Around The Capitol

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RECENT PODS:

  • California State of Mind (Nigel Duara @ CalMatters): Former Stockton mayor Michael Tubbs on the expansion of universal basic income (2021-6-09)
  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Governor Newsom’s Executive Secretary, (aka chief of staff) Jim Deboo. (2021-06-07)
  • The Times Podcast (Gustavo Arellano @ LAT): Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) (2021-06-07)
  • Then There's California (Senate Democratic Caucus): Senate Leader Toni G. Atkins, and a 'Joyful' Pride (2021-06-04)
  • SacTown Talks (Jarhett Blonien): Senator Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) (2021-06-04)

CLASSIFIEDS BELOW:

  • Capitol Seminars’ Invaluable Lobbying 101 Course Offered Via Zoom (July 9)
  • McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific - MPA/MPP
  • McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific - Masters of Science in Law

MONEY MATTERS:

  • AD18 (Alameda-San Leandro-West Oakland): African American Voter Registration Education and Participation Project reports spending $8,600 for billboard advertisement to support Mia Bonta (D)

RECALL WATCH:

  • Stop the Republican Recall of Governor Newsom reports receiving:
    • $200,000 from Laurene Powell Jobs (President, Emerson Collective) - widow of Steve Jobs
    • $100,000 from Eric Schmidt (Manager, Hillspire, LLC) - former Google CEO

The Nooner for Wednesday, June 9, 2021, presented by SYASL Partners

¡Feliz miercoles! Another great night of sleep, a non-sore shoulder, and ready to tackle the day. The sleep must be tied to that amazing come-from-behind win by the Giants last night. Actually, it's most likely the cooler overnight weather.

There are five bill hearings today and, like yesterday, they are hearing mostly low-hanging fruit. Evidence of that was the 9am Senate Education hearing, in which 8 of the 11 bills on the agenda were quickly passed on consent. One that testimony was taken on is AB 39 (Chau), which authorizes a joint University of California and a Chinese University to establish a climate change insitute. The lead speaker in support was a resident of Colusa County who you might remember -- Edmund G. Brown Jr.

I was up at 5 in time to watch President Joe Biden at Joint Base Andrews landing on Marine One to transfer to Air Force One to head to Europe for meetings of the G7 and NATO leaders, as well as a summit with Vladimir Putin.

Of course, the highlight of the morning was when Biden walked over to the press gaggle and was attacked by a cicada. That's the 2021 version of the fly landing on VP Pence's head during the 2020 debate. Meanwhile, in Sacramento, we're chasing elusive flies around the house with a magazine. Damn, I opened and shut the door in a jiffy, but one still got in.

I don't like to kill most insects such as spiders and often try to relocate them outside.

Golden Chain Prayer

We are a link in Amida's golden chain of love that stretches around the world, we will keep our link bright and strong.

We will be kind and gentle to every living thing and protect all who are weaker than ourselves.

We will think pure and beautiful thoughts, say pure and beautiful words, and do pure and beautiful deeds.

May every link in Amida's chain of love be bright and strong, and may we all attain perfect peace.

- Buddha

The original version had an asterisk after "every living thing" with a footnote saying "except for houseflies that land on your computer screen."

DO YOU RECALL?

  • Faulconer IE committee: Yesterday, a new independent expenditure committee was opened to support former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer in the recall election. The committee, which hasn't received any money yet, is named "Fund for a Better California, Primarily Formed to Support Kevin Faulconer for Governor 2022 with Major Funding by Gerald Marcil and Brawley El Centro Group, LLC."

    Gerald Marcil is a real estate broker, major landlord, and frequent contributor to state and federal candidates and organizations. The IE committee will help Faulconer keep up with the wealthier developer John Cox and Caitlyn Jenner.
  • Recall and policy: The Bee's Sophia Bollag looks into allegations by opponents of Governor Newsom that his actions are driven by the recall threat.

    Standing in front of a sparkling gold curtain and a colorful game show prize wheel, Gov. Gavin Newsom cracked jokes and grinned last week as he announced the winners of the state’s vaccine lottery.

    He held up the winning numbers theatrically, appearing to relish the opportunity to hand out the $50,000 prizes. In the room, he drew laughs from an easy crowd of administration staff.

    Online, some were skeptical.

    “Catch @GavinNewsom on ‘Wheel of Newsom’s Misfortune,’ where he tries to distract Californians from his looming recall by creating a new game show,” California Republican Chairwoman Jessica Patterson wrote on Twitter.

    The idea that Newsom’s actions are motivated by the upcoming recall election is a common refrain among the Democratic governor’s critics. From Newsom’s proposed rebate checks for taxpayers to his decision to reopen the state June 15, at every turn they claim credit for his policies and press conferences, insisting he wouldn’t take those steps without a recall election on the horizon.Newsom argues that’s not true. On Friday, he said he would do all the same things even if he weren’t facing a recall.

    If the recall election fails as polls indicate, the same critics will claim credit for Newsom's actions in 2021. Meanwhile, the article doesn't mention the new CCPOA contract, but it is covered by Bollag's colleague Wes Venteicher:

    California state correctional officers will receive nearly $5,000 in pandemic bonuses plus extra paid time off in a new contract agreement with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration.

    The California Correctional Peace Officers Association agreement would restore a 3% raise for officers that was suspended last year, when Newsom and the Legislature cut state workers’ pay in anticipation of a budget deficit.

    It also would give officers an additional 2.58% raise in fiscal year 2021, which starts July 1, and another 2.5% raise in 2022, according to a summary of the agreement obtained by The Sacramento Bee. The agreement runs through June 2023.

    The agreement provides two separate nonpensionable bonuses of $2,496 in 2021 and in 2022, identified as contributions to pandemic-related health and wellness costs.

    It also gives officers eight hours of leave per month for one year starting in August, identified as wellness relief time off, that they must use by the end of July 2022.

  • Kiley: For the AP, Adam Beam and Kathleen Ronayne look at the possible candidacy of Assemblymember Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) in the recall election.

    With Kiley’s potential entry into the race, it signals that many Republicans remain underwhelmed with the field so far, which includes businessman John Cox, who Newsom defeated in 2018, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and reality TV personality and 1976 Olympic decathlon champion Caitlyn Jenner.

    Kiley, who is 36 and represents suburbs east of Sacramento, has been one of Newsom’s chief critics in the state capital during the pandemic. Though little known to a broad swath of voters, he is a hero of sorts among the recall’s most fervent organizers and volunteers.

    He sued to stop Newsom’s use of broad emergency powers during the pandemic. A state Superior Court ruled in favor of Kiley, but an appeals court overturned that ruling in May. Kiley and fellow Republican Assemblyman James Gallagher plan to appeal to the state Supreme Court.

    Earlier this year he released a book called “Recall Newsom: The Case Against America’s Most Corrupt Governor,” and he spoke at dozens of recall rallies and events during the signature-gathering process.

    The recall’s chief organizer, Orrin Heatlie, is informally advising Kiley as he ponders a candidacy and said he’s hearing a lot of frustration about the current field, but declined to give specifics.

    Heatlie lives in Folsom and is a constituent of Kiley's. 

    Heatlie said his assistance to Kiley is being done outside of his role with the recall committee, which is barred from coordinating with a candidate. Heatlie said he reached out to Kiley after getting a slew of phone calls from recall volunteers asking if the assemblyman planned to run.

    “With the lawsuit that he had against the governor, he’s gained a lot of notoriety and he’s gotten a lot of attention,” said Heatlie, a former sheriff’s sergeant who filed the recall petition and led the volunteer signature-collection drive.

GUNS, GUNS, GUNS: In The Bee, Andrew Sheeler looks further into federal Judge Roger Benitez's ruling overturning California's 32-year-old ban on assault rifles.

In his latest opinion on a California gun law, Benitez wrote that the ban on assault weapons is misnamed, meaning he believes the AR-15 is not a military-style rifle.

“This is an average case about average guns used in average ways for average purposes,” Benitez wrote.

He further wrote that assault weapons “could just as well be called ‘home defense rifles’ or ‘anti-crime guns.’”

On the other hand, he wrote that “modern rifles” played important roles in overthrowing governments, citing the armed revolt Fidel Castro led in Cuba, Vietnamese revolutionary Ho Chi Minh and more recent fighting by the Taliban and and Iraqi insurgents in U.S.-led wars.

“It has been argued that citizens with nothing more than modern rifles will have no chance against an army with tanks and missiles. ... Citizen militias are not irrelevant,” he wrote.

Of course, Benitez was born in Cuba.

HIGH-SPEED CHOO CHOO: The LAT's Ralph Vartabedian looks at the push by labor for lawmakers to stand behind the beleaguered high-speed rail project.

Among union officials, Robbie Hunter, the head of the 450,000-strong State Building and Construction Trades Council of California, has wielded significant clout in keeping the project moving, despite its constant problems with funding and engineering. The unions were one of the key reasons that Gov. Gavin Newsom threw his support behind high-speed rail.

The project is short some $80 billion, according to current estimates, and is so far behind schedule that no one can even say with much confidence if it will ever be finished. Management turmoil and problems in securing land for the rail line have turned the project into a case study of a flawed mega-project.

Despite the problems, Hunter has been a firm backer: “We do believe in it,” he said.

Hunter is now among those pushing the Legislature to release the remaining $4.2 billion of the $9 billion that voters approved in 2008 for high-speed rail. The rail authority wants the money for a standalone, 171-mile segment of rail that will run between Bakersfield and Merced — a huge blessing for 1,000 construction hardhats in the often-overlooked San Joaquin Valley. Even that money will only pay for building part of that segment, which is now estimated to cost $22.8 billion.

EDD: For CalMatters, Dan Walters writes that Governor Newsom owes Californians an apology for the failings of EDD in processing legitimate unemployment claims while processing many fraudulent claims.

When Newsom launched his California Comeback campaign with a lavishly choreographed State of the State speech in March, he obviously meant it to blunt a recall campaign aimed at short-circuiting his political career.

He touted progress on dampening the pandemic and rebuilding the economy and closed with “Our hopeful vision of our brighter future is the basis for the decisions we make today. We place faith over fear — optimism over pessimism. The power is in our hands.”

Newsom did not, however, even mention the never-resolved crisis at EDD that he had promised to repair nearly a year earlier. The revised state budget he unveiled in May does mention it, saying blandly, “The pandemic has exposed many of EDD’s antiquated processes and outdated infrastructure, resulting in a delay or inability for many Californians to access (unemployment) benefits.”

Duh. Everybody, including Newsom, knew that more than a year ago. Subsequently, EDD managed to hand out billions of dollars to fraudsters while jobless workers like Lindsay have suffered economic stress because he didn’t make good on his promise, which is why he owes them a humble apology.

SÍN AGUA: The Chron's Tara Duggan looks at the actions farmers are taken after being informed that their water deliveries will be far below normal because of the draught.

Normally, the biggest vegetable grower in Sonoma County, Humberto Castañeda Produce, grows heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, watermelons and other crops on 180 acres outside of Santa Rosa. But this year, Humberto Castañeda and his son, Gabriel, are farming only 17 acres after receiving a fraction of their normal allotment of water from the city of Santa Rosa.

“I could plant the whole farm and have water that might last me for a month,” said Gabriel, 27, who is managing the farm Humberto founded in the 1980s for the first time this season. “After that the plants are going to die.”

The Castañedas are among countless farmers across the state taking drastic measures to deal with the drought, either because they’re not getting their usual irrigation allotments or because the ponds they normally rely on are drying up in the second year of California’s drought. Almond growers are pulling still-productive trees out of the earth in enormous numbers, and a Fresno County vegetable farmer made the local TV news after discing under rows of green asparagus he couldn’t irrigate. Dairy farmers are trucking in water for their cows, and beef operations are cutting back on production.

No! Not the asparagus! Duggan continues:

California’s agriculture sector is likely to experience the biggest impact of the record-breaking drought. The economic toll on agriculture was estimated at $2.7 billion in 2015, the worst year of the last drought, according to UC Davis.

A few things are already different about this drought, said Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Northern California was much drier in the beginning of the year than it was in 2015, and its watersheds and snowpacks are the source of most of the water that supplies Central Valley farmers, she said. In addition, increased daily temperatures melted that snowpack quickly, and soil conditions are severely dry, she said.

WATER WARS: Sammy Roth reports for the Times on the new leader of the powerful MWD:

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has hired Adel Hagekhalil as its next general manager, following a bitter power struggle over the future of an agency that delivers hundreds of billions of gallons each year from the Colorado River and Northern California to a region that otherwise wouldn’t have nearly enough water to support 19 million people.

Hagekhalil was previously second in command at the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation, where he helped develop strategies for cutting the city’s use of imported water — and therefore its reliance on Metropolitan. He said he’ll bring a shift in focus to the agency, putting more emphasis on recycling sewage water, capturing rainwater and cleaning up groundwater aquifers.

Those local supplies could help fortify Southern California against climate change, which is fueling what some scientists describe as “aridification” across the American West. The region is currently suffering yet another drought, with California’s Sierra Nevada snowpack almost entirely gone as summer gets underway and several other states experiencing record dryness.

Does that mean MWD will stop efforts to suck more water out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta impacting the ecosystem for fish and migrating birds?

HOUSING THE UNHOUSED: For KQED, Erin Baldassari looks at the major efforts California has made to put roofs over the head of the unhoused and why it might not last.

Usually, temporary shelters are built in factories or warehouses, said Paul Fordham, deputy executive director of Homeward Bound of Marin, which is operating the shelter until it can be converted into permanent housing.

“But there’s so much light here,” he said. “It’s a very dignified, nice space to rebuild your life.”

The site is one of 94 projects funded through Homekey, a statewide program that's created nearly 6,000 new units of housing. While the majority are hotel and motel conversions, they also include tiny homes and former vacation rentals, a college dormitory and single-family houses.

Though Homekey is barely a year old, Gov. Gavin Newsom is proposing a massive $7 billion, 46,000-unit expansion of the program. Half of the funding would be dedicated to housing for people with acute behavioral and mental health needs. It's all part of his $12 billion proposal to combat homelessness over the next two years.

Policy experts, service providers and others who work on homelessness in California have lauded Homekey as a monumental step in creating desperately needed new, subsidized housing for the state’s more than 161,000 homeless residents. But they’re only cautiously optimistic about its future.

Many of the projects will need additional money to convert to permanent housing, and they’ll also need ongoing funding to pay for services that are often critical for keeping people housed.

“It’s a great concept,” said Ellen Hammerle, Catholic Charities' chief programs officer. “My concern is that we need to sustain it.”

And, this new housing will need to produce a visible reduction in chronic homelessness, said Andrew Hening, co-founder of the nonprofit Opening Doors Marin. It's an issue voters say is one of their top concerns.

“From the public’s perception of this issue, if we don't solve chronic homelessness, then it’s going to feel like nothing has been accomplished,” he said.

REPARATIONS: For CalMatters, Jackie Botts reports on the slavery reparations commission established by Dr. Shirley Weber's AB 3121 (2020).

This month, California’s first-in-the-nation task force to study reparations met for the first time, kicking off a two-year process to study the consequences of slavery and systemic racism against African Americans in California.

The reparations committee of nine prominent lawyers, academics, politicians, religious and civil rights leaders — many of whom are descendants of slaves — will make formal recommendations on how the state should make reparations. 

“You are here today not just to seek an answer to say was there harm, but your task is to determine the depth of the harm and the ways in which we are to repair that harm,” Secretary of State Shirley Weber, a former state Assembly member who introduced the legislation last year, told the reparations committee at the start of the six-hour meeting.

...

The reparations committee, appointed by the governor and legislative leaders, will meet at least 10 times, though members discussed adding more meetings. Kamilah Moore, an intellectual property attorney and activist from Los Angeles, was voted in as chairperson. They’ll release a report of their findings after the first year and a second report on recommendations for reparations the following year. The Legislature would need to pass more laws to implement them.

COMMUNITY COLLEGE BUDGET: For CalMatters, Mikhail Zinshteyn looks at the debate over a budget proposal to create 2,000 more full-time faculty positions by converting part-time faculty to full-time faculty and through new hires.

Rarely are college bean-counters skeptical of receiving more money, but a plan to give California’s community college system hundreds of millions of dollars for faculty is dividing finance officials and professors.

As an aside, I once gave a speech to the community college student association and talked about the bean-counters at Department of Finance regarding some issue. A group of Latino students walked out of the crowd of several hundred. They thought the term was a racial slur. I kid you not.

For college financial officials, the new money would come at an inopportune time: Enrollment plunged across the 116-college system by 11% last fall as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. With fewer students to teach, financial officers worry that committing $170 million to hire 2,000 more full-time faculty now, per a budget blueprint approved by key legislative panels in late May, will lead to problems later.

“Excessive hiring in a declining enrollment environment can lead to painful budget reductions, layoffs, furloughs,” the association of community college financial officers wrote last week in a letter to top lawmakers in the Legislature’s budget committees. The financial officers would instead like the money to come with more flexibility. 

Faculty grouse at that skepticism. They point to the college system’s decades-long inability to meet a quasi-mandate of having full-time faculty teach at least 75% of classes. Today that figure sits at 59% and has barely budged in three decades. The legislative largesse of $170 million is meant to drive the college system closer to that 75% goal, an aspirational benchmark that’s been on the community college system’s books since the 1970s.

“The fact that we have money proposed for the first time in a long time of the magnitude that is required to really be significant and we’re going to turn that down? That doesn’t make any sense to me,” said Evan Hawkins, executive director of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, the chief advocacy group representing community college faculty.

Out of respect of my successor, I stay away from community college issues after 20 years working on them, but this is a perennial debate. That said, this is the largest proposal ever because of the dramatic increase in revenue projections since January.

PEDESTRIAN, CYCLIST SAFETY: For Capitol Weekly, Eric Furth looks into efforts by advocates for pedestrians and cyclists to make the roads safer in major cities.

An effort backed by advocates for pedestrians and bicycle riders would set up experimental programs in several California cities to get drivers to obey traffic laws, in part through the use of red-light and speed cameras.

More than 3,700 people died in California traffic-related accidents last year, most of them involving passenger cars,  while some involved motorcycles and light trucks. But while vehicle-crash deaths have generally flatlined, pedestrian deaths have risen.

In 2018, 893 pedestrians were killed on California roadways, a 26% increase over a four-year period, and in 2018 alone, more than 14,000 pedestrians were injured. About 7,500 pedestrians were killed during the decade after 2009.

he legislation would set up six, five-year programs in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Jose, San Francisco and two other cities — as yet to be specified — in southern California. The effort, which does not use facial recognition software,  targets high-injury areas and school zones.

“I am tired of attending memorials and hearing about another person killed because a driver was speeding,”  Assemblyman David Chiu, the author of the bill, AB 550, said when he introduced the legislation. 

“At a certain point, we have to say enough is enough. These deaths are completely preventable. We have the tools to save lives. This bill will allow us to use proven safety tools and end these senseless deaths.”

The bill faces an uphill fight.

...

Opponents include the California Teamsters Public Affairs Council, California Walks and the Western States Trucking Association.

The bill was held in Assembly Appropriations and will a rule waiver to move this year or be reintroduced next year.

AD18 (Alameda-San Leandro-West Oakland): For the Chron, Dustin Gardiner takes a look at the race to fill AG Rob Bonta's Assembly seat.

Eight candidates are running in the June 29 special election for District 18, which encompasses Alameda, San Leandro and much of Oakland. Voters have started receiving ballots in the mail.

Mia Bonta, president of the Alameda school board, a nonprofit leader and the wife of Rob Bonta, has far outraised her opponents, raking in more than $366,900 between her two campaign committees. Independent expenditure groups have raised at least $330,000 to boost her chances.

Bonta’s fundraising edge has become a dividing wedge in the race, which is otherwise largely a contest between avowed progressives.

The other two candidates who’ve run highly visible campaigns, Alameda Vice Mayor Malia Vella and social justice attorney Janani Ramachandran, have lamented what they see as the undue influence of outside special-interest groups.

Vella said she expects voters in the district are going to be suspicious of “nepotism,” suggesting that Bonta has benefited from her husband’s clout. Meanwhile, Ramachandran said she finds the influence of corporate mega-donors abhorrent and hopes voters can see past the bombardment of mailers and television ads for Bonta.

COVID-19 after the jump...

COVID-19: California reported 33 deaths yesterday for a total of 62,778 since the pandemic began.

-vaccines:

  • vaccine doses administered in California: 38,652,198
  • vaccine doses delivered to California: 46,930,370
  • Californians fully vaccinated: 18,240,912 (53.7% of adults) 
  • Californians partially vaccinated: 3,972,969 (11.7% of adults) 

 

cakedays, corrections, and classifieds after the jump...

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Katherine Daigle, Greg Hines, Anakaren Monroy, and Taylor Woolfork!

DEPT OF CORRECTIONS: I don't know how my fingers yesterday typed San Joaquin Valley. Maybe I need to return to coffee, which I haven't drank throughout the pandemic. Of course, I know that Arcadia is in the San Gabriel Valley!

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