California PlaybookCarla Marinucci and Jeremy B. White’s must-read briefing on politics and government in the Golden State–LABOR mobilizes for NEWSOM — RENDON, ATKINS tout BUDGET deal — SCOCA takes up DEATH PENALTY — BIDEN taps KAMALA for voting rights

By JEREMY B. WHITE, CARLA MARINUCCI and RICHARD TZUL  06/02/2021 09:15 AM EDTPresented by Charge Ahead Coalition

THE BUZZ — Organized labor is getting ready to return the favor for Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Union officials yesterday previewed a statewide push against the Newsom recall effort, pledging to dispatch worker-volunteers to voters’ doorsteps in the months ahead of a vote. “California’s labor movement is united in opposition to the anti-governor recall, which is also an anti-worker recall,” California Labor Federation Executive-Secretary Treasurer Art Pulaski said. That set the tone for an event in which union executive after union executive promised to be there for a governor who has had their back, and cast Newsom’s Republican foes as anti-worker bogeymen who want to reverse course on paid leave, wage guarantees and workplace safety.
Newsom’s relationship with labor has hit some rocky patches, but allies still have plenty of accomplishments to point to: they haven’t forgotten that he expanded workers’ compensation to cover essential workers who contracted the coronavirus, siding with labor over business in a major pandemic standoff. They remember he signed legislation requiring more reporting of workplace outbreaks. They recounted how he worked with unions to distribute vaccines and personal protective equipment. Health care workers are glad he’s reversing in-home supportive services cuts. Newsom allayed labor frustration over vetoing a 2020 job retention bill for workers displaced by covid by backing a streamlined version this year.
Labor money has already been buttressing Newsom’s recall defense. Union groups have contributed more than $2 million so far to the anti-recall committee, about a quarter of the total, and you can bet that more is coming. The National Union of Healthcare Workers was first out of the gate with an anti-recall committee. Back in 2018, Newsom received more than $3 million in direct union donations as labor groups channeled some $9 million into independent expenditures on Newsom’s behalf.
But this isn’t just about the money. Even Republican contenders concede Newsom will likely enjoy an overwhelming financial advantage in this election thanks to his ability to draw unlimited amounts from a deep-pocketed coalition that includes not just labor but Silicon Valley executives, law firms, agricultural players and the California Democratic Party. That can buy a good amount of television time and targeted mailers. But it doesn’t guarantee people will take the time to vote.
That turnout factor is where unions are hoping to make a decisive impact. Union officials pledged to mobilize a broad door-knocking campaign — a return to the kind of in-person campaigning sidelined by the pandemic — that serves both to make the case for keeping Newsom and to remind voters there’s an election coming up. While California’s plans to mail every registered, active voter a ballot could somewhat offset a turnout plunge typical of off-year elections, polls suggest the enthusiasm advantage still goes to conservative Newsom foes. That’s where unions can wield their strength in numbers. “This,” Pulaski said, “is where union members shine.”
BUENOS DÍAS, good Wednesday morning. The California Supreme Court is poised to hear oral arguments today in a landmark death penalty case that asks if juries must unanimously agree on capital verdicts — a case in which Newsom, who has suspended executions, has formally backed the defendant in a brief noting the links between “racism and California’s capital punishment system.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “To talk to all the people in the state of California takes a lot of work, you know. It takes a lot of door-knocking, a lot of people, so it’s not early, really, for us – it’s getting late.” Pulaski on the GOTV task ahead.
TWEET OF THE DAY: Former VP Pence aide @AlyssaFarah on VP Harris getting yet another assignment: “Biden carrying on the long-standing American tradition of passing off the terrible/ impossible tasks to your VP”
WHERE’S GAVIN? Nothing official announced.
A message from Charge Ahead Coalition:CALIFORNIA: INVEST IN CLEAN AIR. The programs that put cleaner cars, trucks and buses on our streets are OUT OF MONEY, putting the health of 38+ million people at risk, especially people of color, who are 60% more likely to live with unhealthy air. That’s why we need lawmakers to invest at least 50% of all clean transportation budget funds in underserved communities. Learn more about maximizing budget funding for California’s equitable clean transportation programs.
FIREFIGHTER STATION SHOOTING — “Firefighter killed colleague at California fire station,” by the AP’s Stefanie Dazio: “The fire chief said the shooter then barricaded himself at his house less than 10 miles (16 kilometers) away from the station in Agua Dulce, a rural community of about 3,000 people in the desert of northern Los Angeles County known for its rock formations and panoramic views. The home was set on fire, gutting it in about three hours, and he was found dead.”
SAN JOSE SHOOTING FALLOUT — “Return of VTA light rail will take ‘weeks or months,’” by the Mercury News’ Nico Savidge: “The Guadalupe Yard, which functions as the nerve center of the light rail network, is a crime scene. Traumatized VTA workers who survived the shooting have funerals to attend — and beyond that may be reluctant to return to the buildings where their friends were killed and they fled the sounds of gunfire.”
C’MON MAN — “California’s EDD is so hard to reach that unemployed people are paying go-betweens to do it for them,” by the SFChronicle’s Carolyn Said: “Meanwhile, the agency’s data shows that its call volume is soaring and it’s lagging on answering. For the week that ended on May 15, EDD received 5.12 million calls from 378,146 unique callers — with almost a third of those callers unable to get through.”
BIG DONOR WATCH: California’s real estate industry would prefer Newsom stay in office, with the California Association of Realtors channeling $1.5 million to shield a governor who has pledged (with limited success) to construct millions more houses. Newsom’s recall defense also got $500,000 from the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria.
MYTHBUSTING — “The big myths about recall elections,” Joshua Spivak opines in the Hill: “That they work a surprising amount of the time; that special elections are more likely to result in an official losing than one that takes place on a regularly scheduled election date; and that turnout will drop. The confidence in these ideas may be a little misplaced. A look at the history of recalls shows that only one of these facts may be true.”
REALITY TV — “The California recall is fascinating — especially if you’re an East Coast TV anchor,” by the LATimes’ Michael Hiltzik: “As Politico’s Carla Marinucci observes, Jenner to this day ‘hasn’t had a public appearance, press conference, major policy announcement or in-depth interview with any state political reporter.’”
— “Huntington Beach Mayor Pro Tem Tito Ortiz resigns, citing personal attacks,” by the LATimes’ Hannah Fry and Leila Miller: “Ortiz, who was sworn in as a councilman Dec. 7, has been outspoken about his refusal to wear a mask or get a vaccine to protect against COVID-19. He’s previously accused his fellow council members of singling him out because of his conservative views.”
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THEY HAVE A DEAL — Democratic lawmakers announce two-house budget deal ahead of Newsom talks, by POLITICO’s Kevin Yamamura: The Democratic supermajority plan would expand programs beyond what the governor proposed in his record-high $267.8 billion budget revision last month. Among the most notable differences are providing Medi-Cal to undocumented immigrants at age 50 instead of 60 and giving health departments the $200 million they requested.
ECONOMY — “COVID-19 restrictions protected California’s economy. Now it’s poised for a ‘euphoric’ rebound,” by the LATimes’ Margot Roosevelt: “The Golden State’s strong technology and white-collar business sectors, along with a relatively rapid boost in home building, will buoy its economy, offsetting a slower return of tourist-dependent leisure and hospitality jobs, according to the UCLA Anderson quarterly forecast.”
— “California bill calls for $7 billion in COVID-19 bonuses for healthcare workers,” by the LATimes’ Melody Gutierrez: “Assembly Bill 650 by Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi (D-Rolling Hills Estates) would award bonuses in four equal payments of $2,500 during 2022, with smaller bonuses for those who work part time. The pay would be spread out in hopes that the cash would entice healthcare workers to remain in their jobs, said the bill’s main proponent, the Service Employees International Union California, a labor union whose membership includes healthcare workers.”
DAs SPEAK UP — “It’s too easy to sentence Black people to death in California. Time to make it harder,” by District Attorneys Chesa Boudin, Diana Becton and George Gascón in the Sac Bee: “California’s decades-long failure to impose adequate limits on who receives a death sentence has contributed to a bloated, racially biased and expensive system as well as the largest death row population in the country.”
REPARATIONS STUDY TASK FORCE — “‘If not us, then who?’ California begins historic study of reparations for African Americans,” by the Mercury News’ Emily Deruy: “The effort was created as part of a bill signed into law last year by Gov. Gavin Newsom and authored by then-lawmaker Shirley Weber, now California’s first Black secretary of state. It is the first time a state has formally undertaken a sweeping look at slavery and its impact on modern African American life, in what advocates hope will become a roadmap for a national approach to reparations.”
MORE EDD DRAMA — “Bank of America must provide more proof of fraud before freezing EDD accounts, court orders,” by the LATimes’ Patrick McGreevy: “U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria issued a preliminary injunction that was sought in a lawsuit by 15 jobless Californians who are among thousands who had their benefit debit cards frozen. Bank of America negotiated the terms of the order to prevent the unfreezing of debit cards on thousands of claims it or law enforcement has determined to be fraudulent.”
BAN EXTENSION — “California’s Plastic Straw Ban Could Extend to Cups, Condiments,” by Bloomberg’s Emily C. Dooley.
HOUSING SOLUTION? — “Oakland’s new push to stem homelessness: make RVs and tiny homes legal residences,” by the SFChronicle’s J.K. Dineen: “The set of Oakland ordinances, set to be announced Tuesday, would provide a ‘path to legalization’ for a variety of housing types that are currently banned under city law but nevertheless have become prevalent in a city where the number of unhoused has jumped 47% from 2017 to 2019. At 940 per 100,000 residents. Oakland now has a slightly higher percentage of unhoused people than San Francisco or Berkeley.”
ALSO — “Mayor Breed wants to spend $1 billion on homelessness in San Francisco over next two years,” by the SFChronicle’s Trisha Thadani: “That proposal, announced Tuesday as part of her wider plan for the city’s upcoming $13.1 billion budget, is on top of the $300 million or so already spent directly on homelessness each year. The historic investment reflects the intense pressure Breed and other city leaders are under to address the thousands living on the streets, in shelters and in unstable housing.”
POSSIBLE STRIKE ACTION — “UC faculty authorize potential strike for better job security, higher pay,” by the SFChronicle’s Emma Talley: “The faculty members will not immediately go on strike, but rather the vote empowers the union’s bargaining team to call for one if UC administrators fail to meet their demands, according to union president Mia McIver.”
STUDENT HURDLES — “These valley students were first in their families to go to college. COVID derailed their plans,” by Desert Sun’s Maya Jimenez: “While the availability of COVID-19 vaccines means a return to more normal life for most people, many of the 2.7 million students enrolled in California colleges and universities are having trouble finding their way back onto campus, according to National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).”
BEHIND THE SCENES — “Meet Seve Christian, who helped put California at the forefront of LGBTQ+ legislation,” by the 19th’s Kate Sosin: “California leads the nation on intersex rights, ending abuse against transgender people in prison, data collection on queer communities and progressive policies on HIV/AIDS prevention. Over the past two years, the bulk of that policy has stemmed from state Sen. Scott Wiener’s desk, and as the primary legislative aide taking up LGBTQ+ for Wiener, Christian has worked on nearly all of it.”
— “California wants to buy nonlethal bear traps and pay ranchers when wolves kill their cows,” by the Sac Bee’s Ryan Sabalow: “Eight years after California removed the word ‘game’ from the Department of Fish and Game and replaced it with ‘wildlife,’ the department that once focused on hunting and fishing licenses now spends the majority of its time on animal protection.”
— “Would we love to live in gorgeous California but never set foot in a DMV again? Yes, please,” by the Sac Bee’s Editorial Board: “DMV dread is multi-faceted but can be summarized within one of the most ironic questions known to California: How could the DMV be such a technological black hole when it serves people who live in the most technologically advanced corner of the world?”
HER LATEST ASSIGNMENT — Biden taps Harris to tackle voting rights legislation by POLITICO’s Ben Leonard: The assignment, which adds to a rapidly swelling portfolio that already includes addressing the root causes of migration from Central America, constitutes another daunting and politically charged task that Biden has dropped on his No. 2. But Harris, a former state attorney general, has worked on voting rights issues before and expressed interest in the subject.
NEW PHASE — “Bay Area pediatricians start to give COVID shots, the next phase of vaccinations,” by the SFChronicle’s Catherine Ho: “With many county-run mass vaccination sites winding down and the age requirement for shots likely to drop by next year, pediatricians’ offices are poised to become a primary place for children to get the coronavirus vaccine — especially now that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says children can get the shot at the same time they get other vaccinations.”
ALMOST THERE — “Map of California COVID tiers: Only 4 counties still in red,” via the Mercury News.
— “California wasted 31,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s how we ranked among other states,” by the Sac Bee’s Alexandra Yoon-Hendricks: “Given the scale of the vaccine rollout, the wasted dose data spanning from December 10 through May 10, indicate that local health departments were generally able to avoid tossing out shots or otherwise disposing the precious resource.”
WOMP WOMP — A U.S. privacy law seemed possible this Congress. Now, prospects are fading fast by POLITICO’s Alexandra S. Levine: That doesn’t bode well for Washington’s broader push to take on the tech industry’s titans. The deadlock on privacy sets a precedent for how much — or little — this Congress can move on other more politically divisive issues, like strengthening antitrust laws to better rein in Silicon Valley, or tightening rules around how social media companies police their users’ posts.
— “Facebook employees demand changes around Palestinian content,” by the FT’s Hannah Murphy: “Close to 200 Facebook employees have signed an open letter calling for the company’s leadership to address concerns that pro-Palestine voices on the social network are being suppressed by content moderation systems.”
TWITTER TROUBLE — “Tesla Failed to Oversee Elon Musk’s Tweets, SEC Argued in Letters,” by WSJ’s Dave Michaels and Rebecca Elliott: “In correspondence sent to Tesla in 2019 and 2020, the SEC said tweets Mr. Musk wrote about Tesla’s solar roof production volumes and its stock price hadn’t undergone the required preapproval by Tesla’s lawyers. The communications, which haven’t been previously reported, spotlight the running tension between the nation’s top corporate regulator and Mr. Musk, who publicly mocked the SEC even after settling fraud claims with the agency.”
GOOGLE’S PURCHASE — “Google adds key piece of downtown San Jose village puzzle,” by the Mercury News’ George Avalos: “The tech titan has bought a church site at 56 S. Montgomery St. in downtown San Jose, paying about $11.7 million in cash for the property, according to documents filed on May 28 with Santa Clara County officials.”
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PARTY! — “Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals announce 2022 dates,” by the OC Register’s Kelli Skye Fadroski.
CANNABIS TRIP — “A Company Is Giving Away Trips To Experience The Cannabis Harvest In California’s Humboldt County,” by Forbes’ Javier Hasse.
— “Suspect in Norco BB gun shooting pleads not guilty, bail now $1 million,” by the OC Register’s Brian Rokos.
— “The secrets tucked away in the San Francisco Armory, as told by its former Kink-y tenants,” by the SFGate’s Joshua Bote.
— “Taix, an Echo Park favorite, could be overhauled. Should the city protect its building?” by the LATimes’ Emily Alpert Reyes.
— “‘Hero’ teenager shoves away huge bear swiping at family dogs, California video shows,” by the Sac Bee’s Don Sweeney.
— “L.A. County sheriff’s deputy charged with sexually abusing teenage niece,” by the LATimes’ James Queally.
— “San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputy dies after high-speed desert pursuit,” by the LATimes’ Hayley Smith.
— “What life inside a Northern California prison is like for Gina Champion-Cain,” by the SD Union Tribune’s Lori Weisberg.
— Robert E. Beaudry is taking over as acting president and chief executive of the California Primary Care Association until the organization finds a permanent replacement.
“Pod Save America” host Jon Favreau is 40 … Airbnb’s Chris Lehane … Brooks Boliek
A message from Charge Ahead Coalition:We cannot delay funds that will take California’s air pollution crisis head on with equitable investments in cleaner cars, truck and buses. Here’s why: 1) Ninety-eight percent of Californians are living in a region with an “F” grade for air quality. 2) Residents living in Southern California neighborhoods with high levels of smog forming pollution from cars and trucks have a 60% increase in the chance of death from COVID-19. 3) California’s clean vehicle workforce is projected to double in just the next three years. And, 4) transitioning to 100% zero-emission transportation will save California families $1,000 a year for the next 30 years.
30+ environmental justice, health, labor, business, and environmental organizations are calling on the legislature to support the Governor’s budget and go further to clean up the air in communities that are hit first and worst by pollution from vehicles.
Legislators, it’s time to invest in clean air.
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