California Democratic Supremacy Tested by Crime, Inflation

Democrats in many parts of the country are facing a potentially grim political year, but in California no one is talking about the liberal stronghold changing direction.

California’s largely irrelevant Republican Party could field only little-known candidates for governor and U.S. Senate, and the GOP appears to have only isolated chances for upsets even under what should be favorable conditions for the party.

Mail ballots are already going out for the June 7 primary election that will set the stage for November runoffs. The election is taking place within a cauldron of dicey political issues: the possible repeal of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, widespread frustration with a homelessness crisis and with residents suffering pocketbook stress from galloping inflation and soaring home costs — the state’s median price hit a record $849,080 in March.

President Joe Biden’s popularity has sagged — even among some of his fellow Democrats — and the party in the White House typically loses congressional seats in midterm elections. California Democrats showed up in historic numbers in 2020 to defeat then-President Donald Trump in landslide, but turnout next month is expected to tumble with little drama at the top of the ticket: Gov. Gavin Newsom and U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, both Democrats, face only token opposition.

But none of that adds up to a threat to the state’s Democratic supremacy. Republicans haven’t won a statewide election in California since 2006, and Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by nearly 2-to-1 statewide. Democrats are expected to maintain their supermajorities in the Legislature.

The GOP picked up four U.S. House seats in 2020 but Democrats still dominate the congressional delegation, holding all but 10 of the 53 House seats, with one vacancy.

At a state Republican Party convention last month, House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield said he’d be holding the chamber’s gavel in January, not Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco. He predicted more House upsets in California would tip the balance of power in the chamber, but the GOP faces tough races to hold its ground.

Recent history isn’t encouraging for the GOP. Last year, Newsom appeared vulnerable but then easily defeated a recall effort driven by critics of his handling of the pandemic.

“We don’t have a real race for governor. We don’t have a real race for senator,” said Claremont McKenna College political scientist Jack Pitney, who cited the lopsided recall election as evidence of faded GOP prospects, even as Democrats are on the defensive nationally.

“The problem here is the Republican bench is very thin,” Pitney added. “There really aren’t any Republicans in California who have a statewide profile.”

The most closely watched races in the state this year don’t involve Republican challengers. In San Francisco and Los Angeles, local district attorneys are being blamed for reforms that some say fueled rising crime. The recall of San Francisco’s Chesa Boudin is on the ballot next month. Petition signatures needed to qualify a recall are still being gathered in Los Angeles County, where George Gascón could be forced to defend his seat later this year.

Los Angeles also will elect a new mayor from candidates including Democratic Rep. Karen Bass, who was on Biden’s short list of vice presidential picks, and billionaire developer Rick Caruso a longtime Republican who became an independent and then, shortly before entering the race for mayor, registered as a Democrat.

Arguably the most endangered Democrat on the statewide ticket is Attorney General Rob Bonta, a reform-minded Newsom appointee who is facing challenges from two Republicans and an independent candidate — Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert — who fault him for spikes in crime. Schubert recently left the GOP and is gambling that a different identification on the ballot will draw more votes.

A promising new face for Republicans is state controller candidate Lanhee Chen, the son of immigrants from Taiwan, who holds multiple Harvard University degrees, served in President George W. Bush’s administration and won the support of the left-leaning Los Angeles Times editorial board.

Among the top congressional races, Republican Rep. Mike Garcia is defending his seat north of Los Angeles in a Democratic-leaning district. Democratic Rep. Katie Porter, a star of the party’s progressive wing, is looking for another term in a closely divided coastal district in Orange County. And nearby, Republican Rep. Michelle Steel, a Korean immigrant, is looking to win a second term in a district with a slight Democratic edge that includes the nation’s largest Vietnamese American community.

Predictions for a disastrous year for Democrats nationally are undergoing reevaluation after the leak of a draft U.S. Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the landmark abortion decision.

Newsom has called it the “defining issue” in the election and is backing a proposal for the November ballot to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution, a move Democrats hope would lure more voters at the polls. It remains to be seen if abortion could trump economic issues and public safety among voters.

A final ruling in the case is not expected until the end of the court’s term in June. If Roe is overturned, the fallout is likely to be concentrated in conservative-leaning or swing states that could see abortion heavily restricted or banned. California is seeking to expand those rights — Newsom wants the state to be a “refuge” for those seeking abortion and among the bills in the Legislature is one that would pay the costs for pregnant women to come from out of state.

Click here to read the full article at AP News

Harris Loses Another Staffer

WASHINGTON — The Congressional Black Caucus said Tuesday that it was naming an aide to Vice President Kamala Harris as its new executive director.

Vincent Evans is returning to Capitol Hill after nearly a year in the vice president’s office as Harris’ deputy director of public engagement and intergovernmental affairs.

Evans is among a string of staff departures from Harris’ office in recent months as she confronts the high expectations and scrutiny that accompany being vice president.

As executive director of the 56-member Congressional Black Caucus, Evans will work closely with the group’s chair, Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio).

“Vincent will help the CBC reach greater heights and make substantive advances in 2022,” Beatty said. “In addition to his experience, he brings great passion for further strengthening the CBC’s top priorities moving forward.”

In a statement, Evans said he was “deeply honored” to be chosen for the post.

“I started my career in Washington working for a member of the CBC, so I know firsthand the tremendous leadership and impact this caucus has in Congress and across the country,” Evans said. “As we write the next chapter of the CBC story, I am excited for the opportunity to lend my experience and passion for supporting the collective vision of this storied caucus.”

Click here to read the full article at LA Times

House Democrats Size Up Next Leaders As Pelosi Rumors Churn, Midterms Loom

With Republicans favored to regain the House in November’s midterm elections, talk on Capitol Hill has turned to the future of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and her leadership team.

Rumors have swirled for weeks that Pelosi, who turns 82 in March, will leave Congress at the end of this term — especially if Democrats receive the walloping forecast by most polls.

GOP lawmakers and operatives insist that President Biden’s plummeting approval ratings, announcements by at least 24 Democratic lawmakers that they will not seek reelection, and historical precedent that the party controlling the White House often loses congressional seats in midterms augurs that a “red wave” is coming this fall.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has made hay of the whispers, repeatedly referring to Pelosi as a “lame duck Speaker” on social media and during press conferences. 

However, multiple Democratic sources say that a large midterm loss is not inevitable. They note that 11 of the 16 House Democrats who have announced they would rather retire than seek another two-year term are in their 70s and 80s, suggesting they are motivated by other factors than dread of at least two years in the minority. (Four other departing House Democrats are running for the US Senate, while another four are seeking other office.)

One Democratic source also pointed to grudging praise recently offered by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich as a indicator that Pelosi’s powers over her caucus have not yet faded.

“She has been amazingly effective for a very long time,” Gingrich told “Fox & Friends” Monday. “She survived losing the Congress [in 2010], came back as the minority leader, got to be Speaker again, and with a tiny majority, she accomplished things I didn’t — as a former Speaker, I didn’t think were possible. So, you at least technically have to have a real respect for her professionalism, her toughness, the degree to which she owns the House Democratic Party. When she leaves, there will be a big vacuum.”

But not every Democrat is so optimistic about the party’s chances.

“I believe if Democrats (miraculously) retain a majority in 2023, she’ll stick around for one more Congress,” one lawmaker told The Post. “If not, I suspect she’ll defer to a new generation of leadership.”

Click here to read the full article at the NY Post

‘Back to the Future’ California Recap and 2022 Political Predictions

‘Dr. Seuss prepared us for this year’

While political pundits predict a red wave across the country in the 2022 midterm elections, many even anticipate a wave of change in the Golden State. How big the California wave is, and what form it will take, will be anyone’s best educated guess.

California’s 2021 Year in Review is more of a scene from “Back to the Future” or “Groundhog Day.” We started a 2021 recap and felt it was exactly like last year’s, but with a failed Recall Election of the Governor.

Case in point: The state ramped up testing again with the COVID Omicron variant making its way to the United States, and is breathlessly screeching about “cases,” while hospitalizations remain low at only 4,747 total in the state of nearly 40 million residents, and 2 deaths on Dec. 29th. Doctors report most “cases” are merely cold symptoms, or are asymptomatic.

CDPH hospitalizations. (Photo: CDPH.ca.gov)
CDPH COVID Dashboard. (Photo: CDPH.ca.gov)

Regardless, the state just issued strict new isolation guidance for those with COVID, despite the most recent CDC recommendations reducing isolation and quarantine to 5 days, down from 10.

The state of California again decided to ignore that new guidance and impose stricter rules – for what purpose, we can only surmise.

California schools and universities have announced school children and college students will need to test for COVID before returning to school following the holiday and New Year break, but still must wear masks indoors.

Colleges and universities are demanding booster shots of the returning students. UCLA and sixother University of California undergraduate campuses announced Tuesday that classes will begin remotely at the start of the new term.

All UC students and UC staff will be required to show proof they received a COVID-19 booster shot.

Los Angeles schools are threatening to impose outdoor mask rules.

Is this 2020, 2021 or 2022?

Ugh. Recap over. Let’s move on to the future.

Democrats have clearly lost their grip on education as a party platform. As the Globe reported in October, only hours after California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement of a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for all schoolchildren in California, homeschooling and tutoring inquiries shot up dramatically, with some homeschooling sites even going down to the sheer volume of users searching for help.

California voters will get the chance to vote on two ballot initiatives in 2022 proposing Education Savings Accounts for California students, which follow the students’ choice of schools: private school or homeschool.

We asked some of California’s political junkies, the politically well-connected, legislative staffers, lobbyists, attorneys, candidates and others to weigh in with their political predictions for 2022. What a wide range of predictions and observations we received!

Not everyone was in a position to self-identify, so when you see “Anonymous,” know that we know the identity of the contributor to our 2022 predictions.

Anthony Watts of Chico, CA predictions for CA 2022:

1. The legislature will pass and Newsom will sign an “exit tax” to be levied on people leaving the state for a better life. They’ll do this by levying a tax on U-Haul, Ryder, moving companies like Bekins and United Van Lines, along with other independent moving companies for any out-of-state move. This will create a black market for clandestine movers, and drive the price of trailers sky-high. It will also create a reverse “Grapes of Wrath” effect with people simply loading up their vehicles and leaving the state to escape the “great depression” of California.2. State sanctioned theft of electricity becomes the new normal. On January 27th 2022, The CPUC will approve the new NEM3 system that will create the highest solar tax in the country and hugely reduce the bill credit solar customers get for selling electricity back to the grid. It will also impose new fees for the “privilege” of connecting to the grid. NEM3 will pay 25 cents on the dollar per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by home and small business solar owners, where under NEM2 it was 95 cents on the dollar. The result will be a huge drop in installed solar on existing homes, as well as creating a new market for electricians to remove solar panels from the grid and create schemes to drive the home electricity directly from the panels during the day. It will also create a rash of fires as some new homeowners, who are mandated to have solar on new homes, angry at this turn of events, will try to rewire their homes themselves.

3. Climate change will be blamed for items 1 and 2. Newsom and/or some idiot lawmaker will say “climate change” is the real reason people are leaving the state, and that “climate change” is the reason we have to steal electricity from your solar panels without fairly compensating homeowners.Mark Meuser, California Constitutional Attorney and U.S. Senate Candidate:

California will pick up 9 Republican Congressional seats minimum. If 2010 was the year of the Tea Party, 2022 is the year of the Parent Party. We saw this in 1993, when then-First Lady Hillary Clinton pushed social medicine. New Jersey and Virginia voted in Republican Governors, and House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Republicans took majority control of the House of Representatives for the first time in forty years after the 1994 elections. Then again in 2009 when President Barack Obama pushed Obamacare, and the Tea Party was formed to fight it. 2021 was an absolute attack on everything decent and normal. We saw Virginia flip to a Republican Governor, and even New Jersey had a huge Republican swing. 2022 is going to be a major swing.

I’ve been speaking to parent groups across the socio-economic spectrum in California, which literally grew out of nothing since September.

Lastly, the Hispanic swing: The Recall Election of Gov. Gavin Newsom showed 54% Hispanic support in that wanted the recall. We are seeing this in Texas, Florida and other parts of the U.S., where it’s clear, Hispanics want change over the same issues: crime, schools, and the madness of essential/non-essential businesses… they were hurt the most.

The demographic which votes the least is the 25-45 age group. But they are parents, they work, and they will vote now. This is the Parent Party.

Lance Christensen:

Dr. Seuss prepared us for this year — unfortunately, Sneetches will be a how-to guide for aspiring autocrats, rather than a warning. Everyone who thought 2021 was going to be an improvement upon 2020 will be really perplexed about 2022. Pick the issue, no matter what it is, 2022 will be the year of reactionary politics and dizzying, brazen political gamesmanship.

The midterm elections will bring divisive legislative races, less-than-stellar campaigns for statewide office and a number of high-profile ballot initiatives. Yet, the most consequential candidates in the state will not be applying for the diminished number of seats in the House of Representatives as a result of people fleeing to other states, or running for Governor against a special interest pawn; it will be thousands of mama bears taking school board races by storm. Education busybodies beware, school district boardrooms, gymnasiums and cafeterias are ground zero for parents as they wake up to the wokeness and forcefully reject the ever-present intimidation, indoctrination and inadequacies plaguing our public schools. And if parents are successful at reclaiming a majority of school boards, asserting rights over their children and refuse to comply with the Governor’s never-ending emergency orders, we’ll see the state legislature exert extraordinary financial pressure over these districts to assuage the teachers unions’ apoplectic rage. The effects will be compounded by a successful school choice initiative and recalls galore.

However, expect established, centralized media platforms to protect the status quo at all costs and accelerate memory-holing the propaganda of fear they’ve been echoing since March 2020. It will be independent thought leaders on a growing array of decentralized social media platforms who drive the debate for California to emerge from our government-induced-COVID-coma, inasmuch as they can avoid being canceled. If there is to be a saving grace in 2022, it will be every courageous red-pilled Californian who comes to a full realization that they are citizens, not subjects; that they don’t need stars upon thars to be happy and prosperous.

Anonymous in Los Angeles (snark alert):

Ironic: A bumbling and not-very-bright state henchman will be put in charge of the Dominion vote-counting machines for the 2022 California gubernatorial election and will accidentally switch the intended vote-rigging outcome, resulting in a landslide victory for Ric Grenell as California’s next Governor.

Anonymous in Sacramento:

I predict another year of grappling with the unhoused issue. No “solving,” just “grappling.”

Anonymous in Sacramento (snark alert):

Knowing what’s on the political horizon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will give Gov. Newsom a congressional Medal of Honor for women’s right’s  – ensuring the highest number of minority abortions (men and women per the official stats) in the country at tax payer expense.But it is Destined to be a failed attempt “to cut ‘em off at the pass.”  The governor cannot read the writing on the wall. Literally.Although he should win an Emmy for his performance in faking his need to cancel his climate summit trip due to family Halloween commitments, and NOT that his wife learned he was taking an assistant he has been allegedly involved with.So while he announces his exploratory committee for President, the tides turn.Because it is not his turn. It is still hillbilly Hillary’s turn to be president. No one makes Baby Hillary sit on the corner.So, six sexual harassment victims, all from Arkansas, will appear to claim the Joker grabbed their non-binary privates at the French Laundry, and the left will eat Gavin in public.Newsom will be Cuomo’d in ‘22.It will be Epoch Times.

Thus ends the predictions.

Meanwhile, lining streets throughout the state are ever-expanding and growing homeless encampments of ratty tents and corrugated boxes, battered old RVs, campers and trailers, vans, and passenger vehicles, which have become homes for the state’s vagrants, drug addicts and homeless street population.

2022 is indeed shaping up to be epoch times in California. Could this be the tipping point?

This article originally appeared on the California Globe

America’s Divisions May Have Passed the Tipping Point

If we can’t learn to leave each other alone, the country may have a violent meltdown.

Have America’s much-discussed political tensions reached a point of no return? Political tribalists who sort their lives along partisan lines and despise opponents have become regular features of national life. But now researchers say polarization can reach a “tipping point” at which external threats, such as pandemics, no longer drive people together but instead become further sources of strife that spiral out of control. Their warning comes as Americans seem poised to further escalate disagreements into open violence.

“We see this very disturbing pattern in which a shock brings people a little bit closer initially, but if polarization is too extreme, eventually the effects of a shared fate are swamped by the existing divisions and people become divided even on the shock issue,” Boleslaw Szymanski of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute told Cornell University interviewers. Szymanski is a co-author of “Polarization and Tipping Points,” published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. He added: “If we reach that point, we cannot unite even in the face of war, climate change, pandemics, or other challenges to the survival of our society.”

The authors of the paper wanted to know why the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than pushing Americans to cooperate on a common threat, instead became yet another reason for disagreement. They created a model to study the effects of party identity and political intolerance.

“We found that polarization increases incrementally only up to a point,” according to Cornell’s Michael Macy, who led the study. “Above this point, there is a sudden change in the very fabric of the institution, like the change from water to steam when the temperature exceeds the boiling point.”

The result, according to the study, is “a hard-to-predict critical point beyond which polarization becomes unlikely to reverse.”

Models aren’t real life, of course. But the researchers were inspired by real-life developments—developments so concerning that the issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in which the paper was published was devoted to the dynamics of political polarization. After all, we live in a country in which people sort lifestyles, recreational preferences, and careers by partisan affiliation.

“Consider, also, the growing segregation in our places of work. The academy increasingly skews to the left, especially so in liberal arts departments and among staff. Cattle ranchers, loggers, dentists, and surgeons skew right,” points out the University of Michigan’s Scott Page in the same publication.

Such political sorting applies to the military, too, severely limiting its utility in the country’s domestic disputes, no matter that some officeholders think that B-52s are the solution to political disagreements. Just two weeks ago, three anti-Trump retired Army generals warned that Americans shouldn’t look to troops to suppress escalating political strife.

“The potential for a total breakdown of the chain of command along partisan lines — from the top of the chain to squad level — is significant should another insurrection occur,” Paul Eaton, Antonio Taguba, and Steven Anderson wrote in the Washington Post. “Under such a scenario, it is not outlandish to say a military breakdown could lead to civil war.”

“Civil war” sounds like an unlikely fate for an established democracy where the population’s image of the concept is tied up in images of field armies in blue and gray uniforms. But no country is any more stable than the moment allows, and internal conflicts can be far messier than even the war that marked the mid-19th century.

“We actually know now that the two best predictors of whether violence is likely to happen are, whether a country is an anocracy, and that’s a fancy term for a partial democracy, and whether ethnic entrepreneurs have emerged in a country that are using racial, religious, or ethnic divisions to try to gain political power,” Professor Barbara Walter of the University of California at San Diego told CNN last week. “And the amazing thing about the United States is that both of these factors currently exist, and they have emerged at a surprisingly fast rate.”

Walter serves on the CIA’s Political Instability Task Force, which assesses the health of countries around the world. The task force isn’t allowed to turn its gaze on its home country, but Walter did so on her own (she has a book on the topic coming out in January).

“The United States is pretty close to being at high risk of civil war,” she concluded.

That said, and on a more positive note, just as the stability of a country isn’t written in stone, neither is its descent into chaos. The authors of “Polarization and Tipping Points” emphasize that they “make no claims about the model’s predictive accuracy.” Likewise, retired generals Eaton, Taguba, and Anderson, as well as Walter can’t know what is to come, they can only point to warning signs that have them concerned. We don’t have to live up to the worst expectations.

While America’s dominant political factions seem determined, like two kids in the back of a car, to poke and prod each other until they come to blows, the solution, as in that road trip to hell, might be to separate the parties without allowing either one the upper hand. Both the thuggish nationalism of Republicans and the elitist presumption of Democrats are authoritarian prescriptions best reserved for true believers, with the rest of us left to run our own lives as we please.

The election of Joe Biden to the presidency on promises of normalcy after the Trump years, promises which were promptly broken, indicates that Americans have some appetite for a less extreme and intrusive brand of governance. Unfortunately, 2020 was a lost opportunity to separate the feuding factions, and instead we traded one brand of overreach for another. Pushback against progressive excess in 2021’s off-year elections looked like another attempt by the public to achieve a little balance, or at least to escape the ambitions of a faction that wants to transform society to suit its vision, other people’s preferences be damned. The question is whether that pushback will be enough to avert a collapse into conflict.

“The process resembles a meltdown in a nuclear reactor,” Cornell’s Macy said of his tipping point research. “If the temperature goes critical, there is a runaway reaction that cannot be stopped. Our study shows that something very similar can happen in a ‘political reactor.'”

If we’re smart, the U.S. won’t be the test case for that hypothesis. Assuming that Americans can learn to leave each other alone, we won’t have to discover what it means to pass a national point of no return.

This article was originally published on Reason.com

California Redistricting: Four Key Questions

California’s independent redistricting commission reaches a key milestone by releasing its preliminary congressional and legislative maps for public comment. But many changes are likely before final districts are adopted in late December for the 2022 election.

It took weeks of long, late-night meetings full of wonky debate and digital line drawing — as well as a haiku and at least two songs as public comment. 

But on Nov. 10, California’s independent redistricting commission reached a key milestone: Its first official maps are out. 

The citizen panel voted unanimously to release preliminary congressionalstate Senate and state Assembly districts for public comment. 

The commission’s work is far from done, however. It acknowledges that these preliminary maps are far from perfect, and that it will need the six weeks before its Dec. 27 court-ordered deadline to fix them before adopting final districts for the next decade, starting with the 2022 elections. On its schedule: At least four public input meetings starting Nov. 17, then 14 line-drawing sessions between Nov. 30 and Dec. 19.

“It’s messy. It’s very slow,” commissioner Linda Akutagawa said just before the Nov. 10 vote. “But I do believe that it is a process that has enabled as many people who seek to be engaged in this process to be engaged.”

The commission is working toward “final maps that will best reflect everybody,” added Akutagawa, a no party preference voter from Huntington Beach who is president and CEO of Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics. 

Some key questions as the 14 commissioners start their next phase: 

How much could the maps change?

A lot, commissioners concede. 

While they’re required to follow a specific set of criteria, with equal population numbers being the highest priority, there are different ways to achieve those goals. 

The draft maps that were approved Wednesday night are generally along the lines of the final round of “visualizations” that the commission worked on this week. They include reworked congressional districts in Northern California, the Central Valley and San Diego in response to public feedback. 

For example, the progressive city of Davis was moved from a U.S. House district with politically conservative, rural areas in Northern California in earlier maps into a more urban, liberal district that includes parts of Yolo, Solano and Contra Costa counties

To meet its self-imposed deadline so it could avoid meetings around Thanksgiving, the commission also put a pin in several areas that need further work, including congressional and legislative districts in Los Angeles. 

Who are some early winners and losers?

The commission responded to concerns about earlier maps that combined two congressional districts represented by longtime African American representatives into one, and kept them separate in the latest maps. Commissioners were also able to keep the Hmong community united in congressional maps, and kept Native American tribes mostly united in Congressional and state Assembly maps. 

The commission also addressed concerns from community members in Orange County’s Little Saigon by ensuring they were in the same state Senate district. San Joaquin County community leaders who wanted less divided districts are also likely happy with the draft maps.

KEEP TABS ON THE LATEST CALIFORNIA POLICY AND POLITICS NEWS

Meanwhile, voters in and near Tracy who were disappointed with being grouped into a congressional district with the Bay Area were relieved to see their city placed back with the Central Valley. 

But other areas and advocacy groups are on the losing end so far.

Inyo and Mono counties, where officials asked to be kept together, were split in congressional and Senate districts, as was the city of Santa Clarita in Senate maps. 

Advocates say that proposed state Assembly districts divide Asian Americans and Pacific Islander communities in San Francisco.

“Losers” also include voters in Sacramento County, which hasn’t been as vocal in the process and is in danger of being sliced into several congressional districts, according to Jeff Burdick, a political blogger and 2020 congressional candidate.

And the uncertainty surrounding the districts is making it difficult for candidates and campaigns to get going for the June primary, some political professionals told Politico.

Click here click to read the full article on CalMatters.org

Reform CA Files Ethics Complaint Against Lorena Gonzalez Over ‘Employment Negotiations’ as Next Labor Leader

Watchdog group demands immediate resignation of Assemblywoman Gonzalez

The California Labor Federation, one of the largest and most influential union groups in California, voted to recommend Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) as their next leader on Tuesday in a non-binding vote, the Globe just reported Wednesday.

Politico ran a story late Tuesday night confirming “employment negotiations” have been occurring between Gonzalez and the powerful California Labor Federation.

However, many saw the articles and asked how a sitting elected Legislator can legally negotiate a future job with a labor group that regularly lobbies her on labor legislation?

Reform California announced Wednesday it has filed an ethics complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) demanding an immediate investigation, as well as enforcement actions, against Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez after news reports confirmed “employment negotiations” have been occurring between Gonzalez and the California Labor Federation.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

“I am filing this complaint and requesting an immediate investigation be initiated by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) into possible violations of the California Political Reform Act (CPRA) by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez,” Carl DeMaio, Chairman of Reform California, said in the complaint.

“Late last night, the news outlet Politico confirmed ’employment negotiations’ have been occurring between Gonzalez and the powerful California Labor Federation.”

“Gonzalez quickly took to Twitter after the story broke to claim she has not yet accepted the job – but provisions in the California Political Reform Act (CPRA) make that immaterial to whether she has run afoul of state ethics laws,” Reform California noted.

Reform California explains the legalities:

“In fact, a state official who simply negotiates employment with a potential employer is covered under the law. Under subdivision (c) of Regulation 18747 of the CPRA, ‘a public official is ‘negotiating’ employment when he or she interviews or discusses an offer of employment with an employer or his or her agent.’”“Once it is established that a state official has engaged in conduct that triggers subdivision (c), Section 87407 of the CPRA applies: ‘No public official, shall make, participate in making, or use his or her official position to influence, any governmental decision directly relating to any person with whom he or she is negotiating, or has any arrangement concerning, prospective employment.’”

It is no secret to anyone involved in state politics that Gonzalez, who was CEO and Secretary-Treasurer of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, AFL-CIO for five years prior to being elected to the Assembly in 2013, has been one of the most reliable legislative advocates for the California Labor Federation. She is on record sponsoring and voting for their legislation and utilizing her office to influence state agency activities, DeMaio said.

Click here to read the full article at the California Globe

What Do the National Conservatives Want?

Orlando, Fla. — As J. D. Vance takes the stage to give the final keynote address at National Conservatism II, news of Glenn Youngkin’s upset victory in the Virginia gubernatorial race begins to ripple through the crowd. The revelation quickly spreads in the Signal and Twitter group chats used by the conference’s youngest digital natives; soon after, it’s passed along via whisper to attendees of all ages. When Vance — still unaware the race has been called — mentions the possibility of a Youngkin win in an offhand remark, the furtive excitement that had been building across the Hilton Orlando conference center spills out into cheers.

“I heard somebody say he won?” Vance grins, scanning the room for confirmation.

For the national conservatives, the GOP’s clean sweep of the state — which saw the party clinch victories in the races for governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and the Virginia House of Delegates — feels like a vindication of sorts. Not necessarily because the winning candidates branded themselves as Trump-style nationalists, but because their focus on cultural issues such as critical race theory (CRT) — a major priority of the national conservatives, and one they would argue the mainstream conservative movement did not elevate until recently — factored heavily into their victories.

A sense of political momentum is palpable at this conference: The three-day event boasts a far larger and more diverse repertoire of top-billing speakers than its first iteration in 2019. And the broader national-conservative political project has garnered an increasing amount of nervous attention from the mainstream press as the influence of many of the writers and intellectuals in the movement’s orbit continues to grow. “All of the energy, all of the excitement, all of the intellectual innovation is on our side,” Vance tells National Review.

Conference attendees are united by a belief that the culture war has been neglected by a conservative mainstream that is too libertarian, too reluctant to advance its own vision of the common good in the public square, and insufficiently attentive to the traditionalist priorities of faith, family, and home. Nevertheless, over the course of the last year, that seems to have started to change: A record-breaking number of laws pushing back against transgender ideology and the teaching of CRT have swept through state legislatures across the country, and the mobilization of parents upset about left-wing radicalism in public schools has played an important role in upsetting the powerful Democratic Party establishment in elections such as the Virginia governor’s race.

The political salience of these issues gives some credence to the national-conservative critique of the broader Right’s past hesitancy to engage aggressively on cultural issues — even if the conservative movement as a whole is now leaning into this fight. “When you actually go after someone’s child, you’re going to provoke a natural and very strong reaction from parents, who are then also in a position to rally in a sophisticated way against it,” Manhattan Institute senior fellow and anti-CRT activist Chris Rufo, another speaker at the conference, tells National Review“And so that’s what we’re seeing in these school-board protests, which is just a totally organic and grassroots reaction against all of this.”

“People care about it because it matters,” Rufo says. “It’s their life, it’s their relationships, it’s their future employment, it’s the possibility of what kind of life they can build here in the course of the next 20 to 60 years. . . . And if you sense that there’s something perverse or wrong or malicious about [left-wing cultural ideology], if you sense that it directly attacks you, your sense of potential, and your own deepest-held values, you’re going to desperately try to seek some kind of antidote to it.”

This is a powerful impulse. Conference-goers — a politically disparate association of West Coast Straussians associated with the California-based Claremont Institute, post-liberals, right-wing populists, and any number of other ideological subgenres grouped together in what has come to be known as the “New Right” — come together in the belief that the conservative movement has failed to fully harness the relative cultural conservatism of the American electorate. There remains some ambiguity about what the national conservatives are for, but they know what they are against — what Israeli–American conference organizer Yoram Hazony described in his speech as “the idea of a public liberalism and a private conservatism.” For too long, national conservatives argue, the Right has seen the protection of liberty as the sole purpose of political life and has largely relegated discussion of virtue to the private sphere. But “there is no real wall separating the public from the private — that’s a myth,” Hazony says. “The public sphere reaches down into the private.” Politics, in other words, is not downstream from culture.

In the minds of the national conservatives, the peculiarly libertarian brand of pre-Trump conservatism — what many on the New Right derisively term the “dead consensus” — has little to offer American voters beyond tax-cutting and deregulation; it sees the highest political good as the prospect of “doing your taxes on a postcard,” rather than a substantive vision of human flourishing. National Conservatism II showcases a general sense of impatience with this more moderate center-right orientation. “Neoliberal platitudes are not going to save our late-stage republic now,” Newsweek opinion editor Josh Hammer tells his audience. “Values-neutral proceduralism, such as exaltations of laissez-faire absolutism and legal positivism in constitutional law, will not save America now. Corporate tax cuts and other Wall Street Journal editorial-board prescriptions simply are not going to cut it. We need a more muscular, assertive, and masculine vision of conservatism.”

There remain serious disagreements, of course, about what this “more muscular, assertive, and masculine vision of conservatism” looks like in practice. If the consensus is truly dead (and not everyone in the conservative movement agrees that it is), then a new one has yet to be born. The question of what might come after the Paul Ryan–era platform is central to National Conservatism II, but it has yet to be answered in full.

Despite Donald Trump’s role in initiating the GOP’s move towards a more aesthetically nationalist politics, the former president’s legislative record does not offer an entirely coherent policy platform. While in office, Trump routinely focused on ever-changing personal squabbles; meanwhile, his policy agenda at times seemed to reflect the priorities of Jared Kushner and Mitch McConnell over those of his national-conservative backers. Depending on whom you ask, the America First agenda is everything from immigration restriction to criminal-justice reform; from tariffs to tax cuts; from socially libertine “Barstool conservatism” to Catholic integralism; from culture-war hawkishness on critical race theory and identity politics to the Platinum Plan and urban-opportunity zones.

That ambiguity leads to fierce disagreements over what Trumpism, populism, and national conservatism look like in practice. The challenge for the young national-conservative project is to formulate an actionable policy agenda without betraying important first principles or straying toward the more radically anti-American statism of certain fellow travelers. The outlines of this agenda — attentiveness to family formation; more aggressive pushes to defund hostile institutions benefiting from favorable government policies; an offensive against Big Tech; and a commitment to the 2016 America First agenda of immigration restriction, trade protectionism, and foreign policy realism — begin to come into focus at the conference.

Click here to read the full article at NationalReview.com

California Needs Details on Hydrocarbon-Free Future

Well, that was awkward.

Gov. Gavin Newsom stalled for weeks on attending last week’s global conference on climate change in Glasgow, then announced at the last moment that he would, only to just as suddenly announce that he wouldn’t “due to family circumstances” which were never explained.

Instead, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis led a couple of dozen administration officials and legislators to the conference, and they were largely confined to the sidelines.

Newsom’s last-minute decisions stymied California reporters who had planned to cover his performance on the international stage, because they came too late to apply for press credentials.

Journalists could only monitor from afar, which rendered California’s tertiary participation to almost a non-event, from a news standpoint.

Kounalakis told CalMatters reporter Emily Hoeven, who had planned to accompany Newsom to Glasgow: “The overall message is the strength of California’s subnational leadership and the power of our innovation economy to help the world scale up on climate solutions.”

Kounalakis took that message to one of the panel discussions in which she participated, saying that “California has been the tail that has wagged the dog on environmental protection.” She cited Newsom’s order to ban the sale of gasoline-powered cars by 2035, contending that “We are the largest consumer market in the United States, and this standard is most certainly already shaping the future.”

Having the lieutenant governor travel all that way, by hydrocarbon-powered transport at no small expense, to merely echo what Newsom has been saying for the past three years was pretty lame.

That said, it’s high time that Newsom put some meat on the bones of his sweeping promises that California will lead humankind into a brave new hydrocarbon-free future.

If California is to ban sales of gasoline-powered cars in the next 14 years, how will it be done? While California leads the nation in the sale of battery-powered vehicles, they still are only a tiny percentage of overall auto purchases.

Will California have an adequate infrastructure of charging stations? Will it even have enough electrical power available for charging, given that it sometimes cannot meet current demand during hot summer days?

Simultaneously, Newsom wants to eliminate all power generation from natural gas and other hydrocarbon sources, so what’s the plan for that conversion? Can we develop enough solar and wind power to meet all demands for juice?

What will we do when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow? We would need immense banks of batteries or other storage facilities to take up the slack. Will there be enough lithium to construct those batteries without depending on other nations?

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Newsom also wants to stop oil and gas production in the state by 2045? Where are the details and how will the impacts on the petroleum industry’s thousands of workers — in the fields, in the refineries and in the gas stations — be mitigated?

If California is to be hydrocarbon-free in just a few decades, will that mean banning diesel-powered ships from California’s ports and jet planes from the state’s airports? Will we even have airports anymore?

If we can no longer buy gasoline-powered lawnmowers and other tools, how will we do the work they now perform? Will homes, hospitals, schools and other vital buildings be left without backup power from standby generators when the grid goes down? Will firefighters no longer have chain saws and bulldozers to battle wildfires?

These are serious questions and issuing sweeping decrees without telling us how hydrocarbons will be eliminated and what the effects will be on our lives is political malpractice.

This article originally appeared on CalMatters.org

Orange County Supervisors Narrow Down New District Maps

Orange County supervisors Tuesday narrowed down their choices for new district maps from eight to three.

One map is favored by Republicans, another by Democrats and the third is considered more neutral, some political observers say.

The five supervisorial districts are up to be redrawn based on the census, which is conducted every 10 years.

Nicole Walsh of the County Counsel’s Office told the supervisors all the districts need to have roughly equal population and must be “geographically contiguous.”

“We believe that while all of the proposed maps are likely defensible… maps 2, 4 and 5 are the most defensible overall,” Walsh said.

All the maps the board settled on create a Latino majority district and all contain at least one district with nearly more than 30% Asian residents, or what’s known as an “influence district,” Walsh said.

In three of the proposed maps the Latino community would be divided in a way that could lead to a Voting Rights Act challenge, Walsh said.

“Maps 2 and 5 certainly keep communities of interest together,” Walsh said.

For instance in maps 2 and 5 Little Arabia in Anaheim is kept together, Walsh said.

Click here to read the full article at mynewsla.com