Your guide to California policy and politics
BY Emily Hoeven June 8, 2022
Presented by California Cattle Council, NextGen Policy, and California Water Service

Could DA Boudin recall spell trouble for Attorney General Bonta?

KEEP TABS ON THE LATEST CALIFORNIA POLICY AND POLITICS NEWS

Get ready for a lot more ads attempting to link Attorney General Rob Bonta to Chesa Boudin, the progressive district attorney whom San Francisco voters ousted Tuesday night in one of the most closely watched races in California’s primary election.

But it’s unclear if such an approach will prove effective, given the two men’s sharply contrasting showings at the polls.

  • Partial returns showed Bonta comfortably ahead of his opponents with 56% of the vote — close to the percentage of San Franciscans who voted to oust Boudin.
  • Bonta, a progressive Democrat appointed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, will likely face off in the November general election against one of two Republicans: Nathan Hochman, a former federal prosecutor who had 18%, or Eric Early, a lawyer to the right of Hochman with 16% of the vote.

Repeatedly comparing Bonta to Boudin didn’t work too well for Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, a Republican-turned-independent attorney general candidate who had just 8% of the vote.

  • That Boudin’s fate could have little to no bearing on Bonta was implicit in a statement from Rachel Michelin, president and CEO of the California Retailers Association. That organization and other industry groups have been increasingly vocal about the need for state and local lawmakers to address what they perceive as rising crime and theft.
  • Michelin: The Boudin recall “makes clear what Californians’ attitude has been for months — if district attorneys in California won’t provide consequences to those who repeatedly violate the law, then voters will provide consequences for district attorneys.”
  • Emphasis on district attorneys — and not on attorneys general.
  • That could be a coded warning for progressive Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón, who is fending off a potential recall of his own. “If LA County voters sign and return their recall petitions, Gascón will be walking the same plank (as Boudin) in the very near future,” the campaign working to recall Gascón said Tuesday night.

Either way, crime is sure to play a large role in the November runoff for Los Angeles mayor, which will see billionaire developer Rick Caruso, a Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat, square off against progressive Democratic Rep. Karen Bass.

Here are key takeaways from California’s other statewide races. For more details, check out CalMatters’ live primary results page.

  • Governor: Newsom, who far outpaced all of the two-dozen-plus candidates seeking to replace him, will face off against Republican state Sen. Brian Dahle of Bieber in the November general election — a result that took all of 45 minutes to determine. Michael Shellenberger, who like Schubert was a no-party-preference candidate, had just 3% in early returns.
  • U.S. Senator: Alex Padilla — another Newsom appointee — will likely easily sail to reelection in November in two different races for the same seat, facing Republican constitutional attorney Mark Meuser in runoffs for each.
  • Controller: In what could be one of the hottest races on the November ballot, Republican Lanhee Chen is poised to go to head-to-head with one of four Democrats. Malia Cohen was leading the pack in early returns, followed by Yvonne Yiu, who poured nearly $6 million of her own money into the race.
  • Insurance commissioner: Get ready for what could be more blue-on-blue battles as incumbent Ricardo Lara and Assemblymember Marc Levine seem likely to continue what’s already been a pretty nasty intraparty fight.
  • Schools superintendent: Despite a lack of significant opposition, incumbent Tony Thurmond appeared unlikely to secure the more than 50% of votes needed to avoid a November runoff. It’s a close race for the second spot that includes Ainye E. Long, a virtually unknown teacher who appears not to have raised any money for her campaign.
  • What about contested seats in the state Legislature and U.S. House of Representatives? CalMatters has the most important highlights — including some surprises — on our live primary results page. Check it out — we’ll continue to update it as votes are tabulated.
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California schools got $29 billion in federal stimulus money, plus billions more from state relief programs. But it’s difficult to know how districts have actually used the funds. CalMatters reporters Robert Lewis and Joe Hong spent three months looking into spending. Laptops? Of course. Air filters? Yeah, sure. An ice cream truck? Um…

Be sure to check out their report tomorrow.

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The coronavirus bottom line: As of Monday, California had 9,058,902 confirmed cases (+0.8% from previous day) and 90,892 deaths (+0.1% from previous day), according to state data now updated just twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays. CalMatters is also tracking coronavirus hospitalizations by county.

California has administered 76,658,096 vaccine doses, and 75.4% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated.

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1 3 big water announcements

A canal flows through orchards west of Fresno on June 3, 2022. Photo by Larry Valenzuela, CalMatters

California’s water world was hit with three major announcements Tuesday as drought tightens its grip on a state preparing for a massive heat wave and increased fire danger this week:

  • In sweeping water curtailments stretching from Fresno to the Oregon state line, state regulators ordered cities and growers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta watershed to stop pumping from rivers and streams, CalMatters’ Rachel Becker reports. Starting today, the cutbacks will hit 4,252 water rights holders, including at least 400 held by 212 public water systems. The curtailments are concentrated around the San Joaquin River and its tributaries, where state officials expect “significant, very deep cuts.” And they’re “affecting water users that may have not been impacted in well over 100 years, or were affected for the first time just last year,” Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, told Rachel.
  • Meanwhile, statewide water use continues to trend in the wrong direction. Urban Californians increased their water use 17.6% in April compared to the same point two years ago, new data shows — barely an improvement from the 19% uptick in March. Overall, California has slashed its water use by just 2% compared to 2020 levels since last July, when Newsom begged residents to conserve 15%.  
  • Last but not least, state water officials unanimously approved a voluntary water sharing program in the Russian River region aimed at heading off the steep curtailments sweeping the Delta watershed. Under the newly minted program, landowners with senior claims to the water — typically the last to be cut back — can agree to voluntarily reduce pumping to ensure those with more junior water rights still receive some water during the drought. But the success of the program will depend on enough water and enough participants, who can enroll until June 20th.

2 Housing and homelessness updates

A group of people at a homeless encampment in Oakland on March 19, 2020. Photo by Ben Margot, AP Photo

If I had a dime for every time I thought to myself, “In California, it all comes back to housing,” I’d have enough money to build … maybe one housing unit? Here’s a look at the latest California housing and homelessness news:

  • Rent relief lawsuits: Several tenants rights organizations and the research institute PolicyLink filed a lawsuit Monday against California’s housing department, alleging its emergency COVID rent relief program “disproportionately harms tenants on the basis of race, color, and national origin” due to persistent delays, language barriers and internet and tech requirements. According to the lawsuit, the state as of June 1 had denied 31% of reviewed applications, 92% of which came from renters with incomes low enough to qualify them for the program. The California Department of Housing and Community Development’s dashboard shows it has so far paid nearly $3.7 billion to more than 320,000 of the 424,000 households that applied for relief; according to Newsom’s office, state and local rent relief programs have together distributed more than $5 billion to more than 1.2 million Californians. The lawsuit comes about a month after the same tenants rights groups — the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment and Strategic Actions for a Just Economy — sued the housing department for allegedly failing to provide adequate assistance to renters, putting them at increased risk of eviction and homelessness.
  • Other housing lawsuits: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to consider a case challenging an Oakland law that requires property owners to pay relocation expenses for tenants evicted through no fault of their own, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
  • Homelessness lightning round: The city of Sacramento spent $617,000 preparing to open a safe parking site for homeless residents — only for the plan to fall apart, the Sacramento Bee’s Theresa Clift reports in this stunning story. Meanwhile, faced with rising discontent over homelessness, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria on Monday warned unhoused people camping downtown they could face consequences for refusing to accept shelter beds. And a tweet from San Francisco Mayor London Breed may have prompted a homeless encampment sweep — raising questions about the legality of such a maneuver, the San Francisco Standard reports. City supervisors also voted Tuesday to create a plan to provide enough shelter or housing for all people currently experiencing homelessness.

3 Newsom to focus on climate at LA summit

Gov. Gavin Newsom unveil his 2022-23 budget proposal in Sacramento on Jan. 10, 2022. Photo by Miguel Gutierrez Jr., CalMatters

After abruptly backing out of last year’s United Nations climate change conference in Scotland, Newsom is scheduled to focus heavily on climate at this week’s Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. Today, the governor is set to discuss “world-leading efforts to reduce global methane emissions” with John Kerry, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, and officials from Latin America and Canada, according to his press office. And on Thursday, he’s slated to meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to establish a “new agreement” on climate change, several weeks after he signed a memorandum of understanding with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to collaborate on climate change solutions. (Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond will also attend the Summit of the Americas, his office said Tuesday.)

  • But many Capitol observers say California still has a long way to go when it comes to addressing climate change. “I don’t at all feel that we are leading the world anymore,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Lakewood Democrat, told me last year during the United Nations conference.
  • And with a June 15 deadline looming for the state Legislature to pass a balanced budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1, environmental justice advocates are pushing lawmakers to invest big money in climate solutions. On Monday, NextGen California launched a $1 million ad campaign called Later Is Too Late.
  • Arnold Sowell Jr., executive director of NextGen California: “Our state’s budget is one of the most powerful tools we have to fight the climate crisis. California’s policymakers must rise to meet this challenge with the urgency it deserves. The window of opportunity to meet our climate goals is closing.”

4 UC Hastings, tribal leaders discuss reparations

Round Valley Indian Tribes Council President James Russ (center) during a UC Hastings College of the Law board meeting on June 3, 2022, in San Francisco. Photo by Samantha Laurey for CalMatters

As California mulls possible reparations for African Americans, the University of California Hastings College of the Law could be required to make reparations to certain Native American tribes under a bill pending in the state Legislature. The law school’s board members and California tribal leaders are also weighing new names for the school. Its founder, Serranus Clinton Hastings, was not only the first chief justice of the California Supreme Court but also a promoter and funder of massacres against the Yuki Tribe and other Indigenous Californians, Sindhu Ananthavel reports for CalMatters’ College Journalism Network.

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CalMatters Commentary


CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: With California’s primary ballot lacking motivating issues or contests, voter turnout will be very low — perhaps setting a new record.

Extend Cal Grant program to give more students a leg up: Part of California’s budget surplus should be used to help students transferring to nonprofit independent colleges and universities, argues Kristen Soares, president of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities.

Other things worth your time


Some stories may require a subscription to read

Editorial: Not everything should go to the ballot. California lawmakers, do your job. // Los Angeles Times

Candidate for elections officer under fire in rural California. // Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Unified to scale back COVID testing. // EdSource

California Supreme Court chief justice has COVID-19. // Los Angeles Times

California prison psychiatrists say state doesn’t pay enough, rip spending on contractors. // Sacramento Bee

Former LADWP cybersecurity chief gets 4 years in prison. // Los Angeles Times

Want to do less time? A prison consultant might be able to help. // New York Times Magazine

Supervisor to call for inquiry into lucrative Santa Clara County contracts with wife of former politician. // Mercury News

Orange County parents inflamed by mature graphic novel in elementary library. // Los Angeles Times

Bay Area software company accused of systematic bias against women. // Mercury News

Ukrainian president calls out San Jose for keeping ties with Russian city despite invasion. // Mercury News

‘Perfect storm’ on Mount Shasta leaves guide dead, 5 climbers rescued. // San Francisco Chronicle

Schools would likely weather a recession; should the state budget for one? // EdSource

Why used cars are more expensive than new cars in San Diego. // San Diego Union-Tribune

Why is eco-conscious California spending millions to support natural gas? // Capital & Main

This drought device stops water hogs in their soggy tracks. // Los Angeles Times

PG&E ushers in landmark Tesla battery energy storage system at Moss Landing. // Mercury News

See you tomorrow

Tips, insight or feedback? Email emily@calmatters.org.

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