Around The Capitol

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THE Nooner for October 20, 2017


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Happy Friday! You made it! Congratulations to Dodgers fans as the team heads to the World Series.


  • 7,700 homes lost
  • 42 lives lost
  • Most of the 15,000 remaining evacuees in Sonoma County are expected to return home today.
  • The state Insurance Commissioner's office estimate losses of at least $1 billion.
  • NPR's Farid Jhabvala Romero reports on the challenge facing seasonal agricultural employees. While most grapes had been harvested before the fires hit, many cabernet and late-harvest grapes had not been harvested and there is plenty of post-harvest work to do. Grapevines don't prune themselves.  "Some grape growers have said they'll pay their seasonal agricultural workers anyway" neven if operations don't return immediately.
  • The Bee's Cynthia Lambert looks at where all the domesticated animals went during the fires.

Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties are known as places where some of the world’s finest wine is grown and produced. They are also a prime livestock area. Sonoma County alone is home to some 27,000 horses, mules and donkeys, according to a recent study. Rural ranchers raise sheep, llamas, goats and other creatures across the rolling hills.

  • The fires are now deadlier and more destructive than the 1991 Oakland Hills fire.

UNCONSCIONABLE: The NYT's Adam Nagourney and Jennifer Medina had a blockbuster front page story on Wednesday that I missed given the crazy week. California outlets are reporting on it now, but Adam and Jennifer deserve credit.

Pamela Lopez, a partner at a Sacramento lobbying firm, said that for years she has dealt with inappropriate suggestions from male officials, but the most disturbing episode came early last year, at a social gathering of lawmakers and lobbyists in a Sacramento bar.

As Ms. Lopez walked into the restroom, she said, she felt a large body pressing behind her. When she turned around, she saw that a lawmaker had locked the door behind him, had undone his pants and asked her to touch his genitals.

“He had exposed himself and begun masturbating,” she said. “All I was thinking was what do I do, what do I do. And of course, I didn’t want to cause a scene.”

“I said, ‘No, I am not going to touch you,’ ” she said. “I was firm and clear but I did not want to make a scene and he continued to masturbate and he kind of moved toward me and said, ‘Just put your hand on me.’ I said no.”

Seema Mehta follows up on the story today for the LA Times.

“We're not interested in taking punitive action,” [Lopez] said of herself and others speaking out publicly. “We're interested in a comprehensive look at the masculinized ethos of California politics — how we can all collectively do better in the future.”

Mehta points out the challenges for women and men both in and out of the building in reporting sexual harassment and other reprehensible workplace behavior. Staffers are told about their rights annually. They report to the Rules committees of the house they are work in. Technically, legislative employees work for the house, although lawmakers have hire/fire rights. Lobbyists can't file a formal complaint with the Rules committees as they aren't an employee of the Legislature.

“I don't even know where I would go” to report abuse, said Lopez, whose 2016 incident with the current legislator was first reported by the New York Times. The letter calling attention to sexual harassment was first published by the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday. 

They can use informal tactics or go to law enforcement, although law enforcement rarely touches the issue unless it is rape or if sexual touching is done while the victim is "unlawfully restrained." Even then, touching under rainment results in a fine of up to $2,000-$10,000 and imprisonment of between two-four years. (Penal Code 343.4 et seq.) If anyone has other information on this that would require a correction let me know. 

Another problem is the time delay for action by the Rules committees. 

“The behavior she described is horrifying. It is also a crime,” [Speaker Anthony] Rendon said in a statement. “I hope a law enforcement investigation has already been initiated. If we learn that the individual involved is a member of the Assembly, we will contract with an outside firm so there can be an independent investigation. If he is found to have committed this assault, I will ask for his immediate resignation and move for his expulsion if he refuses to resign.”

The event described in the NYT occurred early last year. Rules committees don't meet again until January, and it's unclear if the chair of the committee--Kevin de León--will still be Pro Tem now that he is running for Senate. An independent investigation would take even longer.

Lopez would not disclose the identity of the legislator to reporters. I have been given a name, but I'll leave that to her, legislative leaders, and law enforcement. If it's who I have been told by two people that it is, he is termed out in 2026.

Perhaps all sexual harrasment and general harassment complaints, from Capitol employees to legiislators to lobbyists, should go to the attorney general with the ability to take legal action. The chilling factor is too great as it stands with Rules committes, and puts lawmakers in awful position with their sometimes awful-behaving colleagues. Even though I have a legal background, I wouldn't have handled the investigation of a complaint of harassment, particularly, when I was running an organization and I don't board woud have wanted it to be handled in house. It's bad form unless you have an HR department and even then, I would think it's advisable to farm it out to someone independent.

In the Senate, only one of five members of Rules Committee are lawyers. Two of eleven members of Assembly Rules are lawyers. Yes, they use outside council at times, but reviewing complaints that are fundamentally legal may not be the best process or even appropriate. If the Rules committees hold onto the authority to oversee these claims, there are some good members who are attorneys who should be considered for membership.

The California Legislature is being disgraced in national media. There is definitely a legacy of a bad culture. Many thought term limits and increasing number of female legislators would help alleviate this. But, from the stories that have been shared with me show that it has most definitely not.

Thankfully, the majority of legislators are good people, but action needs to taken ASAP.

U.S. SENATE: The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has unanimously endorsed Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Capitol Weekly's Chuck McFadden looks at the path for Feinstein to the Senate.

KDL: Capitol Weekly's Jonathan Brown reports on Kevin de León's steep climb to win the Senate race. You can't even imagine how he must be feeling amid the harassment allegations in the Capitol. It hasn't been a good announcement week, with announcing during the fires (which Feinstein also did) and the allegations of poor treatment of harassment claims under the dome.

THE RESISTANCE: Billionaire activist Tom Steyer is launching a campaign calling for the impeachment of Donald Trump. The LAT's Sarah D. Wire reports "The ad is part of both an eight-figure national television buy and a seven-figure digital ad buy. It directs people to a website with a petition."

PARDON PAYBACK: Former Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio appeared at a fundraiser for Omar Navarro, who is challenging Maxine Waters, writes Kevin Modesti in the LADN. “What’s wrong with California? Is it the water? Something’s wrong with California,” said Arpaio, who added that he came here as part of his effort “to see that President Trump wins a second term and we elect [Republican] Omar Navarro to Congress.” The event was at the Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes, which is not in the district he is running for, although that's not unusal. Challengers regularly go to Washington to find open wallets. 

NPR reports that the Rancho Palos Verdes club overstated charitable giving on its website by $4.2 million of the million claimed. The website has been since scrubbed.

Democrats have a 45% advantage in the district.

CAGOP: For tonight's dinner speech by Stephen Bannon at the California Republican Party Convetion at the Anaheim Marriott, the party is significantly increasing security, reports Seema Mehta in the Times. While KQED's Scott Shafer writes that  the party is seeking to stoke anger among its faithful, some are worried about the speech's content, reports the LAT's Phil Willon.

As the party convenes, CALmatters's Ben Christopher looks at the reasons the CA GOP is facing declining registrations.

DAM IT: The AP's Johnathan J. Cooper reports that the Oroville Damn spillway fix is now expected cost $500 million, $225 million more than originally thought.

The $500 million figure reflects only the work by the main construction contractor, Kiewit Corp., to repair the spillways at the 770-foot Oroville Dam, said Erin Mellon, a spokeswoman for the state water agency. It excludes the costs of other contractors and the emergency response in the immediate aftermath of the spillway failure, which prompted fears of massive flooding. Nearly 200,000 were ordered to evacuate, but disaster was averted.

AMZN: Amazon released a list of cities, including Sacramento, that have made it through the first review of proposals by local governments to host its Headquarters 2 project, reports Eugene Kim for CNBC. The California cities are:

      • Concord
      • Fresno
      • Irvine
      • Los Angeles
      • Sacramento
      • San Diego
      • San Francisco
      • San Jose
      • Vallejo

Current Affairs magazine editor Nathan J. Robinson writes:

Ultimately, the sad spectacle of mayors groveling to Amazon illustrates an important truth about the contemporary economy: we can’t fix it until we get serious about redistributing wealth and power. So long as there are big powerful monopolies, and people depend on the goodwill of the 1% for their livelihoods, it will be impossible to ensure fair workplaces and equitable cities, and local governments will be left squabbling for whatever scraps billionaires deign to throw them.

Additionally, some Bay Area folks were critical on social media, arguing that the region can't afford to tackle it because of its existing housing crisis and already very low unemployment rates. If it's built in the Bay Area, it would likely mean worsening traffic as people commute from the 580 corridor or Gilroy/Hollister. Amazon has said that it would likely spend $5 billion on the project and employ 50,000.

It is very possible that California cities don't have a real shot with the high cost of living. However, Sacramento likely would be one of the preferable Golden State locations. Amazon recently constructed a 855,000 square foot warehouse near the airport. The warehouse is expected to have 1,500 full-time employees.

Kings front man and significant owner Vivek Ranadive recently said that the region has 12 "shovel-ready" sites. After all, Sleep Train arena is near the airport, and is sitting empty. The Kings are in control of it and 100 other adjacent acres.

Businesses (particularly restaurants) around the arena would love to see a large employer, as the loss of the Kings has crippled their businesses and the welfare of employees who have lost hours. Owners Ranadive, Ron Burkle, (Co-founder of a private equity and venture capital firm) and Mark Mastrov (founder of 24 Hour Fitness) are well connected politically. Shaquille O'Neill could probably be persuaded to tear down that building that was home to the Kings-Lakers rivaly of the "Sacramento Queens." If the ownership group were to do a cut-rate deal with Amazon, the promise of mixed-use development around the arena is huge.

After levees were upgraded, Natomas development has been eased and could accommodate more housing. The proposal to Amazon is confidential, but housing near a capital city location would have to be clearly spelled out. I live downtown, but I'm sure that Placer County residents would be deply concerned about a significant increase in traffic on the overtaxed I-80.

#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Senator Kamala HarrisCathy McBride, Maximillian Mikalonis, and Victoria Stewart!



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Campaign Grows Against Sexual Harassment At California Capitol | The Sacramento Bee
Taryn Luna And Alexei Koseff @
The go-to source for news on California policy and politics

L.A. County Supervisors Unanimously Back Sen. Feinstein For Reelection
Sarah D. Wire @
The five members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors have all endorsed Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the senator's campaign announc...

California Union Raising Dues To Fight President Trump | The Sacramento Bee
Adam Ashton And Taryn Luna @
The go-to source for news on California policy and politics

Women Call Capitol's Sexual Harassment Complaint Process Flawed -
Sammy Caiola @
Capital Public Radio, Inc.7055 Folsom BoulevardSacramento, CA 95826

Ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio Blasts Waters, California, Predicts An Upset – Orange County Register
Joe Arpaio, the avowed “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” inserted his barbed rhetoric into a Los Angeles-area congressional race Thursday night, predicting an upset victory for Republican Omar Navarro while blasting Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters and other California politicians.

Senate Approves Budget Plan That Smooths Path Toward Tax Cut

On Thursday night, the Senate narrowly approved a budget plan that would protect a $1.5 trillion tax cut from a Democratic filibuster.

Ryan: Tax Plan Will Include Higher Bracket On The Rich - Politico
House Speaker Paul Ryan's comments came on the heels of Senate approval of a budget plan that will grease the legislative skids for Republicans' tax rewrite plans. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Democrats Fail In First Attempt To Save State And Local Tax Deduction
Jim Puzzanghera @
Senate Democrats on Thursday failed in their first attempt to save the state and local tax deduction, which is important to residents in California and many other high-tax states. But the fight over the deduction, which the Republican tax plan would scrap, is far from over.

On Washington: Will Mitch McConnell Help His Friend Get a Health Care Deal?

Senator Lamar Alexander is going to need some help from Senator Mitch McConnell, a friend for nearly 50 years, if his health care compromise is to become law.

House, Senate Leaders Near Budget Deal To Set Up Tax Reform - Politico
GOP leaders have already been ironing out their difference and are crafting a Senate amendment full of House-requested tweaks. | Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Photo

California Dmv Workers Charged With Selling Truck Driver's Licenses | The Sacramento Bee
Sam Stanton @
Covering crime, police and courts in the Sacramento region

Senate Intelligence Panel Postpones Hearing With Trump Personal Lawyer - Politico
The Senate Intelligence Committee has indefinitely postponed a public hearing planned for next week with Michael Cohen, the longtime Trump attorney and 2016 campaign surrogate.

Ex-sheriff Joe Arpaio Blasts Maxine Waters, California, Predicts An Upset – Daily News
Joe Arpaio, the avowed “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” inserted his barbed rhetoric into a Los Angeles-area congressional race Thursday night, predicting an upset victory for Republican Omar Navarro while blasting Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters and other California politicians.

Tax reform lurches ahead with Senate voting marathon
What matters, GOP critics say, are the few lines in the budget that direct tax-writers to start their work.

California's Deadliest Fires Set Off Debate About Illegal Immigration And Sanctuary Policies
Alene Tchekmedyian, Joseph Serna @
California's deadliest fires spark debate about illegal immigration and sanctuary policies

Senate passes Republican-proposed budget

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) praised the budget passed in the Senate on Oct. 19 by a vote of 51 to 49.

Trump Sparks Revival For College Republicans, Along With Battle Over 'future And Soul' Of Movement
Teresa Watanabe, Rosanna Xia @
A pitched battle for control of the California College Republicans pits a UC Irvine student who favors provocative, pro-Trump activism against a USC graduate who promotes moderation and inclusion.

Senate Passes $4 Trillion Budget Blueprint – Daily News

Trump On His Feuds With GOP Senators: 'sometimes It Helps, To Be Honest With You' - Politico
Asked about the intraparty fighting between Trump and Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and John McCain of Arizona, the president denied that such clashes hamper his legislative agenda.

Irvine Wants To Put Amazon's Second Headquarters In The Spectrum
Andrew Khouri @
While not all of the offices are built, Young said the company has received the necessary entitlements and will finance the construction, leaving Amazon to only pay rent. Even more space is available in the University Research Park, next to UC Irvine, that the developer also owns.