THE BUZZ — SAN FRANCISCO: At his gala 40th birthday party celebration in San Francisco, Gavin Newsom’s friends and family joined in a memorable toast — that one day they could toast the then-mayor at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown recalled this week.
That moment, Brown says of Newsom, was likely “the revelation of his agenda.”
With the release of Newsom’s 2020-21 budget this week — and as he prepares for his State of the State Address to mark his first full term in office, the governor has pulled off a win, Brown says. “He is still on track … he is doing what he needs to do’’ to make that goal, Brown told POLITICO this week.
But Brown, the former “Ayatollah of the Assembly” who has weathered generations of political change, advises that Newsom now might need to up his game and add an important element to his administration: “He needs a friend, a politically sophisticated insider, like a Frank Mankiewicz” — the legendary American journalist who became a key player and advisor to Democrats, including Robert Kennedy and George McGovern.
THE QUALIFICATIONS — The insider should be comfortable with and available to key legislators and leaders in Sacramento, but also have contacts in Hollywood and Los Angeles and be well-connected in Washington. In other words, Brown said, a big player who “has his trust… and has his back.”
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY — Newsom’s critics at the CAGOP suggest his budget, and his recent actions on high-profile issues like homelessness, are aimed at a future White House run. Businessman John Cox, the GOP’s 2018 gubernatorial candidate, who now is working to reach independent voters in key House districts, says Newsom repeatedly dogs President Donald Trump and is showing signs that he’s already looking elsewhere, even as he governs CA.
“He’s not managing the state of California,” Cox told POLITICO. “It’s descending to a lower point than it was when he started,” despite a surplus and the economic booms in Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Homeless encampments crowd the streets of major cities “every single day, and it’s another tweet, trolling the president,” Cox said.
TRUE, TRUMP LOOMED LARGE in Newsom’s marathon budget release session Friday — and the governor drew several contrasts. In the same week that studies showed Trump had added a stunning $4.7 billion to the federal debt, Newsom portrayed solidly blue California as a fiscally responsible state with a balanced budget, paying down its debt, and racking up a historic surplus. Carla’s story has more details.
OTHER CONTRASTS AND TAKEAWAYS:
MEDI-CAL FOR MORE — The question for Newsom has not been whether undocumented immigrants can get Medi-Cal but how many. Last year he stopped at young adults, but this time around he’s going further and proposing to cover seniors, as Democratic legislators have demanded.
HOUSING PUSH — The budget contains concrete housing policy proposals than last year’s, which ultimately attached money to reward cities that build and legal threats to punish those that don’t. Newsom made clear he wants to revive and advance a contentious bill to supercharge construction by upping density. On homelessness, he wants to revisit the thorny topic of mental health institutionalization.
vape CRACKDOWN — Newsom is determined to act on e-cigarettes, with a new tax (“You got us on a tax increase,” he told his presumed critics) and a flavor ban, and said he’s confident he’ll get there. Using the budget to target e-cigarettes effectively circumvents a hostile Assembly committee chair whom many legislators fault for obstructing vaping bills.
PG&E PLAY — The governor is serious about a potential state takeover of utility Pacific Gas & Electric if the embattled and bankrupt utility doesn’t make good. In the meantime, he wants tens of millions of dollars to help communities deal with power shut-offs and wildfires.
BALLOT BATTLES — Despite our best efforts, Newsom didn’t tip his hand on 2020 ballot initiatives — though he allowed that plenty of folks would like him to take stands. He suggested he’d oppose a criminal justice reform rollback but wouldn’t touch the “split roll” push to amend Prop. 13, which could imperil his relationship with business. He wants more than $20 million to enforce AB 5 but said he remains open to a deal averting a ballot fight with Uber and others.
WHOA! MOMENT FROM THE BUDGET ROLLOUT — When KQED’s Scott Shafer asked Newsom to specifically address housing expenditures, the governor — without opening or even glancing at his 246-page budget encyclopedia — didn’t miss a beat: “Take a look at page 115 of the budget, the graph on the upper right.”
BUENOS DIAS, good Monday morning. Drama to watch this week: SB 201, Sen. Scott Wiener’s bill to ban medically unnecessary cosmetic surgeries on kids born with intersex characteristics. It’s being heard Monday in a key Senate committee, where the debate might fall to LGBTQ advocacy groups like Equality California — which supports it — and the California Medical Association,which has expressed concerns that it might be overreaching.
QUOTE OF THE DAY, from Newsom’s marathon two-hour, 51-minute line-by-line budget briefing: On homelessness: “We don’t need Donald Trump… I’m the homeless czar in the state of California.”
TWEET OF THE DAY: Lorena @LorenaSGonzalez: “Thank you @GavinNewsom — the lack of federal attention to Puerto Rico is shocking. Happy California is stepping up for our fellow Americans.”
WHERE’S GAVIN? Kicking off a statewide homelessness tour in Grass Valley. He’ll be holding a press conference with Assemblymember Megan Dahle at the Spirit Peer Empowerment Center at 10 am.
BAY CITY SHOCKER — “Why did the new SF DA fire seven prosecutors on his second day in office?” by KQED’s Gabriel Greschler: “I had to make difficult staffing decisions in order to put in place a management team that will help me accomplish the work I committed to do for San Francisco,” Chesa Boudin said. Boudin ran on an anti-incarceration platform, including the creation of a Wrongful Conviction Unit and an Innocence Commission. That vision might have conflicted with the priorities of the fired attorneys.
DIVERSITY DRAMA — “Split at Santa Rosa City Hall over two top women candidates led to selection of white male councilman,” by the Press Democrat’s Will Schmidt: “The Santa Rosa City Council slogged through nearly 11 hours of interviews and discussion Tuesday to fill the seat vacated by former councilwoman Julie Combs, and in the end, after a series of evenly split votes, bypassed the two favored female finalists for a male candidate who while highly regarded was not their top choice.”
THE CAMPUS “TECHLASH” — via The New York Times’ Emma Goldberg: “Facebook, Google and other firms were every student’s dream workplaces — until they weren’t. Now that ticket to prosperity may clash with Silicon Valley ethical considerations.”
TWO STATES, EIGHT TEXTBOOKS — NYT compares how “American history textbooks can differ across the country, in ways that are shaded by partisan politics,’’ by comparing textbooks’ accounts of historical events in California and Texas.
SAY WHAT? — “FEMA says it may bill fire victims if it can’t get $4 billion from PG&E,” by the SF Chronicle’s J.D. Morris.
BIG DAY FOR POMPEO IN THE BAY — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will address Stanford University students this morning at 10:30 a.m at the Hoover Institution on campus. Pompeo heads to Nancy Pelosi’s district for a fireside chat with Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino at the Commonwealth Club HQ in SF at 4 p.m. Political observers say the Trump administration’s choice of a downtown venue at rush hour is almost certain to bring out protesters. Depending on their intensity, the resulting photo ops could benefit Trump.
TAKING A PAGE FROM NEEL KASHKARI? — “What did Trump’s homelessness czar do in Fresno, California?” by McClatchy’s Kate Irby and Manuela Tobias: In Fresno, Robert Marbut left a lasting impression when he “embedded” in camps and recommended policies that some worried downplayed the importance of providing shelter to homeless people. Fresno rejected his major recommendations.
SOCAL CONNECTION? — “Trump Allies Explore Buyout of San Diego-based Conservative Channel Seeking to Compete With Fox News,’’ by The Wall Street Journal’s Juliet Chung, Corrie Driebusch and Rebecca Ballhaus: “The investment firm Hicks Equity Partners is looking to acquire the channel and is pitching other wealthy GOP donors to arrange a bid of roughly $250 million for the channel’s parent company, the people said. The firm is owned by the family of Thomas Hicks Jr., co-chairman of the Republican National Committee and a close friend of Donald Trump Jr.”
LIFTOFF— “Pelosi ends standoff with Senate Republicans over impeachment articles,” by POLITICO’s Heather Caygle and John Bresnahan
PELOSI on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos: “I’d like to talk about something more pleasant subjects than the erratic nature of this President of the United States. But he has to know that every knock from him is a boost.” And: “I don’t like to spend too much time on his crazy tweets, because everything he says is a projection. When he calls somebody crazy, he knows that he is.”
PROFILE ON NICHOLS — “She helped make California a clean air leader. Now Trump could upend that legacy,” by the LA Times’ Tony Barboza and Anna Phillips: “[I]n what she says is likely her last year in office, Mary Nichols, the chair of the state Air Resources Board, faces the prospect of the U.S. Supreme Court, tilted to the right by President Trump’s appointees, crippling California’s ability to set its own pollution standards.”
CALBUZZ LAYS IT OUT FOR DEMS via Phil Trounstine and Jerry Roberts: “Why we need a united front against Trump”
BUTTIGIEG in LA — “Pete Buttigieg faces Black Lives Matter protesters from South Bend during Watts visit,” by the LA Times’ Matt Pearce.
TOM STEYER — “It’s messaging, not money, that puts me on debate stage,’’ by POLITICO’s Maya Parthasarathy.
BLOOMBERG HIRES — Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg keeps expanding his roster of California politics insiders as he seeks a big showing here, the AP’s Kathleen Ronayne reports: Kamala Harris and Kevin de León campaign veteran Courtni Pugh, former Planned Parenthood official Crystal Strait, and former California Democratic Party acting chair Alexandra Gallardo-Rooker are coming aboard.
WILLIAMSON OUT — The writing was on the wall when author Marianne Williamson laid off her staff last week and the Democratic presidential hopeful made it official in a letter to supporters Friday: she has suspended her campaign. Here’s POLITICO’s obit for her quirky, meme-generating candidacy.
HELP IS ON THE WAY — Gov. Gavin Newsom sends California personnel to Puerto Rico via SacBee’s Sawsan Morrar: “The mission will include emergency and debris management, engineering and safety assessment, planning, and crisis counseling. Members from California Department of Social Services, CalRecycle, Caltrans, and the Division of the State Architect within the Department of General Service will be among those visiting the island.”
NEWSOM’S NEW TEAM — “Newsom shakes up staff, appoints homelessness adviser,” by POLITICO’s Mackenzie Mays.
— “California Governor Proposes Millions in Public Defender Funding To Settle Sixth Amendment Lawsuit,” by Reason’s C.J. Ciaramella.
— “How Far Will the Roberts Court Go to Protect Shadowy Political Donors?” by The New Republic’s Matt Ford: “The Supreme Court returns on Friday for the justices’ first conference of the new year. Two cases they’ll consider taking are challenges to a California law aimed at preventing fraud among charitable organizations.”
— “Republicans shoot themselves in the foot with utopian purity tests,” by Matt Fleming in the OC Register: “The California Republican Party is shrinking, if not in raw numbers, than as a percentage of the electorate and certainly as a caucus in the Legislature. Reducing the numbers further seems unwise.”
NEW LATINO VOTER DRIVE — Former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and political consultant & commentator Fernando Espuelas have launched a new effort for 2020, “focusing on engaging and turning out the Latino vote to defeat President Trump in six battleground states.” The American Latinos United super PAC will focus “on stimulating Latino voting in key districts in those states where a small percentage shift in voting can provide the margin of victory for the Democratic nominee in the Electoral College.”
— “Homeless Californians Adapt To Camp Sweeps And ‘The Caltrans Shuffle,’” by California Healthline’s Anna Maria Barry-Jester: “Communities up and down California, increasingly frustrated with the growing number of homeless people living on public property, have tasked police and sanitation workers with dismantling encampments that they say pollute public areas and pose serious risk of fire, violence and disease. … But the response from officials has prompted a public health crisis all its own, according to interviews with dozens of homeless people and their advocates.”
— “California prison guards opened cells for inmate attacks. Why some kept their jobs,” by the SacBee’s Wes Venteicher.
YET MORE AB 5 RIPPLES — “Amway, Welcome to the Gig Economy: You’re Being Sued Over Pay,” by Bloomberg’s Josh Eidelson: “Amway Corp. has long faced controversy over its multi-level marketing business model. Now, the family-owned direct sales giant is accused in a lawsuit of ripping off the people who peddle its products by failing to pay them minimum wage.”
— “‘Returning as Good Neighbors’: For Young Prisoners, Newsom Proposes Rehab Program,” by KQED’s Marisa Lagos: “Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has promised to focus on rehabilitation in state prisons, on Friday [proposed] a new program for young offenders that he says will resemble a college campus more than a state lockup — and let them access more educational, therapeutic and vocational opportunities.”
TALE OF TWO CITIES — “After being buried by mudslides, two communities chart very different recoveries,” by Miranda Green in WaPo: “Affluent Montecito is anticipating county and federal funds to move forward with plans to build a basin to contain deadly debris the next time the ground turns liquid. In working-class La Conchita, however, support for a proposed hill-grading project has come and gone, followed by acrimony and anger.”
— “The delta’s sinking islands,” by SFChronicle’s Peter Fimrite: “A fight over the management of a diked island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is shining a light on a growing conundrum for California water managers, farmers and environmentalists over the best way to restore natural habitat on cropland created more than a century ago by draining marshes.”
— “The Gig Economy Is Coming for Your Job,” by E. Tammy Kim in NYT: “The service sector, in contrast to manufacturing, is just beginning to contend with automation and technological displacement — in the form of robots, apps and algorithms.”
— “Uber won’t share sex assault details with California regulators, citing privacy,” by the SF Chronicle’s Mallory Moench: “The company said in a filing with the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates Uber and Lyft in the state, that sharing information ‘is unconscionable, actively harms the public interest, and risks retraumatizing victims in various stages of healing.’”
— “Alphabet’s Controversial Chief Legal Officer, David Drummond, Leaves Company,” by Forbes’ Jillian D’Onfro.
— “Newsom proposes new Department of Cannabis Control, simplified tax collection,” by POLITICO’s Alex Nieves.
— “Nancy Pelosi Booked For HBO’s ‘Real Time With Bill Maher’ Season Premiere,” by Deadline’s Geoff Boucher.
— “Hollywood Made 532 TV Shows in 2019, and It’s Going to Make More,” by Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw: “John Landgraf, who runs Walt Disney Co.’s FX networks, has tracked production for years and predicts 2020 will see another increase, which he lamented as ‘just bananas.’”
WHO ARE THOSE GUYS? — “Behind the blitz: Falun Gong practitioners spend millions on Shen Yun ads. How do they do it?” by the SF Chronicle’s Matthias Gafni.
— “Anti-vaccine protester accused of throwing blood at California lawmakers is charged with two felonies,” by the LA Times’ Anita Chabria.
OUT AND ABOUT — “Judge rules homeless mothers must leave vacant Oakland home,” by the SF Chronicle’s Sarah Ravani.
— “Huntington Beach must observe state’s sanctuary law, SB 54, appeals court rules,” by the OC Register’s Susan Christian Goulding.
— “They signed a contract on a Papa John’s franchise. Then came the founder’s racist remarks,” by the LA Times’ Sandy Banks.
Saturday… former Rep. Cal Dooley (D-Calif.) is 66 … Ben Finkenbinder, director of executive comms and strategic programs at Salesforce, is 35; Sunday … Jeff Bezos is 56 … Monday: Vincent Pan … Robert Chandler … Rebecca Cathcart … Joseph Rodota, California political consultant and writer … Nick Clooney is 86 … Liz Schilling
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