Affluence, influence

Dec 18, 2012

Money talks, most definitely: Of the top fundraisers among the Assembly's newly elected freshmen, almost all were selected to serve in key positions as the new session gets under way.


From the Bee's Jim Sanders: "The Democratic Party's 11 top freshmen fundraisers, all Assembly members, raised $1.2 million for party coffers this year – and 10 of them later were chosen for committee chairmanships or legislative leadership posts."


"The freshman class is sure to be watched closely because it is the Legislature's largest since 1966. Rookies can now serve up to 12 years in either house, and the Democratic Party has supermajorities for the first time in more than a century."


"Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez declined to comment, and a spokesman said he did not weigh fundraising when making appointments."


U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, an advocate of gun control who became San Francisco's mayor decades ago after her predecessor was assassinated, could be the next chair of the Judiciary Committee. And from that perch, she would have a critical say in new gun-control legislation, following the shooting deaths of schoolchildren in Newton, Connecticut.


From Niels Lesniewski in The Hill: "The Judiciary move is one of several potential chairmanships that could shift after Monday’s death of Hawaii Democratic Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, who was Appropriations chairman.


Feinstein, who is chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, has focused much of her legislative attention in recent years on national security policy on both panels. But in the wake of Friday’s grade school massacre in Newtown, Conn., she has been in the news for her renewed push for a prohibition on assault weapons and restrictions on high-capacity clips.


Despite being a moderate on national security policy, Feinstein is in line with the more liberal wing of the Democratic Party when it comes to gun control. That’s in part because Feinstein first assumed the post of San Francisco mayor after the 1978 murders of Mayor George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk by a gunman.


Speaking of guns, one proposal in the wake of the shootings is to arm school teachers.


From the Chronicle's Kevin Fagan: "Dunhill's position has been reloaded and propounded by fellow gun-rights advocates for decades, but it rose to renewed prominence this week with a Texas gun dealer offering discounts for arming teachers and the governor of Michigan saying he is considering legislation to allow concealed weapons on school grounds."


"There is always going to be a lag time between when trouble starts and when the police come - so what are you going to do?" said Dunhill, of Walnut Creek, who unsuccessfully fought California laws prohibiting citizens from openly carrying unloaded guns in public. "Defend yourself, that's what."


"He said he would prefer that any gun-carrying school officials be trained "to the same level that you'd expect for law enforcement or concealed weapon permit carriers." But the important thing, he and others said, is that - given the number of guns in the country already - the playing field needs to be leveled."


Meanwhile, state Treasurer Bill Lockyer says the state's huge pension funds should dump their investments in any gun companies that make weapons banned in California.


From Josh Richman in the Political Blotter: "Lockyer said Monday that he has asked staff at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) to identify all their investments in gun manufacturers. As treasurer, Lockyer sits on both systems’ boards."


"The request follows reports that CalSTRS indirectly owns a part of Bushmaster Firearms International, the North Carolina-based maker of the .223-caliber assault rifle that Adam Lanza used in his murderous spree Friday at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Lanza killed 20 children, six adults and himself."


“STRS and PERS should not be investing in any company that makes guns that are illegal in California, especially ones used to kill 20 innocent children and 6 innocent adults,” Lockyer said Monday.


Still more problems for the trouble-plagued San Onofre nuclear power plant: Authorities have found flaws in a company's repair procedures.


From the LAT's Abby Sewell: "Federal regulators found flaws in the process followed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in building and testing mock-up replacement parts for the troubled San Onofre nuclear plant."


"The plant has been out of service for more than 10 months because of excessive wear on tubes carrying radioactive water, one of which leaked a small amount of radioactive steam in January, prompting the plant's shutdown. The tubes are part of the four massive replacement steam generator assemblies manufactured by Mitsubishi for plant operator Southern California Edison."


"The replacement project cost Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, which co-owns the plant, a combined $771 million, a cost passed on to ratepayers. A warranty on the equipment is capped at $137 million."



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