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FIRST PRIMARY ELECTION MAIL-IN BALLOTS SENT: 19 days
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The Nooner for Thursday, January 16, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners
Happy Thursday! As we say weekly, we're almost there! Whatever that means...most of you and me work seven as the ish keeps coming.
IMPORTANT: As noted above, the first ATCpro memo of the cycle will be released tomorrow. Because of the hectic nature of the top-two primary and so many wild and uncertain races, this is how I'll update you through the March 3 election (and the month of counting beyond). It's just easier than the website analysis format, which I'm still trying to figure out how best to handle. If you're a current ATCpro (formerly Nooner Premium) subscriber, your subject line should say "ATCpro Nooner for..." and there should be an expiration date above. If your subscription has lapsed or you want to subscribe, you can do so at www.aroundthecapitol.com/subscribe.
We're heavy on legal topics today. As Jesse Jackson said in that classic 1984 Democratic National Convention speech, blame it on my head and not on my heart.
Quickly, I did step away from the desk that I've been locked to 14 hours a day for the last week to walk over to DOCO and catch a flick. This MLK weekend, I highly recommend seeing Just Mercy starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx. Rated 83% by critics and 99% by 4,116 audience users of Rotten Tomatoes, I'm not alone in loving it. Of course, it's not the kind of movie that "The Academy" would consider, like the outstanding "The Farewell." Also, no matter how bad you have to pee, stay for the credits that have the outcome of the various true stories portrayed in the movie.
Regardless of how you feel personally on the issue of the death penalty, there are outstanding performances by a great cast based on a true story of our justice system. Let's hope it tells a story that was only cured in recent history, but I fear not.
This morning, the House Managers formally "exhibited" the Articles of Impeachment under Article I, Section 2 to the United States Senate with a reading of the articles in the Senate chamber by House Intelligence chairman Adam Schiff (D-Burbank). By the time you read this, Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court of the United States should have taken the gavel under Article I, Section 3 and sworn in the Senators to sit in trial. This is a different swearing-in than the Oath of Office.
We are near-certain of the outcome and can debate the politics of it, but for the ConLaw geeks, the solemnity and formality of the process has us on the edge of our seats.
I missed the formality of the Clinton impeachment trial as I was in my second year of law school and the topics are those covered in your 1L year. By my 2L year, I was splitting my time between law school and as assistant director of the Community College League of California. I took a break from much of my work at the League during my 1L year and someone else was hired to do much of the work. That person was Dustin Corcoran, now CEO of the California Medical Association. Dustin, Paul Mitchell, and I all got started in Orange County together circa 1992 but he proved his community college policy chops in 1994-94 as policy director of the statewide community college association. The president of the Association? Paul Mitchell. Secretary that year? Shannan Velayas, now communications director for Senator Dr. Richard Pan. Regional representative from the Ventura area? Lance Lewis, now COO of CMA. Student member of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors? GOP consultant Mike Madrid.
For the new kids on the block, that's how small this world is. And, we've all been through a lot together beyond that which I can write in this space.
I'll be wrapping my busy morning of writing a bit early as I head over to the Sheraton for a PPIC luncheon. Today's speaker is former Representative (D-Carmel Valley), CIA director, and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. Panetta, whose son Jimmy Panetta now serves following Sam Farr in CA20, now stewards a public policy institute in Monterey County.
Oh, what's that you say about the coincidence?
That's right. before being CIA Director, Leon was director of the Office of Management and Budget and then Bill Clinton's Chief of Staff.
Panetta was Clinton's Leo McGarrity from July 1994 to January 2017--during the "incidents" with White House intern Monica Lewinsky that were subject to the last President of the United States being impeached by the House of Representatives but not convicted by the United States Senate.
Before getting a paid position in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, Lewinsky was an intern.
Yes, she was an intern for White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta.
When the story broke and I was in law school, the scandal-loving television show Inside Edition called me and insisted they had multiple sources that said that I had a relationship with Lewinsky. I may have been at a party with her but honestly don't remember ever meeting her. I do remember that phone call from Inside Edition, which woke me up after a late night of studying.
You can't make this ish up.
Let's get to it after the jump!
POLL POSITION: Last night, PPIC released the full results (LV crosstabs) of its January Statewide Survey. I wrote Tuesday about the results in the Democratic presidential primary, which set afire the YangGang on Twitter because PPIC used the Democratic National Committee's debate qualification criteria to determine which candidates would be listed. Yang received 3% of the volunteered responses in the poll, while he is likely closer to double that in California. That's still below the delegate qualification threshold at 15%, but still not insignificant support.
When the approval rating question is narrowed to only Governor Newsom's handling of the Pacific Gas & Electric bankruptcy and utilities' response to wildfires, likely voters approve of the job he is doing 37-37%, with 25% responding "don't know." The question was first asked about Newsom in May 2019 and found 28-35%, with 37% answering "don't know."
I don't the veracity of that answer. Develop an intermediate-level 10-question quiz for chiefs of staff on the intricacies of IOUs, PSPS, Chapter 11, rate recovery, and bonds--I would guess you'd be sorely disappointed with the results. Few people have geeked out on the topic like some of you have forced me to and I'm still a beginner with the weird experience of working on similar issues in my 20 years with the League.
In comparison, Jerry Brown left office at 52% approval and 40% disapproval in the December 2018, statistically similar to where Newsom currently sits. Arnold Schwarzenegger, still beleaguered by the persistent budget crisis and unable to either persuade the Legislature to make drastic cuts or seek a tax increase, left with a December 2010 approval of 32% approve and 61% disapprove.
I've just pulled the annual approvals for the Legislature, but more can be found in PPIC's time trends.
Here are the top issues of respondents. I'll take a look at these on trends tomorrow or over the weekend. Clearly, we've got through eras when education, immigration, and crime have been the top, but housing and homelessness are clearly the top of respondents' minds to the surprise of noone.
Again, I'm going to come back to this after I spend more time on research tonight. Crime, water, and wildfires are only at 2%, which truly surprises me.
I need to also spend time on the crosstabs tonight to understand how this affects (or should affect) this year's legislative campaigns in different parts of the state.
more after the jump...
MING CHIN: As I posted as an alert on the new Around The Capitol home page (where I'll try to now post alerts and tweet them instead of emailing you separately), Supreme Court of California Associate Justice Ming Chin announced that he would retire on August 31, giving Gavin Newsom his first opportunity to make an appointment to the state's highest court. Chin was appointed by Pete Wilson in 1996 after serving as presiding justice on the First District Court of Appeal. (Yes, the feds use "Appeals" and the state uses "Appeal.") He is thus the longest-serving member on the state's high court but was also not a strict partisan. He joined the six other justices in the unanimous Dynamex decision that led to last year's most controversial bill, AB 5 (Gonzalez).
Chin, like me, was born in Oregon. Go Ducks! He grew up in San Jose and is a graduate of the University of San Francisco for for both his bachelor's and law degrees. After law school, he served in the United States Army before joining the Alameda County District Attorney's Office and then private practice before being appointed to the Alameda Supreme Court by George Deukmejian.
Chin's departure will leave the following make-up of the California Supreme Court:
As Chief Justice Cantil-Sakauye (go community college, UCD, UCD Law!) told the PPIC audience in November, she switched her party registration to No Party Preference after the hearings of now-Associate Justice of SCOTUS Brett Kavanaugh. However, she told the audience that she is still a proud "Deukmejian Republican," coined after the governor for whom she once worked. Deukmejian appointed her to Sac Superior in 1990.
The ball is now in Governor Newsom's court and all eyes turn to him. Unlike the Supreme Court of the United States, the Legislature does not play a formal role in judicial appointments. Rather, judges are confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, which consists of the Chief Justice, Attorney General, and the most senior presiding justice on the six courts of appeal.
The court is quite diverse. The Chief Justice is of Filipina descent, and Brown appointed an Asian-American, Latino, and African-American, saving his lone Caucasian appointment for his last as he wound down his sixteen years as governor.
It's a progressive court, as seen in Dynamex and led by a true moderate. The business community is not happy with Dynamex, but doesn't blame the court. Rather, they see it as the failure of the Legislature to update the Labor Code to keep up with the times and allowing the administrative adoption of wage orders by the Department of Industrial Relations over the years that broadened the Borello test established by the California Supreme Court in 1989.
That said, business will be pushing for a Supreme Court appointment that is a friendly face. Meanwhile, there will be a lot of pressure for a second Latino appointment to the court, and preferably a female.
Of Jerry Brown appointees to the courts of appeal, one name stands out--Patricia Guerrero on the Fourth District bench. She served on the San Diego Superior bench from 2013-2017 and has now been on the Fourth District for two years. She is an alumnae of Berkeley and Stanford Law School. After law school, she spent six years in private practice and a year at the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Southern District.
A political plus? There are no justices currently on the bench of the Supreme Court of California from San Diego.
...homelessness and jet fuel ahead...
HOMELESSNESS: As we saw in the PPIC Statewide Survey we started today with, Governor Newsom is under intense pressure to tackle the issue of homelessness this year, as are legislators, although they have the liberty of pointing fingers all around. Newsom knows it, which is why he has spent the week on the road around the state highlighting the issue and talking about what his administration is doing on the topic.
For Gavin, it's on his desk. For Politico, Carla Marinucci and Jeremy B. White write:
Homelessness may largely be a local issue, but Newsom has sought in his first year to seize an increasingly assertive role. He secured a massive funding increase in the budget he signed last year and has proposed more than $1 billion more in his latest blueprint, in addition to executive actions like finding state land and deploying emergency trailers to house the homeless. The governor is expected to appear Thursday in Oakland to tout such efforts as part of a weeklong state tour on homelessness.
Additional money would be broadly welcomed, but more contentious policy issues could pose a tougher test. Newsom said this week he supports a new proposal from his homelessness task force to create a legally enforceable right to housing via a constitutional amendment.
But it’s unclear if the governor will expend the political capital needed to secure the votes in the Legislature to put that before voters, and then to win a majority vote from the electorate — both of which could test local governments that have already chafed under Newsom’s more aggressive efforts to spur construction.
Similarly, the Legislature is considering fiercely contested legislation, Senate Bill 50, that seeks to create more housing by requiring cities and counties to zone for more units near transit and job centers. Newsom has backed the general principle of pushing local governments to do more, and he said this month that his administration was “working aggressively” to make progress as key bill deadlines approach.
JET FUEL: The news is not good for Delta Airlines following Tuesday's fuel dump over lower-income neighborhoods in the landing path east of Los Angeles International Airport as independent analysts (read "expert witnesses") chime in. For the AP, John Antczak and Bernard Condon report:
Some aviation experts said Wednesday that they were puzzled after the crew of a commercial airliner decided to dump fuel at low altitude during an emergency landing, causing a vapor to fall on schoolyards and neighborhoods east of Los Angeles International Airport.
“No one is going to dump fuel where these guys did it over populated areas and schools. It's a pretty outrageous thing,” said Ross Aimer, CEO of Aero Consulting Experts and a retired United Airlines pilot. “They should have gone over the ocean or landed heavyweight.”
...of course they were over the ocean when the "emergency" started...
Delta Air Lines said Flight 89 to Shanghai had an engine problem after takeoff Tuesday and needed to quickly return. The Boeing 777-200 landed safely after circling back over Los Angeles while dumping fuel to reach a safe landing weight, the airline said in a statement.
Wait, it gets worse for Delta's liability. Even though there don't appear to be any significant Injuries, there are very likely plentiful individuals with causes of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress. After all, we have this that suggest there was no emergency unless there are unreported radio communications.
According to recorded radio communications, air traffic control asked the Delta crew if they wanted to return to LAX immediately or linger over the ocean “to hold and burn fuel."
“We’re going to go ahead,” the pilot or co-pilot responded. “We’ve got it back under control. ... We’re not critical.”
“OK, so you don’t need to hold or dump fuel or anything like that?” the controller asked.
“Ah, negative,” was the response.
But the plane did dump fuel as it headed back.
Uh, Delta sure doesn't want this going to a jury in Los Angeles.
EVAN LOW: The big political news from Evan Low that kept everyone on the edge of their seat earlier this week is that he has been tapped to be national co-chair of Andrew Yang's presidential campaign.
Cakeday and classifieds after the jump...
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Sandy Fried!