Around The Capitol

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RECENT PODS:

  • The Axe Files (David Axelrod @ CNN/UChicago): Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) on her background and the veepstakes (2020-08-06)
  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Dr. Barbara O’Connor, Professor Emeritus at CSU Sacramento (2020-08-02)
  • KQED's Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): Joe Trippi on the Veepstakes, Pioneering Netroots and the Real Story of Doug Jones' Victory (2020-07-30)
  • Cap•Impact Podcast (Chris Micheli): How Proxy Voting Could Work in the California Assembly (2020-07-30)
  • Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Bebitch Jeffe): Asian Americans join Latinos as targets of Tump (2020-07-30)
  • California Nation (SacBee): Governor Gavin Newsom and COVID-19 with Elizabeth Ashford, former advisor to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gov. Jerry Brown, Steven Maviglio, former press secretary to Gov. Gray Davis and Joe Rodota, former cabinet secretary to Gov. Pete Wilson (2020-07-25)

The Nooner for Thursday, August 6, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners

  • COVID-19
    • The numbers
    • Newsom's approach
    • Unemployment
    • Evictions
    • Masks
    • Skilled nursing facilities
    • LA-LA Land
    • Southeast LA
    • Sandy Eggo
  • AB 345 (Muratsuchi)
  • AB 1720 (Carrillo) 
  • New Uber/Lyft lawsuit
  • Prop 15
  • Ballot arguments
  • Rep. Devin Nunes
  • SacTown
  • Veepstakes
  • cakeday and classifieds

GENERAL ELECTION DATA POINTS

MONEY MATTERS (highlights from daily campaign finance reports):

  • The Yes on 16 (affirmative action) campaign reports $50,000 from the California Federation of Teachers.
  • The No on 21 (rent control) campaign reports $505,008 from Highland Ranch, CO-based UDR, Inc, a publicly traded real estate investment trust with major high-end projects in Huntington Beach, Irvine Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The campaign also reported $1.4 million from Equity Residential and several smaller contributions.

ATCpro SUBSCRIBER UPDATES[A full list of recent election analysis is on the subscribers home page. If you have forgotten or haven't set a password, use the forgot password tool]

  • CA39 (Diamond Bar-Fullerton-Yorba Linda): updated analysis (Leans Dem)
  • CA53 (SD Balboa Park-La Mesa-El Cajon): updated analysis (Safe Dem - Dem-Dem general)
  • SD29 (Diamond Bar-Fullerton): updated anaysis (Toss-up)
  • SD37 (Anaheim Hills-Irvine): updated anaysis (Leans Dem)

Happy Thursday! Thank you to all in our Nooner community who responded to my request to help backfill the $2,700 August advertising shortfall due to COVID which certainly is in the way of my rent, health care, server, and newspaper subscriptions. I'm still responding with the thank you emails, which I will return to working on this afternoon. Several of those of you who are existing subscribers should see your subscription extension in today's Nooner.

Several renewed or started new subscriptions and kicked in amounts to sponsor subscriptions for students, recent grads, and those unemployed because of, well, 2020. Students need to just email a photo of their student ID and unemployed can just shoot me an email with a short explanation (confidential).

As I was lying in bed early this morning, I listened to two podcasts that are definitely worth a listen, one related to California politics and one international.

In the podcast rundown above, I've added the lastest from David Axelrod's The Axe Files. He interviews Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) who has vaulted to the top tier of the veepstakes. Obviously, I was around during her six years in the Assembly, including her nearly four as Speaker. However, I never really knew her personal story. Axelrod, before he was an Obama advisor was a Chicago journalist and does a great job in this interview.

The other one I listened to was The Daily by Michael Barbaro of The New York Times. In today's episode, he interviews Vivian Yee, the NYT's reporter in Beirut. She was caught in the middle of Tuesday's destruction from the explosion and talks about the destruction of her home office, her injuries, and the scramble to get medical help. I had read her article that she wrote but the audio mixed in and hear her talking was fascinating.

COVID-19:

- The numbers: Yesterday, California added 167 new deaths for a total of 9,873. The testing numbers continue to be a major problem in California because of the state's technology problems. However, these reporting problems should not affect the number of deaths or hospitalizations, as those are through different reporting processes.

- Reporting: In the Bee, Sophia Bollag and Tony Bizjak write that the state's problems with case data is interfering with contact tracing and elementary school waivers.

While the problem persists, the state has stopped adding and removing counties from its monitoring list, which determines which businesses can be open, California Department of Public Health spokeswoman Ali Bay said.

The glitch also means local health departments can’t notify everyone who tests positive about services that might be available, such as free hotel rooms for quarantining, said Kat DeBurgh, executive director of the Health Officers Association of California. Counties rely on the California Reportable Disease Information Exchange, or CalREDIE, to determine how many cases they have and to contact infected people.

“We’re not really sure of our case rate until this gets fixed. We don’t know how many people have tested positive,” DeBurgh said. “That means the local health department can’t call them and begin the contact tracing process or offer them services.”

- Newsom's approach: For Politico, Debra Kahn and Carla Marinucci look at how Governor Gavin Newsom's message outreach to California residents has shifted (and can shift further) now that it is clear that we're in the pandemic for much longer than expected and people tire of waiting for a lunchtime briefing but still want critical information. 

Laurel Rosenhall at CalMatters asks whether Newsom's middle-ground approach to the pandemic can last.

Now he is embracing a middle-ground approach — stricter than many states (like Florida and Georgia, which don’t require masks), but not as strict as others (such as New York and New Jersey, which are quarantining visitors from areas with significant outbreaks).

“At the moment, based upon the progress we have made, we feel we can get our arms around this in a judicious way,” Newsom said Monday, after presenting data that offered a small glimmer of hope.

- Unemployment: In the Chron, Kathleen Pender reports on the letter sent yesterday by a majority of legislators to Governor Newsom demanding faster improvements in the state's administration of unemployment.

Sixty-one state lawmakers sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday asking for bigger and faster changes to the state’s backlogged, antiquated unemployment system than he promised in his “strike team” announcement last week.

“It is apparent to us that while so many EDD staffers are working hard under unprecedented circumstances, EDD is an organization directed by a small inner circle of long-serving bureaucrats rooted in the status quo and unable to drive reform,” the letter said. “Given how little has improved at EDD over the course of the pandemic and its overall resistance to change, others must be brought in to assess the crisis and be provided authority to make change.”

The letter called for many changes, including beefing up EDD’s customer service center, paying partial benefits to people while they’re waiting for their claims to be approved and treating claimants with more respect. “There is a culture within EDD that presumes every claimant may be guilty of fraud and must prove themselves innocent, rather than a desperate constituent who should be treated with compassion and dignity via a model of truly customer-focused government,” it said.

- Evictions: Melody Gutierrez reports in the Times that Democratic legislative leaders are asking the Judicial Council for more time before the state's courts start resuming eviction proceedings for non-payment of rent because of COVID-19 impact.

Most evictions in the state were suspended in April after California courts stopped processing nearly all cases. Gov. Gavin Newsom gave the court system the power to stop evictions in an emergency order in late March, intended to allow “maximum flexibility” in responding to the pandemic. At the time, the Legislature was on an extended break to reduce the spread of coronavirus in the state Capitol.

Now, with the state Legislature back in session and facing decisions on hundreds of bills before adjourning on Aug. 31, the Judicial Council, which oversees the state’s court system, could lift the suspension on evictions as early as Aug. 14. Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who leads the Judicial Council, said the decision should fall on the Legislature and the governor.

In a letter sent Wednesday, Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) said that timeline would create two-and-a-half weeks of “chaos” if evictions resume amid the pandemic.

Meanwhile, evictions have begun among 1,000 pre-COVID judgements in LA County after a four-month pause in enforcement, report Ryan Carter and Jeff Collins in the Daily News. There are still county and city moratoriums for those who stopped paying rent for COVID-related financial reasons during the state of emergency.

- Masks: California Democrats in Congress want to encourage universal masking among Americans, including the possibility of mailing a mask to every household, reports Tal Kopan in the Chron. 

Reps. Ro Khanna of Fremont and Adam Schiff of Burbank wrote a letter this week to House and Senate leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, asking them to include a free-masks-for-all program in a coronavirus relief package that is now the subject of intense negotiations on Capitol Hill. Khanna and Schiff have proposed similar bills to distribute free masks through the Postal Service.

- Skilled nursing facilities: The Chron's Sarah Ravani writes that many families are frustrated about the status of their loved ones in nursing homes.

Nearly five months into the pandemic, many nursing homes continue to leave families in the dark about their relatives’ test results or the prevalence of the virus in the facility. The state requires nursing homes and assisted living facilities to notify family members immediately after a positive test anywhere in the facility. But families and nursing home experts say that doesn’t always happen.

- LA-LA land: Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti yesterday said that if house parties continue in violation of the county's health order, he will order the city to turn off water and power to the host houses. A team at the LAT reports:

Beginning Friday night, if Los Angeles Police Department officers respond to and verify that a large party is occurring at a property, and there’s evidence that the venue has repeatedly engaged in such behavior, the department will request that the city shut off water and power services within 48 hours.

Garcetti said that while all nightclubs and bars have already been closed, “these large house parties have essentially become nightclubs in the hills” and often happen at homes that are vacant or used for short-term rentals.

“The consequences of these large parties ripple far beyond just those parties,” he said. “They ripple throughout our entire community because the virus can quickly and easily spread.”

- Southeast LA: A team at the Times reports on the disporportionate impact on Southeast LA of COVID-19.

The sharp increase since the economy reopened around Memorial Day shows the virus is spreading rapidly through factories, stores and other workplaces and into communities with higher rates of poverty, more crowding and many essential workers who make the economy tick. Hit hard by job losses during the shutdown, they are increasingly suffering from the virus itself.

The region reported more than 27,000 new COVID-19 cases over the last two months, the most in the county. The area now accounts for 19% of new infections, although it comprises just 12% of the countywide population, the Times analysis shows. That vaulted its once-modest infection rate into one of the highest in the county, and just below the already hard-hit Eastside and South L.A. areas, according to the Times analysis through Aug. 2

The trend is part of a statewide spike in infections among Latinos, both in rural, farm-working communities and urban areas. It’s only the latest burden for a corner of Southern California long beset by pollution from nearby industry, a lack of access to healthcare and a host of other ills.

- Sandy Eggo: In the SDUT, Morgan Cook and Lyndsay Winkley write that the San Diego Board of Supervisors has taken action to make it easier for displaced churches and businesses to use county parks to offer services outside.

Churches, gyms and other fitness businesses that have struggled to find space to operate outdoors will soon find it easier to set up classes and services at local parks.

At its meeting Wednesday, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a measure to streamline the application process and waive permit fees to reserve space in county parks for houses of worship and gyms that cannot operate indoors under COVID-19 public health restrictions. Costs associated with day-use parking, equipment rentals and extra utility use will remain.

AB 345 (Muratsuchi): Natural resources: environmental justice: oil and gas: regulation of operations. Yesterday's marathon hearing with 400+ callers was in Senate Natural Resources and Water with the bill to require a 2,500-foot setback of oil and gas wells from schools, parks, and other public places where children are often present. In the end, the bill failed on a 4-5 vote (Ayes: Allen, Jackson, Monning, Stern; Noes: Borgeas, Caballero, Hertzberg, Hueso, Jones) Reconsideration was granted and the final expected hearing for Nat Resources is expected to be next Wednesday.

Supporting the bill are public health and environmental organizations. Opposing are obviously oil/gas companies and many labor unions.

One thing about this telephone testimony which could spell the end of it is organizations that flood the lines with a scripted "me too" by members or employees who would otherwise not attend a Capitol hearing. Yesterday it was Aera Energy, the Bakersfield-based producer that is a joint venture of Shell and ExxonMobil, but they certainly are not the only ones.

It's not all that unlike controversial bills in the Capitol hearing rooms in "normal" times where buses arrive for testimony (think VAXX), but it just takes so much longer over the phone.

AB 1720 (Carrillo): Energy: long-duration energy storage: procurement. You likely have seen the teevee and social media ads about this bill, which directs the CPUC or DWR to plan for energy storage. While not limited to one solution, the biggest backer is Eagle Crest Energy, which wants to build a large-scale pumped storage project in at the site of the former Eagle Mountain iron ore mine, about 80 miles east of Palm Springs in Riverside County.

Pumped storage uses primarily overnight wind energy to pump water from a lower reservoir to one at higher elevation. Then, during the higher demand times during the day the water is let go from the higher-elevation reservoir through turbines to the lower-elevation reservoir, thus generating electricity. Eagle Crest offers an interesting video on the project.

It's a fascinating political fight, which is what draws my interest. As reflected in the committee analysis, local governments are on both sides. Labor supports it for jobs, while enviros oppose it over feared impact on the desert ecosystem (the location is right outside of Joshua Tree National Park.

The bill was originally scheduled for Senate Energy, Utilities and Commerce on Monday, but it was postponed. The committee doesn't have any other hearings on the schedule, but this is the time of year when strange things can happen. Since the ads are still running, something tells me that "Taps" hasn't been played for the bill just yet and this is when "Zombie Bills" can start walking around again.

Yeah, reading the analysis on this bill and reading about the project is what I did during the Los Gigantes game last night. There's still hope in advance of the series with the Dodgers starting tomorrow.

NEW UBER/LYFT LAWSUIT: Yesterday, the California Labor Commissioner's office filed separate lawsuits in Alameda Superior Court alleging that the transportation network companies, by classifying drivers as independent contractors, are committing wage theft and depriving drivers of a host of legal protections in violation of California labor law. In the press release, the office writes:

The lawsuits seek to recover amounts owed to all of Uber’s and Lyft’s drivers, including the nearly 5,000 drivers who have filed claims for owed wages with the Labor Commissioner’s Office. Moreover, the lawsuits seek recovery for a wider range of statutory violations and damages than those asserted in individual wage claims and other lawsuits.

“The Uber and Lyft business model rests on the misclassification of drivers as independent contractors,” said California Labor Commissioner Lilia García-Brower. “This leaves workers without protections such as paid sick leave and reimbursement of drivers’ expenses, as well as overtime and minimum wages.”

In the Chron, Carolyn Said reports:

The labor commissioner’s move comes a day before a San Francisco Superior Court hearing on a separate state lawsuit against the companies filed by Attorney General Xavier Becerra and three city attorneys in May.

At Thursday’s hearing, Becerra will seek an injunction forcing immediate reclassification of drivers even before a trial, while Uber and Lyft will seek to have the case postponed until voters weigh in on their November ballot initiative, Prop. 22, which would keep drivers as independent contractors entitled to some wages and benefits. Uber will also ask to separate its case from that of Lyft.

Filing the labor commissioner lawsuit on the eve of the Superior Court hearing appears strategic, said Veena Dubal, a law professor at UC Hastings who studies drivers and advocates for them being employees.

“The state is doing this all at once as a concerted action to show the state’s conviction around the reality that these companies have been misclassifying their workers,” she said. “It gives additional public and political weight for an injunction.”

PROP. 15: Joel Fox looks at the "tug-of-war" between proponents and opponents of the split roll property tax hike on most commercial and industrial property to benefit education and local government as each jockey for Governor Newsom's endorsement.

Neither of Newsom’s two immediate predecessors wanted to jump into the thicket of dismantling California’s iconic property tax reform, Proposition 13, which Proposition 15 is designed to do.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, when he was running for governor, referring to his friend and advisor, Warren Buffet who suggested changing Proposition 13 with which Schwarzenegger disagreed, “I told Warren if he mentioned Prop 13, he would have to do 500 sit-ups.” Gov. Jerry Brown said at a presentation to the Urban Land Institute in San Francisco in October 2015, “I’m not supporting a split roll. … We have problems with the business climate in California, and you’re going to add more burden.”

Those business climate and business and job survival concerns have multiplied because of the pandemic. Now Governor Newsom is on the spot getting pulled in two directions in the middle of a catastrophic economic meltdown that no one wants to see get worse.

I don't know what Newsom will do, if anything. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

BALLOT ARGUMENTS: John Myers tweets that a judge yesterday ordered some changes to the Prop. 15 (split roll) arguments:

2 more tentative rulings in voter guide fights, these on #Prop15.

> Judge strikes "all" in argument that "all small businesses owning $3M or less in business property" are exempt.

> Judge deletes entire sections of anti-Prop15 argument on #CALeg role, spending accountability.

Judges have rejected cases against the official titles and summaries prepared by the Attorney General's Office, but these are on the arguments by supporters and opponents, which typically under more judicial scrutiny.

DEVIN NUNES: Yesterday Iowa district court judge C.J. Williams threw out Rep. Devin Nunes's (R-Tulare) libel lawsuit against journalist Ryan Lizza over a 2018 Esquire Magazine article in which Lizza alleged that Nunes's family farm (which has been moved from Tulare, CA to Sibley, IA and is called NuStar, LLC. That's why the lawsuit's forum was Iowa. In the article, Lizza alleged that NuStar's Iowa operation was using undocumented employees.

The decision is a great read. Nunes has sued the Fresno Bee, Twitter, and others as perhaps the most litigious Member of Congress.

SACTOWN: In The Bee, Theresa Clift looks at the differences in the failed 2014 "strong mayor" ballot measure under then-mayor Kevin Johnson and the new proposal under Mayor Darrell Steinberg that the city's voters will see on the November ballot.

VEEPSTAKES: For Politico, David Siders and Christopher Cadelago ask whether Rep. Karen Bass' record in Sacramento shows that she has the record of activism that she claims, opening with her actions toward former Assembly member Mike Duvall, who was caught on a hot mic talking about an affair with a lobbyist, before writing:

As she's risen to finalist in Joe Biden’s veepstakes, Bass has styled herself as an activist and a reluctant politician. But in Sacramento, she is remembered neither as the radical that her opponents have made her out to be — nor as a crusading reformer.

She raised money from corporate interests. She granted pay raises to legislative staffers amid a devastating economic crisis. And, as leaders of the state Assembly before and after her did, Bass oversaw a legislative body with a history of debauchery that would not come to a head until nearly a decade later with the #MeToo movement.

“Karen Bass was a conventional politician. She didn’t challenge that system,” said Dan Walters, a dean of the Sacramento press corps who now writes for the nonprofit news site CalMatters. “But then, nobody else was challenging that system either. She inherited that system and didn’t change it. She was not a trailblazer. She was not tilting at windmills in any respect. She was a go-along-to-get-along politician.”

During her rise to prominence, Bass adapted to the ways of an institution dominated by lobbyists and interest groups with business before the Legislature. She secured donations from industries that have since fallen out of favor with liberal Democrats, including oil companies and drugmakers. She inherited a kind of “tithing” system for power players created, and later streamlined, by leaders who reigned decades before Bass, from Jesse “Big Daddy” Unruh to Willie “Ayatollah of the Assembly” Brown.

Meanwhile, George Skelton writes why Governor Newsom may be hoping (or pushing) for a Kamala Harris pick.

That’s because Newsom, on his own, would select Harris’ Senate replacement if the Democratic presidential ticket won on Nov. 3. The U.S. Constitution gives governors that right.

If Biden instead chose another Californian, U.S. Rep. Karen Bass of Los Angeles, Newsom would not have a formal role in her replacement. Voters in her 37th Congressional District would select a new representative in a special election. And that would alter the L.A. political landscape.

So for Newsom and California, there’s a lot more riding on Biden’s decision than who fills out the Democratic presidential ticket.

Of course, there are plenty of LA politicians on the crowded political scene hoping for Bass. Remember, unlike state legislative offices, you don't have to live in a congressional district to run or serve. If Bass was tapped for Veep and the ticket won in November, there would be a special election in late spring 2021. Here's the current district, but with California likely losing 1-2 seats in reapportionment, redistricting may squeeze out a Los Angeles-area district so it could be a short stint for someone who wins a special in 2021. All hypothetical parlor games...

cakeday and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research

CAKEDAY: No birthdays I know about today!

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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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