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- KQED's Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos): Law Enforcement Action Partnership executive director Diane Goldstein on the Role of State Legislatures in Police Violence (2021-04-15)
- 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)
- Then There's California (Senate Democratic Caucus): Senator Monique Limón (2021-04-06)
- 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)
- 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 criminal defense investigator Paul Kangas (D)
- GOV: added correctional officer Chauncey Killens (R)
- AD49 (Monterey Park-Alhambra): added San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District Board member Thomas Wong (D) - if Chau does not run for reelection.
- UCLA Custodians, Cooks, Groundskeepers and Nurse Assistants Supporting Isaac Bryan for Assembly 2021 (new IE committee) reports $203,352 from American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 3299
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.
- Stop the Steal California, Opposing the Recall of Gavin Newsom, the committee led by former Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, was opened yesterday but hasn't reported any money yet.
The Nooner for Friday, April 16, 2021, presented by SYASL Partners
¡Feliz viernes! We (and by we, I'm also referring to me and my shoulder) made it! It's going to be a toasty weekend here in Sacramento, although the nights will remain cool. On to the gnus...
DO YOU RECALL? For Capitol Weekly, James Aranguren looks at the fundraising and spending on both sides of the effort to recall Governor Newsom.
An effort to recall Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom has not even reached the ballot, but foes and backers of the governor already have raised or spent about $7.5 million, with the likelihood of much, much more to come.
Newsom’s committee fighting the recall has raised a healthy $3,1 million, while the two main fundraising arms of the recall effort, the California Patriot Coalition (CPC) and Rescue California (RC) have raised $2.3 million and $2.1 million, respectively, according to financial disclosure documents on file with the state’s elections officer.
The fundraising is a work in progress but all but certain to expand exponentially if, as expected, the effort makes the ballot and an election is held later this year. Apart from the recall, Newsom is up for reelection anyway in 2022.
VOTE-BY-MAIL: Yesterday, Assembly Elections approved AB 37 (Berman, Cervantes, and Lorena Gonzalez) to provide that vote-by-mail ballots be mailed to all registered voters in all elections. Currently, those provisions applied last November and through 2021 because of the pandemic. The bill further extends the period of time after an election in which a ballot postmarked by Election Day can be received and counted from three to seven days. Also, it would allow elections officials to begin processing ballots, but not release results, 29 days before an election.
The vote was 6-1, with Democrats and independent Chad Mayes (I-Rancho Mirage) voting in favor, and lone Republican on the committee Kelly Seyarto (R-Murrieta) voting against.
KQED's Guy Marzorati reports on the effort behind the bill.
ELECTION DAY HOLIDAY? Also in Assembly Elections yesterday, the committee approved AB 53 (Low) to make November general elections a state holiday, requiring schools, community colleges, California State University campuses and requesting University of California campuses to close. State employees collectively bargain their holiday schedule.
The bill was approved 4-1-1, with Democrats voting for it, Seyarto voting against it and Mayes not voting.
I'll be the unpopular kid. Taken in conjunction with AB 37's provisions to make voting by mail permanent, why would we make Election Day a holiday? After all, in the November 2020 general election, 86.72% of voters cast a vote-by-mail ballot, which would include mailed ballots and those dropped off in boxes or at Vote Centers. Under current law, employers are required to give employees up to two hours off to vote. In November 2018, when only a handful of counties mailed a ballot to every registered voters, 65.31% cast a vote-by-mail ballot.
Further, Vote Centers are open over the weekend preceding Election Day. They are de facto additional Election Days.
People across the political spectrum are complaining about "learning loss" because of the pandemic. There's currently a fight in Los Angeles Unified over whether to add 6 days of in-person instruction to the current school year to make up for lost learning. Many Sacramento City Unified parents are outraged over a planned two-day strike by classified staff and teachers next Thursday and Friday.
Meanwhile, we're considering a bill to close schools on a Tuesday when 86.72% of voters have already voted. Even if AB 37 is not approved sending ballots to every voter, a clear majority is routinely voting by mail.
Scratching my head.
PARTISANS: The Chron's Dustin Gardiner and Nami Sumida look at where and why the political parties are growing in California.
For the first time in nearly two decades, the Republican Party grew in California last year. At the same time, Democrats expanded their dominance as the largest party in the state.
Political experts say the growth of both parties — with a simultaneous decline in the number of independents — is the result of growing polarization in the state’s electorate and a belief on both sides of the divide that opposing party poses an existential threat.
Democratic and Republican consultants and activists agree on one thing — the dividing wedge that drove many voters to align red or blue was former President Donald Trump.
“He forced voters to pick a lane — ‘Either you’re with me or you’re against me,’ ” said Robin Swanson, a Democratic strategist in Sacramento. “This is the result of partisan rhetoric. It’s not saying that voters want more of it.”
The surge in partisan registration was not so much a reflection of enthusiastic support for Republican or Democratic leaders, political observers said, as it was driven by fear.
Michael Madrid, a veteran GOP consultant who opposed Trump, called the phenomenon “negative partisanship” — the notion that voters pick a party primarily based on what they see as the threat of the other party.
“People are taking sides because the parties are increasingly defined by the extremes. And I mean, the extremes,” Madrid said. “There is a cultural war going on, and it’s not a cold war.”
Statewide, 24.1% of voters are now registered Republicans, an increase of 0.6 percentage points from two years ago. Democrats make up 46.2%, a jump of three percentage points. Independents make up 23.7%, a drop of nearly five percentage points.
The article has lots of great graphs showing where the biggest changes have occurred.
POLICING: PPIC is out with a blog post today that looks at perceptions on police treatment by race, and it will come as no surprise. And, the polling is from last month...
In the March PPIC Statewide Survey, we found that a majority (54%) of California adults say police treat all racial and ethnic minorities fairly “almost always” (25%) or “most of the time” (29%). The survey was fielded from March 14–23, prior to the start of trial of Derek Chauvin and the shooting of Daunte Wright. In September 2020, after a summer of nationwide protests against the death of George Floyd, similar shares responded that all groups received fair treatment either almost always (24%) or most of the time (30%). However, the shares holding this view have declined from both February 2020 and May 2019 (30% almost always, 31% most of the time in both surveys).
DROUGHT: In The Bee, Sophia Bollag and Dale Kasler look at how the recall may be keeping Governor Newsom from declaring a drought while the conditions would likely justify it in normal times.
Gov. Gavin Newsom stood on a boat ramp at Lake Oroville on Tuesday — a boat ramp that couldn’t reach the water because the reservoir was nearly 60% empty — and acknowledged what many Californians already know.
“We’re in the second year of these drought conditions,” he said.
But Newsom, who was in Oroville to sign a bill appropriating $536 million in wildfire-prevention funds, said he isn’t ready to declare an official drought emergency, as his predecessor did six years ago. Instead, he promised he can manage the situation without resorting to an emergency declaration, which could help his administration clamp down on water use.
“We are on top of this; we are mindful of the urgency,” he said.
A drought declaration could be politically fraught for Newsom, who faces a likely recall election later this year. By imposing strict rules on consumption, he could anger pandemic-weary voters, who might bristle if told to scale back on watering their lawns — something that happened during the last drought emergency.
“The recall is on his mind with anything he does,” said Mindy Romero, director of the Center for Inclusive Democracy at the University of Southern California. “I’m not saying it will impact what he does about a drought, but I think it impacts how he talks about the drought.”
COVID-19, more issues, cakeday, and classifieds after the jump...
COVID-19: California reported an additional 86 deaths yesterday for a total of 60,462 since the pandemic began.
-data dive: California's 7-day positivity rate is now 1.7%, far below the 7.1% peak amidst mass testing on December 30, although up 0.2% from the low earlier this week.
- vaccine doses administered in California: 24,163,906 (not the number of people vaccinated because of the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines)
- vaccine doses delivered to California: 30,450,640
- Hiccups: As the state expands eligibility to all residents aged 16 and over, CapRadio's Sammy Caiola reports on the challenges faced by some counties with supply and scheduling.
Whether you can actually get an appointment after becoming eligible depends heavily on where you live. California counties are all at different stages in their vaccination roll-outs, based on their population size and how much vaccine they received from the state. You can find more information on scheduling a vaccine appointment in California here.
-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 36,639 samples of the 3.6+ million cases in California.
Known Variants of Concern in California
As of April 14, 2021
||Number of Cases Caused by Variant
You can view a US map by strain prevalence on the CDC site. Note that, like the numbers above, this map is case numbers of a sample, and note a case rate. Obviously, California will have higher counts, but that doesn't translate into a higher case rate of the 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.
Here's where the counties stand after today's changes bolded and italicized.
- No county in the Purple (widespread) Tier.
- 21 counties in the Red (substantial) Tier (17.0% of state population): Amador, Calaveras, Del Norte, Fresno, Glenn, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Lake, Madera, Merced, 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.
- Back to business? In the LAT, Roger Vincent writes that a survey in 10 large cities found that only about 1 in 4 employees have returned to on-site work and some may work remotely permanently.
Still, employers and landlords are betting that workers will want to return as vaccinations increase and virus fears recede, even though demand to rent space in Los Angeles office buildings continues to shrink.
“By the stats, it’s not that encouraging,” said broker Todd Doney of real estate services company CBRE. “We certainly have work ahead of us to get through this.... But when the governor announced no more COVID restrictions on June 15, that’s light at the end of the tunnel for me.”
An average of 24% of employees in 10 major U.S. cities were back to the office as of April 7, down nearly a full percentage point from the week before, according to Kastle Systems, which provides keycard entry systems used by many companies and tracks patterns of workers’ card swipes.
In Los Angeles, the average at Kastle’s 148 buildings was 22.1%. Like the national average, it took a significant dip during the winter COVID surge but had been rising again before the latest virus resurgence. Although beneath the U.S. average, L.A.'s offices were more full than five other cities tracked by Kastle, including San Jose at 16.7% and San Francisco at 13.4%.
As employees were trickling back to some offices, other workplaces were turning off the lights and turning over the keys.
Overall non-rented office space in Los Angeles County reached 17.2% in the first quarter, the highest vacancy level since early 2012, CBRE reported. That reflected a net loss of 1.6 million square feet of leased space, nearly matching the worst quarterly loss during the Great Recession.
- Bay Area: The Chron's Ryan Kost looks at the cautious return of residents to the opening economy.
During the past couple months, bit by bit, the Bay Area has been returning, not to “normal” exactly, but to something that feels closer to life before the pandemic. Every few weeks, this county or that county moves up the state’s tiered system — purple to red to orange. This Thursday San Francisco took a half step — a later curfew, indoor events, larger gatherings — as vaccinations continued apace and health officials monitored viral trends.
And in the context of all those bureaucratic specifics, we make a cautious return to the world. Things that might have felt inconsequential not long ago mean an awful lot today.
- Outlook: In yesterday's daily update, the California Department of Public Health has a slide presentation of the outlook for the 2021-22 school year that also includes a history of what has happened with California's public schools between March 2020 and now.
- Sacramento: In The Bee, Sawsan Morrar reports that the classified staff union at Sacramento City Unified has called a strike for next Thursday and Friday and that the teachers union has planned a sympathy strike.
The union representing hundreds of workers in the Sacramento City Unified School District announced a two-day strike, after the union and district officials could not agree on child care, stipends and physical distancing guidelines. The Sacramento City Teachers Association pledged their support to join with a sympathy strike.
More than 90% of the 1,900 SEIU 1021 members voted to reject the district’s proposal on how to safely return to campus, and set a date to strike on April 22 and April 23.
The strike date falls on the the first day middle and high school students are returning to their campuses for the first time in more than a year. About 58% students in the district have returned or are returning to in-person instruction.
The union says they are striking because of an unfair labor practice, which they said took place when the district called an impasse.
“When you bargain, it’s a give and take situation, and we were still in the process of doing that,” said SEIU 2012 President Karla Faucett.
- Fremont: Parents in the East Bay city of Fremont have hired a law firm to threaten the school district with a law suit if it doesn't reopen for in-person instruction this school year, reports Joseph Geha for the MercNews.
A group of frustrated parents is threatening to sue Fremont’s school district if officials don’t meet their demand to reopen schools for in-person learning by April 26.
The demand letter, sent by a law firm the parents hired, was delivered to the district on Wednesday — two weeks after Fremont Unified School District Superintendent CJ Cammack announced schools would remain in distance learning for the rest of the school year after the district was unable to strike a deal with the teachers union for reopening plans.
The district “has no rational or legal excuse to keep its students in distance learning, where they are lagging behind academically and suffering emotionally,” the letter from attorney Lee Andelin said.
Andelin, of the Southern California-based law firm Aannestad, Andelin & Corn, was hired by a group of parents calling themselves Fremont Parents for Reopening, who started a nonprofit to raise money to cover the legal fees, and have recently launched a website to present their case.
More issues, cakedays, and classifieds after the jump...
GUNS: In The Bee, Ryan Sabalow and Hannah Wiley look at the case of a mass shooter in Orange County last month who should have been on the state's list of persons prohibited from buying guns and ammunition, but was not.
The man accused of killing four people, including a 9-year-old boy, at a Southern California business late last month should have been on a state list that bars dangerous people from owning and buying guns and ammunition.
Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez had a 2015 battery conviction that by state law should have barred him for 10 years from possessing or buying guns or ammo at retailers conducting background checks.
It’s unclear why Gonzalez, 44, wasn’t blacklisted or where and how he acquired the Glock semi-automatic handgun and ammunition used in the March 31 shooting in the city of Orange.
The shooting raises concerns over the state’s ability to enforce strict gun laws, and whether the California Department of Justice’s so-called “prohibited persons” system is effectively working to keep and, if necessary, seize firearms from risky people.
Two weeks after the mass shooting, police say Gonzalez wasn’t listed as a “prohibited person,” and they’re not yet sure how he got his Glock.
PG&E: PG&E will be under additional scrutiny by the California Public Utilities Commission, writes J.D. Morris in the Chron.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has been forced to submit to increased regulatory scrutiny because of its failure to trim trees adequately around its power lines most at risk of starting wildfires.
The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday ordered PG&E to create a plan detailing how the utility will ensure that its most dangerous electric circuits are prioritized for vegetation management work this year. It’s a response to an earlier commission audit showing that less than 5% of PG&E’s enhanced tree trimming occurred on the company’s 20 highest-risk power lines in 2020, based on the company’s own rankings.
WILDFIRES: The Bee's Dale Kasler reports on the sluggish pace of compensation to wildfire victims from PG&E:
Thousands of California victims of wildfires linked to PG&E Corp. have received payments totaling $141.3 million from the utility’s bankruptcy — but are being warned that the payout process is proceeding slowly.
In a letter to victims filed this week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, the Fire Victim Trust said this week that it has sent money to 7,547 victims of the 2018 Camp Fire and other wildfires that drove PG&E into bankruptcy in 2019. That represents a little more than 10% of the victims of the fires, which date to 2015.
About two-thirds of the money disbursed so far has been the “preliminary payments” geared toward victims who are considered “vulnerable and struggling because of the fires and impacted even more by the COVID-19 crisis,” the fund’s trustee John Trotter said in his letter. Those payments are capped at $25,000.
SACRAMENTO HOMELESS: CapRadio reports that motels secured by Sacramento County to house those experiencing homelessness may soon be no longer used.
Sacramento County plans to close three motels this spring that have sheltered hundreds of formerly homeless residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to advocates who work with the county on homeless issues.
The plans to close the motels, which are part of the state’s relatively successful Project Roomkey, are sparking concern that many of those who benefitted will end up back on the street.
“It’s going to be tragic,” said Bob Erlenbusch, executive director of the Sacramento Regional Coalition To End Homelessness. “We’re trying to get a handle on why the county is doing this.”
Janna Haynes, a county spokesperson, said officials were not prepared this week to discuss the plans publicly.
Cindy Cavanaugh, the county’s director of homeless initiatives, wrote in an email obtained this week by CapRadio that a regional homelessness response team “is presently working hard to secure stable exits for guests.”
She added that the capacity at the motels “is about 372 rooms” and that more details would be shared in coming days.
CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Michelle Castro, Bill Lackamacher, Megan Maddox, Anthony Pico, Mike Zimmerman!
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