Gov. Newsom Relying on Politics and Deceit over CA’s High Gas Prices

We are witnessing political science and not climate science

Californians pay the highest income taxes in the nation, have the highest taxes on the wealthy, highest gas taxes and highest gas prices at the pump, highest housing prices, highest energy prices, most regressive taxes hurting the poor… need we keep going? California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s latest proposal is a new tax on oil suppliers, and will only serve to make gas prices even higher.

But CLIMATE CHANGE!

Gov. Newsom continues to demonize the oil and gas industry for “windfall oil company profits,” while patting himself on the back for “taking action to lower prices at the pump, by ordering the switch to winter-blend gasoline.” He also is “demanding accountability from oil companies and refiners that do business in California,” by calling for a windfall tax on oil companies, claiming that money “would go directly back to California taxpayers.”

We don’t believe for a minute that Gov. Newsom is woefully ignorant of the supply and demand economic model of price determination in a market. So that means the governor is relying on politics and deceit.

California’s record-high gas prices have been as high as nearly $8.00 per gallon in some locations.

Newsom cannot legislate a better climate by increasing energy costs, and turning over more energy decisions to unelected state bureaucrats, lobbyists, and activists. This is one of the worst things California’s Governor and politicians can do while claiming they are  “saving the planet,” but really harming Californians economically.

The Western States Petroleum Association has warned Gov. Newsom will start banning gasoline, diesel and even hybrid cars and trucks in 2026, well before California has an electrical grid that can handle the increased energy demand while keeping our light on, or before there are more affordable electric vehicle options for families.

Energy providers currently direct electric car owners to NOT charge their vehicles during hot days when they anticipate energy shortages and possible rolling blackouts.

The California Air Resources Board is leading this charge to fulfill Gov. Newsom’s executive order to ban the sale of gas-powered cars by 2035.

California is rich in natural resources which once powered the state: natural gas deposits in the Monterey Shale formation; geothermal energy, abundant rivers and waterways such as the San Joaquin River Delta and hydroelectric dams; the Pacific coastline; 85 million acres of wildlands with 17 million of those used as commercial timberland; mines and mineral resources, vast farming and agricultural lands, and hunting and fishing.

But California politicians and appointed agency officials, under pressure from radical environmental organizations and lobbyists, decided to ignore the energy producing natural resources, and instead move to an all-electric grid, and the only approved “renewable energy:” solar and wind energy, or “boutique fuels.”

In August, a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California conflated climate change, drought, wildfires and the oil and gas industry through dextrous questions and weighted demographics.

The pollsters obviously had a desired conclusion, and created the questions and demographics to draw that conclusion using a significantly higher number of polled Democrats, a significantly higher number of high income Californians, and a significantly higher number of polled whites.

The PPIC poll conclusion supports Gov. Newsom’s claims about “windfall profits,” justifying his restrictions of the oil and gas industry under the guise of “climate change.”

Newsom listed oil company profits in a recent email, and then accused refiners like PBF Energy of “making more profits off of Californians than in any other state.”

In 1982, California had 43 operational oil refineries and a population of nearly 25 million; today we have 11 operational oil refineries and a population of nearly 40 million. And these 40 million residents are driving more cars, living in more houses and apartments, working in more commercial buildings, shopping in more stores, and traveling more across the state – all of which takes much more traditional energy.

The Globe has addressed Gov. Newsom’s claim that oil companies “are ripping you off. Their record profits are coming at your expense.” Newsom left out the part where in 2021 he largely killed hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in California as part of his overall plan to end oil extraction… because of Climate Change. He also announced his action to halt issuance of fracking permits by 2024.

And then Newsom claims, “Big oil was making these record profits at a time when Californians were seeing gas price hikes at the pump, despite the fact that the cost of crude oil was down.”

In October, Sen. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) boiled down the actual problem of California’s highest-in-the-nation gas prices and gas taxes in a letter to the governor. The highlights are:

  • California’s isolated markets
  • an inability to access additional fuel that meets California’s stringent standards
  • the most hostile regulatory requirements
  • the most aggressive environmental policies
  • the extraordinary expense of cap and trade
  • the highest tax per gallon of gasoline
  • impossible standards that are not found in any other state in the nation
  • limited supply

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Newsom Resumes His Homelessness Crusade

As he was celebrating his landslide re-election last Tuesday night, a reporter asked Gavin Newsom what his most important issue would be during his second term.

He quickly replied that it would be confronting homelessness and the state’s chronic shortage of housing.

It was a déjà vu moment. Nearly three years earlier, Newsom had devoted virtually all of his second State of the State address to those issues, particularly the many thousands of people camped on the streets and sidewalks of California’s major cities.

“Let’s call it what it is, a disgrace, that the richest state in the richest nation — succeeding across so many sectors — is failing to properly house, heal and humanely treat so many of its own people,” Newsom told legislators, while outlining a series of proposals he wanted them to enact.

“The biggest risk is not taking a risk on homelessness,” Newsom later told reporters. “The biggest risk is denying the reality that we see on the streets and sidewalks across the state. The biggest risk is abdicating responsibility, pointing fingers.”

However, just a few weeks after Newsom delivered that speech, he declared a state of emergency as the murderous COVID-19 pandemic hammered the state. He shut down much of the state’s economy to limit spread of the disease and the pandemic became his preoccupation for the next two years while the state’s worst-in-the-nation homelessness crisis deepened.

A few days before winning re-election last week, Newsom stepped back into the homelessness crisis in a big way — harshly criticizing local government officials for failing to write aggressive and effective plans to spend state funds to reduce the number of unhoused people.

“Californians demand accountability and results, not settling for the status quo,” Newsom said in a statement as he suspended distribution of the funds. “As a state, we are failing to meet the urgency of this moment. Collectively, these plans set a goal to reduce street homelessness 2% statewide by 2024. At this pace, it would take decades to significantly curb homelessness in California — this approach is simply unacceptable. Everyone has to do better — cities, counties, and the state included. We are all in this together.”

Newsom was even more pointed in a Los Angeles Times interview, saying, “Deliver damn results. … It’s a crisis. Act like it. Everybody step up. I’m not the mayor. You want me to come in? I’ll do the job. I’ll do it. Happily. I’ve been going into cities cleaning up encampments. Has anyone gotten the hint? If someone did that to me when I was mayor, I’d be like, ‘OK, I got it.’”

Newsom’s action touched off angry reactions from local officials, who complained that he was seemingly “pointing fingers” in violation of his 2020 injunction.

“Now is not the time to play politics when people’s lives are at stake,” Carolyn Coleman, CEO of the League of California Cities, replied to Newsom. “Failing to release state funding will not put roofs over the heads of Californians or deliver desperately needed supportive services.”

Polls tell us that homelessness — or at least its squalid visibility — looms large in the public’s consciousness and it was a significant factor in this year’s elections. Newsom didn’t have to worry about his own re-election, but it was the pivotal issue in the hard-fought battle for the Los Angeles mayoralty and figured in other local campaigns.

Click here to read the full article at CalMatters

Unsettled California Races Could Tip US House Control

The outcome in a string of closely matched California U.S. House races that could play into control of the chamber remained unsettled Friday, as millions of ballots remained uncounted in the nation’s most populous state.

More than a dozen races in the state remained in play, though only a handful were seen as tight enough to go either way. It takes 218 seats to control the House. Republicans had locked down 211 for far, with Democrats claiming 200.

It could take days, or even weeks, to determine who gets the gavel next year.

Should Democrats fail to protect their slim majority, Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield would be in line to replace Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco.

In California, the primary battlegrounds are Orange County — a suburban expanse southeast of Los Angeles that was once a GOP stronghold but has become increasingly diverse and Democratic — and the Central Valley, an inland stretch sometimes called the nation’s salad bowl for its agricultural production.

One of the tightest races matched Democratic Rep. Katie Porter, a star of the party’s progressive wing, against Republican Scott Baugh, a former legislator, in an Orange County district about equally divided between Democrats and Republicans.

Returns showed Porter expanding her narrow lead to 4,555 votes, or 51.2% to 48.8% for Baugh. Earlier, Porter’s edge had been about 3,000 votes.

In another close contest in a Democratic-leaning district north of Los Angeles, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Garcia saw his comfortable edge over Democratic challenger Christy Smith dip slightly. His margin remained at 12 points, 56% to 44%.

Democrats have long dominated California’s congressional delegation, which is dropping to 52 seats next year, from 53 seats, because its population growth has stalled, though it remains the largest delegation in Congress.

In the current term, Republicans hold only 11 of the 53 seats in the strongly Democratic state.

With counting incomplete, Republicans claimed six races so far and were leading in six others.

Democrats tallied wins in 30 seats and were leading in 10 other contests. In two of those races, only Democrats were on the ballot, meaning the party will hold control of those seats.

But much uncertainty remained. As of Thursday, nearly 5 million ballots remained uncounted statewide.

East of Los Angeles, Republican Rep. Ken Calvert regained the lead after trailing Democrat Will Rollins. With about half the votes counted, Calvert held a 1-point edge. Calvert, first elected in 1992, is the longest serving Republican in the California congressional delegation.

In the Central Valley’s 22nd District, where about half the votes have been counted, an update showed Democrat Rudy Salas cutting into the lead held by Republican Rep. David Valadao, who voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump. The two are divided by 5 points, after Valadao earlier had a more than 8-point advantage.

In a competitive district anchored in San Diego County, Democratic Rep. Mike Levin saw his edge grow slightly against Republican businessman Brian Maryott. Levin holds a 4-point margin, with about two-thirds of the votes tallied.

Click here to read the full article at AP News

Karen Bass Moves Ahead of Rick Caruso in L.A. Mayor’s Race

U.S. Rep. Karen Bass overtook businessman Rick Caruso in the seesaw battle to be mayor of Los Angeles, with Friday’s tally putting the veteran lawmaker 4,384 votes ahead of the real estate developer in a contest that will not be settled until next week at the earliest.

The new totals from county election officials put Bass ahead by a fraction, 50.38% to 49.62%, for the first time since Caruso took a slim advantage in the wee hours of Wednesday morning. Bass has now bested Caruso in the last two updates from the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office.

Going into Friday, Caruso held a tiny lead of one-half percentage point, or 2,695 votes. The fourth lead change in less than 72 hours tended to affirm pre-election predictions that a winner might not be known for a week or more after last Tuesday’s election day. The L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office promises another updated count Saturday.

With only about 30,000 votes added to the mayoral tote board Friday, Caruso’s supporters cautioned against reading too much into the new totals. But Bass partisans sounded buoyant that despite the modest overall numbers, their candidate had taken 60% of the votes revealed since Thursday.

Independent analysts suggest that a minimum of 300,000 ballots remain to be counted, the vast majority of them mail-ins. Bass pulled from behind in the vote count in the June primary on the strength of mail-in votes, and the new totals this week — with the congresswoman gaining three-fifths of the total 82,510 new votes over two days — suggested a possible repeat of that pattern.

“Give me one more [vote batch] like these last two and it will officially be a trend,” said Paul Mitchell, an expert in voting patterns who has been closely tracking the L.A. election. “It becomes increasingly hard for Caruso to claw back, and makes it hard to come up with any intellectually credible justification of why these ballots should start changing course.”

The new frontrunner’s campaign manager, Jenny Dellwood, said the Bass team “continues to feel great about the numbers, and Karen is optimistic and ready to roll up her sleeves and get to work.”

In the race for L.A. county supervisor in the 3rd District, West Hollywood City Councilmember Lindsey Horvath also pushed into a narrow lead with the new vote totals Friday. Her 670-vote advantage over State Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), if it holds, would keep the five-member board all female.

“I’m so grateful to the voters of District 3 for their confidence and support,” Horvath said in a statement. “We are confident that when every vote is counted and certified, we will win this race and bring much needed change to L.A. County.”

In another high-profile county race, Sheriff Alex Villanueva continued to lag far behind challenger Robert Luna, leaving his chance of winning a second term in considerable doubt. The latest batch of ballots had Luna up more than 235,000 votes.

The two would-be mayors have presented a study in contrasts since voting concluded Tuesday: Bass hunkering down with her family and staff members and Caruso spending at least some of his day presenting himself to Angelenos as a kind of mayor-in-waiting.

On Wednesday, the 63-year-old mall developer folded into a pastrami sandwich at Langer’s Deli west of downtown. On Friday, he dropped in on a Veterans Day parade, greeting the crowd with his golden retriever Hudson and sharing a brief greeting with Mayor Eric Garcetti, who was riding in the parade and has one month left in office.

Bass, who would be the first female mayor in L.A.’s nearly 250-year history, hasn’t been seen by the press since her election night speech and has been relatively silent compared with her opponent. The veteran House member “has been catching up on her personal life and spending time with family,” said spokesperson Sarah Leonard Sheahan. “Today she held a luncheon for her staff to express her appreciation.”

On Friday, hours before the latest tally was released, Caruso stood on Laurel Canyon Boulevard, waving to veterans taking part in parade and posing for photos with fans who approached the mayoral candidate.

“This is exactly what we were expecting,” Caruso said. “We’re gonna go up and down as these ballots get counted. … We’re going to be on a roller coaster for a while. But I’m very optimistic.”

Caruso’s interview with reporters was interrupted when Garcetti passed by, wearing his Navy Reserve uniform and sitting atop the back of a convertible that rolled down Laurel Canyon.

“Look who it is!” Caruso said, walking over to shake the mayor’s hand.

The two had earlier exchanged texts and, after shaking hands on the parade route, agreed to soon connect on the phone. Garcetti said he had also been in touch with Bass and that his staff and city department heads had begun to work with both camps to smooth the way for a transition that will be completed with the swearing in of a new mayor on Dec. 12.

Meanwhile in other races, city attorney candidate Hydee Feldstein Soto continued to lead attorney Faisal Gill. Feldstein Soto has 57.7% of the vote, to Gill’s 42.2%, according to Friday’s results.

In the City Council race for a Glassell Park to Hollywood seat, labor organizer Hugo Soto-Martinez maintained his edge over Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell, who is vying for a third term. Soto-Martinez leads 53.3% to O’Farrell’s 46.7%.

On the Westside, Traci Park maintained a 9-percentage-point lead over attorney Erin Darling in the race to succeed City Councilmember Mike Bonin.

In the race to replace Councilmember Paul Koretz for a Fairfax to Bel-Air seat, political aide Katy Young Yaroslavsky continued to lead attorney Sam Yebri, 57% to 42.9%.

Attorney Tim McOsker also maintained a significant lead over neighborhood council member Danielle Sandoval, with McOsker at 65.4% and Sandoval at 34.6%.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Culver City Teen Voting Measure Likely to Fall Short

Even if initiative fails, proponents call effort a success by engaging youths in democracy.

Photo courtesy of Keith Ivey, Flickr.

A youth-driven push for a ballot measure to lower the voting age will probably fall short in Culver City after months of advocacy on both sides.

The ballot initiative, known as Measure VY, would allow Culver City residents as young as 16 to vote in city and school board elections. No other municipality in the country put such a proposition before voters this election cycle.

As of Thursday evening, the latest numbers from the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk show 4,918 votes against the measure compared with 4,264 votes for it, a difference of about 54% to 46%.

Because the county has yet to finish tabulating ballots, Measure VY is not necessarily dead.

But Ada Meighan-Thiel, 17, said she recognizes it’s not looking good for the ballot measure. She and a dedicated grass-roots crew of her fellow Culver City High School students spent months advocating for it. But she hasn’t given up hope.

“We’re waiting for some more votes. … Whether those votes will be a bit more progressive than the ones who’ve already been counted is hard to say,” she said Wednesday. “Hopefully the margin will be a bit slimmer by the time we look next.”

City Clerk Jeremy Bocchino said Thursday that because the county coordinates all ballot counting, Culver City does not have any special insight into outstanding ballots.

“There’s no telling how many more ballots will be coming in,” Bocchino said, noting that vote-by-mail ballots postmarked by election day are counted if they are received with seven days. “Your guess is as good as mine as far as how many ballots are still out there and what the turnout may be. We have more than 28,000 registered to vote and we don’t know how many actually turned out to vote.”

Even if Measure VY ultimately fails, Meighan-Thiel said the excitement and awareness young Culver City residents built around lowering the voting age — a movement often referred to as “Vote 16” — made the effort a success.

“We still started a conversation about teen enfranchisement, and I think that’s really valuable regardless of outcome,” she said. “We recognize that political participation isn’t just about voting. It’s about being active in your community, and we did just that on the campaign trail.”

Andrew Wilkes is chief policy and advocacy officer for Generation Citizen, a nonpartisan national civics education organization that provided support to Measure VY proponents. He echoed Meighan-Thiel’s sentiments.

“If it goes the way the trend line holds, reaching 46% is a landmark accomplishment. I think it also represents the need and the desire for young people to participate in our democracy,” he said.

“The movement continues to grow in interest and strength. … This lays the groundwork for the baton to be passed to rising high school students.”

Across the U.S., a small number of communities have put ballot measures to lower the voting age before voters over the last decade. Six municipalities in Maryland now allow people as young as 16 to vote in some elections. In California, Berkeley and Oakland approved the practice in 2016 and 2020, respectively, but Alameda County has yet to implement the change.

Vote 16 proponents argue that if 16- and 17-year-olds can work and pay taxes, they should have a say in politics. They point to research showing that 16-year-olds have adult levels of cognitive capacity.

Opponents worry that people that age are too naive and impressionable to make informed political decisions. They also fret that allowing younger teens — who often lean left — to vote could disproportionately benefit more progressive candidates and causes.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Chinese company is found guilty of bribing ex-LA Councilman Jose Huizar

Owned by fugitive billionaire Huang Wei, the company showered Huizar with dirty cash, prosecutors said

A Chinese real estate company was convicted on Thursday, Nov. 10, of federal charges of bribing former Los Angeles City Councilman José Huizar with cash and gambling trips in exchange for his support in getting approval for a towering downtown L.A. skyscraper.

Shen Zhen New World I, owned by fugitive developer Wei Huang who fled to China, faces millions of dollars in fines in its  sentencing at Los Angeles federal court on Jan. 23, 2023. Jose Huizar faces trial next February on federal bribery and fraud charges.

A Los Angeles federal jury on Thursday found Shen Zhen New World I guilty of eight counts including honest services wire fraud, interstate and foreign travel in aid of bribery, and bribery concerning programs receiving federal funds.

Federal prosecutors have convicted nine defendants as a result of “Operation Casino Loyale,” a broad corruption investigation into Los Angeles City Hall by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

A thick trial memo written by federal prosecutors recently unveiled dramatic new fireworks, alleging that Huizar was so entangled with Huang that he traveled with the billionaire Huang to Las Vegas 19 times.

Billionaire Huang planned to build a 77-story tower on the site of the L.A. Grand Hotel downtown, and federal prosecutors said the company bribed the ex-councilman to smooth the way. Prosecutors said Huang allegedly gave Huizar $1.5 million, including $250,000 in casino chips and a loan which Huizar never paid back.

An earlier conviction in June involved real estate developer Dae Yong Lee and one of his companies, found guilty of federal criminal charges for allegedly providing $500,000 in cash to Huizar and his special assistant in exchange for their help in resolving a labor organization’s appeal involving a downtown Los Angeles development project.

Devastating testimony in recent days by Huizar’s estranged wife, Richelle Rios, detailed her suspicion that her husband was involved in an extra-marital affair, and in August 2013 she learned that Huizar was being sued by a former aide alleging sexual harassment. The woman sought between $600,000 and $1 million to settle with her ex-boss, Rios said.

Because Huizar was about to run for his third and final four-year term on the Los Angeles City Council — and news of the lawsuit could potentially torpedo his campaign — Huizar and his associates were worried, Richelle Rios testified.

Rios, who did not face charges, said she was called to a meeting with her husband, and then-Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan who is also accused of wrongdoing, and billionaire Huang — known in Huizar’s circle as “Chairman Huang.”

The topic of the meeting: How Huang could “help in resolving the lawsuit,” Rios testified.

“They wanted to know if I was going to stay in the marriage and would I stand with (Huizar),” Rios, 53, told the jury.

She said she felt “humiliated, angry and devastated” about the situation, but agreed. Huizar was able to privately resolve the suit and was re-elected.

Around that time, Huizar began traveling with Huang to Las Vegas and elsewhere on private jets for weekend gambling trips, Rios said.

After one such trip, Rios testified, she found “a stack of cash” in hundreds at their home. She attempted to speak to her husband about it, but the conversation quickly turned “unpleasant,” she told jurors. Another time, she said, she found a wad of hundred-dollar bills about an inch thick hidden in a traveler’s belt in a pocket in one of Huizar’s suits.

Opening statements began Thursday, Oct. 27 in the federal trial against Huang’s company and ended on Nov. 10 with his company found guilty.

The government’s trial memorandum, filed with the U.S. District Court on Oct. 17, outlined the evidence federal prosecutors  presented. The case included voluminous records, and the new details alleged that the relationship between the powerful council member and the powerful billionaire was significantly closer than previously reported.

A federal prosecutor told the jury that the China-based hotel company owned by Huang provided Huizar with over $1 million in bribes, trips on private jets and “casino chips and prostitutes” in exchange for his official support of a downtown L.A. skyscraper project.

Huang wanted to build the tallest skyscraper on the West Coast at West 3rd and Figueroa streets, where the Huang-owned Grand Hotel still stands.

The defense said that L.A. city officials “universally loved” Huang’s proposed project, so “there was no reason to bribe anyone” to approve it.

Shen Zhen New World I was charged by the Department of Justice with interstate and foreign travel in support of bribery, devising and participating in a scheme to defraud the city of Los Angeles and to deny its citizens of Huizar’s honest services.

The trial offered a glimpse into the alleged criminal relationship between the billionaire real estate developer and the high-rolling former councilman, whose District 14 included much of downtown and is now represented by Councilman Kevin de Leon who, himself, is caught in a more recent City Hall scandal.

Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson, who served on the L.A. City Ethics Commission, said earlier during the trial that  federal prosecutors were trying to present evidence showing that Huizar had a relationship with the billionaire real estate developer that stretched well beyond what has previously been reported.

“I think what (federal prosecutors) are really trying to show is closeness and coziness and the possibility of favors and favoritism and preferential access,” Levinson said.

Representatives for Huizar and Shen Zhen New World I didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment during the trial.

Huang, who also maintains a residence in the upscale San Gabriel Valley suburb of San Marino, did not appear in court before he vanished, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office, who added that charges against Huang will remain pending.

“It will be a criminal trial, and it’s just (that) the defendant is a corporate entity,” Mrozek said in late October. “You can’t put a corporate entity in prison, but you can — if it’s convicted — obtain another sanction against it like probation, court supervision, fine and restitution.”

On the opening day of the trial, federal prosecutors said that Huang allegedly provided Huizar and his special assistant George Esparza with a “lineup of prostitutes for their choosing” during the trips, adding that “It would become a recurring theme of their trips together.”

Prosecutors alleged that Huang’s company provided Huizar with casino gambling chips cash, flights on private jets, lavish meals and trips to Las Vegas. In exchange, prosecutors alleged, Huang expected Huizar to hurry the city approval process for his L.A. Grand Hotel commercial and residential project.

“The stream of bribes turned into a flood” as Huang lavished Huizar with gifts, including a 10-day trip to Australia, visits to golf resorts, luxury suites, cash and private gambling in Las Vegas hotels, Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Castañeda alleged.

According to the prosecutor’s troubling memo released before the trial began, Huizar used his own family members to allegedly launder bribes that prosecutors claim Huizar got from Huang.

“Huizar consistently concealed the benefits he received, and his relationship with Mr. Wei Huang tends to demonstrate that Huizar understood that the money he received was for a corrupt purpose,” the federal prosecutors’ memo said.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Daily News

There’s a lot of counting left: 1 million ballots remain in LA County elections

Officials said on Wednesday the extended counting timeline is necessary due to the surge of last-minute vote-by-mail ballots received on Election Day

With several critical races from Tuesday’s election still undecided and resolution possibly days or weeks away, Los Angeles County officials said on Wednesday the extended timeline is necessary due to the standard surge of last-minute vote-by-mail ballots received on Election Day.

Following the release of the semi-official vote tally early Wednesday, races including Los Angeles mayor, Los Angeles County sheriff, county supervisor and Los Angeles Unified School District board seats remained too close to call, pending a count of all remaining outstanding ballots.

The delay has prompted some frustration at the length of the vote-counting process. The Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s Office on Wednesday sought to explain the reasoning behind the delay.

On social media, the office posted a photo of extensive stacks of vote-by-mail ballots that were received from the U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday. The office was also sorting through an undetermined number of such ballots that were submitted at the last minute at drop boxes and vote centers.

Late Wednesday, the registrar’s office announced that there were roughly 1 million ballots still left to be counted from Tuesday’s election — 985,000 vote-by-mail ballots; 21,000 conditional voter-registration ballots; and 300 provisional, or questioned, ballots.

“There was — and typically is — a surge of vote-by-mail ballots returned on Election Day — through the mail, at drop boxes and at vote centers,” according to the office. “Much of the work today is organizing the volumes of ballots received and establishing estimates responsive to queries.”

The county is scheduled to release the next vote-counting update on Friday, with subsequent updates each Tuesday and Friday until all ballots are tallied. The schedule means that some close races could hang in the balance for weeks.

Registrar officials also noted that the office will continue to accept ballots in the mail that were postmarked by Tuesday. They also noted that all of the vote-by-mail ballots must undergo signature-verification to ensure they are valid before they are counted, a process that extends the timeline.

Releasing updates on Tuesdays and Fridays also means that each update will include a larger number of new ballots, making the updates more “substantive” and “leading to more definitive results trends.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Daily News

‘GTA’ Police Chase Suspect Steals Pickup Truck on Live TV in LA County

A police chase suspect went on a dangerous 2-county crime spree, including breaking into multiple vehicles, backing into a cop car and breaking into someone’s house – all to avoid getting in handcuffs.

The suspect, 32-year-old Johnny Anchondo, who was initially wanted by police in Fullerton led officers on a chase before being cornered into an apartment complex parking lot in the northern part of Anaheim. Despite being cornered in the parking lot, Anchondo refused to surrender as he backed into one of the cop cars and then drove off in a white van.

The dangerous pursuit later became a 2-county chase as the suspect drove through parts of Fullerton, Anaheim and Santa Ana before ditching the white van in Whittier. Viewers commenting on FOX 11’s live streams as the crime spree unraveled compared the police chase to a popular video game series Grand Theft Auto.

After leading police on a brief foot chase, Anchondo went inside a nearby home, was confronted by the people inside, including two dogs, and got inside a white pickup truck that was parked in the drive to once again drive off in a possibly stolen vehicle. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department went on to take over the later parts of the lengthy chase.

FOX 11’s Gina Silva spoke with the carjacking victim. He said he had purchased the pickup truck three weeks before the incident, saying he got the vehicle to aid his family’s landscaping business.

“It was just hard work,” said Andres Benitez, the man whose truck got stolen. “This was my goal since two years ago.”

According to Benitez, the suspect broke into the house trying to evade police. With his mother home, Benitez brandished a knife to escort the suspect out of the home. As the suspect was led out of the house, the suspect snatched Benitez’s car key and ran off with the key and the vehicle.

The dogs who were involved in the tense struggle are OK, Benitez told FOX 11. While devastated after getting his pickup truck stolen, he playfully told FOX’s Gina Silva he was “disappointed” that the family’s pit bull didn’t try to stop the suspect.

Anchondo was eventually cornered by law enforcement at a gas station in San Gabriel Valley. After a brief and tense standoff, he was eventually placed in custody around 6 p.m. Anchondo was being held on a parole violation. 

GoFundMe page has been launched for Benitez after he got his work truck stolen. Those looking to help can click here for more information.

Click here to read the full story at Fox News

Democrats Poised to Keep Huge Edge in California Legislature

There was plenty of drama in legislative races that came to a head Tuesday between Democrats and Republicans, and even members of the same party competing under California rules that advance the top vote-getters from the June primary election regardless of their political allegiance.

But there was little chance that Democrats will lose the overwhelming majorities that allow them to virtually ignore Republicans in the Legislature. Those two-thirds supermajorities mean the dominant party in deep blue California can pass laws that take effect immediately, raise taxes over GOP objections, and could even override a governor’s veto — something lawmakers haven’t attempted since 1979, when Jerry Brown was first governor.

Democrats retaining that extraordinary control is “a near certainty,” said Rob Pyers, research director at the California Target Book that tracks legislative contests.

They need 27 seats for a supermajority in the 40-member Senate, where half the seats are up for election every two years. Seventeen Democrats are safely in the middle of their four-year terms, and another 13 Democrats are running in districts where Republicans stand little chance of prevailing. In five of those 13 districts, Republicans aren’t even in the contest because two Democrats were the top vote-getters in June.

Democrats need 54 seats to retain their two-thirds supermajority in the 80-member Assembly, where all seats are up for grabs every two years. But Pyers considered 54 seats safely Democratic, and things weren’t looking good for Republican incumbents in at least two more Assembly districts.

Here’s a look at early results in some of the key races:

SENATE DISTRICT 16

Sen. Melissa Hurtado moved into this southern San Joaquin Valley district to avoid a primary contest with fellow Democratic incumbent Anna Caballero. Hurtado defeated two Democratic rivals, but now faces Republican David Shepard. Democrats hold a 13 percentage-point voter registration advantage, but Pyers puts that within Republicans’ reach because Central Valley voters tend to be more conservative. Hurtado had a narrow lead with about 51% of the vote.

SENATE DISTRICT 38

Republican Sen. Patricia Bates is termed out from representing this district that includes parts of Orange and San Diego counties. Now Democrats hold an edge in voter registration, 38% to Republicans’ 32%. The race pits Republican Matt Gunderson against Democrat Catherine Blakespear in a contest that by mid-October had attracted more money from the state’s political parties than any other contest, narrowly exceeding the SD16 race. Blakespear had an early lead with 55% of the vote.

ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 7

Democratic Assemblyman Ken Cooley is a top target for Republicans in his suburban Sacramento district where the Democratic voter advantage narrowed to 5 percentage points after redistricting. He faces Republican Josh Hoover, an Assembly aide to congressional candidate Kevin Kiley in a race that attracted the third highest political party spending. Cooley was leading with about 52% of ballots.

ASSEMBLY DISTRICT 40

Click here to read the full article in the AP

Election 2022: Newsom and abortion rights measure score easy victory, gambling falls flat

Props. 1, 31 swept to victory, Props. 26, 27 went down in defeat

Gov. Gavin Newsom coasted easily to a second term as California’s governor Tuesday evening, in an election in which voters voiced their support for abortion rights loud and clear but soundly rejected an expensive push to legalize betting on sports.

The Associated Press called the race for Newsom — a heavy favorite over Republican challenger Sen. Brian Dahle — almost as soon as polls closed. Democrats unsurprisingly also swept California’s other statewide offices, and incumbent Alex Padilla cruised to victory over Republican challenger Mark Meuser in the Senate race.

“The Democratic party just has another boost of political capital to go back to Sacramento and keep doing what they’re doing,” said Melissa Michelson, a political science professor at Menlo College. Newsom’s decisive victory, coming on the heels of beating a recall attempt last year, also gives him a strong launching pad for a potential future presidential run, Michelson said.

Proposition 1, which explicitly guarantees the right to an abortion by adding it to the state’s constitution, passed by a landslide. On the other hand, Props. 26 and 27, both of which would have allowed sports gambling, fell flat.

Newsom, who had little need to put resources into his re-election campaign for governor, instead turned much of his focus this season to supporting abortion rights. After the polls closed Tuesday, he celebrated at pro-Prop. 1 watch party in Sacramento.

“We have governors that won their reelections tonight in other states that are banning books, that are banning speech, that are banning abortion, and here we are in California moving in a completely different direction,” Newsom said at the event, according to the Associated Press. “That’s a deep point of pride.”

With the battle for Congress shaping up to be much tighter than expected, California’s House races could have a significant impact on the outcome. Democrat Adam Gray had a slight lead over Republican John Duarte in the newly drawn San Joaquin District 13. In Orange County, Republican Michelle Steel and Democrat Jay Chen were neck-and-neck. Despite a backlash from conservatives for his vote to impeach President Trump, Central Valley Republican incumbent David Valadao held an early lead over Democrat Rudy Salas.

It will take some time for California’s final election results to roll in, as counties still have to count mail-in ballots that may arrive up to seven days after Election Day. Statewide, 28% of ballots had been returned as of Tuesday, according to Political Data, Inc., which tracks voter data.

Dahle, a state senator from a family of ranchers in Lassen County, faced huge odds from the outset in his bid to unseat Newsom. Californians haven’t elected a Republican governor since Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006, and, just weeks before the election, Dahle was still an unknown to many voters.

In a Public Policy Institute of California poll taken right before the election, 52% of likely voters said they approve of the way Newsom is handling his job, while 45% said they disapprove. Perhaps the biggest storyline was how Newsom focused more energy on confronting red-state rival governors such as Florida’s Ron DeSantis, who also cruised to re-election Tuesday, over abortion and other social issues in what could be a potential preview of the 2024 presidential campaign.

Prop. 1’s victory also was no surprise in a state that heavily supports abortion rights. The measure isn’t likely to have an immediate effect, as the California constitution already protects the right to privacy — which has been interpreted to cover abortion — and the state’s 2002 Reproductive Privacy Act also guarantees a woman’s right to choose. By voting to formally enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution, though, Californians sent a firm message that they stand behind the principle.

“Voters used their voice to say loud and clear they support access to abortion and contraception — safeguarding people’s rights for generations to come,” Jodi Hicks, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, said in a statement.

Abortion became a cornerstone of this election when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade earlier this year, rolling back 50 years of abortion rights. The issue immediately became a key piece of politicians’ campaigns in California and across the nation, showing up in mailers, stump speeches and TV ads seemingly everywhere voters turned. Democrats hoped abortion would fire up voters and increase turnout, and even deployed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to help spread the word with an event at a San Francisco Planned Parenthood facility.

Prop. 31, which would uphold California’s ban on flavored tobacco products, also scored an easy victory Tuesday. Two years after Newsom signed a law banning the sale of the flavored products — which critics say help hook kids on smoking — the tobacco industry gathered enough signatures to place a referendum on the ballot asking voters to overturn it. But Californians showed little willingness to do so. As of late October, 58% of likely voters said they’d uphold the ban, and just 32% said they’d vote to kill it, according to a poll by the Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies.

The one ballot measure projected to be a tight race was Prop. 30, which would have taxed the richest Californians to fund electric vehicle rebates and other environmental initiatives. Advocates said it would help improve air quality, while opponents — including Newsom — worried it would drive wealthy Californians out of the state. Lyft, which along with other ride-sharing companies must use zero-emission vehicles for at least 90% of its miles by 2030, bankrolled the measure. The measure appeared headed for defeat Tuesday night.

The dueling measures for sports gambling also failed to get enough voter support. After more than $556 million in fundraising for and against Props. 26 and 27 — making them the most expensive set of propositions in state history — and a blizzard of campaign ads, Californians gave a huge thumbs-down to the proposals to legalize betting on sports. Prop. 26, backed by a coalition of California tribes, and Prop. 27, backed by large online sports-betting companies, pitted the two sides against each other for control of what could be a billion-dollar industry. Prop. 27 was projected to raise hundreds of millions of dollars a year for the state in fees and taxes, 85% of which was pledged to go toward programs addressing homelessness and mental health.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register