Index
Wednesday
May222013

SACRAMENTO: Results, special elections, 16th Senate District, Republican Andy Vidak defeats Democrat Leticia Perez; 80th Assembly District, Lorena Gonzales the winner over fellow Democrat Steve Castaneda.... 

* Sacramento Bee:  "Republican win shaves Democratic supermajority in Senate" - From the Bee:

The Democratic supermajority in the state Senate thinned a bit Tuesday when Republican farmer Andy Vidak captured more than 50 percent of a special election vote to win in a heavily Democratic San Joaquin Valley district. Vidak had nearly 52 percent of the votes in the low-turnout election early today, with some provisional and mail ballots yet to be counted. His opponent, Democrat Leticia Perez, a Kern County supervisor, conceded shortly after midnight on Wednesday morning.

The election was called when Democratic Sen. Michael Rubio unexpectedly resigned early this year to become an executive in Chevron Corp. It was conducted in the 16th Senate District, which no longer exists, because Rubio was elected from that district in 2010. Vidak will have to seek re-election in the new 14th Senate District, which was created by an independent redistricting commission.

Both districts have lopsided registration majorities, but the 16th SD is heavily weighted toward Fresno County while the new 14th SD is more oriented toward Kern County. Both also include counties in between those two.

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Vidak's victory shaves the Democrats' margin in the Senate, which had been 29-11, by one seat, but another Democratic senator, Curren Price, is due to resign to take a seat on the Los Angeles City Council. Thus chances have dimmed for the Democratic supermajority to pass a constitutional amendment or a tax increase, both of which would require two-thirds legislative votes.

Also Tuesday, Democrat Lorena Gonzales, a community organizer, easily won a special election in the 80th Assembly District in San Diego County, defeating another Democrat, and will succeed Sen. Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, who left the Assembly after winning a special election for the state Senate. Gonzalea' victory does not affect the Democratic supermajority in the Assembly but it, too, is experiencing vacancies due to other looming resignations.......

Wednesday
May222013

LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Washington, D.C. City Hall, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, report, "Old friends were at center of a network of public contracts".... 

* Washington Post:  "Old friends were at center of a network of public contracts" - From the WP:

Arl Williams and Clarence Brown became fast friends more than 25 years ago when they lived and worked in Durham, N.C.

They attended intimate neighborhood cookouts with their spouses, took weekend trips together and tolerated the occasional stuffy formal dinners that came with being professionals in a college town, according to people who know them.

Williams and Brown eventually moved north to the Washington area and got government jobs. Williams became vice president of human resources for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, the agency that oversees Reagan National and Dulles International airports and the Dulles Toll Road. Brown headed the D.C. Office on Aging during the administration of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D).

While they held their high-level administrative positions, more than $1.5 million in public money flowed between the men, their families and their friends, according to interviews and records obtained by The Washington Post through agency officials and the Freedom of Information Act.......................

Wednesday
May222013

POLITICS/EDUCATION: University of California hospitals, AFSCME Local 3299, two-day strike launched by approximately 13,000 UC hospital employees....

***Following up on earlier item noted here....

* Sacramento Bee:  "Thousands strike at University of California hospitals" - From the Bee:

As non-emergency surgeries were postponed and fill-in medical technicians were brought in from out of state, thousands of employees walked off the job Tuesday at the UC Davis Medical Center and four other University of California hospitals.

The two-day strike, due to end at 4 a.m. Thursday, was billed by the union for nearly 13,000 nursing assistants, pharmacists, operating room scrubs and other workers as a walkout over medical staffing levels and patient safety. But University of California officials painted the strike as a contract dispute over wages and benefits - particularly the refusal of the union to agree to increased contributions for employee pensions.

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UC officials said the issue is a contract dispute over employees being asked to pay 6.5 percent of the costs of their retirements - up from 5 percent. They say the striking workers also have been offered pay raises of up to 3.5 percent a year over four years.

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UC officials said the two-day strike is costing the system $20 million, much of that for bringing in medical technicians, including many from out of state, to maintain staffing.

About 450 union employees, including respiratory therapists, poison control specialists and pediatric and neonatal intensive care workers, were barred from striking...........

Wednesday
May222013

LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Update, Bell, after earlier mixed verdicts, Los Angeles County District Attorney decision to proceed with retrial against former Bell City Council members....

* Los Angeles Times:  "L.A. County D.A. plans to retry former Bell City Council members" - "Jurors delivered a mixed verdict on five defendants and acquitted a sixth on charges of misappropriating public funds by paying themselves huge salaries." - From the LAT:

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office plans to retry the case against Bell council members accused of misappropriating public funds by overpaying themselves for sitting on city boards and authorities that rarely met, according to defense attorneys connected with the case. D.A. spokeswoman Jean Guccione said Tuesday that prosecutors want a retrial after jurors in March issued a mixed verdict and the judge declared a mistrial on some counts.

Jurors delivered a mixed verdict for Victor Bello, George Cole, Oscar Hernandez, Teresa Jacobo and George Mirabal, finding them guilty on multiple felony counts and acquitting them on other charges. Luis Artiga, a pastor, was the only defendant to win full acquittal. Guccione says prosecutors don't plan to challenge that decision.

The verdicts were announced after 17 days behind closed doors. Jurors, however, were asked to return for an additional day to deliberate on remaining counts that some believed could be decided after more direction from the court. But that day came to a chaotic end with Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy declaring a mistrial on the outstanding counts.............

Wednesday
May222013

SACRAMENTO: Update, fundraising during legislative session, Sen. Ricardo Lara cancels Las Vegas fundraiser, state Senate vote on casino gambling compact for North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians postponed....

***Following up on earlier item noted here....

* Sacramento Bee:  "Ricardo Lara cancels Vegas fundraiser; casino vote postponed" - From the Bee:

Sacramento lobbyists and others looking forward to attending a mixed-martial-arts fight in Las Vegas with Sen. Ricardo Lara on Saturday will have to find another way to enjoy the holiday weekend. Lara announced Tuesday that he has canceled a fundraiser that was to take place Saturday at an Ultimate Fighting Championship match in Las Vegas because of "an unfortunate case of coincidental timing."

The Bee reported that the event was to be hosted by Station Casinos, which has been lobbying the Legislature to approve a gambling compact for the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians. . . . . . . .

Lara has declined interview requests, but his legislative staff released a statement Tuesday. "Despite this event having been planned for more than a year, the unpredictability of our legislative calendar has created an unfortunate case of coincidental timing," Lara's statement says. "To ensure there's no perception of any conflict, I felt it necessary to cancel the event, effective immediately. There has never been – and there will never be – any connection between my outside fundraising and my legislative duties as an elected official."

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Interest groups frequently give campaign contributions to politicians who decide the fate of their business deals. But the close timing of this fundraiser and the Senate's vote on a controversial gambling compact had raised hackles among some campaign finance watchdogs. The Senate originally was to vote on the compact as soon as Friday, but a spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said Tuesday that it will not hit the floor this week.