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MUST SEE TEEVEE: Golden Staters on the Sunday shows:
It's Sunday! It was gloomy, but the rain was nice yesterday. On Friday I planted my third batch of winter greens on the balcony and enjoyed snipping a handful of leaves of young kale for my scramble to gobble down as I wrote yesterday's Nooner. Friday's seeds will get nature's kiss for a few days and hopefully followed by some sun.
For The Nooner newbies, that's known as a Scott filibuster as the coffee brews.
INAUGURATION SKYWATCH: Forecast for 11am, 54 degrees, cloudy, with a 5% chance of rain
THE BATON PASSING: John Myers writes in the Times on the loose ties between the ascendancy of Jerry Brown and Gavin Newsom to the corner office of the State Capitol. While the two are not known for being close, Myers points out "Brown and Newsom are members of a political fraternity that dominated their shared hometown of San Francisco for much of the 20th century."
HIGH HOPES: The LAT's Mason, Luna, and Willon look at the promises made by Gavin Newsom during his gubernatorial campaign and the challenges he faces in translating the campaign into reality. They write:
"When Newsom is sworn in as governor on Monday, he’ll do so with the wind at his back: a robust state economy and flush budget, a forceful electoral victory and a Capitol brimming with Democratic allies. With that good fortune comes great expectations for success, brought on by Newsom’s “something for everyone” campaign that left key constituencies hungry for follow-through.
It can’t get much better for Newsom, and it’s almost certain to get worse. An economic contraction, a natural disaster, a rebellion among Democratic lawmakers — all threaten the incoming governor’s footing."
NKOTB, DC STYLE: In the Times, Christine Mai-Duc looks at the reception in Washington of the new members of Congress from The Golden State during swearing-in week. In short, many were treated as stars, even if on-lookers couldn't differentiate between Katie Hill (D-Santa Clarita) and Katie Porter (D-Irvine). I don't blame them, I've switched the Katies in interviews, have caught myself doing so in writing several times, and I'm sure errors have slipped through.
THE COST OF FIRE: While yesterday's writing was about the difficult choices facing the Governor-elect, Legislature, and PG&E boardroom, I noted that the liability issue in the Woolsey Fire presents for Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison. EIX has a stronger balance sheet than PCG does, PG&E's corporate parent, and hadn't incurred billions in wildfire liability during the SB 901 discussions. While applying to all electricity corporations, the focus of the bill approved on the last night of session related to rate recovery for wildfire liability was almost entirely on PG&E, which had the immense liability from the Tubbs Fire in Napa and Sonoma counties.
As we discussed yesterday, there is a "donut hole" left for rate recover for wildfires that began between January 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018. The SB 901 was approved on August 31, it was assumed that wildfire season was largely over and the bill provided for a process for the PUC to develop criteria for rate recovery for fires that began before January 1, 2018 and on or after January 1, 2019.
Of course, we all know that November 2018 brought the 1st and 7th most destructive wildfires in California history--simultaneously the Camp Fire in Northern California and the Woolsey Fire in Southern California. The Camp Fire claimed 86 lives and 18,804 structures. The Woolsey Fire destroyed 1,643 structures and took two lives. As I noted yesterday, while the Woolsey Fire was much smaller and burned through less densely populated geography, the destruction was largely among luxury homes through the Santa Monica Mountains down to Malibu, meaning the liability per structure is greater and amplifies the total cost.
I know it sounds crass to talk about money amidst so much human tragedy, but it's necessary when we're talking about the seemless operations of utilities, regardless of provider. That is a life-and-death situation for many Californians that rely on power for medical devices.
Implementation of SB 901 was already complicated, as the full liability of PG&E for 2017's fires is far from known. Even without the fires of 2018, it was unknown as to how the markets would handle the securitization bonds to meet the liability costs, and eventually, what that bond service would mean to ratepayers.
I wrote plenty about PG&E yesterday. It is pretty clear that simply closing the 2018 donut hole will be enough ensure a stable PCG/Pacific Gas & Electric, and the company appears to be considering bankruptcy and/or the sale of its gas division. It just may not be possible to securitize what may end up in the $5-8 billion range for both 2017 and 2018 based on a rate that is set by a political body, the Public Utilities Commission.
Thus, the question is how the Governor-elect and Legislature handle this. It could close the 2018 donut hole completely, giving a helping hand to EIX/Southern California Edison, while letting the chips fall where they may for PCG/Pacific Gas & Electric and putting the PUC in an even greater spotlight.
The LAT's Jaclyn Cosgrove looks at the choices made in resource deployment and how the Woolsey Fire grew so fast and claimed so much.
"[D]uring the critical first hours, the Woolsey fire took second priority.
Ventura County firefighters were already engaged in a pitched battle with another blaze, called the Hill fire, about 15 miles to the west that had jumped the 101 Freeway and was threatening hundreds of homes and businesses.
The Woolsey fire was growing but still far enough from subdivisions that it got fewer resources from Ventura County. Neighboring fire agencies sent some help, but it would take hours before they launched an all-out attack at the fire lines.
These turned out to be fateful choices in what would become the most destructive fire in Los Angeles and Ventura county history."
Add resource deployment decisions to the already complicated inverse condemnation liability (read yesterday) arguments that will be made in court in fights that will happen primarily between insurance companies and the utilities for years.
LA-LA LAND, SANDY EGGO, #CAKEDAY after the jump...
LAUSD: With Thursday's announced strike date quickly approaching, there is a growing feeling that it may be inevitable in Los Angeles Unified, the country's second largest public school district. There is a planned last-ditch meeting at City Hall on Monday facilitated by Mayor Eric Garcetti, but the parties are far apart on myriad issues, mostly non-compensation.
In the Times, Howard Blume writes that a federal judge has refused to block the strike after a filing by the district that argued that existing federal orders relating to services to disabled students. The district has been under lengthy federal judicial oversight related to such services from a 1993 case, but the judge refused to infuse the strike argument into that oversight at this late date.
The strike would create complete disarray in the city as working parents scramble to for child care, which is already out of reach for many workers. LAUSD serves over 500,000 students.
HOUSING: In the Union-Tribune, Michael Smolens that while the housing crisis in America's Finest City" is well known, the resolve to fix it just may not be there.
THE NEWSOM AGENDA: Bringing together The Newsom Agenda talked about in the LA Times story above and the Smolens column on housing, in gets to what is ahead this year. First, we know two of the budget headlines through leaks, neither of which were any surprise.
Thursday's budget proposal (which has not been officially been put on the calendar, but must by done by Thursday), the Governor-elect will propose a significant expansion in early childhood education, both in pre-K and kindergarten. It will be a mix of one-time and ongoing funds, likely also a mix of Proposition 98 and non-Proposition 98 funds. It takes a step toward meeting the top legislative priority of many Democratic law makers, including birthday boy Assemblymember Kevin McCarthy (D-Sacramento). With two young children, Kevin knows the issue well, as does his wife Leticia Garcia, who works on policy for the Riverside County Office of Education.
The proposal is relatively easy given the state's funding position, the constitutionally guaranteed increase in Prop. 98 at a time of declining K-12 enrollment and is very popular among Democratic and independent voters. I'm sure sticky details will emerge in the budget subcommittee process, but it'll generally be a slam dunk.
The other proposal that Newsom's budget will propose is "free community college." I've seen some of my more conservative friends think that Gavin is marching toward socialism. However, the first year is already free under legislation signed by Jerry Brown. Like the existing program, it only would apply for the first two years, and only for students who take 12 or more units per semester, make academic progress, and complete a either a federal or state comprehensive financial aid form. The fact is that something like 75% of these students were eligible under the fee waiver program created when Governor George Deukmejian signed the first community college fee of $5 per unit up to $50 per semester back in 1984.
The proposal is part of a national effort called the College Promise Initiative, which has been pushed by foundation think tanks, manufacturers, and civic leaders. It has spread across the country and isn't really political. The California price tag in the budget is expected to be $40 million of funds that already would be provided in the 2019-20 budget under Proposition 98. The goal is to get students to a) get more federal Pell Grant funds to meet non-tuition costs and b) incentivize students to proceed through community college quickly to transfer or gain a occupational certificate or degree and move in to the workforce.
So, it's quite limited when you look at the details. San Francisco voters have a temporary tax that will likely be before them in 2020 to make permanent that uses a transfer tax of property sales over $5 million that covers the fees for all San Francisco residents. That's very different than the current state program or the expansion expected to be proposed by the Governor-elect.
Here is information on the national College Promise effort, including the locations across the country that have implemented it, either locally or as state policy. The Honorary Chair is Dr. Jill Biden, Joe's wife, who is a community college professor. The Honorary Vice Chair is former Wyoming governor Jim Geringer, a Republican.
While I worked on these issues through 2014, I have not been paid for any community college policy work since then. It, however, will never leave my blood.
Frankly, that's another low-hanging fruit policy win that Governor-elect Newsom will tackle in his first year. While final votes for the budget will be partisan, look for votes on stand alone or trailer bills by members of both parties on both pre-school and "free" community college.
Back to housing. There is little that the state can do that it as easy as those above. Once again, there's going to be a legislative fight over providing incentives for increased housing density near public transit. It will again be led by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), who has picked up some bipartisan support and broadened the geographic diversity of his coalition. It is not a partisan issue, but rather a state vs. local control issue.
It is noteworthy that some of the strongest opposition to Wiener's bill last year was by Marin County, which is one of the most reliably liberal counties in the state. It's also one of the most well-known NIMBY counties. Oh, and did I mention that it's where Gavin, Gretchen and the kids live? (Yes, they are moving in to the Governor's Mansion Sacramento.)
The other issue is changes or exceptions to the California Environmental Quality Act, or CEQA. It is zealously guarded by environmentalists, but Democratic majorities look the other way and have allowed judicial review for some state building and, of course, sports arena developments, like where Gavin's concert will be held tonight with Pitbull, Common, and others to raise money for the California Fire Foundation.
The education items are easy, but as Smolens writes about San Diego, it is not something that you can just write a check in the state budget to help fix.
Fasten your seatbelts focus. While the Sunday shows are talking about 2020, don't believe for one moment that 2019 will be quiet in Sacramento.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Meriam Brosnan, Kiel Brunner, Matthew Del Carlo, Sami Gallegos, Daniel Lopez, Miguel Mauricio, Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, and Dale Shimasaki!
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Collins Will Decide On Re-election Bid By End Of Year - Politico
In her past three re-election campaigns, the moderate Republican has won by increasing margins, winning broad bipartisan support, improving from 49 percent in her first Senate election in 1996 to 68 percent in 2014.
As Big Retailers Seek to Cut Their Tax Bills, Towns Bear the Brunt
If Walmart, LoweâÂÂs and other companies win their property tax appeals, homeowners and small businesses will have to pay more or live with smaller town budgets.
PHOTOS: Warren bounds into Iowa
Sen. Elizabeth Warren embarked this weekend on a four-city tour of Iowa âÂÂ her first trip there since launching her 2020 exploratory committee last week. Barnstorming across Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Storm Lake and Des Moines, the Massachusetts lawmaker introduced herself to voters she is sure to meet again should she officially join what will likely become a crowded fray of Democratic presidential candidates. Here are the best shots from Warren's spin through the early caucus state.
Mulvaney: Cabinet Secretaries Looking For Money To Fund Wall - Politico
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said President Donald Trump has directed his Cabinet to find government funding that could be redirected toward building a border wall.
In Iowa, Sen. Elizabeth Warren tells a voter why she took that DNA test
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The pre-presidential announcement stumble by the Massachusetts Democrat follows her to the first voting state
Theresa May urges lawmakers to back Brexit deal ahead of perilous vote
Sen. Jones: ‘not Going To Give Wall Money Just To Give Wall Money’ - Politico
He argued that it was most important for people in Alabama that the government be open.
Shutdown Day 16: Zero Progress - Politico
NEW: PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP spoke to reporters as he left the White House to go to Camp David for a meeting with his senior staff. Trump said they are expected to discuss North Korea, trade negotiations with China and the border wall.
President Trump heads to Camp David as shutdown enters third week
Before leaving the White House, Trump said he could relate to government workers not getting their paychecks but claimed they âÂÂwill make adjustments.âÂÂ
Sarah Sanders: Trump Looking At ‘every Option Available’ To Build Wall - Politico
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Sunday left open the possibility that President Donald Trump will attempt to build a wall on the Southern border using his own authority.
House lawmakers prepare rollout of gun control proposal
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The bipartisan measure that would expand background checks makes good on House DemocratsâÂÂ promise to tackle the issue, but it is unclear if it can pass the GOP-led Senate.
Iowa Democrats fill events to the rafters with 13 months left before the 2020 caucuses
Candidates, official and potential, are drawing large crowds amid activist antipathy to President Trump.
Former Defense Secretary Harold Brown Dies At 91 - Politico
ASSOCIATED PRESS @
Former Secretary of Defense Harold Brown arrives at the White House, to meet with President George W. Bush on Jan. 5, 2006. | Ron Edmonds/AP Photo
New DCCC chair Bustos vows to stay on offense in 2020
She has ambitious plans for the DCCC, vowing to create a structure unlike any House Democrats have ever âÂÂseen in history.âÂÂ
Schiff Investigating Potential Perjury During Congress’ Russia Probe - Politico
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi talks with fellow California Democrat Adam Schiff during a ceremonial swearing-in Jan. 3, 2019 . | Susan Walsh/AP Photo
Trump Could Use Emergency Powers To Build Wall, Dem Congressman Says - Politico
"This would be a terrible use of department of Defense dollars," cautioned House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith. | Cliff Owen/AP Photo
Just Days Into a New Congress, Liberal Freshmen Are Shaking the Capitol
From ambitious climate change efforts to jaunty tweets and raucous speeches, the freshman class of the 116th Congress is making its presence known.
Pelosi tamps down talk of impeachment
As the House speaker negotiates over the government shutdown, a remark by a freshman congresswoman has stoked a communications crisis within her own party.
Trump ally calls Warren â
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The racially-charged nickname used by Rep. Matt Gaetz was an apparent homage to TrumpâÂÂs longtime âÂÂPocahontasâÂÂ term for Warren, coming just days after she announced her 2020 presidential bid.
Trump Says â
Vice President Mike Pence led an administration negotiation with congressional aides from both parties, and another meeting is scheduled for Sunday, though there was little hope of any breakthrough.
Bolton Outlines Conditions For U.S. Pullout From Syria - Politico
ASSOCIATED PRESS @
John Bolton said there is no timetable for the pullout, but insisted the military presence is not an unlimited commitment.
Graham: GOP Wants A Democrat ‘that’s Not Crazy’ For Shutdown Talks - Politico
Graham again suggested a deal might include protections for young immigrants covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program.
Warren regains footing in Iowa blitz
The Massachusetts senator was the only major 2020 contender to rebuff the crucial state during the midterms. SheâÂÂs now making up ground.
Trump dangles Rose Garden treaty moment in quiet peace effort between Serbia and Kosovo
Exclusive: Kosovo leader promises Trump envoy he will back off punitive tariffs as a first step, but TrumpâÂÂs unusual efforts may not ease worst Balkan tensions in years
Jamal al-Badawi, who led attack on USS Cole, killed in U.S. airstrike, Trump says
The Yemeni al-Qaeda operative was accused of organizing the 2000 attack, in which 17 American sailors were killed.