Good morning, California.

“I know what the problem is. None of us need a report telling us what the problem is.”—Gov. Gavin Newsom, as he announced the creation of a task force on homelessness.

The L.A. Times reports the task force will provide Newsom with at least one report highlighting successful homelessness-prevention strategies.

Newsom's new homeless task force

A homeless woman asleep in a Sacramento doorway Tuesday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday announced a new task force to focus on homelessness, days after a new census reflected a sharp increase in people living on the streets.

Newsom, quoted by the Bay Area News Group: “The state has no plan. The state’s been nowhere to be found as it relates to the issue of homelessness.”

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas will co-chair the Homeless & Supportive Housing Advisory Task Force. It’s supposed to deliver a report highlighting successful homelessness-prevention strategies.

  • The governor proposes to spend $1 billion to combat homelessness in the coming year and repeatedly has vowed to improve mental health care.

Newsom named Dr. Tom Insel, former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, as an adviser to the task force. In January, Newsom promised to appoint a mental health czar within weeks. Insel is that czar, Newsom said.

  • Insel was part of a panel hosted by CALmatters and the California Health Care Foundation earlier this week focused on mental health care.

The latest census shows increases of 17% in San Francisco and 43% in Alameda County.

 Los Angeles will release its homeless count on May 31, the L.A. Times reports. Officials expect the number to rise even though the region spent $619 million last year on the problem.


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Vote of confidence

Eloy Ortiz Oakley

The board overseeing California’s 115 community colleges on Tuesday strongly endorsed Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, after a union representing some faculty issued a vote of no-confidence in him.

With Gov. Gavin Newsom’s support, the California Community Colleges Board of Governors recommended extending Oakley’s contract by four years through December 2023.

  • The board cited his “leadership in advancing reforms” to improve outcomes for the system’s 2.1 million students.

Board President Tom Epstein, emerging from a closed session Tuesday, announced: “The board expressed great support and confidence in Chancellor Oakley’s performance.”

The California Federation of Teachers, which represents 30,000 community college employees, and Faculty Association of California Community Colleges denounced Oakley earlier this month.

  • Some teachers contend Oakley had not fully consulted with them, a claim Epstein rejected.

Evan Hawkins, executive director of the Faculty Association: “We do not see this as a wise decision. … Unfortunately, it proves our point that they are not taking the faculty perspective seriously.”

EdSource, an online journalism site, reported: “The tension between community college faculty and central administration comes at a time of much change, often pushed by the governor and Legislature to improve student performance.”

Teachers, for example, questioned a decision to overhaul remedial education for students who arrive with limited math and English skills.

  • Data had shown students end up dropping out if they get channeled into remedial courses. Legislation approved two years ago required that overhaul.

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Chamber: Don't tax lawyers, accountants

Opposition is building to a proposed tax on business services.

The California Chamber of Commerce is trying to snuff out any thought of a tax on business services, citing a study it commissioned that a tax on lawyers, accountants and consultants would place California at a competitive disadvantage, CALmatters’ Judy Lin reports.

  • A 56-page report funded by CalChamber’s think tank, the California Foundation for Commerce and Education, takes aim at Democratic Sen. Bob Hertzberg’s proposal to update California’s sales and use tax by expanding it to include some business services.
  • Hertzberg’s Senate Bill 522 hasn’t been heard this year. But the Los Angeles legislator’s measure could form the basis of an overall tax overhaul in 2020. One goal is to reduce budget volatility, while modernizing the tax structure as Californians increasingly rely on services.

Read Lin’s explainer on California taxes by clicking here.


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Update 1: Morning bell

A bill would allow students to sleep later before starting school.

Middle and high school students would be able to sleep a little longer under legislation that won Senate approval Tuesday.

Sen. Anthony Portantino, a Democrat from La Cañada Flintridge who is author of Senate Bill 328, cites scientists who contend that start times of 8 a.m. for middle school kids, and 8:30 for high school students, would improve their health and performance.

  • Teachers unions oppose the measure, and it faces a tough fight in the Assembly Education Committee.
  • Assemblyman Ash Kalra, a San Jose Democrat who sits on that committee, intends to vote for the measure:

“Either we believe in science or we don’t.”

Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, who represents the Silicon Valley, has been pushing for similar legislation nationally.

  • For a deeper look at the issue, read this piece by CALmatters’ Ricardo Cano.

Update 2: It's 4 a.m. somewhere

Last call could come later at some bars under proposed legislation.

California’s long-standing bar closing time of 2 a.m. could become 4 a.m. in certain locales under legislation approved by the Senate on Tuesday.

  • San Francisco Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener’s Senate Bill 58, approved on a bipartisan 28-6 vote, now heads to the Assembly, which approved similar legislation last year. Then-Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed that measure, writing:

“I believe we have enough mischief from midnight to 2 without adding two more hours of mayhem.”

Several Republicans joined Democrats in backing Wiener’s legislation, lauding it for giving local governments the authority to extend closing time to 4 a.m. in certain parts of town or on certain dates.

Republican Sen. Andreas Borgeas of Fresno voted for it: “It empowers local authorities to make decisions.”

Republican Jeff Stone, who represents the tourist mecca of Palm Springs, added: “This is about local control.”

Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Santa Barbara Democrat, was one of three Democrats who voted against it: “Nothing good happens between 2 and 4 in the morning.”

  • What’s new? Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Unsafe space alert

California has some big and potentially awkward events coming up.

California music festival fans have a big weekend coming up, with California Roots in Monterey and BottleRock in Napa. So fair warning: A reporter with The Desert Sun recently surveyed 323 women at this year’s Coachella Valley music festival. Fifty-four—one in six—reported being sexually harassed.

  • This is not the first time safety concerns have been raised about the nationally watched music fest, famed for its springtime influx of Instagram influencers and pop stars. Last year, a reporter with Teen Vogue spoke to 54 people who claimed to have been harassed or assaulted at the festival.

BTW, the safe-space warning isn’t confined to mass cultural events.

  • As the California Democratic Party gears up for its convention at the end of this month in San Francisco, it faces numerous sexual-harassment lawsuits, the Los Angeles Times recently reported—an awkward position for the party that has “staked its brand and platform on principles of diversity, equality and inclusion.”

Democratic political strategist Bill Wong: “I think where everybody’s at is trying to figure out how to earn back the trust of our base and the staff and rebuild the party.”

 

Take a number: 51

Xavier Becerra

California has now sued the Trump administration more times in just over two years than Texas sued Barack Obama in eight.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed two cases Tuesday, as detailed by CALmatters’ Ben Christopher:

  • One was in response to Donald Trump’s recent decision to rescind nearly $1 billion in funding for the state-spanning high-speed rail project. The case was filed on behalf of the state’s high-speed rail authority.
  • The other challenged a Department of Health and Human Services rule that makes it easier for doctors and nurses to opt out of providing certain types of medical care if they express moral or religious objections. The law has been condemned by abortion and LBGTQ rights groups.

Tally-ho: How did we come to 51? Which cases are we counting? For people who truly care about the methodology of lawsuit tabulation, @FromBenC, a.k.a. Ben Christopher, broke it down on Twitter.

Commentary at CALmatters

Nick Melvoin, Los Angeles Unified School District board member: Rather than focusing on a decades-old political fight between charter and district schools, the Legislature should work on reforms that would help traditional public school districts by removing barriers that prevent schools from innovating and improving.

Dan Walters, CALmatters: The bullet train utterly lacks a rational purpose, has been ill-managed from the onset and is a black financial hole. If the Trumpies strangle it, they would be doing California a big favor.

Please email or call me with tips, suggestions and insights, [email protected], 916.201.6281. Thanks for reading, please tell a friend and sign up here.

See you tomorrow.