Good morning, California.
“Illegal cannabis plantations have an extraordinarily destructive impact on the redwood forest ecosystem” — Save the Redwoods League supporting a bill seeking more prosecutions for destruction of forests.

Meet Robert Newman, Republican running for governor

A mailer sent to conservative households, funded by the independent campaign committee, Families & Teachers for Antonio Villaraigosa.

The race for second place in the governor’s race is volatile, as Republican John Cox and Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa fight to take on frontrunner Democrat Gavin Newsom in the fall, a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll shows.

Results: Newsom, 21 percent; Villaraigosa, 11 percent; Cox, 10 percent; undecided, 39 percent. The June 5 primary is 13 days away.

The game: Villaraigosa must defeat Cox in the primary to get into the run-off. Strategists helping Villaraigosa seek to boost other Republicans and suppress Cox’s vote.

Hello, Newman: Republican farmer Robert Newman, a self-described conservative Christian and strict constitutionalist, is not a front-runner in any poll.

Weird politics: An independent campaign funded by super-rich charter school advocates who back Villaraigosa has mailed 500,000 brochures to conservative households extolling Newman and Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen, while attacking Cox, President Trump’s choice.

Newman told me by phone from his Redlands home that he is 74, raises goats, chickens and geese, and has run for governor four or five times.

Why run again? “This is a God call.” He has a shot: “They’re not going to see it coming. What does the Bible say? If God be with us, who can be against it.”

Newman is grateful for the attention brought by the mailer. But even if he had the money, he wouldn’t waste it on such a piece. People don’t vote based on “pretty pictures,” he said. Villaraigosa, the wealthy people backing him and their strategists are banking that Newman is wrong.

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What’s to come of 125 developmentally disabled workers?

California public employee unions are trying to replace 125 state prison workers who have developmental disabilities with unionized civil servants.

Gov. Jerry Brown included the idea in his budget proposal.

Sen. Jim Beall, San Jose Democrat: “Not on my watch. … How would you like to be the one to give them the pink slip? Maybe the department director should give it to them. See how he feels.”

History: PRIDE Industries based in Roseville trains and employs people with developmental disabilities, vision problems, post-traumatic stress and other issues. In 2016, PRIDE got a contract to place workers as custodians and in similar positions at the prison system’s medical facility in Stockton. Now, 125 of them work there and 100 other PRIDE employees help them. Pay starts at $17 an hour, plus benefits.

The Service Employees International Union and California Labor Federation cite a state law requiring that state workers fill state jobs, not contract workers. Labor lobbyists say the PRIDE workers could take civil service tests and compete for the positions.

Labor Fed lobbyist Michael Young: “It is going to put contract workers into civil service positions where they’ll have significantly better benefits.”

Lobbyist Bob Giroux argued against the move: “Everybody here danced around the issue. We’re talking about adults that have functioning autism. We’re talking about adults that have Down’s Syndrome. That is who they want to put out of work.”

Bottom line: PRIDE employees will be out of work on July 1 unless lawmakers can resolve the issue.

Service tax debate opens

California is one of the few states that doesn’t tax services. CALmatters’ Antoinette Siu digs into Sen. Bob Hertzberg’s proposal to create a service tax in California on businesses, while lowering the state sales tax rate. The proposal won’t get far this year, she concludes. But it will be a topic for the next governor to tackle.

Has California oversold cap-and-trade?

California’s cap-and-trade program is in trouble again, 10 months after Gov. Jerry Brown signed what he called a milestone in the fight against climate change.

CALmatters’ Julie Cart got the scoop: “red flags highlighted in reports from academia, the nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, independent market experts and other major carbon markets, all concluding that California has a serious problem with too many unused pollution credits.”

The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates that emissions could be as much as 30 percent over the statewide target by 2030.

Danny Cullenward, an energy economist who teaches at Stanford University, said California Air Resources Board estimates are off: “I can’t emphasize enough, this is a basic question of scientific integrity.”

Why it matters: California is relying on the cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and generate billions for projects to further wean the state away from carbon. Proponents say it is a showcase to be replicated by other states and nations.

Brown last July: “You’re here witnessing one of the key milestones in turning around this carbonized world into a decarbonized sustainable future.”

Bottom line: Brown pins his legacy in part on the cap-and trade program. At his urging, legislators voted to extend cap-and-trade, putting their careers at risk as costs rise for gasoline and other products. Lawmakers will have tough questions for regulators Thursday when oversight hearings begin.

Dan Walters: Voter beware

CALmatters’ Dan Walters, commenting about deceptive campaign tactics, homes in on “Budget Watchdogs,” a slate mailer that purports to favor candidates who are tight with the public’s money. Republican Travis Allen gets its nod for governor. Among the mailer’s other favored candidates: Sen. Ricardo Lara, who is running for insurance commissioner. Lara wants to double the state budget by adopting single-payer health coverage. Endorsees pay for Budget Watchdog’s recommendations.


In Tuesday’s WhatMatters, I misstated data given me by political consultant Mike Madrid. Out of 2.6 million Californians who have registered to vote since Donald Trump’s election in 2016, he told me a mere 3.1 percent were Latinos who registered Republican. The stat shows how the largest segment of California’s population has turned against the GOP.

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