Good morning, California.

“It’s why I took the job. By the way, we will get through this and we will come out stronger on the other side.”—Gov. Gavin Newsom, asked how he’s feeling about dealing with the L.A. teachers’ strike and the impending bankruptcy of the state’s largest utility.

Newsom: Bankruptcy doesn't mean blackouts

Newsom tackles possible PG&E bankruptcy.

Gov. Gavin Newsom assured Californians Monday that lights will remain on and gas will continue to heat homes, even as Pacific Gas & Electric Co, confronting liability for California wildfires, prepared to seek protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code. 

  • PG&E potentially faces billions in civil penalties, depending on its share of blame for the deadly 2017 and 2018 wildfires.
  • It’s also California’s biggest utility, a major employer, and responsible for supplying gas and electricity to many of the most fire-prone parts of the state.

California has been here before:

  • PG&E declared bankruptcy in 2001 amid an energy crisis that subjected the state to rolling blackouts.
  • Then-Gov. Gray Davis took a political hit as voters, unfairly, came to view his response as insufficiently decisive.

Newsom: “This is not 2001. This is 2019. We have an abundance of energy and our customers should not be concerned about turning on their lights. They should not be concerned about their gas.”

Newsom cited steps:  

  • A strike team led by Chief of Staff Ann O’Leary to oversee the situation and develop options.
  • Consultation with bankruptcy experts and others.
  • Gas purchases by the state Department of General Services if extreme need arises.

Newsom: “This is a top priority for this administration. This is not being pushed back in the file as one of many things I am responsible for addressing.”

Newsom did not say what legislation he would push, if any. But he’s clearly preparing for PG&E to enter bankruptcy, and have the state be directly involved in discussions about the utility’s future, whatever that might be.

PG&E, by the numbers

  • $2.5 million: The severance for Geisha Williams, PG&E chief executive who stepped down over the weekend.
  • $4.188 million: The amount that PG&E donated to California state candidates and campaigns in the 2017-18 cycle, including $150,000 to an independent campaign to elect Gov. Gavin Newsom.
  • $8.38: PG&E’s closing stock price on Monday. It had traded above $48 before the Camp Fire killed 86 people and destroyed the community of Paradise.

Newsom confronts massive school strike

For the first time in 30 years, LAUSD teachers strike.

Los Angeles teachers walked off the job en masse for the first time in three decades, and Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday he was in constant contact with Los Angeles Unified School District, striking teachers and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in an effort to end the walk-out.  

District Superintendent Austin Beutner last week publicly asked for Newsom to get involved. Newsom said the union has not asked him to mediate, but is in “nonstop” communication with the district and union.

The governor: “We need to get this to a conclusion. We need to see a deal.”

Newsom asked for legislation within a month that would add “transparency” to the state’s 1,200-plus charter schools, CALmatters’ Ricardo Cano reported. What that means was not immediately clear.

  • But in the past, Cano writes, Newsom has advocated for more financial and accountability regulations on charters, which educate about 10 percent of the state’s student population.

Local note: UTLA is especially concerned about charter public schools in LAUSD, many of which are nonunion and are attracting students as the district, like many across the state, is losing enrollment.


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

Could a better law have saved Davis officer?

Davis shooting shows strengths and limits of state gun laws.

Under an only-in-California program, the man who ambushed Davis Police Officer Natalie Corona was forced to give up his illegal assault rifle after he was convicted of assault last year. 

  • A Yolo County judge ordered the gunman last fall to forfeit his gun, an AR15, after he was convicted of punching a man in the face, The Sacramento Bee reported.
  • But the assailant, Kevin Douglas Limbaugh, 48, obtained two other handguns, one of which he used to kill the 22-year-old officer Thursday near downtown Davis. He later barricaded himself inside his rented house and shot himself to death.

That decade-old gun surrender program goes by the unwieldy name, Armed Prohibited Persons System. California Department of Justice agents knock on doors of registered gun owners who are subsequently convicted of crimes or have been held because of mental illness, and ask for their weapons. They’ve collected tens of thousands of weapons over the years.

  • Pro-gun rights advocates are suing in Sacramento County Superior Court, contending the state is violating state law by funding the program with fees charged to purchasers of new guns.
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom has a fix: Newsom proposes to increase funding significantly for the program and pay for it with $16.9 million in general tax dollars, rather than fees.

Though that may short-circuit the suit, but of course, a program can do only so much. It’s not known where Limbaugh obtained the unregistered handguns he used to kill the Davis officer.

Legislators like us, told in video

Find yoursel in the California Legislature, or perhaps not.

Want to know who’s over-represented in the California Legislature, compared to their share of the adult population, and who’s under-represented?

CALmatters videographer Byrhonda Lyons put together this video to go with our story and interactive guide.

One way to increase cannabis sales

How Sacramento weed dealers are targeting market share.

 Sex sells, and it was only a matter of time before it began selling cannabis. Exhibit A: The billboard above on Highway 80 heading into Sacramento, presumably targeted at young men.

In the campaign for Proposition 64, the 2016 initiative that legalized the commercial sale of marijuana, backers promised advertising restrictions, particularly ones aimed at young people.

  • Rachel A. Barry was a UC San Francisco public health researcher who served on the blue ribbon commission established by then-Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom to lay out parameters for legalization.
  • In the lead-up to the initiative campaign, Barry and UCSF medical school professor Stanton Glantz issued an analysis warning proposed restrictions in the initiative “will not prevent targeting underage persons,” and urging marijuana ads be regulated like those for tobacco.

Barry and Glantz: “Advertising and marketing statements and claims should be evidence-based and approved by the Department of Public Health.”

Ignite’s statement: “Ignite takes compliance with the regulations surrounding of the marketing of cannabis very seriously and does not target anyone under the legal age of consumption in creative or media executions.”

Bottom line: Gov. Newsom’s budget projects legal weed will generate $514 million in 2019-20 in revenue. In 2016, the initiative’s backers promised it would generate $1 billion a year in taxes. To hit that number, sales by companies such as Ignite will have to  substantially increase.

Commentary at CALmatters

The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta: The modern state of California would not have been possible without all the ecological resources and water the Delta has supplied for so long. When we restore the Delta, we protect the San Francisco Bay-Delta and ensure that the economic and ecologic heart of California is still beating, as it always has.

Dan WaltersCalmatters: California’s budget is dangerously dependent on taxing a relative handful of wealthy people. Newly inaugurated Gov. Gavin Newsom says he will work on tax reform.

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.