Around The Capitol

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  • Political Breakdown  (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): former Assembly member Mike Gatto on end-of-session fallout, parenting in office and prison realignment (2020-09-11)
  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Lobbyist Jennifer Fearing (2020-09-11)
  • Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): Assembly member Buffy Wicks on showing up to vote with her newborn (2020-09-03)
  • If I Could Change One Thing: (Gary Rotto @ San Diego State): Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego) on the work of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (2020-09-03)
  • Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Bebitch Jeffe): The end of the legislative session and the presidential (2020-09-03)
  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Republican political strategist Jon Fleischman (2020-09-01)
  • California Nation: (Gil Duran @ SacBee): The impact of COVID-19 on California's economy. (2020-08-29)
  • Nooner Conversations (Scott Lay): State Senator Holly J. Mitchell (2020-08-17) [Apple Podcasts | Simplecast]


  • Election Day: 49 days
  • Ballots mailed to all California registered voters: 20 days (w/in 5 days)
  • RealClearPolitics presidential average: Biden 50.0, Trump: 42.9% (9/2-9/13): Biden+7.1 - updated today
  • RealClearPolitics generic congressional average: Dems+5.9 (8/1-9/13)

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]

The Nooner for Tuesday, September 15, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners

  • Money matters
  • COVID-19
  • Wildfires
  • Desal
  • Ballot bonanza
  • Editorial tracker
  • Doing the laundry
  • SacTown
  • Cakeday and classifieds 

"The guy who's never been seen in the same room as Batman"

--Stephen Colbert referring to Gavin Newsom last night

¡Buenos dias! Back in febrero, I visited Mexico City for the first time, but it was a short trip of five days, not nearly enough to cover the wonderful museums in the city let alone the tacos. After standing in the zócalo, and marveling at the grand square, I booked a return trip to be there this week to attend the reading of El Grito at midnight tonight in the city's famed zócalo preceding Mexican Independence Day tomorrow.

Now all I have is an American Airlines credit. I was hopeful to still go until about May when I canceled the trip seeing the spread down there but hoped that I'd be able to celebrate it at the great annual event on the west side of the Capitol.

How much life has changed. Not only the virus, but also our personal economics (although tacos and public transit are really cheap there!). Anyway, I'll make some Mexican hot chocolate and watch the celebration on YouTube tonight. After all, el zócalo is closed and tonight's celebration is virtual like so many other things this year.

This Thursday, Capitol Weekly is hosting an online conference on Zoom: California in Conference: COVID-19. There are three panels from 9am-12:45pm, including ones on health care infrastructure, health equity, and telehealth. There is no charge to attend, but registration is required, and is available for each individual panel. [more info and registration]

MONEY MATTERS: interesting filings from the previous day's daily reports.

  • Yes on 15-Silicon Valley Cmte (split roll property tax): $75,000 from the San Francisco Foundation
  • Yes on 16 (affirmative action): $25,000 from California Attorneys, Administrative Law Judges, and Hearing Officers in State Employement
  • Doing the laundry: if you're new to this game, this is how special interests can far exceed the $4,700 contribution limit for the November general. I'll explain the game in a separate item below.
    • Riverside County Democratic Central Committee reports giving:
      • $50,000 to Sabrina Cervantes (AD60: Riverside County)
      • $25,000 to Tasha Boerner Horvath (AD76: San Diego County)
      • $25,000 to Cottie Petrie-Norris (AD74: Orange County)
      • $25,000 to Reggie Jones-Sawyer (AD59: Los Angeles County)
    • California Republican Party: $100,000 to Janet Nguyen in AD72.


-The numbers: 83 more Californians reportedly lost their lives to COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the total to 14,467.

-School daze: A team in the Times writes that schools in affluent areas are preparing to return to in-person instruction faster than those with more low-income school kids, but it largely has to do with local COVID-19 rates.

The Capistrano Unified School District is ready to go, preparing to start welcoming students back to class on Sept. 28, soon after Orange County is expected to meet the state’s COVID-19 requirements for reopening schools.

But 25 miles northwest, Santa Ana Unified School District officials have laid out a more sobering timetable. Elementary schoolchildren probably won’t be back to class until at least November. High school students? Possibly not until early 2021.

“We have some of the highest COVID rates in all of Orange County,” Santa Ana district spokesman Fermin Leal said. “We’re not going to reopen just because the state tells us it’s OK, or the county gives us the go-ahead.”

Of course, like we've seen around the state, the wealthier areas have been able to avoid the biggest brunt of COVID-19 as there are fewer essential workers. Santa Ana parents, and those in many other pockets of Orange County, have felt both the stress of being essential workers and thus more susceptible (although many have probably been out of work because of the shutdown of much of the hospitality industry) and that of figuring out how to help their kids with distance learning (and child care).

Meanwhile, in The Bee, Sawsan Morrar reports that nineteen parochial elementary schools have been approved for waivers in Sacramento County including six added Monday.

The waivers, which appeared on the state website on Monday are for: Orangevale Adventist School, St. Peter’s Lutheran School, Galt Adventist School, St. Michael’s Episcopal Day School, Folsom Preparatory School and Bradshaw Christian School.

The schools can reopen after Sacramento County began approving waivers for schools last week. Already, 19 schools have been approved — 16 of them from the Catholic Diocese.


More waivers are expected in the county. County health officials asked several applicants to revise their applications. Those applications were returned to school officials to revise reopening plans. Sacramento County Public Health officials are providing technical assistance with applications, according to county officials. It’s unclear if those pending applications are all private schools.

More than 500 schools have applied for waivers in the state, and the vast majority have been approved. They have been overwhelmingly private schools, most of them Christian and Catholic schools.


-The numbers: 24 fatalities have been tallied and 5,430 structures destroyed or damaged in the Caliifornia fires. Five of the state's 20 largest fires in California history have occurred in 2020, with 3,154,107 acres burned. (Note: the cumulative acres burned number has not been updated in several days, while individual fires have certainly grown. There's just no easy way to get a total as the data is not downloadable.)

Here are the five biggest currently burning:

  1. August Complex (Mendocino, Humboldt counties): 755,603 acres, with 30% containment as of 09/14/20 9:33pm (no update as of 09/15/20 5:15pm)
    - 26 structures destroyed

  2. SCU Lightning Complex (Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, Stanislaus counties): 396,624 acres, with 98% containment as of 8:07am
    - 222 structures destroyed

  3. LNU Lightning Complex (Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Yolo, Solano counties): 363,220 acres, with 97% containment as of 10:17am
    - 5 deaths; 1,491 structures destroyed

  4. North Complex (Plumas, Butte, Yuba counties): 269,218 acres with 39% containment as of 8:28am
    - 15 deaths; 723 structures destroyed

  5. Creek Fire (Fresno, Madera counties): 220,025 acres, with 16% containment as of 10:06am
    - 555 structures destroyed

-Bobcat Fire: Last night as the Broncos blew a game they should have won, I was also watching a Facebook Live copter coverage from KCAL 5 of the Bobcat Fire in the Angeles National forest near foothill communities along the 210 corridor. The towering flames were scary and there was only one copter working the fire with water drops to protect the Mount Wilson Observatory and the nearby communications towers that transmit much of the television and radio traffic in the greater Los Angeles region, including important public safety communications.

This morning, the webcam images show the it made it through the night and staff are positive about today when the fixed wing drops can return. From the Observatory Twitter account:

"Rise and and shine" for the #BOBCATFIRE at dawn today. The observatory boundaries are still secure at this time and we have 12 companies of professionals from @LACOFD intending to keep it that way. It's shaping up to be a good day for aerial action, too.

Reading the comments during the Facebook Live account, lots of folks were wondering why the big fixed-wing tankers weren't doing drops on the towering flames. As I understand it from covering too many of these incidents over the last five years, the reason is that they can't get low enough to target without hitting ground crews and they are usually making trips over non-burning areas to avoid spread, as oppose to the targeted copper drops of water directly on flames. Images of the last few days have certainly showed that.

Meanwhile, the LAT's Hayley Smith reports that the Bobcat Fire is moving more closely to the Observatory and also to homes.

The Bobcat fire in the Angeles National Forest has crossed containment lines and is moving closer to Mt. Wilson Observatory and threatened foothill communities, the U.S. Forest Service said Tuesday.

Officials at the 116-year-old observatory tweeted Monday night that the fire was “knocking on our door,” noting that all observatory personnel had been evacuated.

It is now less than two miles from the observatory, and firefighters are working to prevent the flames from reaching any structures. Air operations will continue to make retardant drops throughout the day to halt the forward rate of spread, the Forest Service said.

But progress is slow going. After hovering at 6% containment for several days, the blaze, which started Sept. 6 and has grown to more than 40,000 acres, is now only 3% contained.

“It’s a bigger area now,” L.A. County Fire Capt. David Dantic said Tuesday morning. “Before, we had 6% containment when it was about 30,000 acres, but now the fire has gotten bigger. It’s a bigger footprint. That’s why the containment is down.”


Evacuation orders for residents north of Elkins Avenue and east of Santa Anita Avenue in Arcadia and Sierra Madre remain in place, as do evacuation warnings for residents north of Foothill Boulevard.

Trump's visit: The unmasked POTUS man met the masked GOCAL Batman yesterday at McClellan Park for a one-hour wildfires update in between campaign events in Reno and Vegas on Sunday and Phoenix yesterday afternoon. Here is the handout the governor provided President Trump and here is the transcript of the meeting.

Governor Newsom did not meet the President on the tarmac as is customary but inside sitting down -- distanced -- to the President's right was much more tame than his remarks on Friday, when he called climate change a "damn emergency."

One of the best exchanges was between President Trump and Wade Crowfoot, California's Secretary of Natural Resources. Here is the interaction from the White House transcript:

MR. CROWFOOT: Yeah, well, from our perspective, there is amazing partnership on the ground, and there needs to be. As the governor said, we’ve had temperatures explode this summer. You may have learned that we broke a world record in the Death Valley: 130 degrees. But even in Greater LA: 120-plus degrees. And we’re seeing this warming trend make our summers warmer but also our winters warmer as well.

So I think one area of mutual agreement and priority is vegetation management, but I think we want to work with you to really recognize the changing climate and what it means to our forests, and actually work together with that science; that science is going to be key. Because if we — if we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and think it’s all about vegetation management, we’re not going to succeed together protecting Californians.

THE PRESIDENT: Okay. It’ll start getting cooler.

MR. CROWFOOT: I wish —

THE PRESIDENT: You just watch.

MR. CROWFOOT: I wish science agreed with you.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I don’t think science knows, actually.

Of course it'll be cooler in December-January, which raises the prospect of mudslides. The issue is the long-term trend, which was documented on a page in the handout.

In The Bee, Hannah Wiley writes that a demonstrator was thrown off a CHP cruiser after climbing on the running but stopped vehicle.

The incident involving a CHP cruiser occurred when a group of three activists approached the vehicle at the intersection of Watt Avenue and Airbase Drive, and one man attempted to climb on it, according to video posted to social media.

As the first demonstrator makes it all the way up the hood and onto the roof, the CHP Dodge Charger accelerates abruptly toward the center of the intersection. A person in a red hat is thrown several feet onto the ground, while a person in the white T-shirt that reads “Trump sucks” also falls down, video shows.

CBS13 has the video on YouTube.

-Kamala's visit: Today, junior Senator and veep candidate Kamala Harris is getting a briefing on the wildfires in Fresno and Governor Newsom will be beside her.

-Climate change: For CalMatters, Dan Walters writes that Governor Newsom's rhetoric of the emergency of addressing climate change, it hasn't always been met with policy reality.

The state is falling well short of its ambitious goals for replacing cars and trucks with electric vehicles, so how would the state accelerate even more? With more subsidies from a state budget that’s already leaking red ink?

His latest pronouncements notwithstanding, Newsom seems to understand that there is a practical limit to California’s conversion into a carbon-free nirvana. The state was utterly dependent on natural gas electric generation to avoid extensive blackouts during summer heat waves and with Newsom’s tacit support, state regulators temporarily extended the life of several Southern California power plants that had been ticketed for closure.

The state’s most fundamental duty is to protect its 40 million residents from calamities such as deadly wildfires, and we’ve not been very diligent about that.

While climate change contributed to the ferocity of the wildfires, there were plenty of warnings about the dangers of allowing housing developments in fire-prone regions and the buildup of combustible fuel in forests — warnings that were largely ignored.

Of course, many steps to reduce risk such as reduced building in fire-prone areas require cooperation of local governments or the Legislature and we've seen how state mandates on that have fared under several governors.

More after the jumpity jump...

DESAL: In the Times, Roanna Xia reports on the fight in the small town of Marina north of Monterey Bay over a desalinization proposal.

On a barren stretch of Monterey Bay, in a region desperate for fresh water, an oft-overlooked town has little say in whether a big water company can build a desalination operation right on its shore.

Here in Marina, where one-third of the town is low income and many speak little English, industrial facilities have long burdened the landscape. This desalination project would replace a century-old sand mine that has stripped shorebirds and rare butterflies of their home — and the community of an open space where anybody could cool off during a heat wave or enjoy a day by the sea.

Not a drop of this treated water — which would be piped to other cities, businesses and farmers in need — would even be for Marina.

BALLOT BONANZA: CalMatters is out with its guide to understanding the measures on the November ballot.

EDITORIAL TRACKER: Joe Rodota (California Strategies/Forward Observer) is back with a tracker of editorial board opinions on ballot measures on the November ballot and released the first version yesterday. I know how much work this is as I did it for several cycles and appreciate it!

DOING THE LAUNDRY: Here's how the game is played. Individual contributions (including persons, corporations, and organizations) to candidates are limited to $4,700 for each election this cycle. The limits of those same individual contributions to political party committees for state candidates are $38,800 per calendar year, and that includes state parties and county central committees. Political party committees have no limits on contributions to candidates. Are you following the bouncing ball? The only rule is that the donor can't "direct" the party to pass the money along to a specific candidate. We all know the targeted races this November. Heck, I list them for ATCpro subscribers.

In addition to cash contributions, parties are also spending with hefty nonmonetary contributions, generally for mailers. Generally, when you see a non-even amount, it signifies a nonmonetary. You can see a few recent ones from the California Democratic Party to Assembly member Reggie Jones-Sawyer in AD59. If you scroll down (or Ctrl-F) for the $12,364.00 contribution filed on 9/12, you'll see that the transaction ID is "2500993-NON1015." The "NON" part indicates it was nonmonetary. Most of the time these are indicated on the late contribution reports ("497s"), but not always. In this case, they were.

Anyway, if you're wondering what I do with the rest of my day and evening after The Nooner goes out, now you know. Lots and lots of reports to read.

Remember, Prop. 34 (2000) that governs campaign finance for state candidates was written by the political parties after they were successful in getting the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out Prop. 208 (1996) in California Democratic Party et al. v. Jones (2000). While the CDP was the first named plaintiff, it was joined by the California Republican Party, California Libertarian Party, and California Peace and Freedom Party in the lawsuit. Arguing the case before SCOTUS for the Democrats was George Waters and for the Republicans Thomas Gede (who I now serve with on the Open California/Capitol Weekly board). You can listen to both the oral argument and opinion announcement on Oyez.

SACTOWN: In the Bee, Matt Kreiser reports that the cost of remodeling the former single-room occupancy Capitol Plaza Hotel on 9th and L to provide short-term housing the homeless is costing more per unit than the median home price in Sacramento, demonstrating the difficulty in housing those unsheltered.

Redevelopment of the hotel is budgeted at $59.6 million, and is expected to end in the summer of 2022. If it stays on budget, the project will come to $1,100 per square foot — more than double the square-foot price to build a luxury home in El Dorado Hills or Granite Bay, or to buy a high-end midtown apartment.

In the meantime, some of the unoccupied rooms have been filled with homeless people off the streets of Sacramento. The city budgeted $10 million to operate a temporary shelter for 18 months at the downtown site — tens of thousands of dollars for every person who passed through the shelter.

The overhaul of the Capitol Park Hotel illustrates a significant problem in California: the astronomical cost of building is a roadblock to ending the homeless crisis. The higher the construction and redevelopment costs, the less money is available to make a serious dent in the problem in a state with an estimated 150,000 homeless people.

The Capitol Park Hotel, when completed, will house 134 of them.

cakeday and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Rep. Nanette BarragánErin Norwood, Assembly member Blanca Rubio, Don Singer, Tamara Torlakson, and Dan Weitzman!

I am no longer doing cakedays the night before as Facebook's "Upcoming Birthdays" section is just too confusing now. Hopefully today will be the last day of repeats and the ones today are actually today! Anyway, for the repeats, just consider it your "cakeweek."


Add your classified now both in The Nooner and online for $50/week or $150/month by emailing, 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]

Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA): Legislative Advocate

Represent and advocate for the interests of Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA) members and policyholders before the Legislature, Administration, state agencies, industry and trade associations, and related forums. Based in Sacramento. Excellent salary and benefits.

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 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 or (415) 577-9734 with questions.

Photos: 1 | 2 | 3

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