Good morning, California. Forty years ago on this day:

“Today San Francisco has experienced a double tragedy of immense proportions. As president of the Board of Supervisors, it is my duty to inform you that both Mayor Moscone  and Supervisor  Harvey Milk have been shot and killed, and the suspect is Supervisor Dan White.” — Dianne Feinstein, Nov. 27, 1978

 

Dem chair takes leave amid victory

California Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman, now on leave.

California Democrats celebrated and fumed on Monday, as updated vote counts potentially handed them a decisive gain of 40 House seats, and California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman took a leave of absence, pending a sexual misconduct probe.

On the chairmanship front, the state party announced that co-chair Alex Gallardo Rooker would take over day-to-day operations while an outside counsel investigates complaints that Bauman, who is gay, sexually harassed party staffers.

Mike Roth, spokesperson for the California Democratic Party:  “Chair Bauman believes this decision is the best way to ensure the independence and integrity of the process.  The Party is confident that the procedures in place will allow for all parties to come forward freely and provide for a thorough and complete review.”

On the vote front, Central Valley Democratic challenger T.J. Cox gained a 438-vote edge over Republican Congressman David Valadao in the nation’s last remaining undecided House race. More votes are yet to be counted before the Dec. 7 deadline. But with late-landing ballots skewing progressive, Cox has been gaining steadily since election night when he trailed by 5,000 votes.

  • Valadao voted in 2017 to repeal the Affordable Care Act, even though 95,000 of his constituents in his low-income district stood to lose health coverage under the Republican alternative.
  • Democratic Party leaders all but ceded the race, knowing Valadao was popular in his Kern-Tulare,Kings-Fresno county district, even though Republicans account for only 27 percent of the registered voters, to the Democrats’ 43 percent.
  • Cox, 55, ran for Congress in 2006 in another district to the north, and contemplated running this year against Republican Congressman Jeff Denham in the Modesto-Turlock area. Denham ended up losing to Democrat Josh Harder.

If Cox wins, Republicans will enter 2019 with only seven of California’s 53 congressional seats, and Democrats will have swept all seven seats carried by Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

  • It’d also be a stinging loss for House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield, who helped lead the Republican election effort and is a Valadao friend.

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Commuters are jamming CA climate goals

Carbon emissions from vehicle travel are increasing.

Californians need to get out of their cars. Otherwise the state won’t meet its goals for curbing global warming, according to a blunt report released Monday by the California Air Resources Board.

Improvements in the electricity grid were the main reason California managed to meet its 2020 goal for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the report finds. Despite much talk of electric cars, carbon emissions per capita are increasing from vehicle travel.

  • Now, not even a major spike in sales of zero-emission vehicles will alone get the state to its ambitious 2030 target, which is 40 percent below 1990 levels, the report says.

CARB: “California will not achieve the necessary greenhouse gas emissions reductions to meet mandates for 2030 and beyond without significant changes to how communities and transportation systems are planned, funded and built.”

Roadblocks: State lawmakers and local governments this year rejected a slew of bills and ordinances that would have increased housing density around transit stops and in cities. Cheap gas and President Donald Trump’s trade war haven’t helped either.

  • Nationally, General Motors announced Monday it was closing five plants in the U.S. and Canada, laying off 14,300 workers and ending production of the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid to concentrate on high-margin, gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks.

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Hyde-Smith accesses California's ATM

Mississippi Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith

California donors long have served as an ATM for out-of-state politicians, and that extends to U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, the Mississippi Republican whose jokes about public hanging and voter suppression and kind words for the Confederacy fell flat in this blue state.

  • Hyde-Smith faces Democrat Mike Espy in a run-off today.

Civil rights activists, die-hard Giants fans and Sacramento Bee columnist Marcos Breton called for a boycott of the San Francisco Giants after its largest owners, Charles B. Johnson and his wife, donated a combined $5,400 to Hyde-Smith’s campaign.

  • The Giants sought to distance themselves from the donation Monday, though not the donor.

The Center for Responsive Politics counts $70,000 from Californians. Among the donors:

  • Chevron of San Ramon and Western Growers, the farm group based in Irvine, $5,000.
  • The California Farm Bureau, $2,500.
  • Elon Musk’s SpaceX based in Torrance, $1,500.

Each gave before Hyde-Smith’s more divisive statements became public.

Dave Puglia of Western Growers: “We need more Republicans in both the House and Senate who are willing to be pragmatic on immigration reform, and our September discussion with Sen. Hyde-Smith gave us confidence that she understands the need for a bipartisan approach on the issue and would work towards it.”

Disclosure: We know about the donations in part because of legislation signed earlier this year by President Trump requiring that U.S. Senate candidates file their campaign finance reports online. In past years, the public might not have known of the donations until after the election.


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The coming pushback on boardroom diversity

Lawsuits are expected over California's new law mandating women in boardrooms.

California’s groundbreaking new law requiring publicly traded companies based in the state to add women to their boards faces an almost certain legal challenge, many legal experts told CALmatters’ contributor Martha Groves, a veteran business reporter.

  • Critics say the law infringes on corporate rights and imposes illegal quotas. Not that corporations themselves would sue. That’d make for bad public relations.
  • Rather, experts told Groves, corporations would turn to a think tank or trade organization such as the California Chamber of Commerce to take the lead in any suit.

The issue is beyond ripe for discussion and action, lawsuits notwithstanding. Maria Contreras-Sweet, who ran the U.S. Small Business Administration under President Barack Obama and serves on Sempra Energy’s board, told Groves:

“Whether it’s legal or appropriate, why don’t we stand up and accept that every study says when you add women to corporate boards the companies do better? I dare someone to prove otherwise.”

For a more detailed argument, see Los Angeles executive recruiter Betsy Berkhemer-Credaire’s recent CALmatters commentary.

Initiatives make and break change, at a price

Prop. 2, to house the mentally ill, was among the least costly ballot measures.

Ballot propositions, win or lose, can be an expensive business. Consider the initiative to cap dialysis providers’ profits.

  • Dialysis providers spent $111 million to defeat the union-backed Proposition 8, roughly $16 per vote, CALmatters’ Ben Christopher reports. 
  • The Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West led the $38 million campaign to pass it. That gave it the distinction of being the costliest losing campaign of the year, at $8.49 per vote.

By contrast, backers spent $5.4 million on the largest single vote-getter among the ballot measures, Proposition 2, a $2 billion bond to provide housing for people living with mental illness, and its companion, Proposition 1. That works out to $2.50 per vote.

Senior homeowners are being scammed

Carol and George Law received offers to buy their property for $800 cash.

Amid record-shattering housing prices, California’s senior homeowners are sitting on a gold mine. That’s made them marks for con artists, KPBS’ Amita Sharma finds in the latest installment of the California Dream collaboration with CALmatters.

Real estate opportunists find elderly prey by scanning public property records. Then, they make contact. No official statewide stats exist on real estate fraud against seniors, but in California’s super-heated housing market, it’s enough of a problem to merit warning the elderly.

Commentary at CALmatters

Mark Leno,  former state senator from San Francisco: In the truest sense of the word, Harvey Milk was a populist and a fighter for disenfranchised people. He spoke of the “us-es”—the ethnic, religious and sexual minorities, immigrants, women, those who are differently-abled, seniors. He fought for all those who lacked a voice.

Dan Walters, CALmatters: The Legislature has now made it quasi-legal for state legislators to live outside their districts and one who had been prosecuted has been pardoned by Gov. Jerry Brown. Senate Bill 1250 is a virtual invitation for politicians to claim bogus residences as their official domiciles – effectively gaining the same dubious privilege that Congressman Tom McClintock and other members of Congress enjoy.

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See you tomorrow.