Good morning, California.

“These mistakes from the DMV are absolutely unacceptable.”—Secretary of State Alex Padilla, after learning that the Department of Motor Vehicles improperly registered 1,500 people including noncitizens to vote, on top of making 23,000 voter registration errors.

Padilla is contemplating halting the program that automatically registers voters when they renew licenses or change their addresses.

Florida disaster relief company plays big in CA politics

AshBritt CEO Brittany Perkins, left, in a company photo after the wine country fires.

A Florida-based company accused of botching the clean-up after last year’s devastating fires in Santa Rosa is writing big checks to Gavin Newsom’s gubernatorial campaign and the California Democratic Party, CALmatters’ Laurel Rosenhall reports.

As Santa Rosa homeowners have recently complained that federal contractors including the Broward County-based AshBritt have damaged their property during debris removal, AshBritt and a second company owned by AshBritt chairman Randal R. Perkins donated a combined $250,000 to the California Democratic Party on Oct. 4. In September, AshBritt chief executive officer Brittany Perkins donated $29,200 to Newsom’s campaign.

AshBritt spokesman Gerardo Castillo: “We contribute throughout the country in areas where we work. Our donations are made as good corporate citizens by our employees and our owners, and there is no connection with any political issues.”

The company’s political giving is bipartisan; it gave $500,000 to a pro-Trump super-PAC in April. That led to a watchdog complaint.

  • The Campaign Legal Center alleges federal contractors are prohibited from making federal campaign contributions, and the donation was made the day after AshBritt received a payment of almost the same amount from a Department of Defense contract. Randal Perkins said it was a personal donation and blamed inaccurate paperwork.

Mark Ghilarducci, director of Jerry Brown’s Office of Emergency Services, said in a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that contractors hired to remove debris from burned areas in Santa Rosa excavated so much extra material that they damaged driveways, septic systems, wells and other features on hundreds of properties.

Ghilarducci: “Given these subcontractors were paid per ton of soil removed, it is probable this over-excavation was an intentional effort to capitalize on this tragedy by defrauding the government.”

We await word from Newsom and California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman about whether they intend to keep AshBritt’s money or give it back.

Saying yes to homeless people

A neighbor of an LA homeless care center discusses it with Kelly Bruno, left.

As California struggles with a homelessness crisis, one Central Los Angeles neighborhood has (mostly) bucked the NIMBY-ism that can stymie efforts to house the homeless, CALmatters’ David Gorn reports.

  • Angelenos who live near the Pico-Union Recuperative Care Center, scheduled to open this week, have welcomed the renovation of the facility to house homeless people released from hospitals.

Van Thomas, who lives next door: “This facility has been everything from a boys’ home to, well, you don’t want to know. I’ve seen a lot of positive things from this project, though.”

As many as 62 homeless people are expected to be housed in the health center, many recovering from drug addiction—a recipe for rejection in most communities.

  • Inclusiveness and communication were key to buy-in of the small complex of buildings that will house the patient, organizers said.
  • After a construction process that featured regular updates, briefings and tours of the health center, most neighbors plan to attend the grand opening, though a few remain wary.

Kelly Bruno, CEO of the L.A.-based National Health Foundation:  “Look, the neighbors know what they want in their community. They want a good neighbor they can trust. We listened and looked into addressing every concern they had.”

Yes-In-My-Backyard-ism will be put to a test on Nov. 6. Proposition 1 is a $4 billion bond issue for affordable housing. Proposition 2 would earmark a $2 billion bond to provide shelter for mentally ill people.


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Trump’s choice falters in race to hold a San Diego seat

The League of Conservation Voters announced Tuesday it’s spending $780,000 to bash Republican Diane Harkey in an effort to flip Republican Congressman Darrell Issa’s seat into Democratic control.

  • Issa, first elected to the North San Diego County seat in 2000, opted against running in 2018, after narrowly winning two years ago. President Donald Trump has since nominated him to become U.S. Trade and Development Agency director.
  • In the once-safe Republican district, Democrat Mike Levin, an environmental law attorney, led Harkey by 10 points in a recent New York Times-Siena College Poll.

Now comes the league’s ad attacking Harkey over votes on offshore oil drilling and taking campaign money from oil interests.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has given the league $2 million and pledged more. The billionaire’s political action committee has prepared separate anti-Harkey ads but has not yet spent heavily to air them.

In August, President Donald Trump tweeted: “Diane is strong on crime, loves our Military & Vets-has my total Endorsement!”

Evidently, that’s not playing well in the changing district that runs from just north of La Jolla to the southern end of Orange County.

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A Republican seeks to capitalize on #MeToo

Republican congressional candidate Justin Fareed, seeking to capitalize on the #MeToo movement, is calling on Democratic incumbent Salud Carbajal of Santa Barbara to return $20,000 from a political action committee chaired by a Los Angeles lawmaker accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports.

  • Carbajal has no intention of disgorging the money but said the allegation against Congressman Tony Cardenas of Pacoima is “incredibly troubling and demands a thorough investigation.”

Carbajal: “If this investigation finds that he is guilty of assault, then he should resign immediately.”

BOLD PAC, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ fundraising arm, donated the money to Carbajal in 2015 and 2017. Cardenas chairs the committee, but all its members, including Carbajal, raise money for it.

  • A woman identified as Jane Doe alleges in a suit in Los Angeles that Cardenas drugged and fondled her in 2007 when she was 16 and he was a Los Angeles city councilman.

Cardenas’ attorney Patricia Glaser calls the allegations “horrific” and “100 percent, categorically untrue,” the LA Daily News reports.

Although the GOP is on the defensive on such issues this year, Republicans in California and elsewhere are citing BOLD PAC donations in attacks on Democrats. Whether Fareed can make much of the issue is unclear in this, his third run for the seat.

  • Carbajal beat Fareed in 2016 with 53 percent of the vote, despite the National Republican Campaign Committee spending $1.5 million on Fareed’s behalf. The NRCC has not funded Fareed in a significant way so far in 2018.

Commentary at CALmatters

Proposition 12 would give more space for pigs, hens and calves.

Two views on Proposition 12, regarding farm animal caging:

  • Veterinarian Brenda Forsythe, pro—Proposition 12 would strengthen California law and ensure that meat and eggs produced and sold here come from cage-free conditions.
  • Farm advocate Debbie Murdock, con—Proposition 12 is a poorly written initiative that will result in supply disruptions, price spikes and egg shortages, and turn food inspectors in to meat police.

Dan Walters: Will political fallout over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s sensational confirmation battle give progressive Democrats who already support Kevin de León over Dianne Feinstein even more reason to oppose her?

 

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