Estate sale

May 21, 2008

We begin this morning with a tale from our They're Just Like The Rest of Us Files, Capitol Weekly reports on Rep. Laura Richardson's financial woes . "As the real estate market softened in 2007, the new owner of a three-bedroom, 1,600-square-foot house in Sacramento's Curtis Park neighborhood ran into trouble. The house that was purchased for $535,000 in January had lost equity. The owner fell behind in her payments, and eventually, the bank seized the home.

"What makes this story different from the thousands like it is that the owner of this house was a member of Congress.

"The story of the foreclosure of Long Beach Democrat Laura Richardson's Sacramento home is a tale of a real estate market gone sour. It is also an illustration of how far many candidates will go to seek elected office, even if it means quite literally mortgaging their own financial future.
"'The neighbors are extremely unhappy with her,' said Sharon Helmar, who sold the home to Richardson. 'She didn't mow the lawn or take out the garbage while she was there. We lived there for a long time, 30 years, and we had to hide our heads whenever we came back to the neighborhood.'


"And Helmar is still angry over what happened to a home that clearly she never really wanted to leave. "It's kind of silly. You would think people who are making decisions for others would be able to make good decisions for themselves," she said. "She should have known what she could afford and not afford. In this neighborhood, you just don't do that." 


Capitol Weekly even has the documents posted here.


Of course, many of you already knew about this story because you received notice in a breaking news alert from Capitol Weekly. For those Roundup readers who still read the Roundup on our Web site instead of in your e-mail inbox, you can sign up for news updates from Capitol Weekly here.


In other signs of the difficult economy, not to mention an ever-uglier election season, the Bee's Jim Sanders reports: "Days after [Christopher] Cabaldon's car got booted last month for $567 in unpaid parking tickets, he released a Yolo County lien on his boat by paying $195 in vessel taxes that were eight months overdue, records show.

"'Anybody who's elected to public office at least should pass the first test – ability to follow the law,' said Gale Kaufman, a Democratic strategist leading an independent campaign against Cabaldon by the California Teachers Association and labor groups.

"'He can laugh about it, but it isn't funny,' Kaufman said.

"Cabaldon, West Sacramento mayor, blasted the controversy as "gotcha games."

"'I've been in office for a dozen years, so my record in serving the public trust, doing the public's business, is unimpeachable,' he said.

"Cabaldon, who is running for the seat of termed-out Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, said the two incidents really were one: He had neglected some personal business while juggling a full-time job, Assembly campaign and West Sacramento city matters.

"The booting of his Nissan 350Z apparently served as a wake-up call.

"Immediately after his vehicle was booted in downtown Sacramento, Cabaldon said he paid the 10 overdue parking tickets, went home, cleaned off his kitchen counter, discovered the delinquent vessel tax and resolved that, too.

"'I see a continuing line of investigation into my personal life, the scrutiny of which no American citizen would survive,' said Cabaldon, running in the Democratic primary for the 8th Assembly District in Yolo and Solano counties."


The Bee's Judy Line reports there may be a slight glitch in the governor's plan to have the lottery bail out the state budget deficit.


"California Lottery officials on Tuesday lowered revenue estimates for the year by $275 million, just as Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the state could double sales in a decade."


Now, that's Hollywood! 


"Citing a flagging economy and poor brand image for the games, officials said the lottery's declining performance would reduce contributions to public education by $94 million, about 8 percent less than expected in the fiscal year that ends June 30.


"Lottery officials said the numbers show the program needs to be untethered from arcane rules that are stunting its growth. Others suggested the slippage shows Schwarzenegger's reliance on improved sales to help balance the state budget is overly optimistic.


 "It makes it more difficult for the lottery to meet the goals in the governor's scenario," said Jason Dickerson of the Legislative Analyst's Office. The revision means lottery sales will slip to levels similar to five years ago, Dickerson said.


"In the wake of the state Supreme Court's legalization of gay marriage, [Arnold Schwarzenegger] said Tuesday in San Francisco he hopes gay couples come to California for wedded bliss ," reports Kevin Yamamura in the Bee.


"'You know, I'm wishing everyone good luck with their marriages and I hope that California's economy is booming because everyone is going to come here and get married,' said Schwarzenegger, prompting laughs and applause, according to a recording."


Well, that should appease the Republican base...


"The San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau anticipates a tourism boom in the city this summer, said spokeswoman Angela Jackson. The bureau's Web site promotes a gay travel section and now explains that same-sex couples are "officially allowed to marry in the state of California."

"'San Francisco has always welcomed same-sex couples and now they have an opportunity to legally tie the knot,' Jackson said. 'I think it only makes sense that they will flock to San Francisco to do that and stay for an extended vacation or honeymoon.'

"The governor appeared Tuesday at an Environmental Defense Fund event to discuss practices that can help businesses become more environmentally sound. He responded to a question from a man who said he signed up to marry his partner of 22 years at San Francisco City Hall in June."


"Money spent in California elections outside voter-approved contribution limits is giving special interests undue influence, requiring new rules that better identify who is behind such efforts, the state's ethics agency said Tuesday," writes the LAT's Patrick McGreevy.

"Since 2001, such expenditures in state political campaigns have totaled $88 million, a sum not subject to fundraising limits, according to a study released Tuesday by the state Fair Political Practices Commission.

"'The emergence of independent expenditures has thwarted the will of the people, dramatically undermined California's campaign finance laws and doubtlessly influenced the outcome of numerous statewide and legislative elections,' the 66-page study concluded.

"The agency proposed banning independent expenditure campaigns unless the names of the treasurer and principal officers of the campaign committees, and their economic interests, are disclosed."


The LAT's Patrick McGreevy looks at the number of bills under recent consideration that seek to limit the behavior of drivers, including the proposal to prohibit lap dogs.


"One lawmaker wants to restrict driving by truants and high school dropouts. Another would regulate where global positioning system devices can be installed. Another wants a new state committee to study the danger that silent-running electric cars pose to blind pedestrians.

"These ideas follow new laws banning computer and cellphone use by teenagers while driving, restricting adult drivers to hands-free cellphones, and barring smoking in cars when minors are present. The blitz of existing and proposed laws regulating use of the automobile, symbol of freedom, has Messer and other Californians pounding on their steering wheels." 


Dan Walters writes that the budget situation has at least put the issue of tax reform on the table . "Liberals fear that bringing more stability to a volatile revenue system might mean reducing the progressivity of the income tax, reducing the burden on the affluent and tapping more into the stable incomes of middle-income families. Conservatives fear that tax reform would be a smoke screen for raising taxes to cover the state's chronic deficits, perhaps through closing loopholes and/or changing Proposition 13, the state's landmark property tax limit ballot measure.

"'The goal of tax reform should be twofold,' Mark Paul of the New America Foundation, a cheerleader for tax reform, has written. 'One is to generate a more reliable revenue stream. The other is to make the tax code more reflective of California's changing economy, which in turn could stimulate more growth.'

"Would a politically appointed commission confine itself to those limited, and presumably revenue-neutral, goals, especially during a budget crisis? But even if it did, it still would face the political impediment that any change in tax law benefits some and disadvantages others, and those in the latter group will always bitterly resist change."


Well, let's go ahead and check the track recrod of most political commissions aimed at political reform...


"Assuming that a tax reform commission could keep its focus and could overcome the natural resistance to change, it would have a target-rich environment in which to operate – closing loopholes that either have outlived their purpose or didn't have any in the first place, widening the sales tax to include at least some services to reflect changes in consumer spending, and aligning tax policy with larger societal goals of expanding the economy and encouraging job-producing investment.

"Regardless of how the current fiscal crisis plays out, tax reform is a cause whose time should have come."


Speaking of which, the Bee reports that Abel Maldonado's Myspace friends list is about to get a little smaller.  


The Santa Maria Republican presents a bill to the Senate Rules Committee to prohibit lawmakers from receiving raises as long as the state is running budget deficits.


"Is it really too much to ask that our salaries be based on our job performance and the fiscal solvency of the state?" Maldonado said in a statement."


That's a rhetorical question, right, Senator? 


And from our Baby Mama Drama Files , "The teenage birthrate in California increased in 2006 for the first time in 15 years and costs taxpayers $1.7 billion a year - or $2,493 per baby," reports the Chron's Erin Allday.


San Francisco was one of a handful of counties in the state where the teen birthrate continued to decline, but even there, births to teenage parents are placing a significant burden on taxpayers to the tune of $9.3 million a year.


The financial losses cover a range of things, said the study's authors, from public assistance to foster care to diminished future taxable wages and spending power among the parents.

"The costs are really starting to climb now. That's not money we can afford to lose," said Dr. Norman Constantine, a clinical professor of public health at UC Berkeley and lead author of the Public Health Institute study.



Matier and Roiss give the post-game wrap up on the dirtiest 10K in America . “It's often called the world's longest party, but this year's Bay to Breakers race through San Francisco was anything but fun for the residents, cops and public workers who bore the brunt of the drunken young "runners" who staggered around Golden Gate Park and the city's west side, relieving themselves wherever it proved convenient.

"The media covers this as some kind of wonderful party, but at the end, there is a lot of crap and people urinating," Dennis said.

Is he talking about the Bay to Breakers, or Election Night?


"Much of the problem at Sunday's 97th running of the crosstown race was blamed on the early-20s crowd, which has been growing in recent years.

"They were stumbling around, hammered," Dennis said. "Peeing. Women with their boobs hanging out. Staggering around Balboa and 31st waiting for a bus to take them home."

Yeah, usually all the boobs hanging out happens in the Mission or the Castro…

Speaking of hanging out, here are they day's top election fundraisers, courtesy of (hey, we don't know what that means, either...) 


And judging from yesterday's fundraising numbers, it looks like the money laundering, uh, we mean, political donations moving through the county party committees has begun...


No 98/yes 99:  $625,000

Yes Prop. 98:

California Republican Party / Victory 2006
: $116,000

Russ Bogh Leadership Committee- SD37 :

Friends of Jeff Denham Against The Recall:

Monterey County Republican Central Committee:

Ventura County Republican Party :

Friends Of Lloyd Levine - SD23 (DEM):

Californians For Neighborhood Protection: Yes On Prop 99, No On Prop 98:

Charles Calderon For Assembly 2008- AD58 (DEM)
: $18,100

Dr. Ed Hernandez O.d. Democrat For Assembly 2008:

Jim Beall For Assembly 2008:

Republican Party Of Orange County:


And finally, from our Jury Duty Was Never Quite Like This Files , CNN's Susan Roesgen reports on the latest from the R. Kelly child pornography trial. "The judge ordered the courtroom lights to be lowered and the blinds drawn. And then, the 25-minute sex tape at the heart of the R. Kelly child pornography case played Tuesday before a packed house: a Chicago courtroom.


"R&B superstar Kelly sat expressionless as the tape was played. He's charged with 14 counts of child pornography and faces 15 years in prison if convicted.


"Sketch artists were warned that if they drew any depiction of the acts on the tape, they, too, could be charged with child pornography."


But for those of you who are not reading the Roundup at work, we've obtained an exclusive copy of the tape, and have posted portions of it here