"The Legislature's legal adviser is siding with Controller John Chiang in his defiance
of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's plan to cut state workers to the federal minimum
wage of $6.55 an hour.
"In an opinion requested by state Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, Legislative Counsel Diane Boyer-Vine wrote Friday that an executive order issued by Schwarzenegger
could not force Chiang to start paying state workers
the minimum wage in August.
"Boyer-Vine's opinion cited cases in which courts found that the
controller may sometimes wield his or her authority
independent of the governor.
"Schwarzenegger plans to sign the executive order [this] week. The exact wording of the order has not been
finalized. But a draft order would cut pay for about
200,000 state workers to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 an hour until a budget is signed.
"Afterward, the workers would get back their full pay.
"Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear
said he would not speculate about whether the governor
would go to court to force Chiang to comply with his
Hey, maybe we'll get a budget deal tomorrow and this will all be
Before getting on with our other budget coverage today,
let's get those tongues a-waggin. It's only two years away from a governor's race in California. And that means it's time to play California's favorite political parlor game -- what if Dianne Feinstein ran for governor.
Now, she'll be about a million years old for the next campaign,
but hey, so will Jerry Brown. So let's go to the numbers, shall we? For that, we turn to
Matier and Ross...
"State Attorney General Jerry Brown leads San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other Democrats making noises about running for
governor in 2010 - but if Sen. Dianne Feinstein were to jump into the pool, she would swamp them all,
a new poll shows.
"On the Republican side, former Rep. Tom Campbell has a 2-1 edge over other possible candidates - ex-Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner and ex-eBay chief Meg Whitman.
"According to the statewide
poll by JMM Research of Sacramento, Brown - himself a former governor
looking for a repeat performance - would be the top choice of 31
percent of the registered Democrats surveyed if the
primary were held
Newsom gets 19 percent. Villaraigosa has 12 percent, while Lt. Gov. John Garamendi and state schools chief Jack O'Connell both clock in with 9 percent.
"But if you add Feinstein to the mix - and take out Newsom,
Villaraigosa and O'Connell, figuring they might bow out if she jumps in
- Brown drops to 24 percent, and the state's senior senator grabs 50
Let the wagging begin...
Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming. The
Bee's Judy Lin writes a two-part series on special interests and the budget.
Sunday's article focuses on the coalition of groups relying on state budget spending, and today's looks at lobbying by business groups.
"This summer, as lawmakers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
weigh a plan to bridge the state's $15.2 billion deficit in a $101 billion general fund spending plan, a broad network
of teachers unions, prison guards, state employees,
health care providers and other groups are flexing
their collective political muscle in an effort to get
new revenues. Political experts say that can mean only
one thing: pressuring minority Republicans to agree to tax increases.
"Representatives of those groups, which have formed
overlapping coalitions with names like "Together for California's Future" and "Education Coalition," say the movement has unprecedented cooperation because
its members benefit from just about every dollar dispensed
from the state's general fund.
"'It's not unusual for us to get involved every year and
yet, what I think is different this year, is that … it is so much more field-driven,' said State Employees International Union spokeswoman
Jeanine Meyer Rodriguez
. 'Our future is at stake.'"
In the other corner, "California businesses, led by the California Chamber
of Commerce (CalChamber), the California Taxpayers' Association and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association,
have spent millions and successfully enlisted the GOP
to advocate for their interests over the years.
"In California, it takes a two-thirds vote of each house in the Legislature to pass
a budget or a tax increase. That gives the minority-party Republicans – and the business community lining up at their doors
– far more ability to influence the budget than most
other legislation. GOP lawmakers have successfully
blocked major legislative tax increases since 1991 because of that power.
"This year, with the budget already 28 days late and the state $15.2 billion short of a balanced budget, business groups
are pushing to ensure their interests are taken care
of as the budget is shaped. With that push comes money.
"CalChamber, the highest-profile business group, has spent more than $11.5 million to influence elected officials since Gov.
Arnold Schwarzenegger assumed office in late 2003, according to disclosure forms filed with the secretary
of state's office."
Dan Walters writes that the tax increase package supported by Democrats would restore
tax levels to the Pre-Proposition 13 era.
"In other words, Californians in the aggregate are now
paying almost as much of their personal income in taxes
now as they were before Proposition 13 was passed. And our relative ranking has also climbed
upward to No. 12 in 2007, a half-percent higher than the national average.
"That half-percent translates into about $8 billion, which happens to be just about what Democrats
want in new taxes. Or to put it another way, were they
successful, Californians would once again be paying
12 percent of their incomes, on average, to state and
local governments, exactly what it was before passage
of Proposition 13 in 1978.
"What goes around, comes around, as political veterans
are wont to say."
As are carousel operators.
The U-T's Bills Ainsworth looks at the boycott launched by gay marriage supports
against a prominent San Diego hotelier.
"Some analysts contend that the tactic – even if it doesn't reduce business at the hotels – could prove effective by persuading other potential
donors to Proposition 8 to stay out of the battle.
"'They will probably succeed in getting business owners
that are hesitant to avoid giving,' said Tony Quinn, co-editor of the Target Book, which analyzes California
politics. 'It's a tough tactic, but it may be a wise tactic.'
"Manchester, who has donated to a variety of largely
Republican political causes, including contributing
a total of $147,450 in 2006, said he was surprised by the boycott.
"'It's a First Amendment freedom of speech issue,' Manchester said. 'I certainly didn't want to offend anybody.'
"In one way, the boycott may have been effective already.
"Manchester said he contributed because of his strong
Catholic faith – the church opposes same-sex marriage – but said he doesn't expect to give any more money to Proposition 8."
"Thousands more California students will have to find
their own way to school this fall, as districts slash bus routes to cope with budget shortfalls
and high fuel costs," reports Seema Mehta in the Times.
"Critics worry that the cuts will increase traffic around
schools, shift costs to parents already struggling
with rising gas prices and prompt more absenteeism,
hurting students' academic achievement. But paramount is the fear that
the reductions will endanger students as more walk
or drive to school.
"'All the parents, we've been scrambling to try to work out car pools,' said Wayne Tate, whose second-grader's bus to Castille Elementary, two miles from their
home in Mission Viejo, was eliminated. 'For somebody that young, that's a pretty long way to walk or ride a bike. All you
need is one kid getting hit to realize that maybe the
[savings] wasn't worth it.'
"Districts say they have no choice."
"California public students will stick to reading, writing
and arithmetic, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger decided
as he vetoed a bill late Friday that would have required
climate change be added to schools' curriculum," writes John Boudreau in the Merc News.
"The measure, sponsored by state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, also would have required future science
textbooks to include climate change as a subject.
"In January, the state Senate approved the bill, SB
908, by a 26-13 vote. Only two Republicans supported the proposal.
"In his veto statement, Schwarzenegger said he supported
education that spotlights the dangers of climate change.
However, the Republican governor said he was opposed
to educational mandates from Sacramento."
Like requiring all eighth graders to take algebra?
The LAT's Jessica Garrison looks at an Assemblyman's fight against the legacy of housing discrimination.
"After he bought his first home, state Assemblyman Hector De La Torre uncovered a dark chapter in its history: A covenant attached to the original deed declared
that the house, like all the others in his South Gate
neighborhood, could be occupied by white people only.
Minorities could stay there -- but only as servants.
"It is a discovery that has startled any number of California
homeowners. Many of the state's vast subdivisions, particularly in Los Angeles County,
were once governed by restrictive racial covenants
designed to enforce segregation. Those covenants have
been illegal for more than half a century, but their
offensive rules remain part of some deeds. Most home
buyers encounter the issue when they are asked to sign
a disclosure as part of the escrow process, pledging
to ignore any racist language.
"De La Torre (D-South Gate) decided that wasn't good enough. This year, he proposed a law that would
require racially restrictive covenants -- it is estimated that there are hundreds of thousands
statewide -- to be stricken from the public record at the time
of the next sale.
"The bill has run into stiff opposition from real estate
agents, title insurance companies and county recorders
who complain that it would be expensive and create
a bureaucratic nightmare that could slow real estate
transactions -- to little purpose since the covenants are already
Sounds like a perfect job for the Caifornia Legislature...
And congratulations to the state of Iowa, whose residents
have found one of the more creative ways around a law banning
The AP reports, "Iowa doesn't have any all-nude strip clubs - but it does have performing arts centers where women
the loophole in the state's public indecent exposure law that allows
nude dancing at "art centers" is under attack in the small community of
Hamburg, a town of 1,200 just across the Missouri River from Nebraska.
"It all began on July 21, 2007, when a 17-year-old
niece of Sheriff Steven MacDonald climbed up on stage
at Shotgun Geniez
in Hamburg and stripped off her clothing. Owner Clarence
charged with violating Iowa's public indecent exposure law.
responded that the law doesn't apply to a "theater, concert hall, art
center, museum, or similar establishments" devoted to the arts or
"The club's owner, Michael Murphy, said his establishment bans
anyone under 18 from entering the five-year-old
business. The problem, he said, was 'a group of girls snuck in a
"'While she was there, she felt like dancing so she got
up and danced on
the stage and then she took her clothes off. Trouble
with that is she's
the sheriff's niece,' he said."
Yup. That's a problem.