Around The Capitol

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RECENT PODS:

  • Capitol Weekly Podcast (John Howard and Tim Foster): Ken Jacobs, chair of the UC Berkeley Labor Center on a variety of labor issues, including the ongoing uproar over at SEIU 1000 following the election of outsider candidate Richard Louis Brown and the latest fallout from Proposition 22. (2021-06-13)
  • California State of Mind (CapRadio): Reopening; state budget with guest reporters from CalMatters (2021-06-11)
  • Political Breakdown (Scott Shafer and Marisa Lagos @ KQED): Back in the studio, Scott and Marisa talk the assault weapons ban ruling, Kamala's trip to Guatemala and Mexico, and then are joined by SFDCC chair Honey Mahogeny. (2021-06-10) 
  • Inside Golden State Politics (Bill Boyarsky and Sherry Jeffe): With Warren Olney, a discussion on race in the classroom and politics as well as the assault weapons ruling (2021-06-10) 
  • California State of Mind (Nigel Duara @ CalMatters): Former Stockton mayor Michael Tubbs on the expansion of universal basic income (2021-06-09)

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): Educators and Healthcare Professionals for Mia Bonta for State Assembly 2021 reports speanding $949 for newspaper and digital ads (Cumulative total: $312,077)

The Nooner for Wednesday, June 16, 2021, presented by SYASL Partners

¡Buenos días y feliz miercoles! Today, farmers market returns to Capitol Mall as do triple-digit temperatures. It was a great day of reopening capped by a Giants game that saw the orange and black slowly come back from a 0-7 deficit against the DBacks. The Giants finally took the lead with a two-strike, two-out grand slam by Mike Yastrzemski into McCovey Cove in the bottom of the eighth leading to a 9-8 victory. What a game.

On social media yesterday, there were a lot of questions such as "Are you going to continue to wear a mask?" leading to inevitable political debates. My only trek away from Nooner Global HQ yesterday was to Market 5-ONE-5 for some dinner ingredients (and cash for today's farmers market). The market still has the mask notice at the front door and I only saw one customer sans face covering. Meanwhile, today I'll carry mine to farmers market but likely won't wear it since I'll be outside. However, I have no problem patronizing stores that require masks (e.g. Capital Books, The Allspicery) while contrarians boycott them.

The politics are clear in this article from the CapRadio team:

At the Trader Joe’s market in East Sacramento, all employees and shoppers still wore masks when we visited before 9 a.m. And most people at Midtown and downtown coffee shops and businesses also wore masks.

In Yolo County, residents took a mostly cautious approach to the reopening at a handful of stores. At the Nugget Market in Davis, vaccinated customers were allowed to discard their face-coverings — but only one among dozens chose to go maskless. 

In Woodland, people inside a Starbucks wore masks. A manager said those who are vaccinated could discard them, but employees would continue.

But in Placer County at the Westfield Galleria at Roseville mall, a sign stating masks as optional greeted customers at entrances. Inside, however, some stores had signs requiring masks. About half of the shoppers wore face-coverings, but many were without.

Placer County eschewed enforcement of state guidance throughout the pandemic. When the county health officer issued an order, the Board of Supervisors overturned it, so she quit and now works in Yolo County. The county never had another local order, standing out in the greater Sacramento region.

I also don't trust people like the anti-vaxxers in the photo below from the 2019 protests against SB 276 to be honest when they aren't wearing a mask and are asked if they have been vaccinated. They defied the Senate sergeants and pushed through "the gate" entrance toward the Senate Floor, and we all remember "BloodGate," when menstrual blood was thrown on the Senate Floor on the final night of the legislative year.

Now, we're seriously going to ask people like these entering the Capitol, "Hi. I see you're not wearing a mask. Have you been fully vaccinated?"

Based on what we've seen in recent pre-pandemic years, I don't trust the "honor system."

SB 276 protest

SEEN ON LATE NIGHT: Gavin Newsom was on the Late Late Show with James Corden last night following the reopening celebration and lottery draw at Universal Studios. He was in a particularly jovial mood through the two-segment interview, although when asked about the situation with California's unhoused population, his tone turned stern.

Speaking of Corden, the opening was great too. It was about the reopening in the theme of In the Heights.

REOPENING: For The AP, Jocelyn Decker and Stefanie Dazio write:

San Francisco announced the return of its iconic cable cars. Disneyland threw open its doors to out-of-state tourists. And Gov. Gavin Newsom marked the day with Hollywood flair, visiting Universal Studios to celebrate the lifting of most COVID-19 restrictions and what he called the “full reopening” of the Golden State’s economy Tuesday.

“California has turned the page. Let us all celebrate this remarkable milestone,” an exuberant and mask-less Newsom declared from an outdoor stage at Universal Studios Hollywood, where he hosted a game show-style selection of 10 residents to receive $1.5 million apiece, just for getting vaccinated. “Today is a day to reconnect with strangers, loved ones, family members. Give people hugs.”

Life-sized Minions, Avengers and other movie mascots danced and cheered during festivities to mark what Newsom called a new day for California, which was the first state in the country to order a coronavirus lockdown in March 2020 and is among the last to fully reopen. President Joe Biden on Tuesday encouraged nationwide July 4 celebrations to mark the country’s effective return to normalcy.

They don't mention the Troll, which was fitting for the even amidst the pending recall election.

At midnight, California lifted most of is pandemic restrictions, meaning no more state rules on physical distancing or capacity limits at restaurants, bars, supermarkets, gyms, museums, amusement parks, stadiums or anywhere else. Masks are no longer mandated for vaccinated people in most settings, though businesses and counties can still require them and other restrictions.

...

Disneyland on Tuesday welcomed back out-of-state visitors for the first time since it closed in March 2020. It was shut down for months until opening this spring to California residents only.

The famed park is also dropping many of its other restrictions, such as temperature checks and face coverings for vaccinated guests.

...

At Urban Fitness Oakland, they’re checking vaccination cards.

“If you want to work out inside with no mask, that’s great. We just ask to see the card,” said owner Noah Kinner.

The Chron's Erin Allday reports:

The day could not have been more distinct from the grim, surreal start to the stay-at-home order that settled over the Bay Area last March 17 on a dismal gray morning. As shockingly unprecedented as that order was, the lifting of restrictions was equally historic: Tuesday marked the first day when life could return to some semblance of what it used to be, a future bolstered by vaccines that will likely forestall another deadly surge.

...

San Francisco Mayor London Breed beamed through a news conference at Hyde and Beach streets, where she announced the upcoming return of the city’s cable cars. “This is the perfect week for people to visit our city,” she said, standing under a clear blue sky with her arms spread welcoming-wide.

But on the same day, the United States passed 600,000 deaths from COVID-19 and federal authorities warned that a new variant could tear through pockets of the country that remain unvaccinated — and many Californians were still fearful. They fastened their masks in grocery stores and hair salons and movie theaters despite the end of a mandate that required them of vaccinated people in most indoor settings.

“Different people are going to experience this transition differently. And for some people it will be hard,” said Dr. Nicholas Moss, Alameda County’s health officer. “I’m just hoping that people will be able to find things that help them feel a little bit more like life is getting back to normal.”

Masks appeared to be the toughest pandemic habit to break. Although they’re still required indoors for people who aren’t vaccinated, everyone else is allowed to ditch them in most settings. And across the state, public health officials have made a point of advertising a mask-free world as a major perk of vaccination.

Many people seemed hesitant to lose them, though, because they don’t yet feel safe or because they feel like social etiquette still calls for face coverings in many situations.

 

DO YOU RECALL? It was a busy day in recall election news, of course overshadowed by the reopening.

-timeline: County election officials yesterday pleaded for the recall election not to be set before September 14. Jeremy B. White reports for Politico:

County elections officials are asking state leaders to wait until at least Sept. 14 to hold a recall contest targeting Gov. Gavin Newsom, citing warnings from major ballot printing firms and various logistics challenges.

Local officials are bracing for the massively complex undertaking of holding a statewide, all-mail special election — a task further complicated by uncertainty around the precise election date.

There are still several steps before Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis can set an official date, but momentum has grown among Democrats for an earlier election as the state reopens and Newsom has relatively strong approval ratings.

The California Association of Clerks and Election Officials warned Monday that supply chain issues would make it impossible to hold a vote before the middle of September.

“We urge the Lieutenant Governor’s office take our concerns seriously which will allow us to conduct a successful election process. We owe this to our voters,” the association wrote in a letter to Kounalakis.

Of course, because of Labor Day, September 1 would be the only possible date before September 14 anyway. Assuming the Governor signs AB 152 (or SB 152), for a September 1 election, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis to call the election by July 2 (60-80 days).

Former San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer tweets that he's ready for the election at any time.

-expose yourself: Yesterday, the Secretary of State's Office announced the qualification requirements to appear as a successor candidate for question #2 on the recall election ballot.

  • file at least 59 days before the yet-to-be-called election date
  • file with between 65 and 100 nomination signatures
  • pay a filing fee of $4,194.94 OR
  • file with a minimum of 7,000 in lieu of filing fee signatures
  • submit two copies of tax returns filed with the IRS for last five years

The last requirement of tax return disclosure goes back to the effort in SB 27 (Wiener) to require Donald J. Trump to disclose his tax returns to appear on the 2020 California primary ballot. While Eastern District of California judge Morrison England held that the bill was federally preempted by the qualifications for the presidency provided in Article II, that only applied to the provisions affecting presidential elections However, SB 27 also provided to gubernatorial candidates.

However...

The language of Elections §8902 added by SB 27 provides:

Notwithstanding any other law, the name of a candidate for Governor shall not be printed on a direct primary election ballot, unless the candidate, at least 98 days before the direct primary election, files with the Secretary of State copies of every income tax return the candidate filed with the Internal Revenue Service in the five most recent taxable years, in accordance with the procedure set forth in Section 8903.

The plain reading of the statute would find that "direct primary election" would not include a recall election for the office of Governor. Bad drafting? Perhaps. Of course, SB 27 was introduced to only apply to the office of President. It was amended after it got to the Assembly to include Governor to make it appear that it wasn't solely targeting President Trump. The language added was essentially the same as for President, for which there obviously is no recall provision. Nobody was sitting around in May of 2019 thinking that Gavin Newsom would be subject to a recall attempt in beginning in 2020 and gaining momentum because of a global pandemic.

Anyway, the first step in legal analysis in statutory interpretation is always plain reading and the tax return disclosure provisions likely can't be enforced in a recall election. However, unless repealed, it will apply in the June 2022 gubernatorial primary.

Jeremy B. White writes for Politico that the campaigns of Doug Ose and Kevin Faulconer have said that they will disclose their tax returns, while the campaigns of John Cox and Caitlyn Jenner have responded vaguely.

VACCINATIONS: (full data, including breakdown by group)

  • Californians fully vaccinated: 18,875,034 (55.5%)
  • Californians partially vaccinated: 3,664,725 (10.8%)

GOV'S POWERS: Yesterday, Assemblymembers Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) and James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) filed an emergency petition with the Supreme Court of Cailfornia appealing the decision by the 3rd District Court of Appeal overturning a trial court judge's ruling that held that Governor Newsom exceeded his powers under the California Emergency Services Act. While Kiley and Gallagher were the lead attorneys at the trial court and 3rd DCA, GOP political law firm Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk has taken over as lead cousel with Gallagher and Kiley as co-counsel.

I expect the Supreme Court will uphold the 3rd DCA opinion and gubernatorial emergency powers.

REOPENING AND RECALL: In the Times, Taryn Luna and Phil Willon look at how yesterday's reopening affects the recall dynamics.

Newsom is back in the spotlight, only this time he’s giving away $1.5-million cash prizes and free vacations in a lottery for inoculated Californians instead of offering grim news about infections and deaths, and telling people what they can do instead of what they cannot.

“The recall thrived because of the pandemic, and now it’s going to wither because of the pandemic,” said Democratic political consultant Rose Kapolczynski, who was former Sen. Barbara Boxer’s chief campaign advisor. “In the end voters know the governor isn’t perfect, but he’s delivering on what they want most, which is reopening the state.”

Given California’s low coronavirus infection rates and high vaccination levels, Newsom’s move to rescind restrictions is likely to ensure the lockdowns and political errors that helped fuel dissension fade into memories by the time voters head to the polls, political observers say.

The state’s recovery, combined with the desire of Californians to get on with their lives, also drains oxygen from the recall effort.

Newsom’s announcement in April that he planned to reopen California on June 15 was met with mixed reaction by some who worried he was making a risky bet in a state that had already endured the cycles of easing and reinstating restrictions, and others who expected increased vaccinations to help contain the virus by his deadline.

Dr. Robert Wachter, professor and chairman of the Department of Medicine at UC San Francisco, said the Delta variant of the virus could result in another jump in cases in the fall, but believes California is unlikely to experience the same kind of surges that followed prior reopenings.

“All things calculated, I think it was a smart date and I think it has actually worked out pretty well,” Wachter said.

Wachter and other health experts give California and its governor high marks for leading during the pandemic compared with other states.

 ...

“I think the most important thing that happened is it seemed these were well thought out, scientifically based standards that took into account the best information we had at the time,” Wachter said. “Of course, some people didn’t like that, but he saved a lot of lives.”

Although the timeline appears to be working in Newsom’s favor, that doesn’t mean other unforeseen problems won’t arise.

“Looks like it’s smooth sailing for Gov. Newsom, but that could change,” said Darry Sragow, a veteran Democratic strategist. “It could change very quickly. And he knows that.”

SIN AGUA: For CalMatters, Rachel Becker writes that the state is warning users to stop pumping water from major rivers.

In a sign of worsening drought, the state on Tuesday warned about 4,300 users to stop diverting water from the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta watershed, stretching from Fresno to the Oregon border.

The notifications, which indicate that demand from farmers and cities is exceeding supply, are the widest-ranging move by state regulators since 2015 to restrict the use of water rights in a major watershed.

The notices follow similar warnings sent in the last several weeks to 102 water rights holders in the smaller Scott River basin in Siskiyou County, and 930 in the upper Russian River basin.

The Delta watershed’s supply is “insufficient” and “not lawfully available” for users with claims to the water dating after 1914, and those who keep pumping could face a cease and desist order and fines of up to $1,000 a day, according to the notices from the State Water Resources Control Board.

But so far compliance is considered voluntary and there are major barriers to enforcement, according to Erik Ekdahl, deputy director of the water board’s division of water rights

The notifications come as extreme drought envelopes 85% of the state, and water levels in major reservoirs have dropped far below historic averages. Starved of snowmelt and taxed by high temperatures, water supplies have fallen about 800,000 acre-feet short of projections — an amount that could supply more than 1 million households for a year. 

Voluntary...sort of like how we're treating masking after reopening.

Recall fever and LA-LA Land, cakedays, and classifieds after the nag...

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HOUSING: For CalMatters, Manuela Tobias looks at a major housing bill that stalled over a requirement for a certain level of use of union labor.

The dealbreaker for the unions? If a bill did not require a “skilled and trained workforce,” which means that at least a third of the workers who can build housing on rezoned land must be graduates of apprenticeship programs. Many see this as requiring union labor, because unions run most of the state’s apprenticeships.

Affordable housing developers hoping to get units into abandoned Sears and Toys ’R’ Us stores across the state say the provision will make projects impractical in areas with low union membership, namely outside of the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

“It will be an unused law collecting dust on a shelf,” said Ray Pearl, executive director of the California Housing Consortium, an affordable housing advocacy group.

The Building and Trades Council, known in the Capitol as “the Trades,” represents more than 450,000 construction workers in 160 local unions across the state. The council says it needs the “skilled and trained” provision to grow the workforce and lift up workers who are subjected to substandard working conditions and low wages.

“You cannot address poverty and housing by driving construction workers and our families into poverty,” said Robbie Hunter, the Trades Council president. “It just doesn’t work.”

The simmering tensions between the Trades Council and affordable housing developers boiled over last year. Among the casualties was a bill to build affordable housing in church parking lots authored by Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco who is chairperson of the Senate housing committee. 

Wiener said he believes there is room for compromise this year. “I know the governor, the leadership, everyone’s aware and concerned about this dispute,” he said.

But affordable housing developers say negotiations have hit a wall. And the stakes are higher than ever, with steep prices barring most Californians from buying homes and pushing thousands of people onto the streets each year.

Tobias continues by looking at several issues raised by the conflict.

RECALL FEVER AND LA-LA LAND: The LAT's David Zahniser reports that a recall notice has been served on Los Angeles City Council member Mike Bonin by coastal residents angry over the unhoused population, particularly in Venice.

A group of residents living in Los Angeles’ coastal neighborhoods served Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin with a recall notice on Tuesday, making him the second L.A. politician to face such an effort in the past week.

A representative of Recall Bonin 2021 said the notice, the first official step in waging a recall campaign, was served at Bonin’s home in Mar Vista. The document, signed by residents from Venice, Brentwood, Westchester and Pacific Palisades, described homelessness, public safety and trash as major issues that have gone unaddressed in the district.

“Our streets have become de facto campgrounds, sanitation policies are failing, crime is rising and Mike Bonin remains unresponsive,” the petition states.

Tuesday’s announcement comes less than a week after residents in the council’s 4th District announced they had served a recall notice on Councilwoman Nithya Raman, who represents neighborhoods stretching from Silver Lake to Sherman Oaks.

This is not the first time that residents of the council’s 11th District, which runs along the coast from Los Angeles International Airport to Pacific Palisades, have tried to remove Bonin. Residents angry about “road diets” — reductions in traffic lanes on key boulevards — launched a recall effort in 2017, only to see the effort fizzle.

CAKEDAY: Happy birthday to Carson Eades and Teala Schaff!

Anyway, that's a wrap and I'm going to walk over to farmers market before the pavement starts melting.

 

Classifieds

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