Politics, government and public life for Southern California

INFOGRAPHIC: Many SoCal state legislators register their votes after the fact

Southern California Assembly membes add/change votes

Chart: Sharon McNary/KPCC Data: Associated Press

Here are the State Assembly members from Southern California who recorded the most and least add-in and changed votes in the past year, according to an Associated Press analysis. Asterisks denote members who are running for re-election.

State Assembly members altered their votes on legislation more than 5,000 times in the past year, according to a new analysis published Wednesday by The Associated Press.

Assembly rules let members add their vote to a bill if they were absent for the actual floor vote or chose to abstain. It also allows them to change a vote cast during the formal voting period. Members must make the change on the same day of the floor vote, and their after-the-fact vote cannot change the outcome of the original vote.

Critics say the practice allows lawmakers to mislead their constituents by changing the official record of how they acted on specific pieces of legislation.

Southern California members were among the most prolific vote-amenders, led by Assemblyman Tony Mendoza. The Norwalk Democrat said that adding a vote after initially abstaining — which he did more than 200 times in the past session — is quite different from changing a vote that has already been cast.


That's My Issue: Education policy

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Striking Chicago public school teachers picket outside of George Westinghouse College Prep high school on September 17, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off of their jobs on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States.

This post is part of KPCC & WNYC's "That's My Issue" series, and represents the views of its author, not of either station. 

For me, it’s a personal thing. I’m pursuing education policy — that’s where I’m going. So for me, [education] is the big pressing issue of the time.

You see [that] with the Chicago teacher strike that happened not too long ago, and just what’s been going on... with the issues that are affecting teacher’s unions and all of that and with the whole idea of accountability and how we are going about with teacher’s salaries.

I think that right now is a very key moment for us to reconsider the way that we look at education and the way that we approach reform.

Honestly, I want to see clear policy spelled out, particularly on Romney’s side. I feel like Obama, since he was our president, it’s all on the table, we know where he is headed, we know what he stood for.  He stood pretty firmly and lost a lot of support from the teachers' unions. I think with Romney, I’m still unclear about how he wants to move forward.


Battle of political ads amps up in Palm Springs Congressional race

What's a campaign to do when the race is getting tight and you've got money to spend in a California media market that's somewhat affordable? Start running lots of negative ads.

Two new spots have just hit the airwaves in the Coachella Valley Congressional race between Republican incumbent Mary Bono Mack and her Democratic challenger, Dr. Raul Ruiz.

The House Majority PAC, a Democratic political action committee, is running a week's worth of TV ads in the Palm Springs market, aimed at Mack. She's married to a fellow member of Congress from Florida (and U.S. Senate candidate), Connie Mack. The ad accuses her of forgetting about the Coachella Valley and taking advantage of a tax exemption for Florida residents.

On the tax exemption charge, the Bono Mack campaign points to an article in the Tampa Bay Times' fact-checking operation, PolitiFact. The charge stems from the unusual marital geography of Bono Mack and her husband. Both own homes in their own states. Both claim homestead exemptions, which translate into a tax break. You're only allowed one per household, but since both file taxes separately and hold title to their respective residences in their own name, the local Florida county appraiser's office gave his blessing to the exemption.


CA Fair Political Practices Commission wants names of $11 million donors to Prop 30 and 32

Rich Pedroncelli/AP

California Gov. Jerry Brown, speaking in Sacramento in August, advocates a November ballot initiative that would increase sales and income taxes. An Arizona group has contributed $11 million to defeat Prop. 30 and a state commission wants the names of the donors disclosed.

California officials are expected to investigate an $11 million campaign contribution from an Arizona nonprofit. The money was donated to defeat Proposition 30 and pass Proposition 32. 

The Fair Political Practices Commission is demanding the group disclose who gave the money by Wednesday.

Americans for Responsible Leadership is described on its website as an organization that seeks to “advance government accountability, transparency, ethics, and related public policy issues.”   

The group donated $11 million to the Small Business Action Committee, which is working to defeat Prop. 30 and to pass Prop. 32, the proposed ban on payroll deductions for political donations.

The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) sent a letter to the group’s attorneys demanding the donor’s names.  

FPPC Chair Ann Ravel said if the group does not respond by Wednesday, the FPPC will sue Americans for Responsible Leadership.


California legislators can change voting records after bills have passed or failed

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A view of the California State Capitol in Sacramento.

In a closely contested state Senate campaign, Assemblywoman Cathleen Galgiani has been urging voters to judge her on her legislative achievements, saying on her website that she is "proud to have a record of standing up for the people of my district." 

Voters who try to examine the record of the Central Valley Democrat may come away with the wrong impression.

They would not be able to tell that Galgiani remained silent during 136 votes, adding her vote to those pieces of legislation only after the bills had already passed or failed.

Nor would they see that she voted against a welfare to work bill supported by her party and voted for the establishment of a new school efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction fund. The reason: She changed her votes after the fact on both bills.

Her opponent in the 5th Senate District race, Republican Assemblyman Bill Berryhill, also did it, although less frequently. He added his vote to legislation that had already passed or failed 47 times this year and changed his vote twice.