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FIRST PRIMARY ELECTION MAIL-IN BALLOTS SENT: 15 days
ATCpro UPDATES (formerly Nooner Premium):
The Nooner for Sunday, January 19, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners
Happy Sunday! I've finished 7 day of my Whole30 dietary reboot and this is my third day without coffee. For the Nooner Newbies, I normally drink 8-10 cups by noon and then switch to green tea in the afternoon and herbal in the evening. On Friday, I switched to black tea to start the morning, green tea by 10, and then herbal in the afternoon. I miss those law school days of being able to drink coffee until my head hit the pillow, but my body reminds me that I'm older now.
Anyway, I've slept better the last few nights--going to sleep early and waking up naturally between 4:30-5:30. Perfect!
Let's get through some items today before prepping food for the football games. I made it to farmers market this morning and my plan is some paleo chili, which is one of my standbys.
Last night, I finished a page to sort legislative districts by their Clinton, Trump, Newsom, and Cox performance. I'm not sure what it's worth, but I was in a data and coding mood.
Yesterday, I sent the first ATCpro weekly election update to subscribers. In it, I revised the district ratings for the first time since the fields were finalized. I'll update them on the site in a couple of days. I also offered my key questions for March 3 on 28 congressional and state legislative districts. Of the 154 on the ballot these are the races I'll be watching most closely in the next forty-four days. These are not necessarily the same districts we'll be asking questions about for November, as many of them will be safe with one candidate after March.
The districts I'm watching most closely down the primary stretch are CA16, CA21, CA25, CA45, CA48, CA50, CA53, SD05. SD07, SD13, SD15, SD21, SD23, SD37, AD13, AD25, AD33, AD36, AD37, AD38, AD42, AD57, AD59, AD67, AD68, AD72, AD73.
I don't need to tell my Republican friends that it's a tough cycle for them and something that likely won't abate until at least 2022 after redistricting. I give Democrats a 90% chance of holding the two-thirds majority in the State Assembly. From the State Senate I gave to ATCpro last night: 14 State Senators are not up for re-election in 2020. 14 are safe Democrat and 1 is a likely Democrat (SD05). Then there are two toss-ups (SD21 and SD37). Both are held by Republicans. Then there are two lean Republicans seat (SD23 and SD29), which also are both held by Republicans.
So, I give Democrats a 99% chance of holding a supermajority the State Senate, which is 27 seats. Dems will almost certainly have 29 and could have as many as 33 seats out of 40 in the State Senate. It's just a bad landscape in 2020 with the more vulnerable seats, particularly where we saw overlapping congressional seats flip in 2018.
Let's get to it after the jump!
As the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) presented a fiery defense of President Trump during impeachment hearings last month, angrily accusing Democrats of ginning up a false narrative about the president’s efforts to get Ukraine to dig up dirt on a political rival.
But newly released text messages suggest Nunes’ staff was aware of and involved in portions of the scheme, casting a new light on his combative defense.
Documents released by the House committee show repeated contact between Lev Parnas, who worked with Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani, and Derek Harvey, an aide to Nunes on the committee, about meetings with Ukrainian prosecutors to get damaging information about Democrat Joe Biden, who is running for president, and about a debunked theory about Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 U.S. election.
BIG $$$ WEEK: Thursday is the deadline to report cash on hand and contributions received from January 1 through January 18. The full report of contributions received between July 1 and December 31, 2019 is due January 31. If that sounds odd, it is, but it's a function of the campaign reporting schedule still based on the June primary. Obviously, cash on hand on Thursday's report is more relevant than cash on December 31.
This may be more understandable:
Because of the early primary, the timing of reports are a little whack. The semi-annual report due January 31 will be more comprehensive in contribution detail, but the first pre-election due this Thursday will actually have a more accurate all-important cash-on-hand number.
PRIVACY: In yesterday's NYT, Kashmir Hill reports on a small app developer who has created a privacy monster and I expect legislators will be talking about it this year:
His tiny company, Clearview AI, devised a groundbreaking facial recognition app. You take a picture of a person, upload it and get to see public photos of that person, along with links to where those photos appeared. The system — whose backbone is a database of more than three billion images that Clearview claims to have scraped from Facebook, YouTube, Venmo and millions of other websites — goes far beyond anything ever constructed by the United States government or Silicon Valley giants.
This is so The Social Network and how Facebook came to be as a photo harvester to rate girls, although now that seems quite innocent.
Federal and state law enforcement officers said that while they had only limited knowledge of how Clearview works and who is behind it, they had used its app to help solve shoplifting, identity theft, credit card fraud, murder and child sexual exploitation cases.
Until now, technology that readily identifies everyone based on his or her face has been taboo because of its radical erosion of privacy. Tech companies capable of releasing such a tool have refrained from doing so; in 2011, Google’s chairman at the time said it was the one technology the company had held back because it could be used “in a very bad way.” Some large cities, including San Francisco, have barred police from using facial recognition technology.
But without public scrutiny, more than 600 law enforcement agencies have started using Clearview in the past year, according to the company, which declined to provide a list. The computer code underlying its app, analyzed by The New York Times, includes programming language to pair it with augmented-reality glasses; users would potentially be able to identify every person they saw. The tool could identify activists at a protest or an attractive stranger on the subway, revealing not just their names but where they lived, what they did and whom they knew.
This is likely a clear violation of the California Consumer Privacy Act and specifically Cal. Civil Code §1798.100(b), as the business collecting the information and using it for business purposes (selling it to law enforcement) is the maker of the Clearview app, rather than Facebook. Facebook obviously provides disclaimers, but most of us have never even heard of the app (or I'm just old).
From my read of that code section, third-party scraping of personal information, which would include photos associated with a name, is violation of that section. It is also in violation of copyright. After all, a company can't scrape photos and sell them as if they are Shutterstock. While assisting police may be a noble cause, without an explicit exception to copyright law, I don't see how marketing a database of our photographs is any different. Both simply create a marketable product with out data, in this case photos, without permission to do such.
HOUSING: Following the well-publicized eviction of a group of homeless mothers occupying a vacant house in Oakland, Matthias Gafni and J.K. Dineen look at how many houses are vacant and the practice of flipping by investors in the Bay Area.
On Tuesday morning, Alameda County sheriff’s deputies evicted four mothers from a two-story home on Magnolia Street after they had occupied the house, without the owner’s permission, for nearly two months. The episode turned the spotlight on the Bay Area’s exorbitant housing prices — but also on the practice of home flipping and what role it plays in people being priced out of neighborhoods.
For the past nine years, Wedgewood Properties, the Southern California firm that owns the Magnolia Street house, has been one of Oakland’s most prolific house flippers, rehabbing and selling 160 homes. The company says it has spent an average of $57,000 per home, about $9.1 million in total, using all local labor to do the work. Most of the homes were owned by banks, having gone into foreclosure during and after the financial crisis of 2008. They include homes like 2753 67th Ave., which the company bought at auction for $367,000 and sold six months later for $573,000.
Wedgewood spokeswoman Leslie Moody said the company has paid more than $2 million to Oakland in transfer and property taxes. “We bring employment to the local community, rehabilitate severely damaged homes and revitalize communities,” she said. “That rundown, vacant house is now a like-new home available to first-time home buyers.”
ELECTRIC VEHICLES: In the LAT, Patrick McGreevy writes about the new $100 per year fee on some electric vehicles that takes effect July 1 as part of the SB 1 gas tax package for road construction and repairs.
The annual $100 “road improvement fee” on zero-emission vehicles from SB1 was touted as a way to ensure that owners of the vehicles had skin in the game when it came to fixing the state‘s aging transportation infrastructure. But implementation of the fee was delayed after until July 1, 2020, and it applies only to vehicles of model year 2020 or later.
Some 320,000 zero-emission vehicles older than the current model year are registered with the DMV, including cars owned by at least eight legislators, four of whom were co-authors of the bill.
Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, is not happy--with SB 1 or the delayed implementation of the EV fee.
“It’s reflective of policies that favor the elite and the wealthy in California relative to working-class Californians,” he said. “There are a lot of tradespeople who don’t drive electric cars. They drive gas-powered pickup trucks, and they are being punished by the highest gas prices in America.”
more after the jump...
POLL POSITION ON STATE SPENDING: It's been a wild week and I am just getting to the rest of the PPIC poll released Wednesday night. The Statewide Survey included a few routine questions for this time of year as the 2020-21 budget discussions get underway.
Thinking about these four areas of state spending, I’d like you to name the one you think should have the highest priority when it comes to state government spending, [rotate]  K–12 public education,  higher education,  health and human services, [or]  prisons and corrections.
In general, which of the following statements do you agree with more—[rotate]  I’d rather pay higher taxes and have a state government that provides more services, [or]  I’d rather pay lower taxes and have a state government that provides fewer services?
The state is projected to have a budget surplus of several billion dollars. In general, how would you prefer to use this extra money? [rotate]  Would you prefer to pay down state debt and build up the reserve [or]  would you prefer to increase state funding for education, health, and human service programs [or]  would you prefer one-time state spending for transportation, water, and infrastructure projects?
Cue the criticism that the question doesn't prompt for a tax cut/rebate, although that's likely factored in the "other" category. Regardless, it's remarkable to look at the budget situation and the optimism of the voters compared to where we were 15 years ago. In that month's PPIC poll (a special one focused on the state budget), the questions were about the magnitude of spending cuts and tax increases voters would put up with. In the end, both were done.
LENNY'S LENS: In the Chron, Carolyn Said interviews Newsom chief economic and business advisor Lenny Mendonca.
On the economy:
Q: This seems ironic considering that the economy is roaring and unemployment is at a record low 3.9% statewide, but let’s talk about the risks of recession.
A: We are not predicting a recession; we are predicting a slowdown in growth. We are trying to build a budget that is balanced and will be resilient to shocks. We are using budget surpluses to pay down debt, to add to the rainy-day fund. We are proposing to continue substantial investment in paying down unfunded CalPERS (California Public Employees' Retirement System) liabilities. We are doing investments that are catalytic for change but that don’t put us in a position where if we have a downturn, we’d have to cut.
On AB 5 and exemptions:
Q: What about individuals caught in the crosshairs — freelance writers, musicians and others who’ve said AB5 will destroy their ability to make a living?
A: All laws and court decisions have complexity you have to address over time. The governor said in his state of state and in signing message there’s still work to be done to be sure it’s right. It’s important to hear all that feedback. That’s the process when you pass new big laws, you have to make sure they’re working right.
DAN WALTERS ON THE PRESIDENTIAL: Responding to Paul Mitchell's article for Capitol Weekly, Dan Walters writes for CalMatters that it's ironic for Democrats to be so committed to proportional representation for Democratic National Convention delegate allocation while also insisting on changing the Electoral College to require electors to vote for the winner of the popular vote.
muni matters, cakeday, and classifieds after the jump...
BAGHDAD BY THE BAY: In the Chron, Mallory Moench writes that the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has voted unanimously to ban natural gas in all new and significantly renovated city-owned buildings. The bigger story is that they're eyeing doing the same for all new construction in the city and county.
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Pablo Espinoza, Sean Hoffman, Greg Liefer, Supervisor Kristin Olsen!