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BALANCE OF POWER: Note that I don't list district-specific predictions below, but rather use probabilities in toss-ups to make projections. Individual race ratings are on the ATC district pages.
AURAL PLEASURE: For the Capitol Weekly Podcast, John Howard and Tim Foster are joined by Mindy Romero of the California Civic Engagement Project to talk June 5 elections turnout and what it portends for November 6.
Happy Tuesday! I'm at the nonprofit Milken Institute's California Policy Summit 2018, which started at 9 and runs through 5:30. The day starts with President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Treasurer John Chiang. As I type, Atkins is speaking to the full house of business, education, policy leaders, and, of course, lowly media and pseudo-media types.
While addressing key issues such as poverty housing, wildfire, and drought issues and touting investments made in those areas in this year's budget, Senator Atkins noted that there are over 1,000 bills working their way through the process over the next four weeks. Plenty of lobbyists are playing biennial the end-of-session game of Kill Bill, although there is no Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu in this action. That said, there will be plenty of knives in people's backs.
Treasurer Chiang signed a "green bond" pledge at the podium amid jabs as President Trump. On green bonds, Deputy Treasurer for Public Finance Tim Schaefer told me that the bonds can be for any "environmentally friendly project." While there isn't a significant interest rate differential, that is expected to change as "socially responsible" mutual funds and institutional investing grow. They can be revenue, lease revenue, or general obligation bonds, based on the projects to be funded and market conditions. Chiang's proposal does not an amount of green bonds yet.
Yesterday, President Trump continued tweeting about California's wildfires--criticizing the state's water policy, environmental laws, and failure to clear dead trees. I don't need to rehash all of yesterday's writing on the topic. Of course, the arguments have been widely debunked, although too few people are talking about the fact that the vast majority of the dead trees are on federal land.
Politico's team, including our friend Jeremy B. White who is sitting next to me this morning, writes "Californians are stunned at President Donald’s Trump’s latest tweets on the state‘s catastrophic wildfires — and his insistence that the state is burning because leaders are letting too much fresh water flow into the Pacific Ocean."
Frankly I've talked to lots of GOP folks, including electeds, and they are absolutely cringing at the President's tweeting on the California wildfires. It may play well in today's Ohio special election, but it doesn't among most Californians.
McClatchy's Emily Cadei and Kate Irby write that experts point out that tree-clearing has not been a federal priority.
"There’s just one problem. The Trump administration’s own budget request for the current fiscal year and the coming one proposed slashing tens of millions of dollars from the Department of Interior and U.S. Forest Service budgets dedicated to the kind of tree clearing and other forest management work experts say is needed. And it’s just one example of how the federal government is still not prioritizing fire mitigation to the scale that is needed, according to forestry experts."
Stephen Colbert skewered the President over the water and tree clearing arguments, KQED's Amel Ahmed debunks the water argument, Politifact's Chris Nichols fact checks the tweets, while the LAT's Michael Hiltzik writes:
“There have been no issues getting water from them,” Scott McLean, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, told me.
Cal Fire, which is managing the wildfire battle, has deployed some 200 water tenders to the fire zone and is dispatching air tankers as flying conditions permit.
“The idea that there isn’t enough water is the craziest thing in the world,” says Peter Gleick, president emeritus of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland. “There’s absolutely no shortage.”
Do dead trees need to be cleared? Absolutely. Do we need a rational conversation of water supply and conservation? Absolutely. Do we need to have a conversation about how CEQA is working and where it needs to be fixed beyond state buildings and sports venue exemptions? Absolutely.
Is it solved in a 280-character tweet? Absolutely not. Playing politics amidst a tragedy? Absolutely.
Three tweets blasting California policy. Still no tweet expressing condolences for the four dead firefighting heroes or three civilians.
The President is now on an eleven-day "working vacation" at his Bedminster, NJ golf resort.
Rankings in California's Top 20 in history from over the last 12 months:
FERGUSON (Yosemite Area): Nat'l Park Service: "All entrances and roads in Yosemite are closed except Tioga Pass and part of Tioga Road. Wawona, Mariposa Grove, Glacier Point, Yosemite Valley, Crane Flat, Big Oak Flat, Hetch Hetchy, and Tioga Road west of White Wolf are closed until further notice due to the Ferguson Fire. Tuolumne Meadows is accessible via US 395/Lee Viining."
For CapPubRad, Bob Moffitt looks at the impact on the small towns surrounding Yosemite of the park's closure, which have faced reduced occupancy in the small inns and where restaurants and stores that rely on visitors stopping on their way in and out of the park have lost much of their clientele. For many years, I had an annual conference in Yosemite, and came to a tradition of stopping for lunch Pho Viet in along Highway 99, River Rock Inn & Deli Garden Cafe in Mariposa for sodas and to-go sandwiches on the way in to the park and at Cocina Michoacana in Groveland along Highway 120 on the way out.
All family-owned small businesses.
Of Yosemite's 3.7 million average annual visitors, 32% are in July and August. Thus, while the destruction at one structure is much more limited than the other major fires, there is a huge tragedy beyond just the deaths of two firefighters. This is an economic tragedy for dozens of small businesses. This affects the local residents and will also affect local government's ability to assist them as public resources are strained through the decline in sales and occupancy tax revenue drops.
This is another major issue that needs to be discussed by the Legislature beyond utility liability, water and tree clearing. And of course, the same is true in Shasta and Lake counties, where major summer recreation venues that create the local economies have been hard hit.
CARR (Shasta/Trinity): Carr continues to grow through largely unpopulated areas toward western Colusa and southwestern Glenn County.
MENDOCINO COMPLEX (Colusa/Lake/Mendocino): This complex is now the largest fire in California history. The full containment was pushed back overnight from 08/15 to 09/01.
I'm also watching the Orange County "Holy Fire" in the Cleveland National Forest, which had burned 4,000 acres with 0% containment as of last night. No damage or injuries reported. The fire is burning toward the Riverside County line.
More stories below . . .
SD32 (Whittier): In the Los Angeles Times, Colleen Shelby looks at the strange situation in Tony Mendoza's former State Senate seat, where Montebello mayor Vanessa Delgado (D) is expected to win the special election runoff today. However, she's didn't make the November regular general election ballot.
Friend of the Nooner Alex Vassar emails:
WHAT GOES UP MUST GO DOWN: Matier & Ross take note of Governor Brown's suggestion that the state will face a recession in the next two years, made during his comments at the Office of Emergency Services last week about the wildfires:
“At some point, the tariffs and the natural cycle will kick in,” Brown said, then flipped back to his time at San Francisco’s St. Ignatius High School when “the good priest Father Clark went to the blackboard and he drew a line up, and he drew a line down — up and down, up and down.”
This is the business cycle, the priest explained, and economists are working very hard to smooth it out.
“That was in 1955, and that zigzag up and down is still with us,” Brown said.
“It’s going to happen,” the governor said of the next slowdown. “We maybe have two years if we are lucky.”
Politico’s Christopher Cadelago tweeted in response to Brown’s comments “Evergreen quote!”
THE GIG "CONTRACTORS": For Bloomberg, Josh Eidelson writes that technology companies are lobbying Democrats to get them to modify the statutes that led to the California Supreme Court's April 31 ruling, whcih would likely move many of their "independent contractors" to "employees." I wrote about the court decision yesterday. Eidelson writes:
“The magnitude of this issue requires urgent leadership,” nine companies wrote in a July 23 letter reviewed by Bloomberg, which warns of the ruling “stifling innovation and threatening the livelihoods of millions of working Californians” and says that without political intervention it will “decimate businesses.” The letter was sent on behalf of Uber Technologies Inc., Lyft Inc., Instacart Inc., DoorDash Inc., Postmates Inc., TaskRabbit Inc., Square Inc., Total System Services Inc. and Handy Technologies Inc. It was addressed to the governor’s secretary of labor and cabinet secretary.
A spokeswoman for the governor’s office declined to comment on whether Brown, whose final term ends in January, was mulling granting the companies’ pleas.
As a big fan of Uber Instacart (used both yesterday), and yesterday was a day ending in "y" so I received an Amazon package, through a third-party contractor delivery driver, who could have been an independent contractor.
I'd hate to see the business model crushed. The bigger issue is about how we provide the "benefits" of being employee to independent contractors and sole proprietors like me. Health care has made some progress through the Affordable Care Act, but is still a challenge. I need 125 full-priced subscriptions to pay for health care for the year (Kaiser). I might get an end-of-year subsidy, but the unpredictability is hard for the up-front subsidy. But, I digress.
The discussion shouldn't just be about what the legal test for "contractor or employee" is, but rather how the independents--many love the flexibility they have--find the security that employees have. Last night, I had a wonderful Uber back from a meditation meeting with a Vietnam Veteran who is supplementing his Social Security benefits by driving. It's important for him to be a contractor for the flexibility to spend time with his grandkids. Like when you are eating in a restaurant where your server is a aspiring actor, so may be your Lyft, Uber, or Instacart, etc. driver. It's our creative class, students, retirees and others supplementing their aspirations who are benefiting from the "gig" economy.
There has to be a balance and, yes, SCOCAL may have gone too far. But as we say, "bad facts make bad law."
NEWSPAPER UN-TAX? Joel Fox writes with criticism of Assemblymember Marc Levine's suggestion (not in bill form) that the sales taxes on newspapers be eliminated to assist ailing print papers. Although Fox has opined against the tax previously, but now writes "Assemblyman Levine has a similar view of a newspaper’s role in the community. However, saving newspapers by having government help fund local papers is something that should be concerning. Whatever proposals he comes up with, Levine should be aware of the dangers government funding could create."
I was in community college when the sales tax on newspapers, magazines, and snack food in the 1991-92 budget. Governor Pete Wilson proposed the expansion of the taxes while facing a large budget deficit.
That led to the remake of the Dead Kennedys's "California Über Alles" by the Disposable Heroes of Hiphopcrisy:
"I'm your governor Pete Wilson, ya know
As a community college student, I was totally into it. I then spent years as a state budget geek, and know how complicated that '91-'92 budget was. For the local government geeks in the Nooner community, the next year was when ERAF (education revenue augmentation fund) was created, where money was taken from local governments and shifted to K-14 education to meet the Prop. 98 guarantee.
My problem with Assemblymember Levine's proposal is that I can't find print newspapers without multiple subscriptions in my neighborhood, except for the Bee at Southside Market. Unlike Davis where I could get multiple papers at Newsbeat, there is nothing in retail sales around me (or really around most of downtown). So, it's all digital.
Obviously, as someone who writes seven days a week, I understand the real challenge facing media, and I don't have legacy costs. However, I don't think that the removal of 6.5 cents in state sales tax will stimulate more retail purchases of papers.
LET THERE BE LIGHT: Congratulations to Department of Finance director Michael Cohen and SEIU Long Term Care Workers president LePhonza Butler on their appointments by Governor Brown to the University of California Board of Regents.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Pete Bohn!
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Los Angeles Voters Picked Different Candidates For The Same Job
John Myers @ latimes.com
The results so far are, to put it bluntly, baffling. And they serve as a reminder that the electoral system depends on voters making careful selections.
Dems Launch Lieutenant Governors Group To Compete With GOP - Politico
Democratic lieutenant governors are forming a campaign group to rival the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association, the latest bid by Democrats to catch up to Republicans in down-ballot fundraising.
A California Special Election Could Put Someone In Office For Just Three Weeks
Colleen Shalby @ latimes.com
Trump Wildfire Tweets Spark Confusion About California Water - Politico
President Donald Trump's tweets about the fires have drawn confusion, since the state's firefighters have said they are not aware of a water supply problem. | Macio Jose Sanchez/AP Photo