If you don't see images in this message, click "Display Images" or the equivalent.
Advertise in The Nooner to reach over 8,000 readers
NOONER PREMIUM UPDATES:
IN TODAY'S NOONER:
Thank you for reading my long message last night about the audio recording of Monday night's event and the shuffling around of the logistics and my priorities going forward. As my former colleagues at the League would attest to, I come up with far more ideas than can be executed concurrently well and then occasionally pull back to refocus. I'm not alone, as Google does that all the time and they have far more brains than I do.
Speaking of the event, recognition of two great K Street businesses part of Monday night's event. Capital Books has lots of great gifts. Stop by at lunch, buy some books, and they'll be wrapped by the end of the day. Independent, family-owned, and the wrapping doesn't look like done in a warehouse by a robot. Sure, you pay a little more for the book, but you get the service and on many days, hot cocoa and baked goods crafted by Heidi.
IMPEACHMENT TRIAL AND TIMING: It sounds like we're almost certain to have an impeachment trial in the Senate with the House voting on two Articles of Impeachment as early as tomorrow, likely on a party-line vote with perhaps some vulnerable Dems taking a bathroom break. Since votes are generally 15 minutes in the House and it takes "15 flushes" as the President said, any member can just say that they had a bad bowl of congee for breakfast.
Anyway, after the impeachment vote, leadership needs to come to agreement with The White House on a continuing resolution to keep the federal government through the holidays. Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he plans to begin the Senate trial sometime around the time the college football bowl games end. The last bowl game is the BCS National Championship on January 13.
Previously, McConnell had suggested a 2-3 week trial with the Senate in session of mandatory attendance six days a week. You can read elsewhere about what this might mean for the Democratic presidential field, but I'm thinking of course of the impact on 153 congressional and state legislative races in California.
McConnell's 2-3 week comment came well before House Democratic leadership settled on two Articles. Does the narrow scope mean a shorter period of time? Will the Senate rule for the proceedings be limited to the House managers as prosecutors and the President's attorneys providing the defense? Nobody I talk to on Capitol Hill has any clue of answers to such questions right now.
Obviously, those rules decisions will determine the length of the trial. Will McConnell try to kill it quickly on a vote that needs 67 Senators and will range from 47-53 to at most 50-50? Or, will he let it draw out keeping Bennet, Booker, Klobuchar, Sanders, Warren off the campaign trail and stuck in a chamber without a microphone or electronic devices?
Given how they've been talking about the leader, I wouldn't blame him for allowing a prolonged, thorough trial.
Let's assume we start Tuesday, January 14. The key dates on the very near horizon include:
A January trial could really affect things in these early states. For California, around 75% of likely voters (15 million -- thanks Paul Mitchell!) will have a ballot sitting in their mailbox around February 4. Whether the impeachment trial is only one week or drags out to the end of January into the beginning of February, there is only one certainty--it will be fresh on every primary voter's mind.
Democrats will be angry because Senate Republicans won't listen. Republicans will be angry because the perception will be that the whole thing was a sham by Democrats to hurt President Trump in November.
In California, few Republicans have a political motivation to turn out. However, they are traditionally the most loyal with that "civic duty." Democrats and no party preference voters turn out less reliably, but that was not the case in the 2018 mid-term election, flipping seven congressional seats and several state legislative seats.
At this point and having no idea how this will play out in Washington, I think that we're looking at record primary turnout. Democrats will have a buffet of presidential candidate options ranging from amuse bouche to entrees, while Republicans will be motivated by anger and to show up for President Trump, who has an 87% approval rating among Republican likely voters in California. Yes, plentiful Republicans in the Sacramento echo chamber are very unhappy with his approach to the office, but that is not borne out statewide.
This makes analyzing these March top two primaries, already far more difficult than traditional partisan primaries, nearly impossible. But I'll continue talking to people and looking at data. Dem on Dem November generals? Perhaps. Rep on Rep November generals? Perhaps. It's a political science student's dream situation and fun coffee fodder, but hard to put in writing!
TUBBS AND BLOOMBERG: Today, former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg is in California to promote his late candidacy in the Democratic presidential primary. He is expected to be endorsed by Stockton mayor Michael Tubbs, who may also be named a national co-chair. Tubbs brings an important African-American voice to Bloomberg, who has apologized for but still is hampered by the "stop and frisk" policing policy while he was NYC mayor. The policy has been criticized for targeting black and Latino residents without probable cause.
It's a fascinating endorsement from a progressive mayor who actually implemented a "universal basic income" pilot program in the port city 50 miles south of Sacramento that was recently bankrupt after the collapse of the housing market. The endorsement is a hit to Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang whose campaign's cornerstone is $1000 per month for every adult American without means testing.
Tubbs has argued that the non-means tested giveway would shift limited federal dollars to the wealthy and threaten safety net programs. Yang says that the wealthy could refuse to take the monthly check and cites Alaska's oil dividend payments to residents.
LIFE AND LIBERTY: In follow up to yesterday's item talking about the Monday night discussion with Professor Larson, he clarified that when talking about the Fifth/Fourteenth amendment issues related to the City of Boise, Idaho v. Martin case, he was thinking more of "liberty" from the respective clauses in finding the argument for a "right to sleep," rather than "life" that I wrote yesterday. We didn't get that specific on Monday night, but it's something I'm researching as it's not clear that the Supreme Court has ever provided a definition of "life" other than in the death penalty context.
For Boise, it's moot, as the plaintiffs argued that the $25 fine for sleeping in public with no reasonable alternative was "cruel and unusual punishment," and argument the Ninth Circuit accepted. Professor Larson said Monday that he thought the Supreme Court may not uphold that argument. The case is currently on petition for review by the City of Boise.
There are similar cases emerging during the current homelessness crisis about municipal ordinances requiring a permit or outright prohibiting serving food to homeless people on public land. In this situation, arguably both the person providing and receiving food could make the "liberty" argument. Arguably, there may also be a First Amendment argument that if providing food to others is part of a spiritual mission, it could be a violation of Freedom of Religion.
In all these cases, it is not whether or not a city can regulate sleeping or folks providing food to homeless. The question is rather whether these affect a "fundamental right," upon with a governmental regulation must then be tested under strict scrutiny. A simple example is health and safety. If government can show that a homeless camp is spreading communicable disease and there are reasonable alternatives to sleep and eat, then regulation of such a camp would likely be allowable.
Hopefully I'll have more for those of you interested after reading more cases and doing other supplementary research.
AD38 (Santa Clarita): Here is the recent party registration timeline from the LA County Registrar of Voters for Susan Christopher, the successor that Christy Smith has chosen to succeed her in the Assembly as Smith seeks CA25 (Santa Clarita-Palmdale). Christopher completed her filing yesterday ahead of today's 5pm deadline.
?-> 03/19/19: Democratic
Filing for AD38: 12/6/19
I don't know whether this is good news or bad news for Democrats, Republicans, or neither. It just is.
Several more items after the jump...
PG&E: POLL POSITION: For the LAT, Taryn Luna reports on new poll results from Berkeley IGS on views of Pacific Gas & Electric, which is struggling to get out of Chapter 11 bankruptcy and dealing with legislators who both wanted public safety power shutoffs for wildfire prevention and then were upset when they were perceived to be overly widespread. Luna writes:
Fewer than 1 in 8 likely voters surveyed want PG&E to fix its own problems and maintain its current structure once it emerges from bankruptcy next year. Voters were surveyed last month — in the middle of wildfire season — and after PG&E had begun historic blackouts, intentionally leaving millions of customers in the dark to mitigate the risk of the company’s equipment starting blazes.
“Californians are reading reports from the PG&E chairman and CEO that we’re going to be in this boat for the next 10 years and it’s going to take massive investments to make this safer,” said Mark DiCamillo, the director of the Berkeley IGS poll. “Should we just allow PG&E to continue making the decisions about the best way out of it? I think the public in that respect is just saying no.”
But voters provided no clear support for any single path forward, with 35% saying they would allow PG&E to remain an investor-owned utility and 37% supporting government-run models. Roughly 28% offered no opinion at all.
While I have great respect for poll director Mark DiCamillo, but there's an important caveat. This is a statewide poll among likely voters and this is not a statewide ballot issue. San Diego voters know nothing about PG&E. Sacramento voters, including me, know PG&E for natural gas service and love to hate PG&E not for anything related to service but rather to point at the company and say "we did it better."
Let's be clear, serving SMUD territory is a heck of a lot easier than serving the costly generation and transmission lines through the Northern California wilderness. That's why PG&E has fought so hard to keep relatively cheap-to-serve suburbs like Davis, West Sacramento, and Woodland from peeling off. They have a cost balance with a big cost of the troublesome high-voltage transmission lines as well as serving sparsely populated areas.
It's incredibly complicated and I know very literally very little, and that's after sitting through hours of hearings and reading volumes of documents.
It's also why legislators like Senator Jim Nielsen and Assembly member Jim Gallagher are so concerned about the group of mayors and county boards of supervisors who want to have PG&E taken over as a customer-owned or government-run entity. One may be quick to think that it's a partisan issue for the GOP and sure, there is some of that. But talk to them--it has as much to do with worries of cities breaking off and leaving rural communities that they represent
VAXX: Don Thompson reports for AP that proponents have given up on their effort to stall SB 276 and SB 714, the two vaccination bills by Dr. Richard Pan until after the voters have a change to consider them next November. They failed to collect the required 623,212 valid signatures by Monday's deadline.
Supporters of the bills are celebrating the end of the effort and laughing that the celebrities cheering on the effort, most notably former SNL actor Rob Schneider, never were willing to put their money behind the effort. Instead, they just spent their time on Twitter.
ARBITRATION: The California Chamber of Commerce and several other plaintiffs have filed a lawsuit in the Eastern District of California challenging AB 51 (Gonzalez), which was signed into law by Governor Newsom on October 10. The bill prohibits a California employer from requiring an employee or potential employee from signing an agreement to settle disputes for employment discrimination in arbitration, a common practice among employers to avoid courtroom fights and, thus juries.
For the Bee, Hannah Wiley has quotes from the two sides of the argument:
“It doesn’t make sense to place businesses at risk for criminal penalties for a practice that has been favored by California and federal law and consistently upheld by the courts,” said chamber President and CEO Allan Zaremberg in a press release. “While it may not serve the best interests of the trial lawyers, expeditious resolution through the arbitration process serves the interests of employees and employers.”
Bill author and San Diego Democrat Lorena Gonzalez, a longtime champion for workers, said arbitration can be a “highly effective tool,” but only when both parties choose it “freely.”
“It doesn’t work when corporations say you won’t be hired unless you sign away your rights,” Gonzalez said in an emailed statement. “The state of California has a duty to protect workers on the job, and Assembly Bill 51 says employers can’t tell workers they will only get a job by signing away their rights. It should come as a surprise to no one that big business is challenging this common sense law.”
LA-LA LAND: Yesterday, the Los Angeles County Democratic Party endorsed former San Francisco district attorney George Gascón over incumbent Jackie Lacey in the nonpartisan race for district attorney. Lacey is African-American and considered a traditional prosecutor, while Gascón is Cuban-American and considered a reformer. Gascón is not new to the City of Angels--his family settled in Bell, and he was a beat cop for the Los Angeles Police Department and was Asst. Police Chief under Bill Bratton. Gascón went to Whittier School of Law as a beat cop. <cue Lieutenant Daniels>
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Tam Ma!