Is Kamala Harris Fading In The Veep Chase

Tony Quinn
Political Analyst

Practically every analysis of Joe Biden’s choice for vice president ranks California Sen. Kamala Harris at or near the top.  She checks the most race and gender boxes in the Democratic search for Biden’s running mate, and yet there is a sense that she may be fading in the stretch.

The best evidence of that is the sudden emergence of Congresswoman Karen Bass of Los Angeles on the veep list.  Why would a second Californian be on the vetting list if Harris were a shoo-in?

Several of the half dozen or so women on Biden’s supposed short list have serious defects.  Progressives would love him to go with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, but she is white in a party now fixated on race.  When the onetime leading candidate Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar fell on her sword, she said Biden should pick a woman of color.  That would leave Warren, who was a poor candidate in the primaries anyway, out in the cold.  

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Medi-Cal for All

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

This is the age of Medi-Cal.

“Medicare for All,” the dream of extending federal health coverage for the elderly to all Americans, dominates headlines. But in California, it is Medicaid—or Medi-Cal, as the federal health program for the poor is called here—that rules. Medi-Cal, and its no-or-low-cost health services, already constitute California’s most important anti-poverty program—and hold even greater possibilities for the future.

Medi-Cal spending, mostly from federal funds, has grown rapidly over the past decade. This past week, even as the governor agreed to a state budget with many cuts, Medi-Cal kept growing, to $112 billion in 2020-21. This increase covers the two million people, who are projected to join Medi-Cal after losing jobs or insurance during the pandemic. 

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Flawed Berkeley Law Study Produces Flawed Conclusions

Michele Hanisee
President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys

The Death Penalty Clinic at Berkley Law released a study last week that concludes that “racial discrimination is an ever-present feature of jury selection in California.” The study was authored by long-time criminal defense attorney Elisabeth Semel, who runs the Death Penalty Clinic at UC Berkeley. It is clear that many of the erroneous conclusions of this study are the basis for Assembly Bill 3070, a bill that is seeking to radically limit prosecutor’s use of peremptory challenges.

Semel’s conclusions are based on a review of 683 appellate decisions from 2006-2018 in non-death penalty cases where peremptory challenges were made. A peremptory challenge is a request made by either party during jury selection to excuse a juror from serving. No justification need be given during that process for why a particular juror is excused, unless there is a claim that the juror is being excluded based upon their membership in a protected class, e.g. race, religion, gender, age. If the opposing party believes a juror is being excused for an improper reason, they can object to the excusal of that juror.

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Call it the Do-Over Ballot

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

Label the coming election on ballot measures the Do-Over Ballot. Many of the propositions headed for the November ballot are intended to re-do previous actions taken by voters and/or legislators. 

Removing some property tax limits, changing other property tax rules, undoing a ban on affirmative action, toughening criminal penalties—all these ballot measures are intended to undo what California voters did with initiative measures in the past.

There are also attempts to undo legislative actions. There is a referendum to turn over the law passed by the legislature to eliminate cash bail. There is an initiative to separate app-linked drivers that work with companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash from the new labor mandates of AB 5, the worker classification law. There is a measure to supplant rent control limitations set by the legislature with a broader rent control law.

The California ballot is giving current voters a chance to reconsider what was codified in the past and rewrite the law.

However, just because voters can make changes does not mean they will or they should. The wisdom on certain issues expressed by voters in the past can stand the test of time. 

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Democrats Whiff Again on Real Constitutional Reform

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Democrats, among many others, are publicly pledging to take on racist systems. But they are not using their huge supermajorities to take on the original racist system in the state: our state constitution.

Sure they are putting a few small amendments on the November ballot, including one permitting affirmative action. But the whole constitution is itself bathed in racism all the way back to its approval in 1879, after a convention led by the explicitly racist Workingmen’s Party, whose slogan was, “The Chinese Must Go.”

Democrats, with well more than two-thirds in both houses, have the power to ask the voters to amend our core systems of taxation and budgeting, but they don’t. They even have the power to ask voters to call a constitutional convention—which would allow California to draft a new governing document that is grounded in 21st century ideas of equity and equality. 

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Leadership Roles Go Through California

Richard Rubin
Attorney Richard Rubin has taught at the University of San Francisco, Berkeley and Golden Gate University, is a regular columnist for the Marin Independent Journal and was Chair of the California Commonwealth Club Board of Governors, 2017-2019.

Los Angelinos—I was briefly one in my early years—can recall complaints about the persistent smog blackening much of the air and getting into lungs. On bad days the city’s skyline is still shrouded in thick layers.

We are learning that this is but one manifestation of global climate changes along with environmental degradations that are having devastating effects worldwide.

Today we are experiencing two other pandemics each with the capability of delivering serious anatomical consequences.

One of course is the ongoing novel coronavirus which has already infected thousands of Californians that can trigger respiratory complications leading in the worst cases to death.

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LA City Hall’s Embarrassing Corruption Scandal: Goes Way Beyond Jose Huizar

Jack Humphreville
LA Watchdog writer for CityWatch, President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and Publisher of the Recycler

On Tuesday morning, the FBI arrested Councilman Jose Huizar on “a federal racketeering charge that alleges he led a criminal enterprise that used his powerful position at City Hall to solicit and accept lucrative bribes and other financial benefits to enrich himself and his close associates in exchange for Huizar taking official actions favorable to the developers and others who financed and facilitated bribes.”  

The 116 page affidavit filed by the FBI in federal court is a dizzying account of the shakedowns by Huizar (and his cronies) of international (primarily Chinese) and domestic developers with projects in his district that began in 2012 and ended on November 7, 2018 when the FBI raided his offices and house.  

But what will Huizar do?  Will he fight the charges?  If so, how does he pay for the high-priced team of criminal defense lawyers? 

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SB 1383 Should Be Rejected

Chris Micheli
Chris Micheli is a Principal with the Sacramento governmental relations firm of Aprea & Micheli, Inc.

As part of the recent budget deal struck last weekend between the Legislature and the Governor, SB 1383 (Jackson) would create a massive expansion of protected leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). The bill came into print at 9pm on June 23 and was heard about the same time a day later in the Senate Budget & Fiscal Review Committee. It passed with the bare minimum of 10 votes, with 3 Democrats and 5 Republicans voting against it.

The state’s business community is adamantly opposed to SB 1383. Even though the bill is not a budget trailer bill, it is being rushed through as part of the budget package. This bill is another example of poor public policy that is circumventing the normal policy process of the California Legislature. With more than two months left in the Legislative Session, there is more than sufficient time for this bill to go through the normal process before adjournment on August 31.

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Scaled-Down Density Legislation Still not the Answer

Timothy L. Coyle
Consultant specializing in housing issues

Scott Wiener is at it again.  The state senator from San Francisco wants to create denser neighborhoods as an answer to California’s housing crisis.  In a recently introduced bill he seeks to force high-density multifamily housing on local governments.  But, this latest effort is less a fix and more an accommodation. 

Wiener, as you recall, was the state senator who believed if localities simply allowed higher-density housing in neighborhoods surrounding or in the vicinity of transit hubs they could kill two birds in one fell swoop – increasing housing supply while reducing vehicular traffic.  He introduced legislation to do that not long after he arrived at the state Capitol for the first time.

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Gascón Asked To Release His LAPD Personnel File

Eric Siddall
Vice President of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys

In a blistering commentary, former Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard Parks outlined George Gascón’s actions as an LAPD Command Officer and told the public, ” DA Candidate George Gascon is Not Who He Says He is.” 

In support of his conclusion, Parks specifically cited one particular casethat “horrified” him while he was serving as Chief of Police for LAPD: Gus Woods, a 56-year-old African American man was shot and killed by LAPD officers.  

Parks recited that, contrary to the universal finding of all involved, then LAPD Commander George Gascón sided with the officer who killed Mr. Woods. “Gascon hid behind a flimsy defense, claiming that the officer was acting on his memories of a ten-year-old training session, which counseled officers that anyone with a knife within 21 feet represented a threat that would justify the use of deadly force. To this day the tape from this training has never been established as an officially approved LAPD training tape and is contrary to the LAPD use of force policy.” 

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