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Happy Friday! You made it! The Oakland teachers strike continues among negotiations "progress." When was the last time an education strike ended on a Thursday with the return to regular operations on a Friday? The board is meeting at 2pm today.
Thank you for your comments on my personal share yesterday. The CF kiddos (and now adults) definitely appreciate your thoughts.
For those of you around the Capitol, I wrote this FB post this morning after The Allspicery announced a free bicycle delivery service on orders over $20. They also offer 10% on refills, so if you like me use refillable containers like this one (I really need another), Allspicery is a perfect addition to the Capitol area.
I know you don't come to The Nooner to hear about food, but you likely know that I love cooking and eating, love small and local, and am trying to promote independent businesses around the Capitol. We can do a lot to help end this constant turnover leading to empty storefronts and unsafe conditions before and after the lunch hour. I don't know the owners or have any interest in any way.
Anyway, a couple of updates on yesterday's stories...
DIALYSIS: The big dialysis clinics fight this year is a AB 290 by Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), who is chair of Assembly Health Committee. While not the explicit profit cap on clinics (for now) as we saw last year, it requires financial disclosure for both the health care provider (clinic) and the third-party payment provider (insurer). That is a quick, pre-dawn read from me and this is not my policy area. Of course, we will get analysis when the bill is heard by Assembly Health in the next few weeks. Yesterday was 30 days in print for the bill, so the it may not be heard by committee.
DART! A reader shared with me an interesting history of the family owners behind Dart Container Corporation, which is the prolific political giver and maker of most of those polystyrene (StyrofoamTM) containers of to-go food and red plastic "beer pong" cups. From Wikipedia in a well-footnoted article:
"The company is owned by brothers Kenneth B. Dart and Robert C. Dart, who renounced their U.S. citizenship in 1994. Kenneth Dart then established a relationship with the nation of Belize, which promptly sought U.S. permission to open a consulate in Sarasota with Dart as its consul. The request was rejected by the State Department, and the brothers eventually moved to the Cayman Islands. They have several business concerns on the islands, including Dart Enterprises which is a holding company involved in several projects, including the Camana Bay town development.
In 2001, the US Internal Revenue Service said the Dart brothers improperly billed $11.6 million of personal security costs to Dart Container. In U.S. Tax Court, Dart Container argued the money was a valid business expense due to "specific threats and other facts and circumstances". Half the money went for corporate aircraft. The IRS asked for $4 million more for 1996 and 1997 taxes. In 2003, the Internal Revenue Service took the brothers to court, saying they owed an additional $19 million in 1998 and 1999 taxes. In 2002, the Dart brothers and their companies paid $26 million in back taxes.
In May 2013, fifty agents of the Argentine tax authority raided the local Dart Container subsidiary Dart Sudamericana SRL on alleged tax evasion charges. The tax authority claimed that the firm imported polystrene beads at inflated prices, thus avoiding taxable gains through the unfair transfer pricing scheme."
Dart Container spent $560,746.47 on lobbying in the 2017-18 session, spread in financial order among Mercury Public Affairs, Carter, Wetch & Associates, and Cliff Moriyama Consulting. In the 2017-2018 cycle, the company spent $1,420,809.27 on direct and independent expenditures, ranging from $80,000 to the California Democratic Party to $50,000 for the Los Angeles County homelessness issue. They play for both parties.
So, when you see those random Dart contributions in campaign finance reports, just know how literally the brothers took Dart. Literally Dart! from the country.
ALL IN THE GAME, YO'. ALL IN THE GAME: On Tuesday, I wrote about the San Diego's green light for Mayor Kevin Faulconer to enter discussions with other cities in the region to form a joint powers authority for community choice aggregation to provide electrical service, which would mean withdrawing from San Diego Gas & Electric, which is owned by Sempra Energy.
Well, yesterday the California Democratic Party reported receiving $360,000 from Sempra Energy on Wednesday. The contributions were reported along with the DaVita dialysis $200,000 I wrote about yesterday. I don't have direct insight into why such a large contribution came in from Sempra as the Legislature gets underway on many issues. The two big ones for Sempra are the possible loss of a huge user base to community choice aggregation in the San Diego region and the aftermath of the 2015 natural gas leak in the company's storage facility in Aliso Canyon, north of the Porter Ranch in the far north part of the City of Los Angeles. Like San Diego Gas & Electric, the Southern California Gas Company is owned by Sempra, which is headquartered in San Diego.
Another big check that was reported being sent to the California Democratic Party yesterday was $85,000 from the California State Law Enforcement Association. CSLEA is lesser known than the bigger law enforcement players like the California Correctional Prison Officers Association and associations of local sworn officers, but is big nonetheless. The association represents Unit 7 in the California state bargaining units-- Protective Services and Public Safety.
So, we're talking Alcoholic Beverage Control agents, Department of Justice agents, state firefighters and fire marshals, Fish and Wildlife wardens and park rangers, and many more. In all, "CSLEA's 7,000 members can be found in 180 different job classifications in state government." The association gave $370,000 to the California Democratic Party in the 2017-2018.
Unit 7's contract is up July 1, 2019. It's all in the game, yo'.
SD01 (Northeast California): The California Real Estate Political Action Committee (CREPAC) has joined in CCPOA's independent expenditure effort with $150,000 to support Assemblymember Brian Dahle for the March 26 special election. The name of the committee (which started as sponsored by the Blythe Correctional Officers Association and changed to sponsored by CCPOA) may need to be changed yet again, as CREPAC's $150,000 dwarfs CCPOA's $50,000.
NOT JUST THE LG, BUT ALSO THE OG ON TRADE: Yesterday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order establishing the International Affairs and Trade Development Interagency Committee under Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis and appointing Kounalakis as his top representative to advance California’s economic interests abroad.
This is significant economically, politically and historically. I wrote about this right after the election following a column by the LAT's George Skelton. I wrote:
"I do think it's a great opportunity for not just Eleni! but also Gavin. Eleni should tell Gavin that she would love to carry his message. Unlike the Brown-Newsom relationship, Schwarzenegger-Bustamante, Schwarzanegger-Garamendi, Davis-Bustamante, Wilson-Davis, Wilson-McCarthy, Deukmejian-McCarthy were."
Newsom and Kounalakis are both Bay Area progressives and were born seven months apart, he in San Francisco and she in Sacramento. They could have a complementary partnership, particularly if Newsom decides to remain living in Marin County where his four young kids are enrolled in school. He can do a fair amount of governing from the state office on Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco. He can travel to Sacramento for major events and Eleni can attend to more frequent events in Sacramento.
They could create a ticket-like partnership in a non-ticket state, which as I have opined it should be. Gavin is not one to share the spotlight, but I think it can be done in a way that doesn't take away from his star-power. It would also allow him to respond to big-ticket invitations on climate change, guns, and other issues on the national stage. He has an A-team already with Ann O'Leary as chief of staff and Ana Matasantos as cabinet secretary. There is no more budget "Big 5." We have teleconferencing now. He can be omnipresent.
I like Gavin. I try not to try to give him advice, but if I would have any for the governor-elect and Eleni, it would be to work as a team as if it were Obama-Biden or Reagan-Bush. Those seemed to work pretty well and we can break the dysfunctional situation we have in The Golden State."
In the end, Gavin and Jennifer, the three kids, the pup and the rabbit decided to pack up and move to the Sacramento region in Fair Oaks. I think it's a good move and he has been very present. Several in the press are aggrieved that he doesn't always give a press advisory for out-of-town meetings on policy issues. I get that who want to see a daily schedule like provided for the President of the United States.
I am glad that he's treating Eleni like a partner in governing the state. She is the child of Greek immigrants, a businesswoman, and former ambassador to Hungary. California has huge economic interests abroad as the fifth largest economy in the world. Gavin knows that, without a formal role, the LG job is largely that of serving on commissions, which is often done by staff.
I listed some in the November Nooner, but let's look at the last ten lieutenant governors:
You get the picture. There really hasn't been a cooperative Governor-Lieutenant Governor partnership during my lifetime and it has nothing to do with whether or not they were from the same party. Remember the lowlight of the Bustamante-Davis relationship--Bustamante ran a largely ridiculed "No on Recall, but Yes on Me" campaign in 2003? Bustamante did come in second with 17.1% of the vote. However, #1 and #3--Schwarzenegger and Tom McClintock--combined for 62% of the vote, with Schwarzenegger winning the corner office after voters voted 55.4% "yes" on the recall question.
I can't find the last time a governor played a substantive partnership role. The last lieutenant governor to succeed a governor because of a vacancy in office was Goodwin Knight in 1953 following Earl Warren's appointment as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Gavin's appointment of Eleni also continues the "go at it on our own when we need to" attitude of Jerry Brown. California has had economic trade offices for years, although they have been political footballs in budget fights when the legislators didn't see themselves as a "third branch" to the executive. That's very different with Gavin-Eleni. While folks are still a bit dizzy over the governor's high-speed rail plans, the mood in the Capitol is really positive right now. Some of it is that the state is flush with funds because of a robust economy and Brown's fiscal prudence (and the Legislature's willingness to go along), but it goes well beyond that.
The Legislature has a net +3% approval rating among likely voters in last month's PPIC poll. In the same poll five years prior in January 2014, it was -12%. Five years before in January 2009, it was -61%! In January 2004, it was -16%. (monthly data)
For Democratic and Republican Party legislators, things are good. Sure, there has been a shift in membership and lots of GOP staff lost jobs, but I'm talking about the overall mood of the Legislature. I think Newsom's announcement of Kounalakis working on these issues abroad will earn high praise, even if critics of Newsom's announcement won't earn press releases. After all, California's Lieutenant Governor, a developer businesswoman, will be working to bring economic development to California. That is not a partisan issue.
2020, more and #CAKEDAY after the jump...
ICE-ICE BABY: While we've been huddling under Rihanna's Umbrella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh in the Valley, the awesome white stuff has been coming down in huge volumes in the Sierra. The California Department of Water Resources conducted its third snowpack survey yesterday at the Phillips Station point. They report:
"The manual survey recorded 113 inches of snow depth and a snow water equivalent (SWE) of 43.5 inches, which is more than double what was recorded last month at this location. Statewide, the Sierra Nevada snowpack is 153 percent of average for this date, thanks to several atmospheric rivers during February.
Snow water equivalent is the depth of water that theoretically would result if the entire snowpack melted instantaneously. It is an important tool used by water managers across the state to estimate anticipated spring runoff.
The results show a notable improvement since the last Phillips survey on January 31, when measurements at Phillips Station revealed a SWE of 18 inches compared to today’s 43.5 inches. Current conditions stand in stark contrast to this time last year when the snow depth was only 13.5 inches and the SWE was just 1.5 inches.
“This winter’s snowpack gets better each month and it looks like California storms aren’t done giving yet,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “This is shaping up to be an excellent water year.”
Join me in gassho/prayer/meditation that it stays up there as long as possible and it will be a wonderful year for farmers and fish alike. The last thing we can afford is a warm storm in which the snow melts too fast, causing flooding and losing the great resource. That was what happened in 1995 in my first year up here.
THAR'S GREEN IN THAR HILLS (AND THAT MAY NOT BE GOOD): Many fire-charred hills across California have turned green and flowers have started blooming. However, CALmatters's Julie Cart writes that it may not be a good thing, according to scientists:
"To most of us, the vigorous grass sprays and dazzling wildflower bloom are a welcome sight, coloring over the dark remnant of fire. But not to everyone.
Many of the fast-growing plants are non-native and fire-prone, making it likely that the hills will be charred black again sooner rather than later."
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Rodney Wilson!
DEPT OF CORRECTIONS: Of course, Eric Swalwell is (D-Livermore), not (R-).
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