"Democratic lawmakers presented a plan late Tuesday night to impose $9.7 billion in new taxes on the wealthy and corporations to avoid the cuts to government services in Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget plan," reports Evan Halper in the Times.
"Republicans, who hold enough votes to block a budget
from passing, vowed to fight it.
"But a week after the state blew its deadline for enacting
a spending plan, the proposal offers the first glimpse
at how the Democrats who control the Legislature would
go about eliminating a deficit that has soared to $15.2 billion.
"Most of the new revenue would come from an income tax
"A dependent-care credit currently available to all Californians
also would be eliminated for families with an income
of more than $150,000.
"'Californians want this budget mess fixed,' said Assembly Budget Committee Chairman John Laird
(D-Santa Cruz). 'This, in essence, fixes California's budget problem. Any other alternative keeps deficits
going into the future and balances the budget on the
backs of school kids, health clinics and transit riders.'
"Income taxes on families earning more than $321,000 would go up by 7.5%. Joint filers earning more than $642,000 would see an 18% hike.
"The proposal also includes an amnesty intended to entice
tax cheats to pay up, the suspension of various tax
breaks for corporations and the restoration of a franchise
tax on businesses.
"Democrats are presenting the plan as an alternative
to billions of dollars in cuts to schools, healthcare
and other services proposed by Schwarzenegger."
Democratic leaders are expected to discuss the plan
with reporters this morning.
The Bee's Judy Lin and Dan Smith write:
"The long-awaited list of revenue proposals faces near certain
defeat, however, as Republican lawmakers have repeatedly
said they are unified in their opposition to any tax
increases. Approving a budget and increasing taxes
requires a two-thirds vote, which means GOP support is mandatory.
"'I guarantee you it will be a troubled and very challenged
proposal on the Assembly floor,' said Assemblyman Roger Niello, R-Fair Oaks, a member of the two-house budget conference committee that finished its
work over Republican opposition Tuesday. 'After we're done (rejecting the tax increases), we can all go back to square one to figure out how
we get a supermajority vote on this budget.'"
"The California Democratic Party's decision to spend another $250,000 on Senate leader Don Perata's legal bills has angered some party activists, who say the money would be better spent electing
Democrats this year," reports Shane Goldmacher in the Bee.
"The Oakland Democrat has racked up nearly $2 million in fees fending off an ongoing FBI corruption
investigation in the last four years. With the latest
donation, made July 1, the party has now given a total of $450,000 to help cover Perata's legal bills.
"'The California Democratic Party is in business to defeat
Republicans and elect Democrats,' said Rick Jacobs, co-founder of the Courage Campaign, a left-leaning online activist group. 'It's not really to keep corrupt politicians out of jail.'
"Roger Salazar, communications director for the party, defended the
six-figure support of Perata.
"'The California Democratic Party contributes to Democrats,
including our leaders,' Salazar said.
"It is important, he added, that 'when the leaders of our party get attacked … the party is there to assist them as well.'"
Capitol Weekly reports Fabian Nunez has added an additional $600,000 to his campaign coffers as he prepares to walk out the door.
"A campaign committee set up to boost Democratic voter
registration has transferred $600,000 into a committee controlled by former Assembly Speaker
"The payment from the Voter Registration 2008 Committee to Nunez’s Committee to Protect California’s Future, was dated July 2, just one day into the new filing period for political
"The shift of funds marks the latest infusion of cash
controlled by Nunez. After the 2005 special election, the California Democratic Party
paid $4 million into a Nunez-controlled committee.
"'I don’t know what’s going to happen with that money, but we need it today
for registration,' said Assemblyman Charles Calderon, D-Montebello. 'Without knowing what the circumstances surrounding
that transfer, it looks like it’s no longer available for voter registration. That’s a problem.'"
So, what does he need the money for? There's been talk of a campaign to beat back a redistricting
initiative on the November ballot. And of course, there's all those pesky political consultants to pay...
"Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez gave his chief of staff, who is already the highest-paid employee in the Legislature, an additional $100,000 this year for 'campaign consulting,' writes the LAT's Nancy Vogel.
"The Los Angeles Democrat in April transferred the money
from a ballot-measure committee he controls to Daniel Eaton, according to records filed this week with the secretary
"Many interest groups, including unions, casino-owning Indian tribes and Pacific Gas & Electric Co., donated to the ballot measure committee
that Nuñez used to augment Eaton's $212,000 annual salary.
"Nuñez spokesman Dave Sebeck said the $100,000 payment was for 'current consulting and analysis, including a lot of
work surrounding the 10 initiatives on the November ballot.'
"Robert Stern, president of the nonpartisan Center for Governmental
Studies, said he opposed government staffers working
on campaigns because "it blurs the line" between politics and policy."
The LAT's Cara Mia DiMassa looks at why Proposition 13 appears to be helping stabilize local government funding during the housing downturn.
"For decades, Proposition 13 has been cast as the bane of cash-strapped local government, limiting property tax revenues
even as California's housing market soared.
"But this week, as county assessors reported rising
tax bases despite the housing slump, they credited
the 30-year-old law -- revealing its unexpected role as an economic stabilizer.
"Counties across Southern California reported that their
overall tax bases grew compared with last year's. The corresponding revenue increase occurred despite
falling home prices and even though assessors have
reduced the property values on nearly 600,000 homes in five Southland counties in the last few months
because of the real estate downturn.
"'The big factor is Prop. 13,' said Los Angeles County Assessor Rick Auerbach, explaining his county's 6.9% increase in the total property assessment roll.
"L.A. County's property tax roll rose to $1.1 trillion, an increase that exceeded the assessor's estimates. San Bernardino County's rose 5.1%, Ventura County's increased 3.2% and Orange County's rose 3.7%. Even Riverside County -- hit hard by foreclosures -- posted a 1.45% increase.
"Proposition 13, approved by voters in 1978, limits tax increases on a property to 2% a year as long as that property doesn't change hands. It kept tax rates lower than housing
values during the long real estate boom. But because
the 2% increases can be assessed even during housing downturns,
governments can count on the extra revenue as long
as most home values in a county have not fallen below
the assessed values."
Speaking of the housing downturn, the Oakland Tribune's Josh Richman reports: "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill into law Tuesday that he and lawmakers
say will force mortgage lenders to talk with homeowners
before foreclosing, give tenants more time to vacate foreclosed property
and help prevent neighborhood blight.
The law, which takes effect immediately, will only
delay foreclosure, as it doesn't force lenders to restructure loans. But the governor
and state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, D-Oakland, the bill's author, say it's one more tool to fight a multifaceted crisis.
"'Losing a home to foreclosure is a financial and emotional
crash that often takes years to overcome,' Schwarzenegger said at a signing ceremony in the Oakland
offices of the Unity Council, which has been counseling
East Bay homeowners in crisis. 'These people need help.'"
Dan Walters looks at the Supreme Court's recent overturning of a California pro-labor law.
"AB 1889 enacted the nation's first law to prohibit employers that received state
funds from using them to discourage employees from
joining unions, although it claimed to be neutral by
also prohibiting employers from using state funds to
promote unionization, a highly unlikely event. Since
it would be virtually impossible to distinguish "state funds" from any other revenues the employer might receive,
in effect, it was a complete muzzle.
"Violations of the ban could mean a cutoff of state
funds and the possibility of heavy civil damages since
the new law contained a virtual invitation for personal
injury lawyers to file lawsuits. And the new law meshed
neatly with the major union-organizing drives being mounted in medical, janitorial
and other service fields at the time.
"Last month, eight years after the law was enacted,
the U.S. Supreme Court declared that it was an illegal
abridgement of free speech on a 7-2 vote, which meant that a couple of liberal justices
voted to overturn it. One of those liberals, John Paul
Stevens, wrote the majority ruling and spanked the
Legislature for curtailing employers' rights that had been specifically guaranteed in federal
"'In contrast to a neutral affirmative requirement that
funds be spent solely for the purposes of the relevant
grant or program, AB 1889 imposes a targeted negative restriction on employer
speech about unionization,' Stevens wrote. 'Furthermore, the statute does not even apply this constraint
uniformly. Instead of forbidding the use of state funds
for all employer advocacy regarding unionization, AB
1889 permits use of state funds for select employer advocacy
activities that promote unions.'
"When Republicans have proposed to abolish labor institute
funds, labor leaders have complained about union-bashing. It evokes the old saying about what's good for the goose being equally applicable to the
"Former Orange County Sheriff Michael S. Carona gave reserve deputy badges to 86 people on a roster known as the "friends list" in exchange for donations of $1,000 to his first campaign, a key witness in the corruption case against him
told federal investigators," report Christine Hanley and Stuart Pfeifer in the
"The witness, former Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl, alleged that he reimbursed a portion of these contributors
with cash, either directly or through businessmen who
worked for him, according to court records.
"Haidl told federal agents that Carona's goal was to sign up 1,000 reserves and collect a $1,000 donation for each badge in an effort to raise $1 million for his campaign war chest.
"Once one of the former sheriff's closest associates, Haidl also alleged that as an
assistant sheriff he was promised a "get-out-of-jail-free card" and the power to arrest or "cut loose" any individuals he pleased.
"The former assistant sheriff's allegations are contained in an exhibit that was
filed Monday in Orange County Superior Court by Carona's defense team. Carona is charged with misusing his
office in a broad conspiracy to enrich himself and
others, including his wife and former mistress. All
three have pleaded not guilty."
Matier and Ross write:
"San Francisco's ever eco-conscious mayor is turning Civic Center Plaza's central promenade into an organic vegetable garden, filled with beets, broccoli, cabbage and mustard
"Volunteer gardeners have ripped out hundreds of square
feet of green lawn directly in front of City Hall as
part of the big Slow Food Nation confab taking place
in the city next month to promote healthy, homegrown
and ecologically sensitive eating habits.
"'This is the next big narrative in the environmental
movement,' said [Gavin] Newsom, who banned bottled water from City Hall
and signed legislation outlawing plastic bags at supermarkets
and big drugstores.
"He sees the civic Victory Garden - which takes its name from the urban gardens that sprouted
up across the country during World War II - as just the first step to turn Civic Center into an
entire "sustainability district" (think windmills and much, much more)."
Trust us, when we think about Newsom and this governor's race, we do think of windmills...
"In other words, the days of the water-consuming green lawns in the plaza may be gone for
good - replaced with organic gardens that feed the poor and
"Former Mayor Willie Brown, whose City Hall makeover helped clean up Civic Center,
wasn't overly impressed with Newsom's turning the plaza into Green Acres.
"'You start having cows and chickens and goats and other
things at Civic Center, ' Brown said, 'and I'm not sure it's a good idea.'"
And it appears nothing brings the family together like
a game of croquet. Take this tale from the Bangor Daily
reportedly began as a family game of croquet went awry Monday night
when a 16-year-old boy allegedly was assaulted, the family home was
on fire and one man ended up in police custody.
That sounds like the annual Thanksgiving Go Fish game
at our house...
to a large group of neighbors who had gathered in the
street near the
fire scene, Fox had been playing croquet with his wife
16-year-old son when a fight erupted between the two males.
neighbors would not provide their names because they
said they were
afraid of Fox.
Simonds, who identified herself as a close friend of
Fox’s wife, said
that when Andrew Fox lost the game he turned on his
stepson and punched
him in the head. The teenager and his mother fled from
their home on
the dead-end road to a nearby neighbor’s house and called police, she
assault was reported around 6 p.m. and when deputies arrived, Andrew
Fox reportedly barricaded himself in the mobile home
and threatened to
burn it down.
afterward, the neighbors said, they could hear the
smoke alarms going
off inside and when several deputies and Maine state
they advanced on the trailer with guns drawn."