Into Antiques?

On ebay you'll find over 100 categories covering the Medieval and Renaissance periods, through Georgian, Regency and Victorian, to Edwardian, Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

Antique Dealers in California

Linda Stamberger

Linda Stamberger, author of "Antiquing In Florida", is a Florida expert and freelance writer of many genres. Visit this site to read her articles - some of which are available for purchase - as is her book.

Brooks Novelty Antiques and Records

Brooks Novelty is an all-vinyl record store. We specialize in: jukeboxes, vintage soda machines, antique slot machines, pin balls, arcade games, neon clocks and signs, rare concert posters, old advertising signs and much more!

The Antique Company

Established in the late 1900's, we occupy a huge corner building with a small garden area that leads to another 1000 sq foot store (called TAC) that contains our Mid Century collection.

Vintage Westclox

Westclox photo identification gallery and history and information of clocks, watches and other timepieces. This site primarily displays American clocks made by Westclox that were made from the early 1900's up to about the 1960's.

Antique Appraisals On-Line

We are one of the country's largest, oldest, most qualified and respected appraisal services. The majority of our appraisals are estate and personal property evaluations for valuation documentation purposes. However, we have evaluated goods and personal property for natural disaster losses (hurricanes), theft, fire, freight and shipping damage after the loss has occurred.

Connoisseur Antiques

Featuring fine antique furniture, Connoisseur Antiques is a Los Angeles Antique Furniture Showroom specializing in antique clocks and mirrors, European and French antiques, Antique Lighting, Chandeliers, Sconces, Armoires and much more.

Liz's Antique Hardware

Antique Hardware is the backbone of our business. We offer a complete selection of door, window and furniture hardware, lighting and accessories circa 1890 to 1970.

San Francisco Antique and Design Mall

San Francisco Antique and Design Mall is the largest antique mall in northern California. We opened our doors in October 1997 with 75 dealers and today we have over 200 of San Francisco's most professional antique specialists.

Ambiance Antiques

Importer of 18th and 19th Century French Antiques

C'est La Vie Antiques

European Antique and Accessories in San Diego, CA.

Lang Antiques

We carry a large selection of fine antique jewelry, antique rings & antique engagement rings. We also have vintage estate jewelry, vintage estate rings & vintage estate engagement rings from the Victorian, Art Nouveau, Edwardian & Art Deco style periods.

Once in a Blue Moon Online Thrift Store

We are an online thrift store featuring new, used, and unusual items.

Monday, June 4, 2012

California High-Speed Rail Losing Support, Poll Shows - Bloomberg

California High-Speed Rail Losing Support, Poll Shows - Bloomberg

A majority of voters no longer support building a $68 billion high-speed passenger rail system connecting California’s population centers, a new poll shows, even as Governor Jerry Brown is pushing the project forward.

While 53 percent of voters approved a bond issue for the project in 2008, a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll published in yesterday’s edition of the newspaper, found that 59 percent would oppose it if given another chance to vote.

Brown, a 74-year-old Democrat, allocated some of the $9.95 billion of bonds for the system in his budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, even though a deficit in the spending plan has ballooned to $15.7 billion. He wants voters to increase sales and income taxes or slash 3 weeks off the school year while still spending money on the rail line.

“California voters have clearly reconsidered their support for high-speed rail,” said Dan Schnur, director of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll and director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at University of Southern California. “They want the chance to vote again -— and they want to vote no. The growing budget deficit is making Californians hesitant about spending so much money on a project like this one when they’re seeing cuts to public education and law enforcement.”

The state-run authority charged with building the system revised its business plan in April amid public opposition, chopping $30 billion off the cost.

Bullet Train

The bullet-train project, eventually linking San Francisco to Los Angeles, would cost $68.4 billion, down from the $98.5 billion estimated in November, according to the California High- Speed Rail Authority. The proposal saves money by upgrading existing commuter and freight lines in some areas, rather than build new track, and counts on funds from California’s new program selling pollution credits.

“Over the past several months, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has made significant and positive changes to its plans for constructing and operating a high-speed rail system,” Dan Richard, the board chairman of the authority, said in a statement in response to the poll. “We made these changes in direct response to public input from across the state.

‘‘The result is a revised plan to deliver the benefits of high-speed rail sooner and at significantly less cost to the taxpayers.’’

Brown’s budget includes $6.1 billion in infrastructure costs for the first 130 miles (209 kilometers) of the project. Of that, $2.8 billion is from state bonds, according to the Finance Department.

California is the only U.S. state working to lay tracks for trains to run as fast as 220 miles (354 kilometers) an hour, after Congress cut off 2012 funds for such projects.

The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll surveyed 1,002 registered voters May 17 through May 21. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael B. Marois in Sacramento at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at

Enlarge image California Governor Jerry Brown

California Governor Jerry Brown

California Governor Jerry Brown

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

California Gov. Jerry Brown at a news conference on May 14, 2012 in Los Angeles.

California Gov. Jerry Brown at a news conference on May 14, 2012 in Los Angeles. Photographer: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images


California’s Everybody-Into-the-Pool Primary Faces Test - Bloomberg

When Californians go to the polls tomorrow for the state primary election, they won’t find three- term Senator Dianne Feinstein running against just fellow Democrats.

New rules that may alter the political landscape put Feinstein head-to-head with 23 challengers of all stripes -- Republican, Libertarian, American Independent, Peace and Freedom. The two who get the most votes, regardless of party, will move on to the general election in November.

The so-called top-two system is intended to fight partisan gridlock that has paralyzed lawmakers from Sacramento to Washington. In theory, politicians will no longer be forced to stick to party dogma to avoid being ousted in the primary, allowing voters more choices.

“The rules of the game have changed,” said Kim Alexander, president of the California Voter Foundation, a Sacramento-based nonpartisan group that has advocated for open democracy. “Democrats and Republicans no longer have a lock on the process.”

The new procedure, passed in 2009 by the California Legislature and approved by 54 percent of voters a year later, was backed by a strange-bedfellow coalition that included then- Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, and Democrat Willie Brown, the former San Francisco mayor who was speaker of the Assembly for 15 years.

Similar systems are in place in Louisiana and the state of Washington, and there are efforts to make it law in Arizona. California’s new rules apply to the candidates for the Legislature, Congress and statewide elected offices.

Democrats Against Democrats

The top-two primary may mean that in heavily Democratic or Republican districts, two candidates from the same party could advance to the general election. That may be influenced by independent voters, who make up 20 percent of the electorate, and will be new to the system.

That may force Democrats and Republicans toward more moderate positions, Alexander said.

“Up until now, they have had no say in the primaries,” she said of the independents. “If some of those folks get elected we could see an impact in the power struggle in the Statehouse.”

With the primary looming, California lawmakers have withheld action on the state’s resurgent $15.7 billion budget deficit. Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, blamed legislators for making the deficit larger by failing to pass some budget cuts he sought in March.

‘Just Paralyzes Them’

“They won’t make a budget decision until after June 6,” the day after the election, California Treasurer Bill Lockyer, a Democrat, said in an interview. “This is a bad idea. The know they have to make cuts and the cuts are unpopular and if you are Democrats, who have to write the budget, this just paralyzes them.”

Voters will also be asked whether to add $1 to the tax on a pack of cigarettes, raising the levy to $1.87, and steer the extra revenue toward cancer research and stop-smoking programs.

Opponents led by Altria Group Inc. (MO) and Reynolds American Inc. (RAI), the parent of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, the two biggest sellers in the U.S., raised more than $40.7 million to fight the measure, compared with about $10 million from supporters including the American Cancer Society and cycling champion Lance Armstrong, a cancer survivor.

The cigarette-tax measure, known as Proposition 29, was supported by 50 percent to 42 percent, with 8 percent undecided, in a Field Poll released May 31. The telephone survey of 608 likely voters, conducted May 21-29, had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

Voters also will be asked to reduce the total number of years a lawmaker can serve, from 14 to 12, in either the Senate or the Assembly. Currently, a legislator can serve a maximum of six years in the Assembly and eight years in the Senate. The proposition would permit all 12 years to be served in either chamber.

The term-limit proposition was favored 50 percent to 28 percent, with 22 percent undecided, in the same Field Poll.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael B. Marois in Sacramento at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Merelman at

Enlarge image Senator Dianne Feinstein

Senator Dianne Feinstein

Senator Dianne Feinstein

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senate Select Committee on Intelegence Chair Dianne Feinsten (D-CA) talks with reporters before heading to the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol May 8, 2012 in Washington, DC.

Senate Select Committee on Intelegence Chair Dianne Feinsten (D-CA) talks with reporters before heading to the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol May 8, 2012 in Washington, DC. Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images


California's top political donors give way more to winning causes than losing ones - LA Observed

The 100 biggest spenders - individuals and special interest groups - have shelled out more than $1.25 billion to state campaigns over the last 12 years, about a third of the total contributed in that time, according to an analysis by California Watch. The biggest single donor is Hollywood producer Stephen Bing, who spent more than $52.5 million. Of that amount, $49.5 million was used to bankroll 2006's Proposition 87, which would have established a major government program for alternative energy - and which voters soundly defeated. (More often than not, however, the top donors have sided with the winners.) Spending the most among special interests is the California Teachers Association, which contributed more than $118 million during the past five election cycles and the first half of this one. From the California Watch report:

Given its size and wealth, California automatically sets national records for campaign donations - more money is spent here on politics than in any other state. Not surprisingly for California, the top 100 directed their money in large part toward the Democratic Party, which controls the governor's office and the state Legislature. Overall, these top donors - 50 wealthy individuals and 50 special interest groups analyzed by California Watch - gave twice as much to Democratic candidates as they did members of other political parties. But there was a split: Special interest donors favored Democrats, while individual donors favored Republicans by a slim margin.

Here are the top 10 individual donors:

Stephen L. Bing, Los Angeles, CA
Screenwriter and movie producer
56 donations: 23 to candidates, 19 to ballot measures and 14 to parties $52,500,782

Andrew Jerrold "Jerry" Perenchio, Los Angeles, CA
121 donations: 63 to candidates, 19 to ballot measures and 39 to parties

Charles T. Munger Jr., Palo Alto, CA
Physicist at Stanford University
60 donations: 25 to candidates, 25 to ballot measures and 10 to parties $14,093,488

L. John Doerr III, Woodside, CA
Venture capital
156 donations: 129 to candidates, 19 to ballot measures and 8 to parties

5 Peter V. Sperling, Phoenix, AZ
University of Phoenix
24 donations: 13 to candidates, 7 to ballot measures and 4 to parties

Alex G. Spanos, Stockton, CA
Real estate
83 donations: 58 to candidates, 5 to ballot measures and 20 to parties

Reed Hastings, Santa Cruz, CA
67 donations: 39 to candidates, 22 to ballot measures and 6 to parties

Henry T. Nicholas III, Newport Coast, CA
Broadcom semiconductor company
7 donations: 1 to candidates, 6 to ballot measures and 0 to parties

Lawrence K. Dodge, Monarch Beach, CA
Business executive, banker
25 donations: 14 to candidates, 3 to ballot measures and 8 to parties

Thomas Steyer, San Francisco, CA
Investment management
12 donations: 6 to candidates, 5 to ballot measures and 1 to parties

By the way, Charles T. Munger is not to be confused with Charlie Munger, who is vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffett's business partner for many years..


Buyers' remorse for California's 'bullet train to nowhere' - Daily Telegraph

A new poll shows almost three fifths would oppose the bullet train and halt public borrowing if given another chance to vote.

Almost seven in 10 said that, if the train ever does run between Los Angeles and San Francisco, they would "never or hardly ever" use it.

Not a single person said they would use it more than once a week, and only 33 per cent said they would prefer the bullet train over a one hour plane journey or seven hour drive. The cost of a ticket, estimated at $123 each way, also put many off. Jerry Brown, California's Democrat governor, has championed the project as a way to create jobs and is backed by unions. The 74-year-old governor has been personally committed to a high speed rail link since the 1970s.

But he is trying to convince voters to spend billions on a train while at the same time proposing tax increases and austere public spending cuts, including a five per cent pay cut for state workers, to deal with a budget deficit that has ballooned to $16 billion.

California's politicians have until Aug 31 to give a final green light to an initial $6 billion, 130-mile section of track in the Central Valley, and they are expected to approve it. Only a simple majority vote is needed in the Democrat controlled legislature.

Jim Nielsen, the Republican vice chairman of the state's Assembly Budget Committee, who opposes the project, called it "an idea that gets worse the more information we get about it." In April the state's own Legislative Analyst's Office called the funding plan vague and speculative.

Supporters say the California economy, the world's ninth largest, will recover in the long run and the remaining money will be found from private investors, the federal government and fees from the state's cap-and-trade programme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

They say the rail line will prove crucial to the state's economic future, linking north and south as airports and freeways reach capacity. But critics suggest the money will dry up and the state will instead be left with an "orphan track" linked to neither major city.

Dan Schnur, Director of the Unruh Institute of Politics, who carried out the recent poll, said: "The growing budget deficit is making Californians hesitant about spending so much money on a project like this one when they're seeing cuts to public education and law enforcement."

There was also disillusion with the handling of the project so far. It was initially projected to cost $45 billion and deliver passengers between the two major cities in a few hours by 2020.

Last autumn the state-run California High-Speed Rail Authority, which is overseeing it, disclosed the cost had more than doubled to $98.5 billion with a finish date of 2033.

After an outcry $30 billion was shaved off that estimate, but only by reducing the speed of the trains and using sections of existing slow track.

The authority is also facing legal challenges from those whose land the track will have to cross.

Last week agricultural groups filed a major environmental lawsuit asking for a preliminary injunction to block construction.

Unless building begins shortly there is also a risk of losing federal funds. The federal government has set a deadline of September 2017 for finishing the first section of track.


California government unions move to squeeze out private contractors - Sacramento Bee

With California facing yet another budget crisis that threatens state jobs and pay, employee unions are moving on several fronts to push use of civil service workers instead of private contractors for state government work.

Unions had a say in Gov. Jerry Brown's 2012-13 budget revision last month, which proposes axing outside contracting for a range of work, from computer consulting to custodial services.

State employee unions also threw their weight behind recent legislation that, among other things, would have given civil service employees first crack at all state government jobs. The measure failed but is likely to resurface.

Last month, the state attorneys' union successfully contested a multimillion-dollar contract with a private law firm for legal services.

"We've got a bunch more (cases) in the pipeline," said Patrick Whalen, general counsel for California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges and Hearing Officers in State Employment, or CASE. "When it's crunch time, you look for every penny you can."

The union efforts have intensified the debate over privatizing government functions, especially with California confronting a budget deficit of at least $15.7 billion through June 2013. Brown has suggested closing some of that gap by eliminating thousands of state jobs next year and putting roughly 214,000 employees on a four-day workweek schedule that would cut their pay by 5 percent.

In that same vein, Brown and labor leaders say curbing what the state spends on contractors would save money.

Pepperdine University political scientist Michael Shires said another motive is also at work: "Clearly, the unions are trying to protect their members' jobs."

Sometimes it makes good sense to contract for services, Shires said. "Once someone is a monopoly, the competitive forces of the market won't hold them accountable," Shires said, "including when government grants the monopoly to itself."

The unions long have argued that keeping jobs in-house is cheaper than outsourcing. They press their case hardest during tight budget cycles.

Ron Yank, who served as Brown's Department of Personnel Administration director until March, said that his office last year asked unions for cost-cutting ideas to help close the 2011-12 budget deficit.

"Seven unions offered savings suggestions," Yank said. "Six of the seven mentioned excessive contracting out."

The state's largest public employees union, Service Employees International Union Local 1000, said its analyses show California spent $210.6 billion on outside contracts from fiscal 2003-04 through fiscal 2010-11, about 8 percent of all state expenses during that period.

Of that, $130.6 billion went to private-sector firms for services ranging from private prison administration to food service and business consultation.

Despite those numbers, the law tilts in favor of civil service. The state can bring in outside help only under certain circumstances, such as a lack of in-house expertise, a temporary emergency or when it would be demonstrably less expensive than using government employees.

Local 1000 and several other state worker unions backed Assembly Bill 1655, which sought to strengthen rules that give priority to state employees over private contractors for government work.

The measure came under fire from the business community for codifying state working terms that are normally collectively bargained. Opponents also didn't like the idea that the bill made it harder for the private sector to compete for state work.

"There are instances when jobs should stay in-house and cases when they should be contracted," said Mitch Zak, a Republican strategist whose firm, Randle Communications, works with a number of trade organizations. "But the standard should be what's best for California, not what's best for the unions or for individual businesses."

Although AB 1655 by Assemblyman Roger Dickinson, D-Sacramento, died in committee last month, the job protections it offered remain on unions' collective wish list.

The cost of contracting came up in Brown's May budget revision, as well. While the governor wants to cut about 11,000 state positions, his budget also calls for departments to pare back on outsourcing information technology consulting and to develop the "professional expertise in the state workforce."

Brown also wants the state's Department of General Services to review all personal services consultants agreements, "including janitorial and security service," and eliminate contracts for jobs that state employees could do.

State IT workers, custodians and security guards are among the 95,000 workers represented by Local 1000.

The state historically has had trouble recruiting and keeping high-skill workers in areas such as high-tech, law, science and finance, Yank said, because the state's pay and benefits are less than in local government or the private sector.

"Contracting for those jobs – it's a horrid, vicious cycle," he said. The compensation gap empties the in-house talent pool, which causes the state to spend money on contractors that could be used to make pay more competitive.

While labor groups are flexing their political muscle to curb contracting, they're also ramping up legal challenges.

Last month, the state's legal professionals' union successfully challenged a multimillion-dollar agreement for services between the California's prison department and a private law firm.

The three-year deal between the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and Williams & Associates started in 2009 at $1 million to defend the state against inmate lawsuits normally handled by civil service lawyers. After two revisions, it ballooned to $5 million for the three years ending June 30.

Although state law requires departments to notify the affected unions of such contracts, the attorneys' association learned of the deal after a staff researcher found it by combing through a state expenditure database.

The discovery prompted a union challenge before the State Personnel Board, a five-member panel that rules on a range of employer-employee disputes.

Corrections officials said the department had taken its legal business private because there weren't enough state attorneys to handle the work normally handled by the attorney general's office.

CASE countered that there wasn't evidence of a shortage of state attorneys or an urgent need that prompted the contracts. A decision to move attorneys from one section to another is a priority shift, not a shortage, the union said.

The arrangement was a budget-buster, CASE said, because state lawyers earn far less than their private-sector counterparts.

"Our top attorneys make $50 per hour," said CASE's Whalen, a tenth of what contract attorneys can bill. "So by definition you can't save money by hiring out because you already have some of the cheapest attorneys on the planet."

Last month the Personnel Board ruled that the corrections agency had illegally contracted for the work. To avoid harming current litigation, the board said Williams & Associates could continue handling cases until its contract expires at the end of this month.

Meanwhile, corrections officials must make plans to transfer the work back to the attorney general's lawyers by July 1.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Call Jon Ortiz, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1043.

Read more articles by Jon Ortiz


Tobacco companies blitz airwaves to block California tax on cigarettes - The Guardian

An advertising blitz funded by tobacco companies has eroded Californians' support for a ballot measure to raise taxes on cigarettes, putting the vote's outcome in doubt.

Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds have flooded airwaves with warnings that the proposed $1 tax on cigarette packs is a flawed idea which would bloat government bureaucracy and funnel money out of the state.

The energetic $47.7m campaign – more than triple the yes campaign – has been fronted by anti-tax activists and dramatically reduced support for Proposition 29, a June 5 ballot measure backed by anti-cancer groups.

"We are still ahead but it's very close. Big tobacco has a bottomless budget to tell lies," said David Veneziano, head of the American Cancer Society's California chapter. "They are trying to protect their profits."

Two months ago about two-thirds of voters backed the measure but that has tumbled to just over half, according to a Public Policy Institute of California survey. "Today, 53% say they will vote yes, 42% say they will vote no, and 5% are undecided on the measure."

A coalition of pro-business and anti-tax groups has warned voters that the tax would benefit health industry lobbyists and do little for people with cancer. "You have to step back from the emotional appeal and look at the big picture here," said David Spady, of Americans for Prosperity. "You're going to have a nine-member unelected board that will determine how tax dollars are spent."

The no campaign said the tax revenue would duplicate existing programmes and be spent outside the state. It ran an advert in which a real doctor, La Donna Porter, wearing a white coat, urged viewers to vote no, saying needless bureaucracy would result. Porter also fronted a ad for the chemical industry in 2002. She disappeared from screens last month after questions over her relationship with the tobacco
industry risked damaging the no campaign

Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds have been largely invisible but according to the watchdog group they have bankrolled almost the entire no campaign. Porter, and groups fronting the campaign, have denied receiving tobacco funding. "We are independent. We're not beholden to anyone," said Spady, of Americans for Prosperity.

Stanton Glantz, a prominent anti-smoking activist and director of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, scorned such claims, saying there were multiple ways for tobacco companies to mask payments. "They do their best to hide."

Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds referred Guardian queries about funding to an umbrella group, Californians Against Out-of-Control Taxes and Spending. It declined to provide figures but said funding was legal and transparent.

"These contributions can be found online at the Secretary of State's website at in its Cal-Access system," said Beth Miller, a spokesperson. The no campaign was a broad-based coalition, she said. "We all believe cancer research is important, but California can't afford to start a new billion-dollar spending programme when we have a $16+ billion budget deficit."

Under proposition 29, the tax per pack would jump from 87 cents to $1.87.
The initiative's sponsors – the Cancer Society, the American Lung
Association and the American Heart Foundation – say it would raise
more than $750m for cancer research and stop 220,000 children from
taking up smoking.

"Within five years the idea of smoking as a socially tolerated behaviour could simply collapse," said Glantz. "This is a tremendously important fight. It could make California the first state where where the tobacco epidemic has been ended."

Pro-proposition 29 ad: California Supports Big Tobacco.

Activists hope success will embolden other states to increase cigarette taxes. They estimate tobacco companies would lose about $1bn in revenue per year in California alone. The yes side has mustered $12.2m, including a $1.5m donation from the Lance Armstrong Foundation, to fight back with its own television campaign in which characters satirically endorse the other side.

"I support big tobacco because I like their ads," smiles one mother. "And so do my kids." A farmer in a field says: "I support big tobacco because they killed my wife. And that's one less mouth to feed." A cyclist adds: "I support big tobacco because spending $9.14bn on tobacco-related healthcare costs is exactly what California needs right now."


Master the Art of Toss Pillows With Nine Simple Do's and Don'ts -

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Much more than an accent color, decorative pillows have come into their own as one of the least expensive and most cost-effective ways to personalize furniture and change a home's d├ęcor. With more open floor plans today -- and fewer walls to hang art on ...

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