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PolitiCal News and analysis on California politics
Cynthia Kelly dies at 81; older sister of Gov. Jerry Brown

One of Gov. Jerry Brown's three sisters, Cynthia Kelly, died on Sunday, according to the family. 

Kelly was 81 and had been suffering from health problems, said Kathleen Brown, another sister.

“She had an exuberant spirit," Brown said. "She had an enormous curiosity about people and a kind heart.”

Kelly, a former elementary school teacher, was married to a retired lawyer and had five children. One of her children, Kathleen Kelly, is a superior court judge in San Francisco.

Since her childhood, Jerry Brown said in a statement, "my sister Cynthia had an infectious smile that would light up any room. She loved to be with her friends and family and was with them to the very end."

Kelly was the second of four children born to former Gov. Pat Brown and his wife, Bernice. Like her older sister Barbara, she was not as politically active as her younger siblings, Jerry and Kathleen. (In addition to Jerry's four terms as governor and his presidential campaigns, Kathleen served as state treasurer...

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Seven lawmakers have committees for 2018 lieutenant governor's race

With Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom termed out in 2018, seven current and former state legislators, including Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), have opened committees to raise money for possible campaigns for lieutenant governor.

De Leon has begun fundraising in the last month for a possible candidacy, bringing in $42,000 from three Indian casino operators, a law enforcement group and the California Assn. of Health Underwriters PAC.

De Leon held a fundraiser on March 19 at Donovan’s Steakhouse in La Jolla, according to Jason Kinney, a spokesman for the senator. "Senator De Leon is currently and completely focused on leading the State Senate,” Kinney said. “This is however his final term in the Senate and he has opened a Lieutenant Governor 2018 Committee to explore his future political options."

 Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Glendale) has scheduled an April 9th fundraising dinner at the Kokkari Estiatorio Greek restaurant in San Francisco for his 2018 lieutenant governor...

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Gov. Jerry Brown OKs $1 billion to tackle drought, other water issues

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed legislation with more than $1 billion in spending on water projects.

The two bills include emergency relief, such as food and water supplies, for drought-stricken communities in the Central Valley. There's also hundreds of millions of dollars for long-term projects involving flood control, desalination and water recycling.

"This funding is just one piece of a much larger effort to help those most impacted by the drought and prepare the state for an uncertain future," Brown said in a statement. "But make no mistake, from Modoc to Imperial County, rain is not in the forecast and every Californian must be doing their utmost to conserve water."

The legislation includes only $27.4 million in new funds. The rest of the money was included in previous budget proposals or bond measures that have already been approved by voters. In addition, some of the projects being supported by the legislation won't be completed for years.

Some advocates have urged state...

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State bill would help downtown L.A. developer with billboards

At the request of the builder of the massive Metropolis Los Angeles development, state legislation has been introduced that would exempt signs and giant electronic billboards in that section of downtown Los Angeles from state restrictions.

The bill requested by Greenland USA is causing a stir among those who worry it will result in distractions for motorists and visual blight.

The measure by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) would exempt signs allowed by a city of Los Angeles ordinance from state restrictions on the number and location of billboards in an area bounded by West 8th Street on the northeast, South Figueroa Street on the southeast, Interstate 10 on the southwest, and State Route 110 on the northwest.

“It’s another attempt to clear the way for unlimited signage in the downtown area,” said Dennis Hathaway, president of the Coalition to Ban Billboard Blight.

Santiago noted that the legislation would require the city of Los Angeles to set limits on the size, location...

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California secretary of state proposes automatic voter registration

Every eligible Californian with a driver’s license would be automatically registered to vote under a proposal Thursday by Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who estimated it would add millions of people to the voter rolls.

Padilla and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) are modeling their legislation on a "motor voter" law signed last week by the governor of Oregon in an attempt to boost voter turnout.

The California proposal is partly in response to the 42% record low turnout in California’s November election, as well as this month’s Los Angeles election, which saw about 10% of eligible voters go to the polls.

“One of the biggest barriers to citizen participation is the voter registration process,” Padilla said. “A new, enhanced California Motor Voter law would strengthen our democracy. It would be a game-changer.”

California was ranked 38th in the nation on voter registration in 2012 by the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Election Performance Index.

More than 7 million Californians who...

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State drought relief package falls short, conservation advocates say

Not only will the $1-billion spending plan approved by lawmakers Thursday provide little immediate relief to drought-stricken Californians, state leaders are missing an opportunity to take more decisive action to restrict water use, conservation advocates said.

“Until we have statewide mandatory restrictions ... we’re not going to see the kind of cutbacks the governor has called for,” said Conner Everts of the Environmental Water Caucus, which promotes sustainable water management.

Brown set a goal of a 20% reduction in water use, but Californians reduced consumption by just 8.8% in January.

Lester Snow, executive director of the California Water Foundation, said mandatory, statewide restrictions could be difficult to implement because water conditions are different around the state. However, he expects the conversation could change if rain doesn’t arrive soon.

“As the drought deepens, there will be more of a call to do that, that we’re all in this together,” said Snow, a former state...

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