Around The Capitol

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  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Esther Aquilera of the Latino Corporate Directors Association (2021-03-15)
  • Then There's California (Senate Democratic Caucus): Senator Bill Dodd (D-Napa) on two statewide water/equity advocates, talking about 'water debt' (2021-03-15)
  • Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Jeffe): Gavin's State of the State, the recall effort, and more (2021-03-12)
  • Capitol Weekly Podcast: The Future of Work (continuation of the four-part online conference series) (2021-03-12)
  • SacTown Talks (Jarhett Blonien): Assemblymember James Ramos (D-Highland) (2021-03-12)
  • California State of Mind (CapRadio) - Putting a Positive Spin on California’s Pandemic Response; Some Cities Explore Higher Density Solutions to Housing Crisis (2021-03-12)


  • Capitol Seminars Zoom workshop - April 1
  • McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific - MPA/MPP
  • Executive Director of Government Relations: California State University, Fresno
  • California School Boards Association - Public Affairs & Community Engagement Representative (San Diego)
  • McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific - Masters of Science in Law


  • SOS: added law enforcement officer Jason Paletta (R)
  • SD10 (Hayward-Fremont-Santa Clara): added LinkedIn regional manager Jaime Raul Zepeda (D) - open seat (Wieckowski)
  • SD36 (south coastal OC-north coastal SD): added Encinitas mayor Catherine Blakespear (D) - open seat (Bates)


  • Stop the Republican Recall of Governor Newsom received $250,000 from the California Democratic Party
  • Stop the Republican Recall of Governor Newsom received $100,000 in-kind from the California Democratic Party

The Nooner for Tuesday, March 16, 2021, presented by SYASL Partners

Happy Taco Tuesday to you! This morning, I was able to do a full range of motion in some of my wake-up yoga routines for the first time, so the shoulder clearly is getting better. I haven't put weight on it though, so no downward facing dog and certainly no push-ups, but recovery continues. I also got a nice afternoon walk in, something I didn't do while my shoulder was in particular agony. The Capitol was beautiful with spring flowers, although it continues to look lonely behind barricades and with CHP cruisers giuarding each side. (Though, there aren't the CHP officers visibly out front any longer.)

Upon returning to the Nooner 'hood, I walked through Southside Park to take in the sites.

Cherry blossoms at Southside Park Futbol in Southside Park

First are the cherry blossoms in Sakura Grove, which were planted three years ago. Only three of the young trees have seemingly bloomed yet, but they are still beautiful. Secondly, apparently, whoever is in charge of bringing the goal nets didn't show up to yesterday's daily fútbol game. The game must go on, so they used the next best thing -- trash cans.

I watched them play several times during the pandemic and these are some great players likely out of work with restaurants on very limited operations. And, yes, they were scoring into the small green cylinders. Considering I couldn't score in a full-sized goal as a kid, I was quite impressed yesterday.

While it's great to see the park used daily, I'm hoping that as we ease into reopening, many of these jugadores de fútbol are able to go back to work.

Lots in the mix today after the jumpity jump...


  • acceptance: For Politico, Jeremy B. White writes that Governor Newsom acknowledged on "The View" this morning that the recall effort likely has enough valid signatures to qualify.
    "This one appears to have the requisite signatures," the Democratic governor said during an appearance on The View.

    While the recall effort was initially viewed as a longshot, organizers have capitalized on pandemic discontent to collect what they say are more than enough signatures to trigger an election. They must turn in around 1.5 million valid signatures by Wednesday, after which elections officials will spend weeks gauging whether proponents have hit the official threshold.
  • the Trump factor: In the Times, Phil Willon writes that, while he's no longer in office, Democrats intend to make Donald Trump a centerpiece of a recall election.
    Trump remains extraordinarily unpopular in California — he captured just 34% of the state’s votes in the November election. And that was two months before radicalized Trump supporters rioted at the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from certifying the outcome of the presidential election, leading to Trump’s second impeachment in the House of Representatives.

    Newsom’s Democratic allies have heralded the recall’s support among far-right Trump supporters, including QAnon conspiracy theorists.

    Loyalists to the governor are trying to yoke the Republicans behind the recall effort to Trump’s term in the White House, which saw policies targeting immigrants in the country illegally, led to two impeachments, polarized the nation and ended with a half-million Americans dying of COVID-19.
  • the fumble? Regarding the issue I included yesterday of whether Democrats fumbled by not appealing the ruling by Sacramento Superior Court Judge James R. Arguelles that extended the deadline for signature-gathering period for recall proponents by 120 days to March 17, I spent more time on this last night.

    The ruling by Arguelles uses a strict-scrutiny analysis to analyze whether the recall effort should have its deadline extended as were the deadlines for the tribal gaming and recycling initiatives. 

    What I didn't see the ruling is an important differentiation. Recall and initiative processes are both state rights provided for in the state constitution. Voters can eliminate them in one election and that wouldn't be a federal First Amendment violation, unlike voting for candidates. Thus, strict scrutiny may not be appropriate.

    The important differentiation is that the 160-day period to collect signatures for a recall is provided for in Cal. Const. Art. II, Sec. 14(a)

    The deadline extensions for the two initiatives were writs of mandates that extended the 180-day deadline provided for in Elections Code §9014(b).

    Arguably, if voters were deprived of their rights to sign petitions for the initiatives, voters were similarly denied their rights by having a voter-approved constitutional deadline for recalls of 160 days. The analysis (and arguments by the state's attorneys) should have clearly made this differentiation between a voter-approved constitutional deadline for recalls and a legislatively approved deadline for initiatives, and it's not clear that was made. Perhaps it wasn't made at the trial court level and thus that's why it wasn't appealed.

    Still, after thinking about this last night and reading Judge Arguelles ruling, it boggles my mind. I think the Third District Court of Appeal would have overturned the ruling.

FEINSTEIN: Yesterday, Governor Newsom made news by stating that if Senator Dianne Feinstein were to resign, he would appoint a Black woman to the seat. Carla Marinucci reports for Politico

Newsom made the comments to MSNBC host Joy Reid in an appearance on her show, saying he has multiple names in mind for the spot.

The governor's surprise statement came as Reid asked Newsom if he would commit to naming a Black woman to the Senate if Feinstein steps down and whether he has thought of particular replacements.

Newsom told Reid, "I have multiple names in mind. We have multiple names in mind — and the answer is yes."

There has been no indication that Feinstein will step aside, but a growing number of Democrats have raised the possibility in recent months after their displeasure with how she handled the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett, as well as damaging reports in POLITICO and The New Yorker about Feinstein's age-related missteps.

Feinstein could face additional pressure to step down this year with the recall election expected to qualify. While California's electorate gives Democrats an advantage in protecting Newsom's governorship and avoiding a GOP replacement, the possibility remains that a Republican could take the seat and have nomination powers at least until January 2023.

The story had Twitter a-flitter all evening and continues this morning.

The Chron's Washington correspondent Tal Kopan tweets:

Feinstein dismisses Newsom’s comments about replacing her, saying she intends to serve out her term and that his comments were misconstrued.

Asked if she’s able to fully serve:

“Absolutely,” she said. "I think that's pretty obvious."

via the Hill pool

And after, Politico's Jeremy B. White tweeted:

Plenty of California politicos think @GavinNewsom "would not have said what he said yesterday unless he knew Feinstein was sticking around, which [makes] DiFi's replacement a strict hypothetical

Will still look at the rules on a recall election. Unlike a regular election, in a recall election, the successor takes office immediately upon the certification of election. Of course, that isn't on election night, but normally 31 days following a statewide election (which can be extended by the Legislature because of the pandemic as it was last year. Because it will be an all-mail (with vote centers) election like last November, the vote-counting will take quite some time and, should it look like the recall is successful, there will be several weeks for any machinations to happen.

Nevertheless, now we have yet another parlor game (the third of the year). Some names include:

  • Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles)
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland)
  • San Francisco mayor London Breed

While no Democrats are publicly rooting for a recall of Newsom, two people who really don't want the above scenario to take place are Rep. Adam Schiff and Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine). While neither would be likely appointments by Newsom (and I said that when Kamala's seat was open), both are seen as possible candidates for Feinstein's seat if she retires when her term ends in 2024.

Speaking of...

KATIE PORTER: The LAT's Jennifer Haberkorn writes that while Katie Porter (D-Irvine) was loved by the left while she took on Trump Administration officials with her whiteboard, now with a Democrat in The White House, they are not as happy.

Just as she wielded a whiteboard and sharp questioning to expose the flaws and outdated thinking she saw in Postal Service management or the nation’s COVID-19 testing system, Porter recently took aim at House Democrats’ rules and traditions for what is usually a behind-the-scenes competition to determine which lawmakers sit on which coveted committees.

It was a calculated high-stakes gamble that resulted in Porter not returning this year to sit on the Financial Services Committee, one of the House’s most sought-after panels and one for which the former bankruptcy and consumer law professor was highly suited.

Her sharp-elbowed maneuvering and willingness to publicly confront party leaders like Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Los Angeles Rep. Maxine Waters underscored the brash determination that made Porter the surprise national standout of California’s 2018 House freshman class — and a strong contender for the U.S. Senate someday.

But in an institution fueled by seniority and relationships — especially within one’s own party — Porter’s tendency to ruffle feathers could cost her the allies she will need in the future in order to get legislation approved.

In an interview, Porter expressed no regrets that her actions might have cost her support. In some ways, she may have felt she had nothing to lose. None of her progressive bills made it through the Democratic-controlled Financial Services Committee in her first term, a factor in her decision to focus more on oversight.


[While she ruled out a challenge to Alex Padila in 2022,] Porter did not rule out, however, a future bid for the Senate. Progressives hope she runs when Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 87, leaves the Senate, although it is certain to be a crowded field.

ALOHA! For Politico, Jeremy B. White dives into the Form 700 filings by lawmakers to find out who went to the annual "policy" junket in Maui and accepted other travel last year during the pandemic.

Legislators headed to Portland, Ore., and Seattle in the fall. Some visited a conference in Arizona days before Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered California into a statewide lockdown. Lawmakers went to Japan before the coronavirus swamped California but when it was already present in China.

Documents also confirm POLITICO’s earlier reporting that more than a dozen lawmakers of both parties flew to Hawaii in November and revealed a previously undisclosed attendee: state Sen. Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita), who has since become Senate minority leader.

The disclosures show that five state lawmakers who did not respond to repeated calls and emails last fall about the trip did indeed jet to Maui: Assemblymembers Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), Tom Daly (D-Anaheim), Patrick O'Donnell (D-Long Beach), former Assemblymember Bill Brough (R-Dana Point) and Sen. Susan Rubio (D-Baldwin Park). 

You can look up an elected official's Form 700 here.

VOTER SIGNATURES: The AP's Adam Beam looks at legislation to put into statute temporary Secretary of State rules for last year to guide how local elections officials evaluate signatures on mail-in ballots.

The secretary of state’s office issued temporary rules for the November election presuming a voter’s signature was legitimate, making an exact match unnecessary. To reject a ballot, election officials had to believe “beyond a reasonable doubt” that signatures didn’t match.

Those rules are set to expire in July. A bill before the California Legislature would make them permanent.

Any proposed changes to election laws this year will get more attention because Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is likely to face a recall election. The Legislature has already passed — and Newsom signed — a law saying counties must mail ballots to all active registered voters for any election called in 2021.


[I]f the bill involving signatures becomes law, it would not take effect until Jan. 1, 2022, meaning it wouldn’t be in place for a possible recall election later this year. However, the secretary of state’s office could simply extend its temporary rules to include a recall election.

CADEM: I erred yesterday when I said that the filing deadline for officers of the California Democratic Party was, well, yesterday. Actually, similar to state offices, there is an extension until Friday if an eligible incumbent does not seek reelection. Thus, the contentious race for chair is set between incumbent Rusty Hicks and former Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin.

COVID-19, cakeday and classifieds after the jump...

Probolsky Research

COVID-19: California reported an additional 129 deaths yesterday for a total of 55.942 since the pandemic began. While the number continues to improve, the usual weekend reporting delays must be considered, which frequently carry forward to Mondays.

-data dive: California's 7-day positivity rate continues to tick down and is now 1.9%, far below the 7.1% peak amidst mass testing on December 30. The steep curve in cases and deaths is simply remarkable:

COVID cases and deaths

-vaccines: Remember that in many cases, vaccines are being reserved for second doses (of Moderna and Pfizer). The following data may be delayed by reporting.

  • vaccine doses administered in California: 12,172,948
  • vaccine doses delivered to administering entities in California: 15,702,230 (not updated yesterday)
  • vaccine doses shipped to California: 16,361,975 (not updated yesterday)
  • The Bee's Tony Bizjak reports that the head of UC Davis Health System is warning that the state has opened up vaccinations too fast for 18-64 year olds without requiring proof of an underlying health condition.

    A top Sacramento health care provider is warning that California risks harming “the truly sick” by allowing people ages 16 to 64 to get vaccines without proof that they have a qualifying underlying health issue that puts them at high risk for a serious COVID-19 case.

    Under new state guidance this week, local health departments have been instructed to vaccinate people in that age group who “attest” that they have a condition such as cancer, kidney disease, pulmonary disease, Down syndrome, pregnancy, heart conditions, severe obesity or Type 2 diabetes.

    The state Department of Public Health says “healthcare providers may use their clinical judgment” based on the patients’ treatment histories in choosing who to vaccinate in that age group. The state strongly recommends those people go to their regular health provider for their shot, but does not require it.

    If a person goes instead to a pharmacy or public health clinic where they do not have a health history on file, those sites are instructed to take the person’s word that they have an underlying issue. The state suggests those sites ask for some written verification but does not require it, citing the need to protect confidentiality.

    Dr. David Lubarsky, head of UC Davis Health in Sacramento, criticized that approach Monday in a statement to The Bee, saying it will allow lower-risk people to slip in front of people who have a more immediate health need for a vaccine.

    Based on my Facebook feed, this would appear to be true. Also, restaurants were clearly open for inside dining last night in Sacramento County. I won't tattle.

  • In the Times, Colleen Shalby and Haley Smith report that prioritization of vaccines largely relies on the honor system as the eligibility expands:

    California on Monday began a new phase of its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, making nearly half of all residents eligible for a shot — and relying more than ever on public trust and honesty to make sure the doses get to those who need them most.

    The changes add to the eligibility list more than 4 million people, most notably those 16 and older who have disabilities and underlying health conditions.

    Previous eligibility tiers focused on certain jobs and age groups — factors that are easily verifiable to determine whether those seeking the vaccine are entitled to it under state guidelines.

    But there will be a much looser verification system for this new group due to issues of privacy and access. And despite eligibility lists provided by the state, there is still confusion about which health conditions are covered, so the true size of the new group is unclear.

  • In Sacramento, the newly eligible may have to wait for additional supply. McGough, Kasler, and Bizjak report in The Bee:

    Californians ages 16 to 64 with severe obesity, who are pregnant or who have a number of other medical conditions or disabilities are now eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. But supply issues may hinder your chances of getting a shot right away.

    “The increase in people eligible does not mean we get an increase in shipments,” Sacramento County health department spokeswoman Brenda Bongiorno said. “It just makes it more competitive to get an appointment.”

    Yolo County Health Officer Aimee Sisson issued a similar warning Monday.

  • For CalMatters, Dan Walters writes that the rapidly expanded number of people eligible for a vaccine without the necessary supply is a political rather than public health exercise.

-tiers for fears: The following changes were just announced (which is why The Nooner is a bit delayed for paid subscribers). The map should be updated soon.

  • From red to orange: San Mateo
  • From purple to red: Lake, Monterey, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Sutter, Tehama, Tulare, and Ventura.
  • Missed out after being on the likely to move from purple to red: Kings, San Joaquin, and Yuba

With today's changes:

  • 11 counties in the Purple (widespread) Tier
  • 42 counties in the Red (substantial) Tier
  • 4 counties in Orange (moderate) Tier
  • 1 county in Yellow (minimal) Tier

-school daze:

  • Oakland: KQED reports on a deal between Oakland Unified and its teachers union:

    Following weeks of negotiations, leaders from Oakland's school district and its teachers union reached a tentative deal Sunday to allow some younger students to return to in-person classes by the end of the month.

    Under the first phase of the agreement, in-person classes would resume March 30 for pre-K through second grade, and for "priority students" of all grades — those considered at-risk — whose parents have indicated they want to send them back to school. Classes will include a combination of distance and in-person learning options for four days a week. The fifth day will be remote for all students.

    Third through fifth graders, and possibly one additional grade, would be able to return to school on April 19.

    Families also have the option to have their children continue with full-time distance learning through the remainder of the school year.

  • Elk Grove: For The Bee, Sawsan Morrar looks at how the first school district in Sacramento County to shut classrooms appears to be among first to return to in-person instruction:

Just over one year after the Elk Grove Unified School District closed campuses – sending shock waves through the region as the COVID-19 pandemic began – students in Northern California’s largest district will begin returning to classrooms on Tuesday.

Desks were set apart, drinking fountains taped off, and an entirely new school that was set to open in Fall 2020 will finally bring students on campus.

But just as thousands of families in other Sacramento-area districts that are reopening have opted to keep students home, an estimated 30% Elk Grove’s 60,000 students are planning to return this spring.

District spokesperson Xanthi Soriano said the percentage of returning students varies campus by campus — some schools will have 60% returning to campus. Roughly 40% of elementary school students in the Natomas Unified School District are back after schools reopened there earlier this month.

Elk Grove is bringing students back on a staggered schedule, starting with students in classes Pre-K through third grade. Students will return to campus in a concurrent model, allowing teachers to instruct both students in-person and online at the same time.


  • now hiring: I've mentioned that I follow a Facebook pandemic group that spreads the word about locally owned Sacramento restaurants, both from patrons and restaurants themselves. Yesterday as Sacramento may return to 25% indoor dining, posts began appearing from restaurants to announce that they were hiring. Restaurants are in a scramble as many employees gave up over the last year and need to be replaced. Some back-of-the-house workers returned south of the border, at least that's what the corner store operator who knows many of them tell me. 

-theme parks:

  • In the Register, Brady MacDonald looks at how theme parks, which are planning to open over the next 60 days, plan to enforce state rules banning out-of-state visitors.

    Disneyland, Universal and other theme parks in the state will hang “California Residents Only” signs outside their gates once they begin reopening in April after year-long coronavirus closures.

    California theme parks will be required to limit ticket sales to in-state residents under revised state guidelines.


    California theme parks can return to limited capacity operations with rides and attractions on April 1 provided the counties they reside in reach the red/substantial tier 2 risk status of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s updated Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

    Orange (Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, Knott’s Berry Farm), Los Angeles (Universal Studio Hollywood, Six Flags Magic Mountain), Santa Clara (California’s Great America) and Solano (Six Flags Discovery Kingdom) counties have moved into the red/substantial tier 2. San Diego County (SeaWorld San Diego, Legoland California) remains in the purple/widespread tier 1, but is expected to move into the red tier this week.

    The in-state visitor restriction for theme parks — which continues through the red, orange and yellow tiers — is tied to the current California Department of Public Health travel advisory.

-movement: For Capitol Weekly, Phillip Reese looks at how anonymized, aggregated cell phone data has been used by public health experts to understand how people have moved through the pandemic.

In the early weeks of 2021, Californians are staying home way more than we did in our pre-pandemic life. Even so, we’re heading out to shop, dine and work far more now than in March 2020, when state officials issued the first sweeping stay-at-home order, or the dark period that followed the winter holidays, when we hunkered down as coronavirus caseloads exploded.

And to the extent we are venturing out, we are using cars rather than resuming pre-pandemic commute patterns on buses and trains, a trend with troubling implications for transit services and the environment should it become long-standing.

The findings come from a Google compilation of vast troves of cellphone location tracking data, part of an ongoing effort the tech giant says it initiated to help leaders around the globe gauge the impact of coronavirus-related closures and travel restrictions. The mobility logs, drawn from phones with location trackers enabled, show patterns of trip frequency — broken out at country, state and regional levels — in daily snapshots from early 2020 through early March 2021. The baseline for comparison in terms of trip frequency is the first five weeks of 2020, before California and the U.S. initiated broad coronavirus-related restrictions.

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Senate Republican Leader Scott Wilk!


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Further information:

The McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific

In addition to a well-respected JD, the McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific, offers the Master of Public Administration (MPA) and the Master of Public Policy (MPP) degrees. Both full-time students and those earning a professional degree while working succeed in the program. Our focus on the interconnections of law, policy, management, and leadership provides unique competencies for your success. Students gain a foundation in statutory interpretation and skills in public policy making and implementation. Learn at a beautiful campus three miles from the State Capitol:

McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific

Built on the foundation of nationally ranked and world class programs, McGeorge School of Law offers an online master (MSL) degree for individuals seeking in depth knowledge of law and policy, but who do not require a traditional law degree. Our MSL’s two concentrations in Government Law & Policy and in Water & Environmental Law offer students the flexibility to work while they learn and still engage in a highly interactive master’s program. To learn more and to sign up for our monthly webinars, please visit our website,, or contact us at

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