Hector Amezcua/ hamezcua@sacbee.com
State Sen. Rod Wright, D-Baldwin Hills, walks into the California State Senate during the first day of session on Jan. 6, 2014.

The legal defense fund of state Sen. Rod Wright, who was convicted earlier this year of felony voter fraud and perjury, spent $129,000 on attorneys and related costs from January through June, according to a new state filing.

With Monday’s report, Wright’s legal defense fund has spent nearly $205,000 since last year. That includes $100,000 to Los Angeles law firm Strumwasser and Woocher and $46,000 to Sacramento lawyer William Portanova.

Prosecutors accuse Wright, D-Baldwin Hills, of lying about where he lived when he ran for the then-25th Senate District in 2008. A jury convicted Wright in January but his sentencing has been postponed twice. He is now scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 3. Wright’s lawyers want the judge to not enter, or ratify, the jury’s guilty verdicts and to grant Wright a new trial.

Wright, who was re-elected in 2012, was suspended in late March along with two other Democratic senators in legal trouble, Leland Yee and Ron Calderon. All three lawmakers continue to receive their pay, with legislative attorneys concluding that the state constitution does not allow the Senate to cancel the pay of state lawmakers without expelling them.

Rebecca Blackwell/ AP
California Governor Jerry Brown answers questions from the press during a joint press conference with Mexico's Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jose Antonio Meade in Mexico City, Monday, July 28, 2014. California's governor on Monday kicked off a three day visit to Mexico.

MEXICO CITY – Gov. Jerry Brown and Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto discussed climate change and the border immigration crisis in a private meeting Monday, but the talks were general in nature, said Senate President Pro Tem-elect Kevin de León, a Los Angeles Democrat who participated in the meeting.

De León, the Mexican president and the governor, who is widely expected to win re-election to a fourth term in November, also discussed how they are likely to have several years in office together to shape efforts on the economy and climate change, de León said.

“That being said, you know, we need to take advantage of the opportunity and bring about projects that work for both sides of the border,” de León said.

De León said conversations about climate change at the illegal border crossing of thousands of young immigrants from Central America did not involve specific policy proposals.

dsiders@sacbee.com/ David Siders
Gov. Jerry Brown addressing reporters in a joint news conference with José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, Mexico’s foreign affairs secretary, in Mexico City, Mexico on July 28, 2014.
David Siders/ dsiders@sacbee.com
Reporters in Mexico City wait for a joint news conference by California Gov. Jerry Brown and Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena on Monday.

MEXICO CITY – Gov. Jerry Brown, calling for “heroic efforts” to combat climate change, agreed with Mexican officials Monday to work together on policies to address air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

The agreement, though non-binding, comes as the Democratic governor moves to expand his diplomatic efforts on the environment. Dozens of reporters ran upstairs at Mexico’s foreign affairs ministry to set up cameras for the signing ceremony, while Brown, a longtime advocate for environmental causes, heralded his state as a burgeoning source of pressure on other governments to address climate change.

“Even though California is a mere sub-national entity, it is equivalent to the eighth largest country in the world,” Brown said at a news conference before the event. “And we intend to operate based on that … clout.”

Brown met privately Monday with Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto and appeared at a joint news conference with José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, Mexico’s foreign affairs secretary, before signing the climate agreement with a lower-level administration official.

dsiders@sacbee.com/ David Siders
Gov. Jerry Brown addressing reporters in a joint news conference with José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, Mexico’s foreign affairs secretary, in Mexico City, Mexico on July 28, 2014.

MEXICO CITY – Gov. Jerry Brown suggested Monday that Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s ordering of National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border to address the surge in border crossings is misguided, urging politicians instead to heed the “religious call … to welcome the stranger” in addressing the crisis.

“This is a human problem, and it has been the religious call of all religions to welcome the stranger, and it’s in that spirit that I believe the clergy can call the United States, Mexico and all the players to perhaps a higher response than might otherwise happen,” Brown said on the first full day of his trade mission to Mexico.

The Democratic governor is in the country to discuss the environment and trade, but tension over the illegal crossing of thousands of young immigrants from Central America has flared in recent weeks, and the subject was the focus of questioning by a throng of Mexican reporters after a private meeting between Brown and José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, Mexico’s foreign affairs secretary.

“These are children, and many of them have relatives that are in California and other parts of the United States who are working, contributing to the well-being of people in the United States,” Brown said. “So given the principle of family values and family reconciliation, I want to give utmost consideration to what is in the best interest of those children, not what is in the best interest of politicians who might want to exploit this particular topic.”

Rich Pedroncelli/ The Associated Press
Gov. Jerry Brown, left, and Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena talk during a luncheon in Sacramento held by the California Chamber of Commerce on July 23, 2014.

Buenos días, lectores.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s trade and investment trip to Mexico kicks off today. The governor, along with a travel party of more than 100 lawmakers, administration officials and business delegates, is in Mexico City until Wednesday, meeting with government and business leaders to expand economic and environmental cooperation with California.

On the schedule today is a climate change summit with Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, where Brown will sign a “memorandum of understanding” between California and Mexico. Brown will also meet with Eruviel Ávila, governor of the state of Mexico, and the U.S. Ambassador E. Anthony Wayne, and participate in the launch of new tourism campaign by Visit California and AeroMexico.

The Sacramento Bee’s David Siders will have coverage throughout the trip.

GPC2N0986.2Senior Photographer
Paul Kitagaki Jr./ pkitagaki@sacbee.com
Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg paces the floor before the California Legislature approve the budget bill at the State Capitol on June 15, 2014.

A new study has concluded that the California Legislature is the most polarized in the country. Is that a bad thing?, Dan asks.

Have a question you’d like Dan to answer? Post it on our Facebook page.

See other Dan Walters Daily clips here.

California Governor Mexico
Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo
Gov. Jerry Brown, right, and Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena leave a news conference after talking with reporters Wednesday, July 23, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif. Brown and Meade attended a luncheon hosted by the California Chamber of Commerce, where they discussed Brown's upcoming visit to Mexico.
California Governor Mexico
Rich Pedroncelli/AP Photo
Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena, left, smiles at Gov. Jerry Brown's response to a reporter's question during a news conference, Wednesday, July 23, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who so far has said little about the immigration crisis on the border, will meet privately with religious figures in Mexico City this week to discuss the matter, his office announced Sunday.

The Democratic governor, who was scheduled to arrive Sunday in Mexico for talks on trade and the environment, also added a meeting with Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto. That meeting, too, will be private.

Brown’s four-day trip to Mexico comes amid tension over the illegal border crossing of thousands of young immigrants from Central America.

While governors of other states have inserted themselves to various degrees in the controversy, Brown has held back.

dsiders@sacbee.com/ David Siders
Jaime Grabinsky, a mathematician, buys a snack in Mexico City on July 27, 2014

MEXICO CITY – Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Everyone knows him, of course.

“Sí, sí sí,” said Sergio Perez, a waffle cook in the city’s exclusive Polanco District.

But few people here can place Jerry Brown, California’s current governor, who is arriving in the nation’s capital city Sunday for his first official visit since taking office.

Ben Margot/ AP
In this March 26, 2014 file photo, California state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, right, leaves the San Francisco Federal Building in San Francisco.

Federal prosecutors have added a charge of racketeering to the corruption and gun-running case against state Sen. Leland Yee, filing an amended indictment this week that includes new allegations that the San Francisco Democrat traded official favors for campaign cash.

The indictment broadens the scope of the charges facing the more than two-dozen defendants in the case and significantly increases Yee’s potential punishment if he is convicted. Yee, who has pleaded not guilty, could face a maximum sentence of 165 years in prison and $2.25 million in penalties based on the charges in the latest filing. Racketeering charges, developed 45 years ago to combat the mafia, gives prosecutors more latitude on presenting evidence.

“The prosecution is always very careful not to bring that charge unless they got the goods,” said attorney McGregor W. Scott, a former U.S. attorney in Sacramento. “It really brings the connotation that it involves serious wrongdoing.”

Yee is among 29 people ensnared in a sweeping undercover federal investigation into an organized crime ring allegedly overseen by Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, a longtime associate of Yee, and Yee’s political consultant, Keith Jackson, according to a federal criminal complaint. The original indictment following Yee’s March 26 arrest alleged that he took campaign money from undercover FBI agents and offered to arrange an international arms deal. Yee was raising money to retire a debt from his run for San Francisco mayor and to wage a 2014 campaign for secretary of state.

The California Department of Health announced Friday that it had issued a notice to terminate federal funding for the Sonoma Developmental Center, leaving the future of the beleaguered facility unclear.

The Department of Developmental Services, which runs the facility, has 90 days to appeal the decision. Nancy Lungren, a DDS spokeswoman, said the department will review the notice and decide how to proceed sometime next week. Lungren and a press release from the health department both emphasized that patient care will not change as a result of the termination notice. The health department’s notice does not affect the facility’s state license, so Sonoma can continue to operate.

The federal decertification affects seven of the Sonoma Developmental Center’s 11 intermediate care facilities – the other four lost their certification last year. The facilities at the center are akin to dorms but provide medical services and care in addition to living space. Altogether, 240 people with intellectual disabilities such as autism and cerebral palsy reside at the center.

Lungren said she could not speculate as to what might happen to the patients and the facility should the DDS appeal and fail. The health department’s notice allows 120 days to wrap up an appeal. Lungren estimated a final resolution would be reached by December.

G6C2MVVMD.4Senior Photographer
Paul Kitagaki Jr./ pkitagaki@sacbee.com
With the governor in Mexico, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom will be acting governor from Sunday afternoon until Tuesday morning. Bee file photo
Rich Pedroncelli/ AP
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg will act as governor part of Tuesday and part of Wednesday.

With Gov. Jerry Brown heading to Mexico on Sunday and other office-holders preparing for out-of-state trips of their own, it might help to consult the Constitution – or one very detailed memorandum from the governor’s office – to know exactly who is in charge of the state next week and when.

The memorandum, provided to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders Friday by Jonathan Renner, Brown’s legal affairs secretary, informs Newsom he will be acting governor from Sunday afternoon until Tuesday morning, which is routine.

But Brown will still be in Mexico when Newsom himself leaves California on Tuesday, so Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, the next in line, will act as governor until the following day.

That takes us to Wednesday, when Brown is scheduled to return. But not until later in the day – after Steinberg, too, leaves the state. In his absence, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, will fill in.

Governor’s Office
Jonathan Renner, Gov. Jerry Brown’s legal affairs secretary, was appointed to the Third District Court of Appeal, Brown’s office announced on Friday, July 25, 2014.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday nominated a second senior member of his administration on a California court, naming Jonathan Renner, his legal affairs secretary, to the Sacramento-based Third District Court of Appeal.

Renner, 44, was a senior assistant attorney general for government law when Brown was attorney general, then joined Brown’s administration when the governor took office in 2011.

The nomination comes two years after Brown named longtime aide Jim Humes, then Brown’s executive secretary, to the First District Court of Appeal. Brown last month appointed Humes presiding justice of the court’s first division, elevating his position.

Like Brown and Humes, Renner is a Democrat.

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