Voters Say State Is On Wrong Track

Californians surveyed cite homelessness, gas prices and housing among top concerns.

Tents from a homeless encampment line a street in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. Some 7,000 volunteers will fan out as part of a three-night effort to count homeless people in most of Los Angeles County. Naomi Goldman, a spokeswoman of the organizer the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, said the goal is to “paint a picture about the state of homelessness.” (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Coronavirus cases are dropping and the state’s unemployment rate is on the decline, but most California voters still say the Golden State is headed in the wrong direction, with high gasoline prices, low housing affordability and persistent homelessness cited as the biggest challenges.

In a new survey on some of the most prominent economic topics, nearly 6 in 10 voters said the state is on the wrong track and more than 70% rated high gasoline prices as a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem. The survey of registered voters by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies was co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times.

“Californians are giving a negative rating of the direction of the state,” said Mark Di Camillo, director of the Berkeley institute’s poll. “That coincides with how voters are viewing their personal financial situation.”

In response to the pain at the pump, voters said they are likely to cut back on driving.

Few, however, said they expected to switch to public transit. Only 25% said they were likely to take buses or trains more often.

By contrast, 7 in 10 said they were likely to drive less around town or cancel vacations or weekend road trips because of the high prices.

The pain of high gasoline prices, which last month reached a statewide average of $5.73 a gallon — up $1.79 from a year ago, is felt most keenly by lower-income Californians, Black and Latino residents and those under 30, according to the survey.

Among California voters earning less than $40,000 a year, 81% said gasoline prices were a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem. At the other end of the income scale, 57% of those earning more than $200,000 said the prices were not a serious problem.

Gasoline prices were described as a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem by 79% of Black voters, 85% of Latino voters and 75% of voters under 30, according to the survey.

Lorena Mendez, an airline catering company worker at Los Angeles International Airport, struggles weekly deciding how to fill her tank and buy groceries, among other household expenses. She bought a house in Bakersfield because housing is more affordable there, but her commute to LAX is two hours in each direction. On some days, rather than driving home she stays with her mother, who lives closer to her job, to save on gas.

“Everything has gotten more expensive, gas and groceries,” she said in Spanish. “It’s hard to figure out which bill to pay first.”

Until recently, Mendez said, she earned about $22 an hour, but her bosses have cut her pay to about $18 an hour. She hopes to work extra hours to make up for the pay cut.

“I was barely able to pay my bills, and now with everything getting more expensive, it’s a struggle,” she said.

For many workers like Mendez who have long commutes, public transit isn’t a viable option. The poll asked voters who said they were not likely to take transit more often to choose up to two main reasons. Among the most common responses were that buses or trains were not convenient either to their destinations (45%) or their homes (35%), that transit takes longer than driving (39%) or that service isn’t frequent enough (20%).

A significant number said they don’t feel safe waiting for or riding on a bus or train (34%) or that they worry about catching COVID-19 or some other illness (16%). Safety concerns were more common in Los Angeles and Orange counties than in the San Francisco Bay Area or San Diego. Few voters — 3% statewide — said transit costs too much.

In 2016, Los Angeles County voters showed just how frustrated they were with traffic. They approved a half-cent sales tax that will pump out $120 billion over four decades to further build out a massive rail system that can carry commuters from the foothills to the sea and to make highway improvements.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has already spent $9.2 billion in the last 10 years on transit projects, including a yet-to-open light rail line running from the Mid-City area to the South Bay, a regional connector line and an extension of a line that connects the Westside to downtown L.A.

The agency projects it will spend an additional $30 billion on rail in the coming decade and will over the next few decades double the length of its interconnected rail system in the hope that it will lure more commuters across the region.

Academics said voter reluctance about riding transit in response to gas prices was not surprising.

“While gas prices have gone up, most roads and parking continue to be free and plentiful, incentivizing their use,” said Jacob Lawrence Wasserman, research project manager at UCLA’s Institute of Transportation Studies. “And, with transit not given the priority and service to get Angelenos to many destinations reliably, many are left stomaching higher gas prices instead.”

At the same time, by 56% to 35%, voters supported the state’s effort to build a high-speed rail system between Los Angeles and San Francisco that is already expected to be more than three times the original cost estimated when voters approved funding in 2008.

Registered Democrats favored the project 73% to 18%, but Republicans opposed it 66% to 25%. Nonpartisan voters supported the project 55% to 35%.

The glum attitude about the state’s direction was shared, to varying degrees, by California voters of nearly every age group, ethnicity and political stripe.

Just over half of Democrats said the state is headed in the wrong direction, and 93% of Republicans agreed with that gloomy assessment.

Only 21% of voters said they were financially better off than they were a year ago, 42% said they were worse off and 34% said there had been no change.

The survey showed voters are pessimistic about the future: Only 21% predicted they will be better off financially in a year, 30% said they would be worse off, and 44% expected no change in their financial situation.

The poll found that voters now rank the coronavirus near the bottom of a list of 15 challenges facing the state, far behind problems such as housing affordability, homelessness, crime, gas prices and climate change.

Over the last week, the state has averaged 2,824 new coronavirus cases, a decrease of 

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

Dems Incoherent on Sacramento Shooting

The mass shooting in Sacramento last weekend that took six lives occurred one block from the Capitol offices of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association. The following morning, I speculated on social media that it was probably gang members with criminal records. It didn’t take a Kreskin to make that sort of prediction which, of course, turned out to be accurate.

Nor does it take extraordinary clairvoyance to predict that progressives would, once again, blame “gun violence” rather than criminally inclined perpetrators. (I’ve often wondered why, when there is a murder committed with a knife, progressives never talk about “knife violence.”) True to form, both Gov. Gavin Newsom and Sacramento’s mayor, Darrell Steinberg, immediately blamed “gun violence” and called for more gun control laws notwithstanding the fact that California already has some of the strictest gun control laws in America and is currently considering more.

The issue of gun control aside, the progressive answer to any one of California’s many problems is to advance “solutions” that are ineffective at best and counterproductive at worst. Here, their answer to civil unrest, increased crime and perceived excessive incarceration is to “defund” the police and grant early release to violent felons. Even when, as last week’s carnage reveals, these policies don’t work, the response is frequently doubling down with more of the same.

Click here to read the full article at San Gabriel Tribune

Biden Approval Rating in State Gets Slight Boost

Roughly 6 in 10 California voters give President Biden poor marks on his handling of inflation, according to a new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, even as his overall job approval marginally improved in the last two months.

The survey, which was co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times, found that voters in the state had mixed reviews of the president, with displeasure over his economic performance cutting against a more positive assessment of his record on the international stage. Still, with 50% of respondents signaling approval, Biden notched higher ratings than his vice president, Kamala Harris, or the two congressional leaders from California, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.

The poll captures an electorate deeply pessimistic about the future. Two-thirds of registered voters surveyed say the country is on the wrong track, while just 26% think it is heading in the right direction. Republicans are nearly unanimously bleak, with 92% having a negative outlook on the nation’s trajectory. A substantial majority — 65% — of voters not affiliated with a political party agree, as do 51% of Democrats.

“They’re not at all pleased,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley IGS poll, of Biden’s Democratic base. “Even though their ratings of Biden are positive, they don’t see the country moving in a positive direction. That’s kind of ominous.”

Despite the starkly negative assessment on the nation’s course, California voters are more evenly divided on their views of Biden. His 50% approval and 46% disapproval rating is slightly better than the 47%- 48% marks he received in February, when the last IGS poll was conducted.

Nevertheless, enthusiasm for Biden in the state is sharply down from this time last year, when more than 6 in 10 voters gave him positive reviews. While Biden has lost ground with voters across the board, his steepest declines are among the state’s younger voters, ages 18-39, as well as Asian Americans and Latinos, two key Democratic constituencies increasingly courted by the GOP.

“During his honeymoon period and … during the election itself, he really was able to capture the support of the ethnic populations in California. It’s one of the reasons he won so big” in the state, DiCamillo said. “Now he’s falling back to Earth.”

One bright spot for Biden is his handling the war between Ukraine and Russia, in which he finds himself on relatively solid ground with voters. Fifty-six percent of California voters approve of Biden’s management of relations with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a key partner for the United States in responding to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while 33% disapprove. His handling of American relations with Russia is also positive, albeit more narrowly, with 49% approving and 44% disapproving. Overall, a slim majority — 51% — approve of how Biden has dealt with the war in Ukraine, while 43% give him negative marks.

The positive reviews for his work abroad, however, are offset by California voters’ displeasure on economic matters back home.

The president is underwater, with 50% disapproval and 45% approval, when it comes to his overall stewardship of the economy. The ratings are even worse — 59% disapproval and 34% approval — when it comes to rising prices, which are increasing at the fastest rate in decades.

“Inflation is on voters’ minds,” DiCamillo said. “They’re seeing it every day.”

The consumer price index, released by the Labor Department on Tuesday, showed inflation rose 8.5% over the last year — the highest year-over-year jump since 1981. The biggest drivers of the surge were the skyrocketing costs of energy and food, which have been exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Views on inflation, as with most issues, vary drastically by party; just 5% of Republicans give Biden favorable marks, compared with 54% of Democrats and 27% of voters with no party preference.

But partisanship does not appear to be the sole factor driving some voters’ views. The state’s youngest voters, who generally tend to be more liberal, give Biden the lowest marks on inflation, while older Californians are more positive. Just 21% of voters ages 18-29 approve of Biden’s handling of the matter, compared with 49% approval from voters ages 65 and older.

Regionally, voters in California’s major urban areas, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, hold rosier views than those in more rural parts of the state, where assessments are more negative than positive. Notably, Biden’s popularity is evenly divided in Orange County, home to several battleground congressional districts that will have fiercely competitive races in the upcoming midterm elections.

Still, DiCamillo noted, Biden’s standing in Orange County, where his approval rating is 47% compared with 48% disapproval, is much stronger than in regions outside California with pivotal House races. Nationally, Biden’s popularity hovers around 42%, according to the website FiveThirtyEight’s average of polls.

“He’s probably not as serious a drag as he is in other parts of the country,” DiCamillo said.

Though Biden has seen minor improvements to his standing among California voters, Vice President Harris has not seen a similar uptick. Respondents continue to see her more negatively than positively, with 35% of voters approving her performance and 45% disapproving. Two months ago, her rating was 38% approval to 46% disapproval. The number of voters with no opinion of her performance has increased to 21% in April from 15% in February.

Click here to read the full article at the LA Times

A bill Proposing a 4-day Workweek Is Moving Through the California Legislature and Would Target Companies With 500+ Employees

California is taking the lead on making the four-day workweek a reality.

State Assembly members are proposing a bill that would create shortened workweek for non-union, hourly workers at companies with 500 or more employees. 

The bill, authored by Asm. Evan Low and Asm. Cristina Garcia, is currently moving through committee. It’s similar to a federal bill proposed by Rep. Mark Takano, also from California, that is currently awaiting a vote in the House Education and Labor Committee.

Low told Insider support surrounding Takano’s bill partially inspired this one: “As we come out of the COVID pandemic, I am excited about how we reimagine our workforce while uplifting the voices of workers to get back in the job market in response to the Great Resignation,” Low said.

Garcia told Insider that now is the perfect time for discussions surrounding a lessened workweek, especially as labor shortages continue across the country and companies begin experimenting with the concept. “Two years into this pandemic, you see a moment of employees driving change and employees reimagining what they think their work week or their work-life balance should be,” Garcia said.

It could take years before a proposed bill like this can become a law, but “there’s been a lot of enthusiasm more recently now that this bill was introduced out there,” Garcia added.

AB 2932 would change state law and shorten the workweek to 32 hours but compensate employees at a similar pay rate. Employees who work over 32 hours would receive overtime at 1.5 times their hourly wages. 

Companies around the world have tested or embraced the 4-day workweek, like Microsoft, which reported a 40% increase in productivity, and Buffer, which found that employees are less likely to burn out. The country of Iceland also had a trial of the 4-day workweek, which was so successful that 86% of the country’s workforce moved to a shorter workweek.

Critics say it’s a ‘job killer’

Ashley Hoffman, policy advocate for the California Chamber of Commerce, argued in a letter to Low that the bill is a “job killer” and would present added costs to employers.

“AB 2932’s impact on labor costs in California will discourage job growth in the state and likely reduce opportunities for workers,” Hoffman wrote.

In a comment to Insider, a spokesperson from the Chamber of Commerce said they would not be able to support a proposal that “requires employers to pay for 32 hours of work at the rate they are currently paying for a 40 hour work week.”

Garcia said that although labor costs are a concern, she feels a bill targeting larger companies would help protect smaller businesses. Additionally, she said boosting employee morale through a shortened workweek could help companies with hiring and retention.

“Especially if you’re seeing more productivity, you’re seeing less attrition, all those things are good things for companies,” Garcia said. “All those things help with the bottom line.”

Click here to read the full article at the Business Insider

US Inflation Jumped 8.5% In Past Year, Highest Since 1981

WASHINGTON (AP) — Inflation soared over the past year at its fastest pace in more than 40 years, with costs for food, gasoline, housing and other necessities squeezing American consumers and wiping out the pay raises that many people have received.

The Labor Department said Tuesday that its consumer price index jumped 8.5% in March from 12 months earlier, the sharpest year-over-year increase since 1981. Prices have been driven up by bottlenecked supply chains, robust consumer demand and disruptions to global food and energy markets worsened by Russia’s war against Ukraine. From February to March, inflation rose 1.2%, the biggest month-to-month jump since 2005. Gasoline prices drove more than half that increase.

Across the economy, the year-over-year price spikes were widespread. Gasoline prices rocketed 48% in the past 12 months. Used car prices have soared 35%, though they actually fell in February and March. Bedroom furniture is up 14.7%, men’s suits and coats 14.5%. Grocery prices have jumped 10%, including 18% increases for both bacon and oranges.

Investors focused on a bright spot in the report and sent stock prices up: So-called core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, rose just 0.3% from February to March, the smallest monthly rise since September. Over the past year, though, core prices are up 6.5%, the most since 1982.

“The inflation fire is still out of control,” said Christopher Rupkey, chief economist at the research firm FWDBONDS LLC.

The March inflation numbers were the first to fully capture the surge in gasoline prices that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24. Moscow’s attacks have triggered far-reaching Western sanctions against the Russian economy and disrupted food and energy markets. According to AAA, the average price of a gallon of gasoline — $4.10 — is up 43% from a year ago, though it’s dipped in the past couple of weeks.

The acceleration of inflation has occurred against the backdrop of a booming job market and a solid overall economy. In March, employers adding a robust 431,000 jobs — the 11th straight month in which they’ve added at least 400,000. For 2021, they added 6.7 million jobs, the most in any year on record. In addition, job openings are near record highs, layoffs are at their lowest point since 1968 and the unemployment rate is just above a half-century low.

The escalation of energy prices, a potential threat to the economy’s long-term durability, has led to higher transportation costs for the shipment of goods across the economy, which, in turn, has contributed to higher prices for consumers. The squeeze is being felt particularly hard at the gas pump.

“That’s an extra dollar per gallon that I’m paying to get into the city to work,” Jason Emerson of Oakland, California, said as he loaded groceries into his car. “And then, you know, we have the tolls that just went up this past year a dollar. My eggs are a dollar more as well. So everything’s going up at least a dollar, which, you know, adds up.’

The latest inflation numbers solidify expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates aggressively in the coming months to try to slow borrowing and spending and tame inflation.

Kathy Bostjancic, an economist at Oxford Economics, said she expects year-over-year inflation to hit 9% in May and then begin “a slow descent.” Some other economists, too, suggest that inflation is at or near its peak. With federal stimulus aid having expired, consumer demand could flag as wages fall behind inflation, households drain more of their savings and the Fed sharply raises rates, all of which could combine to slow inflation.

But that could take time. Robust spending, steady pay raises and chronic supply shortages are still fueling inflation. In addition, housing costs, which make up about a third of the consumer price index, have escalated, a trend that seems unlikely to reverse anytime soon.

Economists note that as the economy has emerged from the depths of the pandemic, consumers have been gradually broadening their spending beyond goods to include more services. A result is that high inflation, which at first had reflected mainly a shortage of goods — from cars and furniture to electronics and sports equipment — has been emerging in services, too, like travel, health care and entertainment. Airline fares, for instance, have soared an average of nearly 24% in the past 12 months. The average cost of a hotel room is up 29%

The expected fast pace of the Fed’s rate increases will make loans sharply more expensive for consumers and businesses. Mortgage rates, in particular, though not directly influenced by the Fed, have rocketed higher in recent weeks, making home buying costlier. Many economists say they worry that the Fed has waited too long to begin raising rates and might end up acting so aggressively as to trigger a recession.

The American public’s expectation for inflation over the next 12 months has reached its highest point — 6.6% — in a survey the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has conducted since 2013. Once public expectations for inflation rise, they can be self-fulfilling: Workers typically demand higher pay to offset their expectations for price increases. Businesses, in turn, raise prices to cover their higher labor costs. This can set off a wage-price spiral, something the nation last endured in the late 1960s and 1970s.

Click here to read the full article at the Mercury News

DA Gascon Finds It’s Still Tough To Prosecute Police For Fatal Shootings Despite Changes In State Law

In declining to charge officers in two controversial killings, the district attorney lamented that ‘the burden of proof for prosecution is high’

When he campaigned for Los Angeles County district attorney, reform-minded George Gascon made clear he would be a different kind of top prosecutor.

A darling of the Black Lives Matter movement in the aftermath of the George Floyd killing by Minneapolis police, Gascon blasted incumbent D.A. Jackie Lacey for not prosecuting law enforcement officers in controversial fatal shootings. In eight years in office, Lacey filed one manslaughter case in more than 340 fatal police shootings.

Gascon assured police critics he would do better.

When he took office in December 2020, the progressive D.A. immediately vowed to reopen four fatal police shootings Lacey had declined to prosecute. More than a year later, no charges have been filed in the targeted cases.

And in the past week, Gascon has declined to charge officers in two controversial fatal shootings in Inglewood and Pasadena.

Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

Gascon’s ambitious rhetoric, it seems, is colliding with reality. As most prosecutors know, absent some compelling evidence of wrongdoing or extreme negligence, it is difficult to win criminal cases against police officers in fatal shootings — even after recent changes in state law governing when deadly force can be employed.

Burden of proof

Murder charges against police are notoriously challenging to prove in court because juries and state law governing the use of deadly force give subjective leeway to officers, who sometimes have to react to violent encounters within a split second, said Robert Weisburg, a law professor and director of Stanford University’s Criminal Law Center.

“The jury has to get inside the mind of officers,” he added. “There is simply deference to the officer’s experience and reasonable need for self-protection. Officers will say they felt threatened, that there was no other alternative, and seem to be honestly describing the situation. It’s very hard to disprove.”

That was apparently the case last week when Gascon announced there was insufficient evidence to charge five Inglewood police officers in the shooting deaths of Kisha Michael and Marquintan Sandlin, who were found unconscious inside a car in February 2016.

Michael had a gun in her lap and officers told investigators they opened fire when Sandlin awoke and reached for the weapon. All five officers were removed from the police force the following year.

The D.A.’s Justice System Integrity Division also found that there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Pasadena Officer Edwin Dumaguindin did not act in lawful self-defense when he fatally shot Anthony McClain after a 2020 traffic stop in the northwest part of the city. McClain, a passenger in the car, fled on foot after the stop and was pursued by Dumaguindin. The officer believed he was reaching for a weapon, and fired two shots at him.

Gascón, a former LAPD officer who also served as district attorney in San Francisco, said on Twitter that while did does not support the officers’ actions in the shootings, he’s obligated to follow the law.

“We do want to be clear,” he said in a tweet. “The burden of proof for prosecution is high. Our decision does not mean that what happened is right.” Gascon also acknowledged that the decision not to prosecute was “excruciating and that the families are understandably devastated.”

‘More of the same’

Raúl Ibáñez, chairman of Pasadena’s Community Police Oversight Commission, called the D.A. findings in the McClain shooting “disappointing.”

Black Lives Matter Los Angeles member Michael Williams echoed those sentiments.

“I think the feeling is it’s just more of the same; things that we thought would change haven’t changed, and it’s basically Gascón telling us what we already knew,” he said. “Which is that the law is not on our side. It protects those who violate our rights, violate our autonomy, and take away our loved ones.

“We’re still hopeful that Gascón will reconsider and, instead of finding ways that he can’t — look into ways that he can bring charges against officers who murder people unjustly.”

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

Californians Fed Up With Both Political Parties As Crime Crisis Spirals In Golden State

Voters in California question if either political party is equipped to address the crime crisis facing the Golden State.

“I think both of them are inadequate at this point because they’re using old solutions that never worked in the first place,” Daniel from San Francisco told Fox News.

Paul, a San Francisco resident who said he leans Democrat, told Fox News there are politicians in both parties he does not agree with.

“Sometimes you wonder if any of them can do the job, the party I’ve chosen included,” Paul admitted.

During her “State of the City” speech March 9, San Francisco Mayor London Breed, a Democrat, acknowledged that the progressive city had been plagued by rampant vandalism, car and home break-ins, drug use and gun violence. 

“Too many people across the city don’t feel safe,” Breed said. She went on to downplay crime reports as “noise” from “right wing media” outlets.

“You know, there’s a lot of noise about what’s happening in our city. You see it in the headlines, often in the right-wing media,” the mayor said. “They love to talk about San Francisco, don’t they? You see it on social media. You see one video take off as if it’s telling the whole truth about who we are. I know it’s challenging with all that noise to really understand what’s happening.”

Gianni, from San Francisco, said he thinks a business owner should be in charge.

“I think that would probably be a Republican,” said Gianni.

In Los Angeles, robberies involving a firearm have increased 44% this year, according to a report last month from the LAPD. Citywide, robberies have increased nearly 18%, according to LAPD data

Click here to read the full article at FOX News

California’s Shrinking Population Has Big Impacts

Although California’s population growth began to slow in the 1990s after exploding in the previous decade by 6 million people, both official and independent demographers continued to see relatively strong growth for decades to come.

In 2007, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s in-house demographers projected that California would have 39.9 million residents by 2011. It didn’t happen.

Five years later, then-Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2012-13 budget projected that the state’s population would be “over 39.6 million” by 2016. That didn’t happen either.

In 2016, with the state’s population estimated at 38.7 million, the Public Policy Institute of California declared that “California will continue to gain millions of new residents in each of the next two decades, increasing demand in all areas of infrastructure and public services – including education, transportation, housing, water, health, and welfare.”

“By 2030, PPIC said, “California’s population is projected to reach 44.1 million.”

That’s not going to happen either.

The 2020 census pegged the state’s population at 39.5 million and a recent report from the Census Bureau says California had a net loss of more than a quarter-million residents between July 1, 2020, and July 1, 2021.

“California appears to be on the verge of a new demographic era, one in which population declines characterize the state,” PPIC demographer Hans Johnson writes in a new analysis. “Lower levels of international migration, declining birth rates, and increases in deaths all play a role. But the primary driver of the state’s population loss over the past couple years has been the result of California residents moving to other states.”

Since 2010, Johnson continued, “about 7.5 million people moved from California to other states, while only 5.8 million people moved to California from other parts of the country. According to Department of Finance estimates, the state has lost residents to other states every year since 2001.”

Instead of zooming past 40 million to 45 and then 50 million by mid-century, as earlier projections indicated, California may remain stuck just under 40 million indefinitely.

That said, a stagnant population doesn’t mean a lack of demographic change. Declining birth rates, the aging of the large baby boom cohort and rising death rates – three other components – mean, for example, that as a whole, California’s population is growing older. We’re already seeing sharp declines in public school enrollment from the state’s baby bust.

The state-to-state migration patterns Johnson cites also affect the composition of an otherwise stagnant population. Overall, he says, those leaving the state tend to have low to moderate incomes and relatively low levels of education while those moving here have higher levels of education and income.

Click here to read the full article at CalMatters

Exclusive: Housing Debate Has Dominated Campos and Haney’s Assembly Race. New Reports Uncover Their Track Records

Anurupa Ganguly loved living in Brooklyn. She loved its diversity, restaurants, culture and walkability. When she felt pulled back to her home state of California, she zeroed in on San Francisco’s Mission District as a similar neighborhood.

It was similar — except for the housing options. In New York City, she’d moved a few times, often finding a new unit the same weekend she started looking. In the Mission, vacancies were incredibly sparse — and expensive.

But she and her husband managed to rent a small one-bedroom apartment at 1188 Valencia St. in February 2021 for $3,900 a month plus $400 for utilities and a storage unit. Like many San Franciscans, they’re now hooked. Unlike many San Franciscans, they plan to stick around when they have kids.

“We’ve really fallen in love with our home here and the community here and the work we do here,” said Ganguly, 36.

Ganguly’s new life, though, wouldn’t be possible if then-Supervisor David Campos had gotten his way back in 2015 — because her home probably wouldn’t exist.

The building with about 50 residences, including six below-market-rate units, is home to a diverse mix of people, many of them families living in larger units with children. But the development would have been significantly delayed, if it had been built at all, if Campos’ proposed 18-month halt on construction of market-rate housing in the Mission — with an option to extend it to 30 months — had passed muster at the board or ballot box. Even Campos himself now acknowledges the moratorium was not a good idea.

That’s a central point made in a new report examining Campos’ housing record — and another looking at the record of his state Assembly opponent, Supervisor Matt Haney — by a UC Berkeley associate professor of political science and avowed YIMBY who wants to see more housing built all over the city. And who, for the record, is voting for Haney.

David Broockman, working in his spare time, has taken on the mind-numbing task of plumbing planning documents, watching government meetings and filing public records requests to analyze the housing records of San Francisco’s leaders, one by one. (You may recall his first report on Supervisor Dean Preston, whom he called “the worst offender” when it comes to halting housing on a board with several candidates for the title.)

Broockman plans more deep dives into the housing track records of the supervisors up for re-election in November.

As the Assembly race nears its April 19 finish line, housing — or San Francisco’s lack thereof — has become a primary focus. It’s obvious that the city and state, both grappling with a major housing shortage and affordability crisis, need more places for people of all income levels to live. It’s also obvious that the Board of Supervisors hasn’t done nearly enough to approve that housing, and that the city makes it far too hard and expensive to build the units that do manage to get approved.

Clearly, our housing crisis isn’t the fault of any one elected official, but emanates from an overall desire by too many residents and their leaders to freeze certain San Francisco neighborhoods in amber, pretend the basic laws of supply and demand don’t exist, and continue to see their own home values skyrocket.

Still, it’s crucial to look at individual leaders’ track records and hold them to account.

As Broockman explained, “For any individual project, there are often excuses that sound reasonable, but it’s only by zooming out that you get a sense of the overall pattern.”

Click here to read the full article at the San Francisco Chronicle

Law Reduced Prison Time For Man Tied to Sacramento Shooting

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A suspect arrested in connection with last weekend’s mass shooting outside bars in Sacramento served less than half his 10-year sentence because of voter-approved changes to state law that lessened the punishment for his felony convictions and provided a chance for earlier release.

Smiley Allen Martin was freed in February after serving time for punching a girlfriend, dragging her from her home by her hair and whipping her with a belt, according to court and prison records.

Those count as nonviolent offenses under California law, which considers only about two dozen crimes to be violent felonies — such as murder, rape, arson and kidnapping.

Martin, 27, was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and possession of a machine gun. He is among the 12 people wounded during Sunday’s shooting, which killed six others.

Police have said the violence was a shootout between rival gangs in which at least five people fired weapons, including Martin’s brother, Dandrae Martin, who also was arrested. No one has yet been charged with homicide in the shooting.

Smiley Martin typically would have remained behind bars until at least May after serving a minimum of half his time for his previous arrest in 2017, but prison officials evidently used a very expansive approach to applying lockup time credits to his sentence, said Gregory Totten, chief executive officer of the California District Attorneys Association and a former Ventura County district attorney.

“They’ve been given very broad authority to early release folks and to give them additional credit and all kinds of considerations for purposes of reducing the length of sentence that somebody serves,” Totten said.

Corrections officials did not dispute that Martin was among thousands of inmates who received additional credits that sped up their releases under state law. But the officials said their policy prohibits disclosing what prison time credits Martin received.

They cited credits through Proposition 57, the 2016 ballot measure that aimed to give most of the state’s felons a chance of earlier release. Credits were also broadly authorized in California to lower the prison population during the pandemic.

Proposition 57 credits include good behavior while behind bars, though corrections officials declined to release Martin’s disciplinary report. Good conduct credit is supposed to be reserved for inmates who follow all the rules and complete their assigned duties.

The state “has implemented various credit-earning opportunities to incentivize good behavior and program participation for incarcerated individuals, including those created in furtherance of Proposition 57— which was overwhelmingly approved by voters,” state corrections spokesperson Vicky Waters said in a statement.

Supporters of the credits, including former Gov. Jerry Brown, who pushed for Proposition 57, have said it’s important to give inmates a second chance. The opportunity for earlier release encourages inmates to participate in education and other rehabilitative programs and helps to reduce mass incarceration.

“The most recent reforms in California are seeking to change a culture that has been churning out recidivism problems for generations,” said Will Matthews, spokesperson for the Californians for Safety and Justice group, which backed the changes. “The question we need to be asking ourselves is, how are we engaging in behavior change?”

Under Proposition 57, credits are granted for completing rehabilitative or educational programs, self-help and volunteer public service activities, earning a high school diploma or higher education degree and performing a heroic act. Officials added credits during the coronavirus pandemic, including 12 weeks of credit that applied to most inmates.

Martin was denied parole in May 2021 under California’s process for nonviolent offenders to get earlier parole, after a letter was sent from the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors said they objected to his parole based on his lengthy criminal record and asserted that Martin “clearly has little regard for human life and the law.”

Six months after he turned 18, Martin was caught in January 2013 with an assault rifle and two fully loaded 25-bullet magazines, prosecutors said. Months later, he pushed aside a Walmart clerk to steal computers worth $2,800, they said. In 2016, he was arrested as a parolee at large. And less than six months after that was the assault that sent him back to prison.

It’s not clear if Martin has an attorney who can comment on his behalf.

Martin pleaded no contest and was sent to prison on charges of corporal injury and assault likely to cause great bodily injury in January 2018 under a plea deal in which prosecutors dismissed charges of kidnapping — considered a violent felony — and intimidating a witness or victim.

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