A powerful mix -- politics and charity

Jul 30, 2015

 Donating to political campaigns, independent expenditure committees and PACs is a time-honored California tradition. Donating to the politicians' favorite charities -- it's  called "behested payments" --  is another way of developing access to power.


The Sacramento Bee's Jim Miller takes a look: "California lawmakers and other state officials arranged for donors, many with business at the Capitol, to contribute $28 million to nonprofit organizations, local museums and other favored causes during the first half of the year, according to the most recent filings with the Fair Political Practices Commission."


"So-called behested payments must be reported when a public official asks a business, union, foundation or other entity to donate to a particular legislative, charitable or governmental purpose. Unlike campaign donations, which have limits, behested payments can be of any amount."


"More than 250 entities made behested payments during the first half of the year, money that was on top of what many donors spent on lobbying or contributing to elected officials’ campaign committees."


Californians -- not surprisingly -- say the drought is their No. 1 concern, and the depth of that view has increased steadily with the severity of the dry spell, the PPIC reports in its latest survey. Another problem: The view of those surveyed is increasingly partisan when it comes to the state's main law targeting carbon emissions.


John Howard in Capitol Weekly: "As the state suffers through its fourth year of drought, most Californians say the lack of water is the single most important environmental issue facing the state, a dramatic increase over the number who expressed similar concerns a year ago."


"A survey by the nonprofit Public Policy Institute of California reported that 58 percent of Californians ranked the drought as the top issue — up 23 points from July 2014 and up 50 points from July 2011. The full survey and a description of its methodology is available here."


"“Air pollution ranks a distant second, with 9 percent saying it is the most important issue. Last year was the first year that air pollution was not the top issue and water or drought was number one. Another indication of the importance of the drought: most residents say they are following news about it either very closely (38%) or fairly closely (40%),” according to a PPIC statement released with the poll. "


By the way, the drought is such a pervasive fact of life in California that it is starting to affect the way residential developments are built.

From NPR: "The drought in California has gone on so long, and is so severe, that it's beginning to change the way people are designing residential communities — in unexpected ways, and unexpected places."


"Planning is under way, for instance, for one of the first eco-friendly communities in California's predominantly agricultural Central Valley. The site is in the town of Reedley, 30 miles southeast of Fresno."

"There were a number of factors that distinguished Reedley, says Curt Johansen, the San Francisco developer who's spearheading the project. It's home to a community college and a thriving downtown, and it recently said no to Wal-Mart building in the town."

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article29401006.html#storylink=cpy


To a greater and greater degree, millenials are living longer at home, partly because of student debt loads and skyrocketing rents, and partly because of a change in social trends.


From the LAT's Samntha Masunaga: "According to the report released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center, the nation's 18- to 34-year-old population is less likely to be living independently of their families and establishing their own households than they were during the recession."


"In early 2015, the report said, about 42.2 million millennials, or 67%, lived independently, compared with 42.7 million millennials, or 71%, before the recession in 2007..."


"This comes as the millennial population is growing. In 2015, there are nearly 3 million more young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 than there were in 2007, according to the report."


Bicyclists in SF argue that they shouldn't have to stop at every stop sign and red light, and to prove their point they went to the "Wiggle" in the Lower Haight. Actualally, since motorists seem to be ignoring traffic laws in an increasing number, why not cyclists, too?


From the Chronicle's Michael Cabanatuan and Kale Williams: "At 5:30 p.m., hundreds of bike riders gathered at Waller and Steiner streets and and took to the the bike lane, coming to a full and complete stop — bike stopped, at least one foot on the pavement — at every stop sign and red light."

"While traffic elsewhere along the Wiggle seemed to be flowing freely, Steiner Street between Waller and Duboce came to a virtual standstill."


"Wednesday’s protest stems from a statement made by the San Francisco Police Department’s new Park Station captain, John Sanford, at a community meeting where he vowed a crackdown on bike riders ignoring stop signs or traffic signals. Chris Cassidy, spokesman for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, said police have been issuing warnings and handing out educational fliers in advance of a crackdown.'