Good morning, California.

“Who gets to be angry, and who can’t afford to show anger?  Who has anger perceived as strength and truthfulness, and who has anger taken as hysteria and ugliness?”—Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, Los Angeles-area Democrat, who like much of America spent much of Thursday watching Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh testify.

History rhymes in this year of the woman

Palo Alto supporters of Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford

Nearly one third of the candidates running for state and federal office in California are women, the highest percentage in this century, CALmatters’ Ben Christopher reports.

Most pronounced in congressional races, the rise reflects national trends. 

  • record number of women are running for state and federal offices this year—with a lopsided share running as Democrats.
  • For the first time in history, more than half the U.S. House seats  have a female candidate on the November ballot. Nearly two dozen women are running for Senate, breaking a record of 18 set in 2012.

It’s a reaction to the Access Hollywood tape, #MeToo, Women’s Marches, Donald Trump’s presidency, the fight for control of the U.S. Supreme Court and more, from wage gaps to unanswered demands for federal paid family leave.

History rhymes: U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein won her seat in 1992, the first year of the woman, after Anita Hill testified before an all-male Senate Judiciary Committee that then-nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her.

Now Feinstein is the lead Democrat on that Judiciary Committee and a central player in the hearing into Christine Blasey Ford’s charge that Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, assaulted her when they were in high school 36 years ago. Feinstein received Ford’s previously confidential letter detailing the allegations at the end of July.

On Thursday, Feinstein asked Ford “How are you so sure that it was he?”

Ford, a Palo Alto psychology professor: “The same way I’m sure I’m talking to you right now. Basic memory functions.”

Feinstein, 85, is running for reelection, and leads her challenger, Los Angeles Democratic state Sen. Kevin de León, by 11 points in the latest he Public Policy Institute of California poll.

  • Among women, that lead is 16 percentage points.

The poll was taken Sept. 9-18, just as Blasey Ford’s memory sparked the fire that became an inferno this week.


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A step to help chronically homeless mentally ill

A homeless man in San Francisco.

Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego will be able to conserve seriously mentally ill people who are chronically homeless and unable to care for themselves, under legislation signed Thursday by Gov. Jerry Brown.

  • San Francisco Mayor London Breed pushed for the bill, believing authorities could help people who cannot care for themselves by placing them in court-ordered conservatorship.
  • Some disability rights advocates opposed, contending there is a lack of treatment.

The measure might apply to 100-150 people in San Francisco, the bill’s author, Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco said.

  • Individuals would be deemed unable to care for themselves if they are hospitalized eight times in one year for psychiatric reasons—5150-ed, in the parlance, a reference to the Welfare & Institutions Code section allowing for involuntary holds.

The governor signed separate legislation sought by the Steinberg Institute requiring that the state coordinate how it spends roughly $400 million a year on early intervention to combat mental illness. Half of all mental illness begins by age 14.

The institute’s founder, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg: “What are the four or five services we could provide that we know would cause a dramatic decrease in the number of people who end up in our streets or prisons or morgues because of untreated mental illness? How do we scale up what works?”


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Bills, bills, bills

Also signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Thursday were bills:

  • Prohibiting the sale of cannabis and cannabis products mixed in alcohol. (Author: Assemblyman Ken Cooley, Rancho Cordova Democrat.)
  • Allowing local governments facing a backlog of requests to grant provisional licenses to companies seeking to sell marijuana. (Sen. Anthony Cannella.)
  • Speeding University of California efforts to return bones to Native American tribes. (Assemblyman Todd Gloria, San Diego Democrat.)

The governor vetoed legislation to:

  • Allow all California residents, including undocumented immigrants, to serve on any state board or commission. Brown said citizenship should be a requirement. (Sen. Ricardo Lara, Bell Gardens Democrat.)
  • Bar arrests of undocumented immigrants at state courthouses. Judges have protested that federal immigration agents in courthouses will scare off witnesses. (Authored by Lara as well.)

‘Lite Gov’ candidates focus on college access

Lt. Gov. candidates Ed Hernandez and Eleni Kounalakis

Personal backgrounds provide an obvious contrast between lieutenant governor candidates Eleni Kounalakis and Ed Hernandez, CALmatters Felicia Mello writes, having co-moderated a forum between the two.

  • Both are Democrats and both were first in their families to graduate from college.
  • Hernandez , an optometrist and termed-out state senator, was a teen parent who worked long hours while commuting to Cal State Fullerton.
  • Kounalakis, the daughter of a Sacramento developer, got her undergraduate degree at Dartmouth and a masters degree at UC Berkeley, became President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Hungary, and is using millions of her family’s money to fund her campaign.

Lieutenant governors don’t have many duties. But they sit on the UC Board of Regents and California State University Board of Trustees.

  • At a forum in San Francisco, both candidates pledged to make public colleges and universities more affordable and accessible to the state’s record number of high school graduates.

Going deep on rent control initiative

California’s housing-affordability crisis, in which 1.5 million California households are paying more than half their income on rent, is driving a November initiative to expand local government’s ability to impose rent control.

  • The heart of the fight involves vacancy control, the concept that landlords can raise rent to market rates only when tenants leave.

In Santa Monica and Berkeley, cities with rent control, rent for a one-bedroom apartment is about $1,000 a month more for new tenants than if the old local rules—which capped how much landlords could raise rents for newcomers and for tenants—had remained in place, according to an analysis by The Mercury News’ Katy Murphy and The Sacramento Bee’s Angela Hart.

Murphy and Hart: “[N]ew tenants will be buffered from large rent increases in the future if they remain in their rent-controlled apartments. But proponents of strict rent control note that the units have become unaffordable for newcomers.”

Commentary at CALmatters

Aerial view of Hollister Ranch

José González: Gov. Brown first signed legislation 36 years ago to provide access to the 8.5 mile stretch of the coast at Hollister Ranch. Now, by signing AB 2534, Brown has an opportunity to make good on that promise of ensuring equitable access to our public lands for all Californians, especially those who are least able to do so.

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