For most of us, in many different ways, 2009 is the year we’d just as soon forget. California was plagued with record-high unemployment and buried by massive budget deficits that not even three rounds of deep spending cuts and the largest tax increase in state history could begin to slow down.
Whatever pain has been felt nationally by the most severe economic slowdown since the Great Depression has been felt that much deeper here in California. And the fact that we survived the year at least somewhat intact is a moral victory to some.
The state’s economic woes have prompted a larger discussion about California’s political system. And in the coming year, the discussions that began about changing everything from the state’s budget process to the way we elect lawmakers will move from the background to the front pages of our state’s newspapers (at least what’s left of our state’s newspapers after the year the print media world has just endured).
This year saw three new legislative leaders elected as the outer turmoil often dwarfed internal caucus politics in Sacramento. And as we look to another daunting round of budget deficits, those new leaders will be charged with fixing the mess California still finds itself in.
But it wasn’t all bad. And before we brace ourselves for another big political year, and begin to close the book on the Schwarzenegger era as we elect a new governor, let’s take a look back, Capitol Weekly style, at the year that was: The good, the bad, and of course, the ugly…
The California cash crunch; Obama party in Washington; John Chiang has a heart attack; Jerry Brown assails Prop. 8; Zingale leaves the horseshoe; Gov schedules State of the State matinee; Whitman resigns from corporate boards; Panetta named top spy; Bonnie, Plescia and Parra get plum appointments; Schwarzenegger vetoes Dem budget; tax returns on hold; meltdown at EDD; Bob Monagan, RIP; Romero bows out of Congressional race; Cedillo vs. Chu; Furlough fight; Whitman takes early GOP primary lead; UC cuts enrollment; CTA takes to the air; Anthony Adams talks tax hikes; Stimulus funds to the rescue; Gov wants to eliminate boards; Brown wants an end to prison receiver; Andy Stern vs. Sal Roselli; John and Ken’s Heads on a Stick; LA Times kills the California section.
GOP moves to censure tax hikers; sluggish economy slows political contributions; California’s credit rating downgraded; Maldonado and Chiang fight over the furniture; Prop. 8 heads to court; Steinberg endorses Curren Price; Poll shows mixed reviews for part-time Legislature; Senate cancels Woman of the Year festivities; Furlough Fridays begin; Hilda Solis confirmed; Karen Douglas tapped for Energy Commission; Jerry Brown’s Facebook questionnaire; Budget deal reached; taxes, spending cap head to the ballot; Abel names his price; Cogdill dumped; Hollingsworth installed; John Myers Twitters the budget standoff; Pete Wilson backs Meg; Schwarzenegger sues Chiang; state ordered to reduce prison population; HMOs settle rescission claims; Lance’s bike gets stolen in the capital; Local 1000 reaches contract deal; Anthony Adams recall movement is born; foreclosure moratorium signed; Ammiano wants to legalize it; Dems target two-thirds budgets; gov’s approval ratings plummet; Dan Morain leaves the Times; Nell Soto, RIP.
The Supremes hear Prop. 8; Furloughs on hold; Rosario Marin resigns; layoffs at McClatchy; property tax collections drop; San Francisco cracks down on pillow fights; UC hikes tuition; Perata swings against the feds; Hertzberg takes over at Cal Forward; Bobby Shriver for attorney general?; GOP split over taxes; Dalai Lama resolution fight; Lockyer blasts Legislature; Obama taps Tauscher; Aguiar replaces Marin; Union-Tribune sold; Bob Dylan’s toilet stink; State sells billions in bonds; feds backfill education cuts; SEIU, Howard Jarvis join forces; four Oakland police officers killed in the line of duty; sales taxes increase; gas stations vs. the ARB.
Legislature takes a recess; more budget gloom; Jerome Waldie, RIP; Schwarzenegger visits the White House; Garamendi for Congress; the governor buys a bear; Adams served with recall papers; Laura Chick named state inspector general; CTA ponies up for special election; Gavin hosts Wyclef; John Burton becomes Democratic Party chairman; Art Torres comes out; Georges Marciano for governor; Jerry Gillam, RIP; National Tea Bag day; John Benoit vs. golf carts; Capitol Weekly’s Top 100; San Diego chases seals; GOP opposes special election; the Facebook California Legislator Quiz; Assembly staff gets a raise; Newsom declares for governor; Jane Harman in the crossfire; Matthew Cate confirmed; ARB adopts diesel regulations; polls show special election in trouble; Buchanan jumps into Congressional fray; Steve Poizner’s fundraising woes; Carrie Prejean speaks out; alcohol tax dies; Mike Corona sentenced to jail; Lockyer takes on placement agents; state revenues decline further; Chris Kelly for A.G.
Auditor says stimulus funds at risk; Republicans block Local 1000 contract; more bad budget news; Laura Richardson’s home woes continue; Goldmacher goes to the Times; Schwarzenegger threatens layoffs if special election measures fail; Gov wants marijuana debate; Darius Anderson in placement agent mix; CSU proposes fee increases; Villines resigns leadership post; Blakeslee takes over; Van Tran announces congressional bid; Wally Knox lands big-paying port job; Obama threatens funds over IHSS cuts; Lawmakers plan more budget cuts; The Simpsons get a postage stamp; gov proposes selling off state properties; San Francisco’s ROTC fight; budget blood on the floor; Whitman wants to fire 30,000; Blagojevich gets a shampoo; special election flops; Chu beats Cedillo; pay cuts for lawmakers … eventually; Price elected to Senate; Lockyer vs. Figueroa; court upholds Prop. 8; Sotomayor tapped by Obama; governor does Leno; constitutional convention talk heats up; more furlough talk.
Unions vs. cities in bankruptcy fight; Price waits to be sworn in; revenues plunge further; budget becomes ‘nightmare for the neediest’; Hollingsworth calls for an end to Big 5; Will Kempton quits; rift emerges between Bass and Steinberg; Center for Investigative Reporting hires Katches; Schwarzenegger threatens state shutdown; Legislature misses budget deadline; Perata announces for Oakland mayor; Jack Henning, RIP; Lakers win NBA title; Poizner backers switch to Meg; tax commission chugs along; Schwarzenegger sends Steinberg brass balls; Schwarzenegger plane makes emergency landing; Villaraigosa bows out of governor’s race; Arambula quits Democratic Party; Chiang readies IOUs; Dems budget plan fails; Portantino vs. Ashburn; Brown holds big lead over Newsom; Michael Jackson, RIP; Community college fees rise; feds OK CA’s tailpipe emissions.
A Capitol pomegranate juice showdown; the gov gets the New York Times Magazine treatment; Arnold sighting on the beach; another credit demotion; Migden settles driving lawsuit; Schwarzenegger vs. teachers unions; borrowing endangers stimulus funds; Villaraigosa’s secret Twitter identity; Palin resigns, comes to California; San Francisco’s gay penguin saga; gov wants to suspend Prop. 98; Gov dumps nursing board; Parra leaves government job; Horton for BOE; SFPD dogs get bullet-proof vests; a no-new-taxes budget deal; Kobe disses Antonio; prison deal falls apart; oil drilling vote purged; HUTA proposal dies mysterious, early morning death; Gidget the Chihuahua, RIP; Maldonado, Mendoza Twitter from the floor; Jaye leaves Newsom campaign; Richardson target of ethics probe; water fight looms; governor makes line-item vetoes; lawsuit-a-palooza.
Feds order prison population cut; Dems release water bills; Joe Dunn quits medical asso
ciation; new FPPC commissioner named; William Bratton leaves LA; the governor holds a climate change summit; John Hughes, RIP; lawsuits threaten budget; Eunice Kennedy Shriver, RIP; Steinberg sues Schwarzenegger; Chino prison riot; the push for Internet poker; unions vs. Villaraigosa; state ends IOUs; BART strike averted; Squeaky Fromme freed; fire in Santa Cruz; citrus crop threatened by Mexican pest; Fiorina jumps in; governor meets with part-time legisature proponents; Wiggins announces she won’t seek reelection; Whitman refuses debates; property values fall; Ted Kennedy, RIP; the state’s online garage sale; vacancy in Riverside County; NUMI announces closure; more fires burn; 70 years of Frank Fat; Perata treated for prostate cancer.
Senate, Assembly locked in prison fight; UC center in Sacramento shut down; Garamendi heads to Congress; Steve Bradford elected to the Assembly; UFW plays water politics; renewable energy fight heats up; state workers beat back some furloughs in court; NFL stadium emerges as legislative session winds down; Steinberg stalls on Schwarzenegger appointees; Mercury granted high-speed rail contract; Feuer, DeSaulnier head new legislative reform committee; ARB imposes fee on greenhouse gas emissions; lite gov jockeying begins; governor threatens massive bill vetoes; Cook’s veterans bill vetoed; the Mike Duvall tapes; Duvall resigns; session ends with no water deal; governor vetoes renewable energy bill; tax commission report finally released, promptly ignored; Bill Clinton backs Gavin; ACORN in the crosshairs; Healthy Families cuts restored; governor presents revised prisons plan; Gavin takes on soda; state class sizes grow; Gavin becomes a daddy; Rod Wright’s residency questioned; Whitman formally declares; Krekorian earns spot in council run-off; pot legalization heads to the ballot; Intuit and the GOP; governor calls special sessions; Whitman’s voting record scrutinized; state GOP gathers; Donald Fisher, RIP; CCPOA hires Battin, Perata.
Steinberg vs. Hollingsworth endangers dozens of bills; more details on Meg’s voting record; new term limits tweak emerges; Latino Water Coalition’s Astroturf roots; Arnold drops by a San Francisco Democratic fundraiser; Ammiano tells gov to ‘kiss my gay ass’; governor relents on veto threats; Prop. 8 heads back to court; Marge Simpson does Playboy; governor signs Harvey Milk bill; Senate reconvenes; NFL stadium bill passes; Adams recall signatures submitted; Alfred Villalobos caught in CalPERS scandal; water bond opposition grows; Blakeslee email blasts governor; Bob Beverly, RIP; Norby vs. Ackerman; Obama backs off pot clubs; judge blocks IHSS cuts; judges reject prison plan; Delta lawmakers dig in against water plan; Denham vs. Aanestad; Lockyer lashes out at Legislature again; Danny Gilmore says ‘no mas’; O’Connell says goodbye to elected office; Poizner too short to be governor?; Pete Stark’s big mouth; Schwarzenegger veto contains special message to Ammiano; Parra vs. Florez redux; panel discusses legalized pot; Bass prison board appointee resigns; unions back Jerry; Constitutional convention language submitted; the Scott Gerber tapes;
Gavin drops gubernatorial bid; Maldo gets the lite gov nod; water deal passes; the CalPERS scandal grows; Mike Genest checks out; Whitman spending raises eyebrows; Fiorina announces Senate bid; Maine repeals gay marriage law; Whitman’s lead grows; water deal loaded with pork; Schwarzenegger calls for a peripheral canal; Benoit tapped for Riverside County Board of Supes; Jerry Brown OKs legislative pay cuts; Jerry Brown interview transcripts revealed; Cogdill says he won’t seek reelection; Governor revises prison plan; CalPERS looks to tighten regulations for placement agents; President Schwarzenegger goes to Iraq, Middle East; Don Perata’s new tobacco tax; Norby beats Ackerman; LAO warns of $21 billion deficit; Wolk blasts Steinberg; Adams recall attempt fails to qualify; Schwarzenegger’s tax lien.
FPPC fines Steve Westly; John Perez elected speaker; ARB reneges on diesel rules; Solorio seeks to stop OC fairgrounds sale; Cedillo threatens run against Perez; the return of Fred Aguiar; Matosantos named DOF director; Krekorian elected to LA Council; Berryhill announces for Senate; Rachelle Chong dumped; Race to the Top; Kelso vs. Ross Johnson; Art Torres gets a pay raise; Poizner’s millions; Schwarzenegger vs. Palin; Gov goes to Copenhagen; Don Peterson, RIP; Evil Meg; Prison guard furloughs ruled illegal; Denham drops lite gov bid. Randanovich announces retirement; Capitol Weekly’s legislative scorecard; Denham for Congress; Bill Cavala, RIP.