Good morning, California.

“We embrace Chinese New Year and St. Patrick’s Day, but why not a Hispanic holiday? We should all be treated equally.”—teacher Maria Hassan, of Cesar Chavez Elementary in Coachella, after she was told to remove the Mexican flag from her students’ performance about Mexican Independence Day at the La Quinta Public Library.

Why corporations are spending so much in California

Corporate money in initiative politics.

What do a Colorado-based ambulance company, two out-of-state dialysis companies, and corporate landlords have in common? They’re enriching consultants and television stations by waging the year’s costliest California campaigns.

CALmatters’ Laurel Rosenhall reports that it wouldn’t be an election in California without a bunch of big-money interests trying to tell you how to vote on ballot measures.

  • American Medical Response, based in Colorado, has spent nearly $30 million promoting Proposition 11, which would allow private ambulance companies to require their workers to remain on-call during breaks so that they can respond to an emergency even if it comes while they’re eating lunch.
  • The DaVita dialysis company, based in Colorado, and Fresenius, based in Germany, have spent the bulk of the $111 million to defeat labor-backed Proposition 8, which would cap dialysis profits at 15 percent.
  • Property owners and landlords led by New York-based Blackstone, Chicago-based Equity Residential, the San Mateo-based Essex Property and California Association of Realtors have spent almost $75 million to defeat Proposition 10, which would allow local governments to impose rent control.

Why engage in such a huge way? California is the most expensive state in which to run campaigns, the market is lucrative and California trends spread to other states.


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Big money already is flowing into Campaign 2020

A private-equity firm is pushing the bail bonds referendum for 2020.

A company backed by private equity is financing a campaign to repeal California’s landmark bail overhaul intended to help the poor, the Washington Post reports.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill this year that would abolish money bail and, in the process, end the bail-bonds industry.

Under the bail system, people can be released if they can afford bail. Under the new system, judges would decide whether to release most offenders based on their danger, not their ability to pay a bond.

Bail bonds companies answered by announcing a referendum, placing the measure on hold.

The Post reports that $800,000 of the $2.5 million raised so far to put the measure on the 2020 ballot comes from Triton, a bail company owned by Endeavour Capital, an Oregon private-equity firm that has managed billions in investments.

Triton bail companies operate under the name Aladdin, which last year put up about $700 million in bail in California.


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Anti-vax movement’s new tactic

Doctors increasingly are exempting schoolchildren from vaccinations for supposed medical reasons, apparently evading landmark 2015 legislation intended to increase immunization by limiting exemptions, the medical journal Pediatrics reports.

Remind me: Democratic Sen. Richard Pan, a Sacramento pediatrician, carried legislation that limited parents’ ability to claim personal-belief exemptions suggesting they had religious objections to having their children immunized against such communicable diseases as diphtheria, measles, mumps, pertussis and chickenpox.

The response: Pediatrics interviewed county public health officers who reported:

  • A doctor essentially was selling medical exemptions for $300.
  • A nurse practitioner granted exemptions, even though only physicians are authorized to do so.
  • A doctor operating from a medical marijuana dispensary granted exemptions.

The law has led to an increase in vaccination rates by making personal-belief exemptions all but impossible to obtain. That makes all children safer from preventable disease.

But Pediatrics cautions: “If medical exemption rates continue to rise, portions of California will remain susceptible to vaccine-preventable outbreaks.”

Pan intends to wait for 2018 vaccination data before deciding his next step. But he is considering legislation to expand county or state public health officers’ authority to act as a check on questionable medical exemptions.

An exception to the blue wave?

Donors will spend $5.4 million on the Rudy Salas-Justin Mendes Assembly race.

In a year when Democrats hope for a “blue wave,” Assembly Republicans see perhaps their best chance of defeating an incumbent in Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Salas of Bakersfield, one of the more conservative parts of the state.

By Election Day, one week from today, interest groups will have spent more than $5.4 million on the race for a job that pays $107,000 a year. That reflects the power of a single vote in the 80-seat Assembly.

Democratic donors have given $404,000 to Salas’ campaign since Oct. 20. Republican challenger Justin Mendes, a Hanford City city councilman, has collected a modest $63,000 since then.

Farm groups aligned with Republicans upped their spending to unseat Salas to $620,000 in recent days. Salas ran afoul of farmers by voting to grant overtime to farm workers.

The farmer ads make no mention of overtime but claim Salas voted to raise gasoline prices. Mendes also attacks Salas over gas taxes.

It’s true, sort of. Salas voted for the 2017 bill to extend the cap-and-trade program, which will raise pump prices.

The oil industry pushed hard for that bill, as did Gov. Jerry Brown. Oil is a major employer in Bakersfield, the heart of California’s oil patch, and backs Salas. Several Republicans voted for cap-and-trade, too.

However, Salas was the sole Assembly Democrat who voted against the 12-cent-per-gallon gasoline-tax hike in 2017, the focus of the GOP-backed Proposition 6 that would repeal it. In retribution, Assembly Democratic leadership stripped Salas of his committee chairmanship.

Ben Christopher on Reddit

CALmatters’ Ben Christopher will take your questions about the elections in California today at noon on Reddit. What lingering questions do you have about the candidates, propositions and polls?

You can ask Ben anything here.

Commentary at CALmatters

Sen. John Moorlach, Costa Mesa Republican: Jerry Brown will scoot out in the nick of time. His successor will face the vice grip of a slowing economy and rising costs for pension-plan contributions and more bond payments.

Dan Walters, CALmatters: A 2012 “reform” overseen by Gov. Jerry Brown reduced employers’ costs of compensating workers for job-related disabilities. However, those costs are still very high relative to those in other states, and another round in the perpetual political war over the system will face Brown’s successor, almost certainly Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.

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.