Michael Berman

For decades, Michael Berman led the political campaign world with innovative and groundbreaking strategy.  As reported in the L.A. Times, Berman passed away last week at the age of 75.  Berman, brother of former Congressman Howard Berman, was one of the first political consultants to use voter data to micro-target campaign messages, produce individually targeted slate mailers, and advise on the redistricting process.  It is hard to overstate the impact Berman had on the political world, including running one of the most powerful political machines in California, yet most people never met him since he avoided the limelight.  L.A. Times’ Mark Barabak column “He was a California kingmaker and political genius” does a terrific job of providing insight into the, mostly unknown world of Michael Berman.  Berman does not even have a wikipedia page.  Having a rare opportunity to listen to Berman talk about voter targeting and redistricting was a thrill for any political junkie.  Calpeeks sends condolences to Michael’s family and loved ones.  


The Force of Labor

It’s no secret that Sacramento is a union town.  In fact, it’s safe to say that California is a union state.  As reported by CalMatters, the recent joint conference of the California Labor Federation and the State Building and Construction Trades Council was proof of the power of labor.   Those who spoke at the conference included Governor Gavin Newsom, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, and Attorney General Rob Bonta.  In addition to the “Big 4” being in attendance, leading Democrats running to replace Senator Dianne Feinstein in 2024 were also present.  They were seeking an endorsement and for good reason as the number of voters influenced by labor’s thumbs up is impressive.  According to CalMatters, the Labor Fed claims 2.1 million members and Building Trades is another 450,000.   In addition to votes, there’s also money to be spent by labor – potentially millions that will be spent on behalf of a candidate. 


Newsom on Task Force Recommendations: ”Dealing with the legacy of slavery is about much more than cash payments.”

As shared by Calpeek last week, the Reparations Task Force has made recommendations on potential ways to formulate the financial impact of slavery on Black Californians.  However, Governor Newsom has not endorsed the idea of cash payments.  Instead, in a statement provided to KCRA and other outlets, the Governor said that dealing with the legacy of slavery “is about much more than cash payments.”  The statement continued by stating that “Many of the recommendations put forward by the Task Force are critical action items we’ve already been hard at work addressing breaking down barriers to vote, bolstering resources to address hate, enacting sweeping law enforcement and justice reforms to build trust and safety, strengthening economic mobility — all while investing billions to root out disparities and improve equity in housing, education, healthcare, and well beyond. This work must continue.” The Task Force thoughtfully broke down payments that take into account the types of historical discrimination as well as the number of years lived in the state.  


The Suspense of Being Placed In “Suspense”

It’s never any fun for a legislator when their bill, or the one they’re supporting, is placed on suspense.  All that hard work and the political chits used up could end up for not, if the bill can’t crawl its way out of the dreaded suspense file.  And, as reported by CalMatters, next week the Assembly and Senate Appropriations Committees will be meeting and potentially putting a lot of high-profile bills on the list which often spells the end of a particular bill.  A few will eventually be taken off the suspense file, but most will never see another vote.  

We encourage you to read the full CalMatters story for the full list of threatened bills, but a few that caught our eye (and made us scratch our head as to why) include:

  • AB 518: Extend paid family leave to care for LGBTQ partners. 
  • SB 497: Protect workers who report labor violations from being fired, bullied or harassed. 
  • AB 881: Increase juror pay in criminal cases for low-income people from $15 to $100 a day.  
  • SB 36: Protect out-of-state individuals from criminal prosecution when they seek reproductive or gender-affirming care in California.  
  • SB 691: Require dyslexia risk screening in public schools.


DiFi’s Back!

Senator Dianne Feinstein returned to Washington, D.C. Tuesday evening after being absent for three months recovering from a bout with shingles.  During her absence the Senator missed 91 votes, however her return, as pointed out by Politico, is a huge win for congressional Democrats as every vote is needed to address the debt limit increase.  Her return is also significant as she serves on the Judiciary Committee and her presence will result in some Biden appointees getting the votes they need – including California’s own Julie Su who has been nominated to fill the seat of secretary of labor.  During her time away, both Democrats and Republicans, along with newspapers, had called for the Senator to step aside.  Rumblings over her mental strength and ability to carry out the remaining term will most likely continue.  But in good ‘ole DiFi fashion, it seems that any future decision will be on her terms.


Prison Is Not a Deterrence, Says Trump Appointee

How’s this for a deal: be one of L.A. City’s top lawyers, participate in an extortion scheme that costs city ratepayers $100 million, and when caught, be sentenced to hang out in your multimillion dollar, ocean view home for 9 months.  That’s a great deal for former L.A. City Deputy Attorney Thomas Peters who admitted that he aided and abetted an extortion scheme which was part of a large corruption scandal related to the L.A. Department of Water and Power. The prosecutor and U.S. Probation Office recommended Peters receive 18-41 months in prison.  Others convicted as part of the corruption case received 4-6 years in prison.  For his crimes, U.S. District Judge Stanley Bluemenfeld sentenced Peters to 9 months of home detention. We are not making this up.  According to the L.A. Times, “…Blumenfeld suggested that he didn’t think Peters serving time in prison would deter other attorneys from committing misdeeds.”  Wow.  So, Blumenfeld decided that justice is served if Peters hangs out at his Pacific Palisades home with his wife, a L.A. County Superior Court Judge, who is a former colleague of Blumenfeld’s.  Blumenfeld was appointed to the L.A. County Superior Courts by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and served 14 years before being appointed to the Federal Court by then-President Donald Trump. Those standing around the water cooler think there may be some flaws in our judicial system.


Looking at New Registered Voters

The Public Policy Institute of California has analyzed party registration trends among newly registered voters.  There are not any big surprises, but it gives us more insight into where party affiliation will be in the future.  In looking at new voters from 2012-2020, PPIC concludes that it is not good news for the state’s Republican Party: “These new registrants show a marked preference for No Party Preference and smaller party registration—and a slight preference for Democratic registration—over registering Republican. If these trends continue, Republican registration will continue to fall in years to come.”  Political Columnist George Skelton knows a few things and discusses the data in his latest column.  He notes that among current registrations “…within the 18-to-25 age group, 48% are Democrats, 15% are Republicans and 37% are independents or members of minor parties.”  Skelton also discusses the challenges the state Republican party faces and a major factor that is holding the party back (yes, it’s Trump.)  

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