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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.
Happy Monday. There are 9.5 business days left of session and lots of questions. Lobbyist Chris Micheli outlines the daunting task currently on the agenda.
While cray-cray in the building, it is looking like a beautiful week around Sacramento with high 80s and high 50s book-ending the day. The weather should be ideal for the second annual Sacramento Nacho Festival on Saturday in Cesar Chavez Park. This city finds more ways to eat every year. Similarly pleasant weather looks to be the case throughout the state.
I have long questioned the need for private ownership of drones, particularly with privacy issues and interference with functions such as wildfire-fighting aircraft. I stand corrected:
Thank you, Shepard.
DMV: George Skelton asks WWJD on the DMV's colossal problem of wait lines as people seek to get REAL ID-compliant licenses. The governor and Legislature has thrown money at the DMV over the last couple of years to prepare, but the only question as of now is how much worse things would have been had money not been provided. Or, perhaps if the money had been spent more effectively.
Of course, the answer to the latter question could only been found out by an audit. However, the DMV, with the governor's backing, succeeded in blocking an audit of its funds arguing that it would make things worse by costing the DMV money and time the DMV.
As Skelton points out, the biggest problem with the DMV is its computer system. Sure, there are random and rare stories of an employee sleeping on the job, but that really isn't the problem. The complication is that state redesigns of computer systems rarely go well. From legitimate technical issues to underbidding and cost overruns to outright graft, we have seen it all.
Jerry didn't want a legislatively authorized audit by the State Auditor and Democrats went along. Brown wants to fix it administratively, but time is rapidly running out.
NOM NOM: For those of you who work or live on the grid, if you haven't checked out Market 5-ONE-5 at 9th and R, it's worth a visit. It's a neighborhood market concept by Raley's. It has all-organic domestic produce and leans toward natural and organic foods. There is a nice meat and seafood counter and, for those who partake, wine, beer and craft spirits.
There is also a a salad bar and deli case and has made-to-order sandwiches, with indoor and patio seating. There is parking and plentiful bike parking, so a Jump bike works fine for those coming from a bit further away. They also deliver through Instacart.
My only reason for the plug is that I like the return of the fresh food neighborhood market concept from a policy perspective and want to see it succeed. Well, and that it's only five blocks from the Nooner Global Headquarters.
POTUS? Joel Fox writes up the discussion about whether a Californian could be our next President, in 2020 or 2024, that took place during the Politico/AARP event in Los Angeles last week.
"California Republican Party chairman Jim Brulte acknowledged that [Senator Kamala] Harris was the candidate he worried about. “She is intelligent, she is articulate and she is very personable,” Brulte said. He also said, strategically she was not making the mistake of over-exposing herself on television cable shows while building a campaign infrastructure.
“I actually think she could be a real threat to any Democrat running for president,” Brulte said.
The Republican chairman dismissed Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti as someone who could not make the leap from the mayor’s office to the White House, noting that a Los Angeles mayor has never even been elected governor of California.
However, there is a scenario in which Garcetti could undermine a Harris campaign."
Of course, the concept of Jerry Brown did come up if Democrats end up with a locked convention.
I agree with the assessment of Brulte about how Harris is playing her cards. Presidential primaries aren't won on television. It's hard work gaining favors and winning over supporters in early primary states. Many Iowa voters find far more delight hearing from a possible presidential candidates at a pancake breakfast in their congressmember's district than watching the Sunday morning parade. Even now, Sunday morning is so occupied by other crap that they are seemingly more focused on the past than the nation's future.
GOV: In the Times, Phil Willon looks at changes in positions, both minor and significant, by Democrat Gavin Newsom as he's moved from mayor to LiteGov to primary candidate to the general election favorite for governor.
INSURANCE COMMISSIONER: Probolsky Research added the question of voter preference in the insurance commissioner race to its latest statewide poll. Probolsky, while generally a GOP firm, does not have a client in the race between State Senator Ricardo Lara (D) and entrepreneur and businessman/non-profit director Steve Poizner (NPP). Poizner served as insurance commish from 2006-2010.
Lara has only a small lead over Poizner among Latinos, African-Americans are tied, and Asian-Americans give a modest lead to Poizner. Poizner has a modest lead among all age groups.
There are three unknowns in the race. Most voters don't know Ricardo Lara, Steve Poizner, or what the office of insurance commissioner does. No offense to Lara and Poizner. Lara has carried significant issues in the Legislature, Poizner's time as insurance commissioner was largely considered well handled, and he's done good work in the nonprofit sector.
Lara has about $300,000 on hand while Poizner has only around $23,200 (both as of June 30). Poizner already has "lent" his campaign $100,000, but could easily match Lara's cash with one check if it means that much to him. Even after significant philanthropy, he's believed to have a net worth in the low hundreds of millions of dollars from the investments of proceeds of the original sale of his SnapTrack to Qualcomm.
Neither are going to spend the money to build a statewide profile in this costly state. Micro-targeting will be done, but most money will be on mail and slate cards. Unlike superintendent of public instruction, I wouldn't expect large independent expenditures in the race for insurance commissioner.
Poizner has run twice statewide. The first was his successful campaign for insurance commissioner against Cruz Bustamante (D), who was then lieutenant governor. I don't mean to be critical of Poizner, but his election was largely on the coattails of Arnold Schwarzenegger's first regular election as governor after capturing the office in the 2003 recall election. An independent businessman was a good place to be running for Poizner that cycle. His 2006 win can't be immediately conveyed to mean much in the voter familiarity now.
Poizner lost overwhelmingly in 2010's Republican gubernatorial primary to Meg Whitman, who in turn lost to Jerry Brown after spending $144 million of her own money in the overall campaign. Whitman then served as CEO of Hewlett Packard between 2011 and 2017, which wasn't seen as a great time for the tech giant. She now lives in New York and is mostly engaged in philanthropy.
Lara has represented SD33 that stretches from Long Beach to East LA since 2012. Notably, that means that he has a free ride this year. I have no doubt that he has a complete commitment to the insurance commissioner race, but it's always nice for a candidate to know that they have a paycheck next year regardless.
It really comes down to an office that voters created with Proposition 103 in 1988, but is not an office voters are really familiar with. They know and blame their insurance issues on their brokers, insurance companies, and providers. It's not in unimportant office, as voters gave it much power over the setting of rates and activity of insurance companies in situations like the wildfires over the last twelve months. But, the office's functions are just not understood by voters that frankly can't describe those of most constitutional offices.
If a no party preference candidate has a chance, insurance commissioner is an ideal race. Lara still has an edge as he will be on a lot more slate cards from the state and local Democratic parties and labor, than are available to Poizner. That said, Poizner certainly has a shot and, given the Probolsky poll, I have moved the race from "Likely Democrat" to "Leans Democrat" and will watch for a possible "Toss-up."
[n=900--360 landline-cellphone/540 online; English/Spanish; 8/11-8-16; MOE +/-5.8%]
More stories below . . .
LEGISLATIVE GYMNASTICS: For CALmatters, Dan Walters looks at the end-of-session maneuvers used last week by majority Democrats to control what bills, including new bill language, made it to the floor.
This was mostly through the "suspense files" of the Appropriations committees that control the floodgates of legislation without requiring Democrats to vote on the substance of publicly popular bills that leadership wants killed for cost or on behalf of influential special interest. It is also an elaborate trade-off between the Senate and the Assembly. Unlike suspense files earlier in the session during when bills were in their house or origin or could still be alive for the second year of session, this is it, and it was leadership in each house deciding the fate of bills of members in the opposite house. That's why the "suspense file" hearings are held concurrently--there are trades between the houses that must be upheld and enforced.
There's a reason why Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Senate Appropriations chair Anthony Portantino, and Assembly Appropriations chair Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher didn't take to the field on the eve of the big hearings at Wednesday's softball game. They weren't watching the Giants blow a chance to sweep the series with the Dodgers with a twelfth-inning loss.
Walters also looks at the use of budget trailer bills, which have gotten a whole new life since the passage of Proposition 25 that allowed for a majority vote for the budget and associated bills. To be considered a trailer bill, the language "This bill would declare that it is to take effect immediately as a bill providing for appropriations related to the Budget Bill." As long as that language is there and there is some rational connection between the statutory provisions in the bill and an expenditure item in the budget, courts are unlikely to get in to that fight, and the bills don't have to be contemporaneous with the budget.
This can include appropriations that would otherwise require a two-thirds vote, and the bills can take effect immediately, rather than January 1. More politically complex issues are finding a home in trailer bills and that won't change without an initiative constitutional amendment.
Walters has long been mocked for retuning to the same issue repeatedly in his thirty-three years covering the Capitol for the Union, the Bee, and now CALmatters. I've certainly been one who has joked about Walters opening the file cabinet of history to figure what to write for tomorrow. Joking aside, the issues are just as relevant as they were when last written about, he contextualizes it current the current issues and politics, and he knows that the players--elected and otherwise--have changed since the last writing. There is no file cabinet. Dan has it in his head and is still at the top of his game.
BIKESHARE VS. SCOOTERSHARE: Joshua Emerson Smith reports in the SDUT that the bike share companies may be retreating from "America's Finest City." Emerson Smith writes "The orange, yellow and green bicycles that seemed to clog every street corner have largely been replaced by a wave of electric scooters, from the city’s urban core to Mission Hills to North Park to Pacific Beach."
The largest apparent reason? The bike share start-ups went in to cities that didn't have sufficient bike lane networks. They also in many cases weren't working with local governments on the expansion of the bike infrastructure. Under most local ordinances, bicycles are prohibited on sidewalks, whereas scooters are unless signage specifically prohibits them (like on certain pedestrian paths). Of course, motorized scooters on sidewalks is a new thing that many cities are wrestling with. They are different than the the motor-assisted bicycles, which require continuous user peddling.
The San Diego situation is in contrast to areas covered by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, where Jump actively worked with SACOG. Jump was acquired by Uber in April. While some see (and likely rightfully so) the move by Uber as an attempt to remake its image after a tough couple of years, it is also a hedging of its bets as short-haul car rides were being replaced by Jump bikes.
Sacramento (including Davis and West Sac) is the largest market for Jump, which also operates in Austin, Chicago, D.C., New York City, San Francisco, Santa Cruz and several other cities. The inclusion of West Sac is key. There were lots of Jump bikes at the legislative softball game last Wednesday, which was at Raley Field--in West Sacramento and Yolo County, so providing a service area including West Sac was particularly important.
Among Jump's cities, Austin and Sacramento are the most friendly in terms of climate and topography. San Francisco is mostly about tourists and the tech community who live and work downtown and may want to Jump around the Embarcadero or to a Giants game. Folks who live in the Outer Sunset won't be coming to work downtown on Jump bikes, although they may take a bike share to lunch out of walking distance from their office.
Sacramento is also making dramatic changes to the transportation infrastructure in favor of bikes. You likely have noticed that parked cars are seemingly in the middle of the street as some bike lanes have been moved to curbside, with street parking to the left. It takes a while to get familiar with, but I haven't heard too much dissent as I walk around town.
I have a Jump account, but haven't used it yet.
FIRES: Things are enough under control that I'm no longer providing daily updates. The only one with structured threatened is the Mendocino Complex (Ranch Fire portion), with 1,050 threatened. None of these are immediate unless unusual fire behavior begins with windy conditions and the hotter weather we saw in July. This week is expected to be cooler and relatively calm.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to for Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin and Sherri Loveland!
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Gavin Newsom Criticized For Flip-flopping On California's Most Pressing Issues
Phil Willon @ latimes.com
Six years later, Newsom pulled his support, citing exploding cost overruns and delays. Two years after that, he was back on board.
Michael Cohen's Attorney Says He's Talking To Lawyer Who Brought Down Nixon - Politico
Lanny Davis, an attorney for former longtime Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, said he has been reaching out regularly over the last few months to John Dean, the former White House counsel who helped bring down the presidency of Richard Nixon.
In New Outburst Over Mueller Probe, Trump Insists That White House Counsel Mcgahn Is No 'rat'
Laura King @ latimes.com
President Trump expresses confidence that White House counsel's cooperation with Mueller doesn't mean he's a "rat," but comparison to Watergate-era lawyer John Dean strikes some critics as a "tell."
Shots Reported Outside U.S. Embassy In Turkey - Politico
Suspects in a moving white vehicle fired six times towards the American embassy in Istanbul. | Getty Images