Good Friday morning, California
“And we have a very inexpensive dinner at the Mansion” — Gov. Jerry Brown, telling business leaders Thursday that he sometimes gets one $7.75 Chipotle burrito bowl and bottle of wine to share with First Lady Anne Gust Brown. Chipotle’s Mexican Grill announced this week it’s moving its headquarters to Newport Beach from Denver. “They have a new unpaid spokesperson,” – Evan Westrup, Brown’s paid spokesman.

Will Jerry Brown make good on his promise

Assemblyman Chad Mayes, Republican from Yucca Valley.

Gov. Jerry Brown must decide whether to make good on a pledge to protect Republicans who sided with him, even if it might cost Democrats a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The topic: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is airing ads attacking Republican Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, a candidate for a congressional seat in San Diego and Orange counties, for voting with Brown last year on a key climate change bill.

Assemblyman Chad Mayes, who lost his post as Republican leader in the Assembly for his support on the same vote, was eating his morning gruel in his Capitol office on Thursday when Brown called. Mayes asked if he could call back, telling him that a reporter (that’d be me) was in the room.

“Shameful. Winning has become the supreme virtue. It’s all about the win. There is a disconnect between policy and politics.”

In his State of the State speech in January, Brown praised Republicans for supporting the cap-and-trade bill: “And by the way, you Republicans, as I look over here and I look over there, don’t worry, I’ve got your back!”

Brown spokesman Evan Westrup would not say Thursday what the governor might do to fulfill that promise. “The governor shares the DCCC’s interest in having a Democratic Congress and he certainly feels that the vote to extend our landmark program was both important and courageous.”

At last check, the DCCC ad was still up.


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Report on fault in wine country fire is coming

Santa Rosa fire aftermath. (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

California state fire authorities are expected to issue a report soon, possibly today, assessing PG&E’s blame for the disastrous wine country fires.

The Cal Fire report will have implications for the utility, its customers and the thousands of people who lost their homes — and in some instances family members — in fires that wreaked havoc across Northern California in October.

PG&E is asking the Legislature and California Public Utilities Commission for protection against billions in potential liability. If the report assesses blame, that effort will become more intense. It’s already a battle of the titans.

The state’s largest utility supports legislation by Sen. Bill Dodd, a Napa Democrat. As PG&E sees it, the bill would limit liability for its shareholders, and spread responsibility to combat “the escalating pace and intensity of catastrophic events brought on by climate change.”

Rex Frazier, of the Personal Insurance Federation, representing insurance companies: If PG&E is able to fully protect its shareholders from liability, responsibility for paying for damages would fall to “homeowners, communities and business owners.”

Oil companies and other large electricity users oppose Dodd’s bill, warning it could lead to significant rate increases.

Victims: The fires killed 44 people and destroyed 8,400 homes. As of May 1, there were 150 lawsuits and 2,500 plaintiffs. As the political fight rages in the Capitol, survivors simply want to rebuild.

California Dream confronts housing costs

CALmatters and KPCC’s David Wagner provide the newest installment of our California Dream project, exploring the impact of the high cost of housing on the ability of employers to recruit workers. Good weather, beaches and the prospect of seeing a movie star only count for so much. Recruiters say people from outside California often bow out once they see the cost.

Democrats seek expand tenants’ rights

In their latest “Gimme Shelter” podcast, CALmatters’ Matt Levin and LA Times reporter Liam Dillon break down various tenants’ rights bills, including one that would require landlords to provide specific reasons for evictions. Landlords’ lobbyists are fighting to kill it.

Why big money for school superintendent race?

Tony Thurmond and Marshall Tuck.

CALmatters’ Jessica Calefati delves into the $13 million-plus campaign for superintendent of public instruction, the most expensive race heading into the June 5 primary other than the one for governor.

Candidates Tony Thurmond, an assemblyman from Richmond, and Marshall Tuck, who led the nonprofit Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, are Democrats who share a basic vision that public education is vital.

One difference is their backing.

Public school unions back Thurmond. Tuck is backed by advocates for charter public schools, which operate without some restrictions placed on regular public schools and may be nonunion.

Thurmond: “Will I be independent? Yes. I’m not a candidate who fits in anyone’s box.”

Tuck: “I’m not a career politician. I’m an educator. I’ve done the work in schools.”

Why it matters: Governors and the Legislature control the $80 billion spent on California’s 6.2 million public school children in the coming year. But the superintendent has enforcement power over schools, including the ability to place financially distressed districts into receivership. Whoever holds the post can be a forceful advocate for their vision of great public education. And that’s why interest groups are spending millions.

Something for your long weekend

Think you know your candidates for governor?  Who knew one of them is in the Guinness Book of World Records, another does a serviceable impersonation of JFK, and a third was good enough to teach tennis. Take our candidate quiz.

Please email or call with tips, suggestions and insights, [email protected], 916.201.6281. Thanks for reading. See you Monday.