A bare-knuckle brawl in the 7th Senate District

Candidates in the 7th Senate District: Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer and Assemblymember Susan Bonilla, D-Concord. (Photo illustration, separate images combined: Tim Foster, Capitol Weekly)

Welcome to the 7th Senate District, where money and hardball politics came together in the primary election. The runoff likely will not be much different. Even in a state now accustomed to seven-digit spending in legislative campaigns, the 7th District showdown in May is likely to set records. And powerful interests that weighed in during the primary – organized labor, business interests, the dentists, the doctors and the fire fighters, for example – are all but certain to pony up again.

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News

CalPERS urged to shun Obamacare ‘Cadillac Tax’

Calpensions: Employer and employee groups are urging CalPERS to “undertake all efforts” to avoid the “Cadillac Tax,” a 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans imposed in 2018 by President Obama’s health care law, a CalPERS staff report said this month. But it’s far from clear that one of those efforts will be Gov. Brown’s proposal to give state workers the option of a low-cost plan with a high deductible, even though the administration mentions the looming penalty tax as a reason for offering the plan.

News

A primer: Lobbyists, ethics, rules and the Constitution

Lobbyists and the legislators they lobby generally act responsibly and in compliance with applicable state and federal laws. However, because there is so much scrutiny on politics and the legislative process, when something improper does occur, it gets into the public domain quickly. As a result, when there is an alleged violation of the law, it becomes a high profile matter that garners public attention and discussion.

Opinions

Fracking’s health impacts must be addressed

An oil derrick at work in Kern County, 2013. (Photo: Christopher Halloran)

OPINION: Faced with the decision of whether or not hydraulic fracturing (fracking) should be approved in New York, the state’s Commissioner of Health Dr. Howard Zucker publicly asked, “Would I let my family live in a community with fracking? The answer is no. I therefore cannot recommend anyone else’s family to live in such a community either.” In California, some 5.4 million people (14 percent of the state’s population) live within a mile of at least one of the state’s total of 84,000 oil and gas wells, according to the NRDC.

Opinions

Schools to lawmakers: Repeal the reserve cap

Blocks and crayons in a California classroom.(Photo illustration: Blade Tucker

OPINION: Late last year, the Legislature passed a fiscally irresponsible law that prevents local school districts from maintaining prudent budget reserves necessary to prepare for future economic downturns, to invest in classroom improvements, and to protect our students. As ridiculous as that sounds, unfortunately that’s the reality. That’s why thousands of educators, including school board members, school district officials, community members, parents and others are calling for the Legislature to repeal the local school district reserve cap.

News

Personnel Profile: Ray LeBov, lobbyist trainer and hoopster maven

Most folks around the Capitol know Ray well from his many years as a lobbyist and, since 2006, as the man behind Capitol Seminars, the lobbyist-training seminars that have shown a whole new generation of aspiring lobbyists how to do things the right way. What most don’t know is Ray’s daily obsession with rooting out the very best information on NBA basketball, which he presents on his increasingly-popular blog, Basketball Intelligence.

News

California urged to resolve delta, water issues — fast

A backpacker gazes at Lake Mead, which has reached critically low levels. (Photo: Oceanfishing, via Shutterstock)

Disputes over California’s fragile Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta, the troubled heart of the drought-stricken state’s water system, must be resolved immediately because what happens there affects the western region, a top water expert says. Pat Mulroy, the former leader of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, delivered a bluntly worded warning to the California Water Policy Conference in Claremont, saying the linkage between the Delta and much of the West is clear, “yet many here in California still don’t see the connection.”

News

Data: Will political races ever have their ‘Moneyball’ moment?

A man at a computer screen making his picks during "March Madness." (Photo: SAJE, via Shutterstock)

ANALYSIS: Now that we’re in the middle of March Madness and nearing the opening of the 2015 Major League baseball season, we see the sports data geeks take center stage. Ever since the book, and subsequent movie, “Moneyball,” fans have been intrigued by the data that appears to be a major driver in sporting decisions, from the players chosen for a team, to the offensive and defensive formations, where and when the percentages suggest shooting or passing, and so on.

News

LAO: Lawmakers should look closely at Brown plan for retirees’ health care

An elderly patient receiving health care at a hospital. (Photo: Photographee.eu, via Shutterstock)

The LAO, noting that most of Brown’s plan bypasses the Legislature, says lawmakers should hold hearings on state worker retiree health care, going back to square one, 1961, when the benefit began. Times were different then. Workers were at risk of losing health coverage when they retired. Now state workers are eligible for federal Medicare at age 65.

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