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The Weekend Nooners: I know that after last week's work week, some of you let The Nooner fall down in your email inbox, and I don't blame you. But, we had some good items over the weekend (in the honest opinion of me and the hamsters).
Happy Monday folks! I enjoyed speaking yesterday with the 2018 fellows class of the Sacramento chapter of the New Leaders Council. What an impressive group of young leaders! With all the UGH factor we've had around the Capitol the last six months, I have great hope.
CA50 (East San Diego County): Yesteday, in the discussion of Duncan Hunter's (R) congressional seat, I mentioned "retiring" Darrell Issa (R). I didn't mention State Senator Joel Anderson (R), and I probably should have. He lives in the district in Alpine (as does Hunter). He's served in the Assembly or State Senate in the area since 2006, and was planning to run to return for a final term in the Assembly. That changed in January after Issa's retirement in CA49 (Oceanside), which led from Diane Harkey (R) to run for CA48 rather than re-election for Board of Equalization.
Issa ended the year with $1,052,398 in his congressional committee account and is also the wealthiest member of the House with an estimated $330 million. People familiar know that he doesn't want to give up that House lapel pin. He'd prefer the Senate one, but that isn't going to happen in California. Money won't be a problem for him in a race, but it would come down to carpet-bagging and perceived acerbic demeanor as liabilities.
Anderson ended 2017 with $136,623 in his 2018 Assembly account, all of which can be transferred to his Board of Equalization race. Those funds can't be transferred to a congressional committee. They would have to be returned to the donor along with an ask for contributions for the federal committee. Of course, corporate contributions would be prohibited, and contributions would be limited at $2,700 per election (primary/general - state is $4,400). That's why it is rarely done and really isn't worth it to go through the process. I'm sure Kevin de León has thoughts on this.
If Hunter bows out as some of his colleagues in the House want, the filing deadline would be March 14--30 days from now. That's the go or no go date, and it would be awfully late to start anew with no federal cash. Anderson, a businessman, can't compete with Issa in personal funds.
Given this, I can't imagine Anderson would switch to a face-off with Issa. The National Republican Congressional Committee likely would prefer to see a Hunter exit and an Issa move, as the NRCC is already stretched very thin across the country, particularly with the number of self-funding by Democrats in competitive races.
GOV: On a chilly gloomy day, gubernatorial candidate Assemblyman Travis Allen rallied his troops on the Capitol steps yesterday, reports Liam Dillon in the Times.
He took aim at Gavin Newsom, the Lieutenant Governor and former San Francisco mayor:
“Do you want California to look like San Francisco with mounds of human waste?” Allen said to the crowd. “Do you want California to look like San Francisco and legalize heroin injection centers in your neighborhoods?”
He also blasted Villaraigosa, saying downtown L.A. looks like a “Third World country.”
Actually, downtown LA is world's apart in a good way from what it was when I was growing up. He also went after the leading Republican in the race, with an additional jab at the leading Democrat.
Allen reminded the crowd, which was filled with Trump supporters, that Cox declined to vote for Trump in the 2016 election, and instead voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico.
“This guy Cox voted for a guy who believes in open borders, legalized drugs and legalized prostitution,” Allen said. “I don’t know about you, but that sounds like Gavin Newsom to me.”
MORE GUB: For the LAT, Seema Mehta and Phil Willon write that the #METOO issue is now a major issue in the gubernatorial campaign as it raises questions of sex and relationships and whether they will be an issue in the campaign.
When Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa entered the governor's race, it was widely assumed that their past extramarital affairs were behind them. The details about their relationships when they served as mayors of San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively, had been aired more than a decade ago, both men had settled down and established families and voters seemed uninterested in politicians' peccadilloes.
Then, the #MeToo movement happened. Multiple detailed accounts of sexual misconduct emerged in Hollywood, the media and statehouses across the nation.
Note: Newsom engaged an affair with his campaign manager's wife, who was Newsom's appointments secretary, after has was separated and undergoing a divorce. Villaraigosa was still with his then-wife when he had a local news anchor. He has since remarried someone else. Semantics to some; a big deal to others.
Legislative records released just over a week ago also revealed that Republican gubernatorial candidate Travis Allen, an assemblyman from Huntington Beach, was among the state lawmakers accused of sexual harassment in recent years. Allen called the allegation, which included making a woman uncomfortable by being "unnecessarily close," totally unfounded. But he's still come under attack by rivals in the race.
It's a different conversation from the fall, when some assumed that the affairs would be a footnote in the campaign. And it comes as Americans are rethinking past scandals, including President Clinton's affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
After the jump, I wade into water politics, perhaps an issue almost equally difficult.
FROM THE DESK OF THE DEAN: In the Times, George Skelton writes that the state is sitting on approved bond funds for water storage that it isn't spending despite plentiful requests, even amidst a dry winter.
A key selling point [in the 2014 general obligation bond placed on the ballot by the Legislature] was $2.7 billion set aside for additional water storage. Most voters probably envisioned new dams, although projects to replenish groundwater basins also were eligible for the money.
Skelton's column gets into the details and is certainly worth a read. Basically the bond funds can only pay for 50% of the cost of a project, leaving local water districts scrambling to figure out how to come up with the rest amidst $5.8 billion in requests before the California Water Commission. Add in the politics of a big project like the proposed Sites Reservoir in Colusa County, and policy-makers find themselves, well underwater. Proponents of Sites alone want $1.7 billion (63%) of the bond funds.
Advocates for Sites cite the state's major water storage needs, even with much better water conservation that has developed through the droughts. Of course, many really are looking at the economic benefit during the construction (short-term). More importantly, they are motivatied by the the long-term effects of increased recreational and adjacent land development opportunities (including lake view housing) as we see with other reservoirs.
Opponents generally include environmental groups and sports fishermen, who fear its impact on wildlife and fish. The location of the proposed reservoir is currently used for cattle grazing. This includes many groups opposing Governor Brown's tunnel(s) California WaterFix, who fear that the reduction in Sacramento River flow from the dam will increase the salinity of the Delta, particularly if the tunnel is built, hurting farmers and threatened fish species.
Big infrastructure projects, particularly in underdeveloped parts of the state, are not just about meeting a documented state need, but also about competing economic needs.
Instead, they are often about local economic development tools. We all knew we needed more college seats anticipating demographic peak of "Tidal Wave II" (which has now passed), and more access to university-level education in the Central Valley. For those that were around the Legislature during the fight to approve UC Merced, we recall that many of the strongest advocates were pushed by beneficiaries of the private development (and of course the construction) around the campus and the city's leaders hoping to boost the city's economy.
While somewhat bound by the advocacy of the Board of Regents and thus UC Office of the President, campus leaders of existing campuses were not excited about adding the tenth campus, fearing a competition for funds and, eventually after Tidal Wave II, students. And, that's where we lie today.
Today, only 28.8% of UC Merced undergraduate students are from the San Joaquin Valley, although it is the only UC campus with a majority Latino undergraduates (53.3%). And in-state demand has generally subsided demographically statewide, with the most competitive UC campuses taking more out-of-state and international students and redirecting in-state applicants to campuses with lesser demands.
UC Merced is overwhelmingly serving Californians, and for many it was a referral when their first choice wasn't available. That has nothing to do with the quality of academics, but rather geographic proximity to large college-going populations and the still developing comprehensive university experience, such as athletics. (Merced currently has M/W basketball, soccer, volleyball, and cross-country, competing in the Division II Cal Pac conference of the NAIA.) It takes a long time to fully build out a national university expected of UC campuses by would-be students.
Meanwhile, UC Merced is 7 miles out of town so while the campus's professors and staff may be regularly shopping and dining, large numbers of students choose on-campus options or trips home. In contrast, the city of Davis is walking distance for on-campus students and even then, there is major competition between the university and the town as the campus adds major student housing and amenities to its vast land to the west, away from the town.
Even with shuttle buses, I am told that many town businesses have felt the magnitude and timeline of the economic impact of the new university was oversold.
A Sites reservoir would pull water from the Sacramento River and store it 31 miles away. By doing so, "upstream" water agencies would be able to sell existing water rights to "downstream" agencies in the Central Valley and Southern California. The agencies around the proposed dam aren't facing a shortage of water, but have historical water rights to the Sacramento River and are happy to sell or lease some of them. And, further south before the controversial State Water Project/Delta issues are cities like Davis and Woodland.
The cities of Davis and Woodland, historically did not have water rights to the Sacramento River, relying instead on well water. That changed by the purchase of rights from the Conaway Preservation group, a group of investors that had bought the "Conaway Ranch" in bankruptcy court That property, which is the stretch of Interstate 80 between West Sacramento and Davis known as the "Causeway" that is used as an overflow basin for the river in wet years included significant water rights.
Davis is on the Sites Authority JPA Board, which is interesting, as the city's voters are generally very liberal and allies of the environmental groups opposing the project (and dams generally except for the Monticello Dam on Lake Berryessa, which keeps water from flowing from the west). But the two cities' and UC Davis's growth have been threatened by the reliance on well water and surface water quality is considered better.
Interesting fact--the managing partner of the Conaway Preservation Group (CPG) that owns the land, which Davis and Woodland bought surface water rights from, is Angelo Tsakopolous and the president is Kyriakos Tsakapolous--the father and son of lieutenant governor Eleni Tsakapolous, who is past president of AKT Development, in which Kyriakos now serves. It really has no direct tie to Sites, but just one of those connections worth mentioning, as there are more water rights to be sold by CPG, particularly to Southern California.
Don't take anything I've written as gospel and I am sure I'll be hearing from the multiple perspectives of the passionate debate. I've spent my time researching the topics, but water and land rights, bankruptcy courts, and changes in land rights are out of my bailiwick. I'm sure I'll be writing more on the topic.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Sean South and John Wildermuth!
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