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California Legislative Directory| Classifieds | Sofa Degree

E-250 - Friday, June 28, 2019

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  • SacTownTalks by The Nooner (Gibran Maciel and Scott Lay): What a Week! (2019-06-27) [Simplecast | iTunes] - YouTube coming soon
  • Look West Podcast (Assembly Democratic Caucus): Assemblymember Todd Gloria talks to former NBA player Jason Collins about the chamber's Pride awards (2019-06-27)
  • Then There's California (Senate Democratic Caucus): Pride Month with Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Senator Scott Wiener (2019-06-27)
  • Gimme Shelter Podcast (Matt Levin of CALmatters and Liam Dillon of LAT): the local fight over who gets the funds forthcoming from the state for addressing housing needs (2019-06-24)
  • Look West Podcast (Assembly Democratic Caucus): Asian Pacific Islander History with Assemblymember David Chiu (2019-06-20) - also, check out other Look West pods that I have missed
  • KQED's Political Breakdown Podcast (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): former Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-Dublin) (2019-06-21)
  • SacTownTalks by The Nooner (Gibran Maciel and Scott Lay): Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) (2019-06-19) [YouTube | Simplecast | iTunes]

SacTown Talks by The Nooner


  • SD05 (San Joaquin): corrected party preference of Stockton USD trustee Kathy Garcia from (D) to (R)
  • SD17 (Santa Cruz-SLO): updated analysis [Nooner Premium]
  • AD54 (Culver City): added Tracy Bernard Jones (D) - challenge to Kamlager-Dove (D)
  • AD76 (Oceanside): added businesswoman Melanie G. Burkholder (R) - challenge to Horvath Boehner (D)


  • Budget
  • Debate
  • SCOTUS: Census
  • SCOTUS: Political question doctrine - Rucho and Bush v. Gore
  • Video killed the squawk box star; my bad
  • Cakeday 

Happy Friday! We made it! The police raid leading to the Stonewall uprising/riots occurred 50 years ago this morning. Imagine if there were cell phones with cameras on that early morning.

Last night's debate dinner for me was an Ethiopian shrimp berbere as I continue to try to have one meal from a different part of the world each day this week in honor of Anthony Bourdain--either cheap eats around Sacramento or at home. I was a bit perplexed with the early start time of the debate and then remembered I had bought berbere spice at The Allspicery and the other ingredients. I just had to pick up cilantro. What better way to honor Tony and observe the likely arson of Queen Sheba than to make that dish. 

To be honest, I had never heard of berbere. Queen Sheba describes it on their menu as:

"World famous Ethiopian spice that is the backbone of Ethiopian cooking. Exclusively prepared and imported direct from the motherland, this ery and aromatic spice has a glowing vibrancy that awakens the senses and sharpens your focus. The Queen Sheba blend is comprised of a savory mixture of spices and herbs including ground paprika pepper, sundried garlic, ginger, basil, nigella, cumin, cardamom, fenugreek, and a few other secret ingredients."

If you like a bit of spice, I highly recommend the recipe (and the spice--I'm getting more today when I walk over for the pod). While I had the snap peas in the recipe, it would be great with zucchini, okra, eggplant, etc. as the summer progresses. If you're in downtown Sac, grab the a couple of tablespoons of the berbere at The Allspicery, or the above receipe tells you how to make your own. It's a one-pot*  half-hour dish, with much of the time passive simmering. (*excluding basmati rice which I made in the Instant Pot which takes a total of 15 minutes)

Anyway, Queen Sheba, get better soon. They make similar dishes with beef, chicken, lamb, and fish. To be honest, I've only had lunch buffet there, but will be a dinner customer as soon as they re-open.

For the scorecard, for my Anthony Bourdain tribute week, I've now hit Mexico, Vietnam (twice), the Mediterranean, and Ethiopia this week. If only I had the production budget he had! 

As you likely know, because of scheduling, Gibran and I did "What a Week" on Tuesday, which seems like a lifetime ago. Just since then, there is so much more to talk about, so we'll figure out when we'll get another recap in before the Fourth of July.

Speaking of scheduling, who would have thought we'd have so much to talk about with Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), who we are sitting down with at 1:30? I was thinking we'd spend most the time talking about rising up from being an Assembly Fellow (when I first met him) to being a member, as well as his current package. The last ten days--Whoa!

On to poly-ticks.



BUDGET: My, how things have changed. Knowing that there was a midnight deadline last night for Governor Newsom to sign the budget, I was waiting for an announcement about how Governor Newsom was going to sign the 2019-20 State Budget. In many previous years, governors have used the opportunity to surround themselves with beneficiaries of the spending plan and the legislative leaders who delivered it. 

Governor Newsom signed the plan on Facebook Live about an hour before the debate last night. Well, he didn't actually sit and sign it as Presidents do treaties, but he gave a top-line, 14:30-long video to describe highlights. We also got the line-item vetoes through a press release posted mid-debate, and there were only two minor ones. 

There were practical reasons why not to have a public signing ceremony other than the fact that the news was going to be all about the debates last night. Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) is in New York City for the Stonewall anniversary.

DEBATE: This is not the space to discuss the Democratic presidential debate, except for the Californians.

I don't think Marianne Williamson, who ran for CA33 in 2014, is still a California resident. Williamson received 13.3% to Ted Lieu's 18.8% for second place in the top-two primary. I am not sure which state or planet she is currently a resident as she doesn't appear to be in California anymore and I don't care enough to navigate the FEC site this morning. Anyway, she'll hang around for awhile as she has a loyal national following. So did Bikram before the whole sexual assault thing. I don't say that to disparage Williamson, but there is a loyal following for the former NPP congressional candidate.

People have asked how she had 65,000 donors to qualify for the debate per Democratic National Committee rules given that she doesn't register in the polls. Remember that merchandise purchases are "contributions," no matter how much the campaign nets from the purchase. She sells books and crap. 

Under these rules, I am a "donor" to Booker, Buttengieg, and Harris. I'll probably be donors to more (get Yang's "math" shirt before he comes out of his trance and drops out...sorry Gibran). Booker has a cool "WE RISE" shirt with only a small website nod on the back. Who couldn't buy a shirt that simply says "BOOT EDGE EDGE"? And, Kamala swag is California political history, whatever happens with her campaign. So, you might see me at farmers market wearing a Kamala hat and a Booker "WE RISE" shirt. Don't read into it as meaningful. For the sake of space of those overcrowded stages, unfortunately, the DNC considers them as if I sent cash. That's one of the reasons why all of these campaigns are running their merch efforts in-house.

If fairness to the DNC, there's no way on FEC forms to discern the difference, although when you see odd numbers like $31.13 or something that includes shipping, it is likely it is merch and not a "contribution."

CA15 (Hayward-Livermore-Pleasanton): The presidential experiment by Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) won't last long as the race is very likely winnowed to Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Harris, and Warren. He'll limp along for a couple of summer months and then make up with his East Bay-San Ramon Valley voters. Last night is not going to bring money in, he's not personally wealthy, and it takes money to run even a barebones presidential campaign. 

Returning for re-election to CA15 will not be easy for Swalwell. Runs for higher office leave local voters feeling either proud or neglected and those feelings are driven by performance in the higher aspirations and whether there is a local movement pushing for a change while the current officeholder is seeking the higher office. 

For Swalwell, there's little for the hometown to cheer about in his congressional bid. He's not making a sales pitch for his district, despite his good points last night that he represents a very diverse district. Contrast that with Mayor Pete Buttigieg who, while also showcasing a police shooting by his bid, is generally making a tourism video for South Bend, Indiana in a way that doesn't include college football. It's hard to do a similar thing while making a bid from most congressional districts. In particular, CA15 is a tough one as Dublin where Swalwell lives is worlds apart from Hayward. Talk about one too much and you're pissing off the other.

On the other factor, Swalwell has a Democratic challenger who appears to be in it to win it--Hayward councilmember Aisha Wahab. She is the first Afghan-American woman elected official in the country after being elected last November. However, her youth--chronologically and in elected office--is not keeping supporters on the sidelines. She has an amazing personal story, having been raised in foster care and adopted after her parents passed away. She has an MBA from Cal State East Bay. She has picked up several endorsements from local and state elected officials.

Officially, Wahab has not said whether she will stay in the race if Swalwell drops his presidential bid and runs for re-election but she did retweet a tweet last night that used Swalwell's "passing the torch" comment about Biden that argued that it was time for Swalwell himself to pass the torch. And another. And another. She's not up for re-election to the Hayward council until 2022 and has nothing to lose next year.

HARRIS: The attention on Kamala Harris was right after her announcement as a "shiny new thing," and it was before Joe Biden got in to the race. In my opinion, it was a good thing that after Biden's announcement she fell off the national radar. By doing so, there were few expectations of her last night. Had she come in as a darling, she wouldn't be in the news post-debate last night and this morning in the way she is now. Had she rode in at a high like Biden did, she would have been the focus of attacks and could only disappoint. My guess is that she's seeing very good post-debate fundraising, which would not have been the case had she turned in an "as expected" performance.

She came in prepared and as the prosecutor last night. She sat back, let the others talk over each other and played mom. She let Swalwell attack Joe Biden's age. And then she dropped the busing bomb that left Biden seemingly stunned, given the long pause with no sign of the familiar Uncle Joe grin. She got him to evoke states' rights on a day when Democrats were pissed that the Supreme Court upheld states' rights in partisan redistricting (which I agree with as I wrote yesterday). 

Of course, there are seven more debates. The next one is another two-night affair July 30 and 31 hosted by CNN in Detroit. You can bet that the debate prep folders for candidates are being stuffed with op research (for those who have done so) on Kamala immediately. With Biden wounded for now, she is now on the carving platter, although of course after the two-night line-up is shuffled, we won't know who will be at the dinner table. 

People like to look at Harris and ask where Obama was at an equivalent point in 2007. Well, it was largely a two-person primary already between Clinton and Obama. Clinton had 35 and Obama had 23 in the CNN poll this week 12 years ago, according to Real Clear Politics. This year's field is so much broader that there is so much noise in the polling that it is impossible to read where things truly stand.

SCOTUS - CENSUS: All indications are that the Trump Administration and Department of Commerce are looking at ways to lay out its citizenship question decision-making process under the Administrative Procedure Act to meet legal muster to the court's satisfaction to include it on the 2020 Census. The "drop-dead" date for form finalization for printing--previously expressed as July 1--is believed to actually be around October 1. 

Don't believe the issue is over in contrast to a lot of the media accounts and football-spiking that's in your email box. At least that's what I am getting from several good sources.

SCOTUS - POLITICAL QUESTION AND BUSH V. GORE: Someone asked me a good question on Twitter yesterday. Okay, I no that sounds like news in itself, but there's more. The question was, given the Supreme Court's 5-4 opinion in Rucho v. Common Cause that partisan gerrymandering is a political question, then how come Bush v. Gore decided the presidential election in 2000 by stopping the recount in Palm Beach County, Florida?

I'm going to try to Friday-simplify this.

Political question is a doctrine that finds that certain issues are inherently political and not legal in nature and therefore not justiciable. In other words, there is no constitutional basis on which Article III (federal courts) to rely in making a conclusion. Generally, that means that it is under either Article I (Congress) or reserved to the states. 

In the 2000 holding in Bush v. Gore, the court found that the Florida Supreme Court erred in allowing the counting of ballots in Palm Beach County to proceed. The rationale was that different counties in Florida were using different standards (remember "hanging" and "dimpled" chads?) in counting ballots. By doing so, the state supreme court was extending state election deadlines to allow Palm Beach to count ballots in a manner not used by other counties. Thus, it violated the one-person, one-vote doctrine that comes from the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. That makes it a legal, rather than political question, and therefore justiciable.

The one justiciable issue in Rucho is freedom of association under the First Amendment and it is a good argument. However, the majority dismissed that finding "The plaintiffs are free to engage in those activities no matter what the effect of a plan may be on their district." (Rucho p. 31; maj. opinion p. 26) Respondents (Common Cause, the original plaintiffs) cited the decision in California Democratic Party v. Jones, the open primary case and Justice Kagan cited the case in her dissent.

In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the open primary that allowed all voters cast ballots in primary elections affected the associational rights of the "members" of a political party to determine who their candidate would be on the general election ballot. The reason it was unconstitutional is that the state (through the voters in Prop. 198) was mandating that parties allow anybody to determine who would be on the general election ballot representing "their" party.

Under that system there would still be a Democrat and Republican, etc. on the general election ballot, but non-party members could affect who they would be. That latter part is why it was unconstitutional. Now we have the top-two primary, which doesn't guarantee ballot access for parties in the general election, but simply the top-two candidates, which takes away the associational guarantee not met in CDP v. Jones.

In Rucho yesterday, the Court found that partisan considerations in drawing district lines doesn't disenfranchise anyone nor deny anyone's associational rights because they are really affecting the general election, and the justiciable issues of association are generally primary election issues. Different states and different parties use different systems for primaries--closed primaries, semi-closed primaries, open primaries, or even conventions. But it's up to the parties, and thus their members, to decide. That's the associational right. In the California presidential primary next year, the nomination for the Republican Party is closed and that of the Democratic Party is open for NPP voters, although practically they must request a ballot if they are a vote-by-mail voter, including all voters in Voters Choice Act counties.

I said this was going to be a Friday simplification and I totally failed at that. In summary, political parties are associational rights. The Court found that since any voter can vote for any candidate in the general election then there are no associational rights being violated. Unlike race or other protected classes there are no further guarantees that would carry forward to the general election, and therefore, the issue is inherently a political one and non-justiciable. It is thus up to Congress under Article I, Section 4 an Enumerated Power and, should Congress not speak on the issue, left to the states.

SCOTUS - DACA: When the Court wrapped opinions yesterday, Chief Justice Roberts said that there would be orders this morning as its final action of the term. This morning, the Court granted certiorari to the challenge to President Trump's termination of the Obama-era "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" (DACA) program as one of thirteen cases granted review.

Arguments in the case of Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California will be heard in the Court's term beginning October 1, although the date of the arguments have not been announced.

For folks not familiar with case names in Supreme Court cases which can be confusing, the names are Petitioner v. Respondent. Petitioner is the one appealing the lower court decision. Therefore, the district court case was Regents of the University of California v. Department of Homeland Security. UC won at the district court on a dismissal motion filed by the Department of Homeland Security and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied review. Thus, the Trump Administration petitioned for certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States asking that the Ninth Circuit be reversed.

UC has standing because California gives in-state tuition to recipients of DACA status and the state serves thousands of such students in the three public segments. They are required under Plyer v. Doe to be served in K-12 students (as are all school age children, regardless of age).

VIDEO KILLED THE SQUAWK BOX STAR: For the newbies, we used to have "squawk boxes" on our desks to listen to legislative hearings and floor sessions. They were these ugly little wood box treasures and were only available in certain buildings, as they were obviously hard-wired. Mine had a yellow sticker on it, although I think they were distributed with different colors at different times. For those of you who have seen the original Apple computer toted by Jobs and Woz to the Homebrew computer club, it looked not unlike that, without a keyboard and square. Someone posted a picture the other day but I can't find it right now. I would have taken a picture of mine before it was disposed of, but camera phones weren't invented yet.

Anyway, the point of the trip down memory lane is that I erred yesterday when I wrote about the end of CalChannel. The Senate and Assembly do apparently have live video streams of floor sessions and some hearings online pursuant to Proposition 54, accessible with those links. Since it's Friday, I can't test it out. I'll revisit this on Monday.


CAKEDAY after the jump...


Probolsky Research



Thank you for reading this week! It's been a long one. Oh, yeah, I'll "see" you tomorrow and Sunday! It's going to be a beautiful weekend albeit warmer without the cool nights we have been blessed with.

I know I've been writing a lot on the Supreme Court stuff the last couple of days, which I've received encouragement to do so from many of you. I do have state and local issues to catch up on. That's what the weekend will be for! 

#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Linda Nguy and Radmehr Nowroozi!




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