Politics

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Rep. Huffman to Host Town Hall on Climate Crisis Action Plan

Posted By on Sun, Jul 12, 2020 at 12:46 PM

Congressman Jared Huffman will host a virtual town hall on the newly released Climate Crisis Action Plan. On Thursday, July 16 at 4 p.m., Rep. Huffman will be joined by former State Senator Fran Pavley and President and CEO of Natural Resources Defense Council Gina McCarthy. Viewers can submit questions in advance to huffmanQandA@mail.house.gov or ask them live via Facebook live. Viewers can tune in to the town hall via Huffman's Facebook page as well as other media outlets.

For more information about the town hall read the full press release below.

On Thursday, July 16 at 4:00 p.m. PDT, Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) will host a virtual town hall on the newly released Climate Crisis Action Plan, a comprehensive Congressional framework to protect the health of all families, make sure our communities can withstand the impacts of climate change, and grow our economy and put Americans back to work. Rep. Huffman will be joined by former State Senator Fran Pavley, author of California’s landmark climate law AB32, and President and CEO of Natural Resources Defense Council Gina McCarthy for this community dialogue. Viewers can submit their questions in advance to huffmanQandA@mail.house.gov or ask them live via Facebook live.

If you have questions please contact the San Rafael office at (415) 258-9657.

Event Details:

When: Thursday, July 16th

Time: 4:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. PDT

Who:
Congressman Jared Huffman, Congressional District 2
Former State Senator Fran Pavley, author of California’s clean car law and the Global Warming Solutions Act
Gina McCarthy, President & CEO of NRDC, and former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency

Where:
Facebook.com/RepHuffman
Marin TV Education Channel (Comcast Ch 30 and AT&T Ch 99) and streaming online at https://cmcm.tv/30
KSRO 1350-AM will air the town hall at 6:00 p.m., streaming at KSRO.com, or on the KSRO app
KZYX live on Mendocino County Public Broadcasting 90.7FM Philo, 91.5FM Willits and Ukiah, and 88.1FM Fort Bragg and streaming at https://www.kzyx.org/
KPCA live on 103.3FM or go to kpca.fm and click the "Listen Live" box.
* This is a partial list, media coverage will be updated early next week.

Please be advised that this is a virtual event; members of the press and public should not attempt to meet in person with the Congressman and his guests.
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Saturday, July 11, 2020

Should the State Investigate Police Shootings? California Rethinks Its Resistance

Posted By on Sat, Jul 11, 2020 at 11:38 AM

If officers shot and killed Sean Monterrosa in Connecticut or New York — instead of in Vallejo, California — a state agency would investigate the June 2 incident, when a police officer reportedly mistook a hammer in the 22-year-old Latino man’s sweatshirt for a gun and fired shots through the windshield of his police vehicle. class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent:0in /

If officers shot and killed Michael Thomas in Georgia — instead of in Lancaster, California — a grand jury could investigate a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy’s claim that Thomas reached for the deputy’s gun during a domestic disturbance call inside the 62-year-old Black man’s home on June 11.

If officers shot and killed Sunshine Sallac in Utah, Wisconsin or Illinois — instead of in Lake Forest, California — an outside agency would investigate the June 24 incident, in which Orange County sheriff’s deputies responded to a residential burglary call and opened fire on the 22-year-old woman of Asian heritage, who they said was standing across the street holding a gun.

Instead, in all three cases and in dozens other California cases in recent years, the departments that hired and trained the officers involved in fatal shootings will determine what happens next. It’s standard protocol in this state, despite the fact that many legislators, local politicians, the families of the victims and, in some cases, law enforcement representatives themselves continue to call for greater outside scrutiny.

As the country contemplates the national ramifications of George Floyd’s final nine minutes of life in Minneapolis, California has its own version of the question: If this state is the nation’s laboratory for progressive laws, why has it been unable to keep the police from policing themselves?

“This one is actually embarrassing for California,” said Democratic Assemblymember Kevin McCarty of Sacramento, who is trying for the third time in five years to pass a law requiring the state’s attorney general to probe deadly officer encounters. “I think it’s a common sense reform that’s ripe for the taking this year in California.”

Yet California’s past three attorney generals — including former Gov. Jerry Brown and the state’s first two attorney generals of color, Kamala Harris and Xavier Becerra, all Democrats — have been reluctant to take on this responsibility, despite already having the authority to do so.

California Attorney General Xavier has resisted attempts to have his department routinely get involved in investigating or overseeing deadly force used by local police. - PHOTO BY ANNE WERNIKOFF FOR CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters
  • California Attorney General Xavier has resisted attempts to have his department routinely get involved in investigating or overseeing deadly force used by local police.

“We are neither equipped nor resourced to take over for the 58 district attorneys that role,” Becerra said in answer to a question from CalMatters during a Wednesday press conference. “On a limited occasion, we do. And usually it’s because a district attorney or his or her office must recuse himself, herself, itself from the prosecution or decision because of some conflict. Or because there is an abusive discretion on the part of the office of the DA. Or some other very exceptional circumstance.”

State oversight — by invitation only?

Nonetheless, McCarty‘s Assembly Bill 1506, which the California Senate is to consider when the Legislature returns from break, is more modest than previous iterations he’s carried that have failed. He’s abandoned the idea of requiring the attorney general to oversee inquiries into every deadly police encounter.

Instead this year’s version would create a new division within the state Justice Department to investigate deadly police encounters only if the local policing agency or district attorney actually asked for such an inquiry. The new division would also have the responsibility to prosecute any wrongdoing it uncovers.

The idea is patterned after laws in five other states: Wisconsin, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

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Monday, March 9, 2020

NCJ Preview with Access Humboldt

Posted By on Mon, Mar 9, 2020 at 9:00 PM

This week: We're talking about the Elk River Watershed, Humboldt County elections and how we camp out in the NCJ office to cover them, as well as how a pair of local campers became outdoor cooking YouTubers. Hit subscribe for weekly updates via YouTube.

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Thursday, November 28, 2019

Photos from the Thanksgiving Vigil

Posted By on Thu, Nov 28, 2019 at 7:18 PM

This morning, while many were preparing for holiday feasts with friends and family, some 50 people gathered on the steps of the Humboldt County Courthouse to hold a vigil for those immigrant families and individuals who are spending Thanksgiving in detention centers. As attendees held protest signs, speakers from Centro del Pueblo the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous People and other organizations addressed the crowd, and a symbolic Thanksgiving table stood empty of guests. 
Brenda Perez emcees Centro del Pueblo’s demonstration. - PHOTO BY MARK MCKENNA
  • Photo by Mark McKenna
  • Brenda Perez emcees Centro del Pueblo’s demonstration.

Organizers also announced a planned caravan to Yuba City Jail on Dec. 14 in support of ICE detainees there. See the slideshow below for photographer Mark McKenna's images from the vigil.

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Thursday, November 21, 2019

Why California’s top court just struck down the state’s Trump tax return law

Posted By on Thu, Nov 21, 2019 at 11:26 AM

gavel.jpg
Many constitutional law experts, former Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Republican Party are now all officially entitled to say, “I told you so.”

This morning the California Supreme Court unanimously struck down a new state law that would have required presidential candidates to publicly disclose their tax returns before appearing on the primary ballot.

Passed by the supermajority of Democrats in California’s Legislature and signed by new Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, the law was the statutory embodiment of California’s place at the front of the anti-Trump “Resistance.” It was a blatant dig at the GOP president — and one that generated plenty of national media attention.

But to some constitutional law scholars, the law was also obviously unconstitutional. Gov. Brown shared those concerns when he vetoed identical legislation in 2017.

Trump declined to release his tax returns during the 2016 presidential campaign, breaking with a precedent set in 1976 by President Jimmy Carter following the Watergate scandal.

“First, it may not be constitutional,” Brown wrote in his veto message at the time. “Second, it sets a ‘slippery slope’ precedent. Today we require tax returns, but what would be next?”

All seven justices of California’s Supreme Court were similarly persuaded.

“The Legislature may well be correct that a presidential candidate’s income tax returns could provide California voters with important information,” wrote Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, a Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointee. But, she added, the state constitution makes clear “it is the voters who must decide” whether a presidential candidate’s refusal “to make such information available to the public will have consequences at the ballot box.”

The chief justice is a former Republican who told CalMatters last year that she had left the GOP and switched her voter registration to no party preference — citing her increasing discomfort with the direction of the Republican Party.

The ruling was predicted by many who watched the expedited hearing the court held on the case earlier this month.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Huffman: Dems 'Snowball of Unity' on Impeachment Led to Historic Announcement

Posted By on Tue, Sep 24, 2019 at 4:33 PM

As one of the first and most vociferous members of Congress to beat the impeachment drum, his frustrations having steadily built in recent weeks, North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman applauded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s historic announcement this afternoon that the U.S. House of Representatives will launch a formal impeachment inquiry.

“It’s been a remarkable snowball of unity in our caucus around the Ukraine scandal,” Huffman told the Journal by phone this afternoon. “As someone who thinks this president should be impeached around at least a half-dozen impeachable offenses, I’m happy to see that unity, even if it just gels around this one scandal. I’ll take it.”

Jared Huffman. - CONGRESS
  • Congress
  • Jared Huffman.
The Ukraine scandal, as Huffman dubbed it, has been rapidly gaining traction over the past week and centers on reports — as well as admissions from the president and his advisors — that in July Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on widely debunked allegations that he inappropriately pressed for the ousting of a Ukrainian prosecutor who was investigating a company that employed Biden’s son. The pressing — eight requests for the investigation in a single phone call, according to some reports — reportedly came weeks after Trump ordered his acting chief of staff to withhold $400 million in promised military aid to the country.

Huffman said there was zero dissension in the ranks when Pelosi informed the Democratic caucus today that she intended to announce the launching of an impeachment inquiry this afternoon, despite the fact that many Democrats have taken a cautious approach to the subject, believing that committee investigations could accomplish the larger information gathering goal without the potential political price of an official inquiry.

In announcing the opening of a formal inquiry, Pelosi said Trump has “seriously violated the Constitution” and “must be held accountable.”

To date, the whistleblower complaint that brought the Ukraine scandal to light has not been turned over to Congress, as required by law. But Huffman said acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire is slated to offer “historic testimony” before Congress Thursday, noting that the hearing will be televised.

Huffman, who has repeatedly and loudly called for the start of a formal impeachment inquiry to look into potential violations of the emoluments clause, obstruction of justice and campaign finance violations, said he believes the Ukraine scandal has captured his colleagues’ urgent attention because it is “an unambiguous, impeachable offense and there is no amount of spin or nuance that can get the president out of this box.” The facts as they are known, he said, already support an impeachment vote, noting that Trump has admitted to asking Zelensky to investigate Biden and halting the military aid money as members of his administration have refused to comply with legal requirements to turn the whistleblower’s complaint over to Congress.

“That alone crosses the threshold of impeachment,” Huffman said.

On Twitter, Trump has called the issue a “total witch hunt” and “presidential harassment,” and has pledged to release a transcript of his call with Zelensky tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Huffman says he believes there is “air-tight unity” in the Democratic caucus in the belief that Trump’s own public admissions about the call — coupled with his administration’s handling of the complaint — constitute grounds for impeachment. He says he still wants to see the president held accountable for profiting off the presidency, obstructing justice and violating campaign finance rules by paying off a porn star to keep voters from learning about his extra-marital affair, but all that can wait.

“I’m not backing off any of that but I do think this Ukraine scandal goes to the fast lane and probably stands alone as having that full imprimatur of the speaker and our caucus,” he says.
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Thursday, September 19, 2019

McGuire: Judge's Tax Return Law Ruling 'Perplexing, Premature and Unneccesary'

Posted By on Thu, Sep 19, 2019 at 4:12 PM

A federal judge today granted a temporary injunction to block California’s recently signed legislation that requires presidential and gubernatorial candidates to release their tax returns to appear on the state’s primary ballot.

According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. said a final ruling in the case would be coming in the next few days but there would be “irreparable harm without temporary relief.”

mike_mcguire-cropped.jpg
The Presidential Tax Transparency & Accountability Act was challenged within days of its July 30 signing by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who at the time said that “states have a legal and moral duty to do everything in their power to ensure leaders seeking the highest offices meet minimal standards, and to restore public confidence.”

Judicial Watch, a self-described “conservative, non-partisan educational foundation” that “promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law,” was the first to sue. That action was quickly followed by President Donald Trump and his campaign and the Republican state and national parties, which filed two separate lawsuits.

North Coast state Sen. Mike McGuire McGuire, who co-authored the legislation with Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco, described England’s ruling as “perplexing, premature and not necessary.”

“We’re way out in front of any deadline required under the law and the irreparable harm argument is simply not apparent,” McGuire said in a statement released by his office. “I think the judge got this one wrong and a decision as important as this should not have been rushed or the law prematurely shut down.

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Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Huffman Calls Congressional Oath to God "Unconstitutional," "Preposterous"

Posted By on Wed, Sep 4, 2019 at 2:08 PM

North Coast Congressman Jared Huffman is again making waves as Congress’ only proclaimed “humanist.”

During an interview on the Freedom from Religion Foundation’s Freethought Matters program, Huffman, a lawyer by trade, said he believes requiring Congressional witnesses to pledge an oath to God is unconstitutional.

“It’s unconstitutional to require a witness in congressional testimony to affirm an oath to a deity they may not even believe in or to affirm an oath to a singular deity when you might be a polytheistic Hindu, for example,” Huffman said. “It’s just preposterous.”


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Monday, August 19, 2019

Newsom Signs Landmark Police Use-of-Force Bill

Posted By and on Mon, Aug 19, 2019 at 12:25 PM

California will soon have a tougher new legal standard for the use of deadly force by police, under legislation Gov. Gavin Newsom signed today that was inspired by last year’s fatal shooting of a young, unarmed man in Sacramento.

Newsom signed the legislation amid unusual fanfare, convening numerous legislators, family members of people who have died in police shootings and advocates including civil-rights leader Dolores Huerta in a courtyard at the Secretary of State’s building used in the past for inaugurations and other formal events.

The governor contends that with Assembly Bill 392 in place, police will turn increasingly to de-escalation techniques including verbal persuasion, weapons other than guns and other crisis intervention methods.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, crowd at signing ceremony for use-of-force bill. - PHOTO BY DAN MORAIN, CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Dan Morain, CalMatters
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom, crowd at signing ceremony for use-of-force bill.

“I would hope that if AB 392 had been law last year, that our family would not have to be mourning Christopher’s first angelversary today,” Barbara Okamoto said in a statement.

Her grandson, Christopher Okamoto, was killed in Bakersfield last Aug. 19, when police responded to a domestic violence call. He had a pellet gun.

The law reflects a compromise between civil-rights advocates who want to limit when police can shoot and law enforcement groups who said earlier versions of the bill would have put officers in danger.

Under the new law, which takes effect January 1, police may use deadly force only when “necessary in defense of human life.”

That’s a steeper standard than prosecutors apply now, which says officers can shoot when doing so is “reasonable.” One of the most significant changes will allow prosecutors to consider officers’ actions leading up to a shooting when deciding whether deadly force is justified.

“This will make a difference not only in California, but we know it will make a difference around the world,” said Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, the San Diego Democrat who carried the legislation.

The law doesn’t go as far as civil libertarians originally proposed and will likely leave it to courts to define what a “necessary” use of force is in future cases. The negotiations led a few early supporters, including the group Black Lives Matter, to drop their support and major statewide law-enforcement organizations to drop their opposition. After a year of contentious testimony over how to reduce police shootings, the final version of the bill sailed through the Legislature with bipartisan support.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Rollback of Endangered Species' Protections Raising Fears

Posted By on Tue, Aug 13, 2019 at 2:53 PM

A wild-hatched condor. - COURTESY OF REDWOOD NATIONAL PARK
  • Courtesy of Redwood National Park
  • A wild-hatched condor.
The Trump administration’s move to weaken what many see as key aspects of the Endangered Species Act is garnering outrage and pushback, with critics fearing a greater deterioration of the natural world amid the planet’s growing biodiversity crisis.

Credited with saving the bald eagle — among many iconic species, including several on the North Coast — and giving others —  like the condor — a fighting chance, the ESA was enacted in 1973 by then-President Richard Nixon.

That year, fewer than 500 pairs of the United States’ national symbol were left in the wild while today some 10,000 sets of the stealth raptors with a distinctive snowy white head are found just in the lower 48 states alone.

While the ESA has seen many successes over the years, the rollbacks expected to be enacted soon come on the heels of a United Nation’s report released in May that found “the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world.”

According to an Aug. 12 joint announcement from U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the ESA regulatory changes are “designed to increase transparency and effectiveness and bring the administration of the Act into the 21st century.”

“The best way to uphold the Endangered Species Act is to do everything we can to ensure it remains effective in achieving its ultimate goal —recovery of our rarest species. The Act’s effectiveness rests on clear, consistent and efficient implementation,” U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, an attorney and former oil industry lobbyist, said in the release. “An effectively administered Act ensures more resources can go where they will do the most good: on-the-ground conservation.”

Meanwhile, conservation organizations like Center Biological Diversity are sounding the alarm bells about what these changes could spell for already at-risk species like the polar bear and are mounting a campaign to reverse the alterations.

“We can stop this disaster, but it's going to require pulling out every stop,” a post on the center’s website states. “Tell your member of Congress to do everything in their power to defend wildlife and uphold the Endangered Species Act in this time of extinction crisis.

Read the USFW and NOAA release below:


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