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POLITICS: Brown-Whitman debate tomorrow night, challenges for each of the candidates; also, "a study in contrasts"....  

* San Francisco Chronicle looks at what viewers/voters might expect in tomorrow night's first televised gubernatorial debate between Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman.  From the Chronicle:

   Republican Meg Whitman, backed by an army of veteran campaign strategists, sticks relentlessly to script. Democrat Jerry Brown flies solo and speaks off-the-cuff - sometimes to his detriment.

   California's two very different gubernatorial candidates, who've been sniping at each other for months on the airwaves, will finally meet face to face Tuesday in their first televised debate. The high-stakes event, which poses plenty of challenges for both, could break their campaign deadlock, while helping the nearly 1 in 5 California voters who have yet to decide choose a candidate.

* And a piece by Sacramento Bee senior editor Dan Morain on the contrasts between Brown and Whitman.  From the Bee:

   They couldn't be more different, these two politicians who aspire to lead this tarnished Golden State.

   Jerry Brown, the one-time boy governor, makes clear that at age 72, having spent four decades in the public eye, he knows the location of all the levers of power but understands that politics is all about "relationships." Meg Whitman, 52, who built a fortune by transforming an online flea market into a global marketplace, is a steely-eyed businesswoman who pledges to focus on what it takes to remake California into her vision of a functioning state.

***Morain presents an analysis/overview of the editorial board visits to the paper last week by the two candidates, including what they said, how they differed, etc....


LATINO VOTERS: Favoring Democrats, turnout viewed as key element in November elections....

* From the Los Angeles Times:  "Latino voters in California still reluctant to embrace GOP candidates, poll shows" - LAT says their LAT/USC poll shows that registered voters who identified themselves as Latino backed Jerry Brown by a 19-point margn over Meg Whitman and that Barbara Boxer held a 38-point lead over Carly Fiorina within the same group. The poll also found that Latinos were also propping up President Obama's standing in the state: Among white voters, 52% approved how Obama was handling his job; among Latino voters, 64% approved.

* From the Daily News:  "Increasingly disillusioned voters have party leaders worried about critical races" -- DN reporter Tony Castro begins:

   Affter their ranks surged to an all-time high in 2008, more and more Latino voters are growing disillusioned about the lack of immigration reform, according to polls and analysts - and some Democratic leaders fear that could lower their turnout and cost their party the gubernatorial and senate races in California. While Democrats are still interested in registering new Latino voters, a main focus this campaign season will be getting the Latinos who are already registered to show up at the polls.



L.A. CITY HALL: Possible measures for March ballot....

* Los Angeles Times reports on several measures that are being proposed for possible inclusion the March 2011 municipal ballot, including:

-- Proposals by Councilman Jose Huizar that would (a) allow municipal elections to be conducted almost entirely by mail; (b) increase the amount of taxpayer funding for city candidates; (c) change city elections to a system of "instant runoff voting," which would allow voters to rank their top three candidates in order of preference.

-- A proposal by L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti that would bar bidders on city contracts from giving campaign contributions to candidates.


POLITICS: "No endorsement in U.S. Senate race" ***[Updated] 

* It is definitely not a typical situation when a major newspaper in a large U.S. city deliberately chooses not to make an endorsement in a key statewide election contestSan Francisco Chronicle editorial today, however, states that that is what the paper is doing with regard to the U.S. Senate seat on the November ballot. The stated reason for the editorial board's decision is that they believe neither Boxer nor Fiorina merits such an endorsement.  From the Chronicle:

   Californians are left with a deeply unsatisfying choice for the U.S. Senate this year. The incumbent, Democrat Barbara Boxer, has failed to distinguish herself during her 18 years in office. There is no reason to believe that another six-year term would bring anything but more of the same uninspired representation. The challenger, Republican Carly Fiorina, has campaigned with a vigor and directness that suggests she could be effective in Washington - but for an agenda that would undermine this nation's need to move forward on addressing serious issues such as climate change, health care and immigration.

   It is extremely rare that this editorial page would offer no recommendation on any race, particularly one of this importance. This is one necessary exception.


   It is a dismal choice between an ineffective advocate for causes we generally support and a potentially strong advocate for positions we oppose. Neither merits our endorsement for the U.S. Senate.

***Updated:  Just heard report about this on CNN, with the thrust of the commentary focusing on the unusual nature of the situation at hand.....


TRANSPORTATION, HIGHWAY REPAIRS: California lagging behind in starting stimulus-funded highway repair projects....

* Sacramento Bee reports that California has been slower than many other states in putting stimulus funds for highway repairs to work, along with an explanation for some of the delay. From the Bee:

   Federal stimulus money to fix America's highways is stuck in the slow lane in some states, including a few that are suffering from some of the nation's highest unemployment rates. In California, for example, where the 12.4 percent unemployment rate is the third worst in the country, officials are rolling their highway money out far more gradually. As a result, the Golden State is far behind other states in the percentage of projects it's started.

   More than a year and a half after Congress passed a massive plan to stimulate the economy and get Americans working, California has yet to start 41 percent of its highway projects, according to a McClatchy analysis of the most recent federal data.


   Among the reasons for the delays in California: More levels of government were involved in the process.

   According to the GAO, California law calls for a high percentage of projects to be administered by local governments, which meant more local reviews and public comment periods. The state also undertook a number of large projects that, whatever their long-term benefits, couldn't be started quickly, the GAO said in a more recent report released on Sept. 20. "No other state comes close to having this number of locally controlled projects," said Mark DeSio, a spokesman for the California Department of Transportation. He said local agencies need six months to begin construction on a project, due to the approval processes of local governing boards or commissions as well as federal requirements for obtaining qualified contractors.