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IN TODAY'S NOONER:
THE CHIEF: This morning, Speaker Anthony Rendon announced that he is nominating Sue Parker to replace E. Dotson Wilson as Chief Clerk of the State Assembly. Sue was an Assembly fellow 17 years ago and is well known around the Capitol community. In a house of declining African-American representation not because of politics but rather demographics, Johnson's appointment by Latino Rendon is seen as a strong message.
THE LETTER: In today's NYT, a group of GOP political consultants published an op-ed calling for the defeat of President Donald Trump and a new organization, the Lincoln Project, as well as efforts to defeat legislative allies of the President. The authors are George T. Conway III, Steve Schmidt, John Weaver and Rick Wilson--veterans who have been critics of the President in the media, but have stopped short of calling for his defeat and that of his allies. Conway is the husband of White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway.
Over these next 11 months, our efforts will be dedicated to defeating President Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box and to elect those patriots who will hold the line. We do not undertake this task lightly, nor from ideological preference. We have been, and remain, broadly conservative (or classically liberal) in our politics and outlooks. Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain, but our shared fidelity to the Constitution dictates a common effort.
The 2020 general election, by every indication, will be about persuasion, with turnout expected to be at record highs. Our efforts are aimed at persuading enough disaffected conservatives, Republicans and Republican-leaning independents in swing states and districts to help ensure a victory in the Electoral College, and congressional majorities that don’t enable or abet Mr. Trump’s violations of the Constitution, even if that means Democratic control of the Senate and an expanded Democratic majority in the House.
Mr. Trump fails to meet the bar for this commitment. He has neither the moral compass nor the temperament to serve. His vision is limited to what immediately faces him — the problems and risks he chronically brings upon himself and for which others, from countless contractors and companies to the American people, ultimately bear the heaviest burden.
But this president’s actions are possible only with the craven acquiescence of congressional Republicans. They have done no less than abdicate their Article I responsibilities.
Indeed, national Republicans have done far worse than simply march along to Mr. Trump’s beat. Their defense of him is imbued with an ugliness, a meanness and a willingness to attack and slander those who have shed blood for our country, who have dedicated their lives and careers to its defense and its security, and whose job is to preserve the nation’s status as a beacon of hope.
The web site also lists as advisors to the effort Reed Galen, Jennifer Horn, and Mike Madrid. Tweeting out the letter this morning was Anthony Scaramucci, the White House Communications Director for 10 days in 2017. He tweets:
Our @GOP has been hijacked by the criminal rogue @realDonaldTrump and his enablers. Fight for our democracy. @TheRickWilson @gtconway3d
The House is scheduled to vote on the two articles of impeachment tomorrow.
Of course, supporters of President Trump are calling the group of dissenting GOP strategists "grifters," but there's no indication that there is an organized agreement to profit off their "line in the sand" argument to GOP voters.
THE RIGHT TO SLEEP: In the Bee, Theresa Clift and Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks look at the effect of the Supreme Court's decision to not review the Ninth Circuit's decision in City of Boise v. Martin, which provided that fines of homeless for sleeping or camping in public space without reasonable alternatives. They write:
One way to achieve that balance might be to approve a new policy outlining the specific locations and times of day a homeless person could sleep on public property. The Boise decision does not explicitly ban making these kinds of restrictions.
Perhaps the biggest news on today’s order list was the justices’ announcement that they would not weigh in on the constitutionality of a Boise, Idaho, law that bans camping and sleeping in public spaces. A group of homeless and formerly homeless Boise residents challenged the law, arguing that it violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment when it is used as the basis for criminal penalties against homeless people who are sleeping outside because they cannot find space in a shelter. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit agreed with the challengers, holding that the city cannot impose criminal penalties on homeless residents “for lacking the means to live out the universal and unavoidable consequences of being human.”
The city appealed to the Supreme Court, telling the justices that the “consequences of the 9th Circuit’s erroneous decision have already been—and will continue to be—far-reaching and catastrophic. The creation of a de facto constitutional right,” the city argued, “to live on sidewalks and in parks will cripple the ability of more than 1,600 municipalities in the Ninth Circuit to maintain the health and safety of their communities.” The city’s appeal was supported by 20 “friend of the court” briefs, some from cities and states with large homeless populations. The city of Los Angeles, for example, complained that the “broad rationale” of the 9th Circuit’s ruling could have an impact well beyond “a homeless person’s need to sleep outdoors.” But today the justices denied Boise’s appeal, leaving the 9th Circuit’s decision invalidating the law in place.
TAKINGS: Amy Howe writes on another denial of review relating to regulatory takings. It's a Massachussets state case appealed to SCOTUS, so it is not controlling on California, although a signal from SCOTUS as to how they may approach further takings cases.
The justices also denied review in Smyth v. Conservation Commission of Falmouth, a case that arose after the Massachusetts town of Falmouth rejected Janice Smyth’s application to build a home on a lot that she owned there. When Smyth’s parents, from whom she inherited the land, bought the property in 1975, there were no restrictions on their ability to develop the lot. But the town later enacted regulations that limited development on lots near wetlands, like Smyth’s property. As a result, by the time Smyth was ready to begin construction, the only part of her property that she could use was much too small to build the home that she had planned. The town’s denial of Smyth’s permit application meant that the only possible uses of her land were as a playground, park or neighbor’s yard, reducing the value of the lot from $700,000 to $60,000.
Smyth went to court, arguing that the restrictions amount to a “regulatory taking” – that is, even though she still owns the land, the government’s regulations so restrict her ability to develop it that the Constitution entitles her to compensation. But today the justices declined to review her case.
This is huge in an area of law that affects everything from new housing to high speed rail.
DEM DEBATE: The Thursday night debate at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles is back on after negotiations between UNITE HERE and food service provider Sodexo.
CALIFORNIA ECONOMY: Business insurance firm AdvisorSmith is out with study on the economies of the US states since the 2016 election. For California, they find:
PG&E: For KQED, Marisa Lagos reports on who is getting rich off the bankruptcy of Pacific Gas & Electric. Lagos writes:
Since the utility filed for Chapter 11 protection in January, lawyers and consultants have made a staggering $217 million. Big banks have netted $114 million in financing fees — and that number could top $1 billion by the time the company exits bankruptcy next year.
Others are reaping the bankruptcy windfall, too.
A handful of hedge funds stand to make billions because they own nearly one-fifth of PG&E’s stock and bought up more than half of the wildfire insurance claims against the company — meaning they are basically on both sides of the negotiating table in court.
And stock prices are fluctuating wildly based on the latest twists and turns in the bankruptcy case, providing speculators the opportunity to make huge short-term returns.
In response to Marisa's story, Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) bluntly tweets:
PG&E burns places down, turns off lights to millions, goes bankrupt.
Wall Street makes $1B off the bankruptcy.
And PG&E will exit bankruptcy still a mess, with ratepayers paying higher rates for bad & unsafe service.
No more. Time for public ownership.
HIGH SPEED CHOO-CHOO: For the LAT, Ralph Vartabedian reports that the California High Speed Rail Authority is moving forward even if doubts increase at the state and federal levelts.
The California bullet train authority is moving ahead with an aggressive plan to issue its biggest contract in history, steering into sharp criticism by federal regulators and even the state-appointed peer review panel that it is overreaching.
The agency took a key step last week toward issuing a 30-year-long contract to install track, set up high-voltage electrical lines, create a digital signaling system, build a heavy maintenance train garage and obligate future maintenance of the equipment and track.
It would cover future track from San Jose to Bakersfield, more than half the proposed Los Angeles-to-San Francisco system. It would lock the state into a maintenance contract, as well as equipment, on segments that it currently does not have money to build.
DOUBLE-X FACTOR: For CalMatters, Martha Groves reports on the implementation of the new law requiring female representation on corporate boards sited in California.
For 46 publicly held companies in California with all-male boards, the clock is ticking.
The corporations, including pharmaceutical, financial and software companies that tend to be on the smaller, younger side, have only until revelers ring in 2020 to name a woman to their boards of directors or face a $100,000 penalty.
PRIVACY: In the Chron, Alexei Koseff writes on the enforcement of the state's new consumer privacy law, which takes effect January 1.
PORK: The National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation have sued California over Proposition 12, the 2018 ballot measure that among other things limited how sows are confined. They argue that the initiative unconstitutionally interferes with interstate commerce without a compelling state interest. It's right out of a 1L's ConLaw casebook.
MEASLES: In the Bee, Jared Gilmour reports that Los Angeles County public health officials are warning travelers who passed through LAX on December 11 that they may have been exposed to the measles virus.
The cases of measles at the Southern California hub come during the busy holiday travel season between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Airports are known for spreading the measles virus: A study earlier this year revealed that the U.S. counties most at risk for a measles outbreak hosted large international airports.
Local health officials urged people planning to make international trips “to get the measles immunization in order to better protect their individual health and to prevent the spread of measles to others.”
SCHOOL DAZE: The Bee's Andrew Scheeler reports that next year, California's middle schools won't be able to suspend pupils for disruptive behavior. Scheeler writes:
[I]t will be unlawful for both public and charter schools to suspend students from kindergarten through eighth grade for unruly or disruptive behavior. Previously, the ban was in place just for kindergarten through fifth grade.
A few more items, Cakeday, and NEW Classifieds after the jump...
ESSEF EFFED: Dominic Fracassa reports in the Chron that Oracle is moving it's annual super-gathering from San Francisco to Las Vegas because of the embarrassing plight of San Francisco streets. Oracle is headquartered in San Francisco and now has one of the most distinctive part of the city's skyline.
SANDY EGGO PRIVACY: In the SDUT, Teri Figueroa reports on the concerns of privacy advocates over San Diego's "smart street light" initiative, which does far much more than lighting asphalt. Figueroa writes:
At issue is digital information collected from sensors on smart street lights throughout the city. The group, through attorney Cory Briggs, filed several requests last month asking the city to turn over all the source data collected by sensors on all its Smart Street Lights over a 24-hour period. The group also wanted all records related to processed data.
CLIPPERS ARENA: The LAT's Nathan Fenno reports that Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday approved the fast-track of the Clippers arena project in Inglewood which limits the time of court challenges of the project under the California Environmental Quality Act.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has approved fast-tracking the billion-dollar arena complex the Clippers want to build in Inglewood, as plans for the project continue to advance.
Newsom certified the project Friday under legislation passed last year to shield the project from extended environmental litigation.
The decision, which sets a nine-month window for lawsuits and appeals over the project’s environmental impact to be resolved, came after the California Air Resources Board found the project would be net carbon neutral.
The state’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee has 30 days to approve Newsom’s certification. If that happens, the environmental impact report will be released.
Opponents to the project include Madison Square Garden Company (MSG), which bought the Forum in 2012 with plans for a massive renovation and development of the parking lots. All of the major league teams that used to play their now are located at Staples Center. MSG argues that the Clippers proposal would increase traffic and hurt air quality when there is an existing alternative.
Prior to the governor's approval the Clippers group worked with the California Air Resources Board to make the project carbon neutral and agreed to provide 1,000 EV chargers to local residents and to plant 1,000 trees.
The Clippers group is led by majority owner Steve Ballmer, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft who tried to kidnap our Sacramento Kings and take them to Seattle, a city deserving of a team but stolen by Oklahoma City.
The fights over the Clippers arena in Inglewood between Ballmer's group and MSG are more about associated development than it is sports, which is similar to the negotiations between the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the city. They have come to agreement after wooing by Long Beach about a waterfront stadium. A former football stadium that was remodeled to be baseball-oriented, the Anaheim spot has been slowly developing parts of the unnecessarily large parking lots for several years and much more is planned.
AD60 POPULATION BOOM: Jeff Horseman writes for the Press Enterprise:
Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes, D-Riverside, gave birth to two boys and a girl last week, her office announced Monday, Dec. 16.
“My wife and I … are deeply grateful for the love and support from our family, friends, and the medical team who have been with us on this exciting journey,” Cervantes said in a news release. “We look forward to celebrating the holidays with the three newest additions to our family.”
She’s the fourth California legislator and the first LGBT lawmaker to give birth while in office. First elected in 2016, Cervantes’ district includes part of Riverside along with Corona, Norco, Eastvale, and Jurupa Valley.
I just wonder what former Assembly member Peter Frusetta's speech would be like today.
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Uduak-Joe Ntuk and Kristi Kimiko Thielen!