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THE Nooner for November 10, 2017


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Good morning! Most of you are off today in observation of Veterans Day. Today, as you spend your day off raking leaves, remember that there is a reason for the day--tomorrow.

No more "Today is Veterans Day" email messages, tweets and sales pitches. Veterans Day has been November 11 since 1978. It's not an arbitrary date, but rather marks the end of "the Great War--World War I, which was formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.

The holiday was established 

Oh my gosh...the Kings have won two in a row. It may be the weekend to bet on the 49ers. Clearly, the sports winds of change have arrived in Northern California. That, and the 0-9 49ers are playing the 1-7 NY Giants.

This morning, I responded to an online survey (which I rarely do), and it was clearly conducted by the Villaraigosa campaign or its supporters.



SCANDAL: Well, who needs Shanda Rhimes's Scandal, which ends this season, when we have this trickle from the national and state political scenes. I don't have anything to say about the allegations against Senator Tony Mendoza. Enough was said yesterday and there are more questions than facts available at this point. Some people are making a big deal that Pro Tem Kevin de León and Mendoza are housemates. de León has not been implicated of any wrongdoing.

The good thing is that all of these recent cases are being reviewed by a respected employment attorney, and victims and witnesses have been encouraged to cooperate fully with any investigation. The challenge is that the lawyer was hired by the Senate (still unclear who actually authorized the contract), so any conclusions are not disclosable by the attorney because it's under attorney-client privilege. It's not a "special counsel" situation.

Speaking of counsel, one of the terminated staffers has retained an attorney, reports Ben Adler and Bob Moffitt for Capital Public Radio, who provide more details on the allegations.

In the LADN, Kevin Modesti writes:

Thursday evening, Mendoza called the the Bee story “misleading and irresponsible.”

“To suggest that employees were terminated because of any complaint is an outrageous falsehood and runs completely counter to the facts,” Mendoza said in a statement sent to a Southern California News Group reporter, saying he “had no idea there was an issue, an allegation or a potential complaint at the time of the employee termination.”

Earlier, Mendoza told the Bee the aides’ firings were based on work performance. He said he has an “absolute zero-tolerance policy on workplace harassment.”

The Senate and Assembly, through separate letters sent to the press just before 5pm yesterday,  provided their summaries of sexual harassment investigations by respective Rules committees, report John Myers and Melanie Mason in the Times. Alexei Koseff also reports in the Bee. Both the Bee and Times filed Legislative Open Records Act requests for the information.

Myers/Mason: "The California Legislature has investigated 31 allegations of sexual harassment since 2006, according to brief summaries released without more detailed information on Thursday. . .The nature of the summaries paints a murky picture of how many complaints were filed, and offers no information on the cost of the 31 investigations paid by the taxpayer-funded institutions."

Note that the disclore was about "investigations" and not "complaints," which might have been withdrawn, deemed insufficient by the committees, or filed by an ineligible party, such as a lobbyist or other non-Capitol party.

Koseff: "According to Secretary of the Senate Daniel Alvarez, Senate “records indicate 14 investigations” in the past decade, ranging from zero (in 2008, 2012 and 2013) to three (2009 and 2015). Debra Gravert, the Assembly’s chief administrative officer, said Assembly “records indicate 16 investigations,” ranging from zero (2007 and 2012) to four (2009)."

Koseff reports that the group of women behind the We Said Enough letter aren't content with ther report:

“The Legislature continues to do what it does best, protect itself,” the organization wrote. “This release of documents gets taxpayers no closer to knowing what happens when an employee makes a complaint and how it was handled. We have no way of knowing if this represents the full universe of complaints or just a select few. We continue to call on the Legislature to be completely transparent about their process and settlements that they have paid out.”

BALLOT BAZAAR/BIZARRE: Yesterday, three initiatives were released for circulation, all sponsored by the same guy, Lee Olson of the Committee to End Slavery, which is a committee that has its global headquarters in a Pack n' Save rented mailbox in Huntington Beach. A Google search for the Committee to End Slavery only finds these three measures. Apparently, the committee met this morning when Olson was shaving in front of the mirror.

The three ballot measures (official titles) are:

      - Legislative Analyst fiscal cost estimate: "Reduced state and local taxes of roughly $60 billion per year."
      - Legislative Analyst fiscal cost estimate: "Potential reduction of state and local taxes and fees totaling in the low tens of billions of dollars per year. 

Wow. I don't know much about Lee Olson, except that he wrote checks totalling $6,000 to get the titles and summaries prepared. I know that he is over 55 and that his house was purchased in 2000 for $410,000. Under Proposition 13, the assessed valuation would be $574,000 or so. Of course, that's $220,000 below the current Zillow estimate. That means, that he is already saving at least $2,200 per year on the Prop. 13 limitations on property taxes. Nevertheless, he would see a property tax elimination of at least $5,740 annually by the first initiative.

Let's think about just a few of the California residents over 55 that would pay no state or local income and property taxes under the proposal:

  • Governor Jerry Brown
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein
  • House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
  • Tom Steyer
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook
  • Oracle CEO Larry Ellison

A lot was made of the increase of the "title and summary fee," which is refunded if a measure qualifies for the ballot, from $200 to $2,000 to dissuade the filing of "headline" initiatives that have no chance of passage. Clearly, that was not enough to stop crazy ideas.


Probolsky Research


POLL POSITION: Today's release from the LAT/USC Dornsife poll looks at how voters feel about the gas tax increase that took effect on November 1, reports Patrick McGreevy in the Times. "Most California voters would scrap the higher gas tax and vehicle fees recently approved by the Legislature to repair the state’s roads and bridges and improve mass transit, according to a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll."

Keep gas tax increase: 45.8%
Repeal gas tax increase: 54.2%

The poll also finds that, shockingly, a majority of Californians don't care for Donald Trump's job performance, writes Cathleen Decker. His total unfavorable is 64.6%. Second largest total unfavorable is Jerry Brown, with a 33.9% combined (somewhat+very).

[n=1,296 self-identified registered voters, 10/27-11/6, online, MOE +/- 4%

TAXING ISSUE: KQED's Guy Marzorati reports on where members of California's congressional delegation stand on the tax plan forwarded by House Ways and Means yesterday. Here are the deviations I see from the talking points of each caucus:

  • CA04 (McClintock-R): "“As desirable as tax simplification is, I wonder if it is simply a bridge too far given the timetable we’re on, the political environment we’re in and the complexities of the tax code that are certain to continue to yield unpleasant and unintended consequences. I urge us to consider leaving the personal income tax structure intact, but using the budget authority instead to provide a permanent uniform across-the-board reduction in the rates for ALL tax brackets.

  • CA16 (Costa-D): “Over the next few days, I will carefully review the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and evaluate the policy based on how it would likely affect our national debt, and how it plans to incentive intelligent investment in the American economy and our American future.”
  • CA25 (Knight-R): “While a good start, the tax reform package is still a work in progress and there are several issues my colleagues and I are working on. One of these issues is restoring the Adoption Tax Credit to make it easier for families to provide stable homes for adopted children.”
  • CA48 (Rohrabacher-R): “I am studying the various provisions of the House tax bill and I am participating in serious discussions with my fellow Republican colleagues about its contents.  My goal is passing a tax reform bill that does not increase the taxes being paid by any of my constituents.”
  • CA49 (Issa-R): “My overriding concern with the current House tax reform proposal is that many Californians who need and deserve tax relief won’t benefit from the current framework, or at worse, may see their tax burden rise as a consequence of certain changes including, but not limited to, the elimination of the state and local income tax deduction.”
  • No response: Raul Ruiz (D-CA36), Ed Royce (R-CA39), Lou Correa (D-CA46)

BEHIND THE ORANGE CURTAIN: The LAT's Christine Mai-Duc reports on the efforts by Orange County Democrats to recover from the disclosures of sexual harassment at the party office and at the county Labor Fed. "The issue is coming into focus as Democrats are gearing up for big electoral fights in the midterm elections, and as scrutiny of alleged sexual misconduct in Hollywood and political circles intensifies."

HEALTHY KIDS: A ballot measure was filed yesterday to place a $1.5 billion general obligation bond on the 2018 ballot, reports Liam Dillon in the Times.

As was done in 2004 and 2008, proposal guarantees 20% of the funds to University of California children's hospitals, with the remaining 80% available to the nonprofit childrens hospitals members of the California Children's Hospital Association.

At one of those--Children's Hospital of Orange County--I spent lots of time growing up in for my crappy lungs, and subsequently worked at in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Loved working there, but transferred up to UC Davis. 

That said...

DOUBLE DOWN: Tom Steyer pledged to double-down with another $10 million for his advertisement campaign calling for the impeachment of Donald Trump, writes Seema Mehta for the Times.



#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Robert Abalon


  • Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) is term-limited in his role as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, so losing the chairmanship because of a partisan change in control of the House wouldn't be the main factor in his retirement. He'll lose it anyway because of the GOP conference's term limits on chairs, although losing the gavel probably makes it easier to walk away.

  • The first Vietnamese-Anerican Democrat was actually elected last November. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) was elected to the 7th district of Florida. I don't know how I could miss it after the November 2016 election, as there really was not much news... 


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It's A Tightening Race For Governor And Sen. Dianne Feinstein Holds Strong Lead For Reelection
Seema Mehta, Phil Willon @
The online poll of 1,296 registered California voters was conducted between Oct. 27 and Nov. 6, one year from the 2018 election. The race for governor has grown increasingly contentious, as the Senate contest gets more crowded. The margin of error was four points in either direction, and higher for subgroups.

California Assembly Democrats Ask Mccarthy, Pelosi For Tax Overhaul That Is 'fair' To The State
John Myers @
Calling out a series of provisions they argue will unfairly target Californians, Assembly Democrats asked the state's congressional lea...

Tourists Came To San Diego For Metallica, Left With Hepatitis A - The San Diego Union-tribune
Lauryn Schroeder @
The third friend, Mike Rinna, 51, had previously been vaccinated for hepatitis A and did not get sick.

Trump Judge Nominee, 36, Who Has Never Tried A Case, Wins Approval Of Senate Panel
David G. Savage @
Brett Talley is a lawyer and partisan blogger who is slated to become a federal judge. At 36, he's never tried a case and was rated "unqualified" by the American Bar Assn. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved him on a party-line vote.

What The Senate Tax Bill Would Mean For The Bay Area
What the Senate tax bill would mean for the Bay Area

4 Sf Supervisors Back De Leon Against Feinstein In U.S. Senate Race - San Francisco Chronicle
Four progressive San Francisco supervisors have broken ranks with hometown U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein — the city’s most prominent and long-standing Democratic politician — and instead endorsed her challenger, Kevin de Leon.

Senate Passes Measure Requiring Sexual Harassment Training For Senators, Aides - Politico

Bipartisan talks on a plan to require sexual harassment training, as first reported by POLITICO, began as current and former female lawmakers and aides publicly shared their stories of sexual harassment on the job in Congress. Awareness of workplace harassment on the Hill is spiking as sexual assault allegations shake the Hollywood establishment and Republicans grappled Thursday with a report that Alabama Senate nominee Roy Moore initiated a sexual encounter with a minor while in his 30s.

Jerry Brown Wants More Widsom And Less Power | The Sacramento Bee
Christopher Cadelago @
The go-to source for news on California policy and politics

California Voters Could Decide On $1.5 Billion In Children's Hospital Improvements Next Year
Liam Dillon @
Californians could vote on a $1.5-billion bond measure to expand and renovate children's hospitals across the state under a proposed 20...

Republicans face big tax negotiations

Senate Republicans released their tax proposal on Nov. 9, but face some hurdles to reconcile the differences among senators, congressmen and President Trump in order to sign a bill into law.

GOP Tax Bills Could Weigh On High-end Housing In California - San Francisco Chronicle
The House and Senate Republican tax plans would not have much impact on home prices and homeownership rates nationwide, but could slow the rate of appreciation of high-end homes in high-tax states such as California, economists say.

Advocates Call For Halt To Payments Under Disputed San Onofre Settlement Deal - The San Diego Union-tribune
Jeff McDonald @
The settlement of costs was reopened in May of 2016, after repeated revelations that improper communications between regulators and utility executives may have tipped the scales in the original deal.

Investigations Underway As State Sen. Tony Mendoza Denies Improper Conduct With Female Legislative Fellow
Patrick McGreevy @
The state Senate Rules Committee said Thursday that an investigation is underway into complaints from former aides to state Sen. Tony M...

Lawsuit Says Public Is Being Deprived Of Input Before San Diego City Council Proclamations Pass - The San Diego Union-tribune
David Garrick @
The organization that filed the suit, which is led by downtown San Diego attorney Craig Sherman, has a track record of success in suing the city over alleged Brown Act violations.

House Committee Advances Tax Overhaul Bill - Politico

The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday advanced the Republican tax bill by a 24-16 vote. The move sends the proposal to the full House for consideration next week.

Covered California Outspends Feds To Get Out The Word About Open Enrollment | The Sacramento Bee
Cathie Anderson @
By Cathie Anderson

Following Allegations, Orange County Democrats Grapple With Sexual Harassment In Politics
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$300 Billion War Beneath the Street: Fighting to Replace Americaâ

Two powerful industries, plastic and iron, are locked a lobbying war over the estimated $300 billion that local governments will spend on water pipes over the next decade.