Tag Archives: California

Jerry Brown scolds Fresno sheriff in voice mail over Proposition 57 mailer

The "very thoughtful" Jerry Brown

The “very thoughtful” Jerry Brown

From Sacramento Bee: In his effort to pass a ballot measure to make certain nonviolent felons eligible for early release, Gov. Jerry Brown has turned to direct confrontation – scolding a California sheriff in a voice mail for what he called a “malicious” mailer opposing the measure.

“Hey Margaret, I got that mailing on Prop. 57 that you signed,” Brown said in a message received by Margaret Mims, the sheriff of Fresno County, and obtained by The Sacramento Bee.

In the voice mail, Brown objected to campaign’s distribution of a card featuring a prisoner that “you said would be released under my proposition.”

“I just want you to know that’s completely false, and that makes that mailer extremely false, and I would even say malicious,” Brown, a Democrat, told the sheriff, a Republican.

He accused Mims of employing “scare tactics that I think are unbecoming of a public official, and certainly will not build the kind of mutual respect and trust that we all need to do our jobs.”

Opponents of Brown’s measure have been distributing sportslike trading cards with photographs of prisoners convicted of heinous crimes under the headline, “Meet your new neighbor.” Though it was unclear what prisoner was featured in the card Brown received, Proposition 57 does not define what constitutes a “nonviolent” crime, and opponents of the measure have sought to highlight criminals convicted of such “nonviolent” crimes as certain kinds of rape.

The Brown administration has said it anticipates implementing regulations to carry out Proposition 57 that would disqualify from early release inmates who must register as sex offenders, though that language is not written into his measure.

Sheriff Mims

Sheriff Mims

Brown told Mims, “This guy was sentenced to 100 years, and he’s a registered sex offender, and on both accounts would not be getting out.” Referring to an upcoming meeting of sheriffs, Brown told Mims, “So, that’s all I can say. Maybe I’ll see you up at the sheriffs’ meeting. Thanks.”

Asked about the voice mail on Wednesday, Brown said, “Very thoughtful, I thought.”

Mims confirmed in a statement that she received the voicemail. “After listening to it, I took the measure of reconfirming that the inmate in the mailer is in fact eligible for release if the Governor’s initiative passes. It is troublesome that the Governor is not aware of the details of his own initiative.

Read the full text of Proposition 57 here.


Running as terror expert, Loretta Sanchez misses many anti-terror panel meetings

She’s a demorat in California, that’s all the qualifications she needs to be elected in that state.

Loretta Sanchez

Loretta Sanchez

From Sacramento Bee: California U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, who points to expertise in homeland security issues as a reason for Californians to elect her to the U.S. Senate this fall, has missed more than half the hearings of the House Committee on Homeland Security since she first joined the influential panel 13 years ago.

She’s far from the only one. It’s not uncommon for members of Congress, who may have conflicting meetings or other responsibilities, to miss committee meetings, and there are many with worse records than Sanchez.

But Sanchez has ranked particularly low in attendance in recent years: Last year, she ranked 28th out of 30 committee members after missing seven of the nine full committee hearings for which the Government Publishing Office has transcripts.

She also missed nearly all 2015 meetings of the Subcommittees on Border and Maritime Security and on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection and Security Technologies, according to the available official transcripts.

Sanchez announced in May of last year that she is running for the Senate to replace the retiring Barbara Boxer – so, not surprisingly, Sanchez spent time in California working on her campaign effort.

But she also missed the bulk of the meetings in 2013 and 2014, including most held by the subcommittees on border security and Counterterrorism and Intelligence.

Sanchez attended nine of the 22 full committee hearings those years, placing her near the bottom in attendance. Among the hearings she missed were “Worldwide Threats to the Homeland” and “The Rising Terrorist Threat and the Unfulfilled 9/11 Recommendations.”

Sanchez joined the Homeland Security Committee in 2003 and has attended 44 percent of the hearings since then, according to a McClatchy analysis of the full-committee hearings for which there are official transcripts released by the Government Publishing Office.

Her attendance record is far from the worst – Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Young of Florida, for example, didn’t show up for a single hearing during his two years on the committee – but it’s below the 55 percent average for members of the committee dating in 2003.

Sanchez has campaigned on her position as the most senior female member of the Homeland Security Committee, saying she “has emerged as an expert on intelligence and counterterrorism issues.”

Sanchez is also a senior member of the Armed Services Committee, where she is on a pair of subcommittees and is particularly known for her work combating military sexual assault and expanding women’s combat roles. The Armed Services Committee transcripts don’t indicate how many of the meetings Sanchez and other members attended.

Sanchez spokesman Luis Vizcaino said attending hearings was one aspect of her role on both committees, along with subcommittee work, briefings and congressional trips to volatile regions of the globe. “She is known and respected in Congress and the Pentagon for her expertise on military readiness and counterterrorism,” Vizcaino said in a statement.

“Her work ethic, commitment to her committee role and 20 years of experience on national security issues has provided her with a strong foundation of in-depth knowledge and expertise. Rep. Sanchez is always speaking with leaders and experts to get the information and intelligence needed to make the best decision for the security of this nation,” Vizcaino said.

Read the whole story here.


Advocates demand that California DMV suspend fines for poor people

Gee, I wonder which “poor” people they are trying to assist…


From Sacramento Bee: Advocates for the poor are demanding that the California Department of Motor Vehicles stop suspending the driver licenses of people who fail to pay traffic fines or appear in court.

Monday’s letter from Bay Area Legal Aid, the ACLU of Northern California, Western Center on Law and Poverty and others alleges that the DMV lacks the authority to suspend licenses at the request of court officials. That’s because many courts, the letter said, improperly conclude that someone falls under the suspension law that applies to people “willfully failing” to pay fines or appear in court.

The letter to Transportation Secretary Brian Kelly and DMV Director Jean Shiomoto comes as state lawmakers consider legislation that would prohibit the practice.

“We ask that the DMV immediately cease suspending driver’s licenses for failure to pay and failure to appear…until there is a system in place to ensure that all courts provide legally-required procedural protections,” the letter reads.

Mike Herald of the Western Center on Law and Poverty said many poor people cannot afford the high fines and surcharges from traffic tickets. Losing their license makes it that much harder to earn a living and pay off the tickets, he said. “It’s become so damaging to people. They’re pretty much stuck in a hole forever,” Herald said. Monday’s letter follows lawsuits against some counties over the suspensions. A lawsuit against the state over the suspensions is possible, he said.

Lawmakers last year unanimously approved legislation that allowed people to go to court to contest traffic fines without first paying the money.

Another measure, Senate Bill 881 by state Sen. Robert Hertzberg, D-Los Angeles, would prohibit a county or court from seeking to suspend a driver’s license to collect on unpaid fines. The bill also would repeal the rule requiring the DMV to suspend a driver’s license at a county’s request. It is pending in the Assembly.

The DMV was not immediately available for comment.


CalPERS post gain of less than 1% for latest fiscal year

Liberal logic: Investment gain well below official target?  We’re pleased and proud!

CalPERS exec Marcie Frost

CalPERS exec Marcie Frost

From Sacramento Bee: CalPERS reported a 0.61 percent gain in investments in its latest fiscal year, well below the big California pension fund’s official target.

The results are in line with expectations following a bumpy year in the stock market. A few weeks ago Chief Investment Officer Ted Eliopoulos told the Wall Street Journal that CalPERS essentially broke even for the year ending June 30.

CalPERS’ annual investment performance matters because a lackluster year increases pressure to raise contribution rates from state and local taxpayers. The 0.61 percent gain contrasts with the annual target of 7.5 percent, and follows a gain of just 2.4 percent the prior fiscal year.

In the past few years CalPERS has imposed significant rate increases on the state, local governments and school districts. The state’s annual bill rose by $600 million this year, to $5.4 billion a year. Besides dealing with lingering effects of the 2008 market crash, CalPERS also has cited longer retiree lifespans and the growing state and school districts’ payrolls. All told, CalPERS is about 76 percent funded, which means it has 76 cents available for every $1 in long-term pension obligations.

Another factor at play in the fund’s finances: CalPERS has said it expects investment markets to become increasingly uneven in the coming years and has implemented a plan to gradually reduce risks in its investment portfolio. That same plan is also expected to reduce its annual target of investment gains.

“We can expect a low investment return environment … in the coming years,” newly hired Chief Executive Marcie Frost said last week. “There are challenges ahead of us.”

Still, CalPERS officials said they were pleased with the latest results in light of the difficult investing climate. “Positive performance in a year of turbulent financial markets is an accomplishment that we are proud of,” Eliopoulos said in a prepared statement.

The fund lost 3.4 percent on its stock portfolio, which makes up the largest share of its $302 billion asset base. “Over half of our portfolio is in equities, so returns are largely driven by stock markets,” Eliopoulos said.

See also:


Gun rights activists say they won’t comply with California’s new laws

Jerry Brown wants background checks on ammo purchases

Jerry Brown wants background checks on ammo purchases

From Sacramento Bee: Fifty or so gun activists gathered Saturday morning at Sacramento’s Cesar Chavez Plaza to protest Gov. Jerry Brown’s signing of six gun control measures they said would turn “law-abiding citizens into criminals.”

One bill Brown signed will expand the state’s assault weapons ban to include “bullet-button” rifles, which allow users to quickly dislodge a magazine of ammunition by pressing a button. Others prohibit citizens from possessing magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and require background checks on people purchasing ammunition.

These stricter measures come as pressure grows nationwide to do something to rein in the proliferation of guns following a string of mass shootings, including one last month that left 49 people dead in a Florida gay nightclub. In Washington, D.C., members of Congress recently staged a sit-in on the House floor to force a vote on gun control.

Protesters from cities across Northern California gathered at the intersection of 10th and J streets 9 a.m. Saturday. They hoisted a banner that listed the bills signed by Brown, next to the phrase: “WE WILL NOT COMPLY.”

Cory Gwathney, a co-organizer of the protest who lives in Chico, said the rally had been in the works for over two months. The initial goal was to prevent Brown from signing the bills, Gwathney said, but because the laws were signed prior to the protest, the activists changed their message to one of noncompliance.

“He passed them yesterday before we could get out here, which sort of threw a wrench in the plans,” said Gwathney. “Now we’re just trying to send the message that we’re probably not going to comply. They’re infringing on our rights, and we’re not going to stand for that.

molon labe

Gwathney said it’s unlikely people will actually register their bullet-button rifles or turn in their large-capacity magazines as the laws require. People have invested thousands of dollars in bullet-button rifles, ammunition and magazines, Gwathney said, joking that his guns are his 401(k) plan.

Protester Steve Sarvar traveled from San Jose to participate in the rally. Sarver is a member of American Patriot the III% California, a group that takes its name from the claim that only 3 percent of colonists during the American Revolution fought on the battlefield against Great Britain.

Due to last Sunday’s neo-Nazi protest at the Capitol, at which 10 people were injured, including five who were stabbed, law enforcement kept a close watch on Saturday’s event, Sarvar said, but there was no violence.

“I went over to the officers and asked them, ‘Do we look like criminals to you?’ And they all said that no, we didn’t,” Sarvar said. “But then I told them that this legislation that’s just been signed into law is going to turn ordinary people into criminals.”

Jorge Riley, president of the Sacramento chapter of the conservative California Republic Assembly organization, also traveled from Chico for the protest. He said people need to work through the legal system to try to stop the new laws.

“There needs to be a complaint filed with an injunction because these are an unconstitutional set of laws that have been passed, and they shouldn’t be able to become laws until they are reviewed by a judge,” Riley said. “It’s unconstitutional, that’s why we have judicial review.”

Riley described the Legislature and Brown’s actions as “reckless and irresponsible,” adding that they are trying to “usurp the federal Constitution” by passing legislation that conflicts with federal law.

The new laws will also be ineffective in preventing mass shootings like the recent Orlando massacre and last December’s San Bernardino attack, protesters argued. Assault weapons played a role in both shootings. “When you pass laws that restrict guns, you stimulate a black market,” said Riley. “So the only thing is that people will still have guns, but they’ll have them illegally.”

Scott said the activists will continue protesting at the Capitol and in other parts of California, though many gun rights advocates may have resigned themselves after hearing about the laws Brown signed. “I think a lot of people who planned on coming out today didn’t come out after all, because they think it’s a lost cause,” Gwathney said.


Want to carry a concealed weapon? California could make it harder

So glad I don’t live in California.

second amendment3

From Sacramento Bee: Only Californians facing threats of violence could carry concealed weapons under legislation unveiled on Thursday, a change that could stem a proliferation of concealed guns in Sacramento.

The bill follows a federal appeals court ruling allowing California counties to impose stricter standards for issuing concealed carry permits. Some local law enforcement officials have interpreted a state law requiring applicants to show “good cause” by asking those seeking permits to prove they face a heightened risk of being harmed.

Plaintiffs denied permits under more stringent rules in Yolo County and San Diego County sued, but the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ability of those counties to make applicants prove they need concealed guns. Now Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, has amended Assembly Bill 466 to create a statewide standard that applicants must show they’re at risk of harm.

kevin mccarty

In Sacramento County, where McCarty’s district sits, Sheriff Scott Jones has issued a huge number of concealed carry permits. Under Jones’ tenure, the number of permit-holders has exploded from a few hundred to around 8,000.

“Our sheriff seems to be handing out (concealed carry) permits like candy on Halloween,” said McCarty. “It would put the public more at ease that people who are getting these (permits) truly deserve them, that there’s an imminent threat to themselves.”


Accompanying the bill imposing the “good cause” standard statewide is a newly amended measure, Assembly Bill 450, that would boost permit fees so they cover the cost of following up and potentially revoking permits from people who are dangerous. The combined effect of the two, McCarty said, would be fewer concealed weapons.

“I think that would be the end result, and I don’t view that as a bad result,” McCarty said. “We put the public at risk with some of these issuances.”

Calling the rationale for the bill “outrageous,” Firearms Policy Coalition lobbyist Craig DeLuz noted that people seeking concealed carry permits already must clear extensive background checks, so “by every definition the individuals being approved are law-abiding citizens.”

McCarty is “saying the sheriffs don’t have the good judgment to determine what good cause is,” DeLuz said. “I don’t trust the Legislature to determine what good cause is – not a group that has made it very clear that if they could ban every firearm in California, they would.”

Jones, the Sacramento County sheriff, is challenging Rep. Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove for a seat in Congress. Gun control has already become an issue in the race for the perennially contested 7th District.

“Sheriff Jones believes the Legislature should concentrate on enacting laws that help law enforcement protect the public from violent criminals, not denying law-abiding citizens their constitutional rights,” Jones campaign director Dave Gilliard said in a statement.


Court: People have no right to carry concealed weapons in public


second amendment3

From Q13Fox: A federal appeals court ruled on Thursday that there is no Second Amendment protection for concealed weapons — allowing states to prohibit or restrict the public from carrying concealed firearms.

The en banc opinion by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could set up a new showdown on gun rights at the Supreme Court.

At issue was California’s law on concealed weapons, which requires citizens to prove they have “good cause” to carry concealed firearms to get a license. Plaintiffs challenged guidelines in San Diego and Yolo counties that did not consider general self-defense to be enough to obtain a license.

The 9th Circuit held 7-4 in the case, Peruta v. County of San Diego, that the restrictions on concealed carry are constitutional, ruling that the Second Amendment right to bear arms does not provide a right to carry concealed arms.

Judge William Fletcher

Judge William Fletcher

“The historical materials bearing on the adoption of the Second and Fourteenth Amendments are remarkably consistent,” wrote Judge William Fletcher, going back to 16th century English law to find instances of restrictions on concealed weapons. “We therefore conclude that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms does not include, in any degree, the right of a member of the general public to carry concealed firearms in public.”

Fletcher also cited the most recent Supreme Court cases on gun rights, District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago, which were major victories for gun rights activists, in making his case.

The Heller decision, authored by Justice Antonin Scalia, solidified a Second Amendment right of the public to keep guns, but it specifically noted the right was not absolute, and Fletcher pointed out that Scalia cited restrictions on concealed weapons as a historical example.

The court was careful to make the ruling narrow. The opinion does not say concealed weapons are unconstitutional, nor does it make any decisions about openly carrying weapons in public.

The case was a blow for gun rights advocates, and sets up the fight on gun rights for the Supreme Court to consider, says UCLA law professor and gun law expert Adam Winkler.

“This case raises the next great question for the Supreme Court: Does the Second Amendment guarantee a right to carry guns in public? And if so, what kind of licensing can states use to permit people to carry concealed weapons?” Winkler said.

The Supreme Court would not necessarily have to take up the case. The ruling does not create a substantive divide among different circuit courts in the U.S., one of the major factors the court considers in weighing which cases to take.

Judge Consuelo Callahan

Judge Consuelo Callahan

Four judges dissented from the ruling, with the main dissent by Judge Consuelo Callahan (appointed by Bush) arguing that California’s laws taken together amount to a substantial restriction on citizens’ right to bear arms for self defense, as protected by the Second Amendment.

Whether the court does or does not take the case, the early 2016 death of Scalia looms large over it. Scalia authored Heller, the most substantial gun ruling in modern history of the court. And Republicans in the Senate have refused to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee for replacing Scalia on the court, meaning the eight justice panel can split 4-4.

Without a ninth justice, Winkler said, it’s unlikely the court would take up the case, even with Scalia’s allies on the issue Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas still on the court.

Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia, Judge Merrick Garland, was chosen in large part for his moderate record. But one of the most substantial conservative arguments against Garland has been that his record on guns is too liberal, though his written record on the issue is limited.

The case was argued by Paul Clement, a former solicitor general under the George W. Bush administration and one of the top litigators for conservative causes at the Supreme Court in recent years.

Ever since the Supreme Court decided the Heller decision and a follow up case two years later, the Supreme Court has declined to take another major second amendment case, a frustration Clement cited in a 2013 filing with the court.

In the years since Heller had been decided many expected a “major consideration” or extant firearms laws, Clement wrote. “Instead, jurisdictions have engaged in massive resistance to the clear import of those landmark decisions, and the lower federal courts, long out of the habit of taking the Second Amendment seriously, have largely facilitated that resistance.”

California state Attorney General Kamala Harris said the decision “is a victory for public safety and sensible gun safety laws. The ruling ensures that local law enforcement leaders have the tools they need to protect public safety by determining who can carry loaded, concealed weapons in our communities.”