Index
Wednesday
Dec042013

POLITICS (National): Campaign finance, disclosure, regulation of nonprofits/social welfare organizations, editorial: "Don't count on IRS for campaign disclosure any time soon"....

* Sacramento Bee (editorial):  "Don't count on IRS for campaign disclosure any time soon" - From the Bee:

Voters almost certainly will endure another election in 2014 without meaningful regulation of nonprofit corporations that claim to be social welfare organizations, but engage heavily in campaigns while benefiting from their tax-exempt status.

President Barack Obama’s administration, through the Internal Revenue Service, last week issued the beginnings of what might one day become regulations that could curtail some political activity by so-called social welfare organizations. Given the complexity of the undertaking, and high level of interest on the part of lawyers, consultants and politicians, there is virtually no way new rules governing these nonprofit corporations will be in place before the 2016 election.

The IRS proposal leaves basic issues to be determined by the rule-making process. . . . . . . . .

   ****

Congress should require greater disclosure by politically active nonprofits, and direct the Federal Election Commission , which regulates federal campaigns, to take a greater role in policing politically active nonprofits. Of course, House Republicans and Senate Democrats don’t agree on much of anything.

That leaves it to the IRS, an agency that must protect taxpayer confidentiality, and is ill-suited to regulate campaigns in a democracy that values openness. The better alternative would be for the Federal Election Commission to directly regulate all federal campaign activity, including those by so-called social welfare organizations.

***ALSO:

* Los Angeles Times (editorial):  "501(c)(4) rules without teeth" - "Proposed regulations to cover tax-exempt 'social welfare' organizations don't go far enough in reining in their political activities."

Wednesday
Dec042013

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Washington, D.C.): D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, announcement, bid for reelection: "D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray will seek a second term"....

* Washington Post:  "D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray will seek a second term" - From the WP:

D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray on Monday announced that he will seek a second term, bringing a sudden end to months of uncertainty over whether corruption surrounding his last campaign would keep him from running for reelection.

The announcement recasts a mayoral race defined until now by Gray’s absence. Ten other candidates, including four D.C. Council members, have picked up ballot petitions for the April 1 Democratic primary — some of them doing so because Gray seemed unlikely to run. The incumbent brings instant name recognition to a field of mostly little known candidates, but also the specter of an ongoing federal investigation into campaign finance improprieties during his 2010 race.

Gray’s decision to pick up nominating petitions comes less than two weeks after the District’s top federal prosecutor suggested publicly that more charges are possible in a long-running investigation into D.C. political corruption that began with allegations of wrongdoing in the last mayoral campaign. Four people affiliated with Gray’s campaign have pleaded guilty to felony charges.

   ****

Gray, who has denied any wrongdoing and has repeatedly declined to address specific questions about the investigation, said Monday that he has no plans to elaborate on any alleged illegal activity in his prior mayoral campaign..............................

***ALSO:

* Politico:  "Vincent Gray announces bid for reelection"

Wednesday
Dec042013

MISCELLANEOUS: Southern California home buyers, shift in pattern from single-family to condos: "Southland home buyers shifting to condos as home prices rise"....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Southland home buyers shifting to condos as home prices rise" - "For many adults, condos are the only affordable path to homeownership in urban areas near jobs and entertainment." - From the LAT:

Southern California home buyers have pulled back, purchasing fewer single-family homes in October as they struggled to afford houses that have jumped in price this year. They didn't, however, lose their appetite for condos.

Changing cultural attitudes and skyrocketing home prices have boosted demand for condominiums this year, experts say. For many, condos are the only affordable path to homeownership in urban areas near jobs, cafes and boutiques. "People who a year ago could afford houses can't," said Richard Green, director of USC's Lusk Center for Real Estate. "But they can afford condos."

In October, sales of previously owned condos and other attached units increased 3.3% over a year earlier, according to research firm DataQuick. Existing single-family home sales went the other direction, falling 7.2%. In the first 10 months of this year, existing condo sales accounted for 22% of all Southern California home sales, the highest percentage in more than a decade..............................

Wednesday
Dec042013

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (County of L.A.): Brown Act, California open-meetings law, Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors: "L.A. County accused of running afoul of open-meetings law"....

* Los Angeles Times:  "L.A. County accused of running afoul of open-meetings law" - "The Board of Supervisors tentatively chose a new Sheriff's Department watchdog behind closed doors last week but did not disclose the choice until the day after the meeting." - From the LAT:

The stated intent of the action was to increase government accountability. But some open-government advocates are suggesting that the Los Angeles County supervisors ran afoul of the spirit, and perhaps the letter, of the state's open-meetings law last week when they selected a new watchdog to monitor the Sheriff's Department.

The board met behind closed doors Nov. 26 and tentatively chose prosecutor Max Huntsman to fill the newly created position of Sheriff's Department inspector general. County officials did not publicly report the decision, but The Times disclosed it that evening, citing unnamed sources.

Kelly Aviles, vice president for governmental compliance for the open-government group Californians Aware, said county officials should have immediately reported their decision to offer the job to Huntsman under the state's Ralph M. Brown Act, which governs the actions that elected officials can take outside the public eye. "It sounds pretty much like the board voted to hire him, but they just hadn't formalized the arrangement ... and once you take an action, you're supposed to announce the votes yea or nay," she said.

County Counsel John Krattli said supervisors had directed Chief Executive William T Fujioka to negotiate a salary with Huntsman, but they were not required to report the action because the selection had not been finalized. "Until Bill was able to actually go out and negotiate, it was not a done deal," he said.

Huntsman said he had made it clear early on that he would accept the job, whatever the terms. He said he met with county supervisors during last week's closed session and afterward Fujioka called, offered the job and explained the terms. "I said, 'Yes, sir,'" Huntsman said. He added that he doesn't know what occurred in the closed session after he left or whether any action should have been reported in public..........................

Wednesday
Dec042013

SACRAMENTO: 54th Assembly District, special election, results: "Ridley-Thomas wins special election for Assembly seat"....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Ridley-Thomas wins special election for Assembly seat" - From the LAT:

Bolstered by help from his powerful father, City Council aide Sebastian Ridley-Thomas beat two fellow Democratic candidates in a special primary election Tuesday for a Los Angeles-area seat in the state Assembly.

The vote tally on election night gave Ridley-Thomas 60% of the vote, well beyond the simple majority needed to avoid a Feb. 4 runnoff with former Culver City Mayor Christopher R. Armenta, who finished second with 36% of the vote. The third-place finisher, with 4% of the vote, was John Jake, president of the Olympic Park Neighborhood Council.

If the results hold after the counting of hundreds of provisional ballots, Ridley-Thomas would fill the vacancy left when former Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell won election to the state Senate in September.

   ****

The 54th Assembly District includes all or portions of Baldwin Hills, Century City, Crenshaw, Culver City, Inglewood, Jefferson Park, Ladera Heights, Leimert Park, Mar Vista, Mid City, View Park-Windsor Hills, West Los Angeles and Westwood.........

***ALSO:

* San Francisco Chronicle (AP):  "Ridley-Thomas wins race for Calif. Assembly seat"

* Sacramento Bee:  "Ridley-Thomas win adds to California Assembly Democratic edge"