This week, we breakdown the special smackdown issue of the Capitol Weekly. We've got the health plans vs. the regulators! The governor vs. the coastal commission! And the architects vs. the pillow fluffers!
Let's start at the Coastal Commission where it was the guv's appointee against the rest of the commission
. "The cancellation of the June meeting by commission executive director Peter Douglas
angered a Schwarzenegger appointee to the commission, and the governor himself, and raised the issue of the coastal commission staff’s authority vis a vis the commissioners.
"Commissioner Steve Blank
, who was appointed to the commission by Schwarzenegger, met with Schwarzenegger days before the commission meeting on April 10. In that meeting, Blank said, the governor expressed his displeasure with Douglas’s cancellation of the meeting.
"'With Arnold’s face about a foot from mine, these were the first words out of his mouth,' Blank said at the April 10 meeting. 'I won’t repeat all the words because they involve commissioner Douglas and probably some acts that couldn’t be done physically
We just don't feel qualified to comment on how limber Mr. Douglas may or may not be. So let's move on...
Commissioner Bill Burke
"had some mixed praise for his commission colleague. 'What I love about commissioner Blank is what I hate about him,' Burke said. 'He’s like a little puppy. He goes in there, and just argh argh argh,' Burke said, making a thrashing and clawing motion with his hands
. 'You can only do that for so long.'"
Anybody who wants to check the tape can take a look here
. The good stuff starts at the 7:37:00 mark (aren't you glad you didn't have to sit through the entire eight-hour meeting yourself?)
CW also reports that in the wake of last week's announcement by the administration demanding the reinstatement of health insurance more than two dozen people whose policies had been cancelled, health plans are weighing their legal options
"Representatives from various health plans said they expect the broader review of these cancellations to be challenged in court. Though none would speak for attribution, they said they are waiting to see the details of the process established by the department before commenting on any potential legal action
A statement from Anthem Blue Cross pointed out the small number of rescissions highlighted in the department’s report, and alluded to the fact that the insurance company did not agree with the department’s interpretation of state law
“Even under the department’s standard of review, which we do not believe is the applicable standard of review under California law, it concluded that only eight of 90 member cases did not meet this higher standard.”
A spokeswoman for Anthem Blue Cross would not elaborate on whether or not that difference in interpretation of state law may be the foundation of future legal action against the department, challenging the department-ordered reinstatements.
And then, Malcolm Maclachlan has the goods on the fight between architects and pillow fluffers
"When most people think of hot-button political issues, they probably don’t think of interior decorators. But California is the latest battleground in a national war that has raged across numerous states, not to mention The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page and George Will’s columns
SB 1312 by Senator Leland Yee
, D-San Francisco, would create an official state certification for “registered interior decorators.” It would also reconstitute the California Architects Board as the California Architects and Registered Interior Designers Board, made up of five architects, four interior designers and three public members.
"While many consumers think of interior designers as little more than “pillow fluffers,” said a spokesman for the designers, the skills and scope of the profession have grown for years. In many cases, he said, interior designers draw up complex plans including lighting systems—but then need to get an architect to sign off on their designs, adding cost and red tape.
In yesterday's political contribution news, CNIGA droped $10,000 for Jeff Denham
and Blue Shield kicked in 10K into Karen Bass's initiative committee
For more contribution news, check out www.electiontrack.com
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's top air pollution regulator Wednesday denounced the federal government's proposal to demand higher fuel efficiency in new cars
because a 24-word passage written into the Bush administration's 417-page plan would block California's aggressive efforts to enact its own emissions standards," reports Edwin Garcia in the Merc News.
"'Unfortunately, buried within that decision, was a small paragraph, which is like a buried time bomb ticking away, and aimed directly at the heart of the nation's efforts to control our contributions to global warming,' said Mary Nichols
, chair of the California Air Resources Board.
"'The reality of what is now being proposed by the federal government,' Nichols said, 'is that there is an effort under way once again to prevent any state, and particularly California, from exercising our sovereign right to control emissions of air pollutants into the environment.'
"The latest attempt by the federal government to pre-empt California from enforcing its own laws to combat global warming was seen as another slap at the Schwarzenegger administration, which is dueling with the Bush administration over the state's authority to regulate tailpipe emissions."
Can we use that banana in the tailpipe joke again?
"Californians who keep their winning Mega Millions lottery tickets in their sock drawers will soon get an additional six months to dig them out and cash them in.
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation Wednesday that extends the time for claiming a jackpot in the multi-state lottery game
from six months to a year," writes the LAT's Patrick McGreevy.
"The change, effective Jan. 1, addresses a court decision that challenged California's requirement that prizes be claimed in six months although players in other states participating in the same Mega Millions game have 12 months to do so.
"That discrepancy could have jeopardized Mega Millions revenue that goes to schools in California, officials said.
"'This legislation should allow us to put the concerns about Mega Millions behind us," said Joan Borucki
, director of the California Lottery. 'Californians can now continue to enjoy this exciting game and the more than $834 million in cash prizes since the California Lottery began offering Mega Millions in 2005.'"
Whew, with all this money flowing to schools, does it mean CTA's bus tour is over?
"One-third of California's 1.4 million nonnative students demonstrated enough English fluency this year to gain access to higher-level and college-prep course work
, a modest improvement over last year, according to data released Wednesday by the state Department of Education," reports Seema Mehta in the Times.
"Increasing limited-English-speaking students' access to more rigorous classes and decreasing the achievement gap between these students and their native classmates are "moral" and "economic" imperatives, said Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell
"'If we are to be successful competing in the hyper-competitive global economy, all of our students need to be better prepared,' he said. 'The achievement gap needs to be closed. We need to have that well-trained, well-educated, analytical, problem-solving workforce if the state of California is going to remain the eighth-largest economic engine in the world.'
"In the 2007-08 school year, nearly 36% of the state's English learners showed "advanced" or "early advanced" skills on the California English Language Development Test, and 33% performed well enough to be eligible for "reclassification" as fluent. Both are 4% increases over last year. (Earlier comparisons are unavailable because the scoring scale changed last year)."
Meanwhile, the state is also cracking down on weak kids
. The Bee's Deb Kollars reports: "In California public schools, kids have been tested for physical fitness for many years. If they could do the push-ups and run a quick mile – great. If not – no big deal.
"This spring, that is changing for many of the half-million ninth-graders across the state. For the first time, high school freshmen in many districts must pass five of six fitness exams or face the possibility of extra years in physical education classes."
"'It's a new year for physical education,' said Nancy Carr
, interim physical education consultant for the California Department of Education. 'California students are being asked to work on becoming physically fit for life.'"
"A Senate committee confirmed the appointment Wednesday of the director of the Department of General Services after an hourlong grilling over stalled efforts to "green" the state vehicle fleet
," reports Kimberly Kindy in the Merc News.
, appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last year to run the department, admitted that the state's flex-fuel vehicles still largely run on standard gasoline and that the state continues to buy them even though the alternative fuel they are designed to use is still scarce.
"Senators expressed frustration that one year after the problem was exposed in a Mercury News investigation - which in turn triggered a series of Senate hearings - there still was no definitive plan in place to get the vehicles on the high-grade ethanol fuel they were designed to use.
"'We can't help but scratch our heads when we hear about things like the flex-fuel vehicles,' said Sen. Alex Padilla
, D-Van Nuys. 'I still don't hear a plan. Do we have a plan or do we not have a plan?'"
"Bush said there are various state committees working on the problem and that some progress has been made."
, the person responsible for managing nearly $250 billion in pension assets for the California Public Employees' Retirement System, announced Wednesday that he will resign as of June 30
," reports Mark Glover int he Bee.
"Read's departure comes two years after he became chief investment officer at the nation's largest public pension fund, which is entrusted with assuring the retirement benefits for 1.5 million state and local government workers and their families.
"'I loved working at CalPERS. It's like a second family,' he said in an interview. 'I am proud that we accomplished a lot.'
"In his resignation letter to the CalPERS board, the 44-year-old Read said he was leaving to "pursue my long-standing interests in environmental and clean technology investing." A Davis resident for the past two years, Read owns a tree farm in the rural community of Brooks, Maine."
And finally, from our Bondage Gone Wrong Files
, CBS reports, "A Maury County woman has been charged with reckless homicide
for what her attorney says was the accidental asphyxiation of her husband after he consented to be bound and gagged
"The whole family is upset with what occurred," Samuel Patterson, an attorney representing 25-year-old Rebecca Bargy, told Columbia newspaper The Daily Herald. "We stand by the fact that this was an accident.
"According to the arrest warrant, Rebecca Bargy placed duct tape over James Bargy's mouth and eyes, put a ball gag in his mouth and then tied a bandage around his head, leaving only his nostrils showing.
"Police think they know where Rebecca was during the 20 hours she left her bound husband alone and it may change the way they prosecute the case. Detectives said she stayed with another man in a local motel at least two days last week. Bargy met him online and bought his airline ticket from California