"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's health care plan will not make it out of the Legislature
, according to a key Democratic lawmaker who dismissed as a "gimmick" the governor's proposal to use the state lottery to help cover the 6.7 million Californians without insurance," reports Aurelio Rojas in the Bee.
"The Republican governor, who will veto the Democrats' counter-proposal as early as today, said this week he expects to strike a deal with Democrats within two weeks and begin working on placing a financing proposal before voters on the November 2008 ballot.
"But Assemblyman Hector De La Torre
, who chairs the Assembly Rules Committee that will likely get first crack at Schwarzenegger's plan, said Democrats may not be ready to act until January
"He predicted that the governor's plan will not get the votes it needs in the Democratic-controlled Legislature. De La Torre said that after the governor vetoes the Democrats' plan -- Assembly Bill 8 -- as he has said he will, the two sides will have to agree on an alternative plan."
Dan Walters criticizes the governor's plan to lease the lottery
for his health plan. "The fiscal flaw is self-evident: If the lottery can be leased and the state can realize a $2 billion revenue gain, shouldn't that money be used to balance a deficit-ridden state budget before launching new spending schemes? Or does Schwarzenegger intend to dump the mess on the next governor while he morphs into a senator-elect and/or self-appointed guru of global warming -- all gain for him without any political pain?"
"Facing perhaps the heaviest criticism of his political career, Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez
on Thursday defended using campaign funds to pay for international travel and extravagant purchases
- and insisted he hasn't abandoned his working-class mentality," reports Edwin Garcia in the Merc News.
"'The fact that I've been successful, that I'm the speaker of the Assembly, and I've represented California around the world is something I'm very proud of,' Núñez said. 'But that doesn't mean that I've walked away from my humble roots and humble beginning. I'm going to fight each and every day, as I have in the Legislature, for the people I most care about: the underprivileged, the poor, those who don't have a voice in government . . . '
"Núñez's comments come at a critical time for a politician whose Capitol clout is arguably second only to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's. For the past six days, the 40-year-old Democrat with an affable reputation has been pummeled by news reports of lavish spending that contradict the image he cultivated over the years as a champion for the working poor."
"'I've got a legitimate way to explain any and all my expenses
,' he said in his office, where pictures of his wife and three children hang on shelves and a glass-door mini-refrigerator containing wine bottles sits on the hardwood floor.
"The European and South American travel, some of which was on first-class and business-class, he said, resulted from invitations from heads of state that he said help broaden his horizon as the Assembly's leader.
"'I think the fundamental question here is, should I use campaign funds for trade missions and educational missions, or should I be using government money, or should I be using non-profit entities that sponsor trips like these?
Guv, that one was for you.
Meanwhile, as the speaker tried to get one storm to blow over, critics raised another issue.
"California's second-most powerful politician, whose lavish campaign spending is already under scrutiny, shares a luxury downtown penthouse with a prominent Democratic Party fundraiser
, the Associated Press has learned," report Michael Blood and Aaron Davis in the Merc News.
"The fundraiser has collected nearly $600,000 from state Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez's political committees and the state Democratic Party since 2005. State law does not prohibit legislators from living with friends or fundraisers, but some watchdog groups say such arrangements can raise potential conflicts because of the proximity of political power and contributors' money.
"Núñez, a Los Angeles Democrat, pays $1,000 of the $4,325 rent to live part-time in the loft-style apartment, which is in a trendy neighborhood in his district and has 20-foot ceilings and sweeping views. He also owns a $1.2 million ranch-style home in Sacramento with his wife.
Just another part of that middle class lifestyle...
"Núñez told the Associated Press that he sees no conflict in living with his chief fundraiser, Dan Weitzman
, a friend who began working as a fundraiser for him several years ago. The speaker explained that he pays a share of the rent because he uses only one room and spends only two or three days there a week.
"'Dan and I have been friends for years; we are good friends,' Núñez said. 'I brought him on to be my chief fundraiser because I needed someone who was going to work hard, and no one works harder than Dan Weitzman.'"
"An untold number of sex offenders sought legal protection Thursday as state parole agents laid out a dragnet to put hundreds of them back in prison
for violating the residency provisions of Jessica's Law," reports Andy Furillo in the Bee.
"Inmate-rights lawyers said they were bombarded with phone calls from recently paroled sex offenders facing a deadline to either move if they lived within 2,000 feet of a school or park, or face more prison time. The California Supreme Court already has issued a stay order to stop the state from revoking the parole of four of the offenders.
"Parole agents started their sweep of the first contingent of paroled sex offenders who in late August were given 45 days to move but so far have not. Some 855 sex offenders up and down the state are facing reincarceration over the next two weeks if they don't find a new place to live
, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
"'We'll be validating their residences, and if they're still out of compliance, we'll move them toward the parole board for parole violation consideration,' said corrections Secretary Jim Tilton
Meanwhile, the LAT's Evan Halper looks at bills that put the governor between a rock and a hard place
, with donors on one side and campaign promises on the other.
"The measures as passed were not publicly debated. They received little vetting by policy experts. They were not fully written until the clock had almost run out on lawmakers preparing to adjourn and get out of town last month. And key provisions were shaped by a small group of big campaign contributors.
"The bills could raise taxes on consumers to fund subsidies available to oil companies and would lay the groundwork for a controversial expansion of ferry service in the Bay Area.
"The causes were advanced by key donors to Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez
(D-Los Angeles) and Senate leader Don Perata
(D-Oakland), who pushed the proposals through."
"Weighing in on immigrants' rights issues, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a law prohibiting cities from requiring landlords to ask the residency status of tenants, but on Thursday he vetoed a measure that would have allowed new citizens to register to vote on election day
," reports Patrick McGreevy in the Times.
"The governor signed 50 bills Thursday. He vetoed 27, including legislation that would have made it difficult for high school students with poor grades to get work permits and a bill that would have legalized industrial hemp production.
"The bill banning citizenship checks of tenants was written by Assemblyman Charles Calderon
(D-Montebello) in response to actions by some cities aimed at identifying illegal immigrants. The governor signed it Wednesday.
"The new law, AB 976, prohibits cities and counties from enacting ordinances that would require residential landlords to inquire about the immigration or citizenship status of any tenant or prospective tenant."
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill Thursday that sought to provide greater state control of a controversial board that regulates chiropractors
, arguing that changes already under way are enough," writes John Hill in the Bee.
"Senate Bill 801 would have put a measure on the June ballot to strip the Board of Chiropractic Examiners of its historic autonomy by making it a part of a state department that oversees other professional licensing boards. The board was created by a 1922 initiative that for 85 years has largely governed the profession.
"Schwarzenegger said he was vetoing the bill because the board is already working with the Department of Consumer Affairs to 'correct any prior deficiencies.'"
"Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Thursday signed a package of bills intended to improve care for California's 77,000 foster children
by extending benefits to kids with disabilities when they reach age 18 and improving access to health care and mental health services," reports Tom Chorneau in the Chron.
"'These are bills that are going to help a lot of kids,' said Assemblywoman Noreen Evans
, D-Santa Rosa, whose bill, AB1331, was among those signed by the governor.
"Evans' legislation will require counties to sign up eligible foster care children before they turn 18 for federal aid, with the idea that some of them might be able to continue receiving support after they become adults.
"The federal government provides about half of the funding for foster care programs in California, with state and local governments sharing the remaining costs. But services vary substantially from county to county, and children's advocates have long complained about a lack of standards for licensing group homes and protections against abuse."
"Legislation signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger could provide millions of dollars to cash-strapped legal aid programs
, enough to provide lawyers for thousands of low-income Californians in disputes over issues such as housing, family relations and health care, the State Bar president said Thursday," writes the Chron's Bob Egelko.
"The measure, AB1723, allows banks to hold lawyers' client trust funds in accounts that yield higher interest than those now used. The accounts contain damages and other funds that are entrusted to lawyers for brief periods until their clients' shares are determined and payable.
"Sums held for individual clients are too small to yield interest during their short deposit, but funds for multiple clients in a pooled account generate interest that is turned over to the State Bar, which uses it for legal aid to the poor."
And, from our Grand(ma) Theft Auto
Files: "A 6-year-old boy who tried to drive his grandmother's car to Applebee's
said he won't do it again. Josh Barber
said he was hungry for some chicken nuggets when he woke up early Tuesday while his grandmother was still sleeping. His mother was recovering from surgery at the time and his father was still at work.
"After taking the car keys, he unlocked the car, moved his child seat to the driver's seat so he could see better and tried to drive off
. But, unable to take the car out of reverse, he backed up 75 feet from her house into a transformer, knocking out electricity and phone service to dozens of townhouses in this suburb north of Denver.
"'I hit the gas,' Josh told Denver's KCNC-TV. 'I crashed into these things and then what happened is I didn't know what to do.'
"His grandmother, Claudia Price
, said he ran into the house to tell her what had happened.
"'He just yelled 'Grandma, Grandma, I was driving your car and I hit something,'' she said."