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E-110 - Thursday, November 14, 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:
Well, I started with "Happy Thursday! You're almost there!"
Instead, it's another school shooting one year, one week after the Borderline Bar and Grill shooting in Thousand Oaks that killed twelve fifty miles away. The day after the Borderline shooting, the deadly Woolsey Fire broke out. Last month, it was fire threats in both Simi Valley and Santa Clarita. The area has been besought by natural and human-caused tragedies and my sister, an HR executive for a small restaurant chain, has been in the middle of too many of them and knows too many affected. Today, she's waiting for confirmation that team members of restaurants who attend Saugus High School are okay.
My apologies yesterday on grammatical errors on the item about the lawsuit challenging AB 5 by the California Trucking Association. I got the complaint about 20 minutes before deadline, wrote it up quickly, spellchecked, but didn't read-through before heading to an Open California/Capitol Weekly board meeting.
GAMING ON! Yesterday, a coalition of tribal organizations announced it was proposing an initiative to expand gaming in tribal casinos and racetracks, including sports betting, craps, and roulette and possibly setting up one of the biggest November 2020 ballot fights, Patrick McGreevy reports in the Times. Because card clubs would not be eligible to expand on their offerings, they are likely to be opposed.
The initiative is not yet available from the Attorney General's website but may be later today.
It's unclear how extensive the traditional opposition from Vegas would be as the casinos have become diversified with a shrinking share of revenues on the Strip from casinos, and companies are finding opportunities in California tribal casinos. In fact, El Dorado and Caesars shareholders meet separately tomorrow to approve a merger agreement. The combined company will be run by El Dorado management running the company under the Caesars (including Harrah's and Horseshoe) brand. Harrah's operates the casino in Ione east of Sacramento and the Rincon casino in northern San Diego County.
The casino just opened in Wheatland north of Sacramento is operating under the Hard Rock brand, which is owned by Seminole Tribe of Florida.
Penn National operates in East San Diego County, and Station Casinos operates in Sonoma County and the large Thunder Valley Resort east of Sacramento in Placer County. Several smaller management companies operate across California.
In each case, the operators are under a management agreement approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission of the U.S. Department of Interior .
Sports betting has low overhead in the casinos since it doesn't require "dealers," and much of the work is computerized to open and rebalance odds. Because racetracks already have a teller-ticket system and horse and rider safety is under scrutiny, it provides an opportunity to maintain operations even if horseracing to end in California. Thus, the change could bring more management revenue for the traditional non-gaming casinos and seen as a business opportunity, as well as opportunities for labor unions to significantly expand membership.
Buckle your seatbelts folks, 2020 just got a lot more interesting.
Meanwhile, the 49ers are 7-1 odds to win the Super Bowl.
PLANET OF THE VAPES: A fourth Californian has died from a mysterious pulmonary illness that is preliminary believed to be possibly connected to her use of e-cigarettes, reports Vincent Moleski for the Bee. He reports:
"Amanda Margot Arconti was treated in a hospital in Novato, where she later died after coming down with an illness, the Marin County Sheriff’s Office said in a news release.
Arconti, who has family in Novato, is believed to have used e-cigarettes prior to her death, and Marin County health officials believe her death may have been connected to vaping."
The news led the California Department of Public Health to issue a press release with a harsh warning:
"As yet another California death related to vaping is reported in Marin County, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) continues to urge everyone to refrain from vaping and e-cigarette use, no matter the substance or source, until the cause of vaping-associated lung disease is known.
This recommendation remains strong in light of a new report released November 8 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcing Vitamin E acetate as a potential chemical of concern in the severe breathing problems and lung damage associated with vaping. While this finding represents progress in the investigation, it does not rule out other causes or ingredients..."
AB 5/DYNAMEX: Following the lawsuit by the California Trucking Association to challenge the new law restricting who can be independent contractors, Joel Fox writes:
"Indeed, there will be a full frontal assault on AB 5. Already, the ride share companies Uber and Lyft along with the delivery company Doordash, are backing an initiative to take their businesses out from under the law.
Other industries and even individuals are considering lawsuits or appealing to legislators to file bills next year to exempt them from AB 5. The CTA lawsuit could even be sidelined if the legislature granted truckers an exemption."
FROM THE DESK OF THE DEAN: The LAT's George Skelton writes that the California Republican Party's troubles go far beyond Proposition 187 twenty-five years ago and talks to Madrid:
"Mike Madrid, a Republican consultant who has been highly critical of the GOP for several years, notes that when the Cold War ended, the aerospace industry collapsed in California. The manufacturing base also deteriorated. That sent Republican middle-class engineers and blue-collar workers fleeing to other states looking for jobs.
Meanwhile, he says, the burgeoning tech industry attracted many left-leaning 'progressives' into California.
'All three of them' — 187, loss of middle-class jobs and the tech explosion — 'happened at the same time,' Madrid says. 'Any one of them would have upset the Republican Party.'"
"The Department of Justice rebuffed inquiries, but the UC journalists submitted a Public Records Act request to the Police Officers Standards and Training Commission (POST) and received data on 12,000 men and women with criminal histories who had applied to become police officers, had worked as officers or are currently employed.
POST now just adds a notation to officers’ training records when they are convicted of felonies and doesn’t even note other, less serious crimes. Thus, whether a cop is fired for some act is left to his or her employer.
California is now one of just a handful of states that cannot decertify criminal cops. That’s a civic embarrassment. Fixing it is in the hands of today's Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom."
PG&E AND FIRES: The AP's Jonathan J. Cooper writes that the problems of PG&E's grid leading to wildfires amidst climate change has been long in the making and will take years--and lots of dough--to fix. Cooper reports:
"The problem and its potential solutions have jumped to the top of the California political agenda. But most experts agree: Even under the best scenarios, the fires and widespread power shutoffs will be here for years to come. In the meantime, Californians will pay higher prices for less reliable energy.
The danger from a growing number of people living next to power lines and dry forests as the climate changes wasn’t unknown, but it wasn’t front of mind before electrical systems started a series of fires that swept through Northern California two years ago, leaving a trail of destruction and killing dozens. What seemed unthinkable was repeated just a year later, when PG&E power lines started the Camp Fire that destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 85 people."
More after the jump...
THE (non)POWER OF THE VOTE: For CapRadio, Scott Rodd reports on preparations by county elections officials for the possibility that power could be turned off on Election Day, and Placer County recently had a close call for the AD01 special general election. Rodd writes:
"Counties are using pre-election surveys to make sure polling places and vote-counting centers have equipment needed to mitigate the impact of power shutoffs. That includes back-up generators, flashlights, lanterns and portable power equipment.
Some county election offices are also developing multitiered plans to ensure every vote is counted if an outage occurs."
CANNABIS CASH CRUNCH: In the Bee, Andrew Scheeler writes that several cannabis-related companies are downsizing, although not necessarily from lack of consumer demand. Scheeler reports:
"The layoffs reflect challenges in California's fledgling recreational cannabis industry. Voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2016, with sales beginning in 2018.
The intent was to create a lucrative, lawful and licensed marijuana market, but in practice state lawmakers have spent the past two years working to address several industry-identified hurdles.
This year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed laws aimed at helping the cannabis industry, including one that allows businesses to claim state tax deductions, and another that allows businesses to donate product to medicinal users.
But, other proposals failed, including one that would have allowed cannabis businesses to have access to limited banking services."
COST OF EDUCATION: In another great explainer for CalMatters, Felicia Mello (along with many other staff) paints the picture of the cost of college in California.
MUNI MATTERS, CAKEDAY, and CLASSIFIEDS after the jumpity jump...
LA-LA LAND: The LAT reports on a new poll that finds the homelessness is the biggest concern of Los Angeles County residents:
"As people living in tents, RVs and makeshift shelters become a fact of life in neighborhoods far and wide, homelessness is now an all-consuming issue in Los Angeles County, with 95% of voters calling it a serious or very serious problem, according to a new poll conducted for the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Business Council Institute.
The near-unanimous opinion that homelessness ranks as a top concern marks a sharp change from earlier surveys of Los Angeles voters over the past dozen years, said Fred Yang of Hart Research, the Washington, D.C., polling firm that conducted the survey.
Only traffic congestion and housing affordability — at 88% and 85%, respectively — came close to rivaling the near universal concern over homelessness."
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to David Hadley and Amanda Levy!