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LA UNIFIED STRIKE: Day 4
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DAVIS MEMORIAL FOR NATALIE CORONA: Friday's memorial service for fallen Davis Police Department officer Natalie Corona at 11am at the UC Davis Activities and Recretion Center is expected do draw thousands, including public safety officials from around Northern California. Many streets will be closed and parking structures limited to people with disabilities. The campus/city bus service Unitrans will offer free service all day, so remote parking or transit such as Amtrak's Capitol Corridor or YoloBus is encouraged. The city of Davis will not be enforcing meters, or time limits and permit requirements in residential areas or downtown. The university's TAPS also will not be charging for parking, although campus will be operating as usual and lots do fill up on normal days.
Here is the campus advisory.
Happy Thursday! I know, tomorrow is a pseudo-Friday for Capitol legislative staffers as members will be in town for a per diem session before the three-day weekend. Of course, there's no real business and they'll be out of town in time for a long lunch.
For Nooner Premium subscribers who signed up for the weekly birthdays email, sorry it was sent twice this morning. I woke up to realize it was sent out at midnight as when I set up the script, I did so for Thursdays, but failed to make it 9am. So, I made the change before 9 today and thus you got it twice. That should be fixed next week.
Thank you to those who mentioned to Iverson's Barber Shop that I wrote about them in The Nooner. It's nice to know that a) people read The Nooner and b) patronize local small businesses! This is what Jason did for me yesterday. Click to the next picture for the after.
This morning, the Senate Budget Committee received the first overview of the governor's proposed budget. Here is the LAO's written overview. We got the pronunciation clear Vivek Viswanathan's name. He is the new chief deputy director for budget of the Department of Finance is Vi-vayk Vis-won-AH-thon. I think that's close. His choice by Governor Newsom raised some eyebrows as he ran as a Democrat in the top-two primary in a race destined for Fiona Ma and was relatively unknown in political circles.
Vivek proved his chops in Senate Budget this morning. While his bio is not yet available from DOF, he is a graduate of Harvard (BA), Cambridge (MPhil), and Stanford Law (JD) and worked as a policy advisor for Jerry Brown and served on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
The top paragraph is the celebratory graf, which closes on the cautious caveat:
"In our November Fiscal Outlook publication, we noted that the budget is in remarkably good shape—a comment based in large part on the significant discretionary resources we estimated were available. The Governor’s budget proposal reflects a budget situation that is even better than our estimates. Largely as a result of lower‑than‑expected spending in health and human services programs, we estimate the administration had nearly $20.6 billion in available discretionary resources to allocate. That said, recent financial market volatility poses some downside risk for revenues."
Another preliminary graf worth noting is the LAO's praise for the governor identifying long-term issues early and allowing the Legislature to work with the ideas to develop the proposals:
"The Governor’s budget establishes a number of priorities for 2019‑20 and beyond, many of which align with recent legislative actions. In many cases, the administration is still developing these proposals and some are not yet reflected in the budget’s bottom line. By proposing these ideas at the beginning of the budget process, the Governor gives the Legislature the opportunity to collaborate with the administration to shape these policies."
This is a noted change from many administrations that role out detailed proposals inviting support and opposition from interested parties that often set the stage for contentious budget subcommittee hearings. While common chatter this week among interested groups has frequently been "we'll see how it develops," it does provide a strong message to the Legislature that Governor Newsom wants to be a policy partner. How much of it is a function of building a budget in December before he had policy staff or a sincere tone-setting of collaboration, we'll have to wait to see.
NEW LEG ANALYST: The Joint Legislative Budget Committee yesterday named Gabriel Petek as the next Legislative Analyst. Petek is currently Managing Director and Sector Leader, U.S. States Group of the U.S. Public Finance Division of S&P Global Ratings. Petek holds a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and earned his BA, magna cum laude, in political science from Loyola Marymount University where he was awarded the Stanley Chan Award, given to the top political science scholar as recognized by the faculty. [more]
Petek begins February 4. It will be interesting to see how he uses his prior experience in assessing the incurred liabilities at the state and local level. It will be up to the Legislature to determine how much time the LAO devotes to analysis of local challenges of pension and other post-employment benefits, but it has been a priority for former treasurer John Chiang and new treasurer Fiona Ma.
SRT: I wrote Sunday about his father's seat on the LA Board of Supervisors: "Sebastian Ridley-Thomas is no longer the heir apparent after resigning from the Assembly for health and, widely believed other reasons." Well, the widely believed other reasons were confirmed yesterday, as Laurel Rosenhall reports for CALmatters. She writes that it was found that he "likely harassed at least two legislative staff members while he was in office, according to an investigation commissioned by the state Assembly."
I have mixed emotions about including the story because SRT left quietly under a confidential investigation of relatively small allegations relative to those against others who fought to keep their seats. That said, he did only cite health and almost immediately took a suspect teaching position at USC with connections to his father's campaign funds. Anyway, you have it.
BAIL: As expected, the referendum to overturn the bill to move California from a cash bail system to one of pre-trial risk assessment qualified for the ballot yesterday. That places the law enacted by SB 10 (Hertzberg) on hold until the November 3, 2020 election.
It will be a big money campaign. I wrote about this before, but it bears repeating. Most of us get the impression of the bail bond industry as mom, pop, with small neon-bearing shops surrounding jails and courthouses, those are really the equivalent of the college kid who gets a cell phone store franchise. The real money is in the insurance companies that actually write the surety bond that enables an accused to be released from jail pending trial.
Generally, the person who obtains a surety bond pays a non-refundable premium of up to 10% of the bond's face value to the bail bonds salesperson, along with additional fees for the service, typically around $15. That bond-selling agent buys the surety bond with the premium from the underwriter and uses the service fee for overhead and profit.
Critics of the money bail system note that someone whose charges are dismissed even among the most egregious arresting officer or prosecutorial behavior has lost their premium even if someone else is arrested and convicted of the crime. Proponents argue that without money bail, more innocent people will be deemed high-risk in the proposed new system will sit in dangerous jails awaiting trial.
If the accused shows up for court through a trial, the insurance company made a good gamble. If the accused is a no-show, the balance (usually 90%) of the bond's face value then becomes a forfeiture of the bonded individual. Meanwhile, in most cases, the underwriter goes after assets or co-signers of the original bond with people like Dog the Bounty Hunter to recoup some of the bond from the court or seek assets of the accused and co-signers through traditional debt recovery means.
That's the simple version. These bail bond underwriters then trade entire policies or shares thereof with other companies with elaborate risk assessment calculations.
Below are the top 10 contributors to the signature gathering effort that qualified the referendum, which show where the real money is in the bail industry.
Of the top ten contributors, seven are underwriters. That includes "Bail USA." which may sound like a network of bond issuing storefronts with agents but bills itself as the "largest bail bond underwriter in the county." The top donor, Triton Management is owned by Two Jinn Inc., the Carlsbad corporation that operates Alladin Bail Bonds. Alladin has fifty offices in California, Idaho, and Washington. DMCG operates "over 36 locations" in California and Colorado.
It is unclear how much the big spenders are willing to wager on the SB 10 referendum. Over $3 million was spent on the qualification and we'll know the total by the January 31 committee filing deadline. Of contributions over $5,000 that were required to be reported within ten days, $2 million came from the surety insurance companies. There are lots of small business bond agent companies, but many operate off very lean profits and are not accustomed to high-dollar ballot measure campaigns.
The "yes" side of the referendum is also unclear at this point. Remember, as a referendum, a "yes" vote means keep the law, while a "no" vote is to repeal the law. I've heard some people confuse this because of the Proposition 6 campaign last November. While it indeed would have repealed the SB 1 gas tax, it was written as an initiative constitutional amendment, not a referendum.
At the end of the Legislature's consideration of SB 10 in the last month of session, several allies of the effort jumped ship. That included the ACLU and California Attorneys for Criminal Justice association of defense lawyers, who were not happy with amendments taken as the bill faced its final hurdles. They contend that those amendments to pre-trial flight risk assessment shift away from the presumption of innocence and could lead to more defendants being held pending trial than currently are under the cash bail system.
Under Article II, Section 10 of the California Constitution, the Legislature can amend or repeal the statutes included in SB 10 (Chapter 244, Statutes of 2018), which would take effect only if the measure is upheld by the voters.
LA-LA LAND, FEDERAL SHUTDOWN, and #CAKEDAY after the jump...
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LA-LA-LAND: As day four of the LAUSD teachers strike proceeds, UTLA is sitting down with the district at this hour for the first time since last Friday. Both Mayor Eric Garcetti and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond are stepping in to help mediate. The Los Angeles Times's Howard Blume writes up what a potential deal to end the strike might look like.
It's a very dicey situation for Garcetti, who is still considering a presidential bid. The LAUSD board is split in camps that support and don't support the position of top district administrative leaders in negotiations. There are already campaigns for 2020 elections for the board, at which time four of the seven seats are up and candidates are either in the rainy streets this week or they are not.
Garcetti and Thurmond need a deal where everyone walks away claiming a win. Because the issues are so numerous and activists hone in on different issues as their top priority, selling that deal and getting a unanimous vote by the Board of Education will be a challenge that could have lasting political consequences that could range from a school board election to one for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
FEDERAL SHUTDOWN: Let's just say that things just got uglier.
CH-CH-CH-CHANGING BYLINES: Alexei Koseff is moving from the SacBee to the San Francisco Chronicle Sacramento bureau
#CAKEDAY: Light those candles for Jackie Bowland-Koenig, Doug Jeffe, and Andrew Lackman!
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