What’s next after Brown’s climate summit

Good morning, California.

“John Boalt said very vile and racist things. I think the question is: ‘What to do with that today, in light of the history of how the Boalt name came to be used in the law school?'”—UC Berkeley Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, quoted in The Recorder on whether Boalt’s name should be stripped from the law school.

Boalt advocated for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. His widow funded Boalt Hall, which houses the law school, in 1906.

Climate matters: Mainstreet, politics and a damned satellite

Former Vice President Al Gore at the Global Climate Action Summit.

So did it succeed? Gov. Jerry Brown’s Global Climate Action Summit hit three marks, beyond staging a conference.

Mainstream: “McDonald’s is among the nearly 500 companies now working with a nonprofit to slash the carbon footprint of everything it does—from beef production to packaging—to conform with the Paris goals.” (LA Times)

Leadership: “Washington isn’t in charge of America’s energy production. Consumers are.” — Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Brown’s co-host.

California’s part: “The state’s environmental cred is such that it now sets the table, as it did at the three-day conference in San Francisco.” (CALmatters’ Julie Cart)

Damned satellite: “With science still under attack and the climate threat growing, we’re launching our own damn satellite.”—Brown.

California’s plans to track climate change from space capped a week of pomp, pageantry, and promises of real action as big names took the stage, including musician Dave Matthews, former Secretary of State John Kerry and chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Urgency: “Every night on the television news is like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation,” former Vice President Al Gore said. (Mercury News)

Numbers: 4,500 conferees; 400 journalists from roughly 40 countries.

Brown: “Now it’s time to take this momentum back home. Climate change waits for nobody. Let’s get to work.”

Money matters: An early list of donors to the summit shows $1.25 million from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; and $1 million each from Sea Change Foundation, Schwab Charitable Trust and Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser pledged to be carbon neutral by 2020.

How Newsom and Cox would deal with carbon

Gavin Newsom at the Global Climate Action Summit.

Gavin Newsom had no official role at Gov. Jerry Brown’s Global Climate Action Summit last week, but made his presence felt by saying he’d follow in Brown’s footsteps if he is elected governor in November, and might “raise the bar.”

  • Step back: Brown signed landmark legislation last week requiring that California have 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045.
  • But a companion executive order calling on the state to be carbon neutral by 2045 also drew attention.

Executive orders don’t have the force of a law. But Newsom, who stopped by the summit at the Moscone Center, told me the order was “more interesting” than the legislation.

  • How so: Electricity accounts for 16 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Brown’s order applies to the other 84 percent, including internal combustion engines.

Newsom: “It was to me the real game-changer, if we codify that.”

In other words: Look for legislation in 2019 turning that order into law, if Newsom wins.

Newsom’s Republican opponent John Cox calls the executive order a “laudable goal.”

Cox: “What does concern me about any legislation or order, though, is that California families are already paying higher utility costs, higher gas prices, higher food prices … There’s a limit to the affordability pain these politicians can inflict.”

What else: Brown failed to win legislative approval of his idea of creating a partnership with other Western states to operate a regional electricity grid. That would entail sharing authority with other states and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Newsom: “All that is something I’m deeply committed to advancing in conversation.”

He gave himself wiggle room, though, adding, “I’m not ideological about whether or not we should do it.”

California disrupts Kavanaugh

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein

Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation as a U.S. Supreme Court justice, seemingly assured a few days ago, suddenly is less so, thanks to a Palo Alto professor who says Kavanaugh assaulted her when they were teenagers at a party in Maryland 35 years ago.

  • Back up: In July, Sen. Dianne Feinstein received a letter from Christine Blasey Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University. Ford also contacted her congresswoman, Democrat Anna Eshoo of Palo Alto. Ford wanted to remain anonymous. Feinstein and Eshoo honored that request. But as word leaked, Feinstein last week gave the letter to the FBI.
  • Ford, now 51, also reached out to the Washington Post, confidentially at first. On Sunday, she went on the record to the Post about the president’s nominee to succeed outgoing Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Ford: “I thought he might inadvertently kill me. He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing.”

Once again: Californians (Ford, Feinstein, Eshoo) are at the center of a hugely consequential story, and at the core of the resistance against President Donald Trump.

  • Past as prologue: When Feinstein won her Senate seat in 1992, she campaigned on the fact that an all-male Senate Judiciary Committee approved Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the Supreme Court, despite the testimony of a  professor, Anita Hill, that he repeatedly sexually harassed her.
  • Upon taking office, Feinstein gained a seat on the Judiciary Committee and now is its ranking Democratic member.
  • Democrats are demanding a delay on Kavanaugh’s fast-track nomination. At least one Republican—outgoing Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake—joined them.

Republicans have a majority on the Judiciary Committee. The committee vote is scheduled for Thursday. They and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell control the timing. They all are men.

Brown’s UC regents get extra-quick confirmation

The University of California Board of Regents is a plum appointment and appointees generally serve for up to 11 months prior to confirmation, the better for the public to vet them in action.

UC Student Association president Caroline Siegel Singh tells CALmatters’ Felicia Mello: “It’s one of those small measures of accountability” for a position that carries a 12-year term.

But Senate confirmation was unusually swift for Gov. Jerry Brown’s four latest appointees.

  • Less than a month after being announced by the governor’s office, SEIU leader Laphonza Butler, Brown’s former finance director Michael Cohen, current community college Board of Governors President Cecilia Estolano and Solana Beach consultant and school trustee Richard Leib all won approval.
  • Why so accommodating? The appointments “were a priority for Gov. Brown,” according to a spokesperson for Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, whose wife, Jennifer LeSar is the co-founder of an urban planning firm with Estolano.

Atkins personally recused herself from the vote on Estolano, the spokesperson said.

Trying to save teeth (and money)

Long Beach dentist John Blake with patient Nelson Phan.
Toddlers with blackened teeth and swollen faces, unable to eat because of the pain and in need of root canals are a routine sight in his practice, Long Beach dentist John Blake tells CALmatters’ David Gorn.

“It’s rampant,” says Blake, whose nonprofit clinic treats mostly patients in Denti-Cal, the state’s oral-care program for low-income residents.

Now the state is overhauling the program, which costs nearly $2 billion annually and was described by an oversight panel just two years ago as one of California’s “great deficiencies.”

  • Officials are shrinking red tape, paying dentists more and focusing on prevention to reduce crisis care and its high costs.

More dentists are signing up. And pilot programs across the state are testing ways to reach more kids and parents—through presentations at schools, for example.

  • But payments are still only about 30 percent of what private insurers pay, paperwork continues to be onerous and there aren’t yet enough providers.
  • Dentists are waiting to see if improvements can be sustained, Blake says.

Commentary at CALmatters

Dan Walters: Polling shows Californians support carbon reduction in principle, but they have not been fully told what it would take to reach the goal, or what financial sacrifices they would bear to reach it.

“Those issues will be confronted, if at all, long after Jerry Brown has moved into his carbon-neutral retirement home in the Colusa County foothills.”

Two views on Proposition 8, which would increase regulation of kidney dialysis centers:

Megallan Handford: Proposition 8 will protect dialysis patients, reduce these corporations’ obscene profits, and push them to invest in improving care.

Dr. Theodore M. Mazer: Proposition 8 would put the lives of vulnerable dialysis patients at extreme risk by causing severe cutbacks in services and even outright closure of dialysis clinics statewide.

We're celebrating at CALmatters

CALmatters’ explainer on California’s high housing costs won a first-place award Saturday from the Online News Association.

NPR producer Niala Boodhoo, host of the award ceremony in Austin, Tex.: “The judges felt the winning package made excellent use of data, graphics and visualizations to clearly explain a complex, multi-layered problem in an engaging and easy to digest presentation.”

  • “Californians: Here’s Why Your Housing Costs Are So High” was prepared by data and housing reporter Matt Levin, political reporter Ben Christopher, web developer John Osborn D’Agostino and Managing Editor Vicki Haddock. It was among 1,100 entries and won in the “small newsroom” category for features.
  • It was released in August 2017, as the state Legislature was considering a package of bills to address the state’s affordable housing crisis

Congratulations to the team, and thanks to ONA.

Take a look at the explainer here for answers to your questions about housing in California.


Please email or call me with tips, suggestions and insights, [email protected], 916.201.6281. Thanks for reading, please tell a friend and sign up here.

See you tomorrow.

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