Good morning, California.
“The world changes and views change and we change” — Dianne Feinstein, explaining her evolving views on marijuana and the death penalty to a Planned Parenthood gathering Thursday in Sacramento. State Sen. Kevin de Leon is challenging her from the left.

Perils of being tardy in age of social media

Travis Allen, Republican running for governor, was absent from the Assembly most of the day on Thursday.

Democrats had fun Thursday at the expense of the Republican Assemblyman who would be governor, Travis Allen.

Assemblyman Evan Low is a Silicon Valley Democrat who, at 34, is especially versed in the ways of social media. To broadcast Allen’s absence from the day’s floor session, he used the social media app Periscop to live stream video of Allen’s empty chair.

Then he live tweeted speculation about Allen’s whereabouts using the hashtag #whereistravis.

Allen has made a habit of being late, especially as he runs for governor, Low said. He opened by tweeting:

@JoinTravisAllen shows up hours late to work daily. In any other job, you’d be fired. Let us know!#whereistravis

Then he offered a quiz: “Is @JoinTravisAllen Asleep. Tanning. Staring at self in the mirror.”

So it went until Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, a Democrat from Stockton, tweeted: “I found him!! 2:55 Travis arrives at work, 5 hours late.”

Allen’s Twitter response:

As @Evan_Low and @SusanEggman were busy taking away Californians’ freedoms and increasing taxes, I was busy TAKING BACK CALIFORNIA. Funny, it took Democrats 5 hours of work to cast votes that I did in 2 mins. This is why we need a PART TIME LEGISLATURE to stop wasting taxpayer $$

Not long afterward, Allen’s seat was empty, once again.


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A bare-knuckle attack ad

The Assembly overwhelmingly approved legislation earlier this week that would permit adults as old as 40 to sue over sexual assaults they endured as children, and seek damages from institutions and individuals who helped cover up the crime.

The current cut-off is age 26. The bill by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, a San Diego Democrat, is in part reaction to crimes by Larry Nassar, the former Michigan State University doctor who molested numerous Olympic gymnasts and others.

‘Politics ain’t beanbag’: Democratic consultant Richie Ross, advocating for the bill, employed a bare-knuckle tactic, airing a television ad in Sacramento where legislators would see or hear of it as they prepared to vote.

“Who’s worse than perverts who molest children? Those who cover up for them. … Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham wouldn’t vote to give the victims the time they need to bring predators into court.”

Cunningham, the ad’s target, is a San Luis Obispo Republican who didn’t vote on the measure when it was in his committee. Whether the ad intimidated wavering legislators or not, the bill passed 54-9. Several Republicans voted for it. Cunningham was one of 15 who didn’t vote.

Cunningham said he was trying to improve the bill “and ended up getting attacked for it. I guess that’s politics.”

A final twist: Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed similar legislation in 2013 partly because it took sole aim at private institutions where molestations occurred. The new bill would include public institutions such as schools.

Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell of Long Beach, the one Democrat to vote against it, is a former leader of the California Teachers Association, the union that represents public school teachers.

Fury unleashed on Tony Mendoza

Organizations that often are rivals have come together to block the return to the state Senate of Tony Mendoza, the Democrat who resigned his San Gabriel Valley seat in February after being accused of harassing young women.

Heading into Tuesday’s primary, oil companies, insurance agents, realtors, the correctional peace officers’ union, car dealers, dentists, charter school advocates and the Los Angeles Labor Federation have spent more than $2 million on broadcast ads and mailers attacking Mendoza and helping his main Democratic opponent, Montebello Mayor Vanessa Delgado.

A Labor Federation mailer: “Mendoza was the subject of an investigation. Six women victimized. … Forty-seven witnesses. Sexual misconduct.”

What they share: Senate Democrats were on the verge of ousting Mendoza when he resigned. They do not want Mendoza to come back. The varied interests that seek to keep Mendoza from reclaiming his seat share the common goal of maintaining solid relationships with Senate Democrats.

To be a kid in the Tenderloin

It’s hard enough for adults to witness what happens in San Francisco’s Tenderloin. But what if you’re a kid who lives there? That’s the question posed by KQED’s Farida Jhabvala Romero in the latest installment of the California Dream project in collaboration with CALmatters.

The Tenderloin is notorious for homelessness, open drug use, prostitution and other crimes. It’s also one of the only affordable neighborhoods in one of the world’s most expensive cities.

Margarita Mena, who lives with three grandchildren in a Tenderloin apartment: “It’s hard for an adult to live here, and I don’t recommend it for kids. Children see people shooting up, people lying on the street, and syringes thrown out.”

Mena is doing something about it. She’s part of Safe Passage, a citizens’ effort that seeks to transform Tenderloin sidewalks into a more kid friendly environment. In one of California’s grittiest neighborhoods, Safe Passage is one small effort to help hang onto part of the California Dream.

UC faculty worries about Trump's meddling

CALmatters’ Felicia Mello writes that University of California faculty are worried the Trump administration’s involvement in grant-making could limit researchers’ academic freedom and cost them tenure or advancement.

They’ve sent a letter to UC President Janet Napolitano, citing “the present administration’s open hostility toward science, particularly science that touches on climate change, that examines the impact of fossil fuels on public health, or that entails international collaboration.”

The faculty haven’t found evidence that they’re losing out on grants, yet.

The view from the Windy City

Lynn Sweet, the tough-as-nails Chicago Sun-Times political writer, wrote this week of the John Cox she knows, after seeing that Republican Cox is on the verge of securing one of two top spots for California governor:

“Was that the John Cox who, in the 2000 GOP primary for a 10th Congressional District seat in the northern Chicago suburbs, came in fifth in an 11-person field? Was that the John Cox who in the 2002 Illinois GOP Senate primary ran third? … Was that the John Cox who in 2006 launched a 2008 self-funded presidential bid — quixotic to say the least — dropping out early? Yes.”

Welcome to California, Mr. Cox, where anything is possible.

Please email or call with tips, suggestions and insights, [email protected], 916.201.6281. Thanks for reading. See you Monday.