California Governor Takes Aim at Concealed Carry, Fresno DA

In response to recent deadly shootings in the state, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new legislation this week that would make obtaining concealed carry permits more difficult. Likewise, he engaged in a war of words with the Fresno County District Attorney over the case of a Central Valley police officer whom a gunman shot and killed on Tuesday.

Newsom announced the introduction of Senate Bill 2, authored by state Sen. Anthony Portantino and also backed by California Attorney General Rob Bonta. SB 2 would make California’s licensing system for concealed carry permits more stringent; set a minimum age of 21 for obtaining a concealed carry permit; create stiffer training requirements related to handling, loading, unloading and storage of firearms; and establish “safe community places” where concealed firearms would be restricted.

“The mass shooting incidents we have seen over recent weeks bring to light the need for stronger protections for our communities,” Attorney General Bonta said in a statement. “The fact is, individuals who are not law-abiding, responsible citizens simply shouldn’t possess firearms — and they especially shouldn’t be allowed to carry a concealed weapon in public.”

Newsom’s office claims efforts to loosen concealed carry restrictions across the country have resulted in an increased in violent crime. Gun homicides increased by 22% in states that passed permitless carry laws, while violent crimes with a firearm rose by 29%, according to the governor’s office.

Following the killing of Selma Police Officer Gonzalo Carrasco Jr. by a gunman with a criminal background, Fresno County District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp criticized Newsom for policies allowing the early release of inmates from prison.

Newsom responded to Smittcamp during a press conference on gun law reform saying, “She should blame herself. I’ve been listening to this for years. She has the prosecutorial discretion. Ask her what she did in terms of prosecuting that case. I’m sick and tired of being lectured by her about public safety.”

Click here to read the full article at CalCoastMatters

What Nancy Pelosi’s Endorsement Means For the California Senate Race

House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi — who rarely weighs in on Democrat-versus-Democrat races — is endorsing Burbank Rep. Adam Schiff for Senate if Sen. Dianne Feinstein declines to run in what will be a fiercely contested, possibly once-in-a-generation contest.

It is the strongest sign yet that Feinstein will not seek re-election in 2024. Feinstein, 89, has said she will announce her intentions by spring. Pelosi delicately nodded to her Pacific Heights neighbor’s timeline in a statement obtained by The Chronicle Thursday: “If Senator Feinstein decides to seek re-election, she has my whole-hearted support.”

If Feinstein doesn’t run, Pelosi said in the statement, “I will be supporting House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff, who knows well the nexus between a strong democracy and a strong economy. In his service in the House, he has focused on strengthening our democracy with justice and on building an economy that works for all.” Last month, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy removed Schiff from the House Intelligence Committee where has served since 2008 and chaired from 2019 to 2023.

Pelosi’s endorsement marks a rare occasion in which she is wading into a race with no incumbent and multiple high-profile Democratic House members. It is also a huge boon for Schiff. Pelosi has previously endorsed the two other Democrats seeking the seat in their House races, Rep. Katie Porter, and Rep. Barbara Lee. Porter, D-Irvine, announced her campaign last month, while Lee, D-Oakland, is expected to officially announce her run soon.

Wade Randlett, a national Democratic donor from San Francisco who supports Schiff, said that “an endorsement in any open-seat Democratic primary from the greatest speaker of all time is golden. But to get it this early when there are at least three members of her caucus running is a Willie Wonka ticket.”

Pelosi and Schiff have had a close professional relationship. She tapped him to lead the first impeachment of President Donald Trump and to the panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

Trump and his MAGA supporters have relentlessly targeted Pelosi and Schiff for their dogged pursuit of the former president. On Thursday, Pelosi commended Schiff’s strength in withstanding their attacks.

“Ever since I supported Adam in his race for Congress in 2000, I have known his commitment to putting the American Dream in place for everyone,” Pelosi said. “Coming from a family of immigrants, Adam has dedicated his life to public service. Every time I have asked Adam to take on the tough fight against extremist forces, he has responded with integrity, strength and success.”

Schiff said he was “deeply honored and so proud to have the support of Speaker Pelosi, who has been a friend and mentor throughout my time in Congress. She has accomplished so much for Californians, for children and for working families, and deeply understands the challenges to our democracy that lie ahead,” according to a statement obtained by The Chronicle.

Not only is Pelosi, the first female speaker of the House, one of the most popular figures in the Democratic Party, she is its most prolific fundraiser and could steer donors to Schiff. She has raised more than $1 billion for Democrats since she ascended into party leadership two decades ago.

Schiff’s campaign coffers hold nearly $21 million cash on hand, which could give him an early advantage in what is expected to be an expensive race. Porter has $7.7 million in cash on hand, according to the latest federal campaign finance report. She raised $25 million last year but had to drain much of that in an unexpectedly tough House race in a redrawn, more GOP district. Lee has only $54,940.

It is also notable that Pelosi endorsed Schiff over two women. Porter is a member of the House Progressive Caucus. Lee is a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. Lee plans to make representation a central theme of her campaign.

One of the challenges that Schiff may face in the primary in deep blue California is being a straight white man in a diverse state.

California was represented in the Senate by two women from 1993-2021. Feinstein and Barbara Boxer were the first women elected to the Senate from California in 1992. Kamala Harris replaced Boxer after she retired in 2016 and served until she was sworn in as vice president in early 2021. California’s other senator is Sen. Alex Padilla, who is the first Latino to represent California.

The nod from Pelosi, a pioneering woman in the political world and a role model to many, will help Schiff in that regard.

The endorsement is also unusual since Pelosi has picked her spots in weighing in on top Democrat versus Democrat contests.

She didn’t take sides in the 2008 presidential primary battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. In 2016, she didn’t endorse Clinton over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders until the morning of the California primary, when she announced her support of Clinton on ABC’s “The View.”

That’s in contrast to what Pelosi had told reporters in San Francisco five weeks earlier, when she said she was withholding her endorsement so as not to dampen enthusiasm among supporters of either candidate.

“I have a responsibility to elect a Democratic House because whenever we get a new president — whomever she may be — we want that president to have the strongest possible Democratic Congress,” Pelosi said then.

She also has picked incumbents over rising Democratic stars. She endorsed Rep. Mike Honda (twice) and former Rep. Tom Lantos over now-Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Santa Clara, when Khanna challenged the incumbents. And she backed incumbent Rep. Pete Stark over now-Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Livermore, in 2012.

In choosing Schiff, Pelosi said, “America is at a crossroads. We can continue to lift our communities, strengthen our economy and defend our democracy — or let Republicans roll back our progress, threaten our freedoms and give tax breaks to the wealthy special interests. In 2024, the fight for America’s future is on the ballot.”

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

California Central Valley Police Officer Shot and Killed

Selma police officer shot and killed in line of duty. Suspect arrested

A Selma Police officer was shot and killed by a suspect in the line of duty in a residential neighborhood in the Fresno County city on Tuesday. The fatal shooting occurred around 11:45 a.m. in the 2600 block of Pine Street, just west of Highway 99 and south of Rose Avenue. The officer was rushed to Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno but died there later, Selma Police Chief Rudy Alcaraz said in an update near the scene around 4:05 p.m. The officer, who was with the Selma Police for two years, was not immediately identified out of a respect for privacy of the family, Alcaraz said.

FATAL SHOOTING INCIDENT Alcaraz said the incident began when a resident noticed the suspect in the front of the house and called police. The officer arrived and found the suspect, who shot him several times before fleeing. “I’m absolutely outraged,” Alcaraz said. “I’m horrified right now. This is the worst-case scenario. “ The officer did not fire his weapon, Zanoni said. FCSO homicide detectives took over the investigation. In addition to FCSO, law enforcement from the surrounding area — including the U.S. Marshals, California Highway Patrol and police from Fresno, Kingsburg and Parlier — swarmed to the scene and established a perimeter around the location for the investigation.

ARRESTED SUSPECT HAD CRIMINAL PAST Around 12:10 p.m., the suspect was detained after a deputy spotted the suspect near Fig and Sequoia, according to the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. The 23-year-old suspect was taken into custody and a gun was later recovered a short distance from where the man was arrested, the FCSO said. The suspect’s identity was not immediately released.

THE LATEST: Suspect named, details emerge But the sheriff’s office said law enforcement is familiar with the suspect and that he has a criminal background, including charges for firearms possession and robbery. The suspect served time in prison and is currently on probation as part of California’s AB 109 law (prison realignment). According to the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office, the suspect was sentenced in March 2022 to serve 5 years, 4 months in prison. But he was eventually released by September 2022 and placed on Post Release Community Supervision, the DA’s office said. “While we mourn this tragic loss and offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the fallen officer,” Fresno County DA Lisa Smittcamp said in a news release, “we must also focus our energy on demanding that our legislators do more to hold criminals accountable for their actions.”

Click here to read the full article at the Fresno Bee

What If There Is No Next Big Thing for California?


From its founding, California has been a special place, especially its ability to grow and foster new companies and industries that lead the world in their respective fields. Much of this has been driven by the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation that found a unique home here.

Of course, the first “Big Thing” for California was the Gold Rush of 1849, attracting risk takers willing to cross two thousand miles of hostile territory with no guarantee of survival, let along success. Following closely behind the prospectors were the blacksmiths, shop keepers, farmers and cattlemen to serve the exploding population.

Once fully industrialized, California maintained its reputation as the place where innovation could fully flourish. But companies and industries have a predictable life cycle and are never static. They start small, and then grow exponentially, after which they mature and stabilize. The growth period, of course, is the most dynamic. That’s when the innovators themselves and ultimately their stockholders make substantial profits and employees grow in number and income.

For the last 60 years, California has always had an industry or two in that growth cycle. First it was the oil companies and the Hollywood studios. Aerospace came next, then the first round of technology companies like Hewlett Packard, Intel and Cisco. As they matured around 20 years ago, along came the current wave of tech companies like Google and Apple to surge past them.

In serial order, one new industry after another grew up in California just as the prior wave had crested and was settling into maturity. This trend has not just benefitted the economy and employment. These industries have powered the revenue to the state for decades. The rapidly growing companies have provided a lot of people with very high incomes from stock, stock options and incentive-based employment. Because California’s revenue is so dependent on high-income earners, the recent budget surpluses have largely been driven by these enormous tech incomes.

But now, the current wave of tech companies is maturing. Layoffs at Facebook and Twitter and Salesforce are ongoing. The median income at Facebook is reportedly $394,000, which has meant lots of tax revenue for the state. Some political leaders suggest that we shouldn’t worry about the California economy and assume that there will be another big industry to grow up here to fill that hole in the budget.

But what if that doesn’t happen this time?

What if there is no next wave to replace the maturing Google and Apple? The promising industries of ride sharing and food delivery are struggling, as is autonomous driving. Maybe something like ChatGPT is coming, but there are no assurances there, either.

While there will almost certainly be some “next big thing”, we can no longer be certain that that “thing” will be California-based. Despite high taxes, high cost of everything and onerous regulations, the educated and tech savvy workforce has kept many companies here. However, now those people can be hired remotely by a business in Arizona. Or, whereas once a Californian didn’t want to move out of state, now moving the family to Florida may not look so bad. That spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation that was such a part of California’s culture is eroding at the same time other places are finding their footing with creative growth.

The good news is that this future is avoidable. That culture of entrepreneurship still exists. Innovation and enterprise can still be found and grow here. It may be trite to say, but it only needs a government that will get out of its way rather than suppress its dreams. Yes, it means less regulation and lower taxes. But it also means a government focused on empowering those who produce in order to ensure that there is revenue for public services as well as providing a reasonable safety net for those in need. It may also mean more emphasis on the present local economic climate than the global climate changes estimated in the future. Remember when we had the best schools and police forces in the country? We do. It wasn’t that long ago.

Click here to read the full article in the Los Angeles Daily News

Red Herring Alert: Comparing California and Japan High Speed Rail Falls on its Face

Japan’s high speed rail system, first begun in 1964, actually makes a lot of money

Well, it’s big in Japan.

That is what proponents of California’s high speed rail project say when asked about the whys and wherefores of the system. In other words, if it works somewhere else it will work here.

That argument, though, falls in the face of a rather basic fact: California and Japan are different.

It is true that Japan’s high speed rail system, first begun in 1964, actually makes money – a lot, in fact. The iconic first line, Shinkansen Tokaido, alone carries 90 million people a year and has an operating profit of about $4.4 billion dollars.  That does not include capital costs, but teasing that number out after 60 years of operation and the privatization of the route in the late 1980s is extremely difficult – suffice to say the deal has “worked” for the owners.

There are multiple other Shinkansen lines in Japan, most of which also realize an operating profit (the latest expansion to Hokkaido – the very large island north of the Japanese mainland – has proven to be problematic, tough.)

Focusing on the Tokaido line – the line typically referred to for comparison – shows a few similarities but many glaring differences. It’s distance is 320 miles, not terribly different from the 390 miles from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Also, it takes two and half hours – again not too dissimilar – and, in a downtown to downtown comparison, is faster and more convenient than flying (though not cheaper – it’s about $100 to fly and about $160 to take the Shinkansen) just like California’s project is supposed to be.

But that’s about it.

First, there is the issue of population. The Tokaido line (with its “Nozomi” train only stopping in the largest cities and hence the fastest) runs from Tokyo to Osaka, which alone have combined populations of 17 million, compared to 11 million for LA (including the county) and San Francisco.  

In the cities along the Tokaido route there are 9 million more people; in the space between LA and SF, there are less than 3 million. For comparison, the smallest city on the Tokaido is Shinagawa at 400,000 people; the smallest city on the California system is Gilroy, at 58,000. 

All told, the average “stop population” between Los Angeles and San Francisco is about 250,000 – on the Tokaido/Nozomi it is 2,250,000.

It is these concentrations and the economies of scale they allow that drive the success of the Tokaido line – California’s system is simply not in the same league.

The Nozomi train operates 32 1,300-seat trains each way every day; pretty much on the half-hour with fewer overnight, while the two other slower (but still high speed) trains on the same system operate much more frequently and make many more stops. 

Note on the following information– when dealing with California High Speed Rail (CHSR) Authority numbers – time or money – it is a good idea to remind oneself that they have never been right before, so really really big grain – meet salt.

The CHSR system will – in its “horizon year” of 2040, operate 105 southbound and 103 northbound trains per day over the system.  Southbound, 64 trains will start in San Francisco, 20 in San Jose, and 21 in Merced.  Northbound, 42 trains will start in Anaheim, 44 in Los Angeles, and 17 will start in Merced (note – that means 86 trains will pass through LA northbound every day.)

The system will operate 18 hours per day, with six hours designated “peak;” about half of the trains will operate during those six hours, the other half during the 12 “off peak” hours.

That means LA’s Union Station will – during the morning commute – see a train going north about every eight minutes, every day.

At 1,200 (could be a bit lower, could be a bit higher as the final design is not yet set) seats per train, about 10,000 people could leave LA between 7 and 8 a.m.  For the system to hit its ridership (and therefore revenue) goals, about 5,000 have to.

Six trains will run non-stop from LA to SF and 10 will run with only stops at San Jose and Burbank – the non-stops are expected to meet the 2 hour and 40 minute time limit set by original bond; the other trains will not.

Like the Tokaido, California’s system will charge different fares for different distances traveled … sort of.

The 2020 ridership estimate report shows a ticket price (one way) of $100 from San Francisco to Bakersfield. The cost to travel to LA or even Anaheim? Also $100. It appears planners simply worked – in accordance with the original bond measure – backwards from a typical Southwest fare to set the cap.

For those traveling to/from smaller cities, the fares are obviously less. For example, San Francisco to San Jose is $26, San Francisco to Merced is $66, Los Angeles to Anaheim is $34, etc..  

While the high-speed rail has been touted as a way to make lower cost Central Valley housing more accessible, the fare rates could significantly impact that desire as it would cost about $30,000 a year to commute from Merced into the city (admittedly, it can most likely be assumed there will be some sort of farepass/frequent user program will cut that price.)

But at numbers in the thousands per month, the incentive to move out of more expensive cities becomes far less – why spend the money on train fare rather than on a more expensive, more central home if it’s going to be a wash, unless you were going to move anyway to raise a family and mow the lawn?

As to overall finances, the most the CHSR says the LA to SF system will cost is $113 billion and it will be done in 2033, four years after the Central Valley “starter kit” is done.

Exactly where the money will come from remains a bit of a puzzle, but the CHSR is hoping the Cap and Trade money it gets will be extended to 2050 (an extra $10-20 billion,) that they will find more federal funds including non-transportation grants for things such as renewable energy and “social equity.”

As to a private investor, the CHSR admits they are not quite ready for that but that once the system is running and turning an operational profit businesses will come knocking to invest.

Speaking of operational profit, the CHSR projects there is a “99.4%” likelihood it make an operational profit by 2040. It should be noted “operational profit” is just that – how much more money you bring in than you have to spend every day and is not related to the capital cost.

If – IF – the system makes the $1.4 billion it expects to in 2040, that would give it a return on capital investment of 1.4% percent.  That’s not terribly good and may make private companies think again and again and again about investing.  

In other words, if (not accounting for inflation) the CHSR simply saved its money to build the rest of the system – the San Diego, Sacramento extensions – it would take about 40 years of “profit” to cover the cost.

And those revenues figures are based on having about 1 million riders a week, about 140,000 a day, about 6,000 an hour, 100 a minute. 

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

California’s Litigation Dystopia

The civil-rights division’s case against Activision spotlights the vicious feeding cycle that sometimes only a federal judge can stop.

For years, the zombie-like California Civil Rights Department (CRD) has roamed the Golden State in search of brains, or, rather, of businesses it can feast on for revenue in the name of social justice. Wherever it finds a victim, the CRD draws a crowd of opportunistic plaintiffs’ lawyers, each seeking to leverage the agency’s claims on behalf of the companies’ other alleged victims.

Consider its case against Santa Monica–based video-game maker Activision. Citing the agency’s claim that the company tolerated a “pervasive ‘frat boy’ workplace culture,” attorneys piled on.

On January 17, a federal judge in California drove off some of those opportunistic plaintiffs with a torch — putting an end to the sad case of two different shareholder groups trying to exploit California’s still-unproven CRD allegations, dismissing their claims for the third time, now “with prejudice and without leave to amend.”

As in all good monster movies, there’s humor and irony too.

In the summer of 2021, when CRD sued the video-game maker for its “pervasive ‘frat boy’ workplace culture,” Activision was already headed toward a resolution of those claims with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), ultimately agreeing to establish an $18 million fund for the alleged victims. In spite of this — in fact, deliberately to spite this — the CRD went to federal court to try to derail the EEOC settlement six times. Each time, a federal judge told them to butt out, declaring the federal settlement “fair, adequate and reasonable” and in “the public interest.” The CRD is now trying to persuade an appeals court to allow it to prevent victims from getting the settlement funds.

Here’s where the conventional horror movie becomes comedy.

Just days before the January 17 judge’s order, the Office of the New York City Comptroller, also smelling brains, tried to join one of the doomed plaintiffs’ suits. The comptroller claimed that Activision’s workplace-harassment suits imperiled the city’s pension-fund investments in the company. In a filing that cited the CRD’s most salacious claims, the comptroller’s attorneys added the funny bit: The city’s intervention on behalf of NYC Funds was part of the comptroller’s historic interest in pursuing social justice.

Their papers specifically highlighted the heroic actions of then-comptroller Scott Stringer. “In October 2019,” the city’s attorneys asserted:

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and the NYC Funds . . . call[ed] on major companies to adopt hiring policies requiring women and racially/ethnically diverse candidates to be considered for selection to corporate boards of directors. . . . Despite this striking success, the NYC Funds soon learned just how much work there remained to do at Activision.

It’s true that Stringer persuaded Activision and twelve other companies to sign on to a voluntary agreement to abide by aggressive diversity, equity, and inclusion goals in board recruitment. But it’s also true that the comptroller threatened legal action if the company did not sign on. And it’s equally true that the NYC comptroller’s office failed to note that former comptroller Stringer had gender-equity problems of his own.

It was a strange omission in a city that knows Scott Stringer well.

*   *   *

There was a moment in 2021 when the New York City mayor’s race belonged to Scott Stringer: a progressive Democrat, the cousin of former U.S. representative Bella Abzug, and son of Ronald Stringer (the man who served as legal counsel to Mayor Abe Beame when, in 1975, New York City ran out of cash and came this close to bankruptcy).

Stringer was born to politics, in other words. Like twelve-year-old Jesus of Nazareth teaching the rabbis, he was appointed to Manhattan’s Community Planning Board at the remarkable age of 16 and was practically breastfed in the New York State Assembly where he served as a legislative assistant to then-assemblyman Jerry Nadler. Stringer slipped into Nadler’s seat when the boss departed for Congress. In 2006, Stringer was elected Manhattan Borough president.

As borough president, Stringer proved himself adept in the dark arts of signaling his virtue — a gift that would serve him well until it didn’t. In one memorable moment, in 2010, he and fiancée Elyse Buxbaum theatrically picked up their marriage license in Connecticut, the better to stand in solidarity with New York’s gays and lesbians who were, at the time, barred from marrying in the Empire State.

His political fortunes rose higher. In 2014, Stringer was elected to the city’s powerful comptroller’s office. There, instead of demanding financial rigor in a city built on profligate spending and corruption, he pushed the office into identity politics. His highest achievement was “Boardroom 3.0,” the effort to use his city’s pension-fund investments to persuade publicly traded companies “to adopt a policy requiring the consideration of both women and people of color for director and CEO searches.”

By the time Stringer announced he would run for New York City mayor, his office had helpfully cock-a-doodled his work to protect the vulnerable. “NYC Comptroller Stringer and Retirement Systems Announce Precedent-Setting Board/CEO Diversity Search Policies as part of Boardroom 3.0 Initiative,” the office declared in an April 14 press release.

So, how does a guy with those bona fides — the family connections, the job history, the performative possibilities inherent in political office — blow a race for mayor of New York that nearly everyone figured was his?

He gets accused of sexual misconduct.

*   *   *

This is how the end came. In September 2020, Stringer launched his campaign for mayor. In April 2021, a former intern accused Stringer of sexual misconduct during a campaign 20 years before.

“I am coming forward now because being forced to see him on my living room TV every day, pretending to be a champion for women’s rights, just sickens me,” she told the New York Times.

Stringer fell to third in the polls, behind Andrew Yang and Eric Adams. Two months later, following a second allegation, Stringer, well and truly toasted, abandoned his run for mayor.

Some might have been humbled. Not Scott Stringer. In the waning days of 2022, he sued one of his accusers, in a move the progressive Nation magazine called “a case study in what not to do.”

By now Stringer knows that the facts of these cases — whether they involve a major corporation like Activision or a political figure like Stringer — don’t matter nearly so much as the accusation. Often enough, the accusation itself is lethal.

Click here to read the full article in the National Review

Task Force Meets in San Diego, Debates Eligibility for California Slavery and Racism Reparations

The task force is charged with making recommendations to the legislature by June on reparations for the effects of slavery and systemic racism for Black people in the state

A state task force charged with studying and making recommendations for reparations to Black residents of California who have suffered harm from the effects of slavery and systemic racism met in San Diego Friday and discussed at length who would be eligible.

The meeting, which continues Saturday at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center at the SDSU campus, comes less than six months before the task force is to issue its final conclusions.

The task force of nine members, including San Diego City Councilwoman Monica Montgomery Steppe, has been meeting regularly for the past 18 months around the state. The work is complicated and extensive: an interim report issued in June runs to nearly 500 pages. It is also groundbreaking, the first time any state in the country has tackled the issue of historical reparations for Black citizens.

The task force has already made some key decisions. The biggest, in March, was to determine that eligibility for any future payment would be limited to Black state residents who are descendants of enslaved people, or of a free Black person living in the U.S. by the end of the 19th century.

That standard would exclude some individuals, such as Black people who came to the U.S. after the end of the 19th century.

Among other issues the task force is hashing out, economists are attempting to quantify the economic losses stemming from redlining, mass incarceration, environmental harm, and other categories.

The task force is also expected to recommend non-monetary steps the state should take. These could include issuing a formal apology from the state, and deleting language in the state constitution that prohibits slavery, or involuntary servitude, except to punish a crime. That allows prisoners in the state to be paid low wages, advocates say.

The task force was created under Assembly Bill 3121, a bill authored by then-Assemblywoman Shirley Weber of San Diego. Now Secretary of State, Weber addressed the task force at the start of the meeting, urging them to finish the work on time. “If you don’t push it forward, it loses momentum,” she said.

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

State bar Acts on O.C. lawyer

Attorney who advised Trump on overturning election is charged with ethics violations.

The State Bar of California filed disciplinary charges Thursday against Orange County attorney John Eastman, accusing him of multiple ethics violations stemming from his actions while advising then-President Trump on how to overturn the 2020 election.

The charges could be the first step to Eastman losing his California law license.

Eastman, a former professor and dean at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law, emerged as a key legal advisor to Trump in the weeks after Joe Biden won the presidency.

Eastman helped develop a legal and political strategy promoting the false claim that the results were tainted by fraud and misconduct by election officials, according to a 35-page charging document filed by the State Bar.

In the months that followed, the U.S. attorney general and others told the Trump campaign that there was no evidence of widespread fraud that could have affected the outcome of the election. Dozens of courts dismissed cases alleging fraud.

Still, the State Bar alleges, Eastman continued to work with Trump to promote the lie of a stolen election.

Eastman must be held accountable for his role in “an egregious and unprecedented attack on our democracy,” George Cardona, the State Bar’s chief trial counsel, said in a statement.

An attorney’s highest duty is abiding by the federal and state constitutions, and Eastman violated that duty, Cardona wrote.

The 11 disciplinary charges against Eastman include failure to support the Constitution and laws of the United States, misrepresentation, seeking to mislead a court, and making false and misleading statements that constitute acts of “moral turpitude, dishonesty and corruption.”

State Bar officials said they intend to seek Eastman’s disbarment before the State Bar Court.

In a Substack post, Eastman said the State Bar filing is “filled with distortions, half-truths and outright falsehoods.” In the post, which seeks funds for his legal defense, he also asks for prayers.

Eastman’s attorney, Randall A. Miller, said in a statement that his client “disputes every aspect of the action that has been filed against him by the State Bar.”

“The complaint filed against Eastman that triggered today’s action by the State Bar is part of a nationwide effort to use the bar discipline process to penalize attorneys who opposed the current administration in the last presidential election,” the statement said. “Americans of both political parties should be troubled by this politicization of our nation’s state bars.”

The State Bar alleges that Eastman wrote legal memos — one in December 2020 and another on Jan. 3, 2021 — advising Vice President Mike Pence that he could declare that election results in seven states were in dispute.

This would have led to electoral votes going uncounted and could have opened the door for Trump to remain president.

In the second memo, Eastman asserted that the “election was tainted by outright fraud (both traditional ballot stuffing and electronic manipulation of voting tabulation machines),” according to the state bar filing.

Eastman knew or should have known that the assertion was “false and misleading,” the State Bar filing said.

In a speech to tens of thousands of Trump supporters at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, Eastman said that “dead people had voted” and that electronic voting machines made by the Dominion company had altered the election results.

Eastman’s comments constituted an “act of moral turpitude, dishonesty and corruption,” were “false and misleading” and helped provoke the crowd to attack the Capitol, the filing said.

Eastman has a long history in California’s conservative legal circles.

He was hired by Chapman’s law school in 1999 and was dean from June 2007 to January 2010, then continued to teach courses in constitutional law, property law, legal history and the 1st Amendment.

He retired in early 2021 after more than 100 Chapman faculty and others affiliated with the university signed a letter calling on the school to take action against him for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Thursday’s charges are the result of a lengthy investigation into Eastman’s actions that began in 2021.

In October of that year, the nonpartisan legal group States United Democracy Center filed an ethics complaint calling on the State Bar to investigate Eastman’s Jan. 6 actions.

Christine P. Sun, a senior vice president at the States United Democracy Center, said in a statement Thursday that Eastman “abused the legal system and violated the oath he swore as an attorney, in an attempt to block the will of the people and prevent the peaceful transfer of power.”

The level of detail included in the filing indicates that the State Bar is taking the allegations against Eastman seriously, said UC Berkeley Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky.

Click here to read the full article at LA Times

Manchin Pushes to Delay Tax Credits for EVs

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III on Wednesday moved to delay new tax credits for electric vehicles, a key feature of President Biden’s landmark climate law.

Manchin said guidelines issued by the Treasury Department allow manufacturers in Europe and other countries to bypass requirements that significant portions of EV batteries be produced in North America.

The climate law, officially known as the Inflation Reduction Act, “is first and foremost an energy security bill,” Manchin said, adding that the EV tax credits were supposed “to grow domestic manufacturing and reduce our reliance on foreign supply chains for the critical minerals needed to produce EV batteries.’’

Manchin’s bid to delay the tax credits surfaced as Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm and White House climate advisor Ali Zaidi visited the Washington, D.C., Auto Show on Wednesday to highlight the administration’s efforts to boost electric vehicles and related infrastructure.

EV sales have tripled since Biden, a Democrat, took office two years ago, Granholm said. There are now more than 2 million EVs and 100,000 chargers on U.S. roadways, with more than $100 billion invested or pledged for EVs and their supply chains, including batteries, she said.

Although batteries and components have long been manufactured in China, “we’re going to bring that manufacturing home,” Granholm told reporters.

Granholm and the White House declined to comment on Manchin’s bill, but the measure by the West Virginia lawmaker is unlikely to gain traction in the Senate, where Democrats hold a slim majority and have shown no inclination to reopen a bill they just passed on a party-line vote.

Tax credits of up to $7,500 per vehicle are intended to spur EV sales and domestic production of vehicles and batteries while reducing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.

Manchin’s bill follows a decision by the Treasury Department to delay rules on battery contents and minerals until March, while allowing the rest of the program to be implemented Jan. 1. The Manchin bill directs Treasury to stop issuing tax credits for vehicles that don’t comply with battery requirements.

“The United States is the birthplace of Henry Ford, who revolutionized the automotive industry,” Manchin said, calling it “shameful that we rely so heavily on foreign suppliers, particularly China, for the batteries that power our electric vehicles.”

Manchin, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, was a crucial vote in passing the climate law, which was adopted without support from any Republican in the House or Senate. He has said exemptions approved by the Treasury — including one that allows tax credits for EVs purchased for commercial use, even if they are foreign-made — undermine the law’s intent to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign countries, including adversaries, and create jobs in the United States.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has said he has no interest in reopening the climate law.

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McCarthy kicks 2 Democrats off key committee

As promised, House speaker has blocked California Reps. Schiff and Swalwell from the intelligence panel.

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday blocked fellow California Reps. Adam B. Schiff and Eric Swalwell from continuing to serve on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The denial follows through on a pledge by McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) to remove Schiff (D-Burbank) and Swalwell (D-Dublin) from the panel in retaliation for a move by Democrats — and some Republicans — in the last Congress to strip GOP Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona of their committee assignments.

“I appreciate the loyalty you have to your Democrat colleagues,” McCarthy wrote in a letter to Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), who requested over the weekend that Schiff and Swalwell retain their seats on the panel. “But I cannot put partisan loyalty ahead of national security.”

McCarthy described his rejection of the California Democrats as a step toward maintaining “a standard worthy of this committee’s responsibilities.” The panel provides oversight of the U.S. Intelligence Community and the Military Intelligence Program.

McCarthy claimed the panel was misused with Democrats in the majority during the last four years, “severely” undermining national security.

Schiff and Swalwell were quick to react. Schiff called the move “petty, political payback for investigating Donald Trump” and warned in a fundraising email that it’s also “a dangerous effort to go after anyone who holds [Republicans] accountable” and risks turning the committee “into a political plaything for their right-wing supporters.”

“This rejection is based on a claim that the Washington Post independent-fact checker gave 4 Pinocchios,” Swalwell tweeted. “[GOP] Speaker Boehner and Ryan, both Gang of 8 members, appointed me to Intel with access to the same facts McCarthy is distorting. He can keep me off Intel, but I’m not going away.”

McCarthy has also vowed to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, but it’s unclear whether he has the votes to do so.

Under House rules, the speaker has unilateral authority to keep Schiff and Swalwell off the high-profile select intelligence panel. Removing Omar from a standing committee will require a full floor vote.

At least two Republicans — Reps. Victoria Spartz of Indiana and Nancy Mace of South Carolina — have said they won’t vote to remove Omar from the panel. With a razor-thin majority, Republicans can’t afford more than four defections if they wish to boot Omar from the committee.

Over the weekend, Jeffries urged McCarthy “to honor past practice of the House of Representatives and our mutual interest in working together for the good of the American people” by accepting his recommendations for Schiff to serve as the panel’s ranking member and Swalwell to retain his membership. Jeffries said the removal of Greene and Gosar from their committee posts was no “precedent or justification” for removing Schiff and Swalwell.

Greene was removed in February 2021 following a backlash over comments she made before taking office expressing support for baseless conspiracy theories and appearing to endorse violence against Democratic lawmakers. She later distanced herself from the comments.

Gosar faced similar punishment in November 2021 after posting, then deleting, a cartoon video with his face superimposed on a character who kills someone with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) face and wields swords against President Biden.

McCarthy said removing Schiff, the lead manager during the first impeachment of President Trump, is justified because Schiff “lied” to the public about details related to a whistleblower report that triggered the investigation and dismissed as a Russian ploy emails found on a laptop allegedly owned by Hunter Biden. McCarthy has argued that Swalwell couldn’t get a security clearance in the private sector following a report that he was targeted by a suspected Chinese spy with whom he later cut ties.

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