In summary

Ben Carson and Eric Garcetti discuss solutions to homelessness. Sanders lights into PG&E. Sacramento Bee owner files for bankruptcy.

Good morning, California.

Non-apology apology of the day: “Our opinion is this didn’t impact the game. We had a good team. We won the World Series, and we’ll leave it at that.”—Houston Astros owner Jim Crane, as the team apologized, sort of, for stealing signs in the 2017 World Series.

  • Or maybe Crane was sorry that Dodgers fans are upset that the Astros cheated. Or not. Whatever.

Start of a beautiful friendship

Housing Secretary Ben Carson and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger

An unlikely relationship between U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti was on display Thursday, as the Democratic mayor and Trump administration official worked on solving the homelessness crisis, CalMatters’ Matt Levin tells us.

Carson urged bipartisanship to an assemblage of officials that included Garcetti, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger sponsored the event at USC.

  • Carson: “We’re not enemies. Let’s stop spending time trying to denigrate each other.”

Carson offered few specifics on such cooperation. He did announce a new initiative that calls on churches, mosques and synagogues to “adopt a homeless person.” That could get nearly every homeless person off the street if enough religious groups bought in, Carson said.

Faulconer, who is planning a 2022 initiative on homelessness, said stricter drug laws and encampment sweeps are necessary, along with more mental health care and housing:

  • “What I’m talking about today is obvious to almost anyone walking on our streets but considered politically incorrect by many insiders.”

Garcetti said the solution requires taxpayer dollars and a legal obligation for homeless people to accept shelter if beds are available: 

  • “The real solution to homelessness does piss off at the end of the day liberals and conservatives.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom was not there, although Steinberg is co-chair of the governor’s task force on homelessness. Expect more from the governor in next week’s State of the State Speech.

Questioning Newsom’s green deal

Stacks of compressed aluminum awaiting transport at greenwaste recovery facility on July 29, 2019
Stacks of compressed aluminum awaiting transport at greenwaste recovery facility

The Legislative Analyst took aim Thursday at Gov. Gavin Newsom’s proposal to use $1 billion in state funds to seed innovative climate change ideas, questioning the state’s ability to even identify the right projects, CalMatters’ Rachel Becker reports.

Remind me: 

  • The Climate Catalyst Loan Fund, which Newsom called for in his $222.2 billion budget proposal for next year, would offer low-interest loans to public and private projects. 
  • The goal is to fill the gap for efforts that would otherwise struggle to attract venture capital money or bank loans—particularly those intended to combat climate impacts of recycling, transportation, agriculture and forestry sectors.  

The Legislative Analyst’s Office, which advises California’s Legislature, issued a report warning legislators that the administration may not be able to spot the best projects to fund. 

Brian Weatherford, of the analyst’s office:

  • “They need to be able to repay the loan. So they can’t be too risky, and if they’re super safe, they can probably get funding from a conventional lender.” 

Weatherford suggested starting smaller, with a pilot project.

Newsom Press Secretary Vicky Waters: 

  • “California cannot wait to make major investments that deploy and scale technologies to meet our climate goals. We look forward to working with the Legislature on this issue.” 

And so the budget dance begins.

A newspaper’s bankruptcy

Sacramento Bee’s founding editor, James McClatchy, was a protege of Horace Greeley. (Courtesy, Sacramento Bee)

The Sacramento Bee, the flagship of the McClatchy Newspaper chain and a paper that helped shape California politics and policy for most of its 163 years, will publish today and for the foreseeable future, even as its owners turn to bankruptcy court to reorganize hundreds of millions in debt.

Chatham Asset Management LLC, a hedge fund, is expected to emerge as the 30-newspaper chain’s new owner, as the McClatchy family relinquishes control. There are no plans to cease publication.

McClatchy D.C.’s Kevin Hall reports the company has $703 million in debt and unfunded pension obligations of $805 million. 

  • The company’s fortune turned after its ill-timed purchase of the larger Knight-Ridder chain in 2006. 
  • Within two years, the Great Recession hit, and revenue plunged.

The Bee’s Dale Kasler detailed much of The Bee’s history

The Bee’s founding editor, James McClatchy, was a protege of Horace Greeley. He left the paper to his sons, one of whom was Charles Kenny “C.K.” McClatchy, a progressive.

He was a friend of Hiram Johnson, the governor who ushered in direct democracy. He also editorialized against privately owned electric utilities, leading to the creation of the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. 

I had the honor of being The Bee’s editorial page editor for four years and was struck by its tradition whenever I stepped into the editorial board conference room. There, hung photos of such great Americans as FDR, JFK, Earl Warren, and Booker T. Washington who visited the paper over the decades.

Sanders burns PG&E

Screen shot of Bernie Sanders’ PG&E video

Democratic presidential frontrunner Bernie Sanders is lighting into PG&E in his latest presidential campaign ad targeting California’s primary voters. The 3-minute video includes footage of  activists and wildfire survivors assailing PG&E for its role in recent deadly blazes.

  • The San Francisco Chronicle: Sanders walks through the burned remains of Paradise toward the end of the video as his supporters champion the Vermont senator’s proposed Green New Deal, “and indicate they want the investor-owned PG&E to become a publicly owned utility.”

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, making a play for the biggest delegate prize in the super Tuesday states, also is talking about California wildfires.

So are California pols. Sen. Scott Wiener released a re-election ad touting PG&E as a failed company that should be taken over by the state.

  • Wiener has proposed SB 917, which would establish a state power authority to purchase the utility’s assets and then transition from investor to public ownership.

California gun deaths

photo of sitting man hand gun in home
Image via iStock

California had the sixth-lowest rate of death by gun violence, including suicide, of the 50 states, at 7.5 per 100,000 population, in 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports

  • California’s 3,040 gun-related deaths were second to Texas’ 3,522. 
  • Texas’ rate of gun death was 12.2 per 100,000.
  • The national average was 11.9.
  • States with the highest gun death rates have far fewer gun restrictions than states such as California, which have stronger gun control laws. CalMatters’ Ben Christopher detailed California’s restrictions.

The online publication The Trace:

  • “In December, Congress approved $25 million in funding for the CDC and the National Institutes of Health to study gun violence, the first time since 1996 that federal dollars were earmarked for that cause. The budget proposal released this week by the Trump administration does not include that funding.”

Commentary at CalMatters

Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, Rocklin Republican: For decades, Pacific Gas and Electric has methodically executed what the New York Times called its “political playbook”: giving millions and getting its way. As PG&E seeks to exit bankruptcy again, the Legislature and Gov. Newsom must act to loosen its grip on the Capitol by banning it from giving campaign donations.

Ken Pimlott, former chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection: Executed well, Michael Bloomberg’s fire and forestry proposal will reduce loss of life and property over the next four years, saving the U.S. economy billions of dollars each year.


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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.