"New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton holds a solid advantage with Californians likely to vote in the Feb. 5 Democratic presidential primary
, but an old friend could significantly change the math should he decide to run, according to a Field Poll released Monday
, reports the Bee's Dan Smith.
"Former Vice President and 2000 party nominee Al Gore
, who has waved off speculation that he may run again -- but has not ruled it out entirely -- pulled to within a handful of percentage points of Clinton when pollsters added his name to the mix.
"'He is formidable in California,' said Mark DiCamillo
, Field Poll director. 'He makes it a very close race.'
"The poll found Clinton with a comfortable 13-point head start over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama
, 41 percent to 28 percent, with former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards
lagging at 13 percent.
"But when Gore's name was offered as an alternative, Clinton's support dropped 10 points to 31 percent, followed by Gore's 25 percent and Obama's 21 percent. Edwards fell to 8 percent."
"The success of an expected February 2008 ballot measure to change term limits will probably hinge on a key factor
: whether California voters see it as a way to get legislators out of Sacramento sooner, a series of new polls shows," writes the Chron's Carla Marinucci.
"'Voters like term limits,' said Phil Trounstine
, director of the San Jose State University Survey and Policy Research Institute, which has just completed a new poll on the proposed ballot measure. 'If voters perceive the measure primarily as decreasing the total time an official can spend in the Legislature, they're in favor. If they see it as increasing the amount of time, they're strongly opposed.'
"'Since the measure does both things,' Trounstine said, 'it's all about message.'
"In the San Jose State University poll, voters favor changes to term limits for legislators 51 to 36 percent -- if the measure is described as a reduction in term limits
that allows lawmakers to spend a maximum 12 years in Sacramento, instead of the current 14 years they now are allowed, Trounstine said."
Meanwhile, Dennis Kucinich leads in the presidential polls when he's named Al Gore.
"The survey echoes findings of another recent poll on the matter from David Binder Research, which found support for the matter at 59 to 33 percent when it asked a similar question to the San Jose poll.
"But those findings stand in direct opposition to another highly respected poll from the Public Policy Institute of California, which suggests that voters are overwhelmingly against the measure by a whopping 66 to 29 percent
"The PPIC poll question did note that the measure would change the number of years a legislator could serve in either house to 12 years -- though it did not explicitly mention that would constitute an overall reduction from the 14 years allowed now."
The Chron's Matthew Yi writes: "Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony
on Monday criticized Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez for supporting a bill that seeks to legalize physician-assisted suicide
, accusing the speaker of being part of the 'culture of death.'
"Speaking at a noon Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, the cardinal urged the members of the nation's largest archdiocese to pressure state lawmakers to vote down AB437.
"But in his sermon, which lasted about 10 minutes, Mahony singled out Núñez, a Democratic legislator whose district includes downtown Los Angeles.
"'We should be troubled that Fabian Núñez, who has worshiped here in this cathedral as a Catholic, somehow has not understood and grasped the culture of life, but has allowed himself to get swept into this other direction: the culture of death
,' the cardinal said."
The Bee's Shane Goldmacher checks in on the Spring Break trip to Japan
paid for by the The California Foundation on the Environment and the Economy, a nonprofit funded by major business groups.
"Along on the Asia trip -- whose participants departed Thursday -- are Timothy Simon
and Rachelle Chong
, two of the governor's appointees to the Public Utilities Commission, the powerful state board that regulates California's multibillion-dollar telecommunications and energy industries.
"Also participating are Sen. Christine Kehoe
of San Diego and Assemblyman Lloyd Levine
of Van Nuys, both Democrats, who chair the legislative committees that oversee energy and telecommunications policy in California.
"Sen. Alex Padilla
, a freshman Democrat from Los Angeles and a potential swing vote on the Rules Committee -- which will decide the fate of embattled PUC nominee Simon -- is on the trip, as well.
"'What makes this trip so particularly egregious is that the corporations are focusing on the exact levers of power in hosting this junket for the state's top utility cops
,' said Doug Heller
of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, a consumer-advocacy group. "If you had to identify the people with the most responsibility over utility issues in the state, they've brought the two in the Legislature and 40 percent of the Public Utilities Commission."
"Dr. Mark Horton
, who has been serving as the state's public health officer since 2005, will become the director of the new Department of Public Health when it begins operating in July
, the Schwarzenegger administration announced Monday," reports Clea Benson in the Bee.
"Horton, a pediatrician, will run the state's efforts to decrease disease rates and prepare for public health emergencies, such as bioterrorist attacks or flu outbreaks.
, director of the current Department of Health Services, will continue to oversee Medi-Cal and other state insurance programs for the poor."
Meanwhile, "[t]he state's prison medical czar, who is armed with a federal mandate to improve health care in the overburdened state prison system, on Monday denied charges by Republican lawmakers that he has exceeded his authority
," reports John Ellis in the Fresno Bee.
, the federal court-appointed medical care receiver for the prison system, told The Bee's editorial board that it is his responsibility to improve health care in an 'unbelievably inhumane and overcrowded' system.
"Sillen has come under fire from Republicans who have complained he has carte blanche to spend money without accountability to anybody.
"But Sillen shot back at his critics, saying they want to control the budget and "resent" that they "can't say no" to his spending decisions.
"Assembly Republican spokesman Morgan Crinklaw
said Monday that the caucus is concerned because they're the ones accountable to taxpayers.
"'It's the Legislature's constitutional duty to oversee the expenditures of the state,' Crinklaw said. 'All areas of government should be accountable to the taxpayers. [Sillen is] using taxpayer funds.'"
"The state's ban on same-sex marriage confers second-class status on lesbians and gay men and invites discrimination, the city of San Francisco and 22 same-sex couples argue in briefs filed Monday asking the California Supreme Court to strike down its marriage law
," reports Demian Bulwa in the Chron.
"'The marriage exclusion tells lesbians and gay men that they are less worthy than child abusers, or sex offenders, or convicts in prison for murder," wrote lawyers for City Attorney Dennis Herrera
in a 98-page legal brief. 'Because after all, those people do have the right to get married.'
"More than three years after Mayor Gavin Newsom
ordered marriage licenses granted to same-sex couples in February 2004, the filing of opening briefs -- the best chance for the city and the couples to lay out their positions -- was a key step in a case that, perhaps within a year, could yield a closely-watched ruling.
"In their strongly-worded brief, San Francisco lawyers traced discrimination of lesbians and gay men from the first millennium to the Enlightenment to today. City attorneys compared their fight to the battle for desegregation and asked the court to ignore tradition and 'the will of the popular majority,' a reference to voters' affirmation of California's marriage law in a 2000 ballot measure. Proposition 22 affirmed a law the Legislature passed in 1977."
Finally, from our Getting Around The Law
Files: "A grandfather was so outraged by a Wales-wide ban on smoking in public places he built his own private pub
"Property developer Kerry Morgan
, 50, feared the simple pleasure of smoking and drinking a pint was about to disappear forever.
"As a result he built an extension to his home, in Briton Ferry, Neath, south Wales, and transformed his garden into a substantial public house.
"Now the 90-seater boozer is his own personal refuge from a smoking ban which came into force across Wales on Monday."
Apparently, he didn't have a Capitol courtyard at his disposal.