Good morning, California.

“Yes, we dated. It was more than 20 years ago. Yes, I may have influenced her career by appointing her to two state commissions when I was Assembly speaker. And I certainly helped with her first race for district attorney in San Francisco. … [Afterward she] sent word that I would be indicted if I ‘so much as jaywalked’ while she was D.A.”—Willie Brown in a San Francisco Chronicle column item entitled, “Sure, I dated Kamala Harris. So what?”  

Kamala's California kickoff

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris speaks to a launch rally on Sunday.

 U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris hasn’t forgotten California, even if her presidential campaign headquarters is in Baltimore, her announcement last week was in New York and her itinerary has her heading out to a CNN town hall in Iowa today.

  • Harris formally launched her 2020 presidential bid Sunday with a massive rally in her hometown of Oakland, just a few blocks from the Alameda County courthouse where she worked as a prosecutor before becoming San Francisco District Attorney and California Attorney General.
  • The kickoff speech, technically a week after her nationally televised MLK Day announcement in New York, underscored her campaign slogan, “For the People,” a riff on how she was introduced in court when she was presenting a prosecutorial brief.

Harris: “When we have leaders who bully and attack a free press and undermine our democratic institutions, that’s not our America. When white supremacists march and murder in Charlottesville or massacre innocent worshipers in a Pittsburgh synagogue, that’s not our America. When we have children in cages crying for their mothers and fathers, don’t you dare call that border security, that’s a human rights abuse!”

Oakland police confirmed Harris advisers’ crowd estimate of more than 20,000. 

  • “Fun fact,” tweeted The L.A. Times’ Mark Z. Barabak. “In Oakland, where @KamalaHarris is formally launching her presidential candidacy, Donald Trump received less than 5% of the vote. That’s right, less than 5%.”

Why crack down on Huntington Beach?

Gavin Newsom sues Huntington Beach over housing.

Making clear that he is serious about building more housing, Gov. Gavin Newsom has taken the extraordinary step of suing Huntington Beach, alleging the Orange County beach town has failed to comply with a requirement that it build affordable housing.

  • Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed the suit at Newsom’s behest on behalf of the California Department of Housing and Community Development, testing a 2017 law giving the state greater power to enforce often-ignored housing requirements.

Newsom: “The huge housing costs and sky-high rents are eroding quality of life for families across this state. California’s housing crisis is an existential threat to our state’s future.”

Two things to know: Huntington Beach, aka “Surf City,” was under Republican control until November, and the city has a recent history of suing the state, which is dominated by Democrats.

  • A lawsuit earlier this month claimed that because it’s a charter city, Huntington Beach need not comply with certain housing requirements. That case is pending.
  • Another suit last year contended California’s so-called “sanctuary” laws limited its authority to properly police its cities. Huntington Beach won early rounds in that litigation.

Huntington Beach Mayor Erik Peterson: “Huntington has won some lawsuits against the state and we will continue to fight for local control.”

Republicans lost sole control of Huntington Beach when Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris and Sen. Tom Umberg, both Democrats, defeated Republican incumbents as part of the blue wave of 2018.

  • How they respond to the state’s suit—they didn’t return my calls—could have implications for whether Democrats hold those seats in the next election.

Sen. John Moorlach, a Republican who also represents part of Huntington Beach, said he is surprised that Newsom would fire a “cannon ball this big this fast.”

Not a target: Before being elected governor and moving to Sacramento, Newsom lived in the strongly slow-growth Democratic stronghold of Marin County. It’s not being sued. In 2017, Assemblyman Marc Levine, a Marin County Democrat, won an exemption to state housing requirements, as CALmatters columnist Dan Walters detailed in this piece.

Defining 'middle class' housing

More housing for California’s middle class is among the many initiatives in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s housing budget. But what does “moderate income” mean?
  • In this episode of Gimme Shelter, the California Housing Crisis Podcast, Matt Levin of CALmatters and L.A. Times reporter Liam Dillon explore Newsom’s housing plans for the middle class. Some housing experts—including those at the nonpartisan state Legislative Analyst’s Office—worry that housing money isn’t being spent on building at the lowest rungs of the income ladder.


FSB Core Strategies: Public Affairs. Ballot Campaigns. Legislative & Regulatory Fights

Republicans step into privacy debate

Republicans join privacy fight.

Showing that privacy cuts across party lines as an issue, Assembly Republicans today will introduce legislation intended to provide greater protection for minors and users of so-called smart speakers.

Among their ideas:

  • Limit the ability of Alexa, Google Home and other “smart” speakers to retain recordings and mine them for data.
  • Require parents’ permission for minors to use social media.  
  • Insist that tech companies delete your data upon request when you’re no longer using the platform.
  • Inform consumers within 72 hours of data breaches.
  • Call on the FTC and Congress to consider how anti-trust laws can be applied to tech giants.

After taking a drubbing at the polls in November, Republicans lawmakers—they number 19 in the 80-seat Assembly and 10 in the 40-seat Senate—are striving to demonstrate their relevance to voters, advocates and lobbyists. One way to do that is to insert themselves into what will be a significant topic of legislation and debate this year.

Tech giants will seek to undermine 2018 legislation that will greatly expand consumer privacy rights when it takes effect in January 2020. That bill passed without a single no-vote.

Taking the lead for the GOP on the 2019 measures is Republican Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham of San Luis Obispo:

“We need to fundamentally overhaul the way we define privacy in the social media age. People should have control over their own personal data. We should educate kids about the downsides of social media. And we need to ensure private conversations in the home remain that way.  Those are the aims of our bill package.”

Commentary at CALmatters

Newsom's plan for juvenile justice falls short, argues Mike Males.

Mike Males, Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice: No one has credibly explained why teens of every demographic and locale stopped committing crime. Before we rush to approve Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “reform” of the Division of Juvenile Justice, we need solid analysis, not pleasing myths and prejudices, not self-serving credit-grabbing. We need a bold vision for juvenile justice. Newsom’s plan falls short.

Dan Walters, CALmatters: As crime ticks up, two 2020 ballot measures will test whether voters want to reverse course on criminal justice policy again.

Please email or call with tips, suggestions and insights, [email protected]org, 916.201.6281. Shawn Hubler, [email protected]edits WhatMatters. Thanks for reading, please tell a friend and sign up here.

See you tomorrow.