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Nov 26, 2012

The Dems may be in control of state government, but there are perils as well as opportunities. One thing is clear: The list of targets is enticing.


From the LAT's Mike Mishak: "The party's liberal allies are urging legislative leaders to aggressively exercise their newfound powers, allowing them to sidestep Republicans on tax votes and in placing measures on the statewide ballot."


"Among the proposals are new levies on oil companies, overturning the state's ban on same-sex marriage and overhauling Proposition 13, the landmark property-tax initiative. "This is a huge opportunity," said Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers. "We shouldn't be timid about our political agenda."


"Political experts, however, said that Democrats could risk a backlash if they overreach, particularly on fiscal matters."


Of the estimated $500 million that Californeia's new cap-and-trade auctions will raise, perhaps only a fifth will go to relieve the state's strapped general fund.


From the Chronicle's Wyatt Buchanan: "The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office says lawmakers and the governor will probably be able to use only $100 million or so of the $500 million they were counting on spending in this year's budget."


"That's because the money comes from a fee, and state law requires fee-generated revenue to be spent on state programs that relate to the collection of the fee. For example, entrance fees collected at state parks must be spent on parks."


"Under cap and trade, the state began collecting the new revenue by auctioning "carbon credits" on Nov. 14 that essentially permit businesses to release extra carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Credit holders who do not emit carbon dioxide beyond a cap set by the state can sell them to businesses that are exceeding the cap."


The housing market, at least in Sacramento, must be getting better -- the "flippers" are back.


From Hudson Sangree and Phillip Reese in the Bee: "An investment firm that owns the Waldorf Astoria hotel and the Weather Channel has bought more than 500 houses in Sacramento in the past few months, betting upward of $60 million that home prices will rise."


"Blackstone, a New York-based group with billions of dollars in investments and offices from London to Tokyo, has been snapping up low-priced homes across the region, from Elk Grove to Citrus Heights, at a rate of about 40 a week."


"It marks the first time a major investment firm has bought in Sacramento on such a scale – a direct result of the thousands of houses left vacant by foreclosures in recent years and offered at fire-sale prices."


Nothing like getting an early start: San Francisco Sen. Leland Yee, who pushed the new online voter registration system, is running for secretary of state in two years.


From the Chronicle's Marisa Lagos: "Yee, a former San Francisco supervisor who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year, plans to announce his candidacy Monday morning. The secretary of state is California's chief election officer and oversees the state's campaign disclosure database, maintaining records of all lobbying and election spending in the Golden State."


"Current Secretary of State Debra Bowen, who is also a Democrat, will be termed out in 2014. Yee's San Francisco Senate district was eliminated in new legislative districts drawn by an independent citizens redistricting commission, and will disappear when his term expires in 2014. There are no other declared candidates for the statewide position."


"Yee has pushed a number of pieces of legislation aimed at making it easier for Californians to register and vote. Among his successful initiatives was a 2011 law creating an online voter registration system, which was implemented just weeks before the deadline to register for the November election and is thought to have helped Democrats win a number of tight races and initiative campaigns. More than 780,000 people were added to the voter rolls through that online system, the majority of whom were first-time voters younger than 35.


From the NY Times' Norimitsu Onishi: "The death of Mr. Copley, who had no heirs, marked the end of the newspaper family’s involvement in a city that bears the Copley name on its symphony hall and many other institutions. It came at the twilight of an era in California when powerful newspaper families dominated growing young cities and, over a few short decades, helped turn the state into the nation’s most populous and influential."

“These families were the chief oligarchs of their community,” said Kevin Starr, a history professor at the University of Southern California, explaining that the state’s emerging cities had few institutions to underpin their rapid growth. “Newspapers were the institutions. They helped define these overnight cities. You have a very powerful relationship in the 20th century between regional newspapers in California and the development of these regions...”


"Harold Fuson, a longtime executive at Copley Press, said, “The Copleys were not the Chandlers, and nobody’s made ‘Chinatown’ out of them.” But the Copleys ruled in San Diego, the way the McClatchys did in the Central Valley with The Sacramento Bee and The Fresno Bee, the Ridders in Silicon Valley with The San Jose Mercury News, and the Leshers in the East Bay with The Contra Costa Times."


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