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SACRAMENTO: "Candidates fiddle while the state burns" - "Amid California crisis, a campaign focused on a housekeeper and a slur"...

* Cathleen Decker column, Los Angeles Times:  "Candidates fiddle while the state burns" - " Brown, Whitman, Fiorina and Boxer have one thing in common.  They are not dealing with crucial issues" - From the LAT:

   These are the times that try voters' souls. Just when millions of Californians began tuning in to the upcoming elections, the candidates running for office appeared last week to have wandered onto a different planet, where they speak in tongues and reality is situational.

   As the Legislature and Arnold Schwarzenegger came to terms on a budget that will dump pain into his successor's lap, little was heard about it from either candidate for governor. They were talking, through aides and statements, about illegal immigrant housekeepers and insulting language, not the state's feeble state. And the candidates running for the U.S. Senate were not much different.

***LAT also has a separate commentary and reference to Decker's column: "Amid California crisis, a campaign focused on a housekeeper and a slur" - From this commentary:

    "Back on the planet where the rest of California resides, the Legislature on Friday approved a budget a mere 100 days into the state's fiscal year. The lawmakers closed a $19-billion deficit with rosy assumptions of revenue, thus-far-nonexistent federal funds, accounting maneuvers and borrowing that will push debt onto the next governor," Decker writes. "Neither of the candidates who could be the next governor commented specifically about the deal, in keeping with a campaign spent avoiding such things."


POLITICS (NATIONAL): Large fundraising advantage for Republicans -- but some Democrats may be able to hold on against Republican wave....

***Two items on next month's elections, one from the Washington Post, the other from the Los Angeles Times....

* Washington Post:  "With large fundraising advantage, Republicans expand the number of targeted races" - From the WP:

   The Republican Party and its allies are using a clear financial advantage to pursue a rare opportunity this year, spreading resources across an unusually large number of races, including many considered safe for Democrats just weeks ago. The conservative push further endangers Democratic control of the House and Senate in a political environment already highly favorable for the GOP.

   Rather than pursuing the usual political strategy of focusing on close races, Republicans and conservative groups have spent money on longshots as well - testing to see whether a nudge can make a sleepy race competitive. The GOP strategy, enabled by millions of dollars raised and distributed by interest groups, has opened up contests weeks before the Nov. 2 midterm elections and forced the Democrats to ratchet up their defensive spending in many districts.

* Los Angeles Times (bylined out of Bismarck, N.D.):  "Some Democrats may hold ground against Republican wave" - "In conservative districts around the U.S., Democratic incumbents are fighting back and beginning to reverse declining poll numbers. Their efforts could blunt the predicted GOP gains next month." -  From the LAT:

   Here, as well as in other pockets of America, House Democrats in conservative-leaning districts have dug in, fought back and begun to reverse declining poll numbers and poor favorability ratings, developing what they believe are winning messages in a hostile political environment. Their cumulative efforts could blunt some of the predicted GOP gains next month, Democrats hope, showing that even a powerful wave can run up against break walls. Like better-known Democratic Senate counterparts who are mounting comebacks or are ahead of their GOP rivals in California, Connecticut and elsewhere, some House Democrats are cutting across the election-year grain.

   "They've been able to get voters to focus on their own record, on how they're different from the national party," said Nathan Gonzales, an analyst for the Rothenberg Political Report. "They've been able to localize their races where they still have a fighting chance in November. They've managed to hold off the Republican wave to this point."  


POLITICS: Los Angeles Times, Gavin Newsom endorsement; Jerry Brown campaign tape continues to make waves; governor signs budget, vetoes almost $1 billion

* "Newsom for lieutenant governor" - Los Angeles Times today endorses Gavin Newsom for lieutenant governor. The primary reasoning behind this is that the LAT believes Newsom is better qualified, most prepared to be governor if the need arises.  From the LAT:

   Not since Goodwin J. Knight succeeded to the governorship in 1953, after Earl Warren resigned to become chief justice, has a California lieutenant governor moved up in the middle of a term. Not since Gray Davis  was elected governor in 1998 has a California lieutenant governor even been voted into the top office. Other than Knight and Davis, only two other lieutenant governors in the last century have become governor. Yet the role of governor-in-waiting overshadows all the other tasks that Californians have given their lieutenant governors to keep them busy. A person well suited to sit on the UC Board of Regents or the Workforce Investment Board is not necessarily the best suited to step in as governor should the need arise. In selecting their next lieutenant governor, voters should ask themselves which candidate would make the best governor.

   In our view, the clear answer is San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

* Sacramento Bee:  "Which Brown staffer used the Whitman slur?  What's the fallout?" - From the Bee:

   This much is clear: Someone in Jerry Brown's  inner campaign circle suggested GOP rival Meg Whitman is a "whore." The list of things less clear is longer a day after a recording of the slur hit the Internet and rocked the governor's race. 

   Who made the comment that was picked up on a police union official's answering machine? And will the fallout over the controversy boost Whitman's case against Brown? Brown spokesman Sterling Clifford said Friday that the Democratic candidate didn't use the slur, but Clifford added that he didn't know who did. Meanwhile, the Whitman campaign said Friday that only Brown's staff had acted inappropriately by throwing the slur around. A day before, the campaign had suggested that Brown himself may have used the word.

   The political damage of the slur scandal remains to be seen, but the greatest risk clearly lies with female voters, whom polls show Whitman has courted with more success than other Republicans have in the past.

***And an additional piece of (new?) information in the Bee piece appears to be that the person making the remark is a woman....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Democrats urge Brown to apologize over remark about Whitman" - From the LAT:

   Democratic allies of Jerry Brown said Friday that he should offer a direct apology for someone in his campaign calling Republican rival Meg Whitman a "whore" in a discussion of whether to create an ad alleging that she had protected law enforcement pensions in order to win police endorsements in the race for governor.

    "It's inappropriate; it's just wrong," said Stephanie Schriock, the leader of EMILY'S List, a Democratic group dedicated to electing pro-choice women, on C-SPAN's "Newsmakers." Such words "just shouldn't be used anywhere by anyone, period. It is just not what our democracy is about. It's unfortunate to hear it in any place."

* Sacramento Bee:  "Marathon session, Schwarzenegger's vetoes end California's record budget standoff" - From the Bee:

   Signed, sealed and delivered. California's record-long budget impasse ended in a whirlwind Friday that included an all-night legislative session followed by nearly $1 billion in line-item vetoes by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. The $86.6 billion spending plan is no cure-all. California faces the prospect of massive red ink again next year. For now, however, the nightmare is over.

* Los Angeles Times:  "Governor's veto ax falls heavily on welfare, child care and special education programs" - "Schwarzenegger vetoes nearly $1 billion for social programs before signing the budget bill lawmakers had passed about eight hours earlier.  Advocates for the poor say the cuts are too steep." - From the LAT:

   Gov. Arnold Schwarzengger on Friday vetoed nearly $1 billion in spending on welfare, child care, special education and other programs before signing the budget bill that lawmakers had passed about eight hours earlier after a marathon overnight session. The governor slashed 23 line items from the $87.5-billion general fund budget, including $256 million from a program for school-age children of families moving off welfare, $133 million from mental health services for special education students and nearly $60 million from AIDS treatment and prevention programs.

    Schwarzenegger did not explain his actions, but a report issued by his finance department said the savings from his vetoes would "create a prudent reserve for economic uncertainties." The state's reserve for emergencies such as battling wildfires will grow from $375 million to $1.3 billion, the report said.

   Advocates for the poor said the governor's cuts were too deep, especially after a months-long standoff had produced a compromise spending plan that largely spared health and welfare programs from the ax.


MORNING MEMOS: LAX runways, another option to be studied; pension reform; LAUSD Supt. Ramon Cortines offers his earlier resignation, later persuaded to stay on...

* A few miscellaneous local items this morning...

* Daily Breeze:  "LAX adds moving north runway closer to terminals to list of options" - From the DB:

   Rather than moving Los Angeles International Airport's northernmost runway closer to Westchester and Playa del Rey, some residents are supporting a proposal to shift the inboard runway about 100 feet toward airline terminals. The idea was added this week to an ongoing study that will determine how far to separate LAX's northern runways to improve safety and accessibility for jetliners landing and taking off from the nation's third-busiest airport.

* Daily News:  "Council demands city pension reform" - Following up on yesterday's announcement that Sally Choi, general manager of the Los Angeles City Employees' Retirement System, will be leaving City Hall at the end of next week, Daily News report today discusses a series of changes proposed by L.A. City Council Pres. Eric Garcetti to the city's retirement system.  From the DN:

   Faced with spiraling costs for city pensions, City Council President Eric Garcetti on Friday proposed a series of changes to the retirement system for civilian employees. "City Hall must fundamentally reform the way it does business and reforming the pension system is a key component to that," Garcetti said. "The status quo is unacceptable." His proposal would raise the retirement age to 60, from 55 currently, calculate pensions based on a three-year average of the employee's salary rather than the single highest year of earnings; and prohibit double-dipping, where an employee can draw a pension while working a city job.

   Also, Garcetti asked for a study on reducing the annual increase in pension payments and requiring workers to contribute 2 percent of their salary for retirement health benefits. Garcetti said he wants to see a report within two weeks on the steps needed to implement the reforms.

* Daily News:  "Ramon Cortines offers resignation, then changes mind" - From the DN:

   Upset over a policy disagreement with the school board, Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Ramon Cortines offered his resignation Friday, only to later be persuaded to stay on, according to several district officials. Cortines, 78, had already planned to retire in spring, but sent an email around noon Friday to board members saying he would resign in December, according to several officials who saw the email.

   "There was a letter, there was a misunderstanding, a lot of conversation and resolution but there is no resignation," said Monica Garcia, LAUSD board president. "I'm completely confident...we are going to stay focused on the work. Kids are counting on us."

   Cortines was frustrated with the school board over a resolution members planned to introduce next week to overrule a plan he had to eliminate school plant managers. The plan would have reduced the number of plant managers – who oversee maintenance and facilities issues at schools – to deal with the severe budget cuts that have caused the shortening of the school year and increases in class sizes.


POLITICS: Jerry Brown campaign response regarding comment heard on tape.....

* Sacramento Bee:  "Jerry Brown campaign:  Candidate didn't make 'whore' comment" - From the Bee:

   The campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown said this morning that the Democratic candidate did not suggest calling Republican rival Meg Whitmana "whore" on a voicemail recording to the Los Angeles Police Protective League that was made public last night. Brown spokesman Sterling Clifford, however, said he didn't know who used the word in the recording. "Obviously, it's not the kind of thing people should say, and we've apologized for it," Clifford said. "It wasn't Jerry."

   Brown campaign manager Steve Glazer did not address the issue of who said the word in an apologetic statement released last night.

***And, for anyone who is so inclined, here is Bee link to audio of the voicemail message....

*****And, I see that the San Francisco Chronicle also has a PoliticsBlog item on this:  "Brown and Whitman both could get burned by 'whore' pension comment".  An interesting discussion here, definitely worth reading.....