<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - ]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/election-2012/top-stories http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.comen-usSun, 29 May 2016 14:09:05 -0700Sun, 29 May 2016 14:09:05 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Obama: "The Best Is Yet to Come"]]> Tue, 27 Nov 2012 12:19:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/obama-lead-P1.jpg

President Barack Obama won a second term on Tuesday, emerging from a long, punishing campaign with a new mandate to lead a divided and anxious nation.

"Tonight in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up," Obama said in a victory speech in his hometown of Chicago. "We have fought our way back and we know in our hearts for the United States of America, the best is yet to come."

For full Decision 2012 coverage, visit NBCNews.com.

Obama said his re-election came with a sense of accomplishment and a new surge of hope.

"Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over," he said. "And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. I have learned from you. And you've made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and about the future and life ahead."

But the cold reality is that when he arrives back in Washington, the president will face the same obstacles he did before the election. With Republicans maintaining control of the House of Representatives, the era of political gridlock will likely continue.

That challenge was articulated by one of his most outspoken opponents, Sen. Mitch McConnell, leader of Senate Republicans.

"Now it's time for the president to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a closely-divided Senate, step up to the plate on the challenges of the moment, and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office," McConnell said. “To the extent he wants to move to the political center, which is where the work gets done in a divided government, we’ll be there to meet him half way."

Obama's triumph unfolded incrementally Tuesday night, as he racked up a string of victories in crucial battlegrounds. One after another, states that had been deemed competitive swing states before Election Day fell into the president's hands.

Pennsylvania. Wisconsin. New Hampshire. Iowa. Virginia. With each Obama win, the path to victory for his opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, got narrower.

Finally, just after 11 p.m. ET, NBC News projected Obama to win Ohio, his so-called "firewall" and the one state that has sided with the winning presidential candidate in every election since 1960. Obama's win there, thanks in large part to the state's support of his bailout of the auto industry, handed him the Electoral College swing votes he needed.

Romney conceded the race in a phone call to the president just before 1 a.m. ET. He then took the stage at the Westin Boston Waterfront Hotel, telling supporters that he wished the president well.

"This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation," Romney said.

Obama's battleground victories were so authoritative that Florida, which was considered the biggest  prize, wasn't even a factor.

Florida was the only state that remained too close to call as of 6:00 a.m. ET. Its results won't be known until after the start of business Wednesday. 

So many people turned out to vote Tuesday that Ohio, Florida and Virginia kept polls open long after official closing times to accommodate the people waiting in long lines that snaked from the doors of polling places.

Exit polls indicated that Obama was favored among women, young adults, singles and Latinos — the last group by wider margins than in 2008.

"Today is the clearest proof yet that, against the odds, ordinary Americans can overcome powerful interests," Obama wrote in an email to supporters.

The first person Obama called after getting the concession call from Romney was former President Bill Clinton, a campaign official told NBC News.

The former president was one of Obama’s top surrogates, and onlookers credited his speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte with Obama's "Clinton bump" in the polls.

Obama, Romney and their proxies spent nearly $2 billion, a record amount for a presidential campaign.

In his concession speech, Romney said he had no regrets and hoped that the country would move past its partisan differences to solve the nation's problems.

"I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction," he said. "But the nation chose another leader."

Less than an hour later, at about 1:45 a.m. ET, Obama appeared before a roaring crowd at the McCormick Place convention center in Chicago. His wife, Michelle, and their two daughters accompanied him on stage while Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" blasted. Then they left him to deliver his victory speech.

Obama congratulated Romney "on a hard-fought campaign."

“We may have battled fiercely, but it's only because we love this country, we care so strongly about its future," he said.

The president went on to say that the rancor and rift that characterized the campaign was understandable, given the nation's challenges.

"That won't change after tonight. And it shouldn't. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty, and we can never forget that as we speak, people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today."

Obama, 51, the country’s first black president, won election in 2008 on a promise of hope and change, but he triumphed this time with a starkly different message: asking voters to stick with him as he continues trying to fix the economy and improve America’s standing in the world.

He defeated Romney, 65, a wealthy venture capitalist who’d been running for president for the better part of a decade. A win for Romney would have been vindication, of sorts, for his family; his father, George, ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination in 1968.

The 2012 race highlighted two contrasting visions of the country. Where Romney emphasized the need to lower taxes, relax federal regulations and cut government spending, Obama promised to raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans and deploy government’s help in pulling the country out of the economic doldrums.

Despite his image as stiff and disinterested in the plight of the middle class, Romney managed to make the race close by appealing to many voters’ disappointment in Obama and widespread anxiety about the economy. Romney promised to bring a businessman’s sensibility to the job, a point he drove home in the first presidential debate, which he dominated. That performance sparked a surge in the polls that made the race tight right up until Election Day.

But Romney, in the end, was not able to fully convince an edgy public that he could do a better job than Obama. Nor was Romney able to overcome Obama’s image as a more likable guy.

Now Romney may well have run his last race for public office.

Obama will begin his second term no longer a symbol of political catharsis but as a flawed but adaptive leader who took a lot of lumps and learned from them.

The president's re-election means there will likely be no overturning of his signature domestic policy achievement, the 2010 health care reform law. Obama has also promised to raise taxes on those earning more than $250,000 a year.

Obama must also make good on his campaign promises to finally correct America’s economic path by finding ways to add a million more manufacturing jobs, boost domestic energy production, reduce the county’s carbon footprint, shore up Medicare, cut students' college loan costs and slash the national deficit by $4 trillion.

When he returns to the White House, he won’t have much time to savor his victory, because he’ll face the threat of a year-end "fiscal cliff," when a series of tax cuts are set to expire and massive government spending cuts go into effect.

As he noted in his email to supporters Tuesday night: "There's a lot more work to do."

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Brown: Prop 30 Taxes for "California Dream"]]> Fri, 04 Jan 2013 11:20:02 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jerry-Brown-152766328.jpg

Gov. Jerry Brown described voters' approval of his plan to temporarily raise taxes on well-off Californians to fund the state's education system and other services as a decision to raise taxes for the "California Dream."

The plan, which would increase income taxes for residents making more than $250,000 per year and increase the sales tax, was approved after initial returns suggested the measure was headed for a tight race. With 100 percent of precincts reporting, "Yes" votes led "No" votes with 54 percent of the vote.

"We have a vote of the people, I think the only place in America where a state actually said, 'Let's raise our taxes for our kids, for our schools, for our California Dream," Brown said Tuesday night.

Check statewide results here.

A few hours later at a Wednesday news conference, Brown talked about what 54 percent of voters communicated with approval of the measure.

"This is something around 54 percent, so like everywhere else in the world there's division," said Brown. "You don't want to over-read what the voters say. I see this as a vote of confidence with, certainly, some reservations."

LAUSD Superintendent John Deasy told NBC4 the district would have faced a catastrophic funding hole without Prop 30.

"It would have taken a month of the school year, immediately," said Deasy. "We were going to watch the dismantling of public education."

Prop 30's tax increases on earnings over $250,000 would be in effect for seven years. A sales tax increase of a quarter-cent cent will be in effect for four years.

Its rival measure, Prop 38, garnered less support. That measure, under which taxes would be raised on most Californians to aid the state's struggling education system, picked up just 28 percent of the vote. The measure, promoted by billionaire Molly Munger, would increase income tax for most Californians for 12 years, depending on how much income those taxpayers earn.

Brown staked his political reputation on Prop 30, saying the measure was needed to save the state's education system and other services. If it did not pass, trigger cuts were set to go into effect that would take billions from public schools, community colleges and state universities.

Critics have argued that Prop 30 will not necessarily increase classroom spending. The money will go to the state's general fund and despite written assurances about accountability and support for schools, there is no guarantee that education will benefit.

“Prop 30 will not increase education spending," said NO on 30 spokesman Aaron McClear. "Instead, it just goes to the politicians to spend on whatever they want.”

Brown said Wednesday that the plan should not be considered a "cure."

"The state has been reaching into the pocket of schools districts because its couldn't pay our bills," he said. "Instead of the state borrowing hat-in-hand from our school districts, we're going to have enough money to fund the schools as our constitution requires. We're not going to see the big cutbacks."

Other critics say a tax hike would only work with voters if it is paired with reforms, such as allowing merit pay for teachers and eliminating the teacher seniority system.

“If [voters] feel they are getting something for the additional taxes, they will pay," said David Fleming of the Los Angeles County Business Federation. "They’ll probably say yes but right now they don’t because they feel it's all a one-way street."

The Mervin Field Poll, out last week, showed that a close vote was likely. The poll showed support dropping below 50 percent, but it also showed 14 percent undecided.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bono Mack Challenger Ruiz Sees Lead Widen]]> Thu, 08 Nov 2012 21:24:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/bonomackruiz.jpg

The gap between Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack of Palm Springs and her Democratic challenger increased slightly Thursday night as newly counted ballot numbers were released by Riverside County election officials.

Bono Mack had refused to concede Tuesday after initial results showed her losing to Dr. Raul Ruiz, with her campaign pointing to more than 180,000 uncounted ballots in the county.

With more mail-in ballots counted by Thursday evening, new numbers from the Riverside County Registrar of Voters showed that Ruiz's lead opened up just slightly. He had gained 122 more votes than Bono Mack had, for a new gap between the candidates of 4,679 votes.

Ruiz, an emergency room doctor who got backing from national Democratic figures including Bill Clinton, had 51.41 percent of the vote to Bono Mack's 48.59 percent on Thursday.

Bono Mack, a 51-year-old Republican, won her seat 14 years ago in a special election to replace her husband, Sonny Bono, who had died in a skiing accident.

Her campaign had said Wednesday that it was "premature" to consider results final, noting some 180,000 ballots still to be counted throughout Riverside County.

"Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack and her campaign will be awaiting the impact of this large number of remaining ballots before making any further statements on the 36th Congressional District race," said Marc Troast, Bono Mack's campaign political director, on Wednesday.

The Registrar of Voters reported Thursday that it still had 86,000 mail-in ballots, 60,000 provisional ballots and 18,000 damaged ballots still to count.

It was unclear how many of those uncounted ballots were in the 36th Congressional District, which stretches from Hemet east across the Palm Springs and Coachella Valley area to the Arizona border.

A new update was expected at 6 p.m. Friday.

NBC News has already projected Ruiz the winner of the race.

Ruiz told the Associated Press he Ruiz said he had been thanking his constituents for their support and was looking forward to going to Washington next week for freshman orientation meetings.

City News Service contributed to this article.

<![CDATA[Prop 30 Tax Bills to Come Soon]]> Thu, 08 Nov 2012 17:10:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/cal13.JPG

The tax-raising ballot initiative that voters approved on Election Day has just been passed, but some Californians will feel its impact right away.

In hastily called meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, school district officials throughout the state tried to figure out whether they would still need to cut their budgets this year, and bureaucrats re-worked government budgeting scenarios.

At a more personal level, high-earning Californians prepared to shell out up to 3 percent more in income taxes than in previous years.

Under the new law, called Proposition 30 on the state's recent ballot, individuals making more than $250,000 in taxable income after their deductions will pay an extra percentage point in taxes, as will couples who make more than $500,000 together.

Those making more than $300,000 as individuals or $600,000 as a couple will pay an extra 2 percent, and those making more than $500,000 alone or $1,000,000 as a couple will pay an extra 3 percent.

The new assessments will be retroactive to the beginning of 2012.

Consumers, meanwhile, can expect to start paying an extra quarter of a penny on every dollar that they spend in the state starting January 1, when the new sales tax that was part of the measure goes into effect.

Public schools throughout California would receive $14 billion more from the state over the next four years than they would have had the measure failed, according to the Department of Finance. State beaches will be allocated enough money to keep their lifeguards.

“This stops the downward spiral,” said Jonathan Kaplan, an analyst with the non-profit California Budget Project, which endorsed Prop 30.”It creates a foundation on which to build going forward.”

In Southern California, the Los Angeles Unified School District immediately scrapped plans to shut down for an extra 15 days later this year, and even began discussing whether previously approved furloughs for teachers could be rescinded, spokesman Thomas Waldman said Thursday.

Officials at the district that runs Anaheim’s elementary schools were meeting Thursday to re-think millions in cuts, said spokesman Tim McGillivray.

The new law is expected to bring in enough money to stave off deep cuts of up to $6 billion that had been planned for state expenditures, including education. But it will not raise enough money to fully lift California out of its budget hole – or to fully fund education.

Anaheim is still expecting to have to make cuts for the 2013-2014 school year, though they will not be as steep as they might have been had Prop 30 not passed, McGillivray said.

But experts and state officials caution that the new revenues won’t be enough to restore spending in the Golden State to anything close to what it was before the economy crashed in 2008.

For that, the state needs more economic growth – and more jobs.

“This stanches the bleeding,” said Kaplan. “It allows us to have a floor. But it doesn’t solve all of the problems that have been created over the last several years of cuts.”

The state still anticipates a gap between how much it needs to spend during this fiscal year and how much it will take in, said H.D. Palmer, a spokesman for the California Department of Finance.

But, he said, that gap will be considerably smaller now than it would have been. The state’s independent Legislative Analyst’s Office is crunching those numbers now, and is expected to release a report on the state’s fiscal condition next week.

The sales tax will remain in effect for four years, and the income tax for seven years.

Photo Credit: Jodi Hernandez]]>
<![CDATA[Opinion: Least Scrutinized Initiatives Get Most Votes]]> Fri, 09 Nov 2012 10:50:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/prop302.jpg

Here's some bad news from the California election results: it appears that the best way to win an initiative campaign is to avoid attention and scrutiny.

That, at least, is one interpretation of the big victories posted by three measures: Proposition 35 (on human trafficking), Proposition 36 (on Three Strikes), and Proposition 39 (on corporate taxation and green energy.

What do these measures have in common? Nothing, except for the fact that they got little serious attention and scrutiny during the elections.

Conventional wisdom is that voters vote no on measures when they don't know the details, but in fact, voters often rely on the ballot title and summary, and measures that seem uncontroversial can sail through when there is little attention.

Prop 35 probably got less attention than any other ballot initiative. But it won easily -- with more than 80 percent of the vote, even though the initiative adds to the state budget deficit without providing a funding source.

Voters seem to have read the title and concluded: who could be against human trafficking legislation? (The answer, unknown to many voters: a who's who of people who have worked on the issue in California).

Prop 36, a tweaking of the state's Three Strikes law, also didn't get much attention. It won with nearly 70 percent of the vote.

And then there's Prop 39, which changes the formula for state taxes on corporation. This measure did far better than the other two tax-hike initiatives -- Gov. Jerry Brown' successful Prop 30 (53 percent at last count) and Molly Munger's politically disastrous Prop 38 (less than 30 percent of voter approval at last check).

But this success came even though Prop 39 got only a fraction of the attention that Propositions 30 and 38 got. It was as though getting ignored helped the initiative.

And that shows what's wrong with the way California does direct democracy.

By piling long lists of initiatives onto long ballot, the state guarantees that most measures won't get much attention. And this creates incentives for initiative sponsors to avoid doing the right thing -- engaging the public in dialgoue -- and instead do the wrong thing -- trying to give the measure a low profile.

It should go without saying that each initiative on the ballot deserves thorough debate. But California's system discourages that. This is why the state should spread out ballot initiative elections on a separate election calendar (with votes every months or so) and make sure voters never have to choose from more than 3 measures on the same ballot.

That way, each initiative would get serious attention.

And maybe mistakes would be avoided.


Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Opinion: Jerry Brown's Improbable Victory]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 22:04:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/brown-jerry-prop30-1.jpg

Proposition 30, by all conventional measures, should never have passed.

Convincing California voters to tax themselves is tricky at any time.  And this year, the pitch faced hostility on a number of fronts.

Legislative pay raises, hidden state parks money, a competing tax measure from civil rights attorney Molly Munger, an unpopular high speed rail project; all were fodder for campaign opponents who stoked voter resentment and mistrust of government.

It was the worst-kept secret in Sacramento that Gov. Jerry Brown intended, from the moment he was sworn in for a third term last year, to seek voter approval of new taxes.

In a 2010 campaign interview, he told me he hoped to win legislative approval of a special election in 2011.  But Brown could never drum up enough support from Republicans, meaning he had to go the initiative route.

Brown faced plenty of criticism for the way he handled the campaign. His message wasn't consistent; talking about the need to protect schools, then talking about the need to generate jobs.  He started the all-important TV ad campaign relatively late in the season.

Ironically, many of these same criticisms were heard about the way he ran his campaign for governor two years ago.

Brown's unconventional approach causes the political pros in Sacramento to shake their heads in dismay, but it works for him.   Selling Prop 30 depended on two main points; public opposition to cutting funding for schools, and the popularity of taxing the state's wealthiest residents.

Brown couldn't depend on labor unions to fund his campaign to the extent he wanted.  They were focused on another priority, defeating Proposition 32.  But the turnout they generated on 32, along with high Democratic turnout tied to the presidential race, proved to be a benefit.

So did this year's start of online voter registration, which provided a new pool of young voters friendly to Brown's pitch.  It tied in with his decision to campaign heavily on college campuses.

In the end, this wasn't just a vote on taxes or education, it was an expression of how voters feel about the 74-year-old governor and his leadership since retaking an office he last held three decades ago.

Passage of Prop 30 means Brown can avoid presiding over two more years of deep and debilitating program cuts.

Jerry Brown has a dog, not a cat.  But it's clear he hasn't run through his supply of political lives.

<![CDATA[Axelrod: There Were a Lot of Tears Flowing]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 20:25:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/obama-link-p2.jpg

Between the time Tuesday's presidential race was called and the time Barack Obama took the stage at Chicago's McCormick Place to accept his victory, the president made and received two very important phone calls.

"He spoke with President Clinton. He wanted to call President Clinton after Gov. [Mitt] Romney called because President Clinton was valiant on behalf of this campaign, and, as the president said, [was] our most valuable player," Obama's Chief Campaign Strategist David Axelrod said Wednesday.

"He really wanted to share the moment with him," Axelrod added.

For the most part, Axelrod said Election Night was mostly stress-free.

"The tense time is before the votes start getting counted," he recalled. "As soon as the votes start getting counted, you have models. You can see where the votes are coming in from. We knew very quickly that it was going well."

After a night's sleep at his Hyde Park-Kenwood home, an invigorated and newly re-elected President Obama stopped by his 2012 campaign headquarters in the Prudential Building to meet with the hundreds of volunteers who helped in the effort to secure another four years.

"It was a really emotional visit," Axelrod said. "There were a lot of tears flowing up there and a lot of joy."

Some of the staffers stood on desks to get a better glimpse of the president as he spoke to those who, as Axelrod said, "worked their hearts out."

"He talked about what public service means ... I think the most powerful thing he said was he talked about his own career as a young community organizer and he said to them what inspires him so much is, 'You're so much better than I was. You know so much more,' and he said, 'You give me hope.'"

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

For Axelrod, it was his last hurrah in politics.

Back in January, Axelrod announced that he would head to the University of Chicago to create a new Institute of Politics meant to rival the Harvard Kennedy School. The University of Chicago Institute of Politics opens officially in 2013, but began offering preliminary courses in Summer 2012.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Ballots Left On Auto Roof Go Flying]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 21:20:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/195*120/ballot+boxes+los+angeles+county.jpg

Ever wonder what happens to your ballot after it's cast?

Votes from an entire precinct in Glendale went missing for a while on Tuesday night - and might have stayed lost were it not for a couple out for an evening walk.

As they strolled, the couple, who were not identified, happened upon a box in the 1500 block of Chevy Chase Drive. It turned out to be a ballot box, said Glendale police spokesman Tom Lorenz.

Details are sketchy, but Lorenz said that the couple called police, who responded and helped the couple pick up ballots from the ground.

Dean Logan, the Registrar-Recorder of Los Angeles County, said the the ballots went flying after a poll worker set them on top of his car and then drove off, not realizing where they were.

The worker continued on his way, driving to a check-in center at Glendale City Hall, where the votes were to be sent on to the county registrar's office in Norwalk to be counted.

He parked his car, got out, and was horrified to realize that he didn't have the ballots, Logan said.

The pollworker rushed back to the neighborhood around Chevy Chase Drive, where he saw some of the ballots strewn across the road. He frantically picked them up, but the box itself was nowhere to be found.

Just then, officials at registrar's office got a phone call from the Glendale Police, Logan said, saying that they had the box.

Between the ballots that the poll worker found and the ones police picked up, officials were able to account for all of the votes from that precinct, Logan said. There had been 350 ballots in the box, he said.

"We take the custody and transport of voted ballots very seriously and we reacted swiftly to retrieve and secure these ballots," Logan said. "Likewise, the poll worker, the Glendale residents and the Glendale Police all reacted with great care and prudence."

His office had earlier downplayed the incident.

“Accidents happen," said one of his spokeswomen, media associate Angie Comer. "It’s a non-issue. We retrieved every ballot and are in the process of counting all of the ballots.”

Photo Credit: Courtesy Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder]]>
<![CDATA[Roundup: California's Ballot Prop. Results]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 11:41:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/New+Hampsire+poll+1.jpg

California voters decided on 11 state ballot measures Tuesday night, including rival tax measures that involved education funding and a proposal that would have repealed the death penalty.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, voters said "Yes" to five measures.

Ballot Proposition Results:

Prop 30, Taxes-Education: Yes
Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed $6 billion-per-year tax increase. He said automatic spending cuts would hit public schools if the measure failed.

Prop 31: State Budget, State and Local Government: No
A "Yes" vote would have initiated a budget overhaul that involved a two-year budget cycle and other changes.

Prop 32, Political Contributions: No
The measure would have prohibited unions from deducting payroll funds for political purposes.

Prop 33, Auto Insurance: No
A "Yes" vote meant insurance companies would have been allowed to set prices based on a driver's insurance history.

Prop 34, Death Penalty: No
A "Yes" vote would have repealed the state's death penalty sentence, replacing it with life imprisonment without possibility of parole. The change would have been applied retroactively to existing sentences.

Prop 35, Human Trafficking: Yes
The measure increases prison sentences for human trafficking convictions. Convicted traffickers must register as sex offenders.

Prop 36, Three Strikes: Yes
The measure revises California's Three-Strikes law to impose life sentences only when a new felony conviction is considered serious or violent.

Prop 37, Genetically Engineered Food Labels: No
Requires labels for food from plants or animals with genetic material changes Such foods cannot be marketed as "natural."

Prop 38, Taxes for Educaiton, Early Childhood: No
A rival to Prop 30, this measure was proposed by billionaire Molly Munger. The temporary tax increase would have been based on earnings using a sliding scale.

Prop 39, Business Tax for Energy Funding: Yes
Multi-state businesses are required to pay income taxes based on percentage of California sales. Revenues for five years are set aside for clean and efficient energy projects.

Prop 40, Redistricting State Senate: Yes
The "Yes" vote approved new State Sentate districts created by the Citizens Redistricing Commission.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Election Day 2012: By the Numbers]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 13:37:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/vote-day-P5.jpg

The most important number for President Barack Obama on Election Day was 270, the number of electoral votes needed to clinch his re-election. But for the rest of us, the culmination of the marathon 2012 presidential race provided a host of other fascinating figures.

From the numbers of women elected to the U.S. Senate to the stack of Donald Trump's disgruntled tweets after the race was called for Obama, here is a numerical guide to Election Day 2012:

303 – The number of electoral votes Obama was projected to have won as of Wednesday morning, with Florida still too close to call, according to NBC News. He needed 270 to win reelection.

206 – The number of electoral votes former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was projected to have secured, as per NBC News.

2,625,875 – The number of votes separating Obama and Romney in the popular vote count with 97 percent of results in, according to NBC News.

118 million – The number of Americans who voted in the presidential election, with 97 percent of precincts reporting, according to The Associated Press. The number is sure to rise.

131 million – The number of people who cast ballots for president back in 2008, according to the AP.

71 – The percentage of Latinos who voted for Obama in this election, NBC News reported. Latinos represented 10 percent of the electorate.

27 – The percent of the Latino vote that Romney received, the lowest for any Republican in a generation, according to Slate.

89 – The percentage of all votes Romney won that came from whites, compared to 56 percent for Obama.

327,452 –- The peak number of tweets per minute after networks called the election for Obama at 11:19 p.m. ET. Twitter said the moment was its most-tweeted moment of Election 2012 by far.

396,372 – The number of new Facebook "likes" Obama received on Election Day.

20 — The number of women who will occupy the U.S. Senate come January, which will be a record high, NBC News reported.

53 —The number of U.S. Senate seats NBC News projected Democrats held. Another seat was held by Democratic-caucusing Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, and a seat in Maine was won by Independent Angus King, who Democrats were confident would vote with them although he refused to say with whom he would caucus.

12:50 – The time early Wednesday morning that Romney called Obama to congratulate him on his victory, according to the Boston Globe.

43 – The number of applause interruptions during Obama's victory speech, according to a transcript of the president's speech.

1,118 – The number of words in Romney's prepared victory speech, according to the AP.

455,000 (and counting) – The number of people who retweeted President Obama’s "four more years" message with a photo showing him hugging his wife, according to Twitter.

9 – The number of tweets sent by Donald Trump after Obama was declared winner -- that Trump didn't delete later -- starting with "Well, back to the drawing board!" and concluding with "House of Representatives shouldn’t give anything to Obama unless he terminates Obamacare." Trump deleted other tweets alleging Obama lost the popular vote and calling for "revolution," Mashable reported.

4 in 10 – The ratio of voters who said in exit polls they thought the economy is getting better, according to the AP.

10 – The number of defeated Democratic House incumbents, according to Politico.

12 – The number of defeated Republican House incumbents, per Politico.

2 – The number of states (Maine and Maryland) that approved gay marriage by popular vote, bringing the total number of states where same-sex marriage is legal to eight.

0 – The number of states where voters had previously voted in favor of allowing gay marriage.

1 – The number of members of Congress with backgrounds as reindeer ranchers and Santa Claus impersonators, according to the Detroit Free Press.

7.9 – The U.S. unemployment rate on Election Day, according to the Bureau of Labor Standards.

973,759 – The number of Hurricane Sandy victims still without power on Election Day, according to the Department of Energy.

15 – An estimate of the percentage decline in New York voter turnout compared from 2008 levels, according to the AP.

32 million – The number of early and mail-in ballots cast in 34 states and the District of Columbia before Election Day, according to the AP.

$3.46 – The national average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline on Election Day, according to the AP.

Alexandra Ward and Sam Schulz also contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[SoCal Voter Turnout Lower Than 2008]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 11:19:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/voterturnoutlede.jpg

Fewer voters turned out to cast their ballots this Election Day in Southern California than did in the 2008 election, mirroring a nationwide trend.

In Los Angeles County, 49.8 percent of registered voters cast their ballots Tuesday, compared with 76.8 percent in the 2008 election, according to the latest statistics from the California Secretary of State's Office.

However, about 32 percent of all registered voters requested mail-in ballots, and only 46 percent of the 1.5 million county-issued vote-by-mail ballots had been returned as of Monday, according to the Los Angeles County Registrar's Office.

Full Coverage: Election 2012

About 8.7 percent more Los Angeles County voters were registered to vote in this year's election than in 2008 -- 4,674,338 this year compared to 4,298,440 in 2008.

In Orange County, 51.3 percent voted, compared with 72.5 percent in 2008. San Bernardino County had 53.4 percent, compared with 74.3 percent in 2008. Riverside saw 48.4 percent vote Tuesday, compared with 73.1 percent in 2008.


Some 60.2 percent voted on Tuesday in Ventura County, compared with 77.6 percent in 2008, according to the Secretary of State.

The figures mirrored a national trend.

Some 118 million people voted in the White House race, but that number will go up as more votes are counted. In 2008, 131 million people cast ballots for president when voters shattered turnout records as they elected Barack Obama to his first term, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Even though the full picture may not be known for weeks because much of the counting takes place after Election Day, Curtis Gans, director of American University's Center for the Study of the American Electorate, said numbers may be even lower than in 2004.

"This is one of those rare elections in which turnout in every state in the nation went down," Gans said.

NBCLA wire services contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Thanks Michelle]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 05:02:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/obama-gallery-P1.jpg Obama's victory speech included a heartfelt thank you to First Lady Michelle Obama and daughters Sasha and Malia.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Anti-Death Penalty Prop. 34 Defeated]]> Fri, 04 Jan 2013 11:20:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/223*120/quentin.jpg

The latest effort to abolish the death penalty in California was headed for defeat Tuesday night, with results showing that more than half of the voters wanted to keep capital punishment.

With 20 percent of precincts reporting, 56 percent had voted against the measure.

The proposition would have applied retroactively to the nearly 725 people now on Death Row in the state. Prop. 34 also would draw $100 million from the general fund for police agencies to help solve more homicide and rape cases.

To see the live results, click here.

Recent polls showed that Proposition 34, which proposes to replace capital punishment with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, had considerably more support in the state now than it did even just a few weeks ago. But on Tuesday, it looked that those early gains might not be enough. Early in the evening, the no vote had 56 percent of the vote, and the yes vote had 44 percent.

Trying to abolish the death penalty isn't a new effort in California.

But this time, advocates wielded a financial argument in addition to the more familiar questions about the morality of putting people to death, or the risk of wrongly executing the innocent.

Opponents of Prop. 34 had argued - successfully, it seems - that putting people behind bars for life instead of executing them, is cruel to victims' families. And they also doubted the cost and studies anti-death penalty advocates are relying on.

"Their whole argument is cooked out of a so-called study – a biased study,” said Mark Klaas, whose 12-year-old daughter Polly was kidnapped and killed in Petaluma in 1993. "It’s estimates. It could be off by tens of millions of dollars.”

Along with Klaas, opponents to the proposition included California State Sheriff's Association, former governors Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian, the California District Attorneys Association the California Police Chiefs Association.

Larry Gerston, a San Jose State political-science professor and an NBC political analyst, had predicted the anti-death penalty camp was going to lose.

A similar effort in 2004 went down to significant defeat – despite polls that showed a close race as the election neared, he said.

Moreover, Gerston said, voters tend to vote "no" on items when they don't understand an issue.

"California's political culture is pro-capital punishment and it has been as far back as I can remember," he said.

A total of 17 states have abolished the death penalty.

<![CDATA[Berman Concedes to Sherman in 30th District]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 07:45:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Brad+Sherman+and+Howard+Berman.jpg

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) won a race in the 30th Congressional District over rival Democrat Howard Berman, signaling an end to a long and expensive campaign.

MORE: Sherman and Berman reflect on a rancorous campaign.

Berman conceded the races early Wednesday. The election effectively ends the long Congressional career of Berman, who at 71 is the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs committee.

"I congratulate Brad... who will have the honor and solemn responsibility of representing the San Fernando Valley in the 113th Congress," Berman said in a statement. "I will do whatever I can to ensure a cooperative and orderly transition."

The two former colleagues were dragged into a race that was one of dirtiest and most expensive in the nation after redistricting threw them into the same district - and a new California law led to candidates from the same party facing each other in a general election.

The race to represent the 30th Congressional District in the San Fernando Valley drew national attention for its unprecedented rancor and expense.

MORE: "You want to get into this?" Sherman/Berman reflect on rancorous campaign

Thrown together by redistricting and a new California law that allows members of the same party to run against each other, the two incumbents have been circling each other like a pair of snarling pit bulls.

Residents in the district were buried with lurid mailers in which each man takes exaggerated pot shots at the other, and reporters were inundated with press releases aimed at luring them into writing hit pieces on one candidate or the other.

It got so heated that Sherman grabbed Berman at a recent debate and appeared to challenge him to a fistfight.

The bizarre battle was made even stranger by the common wisdom – particularly among national media weighting in on the race – that the two men are so similar that it really doesn’t matter which one wins.

In the end, differences in personal style - and the greater familiarity of Sherman to voters in the district, may have made the difference.

Raphael Sonenshein, director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles, said the two men represent classic – and different – styles of legislators.

Berman, he said, is an insider, focusing on the work in Washington and able to build on his relationships to make and influence policy. Sherman may be less of a mover in Washington, but he is considerably more visible back home in the district – in part because the new district is mostly made up of the one he has represented for 16 years.

“This race is a fabulous test of the home-style and the insider-legislator model of politics,” Sonenshein said.

Personal differences like these, he said, will become more important and pronounced in California politics, Sonenshein predicted, as more candidates of the same party are pitted against each other.

<![CDATA[Obama Photo Most Retweeted Ever]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 23:45:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/obama-tweet1.jpg

As it became clear that President Barack Obama was headed for another term in office, the most digitally savvy leader of the free world took to Twitter.

 "This happened because of you. Thank you," he tweeted, with a photo of him hugging first lady Michelle Obama, captioned "Four more years."

In the minutes that followed, the photo broke the record for most retweets, wrestling the crown from Justin Bieber.

Meanwhile, celebrities, journalists and politicos of all stripes weighed in on Obama's re-election, none with as much unhinged fervor as Donald Trump.

A selection of the night's highlights:

<![CDATA[Tax Measure Edges Forward, Lacey Leads for D.A.]]> Wed, 14 Nov 2012 21:31:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/CAvoterwithdog.jpg

Prosecutor Jackie Lacey was leading in early returns in her race to become the first African-American and female District Attorney in Los Angeles, with 55 percent of votes counted as of 1 a.m. against 45 percent for opponent Alan Jackson.

In other measures, Californians seemed disinclined to repeal the death penalty, but were voting nearly two-to-one to reform the state's harsh "Three Strikes and You're Out" law.

Get Live Local Election Results Here

In Los Angeles County, Measure B, which would require condoms to be used on movie sets where sex acts are being filmed, was leading, with 59 percent by 12:20 a.m. Wednesday and nearly half of the precincts reporting. Opponents garnered about 41 percent.

Early returns also showed a comfortable lead for Rep. Brad Sherman over longtime Congressman Howard Berman.

The two men, both Democrats, were locked in a contentious race after the two were thrown into the same district by California’s redistricting.

Campaign volunteers and supporters arrived at a party hosted by Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) with smiles on their faces and confidence that their candidate would win.

At Berman's headquarters, the mood was a bit more anxious as staff and invited guests began to gather. Berman fought hard in the race, which got dirty and expensive very quickly, but the bulk of the district was more familiar with Sherman, and that may have given Sherman an edge.

At the state level, Prop 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to raise taxes on people earning more than $250,000 per year, was edging ahead with 53 percent of the votes counted at 1:05 a.m.

A rival measure, Prop. 38, supported by billioniaire reformer Molly Munger, appeared headed for defeat.

Prop. 32, which would have banned labor unions from using payroll deductions to fund political campaigns, was trailing narrowly. With about 72 percent of precincts reporting, the measure garnered about 45 percent of the votes counted at 1:05 a.m. Some 55.1 percent opposed the proposition.

As of 1 a.m., Prop. 33, which would have required auto insurance prices be based on drivers' coverage history, appeared headed for defeat, with 55 percent of the votes against it and 45 percent in favor.

Prop. 35 appeared headed for an overwhelming victory as of 1 a.m., when some 81 percent of voters were counted in favor of the proposition which would increase criminal penalties for human trafficking and require human-trafficking training for police officers. Opponents of the proposition garnered about 18 percent of the vote with 72 percent of precincts reporting.

MORE: Obama Wins Second Term

Throughout the state, Democrats and Republicans gathered at parties and election night events, shouting as results were announced in favor of one candidate or another.

With a record number of registered voters in Los Angeles County, election officials expected significant turnout as voters headed to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots in a hotly contested presidential race and myriad statewide and local contests.

Decision 2012: Complete Election Coverage

Polls opened across the state at 7 a.m. and will remain open till 8 p.m. (Use the links at the bottom of this article to find your polling place). Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan tweeted as polls closed on the East Coast: "Don't let east coast results & predictions keep you from voting in L.A. -- every vote counts. Polls open until 8 PM."

At 4 p.m., voter turnout was at 46 percent in LA County.

Results in close contests could be delayed because of a high number of mail-in ballots that remain to be counted, Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk officials cautioned.

Voters can cast ballots or submit a mail-in ballot at their polling place. More than 9 million mail-in ballots were issued in California.

About 26,000 polling place volunteers were preparing for voters early Tuesday at the Cypress Park Recreation Center and more than 4,600 other locations in LA County.

LA county has 4.7 million registered voters -- a 10 percent increase since 2008 -- and a record high. The county accounts for nearly a quarter of California's 18.2 million registered voters.

About 1.5 million vote-by-mail ballots were issued in LA County, and Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan said some of those forms won't be ready to be counted till Friday.

"If we have close contests or measures hanging in the balance tonight, it could be days and even weeks before we see the vote totals on that," Logan said.

Voter registration has been "phenomenal" with the introduction of online registration in September, Logan said. Many of the online registrants were between ages 18 and 29, Logan said.

Whether that will translate to a high turnout will be determined Tuesday night.

"Voter registration is certainly that intent to participate," Logan said. "But on Election Day, we see the culmination in all that intent and the energy of people doing the physical  act of marking their ballot."

Early morning and late afternoon are traditionally the busiest times at the polls, Logan said. He suggested voting at mid-day, if possible.

For last-minute voters, Logan said anyone in line at the time polls close will be allowed to cast a ballot.

All ballots will be transported to the county registrar's office in Norwalk in an LA County Sheriff's patrol vehicle. The final returns are likely to come from Santa Catalina Island, Logan said.

Voter Information

California Secretary of State

Los Angeles County

Orange County

Riverside County

San Bernardino County

Ventura County

Santa Barbara County

Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Out-of-State Tax Rule Measure Prop. 39 Results Come In]]> Fri, 04 Jan 2013 11:20:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/welcometo_california_generic.jpg

Results for the measure that will limit the tax choices available to out-of-state businesses are beginning to show 63 percent in favor and 37 percent opposed with just five percentage of precincts reporting.

Click here for live results

Proposition 39, a ballot measure that would require multi-state businesses to base their income tax liability on the percentage of their sales in California, according to the official ballot summary.

Busineses that operate in California currently have two choices in how they pay taxes: One method bases a multi-state business’ tax off the amount of sales, property, or employees the firm has in California.

The other method bases the tax off the number of sales conducted in California. If Prop. 39 passes, businesses would be required to use this method. Some of the revenue generated from the taxes will fund clean energy jobs in the state.

Check back here for election results, or browse our Decision 2012 page

The legislature and governor established the two-choice system three years ago. The choice is currently not available to California-based firms.

Prop. 39's backers say it closes a tax loophole that gives multi-state businesses an unfair advantage over California firms.

However, out-of-state manufacturers say California's tax climate is too business-unfriendly already, and the measure will keep them from investing more here.

<![CDATA[Romney: I Pray Obama Will Be Successful]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 06:38:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/RomneyConcedesLIM_5114461_722x406_6868547627.jpg Gov. Mitt Romney called the president to concede, and prayed for the well-being of the U.S. and President Barack Obama."I wish all of them well, particularly the president, the first lady and their daughters," he said. Romney said, "I ran for office because I'm concerned for America," and added, "Like so many of you, Paul and I have left everything on the field. We have given our all to this campaign."]]> <![CDATA[Sen. Dianne Feinstein Wins 4th Term]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 13:47:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/U.S.+Sen.+Dianne+Feinstein.jpg

It came as no surprise, but Dianne Feinstein was re-elected Tuesday to her fourth sixth-term seat as U.S. senator representing California.

The 79-year-old San Francisco Democrat faced a little-known challenger: Elizabeth Emken, a 49-year-old Republican from Danville, a small suburb near Oakland.

For "Di-Fi" - as the veteran senator has been nicknamed - winning another election was long considered to be "cakewalk," said Larry Gerston, a political science professor at San Jose State University and an NBC political consultant.

Major mainstream newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Chronicle have all endorsed Feinstein, too. Feinstein's campaign had raised nearly $14 million through Sept. 30, campaign records showed, while Emken had raised slightly more than $700,000.

Feinstein is probably best known for these roles: chairing the Senate Intelligence Committee, supporting same sex marriage and immigration reform, and working to improve California's infrastructure.

Emken, meanwhile, is a political novice.

View more videos at: http://nbcbayarea.com.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Voters Reject Prop. 32]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 08:38:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/sacramento1.jpg

California voters rejected a measure that would've ended campaign fundraising by labor unions.

With 95 percent of precincts reporting, Yes on Prop 32 dropped to 44 percent of the vote while the 'No' vote had 56 percent of the vote.

Under the ballot measure, unions would have been barred from using payroll deductions for political purposes if Proposition 32 passes. Early figures showed the yes vote with a slight lead, but that support dropped as more precincts reported.

Prop. 32 has been billed as a "paycheck protection" and "stop special interest money" initiative.

Critics see it as a showdown that pits business against labor. Backers insist corporations will be reined in, too.

Get live election results

The arguments played out several times a day in commercials running in major California media markets.

Organized labor sees itself as the real target of Prop. 32, even though corporations and government contractors would be subject to payroll-deduction bans.

Prop. 32 backers say union members could still opt contribute voluntarily – but that the unions just couldn't take that money for granted any more.

Lorena Gonzales of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council explained why the defeat of the ballot measure was good for education.

"It's great that teachers are going to be able to continue to participate in the political process the same as billionaires," she said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Your Guide to the Top SoCal Elections]]> Mon, 05 Nov 2012 12:25:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ballot+generic.jpg Southern Californians will face a number of key decisions. Here's a quick guide to the candidates and ballot measures.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Elizabeth Warren Wins Mass. Senate Race]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 06:51:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ELizabeth+Warren+victory.jpg

Elizabeth Warren took back a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts for Democrats after beating Republican Sen. Scott Brown, helping her party hang onto its majority in the chamber, according to NBC News projections.

With 95 percent of the vote in, the Harvard law professor and consumer advocate had 54 percent of the vote compared to 46 percent for Brown, NBC News reported.

"For every family that has been chipped and squeezed and hammered, we're going to fight for you," Warren said in a victory speech Tuesday night. "We're going to fight for a level playing field and we're going to put people back to work."

Warren's projected victory came after a tough, contentious battle against the incumbent, who stunned the political establishment in 2010 when he won the seat held for 47 years by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. She will become the first woman to represent Massachusetts in the Senate.

Warren, 63, had the backing of the president, who tapped her to create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and gave her a prime speaking spot at the Democratic National Convention this fall. She cast herself as a champion of consumers, the middle class and women, who overwhelmingly supported her bid, according to The New York Times.

Brown, 53, portrayed himself as a moderate everyman in a state dominated by Democrats.

"You've got no business in politics unless you respect the judgment of people," Brown said in a concession speech Tuesday. "And if you run for office, you've got to be able to take it either way, winning or losing, and I accept the decision of voters."

The race drew national attention for the amount of money poured into it — at least $68 million, according to The Associated Press — and for several flaps that came out of the months-long contest.

It was Warren's speech about the role of government in private sector success that morphed into the "you didn't build that" line Republicans used against the president.

"There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own, nobody," Warren said last August, according to the Los Angeles Times. "You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for, you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate, you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for."

President Obama riffed on that speech with his own, which became fodder for the Mitt Romney campaign and led to accusations that he was anti-business.

Warren also came under scrutiny after admitting that she had identified herself as a minority, claiming Native American ancestry in a law faculty directory. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Opinion: Obama and Romney Could Both Lose]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 18:21:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/leon+panetta+oct+11+2012.jpg

Okay...here it goes. You won't find this prediction anywhere else. It comes from my brother, who has served as a county election official and political party activist.

It is a long shot but considering how close this vote count may be not entirely without foundation. And if it happens it will require a national civics lesson. Quick.

Let us say that the battleground states split the way we think they will with President Obama winning Ohio. But Iowa and Nevada go to Romney. We have now set the stage for an electoral college tie at 269 apiece (270 is needed for victory)

By this time most people have figured out that the Constitution sends the election to the House of Representatives (the Senate picks the Vice President). Since it appears the House will remain in GOP control everyone assumes this will result in a President Romney. But wait. The House vote is by state. Victory requires one of the two candidates to win a majority of state delegations.

There will be a number of states that won't count because their congressional delegations are evenly split between Republicans and Democrats. That means it is quite possible neither candidate will get to the magic number of 26.

Now it gets really interesting. Under the Constitution the lower chamber of Congress can consider a third candidate. All it takes is one of the Romney or Obama electors to decide to vote for someone else and that third person now becomes the compromise candidate.

At this point the pressure to find a President will be overwhelming. Neither party will agree to a President who will run for re-election in four years and none will agree to someone viewed as overwhelmingly partisan. Kerry, HRC and Condi Rice are all out.

So... who do they pick?

At that point a phone call is made either to the Pentagon or a ranch house in Carmel Valley.

The compromise is a former Republican, who once worked for Richard Nixon, now a Democrat who has be in charge of everything from the White House, the Office of Management and Budget, the CIA and now the Department of Defense. Oh... and he was also a Congressman.

President Leon Panetta of California. America's first Italian-American Chief Executive.

Remember. You heard it here first.

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York]]>
<![CDATA[Opinion: Maybe Brown Should Hope for Loss]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 17:58:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/jerry_brown_school.jpg

The conventional wisdom is that, with Prop 30, Gov. Jerry Brown has put his governorship at risk. He’s devoted so much time, attention and fundraising to the measure that many commentators say that, if Prop 30 loses, he’s finished.

After watching the two-year-long odyssey to Prop 30, I now think the opposite is true. The bigger danger to Brown politically is if Prop 30 wins.

How’s that? Because with the victory of Prop 30, Brown would fully own politically whatever happens next with the budget and schools. And since Prop 30 won’t solve the budget or schools (the state’s deficiencies in this area are too big and ingrained to be resolved by the small temporary tax increases of 30), Brown would be doubly responsible for the new budget cuts, including to the schools and higher education.

If Prop 30 wins, many of those who backed it will inevitably feel that they were victims of a bait and switch. They will come to realize that Brown asked them to throw money into a budget that can’t be balanced, since the budget is a ratchet that constantly boosts the deficit by ratcheting up spending and ratcheting down revenues.

And all the ire of these Prop 30 backers would be directed at Brown, who has badly oversold his measure.

That’s why Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom was actually being constructive when he criticized Brown on the radio for promising there won’t be future tuition hikes for California’s university students. There certainly will be such hikes – even if Prop 30 passes.

Essentially, if Prop 30 were to win, Brown would never escape the broken budget system.

Compared to that prospect, a defeat for Prop 30, while causing some harm to Brown politically, would offer opportunity. Brown also has an obvious out with Prop 30 -- he can tell voters that he gave them a choice, and they chose to enact big cuts.

He may even be able to avoid the political and actual real pain of those trigger cuts by letting lawmakers and others push through a reversal of the triggers (perhaps even over his veto). He can also cast blame for his defeat on Molly Munger and the secretive Arizona donors who were his rivals in the Prop 30 fight.

The defeat of Prop 30 also would provide freedom. Brown would then be open to move off the broken approach of fixing the budget with temporary taxes (and new constitutional budget obligations), and instead launch an effort to redesign the budget system itself.

He has dismissed the idea of broader reform as he sold the taxes that became Prop 30. But with Prop 30 dead, he could turn the page to the sort of reform that is the only real way out of the mess.

This would require a pivot, but Brown has a decent record of pivots in his career. But the defeat of Prop 30 would leave him the option – while victory for Prop 30 would keep him trapped within a failed strategy.

<![CDATA[Opinion: Don't Like Results? Stay Cool]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 01:54:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/218*120/IssaConan.jpg

The year was 1966. I was in the third grade. The Democratic party candidate for Congress was a Carmel Valley attorney named Gerald Barron.

I sent him 16 cents for his campaign. Not sure why 16 -- I assume it was all I could muster.

He was kind enough to stop by my school before the election and give me a campaign hat, sort of like those old-timey convention straw hats. I was thrilled.

And on election night I remember going to my room in tears. He lost by over 100,000 votes.

Losing for Democrats in my hometown was a common thing.

My father had sought state office when I was even younger and also was unsuccessful (but not by the margin of that Congressional candidate). Republicans ruled the day in San Luis Obispo county. The Farm Bureau was big.

But despite the fact my candidates normally lost, I still enjoyed walking precincts, licking envelopes and organizing rallies for the losers. . Elections were important.

I stopped being a partisan Democrat a little while after my first Secret Service press credential (1976 for a Reagan campaign event in Paso Robles).

It was a gradual process. Over time I discovered some of the candidates I thought would be great, weren't so good once in office.

Some of those I thought would be awful turned out to be admirable public servants. Policies I thought wise corkscrewed from the law of unintended consequences while many of those I thought absurd solved problems I didn't appreciate in ways i never thought possible.

My batting average was never that good. It was all kind of humiliating.

So years later I find myself amazed at how many people, particularly those in my industry, seem to be so convinced in their private political righteousness.

I also find it amusing how many people can't understand why everyone doesn't agree with them.

Facebook this time of year is sort of toxic for those of use who understand our democracy depends on us not agreeing.

It's called the "competition of ideas". The administration of justice would not exist if there wasn't an adversarial procedure in court. Democracy requires the same engagement.

It is a system that is noisy and contentious. This year particularly.

So here's a thought for an election that millions will celebrate and millions more will find bitter: Be prepared for the guy who won to be not to be as good a leader as his supporters hoped -- or as bad as his opponents feared.

And remember what Jerry Brown properly predicted when he was first elected Governor in 1974.

"Keep in mind" he said, "there will be just as many problems when I leave office as there are when I arrive. They may be different problems...but they'll be there. That's life."

Candor from a former Jesuit seminarian... and easily worth a 16 cent political contribution.

<![CDATA[Road to the White House ]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 10:47:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/obama-wed-add-P1.jpg It's go time and with the 2012 presidential campaigns comes to a close, president Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney rally for last minute support for their bid at the White House.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Prop. 38 Would Earmark Tax Increases for Early Education]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 16:28:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Molly+Munger.jpg

Most Californians will chip in to aid the state’s struggling education system if Proposition 38 passes this election.

The measure will increase tax for most Californians for 12 years, depending on how much income those taxpayers earn. It will generate about $10 billion annually in the first few years and grow over time.

Revenue from the tax increase will go directly to schools, child care and preschool.

CLICK HERE for an official analysis from the Secretary of State.

Proponents of Prop. 38, including Pasadena attorney Molly Munger, emphasize the guaranteed funding the measure would provide the state’s struggling schools. They say it will prevent devastating cuts that deprive children of quality education.

Opponents say the measure doesn’t do enough to reform the state’s education system, and that any tax increase will force businesses to cut jobs or move out of state.

Others criticize the particular tax Prop. 38 would impose on low-income families. For example, those with a taxable income of as little as $7,316 would see a .4 percent increase in their tax rate, according to the Secretary of State’s analysis.

CLICK HERE to see what each tax bracket can expect.

Proposition 38 is hardly ever mentioned without a comparison to its rival, Proposition 30, the education measure backed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The difference between the two measures is that Prop. 30 would tax income on high-income earners, in addition to raising the sales tax.

Prop. 38 would only increase income tax. Like Prop. 30 though, high income earners will see a higher tax rate increase.

Another difference between the two is that the state cannot redirect the funds generated from Prop. 38’s tax. Prop. 30 funds will go into the state’s general fund, with a certain amount dedicated to schools and public safety.

Prop. 30 has the advantage of state leverage. Six billion dollars in cuts proposed for 2012-2013 will not take effect if the measure passes. Many local school districts say those cuts will have effects on class sizes, programs, school days and other elements.

If Prop. 30 gets more votes, it becomes law. If Prop. 38 gets more votes, but Prop. 30 also passes, there's a chance that the income taxes in Prop. 38 and the sales tax in Prop. 30 both become law.

Photo Credit: Molly Munger]]>
<![CDATA[Diane Feinstein Runs For 4th Term vs. Danville Republican]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 21:42:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/feinstein-split.jpg

It's almost a given that Diane Feinstein will be re-elected for her fourth sixth-term seat as U.S. senator representing California.

The 79-year-old San Francisco Democrat is facing a little-known challenger: Elizabeth Emken, a 49-year-old Republican from Danville, a small suburb near Oakland.

Still, for "Di-Fi" - as the veteran senator has been nicknamed - winning another election should be a "cakewalk," said Larry Gerston, a political science professor at San Jose State University and an NBC political consultant.

The latest polling showed that Feinstein had 51 percent of the vote, while Emken had 32 percent. Feinstein last won her seat in 2006 with a commanding 59.4 percent of the vote. She also beat out 23 challengers in the June primary election, including five from her own party.

Major mainstream newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Chronicle have all endorsed Feinstein, too. Feinstein's campaign had raised nearly $14 million through Sept. 30, campaign records showed, while Emken had raised slightly more than $700,000.

Feinstein is probably best known for these roles: chairing the Senate Intelligence Committee, supporting same sex marriage and immigration reform, and working to improve California's infrastructure.

Emken, meanwhile, is a political novice.

According to her campaign, she is the former vice president for government relations at Autism Speaks, an advocacy group for autism. Her 20-year-old son, Alex, has autism spectrum disorder. She was an efficiency and cost cutting expert at IBM and graduated from UCLA in 1984 with dual degrees in economics and political science. She has campaigned on a platform against excessive debt and "greater accountability."

She has been endorsed by the National Tax Limitation Committee president and founder, Lew Uhler and the conservative Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Emken hasn't resisted taking shots at Feinstein - specifically for her age and how it relates to the use of modern technology. In a statement emailed to NBC this week, her campaign called Feinstein an "out-of-touch entrenched incumbant," and described Emken as a "fighter and problem solver."

In January, Emken accused Feinstein of being out of touch with the 21st century for failing to use Facebook or Twitter. "If you want to know what she's doing in Washington, you'll have to mail her a letter or send her a telegram," Emken sent out in a fundraising letter.

The next day, Feinstein, who already had a Twitter account, but had never used it, tweeted five times, including a link to the State of the Union address.

<![CDATA[Condoms for Porn Victory Party]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 19:39:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/measureb.jpg

Supporters of a Los Angeles County ballot measure that expands a Los Angeles city ordinance mandating condom use on adult film sets to include pornographic performers throughout LA County will host a victory party on Tuesday night.

Backers of Ballot Measure B are planning the party for 8 on election night until election returns are in.

“This is largest vote ever on the safer sex issue. We expect interest far beyond L.A.,” said Michael Weinstein, AIDS Healthcare Foundation and one of the five named proponents of the ballot initiative. “A lot of people worked hard on ‘Yes on B.’ It’s definitely a rallying point for our team.”

The ballot measure, formally known as the County of Los Angeles Safer Sex in the Adult Film Industry Act, appears on Tuesday’s election ballot throughout Los Angeles County.

It will require producers of adult films to obtain a public health permit from the County; follow all health and safety laws, including condom use; and pay a permit fee sufficient to cover all enforcement costs.

Adult film actress Tera Patrick and porn-industry legend Ron Jeremy came out against the measure in a minute-long video posted on YouTube.

In the ad, they say actors are required to test monthly for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV, and the adult film industry’s economic role in the county is too important to impose regulations that could stunt business.

Live satellite TV feeds from the ‘Yes on B’ victory gathering in Hollywood will be beamed four times throughout the evening starting at 9:30 p.m.

The ballot measure was initially spearheaded by AIDS Healthcare Foundation and members of FAIR (‘For Adult Industry Responsibility’) after as many as 22 HIV infections believed to be tied to the adult film industry were reported in two outbreaks in Los Angeles since 2004.

It also came amid a report that said thousands of sexually transmitted infections occur annually among adult performers, a rate higher than prostitutes in Nevada

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gov. Brown Takes a Hike]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 16:04:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/brown8.jpg

What do you do at the end of a long hard-fought campaign for a tax initiative you think will either make or break your state?

If you are Gov. Jerry Brown, you go on a hike.

Brown told reporters Tuesday morning at the polling place walking distance from his home in Oakland, that he was going to spend the day walking in "his family ancestral land." He didn't say exactly where that was, but he did say he hoped to see some wild boar, a rattlesnake and "hopefully an elk."

After his day in the great outdoors, the governor plans on watching returns in Sacramento.

"From everything I can tell, the notion of taking a quarter of a cent sales tax and asking those who are in the top 1 percent to help us out in our time of need, I think that's a proposition that speaks for itself and I wouldn't be surprised if the outcome is more positive than most of you are probably expecting," Brown said outside Fire Station No. 6.

And while the governor sounded optimistic, the passage of Proposition 30 is far from a sure thing.  It would raise the sales tax by a quarter-cent for the next four years and increase income taxes for seven years on individuals earning more than $250,000 annually.

Thse numbers will add $6 billion to the state's dwindling coffers.

Support has been dropping in recent weeks with the latest Field Poll showing it was getting less than 50-percent support of voters.

The fate of the measure will have a deep impact on Brown's next two years in office. Failure will most certainly mean deep cuts for California schools.

<![CDATA[Free Lattes for Bel Air Voters]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 20:34:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/food6.jpg

Most California polling places are in school cafeterias, community center rec rooms, church basements, and even homeowners' garages.

Not so in two precincts in wealthy Brentwood and Bel Air, where voters will cast their ballots this Election Day in a luxury hotel that's offering free valet parking and a buffet of finger sandwiches, cookies, lattes and other treats.

"In true Luxe fashion, the hotel will be offering voters in precincts 9001354A and 9001364A a unique voting experience," wrote the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel on its blog.

Complete Election Day coverage: stories, videos, results

The 161-room Bel Air hotel, part of a chain of 200-plus hotels around the world, is "situated on seven secluded acres of lush gardens," according to its website.

"I couldn't help bringing out the coffees and the teas and the hot chocolates," said hotel owner Efrem Harkham, who began hosting a polling place in the Luxe's ballroom four years ago.

The amenities are designed to give voters a reason not to shirk their democratic duty, he said.

The two precincts that vote at the Luxe include homes in the wealthy communities of Brentwood and Bel Air.

As originally reported by LA Observed and CurbedLA, the hotel's blog post promised every voter a discount voucher for a future dinner at the hotel's restaurant, along with special room rates.

"With these kind of perks, people are going to demand to vote more often!" the post had read.

Since the original offer was posted, the hotel's blog has since been updated to expand the hotel's offer to all residents of the exclusive westside Los Angeles 90049 zip code.

Federal law prohibits businesses from offering special deals to voters, but the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel was far from the only local establishment making such offers this election season.

Harkham said he's certain what he Luxe does is within the bounds of federal law.

The Bel Air hotel's "luxury voting experience" marks a stark contrast to long lines at the polls in New York in New Jersey, where many voters are still without power in the wake of the massive storm Sandy.

In the Rockaways in outer New York City, residents were voting in an unheated tent with no lights, according to NPR.

<![CDATA[Few Problems Reported at LA County Polls]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 15:45:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/voters11.jpg

Few problems were reported at Los Angeles-area polling places as just over 37 percent of LA County registered voters turned out to cast their ballots by 2 p.m. on Election Day, according to election officials.

Complete Coverage: Decision 2012

The percentage is based on a sampling of pre-selected precincts throughout L.A. County. That's down from four years ago. In 2008, voter turnout was nearly 49 percent as of 2 p.m. The figure is up from two years ago for the gubernatorial election. In Orange County, meanwhile, officials said voter turnout was at nearly 16 percent by 1 p.m.

That figure was 27 percent in 2008.

Many areas saw long lines before polls opened in California at 7 a.m.

“I figured, let’s go before work, even if I’m five minutes late -- knock this out, get it done, make my voice heard,” said Veronica Flores, who cast her ballot at a Cypress Park recreation center.

Flores was among those people voting in person.

A record 1.5 million registered voters cast their ballot by mail this year in LA County, said Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan.

As the mail in ballots come in over the coming days, it could be days or weeks before final vote tallies are counted for some close contests or measures that are hanging in balance as the ballots come in by mail, Logan said.

Maribel Sarabia said she takes pride in going to her poll as opposed to voting by mail.

"In other countries, you don't have this right," she said during a trip to vote in Cypress Park. "You don't have this privilege to make your voice be heard. It's just so valuable and meaningful to me."

It was important for Connie Rivas to vote in person. She arrived with her daughter in tow.

"As parents we just stop and think about what are the lessons we want to leave them with because that it will be engraved in her mind forever," Rivas said.

Her 9-year-old daughter Chloe took it all in.

"I'm just excited to see other people vote (for) whoever they want," she said.

The voting in L.A. came as federal monnitors were keeping a close watch on the polls in Riverside County.

The oversight from the U.S. Department of Justice comes after the agency's civil rights department filed a complaint, alleging that the county wasn't offering assistance to Spanish-speaking voters.

After signing an agreement in 2010, the county says they've complied with the agency's recommendations.

The agency wouldn't say what polling stations the monitors would be at, but they will be watching out for any signs of fraud, intimidation and discrimination.

<![CDATA[Obama Mural Ordered Covered at Pa. Polls]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 14:08:10 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/MURAL-COVERED2.gif

A Philadelphia court judge ordered poll workers to cover up a mural of President Barack Obama that was inside a polling place at a local school.

The uproar started when upset voters began circulating pictures via social media after voting at Ben Franklin Elementary School Tuesday morning.

The Republican Party quickly took action, filing a lawsuit that claimed illegal electioneering. The Republican Party of Pennsylvania Chairman Rob Gleason issued this statement on PAGOP.ORG.

“Whether it’s blocking Republican Election Day workers form doing their job or violating Pennsylvania law by electioneering in the polling place, it is clear the Obama campaign has taken their campaign in the gutter to manipulate this election however they can.  Based on the Obama campaign’s behavior today, it certainly raises the question: what are Democrats doing in the polls that they are working so hard to shield folks from monitoring this election?”

Judge Milton Younge, Jr. of the Court of Common Pleas ordered that the mural be covered for the rest of election day with "blank paper or similar material" and "in its entirety," according to NBC News' Pete Williams.

As of 2 p.m., the mural was not entirely covered. NBC10 snapped a picture showing three sheets of paper covering the president's face.

In other Pennsylvania election news, a Department of State official told The Associated Press that a voting machine was recalibrated and put back into service after a Perry County voter reported that it had switched his switched his vote from Obama to Mitt Romney.

Photo Credit: NBC10 Philadelphia]]>
<![CDATA[Election Efforts Shift to Getting Out The Vote]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 06:52:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/DOOR+TO+DOOR.JPG

It's the last opportunity to get people to vote, and Zuleyma Barajas isn't wasting the opportunity.
The young campaign volunteer went door to door Monday night in North Hollywood, making her appeal in Spanish and in English.

“You’re registered to vote and we wanted to talk to you about Prop 30," she told one resident.

If you haven't met Barajas or her fellow volunteers, you might have received a phone call from one of them. And their efforts were doubled on the last evening before the election.

You may also have seen the video produced by a group called "Cuentame" or "Count Me." The political spot, called "This is What Would Happen If Latinos Don't Vote," is airing in battleground states.

“The reality is that the issues matter, the economic, immigration, those issues are really driving out the Latino vote,” said one of the producers, Axel Caballero.

But as the hours slipped away Monday night, Barajas had a simple goal: get people to vote.

“We wanted to let them know how important it is to go out and it doesn’t matter what they vote for," she said. "We just want them to get out and vote.”

<![CDATA[Election 2012: A Look Back]]> Wed, 07 Nov 2012 04:49:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/vote-day-P6.jpg It's go time and with the 2012 presidential campaigns coming to a close, president Barack Obama and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney rally for last minute support for their bid at the White House.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Investigation: Dead Voters Not a Grave Concern]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 00:53:48 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/217*120/sylviavoter.jpg

Sylvia Fleischer is a registered voter, who has proudly cast her ballot in every election. She's always been active in politics, and said one of the highlights of her life was receiving a reply from President Barack Obama after she sent him a letter in 2008.

But even though she's eligible to vote tomorrow, don't expect to see Ms. Fleischer at the polls. Sylvia Fleischer died three years ago.

She's one of perhaps thousands of deceased Californians who remain on the voting rolls.

An investigation by the NBC4 I-team showed thousands of questionable voters. That causes concern that someone could use the names of deceased voters to fraudulently cast a ballot. It's a concern not lost on Fleischer's daughter Jackie Doe.

"You would have the potential of somebody picking up her voting material and getting an extra vote for themselves," Doe said.

While election officials admit that possibility exists, they say cases of voter fraud involving deceased voters is very rare, even with a record number of Californians now registered to vote.

"I believe the voting process in Los Angeles County has a very high level of integrity," said Dean Logan, L.A County's registrar of voters.

It's up to each individual county to decide how to keep its voting rolls current. In LA county, Logan says his office compares death certificates with voting rolls four times a year, to make sure deceased voters are removed.

Still, some names just fall through the cracks. Like Carol Morrison of Palo Alto. She died of cancer in 2004, but remains registered to vote. Despite her death, state records show she voted in the last two presidential elections.

Her husband William said it's unconscionable that someone is apparently using his wife's name to illegally cast ballots. "It angers me and hurts me because she's dead."

Logan says it can be a tough balancing act. Officials want to scrub rolls to lower the possibility of fraud, but they don't want to be so aggressive they accidentally remove a legally registered voter. "The chances of having that person have the confidence to come back and vote in future elections is really damaged," Logan said.

As to how Sylvia Fleischer also appears to have remained on the voter rolls years after her death, a few errors are inevitable, he said. "In a database of 4.7 million people, that's bound to happen," he said. After learning about Fleischer, he immediately cancelled her registration.

<![CDATA[Jay-Z, Springsteen Hit the Trail With Obama]]> Mon, 05 Nov 2012 17:42:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/obama+springsteen+jay+z.jpg

Someone has to introduce the president.

On Monday, the final day of the presidential campaign, President Barack Obama, however, didn't bring along an opening act. He brought along two main acts.

Bruce Springsteen. Jay-Z. Theirs wasn't an introduction, it was pop culture moment.

The Boss was spending the entire day with Obama, traveling on Air Force One from Madison, Wis., to Columbus, Ohio, and then to Des Moines, Iowa, where Obama planned a coda for his campaign, a finale where his run for the presidency began five years ago.

Jay-Z boomed his way into Columbus's Nationwide Arena, performing a rendition of his hit "99 Problems" with a political twist for a crowd estimated by fire officials at more than 15,000 people. He changed a key R-rated word to make his own political endorsement. "I got 99 problems but Mitt ain't one," he sang.

"They tell the story of what our country is," Obama said of the two performers, "but also of what it should be and what it can be."

Springsteen added a whole new sense of vigor, even giddiness, to the Obama entourage, with many of the president's aides and advisers clearly star-struck by the rocker's presence.

Springsteen, in jeans, black boots, a work shirt, vest and leather jacket, was not wearing the typical Air Force One attire. But the Obama camp has left formality aside; many aides are growing beards through Election Day and ties have been left behind in favor of sweaters for the chilly outdoor events during the last hours of the campaign.

Asked if there was any downside to using celebrity glitz instead of substance to drive voters to the polls in the final days, Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki laughed. "I think Bruce Springsteen might be offended by you calling him glitzy," she said.

"Bruce Springsteen, and some other celebrities who have been helping us, reach a broad audience that sometimes tune out what's being said by politicians," she said.

As Psaki spoke to reporters at the back of the plane, Obama was up front and on the phone with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie discussing the recovery from Superstorm Sandy. Christie, who says he has attended more than 100 Springsteen concerts, said Obama then handed the phone to Springsteen, a New Jersey native whose songs often have been tributes to his youth in the state.

Upon landing in Columbus, Springsteen told a reporter that it was his first trip on Air Force One. Grinning, he said: "It was pretty cool." As for New Jersey, he said "I'm feeling pretty hopeful" that the state's hard-hit shore will recover

In Madison and Columbus, Springsteen serenaded audiences with renditions of top anthems "No Surrender," ''Promised Land," and "Land of Hope and Dreams." But he also has a custom made campaign song named after the Obama motto "Forward" - "Not the best I've ever written."

"How many things rhyme with Obama?" he asked.

Obama, no doubt, didn't mind.

"I'm going to be fine with Bruce Springsteen on the last day that I'll ever campaign," he said above the din of the crowd.

"That's not a bad way to bring it home. With The Boss. With The Boss"

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Twitter Party: Celebs Reach Out to Latino Voters]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 07:09:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/151331367b.jpg

Rosario Dawson, Wilmer Valderrama and America Ferrera are just a few of the celebrities planning to join an Election Day-eve "Twitter party" to discuss politics and help answer any last-minute questions, according to a Latino advocacy group.

The event, sponsored by Voto Latino, was scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Pacific time, and is best followed by using hashtag #ivotebecause, organizers said.

The so-called Twitter party is meant to encourage mobile and smart phone-dependent, social media-hooked adults to cast a ballot in very tight national and regional elections.

"We're trying to create a better awareness of what's going to happen, how to best prepare," said Voto Latino chief of staff Adrian Garcia.

The group leverages its celebrity connections -- it was found by Dawson in 2004 -- to connect with voters.

"When you start getting these tweets from (celebrities) … it's a great way to really captivate an audience through an interesting platform," said Garcia.

According to the LA-based NALEO Educational Fund, the Latino voting bloc is significant, especially in swing states such as Nevada, Florida and Colorado where -- like California -- Latinos make up more than 10 percent of the electorate.

"If either candidate fails to fully engage Latino, eligible Latino voters in those states, they will not be able to win," said Evan Bacalao, NALEO Educational Fund's Senior Director of Civic Engagement.

"Making them not just a secondary component to your strategy, but really one of the most key and fundamental pieces of your strategy is absolutely vital," Bacalao said.

The group estimates 4 million Latinos will vote in California this year, a 32 percent increase from the 2008 presidential election. 

"We've seen historically that Latinos are a swing electorate: they really aren't wedded to one party or another," Bacalao said.

Monday's Twitter chat is co-hosted with Mi Familia Vota, Project Vote and the NAACP, among others. NBC Latino is also participating.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rancorous Sherman Berman Race Highlights Differences]]> Sun, 04 Nov 2012 15:21:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Brad+Sherman+and+Howard+Berman.jpg

The race between Democrats Brad Sherman and Howard Berman to represent the 30th Congressional District in the San Fernando Valley has drawn national attention for its unprecedented rancor and expense.

MORE: "You want to get into this?"

Thrown together by redistricting and a new California law that allows members of the same party to run against each other, the two incumbents have been circling each other like a pair of snarling pit bulls.

Residents in the district have been buried with lurid mailers in which each man takes exaggerated pot shots at the other.

Reporters are inundated with press releases aimed at luring them into writing hit pieces on one candidate or the other.

It got so heated that Sherman grabbed Berman at a recent debate and appeared to challenge him to a fistfight.

It’s a bizarre battle made even stranger by the common wisdom – particularly among national media weighting in on the race – that the two men are so similar that it really doesn’t matter which one wins.

But as Election Day nears, it has become clear that there actually are distinctions between the two – particularly in matters of personal and political style, but also in certain areas of policy.

The race, said Raphael Sonenshein, director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles, said the two men represent classic – and different – styles of legislators.

Berman, he said, is an insider, focusing on the work in Washington and able to build on his relationships to make and influence policy. Sherman may be less of a mover in Washington, but he is considerably more visible back home in the district – in part because the new district is mostly made up of the one he has represented for 16 years.

“This race is a fabulous test of the home-style and the insider-legislator model of politics,” Sonenshein said.

Personal differences like these, he said, will become more important and pronounced in California politics, Sonenshein predicted, as more candidates of the same party are pitted against each other.

The candidates also differ somewhat in how they present themselves to the public.

At campaign events and in interviews, Berman tended to speak more conversationally than Sherman, using a quieter tone and responding to questions with detailed ideas and recollections.

Sherman offered somewhat fewer details in conversation, making more sweeping statements than Berman and using a somewhat louder tone. In interviews, he was more likely to circle back to talking points.

Their near-physical altercation at an Oct. 11 debate at Pierce College in Woodland Hills also highlights their differences in temperament and personal style.

After a particularly tense exchange, Sherman grabbed the 71-year-old Berman around the shoulder and drew him close, saying, “You want to get into this?”

They had been arguing moments before over the Dream Act, which Berman, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has pushed for years.

Sherman, who is 57, had claimed that his rival was not really the measure’s original author because he teamed with a Republican to introduce it the first time around. Berman then retorted that Sherman must be either delusional or a liar, and Sherman grabbed him in response.

“I probably should have taken a step back,” Sherman later said in a telephone interview. “It was not the highlight of the campaign.”

Berman has won the near-universal backing of Democratic heavyweights, along with many Republicans. National figures as diverse as former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) have stepped in to personally counter some of the Sherman campaign’s charges against their candidate.

Sherman is a senior member of the House Financial Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, as well as the subcommittee on terrorism, nonproliferation and trade.

He has the support of many local politicians of both parties.

The new 30th was crafted largely from the district Sherman has served for 16 years, so residents are more familiar with him than Berman. Sherman lives there with his family, and is in the district more frequently for local events.

That either man is in the race this go-round sheds light on their personalities as well.

Berman, who holds key committee positions that the Democrats would no longer control if he is defeated, easily won the backing of party leaders.

Not wishing lose either of the men, Democrats then suggested that Sherman move to a district that had an open seat, pledging their backing if he did so.

Sherman refused, saying that the new 30th district was nearly identical to the one he had represented all along. For his part, Berman refused to retire, and vowed to fight.

Although they are both liberal Democrats, the two do differ at times on priorities and policy.

Sherman, a former auditor who also has a law degree, opposed the initial structure of the financial bailout, earning the enmity some Democrats including Barney Frank.

Sherman is proud of his work on the bailout, saying he helped to shape it into an agreement that benefitted taxpayers, rather than putting them at risk.

Berman said Sherman's opposition was "wrong," and also disagreed with his rival's claim that he helped to shape the bailout.

Frank, in a letter that was sent to the media and quoted in a campaign mailer, also said Sherman did not help to shape the final measure.

Asked what their priorities would be if re-elected, both talked about creating jobs and helping to ease foreclosures.

“My two highest priorities are jobs and helping to create a bipartisan resolution of our the whole relationship of our massive debt,” Berman said.

Berman said he would also work on intellectual property issues, pointing out that the district, which includes a big chunk of the Valley from North Hollywood to West Hills, is home to many people who work in entertainment and media.

Sherman also cited the economy and jobs as priorities in a new term.

He said he was particularly concerned about preventing foreclosures. Sherman said he had worked to block new regulations that would have hurt Valley home prices.

“You’ve got to focus on the economy,” he said.

Tom Hogan-Esch, who studies Los Angeles politics at Cal State Northridge, said small differences among the candidates are important and would impact how well the district is served after the election.

The loss of either one means a loss of his expertise and influence, Hogan-Esch said, whether it’s Berman’s ranking position on the Foreign Affairs committee, or Sherman’s work on Financial Services.

But in the end, he said, voters may simply vote based on their familiarity with one of the candidates – and that could favor Sherman.

“The mechanics are favoring Brad Sherman because there’s so much more of the district that is familiar to him,” Hogan-Esch said. “I just don’t see under any equation how Berman is able to overcome that.”

<![CDATA[Measure J: Speed Up Work, Bill Taxpayers 'Til 2069]]> Thu, 25 Oct 2012 14:48:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/metromeasurej.jpg

A half-cent sales tax for transportation would be extended for an extra 30 years if voters in Los Angeles County pass Measure J, which is backed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Such a tax is already in place, but it is set to expire in 2039. Measure J, if passed, would extend that tax to 2069.

The transportation agency, which calls itself Metro, wants to lock in the extra 30 years so they can more more quickly complete work on a bevy of promised transportation projects, while taking advantage of current low interest rates and reduced construction costs.

The measure, which requires approval of two-thirds of voters, is being sold as a way to reduce traffic and create jobs.

It would speed up construction of expanded rail lines, and freeway and street improvements that were planned under the existing tax, which was passed as Measure R in 2008.

If Measure J passes, work would start on the projects within five years instead of 20 as originally planned.

Proponents of Measure J cite an analysis from the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. (PDF) stating the Measure J would acclerate hiring for more than 400,000 new local jobs.

"Voters across the county agree that everyone benefits from traffic relief; everyone benefits when we put people to work," said Matt Szabo, a former LA deputy mayor and now executive director of the campaign's Yes on Measure J Committee for Jobs and Traffic Relief.

Opponents call the measure a "blank check" that would shift the financial burden of transportation projects to a future generation, with the tax hike set to continue until 2069. And they dispute the jobs figures, while arguing the list of projects benefits the city of LA more than other areas.

"It's very LA city-centric," said Tony Bell, spokesman for county Supervisor and Metro board Chairman Mike Antonovich, who opposes Measure J and opposed Measure R. "We have 88 cities and unincorporated areas … They're not getting their fair share."

Szabo disputed that, noting projects in the South Bay and San Gabriel Valley.

The measure would create no new projects, but a list of projects promised in Measure R would be accelerated. Those include:

  • Green Line extension to LAX and through the South Bay
  • Gold Line extension farther east into the San Gabriel Valley
  • The Westside Subway Extension
  • A still-undetermined rapid transit option through the Sepulveda Pass
  • The Regional Connector, which will link the Blue, Expo and Gold lines
  • Improvements to the 5, 91, 110, 405 and 605 freeways

Some projects depend on federal funding for completion - a fact that's been highlighted by critics of Measure J.

Proponents of the sales tax extension say the security of revenue in the future will allow Metro to take out bonds now at lower interest rates and not begin paying them back till 2039.

"We will be able to advance these projects at an extraordinarily low cost," Szabo said.

County supervisors Michael Antonovich and Don Knabe oppose the measure, as does LA City Councilman Bernard Parks.

They're joined by the Bus Riders Union, which has disapproved of Metro's emphasis on rail, and the Beverly Hills school board, which battled with Metro over safety concerns about the Westside Subway route.

The opposition group has a "grass-roots" campaign, compared to the well-organized and well-funded Yes on J effort, which just started airing television commercials.

Supporters include a coalition of business, environmental and labor groups, with LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa – the self-described "transportation mayor" – as a champion.

Measure J is projected to cost an average of about $25 per person annually, and is expected to generate some $90 billion between 2039 and 2069, Metro officials have said.

It was polling close to the two-thirds vote margin, according to a Yes on J internal poll released in September. Measure R passed with 67.9 percent of the vote in 2008.

Photo Credit: Metro]]>
<![CDATA[Undecided Voters to Determine Fate of Prop 30]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 16:30:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/Prop+30+Latest.JPG

It is Gov. Jerry Brown's top priority, but Proposition 30, designed to close a $6 billion state budget gap, is no sure thing.

More: Explaining Props 30 and 38

          How Prop 38 Differs From Prop 30

“California cannot afford except to invest in our schools and our future," Brown told supporters Thursday at a California State University Los Angeles campaign event. "Let’s go for it. Yes on 30, yes on 30.”

Prop. 30 would increase income taxes on residents making more than $250,000 each year. That part may be easy to sell, since only 3 percent of all taxpayers would feel the bite.

But the initiative would also increase the sales tax by a quarter percent for everyone. And that's the part that opponents are pointing out.

Still, Brown said the hike it's worth it.

“We are going to have a balanced budget if Prop 30 passes," Brown said. "But if it doesn’t pass, we will be short, and I’m not going to do budget gimmicks.”

Critics argue that Prop 30 will not necessarily increase classroom spending. The money will go to the state's general fund and despite written assurances about accountability and support for schools, there is no guarantee that education will benefit.

“Prop 30 will not increase education spending," said NO on 30 spokesman Aaron McClear. "Instead, it just goes to the politicians to spend on whatever they want.”

Other critics argue that a tax hike would only work with voters if it is paired with reforms, such as allowing merit pay for teachers and eliminating the teacher seniority system.

“If [voters] feel they are getting something for the additional taxes, they will pay," said David Fleming of the Los Angeles County Business Federation. "They’ll probably say yes but right now they don’t because they feel it's all a one-way street."

The Mervin Field Poll, out Thursday, showed that a close vote is likely. The poll showed support dropping below 50 percent, but it also showed 14 percent undecided.

Brown recently said he believes people are just starting to pay attention. Now, he hopes they are paying more attention to him than the well-funded "No on 30" campaign.

<![CDATA[Anti-Death Penalty Prop. Heavily Funded, Gaining]]> Mon, 05 Nov 2012 09:41:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/223*120/quentin.jpg

The latest effort to abolish the death penalty in California is gaining ground with star power and money.

Recent polls show that Proposition 34, which proposes to replace capital punishment with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, has considerably more support in the state now than it did even just a few weeks ago.

But trying to abolish the death penalty isn't a new effort in California, and it’s not yet clear whether the late surge will translate to success at the polls.

This time, advocates are trying to wield a financial argument in addition to the more familiar questions about the morality of putting people to death, or the risk of wrongly executing the innocent.

Advocates argue that the lengthy appeals process provided to death row inmates costs the state millions each year, yet results in the actual execution of very few.

“We've spent $100 million to execute 13 people from 1978 to 2006,” said Proposition 34 advocate LaDoris Cordell, a retired Santa Clara County Superior Court judge who serves as Independent Police Auditor in San Jose. “That just makes no sense."

Supporters of the measure include the League of Women Voters, the retired California Death Row prison warden, former Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti, the ACLU and others.

"Even people who believe in the death penalty are for this," said Cordell, who is an official ballot sponsor of the proposition. "It's because the system is broken beyond repair.”

The proposition would apply retroactively to the nearly 725 people now on Death Row in the state. Prop. 34 also would draw $100 million from the general fund for police agencies to help solve more homicide and rape cases.

Opponents of Prop. 34 say that putting people behind bars for life instead of executing them, is cruel to victims' families.

And they also doubt the cost and studies anti-death penalty advocates are relying on.

"Their whole argument is cooked out of a so-called study – a biased study,” said Mark Klaas, whose 12-year-old daughter Polly was kidnapped and killed in Petaluma in 1993. "It’s estimates. It could be off by tens of millions of dollars.”

Klaas, an official opponent of the proposition, said he believes in capital punishment for people like Richard Allen Davis, who was convicted of murdering Polly and is still on death row.

Plus, Klaas said, he simply doesn’t believe that all murderers will stay in prison for the rest of their lives.

Along with Klaas, opponents to the proposition include California State Sheriff's Association, former governors Pete Wilson and George Deukmejian, the California District Attorneys Association the California Police Chiefs Association.

Two recent studies appear to show that the gap is narrowing between the yes and no votes.

A USC Dornlife/Los Angeles Times poll released Oct. 26 showed that opponents of repealing the death penalty had just a 3% edge against supporters, the newspaper reported last week. That was a significant change from the prior month, when people who said they were against abolishing the death penalty outnumbered those in favor by about 13%.

A Pepperdine University study showed that as of the end of September about 50 percent of those polled would vote no for Prop. 34 and 43 percent would vote yes. That gap had narrowed from August, where at one point, nearly 60 percent said they would vote no and 40 percent would vote yes.

As of Oct. 7, supporters of Prop. 34 had raised nearly $7 million. Much of the money came from big names, including Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. That amount dwarfs the $300,000 that opponents raised.

If the measure passes, California would join 17 other states that have abolished the death penalty.

But according to Larry Gerston, a San Jose State political-science professor and an NBC political analyst, those against repealing the death penalty still have a better chance of winning.

A similar effort in 2004 went down to significant defeat – despite polls that showed a close race as the election neared, he said.

Moreover, Gerston said, voters tend to vote "no" on items when they don't understand an issue.

"California's political culture is pro-capital punishment and it has been as far back as I can remember," he said.

<![CDATA[Food-Labeling Prop. Dropping in the Polls]]> Tue, 06 Nov 2012 07:32:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/corn-generic-prop-37.jpg

Proposition 37 on this year's ballot asks Californians to decide whether manufacturers should be required to label foods made with genetically engineered ingredients.

If the measure is approved, California would become the first state in the nation to label genetically modified foods. Similar laws have already been adopted by much of Europe and Japan.

Genetic engineering involves manipulating the genes of an organism to achieve a desired result. To a degree, it is like the long-time farming process of creating hybrid plants.

However, in the lab, scientists are able to do more than is generally thought of in creating hybrids, including using genes from bacteria and other organisms to make plants disease-resistent.

Opponents, including a number of major food producers, say the measure would make food more costly.

But those in favor, including several organic food companies, say it will allow consumers to make intelligent choices about what to buy.

"There are no long-term health studies that have proven that genetically engineered food is safe for humans," supporters said in their arguments in favor of the measure. "Whether you buy genetically engineered food or not, you have a right to know what you are buying and not gamble on your family’s health."

It’s estimated state enforcement of the proposition would cost taxpayers between a few hundred thousand dollars to more than $1 million annually, according to the LAO.

Food companies claim they would be buried by the extra costs of printing new labels, and would have to pass that cost on to the consumers. The No on Prop. 37 campaign says it could cost a family an extra $400 a year in grocery bills.

"Biotechnology, also called genetic engineering (GE), has been used for nearly two decades to grow varieties of corn, soybeans and other crops that resist diseases and insects and require fewer pesticides," opponents say in their ballot arguments. "Prop. 37 bans these perfectly safe foods in California unless they’re specially re-labeled or remade with higher cost ingredients."

In 2011, 88 percent of all corn and 94 percent of all soybeans produced in the U.S. were grown from genetically-engineered seeds, according to the non-partisan Legislative Analyst's Office.

Some of the most common genetically-engineered crops include alfalfa, canola, cotton, papaya, sugar beets, and zucchini. And are used to make food ingredients, such as high fructose corn syrup.

The LAO claims anywhere between 40 and 70 percent of food products sold in California grocery stores contain some genetically engineered ingredients.

Four years ago, then-candidate Barack Obama promised that if he was elected he would immediately require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to label genetically modified food. This never happened, so now many view Proposition 37 as a baby step toward what some hope will become a national standard. 
“California could lead the nation in this,” said Bob Stern, a California campaign finance expert. “If it passes, it spreads. If it fails, it may be dead.”

Initially, the concept to label these products was widely accepted by California consumers and celebrity chefs who want to know exactly what they’re buying, eating and, in some cases, serving their customers.

In September,  polls were showing more than 61 percent of likely voters were in favor of Prop. 37. But a month later, support has dropped by 17 points.
Stern said the NO on Prop. 37 campaign has been outspent the competition by some $37 million with much of the  money financing television ads.
“When the public is confused, the public votes no,” Stern said.
As it’s written, Prop. 37 contains a number of exemptions, including foods made entirely from animals and certified organic food. Wine, which makes up a huge industry in California, would also be exempt from the proposed food labeling law.

Other exemptions include foods that are:

  • certified organic;
  • unintentionally produced with genetically engineered material;
  • made from animals fed or injected with genetically engineered ingredients;
  • processed with or containing only small amounts of genetically engineered ingredients;
  • administered for treatment of medical conditions;
  • sold for immediate consumption, such as in a restaurant;
  • alcoholic beverages.

Most of the money against the proposition is coming from outside of California. Some 93 percent of the $44 million raised to defeat the proposition is from out-of-state, and most of it is from Washington, D.C.

The biggest donors to NO on Prop. 37 are chemical companies and food manufacturers. As of Tuesday, these are the top four contributors to the NO on 37 campaign:

  • Monsanto: $8.1 million
  • Dupont: $5.4 million
  • Pepsico: $2.1 million
  • Bayer Cropscience: $2.0 million

As for who is supporting the proposition, 28 percent of the $7 million raised came from the state of California.

Campaign records reveal the top donors are organic food growers, and health food advocates. As of Wednesday, these are the top four contributors to the YES on 37 campaign:

  • Mercola.com: $1.1 million
  • Kent Whealy: $1.0 million
  • Nature’s Path Foods: $610,000
  • Mark Squire: $448,000 

<![CDATA[Decision 2012: California Propositions]]> Mon, 05 Nov 2012 11:41:18 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/mekahloprop30.jpg NBC4's Mekahlo Medina breaks down Proposition 32 and 37, and 30 and 38, on Today in LA on Monday, Nov. 5, 2012]]>