When the state’s new redistricting commission released its final maps of 177 congressional, legislative and Board of Equalization districts last month, it touched off a political frenzy.
The election lineups for 80 Assembly and 40 Senate districts appear to be working themselves out.
Democrats are likely to make gains, but with so many legislators forced out by term limits every two years and so many running for Congress, the net effect on incumbent lawmakers will be minimal.
The big action, it appears, will be in the state’s 53 congressional seats, prized by politic Read More
Juan Vargas is right about abolishing California’s Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board — for all the wrong reasons.Vargas is a Democratic state senator from San Diego but has always yearned to be a congressman and has his chance in 2012 because the 51st Congressional District’s boundaries have been redrawn and incumbent Bob Filner is stepping down.Vargas looked like a shoo-in until the woman he succeeded in the Senate, Denise Ducheny, said she’s planning to run, too. Ducheny landed a $128,000-a-year appointment to the UI Appeals Board after leaving the Legislature. Read More
Health care — who gets what services from whom and who pays for them — lives at the junction of heavy-duty politics, big-time money and human emotion.
Medical care is now California’s largest single economic activity, and government regulation and financing are key factors, thereby spawning heavy political activity. But health care is also a matter of life and death and as individual as a fingerprint, which convolute its politics even more. Read More
Not only did the California Legislature fail to produce a genuinely balanced budget this year, thus continuing a sorry tradition, but it also dropped the ball on other issues facing a large, economically troubled state.
Mostly, the 2011 session that ended early Saturday generated political favors by the dominant Democrats for their friends, especially those in organized labor. And in doing so, they displayed a penchant for sneakiness and secrecy.
Assembly Speaker John A. Read More
The political angst that has followed an independent commission’s redrawing of 177 California legislative, congressional and Board of Equalization districts is being duplicated on a smaller scale in hundreds of local governments.Cities, counties, school districts and other local agencies that elect boards from districts must also reconfigure them to equalize populations as reported in the 2010 census, while following federal Voting Rights Act guidelines to protect nonwhite communities’ political standings. Read More
The Capitol — especially during the last, hectic days of any California legislative session — is a bottom-line kind of place. Its occupants, whether legislators or lobbyists, are entirely focused on passing, defeating or amending bills.
They respect those most adept at pulling legislative levers to reach their goals, and disdain those who complain about process. They practice, in other words, the adage attributed to Otto von Bismarck that “laws are like sausages; it’s better not to see them being made.” Read More
In the last few days of the 2011 legislative session, as usual, it has been time for fun (nightly rounds of campaign fund-raising events) and games (figuring out ways to pass or kill bills). So here is a sampling of what has been happening, or not happening, in the last hectic hours:Dozens of California’s special- interest lobbyists, cellphones on full alert, milled in the back hallways of the Capitol as both legislative houses conducted marathon floor sessions to act on hundreds of bills. Read More
There’s no official definition of liberal government, but a fair description would be the activist use of official powers to protect and enhance the public welfare, however that may be perceived.The great political debates at all levels of government are over how deep that intrusion should be — such as the turmoil over whether the federal government should mandate purchase of health care insurance.That philosophical debate aside, there is a darker side to liberal activist government. Read More
It’s the economy, stupid.
Those words, coined by James Carville as he was managing Bill Clinton’s campaign for the presidency in 1992, encapsulate a basic axiom of practical politics, to wit: When the economy is hurting, it preoccupies voters, and politicians ignore it at their peril.
And that, in a nutshell, is why California’s Democratic politicians are suddenly and publicly pledging concrete steps to improve the state’s business climate. Read More
The California Democratic Party’s 2011 drive to reshape the 1911-vintage initiative process to its political advantage appears to be picking up steam as the legislative session nears adjournment.Gov. Jerry Brown has already vetoed one bill that would have banned initiative petition signature-gatherers from being paid for each name. But the state Democratic Party has called for change, several other restrictive measures are pending and Democrats are noodling around with requiring all initiatives to go on the November ballot, rather than having some decided in the June primary. Read More
The California Legislature begins its sprint to adjournment with hundreds of bills still pending, with lawmakers maneuvering for positions to campaign on in much-changed districts next year, with lobbyists for moneyed interests packing Capitol hallways, and with dozens of fundraising events on tap to extract campaign cash from those interests.
It’s a yeasty mélange for the final two weeks, to say the least.
We know what the big conflicts are likely to be. Read More
It was just coincidence that Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled a billion-dollar tax proposal on the same day that the Legislature’s budget analyst released a long report on the state’s infrastructure crisis.
It was, however, a timely juxtaposition. Brown was responding to economic woes as politicians often do, with a news conference, a quick-hit plan and assurances that it will make things better. Read More
The notion that California’s governmental apparatus is endemically dysfunctional has evolved from a theory into an accepted fact over the last generation.
Governors and legislators cannot even balance the state budget, much less address crises in public education, transportation, water supply and other pithy issues that abound in a very large, very complex and very economically troubled state. Read More
The new congressional, legislative and Board of Equalization districts drawn by an independent commission made a long-evident political reality official: California, once a Republican bastion, is now solidly, even overwhelmingly, Democratic.
Democrats will control the Legislature — with two-thirds majorities in reach — and the congressional delegation. And while it may not be impossible for a Republican to win statewide office it’s at best unlikely. Read More
Democratic politicians and liberal groups, including unions, often rail against corporate-tax loopholes as unjustified raids on the public treasury — as they should.
Loopholes are particularly troublesome during periods such as this one, when California state and local budgets are leaking red ink and basic public services are being slashed.
But one multimillion-dollar loophole draws vocal support from those who usually oppose corporate tax breaks — one that happens to benefit a heavily unionized industry whose top executives are overwhelmingly Democrats and contribute lavish Read More