Ending months of speculation about his plans, former Senate leader Darrell Steinberg announced that he will join the law firm of Greenberg Traurig LLP on December 1. From Patrick McGreevy at the Los Angeles Times:
“Steinberg will be chairman of the firm’s California Government Law and Policy Practice, although state law prohibits him from lobbying state officials for one year after he leaves office.
“’Our clients want the deep understanding of state and local governance that Senator Steinberg will bring after decades of public service, including the last several years at the focal point of California government,’ said Richard Rosenbaum, the firm’s chief executive officer, in a statement.”
Jim Miller waded through state IE reports to count up the outside money at play in the election, counting up just under $32 million as of Wednesday. From his story in the Bee.
“Four of the top-five contests in outside spending are nonpartisan races or feature candidates of the same party: superintendent of public instruction ($9.95 million for or against Marshall Tuck and Tom Torlakson in the nonpartisan race), the Sacramento-based 6th Senate District ($2.65 million for or against Democrats Richard Pan and Roger Dickinson), Los Angeles’ 64th Assembly District ($1.6 million for or against Democrats Prophet Walker and Mike Gipson) and Riverside County’s 28th Senate District ($1.44 million for or against Republicans Bonnie Garcia and Jeff Stone.)”
The Torlakson-Tuck fight keeps getting more expensive (and continues to be the most interesting statewide race), but Tuck won’t be getting the vote of one of his highest profile supporters after all, as Alexei Koseff notes in the Sacramento Bee.
“At a voter information event Monday night hosted by Indivizible, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson’s African American community empowerment group, Michelle Rhee, the controversial education advocate and Johnson’s wife, encouraged attendees to support Tuck….
“Trouble is, Rhee can’t vote for Tuck, or any other candidate in California because she’s registered to vote in Tennessee, where her ex-husband and kids live.”
Local votes on increasing the minimum wage loom in San Francisco, Oakland and Eureka. California City News says the results of those local elections will set the tone for the coming debate on the issue.
“Around the state and the nation discussions regarding the minimum wage have been prevalent in recent months. President Obama has been outspokenly supportive of raising the federal minimum wage and made steps in this direction when he signed an executive order in February requiring an increase in federal contractors’ minimum hourly wage to $10.10 by 2015. Bill de Blasio, Mayor of New York City, signed an executive order in October raising the hourly minimum wage to $13.13 for workers who do not receive benefits. In the last year, eight states and Washington D.C. have already increased their minimum wages and eight more states and municipalities have minimum wage ballot measures set for November. When Californians go the polls, voters in San Francisco, Oakland, and Eureka will have a chance to weigh in on these conversations.”
The city of Benicia is developing into ground zero in the battle over oil trains, pitting oil companies and supporters against environmental activists who fear that an oil spill or other accident would be catastrophic given the volatile nature of the Canadian and North Dakota crude oil. Jaxon van Derbeken has the story at SFGate.
“Benicia officials must decide whether to approve a draft environmental impact report on a $70million terminal at Valero Corp.’s refinery near Interstate 680, where two 50-car oil trains a day would deliver crude…
“The issue is so contentious that the city attorney recently told Mayor Elizabeth Patterson to stop sending out e-mail alerts about city meetings regarding the oil-train project. According to Patterson, the city attorney warned that her activism could open Benicia’s final decision to legal challenge.”
In August, CalPERS voted to approve 99 pension ‘sweeteners’ - without knowing how much the added benefits would ultimately cost the system. CalPERS officials and many state employees defend the vote, but Chuck Reed – and Wall Street - blanched. From Melody Petersen and Marc Lifsher in the Los Angeles Times:
“The nation's biggest public pension fund voted in August to adopt a list of 99 bonuses, ensuring that newly hired California public workers would receive the same pension sweeteners as veteran employees.
“The long-term cost of pensions calculated with bonuses is billions of dollars more than with base pay only. But the exact price tag remains a mystery. The labor-dominated CalPERS board voted without estimating the potential tab.”
And, today is the birthday of The Big Bopper, who might have turned 84 today if he hadn’t been killed in a plane crash along with Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens in 1959. In memory of the Bopper (real name: J. P. Richardson) we remember one of the strangest moments in rock and roll: his autopsy examination, held nearly 50 years after his death.
Not wanting to believe that their heroes could have died in a simple plane crash, some fans speculated that there was foul play involved in the wreck. A recently-fired gun found at the crash site helped spur theories that a drunken rock star had shot the pilot – or the other passengers. Others looked at the crash site photos and wondered why Richardson was so far from the plane – had he survived the crash and tried to walk for help? In 2007, Richardson’s son – born months after his father’s death – decided to find out. He had the Bopper exhumed for an autopsy, hiring forensic anthropologist Bill Bass, founder of the ‘Body Farm,’ to investigate.
“Jay Richardson stepped up beside the upper end. I stood beside him. A hush fell over the group as Rodney Landry grasped one edge of the lid and gave a tug. After nearly half a century in the soggy ground, the lid raised smoothly and silently. As it did, it revealed one of the most remarkable sights I've ever seen in my career. What I saw, and what Jay Richardson saw, was not a bare skull or rotting tissue. What we saw was the Big Bopper himself, complete with his trademark crew cut. The skin was discolored — a mottled bluish-purple — but the features were instantly recognizable, and bore a striking resemblance to those of the man who stood beside me, getting his first glimpse of his father in the flesh.”