Index
Tuesday
Jan272015

POLITICS (National, State, Local): Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senate seat: "Wesson backs Kamala Harris' bid for U.S. Senate"; also, "White House gives a boost to Kamala Harris"; "Harris shadow-boxing Villaraigosa in Senate race" ....

***Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senate seat, Democratic politics....

* Los Angeles Times (PolitiCal):  "Wesson backs Kamala Harris' bid for U.S. Senate"

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "White House gives a boost to Kamala Harris"

* Los Angeles Times (PolitiCal):  "Harris shadow-boxing Villaraigosa in Senate race"

Monday
Jan262015

SACRAMENTO: New taxes? Proposition 30 tax extension? Fight between Democrats:: "Fight over taxes looms between Democrats, Gov. Jerry Brown" ....

* San Francisco Chronicle (AP):  "Fight over taxes looms between Democrats, Gov. Jerry Brown" - From the Chronicle:

SACRAMENTO — Gov. Jerry Brown orchestrated the successful push for temporary sales and income taxes on Californians three years ago to help ease the state out of recession and close a multibillion-dollar budget gap. The financial crisis has passed and the economy is rebounding, but the fight over taxes is about to resume.

The Proposition 30 taxes are supposed to phase out by 2018. However, social welfare groups and Democrats in the Legislature, eager to expand programs that suffered cuts during the economic downturn, already are eyeing an extension, along with a host of other taxes, from extending sales taxes to services, increasing taxes on oil and tobacco, and even restructuring Proposition 13 that strictly limits property taxes.

They are likely to meet resistance from Brown. Since returning to Sacramento four years ago, the 76-year-old Democrat has successfully positioned himself as a fiscal moderate with a firm hold on the state's check book, an image that propelled him to another term that began this month. He sold Proposition 30 to the voters as a temporary bridge to lead the state out of recession with a quarter-cent sales tax through 2016 and higher income taxes on income above $500,000 through 2018. Labor-allied groups want to extend the tax, which is forecast to bring in more than $7 billion this year, but Brown has repeatedly said he still views it as a temporary measure.

He's also steered clear of discussions about taxing oil production and expressed skepticism about a proposal from Sen. Robert Hertzberg, who wants to extend the sales tax to services. "Taxing new people is always difficult," Brown said this month. "If you tell people that their Pilates class will be taxed at 8.5 percent, they may not be as yoga-happy as they were before."

Democrats and Republicans agree that California's overreliance on income tax creates volatility, leaving the state dependent on a handful of millionaires and billionaires. But they usually do not agree on what to do about it, and the impetus for reform often disappears when the budget stabilizes ..........................

Monday
Jan262015

L.A. CITY HALL: Los Angeles municipal elections, March 3 primary, commentary (Rick Orlov TIPOFF): "Unions playing low-key role in elections, so far" ....

* Daily News (Rick Orlov TIPOFF):  "Unions playing low-key role in elections, so far" - From the DN:

After a couple of election cycles in which they were the dominant force, city unions are stepping back — at least until after the March 3 primary election — to decide if they should move to once again play a major role in local politics. The unions have wielded a mixed bag of influence in recent years, losing heavily when Mayor Eric Garcetti defeated Controller Wendy Greuel in 2013,

The heavyweight of all city unions, the IBEW, so far has taken a low-key approach, acting through its Working Californians political action committee. It has endorsed Councilwoman Nury Martinez in her District 6 rematch against former Assemblywoman Cindy Montanez and is supporting former Assemblyman Wally Knox in the race for the 4th District seat being vacated by Councilman Tom LaBonge. But it is not giving major amounts of money at this point, with aides to IBEW Business Manager Brian D’Arcy saying they want to see how the races turn out before they decide how to get involved for the May 19 runoff.

The 4th CD race is complicated by having 14 candidates, several with strong fundraising bases already in place. So far, Knox has raised a respectable $197,000, but it leaves him behind David Ryu’s more than $330,000, LaBonge former chief deputy Carolyn Ramsay’s $259,000 and Community College trustee Steve Veres’ $241,000...............

Monday
Jan262015

POLITICS/EDUCATION (South Bay/Los Angeles County): Centinela Valley Union High School District, board member recall effort: "Activists finally launch campaign to recall Centinela Valley board members" ....  

* Daily Breeze:  "Activists finally launch campaign to recall Centinela Valley board members" - From the DB:

After months of delays, the effort to recall three Centinela Valley school board members is finally underway. Recall backers are seeking signatures and support from residents who believe the three officials deserve to lose their jobs after approving a staggeringly high compensation package for former Superintendent Jose Fernandez that made him one of the highest paid public officials in the country.

The recall’s targets — board President Hugo Rojas and members Rocio Pizano and Maritza Molina — all approved Fernandez’s generous contract, which gave him a total compensation of more than $750,000 in 2013 to oversee just three comprehensive high schools in Lawndale and Hawthorne. “We as a community have to draw a line in the sand and say, ‘This is not OK,’ ” said parent and educator Kevin Schaaf, who is leading the recall effort. “What happened is so clear-cut, I don’t know how these candidates could have support from the public.”

But while it may seem clear-cut to Schaaf, some activists and educators in the district say a recall may not be the right answer. Though they didn’t denounce the effort, some worry it could attract even worse candidates and waste energy and resources that could be better used on other efforts to improve Centinela Valley. And, they say, the district is already on the path to recovery since Fernandez was fired in August.

Resident David Dinnell said he is instead hoping the District Attorney’s Office, which is investigating Fernandez, will “hold the board members responsible.” “I understand the intent and purpose of the recall effort and the need for action by those calling for it,” he said, but “with the loss of attention around the issue by the news media and public, it may be difficult to get enough signatures.”

Recalls are never easy, and in a district like Centinela, where voter apathy reigns, they can be nearly impossible. Two previous attempts to oust Centinela board members, in 1998 and 2004, proved unsuccessful because they failed to collect enough signatures to make the ballot.

This time around................................

Monday
Jan262015

SACRAMENTO: Gov. Jerry Brown, proposed California budget, unfunded medical obligations: "Brown, employee unions set to tangle over health insurance" ....

* Sacramento Bee (The State Worker):  "Brown, employee unions set to tangle over health insurance" - From the Bee:

After years of making concessions to Gov. Jerry Brown, California labor leaders had hoped that the fourth-and-final-term Democrat finally would be in a giving mood. But after the governor’s budget proposal two weeks ago, several unions are bracing for tough talks in the coming months about Brown’s determination to cut the state’s costs of insuring employees and retirees.

A range of options are on the table, from cheaper insurance plans and smaller subsidies to extending how long new hires must work to qualify for retiree health benefits. If history is a guide, Brown will prevail, said Mike Genest, a Department of Finance director under former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Governors get 90 percent of what they want,” said Genest, who had a long state career before retiring in 2009. “I think Brown will get a substantial piece of what he wants here.”

   ****

State retiree medical costs are among the government’s fastest-growing expenses. . . . . . . .

California offers one of the most generous retiree-health benefit plans in the nation . . . . . . . .

   ****

The state sets nothing aside for future retiree medical expenses. Unlike pension obligations covered by trust fund investments, state medical bills are pay-as-you-go annual budget appropriations.

That’s the most expensive way to do business. . . . . . . .

Those unfunded medical obligations now stand at an estimated $71.8 billion and will grow to more than $300 billion by 2048 if nothing changes, the Brown administration estimates.

Brown soon will begin bargaining with unions representing the civil engineers, scientists and correctional officers for changes he wants. . . . . . . . .

Making employees pay more could be a tough sell for labor leaders after years of furloughs and pension contribution increases that cut into their members’ take-home pay ..........................

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