This is a sampling from Bay Area News Group's Political Blotter blog. Read more and post comments at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.
A longtime Bay Area legislative staffer has been hired to head the state court system's governmental affairs office -- and lead the courts' fight against draconian budget cuts by the Legislature and governor.
Cory Jasperson was hired by California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye at the recommendation of a Judicial Council search committee led by Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvin Baxter. Jasperson, 42, will start Dec. 3 as a replacement for Curt Child, who was promoted last month to become the Administrative Office of the Courts' chief operating officer.
"The search committee was very impressed with Cory Jasperson's personal attributes, professional experience, and outstanding reputation he has earned in the Capitol," Baxter said in a news release. "We are confident that he will lead the Office of Governmental Affairs with great distinction."
Jasperson currently is chief of staff to state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, who is term-limited out at the end of this year and is about to start a term on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. Earlier, Jasperson served as a top aide to other lawmakers, including Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Castro Valley, and Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, D-Mountain View.
Jasperson, in the courts' news release, said he's eager to get to work. "I strongly believe that our democracy requires a vibrant and independent judiciary to provide access to justice for all Californians. At the same time, I am acutely aware of the challenges faced by all three branches because of the state's fiscal crisis."
Indeed, Jasperson is in for quite a ride: The California judicial system's budget has been cut by 30 percent since the 2008-2009 fiscal year, leading to layoffs, reduced hours and services, and delayed or canceled construction projects.
Inspired by the plight of battleground-state voters who had to wait in lines for hours to cast their ballots, a Bay Area congressman today announced he'll carry a bill requiring early voting and adequate poll machines and staffing.
The forthcoming Streamlining and Improving Methods at Polling Locations and Early (SIMPLE) Voting Act from Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, would require early voting in all states for federal elections, for a minimum of 15 days before Election Day. Currently, 15 states lack any form of early voting; those with early voting allow it for varying periods, and in some states, such as Florida -- where some of the nation's longest lines occurred -- the number of days was shortened in the Nov. 6 election.
Miller also intends to require that states ensure all voting precincts have adequate resources -- meaning voting machines and poll workers -- so that no voter must wait in line for more than one hour to vote. And states will have to develop contingency plans for resolving situations in which long lines develop anyway.
"The right to vote is among our nation's most sacred rights; surely we can do a better job of ensuring that voters do not have to choose between meeting their daily responsibilities to their families or employers and exercising this solemn responsibility," Miller said in a news release. "There are a number of well-documented impediments to voting that must be corrected. My bill is in no way intended to solve all of our voting problems, but it does offer two simple and clear-cut solutions that experts agree will make voting easier and help to reduce inexcusably long wait times for people casting their ballots in person."