Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thursday Must Read: Brown Appoints Two with Ties to Prison Guards; He Also Taps the PG&E Exec Behind Prop 16

By Robert Gammon
Thu, Jan 6, 2011 at 7:13 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Governor Jerry Brown announced several cabinet appointees yesterday, including two Oakland residents with ties to the California prison guards’ union, the Chron and CoCo Times report. Brown selected Marty Morgenstern as his labor secretary. Morgenstern negotiated lucrative compensation packages for the prison guard’s union while working for ex-Governor Gray Davis. Brown also chose Ronald Yank as his personnel director. Yank, a veteran labor lawyer, used to represent the prison guards’ union.

2. Brown also appointed his wife Anne Gust Brown to be his unpaid “special counsel.” He also appointed PG&E executive Nancy McFadden to be one of his “executive secretaries.” According to the Chron, McFadden was the brains behind last year’s controversial Prop 16, a statewide measure that tried to block cities and counties from increasing renewable energy use. Brown also chose Gil Duran to be his press secretary. Duran served in that capacity when Brown was mayor of Oakland. Other appointees include Santa Cruz Assemblyman John Laird as secretary of the California Resources Agency and Mary Nichols as chair of the air resources board.

3. As the GOP took control of the US House of Representatives yesterday, Republican leaders vowed to repeal President Obama’s landmark healthcare law, the New York Times reports. Such a move, however, likely will stall in the Democratic-controlled Senate. At that point, House Republicans likely will attempt to defund the law. But if Obamacare survives GOP attacks, 3.4 million uninsured Californians will get healthcare coverage by 2016, Healthycal.org reports, citing a new study.

4. Speaking of healthcare, Blue Shield of California is trying to raise insurance rates on individuals by up to 59 percent, the LA Times reports. The proposed rate hike promises to be the first tough test for new state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, a Democrat.

5. The Sierra Nevada and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta are two of the most threatened natural habitats in the world because of climate change, the Chron reports, citing a new study by environmental groups. The Delta ranks fifth and the Sierra Nevada ranks as the sixth most threatened.

6. California’s financial condition is the third worst in the nation, the LA Times reports, citing a new study. Only Arizona and Illinois rank worse.

7. President Obama renominated UC Berkleley law professor Goodwin Liu to be an appellate court judge, the Chron and Trib report. However, Liu's nomination still faces stiff Republican opposition in the Senate, which now has more GOP members. Late last year, Obama agreed to withdraw Liu's name in a deal with the GOP to get his other judicial nominees through the Senate.

8. Emeryville’s Watergate Towers office complex sold for $130 million, the Trib reports. The buyer was a consortium that included Irvine-based LBA Realty, which recently also purchased the Zhone Technologies campus in Oakland and lured Clorox to leave downtown Oakland and move to an office complex in Pleasanton.

9. And a new study shows that the discredited research linking autism to a childhood vaccination also was fraudulent, AP reports.

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