The Democrats Have Taken Over Sacramento

Wait, didn’t the Democratic Party secure a supermajority in the legislature and take over all the statewide offices years ago?  Yes, but today we’re talking about the California Democratic Party’s Fall Endorsing Convention which is being held at the capitol city’s convention center this weekend.  It will be endorsements galore as party activists fight other party activists to get their favorite candidate endorsed. In addition to the endorsement for the open U.S. Senate seat, there will be about 14 other contested endorsement caucuses that have multiple steps and very confusing rules.  There will also be lots of speeches, parties, meetings, exhibit booths, and candidates.  You can see the fun-packed agenda here


A Surprise Announcement – I’m Not Running

Assemblymember Jim Wood announced that he will not seek re-election, surprising many.  He said that he needs time to help take care of his mother, which Calpeek applauds.  Now everyone is asking about who will take his seat, with the looming deadline for candidates needing to file paperwork in order to appear on the ballot. There is very little time to decide, pull together a campaign team, and start fundraising.  According to the Press Democrat, Healdsburg Mayor Ariel Kelley is running.  Kelly said she expects Santa Rosa City Councilmember Chris Rogers to also throw his hat in.  A surprising possible candidate is California Democratic Party Chair Rusty Hicks who lives in Arcata.  Expect a lot of talk about who replaces Hicks, if he wins, at this weekend’s state convention.  


Gavin ❤️ George Jetson

The headline in the L.A. Times sums up the Governor’s view: “Gavin Newsom is mesmerized by the growth of driverless cars.”.  Oh great, the guy who oversees the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Public Utilities Commission, both of which regulate, issue permits, and are supposed to be responsible for oversight of the computer operated vehicles that currently drive alongside us, loves new technology.  For those who may not know, Newsom rides in large SUVs driven by California Highway Patrol officers.  The Governor’s most important responsibility is keeping Californians safe.  Yet his focus seems to be on earning heart emojis from tech bros.  According to the Times’ story, local and state elected officials are concerned about the lack of oversight and regulations.  Newsom brushed away the criticism while test “driving” driverless cars in China.  “Newsom marveled from behind the wheel of the vehicle, which played the Eagles’ song ‘Hotel California’ on the sound system when he turned it on.” Calpeek wonders if there’s too much colitas rising up through the air.  Also during his China trip, Newsom stated, “With AI in particular aiding this advancement, I think it’s just going to explode and you’re going to start seeing driverless flying cars as well.”  Maybe someone needs to have a talk with Governor Jetson.


Dumping Garbage on Our Neighbors

CalMatters continues to report on California’s toxic waste problems which include sending it to neighboring states thereby exploiting their weaker environmental laws.  A CalMatters investigation in January “…revealed businesses and government agencies routinely dispose of contaminated soil at landfills in Arizona and Utah — states with weaker environmental regulation and oversight — as opposed to in California where the waste would need to go to specialized hazardous waste disposal facilities.”  The California Department of Toxic Substances Control is one of the biggest out-of-state dumpers, according to CalMatters.  On Wednesday, CalMatters hosted a panel discussion about the challenges, which showed that state officials don’t have effective plans to process the toxic waste that is created in California.  One of the panel participants avoided rhetoric and reminded everyone about where the problem starts: “Ingrid Brostrom, climate and sustainability program director at UC Merced, said that there needs to be a focus on reducing the creation of hazardous waste in the first place.”


Groundhog Day Again

If the movie Groundhog Day is about repeating something repeatedly, do we need to add the “again”?  Well, maybe because the March ballot will seem like Groundhog Day again.  In 2020, voters in California were repeatedly offered the opportunity to vote for Alex Padilla for U.S. Senate.  If we have this correct, he appeared on ballots four times because he ran to fill the seat vacated by Kamala Harris and for the open seat.  Well, we get to do that again for the seat left vacant by the death of Dianne Feinstein and for the open seat whose term begins in 2025.  For those confused by the repeated déjà vu, the Secretary of State’s office has details here.


How Do You Know If Something Is a Big Deal?

Easy answer: the politicians flock.  The literal meltdown of Interstate 10, aka “the 10” or the “Santa Monica freeway” this week brought out some high ranking politicians.  That’s what happens when a major freeway, smack dab in downtown Los Angeles, is closed due to fire.  For those who don’t know the geography, the 10 is currently closed right near where it intersects with the 110 freeway, the 60 freeway, the 5 freeway, and the 101 freeway.  Ouch.  Within hours of the fire, L.A. City Mayor Karen Bass was at the site along with a gaggle of local and state elected officials.  President Joe Biden was briefed.  Governor Gavin Newsom was declaring an emergency and rushing to the site, where he tried to defend Caltrans, a state agency, from accusations that they leased the property under the freeway and should have done more to prevent a massive fire.  In the coming weeks, expect gridlock, lawsuits and an increase in public transportation usage. Fun times.

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