Jim Brulte, the former GOP leader in the Legislature until he was termed out in 2004 from his Inland Empire district, is being courted as the Republicans' party leader to breathe new life into the GOP, which got whacked in the Nov. 6 elections.
From the Riverside Press-Enterprise's Jim Miller: "In and out of the Legislature, Brulte is known as a keen strategist, someone adept at the interplay between politics and policy. Years ago, he began warning that Republicans needed to move beyond the party’s traditional base of older, white voters."
"Last month’s election was a debacle for the party, following months of mounting financial problems and GOP voter registration dropping below 30 percent statewide for the first time ever. Democrats seized two-thirds majorities in both houses with seats to spare, pulling out wins in Republican-leaning districts. In Republican-leaning Riverside County, Democrats carried every competitive race."
"Republicans now hold 36 seats in the 120-seat Legislature, down from 47 when Brulte left the Capitol, and just 15 seats in the state’s 53-member congressional delegation, down from 20 in 2004."
When it comes to political cash, it's hard to beat California: The slugfest between Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard Berman in the LA-area and the San Diego congressional contest between Brian Bilbray and Scott Peters set spending records.
From the LAT's Richard Simon: "To no surprise of San Fernando Valley voters who were inundated with campaign ads, robo calls and political mail, Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard Berman set a record for spending by candidates in a California congressional race — shelling out more than $11.7 million between them, according to new campaign finance reports."
"When spending by outside groups is added, the total outlay in the bitter contest won by Sherman was $16.3 million, making it one of the most expensive congressional races in the country, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics."
"Although the Berman-Sherman race set a Golden State record for spending by the candidates, the San Diego County congressional race won by Democrat Scott Peters over Republican incumbent Brian Bilbray was the costliest in California — $16.8 million — because of the more than $8.7 million spent by outside groups, including the political parties."
Speaking of cash, the Port of Oakland is having its own problems. A new audit shows that nearly 10 cents of every dollar spent in employee expense- and credit-card transactions failed to meet proper rules.
From the Chronicle's Matthai Kuruvila: "Swank hotels. Luxurious meals. Wine. A U2 concert. Raiders and Warriors games. Tiffany & Co. silver key rings."
"These were among the nearly $200,000 in "questionable" expenditures by Port of Oakland workers in 2011, according to a pair of audits released Monday that looked at what employees purchased with public dollars on their work-issued credit cards."
"An internal audit of 2011 expenses was already under way in October when news emerged that the port's executive director, Omar Benjamin, and maritime director, James Kwon, inappropriately spent $4,537 at a Houston strip club in 2008. Those revelations prompted port commissioners to ask for an additional, external audit by San Francisco firm Arnold & Porter, LLP."
In San Francisco, a hapless city college trustee may be in big trouble over violations of financial disclosure rules.
From Nanette Asimov in the Chronicle: "A City College of San Francisco trustee who was narrowly elected to a second term in November could become the city's first public official to forfeit his seat for failing to file required campaign disclosures, according to the San Francisco Ethics Commission."
"Chris Jackson, a trustee for the college that is struggling to retain its accreditation after years of poor management, has missed three filing deadlines since July; ignored Ethics Commission calls, messages and a formal warning letter; and has not completed required training on campaign finance requirements, the commission says."
"He also owes more than $11,000 in late filing fees for the campaign just completed and for his prior campaign, the commission says. Jackson was first elected to the board in 2008."
The schools' struggle for money is intense, and nowhere is that more evident than in the realm of adult education.
From EdSolurce's Kathryn Baron: "California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office says the state’s embattled adult education system needs a dedicated and permanent funding stream that can’t be appropriated for other school programs when the state budget goes south."
"Restructuring California’s Adult Education System calls for the state Legislature to restore adult education as a categorical program. Adult Ed advocates lauded the proposal, even though it relies on funding that is speculative and requires a commitment from legislators and Gov. Jerry Brown that they have so far not shown."
"Adult schools are an important strand in the state’s safety net, offering community-based classes to some of the state’s neediest adults, ranging from the unemployed, the disabled, and the elderly to ex-offenders re-entering society, immigrants trying to learn English and become citizens, and high school dropouts seeking to earn their GEDs."