Good morning, California. Less than three weeks til Election Day. Your CALmatters voter guide awaits.

“I’m only running for the House, but I’m honored to be asked the question.”—Congressman Adam Schiff, the Los Angeles-area Democrat and regular on cable news shows, answering a Los Angeles Times reporter’s question about whether he’s running for president.

The U.S. Senate enters the computer age

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and state Sen. Kevin de León.

This big news about the race for U.S. Senate this week wasn’t that Sen. Dianne Feinstein entered the final days of the 2018 campaign with $4 million in the bank.

  • Nor was it that her coffer is almost 10 times fatter than the $426,000 of her challenger, California state Sen. Kevin de León.
  • Or that she has raised $8.6 million this year and loaned her campaign $8 million. Or that de León, who has no personal wealth, has raised $1.5 million. None of that was a surprise. Feinstein has had a fundraising advantage over her challenger.

It was that the Senate surrendered to the digital age, finally. U.S. senators and Senate candidates were required to file their campaign finance reports online for the first time, ending the Senate’s stubborn refusal to make its members disclose their funding electronically, giving the public ready access to their campaign finance filings.

  • President Donald Trump signed legislation on Sept. 21 that included a provision requiring that senators and Senate candidates file their reports online, as candidates and incumbents in races for president and the House of Representatives long have done.

Clean-government advocates led by Issue One pushed for the change.

Issue One executive director Meredith McGehee: “This is a down payment on disclosure, and we believe it is a harbinger of more bipartisan work in the future.”

Feinstein advocated online filing and voluntarily filed her reports with the Federal Elections Commission online, as did U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris. De León did not file his initial reports electronically, instead delivering paper versions to the U.S. Senate. He complied with the new requirement on Monday.

For a reminder of how wasteful the old system was, click here.

And for CALmatters’ election guide look at the Feinstein-de León race, click here.

Independent candidate, GOP cash

Steve Poizner, candidate for Insurance Commissioner.

Insurance commissioner candidate Steve Poizner is shunning partisanship in his bid to become the first no-party-preference candidate to win statewide office in California.

  • But the former Republican has returned to people he knows best when it comes to raising money: Republicans.

Poizner was a Republican when he was elected insurance commissioner in 2006, and when he ran for governor in 2010. Then, he ran to the right of billionaire Meg Whitman, who defeated him before losing the general election to Jerry Brown.

He dropped his old registration before embarking on the current campaign: “I really really want to stay out of partisanship. … If I can win, that will open the door to lots of other people who will run for office. That will be a great thing.”

The numbers:

  • The wealthy tech entrepreneur has given his own campaign more than $1 million.
  • He raised another $1.233 million from campaign donors.
  • Of that latter sum, at least $224,000 or 18 percent has come from contributors who gave to his 2010 run for governor.

Poizner: “The reason why my donors are mainly Republican donors is because those are the ones who I know. … But I am super-clear with all my donors. I am an independent. You might not like that. I’m running as an independent because it is a good fit for that office.”

To read more, click here.

To read more about the Insurance Commissioner race, check out our election guide.

Fresno’s high-speed rail future?

Fresno wonders: Will high-speed rail pan out?

Southwest Fresno residents are the city’s poorest and sickest, and Fresno itself ranks second among all U.S. metro areas in concentrated poverty, according to a deep look by the nonprofit Center for Public Integrity.

The report: “To live in Southwest Fresno is to expect you’ll die up to two decades sooner than people who live a few miles away in affluent Fresno neighborhoods, a 2012 Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies report concluded.”

A decade ago, city leaders banked on a flashy New York billionaire developer named Donald Trump to help by developing a world-class golf course called Running Horse. That didn’t pan out.

Now, many city leaders see high-speed rail,  over-budget and long-delayed, as the future.

Not in Southwest Fresno, though, where “residents express skepticism that this speeding train is just another Running Horse, destined to fail amid political battles in which they feel like pawns, not players, their needs again unmet.”

The piece is part of a project that looks at a half-dozen communities “connected by their profound needs and sense of political abandonment.”

Recycling comes at a cost

Carpet at a recycling center in Santa Rosa.

The cost of carpet will rise by a dime in 2019 to 35 cents a square yard to help fund California’s still struggling carpet recycling program.

  • In 2010, the Legislature directed that carpet, then 3 percent of the waste in landfills, be recycled; 24 percent of it must be recycled by 2020. For a variety of reasons, the industry-run program has struggled to find markets for recycled carpet.

On Tuesday, CalRecycle’s Scott Smithline approved with caveats the carpet industry plan for increasing recycling, which includes the fee hike.

  • Mark Murray of the nonprofit Californians Against Waste said he intends to seek legislation in 2019 that would shift responsibility to the state. The industry has little incentive to meet ambitious goals, he said.


California's syphilis problem, revisited

Hundreds of California babies are born with syphilis each year.

Hundreds of California babies are born with syphilis each year, suffering damaging defects or dying, CALmatters’ David Gorn reports.

  • California has the nation’s third-highest rate of congenital syphilis, after Louisiana and Nevada. Kern County is especially affected, possibly due to high poverty and drug-abuse rates that can lead to a lack of health care.
  • California officials say they reach out to homeless women, women released from incarceration and those in the sex industry; they’re at high risk. So are their babies.

In 2017, 30 babies were stillborn because of syphilis, the California Department of Public Health reports.

UCLA professor Jeffrey Klausner: “These are statistics we see among the poorest countries in the world.”

Commentary at CALmatters

Dan Becker and James Gerstenzang, Safe Climate Campaign: California plays a central role setting auto rules and has a responsibility to lead the world’s fight against auto pollution. President Trump wants to revoke that unique authority. California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols must defend it.

Dan Walters, CALmatters: Despite very strong growth in property taxes, hundreds of local governments are asking voters to approve additional taxes. They are reluctant, however, to tell voters that rising pension costs are the major reason.

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

See you tomorrow.