In a move that ups the ante over the state budget fight on how much to spend for social services, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced today that he's leading the charge in a lawsuit to challenge a cut in the reimbursement rates paid to doctors that treat Medi-Cal patients.
Newsom confirmed the widely speculated action in remarks at the monthly luncheon of the Sacramento Press Club. "What just happened at the state is so alarming," he said of the decision to further cut the payments to doctors who accept low-income patients. "We had no choice but to sue." Newsom also later characterized the decision made by the Legislature and Governor Schwarzenegger to be "unconscionable."
That was obviously the main news. But a decent sized crowd flocked to see the charismatic San Fran pol at today's event, and it's hard to deny that many wanted to hear how he answered The Question.
I call it that in homage to an episode of one of my favorite TV series, The West Wing. In that episode, as the staff prepares for President Jed Bartlet to run for a second term, there's giddiness when a potential GOP contender flubs what the White House staff keeps calling "the question" from a reporter. In that case, the question was: "Why do you want to be president?"
In Newsom's case, you probably know the question...
Are you running for governor in 2010?
"It's wildly premature" to be making such plans, Newsom said. He then went on to say that if the people who are urging him to do so are convincing enough, "and if I can convince myself," he said... well... then he said he'd think about it.
Vague, but fair enough at this point.
Well, it was quite the hiatus.
The last Capital Notes Podcast was recorded at the end of 2007, and it may have seemed as though we were just going to let the project fade away. Not so fast.
Capitol Weekly editor Anthony York and I are back to our musings about the latest in political news. The podcast was sidelined for the same reason that this newsblog was put on ice back in January: the birth of my now 10-week-old daughter. Now that I've acclamated to life without sleep, it seemed a good time to reengage. The big change for the immediate future is that we'll be doing the podcast at the start of every week with an eye looking forward.
This week, we talk about the status of the messy state budget. And we look at some of the more interesting legislative matchups that will appear on the June primary ballot.
It's good to be back.
A damning report is out this morning chronicling the activities of the State Board of Chiropractor Examiners -- a report that flatly says that board members broke the law.
The report released by California State Auditor Elaine Howle doesn't say that the illegal activity was intentional; rather, it says that the "lack of understanding" of both the law and their responsibilities led to the actions in question.
The chiro board has been in the hot seat for about a year, with the controversy peaking after a feud between members appointed by Governor Schwarzenegger and the board's top staffer led to that staffer being fired. Reporting by The Sacramento Bee at the time described the firing and subsequent actions at one meeting last year as a "coup" staged by appointees who are friends of the governor. The Bee has done a yeoman's job at following this story in the months since the squabbling first broke out.
The audit requested by the Legislature concludes that the firing of then executive director Catherine Hayes was fraught with "significant errors." The audit also alleges that some top officials at the commission didn't file financial disclosure forms as required by state law.
And there's more. From the audit's executive summary:
The chiropractic board has insufficient control over its licensing and continuing education programs. It has not established timelines for processing some of its applications for licenses, certificates, and referral services. The board also could not always show whether it verified the status of chiropractors' licenses before approving applications and certificates. Additionally, many of the chiropractic board's current practices for administering its continuing education program are not consistent with its regulations and written policies and procedures.
You can find the entire audit here.
UPDATE: The state chiropratic board has issued a formal statement in response to the audit. "The auditor's report lays out the path for improvment that we began implementing last summer," said current executive officer Brian Stiger in the written release. "These are the Board's top-priority issues."