Policing the police: State off to slow start
California’s new program to police the police has produced few results so far.
That’s according to a new project from CalMatters justice reporter Nigel Duara, who is today launching the state’s most comprehensive public tracker of police shootings of unarmed civilians under investigation by the California Department of Justice.
The department has opened 25 such investigations since July 1, 2021, when the law empowering it to do so took effect. But while Attorney General Rob Bonta said his original goal was to complete the reviews within a year, that hasn’t happened.
Indeed, it wasn’t until last week that the state issued its first report — on a July 15, 2021 shooting in Los Angeles. The verdict: The Justice Department found insufficient evidence to file criminal charges against two Los Angeles Police Department officers who shot and killed Matthew James Sova, 48.
The other 24 cases are still open, and in at least two instances, a local civilian commission already made the decision to clear the officers involved.
CalMatters’ tracker — which includes state Justice Department data, post-incident briefings, coroner reports, body camera footage, dispatcher audio and local news accounts — offers the most complete public accounting to date of the shootings and their aftermath.
It will also be updated with shootings as they are added to the state’s list of investigations, so make sure to bookmark the page and check back often.
Among the tracker’s key findings thus far:
- Airsoft rifles, which fire low-impact plastic projectiles, were the most common object mistaken for a gun by police.
- The information divulged varies widely by department. Some California police and sheriff’s departments refused to release any details of the shootings, sometimes citing the Justice Department’s investigation. Others released all material requested.
- Officers involved in the shootings are not legally compelled to cooperate with the state’s investigation. In the Justice Department’s first completed investigation, neither of the two officers agreed to speak with investigators.
- Democratic Assemblymember Kevin McCarty of Sacramento, who wrote the original police shooting law, told Nigel he will propose legislation mandating the Justice Department investigate every police killing of civilians, regardless of whether they were armed. (Although the Justice Department sought $26 million from the Legislature to implement the original law, it received just half that amount.)
CBS stations across California will run a companion piece to Nigel’s investigation next week. The TV program will also air Sunday at 10 p.m. on CBS 13 in Sacramento and on KCAL 9 in Los Angeles.
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1 Election results: Hurry up and wait
Don’t hold your breath waiting for California election results — it’s going to be awhile. As my colleague Ben Christopher pointed out in this informative Wednesday tweet thread, not only do we not yet know how many ballots are left to count — local elections officials are set to share their first estimates today — we can’t confidently predict whether they’re likely to favor Republicans or Democrats. That’s due to a bunch of factors ranging from recent changes in GOP voting behavior to inclement Election Day weather.
Although the outcome of all of the statewide ballot measures and almost all of the state officer races were clear soon after polls closed on Tuesday night, many of the most competitive contests are too close to call — and could remain that way for days or even weeks. Among them: the battle for Los Angeles mayor, expensive contests in the state Legislature, and closely watched California House races that could help determine which party controls Congress. Follow along with CalMatters’ up-to-the-minute results tracker.
One thing that was clear, however: Voters resoundingly rejected Proposition 30, which would have levied a new tax on multimillionaires to fund electric vehicle rebate programs and other climate initiatives. This came as a surprise for some observers, given that California is a deep-blue state whose voters are known for supporting ambitious endeavors to combat climate change — and haven’t been shy about taxing high earners in the past. So what gives? Ben takes a closer look at how and why Prop. 30 went down in flames — and what the result might signify for California moving forward.
Latest coverage of the 2022 general election in California
2 Rendon, Rivas set to face off — again
From CalMatters political reporter Alexei Koseff: Though several tight state legislative races still hang in the balance, the new Assembly Democratic Caucus is set to gather for the first time today in Sacramento. It’s an opportunity for lawmakers to orient themselves ahead of the start of the legislative session in December — and to potentially choose the next speaker of the Assembly, one of the most powerful positions in the Capitol.
The meeting follows months of jockeying and an intense behind-the-scenes campaign between Speaker Anthony Rendon of Lakewood, who has held the job for the past six years, and Assemblymember Robert Rivas of Salinas, who led an unsuccessful revolt against him in May. More than a dozen newly elected members — their seats not yet certified — could swing the balance with the first major vote of their Capitol careers.
Backed by the controversial donor network Govern For California, Rivas has aggressively courted the new lawmakers’ support through a political action committee operating outside the traditional Democratic Party structure, a bold step that has fueled tensions in the fractured caucus.
In other Sacramento shifts: Gov. Gavin Newsom will begin his second gubernatorial term with a new team of top advisers, marking the latest big shift in an administration that’s experienced considerable turnover over the past few years, the Los Angeles Times reports.
- Dana Williamson is set to start as Newsom’s executive secretary next year. Williamson — a longtime Sacramento political strategist and former cabinet secretary for Gov. Jerry Brown — will replace Jim DeBoo, who served as Newsom’s top adviser for two years after replacing the governor’s first chief of staff, Ann O’Leary.
- Analea Patterson will step into the role of cabinet secretary, replacing Ana Matosantos in what’s seen as the No. 2 post in the administration charged with translating Newsom’s ideas into government policy and action.
- Jason Elliott, Newsom’s top adviser on housing and homelessness, will become deputy chief of staff.
3 Californians pessimistic about state economy
More than 11,000 employees of Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, are losing their jobs after CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Wednesday the Silicon Valley-based tech giant is slashing its workforce by 13% — the latest round of mass layoffs to rattle the California economy. Salesforce, San Francisco’s largest private employer, laid off hundreds of salespeople on Monday. Meanwhile, new car and truck sales in California fell by more than 16% in the first three quarters of the year compared to the same period in 2021, the California New Car Dealers Association reported Tuesday. And California’s persistent drought is withering tomatoes, pushing inflation-impacted grocery prices even higher.
Given all this, it’s perhaps unsurprising that a whopping 69% of Californians predict bad times for the state economy in the next year — a key finding of a Public Policy Institute of California poll released late Wednesday night. Other takeaways:
- 67% of Californians say children growing up in the Golden State today will be worse off than their parents, and 71% say the gap between rich and poor is growing.
- 57% say they or a household member drove less due to the cost of gas, while 1 in 3 cut back on meals or food and 1 in 5 put off seeing the doctor.
- 43% worry every day or almost every day about the cost of gas and other transportation, and 28% fret about the cost of housing.
When it comes to policy solutions, 73% of Californians say the government should ease permit requirements and build more housing so lower- and middle-income people can buy a home. And 61% say they support increasing government funding so more people can afford electric or hybrid vehicles — but apparently not through the mechanism of Prop. 30.
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Newsom just won his second — and last — term as California governor. What does he do now?
Other things worth your time
Will Nancy Pelosi stick around after brutal attack, tough election? // San Francisco Chronicle
S.F. Mayor London Breed gets an extra year in office due to election year change. Why isn’t she a fan of it? // San Francisco Chronicle
D.A. investigating Sheriff Villanueva over campaign solicitations. // Los Angeles Times
He has ‘Kevin’s ear’ and could become the most powerful unelected man in D.C. // Politico
ACLU weighs in against new California law to punish doctors who spread COVID misinformation. // San Francisco Chronicle
CDC to conduct health study at polluted former Army base in California. // Associated Press
California and other states want to guarantee Medicaid for kids. // California Healthline
1,700 CalPERS pensions are so big they exceed IRS limits. // Sacramento Bee
California regulators appear poised to unveil new solar rules. // KPBS Public Media
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