Good morning, California.

“I continued with the Facebook feed until two officers came up to me and zip-tied my hands behind my back. I had held up my Bee badge and explained that I was a journalist but was taken into custody anyway. My phone was taken out of my hand—I think that was the end of the Facebook feed—although an officer placed it in my pants pocket for me.”—Sacramento Bee reporter Dale Kasler, on being detained by police as he covered a demonstration protesting the lack of criminal charges filed against police in the shooting of Stephon Clark.

Feds open Stephon Clark probe

Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra announces no charges in state look at police.

Yet another investigation into Stephon Clark’s death, this one by federal authorities, was announced Tuesday after California Attorney General Xavier Becerra cleared two police officers who shot and killed the unarmed 22-year-old man last year.

U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott of Sacramento: “That examination will involve a review of the substance and results of the state and local investigations, and any additional investigative steps, if warranted.”

  • Federal civil rights law has been used to prosecute officers when state and local law enforcement decline to file charges. Scott did not set a deadline for completing the investigation.

At a 90-minute press conference, Becerra issued a 10-page summary of a report detailing some of the facts leading up to Clark’s death.

  • The AG spoke with Clark’s mother earlier to alert her that he had closed the criminal investigation into the shooting.

Becerra: “These kind of tragedies, they’re tough.”

On Saturday, Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert concluded the officers feared for their lives and thus, under current state law, were justified in firing.

  • On the night of March 18, 2018, officers, answering a 911 call about someone breaking windows, confronted Clark in the backyard of his grandmother’s home, mistook his cellphone for a gun and fired 20 rounds.
  • In the hours leading up to his death, the various reports found, Clark clearly was distraught, texting his probation officer asking to see him, and fighting with the mother of his two children. Clark had alcohol, opiates, cocaine and the active ingredient of cannabis in his system.

The Sacramento Bee’s Hannah Wiley and Sophia Bollag write that Clark’s death could result in changes to the law related to police shootings. Lawmakers are pushing various bills. Becerra says he will engage in discussions. He and Gov. Gavin Newsom haven’t committed to changes they would embrace.


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A toxin's lifelong risks

California's first surgeon general is focusing on childhood trauma.

Imagine a toxin so potent it could rewire children’s brains and erode their immune system, triple the risk of heart disease and lung cancer and reduce life expectancy by 20 years, Kaiser Health News’ Anna Maria Barry-Jester writes in California Healthline.

  • It has a name: adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, and Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, the state’s first surgeon general, wants California to be at the leading edge of confronting it, Healthline reports.

Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed Burke Harris. Although it’s an advisory position, Newsom’s surgeon general seems intent on making the most of her role, focusing on childhood trauma. Newsom’s first budget includes $105 million to boost trauma and developmental screenings for children.

Burke Harris: “I think my selection is a reflection of where that issue fits in the administration’s priorities.”

Two months into his tenure, Newsom has not appointed his Health and Human Services secretary, traditionally the official who is a governor’s closest adviser on health care matters.

  • P.S.: The Treatment Advocacy Center, which urges more assertive mental health care, reports that individuals with severe mental illness are 16 times more likely to be shot and killed by police. In San Jose, every police shooting in 2017 involved someone with mental illness.

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A 'middle finger' to charter schools?

Charter schools are about to get a great deal of state attention.

As Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation requiring greater transparency for charter schools Tuesday, lawmakers pressed ahead with a bevy of other bills aimed at curtailing the privately run but publicly funded—and typically non-union—schools.

  • More consequential bills to come would cap charters at their current number and make it easier for districts to deny a charter school based on its financial impact on traditional public schools, among other changes, CALmatters’ Ricardo Cano reports. Unions say the proposals in the pipeline are “common sense.”

Eric Premack, executive director and founder of the Sacramento-based Charter Schools Development Center: “These are the policy equivalent of an extended middle finger. This is not the type of legislation that is designed to engender constructive discussion.”

Newsom was open to charters as San Francisco mayor. But in the 2018 gubernatorial race, wealthy charter school advocates spent $22 million in a failed effort to derail his candidacy.

  • To be determined: Do charter school advocates have the votes in the new Legislature to derail bills that would halt their movement?   

Rescuing the CAGOP from Trump

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at New Way California's summit.

New Way California, a nascent effort of moderate Republicans to lead the GOP back to relevance in this blue state, has a message for Republicans: You don’t have to be like President Trump—you don’t even have to like him, CALmatters’ Ben  Christopher reported, after attending the half-day Sacramento event.

Republican Assemblyman Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley organized the gathering, which featured discussions on the need to confront climate change, welcome immigrants and support free trade. They made clear they are not following Trump, even though the president defines the party.

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger: “Let’s take him out of the equation. It’s a mistake for a state party to mold themselves after the national party.”

San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican: “The California Republican Party must not be a carbon copy of the national GOP.”

Pundit Bill Kristol, trying to lead the national GOP back to its conservative roots: “Maybe we’ll have to go beyond the two-party system. I’m open to that.”

Bottom line: About 100 people showed up. Building a new party, or revitalizing a grand old one, is hard.

Take a number: $810,000

Interest groups wined, dined and comped California lawmakers to concert and sports events, spa treatments, rounds of golf, meals and trips worth $810,000 in 2018, The L.A. Times reports, based on a review of legislators’ annual financial disclosure forms.

Rey Lopez-Calderon of California Common Cause, reacting to the news: “There is potential for the public’s faith in government to be undermined.”

Commentary at CALmatters

Renewable energy should be embraced.

Brett Bouchy, chief executive officer of Freedom Forever: Californians want to make an investment in renewable energy and encourage electricity usage during times when it is being sourced from non-renewable sources. But upcoming changes to Southern California Edison’s “time-of-use” rate plans would  discourage solar adoption in pursuit of short-term profits when we should be ensuring that renewable energy is embraced by as many as possible.

Dan Walters, CALmatters: The California Supreme Court has ducked a fundamental issue in state’s pension crisis, leaving the “California rule” up in the air.

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.

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