The Bright Coast

Progressive Thoughts from San Diego Alums on Law, Politics, and Culture

Archive for the ‘California’ Category

I like the law

Posted by brightcoast on May 13, 2011


Caution: this is probably not even remotely funny unless you have at some point in your life had the pleasure of attending law school. The language is probably also particularly offensive for the common sensibility. This won the Above the Law video contest.

Even less funny, but it’s about Davis, so I gotta represent NorCal.


Posted in California, Education, The Law, USD Law | Leave a Comment »

Adverse Possession Advocacy?

Posted by brightcoast on April 8, 2011

Carlsbad lawyer faces disbarment for encouraging clients in foreclosure to hire locksmiths and re-enter their homes.  It’s unclear what his legal standing is. He claims that they have right to possession because the foreclosures are illegal, but clients forcibly re-entering will do nothing to resolve any potential legality, other than potentially put themselves in danger for trespassing claims and the like. It absolutely reminds me of the Adverse Possession allegory, except that in order to adversely possess, you must be acting hostile to the True Owner (TO), and if the foreclosure is illegal, that obviously means the hostility requirement is not met.

It seems disbarment is imminent.

Posted in CA Bar, California, San Diego, The Law | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Pachyderms Extinct in the Golden State?

Posted by demkid on January 30, 2011

A few days ago, Public Policy Polling (one of the most reputable polling companies in the country) tweeted that they were considering polling California for the upcoming 2012 US Senate race between Dianne Feinstein and a Republican challenger.  They asked followers for suggestions on who should be tested against Senator Feinstein, besides recent 13-point governor loser Meg Whitman.  I thought about it for a second, and replied, “Arnold, Tom Campbell, maybe Abel Maldonado? The Republican Party is beyond dead in California.”  Others popular responses were: Steve Poizner, Darrell Issa, Kevin McCarthy, and Steve Cooley.  Frankly, if these men collectively make up the cream of California’s GOP crop, my “beyond dead” comment surely isn’t far from reality.  There’s absolutely zero chance that a conservative Republican like Darrell Issa can beat any kind of Democrat in this state in the near (and perhaps distant) future.  California is a solidly blue state where Democrats hold a substantial registration edge.  This was played out in dramatic fashion in the most recent election, where despite a significant nationwide Republican swing, GOP candidates for Governor and Senate lost by double digits, and not one Republican won a statewide office.

So, do more moderate Republicans have a chance statewide in California?  In the past, moderates in the GOP haven’t had much luck getting through primaries against more conservative opponents.  In the 2010 election for instance, Tom Campbell lost the Senate primary to Carly Fiorina by a whopping 35 points!  Would he have had a better chance against Barbara Boxer in the general election?  It’s difficult to say whether his more moderate, business-friendly message would have resonated with California voters.  (He did lose the 2000 general to Senator Feinstein by 19 points, so his track record isn’t the best.)  My other choice (besides Arnold, who said he’s done running and who couldn’t be less popular), Abel Maldonado, also lost his race for Lieutenant Governor by double digits.  He seems like a candidate who could do well in this state.  He’s young, moderate, and has a good story, as the son of immigrant farm workers who went on to grow his family’s business and become Lieutenant Governor himself.  Unfortunately for him, as long as he has an “R” after his name, those main selling points will be counteracted.  There could be some hope ahead for moderate Republicans, as California’s new open-primary law will soon take effect.  The top two finishers in the primary, regardless of party, will move onto the general election.  Supported by voters last November, this could turn out to be one of Arnold’s most significant and longest-lasting victories for fellow moderates.  We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

For now, though, the party of the pachyderms is on the brink of extinction in California.  Sure, as recently as 2006, some pundits thought the GOP was gone nationwide, but this was proven wrong in four short years.  If we’re just talking about one solidly blue state, however, predictions of a long-term GOP ice age could be much more accurate.  The registration edge is more dramatic, and the lack of strong candidates and a cohesive message is astounding.  A week ago, a bipartisan group of political observers, lawmakers, and strategists gathered at a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies symposium and discussed the issue:

Many of the 200 attendees at the two-day conference appeared surprisingly unified on one issue: that, barring dramatic upheaval, the GOP’s prospects may be doomed in the voter-rich Golden State.

“Republicans, as a brand, are dead,” Duf Sundheim, the former state GOP chair, told the gathering Saturday.

“We’ve become an island, a political island unto ourselves,” Thad Kousser, a political analyst from UC San Diego, said of California’s overwhelmingly blue streak in the November election.

Republicans will remain dead in California until the party “decides it won’t be hostile to people who aren’t old and white,” said Darry Sragow, interim director of the USC/Los Angeles Times Poll and a longtime Democratic strategist.

Rick Claussen, a leading GOP strategist, said that unless the grass roots and the state party change tactics – and step back from their current emphasis on conservative social issues – “we’re not going to see a Republican statewide winner in the next decade.”

Tough words for a party struggling to stay relevant in Blue California.

California Republicans: On the Slow Side

Update: The Public Policy Polling results for the CA-Sen race are out.  The title of the report is “No hope for Whitman, Fiorina, Arnold, anyone vs. Feinstein.”  Not surprising.  Senator Feinstein leads the 6 Republicans tested by between 14-34 points.  The 14-point lead is actually against Tom Campbell (my first suggestion!) and the 34-point lead is against Arnold.  All 6 Republicans had sub-30 favorability numbers.  Yikes!

Posted in California, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Attorney Jokes

Posted by brightcoast on January 19, 2011

Following the election this past November, there has been a sort of uproar in this otherwise sleepy community regarding an attorney who was elected to the local board equivalent of city council (from what I can tell). I wrote a letter to the editor expressing my outrage at these seemingly ridiculous allegations. Unfortunately, due to a lack of space in the teeny tiny (albeit free) paper that our community delivers to residents, I was told I had to edit it down. Never have I been more thankful for free web publishing.

Nonetheless, because I liked the full version better anyway and I believe this is a recurring issue we as attorneys have to deal with, I am reposting my letter for your reading (and perhaps PR refreshing) pleasure. I have omitted the party names in case they do not wish for their names to be blasted over the interwebz. Enjoy.

Dear Editor,

I am writing to come to the defense of fellow attorney (name) in regards to what I believe are unfair and unfounded allegations discussed in your December 2010/January 2011 edition. As attorneys, we are bound to strict professional rules of conduct, which can be found in the California Business & Professions Code, among other sources. In fact, in order to become an attorney, we must pass not only the California Bar Examination, but also an additional professional responsibility exam, and we must further pass an investigation by the State Bar certifying that we are of good moral character.

Chief among these rules is the most famous duty of confidentiality. If (attorney)did in fact represent (current board member), which is not clear from the information presented, she is not at liberty to disclose this representation freely. Confidentiality is central to forming an informed and trustworthy attorney-client relationship.

Even assuming confidentiality is not an issue, it is not immediately clear to me, in terms of non-legal concerns why writing a letter inviting the DA to investigate potential illegal conduct would raise any potential conflict of interest issues or relationships. It seems to me that the reason why others are pointing fingers in regards to this letter is simply that they disagree with (attorney’s) politics, which, by the way, is not unethical, but rather at the heart of democratic process. Aside from necessarily meaning that she represented (current board member), (attorney) signing her name , Esq. could indicate that the alleged violations of the relevant code sections were worth investigating, as vouched for by an attorney. In other words, she had investigated this matter in a legal capacity, and was making the recommendation in that regard.

In terms of a potential conflict of interest, which is presumably what the “concerned” are up in arms about, I don’t see what the conflict is. If it is that (attorney) represented (current board member) in some capacity, then that is in effect saying that attorneys, as a professional class, are barred from serving on any boards where they represented any present members in any capacity, which is quite a slippery, and in my opinion unfair, slope.

If the issue is that (attorney) is aligned politically or personally with (current board member), then I challenge those “concerned” to articulate a reasonable, neutrally applicable standard by which elections may be held, whereby anyone who has any sort of affinity or personal relationship with another person presently serving on the board, may also not run for office. It is simply absurd.

It seems abundantly clear that this is simply a matter of politics and not ethics. I write to you because it is extremely disconcerting to me when a person is accused of an ethical violation when there is literally no support for such an accusation which can potentially cause such damage.

I sincerely hope that the citizens of (community) will be able to move past any bad feelings for not having their candidate elected, and learn that in politics you win some and you lose some.


Fellow (Community) Attorney

Posted in California, Professional Responsibility | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How to Lower Law School Tuition:

Posted by brightcoast on January 13, 2011

Cut career services.

Now I know this is going to sound drastic, it is a major challenge to the typical law school bureacratic structure, but in my honest opinion, it would be a good savings of resources.

There’s nothing worse than receiving the confirmation letter from the State Bar of California, stating “Congratulations! You’ve passed the most difficult bar exam in the country. But you still don’t have a job that pays practicing law.” Ok, so it doesn’t state all of that…

Take USD Law in particular. There are at least 4 career service “counselors” 1 or 2 deans or assistant deans, and several front desk employees/work studies, not to mention a newly remodeled office to house all these people. This has got to be at least a $500k/year venture.

In its defense, from my experiences, career services does the following things: meets with students individually to give advice, organizes networking and speaker events, contacts local agencies or employers upon students’ expressions of interest, services as a gathering place for employers seeking to employ students, organizes and coordinates the on campus interviews, collects applications for non on-campus interviews in certain situations, orchestrates judicial clerkship applications, and has a library of information for students. (I’m sure there are other things they can legitimately claim to do, I am just not familiar with them.)

But herein lies my personal issue with USD Law career services, the amount of jobs they get for students does not justify the enormous cost of having so many people employed, and their services could easily be reappropriated to other departments. This is especially true considering: 1) USD Law tuition is incredibly high; 2) job prospects are low; and 3) bar passage rates have been steadily declining (July 2010 results here). The following, therefore, are my suggestions as to how USD can improve employment prospects of graduates while simultaneously strenghtening the USD Law student-alumni relations, and increasing bar passage rate.

1) Re bar passage rates: beef up academic support, pure and simple.

a. Course guidance: There are no course counselors available for students to discuss the various course and program options.

b. Outline banks– many clubs have them. It’s no secret that after first year you figure out that you don’t have to do it yourself, and in fact, if your professor has so thoroughly confused you that you can’t understand the difference between an intentional and unintentional tort (cough cough), looking at someone’s straightforward version of the black letter law would be a better use of your time.

c. Upperclassmen Mentors-There should be mandatory matching of upper and lower classmen, at least for the first year. It could ease much unnecessary confusion. It could also help students learn about what courses to take, etc. Alumni mentors would be even better, especially for the foregoing networking point.

d. Tutoring program- Make sure students understand at least the basic bar subjects, so they aren’t setting themselves up for failure. It’s no secret that one could earn a passing grade under the bell curve system, and yet be thoroughly unclear about the basic structure of the subejct matter. There is no legitimate reason why there aren’t teaching assistants beyond first year. There are more than enough work studies to fill the roles, and aside from thereby decreasing the debt of those students, it would increase student comprehension of the subject matter.

2. Alumni participation:

Career services itself admits to only providing about 25% of graduate jobs through On Campus Interviews (OCIs), which in most cases involve firms contacting the school. Thus, you don’t need an entire office to coordinate employers wanting to post, simply allow them access to the website, and allow candidates to select time slot preferences on the computer, as they already do. The rest is simply administrative.

Speaking of the career website listings, they are attrocious. There is something like one or two new jobs every MONTH. This is pale in comparison with several other schools USD Law grads have gotten access to (and in most cases had to pay) through symplicity. Being the “best law school in [San Diego],” USD Law must do better.

The jobs which are listed, or career services has information about are nowhere near the need of students graduating in this economy. And over the past 2 years, the prospects have not gotten better for law grads, yet nothing has changed in career services. It is a travesty.

Everyone knows that the best way to get a job is through networking. As an individual you have to pound the pavement, attend bar events, etc. meet potential employers. Aside from organizing events, which students can and already do organize anyway, career services is absolutely no help with the personal action required to do this.

Lastly, alumni are in the legal market now. They have graduated, passed the bar, and are now practicing law. Instead of simply passing out a packet compiled with alumni who are willing to talk to students, why not match them up at some point, facilitate the relationship. This will help students get a realistic view of what they are in for.

If career services is allowed to continue, they should be required to make a commitment of substance. Obviously 100% employment isn’t practical, but something better than including any sort of employment in graduate employment stats (see NY Times article), is absolutely necessary to maintain the integrity of the program and fairness to students. $15-$20 per hour (if a position is even paid at all!!) should have to be disclosed in these employment surveys, so that students seeking to enter law school know that they will be faced with $250,000 in debt and a job that only pays double minimum wage- what they might be making after receiving a simple bachelor’s degree.

Career services is supposed to help foster careers, and they should be held to the task. Law grads have had enough of the justifications and excuses. This is just one way highly inflated tuition can be addressed.

Posted in CA Bar, CA Bar Exam, California, The Law, Uncategorized, USD Law | Tagged: , , , , , | 13 Comments »

Passing the CA Bar, as I see it:

Posted by brightcoast on January 13, 2011

Obviously everyone’s studying and test taking experiences are different, but given the amount of tremendous stress we are all put under, which is exacerbated by our individual situations or contingencies, I thought I would give my input to lawschool students and recent grads who may be looking for a place to start. Thus, here are my top 10 pieces of advice to pass the California Bar on the first attempt.

1. Take BarBri, seriously. I don’t have experience with any of the other programs out there, but I know that people I know who took BarBri and followed the pace program passed. I took BarBri mobile, which I would personally recommend if you are capable of independent study. Well, the only part that is actually independent is that you force yourself to watch the lectures at your own convenience. What I particularly liked, aside from the fact that I didn’t have to battle the 2 hour round trip commute and fighting through traffic at the local city-wide BarBri location, was that the mobile program starts earlier, and is thus less hours of studying per day. Sure, I had to start studying at the same time I was studying for my last law school final, but we all know which of the two is more important, and chances are, if you are taking a bar class that last semester, the studying can overlap.  Additionally, starting with the July 2010 Bar, in order to compete with Kaplan’s guarantee, BarBri allows you to repeat the course for free. That’s not a deal to strive for, but a guarantee of continued support, nonetheless.

2. Follow the pace program. Just do it. Yeah it’s pretty damn terrible, but every moment you spend following it, you know that you are continuing to prepare for the Bar, rather than wasting your time. Towards the end you will find more of a balance that works for you, but all the practice MBEs, essays and PTs are assigned for a reason. I cannot stress how important the practice is. In fact, I think the last PT assigned before the Bar was almost identical in facts and nature to the actual PT on day 3 of the Bar. There are only so many hypotheticals anyone can think of. Think about it.

3. Music. I, like many others I suspect, am easily distracted by technology when I am forced to do something intensely boring like, say, listen to 12 hours of property lectures. What helped me was listening to music, of which I highly recommend fast paced dance music. Read: Lady Gaga, Black Eyed Peas, whatever other popular music that is high energy. I ran out of itunes funds quickly, so I switched to the iheartradio app, which I highly recommend. You can shuffle to find a different radio station somewhere in the country by genre.

4. Caffeine, Starbucks in particular. I can’t stress enough how important it is to be alert and focused while you study. I must have drank in excess of 40 oz of coffee everyday at one point. When you are tired you don’t retain as much, if anything. Your tolerance for coffee may become so high that you don’t even care whether it’s black or not. It is expensive, but consider it one of your bar loan expenses, and invest wisely.

5. Sleep when you can. Everyone knows it’s important. Trying to study intensely without adequate rest is not only unwise, it’s stupid. It is a waste of your time. Take a nap, then start studying when you wake up. Make sure you are eating well too. Many of my friends recommend exercising, I literally didn’t have the time, but I can definitely see the value. Just don’t over do it.

6. Don’t get in your own way. Just accept this fact, you are not going to have a fun summer, or beginning of the year, you just aren’t. If you don’t expect to have a social life, or any life at all while you are studying, then you won’t be let down at the endless hours of studying. Don’t be completely anti-social, some interactions help you feel like a human, but If you know you have a PT to do at night, or early in the morning, don’t spend the whole day doing some rigorous exercise, or the night before pulling an all night drinking binge. Again, waste of your time. I personally found that it helps to keep your box of books in the car. I had issues with remembering all of the different ones I would need for my study sessions. This way, you literally always have something to do, and you can switch around if you get bored with one thing.

7. Start in law school. Figure out your best study style, then apply it to studying for the Bar. E.g. some people love flashcards, others detest them. Know yourself. There are no magic tricks, you just have to put in the hours.

8. Relatedly, take bar courses. I remember as a 1L hearing, “I figure whatever I need to know for the Bar, they will teach me in BarBri.” While this is true, think about the consequences of avoiding Bar courses. Do you remember how convoluted Property seemed, well imagine trying to learn it after just 3 lectures and only a few days to review and practice. It sounds like a nightmare to me. I cannot imagine trying to completely learn a new area of the law in just 12 weeks, which are dedicated to some 15 different subject and 3 different modalities. Be smart. Obviously people pass without taking all the bar courses, but it is my personal belief that this adds unnecessary stress to an already insane situation.

9. Legal experience is invaluable. You need to know how to take law school exams for the essays, but you really need to know what it means to have a client and write legal documents for the PTs. If this sort of thing is already second nature to you, you have an advantage. You still have to be able to follow directions and do exactly what you are being told (be a sheep!), but knowing how to marshall the facts, and apply the law to your client’s situation are things lawyers do, not law students. If you come from a solid lawschool program, you may have regular/non-clinical classes where the profs do a good job preparing you.

10. Know when to call it quits. There are bound to be certain days where you just have a mental block or a nervous breakdown, but make sure these are the exception rather than the rule. You can take days off, but make sure you are pushing yourself the rest of the days. You will undoubtedly surpass any limits you thought you had for how long you can sit in one spot, read one subject, take practice essays, etc. It literally scars your brain and changes you into an even more cynical depressing person, but in a good lawyerly way. It’s like our own private Vietnam.

Lastly, be sure to pay attention especially to Honigsberg. He’s the best. Other profs do an excellent job of teaching you the different subjects (shoutout Schechter, Epstein, Franzese, and Corporations guy with weird intonations), but he nails the psychoemotional and motivational aspects. (Stay in a hotel, buy your lunch in advance, etc. are some of the things Honigsberg will tel you). Lastly, remember, 75% of first time takers from ABA schools pass.

Posted in California, The Law, USD Law | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Results of the Election and World Cup Selections

Posted by demkid on December 2, 2010

Now that almost all of the 2010 midterm election results are official (save a congressional race in New York and the Minnesota governor’s race), I can go into a deep and meaningful analysis of all that transpired!  On second thought, it’s already been discussed many times over, so I think I’ll just brag about my stellar predictions.  My big win on November 2nd was my call in the race for California Attorney General.  I thought it was the only legitimate shot state Republicans had of winning a race in the Golden State, and felt that the final call would have to wait until after Election Night.  I was correct on both counts, as all other statewide Republicans lost, and the race was decided not just a day after voters went to the polls, but 3 weeks after they did so!  The Attorney General’s race turned out to be one of the closest in California history, as Kamala Harris defeated Steve Cooley by about 73,000 votes, 46.1%-45.3%.  I predicted a .5% win for Harris, so I think I get a gold star for that one!  Poor Steve Cooley…he claimed victory on Tuesday night only to see himself trailing when he woke up Wednesday morning.  Despite a nationwide GOP victory, California Democrats swept statewide and didn’t lose one state congressional race.  We truly are blue to the core!

As I also predicted, Jerry Brown is back in the governor’s office and Barbara Boxer is back in the US Senate, but the final margins of victory were even wider than I had anticipated.  Governor Brown creamed Meg “Don’t Call Me Margaret” Whitman by 13 points and Senator Boxer took out Carly “Don’t Call Me Cara Carleton” Fiorina by 10.  Pretty amazing.  By the way, since I’m always interested in the accuracy of polls, the big winners for these two races were the USC-LA Times Poll (Brown by 13, Boxer by 8), the Field Poll (Brown by 10, Boxer by 8), and SurveyUSA (Brown by 11, Boxer by 8).  Keep these pollsters in mind for future elections.  The big loser?  You guessed it: The Right Coast’s favorite pollster, Rasmussen!  They had Brown by 4 and Boxer by 3.  Nice try.

To conclude the predictions analysis, the California propositions all turned out the way I thought, and I get another gold star for hitting Prop. 19 (marijuana legalization) right on the nose.  I predicted a 6-point loss, and it failed by 7.  California, while blue, is not yet green.  Prop. 23 (suspending AB32) lost by 23 (I predicted 16), and Prop. 25 (majority budget vote) passed by 10 (to my 18).  My final gold star was earned for my prediction on the results for the House of Representatives.  I predicted a GOP pickup of 61 total seats.  What happened in the end? 63.  Thank you, and goodnight!  For full California election results, go here.


Now that the election is over, we can turn our attention to a voting process that is much more fair and transparent, and not underhanded at all: the selection of host countries for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups!  (I’m kidding on that fair stuff, by the way.)  As I write this, all 9 bidding countries have given their presentations and the announcements will be made in a matter of hours.  The 2018 World Cup is being contested between European nations, with 3 bids having any legitimate shot at winning: England, Russia, and Iberia (Spain/Portugal).  I’ve read different articles in the past week that claim to have inside information that each of these 3 bids is favored to win.  As of yesterday, Russia seemed to be the favorite with the oddsmakers, but they’ve been overtaken on announcement day by once long-time favorites England.  Currently, England is a 4/5 favorite (56% chance), Russia is at 2/1 (33%), and Iberia is at 4/1 (20%).  England clearly have the best bid out of the three as they’re basically ready to host a World Cup right now, and they haven’t hosted since 1966.  I don’t think the ability to host right now should be a big deal, though, as the event won’t take place for another 8 years.  If I were deciding, I’d actually lean towards Russia.  There’s never been a World Cup in Eastern Europe, and I think that having the event there would do the most good to the country and its people.  Plus, England has the Olympics coming up and you can’t have those two events in the same country so close to each other, right?  Oh, wait…Brazil.

As for the 2022 contest, there are also 3 main contenders.  The odds-on favorite is a huge surprise, and it’ll be a huge leap of faith if FIFA decides to go there.  I’m talking about Qatar, which is up against the United States and Australia.  Qatar is currently at 4/6 (60%!) against the US at 13/8 (38%) and Australia at 9/2 (18%).  Qatar is about the size of Connecticut, and the average summertime temperatures average about 115 degrees.  Also, there’s only one main metropolitan area where matches can be held (Doha), and the population is tiny.  However, the country is the richest in the world per capita, can put tons of money into building state-of-the-art stadiums (supposedly with air conditioning), and it would be the first World Cup in the Middle East.  Perhaps the success of the first World Cup in Africa will make it easier for the FIFA Executive Committee to choose Qatar, but I just don’t see how the two countries can be compared.  I get that FIFA wants to put the World Cup in different parts of the world, but this seems like a big stretch.  Yes, it’s 12 years from now and it could turn out to be absolutely fantastic and open the Middle East up to the world, but it’s going to take some balls for FIFA to make that call.  The safe choice, of course, is the United States.  The 1994 World Cup set records for attendance, the infrastructure is already there, it’s the most diverse country in the world and there would be no problem as far as money is concerned.  I’d love to see it here again, but is 28 years a long enough break?  England has had to wait 52, at least.  It’s in the member’s hands.  An Australian win would surprise me if it were picked over the US, but I would definitely go in 2022!  I’m going to go with the oddsmakers and say that FIFA will be lured by the money and location and pick Qatar.  How wild would that be?

Posted in California, Election 2010, International, Politics, Sports | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

WTF has Obama Done So Far? & other progressive victories

Posted by brightcoast on November 4, 2010

See WTF here:


California elections favored all of our Bay Area, particularly San Francisco candidates. I.e. Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom, and Kamala Harris- though the race for AG was so close (allegedly 0.2% by some accounts) counties have some additional time to complete their recounts. Honestly, I question whether an attorney with the name Cooley doesn’t have the subconscious advantage of sharing a name with a major global law firm. In fact, it may not come as a surprise to some to hear that Democrats swept the officer positions, although many incumbents were simply reelected (e.g. Controller & Treasurer).

Complete California election results available here: SOS site

Prop 19, which would have allowed for statewide regulation and taxation of marijuana did not pass, which is actually not surprising. It is a common misconception that Prop 19 itself would have decriminalized marijuana, as The Governator recently signed Senate Bill 1449 (by Senator Leno also of SF), removing the misdemeanor charge from possession of less than an ounce. Possession of this amount is now considered an, “infraction,” while maintaining the $100 fine. Article here. I was quite surprised of the means I learned of the bill, an out of state acquaintance, due to the utter lack of attention it received in the media. In fact, none of my California attorney friends had heard of this seemingly monumental change.

Here’s what I really want to know, what exactly is an avoirdupois ounce of marijuana? As in:
(b) Except as authorized by law, every person who possesses, while driving a motor vehicle upon a highway or on lands, as described in subdivision (b) of Section 23220, not more than one avoirdupois ounce of marijuana, other than concentrated cannabis as defined by Section 11006.5 of the Health and Safety Code, is guilty of an infraction punishable by a fine of not more than one hundred dollars ($100).
Link to entire bill here

More exciting, perhaps only to the legal community, is the fact that Prop 25, which changes the California Constitution to lower the threshold number of votes required to pass the budget from 2/3 to a simple majority, passed. This was of course in tandem with Prop 26 which requires a 2/3 vote for some local fees and taxes. Together, therefore (in theory of course), the Legislature can go about its business of balancing the budget via program cuts and fanagling the numbers without the corresponding months of bickering, notorious for months of delay in actually passing anything.

Lastly, what would a post from the Bay Area be without a huge congratulations to our San Francisco Giants, World Champions! What an amazing series, and I don’t ordinarily watch baseball. GO GIANTS!!

Posted in California, Election 2010 | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

California: Blue (But Not Green?) to the Core

Posted by demkid on November 1, 2010

On the eve of a potentially historic midterm election for the Republican Party, there are wild celebrations in the Bay Area, as the San Francisco Giants have won their first World Series in 56 years.  24 hours from now, it looks like some of the only significant celebrations for Democrats across the country will also be in the Bay, as Jerry Brown is poised to become only the second governor in California history to serve more than 2 terms (he’ll eventually pass Earl Warren as longest-serving ever), and Barbara Boxer will be re-elected to a new Senate with a reduced number of Democratic colleagues.

In the governor’s race, despite spending $163 million of her own fortune to bombard California voters for 18 straight months, Meg Whitman will soon be miraculously silenced.  After all of that spending (because of it?), her favorability rating winds up somewhere in the high-30s.  Pretty pathetic.  Sure, there’s a 13-point registration advantage for Democrats in California, but with all of that money and in a year which could surpass 1994 in terms of a nationwide Republican wave, it doesn’t look like she’ll be anywhere close to Governor Brown when the votes are counted tomorrow.  In the final polls (taken in the past week), her deficit is anywhere from 4-11 points, with an average of -7.  What went wrong?  People can blame this all on the housekeeper scandal, but her numbers started heading south before that news broke.  I’d say simply that the answer to that question is comfort.  Voters are more comfortable with Jerry Brown and feel like he’d be more effective at leading the largest state in the Union.  They look at Meg Whitman and in addition to the housekeeper thing, they think that she’s trying to buy the election, is out of touch with normal people, is inexperienced, doesn’t have a clear plan, hasn’t voted, etc.  Even with all of the punditry, most of the time it’s simply about comfort.

The same goes (to a lesser degree) with the Senate race.  It can be argued that Barbara Boxer is way too liberal, even for a blue state like California.  It’s going to be a big year for Republicans, but one of the most liberal Senators will survive, if only by the lower single-digits.  Unfortunately for state Republicans, their die was cast when they sent millionaire Carly Fiorina through in the June primary.  Californians can barely tolerate Babs (her favorability ratings are poor as well), but they absolutely can’t tolerate a conservative.  Fiorina is anti-choice, anti-environment, and that just won’t work in the Golden State.  Barbara Boxer won this race back in June, because while she’s extremely left-of-center, that will still always be more comfortable for Californians than someone extremely right-of-center.  Fiorina can compare herself to moderates like Dianne Feinstein all she wants, but voters haven’t been fooled.  Fiorina won the primary by referring to her opponent as a RINO, a demon sheep, but that demon sheep (Tom Campbell) was the only one who could have unseated Barbara Boxer.  Fiorina trails by 3-8.  Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight gives her a 3% chance to win tomorrow.  The Junior Senator will remain for 6 more years.

In other statewide races, it looks as if the one and only hope for Republicans is in the contest to succeed Jerry Brown as Attorney General.  There, Steve Cooley has averaged the slightest of leads over Democrat Kamala Harris.  The final verdict could have to wait on that one until well into Wednesday.  I’d be surprised if any other Republican wins a statewide contest tomorrow, but the Lt. Governor race could also be fairly close.

Here in California, we’re of course known for our propositions, and the most publicized has been, of course, Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana possession and cultivation in the state.  Leading for much of the way, the ballot measure has slipped in the final polling, and trails from anywhere between 2 and 8 points.  It doesn’t look like voters are quite ready to add a green tint to California’s blue state reputation.  The other big propositions are 20/27 (redistricting), 23 (to suspend AB32), and 25 (simple majority for budgets).  The following are the Bright Coast’s foolproof predictions for the midterms which include these measures:

CA GOV: Brown 51, Whitman 43

CA SEN: Boxer 50, Fiorina 45

CA AG: Harris 46.8, Cooley 46.3

Prop 19: 53-47 NO

Props 20/27: Prop 20 passes and puts congressional redistricting in hands of commission

Prop 23: 58-42 NO

Prop 25: 59-41 YES

US HOUSE: GOP 240, DEMS 195 (61 seats)


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Not Good Enough for Starbuck’s

Posted by brightcoast on August 30, 2010

So, lately there has been much ado about law grads and new attorneys having to stoop to the level of getting jobs at coffee shops, ala Starbuck’s and the like. So I decided to check it out.

I applied to be a store manager. In addition to attaching my legal resume, I also wrote about my extensive food service and assistant manager experiences. Starbuck’s additionally requires a 60 minute trial run simulation, which tests out your judgment in hypothetical employee interaction situations, calculating simple math regarding profit-loss statements, answering basic questions about your work history, offering unique ideas in response to challenges or problems presented, and lastly about a 120 question survey regarding your “work style,” with several of the same sorts of thematic questions repeating themselves.

Lo and behold, I completed my application and the simulation, and received a rejection email within hours. Ooooh the burn.

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The Second Coming of Sarah Palin?

Posted by demkid on June 5, 2010

The 2010 California Primary is just 3 days away, and it’s looking like it will be a night for the women, at least in the hotly-contested GOP races.  Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, saw her once formidable 50-point lead in the GOP governor’s race slip to single digits over Steve Poizner.  However, it looks as if her tens of millions spent on bombarding Californians with annoying television commercials have done enough to stem the tide.  In the final Field Poll released yesterday, Whitman has extended her lead over Poizner to 26 points, and is ahead 51%-25%.  I’m sure we just can’t wait for more of her commercials in the next 5 months, this time attacking Governor Brown.  (She’s already started this by referring to “Sacramento politicians like Steve Poizner and Jerry Brown…”)  In any case, despite her considerable funds, I think she’ll have her ass handed to her in November, as she’ll be painted as way too conservative for California.

On the Senate side, however, I’m slightly more nervous about November’s outlook, but pleased about the pending GOP nomination.  In the final Field Poll released just this morning, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina (from now on simply referred to as “Carly!”) has opened up a large margin over her two challengers, Congressman Tom Campbell and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore.  She leads 37%-22%-19%, and looks to be headed to a short-haired showdown with Senator Boxer in November.  I say that I’m slightly nervous here, more so than in the governor’s race, primarily because of the politics of the Democratic candidate.  We all know that Barbara Boxer is one of the most liberal politicians around, but she’s become a California institution, and voters seem to be comfortable with her, even though the average person is more moderate.  Fortunately, GOP voters are selecting a conservative Republican with close ties to Sarah Palin, as opposed to the socially moderate Campbell.  Insiders know that if Campbell was the nominee, Boxer would be in serious trouble, because Campbell’s politics are likely more in line with Californian’s values.  Moderate Republicans can do well here (take Arnold, for example), but it’s been a long time since a conservative has held a significant statewide office.  Take that along with the most recent statewide registration figures which show Democrats outnumbering Republicans 45%-31%, and the challenges for a conservative in this state become clear.

While I think Boxer clearly has the edge over Carly!, I’m a little worried about the big bucks that Carly! will surely pump into her campaign in the coming months.  She also seems more likable than Meg Whitman, for example, and she definitely has a Sarah Palinesque vibe.  If you’ve seen any of her commercials lately, you get the sense that she could be the second coming of Palin (referring to herself by her first name only, for example), and the politics definitely match.  For instance, in her most recent TV ad, she refers to climate change as “the weather.” Here’s Sarah! touting Carly’s! true conservative values, like being pro-life and pro-NRA:

This is what puts me a little more at ease about the November election.  Are Californians going to elect Sarah Palin lite?  I have a seriously difficult time imagining that.  However, lots and lots of money can make any race interesting, and the “Golden Parachute Twins” are about to fall right into Californian’s collective lap.  Buckle up!

PS – Carly! also has a spotty voting record, just like Meg.  Brilliant, ladies.

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Billionaire Blues: Whitman’s Declining Fortunes

Posted by demkid on May 19, 2010

The primary season officially kicked off yesterday, with the defeat of former-Republican/now-Democrat Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania.  Here in the Golden State, we are still 3 weeks away from our set of primaries, which will determine candidates for a number of statewide offices.  The highest of these offices is, of course, governor, and the eventual victor in November will sadly be replacing our current Cauleefornia-pronouncing superhero.  I guess all good things must come to an end!  In any case, I’ve already voted absentee for our former-governor/next-governor Jerry Brown (who would break and likely keep the record for the longest-serving California governor in history), who is generally running unopposed in the Democratic primary.  The contest to face off with Governor Brown in November pits billionaire Meg Whitman against millionaire Steve Poizner, and while it didn’t look like a race for the majority of the campaign, this battle has turned into a dogfight and should be extremely entertaining in the next 20 days.

Less than 2 months ago, Whitman, the former eBay CEO, had a 50-point lead on the state Insurance Commissioner.  No, I’m not making that up.  Of course, this wasn’t too surprising, as Whitman had used million after million on TV and radio spots for quite some time, and no one really knew who Steve Poizner was.  However, in the past month, Mr. Poizner decided to start fighting.  His first set of ads were fairly weak (remember the car going over the cliff?), but fortunately someone eventually told him that he needed to get aggressive.  He pulled Whitman into an ad war about which Republican had better conservative credentials, brought up her former support of Barbara Boxer, attacked her on immigration, and is now going after her long history of non-participation at the polls.  These attacks seem to be paying off, as the latest poll in the race (by Survey USA) shows that Poizner is now within the margin of error, and trails Whitman 39-37.  An update to the 50-point gap PPIC poll comes out this week, and should give a better indication of whether Poizner’s efforts are paying off:

It will be an affirmation of a collapse of epic proportions, a $60 million machine that would be in receivership if the currency were bankable ideas. After all that cash, all those gauzy ads and marketing schemes, all that trouble to insulate Whitman and elevate her as the inevitable candidate, it’s basically back to square one. With three weeks to go.

Whitman is clearly in an uncomfortable position.  The fact that she’s a political novice is really starting to show, and this could prove troubling as she tries to hold onto her once-enormous lead.  I watched the second of two GOP primary debates recently, and was really impressed by Poizner’s performance as compared to Whitman’s.  (If you’re a junkie like myself and have some free time, you can watch the debate here.)  Her response to Poizner’s latest attacks comes in the form of a 60-second defensive TV ad which is seriously weak and probably confuses a lot of people:

Whitman folks say her own comeback started with a widely panned ad that has the former CEO of eBay looking into the camera reassuring Republican voters that she’s “working hard to defeat” Barbara Boxer, leaving open the question of who Whitman is actually running against. She also defends her position on immigration, the issue that Poizner has seized by announcing his support of the Arizona anti-illegal immigration law, and by accusing Whitman of supporting amnesty.

It’s lots of fun seeing the Whitman campaign go into panic mode.  She was so inevitable for so long, but now GOP voters are starting to pay attention to the race, and many aren’t too comfortable with what they’re seeing and hearing about her.  Will she be defeated after having put $68 million (and counting) into her own campaign and owning a 50-point lead in the polls?  It would be one of the greatest collapses in modern California politics.

Update: The new PPIC poll just came out.  It shows that Whitman’s former 50-point lead has been reduced to single digits.  She now leads Poizner 38-29 among GOP voters.  (Compare this to a 61-11 lead back in March.)  For the full report, see here.  The headline states, “Stunning Drop in Whitman’s Support Transforms GOP Race for Governor.”  No kidding.  Other interesting poll results are that Governor Brown leads Whitman by 5 points and Poizner by 13 points in hypothetical general election matchups.  The GOP Senate primary is also extremely close, with Carly Fiorina leading her opponents, Tom Campbell and Chuck DeVore, 25-23-16.  36% are still undecided.  Senator Boxer holds leads over all 3 GOP hopefuls, and has a surprising overall approval rating of 50%.

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Should the MA Outcome Worry CA Dems?

Posted by demkid on January 19, 2010

In short, yes.  If a moderate Republican can beat a business-as-usual Democrat in what could be considered the bluest of blue states, someone like Barbara Boxer could be in for a serious fight in November.  Granted, Massachusetts has a high percentage of so-called “independents,” and Martha Coakley (or should I say Choakley?) couldn’t have run a more pathetic campaign, but California Democrats shouldn’t just assume that anyone with a “D” at the end of their name will automatically win in the Golden State.  While registered Democrats in California outnumber Republicans by about 15 points, on the whole, this state is still fairly moderate.  On the other hand, an engaged conservative movement could actually help a liberal senator like Boxer in the end.  She’ll have her best chance if Republicans put through a conservative candidate like Chuck Devore, but it should be noted that in recent polls, she still doesn’t poll over 50% against even him!  It will definitely be an interesting election season, and the Democratic Party better get going, or else a year from now we’ll have Governor Whitman and Senator Fiorina.

“We better get our act together – and quickly,” Newsom said. Voters “are so angry. They don’t feel that we’re paying attention to their needs, in terms of their jobs, and what’s going on at the grassroots, in their neighborhoods.”

For Boxer, a favorite Republican target, a GOP win in Massachusetts would be a particularly dark sign representing “not just the canary in the coal mine,” said Wade Randlett, a leading Silicon Valley fundraiser for Obama. “It’s the flock of dead ravens landing on the lawn.”

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More on the Marijuana Tax

Posted by brightcoast on November 30, 2009

I’ve posted about the idea in California before, see e.g., but here’s a post (from Tax Prof blog) about the projected revenues according to the top 20 states. If it’s highly regulated and taxed, then I suppose conceptually it differs little from alcohol. My concern, however, is that this is a slippery slope. What is the difference between legalizing marijuana and cocaine or heroin, which are also both “naturally occurring?” My other concern is that this is just a quick fix, like the whole lottery system, which was supposed to “save our schools.” Yet how many years later are we still running into the same budget problems?

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Corruption in CA CCs

Posted by brightcoast on November 24, 2009

I can’t say I’m surprised about this person’s alleged misconduct. My past impression was that something shady was going on, especially when I was politely told that I was no longer welcome at the budget meetings, despite being the only student representative. This was of course among other seemingly suspect courses of action, such as paying I believe it was $10,000-$15,000 for a one day meeting facilitator, while in the same year making drastic personnel cuts.

I can say that my experiences in the CC system make me think that this is not uncommon, and budget cuts made at the local level are often motivated by personal pet projects or in the name of nepotism rather than absolute necessity or even on the basis of what is best for the Community College (or district) itself. Case in point, drastic cuts were made to the athletic department of a certain CC, eventhough it was one of the most profitable departments in that the student athletes had the highest transfer rate of any other extra-curricular department. Meaning they transferred out quicker than others, not hanging around and staying in the general ed classes. Hopefully if the courts do get involved, similar past actions of this person will be looked into and investigated thoroughly.

I sincerely hope this mess gets sorted out, and quick.


ETA: In the sense of fairness, I would like to say that while I do believe some or perhaps many of these “expenses” could be justified, although they stretch the limits of the function of the position in question, IMO, they are not appropriate a) for a small regional CC district; and b) are entirely inappropriate in the face of the drastic cuts facing CCs and educational institutions in general. If you were a chancellor at Stanford, for example, then I wouldn’t have as much of a problem with international trips and expensive capital, since it is probably more necessary to maintain the image of the internationally known university with its extravagant  tuition & endowment funding to match.

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