The Capitol arena: Democrats versus Democrats

Jan 13, 2016

The Democrats handily control the Legislature and statewide offices, but their domination is by no means monolithic, as factions of the party go to battle with each other.


From Jim Miller and Jeremy B. White in the Bee: "In a sign of growing tension among California Democrats, at least two Assembly incumbents face unusual intraparty election challenges this year as liberal and moderate interests compete for leverage over environmental policy in a Legislature the party firmly controls."


"Assembly members Cheryl Brown of San Bernardino and Mike Gipson of Los Angeles represent safely Democratic districts where re-election should be a mere formality. But Brown faces a challenge from Eloise Gomez Reyes, an attorney who ran for Congress in 2014. And a Los Angeles planning commissioner, Marta Segura, has filed a statement of intent to run against Gipson."

Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas, D-Los Angeles, said he suspects environmental groups helped recruit the challengers, seeking revenge for last year’s weakening of high-profile climate-change legislation."


California to Volkswagen: "Nein!" State air-quality regulators gave a big thumbs down to VW in the company's proposal to rework its diesel engines in order to comply with anti-smog rules.


From David R. Baker in the Chronicle: "California officials have rejected Volkswagen’s plans to recall and fix 75,688 diesel cars equipped with software to cheat on air pollution tests, saying Tuesday that the proposals lacked so many key details that the state couldn’t tell whether they would work."

“VW’s submissions are incomplete, substantially deficient, and fall far short of meeting the legal requirements to return these vehicles to the claimed certified configuration,” the California Air Resources Board wrote in a letter to Volkswagen executives."

The move represents another setback for Volkswagen, which in September admitted to installing “defeat device” software on 11 million cars it had marketed as “clean diesel.” The software can tell when an air pollution test is under way and turns on all of the car’s pollution-control systems in response. Under normal driving conditions, however, the cars emit far more smog-forming nitrogen oxides than regulations allow."


Many people wouldn't mind escaping from L.A., but the Rams aren't among them: NFL team owners formally approved the team's request to move to Los Angeles.


From the AP's Schuyler Dixon: "A long day of votes and re-votes ended with 30 of 32 NFL owners approving Rams owner Stan Kroenke's ambitious plan to move his team from St. Louis to the site of the old Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood, California, about 10 miles from downtown LA.

The Chargers have a yearlong option to join the Rams, followed by the Raiders if the San Diego franchise declines."


"The Raiders and Chargers had a competing proposal to share a new stadium in nearby Carson, but neither option got the 24 votes needed for approval. After another negotiating session in the afternoon, Kroenke's $1.8 billion project prevailed."


Fearing the specter of rising sea levels caused by climate change, nine counties in the San Francisco bay area may impose a new property tax in order to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for environmental protection.


From Paul Rogers in the Mercury News: "In a milestone for San Francisco Bay restoration that also raises questions about who should pay to protect property from rising seas caused by climate change, a low-profile government agency is expected to place a $12 annual parcel tax on the June ballot in all nine Bay Area counties."


"The measure, whose campaign is being bankrolled by Silicon Valley business leaders and Bay Area environmental groups, is believed to be the first local tax ever placed before voters in all nine Bay Area counties."


"If approved by two-thirds of voters, the tax would raise $500 million over the next 20 years to build levees and restore thousands of acres of wetlands and tidal marshes as a buffer to storm surges and floods in every Bay Area county."


Speaking of money, the estimates of the bullet-train project to deal with power and data lines in the Central Valley were way off the mark.


From the LAT's Ralph Vartabedian: "The relocation of existing power and data wires to clear way for the California bullet train in the Central Valley is proving to be more risky and difficult than expected, costing tens of millions of dollars more than was projected only several months ago in Tulare, Kings and Kern counties."


"The high-speed rail authority’s board approved a prospective $348-million contract Tuesday for a team led by the Spanish construction giant Ferrovial to build an additional 22 miles of rail structures."

"But the amount does not include an estimated $107 million in additional work that was pulled out of the contract last year to relocate utilities along the route."


Finally, from our "Old San Francisco" file comes the tale of the death of the last survivor of the 1906 earthquake, who was just a few months old when the temblor struck. 


"Greenbrae resident William "Bill" Del Monte, the last known survivor of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, died Monday. He was 109.


Del Monte was 11 days shy of his 110th birthday. "He was a wonderful man, always a balanced demeanor," said his great-nephew Ray Barroca. "He lived his life to the fullest and his mind was as sharp as ever."


"Del Monte was all of 3 months old when the earthquake rocked his home at Kearny Street and Broadway."

"Del Monte -- who lived in Marin for more than four decades -- was told that when the earthquake struck, his mother grabbed a tablecloth and wrapped him up in it. The fire that followed the earthquake destroyed Del Monte's home."


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