The Anticlimactic Leaker
It was a local, L.A. scandal, but the outrageous comments garnered national attention. As Calpeek discussed last year, and everyone remembers, a hidden recorder caught four L.A. city leaders in a private meeting discussing the city’s redistricting process, among other subjects. Someone then leaked the recording. We now know who made the recording, but it still appears unclear who then gave the recording to the media. The recording was made at the L.A. County Federation of Labor office by long-time bookkeeper Santos Leon, who, not surprisingly, is no longer employed by the Fed. According to a story in Los Angeles Magazine, the motive was to get audio of his wife (who also worked at the Fed) talking with Fed President Ron Herrera, who Leon believed was trying to convince his wife to get a divorce. Yep, the recording was done not for political reasons, but apparently due to marital problems unrelated to anyone the scandal brought down. Now, who gave the recording to the media? If you know, contactus@Calpeek.com and we will be your best friend.
Dueling Ballot Measures in 2024?
The November 2024 ballot could bring voters two measures on oil and gas wells. As reported by the L.A. Times, one measure put forward by oil and gas companies is intended to overturn SB 1137 – a law Governor Newsom signed that bans new wells within 3,200 feet of schools, homes and buildings open to the public. The other potential measure, launched by environmental justice advocates, would require health and safety buffer zones around new oil and gas wells. Sound familiar? That’s because it’s nearly identical to SB 1137. According to advocates, rather than running a “no” campaign against the deep pockets of oil and gas companies, it’s easier to launch a separate ballot measure that seeks a “yes” on banning new wells around neighborhoods and public buildings. Running referendums is becoming more common as business interests push back on the Democratic stronghold in California. In the Golden State, voters who are against rejecting a law must vote “yes” and voters who want to overturn a law must vote “no”. To help avoid the confusion, unions and environmentalists are trying to convince the Legislature to change the referendum process under AB 421 which would remove the “yes” or “no” answer on the referendum question and simply ask voters whether they want to “keep the law” or “overturn the law”.
54 Strikes and Counting…
It’s the hot summer of labor strikes and solidarity across the state. As reported by CalMatters, so far in 2023, 53 labor strikes have been started involving over a quarter million participants. That number recently went up to 54 with the one-day strike by L.A. City workers alleging unfair labor practice claims. Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, who serves as head of the California Labor Federation, attributes the number of strikes taking place with “staggering solidarity”. While some labor union members, such as those with UPS or the ILWU, have benefited from the pressure being placed on employers that allowed them to reach tentative deals, others such as actors, writers, and hotel workers continue to fight on. Meanwhile, contracts for most of the state’s 21 bargaining units expired the first week of July impacting as many as 147,000 state workers.
Let The Democratic Hunger Games Begin
You have to love a good headline. Wednesday’s POLITICO California Playbook ran with “California Democrats are busy eating their own” to describe the political climate as elected giants such as Senator Dianne Feinstein retires and a potential retirement from former Speaker Nancy Pelosi. With such announcements and the effects of term limits, shifts are occurring down-ballot with conditions ripe for sparks to fly among some fellow Democrats going up against each other. The epicenter of the ballot shake-up comes from Representatives Barbara Lee, Katie Porter and Adam Schiff vying to be the next U.S. Senator. Meanwhile, Assemblymember Laura Friedman, state Senator Anthony Portantino, former L.A. city attorney Mike Feuer and Boy Meets World actor Ben Savage are working to claim Schiff’s seat. And the ripple effect continues at all levels of government with a few jabs already being thrown. So, pop the popcorn and get ready for the political version of the Hunger Games!
California Voters Don’t Look Like…California?
On Tuesday, the U.C. Berkeley Institute of Government Studies (IGS) released results of a poll. According to the press release issued by IGS, the poll found that California voters don’t look like the state’s population and that voters are concerned about how to fix it. In fact, the poll shows that two out of three voters feel it’s the responsibility of the state government to expand voter outreach services and encourage voter participation among under-represented groups. As for who is voting, IGS says that regular voters are considerably older (71% are 50+) and tend to include larger proportions of whites (71%), college graduates (55%), married people (59%), and homeowners (68%). By contrast, infrequent voters are younger, have not graduated from college, rent, are single, and include large populations of Latinos.
Newbies in City Hall
When the L.A. City Council returned from summer vacation, they had a full horseshoe for the first time in recent memory. Scandals, corruption, and convictions over the last few years led to many vacancies on the council. Two weeks ago, Imelda Padilla, who recently won a special election, took a seat which filled all the vacancies with actual Councilmembers.* But it is a horseshoe full of newbies. Thanks to the illicit and illegal acts, along with term limits, 7 of the 15 L.A. City Councilmembers are new. As the L.A Times stated, “With so many newbies, there are opportunities to create major change — but also to screw up royally.” Those standing around the water cooler try to stay optimistic, but our money is on “screw up royally.”
*Heather Hutt is referred to as a City Councilmember although she was appointed by the council when Mark Ridley-Thomas was indicted; she was not elected by the voters.