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Happy Thursday! You're almost there and it looks like Facebook and Instagram are back up after a 12+ hour outage for most users. To me, the social media reprieve was appreciated given the polarizing nature of Newsom's death penalty moratorium. We all needed to step away and go for a walk. The weather is beautiful. The kale on my balcony for those morning omelets is loving it. It offsets the great pastured bacon from Riverdog Farm, or so I pretend. It's not Meatless Monday, is it?
Meanwhile, Happy Pi Day! I went to law school so all I know is 3.14. And there's something about that, on today, if you have three apple pies, they are squared to nine. Sounds dandy.
Black Lives Matter Sacramento has called for a protest at the Sacramento Police Station on Freeport from 3pm-6pm tonight to demand the firing of those involved in the Stephon Clark shooting. Organizers are calling it the "Legacy Weekend" to mark Monday's one-year anniversary of the shooting. It concludes midday Monday in a "Remembrance Commemoration." Sunday afternoon and evening are "A Day of Peace & Love Pop-ups." Supporters are starting and the Pannell Center in Meadowview, but pop-ups is usually used to describe roaming protests.
Just a heads up that things could be particularly volatile this weekend.
DEATH PENALTY: People have gone to their instinctive corners on Gavin Newsom's death penalty moratorium. The only legal clarification is that Newsom made no changes to the law that prescribes the death penalty. He gave reprieves under Article V, Section 8 of the California Constitution. Most electeds who responded in opposition to his action acknowledged that, but there was other chatter out there yesterday that didn't make that very important legal distinction. If he wants to change the law, he has to go to the voters.
There are plenty of articles out there to read for a response from various perspectives to Newsom's action. I'm going to pick and choose.
There is no reason to argue in this space about the propriety of the death penalty, but I am thinking about 2020 implications across the board. Obviously, Gavin won't be on the ballot next year, but are there down-ballot implications? Obviously, there are 53 congressional, 20 State Senate, and 80 State Assembly seats on the ballot. Could Democrats in moderate districts actually use it to their advantage by opposing the governor? Of course, each district is different.
Tomorrow, Gibran and I are recording a "What a Week" episode of SacTown Talks by The Nooner and that phrase rarely means more. Yes, I had the great John Poulos for crim law, who had worked on such cases, including of people later proven innocent. You won't convince me and I won't convince you. But, we can talk about the political implications.
I will opine on one issue. The governor's authority to grant reprieves and pardons can change with a simple majority of voters and I bet we will see an initiative in circulation shortly. Similarly, a ballot measure to actually repeal the death penalty introduced yesterday can similarly pass with a simple majority after being approved with two-thirds of both houses (a very high bar even with supermajorities of Democrats in both houses). The death penalty was put in the California Constitution by an initiative with a simple majority vote.
To amend the United States Constitution, it requires a two-thirds vote of both houses of the Congress or a Constitutional Convention called by two-thirds of the states. Both require the ratification of three-fourths of the states.
There's a lot of crap in our state constitution put in by the initiative process. A minimum school funding guarantee, a property tax limitation and, yes, the death penalty. These all should be in statute and we have a referendum process to repeal statutes the Legislature adopts that "the people" don't want.
Opposing Proposition 17 in 1972 putting the death penalty in the California Constitution was former governor Pat Brown, while then-governor George Deukmejian supporting it. Ironically, also signing the ballot argument in opposition was Bill Cosby. Legislative research definitely finds fascinating nuggets.
In fairness to death penalty proponents, it was put in the constitution because the Supreme Court of California found that the death penalty was contrary to Article I, Section 1, which provides for the inalienable rights of Californians. But, I would proffer that if the state constitution were to be amended, it should have gone through the Legislature. It got a supermajority--67.5% of the vote in November. Here's a fascinating honors thesis by a Georgetown student on the initiative.
Interestingly, the Supreme Court of California's ruling in People v. Anderson was before Jerry Brown 1.0 was governor and 6 years before Rose Bird was appointed to the state's high court.
Will the process to amend the state constitution change? Very unlikely. After all, you can go through the junk in the California Constitution and write in the margins which moneyed interests placed them in there. And, yes, I've been part of one of those moneyed interests that tried to amend the constitution with more junk but was defeated by a more moneyed interest.
It's all in the game, yo'. I'm just saying that the game is as ugly as a 49ers-Raiders game last year.
I'll be getting out the numbers tomorrow morning to Nooner Premium. Like the previous report, I'll include the filing period of 2/10/19 – 3/9/19, as well as "late contributions," which is really just a silly term for those that are $1,000 or more after the filing period.
Meanwhile, SEIU-UHW gave $10,000 each to the Democratic Central Committees of Fresno, Kern, and Tulare counties. SEIU-UHW has already maxed out directly to Lena Gonzalez in SD33. Under the law, these county committees can now give this money to Gonzalez, SEIU-UHW just can't instruct them to do so. It's all in doing the laundry!
FIRE LIABILITY: Yesterday, Southern California Edison was found to be responsible by state and federal authorities for the start of the December 2017 Thomas Fire in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, reports Laurel Rosenhall for CALmatters. That fire burned 281,893, destroyed 1,063 structures, and took two lives. Even though other more recent fires (Camp, Woolsey in 2018) were responsible for more damage and deaths, Thomas continues to be the largest wildfire in California history. The fire led to significant mudslides in January 2018, which the company can also be liable for.
VOTING: Yesterday in Assembly Elections and Redistricting, the committee passed AB 177 (Low) to make the November election a state holiday. I have personally supported most of the registration and voting reforms, but I think this one is off base. In 2018, five counties (Madera, Napa, Nevada, Sacramento, and San Mateo) were Voters' Choice Act counties, in which every voter was mailed a ballot. They could mail it back or drop it off at a Vote Center open a week before the election. If they didn't get their ballot, they could go to a Vote Center. If their name wasn't on the voter roll, they could conditionally register.
Already this year, Fresno, Los Angeles, Mariposa, and Orange have added on. The current VCA account for 44.3% of registered voters, and more are on the way.
I respect what Assemblymember Low is trying to do and advocates have called for this for years. However, 94.21% of Sacramento voters cast ballots by mail last November. Does it really make sense to shut down the public and private employers in the county for 5.79% of voters? Further, we know what Tuesday holidays mean. We can't change the general election day, which is federally defined.
Would people like a day off to package with a vacation day on Monday? Of course. Does it make sense given VCA? No.
AB 177 would lead to a de facto second four-day weekend in November. My preference is Assemblymember Gonzalez's AB 363, which would require each county to have at least one polling place per 10,000 voters open at least 8 hours for the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday preceding Election Day. Voters Choice Act counties are already doing exactly this and it wouldn't shut down employers and government for yet another holiday in November, which already has three--Veterans' Day and Thanksgiving.
As the kiddos say when Facebook is actually working, that's just IMHO.
TAXING MATTERS: For CALmatters, Dan Walters writes on the lingering issues of sales taxes on internet sales seven years after the "Amazon deal," reflected in AB 147 (Burke) that would exempt out-of-state small businesses online from collecting sales tax while levying it on currently exempt "marketplace facilitators," such as eBay. The bill is being fast-tracked, as there is an April 1 deadline that would require the small businesses to collect the taxes. The only opposition reflected in the analysis had been the Consumer Attorneys of California, although an amendment was taken to satisfy the organization's concerns.
To which I respond, eBay still exists? I bought lots of political memorabilia and books online in the early eBay days but haven't been back in years.
Meanwhile, the Bee's Adam Ashton reports that the state is trying to get back taxes for those businesses that used Amazon Fulfillment, whereby they may have been out-of-state companies but stored their products in an Amazon warehouse in the state for fulfillment. Treasurer Fiona Ma wants the Department of Tax and Fee Administration to back off.
ARAMBULA: Not unexpectedly, Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula pleaded not guilty in Fresno Superior Court yesterday on one misdemeanor charge of child abuse for a spanking incident.
CAGOP: For KQED, Katie Orr reports on the hopes of the California Republican Party that the new face of chair Jessica Patterson, a millennial Latina, could stem the bleeding of party registrants or at least those who consider it home.
PENSIONS: The Public Policy Institute of California is out with a new posting on what's next for California public pensions following the Supreme Court of California's ruling that the elimination of the purchase of "airtime" was lawful under California law and not a vested right. Airtime was previously allowed to be purchase for up to five years for employees that were previously employed outside of California public service.
More and #CAKEDAY after the jump . . .
JOHN CHIANG: In the LAT, Christine Mai-Duc reports that Treasurer John Chiang, who ran unsuccessfully for governor last year, has launched a federal political action committee to help Democratic Asian-American candidates across the country. The PAC is ElectAAPI, which registered with the FEC on February 20.
GASSY! Joel Fox doesn't find satisfaction in Governor Newsom's delay, rather than cancellation, in tying transportation tax funds to local governments for achieving housing goals.
THE OC: Irvine mayor and former assemblymember Don Wagner declared victory over former congressmember Loretta Sanchez in the special election for the Third District on the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Max Espinoza, Jordan George Gurnett, Erin Hannigan, Jenny Dudikoff McLaughlin, Chris Micheli, Jan Owen, and Dana Quittner!
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