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Good morning! It's 5am and the mass just began at Our Lady of Guadalupe for the final day of the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe. No I'm not there, but can hear the drums of the Aztecan dancers from The Nooner Global Headquarters. This is the third mass of the last twelve hours, with ones at 7pm and midnight. Street vendors are clustered around 8th and T, y las familias will be observing and eating throughout the day. It's wonderful to see so many come out to celebrate their culture and faith. I won't even mention politics in this graf...
I'm waiting for the Nextdoor.com email telling me about neighbors complaining about drums at 5am, and Councilmember Steve Hanson is likely being deluged. Folks, consider it a warm up for your kids bouncing on your bed at the same time 13 days from now.
For those who don't know the neighborhood, the church that occupies a city block faces a six-square block park beyond which is the W-X freeway, so few people are really bothered, but they will complain. Then, they will buy a tamale on Sunday.
There may be truth to the sighting of me eating a Mexican hot dog as an amuse-bouche before my healthy dinner of salmon and veggies last night. It was for spiritual well being.
THE INSTANT POT STORY: Okay, if you've been a reader for awhile, my first Instant Pot was ordered on April 13, 2014 (yes, I looked it up). Never did I realize it would be the third most used device in my kitchen beyond my coffee maker and grinder. Of course, I never knew where this piece of magic originated. CNBC tells the story of how an unemployed Canadian transformed our kitchens. The one I linked above is my trusty DUO 7-in1, but they have ones with WiFi and other features now.
OKAY, SCOTT, GET PAST THE AMUSE-BOUCHE: Last Friday, in the national political media scene, reporters waited all day for a crazy evening and night for them following expected court filings around COB related to the Mueller investigation. And, indeed, Santa delivered just at the time they should have been heading to Friday holiday parties.
Yesterday for California political reporters, it was akin to last Friday in Washington. It just kept on coming. Among them were too many uncertain things (e.g. no court filings), lots of rumors, and lots of people who couldn't--and shouldn't for legal reasons--go on the record about it.
ARAMBULA ARRESTED: Shortly before 2pm on 2pm on Monday, second-term Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula (D-West Fresno) was arrested by Fresno County Sheriff's deputies on suspicion of "willful abuse of a child," a misdemeanor offense under the state's domestic violence laws, reports Lewis Griswold in the Fresno Bee. I am told that a teacher at the school Arambula's 6-year-old special needs daughter attends called the sheriff's department to report that the teacher believed that the child had been harmed. Under California Penal Code §273(d), corporal punishment such as a spanking that leaves a bruise is a misdemeanor. Teachers are mandatory reporters if they have reasonable belief of such harm. That's all I will say on the matter and let things play out. It is just an investigation at this point. Each party played their role.
CDP FLIPS IT'S OWN HOUSE: The rumors started coming Monday night that some staff were being let go from the Los Angeles office of the California Democratic Party. This often happens after elections--win or lose--but was complicated by the recent resignation of the party's chairman, Eric Bauman. Obviously, I couldn't get anybody on the record because they were personnel matters.
The rumors continued through Tuesday morning and by the afternoon, it was out--the Los Angeles party office had been closed and many staff hired following Bauman's election were let go without warning. This includes Clark Lee, Sandra Lowe, Tina McKinnor, Adam Seiden, Tim Valencia, and John Vigna, among others (sorry I didn't name everyone, including some Noonerites).
Melanie Mason of the Times, the first to break the Bauman allegations, was the first to have a comprehensive story on the firings:
"This is not unusual when there is a change in leadership," Roger Salazar, a spokesman for the party, said in a statement. "These moves are not necessarily a reflection upon the work of each of the individuals involved, but are part of a desire by the acting chair to start fresh and keep the party moving in the right direction."
It was a day of conflicting explanations, text messages, and social media. Initially, the move was explained to have been done after consultation with Governor-elect Gavin Newsom and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. However, Politico's Carla Marinucci reports:
"California Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom’s office later said that he had not been consulted before the firings.
Kevin Liao, spokesman for Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, also disputed the California Democratic Party spokesman’s statement, saying the speaker was not consulted on the move beforehand."
Among remaining staff, feelings are mixed. Many in Sacramento weren't happy that leadership dcisions were driven by Southern California operators while the longer-term rank-and-file employees remained on 9th and S. The prominent John L. Bu ton Democratic Headquarters with the Persist statue atop it was seen as an afterthought. Apparently, they couldn't even afford to buy an R. (couldn't resist...it's been that way for most of this year as the party raised over $30 million)
There is also a queasy feeling among many activists about how the firings were done. It is unclear whether any post-separation or benefits were provided.
What Salazar says is true, but employees know when Election Day comes and goes and then there is a transition period. For example, the Capitol and district staffers of the seven House Republican seats that Democrats flipped have jobs with benefits until the beginning of next month. The staff of lawmakers who resigned over the last 18 months continued to work on behalf of constituents until the replacement was elected.
The "en masse" closing of the office is actual the smart legal move by the party as cruel as it was. John Vigna, a former Capitol staffer of Speaker John A. Pérez, Fiona Ma, and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, is particularly perplexed by the moves.
Vigna said he was particularly troubled by his firing because he had been involved in a complaint into Bauman’s behavior. Vigna served as supervisor to Kate Earley and Grace Leekley, two young staffers who said they were made deeply uncomfortable by Bauman when he asked them in front of their colleagues if they had a sexual relationship. Vigna conveyed Earley’s complaint to human resources on Nov. 1, hours after the incident occurred. Another colleague who was involved in that complaint was also let go, he said.
“We did our jobs with integrity and we were the first to be fired,” Vigna said. “That sends a horrible signal to the rest of the country about how seriously we take #MeToo.”
Vigna said he has yet to hear from investigators who are looking into the allegations against Bauman."
While not an employment attorney but with experience on the manner, just speaking as a legal matter Vigna's point is actually an argument for the en masse terminations and closing of the office. By not doing it as a restructuring and office closure and not selectively on each person's merits or otherwise for cause, it does two things. It limits the party's liability in claims (though I expect there will be some) and it avails the employees to unemployment insurance. That latter point is in particularly important.
Yeah, it all sucks.
This will continue the argument made my Kimberly Ellis in her campaign for chair last year for the unionization of party staff and campaign workers. I won't touch that issue...
Political California Playbook: "-- DID ANYBODY NOTICE? Dem strategist Roger Salazar, recently tapped by Michael Avenatti's short White House run, is now on crisis communications duty for CADems."
Of course we were all thinking that yesterday. Figured my friend Roger didn't need the reminder.
OK OK WHAT'S NEXT? [my favorite TWWW shirt | hat]: Some party executive board members want to see a special meeting called prior the party convention, which is May 31-Jun 2 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. At the convention, e-board members will elect a chair to complete Bauman's 2017-2021 term. Even after the January Assembly District caucuses, e-board members are likely to be more long-time party activists than what could be a huge infusion of new state-level activists that emerge from the caucuses.
Basically, some people I talk to believe that the e-board members can have a "let's get our shit together" moment before the doors to Moscone Center open. Leaders know that the 2019 convention could make the one two-years ago look like John and Yoko singing from a hotel room bed.
The two people most frequently mentioned as possible chairs are former State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León and Christine Pelosi. Of course, both bring great prominence and would show that things in the party haven't spun out of control. Similarly, both have negatives. de León is criticized by #METOO leaders as acting slowly on sexual harassment complaints while leading the State Senate and had been roommates with Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia), who resigned following such a complaint. Meanwhile, electing the daughter of the Speaker of the House may seem unsavory, even with Christine's own personal accomplishments and leadership in the #METOO movement.
While Nancy Pelosi is loved by liberals for her tenacity (particularly shown in the Oval yesterday), she holds her role as the Democrats' most prolific fundraiser. She raises bank, which raises the ire of many of those who backed Kimberly Ellis for chair in the race against Eric Bauman. It is unclear whether Ellis will run. Obviously, those who supported Bauman in 2017 are looking to find a compromise high-profile person like de León or Pelosi (who chairs the party's Women's Caucus).
Congressman Scott Peters running for San Diego mayor? Is Cook Political really already out today with its 2020 House ratings? Below the jump!
SANDY EGGO: Congressmember Scott Peters is mulling a bid for San Diego mayor in 2020, reports Scott Wong for The Hill:
"Before coming to Congress, Peters served on the San Diego City Council from 2000 to 2008. He was elected by his peers in 2005 to become the city’s first council president after San Diego changed its leadership structure to a mayor-council form of government.
“We are looking at it,” said MaryAnne Pintar, Peters’s San Diego-based chief of staff who also has managed his past campaigns. “Given that the primary is in March 2020, a lot of people will be looking to make an announcement early next year, which means we will need to make a decision in the next couple of months.”
Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican in the non-partisan office, is termed out in 2020.
Why give up a (now) safe seat for an uncertain bid for mayor? If elected, it would be a $75,000+ pay cut. (The council rejected its commission's recommendation to increase the salary to $235,000, but that's might change if the "nonpartisan" mayor was a Democrat.)
Additionally, after three terms, he is second-to-last on Energy and Commerce behind five fellow California Democrats and in a similar position behind three California Dems on Veterans Affairs. He goes home to watch Congressmember Mark Takano (D-Riverside) on the TV talking about veterans' issues. Takano will likely be the committee's chair, as 115th ranking member of the committee Tim Walz retired to run for governor of Minnesota.
While Peters is watching TV, he also sees Pelosi, Barbara Lee, Adam Schiff, Ted Lieu, and Eric Swalwell constantly. Actually, more of the latter than Pelosi, who doesn't spend time on the evening shows and generally takes occasional Sunday morning appearances, like the U.S. Senators from California.
WHY THIS MATTERS: The addition of seven seats from California is great for House Democrats, but also means that the "wealth" (responsibilities and attention) must be shared among 46 members rather than 39. California beat reporters in DC (McClatchy's Emily Cadei, LAT's Evan Halper to wit) can't get everybody's names in the paper and generally will seek comments from those in order of rank or, who is the most willing to talk and, er, flamboyant.
It can be lonely at the end of the rank system in hearings that make it onto C-SPAN. It's easier to do for Sen. Kamala Harris to wait through nineteen others on Senate Judiciary during the Kavanaugh hearings (note that few members sit through most district and courts of appeal confirmation hearings), particularly since she is two after Cory Booker, but it's a whole different situation for Peters to sit through 22 members on th rarely sexy House Energy and Commerce, unless a tech titan is before the rarely televised committee.
As someone tweeted yesterday (I paraphrase because I don't recall who), this is the time of the year where the remaining issues are worked out behind a few members behind closed doors, while other Members of Congress give tours to visiting constituents.
In short, particularly the 7 newbies, learn the Capitol, as you'll have plenty of time to give tours to constituents.
IF NOT SCOTT, THEN WHO? Peters's CA52 (San Diego) is a safe Dem district, at least through redistricting. State Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins obviously immediately comes to mind, but she is up for re-election in 2020 and is likely Pro Tem until she's termed-out in 2024. Running for Congress would not only mean not running for an easy Senate re-election, but giving up the Pro Tem role early next year.
If not Atkins, then...
...eyes turn to San Diego Assemblymembers Todd Gloria and Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher. Gonzalez Fletcher is also termed-out in 2024. She has young children and I'd bet she stays local with her husband, newly elected supervisor Nathan Fletcher., and in the powerful role as chair of Assembly Approps.
Gloria came to the Assembly from the San Diego City Council. He served as the Acting Mayor for six months following the resignation of Bob Filner. AD78 hugs the coast from the Mexican border to Solana Beach.
Gonzalez Fletcher's AD80 stretches on the east side of AD78 from the border east to Otay Mesa and up to cover the east side of San Diego. Here is the overlap map.
I'm sure there are non-state folks out there and I'll get email after this goes out and I look forward to hearing.
2020: The Cook Political Report came out with its initial House ratings for 2020 today. Ugh, yeah, we just stopped counting. #ELECTIONSNEVERSTOP
The headline is that none of the seven seats that just flipped are "toss-ups," which is my thinking too. After all, these flips were in a midterm and clearly a response AGAINST President Trump. In 2020, President Trump will BE on the ballot.
Those not listed are presumed safe should the incumbents not run for re-election. I would say that CA15 (Swalwell) will be likely should he continue his presidential bid and the same with CA52 (Peters) if he runs for mayor. Likely really because both areas have areas independent traditions and candidate fields are unknown.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Derek Cressman and Noah Schubert!
DEPT OF CORRECTIONS: In addition to Lake, Solano, and Napa counties, AD04 also includes slivers of Colusa, Sacramento and Solano counties.
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N.c. GOP Says Fresh Misconduct Allegation Should Trigger New House Election - Politico
The results of the race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready have already been held up over allegations of election fraud against a contractor for one of Harris' campaign consultants. But the state Democratic Party has highlighted another incident in the inquiry into the House race, releasing a signed affidavit from a Bladen County poll worker alleging that the results of early votes were shared improperly before the election.
Speed dating for politics: Candidates and operatives scramble to make a match as prospective presidential campaigns hasten to the starting line
One candidateâÂÂs team has interviewed 80 possible hires. Multiple candidates in a huge field are going after the same small number of proven winners.
Senate Votes To Overturn Trump Donor Disclosure Rule - Politico
The Senate approved a resolution from Sens. Jon Tester and Ron Wyden that would block the recent Treasury Department change to IRS forms allowing political nonprofits to avoid listing some donors. | Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images
Senator Calls Potential Trump Intervention In Huawei Case 'very Disturbing' - Politico
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Chinese espionage activities, Sen. Richard Blumenthal said that "makes it look like law enforcement is a tool of either trade or political or diplomatic ends of this country. ... That may be true in other countries, but not in this one." | Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Senate Confirms Treasury Tax Law Architect as Deputy Secretary
Justin Muzinich, a former Wall Street banker, joins the top ranks of President TrumpâÂÂs economic team.
Haley Says Trump's Unpredictability Was An Asset In Un Diplomacy - Politico
Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has proven to be among the rare figures in the Trump administration to depart the White House on good terms with the president. | Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images
Coal-friendly Manchin Becomes Top Democrat On Senate Energy Committee - Politico
The move is sure to anger liberal activists, who fear the coal-friendly Manchin may impede future progress on bold climate change legislation. The West Virginia Democrat allayed some of those concerns last week when he invoked climate change denial in voting against FERC commissioner Bernard McNamee, who he had previously backed in committee.
Possible Leak of Voter Data Adds to Concerns in Disputed North Carolina Election
Amid reports that officials had leaked absentee vote totals days before the election, the state G.O.P. chairman said that a new election may be necessary.
POLITICO Playbook PM: Trumpâ
And the Senate is set to buck President Donald Trump, with a vote on withdrawing U.S. support for Saudi-backed forces in Yemen.
Senate, Rejecting Curbs on Food Stamps, Passes Compromise Farm Bill
Lawmakers overwhelmingly approved an $867 billion bill that ditched new work requirements for food stamps that had been embraced by the House and president.
Michael Cohen Sentenced To 3 Years In Prison - Politico
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal attorney and fixer, arrives at federal court for his sentencing hearing Wednesday in New York City | Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images
Julián Castro Exploring 2020 Presidential Bid - Politico
MATTHEW CHOI @
Julian Castro said he would make an announcement about his plans on Jan. 12 in Texas after traveling the country and consulting with voters to hear their concerns. | AP Photo/Eric Gay
Senators Seek Leniency For Former Aide - Politico
JOSH GERSTEIN @
James Wolfe, former director of security with the Senate Intelligence Committee, leaves the federal courthouse on June 13 in Washington. | Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo
Those 44 former senators are demanding a Senate that no longer exists
Most served in the Senate just after it became as polarized as it is now.
Senate GOP Schedules Annual Retreat - Politico
Senate Republicans will hold their annual retreat in mid-January, but for the first time in several years, their House GOP colleagues won't join them.
Trump Uses French Terrorist Attack To Advance Push For Border Wall Funding - Politico
President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he would move to fortify U.S. borders "even more" in the wake of an attack in France that left three dead and more than a dozen wounded, hitting Democratic congressional leaders for pushing back on his requests for money for a proposed border wall with Mexico.
Trump Reiterates Support For Saudi Crown Prince Despite Pushback From Congress - Politico
President Donald Trump on Tuesday called Saudi Arabia a "very good ally" and stood by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, apparently unwilling to bow to bipartisan pressure from lawmakers intent on imposing harsher consequences on the Arab kingdom and its crown prince over the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside a Saudi consulate last October.
On Politics: Trump Threatens Shutdown Over Funding for Border Wall
In a combative appearance with Democratic congressional leaders, President Trump said that he would be âÂÂproud to shut down the government for border security.âÂÂ
Flynn lawyers say former Trump adviser deserves no jail time
Echoing special counsel, the lawyers cite FlynnâÂÂs extensive cooperation with probes, including regarding Russian efforts to interfere in 2016 election.
Flynn Pleads With Judge For No Jail Time - Politico
Flynn, who pleaded guilty last December to lying to the FBI during the early stages of its counterintelligence investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, should instead be sentenced to one year of probation with minimal supervision conditions and 200 hours of community service, his lawyers said.
Progressive Groups Plan Gauntlet For 2020 Democrats - Politico
Progressive organizers will host a series of early-state candidate forums next year designed to ensure that 2020 presidential contenders address litmus-test issues for the left.
Lighthizer Privately Doubts Trump’s Nafta Withdrawal Threat Helps New Trade Deal - Politico
In recent discussions with Democratic lawmakers, Lighthizer indicated he is not necessarily supportive of that tactic and is instead committed to a constructive dialogue for getting the deal passed in Congress next year, according to sources on Capitol Hill with knowledge of recent meetings.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi questions Trump’s manhood after confrontational White House meeting
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Upon returning to the Capitol, the congresswoman spoke behind closed doors to Democratic lawmakers and described the party leadershipâÂÂs opposition to billions of dollars more for President TrumpâÂÂs border wall. âÂÂItâÂÂs like a manhood thing for him. As if manhood could ever be associated with him. This wall thing,âÂÂ Pelosi said, according to a congressional [âÂ¦]
Cohen Leaves Court After Sentencing
Michael Cohen, President TrumpâÂÂs former longtime lawyer, was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in a hush-money scandal.
While Working for Trump, Giuliani Courts Business Abroad
Ethics experts say Rudolph W. Giuliani risks blurring lines by seeking contracts with foreign governments even as he remains President TrumpâÂÂs personal lawyer.