Green energy, utilities at risk

Good morning, California.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday the Trump administration cannot withhold federal money from sanctuary cities.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who sued Trump:  sanctuary policies “make our city safer by encouraging anyone who has been a victim or witness to a crime to tell police.”

U.S. Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley: the ruling is “a  victory for criminal aliens in California.”

Brown: Utilities and green energy goals are at risk

Gov. Jerry Brown at Office of Emergency Services Wednesday.

Gov. Jerry Brown, appearing at the Office of Emergency Services nerve center as fires raged, warned Wednesday that the high cost of liability for wildfires could be the end of private utilities such as Pacific Gas & Electric.

Remind me: Brown last week asked a two-house conference committee to ease liability for utilities in future fires, so long as they work to limit fire risk.

Brown seeks a “reasonable balance that would reward players including utilities for doing the right thing, but make them liable when they didn’t take the steps that common sense and prudence would warrant.”

Brown: “How are we going to allocate these costs? If you say it is all the utilities forever, there won’t be utilities. There will just be public agencies and it will all go through the tax system.”

And this: “There is concern that we could lose our utilities. And if we do that, our whole program of trying to deal with renewable energy and mitigate climate change could be adversely affected.”

Tough sell: Some legislators are hesitant in an election year to approve bills that could be seen as helping PG&E when the state has not completed its investigation of fires that killed 41 people last October.

Newsom taps small donors. Cox wins retirees

Gavin Newsom.

Democrat Gavin Newsom tapped small-dollar donors as he vastly outraised Republican John Cox in the race for governor, the latest campaign finance reports show.

Newsom collected almost $1.8 million from people who gave $500 or less. Nearly half of his 21,396 separate donations through June 30 were for less than $100. CALmatters Laurel Rosenhall detailed the trend in this recent story.

Businessman Cox, who is helping to fund his campaign, received 1,627 donations of less than $100, and $634,646 from people who gave $500 or less.

Cox is beating Newsom in one category: donors who describe themselves as retired, collecting $676,409 from 3,005 retirees compared with Newsom’s $634,540 from 769 self-identified retirees.

Why it matters: A relatively small number of donors give the maximum contribution allowed under state law, $29,000. But candidates can return multiple times to people who give small sums. Those small donors help fuel campaigns, particularly on the national level.

P.S. Newsom ended June with $11.1 million in his campaign account, compared with Cox’s $1.46 million, a total puffed by $500,000 of Cox’s own wealth. Since July 1, Newsom has raised at least $767,700, compared with Cox’s $197,500.

Why Obama endorsed in an Assembly race

In addition to endorsing Democrat Gavin Newsom (no surprise) for governor, former President Barack Obama stepped into a Bay Area Assembly race Wednesday by endorsing first-time candidate Buffy Wicks over Richmond City Councilwoman Jovanka Beckles.

There’s history: Wicks was an early employee of Obama’s first presidential campaign, a grassroots organizer for the 2008 and 2012 races, and an integral part of the White House effort to generate support for the Affordable Care Act.

Several former Obama administration officials have donated to her, including chief strategist David Axelrod and 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe.

You might figure Wicks’ credentials would suffice for one the state’s most liberal districts. She is a veteran of organized labor’s campaign against Wal-Mart. But the National Democratic Socialists of America endorsed Beckles, as did the California Teachers Associations and California Labor Federation.

Steve Smith of the Labor Fed: “It primarily boils down to the fact that Beckles is known and has been a solid vote for working people …  Wicks was less of a known commodity to them.”

Money matters: Beckles enters the general election with $25,000 in the bank to Wicks’ $101,000. Wicks has received donations from Sacramento players including the California Medical and Dental associations.

Govern for California, a political action committee founded by David Crane (a CALmatters donor), spent more than $450,000 on an independent campaign during the primary for Wicks.

Parents help kids buy homes, if they can afford it

Parents increasingly are stepping in to help their adult children buy their first homes, KPCC’s David Wagner and Aaron Mendelson report in the latest episode of the California Dream project in collaboration with CALmatters.

KPCC found that one in three FHA-backed loans include down payment from relatives, up from one in four in 2011.

Housing experts worry about the reliance on family wealth. Many black and Latino families don’t have wealth to share because past government policies shut them out of homeownership.

Richard Green, director of USC’s Lusk Center for Real Estate: “It’s almost like we’re feudal now. You inherit the manor from your family if you happen to be a landowner. If you’re not a landowner, it’s really hard to get in.”

A proposal to help newspapers

Assemblyman Marc Levine, a Marin County Democrat, today will propose several steps intended to help struggling newspapers.

Among his suggestions: an exemption of sales taxes on newspaper sales; a tax break to counter tariffs imposed by President Trump on Canadian newsprint; and labor rules that would provide some protection for reporters from layoffs in ownership changes.

Levine: “Trump calls journalists the enemy and his trade policies actively undermine local news by artificially inflating newsprint costs. We need to take the side of our constitutionally protected free press.”

Elsewhere: Many states provide funding for public broadcast, as California once did. Legislators in New Jersey recently allocated $5 million for local journalism consortiums.

Walters: ‘Lord’s work’ goes undone, unless you’re a mogul

CALmatters’ commentator Dan Walters cites Gov. Jerry Brown’s words that reforming the California Environmental Quality Act is “the Lord’s work.” Legislators lift the red tape imposed by the law for sports arenas, but not for housing.

Walters: “Self-evidently, they’d rather cater to sports moguls than address the critical need for new housing.”


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