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THE NOONER NOVEMBER 2018 ELECTION CONTEST
Here are the current tallies of the picks of contest participants. These are all percentages of participants who predict the candidate will win, of course not how much candidates will win by. The page is updated live as participants join and make or update picks.
With 429 participants as of this morning, here are a some of the closest (<60%) projected wins:
In addition, any Nooner Premium subscriber will have a $25 bonus applied to their prize in thanks for their support.
Here is your unique link. If you forward this message, remove the link since it belongs to you. New Nooner email subscribers (paid or unpaid) will be get their own link between now and the contest close.
You can come back to change your picks any time up to 12pm on Election Day--November 6.
Only the top 25 participants will be shown, but the individual race answers will not be listed. As I've done in the past, I will have a "Wisdom of the Crowds" page showing the percentages of each of the answers after there is a sufficient sample size of participants.
GENERIC CONGRESSIONAL BALLOT: The current Real Clear Politics generic congressional ballot average of polls from 9/27-10/11/2018 has Democrats+7.3. (change from yesterday: no change)
For comparison purposes only: In the same period in 2014, Republicans had an edge of +2.4.
FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM PROJECTION UPDATE:
SPORTS PAGE: The Brewers face the Dodgers in Los Angeles at 4:39 PDT (FS1), and the Niners face Green Bay at 5:15 PDT (ESPN).
Happy Monday! It's going to be another beautiful day around the Capitol, and the week looks great as well with low-to-mid 80s and sun.
I have put the "competitiveness rankings" of the congressional, State Senate and State Senate races on the site. I will be making any changes there and listing them here. I did fix it to ensure CA10 is in the right place.
Some Nooner readers are here just for California politics, while others are more interested in policy. Some are geeks like me that crave both. This morning we'll be mostly on the policy front, although on issues certainly not isolated from politics.
PG&E shut off power in dozens of northern California communities last night ahead of expected high winds to prevent wildfires. Power is expected to be restored by this evening or tomorrow morning, according to PG&E. A map of outages is available here. Schools are closed today in communities around the foothills and North Bay, leaving parents scrambling to balance work and child care.
As I wrote yesterday, the proactive move by PG&E mirrors steps taken by the investor-owned utility's Southern California peers. It also, though, highlights two things--the PG&E grid is very vulnerable despite all the ads that folks in Northern California have been seeing on the teevee bragging about tree clearing and maintenance and communication gaps between PG&E and local agencies.
On the latter, folks in parts of Alameda County received emergency alerts that PG&E was planning proactive outages. However, Alameda County was never on PG&E's list. Obviously, this was a big alarm for long-time residents of the Oakland hills, where the Tunnel Fire 17 years ago this Friday burned 2,900 structures and 25 people perished. After receiving the county alert yesterday, many likely needlessly headed to low-lying hotels overnight.
So, harden the grid and fix communication. It appears the communication problem was on the county's side, while the grid is already something well known and was widely talked about in the hearing that led to the passage of SB 901 (Dodd) at the close of session.
I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS, INVOLUNTARILY: Also as expected, Sears Holding Company, which operates the Sears and Kmart brands, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this morning on the day that a $300 million debt payment was due. The company states the filing is part of "a series of actions to position the Company to establish a sustainable capital structure, continue streamlining its operating model and grow profitably for the long term." Billionaire hedge fund manager Eddie Lampert has stepped down from his role as CEO, but remains chairman of the board.
The company plans to close 142 unprofitable stores by the end of the year and, according to its press release, will likely be seeking "stalking horse" offers. Basically, that's an invitation for acquisition of the profitable components of the company, leaving behind the garbage that will be auctioned for cents-on-the-dollar by the bankruptcy court to, along with proceeds from a stalking horse deal, settle the debt of bondholders.
The company had already planned to close 46 unprofitable stores by next month. This is after the company has shrunk from more than 3,500 stores to around 700, reports CNBC.
In California, the company currently has 56 Sears stores and 50 Kmart stores. Already on the chopping block were:
Today's court filing adds the following for closure by the end of the year:
The focus has been on closing mall locations, but the company has real estate ownership of many stand-alone properties, particularly under the Kmart brand.
Why is this a big California policy issue? Well, it ties in to yesterday's discussion about the changing workforce and what will be on the next governor's plate, as highlighted in Melanie Mason's Los Angeles Times article.
These are legacy brands. While retail is often thought of as jobs for teenagers and college students, many Californians made careers out of these jobs. In many communities, these jobs were among the most stable and available to non-college graduates who bought houses and accrued wealth even as college graduates mocked them. Yes, many of us went into a horror mentality when mom wanted to go to Kmart. Back then, I would rather buy my purple 501 jeans (yes, Prince-inspired) at the Orange County swap meet than be seen by classmates as, oh my god, shopping at Kfart.
Classist and ridiculously image conscious? Yeah, that's how kids are, particularly in Orange County. Those same kids walk miles with family around Costco/Sams Club to make a meal out of samples and need a three-car garage because they buy toilet paper in packs of 36. Before walking those miles, they likely burned gas endlessly looking for a close parking space in an SUV with a No Gas Taxes bumper sticker.
Employees in store closures announced earlier this year were promised severance. Well, that's up to the court now, not Sears Holding Company. The same thing is true about the new round of closures, which hit areas with lagging employment figures.
While Riverside is near the "Amazon cluster" in the Inland Empire, many of the employees that planned on working for another ten years before full Social Security kicks in don't meet the physical requirements to work in an Amazon warehouse, let alone being a driver (lift up to 70 pounds). "If you like a fast-paced, physical position that gets you up and moving, then come help bring orders to life."
Many of these employees losing their jobs are going to find an unkind job market, even as they here promises of a great economy.
I don't have access to the numbers of employees at each site on the chopping block. It's very possible that the sharks swimming in the water to capture remaining assets are looking at it for a real estate, not to continue in retail. And, frankly, policymakers that see a large Kmart lot in the current environment likely are more welcoming to an apartment complex than retail. However, while housing in the short run is welcome, it only provides a few ongoing jobs rather than hundreds.
Further, while a store may be operationally profitable and not currently on the list, far more profit is likely seen in the minds of developers for a different brand or function for the distressed assets. That's another 500 locations that could be gone in the next few years.
My point is that this is a significant policy issue that candidates need to be talking about.
Congressmen Ami Bera and Tom McClintock have something in common today (other than both living in Bera's district)--both have lost stores this year, with Bera losing a Citrus Heights Kmart and McClintock losing the Roseville Galleria's Sears store. McClintock's CA04 also is losing a Placerville Kmart.
The Modesto Kmart store is smack in the middle of CA10 (Stanislaus). Are Congressman Jeff Denham (R) and challenger Josh Harder talking about its closure and the impact on employees and shoppers looking for affordable goods? I hear more about Harder wearing San Francisco-style jeans than the plight of retail employees. (Stanislaus unemployment rate=5.9, 1.6% above statewide average)
The Lemoore and Delano stores are both in CA21 (Kings), SD14 (Fresno-Bakersfield), and AD32 (Kings). Are TJ Cox (D) and Congressman David Valadao (R), , Melissa Hurtado D and State Senator Andy Vidak (R), and Justin Mendes (R) and Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D) talking today about the shutter of the Kmart and how to help employees? (Kings unemployment rate=8.7, 4.4% above statewide average)
The Visalia store is in CA22 (Tulare). Are Andrew Janz (D) and Congressman Devin Nunes (R) talking today about the shutter of the Kmart and how to help employees? (Tulare unemployment rate=6.7, 2.4% above statewide average).
The El Cajon store is literally across the street from CA50 (East San Diego County) and likely had many employees from that district when it closed earlier this year. Are Ammar Campa-Najjar (D) and Congressman Duncan Hunter (R) talking about the bankruptcy filing's implications on the former employees today or are they still debating Campa-Najjar's Mexican-Palestinian heritage and Hunter's campaign-funded alleged sexcapades and airplane ride for the bunny?
That's just among competitive districts. Pain will be felt much more broadly In most of the above communities, the local Kmart was the only general purpose retailer. And, in many, other businesses (opticians, Little Caesar franchises, etc.) were also housed. So, it's not just employees of what once America's largest retailer, but also many small businesses that are affected.
Shit like stores closing, lost jobs, and possible lost severance and accrued stock over the years drives votes far more than the above.
The economy may be the best ever as I hear throughout the day on the teevee, but that doesn't mean people in California aren't hurting. More are hurting today because of the Sears Holding Company filing. Voters who are undecided at this point are more passionate about pocketbook than social issues.
THE ANGER FACTOR: In the Union-Tribune, Michael Smolens ponders whether the election will be decided based on who is angrier--Trump supporters or opponents.
CA49 (Oceanside): The former Arizona congresswoman who was shot during a community event in 2011, along with her husband astronaut Mark Kelly stopped by CA49 yesterday to rally volunteers for Mike Levin (D), who is seeking to capture the seat being left open by Darrell Issa's retirement, reports Kate Morrissey for the SDUT. Gabby "Giffords and Kelly are traveling across the U.S. in support of congressional candidates they believe will push for change to reduce gun violence and planned to visit Huntington Beach and Stevenson Ranch later on Sunday."
CA49 is also one of the three California races that former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg is supporting Democrats in coordination with the League of Conservation Voters with a focus on climate change. The other two are CA25 and CA48.
PROP 3 (water bond): For the Los Angeles Times, George Skelton looks at the water bond on the ballot. "Call it a Christmas tree or a candy shop, Proposition 3 has a nice gift for almost everyone, especially eastern San Joaquin Valley farmers. Voters should resist Proposition 3. And the next Legislature should devise a more modest plan with less candy."
More after the jump...
DMV: For CALmatters, Dan Walters writes that the problems with the DMV of ridiculous wait times and voter registration fumbles will likely leave a major blemish on the legacy Jerry Brown as he leaves office. "Brown has fewer than 90 days remaining in his governorship and it’s likely that as he departs, a massive managerial failure in an agency that affects the lives of virtually every Californian will still be hanging in the air."
CHOO-CHOO: For the Sacramento Bee's "California Influencer" series, Dan Schnur writes that many policy insiders aren't completely on board the high-speed rail build-out. And, with Jerry Brown finished with acting on legislation and no longer the ultimate arbiter of the state budget, critics that have been friendly with the administration are increasingly willing to share their doubts.
This will be one of the biggest challenges for the next governor, who will have the opportunity for a reset on the plan, now that costs have increased significantly, opposition has come out from residents in areas around planned routes, and assumed cooperation from Union Pacific not coming forth as anticipated.
Of course, walking away from it now means spending money to demolish what has been built in the Central Valley or leave behind an ugly state-owned eyesore that literally goes nowhere. Alternatively, we could end up with the most expensive people mover from Merced to Bakersfield ever imagined.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Assemblymember Bill Brough and Denyne Micheletti Colburn!
#GHOSTSOFCAKEDAYSPAST: A belated happy birthday to Assemblymember Mike Morrell (yesterday)!
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TOP HEADLINES ON AROUNDTHECAPITOL.COM AS OF 12:00PM
Trump's Approval Rating Is In The Dumps, Even Though The Economy Is Soaring. One Reason Is Trump Himself
Mark Z. Barabak @ latimes.com
Trump's overwhelming personality has overshadowed his policies, turning the midterm election into a very personal referendum. In Nevada, which has rebounded smartly from the Great Recession, the economic recovery is a surprising non-issue, in part because not everyone is feeling the effects.
Democratic Governors Association raises $100 million ahead of midterms
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The Democratic Governors Association will announce today that it raised more than $100 million for the 2018 midterm cycle, with $22.2 million of it coming in September âÂÂ the largest haul ever for an o...