Good morning, California

“Your ability to watch and use your favorite apps and services could start to change — though not right away — following the official demise Monday of Obama-era internet protections.”— Associated Press.

A race to watch this fall

Tony Thurmond and Marshall Tuck

Los Angeles voters might get a sense of deja vu as the race unfolds for Superintendent of Public Instruction between Democrats Marshall Tuck and Tony Thurmond.

The opposing campaign managers in the race for head of California schools gave a preview of the campaign at a panel I moderated that was hosted by the California Target Book.

Bill Burton, representing Marshall Tuck, a former aide to then LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and charter school executive: “Education in this state is not great. … Unless you get leaders in place who can help lead on some of these issues and [say], ‘The status quo isn’t good enough,’ you’re not going to get change.”

Sean Clegg, representing labor-backed Tony Thurmond, a Democratic Assemblyman from Richmond: “The worst thing that happened to Marshall Tuck is the election of Donald Trump, and the appointment of Betsy DeVos” as education secretary. “He is now running in the face of an education reform movement that is now somewhat brand damaged.”

Backstory: Burton was press secretary for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and worked in the Obama White House. Obama’s education department embraced charter schools. That didn’t endear itself to public school unions.

Burton managed the successful 2017 school board campaigns for two charter school supporters who won seats on the Los Angeles school board in the most expensive school board race in U.S. history.

What’s ahead: Clegg’s firm represents Gavin Newsom, frontrunner in the race for governor and the teachers’ union choice. Watch to see if Newsom embraces Thurmond. Expect wealthy charter school advocates to back Tuck.

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Another sign of trouble for the GOP

Votes shift in California congressional districts.

Congressional districts held by Democrats turned more blue and Republican district turned less red between last Tuesday’s primary and the 2014 primary, as CALmatters’ Ben Christopher shows in the graphic above.

Details will change: More than 2 million votes are uncounted, the Secretary of State’s office reported, though Democrats likely cast a majority of those votes.

Asterisk: A casual glance would suggest a Democratic surge in the district held by Congressman Tom McClintock, the Republican from Elk Grove. However, in 2014, a Republican challenged McClintock and he had no Democratic opponent.

This year, McClintock faced three Democratic opponents and no Republican. That boosted Democratic turnout. McClintock may or may not have cause to worry. But Republicans have their work cut out elsewhere.

Martins Beach

California legislators tucked $1 million into the new budget to buy access to a strip of San Mateo County beach. Venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, the owner of the access road, is resisting and appealing the matter at the U.S. Supreme Court.

Background: Voters approved the California Zone Conservation Act in 1972 to ensure public access to beaches. Khosla bought 89 acres above Martins Beach and the access road in 2008. He closed access in 2009, prompting a challenge from the Coastal Commission and San Mateo County.

Khosla lost in state courts, and turned to the Supreme Court:

“No property right is more fundamental than the right to exclude. It is what makes ‘private property’ private.”

Coastal Act defenders are scheduled to file their brief on Wednesday. The court will decide after that whether to hear the case.

Politics: Khosla used to donate to Democratic candidates and environmental causes. Now, the California Association of Realtors and conservative legal aid organizations, including one funded by oil billionaires David and Charles Koch, have filed briefs siding with Khosla.

Bottom line: A Khosla victory could upend coastal development regulation and cost the state much more than $1 million.

Lobbyist Rusty Areias previously represented Khosla: “I don’t think Mr. Khosla is interested in selling ‘access.’ There is a potential to buy it all.”

A new wild and scenic river

The Legislature is on the verge of designating 37 miles of the upper Mokelumne River in Amador and Calaveras counties as wild and scenic under state law, forever protecting that stretch from dams and other development.

The East Bay Municipal Utilities District, which draws on the river to serve 1.4 million customers, embraced the designation.

Bipartisanship matters: In past years, urban legislators pressed for the designation. In 2015, Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, a Madera County Republican, successfully carried legislation seeking a feasibility study and ensuring locals would have a say in the outcome.

The state budget, which is headed for a vote later this week, includes language conferring the protection.

Walters: Welfare in its various forms

Dan Walters, CALmatters’ commentator, turns his attention to welfare — for poor people and for corporations, particularly Hollywood. California’s Democrats often decry corporate tax loopholes, but make a pointed exception for the film industry.

“Helping uber-poor families cope with California’s very high cost of living is one thing. Bribing Hollywood producers with taxpayer money to remain in the state is quite another.”


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