POLITICAL LANDSCAPE:

Assemblyman Paul Krekorian last week was named to co-chair the state Legislative Ethics Committee, his third assignment under Speaker Karen Bass in less than six months.

The committee has the authority to investigate or initiate complaints against fellow Assembly members, their staff and lobbyists.

“I hope it is a committee that is rarely utilized,” Krekorian said following the announcement.

He added that the “last thing” the state Assembly needed was any inappropriate behavior at a time when the public is looking to lawmakers to solve a crushing state fiscal crisis.

But if problems were to arise, “I think we should be prepared to take swift and appropriate action,” he said.

In November, Krekorian was also named to the state Film Commission and the Assembly’s special session Banking and Finance Committee.

Sherman shares in executives’ grilling

Congressional Rep. Brad Sherman on Wednesday grilled bank executives who had received federal bailout money as part of a round of grueling testimony before the House Financial Services Committee.

The round of questioning among eight chief executive banking officers came amid accusations on Capitol Hill that banks receiving the initial $254 billion in bailout money shortchanged the government $78 billion in preferred stock options.

Sherman pressed executives with Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group, PNC Financial Services Group, U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo on the continued use of private corporate jets and plans to repay taxpayers for their investments.

“The taxpayers have been under-compensated to the tune of $78 billion, but these companies are unwilling to provide the taxpayers with fair market value for the cash they received,” he said during the meeting.

Schiff meets with President Obama

Rep. Adam Schiff and other members of the Democratic Blue Dog Coalition met Tuesday with President Obama at the White House to discuss long-term fiscal reform.

Schiff has been a proponent of “pay-as-you-go” spending rules and other budgetary reforms throughout his tenure in Congress.

The meeting lasted for more than an hour, his aides said, as the group discussed ways to address the nation’s long-term budget problems.

The fiscal policy-oriented Blue Dog Coalition, formed in 1995, includes 49 members of Congress.

Dreier joins call for direct elections to vacant seats

As Obama’s Cabinet nears completion, Rep. David Dreier joined a bipartisan group of those at Capitol Hill calling for the direct elections of all U.S. senators to seats vacated by federal appointments.

State governors are typically charged with appointing replacements for senators tapped by incoming presidents to serve Cabinet-level positions, but that system “is antiquated and runs contrary to the spirit of transparency,” Dreier said in a statement.

Constitutional amendments introduced in the House and Senate would not dictate the terms by which elections would have to be held, only that any member of the Senate be elected, not appointed.

Antonovich calls for standardized checks

Supervisor Michael Antonovich called on county Chief Executive William T. Fujioka to establish a standard protocol for all county staffing agencies that perform employee background checks.

His motion Tuesday followed a request last week for a report on what county officials were doing to ensure convicted felons are properly screened at staffing agencies before they are sent to work at county facilities.

It is the latest move in reaction to revelations that a convicted rapist was hired as an X-ray technician at Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center and allowed to work, alone, with female patients for years.

The agency in charge of hiring the man later contended that nothing abnormal showed up on his background check.

  State fellowships program announced

Assemblyman Paul Krekorian announced the start of the application period for four state fellowship programs.

They include the Jesse Marvin Unruh Assembly Fellowship, the California State Fellows, the Executive Fellowship and the Judicial Administration Fellowship.

All of the programs require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree and pay fellows a monthly stipend of $1,972, plus health benefits.

Eighteen college graduates will be selected for the Assembly fellowship program each year.

Fellows will spend 11 months in Sacramento working with legislative staff in roles similar to those of staff assistants, analyzing bills, responding to constituent requests or helping to write speeches and press releases.

The fellowships will begin in October and end a week after the close of the legislative year, Sept. 15, 2010.

The deadline for applications for all four of the programs is Feb. 25.

For more information, visit www.csus.edu/calst/programs

Smyth introduces improved website

Assemblyman Cameron Smyth introduced a revamped website this week that includes audio and video clips in an effort to “communicate more effectively and efficiently” with his district, which includes portions of north Glendale and Montrose, according to the announcement.

The website can be found at www.assembly.ca.gov/smyth.

— Jason Wells


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