August 1, 2017





This is Essential Politics, our daily look at California political and government news. Here’s what we’re watching right now:

Bakersfield Californian

A watchdog group is claiming that the Bakersfield City Council violated the Ralph M. Brown open meetings act when it voted to cancel an energy-efficiency financing program on July 19.



Gavin Newsom, running for CA governor, grew up with Gettys

Fresno Bee
He once lacked poise and prosperity, but the 49-year-old Democrat made up for with hustle and by capitalizing on connections.


Democrat Newsom leads cash race for California governor

The Bakersfield Californian

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom continues to lead the fundraising race in his bid to become California’s next governor.


John Chiang: The no-drama contender for California governor in the era of Trump

Los Angeles Times

It took decades for John Chiang to hustle into the top ranks of California politics, and he relished all the schmoozing along the way.


McEwen: John Cox aims to spark grass-roots revolution in California

Fresno Bee

Our state’s great wealth helps explain why you’ve probably never heard of John Cox, even though the San Diego area venture capitalist, CPA and lawyer is worth about $200 million and long has been active in politics, first in his native state of Illinois and now in California.  He’s running for governor and because he’s a Republican, political experts don’t give him a snowball’s chance on a July day in Fresno of succeeding Jerry Brown.


Racism against California legislators in Donald Trump era

The Sacramento Bee

The letter begins with “Dear Corrupt Mexican” and ends with “hurry up and die.” It’s signed “White Power.”  The words were typed on a note card and sent to Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León’s Capitol office earlier this year. His staff members put the letter in a file now full of racist and threatening mail in the receptionist’s desk.


‘Calexit’ backers confident about latest plan to leave the United States

Sacramento Bee

The people behind California’s latest effort to leave the United States are confident this time and are preparing to fan out across the Golden State to collect signatures for a 2018 ballot initiative.


California politics updates: House lawmakers start August recess

Los Angeles Times

The ones who do show up for town hall meetings could be facing some unhappy crowds….


Political Road Map: There’s little on the horizon when it comes to ballot measures in 2018

Los Angeles Times

In the wake of last November’s super-sized ballot, which sparked the most expensive ballot measure election in California history, the political arena where initiatives are crafted has been in the midst of a summer of stagnation.

Politically, millennials are a pain

Capitol Weekly

They are the largest living generation. Even though there are 9.4 million California millennials, making them a potentially rich source of votes, they don’t vote in very high percentages unless they’re thrilled. They get more excited about general elections than midterms. That’s true of the electorate as a whole, usually, but it’s especially evident among millennials.




Kamala Harris under scrutiny from conservative media

The Sacramento Bee

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris has given little public consideration to running for president in 2020. But the conservative media is all over it already.


US to launch yet another test missile from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base

Los Angeles Times

Days after North Korea fired a rocket into the Sea of Japan, the U.S. Air Force is planning to test launch an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base.


Kelly has to say “no” to Trump to be an effective chief of staff

San Francisco Chronicle

Installing John Kelly as chief of staff won’t change the trajectory of the Trump administration unless the president grants the retired four-star general a power no one in the White House seems to have: saying no to Donald Trump.




California at Politicon


The third annual Politicon convention in Pasadena on all things political produced long lines for lively debates and entertainment, and while a major focus was on national events, as always California and Californians captured a good share of the spotlight.


Reading is fundamental to American liberty

“Reading is fundamental” was a popular slogan when I was an elementary student in Los Angeles during the 1970s. Today, parents, teachers, and tutors stress the importance of literacy to public, private, home, and virtual school students. Reading is not only still fundamental; it is even more profoundly so than it was 40 years ago. Why? Our knowledge economy, economic self-sufficiency, and military soundness require a highly literate population.



Bredefeld thinks he knows more about guns, public safety than Chief Dyer

Fresno Bee

Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld wants a blanket authorization for City Hall employees with CCW permits to bring their guns to work. It’s a terrible idea.

Trump could sabotage health care. What California should do to protect its residents.

Fresno Bee

Now that the Obamacare repeal has crashed and burned in the U.S. Senate, this is what would happen if we had a president who knew how to govern and a Congress that could work together: There would be a bipartisan summit to come up with ways to fix and strengthen the Affordable Care Act to slow rising premiums and create more competition in California and across the country.


Threats against legislators are intensifying. But there are some hopeful signs.

Sacramento Bee

Seven weeks after an unhinged man shot and seriously wounded Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., the words aimed at Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León are chilling.


Racist, violent threats aimed at California legislators in Trump era

Sacramento Bee
In our raucous, unruly democracy, politicians develop thick skins, knowing the job’s occupational hazards include sharp criticism and verbal assaults.


Does North Korea missile mean diplomatic window closing?

San Jose Mercury News

U.S. administrations have kicked the can down the road for decades, but now time is running out–and the Trump administration is weak on what’s needed: diplomacy.


California bill to raise costs of dialysis threatens patients’ lives

The Mercury News

An insidious bill in the California Legislature that purports to improve medical care will actually endanger the most vulnerable of lives: Low income and elderly residents who need regular dialysis for their very survival.




Cal Poly Strawberry Center showcases research at Field Day

The Fresno Bee

Strawberries are becoming serious business at Cal Poly, where students and professors are working to develop hardier berries and improve growing technology — efforts they hope will result in better, cheaper fruit for consumers.


Driscoll’s Tied to Central Coast Chemical Incident That Sickened Farmworkers


Santa Cruz County has identified the growers its agricultural commissioner is investigating in connection with a release of insecticides, fungicides and other chemicals believed to have sickened raspberry pickers in Watsonville in late June.


1.8 million California acres were set aside for frogs. Ranchers say decision ignores them

Sacramento Bee

Tiny frogs and toads used to swarm over the Sierra Nevada. Now, the government says nearly 2 million acres of land needs to be preserved to prevent them from going extinct. California ranchers and logging groups say those protections are hurting their ability to make a living. So another conflict over the Endangered Species Act is going to court.


The farm bill remains a case study in corporate welfare. Where is partisanship when you need it?


Case in point: The Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry hearing held on Tuesday, July 25, was intended as a prelude to the development of a new 2018 farm bill.





Dozens of convictions tossed out of Southern California courts because of prosecutors’ bad behavior, Harvard study says

Orange County Register

The gavels had fallen, the cases appeared closed…


Offender back in prison after walking away from alternative custody program

Sacramento Bee

A man who walked away from a Stockton residence where he had been assigned in an alternative custody program has been located and returned to state prison.


State must follow high court decision on juvenile lifers

San Francisco Chronicle

In past decades, when California was in thrall to the belief that being “tough on crime” always worked, it was not unusual for teenage children who committed serious crimes to receive life sentences without the possibility for parole.


White House says Trump was kidding about police mistreating suspects, but cops say ‘it doesn’t matter if he was joking’

Washington Post

Law enforcement officials continue to sharply criticize President Trump for his comments last week suggesting that officers should not “be too nice” with suspects in police custody.




Wildfires continue in Tuolumne County, evacuation advisories remain

Modesto Bee
Authorities on Monday asked residents to just remain alert for any possible evacuations as two wildfires in Tuolumne County continued to burn hundreds of acres near Twist and Jacksonville roads.






Costa bill would provide dollars for employment, job-training

The Business Journal

Rep. Jim Costa has introduced a bill to bolster federal funding of employment and job-training programs for people receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.


Tech Incubator Faces Challenges of Tackling Sexual Harassment Among Investors 


To an outsider, the actions might have looked swift and decisive: Within weeks of being accused of sexual harassment in the press, two high-profile venture capital investors issued public apologies and resigned.





Applications are in. Fresno Unified will name new superintendent before school starts

Fresno Bee

Twenty-five people have applied to be the next superintendent of Fresno Unified. The school board plans to narrow the pool of candidates down to five or six by next week, with the help of a search committee made up of community leaders. The vote on who will lead the state’s fourth-largest school district will happen by Aug. 13, according to school board President Brooke Ashjian. Fresno Unified’s new school year begins Monday, Aug. 14.


Fresno’s black students disciplined at higher rates than peers

Fresno Bee

The district’s black students are suspended at a rate nearly three times higher than white and Latino students. While black students only account for 8 percent of enrollment at Fresno Unified – California’s fourth-largest district – they made up nearly 25 percent of all suspensions in the 2014-15 school year.


Summer program teaches key skills to prepare children for kindergarten


Children coming into kindergarten with no preschool experience may not know how to share or how to wait in line. Many don’t have a firm grasp on numbers, shapes and colors.

Higher Ed:


Community Colleges Launch Campaign to Promote Career Training Programs

Sacramento Observer

California Community Colleges have kicked off a new campaign to inform underserved populations about the good-paying jobs available through career education.

According to a press release, there is a skill and an information gap in California, as many high-paying jobs go unfilled because employers can’t find employees with the right training. This includes jobs in the information technology, healthcare, biotechnology and digital media fields.


California state universities add dorm rooms as strategy to raise graduation rates, provide affordable housing


Finishing touches were still being put to Cal State Channel Island’s new 600-bed dormitory named Santa Rosa Village when Jazzminn Morecraft moved in last fall.  Early morning construction noise was worth enduring, she said, because of the social and academic benefits of living on the Ventura County campus, situated in a former state mental hospital surrounded by farmland and hillsides.





EPA won’t be able to do the ‘right thing’ under Trump, says latest protesting official

Washington Post

Elizabeth “Betsy” Southerland loved her work at the Environmental Protection Agency. Then Donald Trump and Scott Pruitt came along. Now Southerland, who was director of science and technology in the agency’s Office of Water, said she is “heartbroken about the impact of the new administration on environmental protection in this country.”



Group demands City of Bakersfield reverse PACE decision

The Bakersfield Californian

atchdog group is claiming that the Bakersfield City Council violated the Ralph M. Brown open meetings act when it voted to cancel an energy-efficiency financing program on July 19.


California Mobile Home Park Gets Cutting Edge Renewable Energy System 


The California Energy Commission is bank-rolling a plan to bring renewable energy to a mobile home park near Bakersfield, California. The money will allow for the installation of solar panels and a battery storage system. The idea is to make the technology available to communities that otherwise could not afford it.


Electric Bus Makers Poised for an L.A. Gold Rush 


There’s a highly charged competition going on in Los Angeles right now, and it’s between manufacturers of electric buses. Transit agencies around the country are going electric. San Francisco has been buying biodiesel hybrid buses and electric trolleys for years. Los Angeles wants to go electric, too.




Will California health insurance rates go up next year?

Sacramento Bee

The 1.4 million Californians who have bought private insurance via Covered California – the state health insurance exchange set up under the Affordable Care Act that allows individuals and small businesses to buy coverage at federally subsidized rates – find out today how much health insurance could cost them in 2018.


Lawsuits could force feds to pay Obamacare insurers


A pending court decision could force the Trump administration to pump billions of dollars into Obamacare insurers, even as the president threatens to let the health care law “implode.”

See also:

·       Trump Threatens Insurer Payments to Push Congress on Health-Law Repeal  Wall Street Journal

·       Ending ‘bailouts’ for insurers could cost millions their health coverage  CNN Money

CBO: Sen. Sanders’ prescription drug proposal saves Americans $7B

A Congressional Budget Office analysis estimates that a bill proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders that would allow Americans to buy prescription drugs from Canada and other countries would save taxpayers nearly $7 billion over the next 10 years.


Dozens attend forum on single-payer health care

Orange County Register

As the California state Senate moves forward with The Healthy California Act, which would create a universal single-payer health care plan for the state, the pros and cons were debated during an educational panel discussion at Laguna Niguel City Hall on Thursday, July 27.


Anthony Rendon is Wrong: SB 562 is Not “Woefully Incomplete”

This, right here, is the crux of what is wrong with Speaker Anthony Rendon’s decision to shelve Senate Bill 562, or the Healthy California Act, in the Assembly rules committee. Like the false claim that delegating authority to a board makes a bill “woefully incomplete,” his arguments against the Healthy California Act are easily disprovable. His excuses have ranged from, “it’s only a framework bill” to “a 35 page bill isn’t serious legislation” to even accusing the California Nurses Association of a cynical plot to “co-opt Bernie Sanders supporters.” Not a single one of his criticisms are accurate, and he knows they aren’t accurate.

Lake beach linked to E. coli kept shut as two children develop life-threatening condition

Sacramento Bee

A Nevada County lake’s beach remains closed following an E. coli outbreak that hospitalized four children, two of whom have developed a severe condition that can lead to fatal kidney failure.




Inquiries about immigration status will be barred in most civil liability cases under a new California law

Los Angeles Times

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Monday that makes a plaintiff’s immigration status irrelevant to the issue of liability in civil cases involving consumer protection, civil rights, labor and housing laws.


L.A. father detained by ICE after dropping daughter at school may be deported

Los Angeles Times

The family of Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez, an immigrant in the country illegally whose case has drawn international media attention, was devastated to learn that he could be deported as early as next week.


In California’s poultry plants, refugees fill the vacuum left after President Bush’s immigration raid

Los Angeles Times

Al Souki does not complain. He fled war-torn Syria and worked backbreaking 12-hour shifts in his home country and Jordan before making his way to the United States. He is grateful for the $10.50 an hour he collects at the poultry plant.




To solve California’s housing crisis, shift some power over land use away from local governments

Los Angeles Times

As Gov. Jerry Brown and California’s legislative leaders left for their summer break, they said the top priority when they returned would be addressing California’s housing affordability crisis. They’ll consider a bevy of bills, with an emphasis on providing funds for housing development. More funding will help, but it can’t solve the crisis. To effectively alleviate the housing shortage, the state must also ensure that local governments responsibly use their power to regulate land use.


Setbacks put affluent Moraga in fiscal straits

San Francisco Chronicle

Million-dollar homes line the streets of Moraga — yet the town struggles to pay its mounting expenses. The affluent community declared a fiscal emergency June 28 because a crumbling bridge and a 15-foot-deep sinkhole strained Moraga’s limited budget for repairs. Together they cost $5 million to fix.




San Jose cops who left amid pension turmoil eyeing return

San Jose Mercury News

Lateral hires as well as veteran officers who departed SJPD during years of bitter political turmoil are starting to come back amid new labor peace




Gov. Brown signs bill making it easier to create bike lanes — but not that much easier

Los Angeles Times

 It might sound strange that one of the main impediments for bike lanes in California is a state environmental law, but it’s true. The California Environmental Quality Act requires new projects to take into account effects on car congestion, and doing so has stymied bike lanes up and down the state for more than a decade.


Governor signs Frazier bill regarding highway signs

Vallejo Times Herald

Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1633 Monday, a bill by Assemblymember Jim Frazier, D-Solano, that directs Caltrans to work with electric vehicle charging businesses to post signage on state highways.








THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW: Local law enforcement agencies prepare for National Night Out

Bakersfield Californian

To do: Local law enforcement agencies are hosting National Night Out, an event that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood connection. Event activities include live entertainment, canine demos, free child ID kits and more. Children will also be able to check out law enforcement vehicles. 


California State Fair sees 5 percent attendance drop on 50th anniversary at Cal Expo

Sacramento Bee

Triple-digit weather dampened attendance at this year’s California State Fair, fair officials said Monday. The 17-day event at Cal Expo drew 636,628 visitors, 5 percent fewer than its 673,237 visitors last year. Last year’s total was down 14 percent from the 787,833 visitors of 2015. In 2010, the fair was moved to July to accommodate the early start of school in August, but prior to the change the fair had a record high attendance of 1.04 million in 2001.


Essential California: The deal to bring the 2028 Summer Olympics to L.A.

Los Angeles Times

After years of waiting and a last-second switcheroo, a deal has been reached for the Olympics to come to Los Angeles in 2028. The agreement will bring the Games back to Southern California for a third time, after Los Angeles hosted in 1984 and 1932. “It has been certainly a roller coaster,” L.A. bid chairman Casey Wasserman told The Times, adding that International Olympic Committee officials “showed a real willingness to be thoughtful and creative.” Los Angeles Times

See also:

·       Los Angeles reaches deal to host 2028 Olympics  POLITICO

California balloons can keep on flying, Gov. Brown says

Fresno Bee

On Monday, Brown’s office announced that he vetoed Assembly Bill 1091, legislation that sought to prohibit release of all balloons except those made of latex – essentially the kind you blow up yourself – beginning next year.

See also:

·       Gov. Jerry Brown vetoes a bill that would make it a crime to ‘willfully release’ helium balloons  Los Angeles Times

California considers lower bar for its tough lawyer exam

Associate Press
California considers making it easier to pass one of the most difficult bar exams in the US for prospective lawyers.