In summary

Newsom takes on McConnell over gun violence. California’s recycling efforts suffer another blow. Duncan Hunter gets a primary challenge.

Good morning, California.

“White nationalism is the purest form of identity politics. It seeks to define ‘Americanness’ by one’s lineage and ancestry. It views the growing Latino population as an invasion, as illegal, as criminal—as less than human. The next obvious step is violence.”—Mike Madrid, Republican political consultant in The Los Angeles Times.

Newsom challenges McConnell

Gov. Gavin Newsom discusses gun violence at the Capitol.

Gov. Gavin Newsom called for nationwide background checks on people who purchase ammunition, and took a whack at U.S. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell for failing to put gun control legislation to a vote.

  • Newsom: “Mitch McConnell is a coward. He’s abdicated leadership.” 

On Monday, the governor convened law enforcement officials, academics, labor leaders and civil libertarians to discuss extremist violence in the wake of recent mass shootings.

  • There’s little chance Congress would adopt a California-style law require background checks on people seeking to buy ammunition.
  • The L.A. Times reported that because of that California law, more than 100 felons and other prohibited persons were blocked from buying ammunition in the last month.
  • Newsom: “Guns require a dangerous component: That’s ammunition.”

California has some of the nation’s toughest gun control laws, but Arizona and Nevada have far fewer restrictions, a reason why there ought to be stronger federal law, Newsom said.

  • Newsom: “In the absence of federal laws, you have a patchwork.”

The gunman who killed three people at the Gilroy Garlic Festival a week ago Sunday bought his assault weapon legally from a Nevada gun dealer. That gun was illegal under California law.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms reports that while 17,397 guns used in crimes in the state were traced to California in 2017, 2,185 came from Arizona, 1,554 from Nevada and 764 from Texas.

Recycling takes a new hit

Plastic bottles in San Jose

California’s faltering recycling effort took a turn for the worse Monday when a company shuttered 284 so-called low-volume recycling centers mostly at grocery stores and laid off 750 workers.

RePlanet took the action despite Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to include an additional $5 million subsidy in the new budget for low-volume recyclers. 

The Ontario-based company cited insufficient state payments, plus “the depressed pricing of recycled aluminum and PET plastic, and the rise in operating costs resulting from minimum wage increases and required health and workers compensation insurance.”

Other issues: 

  • Asian countries refuse to accept California’s detritus.
  • The price of plastic, paper and glass has fallen.
  • California officials have failed to persuade producers to reduce waste.
  • Nor have they figured out ways to encourage industry to make use of the waste.

For CalMatters’ backgrounder on the recycling program by Rachel Becker, please click here.

The Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery won’t make payments from the $5 million fund until September. Only companies in operation would qualify, so rePlanet will receive none of the $5 million, a CalRecycle spokesman said.

  • Mark Murray of Californians Against Waste on reRlanet’s closure: “This represents a costly loss for California’s environment and economy.”

Murray urged Newsom to release part of a $360 million surplus in California’s recycling account to assist low-volume recyclers, and to develop a longer-longer term strategy to solve the recycling issue.

What’s a consumer to do: By law, grocery stores are obligated to accept your bottles and cans. So you can bring your recycling directly to grocers,

Duncan Hunter’s trial by politics

Carl DeMaio is running against Duncan Hunter.

San Diego Republican talk show host Carl DeMaio, the leading backer of a failed 2018 initiative to repeal California’s gas tax, announced Monday he will challenge Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter, who faces federal criminal charges of using campaign money for personal use.

Hunter is one of seven Republicans left in California’s 53-member congressional delegation, and is scheduled to go on trial in San Diego in September. Allegations include using campaign funds to pay for extramarital affairs and family outings, and improperly claiming making donations to military veterans.

DeMaio, a former San Diego City Councilman, warned that “if Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez get their way, our entire country will be like California,” Politico’s Jeremy White reported

Unanswered questions:

  • Will former Congressman Darrell Issa, a Republican who served in a neighboring district in San Diego and Orange counties, attempt a comeback by challenging Hunter.
  • If Hunter survives the trial and, in fact, runs for reelection, will House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy come to Hunter’s aid, as is the custom for conference leaders.

Seeking diversity

Republican Charles Munger Jr. funded initiatives creating California’s Independent Redistricting Commission.

The California State Auditor extended the deadline to apply for a seat on the California Citizens Redistricting Commission to Aug. 19 in the hope of attracting a more diverse pool of applicants.

State Auditor Elaine Howle, charged with staffing California’s Citizens Redistricting Commission, welcomes all regular voters without a history of state government employment, lobbying or big campaign spending, CalMatters’ Ben Christopher reports

The 14 seats must be filled by five Democrats, five Republicans and four independent voters, and must reflect the state’s diversity.

Applicants so far are:

  • 59% men, 40% women and 1% non-binary.
  • 63% white, 15% Hispanic, 8% black, 7% Asian-Pacific Islander, 1% American Indian and 6% other.
  • 50% Democrats, 28% Republicans, with the rest no party preference or minor parties.
  • 40% from southern coastal regions, 18% from the Bay Area, 13% from the Northern Central Valley, 12% from the Southern Central Valley, 10% from Inland Empire and 6% from the Central Coast.

Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger promoted the initiatives that established the commission and made it responsible for drawing legislative and congressional districts.

Unlike other states where politicians engineer districts to their benefit, California had numerous competitive races in the districts drawn by the commission after the 2010 census.

Lessons from Oregon tenants’ win

An aerAn aerial image of Portland, Oregon, which just passed significant rent control protections. Photo by Chronus via Wikimedia Commons.
An aerial view of Portland, Oregon

California tenant groups have had a rough year as measures to control rent and provide extra protection against evictions have faltered.

But tenant advocates flummoxed by reluctant Democratic lawmakers have a new north star to guide their political strategy: Oregon, CalMatters’ Matt Levin and The L.A. Times’ Liam Dillon report on the latest episode of Gimme Shelter, the California Housing Crisis Podcast.

And moderate Democratic lawmakers may not like the lessons gleaned from their northern neighbors.   

Pam Phan, of the Community Alliance of Tenants in Oregon, tells Levin and Dillon:

  • “We’ve done what folks thought impossible, which is breach the conversation … that no state will regulate the rent in this way.”

So how did Oregon tenants succeed where others failed? To Read Dillon’s piece, please click here. To hear Gimme Shelter episodes, please click here. You can subscribe to Gimme Shelter on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Google Play, Spotify or Overcast.

Commentary at CalMatters

Garry South, Democratic consultant: Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures. Gov. Newsom was right–morally, legally and politically—to sign Senate Bill 27 requiring presidential candidates to release their tax returns to appear on the primary ballot. Good for him for being a Democratic governor with the courage to do so, and to take the resulting flak. 

Dan Walters, CalMatters: Legislators are working on a plan to shift money from California’s bedraggled bullet train project to improvements in commuter transit.

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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...