Holding on

Republicans had a big night Tuesday, holding on to a pivotal Central Coast senate seat as Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo) defeated Democrat John Laird in a special election.

Bob Cuddy reports, “Blakeslee won big in his home of San Luis Obispo County, which has the highest number of voters, and in Santa Barbara County.

“Laird won handily in his base of Santa Cruz and Monterey counties, and won narrowly in Santa Clara. The Blakeslee win ensures that the 15th District Senate seat stays in the hands of Republicans, and is a victory for the party as well as Blakeslee.

“Had Laird prevailed, Democrats in the state Senate would have moved to within one vote of having the two-thirds majority needed to enact legislation they support but Republicans oppose.”

Michael Mishak looks at Jerry Brown’s use of a state-owned plane while he has served as attorney general.
“A review of the plane’s flight log and Brown’s schedule shows that the attorney general has flown on the plane 10 times since taking office in 2007, often making multiple stops. He traveled common routes and sometimes squeezed in conferences that were politically beneficial.

“In one case, Brown flew from Oakland to Stockton for a news conference. The 74-mile trip would have taken less than 90 minutes by car. No other public events were on his schedule that day.

“Brown’s air travel has become a campaign issue because the Democratic candidate touts himself as a cheapskate so obsessed with saving money that he jettisoned the state’s private plane when he held the office of governor three decades ago, determining that it was an unnecessary luxury.

Carly Fiorina took a harder line against a mosque in downtown Manhattan during a campaign stop in Sacramento Tuesday.

“Republican Senate nominee Carly Fiorina took a harder line Tuesday on the controversial plans to build a mosque several blocks from ground zero in New York City, suggesting that proponents of the mosque should back off their plans and find somewhere else in deference to families who lost relatives and friends in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

“When asked about her views about the location of the mosque Sunday during a campaign visit to Los Angeles, Fiorina said it was an “intensely personal and local issue” and that “we ought to leave it up to the community of New York to work this through.”

Michael Hiltzik looks at a suspicious water deal in the Central Valley that is now subject of a lawsuit.

“There’s something smelly about how a group of private interests — notably a huge agribusiness owned by the wealthy Southern California couple Stewart and Lynda Resnick — got control of an underground water storage project the state had already spent $75 million to develop.

“The lawsuit was filed by a group of water agencies and environmental groups contending that the transaction was essentially a gift of public property to private interests and therefore violates the state constitution.

“They’re asking a judge to reverse the deal. That way, they contend, the storage facility can be integrated into the state’s water management plan, so a precious and dwindling natural resource can serve everyone in the state, not just a few powerful farm companies and real estate developers.”

In addition to big salaries, the city of Bell also offered employees as much as $900,000 in loans.

“The documents show that Bell’s former assistant city manager, Angela Spaccia, received two loans of at least $100,000 each and that council members Oscar Hernandez and Luis Artiga received $20,000 loans. Rizzo, whose huge salary sparked a scandal that forced him and other city officials to step down, received two loans for $80,000 each, city officials said.

Neither Hernandez nor Artiga reported the loans on their state financial disclosure forms for 2009, which is required under state law.”

Later this morning, Assemblyman Kevin De Leon will introduce new legislation that would allow Bell residents o receive a $2.9 million property tax rebate for taxes John Chiang ruled were assessed illegally.

And finally, if you were hiding lots of cocaine, where would you hide it? If you said “under the albino python” then you are thinking like an Italian drug smuggler. AP reports, “Italian police seized a rare albino python in Rome Wednesday in a raid on a group of drug traffickers who used the snake to guard cocaine and intimidate customers who owed them money.

“The three-meter (10-foot) long reptile attacked police when they burst into the dealers’ apartment where they were preparing the cocaine for distribution. The specialist forest police had to be called in to capture the python.

“When we went in, we found the animal right behind the door waiting for us, just like a proper guard dog,” said Lieutenant Luca Gelormino.

“We were surprised to find 200 grams of very pure cocaine under the snake that it was jealously guarding. From our investigation we can say it had been trained to watch over the drugs.”

Yes, but can it play fetch?

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