Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, seemed to be keenly attuned to the interests of lobbyist Rusty Areias on Tuesday during a hearing of the Assembly Judiciary Committee.
Too attuned, in the minds of some observers, who note that Alejo's campaign fundraiser in Sacramento, Julie Sandino, is Areias' wife.
Alejo was one of three Democrats on the committee who raised concerns before Tuesday's meeting about the "heavy-handedness" of state Sen. Jerry Hill's proposed bill to allow public access at Martins Beach. Billionaire venture capitalist Vinod Khosla ended a decades-old practice of allowing the public to enjoy the beach in exchange for a parking fee after he bought the land in 2008.
Hill's original bill would have instructed the State Lands Commission to purchase access to the secluded San Mateo County beach through eminent domain if Khosla refused to allow visitors to return.
Hill, a Democrat, agreed to weaken the language of the bill, SB"968, so that it would merely give the commission the option of using its eminent domain power. But Alejo proposed another amendment, strongly backed by Areias, that would have taken the possibility of eminent domain off the table, gutting the bill.
The bill ultimately cleared the committee without Alejo's support. His opposition to the coastal access bill is noteworthy given that his rural, largely agricultural 30th District spans most of Monterey County, including the Big Sur coast.
Asked if Alejo's connection to Areias had anything to do with the assemblyman's comments Tuesday, Alejo spokesman John de los Angeles emailed:
"The assemblyman is very supportive of public access to Martins Beach. However, in committee, the assemblyman made it very clear that he is supportive of the bill but disagrees with the eminent domain provision because it runs contrary to the owner's property rights. The assemblyman looks forward to supporting the bill once it comes to the Assembly floor provided that the author fine-tunes the bill with the appropriate balance between property rights and the public's need for access."
Josue Garcia likely to receive 'revolving door' exemption
To some at San Jose City Hall, Josue Garcia was just the type of fellow the city's "revolving door" lobbying rules were designed to tether. Garcia spent a decade working for the Santa Clara and San Benito Counties Construction and Building Trades Council under Neil Struthers, its former chief executive. Garcia left to become chief of staff to Struthers' brother-in-law, San Jose City Councilman Xavier Campos, a job he held until fall 2012, when he went to work for a fire protection industry trade group.
But Garcia rejoined the building trades council early this year as its new chief executive after Struthers stepped down.
San Jose's revolving door rules bar former city officials from plying old friendships and insider knowledge to return as lobbyists for two years after leaving city employment. The council may, however, grant exemptions, and Garcia requested one.
"I think Mr. Garcia fits the ordinance in the way it was designed," Mayor Chuck Reed said at the council's last meeting as it considered Garcia's waiver request. "And he should wait a few more months before he starts lobbying the city."
The divided council, however, granted the waiver on a 6-5 vote over the objections of Reed and council members Johnny Khamis, Madison Nguyen, Pete Constant and Pierluigi Oliverio.
Garcia noted that so much time has elapsed since he worked for the city and submitted his waiver request that the restriction will expire in three months anyway.
"We believe that if the proposal is denied," Garcia told the council, "the construction community will not have a voice."
Among those granted exemption requests were former redevelopment agency officials left jobless when the state eliminated redevelopment. Others include Dean Munro, who had been a staffer of former Mayor Tom McEnery before leaving to work for the arena authority, and Pat Dando, the former vice mayor who later became chamber of commerce president.
City Attorney Rick Doyle said Munro and Dando qualified for outright exemptions because both went to work for agencies that, unlike the building trades council, receive direct funding from the city.
Councilman Sam Liccardo, whom Reed has endorsed to succeed him as mayor, didn't see the need to deny Garcia's request.
"He's waited 21 out of 24 months already," Liccardo said.
Time for a Senate vote? But the World Cup is on
Did a little World Cup fever get in the way of the California Senate's work?
During Thursday morning's key game between the United States and Germany, which threatened the American team's advancement in the soccer tournament in Brazil, veteran Sacramento Bee Capitol columnist Dan Walters told his Twitter followers that the Legislature's upper house was "having difficulty getting quorum to floor."
"World Cup?" he speculated, adding that Sen. Norma Torres, D-Pomona, cited "preoccupation with U.S.-Germany soccer game as reason not to take up a bill."
We asked Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg's office whether his colleagues were entertaining themselves on the public's time and got this response from his media guy, Mark Hedlund:
"Twitter hardly an accurate news source. No, a quorum was established. Not uncommon that it takes a few minutes for Senators to get to chambers, especially on Thursday when floor session starts at 9 a.m."
Walters noted later that the Senate did muster enough votes to undo one of Sacramento's dumber mandates, sending Gov. Jerry Brown a bill to repeal a law requiring chefs and bartenders to wear plastic gloves.
Sending Dave Fadness wishes for a speedy recovery
Hard as it may be to accept, there are times when even IA has to abandon snark. Such a moment came when we heard that Dave Fadness, a former San Jose council candidate and a leader in the VEP neighborhood of South San Jose, suffered a serious and potentially debilitating injury early this month. As his friends tell us, Fadness fell June 2 as he was climbing to his attic on pull-down stairs. He reportedly suffered severe spinal cord injuries, although he has been able to undertake some forms of physical therapy. He remains at an undisclosed hospital. For now, his family has asked that he receive no phone calls or emails.
Fadness, 72, is on the more conservative end of San Jose's liberally tilted political structure. Earlier this year, he penned an op-ed piece that took issue with the city's plans for a new sales tax, suggesting that money could be saved by contracting out firefighting. Fadness also has served on multiple planning and transportation committees. He is a genuinely good man concerned about the city's development. We wish him well.
Internal Affairs is an offbeat look at state and local politics. This week's items were written by Aaron Kinney, John Woolfolk, Scott Herhold and Paul Rogers. Send tips to email@example.com, or call 408-920-5782.