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Wednesday
Feb092011

MORNING MEMOS: Jane Harman seat, two more possible Republican candidates; redevelopment agencies/school districts; Oakland Mayor Jean Quan, 25% salary reduction; CD 6 (editorial), Tony Cardenas endorsement; salary increases for legislative staff....

* Sacramento Bee:  "Republicans Mintz, Webb, weighing bids for Harman's seat" - Two more Republicans say they are looking at possibly becoming candidates for the congressional seat being vacated by Jane Harman....

* Daily News (editorial):  "Despite flaws, Tony Cardenas should be re-elected to his City Council post" - Shaky record of achievement, but still best choice among field of candidates for Council District 6 seat.....

* Daily News:  "Schools may gain from loss of redevelopment agencies" - Benefits for school districts beyond debate if redevelopment agencies are eliminated....

* San Francisco Chronicle (Matier & Ross):  "Oakland Mayor Jean Quan slashing salary 25%" - Quan says she has cut her pay from by approx. $46,000, from $183, 397 to $137,000.  Also, S.F. Supervisor Malia Cohen has lost her condo near Candlestick Park to foreclosure....

* Sacramento Bee:  "Lawmakers approve more pay for some aides" - Salary increases for approximately 230  legislatives staffers, mostly as part of new job titles or duties. [Also, chart noting old and new monthly salaries...]

Wednesday
Feb092011

L.A. CITY HALL: Update, disincorporation of Vernon, L.A. officials weighing annexation ; Richard Alarcon candidacy for California Assesmbly, fundraising event scheduled.

***L.A. City Councilman Richard Alarcon has sent out invitations to a fundraising event in Sacramento for his campaign to return to the California Assembly. Hearing at L.A. City Hall regarding possible annexation of Vernon in the event the city is disincorporated by way of legislation introduced by Assembly Speaker John Perez. Also, Vernon is hiring team of prominent lawyers to conduct an ethics review of its municipal government....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Alarcon sets fundraiser for state Assembly bid" - From the LAT:

   Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon has spent much of the last year fending off a grand jury indictment that accuses him of perjury and voter fraud. But that hasn’t slowed down his campaign plans. Alarcon has begun sending out invitations for a campaign fundraiser in Sacramento -- this time for his 2012 bid for a state Assembly seat. Invites for the March 14 event, sent out by Alarcon campaign fundraiser Dwight Buchanan, calls for donors at $1,000 and sponsors at $3,900.

   Alarcon won that San Fernando Valley seat in 2006 but abandoned it months later after winning his old council seat. He was not available Tuesday to discuss the fundraiser, said spokeswoman Becca Doten.

   ****

   The next court date for Alarcon is April 18. At that hearing, the judge will consider motions to dismiss the indictment, Alarcon attorney Fred Woocher said.

* Daily News:  "L.A. officials weigh Vernon annexation" -From the DN:

   Los Angeles officials are looking into the possibility of annexing the tiny city of Vernon, a prospect opposed by leaders of the beleaguered community.

   Los Angeles Councilman Jose Huizar, who has been at odds with Vernon over the siting of a power plant, urged colleagues to approach Vernon about a friendly takeover of the five-square-mile enclave. Huizar asked the full City Council to consider opening talks with Vernon officials despite their stated opposition.

   Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, has introduced a measure that would provide for the dissolution of any city with fewer than 150 people.

   Vernon, immediately southeast of downtown, has a population of about 91, but provides jobs for upward of 10,000, said George Mihlsten, an attorney who represented Vernon before a L.A. City Council committee hearing on Tuesday. "It is a charter city that was founded in 1905," Mihlsten said. "It has its own police department, its own fire department and its own power plant that is cheaper than the DWP (Los Angeles Department of Water and Power)." However, recent newspaper stories have raised questions about Vernon's management and special deals given some workers for housing.

   "We would oppose any annexation attempt by Los Angeles," said Vernon City Administrative Officer Mark Whitworth. "And, I'm not sure the reports you are getting about Vernon are accurate." Whitworth said Los Angeles would have to to assume some $1 billion in  debt that Vernon has accumulated. He also said he has been told by business owners that they would leave the region if Vernon is annexed to another city.

ALSO:  Los Angeles Times:  "L.A. considers annexing Vernon if the small city is disincorporated"

* Los Angeles Times:  "Scandal-plagued Vernon to hire prominent lawyers for ethics review" - "Hoping to avoid disincorporation, officials in the industrial city of Vernon are expected to hire John Van de Kamp, a former state attorney general, and Robert Stern, former general counsel for the California Fair Political Practices Commission." - From the LAT:

   The embattled city of Vernon said it will announce today that it is hiring two prominent outside attorneys to conduct an ethics review of its municipal government, which has come under fire from lawmakers who are pushing to have the town disincorporated.

   The hiring of former state Atty. Gen. John Van de Kamp and Robert M. Stern, former general counsel of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, is the latest move by Vernon in its battle against legislation that would break up the industrial city south of downtown L.A. Vernon has been mired in several public corruption scandals in recent years, including the indictments of two city administrators and the conviction of the city's longtime mayor.

   Vernon officials said Van de Kamp and Stern will be paid $550 and $450 an hour, respectively. The city is already spending significant sums on a team of lawyers and lobbyists working to defeat AB 46, a bill that would dissolve Vernon and make it a part of Los Angeles County. The Times reported last month that Vernon had spent over $42 million on outside attorneys in the last five years, far more than many much larger cities in Southern California........................

Tuesday
Feb082011

L.A. CITY HALL: AEG/NFL stadium, Krekorian introduces motion regarding EIR, Leiweke criticizes stadium skeptics.... 

***AEG/NFL stadium proposal remains front and center in local news today....

* Daily News (AP):  "LA Councilman Paul Krekorian's motion opposes break for NFL stadium downtown" - From the DN:

   A Los Angeles City Councilman has introduced a motion that would oppose any efforts by the developer of a downtown NFL stadium to seek relief from the state's environmental review process. Councilman Paul Krekorian said Tuesday that protecting the 64,000-seat venue proposed by entertainment company AEG from lawsuits over its environmental impact report would weaken the council's ability to review the project.

   AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke has said he hoped the city and state would cooperate on granting his firm such a break. State lawmakers granted an exemption in 2009 for a rival stadium proposal in the City of Industry that nullified a lawsuit over its environmental review

   State legislative leaders said last week that they would be against passing another such exemption....

* Los Angeles Times:  "AEG chief criticizes downtown stadium skeptics, pledging 'not a penny' of city money will be spent" - From the LAT:

   The head of the entertainment conglomerate seeking to build a National Football League stadium in downtown Los Angeles shot back at skeptics Tuesday and reiterated his pledge that “not a penny” of taxpayer money would be spent on the mega-project. “The city’s never going to have to pay a penny — and we’re going to guarantee it,” said Timothy J. Leiweke, president and chief executive officer of Anshutz Entertainment Group, which is behind the $1-billion stadium plan. “It’s easy to take shots at this,” Leiweke told reporters. “Will everyone just take a deep breath and have a little faith that we’re not going to lie to people? We’re going to do the right thing. Calm down.”

   ****

   “When the proposal gets there, everyone’s going to take a deep breath and realize: There is zero risk to the taxpayer,” Leiweke said. "This is people trying to scare people. And it’s a shame. Because we have a 30% unemployment rate in this city, for the construction industry. And if people think that’s going to be solved by sitting here and throwing rocks, they’re wrong.”

   The NFL has reacted enthusiastically to the proposal, said Leiweke, who called the project the largest private investment in a stadium in league history..........................

Tuesday
Feb082011

SACRAMENTO: Eliminating redevelopment agencies, Legislative Analyst's Office report, criticism; Citizens Redistricting Commission, green light from U.S. Dept. of Justice; Jerry Brown, budget plan pitched to Obama administration....

***Several items this afternoon from the Sacramento Bee.....

"Legislative Analyst's Office ramps up redevelopment critique" - From the Bee:

   The Legislature's budget analyst ramped up its criticism of local redevelopment agencies Tuesday, giving Gov. Jerry Brown new ammunition for his battle to eliminate the agencies and redirect their property taxes to other state and local services.

   In a report to the Legislature in advance of Wednesday's Senate committee hearing on the issue, the Legislative Analyst's Office  reiterates its contention that there's no evidence that redevelopment activity significantly improves the state's overall economy. But it also takes direct aim at the California Redevelopment Association's contention that eliminating them would wipe out more than 300,000 jobs.

   ****

   The full LAO report can be found here.

"Redistricting panel gets green light on congressional districts" - From the Bee:

   The U.S. Department of Justice has given the green light for California to allow the newly created Citizens Redistricting Commission to shape the state's congressional district lines. The decennial task of redrawing the map for state legislative and Board of Equalization districts was shifted from the Legislature to the 14-member panel by a successful 2008 ballot measure. Proposition 20, which was approved last November, added congressional districts to the commission's workload.

   The Voting Rights Act requires Department of Justice preclearance for certain changes to election laws or processes, including redistricting, in designated areas. Four California counties are subject to preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act................

"Jerry Brown pitches budget plan to Obama administration" - From the Bee:

   Gov. Jerry Brown asked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this morning for waivers to let the state shift responsibility for some state programs to local agencies, a major component of Brown's budget plan. Brown said Sebelius, who was in Sacramento today, was "receptive, but it isn't worked out yet." The request involves about $3.8 billion in cuts to Medi-Cal and other programs, officials said.

   Brown, speaking to reporters after meeting with Senate Democrats this afternoon, said, "I met with the secretary of health and human services this morning and asked her for waivers so that we can implement some of our realignment programs without the federal government getting in the way, or blocking them."

   The matter came up when Brown was asked about expectations that the Obama administration will propose a moratorium through 2012 on state interest payments on unemployment insurance debt...............

Tuesday
Feb082011

AFTERNOON MEMOS: Jane Harman seat, conservative Republican publisher considering candidacy; Sacramento, Democrats divided over whether to reveal extent of possible budget cuts; Keith Olbermann headed to public affairs channel launched by former VP Al Gore.... 

***Conservative South Bay area publisher says he has been receiving encouragement to run for the Jane Harman seat and that he is considering doing so. No consensus among Democrats in Sacramento as to how much info/how much detail to provide to the public regarding possible budget cuts in the event Jerry Brown's plan for tax measure extensions is not approved. Ex-MSNBC host Keith Olbermann has a new job; he is going to Current TV, the public affairs channel launched by former VP Al Gore....

* Sacramento Bee:  "Consservative publisher considering CD 36 run" - From the Bee:

   A publisher of conservative election guides is considering entering the fray in the 36th Congressional District. Republican Craig Huey several websites, newsletters and forums that aim to "help Evangelical Christians vote their values," including ElectionsForums.org and JudgeVoterGuide.org.

   Huey said local party leaders and Tea Party groups have approached him about running for the seat being vacated by Democratic Rep. Jane Harman, who plans to step down to lead the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. "I'm talking to some people right now and getting a lot of encouragement to (run)," he said this morning.

   ****

   Democrats have an 18-point registration advantage in the coastal Los Angeles County district, but Huey said the dynamics of the new top two primary system could work in his favor. "The fact is, there's a lot of unknowns in this unique special election," he said, noting that the current redistricting process could also render the district more conservative in the next cycle.................

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "Dem lawmakers at odds over detailing possible cuts" - From the Chronicle:

   Democrats are divided over whether to reveal to the public exactly what might be cut from the state budget if voters do not approve tax increases and extensions to help close California's $25.4 billion deficit.

   Gov. Jerry Brown has challenged Republicans in the Legislature to put taxes on the ballot in an attempt to stave off what he says will be deeper budget cuts. But Brown so far has refused to tell people exactly what they would be deciding. He has said he does not want to appear to be threatening voters. The state Senate has requested that the Legislative Analyst's Office prepare a list of possible cuts, but members of the Assembly have avoided the subject.

   ****

   At a recent meeting with reporters, Brown put the onus on Republicans to come up with a proposal for additional cuts if they object to putting taxes on the ballot. But in response to a question about whether he would reveal his own plan for a budget without the taxes, he said that "it's so horrible" that he did not want to release it...............................

* San Francisco Chronicle (AP):  "Ex-MSNBC host Keith Olbermann heads to Current TV" - From the Chronicle:

   Less than a month after leaving MSNBC, liberal lightning rod Keith Olbermann said Tuesday he's headed to Current TV, the public affairs channel launched six years ago by former Vice Presidenet Al Gore.  Olbermann will start this spring with a prime-time talk show on Current. He was also named chief news officer at Current, which is available in 60 million homes in the U.S., a little more than half the nation's homes with television. Financial terms were not divulged, although Current said Olbermann will get an equity stake in the company.

   Olbermann's hiring was the biggest moment in the history of Current, which began as a network geared primarily toward young people featuring viewer-generated short videos and is now evolving into a more traditional network. Its showcase is the investigative documentary series "Vanguard."

   ****

   Current said that as chief news officer, Olbermann would "provide editorial guidance for all of our political news, commentary and current events programming." That's a switch for a network that has always stressed its independence from the politics of a former Democratic vice president. At his new network, Olbermann won't be barred from making political donations, as long as he publicly discloses them, Gore said.