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E-135 - Tuesday, October 22, 2019, presented by SYASLPartners
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RECENT AURAL PLEASURE: Have a new pod episode related to California politics and policy that you'd like listed? Email Scott.
LEGISLATIVE DIRECTORY UPDATES:
IN TODAY'S NOONER:
ELECTRICITY: I started the day by checking in with PG&E's website to find out if power could still be off in 15 identified counties starting tomorrow. I was greeted with "Error establishing a database connection" on the main page, which wass trying to redirect to pgealerts.com. Apparently, the redirect started yesterday to prepare for the public safety power shutoff and didn't work as envisioned. Anyway, as of 8:30am, the side was back up and the warnings continue. Chris Hagan reports for CapRadio "The shut off is expected to affect more than 200,000 customers. It comes two weeks after the utility cut power to more than 700,000 customers — around 2 million people — across 34 counties in one of its largest preventative outages."
As of the 6am report this morning, the decision to "de-energize" is scheduled for tomorrow at 10:00am, with actual power shutoffs beginning in four geographic phases at 1:00pm tomorrow through 1am Thursday with "re-energization" following beginning at noon on Thursday. If the shutoff occurs, the time for full re-energization can't be projected until the extent of the wind event can be evaluated and lines inspected.
I'm no PG&E apologist, but the information that they are getting out, which goes to lawmakers, county emergency officers, and other key decision makers, is very specific and impressive--under the current grid situation. If you see a PG&E worker in a blue truck this week, buy them lunch--they're not the execs or board members and are working hard to keep people safe, including those who have had my street torn up for months to replace a gas line.
Meanwhile, Southern California Edison is no longer considering a public power safety shutoff that was the subject of a warning beginning tomorrow night.
STATE PAY: For the Bee, Wes Venteicher tallies up the cost of the newly negotiated state employee contracts:
"Nearly two-thirds of California state workers will receive raises in the coming months based on new contracts their unions negotiated with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration this year.
The state is boosting pay for about 147,000 of its 235,000 employees through the contracts, giving raises of about 3 percent per year to most while increasing salaries for some hard-to-fill jobs by as much as 25 percent.
Pay, benefit and health care changes in their contracts, which have terms of one to three years, will cost the state about $5.6 billion, according to the California Department of Human Resources."
Let's hope the widely discussed upcoming economic slowdown is akin to Saturday soccer among 5-year-olds and not akin to the soon-to-be major League Sacramento Republic FC. BTW, congratulations to all who worked on what came to be announced yesterday.
GASSY MATTERS: Governor Newsom wants an investigation into California's high gas prices, suggesting that industry could be manipulating pricing and planned refinery shutdowns to push up prices with the cover of the SB 1 gas tax hike. Adam Beam reports for the AP:
"California's governor has asked the attorney general to investigate why the state’s gas prices are so high, pointing to a new report suggesting big oil companies are 'misleading and overcharging customers' by as much as $1 per gallon.
Name brand retailers — including 76, Chevron and Shell — often charge more because they say their gasoline is of higher quality. But a new analysis from the California Energy Commission could not explain the price difference, concluding “there is no apparent difference in the quality of gasoline at retail outlets in the state."
CANNABIS $$$: The Sacramento Bee has been providing great coverage of the Russian-tied figure who is a major investor in Sacramento's licensed cannabis shops and was also arrested in connection with federal campaign finance violations. Meanwhile, the Governor Gavin Newsom reported $31,000 from Cameron Forni of Las Vegas, who is CEO of Cura Partners based in Portland, OR. Cura is a major producer of cannabis and CBD oils for vaping sold under the Select Cannabis brand.
The current investigation into pulminary illnesses relating to vaping have largely been attributed to cannabis oil vaping, particularly among youth. Let's go to the radical group the Centers for Disease Control on the matter:
The California Democratic Party earlier this year refused a contribution from JUUL (although the money really just went elsewhere), stating that the vaping company is included in the party's policy against taking tobacco money as the medical evidence has developed. Will the party's policy extend to Governor Newsom for a contribution from the CEO of a leading provider of cannabis oils, which are specifically called out by the CDC?
The contribution from Forni appears to be the second one in California following $2500 to Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) in 2017. In March of this year, Cura CS (Cura Cannabis Services also known as Cura Partners) gave $4,700 to Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell).
To be clear, I have no problem with adult use cannabis or the use of vaping for short-term smoking cessation, as was discussed in last week's hearing. I'm just following the money tied to public policy.
IS NEWSOM TO THE FAR LEFT? Who is more liberal--Democrats in the Legislature or Governor Gavin Newsom? We've got an app for that...in the form of Ben Christopher at CalMatters. He writes:
"In what may come as a surprise to both California Republicans and the governor himself, Gavin Newsom might just be one of the most moderate Democrats in the Capitol.
Based on an analysis of the 1,042 bills that the governor signed or vetoed this year, Newsom is more conservative than any other Democratic state senator and sits to the left of only two Democrats in the Assembly."
I forgot who or where I mentioned it as I talk and write on too many mediums. In short, governors should never give everything in the first year. I believe he'll sign many of the bills vetoed through last weekend's deadline. Some are trading pieces for budget deliberations and others will be kept in the vault for future trades yet unknown.
REDISTRICTING: For Capitol Weekly, Paul Mitchell looks at the transparency of redistricting processes, with varies among different local governments, often in sharp contrast to the process for the state adopted by the voters and generally seen as solid with the work of the 2011 Citizens Commission.
"The redistricting methods followed by local governments have varied around the state.
Some local governments do redistricting in a fully-public process, holding outreach meetings, having all mapping options presented in a public setting, engaging the community and working to prevent gerrymanders.
Others have made this process more opaque, and have even put the needs of incumbents or political considerations ahead of the public interest. With little oversight and unclear rules, some redistricting has been a farce that produced little more than a patently political outcome.
There are even examples we’ve seen of agencies that haven’t fulfilled this requirement at all, sometimes for decades."
In one of the most nonsensical vetoes, Governor Newsom used his red pen on SB 139 (Allen), writing:
"This bill requires a county with more than 400,000 residents to establish an independent redistricting commission tasked with adopting the county's supervisorial districts following each federal decennial census.
While I agree these commissions can be an important tool in preventing gerrymandering, local jurisdictions are already authorized to establish independent, advisory or hybrid redistricting commissions. Moreover, this measure constitutes a clear mandate for which the state may be required to reimburse counties pursuant to the California Constitution and should therefore be considered in the annual budget process."
If transparency and independence over redistrict of state legislative, BOE, and congressional districts was the will of 61.2% the voters in 2010, then certainly voters would have liked to see SB 139 become law.
Disclosure: Paul did redistricting for dozens of community college districts after the 2010 Census in a program run by my team at the Community College League of California. While I go way back with Paul, the process of selecting a redistricting vendor was done by a panel of chief business officers and I played no role. Our boards agreed that it was a good area for the League to move into to provide districts with political cover for moving to district elections as required by the California Voting Rights Act, and I'm proud that community college districts were among the first to tackle something that many local governments have delayed a decade. Since our theme was student equity, it would have been nonsensical to ignore equitable voting rights.
SANDY EGGO: For Times of San Diego, Christine Huard reports that the San Diego City Council has asked the City Attorney to draft two measures for the March 3, 2020 ballot. Huard writes:
"The San Diego City Council voted Monday to direct the city attorney’s office to draft two ballot measures to go before voters next March, including a hotel tax hike that would fund a convention center expansion, homeless services and infrastructure improvements.
The tax increase proposed by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer would raise the city’s transient occupancy tax from 10.5 % to as high as 15.75% in certain areas of the city, which would reap an estimated $5.9 billion over 42 years.
The funding would allow the city to purchase a parcel of land adjacent to the convention center that is currently owned by Fifth Avenue Landing. Once it purchases the land, the city would expand the convention center by roughly 400,000 square feet, from roughly 800,000 square feet to about 1.2 million square feet."
The council would have to approve the measure following the draft from the City Attorney. The vote was 5-4, notably with mayoral candidate Barbara Bry and Assembly candidate Chris Ward voting against. Huard further writes:
"The council unanimously voted for the city attorney to draft a measure authored by City Councilman Scott Sherman that would shift the responsibility for the city auditor appointment process from the mayor's office to the council’s Audit Committee. Currently, the mayor appoints a city auditor candidate to serve a 10-year term."
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Josh Donner, Gil Gonzales, Karen Jones, and Mike Shimpock!