A Gold Star For Being Creative Even If The Idea Sounds Nutty

The State of California requires local governments to build more housing in their jurisdictions with a statewide goal of 2.5 million new housing units by 2030.  In order to meet their goals, some local governments are trying to be creative.  According to the Antelope Valley Press, city staff from Santa Monica and Palmdale are looking at ways to use the resources each city has to support the other’s goals.  Santa Monica is a wealthy, densely populated city of 16 square miles and 91,000 residents.  Palmdale’s financial resources are more limited, but it is not densely populated with its 166,000 residents living on 106 square miles.  So, the officials in Santa Monica are exploring the idea of paying Palmdale to build some of the housing that Santa Monica is required to build.  Although it is an interesting idea, there are lots of questions, concerns and, of course, indignation from politicians.  Last week, the Palmdale City Council voted to continue talks and consideration of the idea.  We will have to wait and see if this idea becomes a reality.


Lots of Players, Drama, and Questions in California’s Southern City

In September, Calpeek discussed accusations of campaign finance violations by Chula Vista Council Member Andrea Cardenas who works for Grassroots Resources which is owned by her brother, Jesus Cardenas.  Jesus Cardenas is also Chief of Staff to San Diego Council Member Stephen Whitburn. According to a campaign finance report filed by the San Diego County Democratic Party, they paid Grassroots Resources $205,000 for the last four months of 2022 despite the fact that the consulting firm was suspended by the state Franchise Tax Board in January 2022.  Until last May, the Chair of the San Diego County Democratic Party was Will Rodriguez-Kennedy who was Whitburn’s “longtime roommate” according to the San Diego Union Tribune.  Jesus Cardenas says he does not manage the day-to-day operations of his firm and is working on resolving the issues with the FTB. There are more accusations and questions surrounding these players so Calpeek recommends getting a subscription to a local paper and reading the details.  


Are You Enjoying the Special Legislative Session?

We have been waiting patiently for the special legislative session to kick off with facts, testimony, drama, and results for California consumers.  The Sacramento Bee reports that on Wednesday, the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee held an informational hearing: “Petroleum Windfall Profits Penalty: Will California Get Relief at the Gas Pump?”  In September, Governor Gavin Newsom called for a penalty on oil and gas companies alleged profiteering.  He called it a “windfall profits tax” and then, in October, called for a special legislative session.  Both occurred prior to the November 2022 General Election.  Then we waited.   When the first hearing was finally held there was a lot of talk, but no results.  We expect the talk to continue.  Calpeek respectfully requests that snacks be provided during all special sessions – that would at least provide some positive result.  


Smart Insight and a Good Laugh

A big Calpeek thank you to the L.A. Times’ Anita Chabria for giving us a good laugh.  Chabria was writing about the state legislature in Wednesday’s Essential California newsletter and referred to what life in Sacramento used to be like: “Until recent years, diversity in the Capitol mostly consisted of differentiating young white men from old white men.”  It’s a funny statement and very accurate.  It also reminds us that California has made progress.  Today’s legislature is 42% female and 53% of the members are not white.


Whiskey As A Weapon

Whiskey’s been called a lot of things.  Yes, it’s led to some questionable decisions.  And it’s definitely to blame for some poor weekend choices.  But whiskey as a weapon?  According to a state Supreme Court order on Wednesday, whiskey can be considered a weapon when used to start an arson fire.  As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, in the case involving Chasity Hope Johnson who was convicted of setting her former boyfriend’s house in Cotati on fire, Johnson was sentenced to five years in prison, including three years for using a “device designed to accelerate the fire”.  That “device” was the whiskey in an open bottle found in her car along with two torch lighters.  Johnson’s team debated the definition of “device”, but Superior Court judge John Devine stated that “Whiskey is comprised of alcohol, which, similar to gasoline, is a flammable liquid”.   Those of us at Calpeek agree that whiskey is an alcohol and that it can be like drinking gasoline (unless you pay for the good stuff), but we are a bit confused as to why whiskey would be the focus of the case rather than, say, the two torch lighters???


Legislature Proposes Recording Breaking Number of New Bills

Record rain.  Record heat.  Record gas prices.  Record legislative bills?  Yes, California is all about breaking and making new records.  But this year, the state legislature has outdone itself by proposing 2,600 new laws for this year’s session, with 500 of those just getting in under the Friday deadline.  As reported by CalMatters, last year there were about 2,000 bills introduced with nearly 1,000 becoming law.  This year’s collection covers everything from housing and homelessness to health care to workers’ rights and a lot of issues in between.  As to which bills will make it across the finish line with the Governor’s signature, we’ll have to wait and see. 


Another Play on Fast Food

Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena) introduced a bill on Friday to reignite efforts to protect fast food workers.  As reported by Politico, AB 1228 would require the fast-food industry to share liability for health and safety violations at franchise locations.  This provision was pulled from AB 257 which got signed into law last year and is now being challenged with a 2024 ballot measure brought on by the Save Local Restaurants Coalition.  According to SEIU (a major player in the original AB 257), the latest round of legislation would mean that the Golden Arches, BK, the caffeinated green mermaid, and our cherished In-N-Out, to name a few, could no longer hide from legal and financial repercussions stemming from wage theft, harassment, discrimination and other employment laws.


Mia Bonta Backs Off and Then 

As Calpeek discussed last week, Assemblymember Mia Bonta was appointed Chair of the important Assembly Budget Subcommittee 5 (yes, that is an actual committee name) which oversees her husband’s (Attorney General Rob Bonta) Department  of Justice’s budget.  You probably also heard that on Tuesday, the Assemblymember put out a statement recusing herself of any committee business related to the AGs office.  But that statement did not come easily.  When initially asked by press about any potential conflict in her taking the committee assignment which oversees her hubby’s budget, she attacked KCRA reporter Ashely Zavala, insinuating that even asking about the potential for an ethical issue was sexist and racist (as reported by the brilliant and witty Anita Chabria of the LA Times).  However, Zavala didn’t back down as she dogged Assemblymember Bonta in the Capitol as Bonta fled into an elevator.  Shortly thereafter, the Assemblymember issued the said statement of recusal but only after being clear that there is no legal or ethical conflict.  While those of us around the watercooler understand there may be no legal conflict, saying that there’s no ethical conflict when you hold the purse strings of your husband’s budget does seem to be a stretch (even for Sacramento). After all the drama, Assembly Budget Committee Chair Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) announced that all funding matters related to the AG’s office would be handled by another committee as long as Assemblymember Bonta served as Chair of Budget Sub 5.  


Barbara Lee Declares with Super PAC Support

Representative Barbara Lee made it official on Tuesday – she’s running for U.S. Senate.  Not exactly a surprise as she was one of the first to express an interest in replacing Senator Dianne Feinstein.  One of the key challenges facing Lee is her cash on hand (or lack thereof).  While she lacks several zeros when compared to her competitors’ war chest (as shared by Calpeek, Schiff declared his candidacy with $21 million banked to Lee’s $55,000) we also shared that insiders say not to rule Lee out due to her having many friends willing to help.  And help indeed.  According to the LA Times, Brian Brokaw and Dan Newman who come with deep dollar connections (Quinn Delaney and Patricia Quillin to name a few) are part of the super PAC “She Speaks For Me” intended to boost Lee’s financial backing.  


Calling All Communications Professionals – Job Posting

The California Teachers Association is hiring for the position of Communications Manager.  The Communication Manager serves as a member of the senior management team of the Training, Information and Development Division (TIDD), provides strategic counsel to the Associate Executive Director and plays an integral role in the development and administration of the programs and initiatives of the Division. The Communications Manager is in charge of developing and implementing a comprehensive internal and external communications strategy for the Association, including message development, media relations, social media and multimedia advocacy, association publications, member engagement, and training. Please visit our job posting page to view the complete job description and to apply.

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