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E-115 - Saturday, November 9, 2019, presented by SYASLPartners
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IN TODAY'S NOONER:
¡Feliz sabado! So, I totally hit a wall after writing yesterday and my afternoon nap led me to sleep through our pod recordings. ¡Lo siento! I'll try to catch up on sleep this weekend and back on all cylinders next week!
This is a California politics and policy newsletter, blog, email, posting or whatever you call it. I stay away from national politics and save that for Twitter. That said, I need to include this incredible work by NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith, formerly of KQED, a Cal alum, and a Central Valley native. She rarely toots her own horn, but we certainly can. She fact-checked all of the claims of the whistleblower with primary source and deposition documents in Pulitzer-quality journalism.
Truly amazing journalism. We knew you way back when, Tam!
PG&E: In the Chron, J.D. Morris writes that Pacific Gas & Electric is trying to do in bankruptcy court what it was unable to achieve in the Legislature--get out of inverse condemnation strict liability. Under that theory, if PG&E can show that the company was not negligent with the equipment that started the devastating Camp Fire last year, then it can escape liability. Obviously, survivors groups, local governments, and insurance companies are opposed to the move. Morris writes:
"In court papers filed Oct. 25, PG&E asked U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali to decide that inverse condemnation is not applicable to the company. A win for PG&E could sharply reduce the amount of money available for people affected by the Camp Fire and the 2017 Wine Country wildfires, though survivors would still be able to pursue negligence claims.
Patrick McCallum, a lobbyist who runs a group called Up from the Ashes that advocates for fire victims, said it’s “unbelievable” to see PG&E take aim at inverse condemnation again.
“You can’t ... have sole monetary control over a large part of the state and at the same time not have the liability rules within it,” McCallum said. “It’s offensive for them to even make this effort at this point, given all the other problems they need to deal with.”
I've been following this story closely and I have zero idea of what emerges from BK court, and I've talked to many smarter people on all sides who also have no predictions. We have survivors, insurance companies, labor, shareholders, and bondholders all fighting it out with state government as an unindicted co-conspirator.
THE VALLEY: At the California Economic Summit in Fresno yesterday, Governor Gavin Newsom announced large investments in the Central Valley, both from the state and nonprofit organizations, reports Manuela Tobias for CalMatters.
“I care deeply about this damn Valley because I care about this state,” Newsom said. “I’m so sick and tired of this notion that somehow we’re living in two different worlds in the state, coastal economy and inland economy.”
Newsom needs to make the overtures, as he is stuck with high-speed rail, which 67% Central Valley likely voters in December said was either a "low priority" or "very low priority."
CANCIAMILLA: We now know why former Assemblyman Joe Canciamilla abruptly resigned as Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder. The FPPC found him dipping in to campaign coffers for personal use, reports Daniel Borenstein for the MercNews.
"The stunning details are included in a proposed settlement released Friday by the state Fair Political Practices Commission, which found Canciamilla more than 30 times violated the very campaign finance laws he was supposed to uphold as Contra Costa’s elected county clerk-recorder.
Under the agreement, which the commission will consider for approval at its Nov. 21 meeting, Canciamilla has reimbursed the misused money to the campaign accounts and paid an unusually high $150,000 penalty. Half of that penalty must come from his personal funds, while the other half may be paid from his campaign accounts."
Here's the stipulation that will be considered at the meeting.
DUNCAN: Speaking of campaign finance wrongdoings, the federal judge handling Rep. Duncan Hunter's trial has amended the conditions of his pre-trial release to allow him to go to Belgium next month as part of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, reports the SDUT's Morgan Cook. The trial on 60 counts is scheduled for January.
MUNI MATTERS, CAKEDAY, and CLASSIFIEDS after the jumpity jump...
BAGHDAD BY THE BAY: In yesterday's ranked-choice voting update, Chesa Boudin took the lead from appointed district attorney Suzy Loftus by 5,897 votes. If the lead holds, it would be a huge rebuff to Mayor London Breed and the city's political establishment. Boudin works in the San Francisco Public Defender's office and is seen as a criminal justice reformer, with particular work on bail reform.
Clearly, through ranked-choice voting, we're seeing Boudin picking up the second and third choices in the four-person race.
The race for supe district 5 between Vallie Brown and Dean Preston is also very close, with 186 votes for Brown over Preston.
Is Willie's clout waning?
LA-LA LAND: For Politico, Jeremy B. White reports on the emerging race for Los Angeles District Attorney, which pits incumbent Jackie Lacey against George Gascón, who recently resigned from the same post in San Francisco that led to an attempt by the establishment to lock in the race.
"The race is taking place in a receding tough-on-crime era and pits a leading liberal reformer against an incumbent who has been more aligned with traditional prosecutors.
The stakes are high, and not just for California. Once relegated to the realm of down-ballot afterthoughts for many voters, district attorney races have increasingly attracted national attention and money. The focus reflects an ascendant reform movement’s understanding that, of all the elected officials who shape crime and punishment, none wield more power than prosecutors. And it parallels rising bipartisan disillusionment with mass incarceration and public anger at police shootings — often captured on video."
SANDY EGGO: The SDUT's David Garrick reports on the five candidates hoping to replace Barbara Bry on the San Diego City Council in the city's northwest district. Bry is running for mayor. Garrick writes:
"They are Birdrock civil engineer Joe LaCava, La Jolla firefighter Aaron Brennan, Carmel Valley attorney Will Moore, La Jolla attorney James Rudolph and University City business consultant Harid Puentes.
No Republicans have filed papers to run in District 1, where registered Democrats outnumbered registered Republicans 35,300 to 22,200 through Oct. 1. The deadline to file is Dec. 9."
"Critics say the goal should be securing the highest possible investment returns for taxpayers, regardless of what activities or products the companies are involved with.
They also contend divestment from questionable companies would be a complex process, and that many companies’ activities are so diverse it could be hard for city officials to determine if they align with San Diego’s principles."
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Theo Gashaw, Patrick Harbison, and Stephanie McGann-Jantzen!