Good morning, California.
The Legislature returns today for a final month. Top Issues: wildfire liability; whether to join a western regional electricity grid; creation of state-only net neutrality rules; workers in the gig economy; and a new tax on cell phones to fund emergency services.
Zinke's Hetch Hetchy idea is familiar
Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, (photo courtesy of Spreck Rosekrans, Restore Hetch Hetchy, July 2018).
U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s recent tweet that he would study whether to empty Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, the source of water for 2.6 million Bay Area residents, had a familiar ring.
Remind me: Over naturalist John Muir’s objection, San Francisco secured its water supply in 1913 with Congressional legislation authorizing construction of O’Shaughnessy Dam and the flooding of Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park. Muir’s cause lives on.
Spreck Rosekrans, director of Restore Hetch Hetchy, spent more than an hour with Zinke two weeks ago, first at Evergreen Lodge near the reservoir and then at the 430-foot dam.
Zinke’s tweet: “Good meeting with Restore Hetch Hetchey (sic). Taking a fresh look at different opportunities and options to restore public access and recreation to the valley.”
History: In 1987, Ronald Reagan’s interior secretary gigged San Francisco by suggesting that O’Shaughnessy Dam should be razed to restore what could be a second Yosemite Valley.
Then-San Francisco Mayor Dianne Feinstein reacted by calling granite-filtered water San Franciscans’ “birthright.”
“All this is for an expanded campground? … It’s dumb, dumb, dumb,” she told me in 1987.
Sen. Feinstein didn’t respond to Zinke’s tweet but remains adamantly opposed to messing with Hetch Hetchy, as do San Francisco officials, who say it would cost $10 billion to tear down the dam, restore the valley and replace the water for 2.6 million Bay Area residents.
P.S. Restore Hetch Hetchy advocates are suing. Their supporters include former Republican Congressman and California Attorney General Dan Lungren, and Lance Olson, a leading Democratic lawyer. No word on whether state Sen. Kevin de León intends to make Hetch Hetchy an issue as he campaigns against Feinstein.
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Kamala Harris’ hint
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris.
California’s U.S. Senator, Kamala Harris, won’t say whether she’s running for president in 2020. Here’s a hint, per the LA Times: She spent $1.6 million on Revolution Messaging, the consulting firm that “built Sen. Bernie Sanders’ widely praised digital and branding strategy.”
The firm has fallen into disarray. But alumni of it remain on Harris’ campaign team. She has built her email list to more than a million, vital to her ability to raise money for herself and build loyalty by raising money for other candidates
The Times quotes former Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman Jesse Ferguson: “A strong, accomplished African American woman is in many ways the thing that keeps the president up at night. It is a bit of his nightmare.”
San Diego strategist Ron Nehring, a former California Republican Party chair: “You can bet the Trump campaign … will pour an enormous amount of resources into defining her.”
If, that is, she runs.
Kevin de León’s money
Sen. Kevin de León, Los Angeles Democrat.
State Sen. Kevin de León, challenging U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ended June with a mere $425,963 in the bank and $83,000 in unpaid bills, his latest campaign finance report shows. That’s not enough to run an Assembly district race. Feinstein had $3.7 million in her campaign account.
De León’s fellow Democratic state senators have helped him by donating a combined $38,800. Billionaires Laurene Powell Jobs, entertainment mogul Haim Saban, and Tom Steyer each gave $5,400, the maximum donation for individuals to a candidate’s campaign account.
Although deLeón won the California Democratic Party endorsement, the most recent Public Policy Institute of California poll showed Feinstein leading de León 46 percent to 24 percent among likely voters, with 9 percent undecided
Brown: Does killer understand the evil he committed?
Once again, David Weidert pleaded for his release from a life sentence for an awful murder he committed in 1980 when he was 18. As he did in 2015, Gov. Jerry Brown acknowledged Weidert improved himself while behind bars and has been discipline free.
But once again, Brown on Friday overruled a parole board recommendation and rejected Weidert’s release:
“Given the very unusual nature of this crime, Mr. Weidert must do much more to show that he is a truly changed person, that he truly grasps the evil that he perpetrated, and that he is now so utterly changed that he is suitable for parole.”
The crime: Weidert killed a young developmentally disabled man, Michael Morganti, in Fresno by beating, stabbing and burying him alive after forcing Morganti to dig his own grave. Weidert worried Morganti would turn him in for a burglary he committed.
As it did in 2015, the parole board in March recommended Weidert’s release, citing science saying teenagers’ are prone to act on impulse.
History: I noted in June that former California Supreme Court Chief Justice Rose Bird, Brown’s appointee, wrote the 1985 decision reducing Weidert’s sentence of life in prison without parole to a sentence with the possibility of parole. Voters ousted Bird the following year. Weidert can seek parole again from Brown’s successor.
Walters: New Jerry Brown book falls short
CALmatters commentator Dan Walters takes issue with author Miriam Pawel’s latest book, one about Gov. Jerry Brown and the Brown’s family’s deep roots in California. Walters, who has been writing about Brown since he was governor the first time, cites “many errors of omission.”
Walters: “The Browns of California” may be an okay read for its on-the-record chronology (but) it falls very short of the serious, nuanced analysis the subjects deserve.”
P.S.: I take a different view than my good friend Dan, and will be hosting Pawel at a book event in Sacramento on Sept. 5. More about that soon.
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See you tomorrow.