Around The Capitol

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RECENT PODS:

  • 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)

CLASSIFIEDS BELOW:

  • 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

DISTRICT UPDATES:

  • GOV: added entertainer Angelyne (NPP)
  • AD76 (North San Diego Coast): added mental health counselor Melanie Burkholder (R) - challenge to Boerner Horvath (D)

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.

  • Caregivers and Californians United Against the Recall of Governor Newsom, sponsored by the National United Healthcare Workers reports receiving $10,000 from California Works : Senator Toni Atkins Ballot Measure Committee

The Nooner for Wednesday, April 14, 2021, presented by SYASL Partners

Happy humpday! It's another crazy day with lengthy committee hearings, albeit limited in number because of social distancing and cleaning requirements.

Likely similar to many folks, this is what my desktop looked like as of 9:30:

Desktop

DO YOU RECALL? In the Chron, Joe Garofoli writes that former Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata is ready to try a Hail Mary pass to keep the recall off the ballot by persuading those who signed petitions to withdraw their signatures.

But it’s no easy process. Starting in a couple of weeks, people who signed petitions will have 30 business days to let their local election officials know they’d like to remove their names. The challenge for Perata & Co. is finding signers who might be waffling. State law forbids anyone but election officials from knowing signers’ names or identifying details.

That means there’s a lot of guessing involved.

“We’re trying to figure out if we can create, with enough extraneous information, a demographic model that we can appeal to,” said Perata, whose team is testing some of its voter targeting ideas in the Bay Area.

If they find people willing to take back their endorsement, Perata’s group will have to persuade them to walk a postage-paid card stating their intention to a mailbox.

“Even that is a tall order,” Perata conceded.

This all sounds awfully experimental. And there’s not a lot of time to figure it out.

“Oh, absolutely,” Perata said. “It is an experiment.”

The problem. They don't have the names and addresses of those who signed the petitions and current law doesn't provide access to that information.

Perata would like [official recall proponent Orrin] Heatlie to make it easy on him, demanding in a letter sent this week that he turn over the petitions or face unspecified “legal action.” Perata shouldn’t wait by his mailbox for a response. Chalk that up as a long-shot campaign’s longest shot.

...

“We’re going to ask people, ‘Has life changed enough from the time they signed it until today?’” Perata said.

It is a provocative question to ask people who signed a recall petition. If Perata can find them.

UNDER THE DOME: Yesterday was a busy one in policy committees, with condensed committee hearings amidst limited meeting space to maintain social distancing and allow time for cleaning between meetings. Here are a few of the bills that I was keenly watching.

  • SB 2 (Bradford and Atkins): The bill on policing reform, including limiting qualified immunity and providing a statewide system of tracking why peace officers are terminated, passed Senate Public Safety Committee 4-0, with Ochoa Bogh not voting. First-term senator Ochoa Bogh is the lone Republican on the committee. 

    This doesn't mean that it will be smooth-sailing for the bill through the Democrat-dominated Legislature. After all, a similar bill by Senator Bradford died last year when it wasn't brought up on the Assembly Floor on the final night of session.
  • SB 35 (Umberg): A bill to revise several prohibitions making electioneering activities illegal was approved by Senate Public Safety Committee on a 4-0-1 vote, with Kamlager not voting.

    While much of the discussion was about proposed changes to the distance limitations from promoting a candidate, including wearing paraphernalia, the most politically significant issue from my perspective is a provision to make it clear that unofficial yet appearing official ballot dropoff boxes arre illegal. This was a significant issue in parts of Southern California in the 2020 election with some GOP staffers placing such boxes and with a campaign office billed as a "polling place.
  • SB 467 (Wiener and Limón): The bill that Natural Resources Committee chair John Laird billed as the hearing's "main event," which would phase out oil and gas production in California, failed on a vote of 4-3-2 amidst opposition from a coalition of industry and labor. Three Democrats didn't vote for the bill (Eggman voting no; Hertzberg and Hueso not voting).

    While many have called the bill yet another "fracking ban," both proponents and opponents of the bill agreed that it actually would ban nearly all of the high-production techniques left in California. 

This morning, I was particularly interested in one bill.

  • AB 1371 (Friedman, Gonzalez, and Ting): This bill takes aim at the non-recyclable plastic and expanded polystyrene packaging that large online retailers use and requires specified recycling. The bill is far too complicated for me to try to explain in this space, but you can guess the fight. You can read the committee analysis here.

Of course, I've been perplexed particularly over the last year as to what is recyclable and what is not. For example, those "air pillows" that arrive in boxes may have an "arrow circle" on it, that doesn't mean it can go in the blue bin.

The bill is on call with a 4-3 vote and will be approved and sent to Judiciary.

It's certainly not the only "plastics" bill we'll see this year. In fact, the next bill up was AB 478 (Ting), to require "thermoform plastic containers" think clamshell plastic food containers like those carrying berries and prewashed salad greens to have a specified amount of recycled content. Or, as Assemblymember Ting pointed out, those red Solo ("beer pong") cups. Ergo, super-donor and major lobbying spender Dart Container Corporation, the maker of Solo cups (and lots of food containers we have encountered over the last year), will be lobbying behind the scenes to "Kill Bill."

FUTURE RECALLS: For CalMatters, Dan Walters looks at the bills that would affect future efforts to recall public officials.

Walters writes about:

It’s debatable whether these measures would, as Newman and Allen contend, improve the recall and other forms of direct democracy. They certainly would make them more cumbersome and expensive and therefore less likely to succeed.

POLICING: The LAT's John Myers looks at the policing bills approved by committees yesterday.

An array of civil rights and police reform groups applauded passage of the bills by public safety committees in the state Senate and Assembly. Two other closely watched bills also were approved by the committees dominated by Democrats: one to offer access to California’s victims’ compensation fund for injuries sustained during law enforcement encounters and another to train officers to intervene if a colleague is using excessive force.

None of the bills, if ultimately passed by both houses and signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, would become law until next year. Some include provisions that wouldn’t take effect until 2023.

The most high-profile proposal, Senate Bill 2, would empower the state Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training to decertify peace officers who engaged in “serious misconduct,” a term to be defined by future regulation. The commission would also take action on decisions issued by a new nine-member citizen panel, only two members of which would be required to have a law enforcement background.

...

Last year’s law to ban the use of chokeholds by law enforcement would be expanded to include any restraint or transport of suspects that involves a high risk of “positional asphyxia,” which limits breathing, under Assembly Bill 490, approved Tuesday by the Assembly Public Safety Committee.

Assemblyman Mike Gipson (D-Carson) said the broad limit on restraint procedures was removed from last year’s chokehold ban, though he cited several cases in which subjects died during confinement by law enforcement officers. Testifying in support of Gipson’s bill was Robert Collins, the stepfather of Angelo Quinto, a 30-year-old Northern California man who died in December after police responded to what his family said was an episode of paranoia.

LAW AND DISORDER: Also for CalMatters, Laurel Rosenhall writes up the outstanding fines owed by California politicians and the lack of enforcement actions.

California’s secretary of state’s office has failed to collect $2 million in fines owed by politicians, lobbyists and campaign donors who the office says filed disclosure reports late, a CalMatters analysis shows. It’s allowed some of the largest fines to languish for many years with no consequences to those who are supposed to pay up. 

The debts are owed by a range of political players, according to a list published on the secretary of state’s website that details outstanding fines as of April 1. It shows fines owed by 26 state lawmakers and 21 superior court judges, as well as former legislators, losing candidates, ballot measure campaigns, Democratic and Republican clubs and corporate and labor-backed political action committees.

Some of the fines are very small. About 300 of them are less than $100, reflecting paperwork filed a few days late — a routine violation of campaign finance law that’s the political equivalent of a parking ticket. 

But 45 of the fines are more than $10,000, and some are for violations more than a decade ago — raising questions about whether California is effectively enforcing its campaign finance law that is meant to promote transparency and prevent corruption.

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

Probolsky Research

COVID-19: California reported an additional 62 deaths yesterday for a total of 60,195 since the pandemic began. 

-data dive: California's 7-day positivity rate is now 1.5%, 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.

 -vaccines:

  • vaccine doses administered in California: 23,243,392 (not the number of people vaccinated because of the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines)
  • vaccine doses delivered to California: 28,799,070
  • Availability: Governor Newsom said yesterday that the pause in use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not expected to slow the state's goals of vaccinations and the state plans to allocate Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for those signed up for a J&J shot, reports Victoria Colliver for Politico 
    “Our medium and long-term goals are not impacted because of our abundance of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines,” Newsom said during a press briefing Tuesday in Butte County, noting that J&J doses account for about 4 percent of the state’s supply.

-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.

How far did Sacramento County miss being on the one-week watch for a move to orange? The new case rate per 100,000 residents was 7.8. It needs to get below 6 per 100k. Sac County is meeting the positivity rate required for orange with 3.3%. For orange, it needs to be between 2-4.9%.

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

  • 1 county in the Purple (widespread) Tier (0.7% of state population): Merced.
  • 21 counties in the Red (substantial) Tier (16.3% of state population): 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 (82.9% of state population): Alameda, Butte, Colusa, Contra Costa, El Dorado, Humboldt, Imperial, Kern, Lake, Los Angeles, 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 (0.1% of state population): Alpine, Lassen, and Sierra.

Tiers statewide map

-school daze:

  • Sacramento City Unified: Classified staff at Sac City Unified are at an impasse with the district and are threatening a strike although no vote has been taken. Sawsan Morrar reports for The Bee:

    A union representing hundreds of workers in the Sacramento City Unified School District has voted to reject the district’s proposal on how to return safely to campuses – setting up a potential vote on a strike.

    Just over 90% of the 1,900 SEIU 1021 members voted to reject the proposal, allowing the team to call for a strike if they believe schools are not safely reopening.

    The union, which represents custodians, instructional aides, bus drivers, campus security and food service workers, called on the district to provide child care, N95 masks, “consistent social distancing standards,” and protective barriers where social distancing is not possible.

    ...

    On April 5, the district declared an impasse in negotiations with SEIU 1021 through the Public Employment Relations Board, saying it was unable to meet the demands set forth by the labor unit, which included, in part, a $1,500 one-time stipend for employees with children ages 3 to 14 who could not bring their child to work. SEIU also asked that employees with children under the age of 3 be able to work remotely, and be given a stipend for employees who have been working remotely.

    PERB granted the district’s request and moved both parties into mediation.

  • Los Angeles Unified: The LAT's Blume, Newberry, and Gomez look at the return of the youngest schoolchildren in the state's largest school district. 
    Heliotrope, in the city of Maywood, was among 61 elementary and 11 early-education campuses in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest school system, that opened Tuesday for the first time in more than a year, the inaugural wave for some 1,400 schools that will reopen by the end of the month. The youngest students returned Tuesday; other grades will follow as the week progresses.

    Students seemed generally elated — and parents tempered their concerns with a sense of relief as they witnessed school staff follow detailed safety protocols. A few schools are scrambling with the problems of success — so many students are returning that the promised free child care is a challenge. But at other campuses, most students aren’t coming back yet — a reminder that many parents continue to worry over their safety.

    At Heliotrope, Dora Barraza’s kindergarten class had 13 students. But at Noble Avenue Elementary School in North Hills, only one student appeared for the transitional kindergarten class of Rogelio Lopez, who has taught at the school for 26 years

    .
    ...

    Districtwide, about 40% of elementary students are set to return. The numbers are much lower for students in middle and high schools, where parents appear to be less satisfied with the return-to-campus format. Students returning to secondary schools will be assigned to one supervised classroom all day, where they will take their courses online.

    At Heliotrope, about 1 in 3 students are expected to return initially.

BAY AREA SEA-LEVEL RISE: In the Chron, Tara Duggan reports on a strategy some experts are recommending to insulate areas surrounding the San Francisco Bay from an expected rise in sea levels -- redistributing the mud at the bottom of the Bay.

That’s the finding of a new report from San Francisco Estuary Institute that tries to address a two-part problem related to the looming threat of sea level rise: the lack of natural sediment coming into the bay and the need to reinforce its shorelines to protect the region from rising seas.

There’s a fairly straightforward solution, the nonprofit research organization proposes: Take the sediment that’s dredged from the bay’s shipping channels and barged out to sea or to deep parts of the bay — 2½ to 3 million cubic yards of mud a year — and use it to restore wetlands on the perimeter. The estimated cost is $25 million to $35 million a year, which the authors say is far less expensive than building seawalls or making emergency fixes to flooded highways and airports.

...

Sea level is expected to rise by at least 1 foot by 2050, according to several models, though storms and surges could cause it to go higher. The California Ocean Protection Council recommends coastal communities make their shorelines sufficiently resilient to handle 3½ feet of sea level rise by 2050 and predicts the California coast could face sea level rise of 7.6 feet by 2100.

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Marcella Cortez, John Ferrera, Chris Smith, and Congressman David Valadao!

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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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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, Online.McGeorge.edu, or contact us at graduatelaw@pacific.edu.

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