Capitol Weekly reports on the most important environmental fight of the year that you've probably never heard of
"As the nation focuses on greenhouse gas regulations set into motion by landmark legislation in 2006, state regulators are set to pass a less-publicized, wide-reaching rule on emissions from diesel busses and trucks that business groups say could cost billions of dollars to implement.
"Environmentalists hailed the state Air Resources Board after its staff released a draft of the new regulations earlier this year-the first such rules in the nation.
"But following a public hearing last Friday, the regulations were modified in the wake of howls of protest from business groups-a move that immediately kindled environmentalists' suspicions."
"A critical piece of the draft regulation required some truckers' engines to be replaced twice in nine years in order to comply with the rule, but that language has been eliminated from the draft regulation, the ARB said
"'It did require replacing two engines in a nine-year span, but the ‘two in nine' has been eliminated. There will not be any need to replace an engine twice in nine years. The new draft regulation will have different language,' said ARB spokeswoman Karen Cesar
"'We have been concerned that industry pressure would prompt a relaxation of the proposed standards
,' said the Sierra Club's Bill Magavern
, who called the new diesel rules, 'the most important clean-air measure that the government of California will take up this year.'"
Meanwhile, another fight is brewing in the Central Valley. "Environmentalists say a new plan to clean up the soot-laden air in California's farm belt would fail to adequately regulate agricultural sources of pollution
," reports the AP's Garance Burke.
"Critics of the plan unfurled white prayer flags Wednesday outside the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District's meeting in Fresno to illustrate the premature deaths they say are associated with the valley's polluted air.
"California's farm belt has some of the highest levels of airborne dust, smoke and soot in the country.
"The district's governing board voted 8-3 in favor of a plan that could keep families from using their fireplaces for up to 35 days each winter and require local employers to make a portion of their workers car pool.
"The plan is meant to comply with standards set in 1997 under the federal Clean Air Act. More rigorous standards were adopted in 2006.
"Air quality advocates said the plan should have done more to regulate dairies, wineries and diesel pumps on farms, which are among the many sources of air pollution.
"'I'm disappointed about these plans we get presented. I know we can do better,' said board member Raji Brar
, who voted against the plan, along with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's appointee to the board, cardiologist John Telles
. 'I just really think we get caught up in the politics and who our friends are.'"
"Californians want their public schools protected from state budget cuts and are willing to tax the rich to make that happen
. But despite the threat of schools taking a beating in next year's state budget, residents are sharply divided over whether they would support higher taxes for themselves, according to a statewide poll
released late Wednesday," reports Mitchell Landsberg in the Times.
"The poll by the Public Policy Institute of California also turned up some interesting divisions among Californians -- by region, by political party, and by race and ethnicity.
"Residents of Orange and San Diego counties were the happiest with their public schools, while residents of the San Francisco Bay Area were the grumpiest. Latinos and immigrants were far more likely than others to view public schools as primarily a springboard to college. And, not surprisingly, Democrats were far more likely than Republicans to support new taxes to pay for public schools.
They have to poll to come to that conclusion?
"The survey also found the public to be generally worried about the state of public schools and deeply dissatisfied with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature for their stewardship.
"'I think today's report is very bad news for the governor
,' said Bruce Fuller
, a professor of education and public policy at UC Berkeley and director of Policy Analysis for California Education. 'It's not surprising that Californians would be confused about the tax issue, because this governor is politically weak, and he's weak because he isn't showing bold leadership.
, Schwarzenegger's press secretary, countered that Fuller 'would be hard-pressed to find anyone who's showing more leadership on education right now.' He said the governor shares voters' concerns about cuts to education, but rejects tax increases to solve the problem."
Anyway, are the voters willing to put their money where their mouth is?
7a. What if the state said it needed more money just to maintain current funding for K-12 public education. Would you be willing to pay higher taxes for this purpose?
3 don't know
Meanwhile, on to revenue sources...
40. How about raising the top rate of the state income tax paid by the wealthiest Californians?
2 don't know
41. How about raising the state sales tax?
2 don't know
Wasn't the lottery supposed to fix all this?
Barack Obama's got nothing on Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Bee's Kevin Yamamura writes the governor defended legislative junkets
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Wednesday it's good for lawmakers 'from those little towns" to go out in the world and see worldly things like "an airport," "a highway that maybe has 10 lanes" or even "a highway on top of a highway
It's no wonder that if they don't get to see those double-decker highways, they get bitter and turn to guns, religion and anti-immigration politics
"'So I like them to travel around, and I think I'm always against when the media beats up on them for traveling around because someone else is paying for the trips and all of those things,' Schwarzenegger said. 'I mean, so what. I mean, if they would take the money from the taxpayers, then (the media) would be complaining about them using tax dollars to travel around the world and live in luxury.'
Evan Halper and Nancy Vogel report for the LAT
: "Assemblyman Anthony Adams
, a Republican from the mid-size city of Hesperia (population 83,000), said Schwarzenegger's comments, 'while I'm sure well-intentioned, reek of a certain elitism that doesn't help foster a cooperative working relationship.'
"Last month, Adams toured Japan's high-speed rail system on a trip organized by the Senate Office of International Relations.
"He said he paid for the week of travel with campaign money and personal funds, and was impressed that Japan's system is efficient and well-managed. "I'm awful grateful I did it," Adams said. "It will help me make the case for why high-speed rail is right for California."
"Schwarzenegger's jab at small towns, Adams said, won't help his already chilly relations with Republicans in the Legislature, many of whom hail from rural parts of the state."Simon Salinas
now has a Web site. A release announcing the launch of the campaign site states, "The former State Assemblymember, and now Monterey County Supervisor is the most qualified candidate to replace Jeff Denham on the June 3rd Primary Ballot."
Well, we can't argue with that. Salinas is the only
candidate on the ballot to replace Denham.
CW's Malcolm Maclachlan reports on a fight between enviros and a developer which has gotten the attention of the speaker
. "A controversial bill to approve a legal settlement between the city of Half Moon Bay and a developer passed the Assembly Local Government committee by a 4-2 vote on Wednesday, with a little help from Fabian Nunez
"The vote followed a decision by Nunez, D-Los Angeles, to seat Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani
, D-Tracy, on the committee in place of the ill and absent Assemblywoman Nell Soto
, D-Pomona. Assemblyman Mark DeSaulnier
, D-Martinez, widely considered a stronger environmental vote than Galgiani, had filled for Soto at several Local Government hearings, including the last two. Galgiani's staff confirmed Wednesday was the first time she had filled in for ailing Assemblywoman Nell Soto
, D-Pomona on the Local Government Committee.
"The Speaker's press secretary, Richard Stapler
, noted that DeSaulnier is hardly the only Assemblymember asked to fill in for Soto on the Local Government Committee. Fiona Ma
, D-San Francisco, sat in several times last year, while Noreen Evans
, D-Santa Rosa, has also filled the roll at times. During some meetings, Stapler said, the seat was not filled.
"'It was more a scheduling issue than anything else,' Stapler said of Galgiani's presence."
"The cost of purchasing auto insurance in California - strictly regulated since 1989 - is poised to increase
, consumer advocates are warning this week, under two proposals working their way through legislative and regulatory bodies," reports Edwin Garcia in the Merc News.
"A proposed law by Assemblyman Joe Coto
, D-San Jose, which passed a committee hearing Wednesday, would make it easier for insurance agents to act as brokers, advocates say, which would allow agents to collect both a commission and a broker's fee paid by the consumer.
"In another development, Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner
announced emergency regulations Tuesday to streamline how rates are set, but the proposed rules are being likened to a "giveaway" for the insurance industry because they allow insurers to set rates beyond what is permissible under Proposition 103, the state's landmark ballot initiative that has saved drivers billions of dollars.
"Industry officials said the measures intend to save money for drivers - and that assuming that premiums or costs of buying insurance will rise is unwarranted.
"But they drew an angry response from Consumer Watchdog, the statewide advocacy organization that strives to show how the insurance industry's political connections influence policy and regulation of the industry in insurers' favor.
"'There's never been a battle in California like this one,' said Harvey Rosenfield
, the organization's founder. "Twenty years between one industry and the voters, with the political establishment largely on the side of the industry, and the voters so far successfully managing to save $62 billion."
"A legislative panel Wednesday unanimously confirmed the nomination of Dr. Mark Horton as the first director of the California Department of Public Health
, despite concerns about the department's capability," writes the Bee's Aurelio Rojas.
"The department was spun off last year from the Department of Health Services in an effort to place greater emphasis on ensuring the safety of food, water and air, battling diseases and preparing for bioterrorism.
"Horton, a pediatrician with more than three decades of government experience, was previously in charge of the state's public health programs. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him nine months ago to run the new department."
George Skelton gets down in the weeds in the Proposition 98/99 debate, and provides some advice on how to cast your vote
. "Your decision on Prop. 98 may come down to how you answer two questions: Is it worth risking future public works projects, including water? Is rent control bad? If the answer is yes to both questions, vote yes on 98. If the answer is no to either question, vote no -- then yes on 99."ElectionTrack
Highlights from April 30, 2008:
- We Deserve Better. Yes On The Recall Of Jeff Denham: California State Council Of Service Employees Small Contributor Committee: $450,000
- California Teachers Association/Association For Better Citizenship: Cta-unitemized: $400,000 (internal transfer to campaign committee -- getting ready for independent expenditures?)
- Californians For Humane Farms, Sponsored By The Humane Society Of The United States, Farm Sanctuary, And Other Animal Protection Groups, Family Farmers, Veterinarians, And Public Health Professionals: Animal Welfare Advocacy, Inc.: $30,000
- California Voters First, Business Leaders, Governor Schwarzenegger & Public Interest Groups Committed To Redistricting Reform: New Majority California Pac: $25,000
- Biggers For State Senate Committee, Kevin: Kevin J. Biggers: $19,000
- Committee To Take Back Our Neighborhoods (Prop 98 No/Prop 99 Yes): San Bernardino County Sheriffs Council: $5,000
- Strengthening California Through Leadership (Karen Bass Committee): Ca Nurses Association Pac: $5,000
- Thurmond For Assembly, Tony: International Brotherhood Of Electrical Workers Local 302: $4,700
- Salinas For Senate, Simon: Pace Of California School Employees Association: $4,000
These are a sampling of the $1,107,230 in contributions reported yesterday
And finally, Capitol Weekly reports, Sheriff Chuck Quackenbush is off the hook for shooting a suspect in Florida
"Word on the street is that pistol-packing Chuck Quackenbush has once again escaped criminal prosecution after being investigated by government officials. The former insurance commissioner, who is now a sheriff's deputy in Lee County, Florida, shot and wounded a suspect who was resisting arrest. Quackenbush was placed on leave while the shooting was investigated. But we can now report that Quack was cleared in the sheriff's probe of the shooting."
The Quack is back.