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E-124 - Thursday, October 31, 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.
IN TODAY'S NOONER:
Hi folks! Things in northern California are looking good, with low winds and slightly higher humidity. However, today will still be a very tough day in SoCal with single-digit humidity and double-digit sustained winds.
I've been updating the fire and electricity data on Twitter, Facebook, and my alerts page, so I'm not recounting it here today as I'll probably have something more current when you're reading this. What I can tell you is that, as of 9:30am, Southern California Edison has 83,344 on PSPS shutoffs, with 223,563 additional customers on warning for potential shutoff. Your Nooner field reporter in Simi Valley (my sister) appears to have exhausted all batteries and back-ups on her electric devices.
In PG&E territory, from the last report I received as inspection and restoration efforts ended overnight, 53,000 customers remained without power. That is after 312,000 had been restored from the 10/29 event (hundreds of thousands more were restored after the 10/26 event). Some of those remaining out will likely continue to be in the immediate area of the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County. In San Diego Gas & Electric service area, 17,335 customers in East County were subject to PSPS as of 5:30am.
Here are the community resource centers for folks without power. While many folks have cell service for calls, access to the Internet is very limited, so spread the word by phone or carrier pigeon for those who may need it.
All of these are listed on my alerts page as well.
PG&E has been working hard on notifications and it's not an easy job. So hard that the official account posted an alert on Nextdoor.com that natural gas technicians would be in the neighborhoods around Cloverdale in northern Sonoma County and included notices to folks in Sacramento--129 miles away. My phone is now providing emergency alerts for the neighborhood around the Nooner Global HQ. The irony is that my street has been closed on-and-off for six months for natural gas line replacement and aside from a mailer when it started in the spring, the actual closures are totally unpredictable.
Next Wednesday, Capitol Weekly is hosting a conference on wildfires in Sacramento with a great slate of perspectives, including a scheduled keynote by Cal Fire director Thom Porter. Topics include cause of wildfires, preparedness, and rebuilding from twelve perspectives. The conference is $199 including lunch and materials, and there is a special $99 rate for state employees, and even better one of free for students and those where cost is an undue burden.
Whoa, it'll be a wild policy week as on Tuesday PPIC is hosting a half-day session on "Preparing California’s Water System for Climate Extremes." While the event is full, you can register to watch it livestreamed, and it will likely also be on PPIC's Twitter and Facebook feeds live from 9-12:30pm. PPIC likely will have the video archived after so that you can jump around to the various topics on the agenda.
Oh, also on Wednesday, the Supreme Court of California will hear oral arguments on Patterson v. Padilla, the case challenging SB 27 ("Trump tax returns") on state constitutional and statutory grounds. The federal case is still pending appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Don't ask me when I'm going to write next week!
more after the jump...
SD28 (TEMECULA-COACHELLA-BLYTHE): Yesterday, I sent Nooner Premium the alert that State Senator Jeff Stone (R-La Quinta) was resigning from the State Senate to accept an appointment by President Trump to be the Western States Director for the United States Department of Labor. In it, I shared early information that Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez (R-Lake Elsinore) was seriously considering a bid for the Senate seat.
There were lots of questions and I think I answered most of them, although I was recording the pod, walking, and meeting around the Capitol most of the afternoon.
First, Stone announced his resignation and immediately 2022 candidate for the seat Temecula councilman Matt Rahn (R) announced he had the endorsement of Stone for the special election to be held next spring.
The smart folks out there knew that a Melendez bid didn't appear to make sense. She's class of 2012, so under the twelve year term limits, she can only serve in either house until 2024. If she stays in the Assembly, she can run in 2020 and 2022 to close her legislative career. However, if she runs and wins the special next spring, she can serve the remainder of Stone's term through 2022, but can't run for a new Senate term, because that would put her through 2026, which is not allowed. In theory, she could return for two years in the Assembly in the 2022 election, but by then someone else is likely holding that seat.
Generally, when given the opportunity, we're not seeing Assemblymembers jump into Senate races if it shortens their total years in the Legislature. The pay is the same in the two houses and, while it means one less election, it also means having to cover twice the territory. If it's a big district--like SD28--that latter part is a major factor. Melendez's current AD67 is a tightly constructed district along the I-15 corridor, focused around Lake Elsinore, Murrieta, and Menifee.
I don't keep track of square miles of districts, but SD28 is one of the largest. In addition to most of the compact AD67, it captures portions of three other Assembly districts and stretches out to Blythe on the border with Arizona. I've created a Google map for you to play with. In short, why be expected to work for twice as many constituents and be expected to cover about four times the territory for a slightly bigger staff and a change in carpet color from green to red?
Proportionately, Republicans hold 23.75% of the seats in the State Assembly (after AD01 is filled next Tuesday) and 27.5% in the State Senate, so the "voice" is about the same. But not everything is equal. Frankly, it's not a good time to be an Assembly Republican. Melendez is vice-chair of Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee, one of three Republicans on a nine-member committee. While she has a seat on Assembly Budget, I don't have to tell you that in the era of simple-majority budgets, Republican input is currently only occasionally sought.
While the State Senate is not proportionately better for Republicans, there is still a different collegiality. The legislative process itself of voice votes often also includes more opportunity for debate and for Republicans to make their policy points. Assemblywoman Melendez saw Senator Stone do that on AB 5, the Dynamex bill, at the end of the session--to the consternation of Senator Holly Mitchell and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. Melendez is a policy wonk from a deeply conservative perspective, as anybody who follows her on Twitter knows.
Within both Assembly caucuses, there is always tension. It has gotten worse for both parties as the dominance of Democrats has increased. Within Assembly Republicans, Melendez doesn't have a particular lane. In the State Senate, individual Republican members have a stronger voice, even if from an equally small share of seats as the "lower" house.
The fact that Stone endorsed Temecula councilmember Matt Rahn without giving Melendez a chance to decide probably makes her all the more more interested in the race. I don't know the personal politics between the two, but women of both parties aren't crazy when a white dude announces an early retirement simultaneous with the endorsement of a successor.
Finally, 2021 is redistricting. If Melendez stays put in the Assembly, there is a chance that her safe seat changes significantly making it competitive--either with a Democrat or with a fellow Republican. She could be out either way after 2022, making the other considerations more relevant.
The other question is why Jeff Stone is leaving the Senate early for what could be a short-term appointment if Donald Trump's re-election bid is not successful. Stone is a businessman at heart and owns a group of pharmacies. In calling Assemblywoman Gonzalez "The Black Widow of Public Policy" over AB 5, he cited that some of his pharmacies have union employees. He knows that fight will continue next year, but his voice will still be largely muted as one of eleven State Senators in a house of 40. However, he can continue that fight with as a federal voice--in an election year which Democratic presidential candidates are embracing AB 5 and calling for its expansion nationwide.
In short, Stone isn't going anywhere, but he will have a much larger megaphone while the AB 5 debate in California continues next year and where it garners even more national attention ahead of a possible November ballot fight. If President Trump doesn't win re-election, the 63-year-old Stone can return to his pharmacies or retire. I think he's looking forward to the fight ahead and relishes in doing it from a place different than the Senate's red carpet.
ADAM SCHIFF: As the House votes today on formal rules for the impeachment inquiry, yesterday Chuck McFadden had a great look at Congressman Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), or as the President calls him, "Shifty Adam Schiff." McFadden includes this great graf of history for the kiddoes:
"[O]n Nov. 7, 2000, Schiff won his congressional race against Republican James Rogan, a respected House member who was selected to be one of the 13 house managers in the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. The backlash over the impeachment doomed Rogan, although it is also true his district had been trending Democratic. The Schiff-Rogan contest was the most expensive House race in history at the time, topping $10 million. (Rogan is now a [Orange County] Superior Court judge.)"
CAKEDAY and CLASSIFIEDS after the jumpity jump...
Anyway, the Nooner clock has run out on me. "See" you around other media with updates throughout the day.
#CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Assemblyman Marc Berman, Sarah Palacios, and Gabe Sanchez!