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THE Nooner for February 5, 2018

 

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John Cox for Governor

 

Happy Monday! Happy shutdown week (another CR coming)! Goverbment spending authority runs out again at midnight Friday a.m. I think that's why I had another one of those college dreams of not turning in a term paper, asking for an extension, and then another...and another...

This morning, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA28) earned the highest praise--a nickname from President Trump. He is now "Little Adam Schiff" because he, like Devin Nunes (R-CA22), offered a partisan perspective on the FISA warrants. Both would say that they are offering their non-partisan version. Readers know me and where my perspective is, but I'll just leave it at that.

Those who were around for Schiff's three short years in the State Senate remember him as one of the kindest, smartest members with great integrity. He's advancing the arguments of his fellow minority Democrats on his committee, in the same way Nunes is for his majority members. That is their job. Neither of them has made it personal.

Only the president has made it personal, in a manner demeaning of the office. Even President Clinton didn't go after then-Speaker Newt Gingrich during impeachment, even though Gingrich had his major transgressions.

Nunes's push on this issue has elevated his political visibility among Democrats. On Friday night, the very popular liberal podcast Pod Save America created by Obama administration veterans had an audience of 4,000+ people for a live show at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood (Schiff's district). Guests included Jimmy Kimmel and Jon Legend.

During the show, they talked in detail about the Nunes memo released Friday and then added the congressman to its "Cooked Seven" list of California targets of their PAC. Of course, two of the seven (Issa and Royce) have announced their retirement.

Obviously, the attention Nunes is getting provides energy to Democrat challengers prosecutor Andrew Janz and health care manager Bobby Bliatout, although it's a very difficult district. Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton there by 9.5%. Eight-term congressman Nunes's background is as a dairy farmer, part of a huge industry in the district.

This is not meant to be derogatory, but, as I write this, residents of the district drinking their coffee and eating a hearty breakfast at the Dimples Diner on Main Street in Nunes's Visalia are not talking about a Democrat vs. Republican perspectives on a memo regarding the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They are likely talking about dairy prices, trade, immigration (both sides), and environmental regulations. Of course they care about health care and other national issues, but I doubt their talking about Robert Mueller, Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and George Papadopoulos.

Democrats hoping for a long shot at Nunes need to keep that in mind. This is a similar issue as in CA21 (Valadao). The need to localize and not nationalize the issues in these campaigns. Democrats and their allies have wasted lots of money over the years trying to capture CA21, SD14 (Andy Vidak), and CA10 (Jeff Denham). In doing so, they have overplayed statewide or national issues in agriculture districts. In the cases of CA21, CA10 and SD14, they may look great on paper and in presidential votes, but lots of the Democrats and a disproportionate share of NPP voters vote conservatively for their local representative.

The backgrounds of the incumbent Republican members of all of these districts including significant agriculture experience.

Democrats have leading candidates including a prosecutor, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and a woman doing good work at a non-profit focused on infrastructure funding. A Harvard MBA. Granted, Dems now have a beekeeper (important particularly for the tree nut farms in the district) hoping to challenge Denham, but he is counting on a national PAC that he founded to provide the infrastructure to catch up, having jumped in the race last week, and still has the liability of not a resident of the district. 

Democrats have a candidate recruitment problem. In most districts, leading (in money) candidate Josh Harder in CA10 is a very attractive. As the fundraising leader, he is a successful venture capitalist with degrees from Stanford and Harvard. However, I've heard the phrase "Bay Area skinny jeans" too many times for that district. It's a sharp contrast to the imposing physique of incumbent Denham, which will be evident in forums. 

HARASSMENT: In yesterday's Nooner, I wrote about the "lifetime" ban on employment from the Assembly (and maybe the State Senate) on harassment victims who sign a settlement agreement for as little as $11,000 for the victim, which was known to exist but finally disclosed in black and white in Friday's document dump. Since many of you were hopefully taking the day off of the 'puter to cheer on the Eagles, here is the link to yesterday's Nooner. Humbly, I'd say its a must read...not because of my writing, but because of the importance of the issue. 

It's a huge chilling effect and I'll tell you that there are lots of alleged victims that I have heard of who won't come forward, not because of stigma, but for fear of not being able to work for the Legislature again.

Everyone wants to spend time on the salacious details of the past, but this is something that is present and continues into the future if not addressed.

On the topic, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) sat down with the Bee:

Q: You’re coming in under this cloud of sexual harassment hanging over the institution. Some women are still afraid to speak up because they think they could be retaliated against or they think the Legislature has swept these things under the rug. How do you regain public trust?

A: I think that’s our big challenge. It’s going to take real work and time to do it. I can’t look at you today and say I promise you we are going to fix it and you don’t need to be afraid. You’ve got to prove it, and so I think we need to prove it to the employees in this building. Look, we’ve had a zero tolerance policy. Obviously, having a policy doesn’t exactly mean that’s the reality. We have to make the policy a reality. It’s going to take time and proof. . . 

AFTERMATH: Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R) has withdrawn her endorsement of her colleague Travis Allen (R) for his gubernatorial campaign, following the disclosure in Friday's document dump that he made a female employee uncomfortable by asking for a hug and squeezing her shoulder massage-like. Melendez has long championed a whistleblower protection bill for legislative employees, which was stuck behind a logjam that finally broke last week.

Frankly, in a state that cast 5.1 million votes for Bill Clinton in 1992 after the "primary colors" scandals (remember Gennifer Flowers?) and nearly 4.5 million votes for Donald Trump after the Access Hollywood tape, Allen's actions sound trivial, although they were under a supervisorial relationship and against Assembly policy.

The bigger issue for Allen is 12/31 cash on hand of $135,535, with debt of $342,850.

 

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CA39 (Fullerton): In the Register, Martin Wisckol looks into the candidacy of Mt. San Antonio College trustee Jay Chen (D), who entered late after Ed Royce (R) announced his retirement. He demonstrated his support among party activists at the January 27th pre-endorsement caucus with 47% of the vote, although that was short of the 50% required to move forward in the district for a caucus at convention later this month. The next highest was Phil Janowicz (D) with 28% of the vote. Janowicz had $93,366 on hand at the close of 2017, while fundraising leader Andy Thorburn (D) had a little over $2 million on hand and Gil Cisneros had just over $1 million. Chen joined the race after the close, so wasn't required to report.

WHO TO CREDIT? For SCNG, Jonathan Lansner looks at who to credit for the state's good economy--Jerry Brown or Donald Trump, both happy to take credit and with conflicting policy strategies. 

OVERPLAY? Senate Preside Pro Tem Toni Atkins has suggested that advocates for single-payer health care, including herself as a co-author of SB 562 need to take time to heal relationships strained last year, reports the Bee's Taryn Luna.

The infamous image of the California grizzly bear stabbed with a butcher knife inscribed with the last name of Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon may have done more than blow up the Twittersphere last year.

The chances of reviving the Legislature’s universal health care bill don’t look good this year, said Sen. Toni Atkins, the incoming Senate leader and a co-author of Senate Bill 562.

“It doesn’t look like it right now, but I never give up,” said Atkins, who knows firsthand how hard it is for low-income families to afford care. “I think given the dynamic that exists as a result of SB 562, we’ve clearly got a lot of work to do to heal relationships and I don’t know how well that will go given circumstances on the ground.”

Atkins was careful to toe the line. She didn’t mention the California Nurses Association or its guns-blazing lobbying tactics that may have done more harm than good. The picture, posted by the nurses’ outspoken leader RoseAnn DeMoro, is emblematic of the association’s strategy to enact universal health care in the Golden State. They rallied Berniecrats, interrupted speakers at the state party convention and threatened to launch primary battles against Democrats who didn’t vote for their legislation. Rendon, who halted what he called the “woefully inadequate” bill after it cleared the Senate without a funding model, said he received death threats.

The Democratic convention was indeed ugly last spring, and the red shirts of CNA will likely return in San Diego in a few weeks, which will just make things worse.

Lots of people like the end game, but there's this important intermediate step called financing that hasn't been solved. There is zero chance Governor Brown signs the bill without that question being answered, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon is doing his job of protecitng his caucus from a vote for a cake that is simply half-baked.

 

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Upward Mobility at Cal State LA

 

IN THE PATH: In the Times, Ralph Vartabedian looks at the condition of the 119 miles of land the California High Speed Rail Authority has bought up from Madera to south of Wasco to make way for the choo-choo.

Some day it may be the path for a gleaming bullet train system, but today much of it is an eyesore and a magnet for criminal activity that is affecting the surrounding areas. It has put stress on already hard-luck communities that grapple with poverty, homelessness and crime.

The problem that vacant properties create when the government takes private land is not new, but the massive scope of the bullet train project has birthed a problem unprecedented in recent California history: The current construction program is creating a corridor 100 feet or more wide through the Central Valley. Many of the land takes are stuck in protracted litigation, creating a patchwork of property ownership and leaving lots vacant for a long time.

It's a "World Without Us" scenario. [freaky NatGeo video]

Some have left with the first offer, while others fight for a court hearing to determine fair value under eminent domain. And, this is the easy segment of high-speed rail--cheap, flat land and relatively cheap housing. Wait until, if ever, it gets to the Bay Area and Los Angeles. 

Like single-payer health care, I like the idea. Like single-payer, it's hard to see all of the high-speed rail come to fruition under current scenarios, unless the Golden State captures a very large share of President Trump's $1.5 trillion infrastructure goal. It was notable that there was no applause when he announced that he wanted Congress to approve that much dough, although some applause came later for specific projects.

OIL, OR AS THEY SAY IN TEXAS, O'LE: CALmatters's Julie Cart looks at lawsuits by coastal cities and counties against oil companies alleging that the companies have knowingly contributed to climate change, which they allege threatens economic harm to the local communities.

OPIOIDS: The Bee's Alexei Koseff writes up AB 1998 by Assemblymember Freddie Rodriguez (D-Ontario) that would limit prescriptions of opioids to three days, unless certain assertions are made. It would also impose justifications on the fourth renewal of an opioid.

Some California counties have more opioid prescriptions than residents. Rodriguez noted there are doctors who prescribe painkillers “like candy.”

“We don’t want to give it out just to give it out, and there’s no accountability there,” Rodriguez said. “Nobody’s really following up on why that’s necessary."

 

 

Probolsky Research

 

Finally, after writing yesterday, and particularly after discussing the "lifetime ban on employment" segment, I needed to decompress. I knew that the Buddhist Church of Sacramento was having a special service focusing on the church's scout troops rather than the normal one. I don't have kids and, as my mom still reminds me, I hated cub scouts. I hesitated about going but that said, it was a great service of innocence and hope for the future.

The first organized in the 1930s was the Boy Scouts, when Japanese-Americans boys weren't particularly welcomed in the "mainstream" troops. It was disbanded at the start of World War II, although many troops of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts organized during internment as people were scattered across the country. 

 

Manzanar scouts

 A Scouts ceremony at the Manzanar internment camp in Manzanar, CA.

 

Yesterday's service was great and I'm glad I went after a long week. And, the diversity of the youth is amazing. While born of outright discrimination, they now reflect California. The surnames listed in the program were of Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Latino, and European. In addition to Japanese-Americans descendants of those original Scouts before World War II, there were African-American kids, mixed kids, and white kids. The scouts designated by their troops to "chair" the service all had non-Japanese surnames. 

The troops aren't religious and are open to all. There are parallel optional programs for scouts who seek to integrate Buddhism more into their scout development, and a national awards program recognized by the scouting organizations.

Born out of our troubled history and reflective of our better, albeit imperfect, society today.

People look at me quizzically when I say that I go to Buddhist church services, but it's a very diverse group that fills 2401 Riverside Boulevard each Sunday at 9:30 a.m for a spiritual tune-up. But, if you're an Assemblymember, staffer, or lobbyist, you get a small dose of it at the beginning of each floor session, as Reverend Bob--retired from the Buddhist Church of Sacramento--offers the morning thought (prayer/gasho) as Assembly Chaplain.

 

Scouts Service

The Scouts Service at Sacramento Buddhist Church on 2/4/18

 

 

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TOP HEADLINES ON AROUNDTHECAPITOL.COM AS OF 12:00PM
Universal Health Care Unlikely To Pass In Ca, Says Atkins | The Sacramento Bee
Taryn Luna @
sacbee.com
The go-to source for news on California policy and politics

Preet Bharara, Tom Perez Join Biden At Democrats' Annual Retreat - Politico

Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney from New York fired by Trump, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez will join former Vice President Joe Biden and a slate of other speakers aimed at helping Democrats energize their base and woo the working class voters who swept Trump into the White House.

Vacant Lots, Empty Homes And Dying Orchards On Bullet Train Route Attract Squatters, Vandals And Thieves
Ralph Vartabedian @
latimes.com
The state High-Speed Rail Authority has purchased more than 1,000 properties in the Central Valley for its route, but many of the vacant parcels are magnets for squatters, vandals and arsonists.

Ripped By His Ex-campaign Consultant, Jeff Sheehy Fights Back - San Francisco Chronicle
sfchronicle.com
Talk that the fight has gone out of embattled San Francisco Supervisor Jeff Sheehy looks to be premature.

Firefighters Focus On Clean Air, Bodies And Gear To Try To Cut Cancer Risk
Karen Kucher @
sandiegouniontribune.com
Cancer is the leading cause of firefighter line-of-duty deaths in the U.S., according to the International Association of Fire Fighters. In the past five years, more than 60 percent of the names added to the Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial Wall in Colorado were cancer-related deaths, the organization says. The wall lists the names of more than 7,600 fallen firefighters.

Delta Shores Complex In South Sacramento Filling Up With New Tenants | The Sacramento Bee
Mark Glover @
sacbee.com
By Mark Glover

Mexican Program Lets Parents Visit Their Children Living Illegally In U.S. After Decades Apart
Andrea Castillo @
latimes.com
A program run by state governments in Mexico helps elderly parents reunite with their children who have lived in the U.S. illegally for more than 10 years.

Island of Alameda Weighing License-plate Readers At Entry And Exit Points
Sophie Haigney @
sfchronicle.com
Frustrated by a wave of auto break-ins and thefts plaguing the Bay Area, police officials on the island of Alameda have proposed a strategy that would take advantage of the city’s unique geography, even as it raises the ire of privacy advocates.

Grassley, Graham Release Copy Of Request For Criminal Probe Of Dossier Author - Politico

Two senior GOP senators on Monday released a copy of their request for a criminal probe of Christopher Steele, the author of a controversial dossier on President Donald Trump's ties to Russia, which alleges that he received information from an ally of Hillary Clinton while the Democrat's campaign was financing his work.

A Detour Lands Travel Photographer on Verge of Homelessness
John Wilkens @
sandiegouniontribune.com
arry Dunmire is standing in his tiny rented room in downtown San Diego, trying to understand what happened to his life. Most of his clothes are in a suitcase on the floor. He shares a bathroom with 41 other people. It’s a long way down from “Room With a View” to this.

Orange County's Only Needle-exchange Program Closes After Santa Ana Denies Permit
Ben Brazil @
latimes.com
O.C.'s only needle exchange program closes, sparking fears about infectious diseases