California officials mix public, private email

Mar 30, 2015

Associated Press queried California’s top elected officials about their use of private email accounts for state business – nearly all said they sometimes used personal email for public work.  From Michael Blood and Juliet Williams:


“An Associated Press survey of email use by the state's four legislative leaders and eight top elected officers found a loose patchwork of practices under which private electronic conversations while on the job are alternately commonplace, infrequent or discouraged….


“California has no blanket policy restricting the use of personal email for government-related activities. Advocates warn that the gap in the law gives officials the opportunity to hold private electronic discussions on state matters — with lobbyists or political donors, for example — that could be erased or edited with the push of a computer key or tap of a cellphone.”



Political junkies are anxiously awaiting the intraparty bloodbath likely to erupt in SD-7, where Orinda mayor Steve Glazer (D) faces off with Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla (D-Concord).   Special interests are taking sides for the May 19 runoff, which promises to be a high-drama campaign in a low-turnout election.  John Howard has the story at Capitol Weekly:


“Even in a state now accustomed to seven-digit spending in legislative campaigns, the 7th District showdown in May is likely to set records. And powerful interests that weighed in during the primary – organized labor, business interests, the dentists, the doctors and the fire fighters, for example – are all but certain to pony up again.


“’They were all over the (primary) election, so why would they stay away now?’ said one strategist.”


Equality check-in: while women may hold two of four party leadership offices in the California legislature, female staffers still earn 6-8% less than their male counterparts according to a report from the Sacramento BeeLaurel Rosenhall has the story.


“Among all full-time workers in California, women make 84 cents for every dollar earned by a man, according to the National Partnership for Women & Families. The difference adds up to $37 billion in lost income annually across the state, advocates say, and leaves women poorer not only in their working years but also in retirement.


“With lawmakers highlighting wage inequity in California workplaces, The Sacramento Bee analyzed the Legislature’s own payroll to see whether men and women are paid equally by the institution that sets policy for the rest of the state. The findings show that wage gaps for the roughly 2,100 employees of the Legislature are smaller than in society at large, but still persist:


“▪ In the Assembly, women make 92 cents on the dollar compared to men. In the Senate, women make 94 cents on the dollar compared to men.


“▪ In both houses, the five highest-paid employees are men. Among the 41 employees across both houses who make $150,000 or more, 61 percent of the positions are held by men.”


Bee columnist Dan Morain looks at the surprising anti-tobacco stance of Senator Jeff Stone, the Republican co-sponsor of SB-140, which would ban the use of E-cigarettes in bars and restaurants. 


“No fewer than 32 Republican legislators took tobacco donations in the last election campaign; 17 Democratic incumbents did, too. Stone was not among them, and never will be.


“’I wanted to make a statement,’ he said. ‘They weren’t even going to be able to come through the door and try to persuade me their products are safe.’”


Republican mega-donor Charles Munger, who funded Proposition 20, the ballot measure that took redistricting out of the hands of the legislature in California, calls himself a “redistricting reform zealot."   The Arizona redistricting case currently before the Supreme Court has him very, very nervous. LA Times columnist George Skelton


“If Arizona's reform is scuttled, California's inevitably will be too — at least for congressional redistricting. Honest redrawing of legislative maps seems safe.


Munger attended the court session. ‘I walked out thinking there was a significant chance the Arizona commission would be struck,’ he recalls. ‘And I found that disquieting.’"


Speaking of the Supreme Court, Michael Hiltzik, also of the Times, reports that California regulatory boards may run afoul of a recent SCOTUS ruling on restraint of trade.


“Until a few weeks ago, such state regulatory boards thought they had an exemption from the law. The U.S. Supreme Court has now set them straight, ruling 6-3 on Feb. 25 that if a "controlling number" of a board's members are active participants in the business it regulates, they could be sued as antitrust violators.


“The case involved North Carolina's board of dental examiners, but its nationwide impact could be immense. Yet in California, state officials have been slow to acknowledge its implications. The Department of Consumer Affairs, which encompasses as many as 40 boards, says it hasn't yet figured out how it applies…


“Hanging in the balance is the state's ability to regulate not only barbers and pet groomers, but also doctors and surgeons, nurses, chiropractors, optometrists, accountants, architects, lawyers, pest exterminators and security alarm installers….


“February's decision means that "the vast majority of commissions and boards in all 50 states are untenable and illegal," says Robert Fellmeth, a veteran antitrust expert who is executive director of the Center for Public Interest Law at the University of San Diego law school.”


And, sometimes the headline just speaks for itself.  Case in point: “Man accused of robbing SLO bank eats feces in court.”  (Well, the photo is good too.)


Andrew Gilbertson, 40, a convicted sex offender from Paso Robles, appeared in court with his head half shaved and a large bandage on his forehead. Previously unrestrained in the courtroom, Thursday he was cuffed at the hips…


 “While testifying in his own defense Wednesday, Gilbertson reached into his pants, removed fecal matter and ate it, prompting a court recess…


“…Gilbertson claimed that voices and the Virgin Mary made him rob the bank.


“Gilbertson has eaten his feces before, [Michael Selby, a forensic psychiatrist] said.


“During his interview with Gilbertson at the County Jail, Selby testified, Gilbertson said, ‘I hear voices. I see ghosts. I’m hungry.’ Then, after complaining about the food at the jail, he ate his own feces, as he did later in court.”


Well, okaaaay....


BTW, the Roundup will be taking Cesar Chavez Day off, so see you on Wednesday.