Around The Capitol

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RECENT PODS:

  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Paul Mitchell on the Redistricting Commission (2020-07-06)
  • KQED's Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): Los Angeles County supe Hilda Solis (2020-07-09)
  • Gimme Shelter (LAT's Liam Dillon and CalMatters's Matt Levin): Why California’s housing market isn’t tanking (2020-07-06)
  • Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Bebitch Jeffe): Newsom, Trump, Roberts: Politics and Policy (2020-07-02)
  • KQED's Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): Assembly member Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) on the budget and the governor's response to COVID-19 (2020-07-02)
  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): WHO would Gavin Newsom pick for California’s open Senate seat if Kamala Harris does become Vice President? - Half a dozen political players from across the state, including Garry South, former state senator Fran Pavley, Roger Salazar, Adama Iwu, Karen Skelton and Joel Fox (2020-07-01)

The Nooner for Wednesday, July 15, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners

  • COVID-19
  • Budget
  • Black exodus
  • Foreign students
  • Sandy Eggo, ballot measures, and November outlook
  • LA-LA LAND DA
  • SacTown
  • cakeday, farewell, and new classifieds

GENERAL ELECTION DATA POINTS

¡Buenos dias mis amigos! Tomorrow at 12:15, the Sacramento Press Club will host a conversation with Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and who reportedly holds a veepstakes ticket. The groundbreaking former Assembly Speaker will be interviewed by George Skelton & Seema Metha of the Los Angeles Times and Joe Garofoli of the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Facebook Live event is sponsored by Southern California Edison and, in lieu of normal luncheon event fees, folks are encouraged to donate to the Sac Press Club's scholarship fund for aspiring journalism students.

COVID-19:

  • Assembly member Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) tweets that he is back home from the hospital and resting. 
  • NUMBERS: Tuesday was a record number of hospitalizations and ICU stays in California, while the 144 daily reported deaths is the highest since April. Seventy-three of the deaths were in Los Angeles County. The daily death numbers may involve a lag in reported deaths over the weekend rather than a daily spike.
  • TESTING: Yesterday, Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s secretary of Health and Human Services, announced a new COVID-19 testing priority rubric as testing, positivity, and hospitalizations surge particularly in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. The testing priorities are in four tiers.

    The announcement seems to contradict this post on Monday from the governor's official Facebook page that states testing is "Available to anyone." Of course the page doesn't say when it might be available.

    However, the pipeline for materials is reportedly keeping tests of hospital patients from being prioritized for being processed at a time when the hospital beds may need to be prioritized and testing for essential workers also needs to be processed. Additionally, a team at the Bee reports that the state's shortage of contact tracers can't keep up with the number of positive cases, particularly from asymptomatic carriers. They report:

    Of the 55 counties that attested they could safely reopen, at least 17 wrote that they did not meet that contact tracing threshold when they submitted their attestation forms to the state, although many outlined plans to expand their staff.

    When they submitted their forms in May, most of those counties said they could handle their coronavirus caseloads with their existing contact tracing staff. But as coronavirus cases rise rapidly across the state, some of those counties now say they don’t have enough staff to call every person who tests positive for COVID-19 and their contacts within 24 hours, the standard recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Meanwhile, Catherine Ho reports in the Chron that state officials are putting pressure on health insurance companies to shoulder more of the burden of the costs of testing.

    The state Department of Managed Health Care will soon issue new regulations requiring health insurers to pay for coronavirus testing for most patients, state officials said Tuesday. They hope the move will lead to large hospitals, clinics and other health care providers conducting more testing at a time the public needs it the most.

    “It will reinforce and support our delivery system, clinics, hospital systems, to be able to test more and test more confidently so it’s widely available,” said California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly.
  • POLITICAL COST? For Politico, Carla Marinucci, Jeremy B. White, and David Siders look at how Governor Gavin Newsom and LA mayor Eric Garcetti stepped forward early to national critical acclaim. Now, amidst a surge of cases and a second rollback of reopening and Garcetti's warning that LA may go to "red" on its warning criteria leading to shelter in place, the early acclaim invites greater scrutiny which may or may not come with a political cost for the ambitious pols. They write:
    The two leaders have been buffeted throughout the crisis by countervailing demands: businesses and local politicians clamoring to reopen and health officials warning that overly hasty moves would reverse months of painfully earned progress. But now, with numbers exploding, a chorus of critics are second-guessing how the California governor and LA mayor reopened businesses.

    The disease resurgence has even deeper implications after the state's two largest school districts announced they will keep campuses closed when the academic year starts next month.

  • SCHOOL DAZE: The great situational (and occasionally political) sort over reopening schools continued yesterday. The LAT's John Myers looks at the desire of many school officials for Governor Newsom to come out with a statewide guidance on uniformity in reopening amidst warring parents and school board members. Myers writes:
    “We’ve fortunately done just that, a number of months ago,” Newsom said.

    But the plan he appeared to reference, crafted in March, offered support for schools that had decided to close over coronavirus fears — not guidelines noting when to do so. Nor are there any rules in a state Department of Public Health document released last month that focus on school safety tips such as hand washing and physical distancing.

    Now, with the number of COVID-19 cases steadily rising across California and less than three weeks to go before some school districts are poised to begin a new academic year, there are no statewide rules laying out the conditions under which schools can, or cannot, open.

    A day after the Orange County Board of Education called for reopening in-person without masks and social distancing, Santa Ana Unified yesterday announced they would be online to start the 2020-21 year next month, while Tustin Unified told parents that they are going with a hybrid model, with masks required when students are in-person.

    In Sacramento County, Natomas Unified announced a delay in the start of the school year as they work on plans, Sac City Unified also seems to be also unsure yet, with the teachers union against in-person attendance. Meanwhile, Folson Cordova Unified has announced it will start online.
  • THE LATINO COMMUNITY IMPACT: In the Times, Stephanie Lai and Rong-Gong Lin II report on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the Latino community. 
    As California sees a surge in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, a group that has been especially hard hit are Latinos, who make up nearly 39% of the state’s population but 55% of its COVID-19 cases. According to recent L.A. County Department of Public Health reports, Latino residents are more than twice as likely as white residents to contract the virus. In San Francisco, of thousands tested in the Mission district in a study, 95% of people who tested positive were Latinos.

    A Los Angeles Times analysis of statewide data found that for every 100,000 Latino residents, 767 have tested positive. The Black community has also been hit particularly hard: for every 100,000 Black residents, 396 have tested positive. By comparison, 261 of every 100,000 white residents have confirmed infections.

    That has led to growing calls for California to do more to protect essential workers. Employers need to make workplaces safer, and testing and access to healthcare and other services should be ramped up for Latino and other non-white communities that are seeing major outbreaks, officials say.
  • CHURCHES: In the Bee, Andrew Sheeler writes that church leaders are crying foul with Governor Newsom's rollback of reopening, which prohibits indoor gatherings at houses of worship in counties on the state's monitoring list, which covers over 75% of the state's population. 
  • TRANSIT: With a large number of workers continuing to work from home for the foreseeable future and with sales tax revenue on the decline, two Bay Area transit systems are in deep financial trouble. The BART system expects to lose $975 million over the next three years and is begging for federal help, reports Rachel Swan in the Chron. And Caltrain, which runs from San Francisco down the Peninsula, may shut down completely after the San Francisco Board of Supes declined to place a one-eighth percent sales tax hike on the November ballot, reports Swan.

    Caltrain has been "running near-empty trains" as tech industry workers have largely been told they can work from home for the rest of the year and perhaps permanently. Obviously, from the supervisors' perspective, a tax increase in November is politically poisonous for what is seen as a transportation network largely for the tech industry and for professional sports fans who likely won't be traveling to Giants, Warriors, and 49ers games this year and perhaps beyond. 

THE BUDGET: For CalMatters, Dan Walters looks at the borrowing included in this year's state budget:

Whatever its other virtues may be, the budget is far from “balanced,” at least as most folks outside the Capitol would define it.

The 2020-21 budget spends far more — at least $20 billion more — than projected revenues, even including billions of dollars from the state’s emergency reserve.

The gap is closed, at least on paper, by running up the state’s credit card with debt of one kind or another, the most spectacular example being how it treats the budget’s largest single expenditure, state aid to school districts for the education of about 6 million kids.

It authorizes those districts to spend more or less what they would spend if the state wasn’t being battered by the COVID-19 pandemic, if its economy wasn’t in recession, and if the state’s revenues aren’t in a nosedive.

BLACK EXODUS: Lauren Hepler reports for CalMatters on the movement of California's black population from high-cost coastal areas not only out of state but also to inland counties, which has both cultural and political implications.

...Black renters have been disproportionately forced out of cities as costs and evictions climbed; the Black population has plunged 45% in Compton, 43% in San Francisco and 40% in Oakland. While a version of this geographic scramble is playing out for working and middle-class people of all races, the distinct obstacles that Black residents encounter in new communities raise the question: How far do you have to go today to find opportunity — and are some things ever really possible to leave behind?

“Part of what we’re seeing is the kind of anti-Black racism that has followed Black folks wherever they go,” said Willow Lung-Amam, an associate professor of urban planning at the University of Maryland. “You still face the same kind of structural barriers.”

In adopted hometowns, Black Californians face newer, subtler forms of segregation. Old regimes of legal housing and job discrimination have given way to predatory loans, shifting patterns of disinvestment and flare ups of racism or violence in areas that once promised a level playing field, reports from UC Berkeley, UCLA and social services groups have found.

This redistribution of the Black population both in and out of the state will be an even bigger challenge for the Citizens Redistricting Commission than it faced in 2011 with significant pressure to maintain predominantly-Black districts to maintain representation while also dealing with demographic data that has changed significantly in ten years.

FOREIGN STUDENTS: With lawsuits filed by higher education institutions across the country, the Trump Administration backed off its threat to deport international college students from the United States if their school was going to be all online this fall, reports EdSource. California's three public segments had filed suit, although the first one scheduled for a hearing on a temporary restraining order was filed by Harvard and MIT in the federal District of Massachusetts. The judge in the case announced that the parties to the case had come to an agreement that the DHS/ICE would withdraw the rule rather than proceed to a hearing.

SANDY EGGO, BALLOT MEASURES, AND NOVEMBER OUTLOOK: David Garrick reports in the SDUT that the San Diego City Council voted to place a $900 million housing bond on the November ballot. If voiced it here before, while I regularly vote for bonds and taxes, I'm very concerned about prospects for passage in November. While the city is certainly different than the county at large, Proposition 13, the education bond, failed in San Diego County 45.9% to 54.1% in March. That was before the pandemic hit. Garrick writes:

The proposal would raise taxes on San Diego property owners to pay for roughly 7,500 subsidized apartments, 2,800 units for the formerly homeless and 4,700 units for veterans, senior citizens, the disabled and low-income families.

In addition to the local money it would raise, the measure would help San Diego secure a greater share of state and federal money devoted to homelessness and affordable housing, because it would make the city eligible for matching funds.

The bond measure would cost property owners $19 per year for every $100,000 of assessed value. The average homeowner with a $600,000 property would pay $115 more per year.

But property owners would pay significantly less in the early years of the bond because fewer bonds will have been sold, creating less debt to be paid off.

Adding to the complication of the pandemic and overall economic situation is the campaign against Proposition 15, the proposal to treat most commercial and industrial property at market rate instead of the current Prop. 13 (1978) caps. Of course, there will be also be a significant campaign in favor of Prop. 15. While we won't know the actual numbers until around July 31, significant amounts have been already raised on both sides and there is far more on the sidelines.

KQED's Scott Shafer reports that the support campaign for Prop. 15 is out with a new report that 10% of the state's property owners will pay 92% of the taxes, the oppose side will talk about increased gas prices and companies moving out of state.

What we do know is that there will be a barrage of television ads and mail on both sides of the state measure. That will create voter confusion. It's possible that voters reject the state measure and support local measures or vice versa. Or, at a time of great economic angst, voters could reject everything.

Even though Joe Biden will prevail strongly in California (Clinton was +31.8 in 2016) and will capture the state's 55 electoral votes, that doesn't mean it will be an economically liberal electorate. In that election, the state education bond Prop. 51 won 55.2%-44.8%, a far less margin than the presidential vote. In November 2016, the California unemployment rate was 5.1%.

In May, unemployment in California was 16.3%, although even the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics acknowledges that there is a classification error because of furloughed employees, that the BLS believes understates the national number by 3%. The same factor would play out in the California data as it is derived from the federal data. Maybe all furloughed employees will be back in November, maybe not. Regardless, the state unemployment rate will not be 5.1% like in 2016 this November.

All that said, a better election to look at than 2016 may be 2008. In November, Barack Obama won with a margin of +14.1%. The state unemployment rate in November 2008 was 8.1% -- 3 points higher than 2016 but likely lower than in November 2018.

In November 2008, high-speed rail bonds (Prop 1A) passed +5.4%, children's hospital bond (Prop. 3) passed +10.6%, the alternative energy vehicles and renewable energy bonds (Prop. 10) failed -19%, and the veterans' bond (Prop. 12) passed +27.2%. Of course, state bond measures aren't a direct tax, so they aren't necessarily analogous to local bonds. At the same time, they don't necessarily have as direct of a measurable local impact.

Anyway, it's a great uncertainty and I know that a lot of needs will be on the November ballot, but this is unlike any election than we have seen in our voting lifetimes. It's impossible to predict how the voters will feel in 111 days, or in 80 days when voters in most counties will receive a ballot in their mailboxes.

LA-LA LAND DA: For the LAT, Priya Krishkumar maps out where Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey is vulnerable in the November runoff against former San Francisco DA George Gascón.

SACTOWN: In the BizJourn, Emily Hamman reports that the Unified Wine and Grape Symposium has announced that it will be virtual in 2021, instead of the scheduled January confab at CalExpo. (subscription only)

“Unified Wine and Grape is the largest convention that we have in Sacramento,” said Mike Testa, CEO of Visit Sacramento, the city's convention and visitors bureau.

He said that the 2021 event was projected to sell 7,656 hotel room nights and bring in $105,000 in local sales tax and $854,000 in transient occupancy taxes, and support 6,873 jobs. The total economic impact was projected to be around $15 million.

This is in addition to the Sacramento Convention Center being closed until sometime in 2021 for renovation and expansion and a Legislature that is not expect to regular activity like lobby days and "normal" hearings in 2020.

Even if everything is reopened in 2021 (unlikely), the impact particularly on local governments will be huge as convention planning is happening now and after doing virtual (or canceling) this year, a restoration to "normal" next year is not going to happen. 

FPPC REPORTS: I had a brain-fingers disconnect typo yesterday (quickly corrected online). Of course, the FPPC state campaign finance report deadline for the semi-annual period ending June 30 is July 31. Thanks Kirk Pessner of Miller & Olson for catching that!

cakeday, farewell, and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Chris Werthe!

FAREWELL:

  • Greenlining Institute co-founder Bob Gnaizda (1936-2020)
  • Journalist Daryl E. “Bud” Lembke (1922-2020). (LAT obituary)

Classifieds

Add your classified now both in The Nooner and online for $50/week or $150/month by emailing scottlay@gmail.com, with a headline, a summary of up to 200 words, and what you'd like the end date to be. You can attach a PDF or provide a link for a bigger job description/info to apply. [Other advertising options]


OFFICES AVAILABLE TO SUBLEASE
Between 1-3 unfurnished offices are available for sublease in the Wells Fargo office building, 400 Capital Mall Sacramento, CA 95814. The offices are approximately 12’X10’ each. Internet, gym. 24/7/365 key card access; professional offices. One year lease preferred. $1,500 per office. Contact Tricia Horan at Tricia.Horan@CALawyers.org or 415-919-7990 with questions.
Offices available for sublease: Meridian Plaza

Between 1-3 offices are available for sublease in the Meridian Plaza office building, 1415 L Street, two blocks from the Capitol. The offices are approximately 150 SF each. Internet, gym, partially furnished (desk, chair, bookcases) are included. 24/7/365 key card access; floor-ceiling windows facing Sierras; professional offices. One year lease preferred. $1,500 per office. Contact Jane at admin@stoneadvocacy.com or (415) 577-9734 with questions.

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