THE BUZZ: Whether Gov. Gavin Newsom is laying presidential groundwork or just polishing his national image, there’s a growing Sacramento perception that Newsom’s larger aspirations will shape the next few weeks.
Sacramento’s late summer is a time of triple-digit days and increasingly tough decisions for governors. Organized labor, environmental advocates, business groups and other interests vie to get bills on the governor’s desk or block them — or at least soften them into acceptable form — working the cracks between liberal and moderate Democrats. Every Democratic California governor strives to keep that proverbial political canoe afloat by delivering for the left without overly antagonizing the center.
Newsom has demonstrated that instinct since his mayoral days, where he balanced landmark social policy with a business-friendly centrist streak. He’s always been seen as ambitious. But the governor’s recent plunges into the national political scene have bolstered a belief among lawmakers and lobbyists that Newsom is viewing this legislative deluge through a national lens, seeking to bolster his progressive reputation without playing into attacks that California is overly liberal or hostile to business.
gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference on October 1, 2021 in San Francisco, Calif. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
It flows both ways. Newsom’s late appeal for ambitious climate legislation has kindled enthusiasm among environmentalists. But there is some suspicion that the governor is moving now to shore up his left flank and notch an environmental win that he could tout, matching the recent federal breakthrough. His ability to get a green deal across the finish line – no easy task, given the formidable oil-labor coalition that has torpedoed some of his ideas – could reverberate beyond California.
He’s also contending with policies that carry obvious political risk. Perhaps no measure illustrates this better than a bill letting San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles pilot sites where people can use drugs under government supervision. Newsom lauded the idea when he was running for governor but has been silent on a follow-up bill that has passed the legislature.
San Francisco lawmakers rallied for Newsom’s signature yesterday, fortified by similar calls from the SF Chronicle’s Heather Knight, the LATimes editorial board and the Sacramento Bee editorial board, which called the bill a test of whether Newsom is “the national progressive leader he claims to be .” Conversely, it’s not hard to imagine the Fox News headlines and GOP broadsides about the governor hastening California’s decline by setting up drug dens—the kind of blowback that could crystallize negative views of California in less-liberal states.
One guarantee: Newsom will make some people happy and piss off others. The sum of that accounting will help determine his public image. Here’s Jeremy’s look at some key tests coming his way.
BUENOS DÍAS, good Thursday morning. It’s Suspense Day: that biannual tradition in which Appropriations Committee chairs announce the fates of bills so swiftly that you might miss it if you’re not paying attention. In six hours, we should have a much clearer picture of what will hit the Senate and Assembly floor in the next few weeks and, within that, what has been diluted or defanged so it could get through.
Got a tip or story idea for California Playbook? Hit us up: [email protected] other [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @JeremyBWhite and @Lara_Korte.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Who cares?” Speaker Nancy Pelosi on China sanctioning her.
TWEET OF THE DAY: Assembly budget wonk @jasonsisney on monkeypox missteps: “Not just as a gay man, but also as a public policy professional, I remain very frustrated at the magnitude of the federal government’s failures with this issue. Those failures are being corrected, but too slowly. Unlike COVID, we had the tools on day 1 to address this problem.”
WHERE’S GAVIN? In Contra Costa County to talk about how we’re handling water in the drought.
Multi-billion dollar fast-food corporations like McDonald’s, Jack in the Box and Burger King are making massive profits off of a rigged model that pressures small business franchisees to cut corners, often at the expense of workers. California has an opportunity to give a voice to fast-food workers and local franchisee operators with AB 257 and reform an industry that puts working families, small business franchisees, and taxpayers at the mercy of global fast food corporations.
— “Why Are LA Probation Officers Still Pepper Spraying Kids?” by LAist’s Emily Elena Dugdale: “The Probation Department presented its plan to phase out the spray by Sept. 2020, with a price tag of nearly $40 million. Yet nearly two years after that target date, the spraying hasn’t stopped.”
— “The ‘nuclear option’ in LA’s was to rein in the mighty car, make streets safe,” by the Los Angeles Times’ Rachel Uranga: “Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott cleared the way this week for a 2024 voter initiative that fast tracks the city’s own ambitious traffic plan to create hundreds of miles of more walkable and bikeable streets by implementing it every time roads are repaved. The Los Angeles City Council must now decide whether to send it to voters or adopt it outright.”
WATER WHERE THERE IS NONE — “Heavy rains close major California tourist attractions, including Death Valley and part of Joshua Tree National Park,” by SFGate’s Amy Graff: “Scattered thunderstorms continued to hammer parts of southeastern California and southern Nevada on Tuesday, causing more flooding and shutting down more roadways in a region that has seen several days of severe storm activity amid the summer monsoon season.”
— “Conservative SF billionaire emerges as central figure in city’s latest political controversy,” by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Sophia Bollag: “The revelation that San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins was paid six figures by a nonprofit organization founded by a top donor to the Chesa Boudin recall has put a spotlight on the man behind the nonprofit and the campaign: San Francisco billionaire Bill Oberndorf.”
— Newsom taps Guerrero to be first Latina chief justice of California Supreme Court, by POLITICO’s Jeremy B. White: The move came just eight months after Newsom initially appointed Guerrero to serve on the high court. Newsom also announced he had selected Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kelli Evans to fill the role [California Supreme Court Associate Justice Patricia] Guerrero would vacate.
— Calif. EV sales hit record as Tesla races ahead, by E&E News’ Anne C. Mulkern: The EV surge comes as California officials look to phase out gas-fueled vehicles in the state. The California Air Resources Board could vote as early as this month on a proposal to ban sales of new internal-combustion engine cars starting in 2035.
— “Parties, stolen cars, a gun: 9 police complaints at Council member Sean Loloee’s disputed North Sacramento residence,” by CapRadio’s Kris Hooks: “Arguments over stolen cars, loud partying and noise complaints, fireworks, intruders with weapons — Sacramento police officers say they visited Council member Sean Loloee’s home in North Sacramento multiple times since he purchased it nearly three years ago.”
FROM PANDEMIC TO PANDEMIC — “California monkeypox response is bumpy, but builds on some lessons from COVID,” by CalMatters’ Kristen Hwang: “Monkeypox tests and vaccines are in short supply as public health officials grapple with red tape and short supplies. Yet some of the processes put in place in response to COVID-19 have helped.”
— “Walgreens can be held responsible for its role in San Francisco’s opioid crisis, federal judge rules after landmark trial,” by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Bob Egelko: “Between 2006 and 2020, Walgreens distributed more than 100 million prescription opioid pills to pharmacies in San Francisco while failing to take actions to identify suspicious prescriptions or prevent their illegal and harmful use, said US District Judge Charles Breyer, who presided over a non-jury trial in San Francisco.”
— “How one California family helped win new benefits for sickened vets,” by the Los Angeles Times’ Anumita Kaur: “The Department of Defense uses burn pits like the one near Jennifer’s base to dispose of chemicals, cans, tires, plastics, medical equipment and human waste. But the Kepners couldn’t convince the agency that Jennifer’s sickness was due to breathing in the burn pit’s toxic fumes.”
— “Speech by Justice Alito made news for a joke — but it’s raising alarm for a different reason,” by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Bob Egelko: “There is ‘growing hostility to religion, or at least the traditional religious beliefs that are contrary to the new moral code that is ascendant in some sectors,’ Alito said. He did not describe the ‘new moral code,’ but conservative religious groups have used similar terminology to refer, for example, to support for same-sex marriage and transgender rights.”
TWITTER TRIALS TROUBLES — “Musk sells $6.9 billion in Tesla shares ahead of Twitter trial,” by the Washington Post’s Aaron Gregg: “The move underscores doubts that Musk can seamlessly back out of a $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter and highlights the extent to which Tesla is being dragged into a high-stakes dispute between a leading social media company and the world’s richest man.”
— “Nebraska woman charged with helping daughter have abortion,” by the Associated Press’ Josh Funk: “The prosecutor handling the case said it’s the first time he has charged anyone for illegally performing an abortion after 20 weeks, a restriction that was passed in 2010.”
INTELLIGENT ARTIFICIALLY — “Meta stands by its occasionally racist chatbot,” by Input Magazine’s Annie Rauwerda: “BlenderBot’s team appears to have known from the start that the bot has the potential to spew offensive statements, and everyone who tests it must check a box that they ‘understand this bot is for research and entertainment only, and that is likely to make untrue or offensive statements.’”
— “Anaheim City Council Votes To Investigate Itself Following FBI Corruption Probe,” by LAist’s Jill Replogle.
— “Casket gets knocked over at Bay Area funeral where massive family fight breaks out,” by SFGate’s Amy Graff.
— “’Fire tornado’ caught on video at 150-acre brush fire near Gorman,” by the Los Angeles Times’ Gregory Yee.
JUST KEEP SWIMMING — “Meet the man trying to save this ‘stupid little fish’ and see why he thinks it’s important,” by the Sacramento Bee’s Ariane Lange.
Raising standards in the fast food industry matters for all Californians. Despite working for global corporations that earn billions of dollars in profits, fast food workers are more than twice as likely to live in poverty as other workers in the state. More than two-thirds of California fast-food workers are on safety net programs at a cost to taxpayers of $4 billion a year. AB 257 comes at a critical time as income inequality soars and the disparate impact of the pandemic have put women and workers of color further behind. The choice couldn’t be any clearer for Democrats: stand with fast-food workers and working families over corporations. Create a more just and more equitable economy with AB 257.
CALIFORNIA POLICY IS ALWAYS CHANGING: Know your next move. From Sacramento to Silicon Valley, POLITICO California Pro provides policy professionals with the in-depth reporting and tools they need to get ahead of policy trends and political developments shaping the Golden State. To learn more about the exclusive insight and analysis of this subscriber-only service offers, click here.
Want to make an impact? POLITICO California has a variety of solutions available for partners looking to reach and activate the most influential people in the Golden State. Have a petition you want signed? A cause you’re promoting? Seeking to increase brand awareness amongst this key audience? Share your message with our influential readers to foster engagement and drive action. Contact Jesse Shapiro to find out how: [email protected]