Around The Capitol

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  • Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): California Supreme Court justice Goodwin Liu on the legacy of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (2020-09-24)
  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order to phase out the sales of new gasoline- and diesel-powered cars and passenger trucks in California by 2035. (2020-09-23)
  • Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): California Secretary of Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot on confronting President Trump over climate change (2020-09-17)
  • Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Bebitch Jeffe): Trump and Newsom, Strange Political Bedfellows and a Strange Political World (2020-09-17)
  • 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)


  • Election Day: 36 days
  • Ballots mailed to all California registered voters: 7 days (w/in 5 days)
  • RealClearPolitics presidential average: Biden 49.8, Trump: 42.8 (9/19-9/253): Biden+7.0 -- updated today
  • RealClearPolitics generic congressional average: Dems+5.4 (9/19-9/25) 

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 Monday, September 28, 2020, presented by SYASL Partners

  • COVID-19
  • Wildfires
  • Bills, bills, bills
  • Gas matters
  • CRP and QAnon
  • Prop. 15
  • Cakeday and classifieds 

Happy Monday, the governor has two more days to act on bills. That was a helluva news dump last night.


-The numbers: 19 more Californians reportedly lost their lives to COVID-19 yesterday, bringing the total to 15,606. The usual caveat on uneven weekend reporting applie, but the trend is good.

-Reopening: Today, the county data is scheduled to be released and several counties are watching with bated breath. In Orange County, Ian Wheeler looks at what will be allowed to reopen if the county moves to the orange tier. In San Diego, currently in the red tier, there are fiers that the outbreak at San Diego State University could push it back into the most restrictive purple tier.

-LA County: The Times's writes that the decline in hospitalization continues in the latest LA County numbers.

Los Angeles County saw a continued decline in the number of people with serious cases of COVID-19 this weekend, with fewer than 700 patients hospitalized on Sunday. There were three times as many COVID-19 hospitalizations during the summer surge.

The reduction in the most serious cases came as the county reported 815 new cases overall and 10 deaths for the day. These are declines from past highs, but the lower numbers may reflect a lag in weekend reporting, the county said.

There were 692 people hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sunday, compared with 1,100 in late August and more than 2,200 in mid-July.

-School daze: The Chron's Rachel Swan looks at how a blind 7-year-old boy in Berkeley is coping with distance learning.

Kai Wang sat in a swivel chair in his family’s spare room, little legs swinging as his teacher filled the frame of his iPad.

The second-grade students at Berkeley’s Cragmont Elementary School had entered their fourth week of distance learning, logging in from bedrooms and kitchen tables and staring at computers all day. Each screen had become a classroom writ small.

It was a strange new world for all the children, but even more complicated for Kai. The 7-year-old is blind. The room was filled with new devices: an embossing printer, a typewriter-like braille machine. He swiped a finger along his iPad, listening to a robot voice identify content he couldn’t see: Messages! Notes! Chats!


While remote education has proved daunting to families across the country, it has doled out challenges unevenly, hitting Kai and other visually impaired students harder. There are about 1,100 blind and low-vision schoolchildren in the Bay Area, according to the San Francisco nonprofit Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Kai had accomplished a lot before the pandemic rolled in, keeping pace with his sighted classmates and flourishing outside of school. He had taught himself to ride a bike and tackled household chores on his own. Playing with other children, he built steep towers of Legos and blocks. He had even, during a dance class, overcome his fear of bumping into people.

But now Kai is bound to a computer and mostly unable to use the software apps that suddenly play a crucial role in his lessons. After years of relative autonomy, he has to work with a parent by his side.

-Campaigning: In the LAT, Emily Alpert Reyes reports on how campaigning has changed amidst COVID-19. 

Candidates are debating over video calls, rather than in community centers or church halls. Many politicians are barely using — or forgoing entirely — campaign offices that would ordinarily be full of volunteers, yard signs and cold pizza. And door knocking, long revered as the gold standard for reaching out to voters, has been called off by many candidates.

It’s unclear how such changes will affect the upcoming contests in Los Angeles, where spots on the City Council, the county Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles Unified school board are up for grabs.

WILDFIRES: It's another tough day amid very low relative humidity and high winds in the north state. In the Chron, Emily Fancher writes that new fires were ignited and existing ones "exploded" over night. For Sacramentans, there is good news and that is that there is a strong offshore flow that should continue to push smoke westward, as seen in satellite images. Of course, that's not good for fire situation and that's dry, warm air coming from the northeast and fanning the flames.

-The numbers: 26 fatalities have been tallied and 7,630 structures destroyed or damaged in the Caliifornia fires. Five of the state's 20 largest fires in California history have occurred in 2020, with 3,627,010 acres burned. (The acreage number is updated occasionally and not daily like the individual fires.)

Here are the five biggest currently burning, although SCU and LCU are pretty much contained so the updates are more sparse.:

  1. August Complex (Mendocino, Humboldt counties): 878,470 acres, with 45% containment as of 7:51am
    - 1 death, 51 structures destroyed

  2. SCU Lightning Complex (Santa Clara, Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin, Stanislaus counties): 396,624 acres, with 98% containment as of 09/19 8:42
    - 222 structures destroyed

  3. LNU Lightning Complex (Napa, Sonoma, Lake, Yolo, Solano counties): 363,220 acres, with 98% containment as of 09/22 8:38
    - 5 deaths; 1,491 structures destroyed

  4. North Complex (Plumas, Butte, Yuba counties): 306,135 acres with 78% containment as of 7:39am
    - 15 deaths; 2,342 structures destroyed

  5. Creek Fire (Fresno, Madera counties): 302,870 acres, with 39% containment as of 8:05am
    - 855 structures destroyed

-Glass/Shady/Boysen fires: The Glass Fire that broke out at 3:58 Sunday morning raged overnight has merged with the Shady and Boysen that broke out last night. Portions of the city of Calistoga has a mandatory evacuation early this morning. These fires are essentially burning below the LNU fire that threatened the city of Vacaville earlier this month.

As of 7:13 am this morning, the merged fire had burned 11,000 acres and was 0% contained. Estimates of structures destroyed are not yet available, but the number is likely significant.

In Deer Park area of St. Helena, the elementary school and community hall were destroyed. "About a dozen" homes were destroyed on Mountain Hawk Drive in the Skyhawk community of Santa Rosa, reports the Press Democrat.

Santa Rosa saw significant destruction in the 2017 Tubbs Fire. At 5,636 structures destroyed and with 22 deaths, Tubbs was the second most destructive in California history behind the 2018 Camp Fire that destroyed the town of Paradise east of Chico. Overnight, several houses burned in the Glass Fire as well as the premium Château Boswell Winery and the farmhouse storing the winery's inventory at Castello di Amorosa, although the castle is still standing. The Calistoga Ranch resort also reportedly has suffered major structure loss. In what has been awful year for the tourism industry, this just amplifies the economic impact.

As of 5:45am, it was burning near houses in the Oakmont 5,000-resident senior community. As many of the seniors don't have cars, city buses were used to evacuate residents.

A team at the Times reports:

A number of homes began to burn early Monday in the suburban eastern neighborhoods of Santa Rosa. The city of 177,000 residents, Sonoma County’s most populous, was devastated three years ago by the Tubbs fire — also driven by strong winds — that destroyed about 1,500 homes in the northwestern Coffey Park neighborhood, which was mostly built in the 1980s.

On Monday, it was the suburban northeastern neighborhoods of Santa Rosa that were burning, this time from the Shady fire.

Whipped by powerful hot and dry Diablo winds coming from the north and east, which showered embers onto the city, flames engulfed houses in the area of Mountain Hawk Drive, which is lined with two-story tract homes in the Skyhawk development, built in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

-Zogg Fire: The fire west of Redding in Shasta County that started yesterday afternoon exploded overnight, reports the Record Searchlight. In the 9:55am report, it was 15,000 acres and 0% contained.

-North Complex: In the Chron, a team reports that the town of Paradise -- much of which was destroyed in the 2018 Camp Fire -- has been completely evacuated.

In Butte County, the month-old North Complex fire picked up amid dry, powerful winds, prompting an evacuation warning for the entire town of Paradise and the community of Magalia, along with an evacuation order for Concow. All three places were devastated by the November 2018 Camp Fire, the state’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire.

“It really is horrifying to see this happening...again,” tweeted climate scientist Daniel Swain. “Winds tonight are not expected to be as extreme as during Oct. 2017 North Bay (Tubbs) firestorm, but this does not look good.”

-PG&E: While not as extensive as originally forecast because of better than expected weather, the PG&E public safety power shutoff continues with customers being without power for over 24 hours. Meanwhile, 37,000 residents of St. Helena and Santa Rosa are unexpectedly without power because of equipment damage. Despite a strong market day, PG&E stock is down 5.6%. None of the fires have been conclusively determined to be caused by PG&E equipment.

-Red flag warning: Today, the winds are expected to expand to Southern California leading to new red flag warnings. The Bobcat Fire that has burned fin rugged terrain rom the area below Mount Wilson to the Antelope Valley is currently at 114,200 acres and 62% contained, so there is significant concern with gusty winds today.

BILLS, BILLS, BILLS: Governor Newsom signed seven bills yesterday. Chris Micheli tells me that governor has 227 bills left on his desk. This is a good moment to remind you that California does not have a "pocket veto" like the federal government. Instead, any bill not signed or vetoed by September 30 at midnight becomes a statute.

  • AB 1969 (B. Rubio): Secondhand goods: tangible personal property: reporting requirements.
  • AB 2113 (Low): Refugees, asylees, and special immigrant visa holders: professional licensing: initial licensure process.
  • AB 2426 (Reyes): Victims of crime.
  • AB 2788  (Gloria): Public utilities: cooperation with immigration authorities.
  • AB 3133 (Aguiar-Curry): Refugees: resettlement.
  • AB 3228 (Bonta): Private detention facilities.
  • SB 905 (Archuleta): Criminal history information requests.

GAS MATTERS: In The Bee, Ryan Sabalow and Phillip Reese write that Governor Newsom's plan to ban gas consumption vehicles in favor of electric or "zero-emission" by 2035 is not going over well in rural California. 

It’s a long drive to just about anywhere Gary Wright needs to go. A rancher in the far northeastern corner of California, he sometimes has to drive nearly 100 miles, one-way, to get to where his cattle graze. It’s 36 miles to Klamath Falls, Ore., for a significant errand run.

There are only a few gas stations along the routes through the forests and high deserts in Modoc County — let alone electric vehicle charging stations. There are none near the rangeland where Wright’s cattle graze.


Electric vehicle companies say battery technology is improving, but as it stands, the best electric car batteries currently on the market have a range of no more than 250 miles. There are few options for electric pickups like the ones Wright would need to haul equipment and livestock trailers over long distances.

Joel Fox writes that a shift to electric means that lawmakers will likely look at a vehicle mileage tax to replace the excise and sales tax on gas.

The governor asked state bureaucracies to come up with methods to make his executive order work. Legislation will soon follow from cooperating majority Democrats to implement the idea. Don’t be surprised if a Vehicle Mileage Tax plan is included in the legislative package, although it may be a bit premature.

We recently battled over whether the gas tax increase should be repealed. The fight cost one senator his seat in a recall but an initiative to upend the gas tax increase was defeated.

Get ready for more battles to come not only over the goal of Newsom’s executive order but over how roads will be funded if the order is successfully implemented.

CRP & QANON: In The Bee, Lara Korte reports that the California Republican Party has endorsed three candidates who say that the QAnon theories should be tested.

It was a collection of conspiracy theories aimed at exposing a supposed deep-state cabal of pedophiles. But in recent months, despite being baseless and untrue, the theories have made their way to mainstream social media platforms, gaining traction with some celebrities and a swath of congressional candidates.

In California, at least four Republicans candidates have expressed interest in QAnon ideas.

Three of them have been endorsed by the state party — Nikka Piterman and Alison Hayden, who are challenging Bay Area Democrats for Congress, and Erin Cruz, who is running against an incumbent Riverside Democrat. The candidates are running campaigns in strongly-held Democratic districts with incumbent opponents who have outraised them by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Hayden, the Republican candidate in the 15th Congressional District, sees Q as a natural evolution of a distrust in powerful people and institutions that has been growing for decades.

“I’m not saying I’m buying everything, I’m just saying that this is another news outlet, and it makes sense to me,” she said.

QAnon theories, spread by an anonymous internet user who claims to be a deeply entrenched D.C. bureaucrat, center on the claim that there is a powerful cabal of Democrats, celebrities and billionaires who are Satan-worshiping pedophiles involved in a global human trafficking ring. According to Q conspiracies, President Donald Trump was elected to take them down. The claims are not grounded in facts.

PROP. 15: Joe Mathews looks at the property tax measure to assess most commercial and industrial properties, rather than the constrained value under 1978's Prop. 13.

So what is Prop 15? It’s really a political document, designed to get what is perceived to be a victory over Prop 13. The hope of its backers is that it will clear the way for more taxes and a dismantling of Prop 13. I, for one, would love to see a dismantling. But I don’t think Prop 15 will lead to the end of Prop 13, much as I wish it would.

There are a couple reasons for this. The first is that Prop 15 actually further embeds Prop 13 in the Constitution—quite literally, with thousands of more words. The second is that the Democratic interests behind this measure have had huge supermajorities in the legislature in recent years, but have done nothing to reform the Prop 13 system that rules our state. Such reform wouldn’t just bring in more dollars. It would restore greater democracy at the local and state level.

But the dirty secret is that there is little appetite for more democracy, especially at the local level, among the elites who control the Prop 13 system. Both left and right have made their peace with Prop 13, and aren’t prepared to challenge it. So Prop 15 is, in the end, pretty meaningless. It doesn’t much matter if you vote yes or no.

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

Probolsky Research

CAKEDAY: Andrew Antwih, Jeri Fromme, Sac councilmember Steve Hansen, former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, and Anaheim councilmember Jose Solorio!

During my downtime last week for technical problems, I missed Brian Brokaw's birthday on 9/21. Belated happy cakeday, Brian!

FAREWELL: Retired lobbyist Pete Price (1953-2020_


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]

California School Boards Association - Legislative Director

CSBA is seeking a Legislative Director to lead our Governmental Relations team to shape legislative and political strategy for CSBA’s statewide agenda. You will act as a liaison between legislative, educational, and public communities. If you are interested in leading a team of legislative advocates to influence opinion in favor of public education, please apply through our website. Position is located in West Sacramento. Learn more and apply here:

Steinberg Institute is Expanding Our Team

Leading mental health advocacy organization seeks articulate, strategic, and passionate full time advocate. 3+ years' legislative/budget experience required. Knowledge of mental health/substance use issues strongly preferred. Sacramento-based. $75,000 - $90,000, depending on experience, with excellent benefits. Deadline: October 2, 2020. Details.

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.

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.

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