Ramani undecided about election

While Sunder Ramani's name will appear on the ballot in November, his campaign staff says it is not yet clear whether the Republican nominee for the 43rd Assembly District will actively run against Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake).

In June, Gatto defeated Ramani 59% to 41% to win the remainder of former Assemblyman Paul Krekorian's term representing the district, which includes Glendale, parts of Burbank and several Los Angeles neighborhoods.

Just 20% of registered voters participated in the special election.

In November, Gatto is seeking election to a full two-year term. Voter turnout likely will be much higher because the ballot also includes the race for governor, congressional seats and state ballot propositions.

On Tuesday, Ramani's campaign manager, Bo Patatian, said they were studying information from the Los Angeles County registrar of voters and a demographic analysis from Burbank-based Political Data Inc. to decipher the implications of the vote count.

"How many Republicans showed up? What did Democrats do? Did the decline-to-states come out? How active was the Armenian voting bloc?" Patatian said. "We need to comprehensively synthesize the numbers."

A decision could come in the next several days.

"People invested in me to run a full marathon, not a half-marathon," Ramani said. "I don't quit, and it would be out of character for me to quit unless the odds are inordinately stacked against me."

Portantino fights $150,000 question

Six times this year, Assemblyman Anthony Portantino introduced legislation to block raises for state workers making more than $150,000 a year. Six times he saw the proposal die in an Assembly committee.

Portantino's legislation would have frozen salaries at their current levels through 2012 and denied bonuses to thousands of state workers, including many in the Cal State and University of California systems. People working under union contracts and certain other classifications of workers would have been exempt from the freeze.

Assembly analysts estimated the measure would save the state $17 million.

Portantino said fellow lawmakers have buried the proposal in the Assembly Appropriations Committee and others, where it has essentially been frozen with no action taken, or not referred out of committee.

"Why hold it when it actually saves the state money?" Portantino said. "I think it is because some of the institutions that have folks who make over $150,000 lobbied to kill the bill."

Calls to representatives for the Assembly Appropriations and Finance committees were not returned. But a financial analysis by the Appropriations Committee stated that "CalPERS, UC and CSU raise a variety of objections to the bill."

The university systems said the freeze would hurt efforts to recruit top-flight faculty and administrators. University of California officials added it would hamper its ability to run its hospitals.

Representatives of the state pension programs also balked. The California Public Employees' Retirements System noted its workers already are facing furloughs, and that the law would undermine the ability to manage their multibillion portfolios.

Dropping the salaries of managers while leaving union workers eligible for raises and overtime might also "reduce or eliminate the wage differentials between managers and those who they are managing," according to the analysis.

Portantino said he hopes to try again next legislative session, perhaps with this measure or with a "pay-go" bill that requires lawmakers to identify sources of funding before they enact new programs.

"I'm certainly going to continue to fight for fiscal sanity," he said.

Meanwhile, Portantino is getting attention for a separate piece of legislation.

The former filmmaker has introduced a measure at the request of the Screen Actors Guild to expand the legal definition of trespassing so that it would snare uninvited guests at events not designed for the general public.

The group sought the legislation after a man with a hidden video camera made his way without authorization onto the red carpet at the 2008 Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The culprit, Scott Weiss, is the subject of a new film, "Crasher." The film documents his successful efforts to break into numerous high-profile Hollywood events. The film's website describes Weiss as "perhaps the most creative party crasher ever."

Governor continues to support tax credits

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is giving Sacramento credit for gains in the movie business.

Last week the governor said the California Film and Television Tax Credit Program initiated in 2009 has spurred $2 billion in direct spending by encouraging more film and TV production in the state.

The California Film Commission oversaw $200 million in tax credits last year for work on 77 film projects. The commission estimates this year another 30 projects will qualify for a total of $100 million in tax breaks, according to the governor's office.

The commission estimated the 77 projects approved last year will spur jobs for 18,200 crew members — such as electricians, grips and costume designers — as well as 4,000 cast members and more than 100,000 extras.

"This is exactly why I fought so hard for tax credits in last year's budget," Schwarzenegger said in a statement. "Already, the film and television incentive has led to thousands of retained jobs and increased economic activity."

The legislation was also a key agenda item for former Assemblyman Paul Krekorian, who wrote the bill creating the program.

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