Good morning, California.

“Through the arc of her own life, on into the great work of our day, she communicates a vision of shared struggle, shared purpose, and shared values”—Penguin Press, announcing Tuesday the 2019 publication of a book by Sen. Kamala Harris entitled, “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey.” Another sign she’s running for president in 2020.

Tuck: Less money for prisons, more for schools

Tony Thurmond and Marshall Tuck are running for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Marshall Tuck Tuesday smacked at his opponent in the race to become California’s Superintendent of Public Instruction for his vote in the state Assembly last month to grant pay raises to correctional officers.

Remind me: Assemblyman Tony Thurmond, a Richmond Democrat running for superintendent, voted with 102 other legislators to approve a 5 percent pay raise and other benefits for correctional officers. Eight lawmakers voted against it and seven ducked the vote.

The California Correctional Peace Officers Association may not be as influential as it once was, but remains a significant player, spending $3.5 million on state campaigns since 2013. Like other public employee unions, CCPOA donated to Thurmond in the primary, albeit modestly at $2,250.

Tuck, a Democrat and charter public school advocate, questioned why starting correctional officers should earn more than many teachers, and said the vote approving the contract was an example of what’s wrong with “politics as usual.”

Tuck: “(Thurmond) should be fighting to spend less on corrections and more on teachers. Our priority should be our kids, not doubling down on prisons.”

Thurmond: “It’s a cheap political attack. … Until we have figured out how to continue to reduce our prisons, we still have to have trained individuals who can work in the prisons. It is a public safety issue.”

Analysis: The two-year cost of the pay hike will be $338 million.  Since 2001, correctional officers’ pay has increased 67 percent. The Legislative Analyst did not recommend voting against the pay package, but pointed out that there is “no evidence of recruitment or retention issues to justify the large pay increase.”

CCPOA spokeswoman Nichol Gomez: “We believe the contract is a fair and equitable agreement for the state and correctional officers.”

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Campaign finance disclosure, at a snail’s pace

In his race against U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, state Sen. Kevin de León failed to submit his latest campaign finance statements online, limiting the ability of Californians to see those reports for days if not weeks after they arrive by mail in Washington, D.C.

Feinstein filed her latest report with Federal Elections Commission on Friday electronically, as she generally does. Many other senators, including Kamala Harris, also file their reports electronically. De León mailed his.

Tradition dies hard: Senate rules do not require that candidates file electronic versions of their campaign statements, which detail who gives them money and how they spend it.

Instead, they can use “snail mail” to send paper copies, which can run thousands of pages, to the Senate office. U.S. House of Representative candidates must file their reports online, as do state candidates.

The Federal Elections Commission retrieves paper copies from the Senate and hires contractors to key in the data into computers so the reports can be placed online. I described the cumbersome process in this 2007 article.

Feinstein promised back then to work to change the rules: “It’s time to bring the Senate into the modern era.”

Not much has changed.

An aide to de León said the state senator doesn’t rule out filing online in the future.

Bill Carrick, Feinstein’s campaign strategist: “People who don’t file online don’t want people to know what their numbers are.”

Dark money becomes darker

'Dark Money'

The U.S. Treasury Department no longer will require that certain politically active nonprofit organizations identify donors confidentially to the Internal Revenue Service, the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics reports.

So-called social welfare nonprofits account for ever larger sums of money spent on federal and state campaigns, and are the focus of a new film, “Dark Money.” Donors give to them, knowing their identities won’t become public, although donors’ names are supplied in confidential reports to the IRS.

Now, Treasury is absolving political arms of organizations such as Americans for Prosperity, National Rifle Association or Planned Parenthood from having to identify donors at all.

The department said the move will prevent accidental release of otherwise private donor information, which is a rarity. U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, tweeted that the decision will make it easier for foreign nationals to funnel money into U.S. races, which is illegal.

Trying to get heart patients to eat their medicine

The Department of Health Care Services is signing up 1,000 Medi-Cal patients in a seven-county pilot program to treat congestive heart failure by feeding them. With healthy food.

In the second installment of a series about efforts to help limit the cost of caring for people with chronic illness, CALmatters’ David Gorn reports on a $6 million program to replace high-salt and -fat diets of people who have heart problems, diabetes, and some other conditions with healthier diets.

Carolyn Crouch, of the nonprofit Ceres Community Project in Sebastopol helping to implement the program:

“We should be making food a normal part of health care. Food needs to be considered a health care intervention.”

The goal: A third of the state’s residents receive healthcare from the state. The state will spend $23 billion on the Medi-Cal program this fiscal year, plus another $80 billion in federal funds. Clearly, there’s a need to limit cost increases.

Walters: What if Feinstein resigns?

The California Democratic party’s endorsement of Sen. Kevin de León over incumbent Dianne Feinstein “says more about the party than it does about Feinstein,” CALmatters commentator Dan Walters writes.

Assuming Feinstein wins in November, Walters writes,  “it’s entirely possible, even probable, that she will resign at some point.” The next governor, probably Gavin Newsom, would appoint her successor. Could it be de León?

Walters: “Not likely, since the two have feuded over which is the true leader of the California resistance to Trump.”


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