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Monday
Sep192011

MORNING MEMOS: State Sen. Ed Hernandez, chair of Health Committee, issues regarding possible conflict of interest; Rep. Elton Gallegly, questions, redistricting; commentary, writing of California tax legislation, "not a pretty sight"; So. Calif. grocery workers, talk continue in hopes of avoiding strike....

***Various items this morning, from across the spectrum of business and politics....

* Daily News:  "Supermarket and union reps still meeting in hopes of avoiding strike"

* Los Angeles Times:  "State Senate health chairman doing business with Kaiser" - "A firm owned by Sen. Ed Hernandez, who derailed legislation opposed by the nonprofit health group, leases office space to Kaiser Permanente. An advocacy group seeks his ouster from the chairmanship."

* Sacramento Bee (Dan Morain):  "Don't look too closely at tax bills"

* Ventura County Star:  "What will Elton Gallegy do? He isn't saying" - "Will he run, or won't he? Republicans want to know"

 

Monday
Sep192011

L.A. CITY HALL: Fallout from Kinde Durkee scandal, impact "close to home", local candidates; Felipe Fuentes, city council candidacy; Alex Padilla, Andrea Alarcon, etc...

* Daily News (Rick Orlov):  "Accounting scandal hits close to home"

***Rick Orlov column today touches on a number of people, issues:  Local politicians impacted by the Kinde Durkee accounting scandal.  Felipe Fuentes takes out papers to begin fundraising for Council District 7 seat. Possibility of Alex Padilla candidacy for L.A. County Board of Supervisors seat to be vacated by Zev Yaroslavsky.  Andrea Alarcon candidacy for L.A. City Council....

Monday
Sep192011

POLITICS (Bay Area): Analysis, San Francisco mayor's race, growing Asian American political clout....

***Interesting analysis/commentary, front page in today's San Francisco Chronicle....

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "Asian American SF political clout grows" - From the Chronicle:

   It's no surprise that David Chiu, Ed Lee and Leland Yee are pushing their campaigns for mayor in the city's Asian neighborhoods. But it's the Chinese-language literature put out by Tony Hall, Joanna Rees and virtually every other candidate for San Francisco's top job that highlights the growing political clout of the city's Asian American community.

   "For decades, Chinatown was an ATM for local politicians, a place where they could go and get campaign money," said David Lee, executive director of the Chinese American Voters Education Committee, which works to boost Asian American voter registration. "Now the politicians are coming into our community seeking our votes, not just our cash."

   Politics is a numbers game, and the demographic power of Asian Americans is an important measure of their political strength. Asian Americans, who, in census terms, include Pacific Islanders and South Asians, now make up a third of San Francisco's population and about 18 percent of its registered voters. And those numbers are growing.

   Yee, a state senator, has watched as the city's Asian American community has both grown and become more politically savvy. "When I first ran for the Board of Education (in 1988), it was said that you could get money in the Chinese community, but you had to get the votes outside that community," Yee said. "Now if you come to get the money, you need to do more than stand up for a picture. You have to articulate an agenda."

   ****

   Members of the fast-growing Asian American community have become increasingly visible on the city's political scene. Four members of the Board of Supervisors, including Chiu, are of Asian or Pacific Islander background, as are four school board members, two community college trustees and two other candidates for mayor, Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting and Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who is of Japanese heritage.

   But City Administrator Ed Lee's taking over as mayor after Gavin Newsom moved to Sacramento as lieutenant governor in January galvanized Asian Americans' attention to city politics. And with Lee and four other well-known Asian American politicians vying for the mayor's office, the interest is growing. "There's a huge amount of excitement in the community," said David Lee, who also teaches political science at San Francisco State University. "Not only do the candidates look like them, but they care for the culture."

   That's a big change for a community that for years existed in a political vacuum. While Chinatown was, in David Lee's words, "the very definition of a ghetto before 1940," even in the '40s and '50s it was a neighborhood happy to live apart from the rest of the city, ignored, but not bothered by political leaders................................

Monday
Sep192011

POLITICS/TRANSPORTATION: California high-speed rail project, lawsuits from cities and opposition groups....

***Front page piece in today's San Francisco Chronicle....

* San Francisco Chronicle (California Watch):  "High-speed rail: Lawsuits could derail, kill plans" - From the Chronicle:

   Even if state officials can scrape together the billions of dollars needed to fund California's ambitious high-speed rail plans, lawsuits from cities and opposition groups could delay, divert or derail the project.

   In the Bay Area, cities and nonprofits are suing over issues with the route and environmental studies. In Southern California, the city of Palmdale (Los Angeles County) has gone to court over fears that rail officials will abandon a planned Antelope Valley line through the city and reroute the tracks up Interstate 5 instead.

   Perhaps the hardest-fought battle is yet to come in the Central Valley, where Kings County officials and residents say they'll do everything in their power to stop a 100-mile stretch of track from wiping out thousands of acres of prime farmland between Fresno and Bakersfield.

   The biggest obstacle facing the beleaguered bullet train is probably its uncertain financial future. But lengthy court battles also could affect the project by delaying construction, increasing costs and altering the course the train takes through the state. According to estimates by the California High-Speed Rail Authority, rerouting the high-speed line to satisfy stakeholders could add hundreds of millions, even billions, of dollars to the final price tag.

   At the moment, ground zero for opposition to the project is Kings County. It's a crucial region for the project because federal requirements attached to almost $3.5 billion in stimulus cash dictate construction must begin in the valley. If rail officials are unable to spend those funds by September 2017, the federal government could divert them elsewhere.

   ****

   At the heart of the county's frustrations is the rail authority's refusal to consider running the high-speed trains along the Highway 99 corridor..........................  

Sunday
Sep182011

L.A. CITY HALL: No more red-light camera enforcement, so attention now being turned to adjusting/increasing yellow-light times....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Los Angeles ponders extending yellow-light times" - "Now that the city's red-light camera program has been axed, attention turns to manipulating light times to improve safety." - From the LAT:

   In the wake of Los Angeles' decision to kill its controversial red-light camera traffic enforcement program, new City Hall attention is being focused on the potential safety benefits of extending the length of yellow lights and other signal times at busy intersections. Some studies indicate that simple, low-cost changes to signal durations can significantly reduce accidents.

    City Councilman Bill Rosendahl last week proposed studying the effects of increasing yellow light times at 32 intersections where cameras used to automatically photograph and ticket drivers entering against a red. In addition, he wants to review a so-called all-stop option, a practice already in place in which signals turn red in every direction before permitting any traffic to pass.

    The idea caught on with some council members during this summer's debates over the red-light cameras and after reports that smaller cities, such as Loma Linda, had positive results after they ditched their cameras and changed yellow-light times. Another benefit is that changing signal times can be done at relatively low cost and without the drama attached to enforcing costly fines for less serious right-turn violations.

    ****

    But city Transportation Department officials pushed back, saying that they had already optimized signal timing at those 32 intersections, and the proposal was held. Now, Rosendahl wants to continue talking about how to better manage signals but also wants the Transportation Department to take an "objective look" at L.A.'s busiest intersections, measured by both traffic and pedestrian flow....................