Good morning, California.
“Lobbying is under way in Sacramento for two vastly different approaches to reduce police shootings. Victims’ families and civil rights advocates are pushing a tougher standard for police to use deadly force, while law enforcement officers promote a plan to increase training.”—Episode 2 of ‘Force of Law,’ a podcast by CALmatters’ Laurel Rosenhall.
Becerra focuses on dioceses
Attorney General Xavier Becerra
Attorney General Xavier Becerra is expanding his inquiry into all 12 California Catholic dioceses’ handling of sexual abuse incidents.
- Becerra’s letter directs the dioceses to retain documents relevant to allegations of clergy sex abuse and mandatory reporting, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Becerra wrote to the Los Angeles Archdiocese last week that his office is reviewing “whether your archdiocese has adequately reported allegations of sexual misconduct, as required under California’s Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act,” the L.A. Times reported.
Becerra’s request represents an escalation in the abuse scandal, and goes further than other state attorneys general by seeking cases involving non-clergy personnel, such as volunteers and staffers, the Times reports. He’s also seeking:
- Allegations of sexual misconduct with minors that the archdiocese received since 1996, regardless of when the misconduct took place.
- Actions taken during that time period against any individual who was accused, or who failed to report allegations to law enforcement.
- Details about individuals who have been accused of sexual misconduct and are still active in the ministry.
The L.A. Archdiocese has paid $740 million in settlements to victims. In a statement, the archdiocese said:
“The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is committed to transparency and has established reporting and prevention policies and programs to protect minors and support victim-survivors in our parishes, schools and ministries.”
Church could face new lawsuits
Jerry Brown vetoed sexual abuse lawsuit bills in 2013 and 2018.
Legislation to expand sexual abuse victims’ right to sue an array of entities, including the Catholic Church and public schools, appears headed for passage.
- People as old as 40 could sue for abuse that occurred when they were kids.
- Victims could collect treble if they can prove a cover-up by organizations.
Opponents contend the new bill, approved overwhelmingly by the Assembly last month, would be financially devastating for entities that employed abusers.
Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego said her Assembly Bill 218 would hold “entities which we trust with our children and fail to protect them accountable.”
Republican Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez of Lake Elsinore urged Republicans to vote for the bill:
“I want you to think carefully about the victims that we’re talking about here and the fact that when they are children, they don’t have the confidence to come forward and speak about what happened to them.”
Six Republicans voted for the bill, which passed 64-3. The bill awaits a Senate vote.
- Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed nearly identical legislation in 2013 and 2018, writing: “There comes a time when an individual or organization should be secure in the reasonable expectation that past acts are indeed in the past and not subject to further lawsuits.”
With Brown gone from office, the church has lost a protector. As lieutenant governor, Gov. Gavin Newsom endorsed the 2018 version.
A bruise, a bunny and hallway tears
Democratic Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula
Democratic Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula is expected to be back in a Fresno courtroom today, where he is fighting misdemeanor charges of abusing his 7-year-old daughter.
- Arambula, an emergency room physician who was elected to the Assembly 2016 from Fresno, is on leave pending the outcome of the case.
The Fresno Bee was there for the opening of testimony on Friday, reporting that Arambula’s daughter took the witness stand, “clutching a stuffed bunny in a Wonder Woman costume. Her grandfather, former Assemblyman Juan Arambula, stood by her side for comfort.”
Whether or not he is acquitted, Joaquin Arambula is in the losing situation of having his lawyer accuse his second-grade daughter of fabricating events that led to the bruising of her right temple.
KFSN’s Sontaya Rose tweeted: “In the hallway at lunch, Juan Arambula wiped away tears while hugging family and friends.”
Rent control re-do, perhaps
Proponents of rent control are not giving up despite recent failures.
Michael Weinstein, the aggressive backer of last year’s failed rent control initiative, seems intent on pursuing his vision of housing despite opposition by the Legislature.
Weinstein sits down with CALmatters’ Matt Levin and the L.A. Times’ Liam Dillon in the latest episode of “Gimme Shelter, The California Housing Crisis Podcast.”
Weinstein: “We may be a wild card, but I think people know that we’re also deadly serious.”
He directed $20 million from the Los Angeles-based nonprofit AIDS Healthcare Foundation for Proposition 10 last year, and is prepared to do the same in the future, noting “we’re willing to put our money and our work where our mouth is.”
The future of news, or lack of it
News organizations continue to lose ad revenues to social media firms.
Large swaths of America “have radically diminished” access to local news, and it’s getting worse as Google and Facebook’s ad revenue rises and news organizations’ share shrinks, the Wall Street Journal reports.
- Citing Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, the Journal, which is behind a paywall, writes that newspaper jobs declined by 60 percent from 465,000 to 183,000 employees between 1990 and 2016. Since January, layoffs and buyouts have taken more than 1,000 newspaper jobs.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ category for internet publishing and broadcasting reflects a rise from 29,000 to 197,800 during the same period. Those jobs have been highly concentrated in New York and California.
Nicco Mele, director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, tells the Journal that half of the surviving newspapers will be gone by 2021.
Mele: “It’s hard to see a future where newspapers persist.”
Mark your calendars
CALmatters' Laurel Rosenhall hosts the Force of Law podcast.
CALmatters is hosting two can’t-miss forums in Sacramento coming days:
CALmatters’ Laurel Rosenhall, host of the Force of Law podcast, will moderate a conversation in Sacramento on a new transparency law that requires police departments to release records related to officer misconduct and shootings.
- Join us, the First Amendment Coalition and speakers Thomas Peele, David Snyder, David P. Mastagni and the bill’s author, Sen. Nancy Skinner.
- Register for the May 13 event here.
CALmatters contributor Jocelyn Wiener, the reporter who has done our mental health care series, Breakdown, will moderate a conversation with some of the state’s top experts on the issue, including state Sen. Jim Beall.
- Register for the May 20 event in Sacramento here.
Commentary at CALmatters
Art Pulaski, California Labor Federation: IPOs are bringing rideshare companies tens of billions of dollars in investment. But the companies mistreat drivers who are the backbone of their businesses. Thousands of Uber and Lyft drivers are going on strike across California on May 8 to call for basic rights and protections like those afforded through Assembly Bill 5.
Dan Walters, CALmatters: California not only has the nation’s highest rate of poverty, thanks to high housing costs, but its highest level of income disparity, and raising the state’s minimum wage may be reducing job creation.
See you tomorrow.