Gascón Recall Effort Fails as LA Registrar Recorder Denies 200K Signatures

‘If this was my recall team, I’d definitely look into it – Something is off’

Los Angeles County Registrar Recorder/County Clerk Dean Logan announced on Monday that the recall petition of LA District Attorney George Gascon failed to reach the needed number of signatures, only garnering 520,050 of the needed 566,867 needed to be on the November 2022 ballot.

In July, LA Mayoral candidate and current Rep. Karen Bass said “My focus is going to be on the mayor’s race…I’m not going to be focused on the recall,” LAMag.com reported, and said she “then went on to characterize the chances the recall will qualify for the ballot as ‘doubtful.’”

When the second recall attempt against Gascon kicked off in January following the failed 2021 attempt, the number of signatures quickly grew. By June, so many had been collected that the safety goal was being reached and criminals in the County were so worried of it succeeding that many began asking for more plea deals ahead of such a recall being on the ballot. Around 716,000 were turned in by the early July deadline, with number of signatures widely being seen as enough, as previous petitions, such as the Gavin Newsom recall campaign in 2021, had only a 20% rejection rate.

“I wouldn’t say it’s in the bag or we’ll be complacent, but as far as public opinion is concerned, George Gascon is toast,” said Recall DA George Gascon Tim Lineberger spokesman last month.

However, on Monday, 195,783 signatures of the 715,833 turned in were invalidated, causing the recall petition to not advance.

“Based on the examination and verification, which conducted in compliance with the statutory and regulatory requirements of the California Government Code, Elections Code, and Code of Regulations, 520,050 signatures were found to be valid and 195,783 were found to be invalid,” said Logan on Monday. “Therefore, the petition has failed to meet the sufficiency requirements and no further action shall be taken on the petition.”

Of the nearly 200,000 invalidated signatures, 88,000 were not registered, 43,593 were duplicates, 32,187 were a different address, 9,490 were mismatched signatures, 7,344 were canceled, 5,374 were out of county addresses, with 9,300 being uncounted under the ‘other’ category.

Those against the recall attempt celebrated on Monday, with a Gascon campaign spokesperson saying “We are obviously glad to move forward from this attempted political power grab, but we also understand that there is far more work that needs to be done. And we remain strongly committed to that work. The DA’s primary focus is and has always been keeping us safe and creating a more equitable justice system for all. Today’s announcement does not change that.”

Gascon himself also gave a brief tweet, echoing similar sentiments.

Click here to read the full article at the California Globe

Good Samaritan Tackles Suspect Who Allegedly Assaulted, Robbed Elderly Man in Hollywood

A homeless man who assaulted and allegedly attempted to rob an elderly man at a Hollywood restaurant was chased down and subdued by a good Samaritan until authorities could arrive.

Security camera footage captured the incident and was shared on YouTube by Amherst Technologies on Friday. Since being shared on Twitter on Saturday, the video has received over 500,000 views as of Sunday evening.

In the footage from the restaurant, a man, described as homeless, can be seen walking up to the elderly man, who is off-camera, and proceeds to assault him while allegedly stealing his wallet and phone.

Sitting nearby, the good Samaritan, who can be heard narrating the events of the footage, witnessed the assault and immediately chased the suspect down.

The footage then cuts to a street view where the narrator tackles the man while a wallet — presumably the elderly man’s — falls from the suspect’s hands and onto the street.

The homeless man can be seen punching the good Samaritan in the face before he is tackled to the ground.

“That is where he clocked me,” the narrator said. “He ruined my glasses. They’re destroyed.”

A woman is then seen picking up the wallet and assisting the good Samaritan in subduing the suspect by stepping on his feet.

The narrator notes he slowly turned the suspect over to have him facing up.

From then on, the good Samaritan pinned the alleged robber down for a few minutes while he attempted to wrestle himself away to no avail.

Authorities eventually arrived, and the suspect was seen being arrested by police.

It is unknown when and where precisely in Hollywood the incident occurred or the details regarding the suspect’s detainment.

Breitbart News reached out to Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) for more details but did not receive an immediate response.

Click here to read the full article in BreitbartCA

Newsom, Out Front on Marriage and Marijuana, Faces ‘Different Animal’ On Drug Sites

Gavin Newsom is facing one of the toughest political decisions of his career: whether to grant state permission for San Francisco, Oakland and Los Angeles to open experimental safe injection sites as a way to curb California’s overdose crisis.

Most elected leaders couldn’t veto something like this fast enough. Condoning illegal drug use — even if it is supervised by professionals — sounds politically insane.

But since his first days in elective office, Newsom has been at his best when he’s looking around the corner and leading on a controversial issue, long before it’s well understood, much less politically popular. Think about his leadership on same-sex marriage, the legalization of cannabis, rolling back the death penalty, toughest-in-the-nation gun safety laws and making California an abortion rights sanctuary.

Newsom was out front early and loudly on those issues — even when the rest of America thought he was nuts and the moves jeopardized his career.

“SF Mayor Gavin Newsom Risks Career on Gay Marriage” blared a Newsweek headline in January 2009, two months after California voters backed Proposition 8, which banned the same-sex marriages that Newsom had approved weeks after beginning his stint as San Francisco’s mayor in 2004. After the loss, Newsweek wrote that “Newsom has become a joke to Democratic insiders, a man whose bright national future ended before it began.”

So much for predictions. Score one for being ahead of the curve.

But this decision is different, which may be why insiders say Newsom is hesitating about whether to approve the pilot program to allow people to inject or smoke drugs in the presence of harm-reduction specialists in controlled settings. As my colleague Heather Knight has written about extensively, it is a way to address the overdose epidemic that is out of control. Since 2020, 1,649 people have died of overdoses in San Francisco, nearly twice as many as those who have died due to COVID-19.

This is not an untried idea. Similar sites have been operating in Canada and Europe. New York has been running two since last year. The city’s new mayor — former police officer Eric Adams, hardly a progressive — likes them so much that he’s considering keeping them open all night.

It seems like the exact type of cutting-edge idea that Newsom would leap to support, said Kim Nalder, a professor of political science at Sacramento State University.

“With so many issues, he’s shown that he’s willing to blaze a trail, so it’s already his brand,” Nalder said. “Californians already expect him to do things that are out of the mainstream that might be ahead of the rest of the country. So I don’t think it hurts him to do more bold actions because that’s part of his logo already.”

There’s one problem. In raw political terms, it’s a loser.

Unlike Newsom’s move to legalize same-sex marriage or put his weight behind cannabis and abortion rights, there’s no constituency for needle drug users. After Newsom permitted San Francisco to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, there was a long, joyous line of loving couples snaking around City Hall, eternally grateful to Newsom for enabling them to do something they thought would never happen in their lifetime — get married.

Politically, he was prescient. Then, about 42% of Americans supported gay marriage, according to Gallup. Now, 71% of the country — including a majority of Republicans — support same-sex nuptials.

Newsom was also ahead of the curve when he led the drive to legalize cannabis in California in 2016 while he was lieutenant governor, becoming one of the highest-ranking officials in the country to back legalization. Longtime former GOP operative Tim Miller praised Newsom for his weed work and said he could take it even further.

“Running a national ‘Legalize It’ (cannabis) campaign would be really popular,” said Miller, who was a bare-knuckled political operative when he worked on presidential campaigns for John McCain and Jon Huntsman.

“But needle drugs?” Miller said and shook his head. “This is just a different, different animal.”

Click here to read the full article at the SF Chronicle

More Violence Along Mexican Border

The Mexican border cities of Tijuana, Mexicali, Rosarito and Ensenada were hit by gang violence that included vehicles being set ablaze and road blockades.

The U.S. Consulate in Tijuana instructed its employees “to shelter in place until further notice” because of the violence.

It was the third time in a week that Mexican cities have seen widespread arson and shootings by drug cartels. The gangs appear to be targeting stores, vehicles and innocent bystanders in response to disputes or attempts to capture gang members.

Baja California state officials said 24 vehicles had been hijacked and burned at different points throughout the state: 15 in Tijuana, three in Rosarito and two each in Mexicali, Ensenada and Tecate.

Tijuana Mayor Montserrat Caballero blamed it on disputes between drug gangs and asked them to stop the violence.

Caballero issued a public appeal to “organized crime,” the term used in Mexico for drug cartels, to stop the growing trend of targeting innocent civilians.

“Today we are saying to the organized crime groups that are committing these crimes that Tijuana is going to remain open and take care of its citizens,” Caballero said in a video, “and we also ask them to settle their debts with those who didn’t pay what they owe, not with families and hard-working citizens.”

The extent of the violence was still unclear Saturday. Late Friday, the U.S. Consulate in Tijuana said in a statement that it “is aware of reports of multiple vehicle fires, roadblocks and heavy police activity in Tijuana, Mexicali, Rosarito, Ensenada and Tecate.”

On Saturday, few people ventured out in Tijuana and many of the bus and passenger van services stopped running, leaving some residents unable to get where they were going.

“Let them fight it out among themselves, but leave us alone,” said Tijuana resident Blanca Estela Fuentes, as she looked for some means of public transport. “So they kill each other, they can do whatever they want, but the public, why are we to blame?”

The federal public safety department said one person was wounded in the violence and that federal, state and local forces had detained 17 suspects, including seven in Tijuana and four each in Rosarito and Mexicali.

The mayor’s comment about Tijuana remaining open was an apparent reference to the border city of Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, where some classes and public events were canceled after similar violence Thursday.

In Ciudad Juarez, authorities said gang members fatally shot nine people, including four employees of a radio station, after a fight between rival gangs at a prison left two inmates dead.

On Tuesday, drug cartel gunmen burned vehicles and businesses in the western states of Jalisco and Guanajuato in response to an attempt to arrest a high-ranking leader of the Jalisco cartel.

Oxxo, a national chain of convenience stores owned by Femsa, the country’s largest bottling company, said 25 of its stores in Guanajuato — which borders Jalisco, home to the cartel of the same name — were either totally or partly burned Tuesday.

The area around Tijuana, which borders Southern California, is a lucrative drug-trafficking corridor long dominated by the Arellano Felix cartel but that has since become a battleground among various gangs, including the Jalisco and Sinaloa cartels.

Speaking about the Ciudad Juarez violence on Thursday, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said: “They attacked the civilian, innocent population like a sort of revenge. It wasn’t just a clash between two groups, but it got to the point where they began to shoot civilians, innocent people. That is the most unfortunate thing in this affair.”

Four employees of the MegaRadio station who were broadcasting a live promotional event outside a pizza store in Ciudad Juarez were killed in the shootings.

Such random violence is not without precedent in Mexico.

In June of last year, a rival faction of the Gulf cartel entered the border city of Reynosa and killed 14 people the governor identified as “innocent citizens.”

The military responded and killed four suspected gunmen.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

What Takes Years and Costs $20K? A San Francisco Trash Can

What takes four years to make and costs more than $20,000? A trash can in San Francisco.

That costly, boxy bin is among six trash cans hitting San Francisco’s streets this summer in the city’s long saga in search of the perfect can. Overflowing trash cans are a common sight in the Northern California city, along with piles of used clothes, shoes, furniture and other items strewn about on sometimes-impassable sidewalks.

City officials hired a Bay Area industrial firm to custom-design the pricey trash can along with two other prototypes that cost taxpayers $19,000 and $11,000 each. This summer, residents have the opportunity to evaluate them along with three off-the-shelf options added to the pilot program after officials faced criticism.

Last month, the city deployed 15 custom-made trash cans and 11 off-the-shelf trash cans — each of those costing from $630 to $2,800 — with QR codes affixed to them asking residents to fill out a survey. City officials said they intend to pay no more than $3,000 per can.

San Francisco began its search for the perfect trash can in 2018 when officials decided it was time to replace the more than 3,000 public bins that have been on the streets for almost 20 years.

Officials say the current bins have too big a hole that allows for easy rummaging. The bins also have hinges that need constant repair and locks that are easy to breach. Some people also topple them over, cover them in graffiti, or set them on fire.

The city is so serious about the endeavor it has created interactive maps so residents can track and test the different designs, which include the Soft Square, the priciest prototype at $20,900. The boxy stainless steel receptacle has openings for trash and for can and bottle recycling and includes a foot pedal. The Slim Silhouette, at $18,800 per prototype, is made of stainless steel bars that give would-be graffiti artists less space to tag.

If one of the custom-designed bins is chosen, the cost to mass produce it will be $2,000 to $3,000 per piece, said Beth Rubenstein, a spokeswoman for San Francisco’s Department of Public Works.

“We live in a beautiful city, and we want (the trash can) to be functional and cost-effective, but it needs to be beautiful,” she said.

But the good looks of the shiny new trash cans have not protected them from vandalism and disrespect. Three weeks after being unveiled, several have already been tagged with orange and white graffiti. Others already show the drip stains of inconsiderate coffee drinkers or have attracted dumping, with people leaving dilapidated bathroom cabinets and plastic bags full of empty wine bottles next to them.

Trash on San Francisco city streets has been an issue for decades. In 2007, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom eliminated about 1,500 of the city’s 4,500 trash cans because he said they were not helping keep streets clean and were becoming magnets for more trash. Officials couldn’t say how many receptacles are currently on the curb, but the city plans to replace at least 3,000.

“A trash can is one of the most basic functions of city governance and if the city can’t do something as simple as this, how can they solve the bigger issues of homelessness and safety and poverty?” asked Matt Haney, a former supervisor who lives in the Tenderloin neighborhood and now represents the area in the California Assembly.

New trash cans will be the latest addition to the city’s arsenal against its dirty streets. In 2014, San Francisco launched its “Pit Stop” program in the Tenderloin neighborhood, the epicenter of drug dealing and homelessness in the city, setting up portable public toilets. In 2018, the city created a six-person “poop patrol” team amid demand to power wash sidewalks.

Haney said that as a supervisor he reluctantly agreed last year to approve the pilot program despite the high prices to avoid delays.

“I think most people, including me, would say just replace the damn cans with cans that we know work in other cities, just do it,” he said.

Haney said the “whole trash can saga has this stench of corruption,” referring to disgraced former Department of Public Works Director Mohammed Nuru, who pleaded guilty in January to federal wire fraud charges. Nuru awarded the contract to maintain San Francisco’s trash cans to a company owned by a relative of a developer who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and is cooperating with federal authorities in the case against Nuru.

On top of the corruption, the city has long been the butt of jokes for how long it takes to complete public works projects of all kinds.

A bus rapid transit system along Van Ness Avenue, one of the city’s main arteries, finally opened this year after 27 years of construction. A new subway line connecting Chinatown with other areas of the city that started construction in 2010 is four years behind schedule. In 2017, the city completed the Transbay Transit Center only a year late, but the $2 billion terminal abruptly shut down six weeks later after crews discovered two cracked steel girders.

Ultimately, what trash can the city gets will depend on feedback from sanitation employees, and the surveys completed by the end of September, Rubenstein said. The new cans are not expected on the streets until the end of 2023.

Diane Torkelson, who often picks up trash in her Inner Richmond neighborhood with other volunteers, recently trekked 5 miles (8 kilometers) with a dozen other civic-minded San Franciscans to examine three of the cans.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

Congress Just Passed the Inflation Reduction Act. It Will Hike Taxes on Some Middle-class Households.

It also spends billions on new green energy programs, and it lets the IRS hire 87,000 new agents.

Congressional Democrats have put the finishing touches on a questionable bet: that higher taxes will help tame rising prices, and that voters will reward the effort.

On Friday afternoon, the House of Representatives approved a $300 billion tax hike with a party-line vote, 220–207, sending the Inflation Reduction Act to President Joe Biden’s desk. It passed the Senate with a similar party-line vote on Sunday.

Despite the bill’s name, independent analysts have found it will have virtually no impact on inflation. In reality, it is a pared-down version of what Biden originally pitched as the “Build Back Better” plan—it leaves aside much of the original bill’s spending, but it maintains a huge corporate tax increase, huge spending on green energy initiatives, and a plan to swell the ranks of IRS agents. What was originally a roughly $4 trillion proposal that would have relied heavily on borrowing ended up being something of a rarity in Washington: a bill that will raise more revenue than it spends.

And where will it get that revenue? Quite possibly from you. Households earning as little as $50,000 annually are more likely to see a tax increase than a tax break from the legislation.

In the final hours before the House vote, the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) completed a breakdown of how the bill’s corporate tax increases would affect households at various income levels. The JTC, a nonpartisan number-crunching agency within Congress, found that households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 are more likely to see a tax increase than a tax decrease next year.

Higher-earning households are more likely to see tax increases, but households earning more than $1 million next year are actually far more likely than lower-earning households to get a tax break.

That fits with what The Tax Foundation, a tax policy think tank, found when it analyzed the bill. The Inflation Reduction Act will “would also reduce average after-tax incomes for taxpayers across every income quintile over the long run,” the Tax Foundation reported on Wednesday. Those tax increases will reduce long-term economic output by about 0.2 percent and could eliminate 29,000 jobs, the group found.

Democrats pushed the bill as a cost-cutting measure that would help Americans make ends meet, reduce the federal budget deficit, and help protect the environment.

“It makes a difference at the kitchen table,” Pelosi said at a press conference on Friday morning. “And at the board room table, corporations will now have to pay their fair share.”

If only those two things could be separated as cleanly as Pelosi implies. Tax increases on corporations get passed along from the board room table to the kitchen table in a variety of ways: lower pay for workers, higher prices for consumers, and smaller investment returns for shareholders.

As Reason has detailed a length in recent weeks, other aspects of the bill also leave much to be desired. It would dedicate about $300 billion of new revenue to reduce the long-term budget deficit, but that aspect of the bill is probably better understood as a plan to actually pay for about an eighth of the borrowing that Congress has approved since Biden took office. Meanwhile, giving the IRS a massive budget boost so it can hire 87,000 new agents likely means more tax audits aimed at the middle class, no matter what Democrats are currently claiming. The expanded subsidies for purchasing of health insurance via the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces is likely to push inflation higher. And the bill’s aim to reduce carbon emissions to 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2031 may be plausible, but just barely.

Perhaps the only aspect of the Inflation Reduction Act that’s as bizarre as its name is the meta-analysis of the bill that’s been taking place in political media. Its passage is a “win” that “could give Democrats a boost heading into the midterms,” according to NPR. It “will help validate the Democrats’ monopoly on political power in Washington and hand Joe Biden a notable presidential legacy ahead of November’s midterm elections,” gushed CNN’s Stephen Collinson.

Time will tell, but this sounds like a reprise of the claims that were made after last year’s bipartisan infrastructure package—which, regardless of what you think about its merits, plainly hasn’t done much to reverse Biden’s flagging approval rating.

Click here to read the full article at Reason

Ex-S.F. D.A. Chesa Boudin is Sending Out Fundraising Emails, Fueling Speculation Over Whether He’ll Run Again

Amid disquieting revelations about District Attorney Brooke Jenkins’ financial disclosures, her former boss blasted an email out to his supporters.

“Brooke Jenkins failed to meet the standards the people of San Francisco deserve,” former District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s wrote last week. Jenkins has faced scrutiny for presenting herself as a volunteer for the recall effort that booted Boudin from office, while accepting more than $100,000 in consulting fees from organizations linked to the campaign to oust him.

Those activities, he said were “unbecoming of the office of District Attorney.”

At the end of the email was a large, blue “contribute” button, though it was not clear what cause he was fundraising for. The email was paid for by the political committee Boudin for District Attorney 2023.

Boudin has said he would not enter this fall’s special election that will decide who will finish out the rest of what would have been a four-year term. But he has also not ruled out reentering next year’s scheduled DA’s race.

Although Boudin isn’t running in November, the shadow of his embittered recall election continues to animate the upcoming race, where Jenkins is facing off against two main contenders — John Hamasaki and Joe Alioto Veronese.

In a statement to The Chronicle, Boudin said the 2023 contest “is a long way off and there are too many variables involved to make a statement on running, but I am committed to fighting for justice and a safer San Francisco.”

Boudin said attorneys were directing him on how the donations can be legally used.

Jim Ross, who was a political consultant on Boudin’s campaign against the recall but is no longer working for him, said the funds could help build a war chest should Boudin decide to run again, but that there are several other places they could be used as well.

In general, campaign funds can also be moved to another political or public affairs entity, like a ballot measure committee or political organization, or to certain eligible nonprofits, Ross said. Committees can also return the unused funds to donors.

The contributions cannot be used to support the candidate’s run for a different office. The funds could help support another candidate, but donations would be limited to $500, Ross said.

The Boudin for District Attorney 2023 committee was created shortly after his January 2020 swearing-in as top prosecutor — long before the recall. Boudin would have been up for re-election in 2023. The race could ultimately be held in 2024 if San Franciscans pass a November ballot measure that would move the city’s local races to presidential election years.

Jenkins, who quit Boudin’s office to lead the effort to unseat him, was at the center of her own controversy this week after financial disclosures revealed she raked in over $100,000 during the time she worked as a self-titled volunteer for the recall campaign. The bulk of these funds came from a 501c3 organization that has ties to — but is legally separate from — a group that bankrolled the recall.

Ethics experts said it didn’t appear Jenkins broke any laws, but voters may see her claim to be a volunteer for the recall as a misrepresentation. Jenkins was a powerful force for the campaign, in part because of her contention that she quit Boudin’s office due to her personal convictions and was not swayed by financial incentives.

Read the full article at SF Chronicle

Bill To Punish Social Media Companies For Addictive Features For Minor Users Killed in Senate

‘Social media companies had so much to lose from this bill’

A bipartisan bill that would punish social media companies for having addictive and harmful features for users under the age of 18 was was killed in the Senate on Thursday, ending hopes this year for social media addiction legislation in California.

Assembly Bill 2408, authored by Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham (R-Paso Robles) and Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), proposed to hold social media companies responsible for addicting children under the age of 18 to their services and would impose a duty not to addict as well as prohibit the use and sale of a child’s personal data. The bill, also known as the Social Media Platform Duty to Children Act, would allow the legal guardian of the child who suffers injury due to the addiction to sue the companies, which includes a civil penalty of up to $250,000 per violation.

AB 2408 would cover all social media features created before January 2023. Only social media companies that make $100 million or more in gross revenue in the past year would be covered by the bill. Streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, or Disney+ would not be covered, with the same exemption ruling out companies that only offer e-mailing or texting services, as well as services whose primary functions allow users to play video games, due to their everyday and emergency uses.

If it passed, companies would either have had until April of next year to remove the features addictive to those under 18, or conduct regular audits to find any parts of their service being addictive and taking action to not be held liable.

While both Assemblymembers wrote the bill due to studies showing the rise of social media addiction in teensrecent social media company whistleblowers coming forward with information showing how addictive it can be, and growing concern among parental and advocacy groups that social media is growing less safe for kids, social media companies lobbied hard against the bill.

Most notably, Meta (which owns Facebook and Instagram), Twitter, Snap (which owns Snapchat), and TikTok spent millions in their individual lobbies due to the potential of losing millions more as well as losing users under the age of 18.

“Social media companies had so much to lose from this bill,” explained Sharon Ireland, a social media consultant, to the Globe on Thursday. “They all agree that addiction is an important issue to tackle, but they also didn’t want to be chopped off at the knees because of it.”

AB 2408 killed in Senate

In May, Assemblyman Cunningham explained that the bill was about protecting kids as no national action or action by the companies themselves had been implemented yet.

“The era of unfettered social experimentation on children is over and we will protect kids,” said Assemblyman Cunningham. “The issue that we’re trying to address is there’s really no incentive for these social media companies to do anything different than what they’ve been doing. D.C. isn’t taking action on this. There’s bipartisan agreement that something needs to happen. But guess what’s coming out of Washington? Nothing. California can lead the way here.”

AB 2408 had an unusual voting record since being introduced this year. While it passed the Assembly and made it through one Senate committee, Republicans and Democrats were with each other on both sides, either voting to pass the bill or not voting on the measure rather than say no. Republicans in favor of social media companies as well as Democrats from the Bay area largely split from those in favor of those taking the more hardline stance of protecting kids online.

Earlier this month the bill was placed on the suspense file. On Thursday, a quick vote killed the bill, ending the effort for at least the rest of the year.

While social media companies celebrated, Cunningham noted that kids would still be harmed in the meantime and said that voters would have likely supported the bill if it was up to them.

“I am extremely disappointed,” said Cunningham. “The bill’s death means a handful of social media companies will be able to continue their experiment on millions of California kids, causing generational harm.”

“This idea would be overwhelmingly supported if presented directly to the voters, as it would be prohibitively expensive for social media companies to take every California voter on a Tech Caucus junket in Napa.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Newsom Unveils Long-Term Strategy to Bolster California Water Supply

California Gov. Gavin Newsom today unveiled a broad strategy for bolstering the state’s water supply that includes targets to recycle more water, expand reservoir storage and collect more data on the amounts farmers use.

Newsom warned that new strategies are essential because California’s water supply will shrink by 10% as climate change brings warmer, drier conditions throughout the state.

The plan, however, has limited details, distant deadlines and does not include a water conservation mandate. 

It also does not include measures to substantially address water use by agriculture, which uses about four times more water in California than people in urban areas use.

Included in the plan are possible grants to fallow fields and programs to collect timely data on how much surface water growers use. It also floats the possibility of regulations to curtail growers’ pumping from rivers and streams beyond drought emergencies.

The new report mentions that the state’s administration of a complex and archaic water rights system — entrenched since the Gold Rush — needs changes. ”That is something (Newsom) will lean into,” Anthony York, a spokesperson for the governor, told CalMatters. “That’s a huge deal for ag.” 

Despite an ongoing drought that grips the state, the governor’s strategies will not increase the amounts of water available to urban areas and farms in the near future: For instance, it sets a 2030 target for recycling 800,000 acre-feet of water by 2030 — an 8% increase from the amount recycled in 2020. The 2040 target climbs to 1.8 million acre-feet. 

The drought “is not a short-term situation. It’s the new reality. And we cannot conserve our way out of this given how our climate has changed,” York said.

In the 19-page document released today, the Newsom administration outlined efforts that include bolstering recycled water supplies and storage capacity, both in reservoirs and groundwater. Included are:

  • Increasing desalination of brackish water by 28,000 acre-feet per year by 2030 and 84,000 acre-feet per year by 2040.  An acre foot of water can serve on average three Southern California households for a year.
  • Expanding reservoir and groundwater storage capacity by about 4 million acre-feet — through more groundwater recharge, stormwater capture, completing storage projects and expanding or rehabilitating existing reservoirs and dams. 
  • Finalizing water efficiency standards for houses and businesses called for by 2018 “in ways that make sense in each region.” 
  • Considering rules or other ways to “streamline and modernize the water right system, clarify senior water rights, and establish more equitable fees.”

A key theme of the strategy is expediting permitting for a range of projects, including groundwater recharge and desalination. At the briefing, Newsom bemoaned what he called the “regulatory thickets” slowing these efforts, and pledged to work with the Legislature in its last weeks of session to “help us fast track these projects.” 

“The time to get these damn projects is ridiculous. It’s absurd. It’s reasonably comedic,” Newsom said. 

Newsom recently moved to streamline permitting for renewable energy projects, a contentious effort that lawmakers called “rushed” and “lousy.”

The report also touted the state’s controversial tunnel proposal to replumb the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and pump more water southAntioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe criticized the tunnel plan during remarks today with Newsom, although he voiced support for the rest of the administration’s water strategy. 

Asked during the briefing about often-heard, far-fetched ideas such as container ships ferrying water from Canada and the Pacific Northwest, Newsom answered, “I assure you, we have some more novel ones…that are more interesting. But that’s for later.”

The strategies released today were already “identified broadly” in the state’s Water Resilience Portfolio, a news release says, “but they will now be expedited given the urgency of climate driven changes.” 

Peter Gleick, co-founder and senior fellow at The Pacific Institute, a global water think-tank, applauded the announcement, but noted its limitations. 

“Many of the things in this strategy are important, many of these things need to be done. All of them need to be done faster. And there’s some gaps,” Gleick said. “There’s very little in here for agriculture … a hard challenge, because there are fewer knobs and levers that the state can turn and twist here.” 

For urban users, Newsom has not followed in the footsteps of former Gov. Jerry Brown, who imposed a statewide conservation mandate. Newsom has thus far preferred to leave the details to local water agencies in what he has called a “mandate of local mandates.” 

Newsom said today’s that his voluntary approach came out of a comprehensive analysis of lessons learned from the last drought. “One of the principal recommendations in that report was do not impose one-size-fits-all,” Newsom said. He said he has met twice with water agency leaders to tell them, “You’ve got to step up your conservation efforts, or we will impose these statewide mandates.”

But water use has not substantially declined under his voluntary measures. Urban usage dropped by about 7.6% in June compared to two years ago, but only 2.7% since last July compared to the same stretch in 2020. 

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

California Legislative Leadership Opposes Prop 27, an Online Sports Betting Ballot Measure

California’s legislative leadership — which includes the Democratic and Republican chiefs in the Senate and Assembly — found some common ground this week as they collectively came out against a ballot measure that would legalize online and mobile sports wagering. 

Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, Senate Minority Leader Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood, and Assembly Minority Leader James Gallagher, R-Yuba City, announced their opposition to Proposition 27 this week. 

The legislative leaders cited a concern for revenue benefiting out-of-state entities rather than tribes should the measure pass. 

“California’s tribes have proven to be safe and responsible operators of gaming in California, providing benefits to their communities and to their members,” Atkins said. 

“Prop 27 eliminates the sovereign right of California tribes to operate gaming in California,” said Wilk. “They have proven to be excellent stewards of this responsibility.” 

Prop 27 would legalize online and mobile sports betting for individuals in California who are at least 21 years old, offered by federally recognized tribes and “eligible businesses that contract with them.” The ballot language stipulates tax and licensing revenues would be directed to homelessness programs and nonparticipating tribes. 

The ballot measure “will allow every tribe — not just those with big casinos close to big cities — a chance to directly benefit from online sports betting in California,” Jose “Moke” Simon, chairman of the Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians and a member of the Yes on 27 campaign, has said. “The measure puts tribes firmly in control of online sports betting in California.” 

Prop 27 is expected to increase state revenues “possibly in the hundreds of millions of dollars” but isn’t likely to exceed $500 million per year, according to the legislative analyst’s estimate.

But critics have maintained the measure, backed by industry heavyweights like DraftKings and FanDuel, would really benefit the out-of-state gaming companies. There is also concern that it could expose children or teenagers to gambling addictions without proper safeguards in place. 

Prop 27 is not the only sports wagering measure before voters in November. The other, Prop 26, would legalize sports betting at tribal casinos and certain horse racing tracks, including Santa Anita Park and Los Alamitos Race Course. 

Earlier this month, the California-Hawaii NAACP filed a lawsuit asking for an opposition statement attributed to a member of the organization’s Los Angeles branch to be stricken from Prop 26 ballot materials, alleging it is “false and/or misleading” since it does support the measure. The No on 26 group quickly agreed to remove the statement. 

The Secretary of State’s Office’s official voter information guide is under public scrutiny until Monday, Aug. 15. 

A statewide ballot measure would need to be approved by a majority vote to be enacted.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register