This is a sampling from Bay Area News Group's Political Blotter blog. Read more and post comments at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.
Gov. Jerry Brown today vetoed a Bay Area lawmaker's bill that would've added a $1 fee to the cost of a moving traffic violation in order to fund spinal-cord injury research.
AB 1657, by Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, would've directed the money to the Roman Reed Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund, which was created in 2000 and is administered by the Reeve-Irvine Research Center at UC-Irvine.
Originally bankrolled by the state's general fund, the program has been zeroed out by budget cuts even though every $1 of state money had leveraged another $5 in federal funds. It's named after Fremont Planning Commissioner Roman Reed, who suffered a spinal cord injury in the 1990s and became a nationally known research advocate.
The Assembly had passed the bill 46-24 in May; the state Senate 22-14 in August; and the Assembly approved it again on a 48-28 concurrence vote in August.
Wieckowski's office said eight other states use a similar method to fund spinal cord research, but Brown today said California won't be the ninth.
"Spinal cord injury research is certainly worthwhile, but the funding method chosen is not," the governor wrote in his veto message. "Loading more and more costs on traffic tickets has been
Wieckowski said he's disappointed.
"This is not only a loss for all the Californians living with paralysis, it's also a loss for scientific research and innovation," he said, noting top researchers had supported the bill. "I think $1 is a reasonable penalty for irresponsible drivers when you consider the fact that traffic accidents are the number one cause of spinal cord injuries. I will keep on working to make sure California reinvests in this vital research."
Cal Berkeley researchers have launched a website to explore how political knowledge can be spread rapidly across big populations using social media -- and their test subject is one of this election season's hottest issues.
The project, from UC's CITRIS Data and Democracy Initiative, aims to develop a general-purpose system that can be used for a wide variety of issues, but for now it's being tested on just one: Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's tax-hike ballot measure.
Ken Goldberg, an engineering professor, said that "although the outcome of this vote has an enormous potential impact on students, alumni, teachers, parents and employers, many are not aware of Proposition 30. The California Proposition 30 Awareness Project aims to change that."
Visitors to the website can learn about the ballot measure -- a four-year, quarter-cent sales tax hike and a seven-year income tax hike for those making more than $250,000 per year -- and receive a custom web link to share with whomever they please using email, Facebook or Twitter. They can return to the site later to see a unique graphic representation of their influence, and track their "influence score." After the election, the website will list the 50 most influential people.
Influence is computed using a variant of the Kleinberg and Raghavan algorithm, where each visitor's influence increases by one point for each person he or she recruits, by half a point for every person those people recruit, and so on. This model has been applied in many contexts with financial incentives, but researchers believe this is the first time it's being tested with intangible rewards.
The researchers say the project and website emphasize awareness and are unbiased; the site includes links to the California Voters Guide and to campaigns on both sides of the issue. Visitors can also indicate their position for or against the proposition, and join an online discussion afterward.
The website is http://opinion.berkeley.edu/ca-prop-30-awareness/