Good morning, California. Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Laurel Rosenhall, as Dan Morain goes on assignment for a few days.
“Because of Joshua’s hard work and study he graduated with a 4.2 grade point average… I’m now outraged and hurt because I feel that my son, my only child, was denied access to a college not because he failed to work and study hard enough but because wealthy individuals felt that it was OK to lie, cheat, steal and bribe their children’s way into a good college.”—Lawsuit by Jennifer Kay Toy, whose son was rejected from a college accused of participating in a massive admissions scam in a federal indictment this week. The suit seeks class-action status and $500 billion in damages.
Let the litigation begin
UC is investigating the college cheating scandal, which allegedly involved UCLA.
The first lawsuits landed in the massive college-admissions cheating scandal Thursday, and word spread of subpoenas and resignations at some of California’s most elite prep schools.
- Two parents resigned from the board of Orange County’s Sage Hill prep school after being charged, and law enforcement sources told The Los Angeles Times that several top private schools, including Harvard-Westlake School in Studio City, had been subpoenaed.
- Parents of kids who didn’t get into some choice schools began filing lawsuits against the college-admissions counselor, Hollywood celebrities and others who were indicted, as well as some of the colleges that accepted students whose parents were part of the scheme, which allegedly involved cheating on standardized tests and/or bribing coaches.
- University of California President Janet Napolitano has ordered an internal investigation into any involvement UC campuses may have had in the scandal. A UCLA soccer coach was among those indicted for allegedly accepting bribes; the university has already put him on leave.
- The Wall Street Journal traced the federal probe, dubbed Operation Varsity Blues, to a Los Angeles financial executive and dad who offered federal authorities a tip after learning he was under investigation in a “pump and dump” securities fraud case.
- And 49ers legend Joe Montana issued a statement saying his family had gotten “minimal consulting services” from William Rick Singer, the college expert at the heart of the scandal, but that was it.
Varsity green cards
Karina Gutierrez, an immigration lawyer at UC Riverside.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the campus privilege spectrum, CALmatters’ Felicia Mello spent a day with one of the immigration lawyers advising undocumented University of California students as part of a state-funded program proposed for expansion.
One of 10 attorneys at UC’s Immigrant Legal Services Center, Karina Gutierrez let Mello sit in as she coached, counseled and held the hands of UC Riverside kids whose paths to citizenship under the Trump administration are typically “lengthy and uncertain, or just nonexistent.”
- President Donald Trump vowed to veto a bipartisan congressional rejection of his border emergency declaration on Thursday, though his border wall is opposed by large majorities nationally and in California.
- Gutierrez also shared a secret that she carries into battle in what has become one of many fronts in the ongoing national debate over who should have access to the American dream.
Money matters: California is spending $4 million over three years to fund free immigration legal assistance for UC students and their families. Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed spending an additional $17 million next year to provide similar legal services on California State University and community college campuses.
California's drought is officially over
An exceptionally wet winter finally has restored normalcy.
California has fully emerged from drought for the first time since December 2011, according to the U.S Drought Monitor’s Thursday update, and just 7 percent of the state is now abnormally dry.
- Say thanks to all that rain and snow, which filled California reservoirs, rebuilt a strong snowpack and spurred new growth in parts of the state scorched by wildfire, where green grass is now shooting up and wildflowers are blooming.
- And remember those pretty fields portend danger: Non-native plants that replace chaparral and scrub after a big burn can actually accelerate future fires, as CALmatters’ Julie Cart reported recently.
Rent control fight returns
The rent wars continue in Sacramento.
California’s high rents re-emerged as a top-tier issue Thursday, as Democratic lawmakers announced legislation to curb rent hikes and protect tenants.
Separately, a lobbyist for Michael Weinstein, the author of the failed 2018 measure to expand rent control, said Weinstein may be back with a do-over next year.
Newly announced bills would chip away at a state law—adopted when Pete Wilson was governor—that prevents rent control on apartments built after 1995. Gov. Gavin Newsom last month called on legislators to send him a “good package on stability” and promised to sign it.
- Assemblyman Richard Bloom of Santa Monica wants to control rent on single-family homes and apartments more than 10 years old.
- Assemblyman David Chiu of San Francisco wants to prevent what he calls rent gouging.
- Assemblyman Rob Bonta of Oakland wants to limit evictions.
- Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks of Oakland wants to provide publicly accessible data about rents, rent hikes and evictions.
Helping to draft Weinstein’s new initiative is Rand Martin, a Capitol lobbyist . He said the sequel to the high-dollar Proposition 10 will be unveiled in the coming weeks, but hopes another ballot war can be averted.
Martin: “The goal is to find a compromise with the other side—apartment owners and Realtors.”
Neither side should relish a repeat. Apartment owners and real estate interests spent more than $80 million to defeat Proposition 10 last November. Weinstein, using money from his AIDS Healthcare Foundation, spent $25 million in his losing effort.
Speaking of high housing costs
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer talks housing in a coastal city known for sprawl.
Embrace more development: That’s San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s message to fellow California Republicans when it comes to grappling with the state’s housing crisis.
Faulconer: “This is not a partisan issue…This is what we should be doing in San Diego to fix the problem.”
Faulconer made headlines earlier this year by pursuing pro-density policies in a city known more for its sprawl and coastline views than for multi-family apartment buildings.
- A newly self-identified “YIMBY”—Yes in My Backyard—advocate, Faulconer has moved to ease height restrictions and minimum parking requirements across San Diego.
Faulconer discusses the larger significance of his YIMBY turn, and his own pro-development limits, with CALmatters’ Matt Levin and The Los Angeles Times’ Liam Dillon on the latest episode of Gimme Shelter, The California Housing Crisis Podcast.
Commentary at CALmatters
San Jose City Hall is an energy-efficient building.
Sam Liccardo, San Jose Mayor: Construction, heating, and operating of our work and homes account for nearly 40 percent of our nation’s CO2 emissions. But California still doesn’t have a comprehensive statewide plan to help cities cut pollution from homes and commercial buildings. That’s like having a global naval military strategy that omits the Pacific Ocean.
Eleni Kounalakis, Lieutenant Governor: Enriched by the diversity of our communities, California represents a set of human values that nurture and free our minds and our economic system. And the world knows it. That’s why now, more than ever, the world is knocking on our door.
See you Monday.