Flap’s California Morning Collection: June 27, 2011

Posted Posted in California, California Economy, Flap's California Morning Collection, Freedom of Speech, Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas

A morning collection of links and comments about my home, California.

Tabulations From a Survey of California Registered Voters about their Attentiveness to Government and Politics and the Media Sources They Use to Obtain This Information

A new Field Poll says there’s an uptick in the number of those who aren’t following government and political news.

The poll, out today, says about 25 percent of California voters say they pay attention to such news “only now and then” or “hardly at all.”

That’s up from 16 percent who said so in 1979 and 20 percent in 1999.

What do voters list as a main source of public affairs news? A majority, 56 percent, said television, while 44 percent said the Internet and 33 percent read newspapers.

And where are they getting that television news? Twenty eight percent said CNN, 22 percent said Fox, and 8 percent said Comedy Central’s The Daily Show.

Dan Walters: California vs. Texas provides very stark job comparison

On June 17, the California Employment Development Department reported a tiny decline – just two-tenths of 1 percent – in the state’s unemployment rate to 11.7 percent in May.

It was, to put it mildly, underwhelming, since a deeper look at the data reveals that the decline was not because payrolls had expanded markedly, but rather because the state’s labor force had shrunk as jobless workers gave up looking for work.

California’s “seasonally adjusted” non-agricultural employment had increased by a minuscule 2,000 in the preceding year while the “unadjusted data” showed a decline of 40,000 employed people from a year earlier.

The Texas Workforce Commission released a similar report on June 17 – similar in form, but decidedly dissimilar in tone.

Texas’ unemployment rate was 8 percent, two-thirds of California’s jobless rate, and its seasonally adjusted year-to-year job growth was a robust 2 percent (2.7 percent in private employment).

“We’ve added 92,300 jobs in Texas so far in 2011,” said TWC Commissioner Ronny Congleton. “That is a trend that we hope to continue until all Texans have good jobs earning good wages.”

Texas had fewer than a million unemployed workers in May while California had more than 2 million. Texas’ jobless rate was under the national average, while California’s was the second highest in the nation. Texas has accounted for nearly half of the nation’s job creation since 2009.

“Growth in the Texas economy is gaining steam,” says a recent analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Clearly, Texas and other states are emerging from recession while California’s recovery, if it exists, is decidedly weak, as several new economic reports note.

Court overturns ban on video game sales to kids

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that it is unconstitutional to bar children from buying or renting violent video games, saying government doesn’t have the authority to “restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed” despite complaints that the popular and fast-changing technology allows the young to simulate acts of brutality.

On a 7-2 vote, the high court upheld a federal appeals court decision to throw out California’s ban on the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Sacramento had ruled that the law violated minors’ rights under the First Amendment, and the high court agreed.

“No doubt a state possesses legitimate power to protect children from harm,” said Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion. “But that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed.”

Video game makers and sellers celebrated their victory, saying the decision puts them on the same legal footing as other forms of entertainment. “There now can be no argument whether video games are entitled to the same protection as books, movies, music, and other expressive entertainment,” said Bo Andersen, president and CEO of the Entertainment Merchants Association.

Dodgers file for bankruptcy protection

The Los Angeles Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection in a Delaware court Monday, blaming Major League Baseball for refusing to approve a multibillion-dollar TV deal that owner Frank McCourt was counting on to keep the troubled team afloat.

The Chapter 11 financing permits the Dodgers to use $150 million for daily operations and buys time for the team to seek a media deal and ensure the team’s long-term financial stability, the Dodgers said in a news release.

“There will be no disruption to the Dodgers’ day-to-day business, the baseball team, or to the Dodger fans,” the statement said.

Dodgers players will be paid on Thursday, a source confirmed to ESPN’s Tim Kurkjian.

Baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced last week that he wouldn’t approve a Dodgers television deal with Fox Sports that reportedly was worth up to $3 billion. That left McCourt cash-starved and facing the prospect of missing the team payroll this Thursday, leading to an MLB takeover.

McCourt defended his running of the team, saying he had made it profitable and successful. He also said the Dodgers have tried for almost a year to get Selig to approve the Fox transaction.

“The Dodgers have delivered time and again since I became owner, and that’s been good for baseball,” McCourt said. “We turned the team around financially after years of annual losses before I purchased the team. We invested $150 million in the stadium. We’ve had excellent on-field performance, including playoff appearances four times in seven years.

“And we brought the Commissioner a media rights deal that would have solved the cash flow challenge I presented to him a year ago, when his leadership team called us a ‘model franchise.’ Yet he’s turned his back on the Dodgers, treated us differently, and forced us to the point we find ourselves in today. I simply cannot allow the Commissioner to knowingly and intentionally be in a position to expose the Dodgers to financial risk any longer. It is my hope that the Chapter 11 process will create a fair and constructive environment to get done what we couldn’t achieve with the Commissioner directly.”

Enjoy your morning!

Flap’s California Morning Collection: June 21, 2011

Posted Posted in Bud Selig, California, Dianne Feinstein, Flap's California Morning Collection, Frank McCourt, Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Marathon

A morning collection of links and comments about my home, California.

The buzz in the Capitol today is that long time Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein is not polling well in the latest California Field Poll. In fact, her numbers are the lowest for her since 1992. If any pundit really thinks DiFi is vulnerable, I will refer them to Carly Fiorina who was the last Republican challenger to a California Democratic U.S. Senator who was deemed vulnerable = recently re-elected Barbara Boxer.

DiFi is not going anywhere except back to the Senate, barring any health problems. But, I wonder who the GOP will run in 2012 as the sacrificial lamb?

The poll graphic:

In Los Angeles, everyone is talking about the L.A. Dodgers and the owner Frank McCourt. The Commissioner of Major League Baseball who took over control of the team some time ago from McCourt disapproved a new Fox Sports television contract which may precipitate a sale of the team, lawsuits, and/or a bankruptcy filing. Likely, there will be all of the above, but most folks in L.A. want McCourt and his wife to be gone and the Dodgers to concentrate on baseball.

Oh yeah and McCourt owns the Los Angeles Marathon too. I might just have to run in Pasadena next Spring.

OK – on to the links:

Steinberg raises legal questions over pay issue

Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, made it clear that there are legal implications — lawsuit, anyone? — with the decision on legislative pay that state Controller John Chiang is expected to make Tuesday.

Steinberg suggested that any decision by the Controller would be legally questionable.

The question that got Steinberg reverting back to the lawyer that he is: Will you be able to hold out and negotiate all summer if your members are not being paid.

The unspoken suggestion: that legislators would cave on demands of $2 billion to $6 billion more in cuts to schools, universities and public safety to ensure they get their salary and daily expenses.

“It is a bad precedent for anybody in the executive branch to question the quality of a budget passed by the Legislature,” he told reporters after a quick Senate session Monday. “Because to do so is to shift the balance of power … in a way that is dangerous.

“Think about if there was a governor, a treasurer or controller from the other party and they were unhappy with the quality of the budget the Legislature passed, they would have the ability — if Proposition 25 is interpreted in a way some suggest — to say it’s not good enough, we withhold your pay until you make all of the decisions and and all of the cuts that we believe are appropriate.”

The follow-up question: Could withholding legislators’ pay “tip the balance” to legislators accepting the governor’s cuts?

“If it is an attempt to tip the balance, then it is a conflict of interest like California has never seen,” Steinberg said.

Salary matters are best decided by the Citizens Compensation Commission, Steinberg said, and legislators should not be forced to determine their vote based on whether or not they would be paid.

Why McCourt must go, from one baseball blogger

Many kudos on baseball websites today for blogger Larry Behrendt’s detailing of the case against Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, from the interlocking companies that mean the Dodgers now pay rent for their own stadium and parking lots, to the ticket revenue that gets drained elsewhere, to the huge debt and lavish personal spending. Behrendt posted before commissioner Bud Selig stepped in today to nix the deal with Fox. But that’s exactly what Behrendt felt Selig must do…..

Over the next two weeks, Bud Selig will face the defining moment of his career as Commissioner of Major League Baseball….

There is no doubt: Commissioner Selig should reject the Dodgers-Fox contract, seize control of the Dodgers, and sell the team to a responsible owner who will (with the grateful help of millions of my fellow left coasters) restore the team to its former greatness. Selig must act to prevent Frank McCourt from continuing to plunder the team. Selig must act before the team is saddled with even greater debt, while the team’s reputation can still be salvaged and the team is still marketable to a worthy owner….

How much have the McCourts managed to extract from the Dodgers? Well, if we ignore the debt the Dodgers took on so that the McCourts could buy the Dodgers but include the McCourt salaries, the McCourts have withdrawn from the Dodgers anywhere from $109 million (Frank McCourt’s estimate) to $141 million (Jamie McCourt’s estimate). The truth is, the real amount the McCourts plundered from the Dodgers may be more than $141 million – at the moment, all we have to go on is what each McCourt has been willing to admit to.
I(In case you were wondering, during their ownership of the Dodgers the McCourts have paid not one penny in income tax.)

Is Lynn Woolsey retiring? Is Gavin Newsom interested in that seat?

We’re getting the distinct feeling that something is up. Just got an “advisory” that Rep. Lynn Woolsey will hold a press conference at her home Monday in Petaluma “joined by Rep. Barbara Lee and friends and family.”

Hmmm. Remember, back in December Woolsey’s peeps told us she was “thinking of” retiring and they’d let us know by June. Tick…tock…tick…

All that Woolsey spokesperson Bart Acocella will say is: “I can tell you that she will make an announcement on the 27th about her future plans.”

Even with the state’s new redistricting plan likely to create a very-different looking 6th District, there’s already a line forming to snag the super-safe Democratic seat-for-life, starting with termed out Assemblyman Jared Huffman and activist and author Norman Solomon, Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams, state Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, and Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane.

Here’s another name to toss in the mix: What about Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom?

Yes, we know the duties of Lt. Gov. are…uh…pressing. Especially when he has to walk the Governor’s dog. But eyebrows raised when Newsom just moved to…wait for it…Marin County to live with his in-laws after they had their second child.

Enjoy your morning!