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E-249 - Saturday, June 29, 2019

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  • SacTownTalks by The Nooner (Gibran Maciel and Scott Lay): What a Week! (2019-06-27) [YouTubeSimplecast | iTunes
  • 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


  • Food porn (feel free to skip my Nooner quasi-journaling)
  • Budget 
  • Edison greases the wheels
  • Hunter
  • Housing
  • Sports betting
  • SacTown biz - coffee buh-bye
  • Cakeday 

Happy Saturday! How about those USA women on the pitch? They face England in the semi-finals at noon on Tuesday. How fitting 243 years to the day after the final votes were being wrangled in the Constitutional Congress for the Declaration of Independence.

FOOD PORN: Warning: food talk ahead that I wrote last night...feel free to skip below the jump if you don't want to get hungry. But I've received handwritten notes from Premium subscribers that say they like my food porn notes. 

I'm rounding out my Anthony Bourdain tribute week and added Laos last night. It's about global, small-scale, and cheap food.

"When you say 'Mexican food' to a Mexican, you're haven't really said anything at all." That's what I've been thinking about and learning. The same thing is true with Vietnamese. My friend KimChi said "Don't get Bún bò Huế from a restaurant with Ha Noi in the name."

Now, something like menudo--the delicious soup that I get most Sundays at the church across from Southside Park--doesn't have a true home. It's a peasant dish of delicious leftovers. People love filet mignon because it's like butter. Generally, that's also what you're tasting--butter and salt and pepper. Give me some tripe and the knuckle/hock to gnaw on.

Here's my journey around the world through this week (NR=No Reservations; PU=Parts Unknown):

  • NR Season 5, Episode 10: Vietnam: There's No Place Like Home - Thịt kho (Vietnamese caramelized pork belly) - homemade
  • NR Season 5, Episode 10: Vietnam: There's No Place Like Home - Bánh hỏi Cá Bông Lau Nướng (whole catfish self-wraps with thin rice noodle bundles) and Bò Tái Chanh - beef carpaccio in lime juice - Tay Giang, South Sac
  • NR Season 5, Episode 1: Mexico - Menudo - Our Lady of Guadalupe, Southside Park
  • PU Season 4, Episode 5: Vietnam - Bún bò Huế (or just Bún bò if in Huế) spicy beef noodle soup - Home-crafted from a secret chef
  • PU Season 6, Episode 6: Ethiopia - Shrimp berbere - homemade
  • PU Season 7, Episode 4: The Greek Islands - Chicken shawarma, dolmas, hummus - Crest Cafe, Kay Street (okay, I sort of "fit" this one in for Mediterranean)
  • PU Season 9, Episode 4: Laos - Kasoy, Lao sausage - Laos Kitchen, South Sac

Yes, I ate a whole pork belly from Riverdog Farm myself. No judging. It was spread over two meals and I ate some green stuff with it.

It is indeed Vietnamese heavy, but if you're a Bourdain fan, you know it was Tony's favorite country and contemplated moving there permanently. That and my best foodie eating companion KimChi Nguyễn is Vietnamese and if you truly want to explore South Sacramento's Southeast Asian wonders, you need a Southeast Asian dining companion for proper navigation. Tony had his favorites.

In my previous iteration, I ate at some of the country's "nicest" and Michelin-star restaurants--The French Laundry, The Kitchen, several José Andrés restaurants, Rick Bayless' Topolobampo in Chicago, Chez Panisse, Gary Danko, etc.). I've "eaten" Bobby Flay, the now-disgraced Mario Botali, Emeril, Chris Consentino, and other celeb chefs. I don't regret any of those pricy meals and experiences, but my purpose here is not to name drop.

I have eaten delicious, small-scale food and made my own from around the world for the entire week for the cost of any one of these meals. While I'm not swearing off high-end cuisine or travel to places around the world, the point is that Bourdain showed us that great food doesn't necessarily come from white tablecloths and can be found in surprising places

My point this week is that you can savor the culture and food of far off places right here in Sacramento.

Thank you, Tony, for getting my mind off CNN and the Democratic primary this week. You've been a good background companion as I write and inspired me to get back in to the kitchen and out into the world.

Oh, this isn't a food newsletter? ¡Lo siento! Just a few items before I find my last couple of meals for my Bourdain tribute week. I have salmon defrosting and trying to figure out what country's style it should be prepared in. Tony never had an Alaska episode, but this is Alaskan Coho, so I could cook it on a cedar plank in a Native American style. We'll see and I'll wrap my tribute list tomorrow. 



BUDGET: Speaker Rendon budget advisor Jason Sisney tweeted out this list of trailer bill status, including chapter numbers of those signed in to law. 

IN IT TO WIN IT: As the Legislature begins discussions with Governor Newsom about wildfire liability legislation and utility cost recovery, Southern California Edison just greased the wheels with $300,000 to the California Democratic Party and $200,000 to the California Republican Party.  

A "Wildfire Resistance Coalition" of organizations that support the general framework outlined in Newsom's "strike force" report is calling for legislative action before the Legislature leaves summer recess on July 12. However, a bipartisan coalition of legislators in the north state are calling for more resources for prevention such as shrub and dead tree clearing before they are ready to vote for relief for the utilities. 

Meanwhile, Dale Kasler reports in the Bee that things are likely about to get worse for PG&E as the Public Utilities Commission considers imposing penalties for its role in the 2017 wine country fires that killed 44 people. Kasler writes:

"In an order released late Thursday, the PUC said its safety division has already concluded that PG&E failed to operate its electrical equipment properly and had “various deficiencies” in its tree-trimming program, contributing to the 2017 fires.

“PG&E’s violations during the 2017 fire siege are extensive and disturbing, and go to basic requirements, such as the failure to maintain adequate records,” PUC Commissioner Clifford Rechtschaffen said in a prepared statement.

Cal Fire blamed PG&E’s power lines and other equipment for a dozen of the fires, although it exonerated the utility in connection with the deadliest fire, the Tubbs Fire. That fire killed 22 people and burned much of the Coffey Park neighborhood in Santa Rosa."

WILDFIRES: Meanwhile, experts are warning that the wet winter means that this fire season is likely to be worse than last, which was the deadliest and most damaging in California history, reports Colleen Shalby in the LA Times. Shalby writes:

"Officials are expecting numerous grass fires of between 5 and 150 acres to burn during June. Several spot fires have already broken out across the state, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

But those burn areas are expected to nearly double in July — to around 250 acres — and balloon to 1,500-5,000 acres by September and October. Like last year, the worst could come in November, when experts warn that fires of more than 5,000 acres could break out."

HUNTER: For Politico, Josh Gerstein dives in to the latest response from Duncan Hunter's lawyers before Monday's motions hearing on the congressman's campaign finance case.

"Defense lawyers for Rep. Duncan Hunter appeared to concede Friday that he carried on extramarital affairs with several women, but alleged that much of his related spending of campaign funds was legitimate because he was “mixing business with pleasure.”

Well, that sort of throws the whole witch-hunt argument out the window. 

"With Hunter (R-Calif.) facing a federal criminal trial on 60 felony charges that he repeatedly spent campaign money on vacations, meals and even dental bills, Hunter’s attorneys are urging a federal judge to put off-limits any discussion of his intimacy with the women, saying it would risk his right to a fair trial.


“However unpopular the notion of a married man mixing business with pleasure, the Government cannot simply dismiss the reality that Mr. Hunter’s relationships with [the women] often served an overtly political purpose that would not have existed irrespective of his occupation,” Hunter lawyers Greg Vega, Ricardo Arias and Philip Adams wrote.

Bill Clinton was impeached for mixing business with pleasure after some of his business ended up on a blue dress. I am sure that Clinton had an "overtly political purpose" for needing that hallway release.

The attorneys continue in their brief:

“Mr. Hunter is not on trial for being an unfaithful husband, yet this evidence invites the trier of fact to punish Mr. Hunter for his infidelity despite what the case shows actually happened,” the congressman’s defense team added.

I get the argument that they are making, but in order to demonstrate campaign finance fraud, the prosecution must demonstrate the improper use of the funds. In some cases of his overt misuse it was funds allegedly used for wounded warriors and others for boozy casino visits. Those the Hunters previously acknowledged and repaid by selling the family house and moving Margaret Hunter and the kids in with former congressman Duncan Hunter Sr. while Hunter Jr. continued his DC adventures. 

The prosecutors tried to get Hunter to make a stipulation on the campaign funds used for the affairs to keep them out of the public record and that which will be heard by a jury. Of course, that met admitting guilt and he's not ready to do that. It also means that there is likely going to be a salacious trial. The prosecutors are required to share with the jury the unrelated nature to political purpose of the affairs. The same thing is true about the exorbinant bar tabs at the Capitol Hill Club, Bullfeathers, and elsewhere. It is all yucky, but it was up to Hunter to keep it out of the public record and I think there is little legal basis for his lawyers from becoming so.

As a fallible human myself, I really don't relish in salacious cases--whether it be Dababneh's Vegas activities or Hunter's DC misadventures. They are npt partisan. I've written before that Dababneh can recover by going to law school or grad school with some time in the political penalty box. I don't know what was offered, but the filing documents suggest that prosecutors have made several offers to Hunter, who rejected them.

He's very likely to go to prison. His wife has already entered a plea agreement meaning she's going to prison and she'll be testifying to implicate him. The question is whether he drags five other women in to court to expose their identities and share details. That's a dick move.

Hunter is 42 and has time to recover but his ability to do so will be determined how he handles this and it's not going well so far. Margaret, 44, got the picture. This time, the congressman should listen to his wife.

HOUSING: I missed this one, but Matt Levin and Barbara Harvey of CALmatters have a good 'splainer on the housing elements included as part of the budget signed Thursday by Governor Newsom. On the pod we recorded yesterday with Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), we dove into these issues, including the inclusion in the package of fines on cities not meeting their housing elements. We also talked about housing generally and the prospect of SB 50 (Wiener), the bill on transit- and job-oriented housing that has been shelved for the year. McCarty is a co-author of the bill that has led to panicky (and inaccurate) campaigns that portray Sacramento as bulldozing single-family homes. 

Yesterday's pod will likely be dropped in the next couple of days. Many are still downloading/watching the What a Week from this week and we try not to attempt to overfeed your eyes and ears. And I think we'll also get another What a Week in before July Fourth. Do you realize how much has happened since we recorded on Tuesday? 

McCarty was our 25th pod since Valentine's Day. I need to keep a journal of what shirts I wear or go all Steve Jobs and just wear a black t-shirt every time. 

SPORTS BETTING: On Thursday, Senator Bill Dodd and Assemblymember Adam Gray introduced SCA 6 and ACA 16, identical measures with each other as co-authors to place a measure on the statewide ballot to ask the voters permission to allow the Legislature to approve laws to authorize and regulate sports wagering. The two are the respective chairs of the Governmental Organization committees. 

For the Bee, Andrew Sheeler writes:

“I look forward to working with stakeholders in a collaborative effort to help bring this out of the shadows,” Dodd said in prepared remarks. “By legalizing sports wagering we can avoid some of the problems associated with an underground market such as fraud and tax evasion while investing in problem gambling education.”

Either measure requires a two-thirds vote of both houses and a majority of statewide voters to take effect. If approved by the Legislature, the measure would appear on the March 2020 ballot. Unless specified otherwise in the legislation, measures requiring voter approval submitted by the Legislature, such as constitutional amendments and bond measures, are not included in the SB 202 rules that required all initiatives and referenda on general election ballots.

CAKEDAY after the jump...


Probolsky Research



SACTOWN BIZ: Well today, I start with food and end our Noonerific meal with coffee--or the diminishing sources thereof. There have been Bee and Sac Biz Journal stories this week about the upcoming closures of a Starbucks and a Peet's in midtown Sacramento. I know you love your frappucinos and all, but we have lots of great locally owned places. 

And Peet's--I knew you way back when you were a local Bay Area group of shops. Now you are owned by Keurig Dr. Pepper, which is one of the big three soda companies that kill any effort to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and run lots of ads about how you're helping cut kids back on sugar. No, packaging them in smaller cans doesn't really count.

Juul is also committed to not selling vaping pens to minors but there is plenty of evidence that unscrupulous retailers continue to do so. When there is a buyer, there is always a willing seller--somewhere.

I think we missed the conglomeration of so many brands under Keurig Dr. Pepper. Diedrich Coffee was a local brand when Paul Mitchell and I were at Orange Coast College. At "Newman's Own," if all your profits are going to charity, how can you be owned by a multi-national conglomerate? Basically, it appears a small royalty goes to charity, otherwise the private equity firm that picked it up wouldn't have had interest.

Crocodile tears for Starbucks and Peet's in midtown. I know the 10th and L Starbucks is popular and I've been there for meetings a couple of times. It's also the only place I know near here that has The New York Times for sale. So, I guess that makes up for something.

I doubt local coffee shops will replace these two closures, as there are a lot of coffee options on the grid. Bubble tea is more likely. Now debate that saturation...

Sorry for the rant. Enjoy your Saturday!

#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Matthew Dobler, Megan Kerr, Larry SalinasRichard Wiebe, and Supervisor Das Williams!




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