10:00 PM PDT on Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Press-Enterprise

State Sen. Bill Emmerson demands that California adopt a spending cap, revamp its pension system for state workers and ease some state regulations.

The Hemet Republican, however, also is one of only a handful of GOP lawmakers willing to consider placing tax-extension measures on the ballot as part of a budget deal. That makes Emmerson a favorite of union chief David Kieffer.

“I just found him to be a good guy,” Kieffer, the executive director of SEIU California, said in a recent interview. The union’s locals represent 700,000 workers in California, including about 95,000 who work for the state.

“There are people out there in the world who have a Republican philosophy but want to make this thing called government work,” Kieffer said, counting Emmerson in that group, along with Assemblyman Brian Nestande , R-Palm Desert.

The union has aired TV ads and sent thousands of mailers into Emmerson’s sprawling Riverside County district. The pieces, however, go decidedly easy on the lawmaker. “We’re counting on Senator Bill Emmerson,” reads one mailer, depicting a tie-wearing silhouette ripping open his shirt to reveal a Superman-style “S.”

Other Inland GOP lawmakers have been targeted by tougher pieces.

“Some People Are Very Happy … About What Assemblymember Mike Morrell’s Budget Ideas Will Do To Public Safety,” reads an SEIU mailer to some voters in Morrell’s district, below a picture of four men in orange prison jumpsuits.

The union’s two-pronged effort seeks to capitalize on this year’s redistricting and the 2012 statewide debut of the top-two primary, both of which pose major unknowns for Emmerson, Morrell and other lawmakers. Keiffer said the union’s priority next year is to elect Republicans it can work with.

“The days when we’re going to support a marginal Democrat in a marginal district are over,” Kieffer said. “If Emmerson votes for a budget, there’s not a chance we’d do anything but support Emmerson.”


A survey released last week found that confidence in San Bernardino County elected officials is rebounding after tanking last year. Read the fine print, however, and even the researchers aren’t standing by their numbers.

In the Inland Empire Annual Survey, analysts found that 58 percent of people said they had a “great deal” or “some” confidence in their elected officials.

But researchers noted a large caveat: They talked to people in February, before the latest installment in a sweeping county corruption scandal. In May, a grand jury indicted a prominent developer and three current and former county officials.

“If the survey were repeated today, we undoubtedly would see much different results given the recent high-profile indictments of San Bernardino County officials,” researchers Shel Bockman, Barbara Sirotnik and Christen Ruiz said.

The survey’s results were released at a San Bernardino Associated Governments meeting.


The Board of Equalization, which administers dozens of state taxes, is less partisan than the Legislature, newly elected member George Runner said.

Runner served 12 years in the Assembly and state Senate before winning the BOE’s 2nd District seat in November. The district includes a small portion of San Bernardino County.

So what’s it like serving on a five-member board?

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