Good morning, California.

“The Border ’emergency’ is a manufactured crisis.  And California will not be part of this political theater.”—Prepared text of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s State of the State address Tuesday.

Newsom's new border policy

California National Guard troops at the border are about to be reassigned.

Gov. Jerry Brown okayed (with strings attached), and then extended, the Trump administration-requested deployment of California National Guard troops at the U.S.-Mexico border last year, with the understanding that California troops wouldn’t be building walls or  enforcing federal immigration law.

  • Today, Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to make it clear that there’s a new governor in town.

Newsom is expected to rescind Brown’s authorization, reassigning the 360 National Guard troops at the border to, as the governor puts it, “actual threats facing the state of California,” including fire suppression and drug enforcement.

  • Background: Brown denied Trump a confrontation on this, granting his request for state troops, but making them useless for immigration enforcement. Newsom said at the time he wouldn’t have sent the troops, and has derided Trump’s call for a border wall. Last week, President Trump announced he will be deploying 3,750 U.S. military personnel to the U.S. Mexico border.

Expect more on this in Newsom’s State of the State speech tomorrow: Early drafts compare Trump’s call for a border crackdown with then-President George W. Bush’s call for a crackdown on same-sex marriage back when Newsom was San Francisco’s mayor.

Newsom’s State of the State draft: “We are currently experiencing the lowest number of border crossings since 1971. In California, like our nation, our undocumented population is at its lowest level in more than a decade. Some 550,000 fewer in our state alone. Immigrants, both those here legally and those without documentation, commit crime at a lower rate than native-born citizens.  And those families, women and children, seeking asylum at our borders, are doing so lawfully.”


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Anticipating the State of the State

Is Gov. Gavin Newsom ready for the future?

In his State of the State speech on Tuesday Gov. Gavin Newsom almost surely will focus on the future and how he hopes to restore the California Dream.

  • For a preview, CALmatters’ Matt Levin spoke to Pascal Finette of Singularity University, which is devoted to imagining the future and located, fittingly, on the NASA research campus in Mountain View. Newsom visited it often before becoming governor.

Finette: “To his credit I think he spends a good amount of time to really educate himself on the future and to really understand what the future looks like.”

Pressing topics to come include an inevitable economic slump, circa 2024, sea level rise, 2040, and the future of work in 2050.

  • Newsom is dampening expectations:

“No one is excited about States of the State. We all act like we’re excited about it. But let’s be honest. I know my place. They’re not necessarily the most memorable moments in our lives. So forgive me in advance.”

Not-so-free community college

Mobile Food Pantry at Mt. San Antonio College.

Free-community college is a national rallying cry, with Gov. Gavin Newsom seeking to add a second year to California’s nascent program. But as CALmatters’ Felicia Mello reports, “free” isn’t as free as it may seem.

  • The total net cost is actually more for community college than for UC or a CSU, especially for low-income students, according to recent research.
  • Four-year universities offer more grant aid than community colleges.
  • Pricey items such as food, housing and books aren’t covered under California’s College Promise Program, which offers free tuition for the first year of community college.
  • Only full-time students are eligible for the Promise waivers, and most students are part-time because they have to work.

Other states are more generous, but the fine print on “free college” initiatives is a nationwide sticking point. Expect more discussion and fine-tuning this legislative session. For the full story, click here.

The cost of Caltrans homeless cleanups

Camp where Caltrans accidentally crushed a woman sleeping under cardboard.

Caltrans bulldozed a homeless encampment in Coachella last year, and Riverside County stepped in to provide housing. It cost taxpayers $630,320. Desert Sun reporter Nicole Hayden and photographer Jay Calderon spent 10 months tracking the human side of the story.

The Desert Sun: “Slightly more than half found housing through county services, but many are still on the streets nine months later.”

Caltrans spent $12 million to evict homeless people statewide from its property in 2018, a 277 percent increase over the past five years. To read Hayden’s story, click here.

Meanwhile, a homeless woman, Shannon Marie Bigley, was crushed by a Caltrans worker with a front-loader as he cleaned up an encampment. The Stanislaus County Coroner ruled the death was an accident, The Modesto Bee reported.

The worker, who returned to work last week, told The Bee: “I am not doing good. It has been hell. That is all I can tell you.”

Gimme Shelter: Surf City's 'Cannonball'

An Orange County lawsuit pits the state against its cities.

An Orange County Republican says Gov. Gavin Newsom’s lawsuit aimed to compel Huntington Beach to build more housing is a “cannonball” that smacks of selective prosecution.

  • Sen. John Moorlach, whose district includes “Surf City,” calls out the governor on the latest “Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast,” with Matt Levin of CALmatters’ Matt Levin and Liam Dillon of the L.A. Times. 

Moorlach sees hypocrisy in targeting Huntington Beach when Marin County—where Newsom lived before being elected—is spared from litigation.

  • Newsom begs to differ, as does as Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, the Los Angeles Democrat who authored the law the Newsom administration invoked in its suit.

Harris watch: Picking battles

The day Harris announced her presidential candidacy.

Republicans tried to stop Kamala Harris when they could, as she ran for California attorney general in 2010. It was an oh-so-close race, illustrated by a headline that hangs on her consultant’s office wall.

  • Like the 1948 “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline, an online election night story in The San Francisco Chronicle declared that Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley had defeated Harris.

Harris eked out a victory two weeks later, an impressive win by a canny politician. In my L.A. Times op ed, I explain why Republicans ought to keep that in mind as she seeks the Democratic presidential nomination.  

  • She didn’t defend Proposition 8, the 2008 initiative that sought to abolish same-sex marriages, keeping a campaign pledge.
  • During the mortgage crisis, she fought to get a larger share of the nationwide settlement.
  • She ducked taking stands on initiatives to end capital punishment, as the L.A. Times George Skelton writes.
  • Likewise on privacy, and  whether Apple should be forced by the FBI to open the phone of Syed Rizwan Farook after he and his wife killed 14 people at a Christmas party in 2015, as political writers Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine write in their CalBuzz blog

In short, Harris picks her battles, something voters will discover as her record is picked through.

Commentary at CALmatters

Gov. Gavin Newsom needs to join the push for reproductive health care.

Crystal Strait, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California: As President Trump works to undermine access to health care, we’re counting on the Legislature to join Gov. Newsom in making a new $100 million investment in reproductive health care a reality. Lives are depending on it.

Dan Walters, CALmatters: School districts overspending their revenues are hoping for bailouts from Sacramento and/or voter approval of a pending ballot measure that would strip property tax limits from commercial real estate, raising as much as $10 billion a year.

A video history of CA guns

California leads the nation in gun laws.

How did California become so tough on guns? Watch this 4-minute history lesson to learn how California ended up leading the nation with gun safety laws.


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.