Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

In summary

Newsom’s homeless plan draws local backlash. Texas sues California over state travel ban. New worker law survives initial court challenge.

Good morning, California.

“It’s not my point of view per se, but it’s the anxiety that is spoken very much universally but not publicly yet.”—Gov. Gavin Newsom, on The View, saying Democrats worry about a “civil war” as the presidential nomination battle continues, and Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg ascend.

Resisting Newsom’s homeless plan

A tent encampment by the West Oakland BART station. (Photo by Anne Wernikoff.)

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s plan to provide vacant state property to local governments to shelter homeless people is running into resistance from local leaders, CalMatters’ Nigel Duara reports.

The state expects to make 100 parcels available this year to local officers who apply. Some state funding is available to local governments. 

But locals are skeptical that the state will cover their costs, Duara reports. Costs include the cost of food, bedding and transportation, liability arising from fire or violence, plus administration and security. 

  • Oceanside Mayor Peter Weiss: “It’s unlikely the governor is going to come to the city of Oceanside and say, here’s several million dollars to go build a new sobering center, or a new shelter. Just because the governor orders something doesn’t mean anything’s going to happen.”
  • Richmond Mayor Tom Butt: “The governor’s task force on homelessness decided that cities and counties should be responsible for this. I think that’s just wrong.”

Political reality: Homeless people set up encampments on vacant city and county land, and sleep on city sidewalks and in doorways. An Increasingly frustrated public probably cares less about state vs local rivalry than in moving people into shelters.

  • Jason Elliott, Newsom’s senior counselor on housing and homelessness: “Local government has a responsibility to put their hands up and be part of the solution. A good number at the county and city level are answering the call by leaning forward and embracing solutions.”

To read Duara’s report, please click here.

Texas vs. California

Pride flag flies above the California Capitol in 2019. (Photo Courtesy of Gov. Newsom’s office.)

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to slap down California’s travel ban to the Lone Star state.

Texas and California regularly square off in federal court, with Paxton often leading red state attorneys general against blue state attorneys general, often led by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

As required by state law, Becerra maintains a list of states where state officials cannot venture using tax dollars. They’re states such as Texas that have passed laws limiting abortion rights or the rights of LGBTQ individuals.

  • Becerra: “In California, we have chosen not to use taxpayer money to support laws discriminating against the LGBTQ community.”

Paxton’s suit

  • “California has targeted Texas and its residents because Texas protects the religious freedom of faith-based child welfare providers within its borders. …
  • “In California’s so-called forward thinking, it is not enough to burden religion in California; it must go further and coerce other States to increase burdens on religion within their own borders.”

No doubt: The suit plays well with Paxton’s base. But so does California’s travel ban resonate with some Californians. No word on when the Supreme Court might rule.

The power of small dollars

Delegates at the California Democratic Convention in San Francisco last year.

Bernie Sanders raised $25 million from 648,000 individuals in January, at an average of $18 each. It’s one reason why Sanders will be in the primary race until the end.

One of Sanders’ donors was Bob Bogardus, a software developer from Carmel. He sent daily donations of $2.70 to Sanders in 2019, CalMatters’ Elizabeth Castillo reports.

  • Bogardus: “We love Bernie and he makes everything fun and we’re really proud to participate in that way.”

Sanders can tap his massive base of small donors repeatedly before they reach the maximum federal cap of $2,800 per election. That will ensure he will have sufficient money to wage a 50-state campaign leading up to the convention in Milwaukee.

Sanders is not alone in his ability to tap the small bucks. President Donald Trump also attracts huge sums of small donations.

The phenomenon democratizes campaign giving. It’s a counter to the million dollar donations that have flowed in greater numbers since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision and other rulings that allow for ever larger donations to federal campaigns. 

To read Castillo’s report, please click here.

An Uber loss but fights goes on

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez at a rally in support of AB 5 last August.

California’s labor-backed law that seeks to require companies to hire workers rather than rely on independent contractors withstood an initial court challenge.

U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee of Los Angeles rejected Uber and Postmates’ request for a preliminary injunction. 

  • Gee: “Plaintiffs have not shown serious questions going to the merits—the critical factor in determining whether to issue a preliminary injunction—and, though company plaintiffs have shown some measure of likelihood of irreparable harm, the balance of equities and the public interest weigh in favor of permitting the state to enforce this legislation.”

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce sided with Uber, illustrating the national implications of the law, authored by Democratic Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez of San Diego.

  • Gonzalez: “It’s clear Judge Gee found no merit in Uber and Postmates’ argument that they suffer irreparable harm under AB5 and denied their injunction. She chose to let the law stand and, as such, it is now the responsibility of California to enforce the law on behalf of these workers.”

The matter is not over. Lawsuits will continue, and Uber and other companies that depend on independent contractors have amassed $110 million in campaign committees for an initiative headed for the November ballot.

When a newspaper does it job

File photo

Sutter County gun owners were none too pleased when Sheriff Brandon Barnes informed them via Facebook that The San Francisco Chronicle filed a California Public Records Act request for all 3,700 concealed firearms permit holders.

The Sacramento Bee’s Ryan Sabalow reports gun owners have reacted by threatening The Chron and its staffers, prompting the paper to increase security.

  • Sabalow: Gun owners believe knowledge of firearm ownership should be private, partly because of they hold Second Amendment rights sacred and partly out of fears public knowledge of their weapons could lead to theft or violence if someone knows they are armed.

Chronicle Editor Audrey Cooper told Sabalow the paper has no plans to publish personal information off the permits. Rather, the paper is looking to aggregate information and look for broader trends. 

  • Cooper: “Any time your family is threatened because you’re trying to do a decent and ethical job, it is very alarming and a very sad state. Some of (the people harassing the newsroom) are just gleeful that physical harm comes to journalists without knowing any of us on a personal level or listening to what we intend and how we do our jobs, which I think is a really sad state of American discourse.”

Context: In September, The Chron reported a security company executive received a concealed carry permit after giving $45,000 to a campaign committee to help reelect Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith in 2018.

In other news of news

The Fresno Bee: The Fresno Bee announced that a local nonprofit, Fresnoland Media, will fund four journalists to cover land use, water, housing and neighborhood opportunity.

  • Bee editor Joe Kieta: “The Fresnoland Lab expands on The Bee’s venture into philanthropic support for local journalism.

The New York Times: Carl Butz decided to save Mountain Messenger, of Downieville, California’s oldest weekly newspaper,  paying four figures and assuming some debts. The seller called him a “romantic idealist and a nut case.” 

  • Butz: “My daughter is already aware that her inheritance is shrinking.”

Commentary at CalMatters

Spreck Rosekrans, Restore Hetch Hetchy: San Francisco’s Water Department  persuaded Congress to ban environmentally benign boating on Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park, and reverses the guarantees of access made by San Francisco in 1913.

Kate Gordon and Lenny Mendonca, Office of Planning and Resource and GO-Biz: California is a high road economic development state. Our innovative spirit includes a responsibility to leave the world better than we found it. We are excited to see regions step forward with their own visions for this high road approach to regional economic development. Metro Bakersfield and Kern County is a great example. 

Dan Walters, CalMatters: Fraud is rampant in California’s system of compensating workers for employment-related disabilities and its’ concentrated in Southern California.

We want to hear from you

Want to submit a guest commentary or reaction to an article we wrote? You can find our submission guidelines here. Please contact Gary Reed with any commentary questions: gary@calmatters.org, (916) 234-3081.

Dan Morain joined CalMatters in March 2018. He is the former editorial page editor of The Sacramento Bee. Morain also spent 27 years at The Los Angeles Times, and has covered the Capitol since 1992.