Index
Sunday
Oct062013

POLITICS: Report/analysis, California Strategies, lobbying or public affairs?: "California Strategies walks fine line between lobbying and public affairs"....

* Sacramento Bee:  "California Strategies walks fine line between lobbying and public affairs" - From the Bee:

Devon Ford, an associate in the influential public affairs firm California Strategies, sounded enthusiastic about an event his company was hosting at the Auto Club Speedway, a Southern California racetrack in Fontana that is one of its clients. The excursion was billed as an educational opportunity for legislators and their staff to learn about what he called “the excitement of IndyCar racing,” and included a tour of the garage, face time with Speedway’s president and dinner in the private skybox during the race.

But because the firm was inviting government officials, Ford issued a warning in an email to colleagues. “Our legal counsel reminds us that registered state lobbyists are prohibited from ‘arranging’ for the giving of a gift to a public official,” Ford wrote in a September 2012 email obtained by The Sacramento Bee. “If you are a registered state lobbyist and would like to recommend a specific public official receive an invitation from California Strategies to attend this event, please make your recommendation to me as soon as possible.”

In other words: The firm’s lobbyists, who operate under strict disclosure rules and are prohibited from giving politicians gifts worth more than $10, couldn’t legally invite government officials to the race. But they could make sure key politicians were invited by having their non-lobbyist colleagues make the invitation.

A California Strategies spokesman said the language on the invitation had been vetted by legal counsel and was deemed appropriate. The speedway events were not mentioned in the final settlement that California’s Fair Political Practices Commission reached last month with the firm. But it was a similar incident that led the state’s political watchdog agency to audit California Strategies, said enforcement chief Gary Winuk.

“It made us think about how a firm that both lobbies and does governmental strategies could be giving gifts over the lobbying limit to legislators,” he said. “It’s very tempting to use your non-lobbyists, when you’re so close, to do the things lobbyists can’t. The potential for skirting the rules is the reason we pursued the case so aggressively.”

California Strategies is not the only firm in Sacramento that offers clients a variety of services requiring a careful dance along the line that separates lobbying from less regulated forms of advocacy. But it has been a target of competitors who say the firm’s approach creates an uneven playing field.......................

***ALSO, Related:

* Sacramento Bee:  "Two California Strategies partners fined by the FPPC owe back taxes"

Sunday
Oct062013

POLITICS (State, National): Gov. Jerry Brown signature, AB 4 - "Trust Act", limits on detention of undocumented arrestees, various reports: "Gov. Brown signs law to limit immigrant detentions"....

***Various reports, Governor Jerry Brown signature of Trust Act.....

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "Gov. Brown signs law to limit immigrant detentions"

* San Jose Mercury News:  "California won't turn arrested illegal immigrants over to feds"

* Sacramento Bee:  "Jerry Brown signs bill to prohibit detention of some undocumentes arrestees"

* Los Angeles Times:  "Signing Trust Act is another illegal immigration milestone for Brown" - "'While Washington waffles on immigration, California's forging ahead,' the governor says of bills to protect immigrants, including the Trust Act, which limits detentions of those here illegally."

Saturday
Oct052013

LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission, lawsuit, injunction, judicial criticism of Commission's top administrator: "Head of Coliseum Commission testified falsely, judge rules"....

* Los Angeles Times:  "Head of Coliseum Commission testified falsely, judge rules" - "Judge says John Sandbrook testified falsely as part of the agency's efforts to thwart public scrutiny of USC lease negotiations." - From the LAT:

The top administrator of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Commission testified falsely as part of the agency's efforts to thwart public scrutiny of USC lease negotiations in violation of state law, a judge ruled Friday. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Luis A. Lavin made the finding about John Sandbrook in a sweeping condemnation of the commission's conduct during months of secret talks on the USC deal.

In determining that the commission could not be trusted to obey open-government laws, Lavin issued an injunction barring the panel from discussing a range of topics behind closed doors and requiring it to record its meetings for three years. His ruling came in a lawsuit filed against the commission by The Times and a 1st Amendment group and was based in significant part on Sandbrook's deposition testimony in June. . . . . . . .

Lavin found that Sandbrook falsely stated under oath his reasons why the lease negotiations could be kept secret. His statements taken during a deposition by a Times attorney contradicted the prepared agenda Sandbrook had written.

"In light of the commission's refusal to admit any wrongdoing, its aversion to transparency … and Sandbrook's false testimony … the court finds that the commission will continue its unlawful practices," Lavin wrote. He added that the Coliseum's view on what it can discuss in secret "would decimate the letter and spirit" of the state's open-meetings law.

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Lavin also faulted the Coliseum for delaying the production of documents...............

Saturday
Oct052013

MORNING MEMOS: Rialto Unified School District, "missing lunch money," possibly more than $3 million; Rep. Kevin McCarthy, leader for the new GOP, "for better or worse"; Bell, court ruling, city won't have to pay Rizzo's legal bills; California Republicans, hope for cutting into Democratic majorities in 2014....

***Various items this morning from across the spectrum of politics and/or public policy....

* Sacramento Bee:  "California Republicans hope to cut into Democratic majorities in 2014"

* Los Angeles Times:  "Bell won't have to pay Rizzo's legal bills, court rules"

* Los Angeles Times:  "Rep. Kevin McCarthy is a leader for the new GOP, for better or worse" - "The House majority whip from Bakersfield has often been unable to corral the tea party lawmakers he helped elect. But he defends the chaos, saying Congress no longer operates like it used to."

* Los Angeles Times:  "Missing lunch money probe grows, may top $3 million, police say"

Saturday
Oct052013

POLITICS/SPORTS (Bay Area): Major League Baseball, Oakland A's, owners hopes to move team to new ballpark in San Jose, court hearing: "Judge seems unmoved in San Jose's bid to get A's"....

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "Judge seems unmoved in San Jose's bid to get A's" - From the Chronicle:

The A's owners' hopes of moving their team from its longtime home in Oakland to a spiffy new ballpark in San Jose ran into trouble Friday in federal court, where a lawyer for the South Bay community struggled to convince a judge that Major League Baseball is illegally blocking the relocation.

"The Oakland A's ... would like to move, but they can't get the three-quarters vote" of club owners that MLB requires to relocate within the San Francisco Giants' designated territory, the city's lead attorney, Joseph Cotchett, said at a hearing in San Jose. That requirement, he argued, is monopolistic and anticompetitive, in violation of antitrust laws. Although the U.S. Supreme Court declared baseball exempt from antitrust restrictions in 1922, Cotchett said, the exemption has been narrowed by later rulings and congressional action and no longer applies to franchise relocations.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Whyte, who presided over the nearly two-hour hearing, seemed  unconvinced..............

***ALSO:

* San Jose Mercury News:  "Judge questions San Jose's lawsuit against MLB to move A's" - From the MN:

San Jose's bid to be the Oakland A's new home met with skeptical questions from a federal judge in the first hearing on the city's lawsuit accusing Major League Baseball of illegally blocking the team's move.

MLB lawyers asked Judge Ronald M. Whyte to dismiss the city's antitrust lawsuit, arguing the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled since 1922 that laws barring monopolies don't apply to the "business of baseball." "What is the business of baseball if not the relocation of teams?" Whyte asked San Jose's lawyer, Joseph Cotchett, echoing arguments by John Keker, a lawyer for MLB, during the hour and 45-minute Friday hearing in U.S. District Court in San Jose.

Whyte agreed there is "no question" baseball's antitrust exemption is "an aberration," but also suggested it's the Supreme Court's job to change it. "That's up to them," Whyte said, "not to me."

   ****

Whyte said he would "try to get a decision out shortly." Cotchett said afterward he expected one in 20 to 30 days, and that win or lose, he'd expect an appeal to the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

For San Jose, surviving the dismissal motion is crucial..................

***ALSO, Related:

* San Francisco Chronicle:  "A's up in the air on playing at Coliseum next season"