Around The Capitol

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  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell (2021-04-11)
  • SacTown Talks (Jarheet Blonien): Former Assemblymember Mike Gatto (2020-04-09)
  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): soon-to-be-retired Metropolitan Water District of Southern California head honcho Jeff Kightlinger  (2021-04-04)
  • Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos @ KQED): Political consutant Rose Kapolczynski on Newsom's Rising Fortunes and Her Love of the Underdog (2021-04-01)
  • SacTown Talks (Jarheet Blonien): Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) (2021-03-26)
  • Then There's California (Senate Democratic Caucus): Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada-Flintridge) on hate crimes, COVID-19, and post-pandemic priorities (2021-03-26)


  • Golden State Opportunity: Director of Operations, Director of Development and a Northern CA Coordinator
  • New Sacramento-based thriller
  • Exclusive Downtown Penthouse Near Capitol Building
  • Associate Position at CleanSweep Campaigns, San Francisco
  • McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific - MPA/MPP
  • McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific - Masters of Science in Law


  • GOV: added adult film acress Mary "Mary Carey" Cook (N) 
  • GOV: added actress/activist Caitlyn Jenner (R)
  • GOV: added management consultant Jenny Rae Le Roux (R)

DOING THE LAUNDRY: (significant contributions to county political parties that can pass them on to candidates above limits, as long as they are not "directed." wink wink)

  • United Domestic Workers of America Action Fund reports contributing:
    • $25,000 to Democratic Party of Orange County
    • $30,000 to Fresno County Democratic Central Committee
    • $30,000 to San Diego County Democratic Party
    • $5,000 to Santa Barbara County Democratic Central Committee

RECALL WATCH: The final signature reports are due from counties Monday, April 19. As of March 11, 1,188,073 signatures had been validated. Proponents need 1,495,709 to qualify the recall, a total that they are fully expected to meet.

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The Nooner for Tuesday, April 13, 2021, presented by SYASL Partners

Happy Taco Tuesday! What will you stuff in your tortillas tonight?

The shoulder continues to do well, and I returned to some yoga upon getting out of bed this morning. Thanks for all your kind thoughts and tips for those who have suffered from a frozen shoulder in the past. Of course, given the length of The Nooner since I returned on Sunday, I'm guessing some of you are wishing my recovery was a bit more gradual. However, there is a lot going on.

As you may know, I "watch" (really listen) to the late night shows while writing early in the morning, unless there is breaking news. I don't need to watch wall-to-wall coverage of the Chauvin trial.

This morning, it was a delight to see former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Colbert hawking his new book. That might come as a surprise to you, thinking I would prefer to see Selma Hayek or Minnie Driver. However, he's on an honesty tour, calling Bill Clinton "the best politician he's ever known," saying that Joe Biden is a "great guy," and many other comments about politicians he's worked with during his 24 years in the House, including four as Speaker. The whole interview was actually very interesting, but I've linked to a few clips.

While he gave opinions on many politicians, the money shot was his comments about Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX):

How do you really feel, Mr. Speaker Emeritus?


  • In the Chron, Dustin Gardiner looks at the five largest donors against the campaign to recall Governor Newsom, which are:
    • California Democratic Party
    • Lynda and Stewart Resnick
    • Professional Engineers in California Government
    • Kelly and Carla Kimball
    • LGBT Caucus Leadership Fund

      Check out Dustin's story for all the deets.
  • In the LAT, Mark Z. Barabak writes that the backers of the recall of Governor Newsom largely parallel those who have long called for the breakup of California.

    In the 170 years that California has been a state, there have been more than 200 attempts to break it apart.

    In the rural north, residents have long chafed at the laws coming out of Sacramento and the power and influence emanating from the state’s big cities. Far from Los Angeles and San Francisco, amid the buttes and sugar pines, there are dreams of a land called Jefferson, a 51st state formed by splitting off from California and hitching up with a chunk of southern Oregon.

    In Silicon Valley, Tim Draper, a Republican venture capitalist with more money than political success, has spent millions of dollars peddling plans to subdivide California into several mini-states he considers more governable than the present day behemoth. One proposal made the November 2018 ballot until the state Supreme Court quashed it because of doubts about the measure’s validity.

    The effort to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom is driven by the same unhappy impulse among Californians feeling outnumbered, outvoted and underrepresented. It’s the revolt of red California against the state’s blue political and cultural establishments.

  • Yesterday's actions in Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments were crazy as the committee considered bills that Newsom recall proponents saw as attacking them. SB 660 (Newman) would prohibit per-signature payment for petitions for initiatives, recalls, and referenda in favor of per-hour wages. SB 663 (Newman) would provide access to completed petitions to targets of recalls. Neither bill contains an urgency clause and thus, if signed by Governor Newsom, wouldn't take effect until January 1, 2022. That said, I don't see Newsom signing either bill before a recall election this year, which would almost certainly take place after the bill-signing period following the September 30 conclusion of the legislative year.

    CapRadio's Nicole Nixon reports on the opposition to SB 663 by recall proponents.

    A further takeaway from yesterday's hearing...

    While I believe a good system of remote testimony would be good permanently, you only need to watch yesterday's Senate Elections and Constitutional Amendments hearing, beginning with the presentation by Senator Newman of SB 660. It starts at 1:07:56 of the archived video (sorry, the system doesn't allow a link to the direct video, let alone at a particular timestamp).

    This morning, it was Senate Natural Resources and Water. Half the opponents calling in during SB 47 (Limón) were actually registering opposition to SB 467 (Wiener and Limón).

    All I could think of while watching yesterday and today has been "How would former Assembly Appropriations chair Carole Migden have handled telephone testimony?"

WILDFIRES: Yesterday, both houses of the Legislature unanimously approved SB 85, which provides $536 million for wildfire resiliency and prevention as an amendment to the 2020-21 Budget Act. As a budget amendment, the funds can be deployed after Governor Newsom signs the bill, which he is doing today in Butte County. A similar amount is expected to be approved in 2021-22 budget for a total two-year expenditure of over $1 billion.

HIGH-SPEED CHOO-CHOO: For Capitol Weekly, Will Shuck writes that California's high-speed rail officials have new cautious optimism following the announcement of President Biden's proposed infrastructure spending plan.

State rail officials are taking the glass-half-full view. Rather than lamenting the fact that high speed rail is absent from the president’s infrastructure plan, they’re pointing to supportive statements from Biden and his team, and insisting there’s time before Congress irons out a final deal to claim a share for California’s fast train.

“It’s a lot of money,” Brian Annis, the High Speed Rail Authority’s chief financial officer, said of rail’s piece of the $2.3 trillion plan. “We’re talking $80 billion with a ‘b,’ and I can’t say we know how big our slice is going to be.”

Overall, said Annis, “We’re very pleased with it.”

Unfortunately, when the president’s team laid out the pieces, California HSR’s sections appear to have been left of the box. Instead, Biden and his team are proposing $80 billion “to address Amtrak’s repair backlog; modernize the high traffic Northeast Corridor; improve existing corridors and connect new city pairs; and enhance the grant loan programs that support passenger and freight rail safety, efficiency and electrification.”

In the same summary, the White House notes “there are currently projects just waiting to be funded that will give millions more Americans reliable and fast inter-city train service.” It’s just high-speed rail isn’t mentioned among them.

WATER WOES: For CalMatters, Dan Walters looks at how the drought situation could effect Governor Newsom.

The situation is roughly where it was six years ago when then-Gov. Jerry Brown declared a water emergency and ordered severe conservation measures.

“We are in a drought unlike one we’ve seen before, and we have to take actions that we haven’t taken before,” Felicia Marcus, chairwoman of the State Water Resources Board said at the time. “We are not getting the level of effort that the situation clearly warrants.”

As the very dry 2020-21 winter drove home the reality of another drought, a group of state legislators last week sent a letter to Brown’s successor, Gavin Newsom, urging him to also declare a drought emergency.

“This is the slowest, most foreseeable train wreck imaginable,” state Sen. Andreas Borgeas, a Fresno Republican who fostered the letter, said.

Newsom, however, is clearly reluctant to declare an emergency.


“The governor’s in a very tricky situation,” Darry Sragow, a veteran California Democratic strategist, told Politico. “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.”

While recent polling indicates that most California voters are not inclined to support Newsom’s recall now, its outcome will depend on their mood a half-year from now. With COVID-19 not yet fully contained, with a sluggish economic recovery, with the looming threats of wildfires and power shortages and now with drought, Newsom will be traversing a field full of political landmines.

THERE WILL BE BLOOD: As you've likely seen in ads by industry ("Californians for Energy Independence") and the State Building and Construction Trades against SB 467 (Wiener and Limón), another war is emerging on the extraction of oil and gas through certain means in California in the new legislative session. For KQED, Ted Goldberg reports:

Legislation that would gradually phase out fracking and other extraction methods that account for most of California's petroleum production faces its first big test in Sacramento on Tuesday.

The nine-member Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee is set to vote on a proposal, Senate Bill 467, that would bar new permits for hydraulic fracturing, cyclic steaming, steam flooding and water flooding.

The legislation would begin taking effect in 2023 and also prohibit renewing existing permits for fracking and the other targeted methods, which a committee bill analysis says accounts for an estimated 80% to 95% of the state's oil production.

In its current form, the measure would ban all the targeted methods by 2035.

The bill would also ban issuance of new permits for drilling or other oil production activities within 2,500 feet of homes, schools and health care facilities.

Meanwhile, the great 2007 flick starring Daniel Day-Lewis based on 1934 gubernatorial candidate Upton Sinclair's Oil! is now on Netflix.

We have SB 467 in a hearing that starts at 9am and SB 2 (Bradford and Atkins), the policing bill I wrote about yesterday, is up in Senate Public Safety. That hearing starts at 1:30. It's going to be a long day...

LA HOMELESS: To settle a federal lawsuit, the Los Angeles City Council is nearing agreement on a plan to get those experiencing homelessness off the street and into sheltered housing. Benjamin Oreskes and Doug Smith report in the Times:

The Los Angeles City Council appears to be heading toward a settlement of a federal lawsuit by agreeing to provide new housing or shelter for thousands of homeless people, while being able to use anti-camping laws to clear anyone remaining on the streets.

The new beds would be spread across the city, based on the number of homeless people estimated to be living in each City Council district in 2020, and could require every council member to find locations for hundreds of new beds.

It’s not clear how much the city might have to spend to fund this ambitious expansion, although it’s a question council members have asked city finance officials. It’s also not clear what the balance would be between permanent housing and homeless shelters, which are designed to be temporary stops.

Spokesmen for both Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Atty. Michael Feuer declined to comment.

FROM THE DESK OF THE DEAN: The LAT's George Skelton looks back at the legacy of former Senate President Pro Tem James Mills (1927-2021), which included the battle against the plan to replace the Capitol with twin towers. Skelton joins the chorus that was a part of before his death in March opposing the plan to replace the Capitol Annex and build a visitors center and new parking garage for lawmakers.

One building Mills preserved as Senate leader was the state Capitol. In the early 1970s, there was an obscene plan with powerful supporters to replace it with a twin-towers monstrosity. Mills nixed the idea and opted instead to restore the historic old Capitol.

One of his last preservation efforts was opposing the current under-the-radar $1-billion project to replace the state Capitol annex. It needs repairs and updating but not the planned demolition that would tarnish the Capitol’s grandeur.

The photogenic steps on the Capitol’s west front would be obliterated by a visitors’ center. Roughly 100 stately old trees in Capitol Park would be uprooted so an underground parking garage could be dug. The primary goal is to provide plusher space for legislators, their staffs and the governor.

“This … involves the imminent destruction of historical state property, the senseless expenditure of $1 billion … and apparently numerous violations of state law and regulations,” Mills declared in November.

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

Probolsky Research

COVID-19: California reported an additional 52 deaths yesterday for a total of 60,123 since the pandemic began. 

-data dive: California's 7-day positivity rate is now 1.5% (-0.1%), far below the 7.1% peak amidst mass testing on December 30, and the lowest rate of the pandemic. What's particularly remarkable about this is that the number of tests has dropped to the early-November levels. In theory, when the denominator (number of tests) shrinks, the positivity rate won't go down unless the numerator (new positive cases) drops faster. Here's the visual:

COVID tests and positivity


  • vaccine doses administered in California: 22,974,654 (not the number of people vaccinated because of the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines)
  • vaccine doses delivered to California: 28,121,700
  • J&J: In the Times, Chris Megerian writes that the CDC is urging a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after incidents of blood clots following injection.

    The announcement is a severe blow to the U.S. vaccination campaign, which has counted on public faith in the rapidly developed inoculations and growing supplies in order to protect Americans from the coronavirus and bring an end to the pandemic.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has scheduled an emergency meeting for Wednesday.

    “Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” said a joint statement from Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, and Dr. Peter Marks, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “This is important, in part, to ensure that the healthcare provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.”

-variants: From the California Department of Public Health:

  • "UK strain": B.1.1.7 variants are associated with approximately 50% increased transmission, and likely with increased disease severity and risk of death. Appears to have minimal impact on the effectiveness of treatments with antibodies.
  • "South Africa strain" B.1.351 variants are associated with approximately 50% increased transmission. May have moderately decreased response to antibody treatments.
  • "Brazil strain": P.1 variants may have moderately decreased response to some antibody treatments.
  • "West Coast strain"": B.1.427 and B.1.429 are associated with approximately 20% increased transmission. There is significantly reduced efficacy of some antibody treatments.

Here are the variants of concern in California. Remember that this is just from 33,481 samples of the 3.5+ million cases in California.

Known Variants of Concern in California
As of April 7, 2021

Variant  Number of Cases Caused by Variant 
B.1.1.7    980
B.1.351    14
P.1    37
B.1.427   3,999
B.1.429   8,430

You can view a US map by strain prevalence on the CDC site.

-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.

Here's where the counties stand after today's changes bolded and italicized.

  • 1 county in the Purple (widespread) Tier: Merced.
  • 21 counties in the Red (substantial) Tier: Amador, Calaveras, Del Norte, Fresno, Glenn, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Lake, Madera, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Shasta, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, and Yuba.
  • 33 counties in Orange (moderate) Tier: Alameda, Butte, Colusa, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Humboldt, Imperial, KernLake, Lassen, Marin, Napa, Mariposa, Mendocino, Modoc, Monterey, Orange, Plumas, Riverside, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Siskiyou, Sonoma, Trinity, Tulare, Tuolumne, Ventura, and Yolo.
  • 3 counties in Yellow (minimal) Tier: Alpine, Lassen, and Sierra.

Tier table

-school daze: Yesterday, students in many school districts returned to in-person instruction for the first time in more than a year. Indeed, my Facebook feed went from pictures of arms with band aids on them to pictures of parents happily dropping kids off at school or of their kids walking to school. Certainly, after that, mom went directly to the nearest day spa and I don't blame them.

Here are some headlines:

  • LA Unified: The state's largest school district is expected to release it's gradual reopening plan today. Howard Blume reports for the Times:

    The Los Angeles school district is set to unfold a gradual and partial reopening plan on Tuesday, one that was heavily influenced by teachers union demands that led to a delayed start date and limited live instructional time — and also by strict safety imperatives shared by both the district and union.

    L.A. schools Supt. Austin Beutner has hailed the reopening as a nation-leading model for school safety that is sensitive to families in low-income communities hardest hit by illness and death during the pandemic. But the approach has also generated criticism from those who say the quantity and quality of instruction for 465,000 students have been sacrificed this year as a result of union concerns.

    The key safety provisions — including mandatory coronavirus testing for students and staff as well as six-foot distancing between desks — go beyond what health authorities require. The distancing policy has resulted in a half-time on-campus classroom schedule. The timing of reopening — about two months after elementary campuses were eligible to reopen — was set to allow teachers and other district staff to achieve maximum vaccine immunity.

-religious services: After being slapped down repeatedly by the Supreme Court of the United States, yesterday California lifted capacity restrictions on, and location of, places of worship. In the Chron, Nora Mishanec writes:

“In response to recent judicial rulings, effective immediately, location and capacity limits on places of worship are not mandatory but are strongly recommended,” according to the updated guidance posted on the state’s coronavirus website late Monday afternoon.

The guidance recommends that churches, mosques, temples and other religious communities located in orange tier counties like San Francisco and Alameda limit indoor services to 50% capacity with good ventilation and screening for all parishioners.

The move follows months of discord between public health officials and the Catholic church, which called the state’s policies discriminatory against those who celebrate communion. The archdioceses of San Francisco and San Jose have repeatedly criticized the state for applying stricter standards to places of worship than to stores and businesses.

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco updated his guidance to churches on Monday to reflect the change, instructing the 90 churches within his jurisdiction that they may eschew caps on attendance so long as worshipers continue to observe a six foot distance between households, his spokeswoman Janice Potts told The Chronicle.

“It is up to the pastor to decide how many people are in his church, because we have some very large churches,” Potts said.

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Senator Josh Becker, Tristan Brown, Congressman Jim Costa, and Michael Herald!

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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]

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These are exciting opportunities for the right person who wants to build their own teams, establish a foundation for a rapidly growing organization with national political ambitions and wants to make a significant impact in ending poverty as we know it. Please review the job descriptions, with salary ranges, at Careers at GSO.


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