Good morning, California.

“The fast-moving Camp Fire burned up to 1,000 buildings and homes in the Paradise area Thursday and reportedly killed multiple people, then roared into Chico and forced evacuations there.” — The Chico Enterprise, as Acting Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency and sent a request to President Donald Trump for federal assistance.

Why did the troubled Thousand Oaks shooter still have a gun?

California law lets police and family seize guns from the mentally ill.

Ian David Long, the former Marine who shot and killed 13 people including himself in a Thousand Oaks bar Wednesday night, struggled with mental illness and was known to law enforcement, the L.A. Times reported.

One unanswered question: Why didn’t authorities invoke California law to seize the Glock he legally purchased and used to carry out the horrific attack?

  • Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said deputies had encounters with Long, including in April when Long was acting irrationally. But he did not present enough of a danger to himself or others to be taken into custody at a locked psychiatric hospital, the Times reported.
  • If he had been held, Long would have been required by law to give up his gun.

However, in 2014, the Legislature passed a law authorizing police and family members to obtain temporary court orders to seize firearms of people who are mentally unstable, but don’t meet the stringent standard holding them against their will. They acted after a rampage in Isla Vista left six people dead.

San Diego City Attorney Mara W. Elliott has been especially active in obtaining the restraining orders. The Legislature gave her a $50,000 grant to provide training to other law enforcement organizations.

What’s next: San Francisco Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting told me that when the Legislature convenes on Dec. 3, he will reintroduce legislation that would expand the ability of people to obtain gun violence order. He had proposed to extend the current law to allow teachers and co-workers to seek such orders. Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed it, saying it was unnecessary.

Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, who hit the ground running Thursday, promised to sign stiffer gun control measures than Brown did, including expanding the use of gun violence restraining orders, CALmatters’ Ben Christopher reports.


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Reality check: 2015-16 gun homicides, selected cities

Gun-related homicides per capita in major California metropolitan areas are mostly lower than the national average. They’re also lower than many states that have fewer gun control measures.  But the Centers for Disease Control reported firearm-related homicide and suicide rates increased nationally and in major California urban areas in 2016, the most recent year available.


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It's time to make behavioral health solutions a top priority in California.


Why we don’t yet know who’ll be schools chief

Marshall Tuck and Tony Thurmond, still too close to call

Three days after the election, some of the tightest, most expensive races on Tuesday’s ballot are still too close to call. Lookin’ at you, Tony Thurmond and Marshall Tuck.

CALmatters’ Ricardo Cano explains that, though county registrars statewide have counted millions of ballots, millions more still remain to be tallied.

The reason: Big turnout, but also California law, which has gone over and above to maximize voter participation and ensure that every vote is counted.

Cano: “The popularity of mail ballots, combined with voter procrastination, automatically sets the state up for delays.”

On Thursday, the Secretary of State reported 4.5 million ballots remained to be counted, on top of the 7.3 million votes counted so far. Los Angeles County alone is working its way through nearly 1 million outstanding conditional, provisional and vote-by-mail ballots.

Cliffhangers: Four California congressional seats remain in doubt, as does the race for insurance commissioner between independent Steve Poizner and Democrat Ricardo Lara, and the Thurmond-Tuck race. Tuck was ahead by about 69,000 votes.

And then there were 56

Democratic Assemblyman Rudy Salas, who weathered an $874,000 series of television and mail attacks, has won reelection, giving Democrats at least 56 seats in the 80-seat lower house.

Significance: Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom has said the state tax system ought to be overhauled. Any tax package likely would include a mix of tax increases and decreases. California law requires two-thirds votes of both houses of the Legislature to raise taxes and fees.

With Salas’ victory, Democrats will hold at least two more than the 54-vote two-thirds majority, and could gain two or three more seats as vote counting continues. Senate Democrats almost certainly will have a two-thirds majority.

  • Farm groups funded the attack on Salas because of his vote in favor of providing overtime pay for farm workers. The United Farm Workers came to Salas’ aid by working to get out the vote, especially in Salas’ base of Kern County. Republicans in Kings County who might have backed Salas’ opponent, Republican Hanford City Councilman Justin Mendes, weren’t motivated.

Consultant Matt Rexroad represented Mendes: “I don’t see how we overcome that.”

Caution: Democrats, especially ones like Salas in swing districts, won’t be eager to approve new taxes. They remember Sen. Josh Newman, the Fullerton Democrat who was recalled in June over his vote in favor of the 12-cent per gallon gasoline tax.

Victory for Dreamers—for now

DACA students rally to preserve the immigrant protections.

A federal appellate court sided with California in its effort to protect undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children from deportation, CALmatters Felicia Mello reported.

  • The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit was the first appellate court to rule on the fate of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides two-year permits for some 800,000 Dreamers, allowing them to work and study in the country.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra called Thursday’s ruling “a tremendous victory for everyone who is a believer in the American dream.”

What’s next: The Trump administration will appeal the case to the Supreme Court. Democrats, who will control the U.S. House of Representative in the new Congress, will push legislation granting Dreamers legal status.

Commentary at CALmatters

Steve and Susie Swatt: Despite notable gains, women likely will make up only about one-third of the California congressional delegation and roughly 30 percent of the Legislature when the newcomers are sworn in. Women still face daunting headwinds.

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