Good morning, California.
“California will not be part of this political theater. We will see you in court.”—Gov. Gavin Newsom, as California sued the Trump administration yet again, this time over the president’s emergency declaration over the border wall last week.
CA sues over border emergency
Sixteen states sued over Trump's border emergency Monday.
California and 15 other states sued the Trump administration as expected on Monday, calling the president’s national emergency along the Mexican border unconstitutional and “a manufactured ‘crisis’,” and noting that the number of people arrested for attempting to illegally cross into this country hasn’t been this low in more than 45 years.
- President Donald Trump made the emergency declaration last week after failing to win adequate congressional funding for the wall he promised he would complete along the nation’s southern border. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said immediately afterward that the state would be filing suit.
Becerra: “President Trump treats the rule of law with utter contempt. He knows there is no border crisis, he knows his emergency declaration is unwarranted and he admits that he will likely lose this case in court.”
Filed in the Northern District of California, the suit alleges, among other things, that Trump’s plan to divert money into the wall from drug interdiction and military construction projects will damage California’s economy and public safety.
- Joining Becerra were attorneys general from Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon and Virginia. Most are blue.
- More suits have been filed by the nonprofit watchdog Public Citizen and wildlife organizations, and more are expected from the ACLU and public interest groups.
Money matters: A day before filing the suit, Becerra’s campaign team blasted out a fundraising email pledging to sue:
“This will be a long and crucial legal battle and I need your support. Contribute $5 now to show you’re standing with me to fight President Trump’s unconstitutional national emergency declaration.”
To be clear, money raised from the solicitation won’t fund the lawsuit. The suit is a taxpayer-funded endeavor.
For a more comprehensive look at California’s legal challenges to the Trump administration, check out CALmatters’ lawsuit tracker here.
CA's shifting water politics
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein wanted a new chair on the water board.
A letter from U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein could have helped lead to Felicia Marcus’s ouster as State Water Resources Control Board chair last week.
- Surprised? Don’t be: The moderate Democratic senator has a long alliance with Central Valley ag.
Marcus inflamed agriculture and Bay Area water users by proposing more water from the San Joaquin River watershed go to environmental needs such as bolstering the salmon population. Gov. Gavin Newsom had to decide whether to keep the otherwise highly regarded Jerry Brown appointee.
- On Jan. 31, Feinstein wrote asking Newsom to appoint Bill Lyons, a Modesto farmer, to the post Marcus held. Feinstein’s letter, which doesn’t name Marcus, cites Lyons’ knowledge of “environmental restoration and agriculture innovation”:
“This unique background makes him perfectly qualified to guide the board through its present serious challenge of restoring California’s imperiled fisheries while maintaining the confidence of our world-leading agriculture industry.”
In 2016, Lyons called the water board’s allocation plan “a takings” of property without compensation and was quoted as saying because of it, the board had “lost the trust of an entire region.”
- Citing a need to restore “balance,” Newsom named Joaquin Esquivel, former aide to U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, as water board chairman. He also appointed Lyons as his “agriculture liaison,” a new position at an annual salary of $175,008. Lyons, 68, was Gov. Gray Davis’ agriculture secretary from 1999-2004.
The shakeup suggests Newsom is resetting the years-long process to reallocate water from the San Joaquin River watershed. That includes rights held by San Francisco, where he and Feinstein were mayors.
- TBD: How Lyons will coordinate duties with Ag Secretary Karen Ross.
Why Harris needs Newsom
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s endorsement of U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris’ presidential run is key to her hope of a lock on California.
- Newsom, whose campaign team, San Francisco-based SCRB Strategies, also represents Harris, can help with fundraising and organizational assistance He’s also a co-chair of her California campaign, with Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers, and Congresswoman Barbara Lee of Berkeley.
Harris has held seven California fund-raisers, by Politico’s count. That adds to her campaign account, and, importantly, drains what out-of-state politicians traditionally see as an ATM for their campaigns.
Politico: “Her home-state advantage is an enormous asset, holding the promise of a huge haul of delegates early in the nomination fight. At the same time, a poor performance there could end her bid.”
The math: The overall number of delegates nationally has not been determined. But California will have a huge share, at least 416 delegates, to be awarded proportionally based on candidates’ performance. Of those, 272 will be allocated by the state’s 53 congressional districts and awarded based on candidates’ vote totals in those districts.
Golden Gate suicide barrier, finally
Nearly 30 years ago, the late San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen wrote: “The Golden Gate Bridge scored suicide No. 900 last month and is heading inexorably toward 1,000. After that do you think they’ll finally put up an anti-suicide barrier?”
- Now, 1,700 people have taken their lives by leaping off the bridge, and work is beginning on the barrier Caen suggested in 1991, The Marin Independent Journal’s Will Houston reports.
Funding for the $200 million project to be completed by 2021 includes $77 million from the state.
Steven Miller, the bridge district’s bridge manager: “Quite frankly, in my mind, we can’t build it fast enough.”
Bee health breakthroughs
A bee pollinates a blossom in an almond orchard in McFarland.
Bee die-offs have become an urgent agricultural issue, one that is getting increasing attention from researchers nationwide.
- Millions of bees are deployed each year at this time across the Central Valley to pollinate almonds, California’s third most valuable agricultural commodity, and one that cannot exist without pollinators. Almonds were a $5.6 billion crop in 2017.
Those stakes have ramped up research: A study by Ohio State University researcher Reed Johnson in the journal Insects, for instance, finds that combinations of insecticides and fungicides deemed individually “safe” for honeybees turn into lethal cocktails when mixed, and may be the culprit in mass bee deaths. The study, supported by the Almond Board of California, has implications for growers.
Johnson: “It just doesn’t make any sense to use an insecticide when you have 80 percent of the nation’s honeybees sitting there exposed to it.”
In another study, of all bee-related laws passed by states between 2000 and 2017, Dr. Damon Hall of the University of Missouri concludes that Minnesota has the most far-reaching vision for bee health.
- Minnesota encourages the use of alternative, non-harmful pesticides and has adopted stricter pesticide labeling practices for retail garden plants.
Not that California is a laggard: This was the first state in to pass an apiary health law, back in 1883 when bees were used primarily for wax and honey.
- No state has gone as far as France, which last year banned five pesticides thought to be implicated in pollinator die-off.
Commentary at CALmatters
Weakened clean car standards also have a moral impact.
Juliet Christian-Smith and Andrew Fahlund, Water Foundation: Felicia Marcus genuinely listened, didn’t shy away from tough decisions, and maintained a fierce dedication to public safety, economic security, and environmental health priorities of the state she loves. Her leadership will help her successors, E. Joaquin Esquivel and Laurel Firestone, who bring experience in community-based work to the board.
Father John Coleman and Allis Druffel, California Interfaith Power & Light: Automakers must understand that if state and federal clean car standards are weakened as a result of their lobbying, public health, climate emissions, the economy and job creation will suffer in California. We are calling on all automakers to view these standards from a moral perspective and halt any and all efforts to roll them back.
Dan Walters, CALmatters: Gavin Newsom has a very ambitious agenda as governor, but ambitious governors haven’t fared very well in the past.
A preventable cancer
HPV-related throat cancer has become an epidemic.
Dr. Bryan Fong, Northern California Kaiser Permanente: A dramatic increase in a new form of throat cancer has been observed throughout the industrialized world. The disease shows up primarily in men, typically between the ages of 45 and 70. The rate of this new cancer has been increasing 5 percent per year. If this scenario sounds like a slow-moving infectious medical drama you would be right. The good news: It’s preventable.
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See you tomorrow.