PolitiCal
News and analysis on California politics
New law prohibits some fines for brown lawns during droughts

Californians who let their lawns die during a drought won't risk a slap on the wrist from their homeowners' associations, thanks to a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday. The measure prohibits homeowners' associations from imposing fines on residents who stop watering their lawns in an effort to conserve water. “We can’t be sending mixed messages about the importance of conserving water during this drought," said the bill's author, Assemblywoman Nora Campos (D-San Jose) in a statement. "Fines for wasting water make sense. Fines for not watering your lawn don’t," Campos added. "We shouldn’t punish people who are doing the right thing. We need every drop of water.” The bill, AB 2100, echoes the executive action issued by the governor in April, which ordered homeowners' associations from fining residents for brown lawns. This new law would apply during local and statewide droughts. The law takes effect immediately. It does not apply to fines imposed by local governments, so it would...

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Gov. Brown limits full-contact football practices for teens

Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed controversial legislation limiting the amount of full-contact practices for teenage football players in an effort to reduce concussions and other serious brain injuries. The measure prohibits football teams at public middle and high schools from holding full-contact practices during the off-season and bars them from conducting more than two full-contact practices per week, of 90 minutes each, during the season. The bill also requires an athlete who has sustained a head injury or concussion to complete a supervised return-to-play protocol of at least seven days, according to Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova), who introduced the bill. “AB 2127’s practice guidelines will reassure parents that their kids can learn football safely through three hours of full-contact practice … to maximize conditioning and skill development while minimizing concussion risk,” Cooley said. Nearly 4 million high school students nationwide suffer head injuries every year...

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Gov. Brown signs bill to reduce deportations for minor crimes

Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed into law a measure aimed at reducing deportations of legal immigrants who are convicted of minor crimes. The legislation by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) reduces the maximum possible misdemeanor sentence by one day from one year to 364 days. It addresses concern that federal law allows legal immigrants to be deported if they are convicted of a crime and given a sentence of one year or more. The measure will reduce the number of noncitizen families who are legal residents but who are broken up when one member is deported for a crime that is not a felony, Lara said. “As a result of the differences between state and federal sentencing laws, some families are torn apart every year due to minor crimes, such as writing a bad check,” Lara said. “By lowering the sentence by one day, those offenses that California considers misdemeanors would be treated as such and no longer trigger immigration consequences.” SB 1310 was opposed by a few Republican...

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Assemblyman John Pérez ends recount after failing to gain traction

Assemblyman John A. Pérez is pulling the plug on an unsuccessful recount in the state controller' race, halting the review of primary ballots one week after it began.  The decision by Pérez, a Los Angeles Democrat, clears a path for Betty Yee, a Bay Area Democrat and member of the Board of Equalization, to advance to the general election in November. Pérez launched the recount after finishing 481 votes behind Yee in the June 3 primary, but he failed to gain more than a handful of votes in Kern and Imperial counties over the last several days.  "While I strongly believe that completing this process would result in me advancing to the general election, it is clear that there are significant deficiencies in the process itself which make continuing the recount problematic," Pérez said in a statement Friday. Under California law, whoever asks for the recount has to pay for the process, and Pérez was burning through thousands of dollars in campaign cash each day. At the same time, he was...

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Gov. Jerry Brown signs a pair of gun bills

Gov. Jerry Brown signed two gun-related measures into law Friday, including one bill to make single-shot pistols subject to the state's handgun safety requirements. Most guns sold in California must comply with the state's safe handgun requirements -- including having certain safety devices or meeting specified firing tests -- but the law had exempted handguns that hold a single bullet. Gun control groups say semiautomatic handguns, which are subject to safety requirements, can temporarily be configured as single-shot pistols and then changed back. They advocated for Assemblyman Roger Dickinson's (D-Sacramento) measure to close the exemption for single-shot handguns. “Gun dealers in California have been skirting the law and selling handguns without child safety features, putting profits over the safety of Californians,” said Nick and Amanda Wilcox, legislation and policy chairs of the California Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “We applaud Gov. Brown and the...

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Rand Paul to speak in San Francisco as GOP courts Silicon Valley

Hundreds of conservative and libertarian political operatives and techies are gathering this weekend in the heart of liberal California to try to bridge the digital disadvantage that dogged the GOP's presidential candidates in the last two White House campaigns. “We think there is a big opportunity to connect the liberty-minded conservatives and libertarians in Silicon Valley and around the country with the campaigns and the causes that they really care about,” said Garrett Johnson, one of the co-founders of Lincoln Labs, which organized the inaugural Reboot conference that is taking place this weekend in San Francisco. Lincoln Labs was formed by three young Silicon Valley Republicans in the aftermath of the 2012 presidential election, which set off tsunami warnings in GOP circles because of the Democrats' stark advantage in the use of technology and data. A scathing “autopsy report” by the Republican National Committee warned repeatedly that overcoming its technological disadvantage...

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$4-million settlement reached in political embezzlement case

A California bank has agreed to pay $4 million to settle lawsuits arising from the embezzlement of political funds by prominent Democratic campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee, attorneys said Thursday. First California Bank agreed to pay the politicians who said the bank abetted Durkee's fraud, said Wylie Aitken, the attorney representing Reps. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove), Linda T. Sanchez (D-Lakewood) and Susan A. Davis (D-San Diego), as well as state Sen. Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana). "This the last chapter of this sad story of Kinde Durkee and her fall from grace," Aitken said. Durkee pleaded guilty to fraud in March 2012; she is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence. The settlement, which was reached Tuesday, covers the suit brought by Aitken's clients as well as previous complaints by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and others. In all, plaintiffs said they lost about $8 million in campaign funds. Funds from the $4-million settlement will be returned to the politicians' campaign...

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Next stop for state controller recount: San Bernardino County

The recount in the California controller race has produced only a handful of new votes for Assemblyman John A. Pérez, the candidate who launched the review. But that isn't stopping him from pushing forward with the effort, asking for the recount to be expanded to San Bernardino County on Monday. It will be the third county, after Kern and Imperial, where officials will be tasked with double-checking ballots from the razor-close controller race. "We want to get that process started quicker than later," said Doug Herman, Pérez's strategist. Pérez called for the recount, which could become the largest in state history, after finishing 481 votes behind Board of Equalization member Betty Yee in the June 3 primary. The two Democrats are jostling for a spot on the November ballot. Ashley Swearengin, the Republican mayor of Fresno, has already advanced to the general election after receiving the most votes in the primary. The California Democratic Party has begun throwing its support behind...

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Schwarzenegger rep says Kashkari 'misinformed' about governor's tenure

A representative of former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger blasted GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari as “misinformed” Thursday after the first-time candidate criticized the former governor as incapable of reforming the state because he “needed to be loved.” “That’s a silly statement,” said Adam Mendelsohn, Schwarzenegger’s former communications director. “Governor Schwarzenegger had arguably the most successful four years of any modern governor after 2005. He passed critical infrastructure bonds, the most important political reforms in the country and landmark environmental legislation to name just a few. “It’s important for anyone running for governor, especially a novice candidate, to avoid saying things that are misinformed,” Mendelsohn said. Mendelsohn was commenting on remarks Kashkari made earlier in the day when he was asked by an audience member how he would accomplish his goals to reshape the state where Schwarzenegger failed as governor. Kashkari, whose senior advisors...

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Voter fraud alleged in 'Six Californias' petition drive

Opponents of a proposal to split California into six states lodged a complaint Thursday alleging "several instances" of fraud during the circulation of petitions to put the measure on the 2016 state ballot. In a letter to Secretary of State Debra Bowen, attorneys for One California, a bipartisan group opposing the six-states measure, asked for an investigation into reports that petition circulators had "blatantly misrepresented" the initiative's purpose. The letter cited one instance in which a signature gatherer reportedly told a potential signer that the measure was to oppose the division of California instead describing its true intent, which is to break up the state. In another instance, a signature gatherer is accused of falsely saying the state attorney general supports the "Six Californias" initiative. The complaint letter included a copy of an online news story that contained the allegations of misrepresentation by signature-gatherers.  It is a misdemeanor to intentionally make...

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Kashkari says Schwarzenegger failed because he 'needed to be loved'

GOP gubernatorial candidate Neel Kashkari typically aims his fire at incumbent Gov. Jerry Brown, the Democrat he is taking on in the fall. But on Thursday, the former U.S. Treasury official slashed at Arnold Schwarzenegger, the last Republican to hold the state’s highest post, as incapable of reforming the state because “he needed to be loved.” Asked by an audience member how he would accomplish his goals to reshape the state as governor where Schwarzenegger failed, Kashkari noted that the movie-star-turned-governor went to war with public employee unions when he tried to get voters to approve four ballot measures in 2005. “He took on the cops, the teachers, the firefighters, all the big unions. And they came out, they locked arms and they just defeated him across the board,” Kashkari told hundreds of people gathered at the waterfront Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach for a self-storage facility owners convention. “Once that happened, Gov. Schwarzenegger had a symptom that so many in...

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Biggest spenders weren't all winners in state congressional primaries

Some unsuccessful candidates for House seats in California outspent at least one of their winning rivals in the June 3 primary, reports filed with the Federal Election Commission showed this week. In most of the state's 53 congressional districts, the highest-spending candidates finished first or second in the June 3 primary, allowing them to advance to the Nov. 4 election under the state's "top two" elections system. But there were notable exceptions in three races.  In the crowded contest to succeed Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) in the largely coastal Westside-South Bay 33rd District, spiritual teacher and best-selling author Marianne Williamson, an independent, and former Los Angeles city Controller and Councilwoman Wendy Greuel raised and spent the most. Williamson raised nearly $1.5 million, including nearly $235,000 of her own money, and spent $1.7 million to finish in fourth place. Greuel, a Democrat, who finished third, raised nearly $1.3 million and spent more than $1...

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