Trying to help mentally ill jail inmates, trying to quit cars, and the $3 billion cash crop

Good morning, California.

“We’re working with the Legislature to get a rent-gouging ordinance to my desk. This is one of my top priorities for the next few weeks before the legislative session ends.”—Gov. Gavin Newsom, urging legislators to deal with California’s housing crisis.

‘They don’t keep us safe’

Austin James Vincent, 25, is accusing of attacking a woman in San Francisco to protect her from robots.

An Orange County legislator wants to alter a 2004 initiative that generates $2.3 billion a year for mental health care so some of that money can be spent on mentally ill jail inmates.

Remind me: Proposition 63 of 2004 imposed an extra income tax on people earning $1 million or more to provide funds for mental health care and combat homelessness. Money from the tax generally cannot be used for people who are incarcerated.

At the Orange County Board of Supervisors’ urging, Democratic Sen. Tom Umberg is pushing legislation that would allow some Proposition 63 money to be spent on jail inmates who are mentally ill.

  • 30% of Orange County jail inmates have a mental illness diagnosis.
  • 20% of jail inmates statewide take psychotropic medication, a 25% increase since 2013, the state Board of Corrections says.

County Behavioral Health Directors oppose the bill. It might divert funds from their programs.

Sen. Bob Hertzberg, a Los Angeles Democrat, is carrying separate legislation to allow Proposition 63 money to be used to care for mentally ill parolees.

Reaction intensified against a San Francisco judge’s decision to release from jail a man who attacked a woman outside her Embarcadero apartment early Sunday morning, claiming he was trying to save her from robots. 

Surveillance video of the attack has gone viral. 

  • Paneez Kosarian, the victim: “I’m questioning the judge’s fitness. I’m questioning our elected officials’ fitness in this city. … They don’t keep us safe.”

Getting residents to quit cars

Lawmakers want more people to take public transit such as BART.

Lawmakers have gotten tough on greenhouse gas emissions from nearly every sector of California’s economy. But until now, they’ve hesitated to get between Californians and their cars.

Why it matters: Transportation accounts for nearly 40% of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

California is beginning to nudge the state’s 27 million drivers out of their cars, CalMatters’ Julie Cart reports in a new installment to her series, The Road to Zero.

The message: Keep your car in the garage, and car pool or take public transit

Daniel Sperling, a member of the state Air Resources Board and founder of UC Davis’ Institute of Transportation Studies, said putting more passengers in each zero-emission vehicle is key to solving the emissions problem.

  • Sperling: “What that really implies—I hate to say it out loud in front of a journalist—is giving up car ownership and move to sharing rides. Most people probably can’t even imagine that. But the benefits to society are huge, and the benefits to individuals will be huge, too.”

It’s politically fraught. Former Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, who authored the law that sets California on a course to 100% carbon-free electricity, explains why: 

  • “You are going head to head with the state’s fossil-fuel industry.”

Money matters: Chevron and the Western States Petroleum Association have spent $26.3 million on lobbying in Sacramento since 2017.

  • The New York Times: “United States government scientists on Thursday confirmed that July was the hottest month on record, edging out the previous record-holder, July 2016.”

Good luck with super commuters

Westbound on 580 toward Oakland

California has seven of the top 20 counties that are home to people who drive 90 miles or more one-way to work, according to numbers compiled by the private company, Apartment List, based on Census data.

Los Angeles County was No. 1 with 159,132 super commuters in 2017. Other counties in the top 20 include Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, Contra Costa, San Diego and Alameda. 

Given California’s population, counties in other states had far larger shares of their workers who drive 90 miles or more to jobs.

Only San Joaquin County was in the top 50 as a percentage of the workforce that commutes 90 miles one way.

The Orange County Register provided a look at some Southern California counties. For the full list, please click here.

Take a number: 8.7 billion

Legalization hasn’t ended California’s black market for marijuana.

Legal cannabis sales in California will reach $3.1 billion this year, making the state the world’s largest legal marijuana market, The L.A. Times reported based on information provided by Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics.

California’s black market for marijuana continues to flourish, with an estimated $8.7 billion in sales by unlicensed dealers.

Cal Channel, 1991-2019

CalChannel will go off the air Oct. 16.

The California Channel, a cable channel that has been airing legislative hearings and public affairs programming since 1991, is preparing to go off the air at a minute past midnight, Oct. 16, Capitol Weekly reported Thursday.

CalChannel’s board of directors voted to shut down the operation, concluding that its core mission had become duplicative when voters approved Proposition 54 in 2016 requiring that the Legislature video tape its proceedings.

Modeled after C-SPAN, CalChannel has been funded by cable television companies, $2.4 million in 2017, its most recent disclosure shows.

Commentary at CalMatters

Vern Pierson, El Dorado County District Attorney: The media and many politicians appear to see each mass shooter as unique. They are not.  Instead, these actors and their narrative should be viewed as pieces of a larger puzzle. Rather than staring at the individual piece trying to understand it, we need to examine its broader context for commonality with other attackers.

John Kabateck, National Federation of Independent Business: The Legislature must fix the California Consumer Privacy Act. It is riddled with unclear definitions, overly broad mandates and small errors that will lead to unnecessary costs and confusion.


The Latest

Ending private prisons in California will harm prisoners and detained immigrants

Fighting for air, saving the Amazon, Trump judges, an ethnic studies do-over, and ‘public charge’

The California State Capitol on December 3, 2018 in Sacramento, California.

Dems want to kneecap ballot measures

A photo of a row of red lockers. Photo by pablohart, Istockphotos.com

Delay in school ethnic studies plan would bring more voices to the table

Here’s a way to put people to work, reduce wildfires and generate electricity

A food bank hosts a CalFresh sign up table at a low-income health clinic in Contra Costa County.

Immigrants afraid of Trump’s ‘public charge’ rule are dropping food stamps, MediCal