So, what to make of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s push for a comprehensive health care program? It’s April, he doesn’t have a legislative author, and some Democrats say they are moving on. Republicans, too, but they’ve never been into this issue.
Schwarzenegger’s Republican colleagues in the Legislature, who are generally much more conservative than he, have, after the passage of time, offered some very free market-oriented plans. Of course, only one of them voted for his very popular climate change plan, so they are not exactly governmental activists.
On the Democratic side, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata both seem to be moving forward with their own plans. Nunez, of course, has described his plan as “complementary and complimentary of the governor’s plan.”
The Democratic plans — putting aside Santa Monica Senator Sheila Kuehl’s latest non-starter single-payer bill — are actually less expansive than Schwarzenegger’s. Both the Schwarzenegger and Democratic legislative approaches would require employer mandates to cover their employees or pay into a state fund to purchase health insurance. But the Democrats are less expansive. Unlike Schwarzenegger, they would not require people to have health insurance. They would cover fewer people. They would require less taxes, er, fees, from the private sector. They would not irritate doctors or hospitals.
The latter is a major sticking point for Schwarzenegger’s plan, since he would require fees from them to fund his universal coverage plan. Which he says would essentially be a “loan,” because in the end they would get money back from the overall plan. But that’s not a sale, at least at this point.
Whatever happens, whether it is the expansive Schwarzenegger version or the less expansive Democratic version — assuming, that is, that something expansive happens at all (more about that in a moment) — opponents say they will do a referendum against it, delaying its implementation in the mean time.
After all, that worked so well in November 2004, when then state Senate boss John Burton’s employer mandate health care plan was defeated at the polls.
But the opponents, not to mention some of the people reporting on this, forget a few things.
The Burton bill, as it was called, went down to defeat only narrowly after leading most of the way in the polls. And it only went down to defeat after the late intervention against it of one Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger.
The former action movie superstar’s intervention against the Burton bill surprised, and at least for a time, embittered Burton, who assumed that Schwarzenegger was going to remain neutral on the issue.
In his 2003 campaign, Schwarzenegger had said that he was for an employer mandate for health care coverage. But that he feared the time was not right, because the California economy was not then strong enough. Burton had expected him to remain neutral during the November 2004 referendum. But Schwarzenegger, then moving somewhat to the right in advance of his disastrous “Year of Reform” special election agenda — with a retinue of much more conservative advisors — came out against the Burton bill and doomed it to defeat.
Had he not done so, he would now be seeking to expand on its base, rather than enact something new out of whole cloth.
And in yet another irony, the Burton bill was actually more moderate than what Schwarzenegger is proposing, with a more expansive exemption for small business. Burton exempted businesses with fewer than 50 employees. Schwarzenegger would exempt businesses with fewer than 10 employees.
In the end, the Legislature and Schwarzenegger may have to settle for a lot less. As in merely extending health care coverage to all the children in California. Something which can be accomplished for a few hundred million dollars a year.
Schwarzenegger says he won’t settle for that, and the Democratic plans, at least currently, are not to fall back to that, either. But that would be a signal accomplishment.
Three of Gonzales’ top aides have resigned over the matter. Specter cited Gonzales’ lack of crebility. Gonzales claimed not to recall events more than 50 times during the hearing.
The Bush White House has continued its stance of supporting Gonzales, an old crony of the president’s from Texas. Bush appointed Gonzales to the Texas Supreme Court while governor there, then made him White House counsel after his election in 2000.
** PIMP YOUR RIDE. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, honoring Earth Day in his unique fashion, appears today on MTV’s popular Pimp My Ride. During the show, the crew refits a beater 1965 Impala into an 800-horsepower monster running on salad dressing. Or something like that. (Actually, a form of biodiesel.) The show starts airing at 1 PM.
** GIULIANI TO NEW HAMPSHIRE. With his lead plunging in a recent national poll in the Republican presidential race, locked in a tight race in New Hampshire, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani will return to the Granite State this week for some intensive campaigning. Senator John McCain, notwithstanding other problems in his campaign, remains quite strong there. And former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, advantaged by his great familiarity from the dominant Boston media market, has made a move there, aided also by his having been the only candidate running TV advertising in the campaign.
** POST-VIRGINIA TECH GUN CONTROL POLL. A new Zogby poll in the immediate aftermath of the horrifying mass murder at Virginia Tech indicates that most Americans don’t believe that more gun control legislation will prevent such tragegies. It also indicates that most Americans reject the rather Wild West notion that allowing everybody to go about armed would lead to less gun violence, though a striking 38% do believe that’s a good idea. Independents are split on this latter point, with Republicans in favor and Democrats overwhelmingly opposed.
While 59% don’t think stricter gun control policies would help, 36% believe they could make a difference by helping to prevent future shootings. More than two in three Americans believe the Virginia Tech outrage was the work of a determined lunatic and could not have been prevented.
Younger adults are more likely than older adults to see stricter gun policies as a means of preventing shootings: among those 18 to 29, 39% say more stringent gun control could avert tragic shootings, compared to 26% of those age 65 and older. But more than half (53%) of those age 18 to 29 say increased gun control won’t help, a stance that becomes increasingly prevalent as adults get older. Nearly three in four (72%) of those age 65 and older don’t think tighter gun control policies will prevent shootings.
Even if more people were allowed to carry guns for protection, 54% of Americans don’t believe it would help prevent tragedies such as the mass shooting at Virginia Tech, the poll shows. But overall, 38% believe more armed Americans could prevent future tragedies. The vast majority of Democrats (89%) don’t believe more Americans carrying guns would prevent such shootings, compared to just one in four (24%) of Republicans. Most Republicans (65%) said they would favor arming more Americans, compared with just 6% of Democrats. Independents were most evenly split – 48% believe allowing more Americans to carry guns would help prevent shootings, while 44% disagree.
All across California this weekend people are celebrating Earth Day by cleaning up trails and beaches, planting trees and restoring habitats. These are terrific projects, but there are also ways to improve the environment in our everyday lives.
We can sign up to pay our bills online, replace our traditional light bulbs with fluorescents and check our tire pressure. Each of these may seem small and insignificant, but there are 37 million people in California. If we all do even one of these things we will make a huge impact on the world.
Here’s one example: If every California household stopped receiving paper bills and paid online, we would reduce waste and the gasoline needed to haul all that paper around. By one estimate, this adds up to more than 175 million tons of waste, and the gas saved is like taking more than 48,000 passenger cars off the road.
Even in my bodybuilding days that’s more than I could lift alone. So you see, it is very powerful when we all work together to make our world better. This also works in the Capitol. Together we implemented the Million Solar Roofs Program. We protected 25 million acres with the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. And we established the world’s first comprehensive program to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
With these initiatives and with the commitment of our people, California is leading the way in protecting our environment. As we step outside this weekend, we should all think about how we can do our part not just for Earth Day, but for every day of the year. Thank you for listening.
The IAEA expressed alarm about a new ingredient being used as well, along with suspicion about activities at another nuclear facility.
** MOVEON MAKES ITS ANTI-MCCAIN PITCH.Even under normal circumstances, it’s unusual for a presidential candidate to casually call for bombing another country. But this behavior is really out of line now when tensions with Iran are so high. Followed by, send money now for the ad discussed below. Always look to ideologues to judge humor.
** DEATH CHAMBER WORK POSTPONED. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has postponed further work on the state’s death chamber at San Quentin Prison across the bay from San Francisco. A federal judge ordered changes in the chamber along with much of the rest of the state’s execution procedures. Although the state is under a federal court order, some legislators were upset to learn that work was already underway on the death chamber revamping. The cost estimate had been conveniently placed at $399,000, just under the $400,000 that triggers legislative oversight. But a new cost estimate is $750,000. The state Senate will hold a hearing on this next week. What they should particularly focus on is why the revamping of a single room should cost over $400,000.
** MCCAIN AND MOVEON IN DUST-UP. Senator John McCain ignited some controversy the other day when, kidding around after being asked what to do about Iran, quipped: “Remember that old Beach Boys song, ‘Bomb Iran?’ Bomb, bomb, bomb …” and then went back to serious discussion. Back in 1980 during the big Iranian hostage crisis, the Beach Boys tune “Barbara Ann” had been changed around some. In response to the controversy, McCain noted the obvious, that he’d been kidding, and advised “Get a life.”
Now MoveOn.org has produced a TV spot that they want to air in early primary and caucus states. They’re trying to raise money around the spot, which can be seen here. They say the joke shows that McCain is dangerously reckless.
McCain’s campaign responded sharply to the attack. “It comes as no surprise that America’s most liberal interest group would attack John McCain’s belief that we cannot allow Iran to destroy Israel,” said spokesman Matt David. “After all, MoveOn.org posted ads comparing President Bush to Hitler during the last presidential election.”
This sort of controversy is good for both, actually. Groups like MoveOn thrive on whipping up supporters to fight an enemy and, coincidentally, give money. And McCain can stand being attacked by the hyperpartisan Democratic left right about now, as it gives him a way to get Republicans to identify with him as his campaign seeks to right itself from a faltering start.
The government of Prime Minister Hamid Karzai is criticized for not trying to exert administrative control in southern Afghanistan, a strong area for the Taliban. US and British forces come in for some criticism, on the grounds of conducting “careless” operations nearly heavily populated areas. But the groups agree that the NATO coalition troops are not attacking or harassing Afghan civilians.
** ARNOLD-LIKE OBAMA TO UNVEIL LOW CARBON FUELS PLAN. Today at the University of New Hampshire, Senator Barack Obama is unveiling a low carbon fuels plan modeled on that of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“This is our generation’s moment to save future generations from global catastrophe by creating a market for clean-burning fuels that can stop the dangerous transformation of our climate,” Obama will say.
“In states like New Hampshire and California, people are taking the lead on producing fuels that use less carbon.”
In January, Schwarzenegger issued an executive order this saying that all fuels in the state must contain lower carbon content. The mandate is to reduce the carbon intensity of fuel for passenger vehicles by 10% by 2020.
Just when you thought the political TV ads in California were gone, at least for a while, they start up again. The Morongo Band of Mission Indians will, according to informed sources, soon begin a multi-million dollar advertising buy to urge the California State Assembly to pass the tribal gaming compacts negotiated by the Schwarzenegger Administration and passed yesterday by the Senate.
The advertising will be positive, emphasizing the supposed advantages to the state of providing more revenue for needed programs and of creating more economic activity in the state.
But the fact that the money is being spent on advertising, albeit positive, sends another message to the Legislature. As previously reported here, word has circulated for the last few weeks that some of the casino tribes were pondering a major intervention against the term limits change initiative likely to be on next February’s presidential primary ballot. Unless they got their compacts approved by the Legislature. Their willingness to go on the air this early concretizes, as it were, that prospect.
The advertising will support a massive expansion of casino gambling in California. Five tribes in Southern California would increase the number of their slot machines from 10,000 to 32,500. Schwarzenegger has included revenue from the deal in the current budget, some $500 million, and it’s needed given lower than anticipated tax receipts so far.
Those tribes are the Morongo, who operate in the Palm Springs area, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuila Indians in Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians in San Bernardino, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians in Temecula, and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation in the San Diego area. (The latter have the distinction of being the first tribe to intervene in the 2003 recall election, against Schwarzenegger.)
A sixth tribe, the relatively poor Yurok, would benefit by gaining 99 slot machines in a remote part of Northern California.
The compacts failed passage last year in the Legislature. Democratic legislative leaders complained that Schwarzenegger got them to the Legislature too late for considered judgment.
But there was another factor at work. Organized labor was strongly opposed. In fact, it still is. State AFL-CIO chief Art Pulaski and others have been in the Capitol working against the compacts.
The casino and restaurant workers union, in particular, wants more protections for labor organizing in the deals, some of which was present in previous compacts negotiated by the Schwarzenegger Administration. Labor also wants an audit done of the casino tribes books.
Faced with a choice last year between organized labor and the casino tribes, Democrats went with labor. But the tribes have won the day in the Senate. Now we’ll see how things turn out in the Assembly.
The fun never sets in Las Vegas. Nor, as it turns out, in California politics.
Some 200 Iraqis were killed yesterday in suicide bomb attacks in Baghdad,
a new record. Here is the safest way for American troops to drive in the
historic city, center of the surge strategy.
** MEANWHILE, IN THE OTHER WAR … As President Bush and some Republicans struggle with the prognosis of Nevadan Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, that the guerilla phase of the Iraq War is lost militarily, NATO forces have recaptured a key road leading into the Afghan capital of Kabul. The road fell yesterday to Taliban forces, striking uncharacteristically in the north of the country that so swiftly fell to US-led coalition forces in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, over five years ago.
The Taliban force that captured the road was, according to a Pentagon source, only a few hundred. The significance of the move is that it occurred hundreds of miles north of the usual operational sphere of the Taliban. Although the promised spring offensive of the Taliban has appeared so far only in dribs and drabs, those dribs and drabs have been telling.
Meanwhile, Afghan Prime Minister Hamid Kharzai is negotiating with elements of the Taliban with an eye to forming a coalition government, something that one would think would cause purists in this country, given the Taliban’s role in 9/11, to break out in hives. Later this month he will have a summit meeting in Istanbul with Pakistani President Pervez Musharaff to discuss the Taliban’s safe haven in remote portions of Pakistan.
** GONZALES SUPPORT FADES DURING SENATE APPEARANCE. Many NWN readers, watching the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today featuring embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, have noted in the forum that he had a notably rough day of it. His Republican support in the Senate appears to be fading in the wake of his performance. Gonzales resorted to the faulty memory explanation on dozens of occcasions during his performance before the Judiciary Committee as he struggled to explain the mass firings of US attorneys, most of them in the West.
** TRIPPI JOINS EDWARDS. THE DC tipsheet The Hotline says that cyberpolitics expert Joe Trippi, who managed Howard Dean’s 2004 Democratic presidential campaign, has joined the campaign of former Senator John Edwards as a senior advisor.
This is an intriguing move, in that Doolittle’s spin yesterday was that the raid was centered on his wife’s activities on Abramoff’s behalf. Giving up the committee post belies that, and implies that he does not want to be seen as conferring any favors going into the future.
** MASSACHUSETTS POLL: GIULIANI LEADS ROMNEY. TROUBLE FOR JOHN KERRY?A new Suffolk University poll has Rudy Giuliani with a big lead over former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in his putative home state, 33% to 21%. John McCain is a close third and statistically tied second with 18%.
In rather ominous news for veteran Senator John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee has poor basic re-elect numbers. Just 37% agree that he should be re-elected to the U.S. Senate, while 56% say it’s time for someone else to get a chance. Kerry is aided by the real world question of who that someone else might be, which at the moment is unclear.
** CALIFORNIA SENATE APPROVES CASINO TRIBE COMPACTS. The California state Senate this morning approved a number of Indian tribal gaming compacts negotiated with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger which would greatly expand casino gambling in California while returning an additional $200 million a year (Legislative Analyst estimate) to $500 million a year (Schwarzenegger estimate) in new revenue to the state. The proposed compacts failed last year in the Assembly, victim of opposition from organized labor, which did not like the fact that they did not have the pro-labor elements present in previous Schwarzenegger-negotiated deals with the tribes.
The casino tribes have talked about spending multi-millions to defeat the term limits change initiative which will probably be on the February presidential primary ballot. Unless they get their new deals ratified.
** MCCAIN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN ANNOUNCEMENT TOUR SET. From the McCain campaign: U.S. Senator John McCain’s campaign today announced that the Arizona Senator will announce his candidacy for President of the United States on April 25th in New Hampshire. Senator McCain will then travel to South Carolina on April 26th, Iowa on April 27th, concluding in Nevada and Arizona on April 28th.
As previously reported on NWN, the Nevada Republican Party is in the process of moving its presidential caucus to January 19th, matching the Democrats’ move of months ago. I expect the move to be ratified at a Nevada party meeting in Carson City on Saturday.
Giuliani has lost a quarter of his support in the Republican presidential race since February. Nevertheless, he still leads, with 33% to John McCain at 21%. Mitt Romney 9%, Fred Thompson 9%, and Newt Gingrich 6%. The former House speaker Gingrich has dropped nine points since February, coinciding with Thompson’s emergence. Neither man is an announced candidate.
McCain is holding steady in the Republican race. But he has major warning signs for a general election. He has lost support he previously had with independents, perhaps because of his stance on Iraq. The number of voters who say they won’t vote for him in a general election is up to 47%, higher than Democrat Hillary’s Clinton’s 45%. But the candidate who is really hurting on that front is Republican Mitt Romney. A whopping 54% say they will not vote for Romney in a general election.
In the Democratic race, Clinton has a big and solid lead, with 37% to Barack Obama at 20%, unannounced Al Gore 17%, John Edwards 14%, and Bill Richardson 3%. Most Gore voters — he’s said he’s not running — would go to Clinton.
** SURGING. Some 200 Iraqis were killed yesterday in terrorist attacks in Baghdad designed to show the majority Shiites that they can not rely on the US surge strategy to make them safe. This is a one-day record for deaths in Baghdad, center of American military efforts to stabilize the situation.
** CALIFORNIA REDISTRICTING SWAMP. Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, as reported yesterday, is the latest entrant into the redistricting reform sweepstakes. His plan would leave it to the watchdog Little Hoover Commission, with present legislative members recusing themselves. But the rest of the commission is appointed by the governor and majority (read: Democratic) legislative leaders. Republican legislative leaders say this is a non-starter. A two-thirds vote is required in the Legislature.
In addition, Nunez’s plan would include congressional districts. Which allies of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi say is a non-starter, for reasons already discussed here.
It seems to me that the only thing that might pass muster is a plan that uses an independent citizen commission and eliminates congressional districts, thus removing the obvious problem of the politician appointees and taking the $10 million that Pelosi allies say they would spend against the initiative next February off the table.
** SHIA TARGETED IN HUGE BAGHDAD BOMBINGS. Reports of four huge car bomb attacks today in Baghdad, which killed at least 183 people, are all over. What’s not being focused on is the target, the majority Shia, and the likely reason, to thoroughly disabuse them of the notion that they are at all protected by the American surge strategy in Baghdad.
You see how horrified we are by 33 killed at Virginia Tech, which is very far off for most of us.
** TALIBAN ATTACK NEAR STRONGHOLDS. The Taliban are attacking near two key strongholds in Afghanistan, the capital city of Kabul and the massive former Soviet air base at Bagram. Operations are underway to dislodge the force 30 miles from Bagram and to retake a road leading into Kabul.
** NUNEZ ADDS TO REDISTRICTING MIX. Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez revealed his plan for redistricting reform in California this afternoon. Turn it over to the watchdog agency known as the Little Hoover Commission. And include congressional redistricting, something which would seem to place him on a collision course with fellow Californian and U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who does not want any rocking of the boat in which she holds power. The commission includes legislative members, who would recuse themselves from redistricting, and consists otherwise of gubernatorial and legislative appointees. This is one three proposals now made pertaining to redistricting, which is getting murkier before it gets clearer.
** DOOLITTLE HOME RAIDED. Sacramento area Republican Congressman John Doolittle’s home back East was raided at the end of last week, according to multiple Washington journalistic sources. The congressman says his wife, a fundraising consultant who had been getting 15% of the funds she raised for his campaigns, is the target of the inquiry. The couple is tied in to convicted Washington fixer Jack Abramoff. Doolittle, who narrowly won re-election last fall, was very helpful to Abramoff’s interests in the Northern Marianas.
The Saudis are also forgiving 80% of the debt owed them by the Iraqi government.
** PARTIAL BIRTH DECISION AFTERMATH. Most of the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates have issued statements on the Supreme Court decision barring partial birth abortions. They are entirely predictable, with the Democrats opposed to the decision and the Republicans, including Rudy Giuliani, in favor of it.
** SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS PARTIAL BIRTH ABORTION BAN. From the Wall Street Journal alert service: The Supreme Court upheld the federal ban on a disputed abortion procedure, handing abortion opponents the long-awaited victory they expected from a more conservative bench. The 5-4 ruling said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act that Congress passed and Bush signed into law in 2003 doesn’t violate a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.
** MASSIVE OVERNIGHT BLACKBERRY SERVICE OUTAGE. BlackBerry service throughout the US was disrupted overnight. E-mail was down and web access was intermittent. Phone service worked. My service has been restored and Research In Motion says most service has been restored around the country. No explanation as yet. This is somewhat disconcerting, since the BlackBerry was the only wireless device to work in Manhattan on 9/11.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger discusses the omnibus global warming bill
last summer, six weeks before signing it, in this NWN video. He predicted
“a great bill,” a compromise “we all will be proud of.”
“He sounds like he thinks he is inventing or reinventing environmentalism.” So said one ranking environmentalist this week, alternately admiring and bemused, of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in the wake of his big green week last week.
The former Mr. Universe was on the cover of Newsweek’s special save-the-planet issue, gave high profile speeches in Washington and New York, and garnered media attention around the world as a champion of the environmental cause in the new era of greenhouse politics. He pushed a cooler, less alarmist sounding message than that of Al Gore, though he praised and defended Gore repeatedly.
Inevitably, a small backlash developed. Some went so far as to claim that Schwarzenegger simply jumped onto the global warming bandwagon at the last minute as part of his reinvention from failed conservative politician to centrist hero.
At the end of last week, a news article appeared in the Los Angeles Times stating: “He is gaining a reputation as the green governor who is marshaling California in the fight against global warming. But Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the last people in the Capitol to join the battle.”
That would be news. If it were accurate.
Actually, Schwarzenegger has had an advanced position on the greenhouse effect and climate change since at least 2002. The omnibus legislation he signed last fall grew in large part out of the work of his own Climate Action Team, which he unveiled at a United Nations conference in San Francisco in the middle of 2005. Originally, his policy initiative on climate change was to be unveiled in his State of the State address in January 2005, but his then team of advisors wanted the focus to be on his more conservative-sounding ballot initiatives.
Actually, though, the story begins in 2002. Then Governor Gray Davis had just succeeded in causing the defeat of moderate Republican Dick Riordan, the former mayor of Los Angeles, in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Environmentalists had no idea where he stood on a bill proposed by then LA Assemblywoman Fran Pavley to sharply curtail the tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gases from new vehicles in California. Talking with the governor on his chartered jet during a statewide flyaround, I sounded him out on the issue.
David was sympathetic to the global warming cause, but thought it was still years away, as I wrote in my column at the time. He would support another measure requiring the state’s utilities to vastly expand the use of renewable energy resources, the so-called Renewable Portfolio Standard, but he was not at all on board with the Pavley bill on greenhouse gas emissions from vehicle tailpipes.
The governor’s stance continued for some months. Meanwhile, Schwarzenegger said privately that he was for it. Davis ultimately signed the Pavley bill, on a bluff overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, with Robert Redford on hand and the fog parting just in time.
The following year, 2003, as he contemplated running for governor in the recall and began making his plans, Schwarzenegger said privately that he would fight to protect the Pavley tailpipe emissions bill from attacks by automakers and the Bush Administration, and that he wanted to go further, both on global warming and on committing the state to an even more expansive renewable energy program. Once in the campaign, he pledged that publicly. As governor, he followed through, moving to defend the Pavley bill and pressing the federal Environmental Protection Agency for the needed clearance to implement the legislation.
In 2004, he famously chastised his staff for not producing the big solar energy bill he had wanted. Quickly cobbled together, it went down to defeat. But he moved with the Public Utilities Commission to expand the Renewable Portfolio Standard requiring utilities to use more sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass to generate electric power.
In 2005, he came back early on with the bipartisan “One Million Solar Roofs” bill. It passed the Senate but was killed in the Assembly, running afoul of special election year politics and Speaker Fabian Nunez. In January 2006, he had the plan enacted through the Public Utilities Commission. The Legislature later passed complementary legislation.
Pavley wanted to do another bill, this time an omnibus global warming bill matching the scope of the report produced by Schwarzenegger’s Climate Action Team, providing more teeth through legislation. She introduced a sketch version of a bill, but Speaker Nunez held it back, reworking it, making himself an author of the bill. By then, the rancor of the past between him and Schwarzenegger had been replaced by an increasingly strong working relationship — the two men had met secretly for two weekends in the late summer of 2005 to avert the special election, with partisans on both sides attempting to scuttle the peace effort — albeit with natural elements of wariness on both sides.
While other big issues were very much in play last year, such as the massive infrastructure package and, of course, the gubernatorial election, negotiation between Schwarzenegger, Nunez, Pavley, and others continued.
Schwarzenegger had every intention of signing a bill. He’d held a Climate Action Summit at San Francisco City Hall in April. After some confusion at that event, the next day he came out firmly for hard caps on greenhouse gas emissions. He certainly didn’t want to veto a big environmental bill as he was tooling around the state in his green campaign bus. But he wanted a bill to his liking. His emphasis was more along the lines of setting hard and fast caps on emission and using the “cap and trade” flexibility of markets and the power of technological innovation to achieve the targets. The Democratic approach, more mistrustful of markets, was more along the lines of “command and control” regulation.
In the end, the bill Schwarzenegger signed, as he predicted in the video above six weeks before he signed it, was a compromise between the two approaches, a political hybrid. Its hybrid nature renders it somewhat vague, prone to continued jostling between command & controllers and cap & traders.
Witness the Legislative Counsel’s digest: “The bill would require the state board to adopt rules and regulations in an open public process to achieve the maximum technologically feasible and cost-effective greenhouse gas emission reductions, as specified. The bill would authorize the state board to adopt market-based compliance mechanisms, as defined, meeting specified requirements.”
The bill does not set out a specific plan. It sets out an approach, one in which markets can be used to implement within a regulatory framework. The plan is to be developed by the Air Resources Board, working with other agencies and experts.
In developing the carbon trading system, incidentally — and cap and trade, as Environmental Defense strongly points out, worked well on acid rain — mistakes made in Western Europe will have to be avoided. But that’s another column.
John Edwards’ forum will be in in Seattle on May 1st. Barack Obama in Trenton, New Jersey, on May 14th. Joe Biden in Miami in May 16th. Hillary Rodham Clinton in Detroit on May 19th. Bill Richardson in Phoenix on June 4th. Dennis Kucinich has not yet been scheduled.
** NEW GUN LEGISLATION. In what is the first move on guns in California since yesterday’s mass murder at Virginia Tech, the state Assembly Public Safety Committee passed a bill by Assembly Majority Leader Kevin De Leon backed by LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa that would make California the first state to do instant background checks on people purchasing handgun ammunition. While the bill was in the works beforehand, prompted by the growing gang problem in Southern California, the tragedy in Virginia may provide it with more impetus. The bill would do several other things as well, including requiring all ammunition vendors to be licensed with the state Department of Justice and banning Internet sales of handgun ammunition.
** BROWN DEMANDS RECORDS OF STUDENT LENDERS. California Attorney General Jerry Brown, probing the college student loan industry, has demanded that San Francisco’s Education Finance Partners and San Diego’s Student Loan Xpress produce their records around financial relationships with the state’s public and private universities and vocational schools.
“Schools and universities in California must be above reproach, and no further burdens should be visited upon students who are already weighed down by escalating student-debt responsibilities,” the former governor said in a statement.
Brown’s state Department of Justice wants to determine whether unlawful payments were made to school personnel.
Among Republicans, Rudy Giuliani bests John McCain, 31% to 18%, with Mitt Romney at 8%.
Only 13% feel the country is on the right track, 59% feel it is on the wrong track. 35% identify themselves as Democrats. 25% identify themselves as Republicans. 40% identify themselves as independents.
** ORIGINAL JAMES BOND (NOT SEAN CONNERY) DIES. The first actor to play James Bond, San Francisco native Barry Nelson, died last week. He took on the role, in an episode of the old Climax Mystery Theater entitled “Casino Royale,” back in 1954. He was played, oddly enough, as an American called “Jimmy” Bond. Peter Lorre plays the villainous Le Chiffre. The episode can be found on the 1967 spoof version of Casino Royale on DVD. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, Nelson, a very familiar character actor of the era, was not quite 90 when he passed on. Ian Fleming sold the rights to “Casino Royale,” his first novel, well before his novels became a sensation. That’s why the film was never done properly — naturally, it should have been the first in the series — until last year, when it became the highest grossing Bond film of all time, passing, among others, our governor’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day on the all-time global box office list.
** VILLARAIGOSA SCHOOL TAKEOVER PLAN LOSES AGAIN. Just a few days after Los Angeles lost its bid for the 2016 Olympic Games, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s plan for a partial takeover of the troubled, sprawling LA Unified School District again lost in court. Following a defeat in LA Superior Court in December, the Villaraigosa plan lost this morning on a 3-0 vote in California’s 2nd District Court of Appeals. The plan, authored in the Legislature by the mayor’s close ally, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, would have shifted much of the authority over the area’s public schools from the elected school board to a Council of Mayors dominated by Villaraigosa. “The citizens of Los Angeles have the constitutional right to decide whether their school board is to be appointed or elected,” said California School Boards Association director Scott Plotkin.
** PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGNING SUSPENDED. Presidential campaigning is suspended today in the wake of the horrific mass killings yesterday at Virginia Tech. The assailant, who reportedly shot 32 people to death before killing himself, has been identified as a 23-year English major, Cho Seung-Hui, from South Korea. This is the largest mass murder ever on an American college campus.
** PRISON BREAK. Negotiations are well along, according to sources in both parties, between the legislative leaders of both parties and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for a deal on California’s prison crisis. It’s a sensitive moment, so we’ll leave details aside.
** HEALTH CARE WEEK. Schwarzenegger is using this week to get his drive for a comprehensive health care package rolling again before heading into the annual May revise of his proposed budget.
** PULITZER PRIZES FOR L.A. WEEKLY, LOS ANGELES TIMES, SACRAMENTO BEE. The LA Weekly, Los Angeles Times, and Sacramento Bee each won one Pulitzer Prize this year. Reporters Kenneth Weiss and Usha Lee McFarling and photographer Rick Loomis of the Los Angeles Times won the explanatory reporting prize for a series on the world’s threatened oceans. Renee Byer of the Sacramento Bee won the feature photography prize for a seris on a single mother and her son losing his fight with cancer. My LA Weekly colleague Jonathan Gold won the criticism prize for his reviews of the gastronomic paradise known as Los Angeles.
** GONZALES HEARING POSTPONED. The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee grilling of embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, set for tomorrow, has been postponed in the wake of the shocking killings of over 30 people at the Virginia Tech campus. This will give Gonzales more time to develop explanations for the mass firings of US attorneys around the country, some of whom were pushing investigations touching on the Bush Administration. It will also, unfortunately for Gonzales, give more time for the development of more strands in the investigation.
** THOUGHTS ON THE PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN FUNDRAISING NUMBERS. Well, the numbers have been coming out in dribs and drabs for a few weeks, with regular reports here and lots of discussion. Now the final numbers for the first quarter of 2007 are available. A few observations.
First, everyone is marveling at how much higher the totals are since the last open race in 2000. But no one mentions an obvious fact. The individual contribution limit has been raised since then, from $1,000 to $2,300. So naturally the numbers are much higher now.
Next, it’s interesting to note that Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton has more cash on hand than the three top Republicans — Rudy Giuliani, John McCain, and Mitt Romney — all combined. This is very unusual, in that Republicans almost always outraise Democrats in presidential races not involving a Democratic incumbent. Not this time.
Also of note is the wide margin by which Barack Obama outraised Hillary Clinton during the first quarter in funds that can be used in the primaries. He raised nearly $25 million in primary funds to her $19 million. She outraised him by a slim margin among primary and general election funds combined, $26 to $25 million. Yet she has a big advantage in cash on hand because she transferred $10 million raised for her Senate re-election last year, all of which can be used in the primaries.
So perhaps it is a bit misleading to focus on Obama’s edge in Q1, since Clinton contributors have been giving for this primary campaign for longer than that.
** LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT ON CALIFORNIA’S CLIMATE CHANGE LAW. A budget subcommittee of the California state Senate will meet today about the Schwarzenegger Administration’s budget proposal for climate change programs and is expected to suggest that some of them are out of phase with state law. The subcommittee is also likely to urge the adoption of a Climate Report Card on how each state agency is doing on reducing greenhouse gases. The administration already has a similar program in the works.
On the Republican side, Rudy Giuliani leads with 27% to John McCain at 24%, Fred Thompson 11%, Mitt Romney 10%, and Newt Gingrich 8%.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton leads Barack Obama, 36% to 28%, with John Edwards third at 15%.
You don’t have the movement to Edwards that exists in one or two other polls, nor do you have Fred Thompson running second among Republicans as in the real outlier of the various polls, an LA Times poll last week.
Bill Clinton’s popularity has gone up sharply among all voters, with 53% saying they miss him as president and 41% saying they’re glad he’s gone. In 2001, only 38% said they missed Clinton. In 2004, 46% said they missed Bill Clinton.
Hillary Clinton has a 17-point lead over Obama among black voters.
** AN EASY RHETORICAL POINT TO RECOGNIZE AND REMEMBER. Advocates opposed to any development whatsoever can claim that it will contribute to the greenhouse effect and climate change. Because that is true of virtually anything, at least initially. Even manufacturing and installing solar arrays and wind turbines will contribute to climate change. In the short run.
** Track global and national energy prices in near real time via Bloomberg. Crude oil prices have gone over $64 per barrel on anticipation of heavy US driving in the late spring and in advance of this weekend’s presidential election in Nigeria. Dozens of people were killed during Nigerian legislative elections this past weekend.