As Super Tuesday approaches, Democratic presidential candidates are turning their attention to California, where our 494 delegates make the Golden State the biggest prize.
Many are rolling out policy proposals they think will win them votes. One in particular deserves our attention. Earlier this month, Sen. Bernie Sanders released a proposal, originally advanced by the Democratic Socialists of America, to convert PG&E from an investor owned utility to a ward of that state.
As the head of the union that represents more than 12,000 frontline energy workers at PG&E, and as a tax-paying Californian, I oppose this plan on its merits, or lack thereof.
First, let’s take a look at the price tag: $100 billion is a fairly conservative estimate considering the totality of the grid, plus all of the assets, substations, infrastructure, real estate and staff the state of California would have to subsume.
And it’s important to note that that figure does not include liability costs for the recent wildfires, which are estimated to total $30 billion. Realistically, $100 billion may be the tip of the iceberg.Read More
Three years with Donald Trump in the White House have been as horrific as we imagined they could be.
Trump’s petty, vindictive behavior has shredded America’s standing on the world stage, and that has hurt Californians whose jobs and livelihoods are tied to trade. In the starkest moral terms, the shame Trump has brought on all of us for his barbaric and inhumane border cages will haunt us for generations.
With so many brutal assaults on decency, it’s easy to overlook the impact Trump’s administration has had on California’s ability to govern. We see the impact clearly in the communities and people we represent, who Trump has consistently singled out and targeted for his abuse
To us, the choice is absolutely clear. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren would be the best president for our country, and she would be an outstanding partner for California. That's why we urge Californians to vote for her in the March 3 primary.
We Californians have made enormous strides, despite the Trump Administration’s constant efforts to hold us back.Read More
With two weeks to go before election day in California, businesses, labor unions, mega-wealthy political donors and other coalitions of deep-pocketed interests seeking a say in state lawmaking have opened the spigots.
Adopting benign names like “Coalition to Restore California's Middle Class,” “Keep California Golden” and “Taxpayers for Ethical Government,” groups are allowed to raise and spend unlimited sums of cash in state elections so long as they don’t coordinate their activities with any candidate. From the beginning of the year through Wednesday, these “independent expenditure” committees have spent $12.5 million to determine who wins seats in the state Legislature.
And though California may be known as a bastion of green, progressive policy making, this year’s money wars are dominated by the industries of the old guard: Together, oil and gas producers, Realtors and car dealers are responsible for nearly half of all outside spending.
Following the money traces the fault lines of California politics, where the biggest conflicts aren’t Democrat versus Republican, but different shades of blue. The most expensive race so far is not a purple swing seat in coastal Orange County or the burbs of San Diego, but a Democratic lock in east Los Angeles County. The main players: organized labor versus virtually every business interest in the state.
The $12.5 million-and-counting on legislative races at isn’t much by presidential standards. Last year, White House contenders spent roughly eight times that sum in California— $99.3 million.Read More
Declining school enrollment may have an enormous impact on California’s proposed $15 billion school construction bond, Proposition 13, on the March 3 ballot.
California Department of Education’s data show total K-12 enrollment has been dropping for several years.
And the Department of Finance projects further loss of 258,000 kids by 2027-28.
Most of that decline will be concentrated in the six Southern California counties from Ventura to San Diego as well as in Santa Clara County, the heart of Silicon Valley.
Nearly one out of every four California students attend school in Los Angeles County where enrollment is projected to drop by 10.8% by the 2027-28 school year. That is a loss of 161,000 students.Read More
The devastating wildfires we face in California demand more action at the federal level. Buildings, communities and lives have been destroyed and we need to approach the issue as a crisis. After 35 years fighting fires and serving as chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, I can promise you that the time for talk has long passed. Given the scope, scale and human and financial costs of the problem we face, I’ve often wondered why presidential candidates haven’t talked about how to address the problem.
One campaign, however, called me and asked specifically about the issues we face in California. And one candidate launched an ambitious but doable plan on climate change that includes specific provisions for addressing our wildfires.
Like most Californian’s, until recently, I didn’t know much about Mike Bloomberg. But after digging into his record and plan, I believe we need to pay close attention.
Bloomberg has a track record of getting things done on climate as the mayor of New York. He made significant investments in clean energy, successfully implemented a clean buildings plan and despite a rapidly growing population, dramatically reduced pollutants resulting in the highest air quality in 50 years.
But what grabbed my attention and should grab everyone’s attention was that Bloomberg is the only candidate to release a specific wildfire plan.Read More
Jennifer Jennings dons a veritable uniform these days. Whether she’s picking up groceries, cruising through a fast-food drive-thru or headed to the carwash, she’s always sporting Bernie-wear — sweatshirts, t-shirts, whatever.
But she doesn’t just wear her support on her sleeves. She’s also been making small online donations — hundreds of them — to the campaign of Bernie Sanders, the progressive senator from Vermont who continually assails the “billionaire class.”
“It has just become part of my life now. It’s a dollar a day,” said Jennings, a safety manager at the Port of Long Beach. “I live paycheck to paycheck and somehow, I’m contributing this money because I’m making that choice, ya know? I’m making minimum credit card payments by their due date and that’s all I’m willing to do,” she said. But when it comes to Bernie, “I want to do my part. I want to participate.”
A CalMatters analysis of the latest available Federal Election Commission data shows that of the 20 California donors under the same name who made the greatest number of small presidential campaign contributions in 2019, one supports President Donald Trump. The rest are backing Democrats. Fifteen of those sent most or all of their donations to the Sanders campaign.
And those donations are adding up.Read More
After 30 years in the business of politics, you find yourself to be alumni of several different campaigns. I’ve always been proud to be a Mitt Romney alum, as the California director of his 2008 presidential campaign.
I had decided over a year beforehand that I wanted to work to elect Romney as president. I was impressed with how he was a Republican who was elected governor in the blue state of Massachusetts and pragmatically steered a course with conservative hues.
My friend and then business partner Mike Murphy had navigated Romney’s Massachusetts victory, and I was influenced by the atypical genuine high esteem Mike held for Romney. Romney was a skilled conservative of strong character whom I deeply believed would be a great president.
His 2008 campaign was of course unsuccessful. He lost the Republican nomination to John McCain. But my belief in Romney remained and he was a great friend to consequential GOP efforts in California, like supporting his friend Meg Whitman’s quest for governor in 2010.
All of this came into focus during the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump.Read More
Climate action starts at home. It’s where we cook our meals, plug in our appliances, heat our water, and as a result, homes are a large source of our carbon pollution.
Add on top of that the energy needed to create the materials our buildings are made of, such as concrete and steel, whose production are responsible for more than 11% of global greenhouse gas emissions. It all means our buildings have a huge amount of embedded carbon before we even turn on the lights.
Even as our electricity supply becomes cleaner, buildings will continue to be a source of carbon. About half of the homes in the U.S. use natural gas for heating, cooking, and hot water.
In 2018, the residential sector alone accounted for almost 17% of U.S. natural gas consumption. We will not solve our climate crisis without addressing fossil fuel use in buildings and the making of building materials.Read More
In the race to gobble up as many big name endorsements in California before the March 3 primary, few presidential contenders are quite as hungry as Mike Bloomberg.
In the last week, the billionaire former New York mayor has touted new stamps of approval from no fewer than 50 California politicos, big and small, including three members of Congress, two state senators, California’s treasurer and the former mayor of Los Angeles. They join a list of backers including San Francisco Mayor London Breed, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs.
Ever since California’s junior U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris dropped her presidential bid in early December — releasing the bulk of the state’s political elite, who had endorsed her, to seek out a new candidate — the race has been on to scoop them up.
These are, as Bloomberg termed them in a CalMatters interview, the coveted electoral “influencers.”
Like Instagram celebrities hawking a new fashion line, these are the big names who can suss out a presidential aspirant and say, “I’ve been there, done that, and you should do the same thing,’” he said.Read More
You might not guess it given the president’s subterranean approval numbers among California voters, the more than 40 mean tweets he’s issued about the state or his regular spats with Gov. Gavin Newsom. But the latest raft of numbers from the Federal Elections Commission do not lie: The top beneficiary of California-based campaign contributions in 2019 is none other than President Donald Trump.
See for yourself.
Last year Trump’s reelection campaign took in almost $12.2 million in itemized contributions from California donors, more than any other candidate.
Before you revise your understanding of California politics, two caveats.
All the Democratic contenders take together actually leave Trump in the dust — they've collected 83% of California's reported donors. Remember, the president isn't facing any significant challengers from within his own party, whereas the Democratic field is still split 11 ways.Read More