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THE Nooner for February 4, 2018

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John Cox for Governor

 

DISTRICT UPDATES: 

U.S. SENATE: The LAT's John Myers writes about the problem the California Republican Party is having in fielding a candidate to participate in the United States Senate race.

And so the question is whether there's a Republican out there with the right résumé who also is willing to take one for the team in 2018. If so, he or she needs to step up soon.

No, I had not seen John's article nor had he seen yesterday's Nooner when we both wrote "take one for the team."

AD15 (Berkeley): For KQED, Guy Marzaroti writes that the East Bay Assembly seat is shaping up as one of the state's costliest. "Campaign finance reports filed ahead of this week’s deadline show seven Democrats running in the 15th Assembly District raised more than $1.2 in 2017, more than any Assembly race in the state."

AD54 (Culver City): I removed Joey Hill as a probable candidate. Although he was mulling the race earlier in January, he has not filed anything for the regular or special election either in Los Angeles County or with the state.

Here is what the year-end campaign finance spreadsheet looks like for Nooner Premium subscribers (click for larger image):

fundraising report

Below the jump, the response to Friday's document dump of the Legisature's responses to sexual harassment complaints.

 

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Upward Mobility at Cal State LA

 

HARASSMENT: For CALmatters, Laurel Rosenhall updates her post of Friday's document dump with a spreadsheet of each of the complaint responses and follow-up actions.

Lots of folks are not content with Friday's "transparency."  Rosenhall writes in her story:

Victims advocates were quick to point out that the records hardly paint a complete picture of the longstanding problem of sexual harassment in the state Capitol. Many people may never file an official complaint in the first place, and the records released were restricted to those concerning elected lawmakers and high-level staff. Complaints against employees who are not supervisors were not included, nor were complaints that were filed but not substantiated. The records do not include cases currently being investigated: six in the Senate and eight in the Assembly.

One issue that was brought up to me by a couple of people and that I heard on the California Politics Podcast on the way to church this morning was the formal way the complaint against Assemblymember Autumn Burke was handled. According to Burke, the complaint about a conversation among staff that allegedly became vulgar was made by a disgruntled former staff member who had previously been fired. 

Should supervisors push back when a conversation turns vulgar? Yes. Is vulgar language in politics and the Legislature somewhat commonplace? Yes. Watch The War Room. The Burke case is very different than the other cases and never should have had a written record, but rather an oral reminder to the Assemblywoman.

UNENFORCEABLE? IF NOT, IT SHOULD BE: One item that was made clear in black and white on Friday is the "ban on future employment clause" that appears in settlement agreements.  It appears on page 6 of the settlement agreement on one of the Steve Fox complaints. It essentially prohibits the complainant for applying for a job with the same "employer," defined in this case as the California State Assembly and Fox's law practice. There's wiggle room that, if complainant becomes employed by the Assembly, she has to notify HR about the existence of the agreement and may be terminated without cause "within a reasonable time."

[Note: the settlement agreement released is in the case of Kristina Zahn. There was another $100,000+ settlement in a complaint against Fox with Nancy Finnigan.]

The language is somewhat boilerplate in employment law.

From the employer's side, you would 't want to reach a settlement with an employee who then applies for a position the next month, isn't hired, and then sues for retaliation. That makes sense, particularly if you're talking about a small organization. None of us want serial complainants, unless they are truly victims of serial predators.

However, for a victim, the lifetime employment ban (unless the contract is mutually cancelled) is a huge chilling effect on coming forward. The young recent college graduates working, paid or unpaid, on 80 Assembly campaigns right now want to work for that member, if elected. How many know that they will be actually working for the umbrella of all of the offices, plus ancillary offices--over 1,200 employees--and could find themselves signing an agreement for a lifetime ban of these offices. 

If somebody works for a slime-ball who corners and masturbates in front of her after hours in the office and subsequently obtains a settlement, should she be barred for life from working for the Assembly even if Mr. Creep is no longer there?

Sure, if the settlement covers lost salary for a year, a year-long ban seems reasonable. A paid cooling-off period, with time to decide whether to return to legislative employment or seek other opportunities. We're paying a State Senator to hang out at home right now during an investigation and enabling him to decide on what he does next. (Returning to legislative employment wasn't really an option for Zahn, as she was a district office employee.)

(This is an example and does not match any current case, but is a totallly foreseeable amalgamation of cases.)

Zahn received $11,000 in her settlement. Her attorney received $99,000. And, who is ostensibly banned for life from working for any member, in the Capitol or in the district? It isn't the attorney. 

We're not talking about a victim who received millions. She got the one-time equivalent of what many retired public employees are getting annually for the rest of their lives because of an end-of-career pension spike. She is banned from seeking employment, but the other party can run to return to office this year to earn a salary of $107,242, plus per diem? Of course, if he were to win (long shot as he filed intent yet hasn't raised any money, but will advance to November if he completes the filing process and no other Dem gets in).

Members are treated differently than staff. Would the Assembly seat Steve Fox if he is elected in November? They apparently won't "seat" Kristina Zahn in an office.

There is a principle in contract law that allows courts to find contracts unenforceable if they are contrary to public policy, although that's generally understood as contracts that require a party to engage in illegal behavior. Chick-fil-A can't by contract require a franchisee to hire only heterosexuals, although it could post billboards espousing the corporation leadership's views.

It's been 20 years since I pretended to learn Contracts Law as a 1L and I don't have time to research the current case law on this, but it is theoretically interesting. Of course, the Legislature sets the public policy that courts rely on when evaluating enforceability of contracts.

Nevertheless, the Legislature should be a model employer. It has a moral duty to protect the institution and the taxpayer. More importantly, it has a legal duty to protect its employees and be a model for your daughters and sons who might aspire to work there. 

This lifetime ban on employment for a victim whose complaint was substantiated as "more likely than not" by a private law firm employed by Assembly Rules Committee and who received roughly 10% of a legislator's annual salary comes from a body that last year approved a bill prohibiting employers from asking for salary histories before offering employment, largely for the goal of gender equality. Well, the issue of bans on employment from mostly female complainants is as important of an issue. 

The Legislature needs to decide how it is going to handle these situations going forward, both in law and policy.

A final point. The documents are now available to introduce in court. These little $100,000 payoffs (generally 10% to victim, 90% to lawyers) could turn into a multi-plaintiff lawsuit at some point. Lost employment opportunities off 25-year-olds for the next 30 years until CalPERS retirement with lifetime health benefits would be very costly, something people on all sides need to come to terms.

 

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Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute

reserve this space

 

DOUBLE-X FACTOR: David Siders and Carla Marinucci write in Politico that, despite the perception that 2018 is a "year of the woman," it thus far isn't apparent in the upcoming California elections.

MONEY MATTERS: For CALmatters, Dan Walters writes that pension costs are pushing more California cities toward bankruptcy

City managers, facing annual increases in contributions of 15-plus percent, are feeling the squeeze, which a new Stanford University study finds is crowding out “resources needed for public assistance, welfare, recreation and libraries, health, public works, other social services, and in some cases, public safety.”

 

 

Probolsky Research

 

#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and Ray Pearl!

 

 

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TOP HEADLINES ON AROUNDTHECAPITOL.COM AS OF 12:00PM
There's A Big Problem For California Republicans, And It's This Year's Race For The U.S. Senate
John Myers @
latimes.com
It's when your party's voters simply don't show up on election day. And if enough of them simply sit out due to a lack of interest, it can endanger the party's power for years to come.

Year of the woman skips California
David Siders and Carla Marinucci @

In an election year rocked by sexual harassment scandals and the emergence of the “Me Too” movement,” women in California politics are still running at the margins. The phenomenon is especially striking in this heavily Democratic state where no woman has ever held the governorship and women account for only 26 of the 120 state legislators.

Prison Company Seeks To Open Center For Federal Felons Near Sacramento Homes, Schools | The Sacramento Bee
Ryan Lillis And Anita Chabria @
sacbee.com
By Ryan Lillis And Anita Chabria

L.A. Faces Skyrocketing Costs For Lawsuits Over Bike Crashes
Emily Alpert Reyes, Laura J. Nelson, Ben Poston @
latimes.com
Faced with a string of lawsuits over grisly crashes, the city of Los Angeles paid out more than $19 million last year to cyclists and their families for injuries and deaths on local streets. The amount is nearly four times higher than any other year in the last decade, a Times analysis found.

Officer Punched, Tensions Flare At 'Patriot Picnic' At Chicano Park
Sandra Dibble, Kristina Davis @
sandiegouniontribune.com
Tensions escalated at Chicano Park on Saturday as a small group of park critics waving U.S. flags and gathered for a “Patriot Picnic” faced off against a larger group of park supporters defending the park’s cultural heritage and community importance.

Major Water Projects Hit Funding Barriers As California Questions Value
Kurtis Alexander @
sfchronicle.com
In a remote canyon tucked into the East Bay hills, the glassy waters of Los Vaqueros Reservoir were nearly brimming last week, a welcome sight in a winter that’s been desperately short on rain.

Who Is Devin Nunes? A Look At The Man Behind The Memo
Kelsey Snell @
capradio.org
California Republican Devin Nunes is at the center of a frenzied uproar in Washington with Friday's release of a secret memo on FBI surveillance. The controversy comes with the 44-year-old chairman of the House intelligence committee on a rocky, rapid rise to power in President Trump's Republican Party — an ascent that required something of an about-face. Once an aggressive critic of the GOP's populist right flank, Nunes has become a key Trump defender and champion of the party's most conservative wing.

Trump's Border Wall Prototypes Triggered 10,000 Ot Hours For 356 Employees Of The San Diego Sheriff - The San Diego Union-tribune
Greg Moran @
sandiegouniontribune.com


Union City pedestrian fatally struck by truck
sfgate.com
A man was struck and killed by a large truck in Union City around 10:40 a.m. Saturday while crossing the intersection of Mission Boulevard and Lafayette Avenue on foot, according to the Union City Police Department. Police arrived to find the man seriously injured and unconscious. He was transported to Eden Medical Center, where he later died. Police did not immediately identify the man, whom they described as elderly. The driver of the truck remained on the scene and was cooperative with law enforcement officials, police said. The incident remains under investigation. Dominic Fracassa is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer.

About That Secret Memo: Why Would Anyone Care?
sfchronicle.com
For all the hype, the not-so-secret “Nunes memo” will rank in historical significance right up there with the opening of Al Capone’s vault.

Panetta: Trump Will Do Damage If He Fires Rosenstein And Mueller - Politico

Former CIA Director Leon Panetta warned President Donald Trump on Sunday against firing special counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Community, State Leaders Say "No" To Offshore Drilling At Rally
Joel Hersch @
santacruzsentinel.com
More than 1,000 people, including local and state political leaders, marched along West Cliff Drive on Saturday morning to protest offshore oil drilling in California.

Few political differences seen in first SF mayoral forum
Dominic Fracassa @
sfgate.com
When five Democratic mayoral candidates were asked Saturday whether they had ever suffered the myriad frustrations of being victim of a car break-in, all five hands went into the air. So did the hands of many of those who packed into an auditorium at the San Francisco Main Library on the balmy weekend afternoon for a mayoral forum hosted by the United Democratic Club. The event was moderated by The Chronicle€™s editorial page director, John Diaz, and featured all but one Democratic candidate, Michelle Bravo, who declined to participate.

It's Going To Be Hot In Southern California Next Week, Again
latimes.com
Is it February, or summer?

Sf Proposes Turning Moscone Garage Into Affordable Housing, Hotel Tower - San Francisco Chronicle
sfchronicle.com
The Moscone Convention Center parking garage would be redeveloped into a 320-foot tower with at least 650 hotel rooms and at least 100 affordable housing units under a plan being put forward by the city.

Paul Ryan Deletes Tweet Lauding a $1.50 Benefit From the New Tax Law
EMILY COCHRANE @

Democrats said the speaker’s Twitter post showed that he was out of touch.

A Gender Discrimination Case At The Legendary Salk Institute Exposes An Ugly Problem In Science
Michael Hiltzik @
latimes.com
Three women scientists at the storied Salk Institute reveal decades of gender discrimination.

Jordan's King: Peace Process Depends On U.S. - Politico

President Donald Trump and King Abdullah II of Jordan shake hands during a joint news conference at the White House on April 5. The king described Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital as "a complication." | Alex Wong/Getty Images