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Monday
Sep132010

SACRAMENTO: Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado busy as acting governor; death of SB 722, legislation to increase California's use of renewable energy.... ***[UPDATED]

A couple items from the Sacramento Bee....

* With Governor Schwarzenegger away on a trade mission to Asia, Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado has been a busy man, not just with the ceremonial signing of bills but the explosion and horrible situation in San Brunco also proved to an opportunity for him to be a key spokesperson for the state of California.  Sacramento Bee says that, according to a statement from Maldsonado's office,  neither Maldonado nor his staff have "slept a wink."

  Being governor of California  is a lot of work, especially when you step into the job as an emergency erupts. Just ask Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, who's serving as acting governor while Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is out of the country this week.

   ****

     "He nor his staff have slept a wink.This situation is his top priority," the statement reads, noting that he signed legislation to send federal funds to schools from a car on the site "instead of at the large ceremony that was planned for him."

* Dan Walters discusses the death of SB 722, a complex measure to increase California's use of renewal energy, in the final hours of the legislative session that ended last week.  From Walters' column in the Bee:

   The most conspicuous casualty on the chaotic final day of the 2009-10 legislative session last month was an extremely complex measure to increase California's ise use of so-called "renewable" electric power and reduce its greenhouse-gas emissions. 

  Many months in the making, a final version of Senate Bill 722 emerged from the cloisters of the Assembly, where it had been secretly massaged by a few insiders, just hours before the midnight deadline for action. The bill, nominally carried by Democratic Sen. Joe Simitian of Palo Alto, didn't make it off the Assembly floor until a few minutes before midnight.  It was still floating in the Senate's ehter when the clock struck 12. 

Walters then discusses:  "what happened?" and "what happens now?"

***UPDATED:  I see that the Los Angeles Times also has a report on the busy last few days of Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado.  From the LAT:

   No one would have wished for such an opportunity, but one certainly came Abel Maldonado's way last week when a PG&E gas line blew up in San Bruno, taking with it dozens of homes and, most horribly, several lives. By a quirk of timing, Maldonado was, when the blast occurred Thursday evening, the state's highest ranking official. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who appointed Maldonado to the job of lieutenant governor last fall, was en route to Asia as the fires raged. The unelected Maldonado was, thus, acting governor.

   So it fell to Maldonado to officially declare a state of emergency Thursday night. And it fell to Maldonado to explain things Friday at press conferences and in interviews. There he was on CNN, at 3 a.m. local time, answering to the title "Governor" and chatting on a first-name basis with the hosts. And hours later, he was front and center at the command post, declaring to a local, state and national audience what officialdom knew as the skies lightened and the awful search for more victims was renewed.

   It brought to mind two truths for this unpredictable season. First, for all the planning that can go into political campaigns like the one Maldonado is currently embroiled in, fate sometimes plays an outsized role. Second, San Bruno is a reminder of California's love-hate relationship with government. Even with all the demands that government downsize itself, Californians in a crunch expect government employees to come to their rescue, be they firefighters or emergency organizers or the bureaucrats who will make sure the money is there to clear the wreckage. Or the acting governor.

Sunday
Sep122010

LAX CONCESSIONS: "Extra helpings of conflicts at City Hall"

* I see that Rick Orlov in his weekly Daily News column picks up the LAX concessions battle.  From the DN:

   One local newspaper has dubbed it the $600 million food fight.

   While that might be a bit overblown, the bidding for $600 million in food and retail concession contracts at Los Angeles International Airport clearly has become one of the most confusing and conflict-entangled issues to emerge in recent years.

   City Attorney Carmen Trutanich has said that conflicts of interest by two of the bidders - HMS Host and SSP America - could be so extensive that both firms could end up with contracts to operate the concessions that could be invalidated by the courts. "We want to get this right," Trutanich said. "These are 25-year contracts and we want to do it right."

********

And, switching topics altogether, Orlov says that, although the mayor's nomination this past week of Robin Kramer to the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners has wide support within City Hall, "there are growing rumbles that she could be in for some tough questioning", particularly in terms of discontent within the San Pedro area, where several local residents who had been seeking the position were recommended to the mayor.  And that, because of this unhappiness within the San Pedro community, lCouncilwoman Janice Hahn said she is not sure how she will vote on the nomination when it comes before the City Council.

 

Saturday
Sep112010

FORMER TEMPLE CITY MAYOR SENTENCED TO 16 MONTHS IN PRISON IN CORRUPTION CASE....

* A local government official has been sentenced to prison in connection with a corruption case against her....

As noted here previously, former Temple City Mayor Judy Wong was scheduled to appear for sentencing yesterday in connection with her plea earlier this year to 10 counts of bribery, perjury and solicitation to commit bribery.  Los Angeles Times reports that Wong was sentenced to 16 months in state prison after pleading no contest to charges that she solicited and received $13,100 in bribes for her support of a $75-million mall project and that she was also ordered to pay $16,700 in restitution to the developer and more than $16,000 in fines.

Saturday
Sep112010

L.A.'s 30/10 PLAN: What it does, how it would work, benefits to the local economy, what is needed to make it happen....

* Spotted what I thought to be an interesting and information column in the Downtown News regarding the 30/10 plan being advocated by the mayor and local transit officials and am inclined to think this might be helpful to folks who have not been following the various elements or the various factors involved.  Excerpt from the DTN as to funding, politics, policy -- and why the plan is important for Los Angeles:

   Building the 12 transit projects — including the approximately $1.4 billion Downtown Regional Connector and the $4.2 billion rail extension known as the subway to the sea — in a decade would cost $14 billion, according to Metro (the price would be $17.5 billion over 30 years). The pothole is that in that same 10-year period, Measure R will only generate $6 billion for those specific efforts (though another $4 billion in Measure R funds is slated to come in during that time for other projects). Thus, to make 30/10 work, Metro needs help coming up with the balance.

   Broken down to the simplest level, Metro would sell bonds to raise $6 billion and ask the federal government to fund about $2 billion in interest payments. It would also seek an approximately $2.5 billion loan and try to access money from the Federal Transit Administration’s New Starts funds, specifically for the Regional Connector and subway to the sea.

   Making this happen requires new legislation in Washington. For Villaraigosa to get anywhere, he needs help and leadership from people far more powerful than he. Fortunately, he already has some strong relationships, with Barbara Boxer leading the 30/10 charge on the Senate side and Jane Harman pushing the effort in the House of Representatives. President Barack Obama’s announcement last week of a nationwide infrastructure bank is good news for this effort, though nothing is assured with the November election approaching and the polarized Democrat-Republican relationship in Washington.

   There are three main reasons why this is crucial for Los Angeles: 1) the dozen construction projects would generate 165,000 jobs, a necessity given the region’s high unemployment rate (that also has organized labor on board with 30/10); 2) the combination of rail and bus lines opening in 10 years would help ease transportation snarls and possibly give people the option they need to get out of their cars; and 3) the Measure R funds provide a guaranteed revenue stream that protects the federal government, and by extension, the American taxpayers.

***Also, DTN notes the importance of 30/10 to Antonio Villaraigosa and his legacy as mayor of Los Angeles....
Saturday
Sep112010

PROPOSITION 22: Should the state be banned from taking or borrowing funds from local government and redevelopment agencies?

* With most public and media attention focused on top-of-the-ticket candidates races, it is perhaps almost  inevitable that several ballot measures have generated scant or little public interest.  In this regard, I see that the Sacramento Bee has a very good explanation regarding Proposition 22, including the history behind the measure, what it does, who is supporting it, who is opposing it, where the funding is coming from in support or opposition.  Excerpt from the Bee, in terms of background and history:

   For nearly two decades, the state at various times has turned to cities, counties, special districts and redevelopment agencies for money to help bridge state budget gaps. Largely, the effort has involved "shifting" property tax funds from local governments to school districts, thereby reducing the state's obligation to use state funds to meet the minimum school funding level under Proposition 98, State officials also have taken aim at transportation funds, using gasoline tax money to pay for state transportation bonds, for instance, instead of sending the money to local agencies.

   These practices have been the subject of lawsuits, and the state's approach has been altered at various times by ballot measures pushed by local government interests.

   In 2004, voters required the Legislature to repay property tax money taken from local government, within three years. In 2006, gasoline taxes were restricted.

   The debate comes down to public money and who should spend it:  local governments or state government?