In summary

Parents weighed down by juvenile justice fees. End nears for controversial pesticide. Top EPA official in the West is dismissed.

Good morning, California.

“It may not mean much to the average person but when everyone says you’re going to be a dropout after getting pregnant at 18 … I just feel so proud. It’s all for my sons.”—Ashley Carcha, 21, of Bakersfield, tweeted upon learning she had been admitted to Cal State Bakersfield. 

  • Cal State Bakersfield, home of the Roadrunners, tweeted back: “To us it means the world to have you join our ‘Runner family.’”
  • Carcha couldn’t go to Sacramento State when she became pregnant, and went to a community college.
  •  Read her story here

Firm to stop making insecticide

Grape vineyard in Northern California, 2019

On the day California’s ban on sales of the pesticide chlorpyrifos took effect, the main manufacturer announced it was ceasing production.

  • The insecticide is used on 50 crops from almonds to grapes.

Citing studies linking its use to brain damage in children, Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration last year announced the ban on sales, starting Thursday. 

On Thursday, Delaware-based Corteva Inc. announced it would stop making chlorpyrifos this year

  • “Our customers, shareholders and employees will benefit by redeploying our resources.”

Val Dolcini, head of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, called the ban and Corteva’s announcement a coincidence:

  • “It was a business decision for Corteva. Use had declined quite a bit.”

California stepped into a void left in 2017 when the Trump administration halted a nationwide ban imposed by the Obama administration.

  • Farm groups and the chemical industry lobbied for the delay. 

United Farm Workers’ spokesman Marc Grossman: 

  • “The wide use of pesticides on our food is a public health concern, and we must continue working to protect our families from their dangers.”

What’s next: 

  • Generic companies still produce the insecticide. 
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continues to study it.
  • In California, farmers have until the end of 2020 to use existing supplies. 
  • Newsom earmarked $5.7 million to study alternatives.

Jamie Johansson, of the California Farm Bureau Federation, called the state’s search for alternatives “disappointing.”

  • “We need state agencies to be open-minded and realistic in evaluating ways to protect crops from pests and plant diseases.”

Big U.S. EPA shake-up

Mike Stoker, regional administrator of the U.S. EPA, left, with Jonathan Morrison of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2018 (AP Photo/Gary Kazanjian)

Mike Stoker, President Trump’s top Environmental Protection Agency official in the West, has been abruptly dismissed.

A former Santa Barbara County supervisor and past legislative and congressional candidate, Stoker lays claim to originating the chant, “Lock her up,” when he was a California delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

Stoker remains loyal to Trump but displayed a framed letter from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on his wall lauding his efforts to clean toxic waste from the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco.

The L.A. Times’ Susanne Rust cites Stoker’s statement:

  • “Bottom line I am proud of the work I’ve done, and I am especially proud that both Democrat and Republican lawmakers have applauded my efforts.”

Stoker received a call Wednesday from EPA headquarters telling him of his termination:

  • “Frankly I have a gut feeling it is and was 100% personal.”

Stoker told me by phone:

  • “I am ‘Lock her up’ Stoker. I am not a squish. There is nothing I have done that the President wouldn’t have wanted me to have done. … It makes no sense for me to take him out in the way I was taken out.”


What to expect: A replacement who has no pretense of being bipartisan.

Electorate turns more partisan

Man standing near a wall casting a shadow of an elephant and a donkey
More voters are registering as Democrats or Republicans. (Photo via iStock)

California voters appear to be turning more partisan, as the number of no-party preference voters declined in the past year, and registered Republican and Democratic voters increased.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla reports there are 20.4 million registered voters in California, almost 81% of the eligible voters.

Heading into the March 3 primary, here is the current breakdown:

  • 9.1 million Democratic voters, 44.6% of the electorate. Democrats gained 497,571 voters in the past year.
  • 5.3 million no-party preference voters, 25.9% of the electorate. Their numbers fell by 353,894 voters since 2019, when they made up 28.3% of all voters.
  • 4.8 million Republican voters, a gain of 90,310 voters since 2019. They make up 23.7% of the electorate. 

Republicans had been losing voters for years.

  • In 2011, there were 5.3 million Republicans, representing almost 31% of the electorate, 7.5 million Democrats, 44%, and 3.5 million NPP voters, 20.4%.

Take a number: 200

bullets and gun on black velvet desk
San Diego is making use of the state’s so-called red flag law.

San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott, one of California’s leading proponents of the state’s so-called red flag law, served gun violence restraining orders on 187 men and 13 women in 2019.

The law allows authorities to obtain court orders to seize guns from individuals who are thought to pose dangers to themselves or others. Elliott also uses a state grant to train officials in other counties.

In San Diego County in 2019, she reports:

  • 45 cases involved a potential mental illness.
  • 71 involved domestic violence.
  • 47 involved suicidal individuals.
  • 10 involved threats of school shootings. 
  • Five cases involved minors.

More than 500 firearms have been confiscated since she launched the program in December 2017.

Ronald Reagan Day

Gov. Ronald Reagan statue in the California Capitol basement

Gov. Gavin Newsom, on the occasion of former Gov. Ronald Reagan’s birthdate, 109 years ago Thursday:

  • “Today we hold President Reagan and his family in our hearts, especially as we continue their later work to support families dealing with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.”

It’s an annual tradition, carried on by governors of both parties.

Commentary at CalMatters

Rob Stutzman, Mitt Romney campaign alum: Many of us hope that Mitt Romney’s decision is a moment of leadership that sears consciences and emboldens people to treat our politics with more dignity and complexity than Trump, cable news and the petulance of many Democrats present to us daily.

Alex Morris, California Energy Storage Alliance: California’s future can be powered by both renewable and reliable energy, but we must have the foresight to make the right investments in storage capacity now.

Adam Freed and Panama Bartholomy: Approximately 20% of the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are associated with the electricity and fuels used in our commercial and residential buildings. Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is offering solutions.


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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.