Hopefuls vie for Dem party leadership

May 16, 2017


The top leadership of the California Democratic Party will be chosen at the Dems' convention, and the stakes are high


LA Times' PHIL WILLON/SEEMA MEHTA: "A pivotal election is underway in California that could push this Democratic stronghold even further left and recalibrate the direction of arguably the most influential state political party in the nation."


"Staunchly liberal and pro-union, the top two contenders for chair of the California Democratic Party offer a sharp contrast in style and strategy. Eric Bauman is a bullish, Bronx-born union organizer and the consummate party insider. Democratic organizer Kimberly Ellis is a provocative Bay Area progressive, embraced as the outsider by a wave of Bernie Sanders supporters leading an insurgency against the party establishment."

"The race — and last year’s divisive Democratic presidential primary — have created a rift among the delegates who will choose a new chair as the state leans into its emerging role as the epicenter of liberal resistance to the nascent Trump administration."


READ MORE related to LocalAG Becerra muffs a chance to crack down on local government corruption -- Sacramento Bee's DAN WALTERSMore changes proposed for state utilities commission -- LA Times' JEFF MCDONALD

A Senate subpoena targeting Michael Flynn could prove to be largely ceremonial
as the Russia probe amps up.


Politico's AUSTIN WRIGHT: "Senators investigating President Donald Trump’s ties to Russia wanted to show they meant business when they slapped Michael Flynn with a subpoena last week — but the aggressive move may be less than it seemed."

"When an obstinate subject decides to dig in, congressional subpoenas often don’t succeed. And when lawmakers vote to hold someone in contempt of Congress, the cases frequently end up in court, sometimes stalled for years. Other times, members of Congress have avoided a showdown altogether, recognizing the limits of their authority."


"Republicans, for instance, never secured testimony from Hillary Clinton’s former technology aide, Bryan Pagliano, about her private email set-up, despite a subpoena and a committee vote last year to hold him in contempt. In 2012, the Justice Department declined to prosecute former Attorney General Eric Holder after he defied a congressional subpoena, citing executive privilege. And Justice declined to go after former IRS official Lois Lerner for contempt in 2015, even though she had refused to testify before a House panel."


READ MORE related to Kremlingate: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: Trump was 'sloppy' if he disclosed sensitive information to Russians -- LA Times' SARAH D. WIRE


Ranking politicians from California are at odds with recent calls from the Trump administration to enforce harsher drug penalties in criminal cases.


AP: "California's attorney general and state lawmakers again moved Monday in the opposite direction from the Trump administration, this time on penalties for criminals."

"State Attorney General Xavier Becerra termed U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' blanket call for harsher penalties for criminals "crazy" and "stupid," while state senators voted to roll back penalties for drug offenders."

"Sessions said Friday that federal prosecutors should file the toughest charges possible against most crime suspects."


READ MORE related to Public Safety: Life without parole: Reforms target youthful offenders -- Capitol Weekly's DANIEL MARACCINICalifornia lawmaker proposes making 'stealthing' a form of rape under state low -- LA Times' JAZMINE ULLOA; 'WannaCry' ransomware shares code with Sony hack, raising possibility of North Korea connection -- LA Times' CHRIS O'BRIEN/CHRISTINA BOYLE/MATT PEARCE; Ransomware assault brings calls for national cybersecurity policy amid government hoarding of attack tools -- Daily News' ETHAN BARON; How to protect yourself from ransomware and more new hack attacks -- The Chronicle's MARISSA LANG


The state controller and longest-serving member of California's tax board is instructing the 'embattled' institution to rein itself in before the Legislature does.


Sacramento Bee's ADAM ASHTON: "The longest-serving member of California’s embattled tax board is asking her colleagues to rein in their powers before the Legislature does it for them."

"State Controller Betty Yee on Monday released a proposal that would block elected members of the Board of Equalization from circumventing their executive director and ban them from accepting bundled campaign contributions from companies that have business before the board."

"She developed the proposal after a March audit by the Department of Finance said elected members on the tax board had improperly “intervened” in staff activities, creating inconsistencies and potentially violating state law."


Trump's travel ban continues to be under scrutiny as the 9th Circuit Court ponders the president's anti-Muslim rhetoric related to the controversial executive order.


KQED's MARISA LAGOS: "Once again, statements about Muslims made by President Trump on both the campaign trail and in the White House took center stage at a court hearing over the president’s ban on travel from six majority-Muslim countries."

"Today, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle is considering one of three lawsuits challenging the ban, this one brought by the state of Hawaii. The ban has been on hold because of the suits, which are expected to ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court."


"Lawyers for the government argue that the president should have wide discretion when it comes to national security concerns, and that Trump’s repeated calls for a Muslim ban are not what the court should consider when weighing the intent or need for the executive order that instated the travel ban."


READ MORE related to Transportation: State senators say yes to naming part of the Ventura Freeway after former President Obama -- LA Times' JOHN MYERS


Thousands of immigrant parents are detained every year in California, according to a new report


KPCC's JULIE SMALL/LISA PICKOFF-WHITE: "Many of the 65,000 immigrants detained on average in California every year are parents of U.S. citizens, according to a new report from an international human rights advocacy organization."

"California courts and lockups are an integral part of immigration detention and deportation in the United States. The Golden State has the largest immigration court workload in the country. And the only other state to hold more detainees on any given day is Texas, according to data from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement."

"The advocacy organization Human Rights Watch determined that more than 10,000 immigrant detainees held in California each year have children who are U.S. citizens. The report, published Monday, analyzed nine months of ICE data that include information on detainees’ families. It used a statistical model to estimate the number of detainees with U.S. citizen children in California over a 4½-year period — from Jan. 1, 2011, to June 30, 2015."


Doug Manchester, a major donor for the Trump campaign, has been selected as the administration's ambassador to the Bahamas


Union-Tribune's JOSHUA STEWART: "Preesident Donald Trump announced Monday that he has nominated San Diego hotelier Doug Manchester to become the next United States ambassador to the Bahamas."

"The selection comes after months of rumors that Manchester, a major Trump fundraiser, would be picked for the top diplomatic post to the island-nation."

"A statement from the administration described Manchester, the former publisher of The San Diego Union-Tribune, as a “leading industrialist with accomplishments on a national and international scale” in several industries."


California's Cap-and-Trade pollution program is under attack, again


Capitol Public Radio's BEN BRADFORD: "The California Chamber of Commerce will continue to pursue its lawsuit against the state’s signature climate-change program, cap-and-trade."

he business group asked the state’s top court Monday to overturn a recent decision."

This is an appeal of last month’s appellate court decision that upheld the legality of cap-and-trade. "


Tax cuts proposed by the new administration have decreased the value for tax credits used by housing developers in creating low-income housing, sending housing officials into a tailspin. 


SCPR's JOSIE HUANG: "Los Angeles housing officials are urging the City Council to throw a lifeline to affordable housing projects seeking to survive under the Trump administration."

"Council members will vote Tuesday on whether to allocate $5 million to three affordable housing developments from the Hollywood Community Housing Corp., which saw funding fall after the election."

"For months, L.A.’s affordable housing developers have been fretting about projects penciling out because they depend on federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits. That’s the program where developers sell tax credits to corporate investors who want a break on their tax bill."


READ MORE related to Economy: Income needed to afford an Orange County house now at $154,120 a year -- OC Register's JEFF COLLINS; How affordable are homes where you live? Affordability varies dramatically in Southern California -- Daily News' KEVIN SMiTH; Trump budget, Congress stop-gap measure leaves some Purple Line funding in limbo -- KPCC's MEGHAN MCCARTY CARINO; State wage increase may cause some after-school programs to close -- KPCC's ADOLFO GUZMAN-LOPEZ; Stanford pays $130m for Los Altos apartments -- Bay Area News Group' GEORGE AVALOS


California's bar exam continues to stump and slump students.


The Chronicle's DOMINIC FRACASSA: "The proportion of prospective attorneys who passed the California bar exam has sunk yet again, according to data released by the State Bar of California on Friday, with just 34.5 percent of test takers making the grade."

"Those results mark the worst passage rate for the February edition of the exam in eight years. It could serve as fuel for a growing chorus of critics — including law school deans, legislators and court officials — who are concerned that the state’s stringent minimum threshold needed to pass the test is causing too many would-be lawyers to flunk."

"Calls for the State Bar to revisit that threshold, commonly referred to as the “cut score,” have intensified since November, when the bar announced that the passage rate for would-be attorneys who took the exam in July, the only other month when the test is offered, slid to 43 percent — a 32-year low. (Passage rates are almost always higher in July, given the greater volume of recent law school graduates taking the test for the first time."


Charter school enrollment is driving a recent spending boost in LA's school board race


EdSource's LOUIS FREEDBERG: "School board races tend to be sleepy affairs, drawing little attention and even less campaign spending compared to other higher profile races on most local ballots."

"Not in Los Angeles, which has become the site of the most heated – and by far the most expensive – battle over charter schools in the nation."

"An extraordinary $15.9 million has been contributed to decide who will fill two seats on the seven-person Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education."


Secret talks in the Senate are shaping up the AHCA behind closed doors with no planned committee hearings to vet the bill publicly.


KQED's SUSAN DAVIS: "The Senate is negotiating its own legislation to repeal and replace much of the Affordable Care Act in secret talks with senators hand-picked by party leaders and with no plans for committee hearings to publicly vet the bill."

"I am encouraged by what we are seeing in the Senate. We’re seeing senators leading,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, one of the 13 Republicans involved in the private talks. “We’re seeing senators working together in good faith. We’re not seeing senators throwing rocks at each other, either in private or in the press."

"Senate Democrats have a different take. “Your morning reminder that under the cloud cover of the FBI story, 13 GOP Senators are still secretly writing a bill to destroy the ACA,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., tweeted Monday morning."


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