In summary

California strikes emissions deal with automakers. Why you shouldn’t expect new auto factories in the state. New law helps end all-male corporate boards.

Good morning, California.

“He didn’t even talk to his last victim. He’s getting off the bus and he turns and shoots the person.” —Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Billy Hayes, after a gunman went on a rampage, killing four people in North Hollywood. Police subdued him with a Taser and took him into custody.

A big deal with four carmakers

Four automakers have struck an emissions deal with California.

Ford, Honda, Volkswagen and BMW are siding with California in its fight with the Trump administration over auto emissions. The question: What about the other major car makers?

Gov. Gavin Newsom and California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols told reporters Thursday that the four car companies, which control 30% of the market, will comply with California’s emission requirements. 

In exchange, the four will get an extra year to meet the state’s standards, CalMatters’ Rachel Becker reports.

The issue: President Donald Trump seeks to roll back Obama administration fuel-efficiency and greenhouse gas standards, revoke California’s authority to set its own standards, and establish a nationwide standard. 

  • The White House statement: “The federal government, not a single state, should set this standard. We are moving forward to finalize a rule for the benefit of all Americans.”

Trump’s proposal would set a fuel-economy standard of 37 miles per gallon in 2020, far short of the Obama goal of 47 mpg in 2025. As fuel efficiency improves, greenhouse gas emissions decrease.

  • Newsom: “The Trump administration is hellbent on rolling [greenhouse gas emission standards] back. They are in complete denialism about climate change. We see a future that is much brighter than the future the Trump administration is trying to paint.”

California played a direct role in Obama’s regulations. Early in Trump’s presidency, automakers pushed him to revisit those standards. But with California prepared to litigate the issue, car makers were faced with the prospect of having to meet California and federal standards.

  • Air Board member Dean Florez: “Where are GM and Toyota? Are they jumping on the California zero emission vehicle bus heading toward the future or looking in the rear view mirror with Trump?”

A deal that won’t happen

Tesla’s Fremont factory

As Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a deal with four major automakers over emission standards, I couldn’t help but wonder whether there’s any chance he might persuade one or more to open a factory in California.

Southern California, after all, rivaled Detroit 50 years ago as the center of auto manufacturing in America.

Newsom said he spoke earlier this week with Elon Musk, founder of California’s lone automaker, about issues related to Tesla’s Fremont factory.

He didn’t offer details, though in the past Tesla has sought better access to mass transit and faced an organizing drive by United Auto Workers. 

Musk disclosed in June that Tesla would build its new zero-emission crossover, the Y, at the Fremont facility. 

  • As for my question, Newsom said: “Obviously, the challenge for us is multifaceted.”

Think land and labor costs, and environmental regulations. Not to mix metaphors, but that ship has sailed.

A law that is pushing change

No S&P 500 companies has an all-male board of directors.

Then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation last September requiring that publicly traded companies based in California have at least one woman on their boards of directors. 

Critics claimed it was unconstitutional. Brown acknowledged as much when he signed the bill, writing

  • “I don’t minimize the potential flaws that indeed may prove fatal to its ultimate implementation. Nevertheless, recent events in Washington, D.C.—and beyond—make it crystal clear that many are not getting the message.”

Legal or not, the bill by Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, a Santa Barbara Democrat, is having an impact. 

The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and CNN Business report that there are no longer any companies among the S&P 500 with all-male boards of directors. Each cited Jackson’s legislation as one of the reasons.

Diversity rules on California court

California Supreme Court.

California is the only state with a majority of its Supreme Court seats filled by nonwhite justices, the Brennan Center for Justice reports.

The report, detailed by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Bob Egelko, analyzed the racial diversity of the supreme courts of every state since 1960, the first year data were available. 

Five of California’s seven high court seats, or 71%, are filled by nonwhite justices. The other two include a woman, Carol A. Corrigan, and Joshua Groban, who is Jewish. Republican governors appointed three of the justices, and Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, appointed the other four.

In contrast, 24 states currently have an all-white supreme court bench, and 13 states have never seated a nonwhite justice, the report found. 

  • White men make up 30% of the population but 56% of the justices on state supreme courts. Women total half the population and 36% of the justices. Three of California’s seven justices are women.

High courts have become less reflective of the population they serve in the past 20 years, the report found. 

  • “The gap between the proportion of people of color on the supreme court bench and their representation in the U.S. population was higher in 2017 than it was over two decades ago, in 1996.”

Why drownings are declining

Enclosed pools have played a role in the decline of drownings.

Drownings of children have plummeted since the 1990s, when California lawmakers began approving strict safety standards for pools, Phillip Reese of Kaiser Health News’ California Health reports.

Drownings have fallen nationally but not as dramatically as in California, Reese writes, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

A 1996 bill signed by Gov. Pete Wilson required that pools be enclosed by fences with self-latching gates, and covers. It didn’t happen without a fight.

The California Spa and Pool Industry Education Council argued that fences would create a false sense of security, and that the 70 child drownings annually at the time was “a low number considering that there are more than 2 million pools within the state,” the bill’s analysis said.

Safety improvement costs were pegged at $1,500. 

The numbers: 

  • From 1980 to 1982, 586 California children 14 and younger died in accidental drownings, a rate of 3.7 deaths per 100,000 children
  • From 1999 to 2001, after California adopted new standards, the pace fell sharply to a rate of 1.4 deaths per 100,000. 
  • From 2015 to 2017, 186 children drowned in California, 0.8 drownings per 100,000 children.
  • Nationally, the rate fell to 1.1 per 100,000 between 2015-2017.

Sen. Jerry Hill, a San Mateo Democrat and a swimming pool contractor, said safety requirements “definitely worked.”

  • “They’re more common sense than anything else, and are not complicated or costly.”

Take a number: 48

Four children have died this year by unintentional shootings in California.

As of this week, 48 children have died across the nation this year when one child shoots another with an unsecured firearms, Children’s Firearm Safety Alliance finds.

Texas leads the nation with 19 unintentional shootings by children of children, followed by Tennessee at 18 so far this year, The Tennessean of Nashville reports

In California, where safe-storage laws long have been on the books, there have been four such shootings.

In San Bernardino County, however, Gabriela Keeton was bound over for trial on Thursday on charges of child cruelty. The 45-year-old mother is accused of leaving a gun unsecured in her bedroom. One of her 12-year-old twins shot and killed the other in June.

Commentary at CalMatters

Charles Wilson, Southern California Water Coalition: Living in earthquake country makes planning and emergency preparedness critical. Taking steps to prepare for the worst is important. Understanding where our water comes from, and just how important all of our supplies are, is a good start.

Dan Walters, CalMatters: Having declared that he’ll fix California’s Department of Motor Vehicles, Gov. Gavin Newsom now owns it and will pay the penalty for failure.

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.

Barbara is a master's student at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism, where she studies new media. She holds an undergraduate degree in journalism from Sacramento State, where she served as editor...