Equifax’s data breach, criminal justice, UC admissions, and CCPOA’s pay

Good morning, California.

“It’s just the right thing to do. We don’t want to see any of the animals get stressed out or hurt.”—Annette O’Kelley, a veteran member of the Sonoma County Fair Board, as quoted in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, on the decision to replace the annual pig scramble with an oiled watermelon race.

  • “The jury’s still out. We’ll see how many kids are interested.”—Fair Board President Rob Muelrath.

You’ll hear more about this

California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye speaks during the Peace Officers' Memorial Ceremony in Sacramento, Calif. Monday, May 6, 2019. Photo by Randall Benton for CALmatters.
California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye

Former Gov. Jerry Brown and California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye are among trustees of a new organization, the Council on Criminal Justice, focused on improving criminal justice and public safety nationally.  Its creation will be announced today.

The 25-member board of trustees includes people aligned with the right and left, including:

  • Sherrilyn Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and commentator Van Jones. 
  • Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin and Mark Holden, general counsel for Koch Industries.

Holden and Sally Yates will co-chair the organization. Yates was fired as acting U.S. attorney general in 2017 for refusing to defend President Donald Trump’s Muslim travel ban.

The council describes itself as a “nonpartisan membership organization and think tank created to advance understanding of the criminal justice policy challenges facing the nation and build consensus for solutions based on facts, evidence and fundamental principles of justice.”

Cantil-Sakauye has taken a leading role pushing to change the bail system.

Brown made criminal justice a signature issue, and issued a statement: 

  • “Dozens of states are leaving old practices behind and adopting common sense criminal justice improvements that increase public safety. What’s critical now is to build on those successes and accelerate progress. The Council has assembled the best people in the country to work on this difficult but profoundly important problem.”

Money matters: The goal is to raise $25 million over five years. Initially, it has $2 million from the Texas-based Arnold Ventures, the Ford Foundation, the H.F. Guggenheim Foundation, and others.

Equifax’s comeuppance

Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the Equifax settlement on Monday.

Two years after disclosing a massive data breach, Equifax agreed Monday to pay at least $600 million to settle a nationwide suit brought in Atlanta by 50 state attorneys

Remind me: In 2018, advocates cited the Equifax breach as reason to pass the far-reaching California Consumer Privacy Act, which takes effect Jan. 1.

  • The 2017 breach of credit-monitoring giant Equifax involved personal information of 147 million consumers, including 15 million Californians. 
  • Equifax failed to heed a warning by the federal government to install a necessary patch, and didn’t discover the breach for four months. 
  • A foreign nation, never identified, likely stole the data.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra, announcing terms of the settlement in Sacramento: “If they collect it, they must protect it.”

Equifax will pay $175 million to states and $425 million to consumers whose privacy was invaded. Other penalties and payments could push the total settlement to $700 million. Consumers could collect up to a maximum of $20,000, though payments would be far smaller for the vast majority of affected consumers. 

Equifax must provide free credit monitoring for consumers whose data was stolen, and offer alerts if their information appears on suspicious sites.

The global settlement extends to private class-action suits. Victims could opt out if they think they suffered greater damages.

Take a number: 483,100

With little fanfare, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation on July 12 granting California’s 27,000 correctional officers a 3% pay raise, effective July 1, 2020, at an annual cost of nearly $200 million. 

That bill signing coincided with the California Correctional Peace Officers Association’s annual Governor’s Cup, a fundraiser at the Pebble Beach Golf Links. Newsom didn’t attend.

The 3% raise will be on top of the 5% pay hike negotiated in 2018 by Jerry Brown. That kicked in on July 1. 

California correctional officers are paid 40% more than local counterparts, the Legislative Analyst reports, adding: 

  • We find no evidence to justify pay [the] increase.”

Money matters: The union spent $2.825 million to elect Newsom in 2018, and has donated $483,100 to state politics and parties in 2019, including $125,000 to the California Republican Party on July 17.

Counting votes: In bipartisan votes, the Assembly passed the bill ratifying the contract 75-0, and the Senate approved it 34-4.

UC admissions

UC President Janet Napolitano

The University of California admitted the largest and most diverse class of Californians ever for the fall semester of 2019, the L.A. Times reported, based on UC data.

By the numbers:

  • 71,655 California students were admitted to UC’s nine campuses.
  • 108,178 freshmen overall were admitted, including foreign and out-of-state students.
  • Although most campuses reported increased enrollment from students from other countries, overall foreign enrollment ticked down to 18,621 from 19,068 in 2018.
  • UC Davis’ foreign enrollment fell the most, to 6,968 from 8,724 in 2018.
  • Most campuses reported an increase in out-of-state students. UCLA was an exception, showing a decline to 3,808 from 5,043 in 2018.

Legislators have complained that out-of-state and foreign students are crowding out Californians. Non-California residents pay far more in tuition.

No party preference rights

A lawsuit will challenge whether California’s presidential primary is “open.”

Leading proponents of open primaries intend to sue California today over its handling of the presidential primary.

The claim, as detailed by CalMatters’ Ben Christopher:

  • The San Diego-based Independent Voter Project claims Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who oversees elections, is ignoring a state constitutional requirement to hold an “open” presidential primary, in which anyone—regardless of political party—can participate. 

As it is, voters who don’t register with one of the parties must request a special ballot ahead of time, or switch party registration entirely. 

Chad Peace, legal counsel for the Independent Voter Project: “Would you say to somebody, ‘Well, you have the freedom of religion, but you have to go to a Catholic Church in order to practice it?’

To read more, including the suit, please click here.

Reclaiming ancestral land

photo of Eric Ortega
Pala band member Eric Ortega at Warner Springs Ranch

A San Diego County Indian tribe is aiming to buy back ancestral springs renowned for their healing powers.

In the latest installment of CalMatters’ California Dream collaboration with public radio stations, KPBS reporter Amita Sharma gathered the history of what’s now Warner Springs.

In the 1850s, settlers flocked to San Diego for purported healing powers of the springs. Indians who inhabited the land were able to profit. For a time.

California’s seventh governor, John Downey, and the federal government began removing Native Americans to rancherias in the 1860s. 

In 1903, 200 men, women and children were marched on a three-day, 60-mile journey to the Pala reservation. 

  • Historian Phil Brigandi: “The eviction of 1903 was the trail of tears for the Cupeño people and the other Indian people living on the Warner Ranch.”

Fortunes turned in 2000 when voters approved legalized Las Vegas-style casinos on Indian land. Pala’s casino has become one of California’s most successful.

Pala Chairman Robert Smith: “Eventually, we’ll have to buy our land back. Whatever it takes, we want to do it.”

California’s 40th governor, Gavin Newsom, apologized for the genocide perpetrated against Native Americans in California.

Commentary at CalMatters

Jim Wunderman, Bay Area Council: Legislators must consider the serious implications of Dynamex—an overly restrictive ruling that threatens our innovation economy.  California should lead to make independent work a viable and beneficial option for those who choose it.

Dan Walters, CalMatters: A bill requiring presidential candidates to reveal their tax returns is the latest conflict between Donald Trump and California Democrats.

Erratum: On Friday, I incorrectly gave the year in which Secretary of State Alex Padilla took office. It was 2015.

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