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Happy Saturday! The federal shutdown continues and nobody is in Washington. Well, nobody except the President and First Lady, who will not be attending the famous New Year's Eve party at Mar-a-Lago. This shutdown is nothing like on TV. Meanwhile, the ish really hits the fan on January 2, when the Smithsonian says it'll run out of funds and close it's musums and the National Zoo. Not to worry, you can still watch Bei Bei play in the snow. They may not know how to reproduce, but they sure can play.
Meanwhile, President Trump threatened yesterday via tweet to close the entire southern border if Democrats don't fund the wall. That would be a huge blow to the California economy, affecting the largest border crossing in the world at San Ysidro, and the smaller yet still economically significant crossing in Calexico. Deeply hurt would be the San Diego economy, which relies on international traffic for people employed yet reside on both sides of the border.
The other issue is promised market adjustment payments from the trade war with China, which have a January 15 application deadline. The applications are processed by regional farm service agency (FSA) offices, which are shuttered.
The hardest hit would be the Midwest for corn, soybeans, and wheat. I have a childhood friend who works as a director of an IRS taxpayer assistance office whose husband works for an FSA office in South Dakota, where those crops are huge. Both are furloughed.
For California, the effect is primarily on farmers who grow tree nuts including almonds, walnuts, and pistachios. However, wine exports to China are also significant and subject to the retaliatory tariffs. And, it's not like it's easy to replace an orchard of tree nuts or vineyards for an alternative crop.
To make things more complicated, there are many reports of 15,000 Guatemalan refugees heading north, although there are also conflicting reports of destinations being either Chiapas, MX or the U.S.
CADEM: Orange County attorney Lenore Albert has announced that she is a candidate for chair of the California Democratic Party. Also in the running is Kimberly Ellis, former executive director of Emerge California, who narrowly lost in 2017 to Eric Bauman in a highly contentious race. Albert ran in 2017 but was eclipsed by Ellis for the "Berniecrat" wing and received only a handful of votes. I hear that another major candidate is expected to emerge in the next few days.
PG&E: Could Pacific Gas & Electric be liable for murder or manslaughter in the wildfires over the last couple of years? Attorney General Xavier Becerra, in a court filing related to the 2010 San Bruno natural gas explosion thinks so, reports Dale Kasler in the Bee. The filing is only advisory as criminal prosecutions would need to be by local district attorneys.
The issue would come down to the mental state of the company's board and executives and level of knowledge of alleged negligence.
TRANSITION: Treasurer-elect Fiona Ma sits down with Bloomberg to discuss priorities including accountability for bond sales, local government financial stability, housing, and marijuana sales banking. As Treasurer, Ma now becomes a member of the CalPERS board of administration. While the state is in relatively good shape on pension contributions, most local governments are not. It will be interesting to watch Ma's response to this challenge facing local governments. Even with CalPERS's optimistic actuarial valuations, locals are in bad shape and that's without discussing unfunded retiree health liabilities.
It gets ugly as somebody has to pay for it. Whether it's increased employer or employee contributions, it's essentially the same pot and solutions are problematic for labor. Labor hopes that split roll property tax could bring in needed revenues for locals, but that's a 50-50 bet at best. And, even if it passes, current employees may be asked to give up on increased compensation to pay for the costs of benefits for folks who are already retired, or young workers will be asked to give more or forfeit their wage increases for the benefit those soon retiring.
I don't envy the position my friend Fiona is in. Treasurer John Chiang has walked a careful line, but that also didn't help him much in his gubernatorial campaign. The same is true for fellow candidate Antonio Villaraigosa, who found himself estranged by longtime backers over several issues, including how he handled tightening the Los Angeles Budget.
And, of course, Gavin is now in the driver's seat and if you think high-speed rail is the most challenging issue, local government finance may actually be. The only question just might be when.
More after the jump...
2020: The NYT's Alex Burns tweets on the warm-up for the 2020 presidential trail:
Here's his full article with Lisa Lerer.
LET THERE BE LIGHT: The LAT's education reporter Teresa Watanabe gets a Q&A with UC Merced chancellor Dorothy Leland about the growing campus.
The experience in Merced will certainly be a matter of discussion in the Legislature this session with significant calls for the addition of a California State University in Stockton, backed by a proposed UC and CSU bond in a bill by Assemblymembers Eggman (D-Stockton), Grayson (D-Concord), and Weber (D-San Diego). Each of them are looking for full-service CSUs in their district.
LA-LA LAND: Cindy Chang reports in the Times that crime has gone down in the City of Angels for the first time in five years.
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Four Key Senators Shift 2020 Presidential Planning Into High Gear
Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand are finalizing the outlines of presidential bids that may start within weeks.
House Republicans Close Their Investigation Into 2016 Candidates' Probes - Politico
Two senior House Republicans on Friday said they are closing their investigation into the FBI's handling of its probes into both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, issuing few new revelations but urging the continuation of their work when Democrats take the majority in January.
Politico Playbook: Did Trump Blow The Shutdown? - Politico
Some of President Donald Trump's closest allies on Capitol Hill and in D.C. are wondering why he didn't instruct GOP leadership to keep Congress in town until they secured a government funding deal. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Trump Returns To 'presidential Harassment' Claim Amid Shutdown Stalemate - Politico
President Donald Trump also appeared to seek to calm financial markets in a tweet Saturday. | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
Trump retreats from public view as government shutdown continues over border wall fight
The president has relied on his Twitter account to blame Democrats for the closure and cast illegal immigration as a threat to the country.
Liberal Groups Push Dem Leaders To Take Harder Line In Shutdown Talks - Politico
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker-designate Nancy Pelosi have held firm on their bid not to give any new money to the president beyond current funding levels. | Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Hs approach stands in stark contrast to the historical behavior of modern presidents, who moved at least briefly toward the political center after being humbled at the ballot box.
Big Moments From President Trump's 2018 - Politico
A Week Into Government Shutdown, Ire Turns to Fear for Federal Workers
Government workers at first thought they were looking at the kind of ho-hum political brinkmanship theyâÂÂve become used to. Things look a lot more worrisome now.
Building Political Power, With Michelle Obama and Stacey Abrams as Models
Sit down with black women in Atlanta as the year ends, and two names dominate political conversations: Mrs. Obama and Ms. Abrams, and what they revealed in 2018 about how power is gained and thwarted.
Hoyer says House will not seat a North Carolina Republican amid questions about integrity of election
The statement came after North Carolina dissolved its elections board Friday without certifying the results of the election, leaving the fate of the seat in doubt days ahead of the start of the new Congress.
Interactions Between White House And Press That Defined 2018 - Politico
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President Donald Trump kicked off his presidency by referring to many in the news media as the "enemy of the American people," and things didn't get any better between the White House and its press corps in 2018.
Government to furloughed workers: Ask landlords about doing chores to cover rent
The suggestion, which specifies carpentry and painting, was included in a sample letter to workers provided by the Office of Personnel Management.
McConnell at center of shutdown impasse â
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The sidelines is an unusual place to find the Senate leader and veteran dealmaker with Washington in the throes of a budget breakdown âÂÂ one he may have difficulty resolving next week with his Republicans fearful of crossing Trump.
Departing House Republicans Try to Keep Investigation Into F.B.I. Alive
The chairmen of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees urged Senate Republicans to pick up their inquiry into the F.B.I.âÂÂs investigations of the Trump campaign and Hillary ClintonâÂÂs emails.
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His legal knowledge was extensive, but he never lost sight of the role played by politics in shaping the courtâÂÂs decisions and, ultimately, the law.
John Culver, Liberal Congressman From Iowa, Is Dead at 86
Mr. Culver, who served five terms in the House and one in the Senate, won praise across the political spectrum for his independence.
Mueller Appears To Respond Early In Subpoena Fight At Supreme Court - Politico
JOSH GERSTEIN @
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Trump orders pay freeze for federal workers
Congress still could vote in favor of providing a raise, but it would take effect only if Trump approves it.
Deciphering the Patterns in Trumpâ
We review how President Trump bent the truth this year by repeating and inflating falsehoods, shifting his statements, embellishing or omitting details, and offering misleading attacks.
Trump is staying in Washington during the shutdown. Where are the congressional leaders?
Congressional leaders gave up on funding the government this year and left town.
The former president shared the works he found particularly thought-provoking or inspiring this year in a lengthy Facebook post.
POLITICO MAGAZINE @
Here are 18 of our biggest stories of the year.
Fema Revives Flood Insurance Sales After Backlash - Politico
FEMA Administrator Brock Long, left, listens as Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation Roy Wright speaks about flood insurance after Hurricane Harvey. | Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo
2018: A very Wuerker year
A look back at 2018's political cartoons from the desk of Matt Wuerker.