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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 Tuesday! A high of 84 today with moderate air quality. It sounds like a perfect day to tackle the bicycle mural tour of all the great new art around downtown/midtown.
I intentionally screw up because I like talking to you. On Sunday, I missed that Santa Clara had a lower unemployment rate in July 2018 than the Napa-Sonoma siblings. All six counties with the five lowest rates are among the usual low rate counties, but also had a greater decrease in unemployment year-over-year than the statewide average of -0.5%.
Five counties with the lowest unemployment in July (not seasonally adjusted):
Also, Dan Walters has been covering the Capitol scene for 43, not 33, years. Numbers are why I went to law school.
BAIL: After several previous allies switch sides to oppose Senator Bob Hertzberg's (D-Van Nuys) bill to eliminate cash bail in California in favor of flight risk assessment and other non-financial determinations, Assembly Democratic leadership moved the bill to the head of the pack of bills, taking it up without reference to file, or WORF (pronounced "wharf") to bypass the normal delay between the change in language (which is normally "out to print and back on file) and Third Reading.
Okay, I'm writing this just to prove that I work a full day even when The Nooner goes out midday. I was watching the SB 10 floor debate as opposed to the early innings of the Giants game. Of course, the only inning that mattered was the 13th, when the Giants won on a error when Mets left fielder Dominic Smith ran into third baseman Todd Frazier in the little league error of a collision leading to a dropped ball.
It was clearly a move to keep opposing interests, such as the ACLU, that had come out against the revised bill from drumming up opposition from their supporters. These groups argue that the current language of methodology for the pre-trial risk assessment will lead more people to be held, while they may have been able to scrape together bail from friends and family.
Surety bond agents generally charge a fee of 10% of the bail amount to post a "surety bond," which is a fee for the service and not a refundable deposit, regardless of the ultimate outcome of a case, whether or not it goes to trial. Proponents of SB 10 argue that this is a penalty that particularly hits the poor who already can least afford surety bonds. Bail also varies based on schedules set in each county, causing a quilt of differential amounts in each county.
Supporters of SB 10 argue that the current system is of "haves" and "have nots." A rich person accused of a sex crime generally can post bail directly with the court if they don't have a history of being a flight risk. If charges are not pursued or guilt is not conclusively found at trial, the person gets his money back. A poor person likely has to engage a bail bond agent and come up with the non-refundable fee to obtain a bond. Regardless of outcome, that "fee" is gone.
Proponents of cash bail argue that it gets people out of custody while the facts can be gathered by both sides for the decision of whether or not a trial will go forward and until innocence or guilt can be determined.
From my perspective, there are good arguments on both sides, although most lawyers I've talked to on both sides of criminal justice and judges who deal with the current system do believe it sucks. While bail and surety bonds are not covered in general criminal procedure in law school, I know just enough to know there is no solution that will be rainbows and unicorns for all of the vested interests.
Why move it forward this year when the appearance is that of a bill being rushed? J-E-R-R-Y B-R-O-W-N. He is the product of Jesuit high school and studied in a pre-seminary program with the intent of becoming a priest before going to Berkeley for law school. He has not gained a reputation as "soft on crime," but takes an intellectual approach to criminal justice issues that interests on both sides respect. He has a Republican California Supreme Court justice in Tani Cantil-Sakauye who worked with Hertzberg and Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) on the bill.
In what is likely to be a frustrating bill signing period for the governor with his legacy issues of water, utility liability relief for wildfires, and the train likely in limbo, this could be his closing act on the legislative session. While the Administration does not communicate on the record whether the governor will sign or veto a bill, a bill as big as this one that moves with the strong support of leadership to the governor (after the Senate concurrence vote) does not do so without a nod from the governor's corner office.
I would fully expect that gubernatorial likely Gavin Newsom would love to sign the reform--but not in his first term. He's spoken in favor of the issue but I would bet politically he would be just fine to have Brown sign it this year.
Overall, I believe (as most of you would guess) that SB 10 is a good step and that the law professors I adored at King Hall in this arena (Floyd Feeney and the late Gary Goodpaster) likely would to. Of course, any change such as this will have negatives.
In a state as large as California, there will be one more offense by someone with pre-trial release under the new risk-assessment system. Legislators who vote for SB 10 know that, as does the governor. We all remember convicted killer Willie Horton, who largely brought down Michael Dukakis's 1988 presidential bid. Horton committed a rape and assault while on a weekend furlough program supported by Dukakis. Something will happen, as it does under the current bail system, which will be packaged and used against vulnerable politicians who support the bill.
Jerry Brown is entering the final legislative month of the final year of sixteen as California governor. Some speculate Brown will run for President, but I am not in that camp. There will be frustrations for Brown as this legislative year and his fourth and he closes out his California political career. When the bill is presented to him, his decision will not be guided by the possibility of future campaign commercials blasting it, but rather by the voices of those Jesuit priests who have always guided his policy beliefs.
The final vote on the bill was 42-31, with 7 not voting. The breakdown:
Cristina Garcia's no vote was clearly a middle finger to leadership over the sexual harassment investigation. She will be returning next session. Republicans voted no for both substantive and procedural objections. Some believe money bail needs to be kept and that the bill eliminates an entire industry of bail agents. Others are open to the concept, but believe it is being rushed without enough analysis.
Yes, this is the issue brought Duane Chapman, a.k.a. "Dog the Bounty Hunter," to Sacramento last year in opposition as he receives residuals from his long-running show.
The bill would implement the changes October 1, 2019 and the argument that the industry that provides for money bail would be shut down. You know the businesses, mostly 24 hour storefronts that cluster around jails and courtrooms. This is downtown Sac (yes, I used incognito browsing for this search).
There could be a glut of "For Lease" signs in downtown Sac and many other cities next fall. That's not necessarily a bad thing.
Of course, I had "Dog, the Bounty Hunter" playing while I wrote on this issue giving a few consolation cents to the Dog.
POTUS WITH THE TWEETUS: Last night, President Trump tweeted out two messages on California politics, offering enthusiastic support for gubernatorial candidate John Cox (R) and congressional candidate Diane Harkey (R). Harkey is in a Clinton +7.3% district, so it's unlikely to have much impact. The tweets likely came not from the President's fingers but rather the Office of Political Affairs, as they were sent at 9:45 pm and 11:53 pm Eastern, not known to be times when the President is on the phone.
More stories below . . .
RUH-ROH: There is a new alleged incident of unfortunate behavior involving a legislator. As Melanie Mason reports for the Los Angeles Times, State Senator Joel Anderson (R-Alpine) is accused of threatening to "bitch slap" a female lobbyist after a disagreement broke out over the fact that her organization, the California Nurses Association, has never endorsed him or given him money. Of course, Anderson is not the type of legislator the very liberal union ordinarily supports. He voted against both of the organization's sponsored bills this session--AB 402 (Thurmond) relating to workplace safety and their cornerstone bill, SB 562 (Atkins and Lara), which would move California to a single-payer health care system.
Anyway, Anderson was at The Diplomat, the watering hole and steakhouse across the street from the Capitol that replaced Chops. State Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) was having a fundraising reception at the restaurant at the same time, with the typical ticket price of $1,000 to $4,400. The latter reflecting the current max per election. It's not unusual for members to stroll in to other members' fundraisers routinely to grub and drink for free while cozying up to lobbyists (it goes both ways).
Mason reports that "Stephanie Roberson, a lobbyist with the California Nurses Assn., filed a complaint with the Senate Rules Committee on Friday," and:
"The lobbyist, who requested anonymity to describe the incident, said Anderson brought up the fact that Roberson’s organization never endorsed him. During the conversation, Anderson made comments about Roberson’s appearance, the witness said, and then threatened to hit her.
“You better shut up before I bitch slap you,” Anderson said to Roberson, according to the lobbyist, adding that the lawmaker repeated the threat multiple times. Another person present confirmed that account.
Restaurant staff ultimately intervened and removed him from the bar, a spokesman for the eatery said in a statement.
“On Monday, August 13, a male patron threatened to strike a female patron,” said the spokesman, Patrick Harbison. “This threat was observed by restaurant staff who immediately intervened and escorted the male out without further incident.”
Anderson is termed-out of the Legislature and is running for the Board of Equalization seat currently held by Diane Harkey, who is running for CA49.
If the allegations are true, this neither a criminal nor civil offense. A threat to kill or cause great bodily harm is a crime under Penal Code §442, but the commonly understood definition of "bitch slap" would not cause great bodily harm. Usually is the only harm is ego, to either or both parties.
The threat he made also is unlikely to be criminal extortion or in violation of campaign-related laws, since it is evident that it was in the context of a "bitch slap" for not contributing in the past or future. And, obviously, it wasn't a threat against an employee, even though some might jokingly suggest that lobbyists are quasi-employees of legislators and vice-versa.
The California Nurses Association has called for Anderson's resignation. Come on. This is not a Kevin Shelley temper and how long did liberal interests tolerate his behavior because he was a reliable vote?
Rather, if true, it's the crime of political stupidity.
At the top, you noticed that I moved BOE 4, which Anderson seeks from Safe Republican to Leans Republican. Frankly, that's been the outlook since Diane Harkey was running there for re-election. When she changed from a re-elect bid to seek CA49 left open by Darrell Issa (R-Vista). Based on voter registration and the June 5 primary vote, it should have moved to Leans Republican.
Frankly, I don't care about the legislatively eviscerated Board of Equalization and don't spend much time thinking about it.. The Legislature and outgoing members of the Board (privately) likely would agree to eliminate the board makes sense. However, that takes a two-thirds vote of the Legislature and voter approval for a constitutional amendment. A kicker is that it is really, really hard for legislators to vote to eliminate offices, particularly when friends are sitting in them. (I don't endorse or contribute to state or CA congressional races since I write about them, but of course I love Fiona Ma, who will move from BOE2 to Treasurer after November 6.)
Mike Schaefer, the Democrat running in the race, is an eighty-year old perennial candidate in multiple jurisdictions, including Nevada. His website proclaims support for the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association and "leading the parade to Protect Proposition 13." The San Diego Reader reports that he said "Going over to Brawley is a one-day trip,” he says. He adds laughingly, “If elected, I will put a valuation on Disneyland, and won’t have to wait in line.”
Nothing like expressing, even jokingly, a commitment to violate law with a quid-pro-quo.
Schaefer has not filed electronically at the state level, which means he has not raised or spent at least $10,000. Anderson has at least $290k in other accounts, including his original intention of running for San Diego County supervisor in 2020. He probably wants to keep that money there to hedge his bets and, well, San Diego supe is better than BOE. Supe pays about $20k more per year, the term limits are the same, and the position is higher profile for anywhere Anderson might seek, barring the opening of the currently closed door for the GOP on statewide office.
I move the district from Safe to Likely Rep not because of this allegation. Anderson is still the clear favorite to win. "Likely," rather than "Safe," is based on underlying registration and the relatively close race between Brown and Kashkari in 2014.
Sure, I've got more . . .
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: The Bee's Alexei Koseff reports on SB 1279 (Bradford), which would limited the combined prison time for multi-count convictions to twice the term prescribed for the base conviction. It was previously the law, but eroded by exceptions over time and eventually repealed in 1997. The bill is opposed by district attorneys, sheriffs and police chiefs. Interestingly, it is supported by groups who are unhappy with the final direction of the bill eliminating money bail discussed above, such as the ACLU.
INACTION: While the bill for elimination of money bail has found the legislative high speed rail, others have not. Joel Fox writes up the lack of movement on the hot issues of the California Supreme Court's Dynamex decision relating to categorizing employees vs. independent contractors and utility wildfire liability.
At the end of the day, money bail had 41 votes in the Assembly that Democratic leadership would give a thumbs up to. Dynamex and utility wildfire liability could both get 41 votes, but would be a bi-partisan vote in both cases and would divide the Democratic caucus.
Okay, that was a long morning of researching and writing for me. We'll see what occurs today. The Senate is meeting as I write, while the Assembly will meet tomorrow. The Senate is not in the hurry the Assembly was on SB 10 (cash bail in case you forgot where we started today) as the vote is a done deal. The pressure that escalated on Assembly Democrats yesterday morning is basically fruitless in the Senate, advocates of the opposition would acknowledge. There are no vulnerable Democrats in the State Senate up for election this year, and even among those up in 2020, there really aren't any in great political fear.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Assemblymember Tony Thurmond!
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