Good morning, California.
“Employers will ignore it at their peril,” Teamster lobbyist Barry Broad said of Monday’s unanimous California Supreme Court decision in Dynamex Operations West. The ruling could upend the gig economy by requiring that employers treat many more workers as employees, not independent contractors. Broad: “A lot of labor representatives are elated.”
A drop-out, dyslexia and the next governor
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom
In a campaign all about education, the two leading Democratic candidates for governor include one who dropped out of high school for a time, and another who struggled with dyslexia. Both took very different approaches to public schools when they were mayors.
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom openly talks about his learning difficulties in Mill Valley schools and Antonio Villaraigosa readily talks about his tough times in Los Angeles schools.
As Los Angeles mayor, Villaraigosa challenged the teachers’ union and was all-in for charter schools, which operate with far fewer constraints than do regular public schools.
As San Francisco mayor, Newsom endeared himself to the teachers’ union by opposing efforts by Democrats in Congress to renew No Child Left Behind, which sought to increase accountability in public schools by requiring more testing for all students.
“If No Child Left Behind were enacted when I was a student, I would not be here. I would have failed miserably,” then-Mayor Newsom said in May 2007, noting he had trouble passing tests because of his learning disability.
Their stands help explain why teachers’ unions are backing Newsom with their endorsements, though not yet their big bucks, and why billionaires who believe that charter schools will help improve education are pushing for Villaraigosa’s election.
Newsom, Villaraigosa and Michael Bloomberg of New York were mayors in the 2000s. Bloomberg’s spokesman explained that Bloomberg and Villaraigosa bonded by visiting one another’s schools to “share best practices on how to create better outcomes for kids.” Bloomberg last week became the latest billionaire to toss money, $1.5 million, into the pro-Villaraigosa independent campaign, pushing the total to $12.75 million.
The question: Polls show Newsom is the front-runner, with Republican San Diego businessman John Cox in second place. Wealthy charter school advocates have never played on such a level in a statewide race. It remains to be seen whether they can elevate Villaraigosa, who lags in the polls, so that the former mayors — and troubled students — can face off in the general election.
Call me maybe
CALmatters’ Julie Cart homes in on Trump administration efforts to undermine California’s environmental standards and concludes in an analysis that the battle involves far more than symbolism.
U.S. Environmental Protection Administration director Scott Pruitt seeks to roll back clean air and mileage standards, though he insists he wants to work with California.
California Air Resources Board chair Mary Nichols tweeted the pop star Carly Rae Jepsen’s line: “I agree it’s important we work together ‘diligently & diplomatically’ to maintain one national program for #cleancars so like, call me maybe?”
Consumers matter: Sacramento lobbyists representing automakers say car companies would welcome a delay in the fuel standards, but only for a short time. They understand Californians want cleaner air and greater mileage.
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The politics of privacy
Promoters of an initiative intended to better protect Californians’ privacy will submit signatures by Wednesday to place it on the November ballot. Then, the brinkmanship will begin.
State of play: San Francisco developer Alastair MacTaggart has spent $2.8 million to gather 625,000-plus signatures, more than sufficient to place his initiative on the November ballot.
If the initiative gets on the ballot, it could become a nationally watched showdown over privacy. Tech is on the defensive because of recurrent data breaches and revelations that Cambridge Analytica scraped the personal information of 87 million Facebook users. Facebook, Google, AT&T and others have contributed $200,000 each, table stakes for the campaign to kill the measure.
Let’s make a deal: Assemblyman Ed Chau, a Democrat from Monterey Park, and Sen. Bob Hertzberg, a San Fernando Valley Democrat, will work in the coming weeks to fashion a legislative compromise to avert an initiative war.
“If they have a legislative play, let’s see it,” said Sacramento consultant Robin Swanson, managing Mactaggart’s initiative campaign.
The calculation: Tech companies need to ask: How angry are voters for how cavalierly they’ve treated privacy? Mactaggart needs to ask: Are voters resigned to the notion that privacy is a thing of the past? Both sides should ask what the best policy would be.
The power of DNA evidence
DNA led to the arrest last week of the suspected Golden State Killer Joseph James DeAngelo, and it helped exonerate Craig Richard Coley, who spent 39 years in prison for a murder he didn’t commit. Gov. Jerry Brown commuted his sentence in November and the state paid him $1.9 million in compensation for the time he spent unjustly imprisoned. The San Diego Union Tribune helped tell Coley’s story in a moving piece this weekend. It’s worth your time.
Disruption comes to car rentals
Turo is to car rental companies what Uber and Lyft are to cab companies. With the Turo app, people can rent private individuals’ cars, and avoid the costs and hassles of going to major car rental agencies. Not surprisingly, major car rental companies are worried. The fight will spill into the Legislature today when car rental companies, supported by organized labor, will push amendments to legislation that would require the upstarts to comply with the same rules as car rental giants. We’ve seen this before. If past is prologue, and it usually is, the disruptor will make concessions, but the existing industry will lose market share.
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