they? 


From the Chronicle's Joe Garofoli: "For many in the youth voter registration business, those conversations have a much different tone from four years ago, when a record 23 million young people cast ballots. It was the first time that voters under 30 made up a higher percentage of the electorate than those who were more than 65 years old."


"But this year, major organizations who register young voters, from HeadCount to Rock the Vote, project no increase in youth voter registration over four years ago."


"Part of the reason is that enthusiasm among under-3o voters has faded like the colors in Shepard Fairey's iconic 2008 "Hope" poster of Obama - and that will hurt the president, who received two-thirds of the support among 18- to 30-year-olds in 2008...Less money is being invested in registration efforts aimed at young voters for a variety of reasons, said Alexandra Acker-Lyons, a Mountain View resident who is director of the nonprofit Youth Engagement Fund, which will grant $3 million this year to 50 organizations that try to engage younger people in politics.

San Jose voters in June backed an overhaul in public pensions, but the state's top auditor says they may have been relying on flawed data provided by the city, which sought the pension changes.


From John Woolfolk in the Mercury News: "The California State Auditor on Tuesday reported San Jose "likely overstated" that its future pension costs could reach $650 million by 2015, a figure the audit called "unsupported" and which the mayor cited early last year in building the case for a ballot measure to reduce retirement benefits."


"A bipartisan legislative committee commissioned the audit at the height of San Jose's Measure B pension reform campaign. City voters have since overwhelmingly approved the June measure to reduce pensions for new hires and make current employees pay more for their pensions or switch to a reduced plan for their remaining years."


"Although we believe that San Jose's financial challenges are real, we found that some of the retirement cost projections reported in the city's official documents in 2011 were not supported by accepted actuarial methodologies," the state audit said. "It is unclear which retirement cost projection the voters relied on, if any, when they voted for these changes."


The controversy over providing drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants is flaring up again as the state is poised to issue the documents to hundreds of thousands of motorists.


From the Bee's Jim Sanders: "The issue of granting driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants has raged in the Legislature for much of the past decade, without resolution, but fighting is largely moot now due to a new federal policy."


"President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals gives a select group of undocumented immigrants the right to live and work in the United States for two years without fear of deportation."


"California is laying the groundwork for extending the privilege to driving, too, for an estimated 400,000 immigrants."


The California Environmental Quality Act, the 1970 law that serves as the underpinning of the state's environmental protections, faces changes in the final days of the legislative session as interest groups seek to ease the Act's provisions.


From Michael J. Mishak and Patrick McGreevy in the LAT: "Dozens of lawmakers are urging legislative leaders to oppose a last-minute campaign by business and labor groups to make key changes to California's landmark environmental law, asking their bosses to table the issue in the final two weeks of the session and revisit it next year."


"In a letter to Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles) and state Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), 33 lawmakers said major changes to the California Environmental Quality Act deserved "serious, thoughtful and transparent deliberation," a debate that is unlikely in the harried, final days of a two-year legislative session."


"Like many important laws, CEQA is not perfect and could probably be improved while retaining its many benefits -- but only if such improvements are undertaken in a good-faith process and are crafted very carefully," the lawmakers wrote. "Unfortunately, the proposals we have seen and heard about reflect major changes that have not been vetted and are being advanced by special interests in an end-of-session power play."

A stretch of Interstate 80 in the Bay Area is a traffic-clogged mess during commute times, and Assemblywoman Fiona Ma says opening up the car-pool lane would ease the crush.
From the Chronicle's Matier & Ross: "Ma, a Democrat who commutes to Sacramento from her San Francisco district, is targeting the eastbound carpool lane on Interstate 80 between the Bay and Carquinez bridges. That freeway is one of the busiest stretches in the state, but the carpool lane has almost no one in it during the morning commute, Ma says, and should be open to all."

"So she's sponsoring a bill that would make that happen."


"It's nonsensical that we are (only) using three lanes when there is nobody in the carpool lane," Ma said. Carpool lanes on that stretch of I-80 are for autos with three or more occupants. Violators face a fine that can total $480."


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