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Let's start today's Nooner with our national anthem as sung by our late great Queen of Soul.
Aretha Louise Franklin
March 25, 1942 – August 16, 2018
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.
SCOREBOARD: Congratulations to the Dodgers, who in the twelfth inning broke the tie, winning 3-2 and avoiding being swept by the Giants. Both teams are off today, as is Oakland hoping to hold on to that wild card berth. Dodgers and Colorado are tied for second in the NL west. The struggling Padres host the Diamondbacks at 7:10, while the Angels take the field at 5:05 in Arlington, TX.
END THE SUSPENSE! Well, hello there, Nooner folks. Today, the Senate and Assembly Appropriations Committees meet to clear their "Suspense" files. Both committees meet upon adjouRnment of the floor sessions of each house, which began at 9am. Senate Approps has 430 bills to decide the fate of, while Assembly Approps has 205. For home gamers, bills are put on suspense file if they have a price tag believed to be over $150,000. Supporters of the process argue that it allows the committees to evaluate the totality of spending proposals at one time, while critics argue that it allows the majority to kill bills without voting on the substance of the bill.
Again, and correctly unlike Tuesday:
As always, thank you to friend of the Nooner lobbyist Chris Micheli for giving us the bill counts.
While it will be hardball today inside the Capitol, it was all softball between Democrats and Republicans at Raley Field last night in the 16th annual Legislative All-Star Softball Game. On the beautiful evening, Democrats reclaimed "home field advantage" for next year with a 25-20 win. The Most Valuable Player was Assemblymember Ian Calderon, who had two inside-the-park homeruns and two triples.
The "socks of the night award" goes to Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto):
There were definitely folks who "got game" on both sides along with legislators whose highlight reel should come from under the dome instead. There was plenty of humor, particularly over the announcer's pronunciation of those coming up to the plate. Sabrina Cervantes had about four different pronunciatons of her last name and the announcer seemed to give up and just said "Sabrina." BTW, that woman got game.
Senator Ben Allen (D-Santa Monica) was introduced repeatedly as Travis Allen., so the roster submission by Democrats must have jokingly listed Ben as Travis. Travis, the outgoing Huntington Beach Republican, was not at the game.
The event of needed levity and comity in the brutal end-of-session sprint was to support the Mustard Seed School at Loaves and Fishes, a private school that serves homeless youth 3-15 in providing not only education, but services including immunization updates, counseling, and other services to prepare them to return to public schools.
If you were unable to attend, I hope you will join me in donating to the Mustard Seed School. The form is here. Use the drop-down menu to pick Mustard Seed School. You can do a one-time donation or monthly.
Thank you Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento) and Brian Maienschein (R-San Diego) for being team captain and to McCarthy staffer Karla Mendoza for pulling it off!
Moving on, we have more yucky news today.
S. RIDLEY-THOMAS: As a caveat, these are a mix of facts and allegations, reported by others or in government documents I have reviewed. They are all allegations, but you do not have permission to quote them without such disclaimer because there are allegations of civil, and perhaps criminal, activity.
Late afternoon yesterday, the Los Angeles Times's Melanie Mason, Harriet Ryan, and Matt Hamilton reported that, when former assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) resigned last December, he was being investigated for sexual harassment. The Times's team reviewed documents related to the case. Assembly Rules will not release documents until the investigation is concluded, which is there current policy on all such investigations, a change that is more consistEnt than in the pass but clouds situations such as Ridley-Thomas's.
If you're a newbie to this situation, don't worry as we all were once, we'll catch you up on this. Sebastian was elected to the Assembly in 2012 and served two-and-a-half terms representing South Los Angeles. His father Mark Ridley-Thomas is a Los Angeles County supervisor who served in the Assembly and State Senate in the same area.
It was no secret in the Capitol that Sebastian had health problems. However, in consulting with the great friend of The Nooner Alex Vassar, communications manager for the California State Library who is our best historian on legislators, S. Ridley Thomas is the only one in recent history (since 1969 at least) to resign for health reasons.
More from Vassar:
The following legislators declined to run for reelection due to health reasons:
Others were sick but left due to term limits. And 18 legislators have died in office in the past 50 years, but I know of only one who resigned due for health reasons in recent history.
So, yes, S. Ridley Thomas's resignation was very strange. Legislators, including those seriously ill. Nell Soto and Pat Wiggins were during my time up here. Soto died three months after the end of her final term, while Wiggins died within three years of doing so. While they were largely excused at the end of their terms when they decided not at the end of their terms, they continued to receive a paycheck and benefits and their staff continued to serve their constituents.
As S.Ridley Thomas's health issues were well known, they were never seen in the category of those necessary of leaving office. Also widely talked about were allegations of sexual harassment and the possibility of formal complaints to have been filed.
The LAT's team reports that, after his December 31 resignation, S. Ridley-Thomas was hired a "professor of practice of policy and social work" at the University of Southern California. This is a position that is not tenure-track and can be offered to those without a graduate degree in a subject area. S. Ridley-Thomas has a bachelor's degree in sociology from the legendary historically black college Morehouse.
Honestly, you know how much I love community colleges, but Sebastian couldn't get a part-time teaching job a a community college with a B.A. degree.
I wrote previously on the campaign finance issue that connects USC, nonprofits engaged in voter engagement, and a new private consulting firm owned by Sebastian. I'm working getting it together where it's easy to follow the bouncing ball, but I don't have enough time this morning to feel good enough about what I have to include it in readable detail. Hopefully, more tomorrow. It is quite complicated.
Here are the LAT stories on the matter:
DABABNEH: There were lots of questions on the story of former assemblymember Matt Dababneh yesterday after his complaint against Pamela Lopez and 1-10 DOES for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress was publicly released. I have some more research to do before I'm willing to include much more discussion today.
Both causes of action for (1) defamation and (2) intentional infliction of emotional distress are against both Lopez and 1-10 DOES.
For defamation, Dababneh has the burden of proof to prove that Pamela and DOES (unnamed complainants):
Well, 1 and 4 are pretty easy. For Lopez, 2 and 3 are he-said, she-said. For the DOES, those elements of are very difficult to prove. I believe the inclusion of the DOES were people that told the media and others that Lopez had told them about the alleged incident long before Lopez came forward after the #METOO movement took off. Whether it happened or not, and it's not my job to evaluate that, the Vegas "incident" was not breaking news when it, well, broke. It was not unlike many other stories those of us in this biz for a longtime have heard or even witnessed before.
As we proceed to intentional infliction of emotional distress, Dababneh has the burden of proof that Lopez and DOES:
Element 3 is obvious. He was pushed out of the Assembly and is unlikely to hold elective office again any time soon. He undoubtedly lost sleep, anxiety of depression. Dabaneh has lived the political world since his times at UCLA and the 37-year-old was highly ambitious.
However, I believe 1 relies on proving the defamation in the first cause of action. Again, that's he-said, she-said. And for DOES who publicly supported Lopez, they are mostly witnesses that would testify that Lopez told them stories long before she came forward, as well as those who have come forward with accusations of a pattern of conduct of sexual harassment by Dababneh, but for whom the civil statute of limitations on harassment/employment discrimination has run out. I don't see how you can catch any of the DOES we have seen on the alleged causes of action.
To make it clear, I am not an attorney. I graduated law school and passed the bar. I love the law and my legal education at King Hall, but I have never practice. Thus, I invite any of my many attorney friends who have different or additional legal insights on either side from above to share them so that I can share them with the rest of the Nooner community.
The issues I am looking at in particular are 1) the limits on defamation causes of action by a public official; and, (2) whether Lopez and DOES have a legitimate counter-complaint against Dababneh, since he not only filed the lawsuit but also engaged public relations firms against Lopez and DOES alleging that that their publications (oral or written) were knowingly false.
And, we thought the session ended on August 31 and that all we had left were November 6 elections.
Obviously, it's been a busy morning for me. Writing about these issues is far more complicated than writing about softball. I'll leave it at yesterday's lunch with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and will send out anything I run across that's critical later today. Meanwhile, we have tomorrow and the weekend.
McCARTHY: John Myers and Jazmine Ulloa report on the fun we had at the Sheraton yesterday. I had three "undercover" protestors at my table.
The only thing that was discussed that was anything other than you hear on your news channel of choice was that he believes the twin water tunnels and high-speed rail are dead, although he wants to find ways of ferrying more water to farmers.
Update on the fires below . . .
Rankings in California's Top 20 in history from over the last 12 months:
Pretty much across the board, cooler weather and fewer windy conditions have slowed fire growth and increased containment.
FERGUSON: The Yosemite-area fire has burned 96,810 acres and is 87% contained. There have been two firefighter deaths associated with the fire, which has now burned for over a month.
Yosemite Status: Wawona Road (Hwy 41) between Wawona and Yosemite Valley, and Glacier Point Rd are closed due to fire
CARR (Shasta/Trinity): The Carr Fire continued to burn at a slower pace and no new destruction or deaths or serious injuries have been reported.
MENDOCINO COMPLEX (Colusa/Lake/Mendocino):
The River Fire component of the complex on the west side is now 100% contained and the River Fire on the east side is 68% contained.
HOLY FIRE (Orange/Riverside counties):
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Dave Jacobson and Gustavo Medina!
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Rich Business Owners Are Using Pension Plans To Stash Money And Get A Tax Break
Ben Steverman @ latimes.com
Pensions, also known as defined-benefit plans, can be used by doctors, law partners and wealth managers to stash hundreds of thousands of dollars in income a year. By doing so, they’ll get around the income limits Congress created to bar them from a generous new tax break for pass-through entity owners, who report the firms’ income on their individual tax returns.
Labor Leaders Demand UC End Contracts With Ice-collaborating Businesses
In response to concerns raised by labor leaders, Napolitano said in a June letter that GDIT has said it plays no role in the construction or operation of ICE detention centers or the family separation policy and that GDIT leadership has assured her that it provides services to support unaccompanied children.
First Came The Proclamations Against Trump's Offshore Drilling Plan. Now Comes The Legislation
Rosanna Xia @ latimes.com
With the Trump administration proposing to open California waters to drilling on an unprecedented scale, state lawmakers are trying to close one more loophole to fight a threat that for decades had not seemed possible.
Trump Says 'democrats Give Up When I Turn Out' On Campaign Trail - Politico
President Donald Trump said Wednesday that his involvement in the midterm elections "de-energizes" Democrats, according to the Wall Street Journal, once again forecasting a wave of GOP success in November's races.
UC Berkeley Study Shows Role Of Environmental Laws In Reducing Pollution
Grants from the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation partially funded the study, which will be published in the American Economic Review.
Trump Scraps Obama Rules On Cyberattacks, Giving Military Freer Hand - Politico
The guidelines approved by President Barack Obama required high-level discussions between many agencies before the military could conduct significant cyber operations. | Getty Images