California wine sales are being battered by the China trade war. Lorena Gonzalez gets trolled on vaccines. Dems rise in OC, California approaches a population milestone and Trump trashes … a picnic?
Good morning, California.
“I could see him shooting in just every direction. He wasn’t aiming at anyone specifically. It was just left to right, right to left….” — Gilroy shooting witness Julissa Contreras, describing the gunman in combat garb who turned the Gilroy Garlic Festival into a terrifying scene of chaos on Sunday.
Death in Gilroy
A gunman wearing camouflage fatigues and carrying an assault rifle opened fire killing three people and wounding 15 others at the Gilroy Garlic Festival Sunday, according to press reports.
The 6-year-old boy was among the dead. Police killed the suspected shooter, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. A possible accomplice remained at large.
California’s gun safety laws are among the nation’s strictest, as CalMatters’ Ben Christopher has reported in this explainer. Nonetheless, the state has witnessed more than its share of mass shootings.
California gun laws were the focus of federal court action last week:
- The California Rifle & Pistol Association sued to invalidate part of Proposition 63, the 2016 initiative that requires people seeking to buy ammunition undergo background checks to make sure they are legally entitled to own guns.
- U.S. District Judge Roger T. Benitez of San Diego, who regularly sides with gun owners, will hear the case.
U.S. District Judge Josephine L. Staton of Santa Ana upheld California’s ban, ruling that assault weapons are essentially the same as military-issued machine guns.
- Staton: “It is undisputed that the M-16 is outside the scope of the Second Amendment — thus, if a weapon is essentially the same as the M-16, it is not protected by the Second Amendment merely because gun manufacturers have given it a different model number and dubbed it a ‘civilian rifle.’”
- Republican Gov. George Deukmejian signed California’s Assault Weapon Control Act in 1989, after a gunman killed five children at Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton. It has been amended multiple times since, as gun makers altered designs and technology developed.
Self-driving promises and potholes
California is laying the groundwork for the next (slightly scary) phase in its push toward zero-emission transportation: self-driving cars packed with computers using algorithms, cameras, radar and other high-tech gadgetry.
In the third part of her series, The Road to Zero, CalMatters’ Julie Cart dips into the future at a former Navy base near the Bay Area city of Concord that has been transformed into the nation’s largest autonomous-vehicle proving ground.
The 2,100-acre facility, GoMentum Station, run by the American Automobile Association, is an innovation hive where Silicon Valley marries its futuristic vision to the automobile industry’s traditional know-how.
- Cart: “Officials say automated cars will dovetail in two ways with greenhouse-gas-cutting policies in California, where the transportation sector belches out nearly half of the state’s climate-warming emissions. They’ll be included in the fleets of ridesharing companies … and they’ll almost certainly run on batteries. “
- Americans don’t yet trust computer-driven vehicles, polls show.
- Left-hand turns remain technologically problematic.
- The technology jeopardizes jobs for drivers. Sen. Bill Dodd, a Napa Democrat, is carrying legislation backed by the transit workers’ union that would require at least one employee to staff fully-automated public transit vehicles.
Legislative staff analysis: “This bill diminishes the benefit of using AVs, making them less useful as a tool to help transit agencies provide their riders with better service.”
Trade war’s toll on wine
As the Trump Administration’s trade war with China grinds on, California winemakers are getting crushed by a one-two punch: retaliatory tariff and tax increases of at least 85%.
Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, testifying before an Assembly hearing focused on China trade earlier this month, reported that California’s wine exports to China fell 25% last year. Chilean and Australian wine sales to China surged.
- Kounalakis: “Let me say for the record, their wine is not as good as California wine.”
- David Fischer, of Ramey Wines in Sonoma County: “You could sense the momentum that was coming. Then the tariffs sucked the life out of it all. It pretty much ground everything to a halt.”
Honore Comfort of the Wine Institute said that even if the tariffs ended tomorrow, relationships could take a decade to rebuild.
- Bloomberg: Vintners have been leaning on their elected representatives to bring them relief. It’s unclear if they’ve had any impact on the teetotaler president.
- California almond exports to China have fallen by a third, amid tariffs.
- Australia’s almond exports have increased 88% to China.
- Container trade at the Long Beach port fell 18% in May.
- Kounalakis: “I think people are still in sort of prayer mode that Trump will reverse course,” though she said “that’s not very likely.”
- Assemblyman Phil Ting, the San Francisco Democrat who chaired the hearing: “We are not the ones in charge of trade policy.”
Trade talks are to resume in Shanghai today. Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Friday: “I wouldn’t expect any grand deal.”
Registration reality check
President Donald Trump repeated the lie last week that undocumented immigrants vote in California:
- “They vote many times, not just twice, not just three times. It’s like a circle. They come back, they put a new hat on. They come back, they put a new shirt on.”
Reality check: In the traditional heart of GOP power, Orange County, Democratic voter registration will overtake Republican registration any day, if it hasn’t already.
Over the weekend, the Orange County Registrar of Voters reported that out of 1.606 million voters:
- 546,392 are Republicans, 34%, a drop of almost 29,000 in four years.
- 545,392 are Democrats. That’s a mere 1,000-voter deficit.
- 440,965 are no-party preference voters, 27%.
As Trump began running for the presidency in 2015, there were 124,600 more registered Republicans than Democrats in Orange County. Of OC’s 1.4 million voters four years ago:
- 575,329 were Republicans, 40%.
- 450,704 were Democrats, 32%.
- 327,222 were no-party preference voters, 23%.
Twitter war over vaccines
Hollywood anti-vaxxer Rob Schneider, the star of such cultural touchstones as “Real Rob” and “Deuce Bigalow,” has been trolling Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, a strong supporter of immunizing children.
The Twitter war intensified earlier this month when when Sen. Richard Pan’s Senate Bill 276, which would restrict bogus medical exemptions from vaccines, landed before the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Gonzalez chairs the committee and is the bill’s principal co-author.
Anti-vaccine activists lined up to denounce the bill, and Gonzalez reminded them several times to limit their testimony to their name, organization and position on the bill. Several went off track, prompting Gonzalez to reiterate the rules. Seeking to make Gonzalez look bad, opponents of the bill posted a video clip of the exchanges.
- Schneider to Gonzalez: “You are to ‘good governance’ what a dumpster fire of rotten restaurant garbage is to Fine Dining!” the actor wrote.
- Gonzalez shot back: “Let’s agree to disagree. You think vaccines cause autism. I believe in science.”
And she tweeted that Schneider was an “ultimate bully.”
Gonzalez’s husband, San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, taking his share of abuse, tweeted a debate challenge to Schneider. Schneider declined.
- Gonzalez: “I guess he was angry about being punked on John Oliver and so now he is going crazy on me (and Nathan) ….”
The bill awaits an Assembly vote before heading to Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Yes, California is more so
California, Wallace Stegner wrote, is America only more so. How much more so? An explainer from CalMatters’ Judy Lin counts the ways.
Golden State population is expected to hit 40 million any day now. How big is this state?
- So big that, to match its size, you’d have to combine 21 of the smallest states plus the District of Columbia.
- So big that tens of thousands of families can leave for other states each year, and California still has a lower rate of out-migration than any other state, proportionate to its overall number of households.
California’s headcount has figured prominently in the debates over immigration and the 2020 census, as well as in conversations about the state’s tax policies.
- Curious to know whether the rich are fleeing?
- Wondering why so many of your neighbors seem old lately?
Lin has the data. To read more, please click here.
As for the Wallace Stegner line, Kathy Olmsted, a UC Davis history professor, tracked down the original source. It’s worth a read, too.
Nancy Pelosi’s district
President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday: “Speaking of failing badly, has anyone seen what is happening to Nancy Pelosi’s district in San Francisco. It is not even recognizeable [sic] lately. Something must be done before it is too late. “
It was unclear to what failure the president was referring. The main happening Sunday in Pelosi’s district was the Presidio picnic, where the House Speaker’s constituents spent the day dining al fresco.
Commentary at CalMatters
Jim Boren, Institute for Media and Public Trust at Fresno State University: I had no idea I was part of a short-term experiment to get farmers through a labor shortage that was created when Congress killed the Bracero Program after the 1964 harvest. It turned out to be one of the most meaningful summers of my youth.
Dan Walters, CalMatters: The University of California implicitly denies jobs or promotions to those who don’t enthusiastically endorse “diversity,” however that’s defined.