Money matters in 2012 election

The landscape for the 2012 election is uncertain for local members of Congress, but Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) has the biggest war chest for whatever battle he has to wage.

Sherman has nearly $3.1 million in his campaign account, far more than his legislative neighbor, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), or the next legislative neighbor over, Rep. David Dreier (R-San Dimas), whose district includes La Cañada Flintridge.

With the election 18 months away, it is too early to know who will challenge the incumbents. And with the California Citizen’s Redistricting Commission expected to draw new political boundaries later this year, the lawmakers do not know the exact territory they hope to represent.

Los Angeles County may lose a congressional district, as the population has grown in the Inland Empire and Central Valley. Dreier’s territory may go farther into San Bernardino County. Schiff, in a fundraising letter, told potential donors his new district may include traditionally Republican communities to the east. Burbank, shared by Sherman and Schiff, may be placed in a single district.

Sherman raised $157,000 in the filing period that closed March 31, according to the Federal Election Commission. Several donors gave $5,000, including the American Crystal Sugar Co. PAC; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers PAC; the Israel Project; and executives with Manhattan Beach life sciences investment firm Emergent Medical Partners.

Schiff raised $216,000 in the first three months of the year and has $1.9 million on hand. He received $10,000 each last quarter from executives with Spanish-language network Univision; the family of Nelson Rising, who formerly ran downtown commercial developer MPG Office Trust; and arts producer Joan Quinn and her husband John Quinn, an attorney.

Dreier raised just $14,000 in the quarter and his campaign account has $729,000. But Dreier raised more than $1.2 million for his 2010 race and traditionally has received strong backing from the construction and defense industries.

State Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) is running for Congress in what is presumptively Dreier’s district. He took in $93,000 from January through March, and has $117,000 in his congressional account. ActBlue, a political action committee supporting Democratic candidates around the country, gave Portantino roughly $27,000.

Political boundaries are being drawn

Los Angeles County is also redrawing political boundaries for Supervisor Mike Antonovich and the rest of the board of supervisors. Changes are not expected to be as dramatic as with the statewide restricting effort, as the 2010 census did not indicate significant population shifts within the county over the last 10 years.

The county is holding public meetings on the effort, including a May 2 event at Van Nuys High School from 6 to 8 p.m. Residents or interested groups also can submit redistricting plans of their own through May 27 by using tools available at

The county’s 10-member Boundary Review Committee is expected to recommend changes in July, with hearings in August and a final decision in September.

Liu, Gatto bills move through the system

Proposed legislation from State Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge) and Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) is winding through the Legislature, even as the cloud of a $15.4-billion budget gap lingers over Sacramento.

Liu has one bill already through the Senate and several moving through committees. The one that has passed the Senate would increase notification of occupants when a notice of default or sale is entered on a property in Los Angeles County. It is a bill Liu said she was surprised to see then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger veto last year, despite support from law enforcement agencies, the Consumers Union and others.

Another Liu measure would bring significant change to the education landscape, where both the State Board of Education and the elected superintendent of instruction — currently Tom Torlakson — make decisions. Senate Bill 204 would reduce the power of the State Board of Education, making it merely an advisory body to the governor. The bill has passed the Senate Education Committee.

Gatto bills that have passed the Assembly include a measure to extend until 2016 the time that descendants of Armenian Genocide victims can use California courts to sue insurers over policies dating from the time of the genocide; and a bill requiring the names of the top five financial contributors for and against state ballot initiatives on ballot pamphlets.

The ballot pamphlet legislation is part of Gatto’s six-bill package to reform the state’s unwieldy initiative process. Most of Gatto’s reforms, such as increasing the number of signatures needed to qualify an initiative and giving the Legislature a say in whether the measures reach the ballot, are constitutional amendments that require a signature from the governor and approval by the voters.

Gatto said the amendments will be heard later in the session.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s efforts to close the budget gap will take center stage again after the traditional “May revise” of the state budget, which is due May 14, Gatto said. State officials estimate tax revenues are running about $2 billion ahead of projections, which might ease the budget strain.

Gatto said residents are letting him know that they care about the budget, with 200 letters or emails a week submitted from constituents on the subject. But he said it is hard to predict whether the governor and Republicans can reach a compromise, or if the state will break from recent history and pass a budget by the June 30 deadline.

“It is still too early to say,” Gatto said. “The May revise will be key.”

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