Good morning, California.

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Harris and Feinstein vs. Kavanaugh

Sen. Kamala Harris at Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing.

California’s U.S. senators took a national stage Monday as confirmation hearings opened for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Sen. Kamala Harris was the first Democrat to speak up, challenging the Republican majority, in vain, to delay proceedings so Democrats could read 42,000 pages of documents released the night before.

Later, Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s invited guest, Fred Guttenberg, father of a student who died in the slaughter last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., tried to shake Kavanaugh’s hand. Kavanaugh walked away.

Feinstein: “If the Supreme Court were to adopt Kavanaugh’s reasoning on guns, the number of victims would continue to grow and citizens would be rendered powerless in enacting sensible gun laws.”

Harris tweeted: “If Kavanaugh won’t even give him a handshake, how can we believe he would give gun violence victims a fair shake in court?”

A White House spokesperson tweeted that security intervened before Kavanaugh could acknowledge the gesture. Guttenberg, a gun safety advocate now, disputed that.

High stakes: Kavanaugh’s confirmation, unlikely to be derailed, will have lasting implications for the nation on abortion, gun rights, presidential powers and more.

Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is fending off a reelection attack from the left from state Sen. Kevin de Leon. Harris, the committee member with the least seniority, cannot help but raise her profile as she contemplates a 2020 presidential run.

Sidewalk sleeping, towed homes

Sean Kayode has sued over his towed car

Banning people from sleeping on the street when they cannot get shelter is “cruel and unusual,” the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday.

The ruling, in a case brought by six currently or formerly homeless people in Boise, could impact sidewalk ordinances in San Francisco and elsewhere that limit the ability of homeless people to sit, sleep or camp on public sidewalks, writes The San Francisco Chronicle.

Another lawsuit aims to stop the towing of cars with multiple overdue parking tickets, saying that with thousands sleeping in vehicles due to the housing crisis, such policies exacerbate homelessness.

David Gorn of CALmatters examines the high stakes around a state law that allows a half-million vehicles a year to be impounded and sold in California, many with owners who are poor.

Legislators move markets

Mojave Trails National Monument

Cadiz Inc.’s stock tumbled 22 percent last Wednesday when the Assembly approved legislation that would have added a new layer of state review to the Mojave Desert water project it has been pushing for years.

On Monday, the first trading day after the Senate killed that legislation, the stock regained virtually all the value it had lost. A few hurdles remain to Cadiz’s proposal to pump 50,000 acre-feet of water from a Mojave Desert aquifer and ship it to Southern California users.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co.’s stock closed above $47 a share Monday, the highest it has been all year. That’s after the Legislature approved a bill intended to help the utility avert bankruptcy by selling bonds to pay off some costs related to the devastating 2017 wine country fires.

Bottom line: Legislators’ actions matter and corporations understand that.

Money matters

Utility lobbyists at a hearing on wildfires

Legislators raised $6.4 million in August from various interests as hundreds of bills came to a vote. Democratic and Republican parties raised another $5.8 million last month.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co., the beneficiary of legislation intended to help it avert bankruptcy related to the 2017 wildfires, donated at least $122,900 to legislators, parties and candidates.

Various electrical workers’ locals and associations, fearing bankruptcy would threaten pay and pensions, donated $1.2 million to lawmakers and the state Democratic Party in August.

Bottom line: There would have been no winners if PG&E were to enter into bankruptcy. However, some would have lost more in a bankruptcy than the rest of us.


Commentary from CALmatters

  • Dan Walters: The Legislature helped owners of the Clippers and Oakland A’s bypass certain environmental laws to build a new arena and a stadium, but it failed to do the same fast-tracking for vital transportation and housing projects.
  • Dan Walters, redux: I sent a bad link to Walters’ column about the most interesting statewide contest this year, the one between Marshall Tuck and Tony Thurmond.
  • Pro and Con on Proposition 3: The $8.87 billion water and habitat bond must be passed, says The Natural Heritage Institute’s Jerry Meral, because California needs a clean, safe and reliable water supply as the state grows and the climate changes. Wrong, says The Sierra Club California’s Eric Parfrey, taking the “con” view. As an approach to California’s water problems, Proposition 3 is an irresponsible approach.

CALmatters events

A new book on California by Miriam Pawel

Author Miriam Pawel will discuss her book, “The Browns of California: The Family Dynasty that Transformed a State and Shaped a Nation,” in a conversation with me today from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the California State Library, 914 Capitol Mall, fifth floor. CALmatters will host a reception afterward. Thanks to State Librarian Greg Lucas and his staff for providing the venue and helping to organize it.

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

See you tomorrow.