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  • 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) 


  • 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


  • AD18 (Alameda-San Leandro-West Oakland): Educators and Healthcare Professionals for Mia Bonta for State Assembly 2021 reports receiving $25,000 from the California Medical Association


  • Stop the Republican Recall of Governor Newsom reports receiving [1 | 2 | 3]:
    • $500,000 from Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
    • $100,000 from Gregory Flynn (President, Flynn Properties, Inc., San Francisco)
    • $100,000 from Molina Healthcare, Inc.
    • $100,000 from Pipe Trades District Council #36 PAC (Fresno)
    • $50,000 from Sheet Metal Workers' International Association Political Action League
    • $25,000 from Paskenta Band Of Nomlaki Indians
    • $15,000 from Glen C. Dake (landscape architect, GDML Holdings, Inc, Los Angeles)
    • $15,000 from Albert Young (physician executive, Network Medical Management, Monterey Park)
    • $10,000 from LockHeed Martin Employees' Federal PAC
  • Reform California - Recall Gavin Newsom (DeMaio committee) reports spending $31,888 on mail, online ads, event costs, and campaign management. 
  • John Cox For Governor 2021, Inc. reports receiving $10,000 from Humberto S. Lopez (executive, HSL Properties Inc., Tucson, AZ)

The Nooner for Thursday, June 17, 2021, presented by SYASL Partners

Happy Thursday. The end of the week is nigh. If you're reading this, you haven't melted from the heat yet. One advantage of rising before 5am is that I can open up the windows and turn on the fans and take advantage of the 60 degree morning temperatures to get a couple of hours of cooling time.

Today is a campaign finance report deadline for the June 29 special in AD18 (Alameda-San Leandro-West Oakland). What I will be looking for is whether Malia Vella picks up financial ground to Mia Bonta through previously unreported "grassroots" contributions below $1,000, as many supporters allege. Of course, ballots were mailed to all voters beginning June 1, so late money may not make a huge difference. Paul Mitchell of PDI reports that 28,642 ballots have been returned, which is 10.36% of registered voters. For comparison, the final turnout in the May 18 AD54 special was 14.0% and in the April 6 AD79 special, it was 21.1%.

I know that not all of you make it to cakeday and farewell, but today's farewell is of former CFT political director Kenneth Burt, who passed yesterday. I worked with Ken for many years on education issues and enjoyed his writing on the rise of Latino politics in California. Today's farewell includes words from his wife posted to his page on Facebook.

JUICE: Today could be another tight day for the supply and demand balance between California's electricity. Christopher Weber reports for the AP that the California Independent System Operator has issued a Flex Alert this evening.

California’s power grid operator called for voluntary energy conservation on Thursday as the state sweltered under a heat wave that has blanketed the West and brought dangerously high temperatures to many areas.

The California Independent System Operator issued a Flex Alert for Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., urging people to set their thermostats to 78 degrees or higher and avoid using washers, dishwashers and other major appliances.

While the electrical supply was tight, CEO Elliot Mainzer said actual blackouts were unlikely. But he added that could change as temperatures spiked and urged people to heed the Flex Alert.

“Californians have stepped up many times before when asked to pitch in and I’m confident they will do so,” Mainzer said.

During another heat spell last August, the state saw two days of rotating power outages that affected more than 200,000 people. They were the first such blackouts since 2001.

While proponents of the recall effort and successor candidates will undoubtedly blast Governor Newsom if rolling blackouts are required, there are a couple of major differences from the 2000 electricity crisis, which was largely caused by market manipulation particularly by the defunct Houston-based Enron, which throttled natural gas supplies to the state. No, I'm not related for the late Enron founder and CEO Kenneth Lay.

This time around, there are two major climate-related factors. Sacramento may hit a record high for June today as the mercury is forecasted to hit 110. Secondly, the drought has dramatically reduced hydroelectric generation. While today is expected to the peak in the Capital City, tomorrow is expected to be hotter in the southern valley, with Fresno and Bakersfield expected to hit 112-113 in the following two days.

Dale Kasler reports for The Bee on the hydroelectric situation.

Even if the state avoid blackouts this time, energy experts say slumping hydro supplies will complicate California’s efforts to keep the lights on during future heatwaves this year.

“As we get into late summer and fall, hydro’s going to be an issue,” said Severin Borenstein, a member of the board of directors of the Independent System Operator.

Already, California’s hydro supplies are down 40% compared with a year ago, according to BloombergNEF, an economics research arm of Bloomberg news.

The situation is certain to get worse as reservoirs wither in the coming months. Water levels at Lake Oroville, one of the largest reservoirs in the state, could sink so low this summer that the Edward Hyatt Power Plant would have to shut down — the first time that’s happened since the reservoir was built in the 1960s.

Oroville was barely one-third full Wednesday — and the water was just 60 feet above the level at which electricity generation would likely shut down.

Although natural gas-fired plants remain the single-largest source of electricity in California — generating 34% of the power in 2019, according to the California Energy Commission — hydro is a significant contributor in a non-drought year. In 2019 hydro was responsible for almost 17% of the state’s power, more than solar. But in a drought year, hydro practically disappears; it generated just 6% of the power in 2015.

The grid manager has already told power generators and transmission line operators to defer scheduled maintenance, and warned that shortages could pop up, especially late Thursday. If Flex Alerts are issued, consumers will be urged to turn thermostats up to 78 and avoid using heavy appliances in late afternoon and early evening.

If conditions worsen, more stringent conservation measures could kick in. The big utilities such as PG&E Corp. could cut power to their “interruptible” customers — those that pay discounted rates but agree to be taken offline in a pinch.


  • 2021 v. 2003: With lots of graphics, the LAT's Matt Stiles and Paul Duginsk looks at what's changed in California since the last gubernatorial recall election.

    California voters have moved even more to the left since Davis’ ouster, which ushered in the state's last Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    That shift allowed Newsom to take office in a stronger position than Davis. In 2002, a year before the last recall, Davis narrowly won reelection with just 47% of the vote. Newsom enjoyed a landslide victory in his 2018 gubernatorial campaign, receiving 62% support.


    Identification with the Republican Party has declined significantly as an increasing share of voters choose to align with the Democrats or, in many cases, no party at all.

    The GOP can now claim just 24% of registered voters statewide. While nearly a third of the electorate no longer claims allegiance to the two major parties, experts say they have shown themselves more likely to side with Democrats at the ballot box....

    Demographic changes over the last two decades also generally favor liberal candidates.

    The state has grown more diverse. White residents have become a much smaller share of the population as the number of Asian and Latino voters has increased.

    ...Davis was deeply unpopular in the run-up to the recall election, thanks in part to an energy crisis that caused widespread blackouts. After he narrowly won reelection in Nov. 2002, Davis’ popularity tanked, making it easier to oust him.

    So far, Newsom's popularity hasn’t dipped to dangerous levels.

    “He’s in a very different situation than Gray Davis was,” said Mark Baldassare, president and CEO of the Public Policy Institute of California. “He has had consistently positive approval ratings this year.”


  • Don't call it a sham: The LAT's George Skelton writes that the budget approved this week by Democrats in the Legislature should not be labeled a fake budget.

    Let’s be clear: The state budget the Legislature just passed is a payroll protection program — for the Legislature.

    But it’s also much more. And it doesn’t mean the budget should cynically be dismissed as a sham, the way it is in much of the media. It’s very real with many significant elements — like them or not.

    The payroll protection system was set up by California voters in 2010 when they approved a ballot initiative to lower the required legislative vote for a budget to a simple majority from a gridlock-inducing two-thirds.

    In order to attract voters for the controversial initiative, labor union backers inserted a penalty. If lawmakers didn’t pass a budget by the June 15 constitutional deadline, they’d lose their pay for each day the bill was late.


    The only real budget beef between Newsom and the Legislature is over timing. They’re both going in the same direction. Democratic lawmakers mostly just want to get there faster.

    The state treasury is overflowing with a $38-billion windfall of unrestricted money that can be spent any way the ruling Democrats desire.

    The legislators’ view is that since the money is here, spend it on permanent improvements they’ve always wanted.

    Newsom is trying to play it safe, fearful of the future’s inevitable economic downturn. For the $38-billion discretionary surplus, he proposed spending 90% on one-time projects and only 10% on continuing programs.

    “Our overarching concern is a level of spending we don’t think can be sustained overall,” says H.D. Palmer, spokesman for the state finance department. “There could be a return of deficits in future years.

VACCINATIONS: full stats, including breakdown by group are available here

  • Californians fully vaccinated: 18,970,053 (55.9%)
  • Californians partially vaccinated: 3,631,304 (10.7%)
  • Doses on hand: 5,501,681

PROJECT ROOMKEY: The Bee's Theresa Clift looks at the unhoused who are evicted from housing provided under the Project Roomkey program.

[Donald] Lowery was one of about 250 people who have been kicked out of the three Sacramento Project Roomkey hotels since they opened in spring 2020, according to county spokeswoman Janna Haynes. Of those, about 65 people were kicked out because of criminal activity. The rest were told to leave because of non-compliance with a variety of rules.

Shelter staff told Lowery to leave because he had a visitor, which is against hotel rules, Lowery said. But the woman visiting, Jami Arbuckle, was not just a visitor, he said. She would come to the hotel to take Lowery grocery shopping, bring him food and pick him up for his doctor’s appointments, he said.

“I tried to tell them that she’s a helper, a caretaker for me,” Lowery said. “I can’t even put my socks on.”

Lowery, who was hit by a pickup truck last year, has a broken leg, a fractured back, high blood pressure, narcolepsy and a slew of other medical conditions. He carries a backpack full of medications.

The “no visitors” rule is one of 20 rules that guests of the three Project Roomkey motels must follow. Guests must be back to their rooms prior to 8 p.m. each night unless prior arrangements are made, must get approval for time spent outside their rooms, must allow staff in for “room checks” and must wear a resident badge whenever they leave their rooms. They also cannot smoke in rooms, cannot be “aggressive” toward staff or guests and cannot damage property.

In my opinion, many of the rules are reasonable. But, I agree with lobbyist Samantha Corbin who tweets in response to this story and "visitors" rule:

Literally hundreds of Sacramentans, for free and/or at great personal expense have spent their time & extra cash to act as the safety net the City & County are not competent enough to coordinate & provide in spite of spending millions of dollars. Enough.

PROJECT HOMEKEY: For CapRadio, Chris Nichols reports on Project Homekey, which transitions some lucky folks from the temporary Project Roomkey to long-term housing.

As of this month, the majority of Roomkey’s participants had left the program. But just 20% of those who exited — or 6,700 people statewide — had obtained permanent housing, according to figures provided by the California Department of Social Services. That’s despite state and local efforts to rehouse Roomkey residents.

The destination for about 25% of those who left was marked “unknown or other settings,” according to the state. Another nearly 24% went to congregate homeless shelters, 16% ended up in “unsheltered settings,” 10% in temporary housing and 5% went to institutional settings. 

Overall, two-thirds of the people who left the program have received rehousing services, which include direct payments such as rental assistance, move-in costs and financial incentives for landlords, according to the state data.

Some are still in the housing placement process, officials said. 

Meanwhile, approximately 10,000 people still live at Roomkey motels, many of whom are older or have underlying health conditions or both, according to the state.  

“The work is certainly not over,” said Corrin Buchanan, assistant director of housing and homelessness for the state’s department of social services. “We’re deeply focused on that rehousing work for those individuals (still at the motels) in particular.” 


Mike Gatto has not shied away from his criticism of Roomkey. The former Democratic state assemblyman from Los Angeles said the fact that a large majority of participants are not ending up in permanent housing shows the program was flawed from the start. 

Gatto has argued the statewide program should have placed a greater emphasis on mental health treatment.

Those who aren’t moving on to housing “need tough love — obligatory mental-health and drug rehabilitation services — and not just a room and a key,” Gatto added.

But some advocates say the challenge and expense of housing so many people so quickly should not be overlooked. 

“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Housing California policy director Chris Martin of the 6,700 people placed in permanent housing.

However, Martin noted that the scale of housing Roomkey residents and California’s overall homelessness crisis are immense. He said the problems must be addressed with permanent statewide homelessness funding for local governments. The Legislature proposed a $1 billion ongoing fund this month.

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT: While he has moved on to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra had a big victory in the Supreme Court this morning in his capacity as the former California Attorney General. In California v. Texas, the high Court held 7-2 that the Texas Attorney General and other Republican states did not have standing for lack of injury to their residents. Justice Alito wrote the dissenting opinion, which was joined by Justice Gorsuch.

RELIGIOUS LIBERTY V. GAY RIGHTS: Also this morning from the SCOTUS with the mostus, the Court held that Philadelphia violated the First Amendment by not allowing a Catholic adoption agency to participate in a city program because the agency refused to place children with same-sex couples. The decision in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia was 9-0. It wasn't a surprise after the 2018 decision in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission in which the Court held 7-2 that the commission violated the cakeshop owner's Free Exercise rights when it ordered him to make cakes for same-sex couples and provide quarterly reports on compliance.

Of course, this raises lots of other questions about the balance of religious liberty and civil rights. While Cakeshop was a solely an issue between a private business owner and a customer, Fulton is a "state action," via a program administered by a city. I obviously have not had time to read the entire decision yet.

HIGH-SPEED CHOO CHOO: In the Chron, Dustin Gardiner looks at the latest challenge for California's high-speed rail project -- Los Angeles legislators are getting impatient with the spending in the Central Valley and questions of whether tracks will ever reach California's most populous county.

The high-speed rail project, long a flash point at the state Capitol, is once again at a crossroads as Gov. Gavin Newsom seeks to use $4.2 billion in voter-approved bonds to finish building an initial 171-mile stretch from Merced to Bakersfield. Newsom and rail advocates want to focus on completing that segment ahead of running track to San Francisco and Los Angeles.

But the funding ask has given skeptical legislators new leverage to air their frustrations about the rail project and the attention paid to the Central Valley versus more densely populated urban centers. Assembly members from Southern California have pushed to divert money into local rail projects.

Supporters of high-speed rail warn taking money from the Central Valley segment would only cause further construction delays and drive up costs. They said it could also put California at a disadvantage as it competes with other states for tens of billions of dollars in federal rail funding that could be part of President Biden’s infrastructure plan.

“To take money away from that project — and therefore doom that project to failure — and put it into bits and pieces in other areas is counterproductive, not only for California but for the nation,” said Rod Diridon, a former Santa Clara County supervisor who served on the California High-Speed Rail Authority board for a decade.

He added, “Instead of fumbling around and stopping and starting, we should be showing off and showing we’re ready to go.”


The continued uncertainty about the rail project has fueled resistance at the Capitol. Members of the powerful Los Angeles delegation, led by Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, argue regions with the most transit riders should take priority for state spending.

“The speaker has been supportive of focusing high-speed rail funding in areas where it will meet the greatest need, including the Bay Area and Los Angeles,” Rendon’s spokesperson said in an email.

Cakeday, farewell, and classifieds after the jump...

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CAKEDAY: Light those candles for Debra Cooper, Rep. Scott Peters, and Assemblymember Mark Stone!

FAREWELL: Longtime CFT political director Kenneth Burt (1958-2021) - His wife writes:

My husband and partner of 40+ years, Kenneth Burt passed away peacefully last night. His health steadily declined this past year, and he was ultimately diagnosed with ALS, a disease that stole his ability to walk, use his hands, and speak.

He helped and touched many people throughout his short life. He was a born advocate, starting in high school, when he convinced his school to only use union lettuce and later organized a group of students to picket for the Huelga, fighting for better working conditions for farmworkers.

As the political director for the CA Federation of Teachers, he oversaw the union's effort to elect pro-education, pro-working, family candidates. He helped lead voter initiative campaigns, and worked closely with affiliates, and community allies. His proudest achievement was leading the campaign for Prop 25, which, in its passing, allowed the Legislature to approve a budget with a simple majority vote, rather than the two-thirds majority that had largely been responsible for budget gridlock in California. He was also a writer and scholar, particularly interested in early Latino politics.

My heart is heavy in his passing. He clung to this life ferociously, for he felt that he had so much more to do and to see. It broke my heart to watch his future—our future—slowly taken away

One bright spot in this tragedy is how much time he was able to spend with his children, family, and friends these last few months. He would spend many mornings and evenings sitting in his garden, surrounded by colorful flowers, singing birds, and the latest vegetables his garden yielded.

I am confident he is at peace, reunited with his mother, whom he loved dearly, and all the friends and family that journeyed Home before him. He is probably working to unionize heaven now and starting his first draft of the history of the After Life.


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