Tag Archives: Governor Jerry Brown

THREE DAYS LEFT For California’s Gov. Jerry Brown to Sign TRUST Act

California’s Governor, Jerry Brown, only has until THIS weekend to sign the bill, and we’re asking everyone to call (916) 445-2841 to ask Gov. Brown to sign the bill TODAY.

Lawrence Downes in the New York Times today explains the significance of the TRUST Act:

The bill requires state and local authorities to be more prudent when the federal government wants to use their jails as immigration holding cells.

Presently, when Immigration and Customs Enforcement runs inmates’ fingerprints through its databases and finds someone it believes is deportable, it often asks local authorities to hold that person to be picked up for deportation. Most police departments try to comply, though doing so is voluntary.

Under California’s bill, local police would agree to hold inmates for ICE only if they have been convicted or charged with a serious or violent felony. If the inmates are noncriminals or minor offenders who would otherwise be let go, they would not be turned over to ICE.

As the bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, said: “We want police to distinguish between the woman selling tamales and the gang member who has a record.”

While current US immigration policies are supposed to focus on deporting criminal immigrants while de-prioritizing the removal of hardworking immigrant mothers and fathers, the reality is that 400,000 people are deported every year, many of whom have no criminal records whatsoever.

Extremist, anti-immigrant states like Arizona and Alabama want to exacerbate this problem, and have passed laws pushing for the mass deportation of immigrants.  California wants to take a different tack, and head in the opposite direction: it wants to direct limited resources toward removing criminals, while staying away from the persecution of neighbors, friends, and community members.

As Lawrence Downes finishes, “Mr. Brown should listen to the voices of the immigrants, civil-rights advocates, police chiefs and sheriffs, local elected officials, members of Congress, Catholic bishops and other religious leaders who have implored him to lead California out of that wilderness. He should sign the Trust Act.”

You can help turn this bill into law.  Call Gov. Brown at (916) 445-2841 and ask him to sign the TRUST Act today.

Bill to end shameful legacy of racism for farmworkers can go to CA governor this Labor Day weekend

As we we celebrate Labor Day weekend, please remember that some workers are still not entitled to the 8 hour work day that many of us take for granted.

It has been 74 years since farm workers and domestic workers were left out of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, the landmark federal law setting minimum wages and overtime for nearly all American workers.

To win votes from Southern lawmakers back in 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was forced to exempt farm and domestic workers. Nearly all of those workers in the Southern U.S. then were African Americans. Today in California and across the country, most farm workers are Latinos.

The United Farm Workers is sponsoring AB 1313, by Assemblymember Michael Allen (D-Santa Rosa), to provide overtime pay for farm workers after eight hours a day or 40 hours a week. This bill passed the state Senate and will soon be on California Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk. Can you please send him an email today asking him to sign this vital bill?

The exclusion of farm workers from overtime after eight hours was wrong in 1938. It is wrong now. The time has come for it to end. Progress was made in 1976 when Gov Jerry Brown permitted California’s farm workers to receive overtime after 10 hours of work. But there is more to be done. California provides 80 percent of the nation’s fresh produce and as a result its agricultural laws set the standard for the nation. Tell Gov. Brown to end this shameful legacy of racism in California by signing AB 1313.

Bill to end shameful legacy of racism for farm workers can soon go to Calif. governor this Labor Day weekend

Gov. Jerry Brown Should Sign the TRUST Act and Be “Anti-Arizona” on Immigration

Cross-Posted at California Progress Report and America’s Voice Education Fund.

By Frank Sharry, Executive Director, America’s Voice Education Fund:

Years ago, California tried to take the punitive and xenophobic approach to immigration with Prop 187 — a 1994 ballot initiative whose stated goal was to keep undocumented immigrants from receiving public benefits, but would have essentially turned California into a police state for immigrants. Fortunately, Proposition 187 was invalidated by the courts.  But instead of learning from California, states like Arizona, Alabama, and a handful of others are repeating the same mistakes and passing similar laws designed to turn anyone who looks or sounds “like an immigrant” into a suspect and make them feel unwelcome in their own homes.

But last week, the California State Senate showed just how far the state has come-by passing Assemblyman Tom Ammiano’s (D-San Francisco) TRUST Act, the antithesis of Arizona’s anti-immigrant SB 1070 law.

Arizona’s law attacks immigrants by making local cops turn them over to the federal government for deportation-destroying the trust between immigrants and local police. Unfortunately, the Obama Administration is also pushing for local-federal cooperation on immigration through its so-called “Secure Communities” program, which turns routine police work into an immigration status check, and has led to record deportations of immigrants who have never committed a crime.  Under “Secure Communities,” undocumented persons are often detained for very minor violations, such as driving without a license, and end up on the path to deportation.  In California alone, more than 75,000 immigrants have been deported since Secure Communities began there in 2009, and more than half of those immigrants were either convicted of no crime or convicted only of minor offenses.

The TRUST Act, which has the support of over 100 immigrant rights groups, police chiefs, and mayors, seeks to restore the public trust police need for community safety. The TRUST Act would address some of the problems with Secure Communities by telling police to only send immigrants who have serious convictions to ICE for deportation.  It would allow hardworking immigrant mothers and fathers to go to work and live their lives with less fear of harassment and deportation, and would mend the rift between immigrant communities and the police that is vital to the success of community policing.  This makes the TRUST Act essentially the opposite of Arizona’s SB 1070: while SB 1070 treats every immigrant as a priority for deportation, the TRUST Act lifts up legitimate threats and zeroes in on true public-safety priorities.

The bill has moved on from the California Senate to the Assembly, which is highly likely to pass it.  Next, it will move to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk, and Latino and community leaders are expecting the Governor to sign it and show the rest of the country what smart and fair immigration policy looks like.

The TRUST Act is simply a common-sense policy-in a world of limited resources and police power, law enforcement should target dangerous criminals for deportation, not hardworking mothers and college students.  And when criminals at large threaten all of us, those with information must be encouraged to come forward-not scared away from doing so. Opponents of the bill are simply relying on their tired talking point that anything short of deporting 11 million undocumented immigrants is “amnesty.” They’ve got nothing else to offer.

We hope that Governor Brown is ready to lead California full-circle, rejecting its Proposition 187 past and sending a message to states like Arizona and Alabama that mass deportation is not the answer.  Immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is.

‘Medicare for All’ Would Solve California’s Budget Deficit

by Jennifer Epps

In Canada, the only way to see a doctor is to call one up and make an appointment. Or walk in to their office. In Britain, the only way you’ll get surgery is if you actually need it. And yet State Senator Mark Leno and 44 co-sponsors want to bring this kind of healthcare system to everyone in California! Imagine.

In fact, the California legislature twice approved such a system, in which private providers carry on as independently as always but the public pays their bills directly (rather than indirectly as it does now, through a patchwork quilt of emergency care, programs to bring healthcare to the poorest and the elderly, and subsidies for insurance premiums.) Both times Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill. But Senator Leno, a longtime campaigner for single-payer — a.k.a. “Medicare-for-All” — has brought the bill back again as SB 810. Last week, the bill fell just two votes shy of passage with a tally of 19-15 in favor. (It needs 21 to pass because it requires more than a simple majority.) Sen. Leno plans to push for another vote under Reconsideration, because several Democratic state senators abstained, but the deadline to win their support is today.

(Edit by Brian…More over the flip)

This single-payer bill is championed by Campaign for a Healthy California, a coalition which includes the California Nurses Association, Physicians for a National Health Program, California Alliance for Retired Americans, Progressive Democrats of America, California School Employee Association, Democracy for America, the California Health Professional Student Alliance, and many others. They have put out action alerts to supporters of SB 810 to call on five key state senators to vote Yes: Los Angeles area state senators Alex Padilla, Rod Wright, and Ron Calderon; San Diego area senator Juan Vargas, and Fresno/Bakersfield senator Michael Rubio. If supporters can bring just two of these state senators around in time for a Reconsideration vote today, then patients in California could very soon be able to choose which doctor to see (rather than submitting to a ‘network’ or their HMO). And the leading cause of bankruptcy for both the insured and uninsured – medical bills – could be eliminated.

A lot of people – i.e. all other advanced democracies in the world – think access to healthcare is a basic human right, and that organizing that access is one of the functions of a government and of a civilized society. In fact, in poll after poll, the majority of Americans support a publicly-funded universal health care system as well.

But never mind that. This is a time of economic struggle, an overstretched state budget, and financial uncertainty. Giving the government the job of administering health insurance at this particular juncture is above all else…the most fiscally conservative thing to do.

SB 810 would eliminate private health insurance entirely. All Californians’ healthcare costs would be paid for from one big pool. It’s just like the way people get insurance coverage now, except much much simpler, everyone would be covered, and the profit motive would be removed. And making health insurance a government-run program would dramatically reduce a huge portion of health care expenses that are eaten away by needlessly complicated administration costs. It’s the exact opposite of what the bill’s detractors pretend. Rather than creating more bureaucracy or paperwork, SB 810 would very quickly whittle down the costs of administering healthcare, currently at 33% of California’s total healthcare spending, to under 5%.

Providers would only have to bill one entity, a new California Healthcare Agency, and would have no need to chase after patients for unpaid balances, or argue with insurers about whether the insured really does need that organ transplant or dialysis. That’s how Sen. Leno’s site can claim that SB 810 would save California $20 billion in the very first year by reducing administrative costs alone.

Moreover, health insurance commissioners would not need to watch over insurers and fight their premium hikes on behalf of consumers (health insurance premiums grow 4 times faster than wages). After SB 810, there would be no premiums. There would be no deductibles. There would be no co-pays. There would be no private health insurance.

These companies would still find a way to sell insurance for non-essential services — just as in Canada insurers offer policies for things like private rooms should the insured be hospitalized. Insurance companies are nothing if not resourceful, and we shouldn’t worry about them too much. The big change would be that with a single-payer program, insurance companies could no longer build their business by keeping the whole health system stratified.

The U.S. spends twice as much of its GDP on healthcare as other wealthy nations do. It spends more, and gets less. Americans receive less doctor consultations, hospital care, and surgery than people in other industrialized nations, yet our healthcare costs are higher. Insurance companies, by insisting on their privileged position as middlemen between patients and physicians, balloon healthcare costs out of all proportion. Far from delivering medical care more cheaply, these companies take money from patients – and from non-patients, like those who put off getting care because they can’t afford their deductibles or co-pays but who keep sending in premiums to ward off catastrophe – and apply it to profit dividends, CEOs’ bonuses and even marketing to win over more customers. And all we get in exchange is the 37th best healthcare in the world, according to the WHO.

In addition to Big Insurance, we have Big Pharma driving up healthcare costs. Countries like Canada began long ago to use the leverage of government to negotiate down drug prices, but in the U.S., the government behaves as if it is powerless in the face of whatever pharmaceutical companies wish to charge. SB 810 would tackle prescription drug pricing in California by using its bulk purchasing power. Sen. Leno estimates that such savings on medication, as well as equipment, would save the state $5.2 billion.

Lack of or inadequate insurance leads many to wait until their health is seriously threatened and then seek care in Emergency wards, rather than getting preventative screenings or catching the problem at the initial symptoms. This is not only costly to the hospital which provides the Emergency services, and to taxpayers who have to make up the costs, but it escalates costs in general, since by the time these patients seek care they are in need of much greater intervention. SB 810 would transfer the emphasis to preventative care and primary care, and thereby save Californians an estimated $3.4 billion.

In short, Sen. Leno maintains that SB 810 would be fully funded from the money we already spend on health care, and that, to boot, California would save a total of $29 billion just in the first year.

Considering that these cost-cutting measures would completely solve the state’s fiscal crisis without either cutting social services or raising taxes, if Republicans really were fiscal conservatives they should have jumped on board with full support for SB 810. But of course insurance and pharmaceutical companies would be pretty unhappy with them, and campaign donations would stop flowing.

Considering that the Republicans’ objections to the federal Affordable Healthcare Act was that it would force people to buy private health insurance – the result of the Obama Administration’s barring single-payer advocates from all planning sessions – you would think that they would all be in favor of the freedom that SB 810 would bring. But of course it’s hardly the freedom of the 99% that matters.

SB 810 has strong backing from ordinary, non-radical Californians. Sen. Leno’s website lists 172 groups (unions and professional association, religious groups, city governments, Democratic Clubs, etc.) who endorse SB 810 and who have been working hard to make California the 2nd state in the nation to enact single-payer.

Single-payer advocates affiliated with the Campaign for a Healthy California include the American Medical Student Association, Consumer Federation of California, League of Women Voters of California, Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party, Amnesty International USA, California National Organization of Women, Courage Campaign, California Teachers Association, California Federation of Teachers, and California Faculty Association.

The bill’s champions expect that Governor Jerry Brown would happily follow in the footsteps of Vermont’s Governor Peter Shumlin and sign a single-payer bill. (The passage last spring of a publicly-run health insurance system made Vermont the first state in the U.S. to take this bold step.) If Sacramento fails to pass SB 810 this year because one Democratic senator voted No (Calderon) and four Democrats abstained (Padilla, Wright, Vargas, and Rubio), there will be a lot of very disappointed people in this state.

There will also continue to be 7 million Californians without insurance. Even after the federal Affordable Healthcare Act kicks in, 3 million Californians will remain uninsured, says Sen. Leno. Despite the fuss the country went through over health insurance reform, so-called ‘Obamacare’ would only manage to cover four out of five at best. And it is predicted that many who will still be unable to afford health insurance will choose to pay the fine instead. We will still have a tiered health care system. And we will stay pay more for less.

Alex Padilla (Pacoima/LA area)
Capitol – 916-651-4020
District – 818-901-5588

Rod Wright (Los Angeles area)
(916) 651-4025
(310) 412-0393

Juan Vargas (San Diego area)
Sac: (916) 651-4040
Dist: (619) 409-7690

Michael Rubio (Fresno/Bakersfield area)
Sac: (916) 651-4016
Dist: (661) 395-2620

Ron Calderon (Los Angeles area)
Sac: (916) 651-4030
Dist: (323) 890-2790

Governor Brown vetoes another pro-transit bill

(Cross-posted from Groundswell, the California League of Conservation Voters blog.)

Every day for the past couple of weeks I've been checking Governor Brown's website to see if he's taken action on California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV) and Green California's priority legislation. I've also been following press stories closely to look for hints on whether he's going to sign or veto particular bills. And most days, not much happens. On Monday though, Brown posted an update on bill signings and vetoes. I had almost reached the end of the list, thinking he again hadn't acted on any of our priority bills, when I saw something very sad – our governor had vetoed AB 650 (Blumenfield), which would have established a task force to find solutions to California's transit funding crisis.

This is particularly upsetting to me – both as a transit rider and a environmental advocate – since this was not the first pro-transit bill Brown vetoed this year. This summer he vetoed SB 582 (Yee), which would have established a commuter benefit pilot program to encourage employees to ride public transit, carpool, or bike to work.

In his AB 650 veto message, he wrote this about the proposed task force:

This is a matter well within the jurisdication and competence of the Assembly and Senate Transportation Committees. Moreover, Caltrans and the California Transportation Commission are also equipped to probe into these matters.

Rather than creating a new entity, let's use the resources we have.

I understand Governor Brown's point here, but unfortunately, none of these bodies have succeeded in solving or getting close to finding a solution to California's transportation funding crisis. Over the past several years, the State has cut funding to public transit multiple times. Transit agencies throughout the state are hurting, and most have been forced to cut service and/or raise fairs.

I don't own a car so our transportation funding crisis has had a big impact on my life. This summer, my bus fare increased for the third time in recent years, and last year the bus line that used to take me to my favorite park was cut entirely.

But at least I can still travel to work quickly via transit. Others aren’t so lucky: service cuts have forced them to walk long distances or to take circuitous routes with multiple transfers to reach their destinations. Here in Oakland I've heard many stories of students who don't show up for class because they cannot afford the increased bus fares.

Public transit is key to meeting California's greenhouse gas reduction and air quality goals.  In fact, a single person can reduce her greenhouse gas emissions by 4,400 pounds annually and cut production of deadly air pollutants by 90% if she takes public transport instead of driving alone.

With so much at stake, it would have been great if our existing state agencies and committees would have addressed this growing funding problem sooner, before it reached crisis level. But they haven't, which is why Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield authored AB 650. As he explained in a guest blog post last month:

Assembly Bill (AB) 650 establishes a blue ribbon task force to craft a public transportation development plan for California based on an assessment of what transit we have, what amount of transit we need, and how we can finance transit construction.  The task force will be composed of 12 experts in finance, transit, the environment, and public health who must complete their plan by September 30, 2012.  This work would be undertaken, in part, through workshops conducted across the state.  And, it would be financed from existing transit moneys provided through California's gas tax, specifically those devoted to transit planning.

The blue ribbon task force is a tried and true way to help California find solutions to complex and enduring problems, like public transportation.  In recent years, task forces have helped California enact comprehensive fisheries protections off our coast and achieve breakthrough reforms that balance our state's water supply needs with environmental protection.

To meet California’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, we must invest in transit to make it convenient for current riders and to attract new riders. This task force would have been a huge step in that direction so I am disappointed that Governor Brown vetoed AB 650. I hope though that he will urge the legislative transportation committees as well as the California Transportation Commission to focus on this incredibly important issue.

AB 650 was not signed into law, but the bill moved the conversation on transportation funding forward. For this I am incredibly grateful to Assemblymember Bob Blumenfield, CLCV members who took action on this bill, Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club and the allied Green California organizations that moved this bill forward.

Kill the OC Fairgrounds Boondoggle; Take a Whack at Lobbyists

Stories at Voice of OC here and here as well as a story right here at Calitics continue to reveal the shenanigans at the Orange County Fair Board.

Today we learned that the FPPC has begun an investigation of former Senate Republican Leader Dick Ackerman for illegal lobbying.

Governor Brown has three choices as to how to unravel the mess that Schwarzenegger and his cronies created in Orange County.

The first choice is to negotiate with representatives from the Orange County Fair Board, who have been contriving some “revenue sharing plan”. Hopefully, the Governor and his staff will have a chance to read  this profile of Fair Board Member Dave Ellis , current Fair Board Chair and shadowy Republican political operative. Given Ellis’ actions and contempt for open government laws, we’re hoping that Jerry Brown just summarily fires Ellis when he arrives in Sacramento as one of the Fair Board’s authorized negotiators.

Dealing with the Orange County Fair Board would be the governmental equivalent of negotiating with terrorists.

The second choice is to eat the fruit of the poisonous tree, and accept the pending offer from a group of local Orange County millionaires to purchase the Fairgrounds.  

After Dave Ellis’ schemes collapsed under the weight of public scrutiny, Schwarzenegger continued the bidding process, this time to the advantage of other Republican insiders, operating under the name FMW.

FMW has made a full press offense trying to justify their deal, with full page advertising in local papers and support from newly elected Assemblyman Allan “Minute” Mansoor.

But there are a lot of question about this group, and about the players.

In the words of Dave Padilla, former Fair Grounds Director, and the only Director who refused to play with Ellis’schemes,

Given that the deal makes no financial sense for the state, and given that the community is overwhelmingly opposed to the sale, many have searched throughout the process to find the governor’s (Schwarzenegger’s)  motivation. The focus of the “why” speculation now seems to be on financial payoff to his political supporters…

And, given all we know now, there certainly is a pattern of events to justify that suspicion. First we find out that Joanne Kozberg, a partner in California Strategies, one of the state’s most powerful lobbying firms, chaired the governor’s study that first raised and legitimized the idea of selling the Fairgrounds. Then we find out that Gary Hunt, a partner of Joanne Kozberg in California Strategies and the governor’s former chief fundraiser has been representing FMW in what is, I am sure, a very lucrative contract throughout the so-called negotiations to buy the Fairgrounds.

There seem to be as many questions surrounding the genesis of the FMW bid as there are surrounding the mysterious midnight Big 5 deal that put the OC Fairgrounds up for sale.

The third choice, and the one that offers great political capital, is to reject both offers outright, and use the opportunity to attack corporate cronyism and wasteful practice of local  government agencies paying hundreds of dollars an hour to overpriced Sacramento lobbyists.

Our new Governor has already launched surprise attacks on two of the great boondoggles in the state – redevelopment and enterprise zones.

Now it’s time to take a stab at the half a billion dollar a year spent on lobbying in Sacramento.  Take a whack at the guys at Capitol Strategies, Platinum Advisors, and the rest of the high dollar consultants who put together deals. Propose a bill that will preclude any local government funding for lobbyists, since it appears that local  government agencies, at 83 million a year, are the number one source of lobbying funds.

If local governments are on the ropes financially, let them cut lobbyists, lawyers and consultants before they start laying off teachers, paramedics, and police officers.  

Undoing Schwarzenegger’s Damage – The OC Fairground

Within the next month we will  see how Governor Brown deals with some of the left-over issues that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger could not muscle through, including the sale of state assets to well-connected political cronies.

Much attention is being paid to the sale and lease back of state office buildings, but in Orange County, we continue to be amazed by the unfolding  evidence of the conspiracy behind the attempt to sell the Orange County Fairgrounds.

Is conspiracy too harsh a word?  Let’s look at a document dump that was partially unveiled this week by nonprofit investigative journalists in a voice of OC story. These documents begin to show how an Assembly bill to sell the Orange County Fairgrounds suddenly materialized on July 23, 2009 and was passed in the middle of the night without hearings or public notice.

It’s a long complicated story, and the Schwarzenegger administration was desperately trying to close a deal before they left town, only to be held up by a court order.

An obscure Sacramento joint powers authority, the California Construction Authority (CCA), responded promptly to document requests and shared documents that the Orange County Fair Board had failed to produce.  The CCA was the agency where OC Fair board members buried their $160,000 in spending to lobbyists so that the details and expenditures could be hidden from public records requests and kept from agendas. Lobbying activities and secret plans to create a corporation to purchase the fairgrounds were billed through the CCA under a contract to  an environmental consulting firm, LSA Associates, Inc. LSA had been retained in January 2009 for environmental studies of replacing the equestrian center with additional parking, after serving since 2000 as the land use consultant for master planning of the Orange County Fairgrounds.

The Voice of OC story focuses on the the billing records of  former State Senator Dick Ackerman’s law firm, Nossaman LLP. If you don’t remember Dick Ackerman, he was the Senate Majority Leader until he was termed out at the end of 2008. Billing records show that Ackerman was paid $500 an hour to  contact state agencies, legislators and even paid to do research on whether his effort violated the restriction on former legislators lobbying their previous colleagues.

An investigation by the OC District Attorney cleared Ackerman, although it is difficult to believe that they ever  bothered checking his billing records.  If they had, they would have had a very difficult time reconciling their conclusion with the details, and with the dates of the action.  

There was no public discussion or fair board approval to hire Ackerman’s legal firm, Nossaman LLP. or the powerhouse lobbyists Platinum Advisors, until a Fair Board meeting of July 28th, 2009. But the billing records from Nossaman show that Ackerman and his firm  began working on May 23rd, and incurred $50,000 in charges before they were authorized by any board action.

Similarly, the lobbying firm Platinum Advisors billed $25,000 for their services before July 28th.  A series of meetings, conferences, an appraisal, and other services were billed against the unrelated LSA contracts which were only written to cover land use planning.

The mastermind behind the scheme was Fair Board member Dave Ellis, a well-connected political operative and Fair Board member who had 13 documented meetings and conference calls  noted on the billing records before there was any discussion or approval to hire the various  well-connected lobbyists and consultants.

What were Ellis, Ackerman, and their colleagues doing in their calls to Fred Aguiar in the Governor’s office, powerful State Senator Dennis Hollingsworth, and local members of the Orange County legislative delegation? Every indication is that they were getting legislation written that would authorize the sale of the Fairgrounds, and at the same time organizing the bidding process so that a nonprofit corporation they created would have the inside track at purchasing the property.

Here’s one of the entries in the Nossaman LLP billing entries that shows what was really happening,

07/17/09 (by JPE) Conference with D. Ackerman re status of appraisal and controlling bid process/conditions of sale and purchase agreement. Telephone conference with F. Aquiar

Six days before anyone knew that the sale of the Fairgrounds would be a last minute addition to the Big 5 all night budget marathon, eleven days before Dave Ellis expressed surprise and a motion was made authorizing him to hire whatever experts he needed, they were figuring out how to control the bid process and conditions of sale with an appraisal that they have even now failed to disclose.

State law has many prohibitions against the Fair Board shenanigans, but they become relatively toothless when your local District Attorney has a history of ignoring even the most egregious violations.

However, there is one law that provides for treble damages for phony bills, and that is the False Claims Act, California Code section 12650 to 12656, which enacts stiff penalties for anyone who

  (1) Knowingly presents or causes to be presented to an officer or

employee of the state or of any political subdivision thereof, a

false claim for payment or approval.

  (2) Knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used a false

record or statement to get a false claim paid or approved by the

state or by any political subdivision.

  (3) Conspires to defraud the state or any political subdivision by

getting a false claim allowed or paid by the state or by any

political subdivision.

Is it a false claim to submit billing for environmental planning when the real work that was done was something completely different?

If it wasn’t wrong, why did the Fair Board and its CEO, Steve Beazley, go to such lengths to cover it up, failing to provide documents in response to written public records act requests?

As Attorney General, Jerry Brown got wind of the stench of this deal and declined to continue to represent the 32nd Agricultural District, which is  the state agency that actually runs the Orange County Fair.

Now the Governor’s path forward is clear.

First, demand the resignation of all of the directors of the Orange County Fair Board, and ask for a thorough investigation by both the California Attorney General and  US Attorney’s office, not just of  Ackerman’s role, the actions of Frank Haselton at LSA, the actions of Ellis and CEO Beazley, but also of the apparent false claims and  numerous, repeated  actions taken in secret.

Second, reject the deal that Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to push through at the last minute until all of the dirty laundry has been aired and the public has had a chance to see the inner workings of government by crony. There are too many questions that need to be answered for this process to go forward unchallenged.

In Orange County, the county fair was operated for years as a political patronage machine, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in free concert tickets doled out by the political cronies appointed to the board. Debbie Corona, wife of convicted felon Sheriff Mike Corona, was one of the directors who took full advantage of thousands of free concert tickets.

Fair Board members tried to obtain control of the property so that they could restore their patronage machine, and they pretended that this was a “budget solution” with “local control” which was going to help California balance its massive debt.

Jerry Brown gave a great State of the State address, with one signature line,

I have not come here to embrace delay or denial, but to get the job done. If you have solutions that are truly viable, by all means present them. We need everyone’s best thinking.

My best thinking is to remember the real lessons of the last Progressive Era, including open government and end to patronage and cronyism.

Let’s start right now with the Orange County Fairgrounds.