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California Legislative Directory| Classifieds | Sofa Degree

Summer Recess

E-214 - Friday, August 2, 2019

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  • KQED'S Political Breakdown Podcast (Marisa Lagos and Guy Marzorati): Congressman Ro Khanna (D-Fremont) (2019-08-01)
  • Look West Podcast (Assembly Democratic Caucus): Assemblymember Tasha Boerner Horvath and Carlsbad City Councilmember and 3x Women’s World Longboard Surfing Champion, Cori Schumacher, discuss equal pay for equal play, and why gender pay inequity is still an issue in the world of sports (2019-07-23] [Look West | iTunes | Google Podcasts]
  • Force of Law Podcast (Laurel Rosenhall @ CalMatters): episode four - "at the risks officers face on the job and why many in law enforcement say the final version of a bill to curb police shootings no longer puts them in greater danger" (2019-07-20)
  • KQED'S Political Breakdown Podcast (Marisa Lagos and Guy Marzorati): Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) (2019-07-18)
  • Gimme Shelter Podcast (CalMatters's Matt Levin and LAT's Liam Dillon): earthquakes and housing (2019-07-18)
  • SacTownTalks by The Nooner (Gibran Maciel and Scott Lay): Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis (D) (2019-07-17) [YouTubeSimplecast | iTunes


  • beJUULed
  • Dynamex
  • PG&E - Criminal Liability?
  • Homeless and wildfires
  • Cakeday   

Happy Friday! If you've liked the recent in-depth work on things such as campaign expenditures, legal analysis, and other information you're finding novel in The Nooner, I really hope you become a subscriber, whether it be for a few months or for a full year. I'm trying to make this sustainable, which it simply is not right now. I'd hate to go all paywall, but it may come to that as I fork out more each month for newspapers. I have thought about stop linking to articles and go all original content, but I want to give love to the journalists who work for us every day. I need to go from 9% paid subscribers to 15% with current advertising trends.

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Thank you. The above is the worst part of my "job" but I have neither advertising or subscription sales people. Of course, I really enjoy working 12 hours most days doing the content -- from written to recording.

What a week it has been and Gibran and I are getting back behind the podcast mics again this afternoon to talk about some of the developments as legislators sip mai tais in far off locales. Actually, most legislators take a week of vacationand spend the rest of the month doing district business. If you have anything you want us to cover in today's "What a Week," contact us. Or it's a great day to catch up on old pods.

After about hours of campaign finance report scrutinization, last night I finally put together a table that I've had in my garage for six months. Can we have another campaign finance deadline? Actually, after a couple of stumbles, I got it right, unlike one of my bookshelves, which still has the top on backwards after four years.

Let's get to it...

SacTown Talks by The Nooner

BEJUULED: Late yesterday, JUUL Labs Inc. amended its campaign filing, so we finally know that the February 25 $100,000 contribution was made to "CA Vote Project 2018," which is a committee affiliated with Democrats for voter registration efforts. The committee has been around since 2008 and often takes the less savory contributions that the party (and candidates) doesn't want to accept directly.

The other 2019 contributions received by the committee this year were from Chevron ($75k) and Lyft ($35k). Like tobacco, the California Democratic Party doesn't accept "oil money."

Yes, "it depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is." To think that led to impeachment.

Basically, the mystery was over the mis-labeling of the committee with an an Employer Identification Number belonging to an terminated committee, rather than the current FPPC ID of the correct committee.

There apparently was another contribution from JUUL directly to the California Democratic Party, although new chair Rusty Hicks has said it has been refused.

Hopefully that does it for JUUL news until the recess is over. We have 10 days of respite before the Legislature returns, when AB 1639 on tobacco and flavored products will be back in the mix.

CHA-CHING! For CalMatters, Dan Morain and Barbara Harvey write on the increase in lobbying expenditures the first six months of Gavin Newsom's governorship compared to Jerry Brown's first six months, after adjusting for inflation. Good work as usual by Matt Levin on the data and chart.

They also write on the rise of Axiom Advisors, Jason Kinney's new firm. Let's just say that the firm is smokin! Well, smokin', infusin', and eatin', with client Ghost Management Group LLC. of Irvine, which owns weedmaps.  Axiom has brought in $105,000 in fees this year from Ghost, which also retains super-firm Lang Hansen O'Malley and Miller Governmental Relations, which has received $75,000.

In case you thought weedmaps was a couple of stoner kids in their parents' basement amongst pizza boxes and 2-liter soda bottles, Ghost Management Group LLC has become a major player. In addition to the above lobbying expenditures, it has contributed $249,300 in the first six months of the year and $588,185 last year, including $50,000 to California Vote Project 2018 last year, the same recipient committee of the JUUL funds listed above.

Before you think that vaping and cannabis are completely separate issues, think again...

Meanwhile, During my usual Sunday phone call with my mom in Portland, we got on to the topic of cannabis. "Can you believe that there is a dispensary across from Walgreen's in Cedar Mill?" I respond, "Well, yes, mom, that would be 'Electric Lettuce.' I just looked it up on weedmaps."

Mom made it clear that she has not been in there and doesn't plan to but, if she does, I really want her to buy me some of these buttons.

DYNAMEX: As the return of session nears, the discussion continues over AB 5 (Gonzalez) dealing with the Legislature's reponse to last year's California Supreme Court ruling in Dynamex v. Superior Court on independent contractors. The two big issues are whether the ruling should apply retroactively and whether additional exemptions will be added and which they will be.

I wrote in more detail on these issues on July 11.

My law school colleague Ben Ebbink and colleague Rich Meneghello of employer-side Fisher Phillips have an update on where things stand, particularly on the issues of retroactivity and individual profession exemptions. Ben was in my law school class and later chief consultant of Assembly Labor and Employment.

Here's where you can find perspectives from the California Labor Federation on the issue.

PG&E - CRIMINAL LIABILITY? For KAED, Lily Jamali reports that the Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey and state attorney general are investigating whether Pacific Gas & Electric should face criminal charges including manslaughter, reckless arson and various environmental crimes for its role in last November's Camp Fire in Butte County, which mostly leveled the town of Paradise.

“In this case, as huge as it is, with 85 deaths and a community destroyed ... we’ll see where the investigation finally leads us,” Ramsey said.


PG&E declined to comment.

California law gives Ramsey three years from the date of the fire to file criminal charges. His team is working with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s office to examine evidence and determine if crimes were committed."

Corporate criminal liability is neither something we studied in law school nor is tested on the bar exam, but is increasingly being sought beyond civil penalties. While corporate criminal liability doesn't imprison corporate officers directly, it does allow far more remedies than civil liability, which is more geared at "making people whole." While defendants often enter into settlement agreements that involve non-monetary actions in civil cases, the ability for a judge to force non-monetary remedies is limited.

Corporate criminal prosecution allows for additional injunctive relief and allows for ongoing supervision to ensure wrongful acts are not repeated. Individual officers/employees can be charged individually for their acts as part of such crime, but have a right to an individual trial by jury in a separate action.

PG&E was found criminally liable in 2016 for the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion, which killed eight and injured 58 people, following a 2014 indictment by the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California. In 2016, the corporation was sentenced to a $3 million fine, 10,000 hours of community service, and put under judicial supervision (probation). It was also ordered to spend $3 million on advertising about its wrongdoing, which you've seen in your teevee with all the do-gooder ads.

The federal judge overseeing the San Bruno case recently required the PG&E board and officers to tour the town of Paradise as part of its five years of probation and has made additional orders relating to equipment inspection and maintenance.

Obviously, the United States Attorneys have changed since the Obama era when the San Bruno indictment and it's unlikely that Trump Administration federal prosecutors would bring such a cause of action. Thus, it's being pushed by Butte County's Ramsey and victims.

That's a Friday morning explanation of a very complicated topic worthy of a semester-long law school seminar.

CAMP FIRE: For the California Sunday magazine, Mark Arax writes about the human and natural factors that came together to lead to the destruction of Paradise in Butte County, with the beautiful mix of long-form writing and photography (Kristine Potter and Matthew Genitempo) from the publication.

Covering the history of the town and the people who reside(d) there, Arax writes:

"I had puzzled out enough disasters to know that tragedy was a force of intricate construction. It wasn’t one detached act that materialized as tragedy but myriad smaller acts — some incidental, some accidental, others malevolent — that lined up in perfect continuity. Had one circumstance in the sequence lost its footing, a cosmic stumble, the next circumstance would have never hitched on, and tragedy would have been averted."

As of 10:30am, Capital Books on K had four copies of Arax's book released in May: "The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California," and I hope to get one before or after the pod recording today. If it's sold out by then, I'll be happy and know they'll order more!

It looks fantastic and very well may be deserving of a spot on The Nooner's Sofa Degree of books.

HOMELESS and WILDFIRES: Joel Fox looks at the issue of the homeless encampments in fire-prone areas. While I haven't been keeping track, there have indeed been many relatively small fires that have started from cooking activity in fire-prone areas, such as near highways and bike trails.

It's not usually an issue for many of us with "out of sight, out of mind" tunnel vision, who usually think about homeless in vacant lots, under overpasses, or sleeping in storefront alcoves.

Fox points out that it is not out of the realm of possibility that a massive fire could be started by anyone in the "wildlands," which includes many areas around urban areas. While rangers patrol lands for illegal burning, these encampments are far beyond looking at the normal camping, fishing, and hunting spots they are used to.

Fox writes:

"While local governments are trying to apply solutions to reduce homelessness, the state’s interest could be tied to those efforts by seeking another way to cut back on potential fires. When affordable and stand by housing is built homeless people from camps in fire danger areas would be a priority. Even before that occurs, authorities should consider moving them to safer surroundings to avoid catastrophic wildfires.

While the public health issue may overturn precedents that keep urban homeless encampments in place, a similar argument could be made about fire threats in fire danger areas."

Great topic, Joel.

SPLIT ROLL: Joe Mathews writes that presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' support could be the "kiss of death" for next year's ballot measure to treat most commercial and industrial properties differently than residential properties for property tax valuation purposes for new dedicated funding to schools and local governments.

CAKEDAY after the jump...

Probolsky Research

#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Jose Cornejo, Gil Duran, and Bill Lemann!


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