Gov. Earl Smittcamp?
Believe it -- though it would take a disaster of mammoth proportions to bring the 93-year-old Clovis business icon to power. Still, Smittcamp is officially there -- far, far, far down a line of succession for the state's top spot. To be specific, 11th in line.
It was a long-ago appointment by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan that almost seemed lost to time, but was brought to light by a political historian, said Earl's son, Bill Smittcamp.
Selma farmer Carol Chandler's son is friends with the political historian. That historian told Chandler's son, who told his mother, who then asked Bill Smittcamp whether he knew his father was still in line to be governor.
Smittcamp didn't. And neither did Earl Smittcamp.
"I think dad thought that after so many years, it was a null-and-void appointment," Bill Smittcamp said. "But according to all the stipulations of state law, he is still in effect. We are just laughing about it and just having fun."
So what's it all about?
Earlier this month, the One Voter Project had a blog about the position of "Disaster Acting Governor." The blog by Alex Vassar notes the position was created in the 1950s at the height of the Cold War -- when nuclear war seemed a very real possibility. After the law was passed in 1958, the blog says, then-Gov. Pat Brown appointed seven Disaster Acting Governors.
When Reagan was elected in 1966, he appointed a new group of seven, which included Smittcamp as "Disaster Acting Governor #6." The One Voter blog even has Smittcamp's original signed oath.
A few years later, one of the seven died, and he was replaced. But since then, the blog notes, no others were named. In the ensuing years, all of the Disaster Acting Governors have died, the most recent earlier this year.
And that leaves just Smittcamp, who will turn 94 next May.
-- John Ellis
Republicans hit Costa again with robocalls
Another week, another round of phone calls to Valley voters hitting a local congressman.
The Republicans seem to have a special affinity for attacking Rep. Jim Costa -- a Fresno Democrat -- with such "robocalls." That's probably because Costa barely survived a tough re-election battle last year. The National Republican Congressional Committee obviously thinks he's still vulnerable.
This week, the NRCC announced yet another series of targeted phone calls to residents in Costa's district.
This one claims that a recent Costa vote will "pave the way for a tax increase for you and every other American middle class family." Though the ad doesn't specifically mention it, the legislation in question appears to be the temporary payroll tax cut extension, which has pitted House Republicans against everyone else -- including Senate Republicans.
The House, controlled by Republicans, earlier this week rejected a two-month extension of the tax break, which had passed overwhelmingly in the Senate. House Republicans wanted the tax break to be extended for an entire year. On Thursday, they capitulated and accepted the two-month extension.
-- John Ellis
Lindsay recall backers vow drive in January
Recall petitions against all five members of the Lindsay City Council will be circulated after the first of the year, a recall organizer says.
The targets of the petitions are council members Ed Murray, Danny Salinas, Steve Velasquez, Ramona Padilla and Pam Kimball.
Recall organizer Yolanda Flores said proponents must get 549 valid signatures per council member to force a recall. Recall proponents allege that council members failed to provide adequate leadership of the city or oversight of the city manager, charges council members deny.
Lindsay residents are unhappy about high water rates and streets in need of repair, Flores said.
Petitions must be returned to the Tulare County elections division by Feb. 6.
-- Lewis Griswold