The Great Culling: Which California Bills Did Legislators Kill?

California lawmakers won’t be creating a state Election Day holiday this year. Nor will they be providing grants to local governments to convert public golf courses into affordable housing, or forcing health insurers to cover fertility treatments.

All of these proposals were victims of the seasonal culling of bills known as the suspense file. This stately and secretive process, led by the Senate and Assembly appropriations committees, serves as a final fiscal review before any legislation expected to have a significant cost to the state is sent to the full chamber for a vote.

In fast and furious hearings on Thursday that stretched for two hours, the committees ran through the fates of nearly 1,000 bills, offering no explanations for their decisions and, in many cases, no formal announcement at all that a measure was held.

The results had already been determined in private deliberations. The suspense file, among the most opaque practices at the Capitol, allows legislative leaders to not only shelve proposals that are too expensive, but to also more quietly dispatch those that are controversial or politically inconvenient, particularly in an election year.

About 220 bills were shelved. The bills that made it through — more than 700 of them — now face another looming deadline next week to pass out of their house of origin. If successful, they will move to the other chamber for further consideration.

Here are some of the notable measures that are not advancing this session:

Election Day holiday

Five times Assemblymember Evan Low, a Campbell Democrat, has tried to create a state holiday for the November election, closing schools and giving public employees paid time off to vote. And five times the bill has been held on the Assembly suspense file, including again this year.

Assembly Bill 1872 was slightly different from several of its predecessors in that it would have swapped out Presidents’ Day with an Election Day holiday in even-numbered years, rather than simply adding another day off, thereby lowering its cost. But with every California voter now being mailed a ballot in every election, the urgency for such a plan has diminished considerably.

A separate measure to create a state holiday for Juneteenth, Assembly Bill 1655 by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, a Los Angeles Democrat, advanced to the floor, however.

Affordable housing

If a powerful interest group swings hard enough at a bill, they just might kill it. That’s what happened when nearly 80 local, regional and national golf groups, as well as several organizations that favor local control over housing development, coalesced against Assemblymember Cristina Garcia’s Assembly Bill 1910

The measure targeted the state’s hundreds of municipal golf courses, many of which are operating at significant financial losses, as prime locations to help the state build its way out of its housing shortage. It would have offered grants to local governments to convert their golf courses into housing, at least a quarter of which would have to be affordable to low-income families. The result wasn’t too surprising: everyone wants affordable housing, until it threatens to come to their backyard — or local golf course.

— Manuela Tobias

Fertility treatment

Assemblymember Buffy Wicks’ push to require health insurers to cover fertility treatment, including costly in-vitro fertilization, fell short for the third time in four years.

Click here to read the full article in CalMatters

San Francisco Archbishop Bars Nancy Pelosi from Communion Over Abortion Stance

San Francisco’s Roman Catholic archbishop has banned House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) from receiving Holy Communion during Mass until she repents of her public pro-abortion stance. 

“A Catholic legislator who supports procured abortion, after knowing the teaching of the Church, commits a manifestly grave sin which is a cause of most serious scandal to others,” Ssalvatore Cordileone wrote in a public notification Friday. “Therefore, universal Church law provides that such persons ‘are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.’”

“I am hereby notifying you that you are not to present yourself for Holy Communion and, should you do so, you are not to be admitted to Holy Communion, until such time as you publically repudiate your advocacy for the legitimacy of abortion and confess and receive absolution of this grave sin in the sacrament of Penance,” the 65-year-old clergyman wrote.

Cordileone noted that while he and Pelosi had discussed the issue in the past, the archbishop has “not received such an accommodation to my many requests” to speak again following the September passage of a controversial Texas abortion law which bans abortions after a heart beat is detected – usually at six weeks. 

At that time, Pelosi vowed to codify the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade ruling into federal law.

In recent weeks, Pelosi has doubled down on that stance in light of a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that indicated Roe will be overturned later this year. 

The archbishop noted that he will “continue to offer up prayer and fasting” for the Speaker in the coming weeks.

Pelosi’s office did not immediately respond to The Post’s request for comment.

It is not the first time Catholic clergy have sought to prevent Catholic pro-abortion lawmakers from receiving sacramental wine and bread, which church doctrine holds becomes the literal blood and body of Jesus.

While on the campaign trial, a South Carolina priest denied Communion to then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden due to his pro-abortion views. 

Not long after, Archbishop Charles Chaput, the former head of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, opined that Biden should be blocked altogether for “creating the impression that the moral laws of the Church are optional.” 

Click here to read the full article in the NY Post

Los Angeles DA Recall Closes In On Needed Signatures 50 Days Before Deadline

The Recall DA George Gascon campaign announced on Wednesday that more than 450,000 signatures have been collected as of May 13th, closing in quickly on the 566,857 needed and the safety goal of 800,000 that the group wants to submit to the LA County Registrar in 50 days.

The second petition to recall Gascon has seen an explosion of support in recent months, especially when compared to the first petition. Following the election in 2020, Gascon, who previously was the DA of San Francisco, quickly instituted several so-called “reforms,” including ending policies that had juveniles being tried as adults, many crimes reduced to misdemeanors or having jail time reduced, and the removal of cash bail for most crimes despite California voters voting to keep it in 2020 in Prop 25. However, these policies led to criminals being emboldened and rising crime in the County, despite the COVID pandemic. Crime rates went up in everything from homicides to robberies. A petition was started up last year, but it fizzled out by October.

Supporters vowed to get another petition in place, and were emboldened by the smash and grab crime spree in LA and San Francisco in late 2021. With the public more aware of Gascon’s policies, more and more people began voicing opposition against Gascon. Entire City Councils, including the Beverly Hills City Council, voted outright in favor of his recall, and more than 30 cities in the County voted no confidence in him. The successful signature effort in San Francisco to recall their DA, Chesa Boudin, also encouraged many to give it a second chance.

In late January the second petition was approved by the County. With high crime, a lack of prosecution attempts against criminals, crime victims believing that the DA supports the criminals more than them, and previous petition factors being amplified, the 2022 petition quickly garnered signatures. Many lawmakers and political candidates immediately threw their support behind the recall, and by mid-March over 125,000 signatures were collected.

Over 450,000 signatures collected so far

On Wednesday, that figure shot up by over 300,000 signatures. As recall supporters are to send out more petitions to millions of LA County residents ahead of the June 7th primary, the recall campaign is now on track to not only meet the 566,857 needed signature line of 10% of all county voters, but is also likely to hit the 800,000 safety figure to account for double signatures, invalid signatures, and other factors that may result in their signature being removed.

“With 50 days to go, we are continuing to see increases in signature collection and anticipate additional bumps as our mail program is fully deployed,” the Recall DA George Gascon campaign said on Wednesday. “We are on the cusp of qualifying this recall and positioned exactly where we need to be to hit our goals within the remaining timeframe.  If residents and community leaders continue to step up, this will be the beginning of the end of George Gascon’s reign of terror over Los Angeles.”

Experts noted that other outside factors may only increase the number of signatures in the final stretch of collection days until the deadline in early July.

“Crime continues to play the big reason people are signing the petition. That and Gascon not prosecuting or going after criminals,” said James Long, a neighborhood safety planner in Los Angeles, to the Globe on Wednesday. “I mean, he is, but to nowhere near where he should be, not with crime this high and those arrested just walking out.”

“But that Boudin recall up in San Francisco has been encouraging to many. Outside at petition signature gatherings, one of the oddest groups of people who have come out in support of the recall have been former San Francisco residents who moved here. They still see the news from back home, and they have seen that Boudin is now all but certain to be recalled next month. To them, that’s amazing. They’ve seen how wrong things have become in both cities, and hey, if San Francisco can recall their guy, so can LA.”

Click here to read the full article at the California Globe

Homeless Count Up 10% in San Diego County. ‘More Miserable Out There Than I Have Seen In Years’

The numbers have confirmed what many already suspected.

Homelessness has increased in San Diego County, and it’s especially apparent in several cities where tents and makeshift structures fill sidewalks, canyons and freeway offramps.

Results of the first homeless count in two years, released Thursday, found the number of people living in vehicles or outdoors without shelter increased 9 percent in the city of San Diego. In Oceanside, where city officials have introduced a hotel voucher program and plan to open a shelter, the number of people on the street increased 31 percent. In National City, where the San Diego Rescue Mission plans to open a shelter next year, the number of people living without shelter increased 19 percent.

In all, homelessness in San Diego County has increased 10 percent since January 2020, according to the report released by the San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness. The actual number is likely much higher, officials said, and it could worsen as pandemic housing subsidies and protections expire.

The Feb. 24 count found 8,427 homeless people in San Diego County, with just over half in shelters. The other 4,106 were living outside of shelters, a 3 percent increase from 2020. Of that number, 713 were in vehicles.

The count usually is done annually, but this was the first since January 2020 because of the pandemicand it showed the crisis persists despite increased efforts to get more people off the street.

Since the last count, the city has purchased two extended-stay hotels and converted them to permanent housing for more than 400 formerly homeless people, Father Joe’s Villages has opened a 407-unit affordable housing project, and the city and county have worked together to increase outreach teams and other efforts.

“But even with all of that, our numbers have increased,” said Tamera Kohler, president and CEO of the Regional Task Force on Homelessness, the agency that coordinates the count.

“We have more people, we have more unsheltered, we have more challenges, and it is a little bit more miserable out there than I have seen in years.”

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said he wasn’t surprised at the increase.

“We see this with our own eyes every single day,” he said, adding that the pandemic likely contributed to the increased homeless population, which is happening throughout the state.

“The numbers could have been larger, frankly,” Gloria said.

Like Kohler, Gloria noted that the increase in homelessness happened despite many efforts to address it, but he is hopeful that new programs, more shelter beds and additional housing will improve next year’s numbers.

The city has added 271 shelter beds in the past year, a 25 percent increase, bringing the total to 1,468. An additional 450 beds are coming in the next few months, including a 125-bed shelter in the Midway area, a 40-bed women’s shelter and a 182-bed shelter for seniors and families that will be in two sites that have not yet been announced.

“Now, is it enough?” Gloria said. “No, it’s not. But I think it demonstrates a commitment with the city to acknowledge the problem.”

Of the 4,321 people counted in shelters in this year’s report, 3,036 people were in emergency shelters such as the large tents operated by the Alpha Project, 1,249 were in transitional housing and 36 in a safe-haven, temporary housing for people in rehab programs.

As usual, the city of San Diego had the largest population of homeless people in the county, with 2,307 people in shelters and 2,494 living without shelter.

Click here to read the full article in the San Diego Union Tribune

EXCLUSIVE: California Globe Interview With President Donald Trump, Part 2

The California Globe had the opportunity to meet with Former United States President Donald Trump Friday in Los Angeles in a one-on-one interview, while he was in the state on business. We discussed the state of the State of California. As expected, President Trump had plenty to say about the politics of our unique state.

This is Part 2 of the series; Here is Part 1.

“The one thing with me is I have a big voice,” President Donald Trump said as we discussed whether or not California’s elections can be cleaned up. “Because nobody ever writes this story – I haven’t seen this story,” he added.

“California is totally corrupt,” the 45th President told the Globe. “And frankly it has to be when you send out 20 million ballots. It has to be.”

Trump continued: “And many people got two, three four or five ballots! I’ve seen this on television. And people say to me ‘I got five ballots.’”

“It’s a disgrace.”

“What the Republicans do is allow it to happen without a fuss,” President Trump said. “The Democrats would go crazy” if they were on the receiving end of mailed ballots, ballot harvesting, and funny business with elections.

“See, I don’t believe the Democrats are a 50/50 Party. I think they cheat on all elections,” Trump added. “Because when you have ‘defund the police,’ sanctuary cities, open borders, all of the drugs you want, no God, no guns, I don’t believe that is a 50/50 Party. I think Democrats cheat in elections, and the Republicans are just as guilty because they let them.”

“Look at Pennsylvania – the Republicans allow them to cheat by being weak,” Trump said. “But I don’t believe they are a 50/50 Party because of all of the things they stand for so strongly – ‘defund the police,’ sanctuary cities, open borders.”

“Look at now – look at inflation,” he said. “We had no inflation. We had it down to a perfect science. We had no inflation and we had low interest rates.”

“I mean this guy [President Joe Biden] is going to be the next Herbert Hoover. Or worse,” President Trump said.

Under President Herbert Hoover, the 31st president (1929-1933), elected on the eve of the Great Depression, the top tax rate was hiked from 25% to 63%. “Perhaps his single greatest policy blunder was supporting and signing into law a tariff act that fueled international trade wars and made the Depression even worse,” USNews reported.

“He could be a combination of Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter,” Trump continued. “Jimmy Carter was almost Herbert Hoover.”

Under President Jimmy Carter, the 39th President (1976-1980) inflation rose from 7% in 1977 by an average of more than 11% in 1979, up to nearly 14% in 1980. “Automobile prices increased 72%. New house prices went up 67%. In 1979 alone, gasoline prices increased 60%. By the time Carter left office, the prime rate was 21.5%, Human Events reported. Gas prices skyrocketed to (inflation-adjusted price) $4.14, which made it the 5th most expensive year in an 85-year span.

“Whereas we had the strongest economy in the history of the world,” President Trump said. “We created the strongest economy in history. There was never an economy like this.”

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Former CEO of Anaheim Chamber of Commerce Facing Criminal Charges

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a comment from the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce.

Former Anaheim Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Ament appeared in court Tuesday facing federal charges of lying about his assets when purchasing a home in Big Bear City, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Ament was charged Monday with making false statements to a financial institution in late 2020 when seeking a loan to buy the second home, according to a press release issued Tuesday.

The announcement comes the day after news broke that Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu is under investigation for alleged fraud, bribery, obstruction of justice and witness tampering in connection with the city’s deal to sell Angel Stadium to Angels owner Arte Moreno’s business partnership.

Since his election in 2018, Sidhu worked closely with Ament and the chamber, including teaming up on the “Anaheim First” initiative that was intended to create a 10-year city improvement program based on residents’ input. The program was stalled by the pandemic, but Sidhu recently sought to revive it.

At the federal courthouse in Santa Ana, where Ament arrived in handcuffs for a first appearance hearing Tuesday afternoon, the attorney representing him, Sal Ciulla, declined to comment on the case or say what, if any, connection it may have to the federal investigation into Sidhu.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Lim, who is among the lawyers prosecuting the case against Ament, also said after Tuesday’s hearing he couldn’t comment on whether the Anaheim probes were related because of the ongoing investigation. He added that, “I think the affidavits for complaint and the search warrants speak for themselves.”

The events described in the affidavits took place in similar time frames and the Ament affidavit mentions multiple unnamed Anaheim elected officials.

An affidavit filed in federal court May 12, in support of search warrants requested in the Sidhu probe, includes references to an FBI investigation that led to a cooperating witness who was an employee of the Anaheim chamber. Names throughout the affidavit were redacted, except in one section transcribing a taped conversation between Sidhu and the cooperating witness, when Sidhu addresses the person as Todd.

Current chamber CEO Laura Cunningham said in an emailed statement late Tuesday, “We at the chamber are shocked by the public allegations about former President and CEO Todd Ament, who separated from the chamber last year. We feel saddened and angered by these disturbing allegations and will cooperate with any law enforcement inquiries.”

To help with financing the Big Bear home, the affidavit supporting the charge alleges that Ament, with the help of an unnamed political consultant at a prominent public relations firm, “devised a scheme to launder proceeds intended for the chamber through the PR firm into Ament’s bank account,” the press release said.

The affidavit in support of the charges against Ament also alleges he was:

  • Working with the political consultant to defraud a cannabis business client by claiming they could offer influence over a potential cannabis ordinance, and diverting the client’s money to Ament’s personal bank account.
  • Acting as a “ring leader,” along with the consultant, of “a specific, covert group of individuals that wielded significant influence over the inner workings of Anaheim’s government.”
  • Working with the political consultant to prepare scripted comments for an unnamed Anaheim city official to deliver at council meetings.

The FBI obtained the information described in the affidavit from sources including intercepted and recorded phone calls, interviews with several witnesses, and bank and other financial records, according to the document.

The affidavit also describes how Ament and the consultant allegedly led “a small group of Anaheim public officials, consultants and business leaders” that Ament and the consultant referred to as a “family” and a “cabal” that held regular meetings to “exert influence over government operations in Anaheim,” the Department of Justice’s press release said.

To illustrate that allegation, the affidavit details a November 2020 phone conversation the FBI listened in on, in which Ament and the political consultant discussed which Anaheim City Council members could be trusted, who should be invited to a retreat to strategize on city issues, and who might need to be reminded to “be a loyal member of the team” because they’d gotten help with their reelection.

The document also gives a lengthy description of the alleged cannabis scheme, which entailed receiving payment from an unnamed cannabis industry client to lobby the city to approve retail sales of cannabis and have influence over creation of the regulations for pot shops. However, the affidavit alleges, Ament and the political consultant actually appear to have worked against the client’s interest by secretly working with an industry competitor and then slowing progress of the issue at City Hall.

Although several Anaheim elected officials and at least one city employee are mentioned, the names of those people are all redacted from the affidavit.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

California Globe Interview With 45th President Donald Trump

Part 1: ‘We have horrible borders and horrible, corrupt elections’

The California Globe had the opportunity to meet with Former United States President Donald Trump Friday in Los Angeles in a one-on-one interview, while he was in the state on business. We discussed the state of the State of California. As expected, President Trump had plenty to say about the politics of our unique state.

“I happen to think California is one of the most corrupt states in the nation for election fraud,” President Donald Trump said at the outset of our meeting Friday. “When they send out 20 million ballots… basically they don’t have any voting rules, right? They send out everything and they have no idea where they are going.”

The 45th President is referencing how every registered California voter now receives a ballot mailed to them ahead of elections under a bill signed in 2021 by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Under the law, ballots in California must be mailed at least 29 days before the election. Voters are still able to drop off their ballot or vote in person.

According to the California Secretary of State, as of April 8, 2022 there are 26,948,297 eligible California voters and 22,004,006 registered California voters.

“I don’t believe California is a blue state,” Trump said. “I think California – if there were fair elections in the state – California is a very even state and maybe would even be a Republican State.”

“When the Democrats sent out over 20 million ballots, there is no way a Republican can win in the state. Because they are as crooked as can be,” he added.

“And this is a corrupt election, and many of the states in our country are corrupt,” President Trump added. “And I think I proved two things in doing what I’m doing: We have horrible borders and horrible, corrupt elections.”

“The first thing I was told when I decided to run in 2015 is ‘don’t waste any time in California.’ I did one rally and I’m telling you, I had 100,000 people there,” Trump said. “And I said ‘this is not a blue state.’ But I never went back. And I was told ‘you’ll lose by anywhere from 7 to 10 million votes.’ So I said, ‘this is crazy.’ It’s only because the process is so corrupt.”

“And the Republicans should not stand for it.”

I covered a Trump campaign event June of 2016 in Sacramento, California, held at the Sacramento International Airport. The crush of the massive crowd was spectacular. It was evident that many people there were awestruck at the size of the crowd. The Associated Press reported that 5,000 people showed up for the event.

President Trump discussed how Hispanic voters jumped on board the Trump Train. “Look at how well I did in Texas and Florida with Hispanics. I have record numbers.”

“I won the border of Texas – that’s never happened before,” Trump said. “It’s mostly Hispanic and I won it.” Trump said the Governor called him and said that’s not happened since the Texas civil war and reconstruction.

We discussed California’s 2018 ballot harvesting election slaughter when “ballot harvesting” helped flip seven U.S. House races in California after Election Day. “That was a total mess,” Trump said. “We had seven elections that went to overtime and all seven were lost.”

In the weeks after Election Day, and after the counting of hundreds of thousands of ballots harvested under a new California law, election observers and California voters started to raise red flags on what they witnessed, a Republican House report found.

This law permits any individual to return the mail ballot belonging to another voter without any limitation as to the number of ballots collected, the relationship to the voter, or even relationship to candidates on the ticket. And they can be paid to collect the ballots.

In Orange County, 250,000 mailed ballots were turned in on Election Day, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

California also passed a law ahead of the 2018 election authorizing the counting of ballots for an entire month after Election Day.

“That’s the other thing – for the country, I want to have all-paper ballots, and all same-day voting,” Trump said, sounding as if he is running for President in 2024. “Like France. In all fairness, like Canada. They don’t have any problems with their elections. They all do same-day voting.”

President Trump said the only exceptions to the same-day, paper ballot voting in Canada and France are if someone is very sick and cannot make it to the polls, or for military out of the country. They are allowed, with permission, to cast an absentee ballot.

“You should have very few mail-in ballots because it is very corrupt,” Trump added.

We discussed the work his former Director of National Intelligence, Ric Grenell, is doing with Fix California. Fix CA started a statewide inspection of the 58 counties’ voter rolls in July 2021 to clean them up.

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

Judge: California’s Women on Boards Law Is Unconstitutional

A Los Angeles judge has ruled that California’s landmark law requiring women on corporate boards is unconstitutional.

Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis said the law that would have required boards have up to three female directors by this year violated the right to equal treatment. The ruling was dated Friday.

The conservative legal group Judicial Watch had challenged the law, claiming it was illegal to use taxpayer funds to enforce a law that violates the equal protection clause of the California Constitution by mandating a gender-based quota.

David Levine, a law professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, said he was not surprised by the verdict. Under state and federal law “mandating a quota like this was never going to fly,” Levine said.

State Senate leader Toni Atkins, a Democrat from San Diego, said the ruling was disappointing and a reminder “that sometimes our legalities don’t match our realities.”

“More women on corporate boards means better decisions and businesses that outperform the competition,” Atkins said in a statement. “We believe this law remains important, despite the disheartening ruling.”

The decision comes just over a month after another Los Angeles judge found that a California law mandating that corporations diversify their boards with members from certain racial, ethnic or LGBT groups was unconstitutional.

The corporate diversity legislation was a sequel to the law requiring women on corporate boards. The judge in the previous case ruled in favor of Judicial Watch and the same plaintiffs without holding a trial.

The law voided Friday was on shaky ground from the get-go, with a legislative analysis saying it could be difficult to defend. Then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed it despite the potential for it to be overturned because he wanted to send a message during the #MeToo era.

In the three years, it has been on the books, it’s been credited with improving the standing of women in corporate boardrooms.

The state defended the law as constitutional saying it was necessary to reverse a culture of discrimination that favored men and was put in place only after other measures failed. The state also said the law didn’t create a quota because boards could add seats for female directors without stripping men of their positions.

Although the law carried potential hefty penalties for failing to file an annual report or comply with the law, a chief in the secretary of state’s office acknowledged during the trial that it was toothless.

No fines have ever been levied and there was no intention to do so, Betsy Bogart testified. Further, a letter that surfaced during trial from former Secretary of State Alex Padilla warned Brown weeks before he signed the law that it was probably unenforceable.

“Any attempt by the secretary of state to collect or enforce the fine would likely exceed its authority,” Padilla wrote.

The law required publicly held companies headquartered in California to have one member who identifies as a woman on their boards of directors by the end of 2019. By January 2022, boards with five directors were required to have two women and boards with six or more members were required to have three women.

The Women on Boards law, also known by its bill number, SB826, called for penalties ranging from $100,000 fines for failing to report board compositions to the California secretary of state’s office to $300,000 for multiple failures to have the required number of women board members.

The Secretary of State’s office said 26% of publicly traded companies headquartered in California reported meeting the quota of women board members last year, according to a March report.

Half of the 716 corporations that had been required to comply with the law didn’t file the disclosure statements.

Supporters of the law hailed it for achieving more gains for women. Other states followed California’s lead. Washington state passed a similar measure last year, and lawmakers in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Hawaii proposed similar bills. Illinois requires publicly traded companies to report the makeup of their boards.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

In Rural California, Republican Brian Dahle Plants the Seeds of a Campaign for Governor

With no water to irrigate his crops, Brian Dahle’s success as a farmer depends heavily on the whims of rain clouds drifting over the grassy valleys and frostbitten mountains of California’s northeastern frontier.

But it’s been a long dry spell for Republicans hoping to become governor of California. And the conservative legislator from Lassen County’s fate in this year’s election depends on a break in an unfriendly political climate in a state where the GOP spent years slowly withering into irrelevance.

“This is a tough race,” Dahle said about his decision to challenge Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom. “There’s no denying it, but I believe that things are lining up. People are not happy. There’s more money in Sacramento than I’ve ever seen in my entire life. They’re throwing it around — and people are still mad.”

With the California Republican Party’s endorsement, Dahle is favored to finish in the top two in the June 7 primary. That’s the easy part. Once November comes, he faces the grim reality that Democrats outnumber Republicans in California by an almost 2-1 ratio.

Newsom won the 2018 governor’s race by the largest margin in half a century, and the $25.6 million he currently has in his campaign account swamps Dahle’s tally some 50 times over. Newsom already is using that financial advantage to attack Dahle as a loyalist of former President Trump and most recently as an opponent of abortion rights, both political anathemas in left-leaning California. Dahle’s opposition to government-mandated COVID-19 vaccinations promises to be another ripe target in the months ahead.

Newsom used that strategy to defeat the Republican-led recall in September. Dahle, however, said the potency of that message has waned. Voters have expressed frustration with Newsom, as recent opinion polls have shown, including his inability to handle the homelessness crisis and to tame California’s exorbitant housing costs. Democrats have had an iron grip on the power in Sacramento for the last 12 years, Dahle said, so they can’t dodge responsibility.

“What matters today is that California has the highest poverty rate, the highest crime and inflation is out of control,” Dahle said in a recent interview. “I’m going to ask Californians one question: Do you think your life’s gonna be better with him at the helm for another four years?”

Unlike Newsom’s top Republican challengers in the September recall and 2018 governor’s race, Dahle is not a political neophyte.

The 56-year-old Republican served on the Lassen County Board of Supervisors for 16 years before being elected to the California Legislature in 2012, where he served as Assembly Republican leader before being elected to the state Senate in 2018. He spent years working on water, forestry, wildfire and housing issues with elected officials from across the Western states.

Dahle was a member of the Quincy Library Group, a consortium of environmentalists, timber company representatives and elected officials representing the northeastern part of California. The group was formed to quell the decades-long, contentious fights over forest management policies for national forest lands in the northern Sierra Nevada.

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Endangering Democracy for Lawmakers’ Convenience

Gov. Gavin Newsom has proudly proclaimed that “California does democracy like nowhere else in the world.” But as he warned, we cannot take our democracy for granted. The pandemic has changed how we do business: segments of the private world now operate remotely without the need for face-to-face interactions. But in a democracy, the function of government requires greater public transparency and accountability for its very foundation.

Photo courtesy of DB’s travels, Flickr.

This year, a trio of bills in the legislature would take the wrong lesson from the pandemic and undermine these democratic values for the convenience of politicians – allowing public officials to engage in policymaking from private locations that are not identified, or accessible to the public, or even located within the state – without need or justification.

Our open meetings laws have been protecting democracy for decades. But even as early as 1855 California law recognized that “place is an essential ingredient” of lawmaking because the officers of government “ought to be found by the citizen who is in search of them.” Access to government officials is essential for the public as well as media representatives, whether the community is concerned about tax rates or fighting for our civil liberties. Throughout history, a key organizing tool for impacted communities has been to show up to public meetings to confront the public officials and to hold them accountable. Public access also ensures that we know who else is in the room when policy decisions are made.

During the pandemic, government bodies have been forced to strike a balance between legitimate public health concerns and the value of public meetings. We have seen some government bodies suffer as the challenges of remote participation resulted in breakdowns in the ordinary government processes. Public officials were not only secluded in private homes, but many also turned off their video cameras for an entire meeting, leaving their constituents and the media attempting to engage with an empty screen. In one notable example, a Board of Supervisors member routinely teleconferenced in from his estate in Montana, far removed from his constituents. This setup understandably fosters mistrust and suspicion about public servants and the bodies on which they serve. While it may be necessary in an emergency, it is no model for good government.

Click here to read the full article at San Gabriel Valley Tribune