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- Look West Podcast (Assembly Democratic Caucus): Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula speaks with health experts Tania Pacheco-Werner, PhD, and Joe Prado about COVID-19 vaccine distribution efficiency and equity (2021-03-23)
- SacTown Talks (Jarheet Blonien): Senator Steve Bradford (D-Gardena) (2021-03-22)
- Nooner Conversations (Scott Lay): Lobbyist and legislative process law professor Chris Micheli (2021-03-19) - recorded February 23, first technical and then shoulder problems; hope to add the intro once Quicktime is fixed (Big Sur update broke it) - Simplecast | Apple Podcasts | Amazon Podcasts | YouTube
- Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Political consultant Garry South on the recall effot (2021-03-19)
- California State of Mind (CapRadio): California Considers World’s First Guidelines on Microplastics in Drinking Water (2021-03-19)
- This Week in California Politics (KQED): Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) (2021-03-19)
- Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos @ KQED): Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles) on building Los Angeles's labor movement (2021-03-18)
- Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Jeffe): With political analyst Bill Schneider, the filibuster and the recall (2021-03-18)
- Exclusive Downtown Penthouse Near Capitol Building
- Associate Position at CleanSweep Campaigns, San Francisco
- Capitol Seminars Zoom workshop - April 1
- McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific - MPA/MPP
- McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific - Masters of Science in Law
- SD06 (Sacramento): added businessman/policy consultant Khaim Morton (D) - open seat (Pan termed out)
- AD79 (East San Diego): California Labor and Business Alliance (CLAB) sponsored by correctional peace officers housing industry organizations and energy providers reports spending $61,692 on mail ($53,811), research, and consulting to support Akilah Weber (D)
- Reform California (Carl DeMaio committee) reports spending:
- $15,000 for campaign management
- $15,000 for postage
- $8,000 for social media advertising
- $6,206 for direct mail materials and services
- $5,000 for text messages
- $3,849 for bumper stickers/apparel
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The Nooner for Thursday, March 25, 2021, presented by SYASL Partners
It's Thursday. You're almost there, wherever "there" may be. The forecast this morning has Sacramento reaching 80 on Sunday, so break out those shorts!
Spring Recess begins after session today and the Legislature returns April 5.
Lots going on today, so let's get to the gnus.
DO YOU RECALL?
AGstakes: As news trickled out beginning Tuesday evening that short list contenders who had gotten the call that they wouldn't be receiving the final rose and with Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Alameda) skipping a bill presentation in Assembly Higher Ed, the 2pm announcement in San Francisco by Governor Newsom that he was tapping the 48-year-old Yale-trained lawyer to fill the vacancy was not much of a surprise.
If confirmed, Bonta will be the state's top law enforcement officer at a time when the Chief Justice of the California of Supreme Court, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, is also Filipino-American. While Cantil-Sakauye was born in Sacramento, Bonta immigrated with his family at two months old after being born in Quezon City, following the rise to power of authoritarian Ferdinand Marcos. As Bonta's father had U.S. citizenship at the time of his birth, he was born with United States citizenship.
Bonta is not expected to face many hurdles in winning confirmation by the two houses (simple majority), although there a former chief of staff of his has actively fought the appointment for weeks. In frequent Twitter posts, she alleges that Bonta dissuaded her internal complaints of a culture of sexual misconduct against her in an office she worked in and didn't take steps to stop it.
I fully expect that Newsom's appointment team thoroughly looked into the case and talked to many people in the Capitol before advancing his name yesterday.
If confirmed, Bonta will be up for election in 2022. With a net $2,370,681 cash on hand as of December 31, he's well-positioned to earn a full term from the voters. After being appointed by Governor Brown to fill the AG vacancy created by Kamala Harris's election to the U.S. Senate, Xavier Becerra spent $6.8 million to earn a full term, much in the primary when challenged by then-Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.
Here are some articles covering Bonta's appointment:
AD18 (Alameda-San Leandro-West Oakland): Depending on when the Legislature confirms Bonta, it is possible that a special general could be consolidated with a fall recall election. Generally, special generals are called within 14 days of the vacancy and are set by the Governor on a Tuesday between 126-140 days. However, if there is a recall election that falls within 200 days of the Governor calling the special general, it can be consolidated with the recall election. The special primary would be seven Tuesdays prior to the special general.
Given the Democratic riches of elected officials and community leaders in AD18, it's likely to be a broad field of multiple city council members from Alameda, Oakland, and San Leandro. Given that, it's almost certain that there will be a special general election with two Democrats on the ballot. At 65.83% of registered voters, Democrats have a 59.38% advantage over the Republicans and with Bonta receiving 87.6% of the vote for reelection (190,731 votes) in November 2020, the district is a bounty of votes for Dems.
You'd have to imagine that Governor Newsom's political team would love to see that special general consolidated with the recall election to drive turnout. In all state elections in 2021, every registered voter will be mailed a ballot and there will be vote centers for those who want to register late or lost their ballot.
AD54 (Baldwin Hills-Culver City-Westwood): The field is now set for the May 18 special election for AD54, which was left vacant when Sydney Kamlager was elected to SD30 in a March 2 special. All six candidates who took out papers completed filing and voters will see the following on the ballot:
- Bernard Benter (NPP) - Retail Grocery Worker
- Isaac Bryan (D) - Educator/Community Organizer
- Dallas Fowler (D) - Businesswoman/Non-Profit Executive
- Heather Hutt (D) - Senator's State Director
- Samuel Robert Morales (D) - Financial Advisor/Entrepreneur
- Cheryl Turner (D) - Tax Attorney/Commissioner
COVID-19, several policy topics, cakeday, and new classifieds after the jump...
COVID-19: California reported an additional 255 deaths yesterday for a total of 57,672 since the pandemic began.
-data dive: California's 7-day positivity rate is now 1.9%, a slight uptick but still far below the 7.1% peak amidst mass testing on December 30.
-vaccines: Remember that in many cases, vaccines are being reserved for second doses (of Moderna and Pfizer). The following data, from the daily CDPH press release, may be delayed by reporting.
- vaccine doses administered in California: 15,537,745 (7-day change: +2,500,188)
- vaccine doses delivered to administering entities in California: 19,809,080 (7-day change: +2,996,010)
- LA: From yesterday's daily press release:
Among 73 specimens analyzed at the Public Health Laboratory this past week, 25 cases, or 34% of the specimens analyzed, were the California variant of concern, identified as B.1.427 or 429, and 21 cases, or 29% of the specimens analyzed, were the U.K. variant of concern, B.1.1.7. This means 63% of the variants sequenced this past week are variants of concern with the probability of increased transmissibility and more severe disease. Los Angeles County has yet to identify cases of the South African variant or the Brazilian variant of concern, the P.1 variant.
-tiers for fears: As a reminder, any county must remain at a tier for three weeks before progressing to a less-restrictive tier, even if the metrics continue to improve. Lots of the changes yesterday, and here's where the counties stand.
- 8 counties in the Purple (widespread) Tier (6.3% of population): Fresno, Glenn, Inyo, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, and Yuba
- 39 counties in the Red (substantial) Tier (83.2% of population): Alameda, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Humboldt, Imperial, Kern, Lake, Los Angeles, Mendocino, Modoc, Mono, Monterey, Napa, Nevada, Orange, Placer, Riverside, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Tulare, Tuolumne, and Ventura
- 9 counties in Orange (moderate) Tier (10.5% of population): Lassen, Marin, Mariposa, Plumas, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Trinity, and Yolo
- 2 counties in Yellow (minimal) Tier (0.0% of population): Alpine and Sierra.
-"long COVID": For the Times, Melissa Healy looks at the ongoing efforts of scientists to understand what causes the lingering symptoms of COVID-19 after the virus has left the body and the frustrations of those experiencing them.
Among those with “Long COVID,” headaches, fatigue and shortness of breath are common. Problems with memory, concentration, sleep and balance abound. Athletes and fitness buffs who scarcely noticed they were ill find that, months later, they can no longer exercise due to heart palpitations, grinding fatigue and muscle weakness.
Their numbers go well beyond the minority of patients who were put on ventilators, or who nearly died because their immune systems overreacted to acute infection. Patients who have sustained organ damage face medical challenges that are complex, but not mysterious.
By contrast, “long haulers” like Searight are an enigma on many levels. Who they are and how many of them remain ill after a SARS-CoV-2 infection are unknown. What drives their bizarre array of symptoms is, as yet, unexplained. Their prognoses remain uncertain. And so is the answer to the most pressing question: How can they be helped?
Their existence, however, is undeniable.
Already, the pandemic has generated more than 115 million confirmed COVID-19 survivors worldwide, including at least 30 million in the United States. If even a tiny fraction of them develop Long COVID, they will likely present a massive challenge to healthcare systems.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease doctor, says Long COVID is “really puzzling.” In the “data-free zone” that now exists, Fauci says it’s impossible to know how many are affected, why the virus doesn’t seem to be done with them or how long their symptoms could last.
In the absence of lab tests that can diagnose the problem, “a lot of times people think it’s a psychological disorder,” Fauci said. “It’s not.”
There were two great episodes this week on the topic from The Daily podcast from the New York Times. On Monday, the general topic of the "long haulers" was covered and on Tuesday, California-based NYT restaurant critic Tejal Rao described the impact of losing her sense of smell and path to recovering it.
- Santa Ana: The Register's Roxana Kopetman reports that Santa Ana Unified is sticking with distance learning for the rest of the school year.
“The District believes that this is the best course of action given the unique circumstances facing the SAUSD community,” Superintendent Jerry Almendarez wrote in an email Wednesday, March 24.
“Remaining in a distance learning model would provide students with the highest quality learning experiences of all the options currently available to the District considering the number of weeks left in the school year.”
The subject came up during a school board meeting Tuesday night but because it wasn’t agendized – for the second consecutive meeting – it meant that board members could not vote on reopening campuses with hybrid instruction.
That left the district in the status quo, with an estimated 44,831 students learning online since the beginning of the school year.
Board members John Palacio and Valerie Amezcua repeatedly expressed dismay that the district could not pivot as circumstances changed during the pandemic. While Santa Ana was earlier seeing high rates of COVID-19 infection, those numbers have dropped. And Orange County has already entered the less restrictive red tier and is headed to an even less-restrictive orange tier under state metrics that determine what sectors can reopen during the pandemic.
“True leadership is about shifting,” Amezcua told her colleagues. “You have to be able to dance. Because things change.”
Palacio said: “We can’t live in the past and that’s what we’re doing.”
But board President Rigo Rodriguez said: “It’s better to proceed with caution,” adding he wants district officials to concentrate next on summer school and how schools will open in the fall, which he indicated may be in a hybrid model.
HATE CRIMES: For CalMatters, Byrhonda Lyons and Robert Lewis look at legislative efforts for stronger hate crimes laws amidst the surge in violence against Asian Americans.
Improving reporting is one reason Assemblymember David Chiu is reintroducing his hate crimes hotline bill. He thinks it failed because of concerns over cost.
But that’s changed.
“It’s reached a point where we have to take action as a state, certainly as an Asian American,” Chiu said. “What we’ve seen in this past year has been horrifying and cries out for response.”
He is also co-author of a bill that would push law enforcement agencies to better track hate crimes. It follows a 2018 State Auditor report that found “underreporting and misreporting of hate crimes among law enforcement agencies.”
Chiu, whose parents immigrated from Taiwan, grew up in the Boston area in the 1970s. He said anti-Asian racism was a regular experience. He said good data is critical to understanding what minority communities often face.
“There are also many incidents of hate that don’t rise to the level of a hate crime, but are disturbing nonetheless and need to be documented and understood for us to consider other policies to address them,” he said.
California generally has strong laws meant to fight hate crimes, said Beth Holtzman, a lawyer with the Anti-Defamation League.
“The issue,” she said, “is with implementation.”
SIN AGUA: For Politico, Debra Kahn writes that while California faces a return to drought conditions that likely will require a reduction in water usage by residents, Governor Newsom is not in the position to deliver the message after a year of pandemic restrictions.
"The governor's in a very tricky situation," said Darry Sragow, a longtime California Democratic strategist. While Newsom may be considering drought controls, "I'm sure he's hearing voices telling him that Californians can only tolerate so much pain and suffering."
A disappointing winter has left California's water supplies at half of average levels. Fights over water are perpetual in California, waxing and waning alongside supplies, and memories are fresh of the worst drought in California's recorded history that stretched from 2012-16. The development of a new drought promises to reinflame tensions between farmers, cities and environmentalists, with Newsom caught in the middle.
California is particularly parched because 2020 was not only dry, but extremely hot. Experts think the state is about where it was in 2014, when former Gov. Jerry Brown asked Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent. "That's grim," said Jeffrey Mount, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California's Water Policy Center. "The alarm bells are ringing."
State and federal water officials on Tuesday cut the projected amount of water they plan to send farmers and cities, the latest sign that California is entering another concerning dry spell. The new drought comes on the heels of several years of record wildfire seasons, which in turn were fueled by the last drought. It's just the latest climate change-amplified natural disaster to confront Newsom.
CLIMATE: NPR's Nathan Rott reports on Senator Ben Allen's SB 83 to facilitate the purchase of coastal properties vulnerable to sea-level rise.
Property value ebbs and flows, but when it comes to coastal real estate "the trend lines are pretty clear," says California state Sen. Ben Allen, squinting in the sun. "And they're not pretty."
Within the span of a 30-year mortgage, more than $100 billion worth of American homes is expected to be at risk of chronic flooding. As the climate warms and oceans rise, narrow strips of sand such as the one Allen is standing on, will be submerged, leaving coastal communities — affluent and not — with the torturous question of how to adjust. Build sea walls? Dump sand? For how long and at what cost?
"It's becoming a really serious resource question for a lot of local governments," says Allen, who represents coastal communities in the greater Los Angeles area that are spending millions to keep their beaches intact.
It's expensive to fight the sea. It's expensive not to do so. When property values plummet, so do property taxes. But right now property values here are still high, and Allen wants to put that value to use before it's gone.
That's why the 43-year-old Democrat has proposed legislation to create a revolving loan program, allowing California counties and communities to purchase vulnerable coastal properties. The goal would then be to rent those properties out, either to the original homeowner or someone else, and use that money to pay off the loan until the property is no longer safe to live in.
STEM CELLS: For Capitol Weekly, David Jensen covers the latest from the state's stem cell institute following the passage of its latest bond measure last November:
The occasion was a meeting of the governing board of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), as the stem cell agency is officially known. It is trying to figure out how to spend the fresh funding that voters gave it last fall.
The cash, which is all money borrowed by the state, came via Proposition 14, a “Christmas tree” measure that also blessed or cursed CIRM with a vast array of new ways to spend money.
Now it is up to the agency to figure out the best financial path that will actually generate a stem cell therapy that is actually available to the general public. CIRM has been working on that goal for 16 years already but has yet to achieve it.
Several members of the board warned about trying to “boil the ocean” — trying to do too much. The $5.5 billion is a lot of money but is not close to covering all the possibilities available under Proposition 14.
At a Tuesday meeting, CIRM directors reviewed many of the choices laid out in a session with stem cell advisors last month, which included a “Hotel California” concept that would create some sort of center — not necessarily physical — in the Golden State where stem cell standardization and vetting could be applied.
Then there was DEI, an unfortunate anacronym that seems much too close to another, DUI.
DEI simply means treating all people fairly, whether they are patients, researchers or ordinary citizens and making a special effort to bring in persons of color who have not always been welcomed or treated equally.
SF HOUSING: Roland Li writes for the Chron why the 15.8 million square feet of vacant office space in San Francisco is not being quickly repurposed for housing.
The injection of new residents could help revitalize deserted commercial districts and boost foot traffic as restaurants and shops reopen, particularly during evening hours. More downtown housing would build on previous city efforts, particularly in the Transbay neighborhood, to create vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods with both workers and residents.
But no San Francisco office-to-housing proposals have been submitted during the pandemic, according to the city’s Planning Department.
While the idea is being actively discussed by developers, there are major obstacles, said Manan Shah, an co-managing director at architecture firm Gensler’s Oakland office.
Office buildings can’t be too large or dwellings won’t have enough access to light and air. If they’re too small, there won’t be room for new bathrooms and bedrooms, or elevators and exits. Aging office buildings can also require major seismic upgrades to comply with modern residential codes and historic exteriors may have to be preserved. Residences also must provide open space — a potential hurdle in cramped downtown — unless they receive a city variance.
“There are some just inherent challenges with doing it. Not impossible — it’s certainly been done,” Shah said. “I think you just have to look at each and every building and opportunity individually.”
In some cases, converting old buildings can be more expensive than building a new project from the ground up, and they’re almost always more complex, developers say. And San Francisco’s construction costs, ranked as the world’s highest in 2019, haven’t budged much during the pandemic.
L.A. HOMELESS: A team at the LAT reports on the efforts of Los Angeles city officials to clear out a homeless encampment in Echo Park:
Los Angeles officials said they intend to close a homeless encampment at Echo Park on Thursday after a night of protests as workers erected fencing and authorities ordered residents of the camp to clear out.
More than 200 protesters gathered at the park Wednesday night and Thursday morning in a tense standoff with police over the future of the encampment, which has become a flash point in the city’s long homelessness crisis.
The camp has drawn the ire of neighbors, and the city has agreed to move those living in the park to hotels. But some residents say they prefer to stay in the park and argue they have the right to do so.
Los Angeles police Chief Michel Moore said Wednesday night that homeless residents inside the park would be allowed to remain overnight, but that no one else could enter, and the encampment’s residents must leave within 24 hours.
[A] homeless woman said she was reluctant to go to the hotel rooms that had been offered to people camping at the park, saying that she had heard that residents would be searched and subjected to confining curfews.
Yellow tape ringed the blocks surrounding the park, where police cruisers blocked people from driving or walking into the area. Inside the fenced park, the morning chatter of birds and geese mingled with the low moan of a helicopter overhead.
Another homeless man in a gray cap, who declined to give his name, said that encampment residents are hoping that they will get some kind of legal permission to stay, based on the “shelter in place” guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic.
He did not want to head to “any government-provided facilities,” saying, “I just don’t like to take anything from the government.”
Cakeday and classifieds after the jump...
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CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to LA councilmember Gil Cedillo, Amber Maltbie, and James Schwab!
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Exclusive Downtown Penthouse Near Capitol Building
Penthouse residence for rent in desirable Downtown Marriott building. Renter will enjoy private lobby, use of hotel amenities such as pool / spa, gym, and access to concierge services such as supervised Amazon package delivery, etc. This space would be perfect for a member or lobbyist or consultant with frequent business in the Capitol. Comes with one parking spot with option for another if needed. You can view full listing, photos and more here. Can be rented furnished or unfurnished.
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