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Happy 420! What a week it was, even though it was the Legislature's Spring Recess. It seemed to get to Gibran and I so we recorded a particularly raucous What a Week episode of the pod late yesterday. Anyway, I think we'll be dropping in your holiday basket something late yesterday as we often do as we get ready to start another week.
On my morning walk, I was listening to the new Lovett or Leave It episode that dropped this morning. On it was House Intel Chair Adam Schiff (D-Burbank). Obviously, most of the convo was about the Mueller report. But, just to highlight for Fearless Jennifer Fearing, it ended with Jon Lovett asking Schiff, who is vegan, if he can introduce legislation to require Burger King's pilot of its Impossible Burger, which is a vegan patty, to expand from St. Louis to nationwide. Schiff acknowledged that legislation is not necessarily his priority at this time in our nation but went on to say that what he really wants to know from Burger King is whether the bun it is served on is vegan because, if not, the congress member will be "pissed."
Meanwhile, CNN just sent me an alert to my devices that eating one slice a bacon a day increases my chance of butt cancer--literally as I was eating a slice of bacon. Not making light of serious research, but I'll have kale from my balcony for lunch. Also, if my bacon is raised organic and is sugar free from Riverdog Farm, does that make it better? Nom nom until there is conclusive research.
4:20 TO YUMA: On the pod, Congress member Duncan Hunter (R-East San Diego) received a fair share of our rants with his latest. He posted a video on Thursday to allegedly show how easy it is to cross the border by hopping a fence in Yuma, Arizona. This is what happens when members of Congress are stripped of their committee assignments. He could be spending campaign dough at his favorite haunts the Capitol Hill Club, Alpine Tobacco Company (wine and, tobacco, and vape bar), or the Sycuan casino. He did plenty of that in the first quarter, but he's also using his plentiful free time to highlight a legitimate issue.
Of course, if he did jump the fence into Mexico that he would have violated the conditions of his release from jail. He and his wife had to forfeit their passports pending the trial on campaign finance violations scheduled for this September. So, instead, he jumped a traffic fence that is no more than surrounds a cattle feeding lot. While at the beginning of the video he said that he was 15 meters from the border, the video cuts and then he returns and points to the fence and calls it the border wall and climbs over it to make the point that Yuma needs a wall like you see in San Ysidro.
The video was taken at night and it's unclear where he was. On the west side of Yuma is the Colorado River. On the south side, there is a pretty significant fence and I don't need a congressional junket video to tell me that. I've got Google. Here is the view of the Southern side. Double fence/wall with lighting for surveillance. The double fencing continues to the river. I could spend my entire weekend "traveling" via Google across the border to find the weak spots in border security but for our purposes today, and I think it's fair to call BS on Mr. Hunter.
Until then, I don't think that favorite haunt Alpine Tobacco Company ($2,576.40 on Q1 report) sells 420 and Mr. Rohrabacher has moved to Maine, but here are some Yelp reviews in Alpine for Mr. Hunter before he sees the Easter Bunny at a fictitious border "wall."
Fun fact I learned in writing these grafs. On Yelp, Alpine Tobacco--a wine bar, tobacco, and vape shop--gets an "A" health rating. To think that researchers give a crap (yes, butt joke) about my bacon grease-laden keyboard.
LAW AND DISORDER: For the New York Times, Tim Arango writes that, while rapper Nipsey Hussle had turned his life around and was focused on leading others to do so before he was shot down, California's law enforcement system treats a once gangsta as always a gangsta.
"When a gunman rolled up to Nipsey Hussle’s Marathon Clothing store late last month, the first person to be shot was Kerry Lathan, recently released from prison and there to pick up a T-shirt. Mr. Lathan was shot in the back, before Hussle, the renowned rap artist, was killed.
Days later, Mr. Lathan, using a wheelchair while he recovered from his wound, was arrested and held in the Men's Central Jail — not because he had committed a crime, but because he had violated parole by associating with a known gang member: Nipsey Hussle.
Never mind that Hussle had been lauded as a businessman and a philanthropist, mourned with a 25-mile procession through the streets of South Los Angeles, and celebrated by former President Barack Obama. Or that he had been killed one day before he was set to sit down with the city’s police chief to talk about reducing gang violence."
After Mr. Lathan, 56, spent 10 days in jail, apparently even parole officials could no longer reconcile Nipsey Hussle the local hero with Nipsey Hussle the gang member. On Thursday, after appeals to Gov. Gavin Newsom by family members and calls to the governor’s office by reporters, the head of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Ralph M. Diaz, intervened, and the charges against Mr. Lathan were dropped.
Thank you, Gavin, if you had anything to do with this. Reasonable people can disagree about the death penalty moratorium, but in my opinion only unreasonable ones can disagree with dropping the charges in this case.
We'll be back after a quick break...
Ah, that felt good. I stood for a minute because my watch told me to. Perhaps that will make up for the bacon.
LA-LA LAND: In the LAT, Howard Blume and Sonali Kohli write that frequent foes homebuilder-turned-philantrophist charter school advocate Eli Broad and United Teachers Los Angeles are on the same side in the vote on a parcel tax for Los Angeles Unified schools. "Other unions and groups with business before the city also have donated large sums, as has Clippers owner Steve Ballmer." They further write:
"The tax, Measure EE, will go before voters within the boundaries of the Los Angeles Unified School District in June and would raise about $500 million annually. District officials decided to put the measure before voters soon after the six-day January teachers strike, hoping to build on widespread goodwill generated by those on the picket lines."
The two strikes that have ended (Los Angeles and Oakland) both assumed new revenue through local taxes and next year's "split roll" measure, and Sacramento is poised to have a similar expectation to quell labor disputes.
Meanwhile, it's time for a rant that will piss off many of my liberal and education friends. Here's a headline from the Advancement Project: "Los Angeles Unified School District Votes to Add Parcel Tax to June Ballot." There is no ballot to "add" to.
I would likely vote for the tax if I was an LAUSD voter, but I am not and that is not the point here.
June in odd years is still a regular election date, but Los Angeles like many other municipalities moved to even-numbered years for regular elections to comply with the California Voting Rights Act. There is only one other thing on an LA County ballot--the runoff for Senate District 33 (Long Beach), which Lena Gonzalez will win in a landslide. SD33 only touches LAUSD on the edges. If it wasn't Saturday, I'd try to figure out a number, but I just know it's a very small share of LAUSD registered voters. Yes, LAUSD does have an election--May 14 for the District 5 runoff between Jackie Goldberg and Heather Repenning. But, since that's a special runoff, the LAUSD board couldn't have the parcel tax vote on the same ballot.
For the large parcel tax increase, LAUSD needs 66.6%+1. In 2020, Los Angeles plans to be a Voter's Choice Act county, meaning ballots will be mailed to everybody, something liberals generally love. But before that, this year we have an estimated half-a-billion tax increase based on $0.12/square foot that will last 12-years will be on a ballot that will have an infinitesimal turnout.
In last year's primary election, 44.62% of voters were vote-by-mail. In the general it was 44.66%. So, let's not pretend that a majority of actual a voters for the tax--the only thing on the ballot--are going to be sitting around their kitchen table. And, only those motivated--ardent supporters and opponents are going to track down their polling place and go before or after work to cast a ballot.
Further, the tax by square foot is novel to my knowledge. It goes after commercial owners, meaning lots of non-LAUSD folks (including employees who work in but don't live in LAUSD) will be paying the price. Is that good or bad? I honestly don't have an answer. But, it's worthy of a good policy discussion--one that doesn't happens when it is put on a ballot that garners almost zero interest.
I'd likely vote for the tax, but the process by which voters are asked for it stinks. There's no reason why the highly energized March 3, 2020 primary would not be a more appropriate forum. Let the very diverse field of Democratic candidates come to the City of Angels to talk about the measure and their visions for public schools, including charters. Invite the President to talk about schools.
That would be a much better discussion than the equivalent of playing the Super Bowl with the lights off in the Superdome in the middle of the night.
Let everyone have a ballot in their mailbox and have the measure in the mix with lots of other important elections. After all, we're talking about one property tax payment between the June 4, 2019 and the March 3, 2019 election. If LAUSD goes bankrupt because of the collective bargaining agreement because of that rational delay, don't blame it on the voters.
Now that we have moved nearly all candidate elections to even-numbered years, the Legislature should step in and align measures accordingly. The same rationale found in polarized voting for candidates in irregular elections in theory applies to ballot measures, and that could be a significant civil rights issue. Hint: great thesis for a law student looking for a paper idea.
By the way, the only other thing on the Los Angeles County ballot on June 4 beyond SD33 is a 0.75% sales tax hike to provide $8.3 million/year to Arcadia. I guess they're getting ready for the shutdown of horse racing at Santa Anita.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Jaime Huff, Maureen Johnson, Sam Oh, and Garry South!
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