Good morning California. Step away from the snooze button, kids.

“This is a one-size-fits-all approach that is opposed by teachers and school boards.”— Gov. Jerry Brown, vetoing a bill that would have prohibited most California middle and high schools from starting before 8:30 a.m.

“Bravo to California! My daughter @CSchwarzenegger has been going from restaurants to coffee shops trying to ban straws. She educated me, now California educates the rest of the nation.” — Former California First Lady Maria Shriver on Twitter, as Brown signed the nation’s first restrictions on plastic straws in restaurants

Prison officers’ union jumps into race for schools chief

Superintendent of Schools candidates Marshall Tuck, left, and Tony Thurmond

In a departure, the union representing California’s prison officers has emerged as a player in the race for the top job in the state’s public schools.

  • The California Correctional Peace Officers Association disclosed a $500,000 expenditure for TV ads to help elect Assemblyman Tony Thurmond as Superintendent of Public Instruction.
  • CCPOA has never spent big on this kind of race, focusing instead on legislative and gubernatorial offices that directly impact officers’ labor contracts and working conditions.

CCPOA consultant Richard Temple: “Tony Thurmond supports more training and prison safety and that is a big deal for them.”

Then again: Earlier this month, Thurmond’s opponent and fellow Democrat Marshall Tuck released an ad criticizing prison spending and, by extension, correctional officers’ pay.

From the ad: “Did you know that every year, California spends $71,000 per prisoner but only $16,000 per student? It’s no wonder our public schools rank 44th in the nation.”

Thurmond also voted for CCPOA’s latest contract, along with more than 100 other legislators.  That bumped up officers’ pay by 5 percent at a two-year cost of $338 million, the Legislative Analyst reported.

Tuck: “It’s ironic that Thurmond talks about moving money from prison to schools but has made votes to increase spending for prisons.”

Tuck called the expenditure “pretty typical of a system that is fighting against change.”

To come: The pro-Thurmond ad campaign has yet to air, but Temple says “it will be abundantly clear when it starts.” In other words, expect more than $500,000 from CCPOA.

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Becerra cautions on CA’s net neutrality plan

Could California enforce its proposed internet laws?

Attorney General Xavier Becerra says it would be tough for his office to act as an internet regulator, though he embraces pending state legislation to impose net neutrality.

Remind me: Over the objections of AT&T and other internet service providers, lawmakers last month approved legislation that seeks to ensure content is treated equally and that providers cannot block content they don’t like.

Gov. Jerry Brown is weighing the bill. Leading Democrats including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi are urging him to sign it.

Becerra, in an interview at CALmatters earlier this week: “I think we need the law.”

But the state Department of Justice would have significant new regulatory duties over internet service providers if the legislation is enacted. Becerra said his department is not currently equipped to carry out that task.

Becerra: “I would not want to imperil the protections within the internet world we need simply because we haven’t had a chance to put in place the architecture.”

Translation: He will need more money to hire additional staff. The next governor would need to find the funds in next year’s budget.

Sidenote: Sen. Scott Wiener, the San Francisco Democrat who carried the legislation, thought about vesting the regulatory authority with the California Public Utilities Commission, which oversees electric utilities and aspects of telecommunications. But legislators opposed that idea.

Bon appetit, California

Plastic straws, available only upon request.

Food-wise, it’s been a meaty legislative session: Gov. Jerry Brown has signed bills decriminalizing the street vendors who are a fixture of California’s urban landscape and making it easier for home cooks to sell food from their kitchens.

On Thursday, he dished up two more: A nationally watched bill to ban plastic straws in restaurants except by request, and another to make milk or water, rather than soda, the default beverage in kids’ restaurant meals.

Brown took the opportunity of the signing of the straw bill to denounce its true target, single-use plastic, in a signing statement that touched, along the way, on toothpaste ingredients and whale indigestion:

“Plastics in all its forms—straws, bottles, packaging, bags, etc.—are choking our planet. It is a very small step to make a customer who wants a plastic straw ask for it. And it might make them pause and think again about an alternative. But one thing is clear, we must find ways to reduce and eventually eliminate single-use plastic products.”


Does California need a third party?

Former Republican Rep. Tom Campbell

Tom Campbell wants to create one. And the former congressman, former state senator and former Republican thinks the state is ready for the change, CALmatters’ Ben Christopher reports.

The Chapman University Law School professor—who represented the Silicon Valley in Congress and the Legislature and ran for U.S. Senate in 2010—points to the 4.9 million “no party preference” voters and the half-million registered American Independents as possible converts.

Campbell: “With the right targeted email pitch, it could be pulled off under $100,000.”

That’s less than a legislator’s annual salary—to revolutionize the political process in the nation’s largest state.

Details: The party has no platform and no name, but Campbell hopes to have someone running under its banner by 2020.

Commentary at CALmatters

Jennifer Nations: Californians would see a minor decrease in gas prices at the pump if voters approve Proposition 6 and repeal the gasoline tax. But aside from this small change, the only other immediate effect would be the continued poor quality of the roads servicing the agricultural areas of our state.

Dan Walters: When politicians take the easy way out and ignore reality, their expedience comes back to haunt them and their constituents, whether it’s delayed infrastructure maintenance or providing unaffordable salary increases.



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What names have been proposed for a potential third party in California? Which legislator was asked to assist in making imbibing easier at a famous Hollywood cemetery? What was the average amount of debt for students graduating from the class of 2017? It’s time for another edition of the CALQuiz.

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