The only signing Arnold Schwarzenegger will be doing for the next four days is for his credit card bills. "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger jetted to China on Monday to help promote an event dear to his wife's family, taking a four-day break from the special legislative session
that he called to address California's healthcare and water problems and leaving more than 600 bills awaiting action on his desk," reports Michael Rothfeld in the Times.
"The governor, who is scheduled to return Thursday night, has two weeks to sign or veto the measures and is prohibited by the state Constitution from acting on them while he is out of the state."
If you're really quiet, you just might be able to hear liberal groups awaiting bill signings chanting "Help me Lite Gov Garamendi
, you're my only hope."
"Schwarzenegger announced his trip a day before flying to Shanghai for the summer games of the Special Olympics, a nonprofit that benefits the disabled.
"He broke the news Sunday morning in a live satellite speech to a conference of Britain's Conservative Party in London, an event he had initially planned to attend as keynote speaker.
"He canceled that trip in late August. Schwarzenegger also postponed a trip to India that was scheduled for this fall, citing his effort to forge a deal on healthcare, his biggest stated goal for the year.
"On Sunday, he told the Conservatives: 'I'm very sorry that I could not join you in person, but as you probably know by now, I'm in the middle of a special session of the Legislature that I called. . . . Because of that, I had to cancel all travel, except a long-term promise to attend the Special Olympics World Summer Games in China, which is this coming week. Now this is an organization that my mother-in-law started.
A man with his priorities straight...
"California's lead banker suggested cutting off billions of dollars to the state's premier higher education system -- the University of California -- in an attempt to provoke talk on how to get its fiscal house in order
"The idea was just one of many state Treasurer Bill Lockyer
put forth but didn't specifically endorse Monday as he released a required assessment of the state government's financial outlook for the next 20 years.
"'The best I can do is lay out a menu and hope that it will at least be (catalytic) and hope there's a robust discussion among leaders,' Lockyer said about the State of California Debt Affordability Report. 'They need to make some decisions. They aren't easy choices, I understand that, but they've just got to make some decisions.'
"The report offered ways state leaders can keep the state budget balanced while meeting the needs of a growing population over the next two decades. Currently, the state has an infrastructure of schools, roads, housing and water systems built to serve 25 million residents. Yet the population is expected to reach nearly 50 million in two decades.
"Lockyer said one idea would be to cut the University of California loose from state funds, which would save $7 billion a year by 2027-28
. Such a move would require the university to set its own budget and raise revenue through student fees or fundraising.
"The report also suggested going after $670 million in annual lost sales tax from Internet and mail-order transactions. It suggested closing tax exemptions to construction and professional services to generate $10.2 billion annually, and increasing the top income tax rate by 1 percent to generate $4.5 billion a year."
Dan Walters summarizes the debate at the heart of Lockyer's report
. "There's been a distinct political tendency to view bond debt in three dimensions. Voters are told, and respond accordingly, that it's essentially free money, all gain and no pain, because taxes or user fees are not being raised. Republicans often see bond service as eating up money that otherwise would be squandered on liberal social programs, forcing Democrats to curtail spending. But Democrats see bonds as a way of financing public works without diverting immediate chunks of cash from their favored spending and, in the long term, forcing Republicans to raise taxes.
"Lockyer, a Democrat, clearly fears that the Republican position will prevail and lays out a variety of options for raising taxes, while officially calling for 'adjusting the mix of revenues and expenditures' to balance the budget and provide enough breathing room to take on more debt.
"Nevertheless, the report, titled 'Looking Beyond the Horizon,' is valuable for highlighting the simple truism that there's no free lunch and that if we want more and better schools, transportation systems, water service and so forth, it will cost us.
"It would be a pleasant change if those advocating tens of billions of dollars in new borrowing, including the governor, were to also tell us how they'll pay for it."
The LAT's Charles Ornstein looks at a bill meant to speed up the investigation and crackdown of reports of subpar treatment in nursing homes
. "The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Mike Feuer
(D-Los Angeles), passed the Legislature last month and is now on the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The governor's press office said he has not yet taken a position on the legislation."
"On any given day, about 115,000 Californians are living in nursing homes, the majority of whom are older than 75. State data show that 316,500 residents were treated in nursing homes in 2005, most for two months or less.
"Resident advocates say Feuer's bill, Assembly Bill 399, is needed to quickly flag problems and ensure they are corrected. Sometimes, as cases languish, residents remain in danger. And even when a resident has died or recovered, advocates say, there is little oversight to prevent patterns from being repeated or to bring errant employees in line.
"The longer an investigation drags on, the greater the chance that witnesses will forget key facts and staffers will move on.
"'A timely investigation with timely results can make the difference literally between life and death sometimes,' Feuer said. 'Forty days is plenty of time to conduct a meaningful, finely grained, detailed investigation.'"
"Student leaders from across the state rallied in Sacramento on Monday, urging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign a bill that would allow undocumented students who grew up here to apply for some grants and community-college tuition waivers
," reports Susan Ferriss in the Bee.
"'Do the right thing! Do the right thing!
' chanted about 70 students -- many of them leaders of campus associations -- as they marched at the Capitol in favor of a bill known as the California Dream Act.
"The University of California Student Association, the California State Student Association and other groups that organized Monday's rally are trying to build momentum to pressure the governor to sign the bill into law before an Oct. 14 deadline."
The Fresno Bee's John Ellis reports political candidates will have some serious competition this year -- Santa Claus
"With the state's presidential primary scheduled Feb. 5 -- earlier than ever before -- deadlines for military ballots to be mailed, voter guides to be sent out and absentee voting to start will push the 2008 campaign season into late 2007.
"In fact, military ballots will go out in barely more than two months, and voters wishing to cast absentee ballots can do so starting Jan. 7 -- before the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire primary, long considered the traditional start of the presidential election season.
"Because of California's early election and the ability to start casting votes the first week in January, experts predict the state likely will see campaign advertisements in the mail.
"'When you open your mail in December, instead of seeing Santa Claus, you're going to see Clinton, Obama, Giuliani and Romney
," said John J. Pitney, a government professor at Claremont McKenna College."
"Worried that an upcoming court ruling could wreak havoc on the city budget, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recommended Monday that the City Council declare the city will face an "emergency" if a court rules against the city and invalidates a $270-million telephone users utility tax
," writes David Zahniser in the Times.
"The declaration would pave the way for the mayor and the council to put a replacement tax on the ballot as soon as Feb. 5 and -- perhaps more significantly -- lower the threshold needed to win passage of such a measure from two-thirds to a simple majority, lawyers for the city said.
"Villaraigosa met Monday with Councilman Bernard C. Parks
, the head of the council's budget committee, to discuss the ballot proposal, which would not generate new revenue but instead preserve existing funds that are being targeted in three separate lawsuits.
"'Without question, the potential loss of $270 million to the city's general fund would present a significant damage to the health and safety of the city,' said Villaraigosa spokesman Matt Szabo
"Proposition 218, a 1996 statewide initiative that governs municipal tax hikes, stipulates that cities can put general tax measures on the ballot only during regular municipal elections, when such measures need only a simple majority to pass."
"Berkeley's tree-sitters must climb down from their roosts or face five days in jail and a $1,000 fine apiece
, an Alameda County judge ruled Monday," writes Carolyn Jones in the Chron.
"Superior Court Judge Richard Keller
granted UC Berkeley a preliminary injunction against the protesters, who have been perched in an oak grove near Memorial Stadium since December hoping to stop the university's plan to build a sports facility there."
After all, Cal is
now number three in the nation. Lest we be embarassed on national television again...
"The judge barred the protesters from 'lodging in, scaling, climbing or hanging or sitting or standing' in tree-houses, hammocks or platforms in the grove, according to the order.
"University officials asked for the injunction because of what they described as rapidly increasing safety and sanitation problems at the grove. UC police have issued almost 200 citations for trespassing, assault and other infractions, and some officers have complained of being hit with feces and urine from the tree houses. Several of the tree houses also have propane tanks for cooking."
Coming soon, a campaign by UC police officers, complaining of "gassing" and that their beat is the toughest in the state.
"After a 90-minute hearing at the county courthouse in Fremont, the judge sided with the university, saying the regents' right to protect university property trumps the protesters' right of free speech."
The former Mrs. Mike Tyson, Robin Givens
, will be in Sacramento today to testify at an Assembly hearing on domestic violence. "The committee will hear from witnesses who will review 2007 domestic violence related legislation and provide a look ahead to what's in store for next year," according to a release from Assemblywoman Fiona Ma
And scientists in Switzerland have produced what they are calling the world's most boring TV show
"The aim is to have a standard way of measuring how much energy plasma and LCD TVs use, the Geneva-based International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) said in a statement.
"TV broadcasters and manufacturers edited together a mix of different genres spanning soap operas, nature programmes and sports, and assessed the proportion of broadcasting for each type of genre in the world, it said."
If they were looking for boring, why not include some legislative committee hearings?