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RECENT PODS:

  • Political Breakdown (Scott Shafter and Marisa Lagos @ KQED): BART Director Lateefah Simon on the protests against police violence, steps cities can take to reform policing, the re-entry program she created with Kamala Harris, her Bay Area roots and her late husband Kevin Weston. (2020-06-04)
  • Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Bebitch Jeffe): police violence; new generation of African American women mayors; LAPD budget (2020-06-04)
  • Health Policy Podcast (School of Public Health at San Diego State University): First four episodes of 2020 (2020-06-03)
  • Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos @ KQED: Tom Steyer, chair of Gov. Gavin Newsom's Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery (2020-05-28)

The Nooner for Monday, June 8, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners

  • Weekends at The Nooner
  • Politics of protest
  • Carotid hold clarification
  • State budget incl. tax proposal?
  • Police influence in city halls
  • Union campaign spending
  • Stem cell initiative
  • Cakeday and classifieds

"This country was born with the birth defect of slavery...My great-great-grandfather was my great-grandmother's slaveowner. That's a very hard truth. But it is a truth of the past and now we must move forward."

-- Condoleeza Rice, who is 40% European, on Face The Nation.

What a great message from Condi yesterday. Many of us with long lineage in this country have stories that make us cringe and affect our viewpoints on these topics today. While an undergrad at UC Davis, I penned a letter to the editor in the California Aggie acknowledging my ancestors unfortunate record on slavery and thus my opposition to Proposition 209, the 2016 measure banning affirmative action in college admissions and state hiring.

While never talked about in the family, I found my own families history in genealogical documents including a will compiled by my aunt. It was not an easy thing to do, but necessary for me to think about and put into writing. I'm guessing that most with European heritage, like Condi and me, whose ancestors arrived int he 17th Century would find similar ugly facts.

Fast forward 24 years, and as early as today, ACA 5 will be considered on the Assembly Floor to ask the voters to repeal Proposition 209. The vote will likely be close. It requires two-thirds in both houses to be placed on the November ballot. Democrats in swing districts are skittish and the Asian-American community remains divided over affirmative action, largely over fears among some that limited higher education slots may move from Asian-American students to other admitees.

That was seen in Assembly Appropriations, with Ed Chau (D-Monterey Park) and Cottie Petrie Norris (D-Laguna Beach) not voting on the measure. Democrats have 61 members in the Assembly so assuming all Republicans are voting against ACA 5, 7 Democrats can vote no or not vote and the bill will still pass.

Yesterday, ACA 5 co-author Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) tweeted:

I don’t want to see a single one of my fellow legislators post about #blacklivesmatter but not vote on #ACA5 next week. Black lives matter in government contracting & college admissions, too.

We may have some (even more) uncomfortable Democratic Caucus meetings in the days ahead...

ACA 5 is item 277 on the Assembly File. If they get to it today, it will be illustrative if it is or is not brought up today. Coming off the intense weekend, if the votes are there, I would expect it to be brought up. If the votes are not there, expect it to be passed over today.

On a lighter note, Condi's father John Rice -- a retired educator -- was a member of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges. There is an annual diversity awards program to recognize programs lifting up students from diverse backgrounds in the community colleges and Condi regularly attends the event. While I was certainly not a fan of some of her foreign policy roles, she is a wonderful person and currently serves as director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford. Here is a video where she describes her dad'a background.

The river of news was constant this weekend making Monday almost a relief. Today, the full Assembly convenes at 1pm to consider bills for the first time since March 16.  As I wrote listed in Chris Micheli's data yesterday, there are 356 bills on the Assembly Floor, including 209 on Third Reading. The Assembly also intends to meet Wednesday and Thursday.

The Senate meets at 9am on Thursday and has only 110 bills on the floor, including 78 on Third Reading. Part of the difference in numbers is that Assembly Appropriations has completed its work on house-of-origin bills, while Senate Approps meets tomorrow for first hearing of bills and is expected to act on the Suspense File next week.

I ran the below on Friday and running it one more time for the three-day weekenders. Thank you to those who stepped up over the weekend. While I have a couple more weeks of breathing room, if things don't turn around soon (like many small businesses)...


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WEEKENDS AT THE NOONER: It was anything but quiet the last couple of days.

Saturday, June 6:

  • Unemployment (the problem with Friday's data)
  • Newsom on police reforms
  • Second wave?
  • Masks
  • Reopening
  • UCLA physician misconduct
  • SacTown rubber bullets
  • Simi Valley

Sunday, June 7

  • The Capitol protest
  • SacPD drops "carotid hold"
  • Cash from cops
  • The legislative work ahead
  • State budget
  • Unemployment
  • After the crises
  • From the Desk of the Dean
  • Trump and California's universities
  • Simi Valley 

Protest June 7THE POLITICS OF PROTEST: As you likely know, I have "observed" the protests from afar as I have protected my lungs by remaining hunkered down since we still have that other crisis. However, yesterday, the main march started at Southside Park across the street, which I knew I could navigate safely while masked to get a sense of the message.

From a Southside Park event standard, the coalition-sponsored event wasn't huge (under 1,000), although word was that many more would meet them at their march destination of Cesar Chavez Plaza. But, I wasn't there to count heads.

Many of the signs were the expected "Black Lives Matter." Some said "Register to vote here." Others were specific to the Minneapolis situation, calling for justice for George Floyd.

But there were also the others. Some may say more passionate and some may say more extreme.

As you can see by the photo, one poster that was handed out was "Migra y policia, la misma porqueria." If you can't make out the image at the bottom, it is the top of a pig's head. The translation is "Immigration and police, the same crap." I get that passion and that wasn't what got me to write on this topic today.

My job in this space is to discuss policy and the political situation and outlook. My job right now is to think about the November election, which is highly volatile and unpredictable at this point.

The other plentiful signs and theme throughout the weekend was "Defund the police." The same message was painted next to the "BLACK LIVES MATTER" on 16th St. NW leading to The White House. Unlike the latter, the "defund" message was not city-approved and it sounds like city crews will be removing it.

My question is what the messaging around these protests is playing with independent voters. In November, 90% of both Democrats and Republicans will vote for their party's nominee from the presidential to the Assembly races. That is seen in almost every poll and nothing new in 2020. The swing voters are independents.

We have polling from PPIC in February 2020 that we can look at that might help us understand. Of course, February's polling preceded the George Floyd death although these situations are not novel. Let's look at some data.

  • Overall: When asked "How would you rate the job your local police are doing in controlling crime in your community: excellent, good, fair, or poor?," a total of 73% of independent likely voters rated the job performance of local police as excellent (23%) or good (40%). For reference, that number was 63% for Democrats and 73% for Republicans, so independents aren't that different from partisan voters.
  • Equity: When asked "Do you think the police in your community treat all racial and ethnic groups fairly almost always, most of the time, only some of the time, or almost never?," a total of 63% of independent likely voters responded either almost always (38%) or most of the time (25%). Unlike the overall job performance number, there is a partisan divide on this one with independents landing in the middle. 51% of Democrats rated either almost always (21%) or most of the time (30%), while 75% of Republicans rated either almost always (47%) or most of the time (28%).

Now, I don't know how the Memorial Day death of Floyd and the subsequent news coverage affects the above numbers. I doubt the Republican number moves too much. President Trump's message has been strongly law and order, and President Trump has an 84% approval rating among California likely GOP voters. Democrats likely move to the left. Independents likely move a little more to the "fair" rating on overall performance and from "almost always" to "most of the time" on the equity question.

We don't have a poll on whether we should defund the police and it means different things to different people. The Minneapolis City Council is discussing the topic today after a majority of the council has said that they endorse the concept. For some, it means moving what are seen as not essential criminal justice functions from police to other areas, such as social or health services, such as drug and alcohol treatment. To others, it's demilitarizing the police and ending the surplus military equipment program that transfers unused equipment from the armed forces to police departments. And to the extreme, it means significantly downsizing the number officers allowed to exert force to effectuate arrest.

Because of my sincere desire of physical distancing, I wasn't up to interview those carrying the "Defund the Police" signs yesterday, but given the general tenor of the crowd, I'm guessing it would have been at the extreme, likely along the lines of an activist who spoke at the Minneapolis protest yesterday attended by councilmembers who said they were ready to defund. She said "We don't want no more police."

What does more mean? Obviously, that could have two distinct and very different meanings.

And, that's what we're talking about in relation to independent voters and November. "Defund the Police" and "We don't want no more police" will be interpreted in the minds of the voters unless given a different narrative. If nothing is done, expect statements like that and images like the sign above in television ads and the mail this fall against Democratic candidates. In a cycle where Democrats have a +7.8 average advantage on the generic ballot nationally, Democrats need to do something to defend against that barrage of attacks or face the consequences in November.

This morning, House Democrats with the support of Senate Democrats, announced that they would introduce a multi-pronged approach to address issues regarding policing.

The Democratic proposal, the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, has more than 200 sponsors and marks one of the most comprehensive efforts in modern times to overhaul the way police do their jobs.

It would prohibit the use of choke-holds, lower legal standards to pursue criminal and civil penalties for police misconduct, and ban no-knock warrants in drug-related cases. The plan would also create a national registry to track police misconduct.

"We can't settle for anything other than transformative structural change," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on Monday while flanked by the bill's authors gathered to introduce the legislation. "True justice can only be achieved with full, comprehensive action, that is what we are doing today. This is a first step, there is more to come."

The Congressional Black Caucus and the House Judiciary Committee, as well as Sens. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, crafted the plan. They wrote their colleagues in an emailed letter with an outline of the legislation on Saturday, and urged them to join as co-sponsors. A Democratic congressional aide provided the letter and bill outline to NPR.

That said, introducing legislation won't stop the ads and mail aimed against Democrats from Biden to swing district state Assembly members. Democrats need to pass legislation that strikes the balance of comforting independents (and moderate Democrats -- about 10-15% of the party's voters) that they are not taking away badges and guns while also not alienating those on the left who might stay home, particularly first-time voters.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell knows this and while a few Republicans (particularly Mitt Romney) have peeled off, McConnell will likely just keep it from ever coming to the Senate Floor. The activists on police reform that we saw marching and rallying this weekend are mostly in cities that are not the GOP base. Therefore, it comes as little cost to McConnell to keep the Democrats bill off the floor.

Then again, McConnell's three-vote majority is tenuous with Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and North Carolina all currently rated as toss-ups by the Cook Political Report. Look for McConnell to shelve the House Democrats bill and craft an alternative plan with the blessing of police unions and give it to one of these members to pass and kick over to the House, which will then be put Democrats in a particularly bad position.

For those on the left who came away from this weekend energized about the protests and envisioning a new surge of progressive voters based on crowd size, don't jump to conclusions. Most of America was not protesting but rather sitting on their couch and, without football, watching protests and seeing messages particularly unappealing to independent voters.

Already today, President Trump accused former Vice President Joe Biden of supporting the defunding of police, while a Biden campaign spokesperson says that he does not. Reportedly, President Trump is considering a "major" speech on race and unity this week.

On a side note, walking back from the protest yesterday, I went in to the corner market across from me and asked the owner to borrow a screwdriver since I lent mine to a friend.He's my regular expert on the opinion of non-political people and many other topics since he talks to hundreds a day. Anyway, walking back across the street, a couple of SacPD officers in an unmarked car in front of my place almost jumped me when they saw a masked man carrying a screwdriver. They didn't get out of the car but they watched me all the way through my gate.

I was all ready to explain that I had just borrowed a screwdriver to tighten the screws on my doorknob, but also know that I while I might be given a chance to explain, other members of our community might not.

CAROTID RESTRAINT CLARIFICATION: Over the last couple of days in talking about Governor Newsom's call to end the use of the Carotid restraint method of detaining suspects and the announcements of several police departments that they would no longer use it, I've said that it was the method that may appears to have have led to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. While I don't know about training in Minnesota, but I've been told that training in California on the carotid restraint has always used arms ("choke hold") and never the knee. I apologize for that. 

...more after the jump.

STATE BUDGET: For the Bee, David Lightman and Sophia Bollag report that, with one week left for the Legislature to approve the state budget or face loss of pay, there are few signs that federal aid to the states are forthcoming soon -- if at all. While they take different approaches, both Governor Newsom and majority Democrats count on federal assistance to avoid billions in cuts to state programs.

In Washington, the House, Senate and President Donald Trump need to agree on a package before anything can become law. Though there are some talks there’s little evidence of progress towards an agreement.

The House, which last month approved a $1 trillion state and local government aid package, has scheduled no votes until June 30.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged a pause in stimulus legislation, and last week outlined a June schedule that does not include any such package. The Senate plans to spend the month considering nominations and major defense as well as land and conservation bills.

Conservative, liberal and moderate economic and policy experts are largely unified in their plea for more help as most states face sudden, huge deficits that by law have to be addressed.

“State and local governments desperately need financial support,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics.

...

States and cities got a total of $150 billion in a March 27 bill. California’s state government is slated to receive $9.5 billion, with its larger cities getting $5.2 billion.

The National Governors Association estimates that states need about $500 billion, a number largely in line with mainstream economic models. Sens. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, and Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, are sponsoring legislation to provide that money.

Their plan, co-sponsored by two other Republican and two Democratic senators, would allow the money to be used for a variety of services, including expanding testing capacity and contact tracing, provide further assistance to residents, local hospitals, small businesses and schools, and “maintaining critical services.”

For CalMatters, Dan Walters looks at the gap between the Legislature and Governor Newsom.

Both Newsom’s budget and the Legislature’s count on more than $4 billion from cutting back, but not eliminating, a couple of corporate tax breaks, but that’s pocket lint if the deficit is, as both budgets assume, $54 billion. There’s a lot of sentiment among Democratic legislators for a bigger tax increase of some kind, but there’s also concern that if enacted, it could backfire politically if seen as a drag on an already battered economy.

...

The only certainties are that a budget deal of some kind will be made by June 15, to protect legislators from losing their salaries, and that whatever they enact will be changed repeatedly over the next year as circumstances evolve.

Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), who chairs Assembly Appropriations and chairs the powerful Latino Legislative Caucus, this morning tweeted polling results from David Binder Research and commented:

In order to reduce the outrageous level of inequality that exists in America today and to rebuild the disappearing middle class, we must support working families with a new tax on millionaires.

In a recent poll, 70% of likely CA voters support a #MillionairesTax.

I do too.

The poll of 600 was taken by telephone and online May 19-21 and acknowledges small sample sizes in the Sacramento Valley, San Joaquin Valley, Central Coast, and Inland Empire. The 70% number is after pro and con arguments, which are not provided.

The title used for the hypothetical ballot measure is "Tax on Personal Incomes Over $1 Million. Legislative Statute," and the measure as described as increasing the marginal rate on income over $1 million by 2% from 13% to 15%, with fiscal estimates of $6 billion in yearly state revenues beginning in 2021-22 and increasing thereafter.

It's an interesting play. If the Legislature puts this on the ballot, it could make the already difficult split roll property tax measure in even more jeopardy and could doom them both.

SPENDING ON COPS: On Fox& Hounds, Joe Mathews opines that the grip that police have over city budgets needs to be curtailed.

[P]olice departments have faced little pressure to surrender any of their local fiscal and political power—until now. Researchers at Black Live Matters are building a strong case for rolling back local police budgets. They successfully targeted Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s initial budget proposal, which cut virtually every city program except the LAPD, which got 7 percent increase. After activists launched a “People’s Budget campaign” to replace police spending with money for the homeless and renters, the mayor said he would trim the police budget instead. Nationally, some activists even want to end police departments altogether. 

That’s unlikely to happen, but California’s system of local government must change so that police no longer dominate our cities. This means empowering citizens to challenge police power in city hall, and perhaps forcing police to work under neighborhood service departments with a broader sense of community needs. 

But first, let’s stop the looting. 

UNION CAMPAIGN SPENDING: Also on F&H, with calls to prohibit unions from contributing to district attorney races, Joel Fox writes that it doesn't go far enough and suggests that teachers unions should similarly be banned from contributing to school board campaigns, since that's who the unions will be negotiating with for wages and working conditions. But, he acknowledges, there are likely constitutional problems as expanded under Citizens United.

STEM CELL INITIATIVE: For Capitol Weekly, David Jensen reports that the $5.5 billion stem cell initiative is poised to qualify for the November ballot.

The measure needs only slightly more than the 67 percent of the signatures that remain to be verified as coming from registered voters. The qualification percentage of raw signatures so far is 78 percent.

It is unlikely that that the qualification rate for remaining raw signatures would drop as low as 66 per percent unless something quite unusual occurs. Only 18 of the 58 counties have yet to verify their raw signatures, which total 305,312. The initiative needs 203,845 verified signatures to make the ballot.

I don't oppose the bond, but I wouldn't want to be counting on the November ballot for a bond for anything other than "economic stimulus." Financially, the voters are in a very austere mood and not without justification. While unemployment will likely be lower as things reopen, there's going to be a long tail to this situation. Lots of familiar businesses (particularly restaurants) will fail in the next six months if they haven't already have. The federal PPP program was a Band-Aid, but lots of restaurants are not returning to normal operations anytime soon, if at all.

cakeday and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research

Well, it's time to turn this paper in to the professor. As with many of my college papers, I feel like I have missed a lot. Oh well, I have that diploma and they let me into law school.

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Zoe Kipping and Dave Lesher!

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