Politics

Tuesday, October 3, 2023

How Laphonza Butler Could Reshape California's U.S. Senate Race

Posted By on Tue, Oct 3, 2023 at 9:26 AM

Laphonza Butler - REP. JIMMY GOMEZ, PUBLIC DOMAIN, VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Rep. Jimmy Gomez, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
  • Laphonza Butler

Laphonza Butler — Gov. Gavin Newsom’s pick to succeed the late U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein — will be sworn in today, making history as the first openly LGBTQ person and the second Black woman to represent California in the Senate.

But how long does she want to keep the job?

She isn’t saying, yet.

“This week Laphonza is focused on respecting and honoring Sen. Feinstein’s legacy and getting ready to serve the people of California in the Senate,” Butler spokesperson Matt Wing told CalMatters Monday. “Politics can wait.”

Her decision whether to run for the seat, however, will be central to California politics heading into 2024. She would join a crowded field of Democratic candidates already vying for a full six-year term in the Senate — U.S. Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee.

Now, the Secretary of State’s office confirmed Monday, there will be two sets of elections in both the March 5 primary and Nov. 5 general election — a special election to determine who serves the final two months of Feinstein’s term and the regular election to decide who gets the full six-year term after that. Voters faced a similar double election last year for the state’s other Senate seat, held by Alex Padilla, also appointed by Newsom.

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Monday, March 20, 2023

Peace Rally for Ukraine

Posted By on Mon, Mar 20, 2023 at 4:27 PM

The march after the peace rally for Ukraine on Saturday. - PHOTOS BY MARK LARSON
  • Photos by Mark Larson
  • The march after the peace rally for Ukraine on Saturday.
As anti-war demonstrations were held across the country Saturday to coincide with the 20-year anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, several dozen people gathered at the Arcata Plaza to “rally for peace in Ukraine by seeking an end to the war with ceasefire and diplomacy."

Ellen Taylor, the first speaker, reinforced that point by reading the 2003 words of West Virginia U. S. Sen. Robert Byrd, who was one of the Senate's most outspoken critics of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Jack Irvine, a retired physician and member of a local “council of elders” (as emcee Michael Evenson described it), was next with a wide-ranging re-telling of the history of opposition to war and nuclear armament. Evenson followed by answering the question, “Why a rally? We need to talk to and learn from each other."
Poet Jerry Martien during a reading at the rally. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • Poet Jerry Martien during a reading at the rally.
Up next was a songfest led by the Raging Grannies, a short talk by Cal Poly Humboldt student José Lepe of the Party for Socialism and Liberation and poet Jerry Martien, who prefaced his reading of “After the Crash” by challenging attendees to re-make peace more interesting than war.

More songs followed by the Ponies of Harmony and soloist James Zeller. Organizer David Meserve then closed with the argument that we needed to seek an end to the war in Ukraine with ceasefire and diplomacy, before leading the attendees in a brief chant of “2, 4, 6, 8 … We need to negotiate … .”
Attendees at the peace rally. - PHOTO BY MARK LARSON
  • Photo by Mark Larson
  • Attendees at the peace rally.
Then, with lyrics of "Masters of War" by Bob Dylan playing through the speakers, Meserve and Evenson led the attendees on a march around the plaza while carrying a “Negotiate in Ukraine” banner.
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Monday, September 26, 2022

‘Mandela’ Bill Would Limit Solitary Confinement in California Prisons and Jails

Posted By on Mon, Sep 26, 2022 at 11:43 AM

Razor wire lines the cyclone fencing along the perimeter of Pelican Bay. - PHOTO BY ANDREW GOFF
  • photo by Andrew Goff
  • Razor wire lines the cyclone fencing along the perimeter of Pelican Bay.
In solitary confinement, a former California inmate recalled, there were two kinds of people:  One kind would read books in their cells, exercise and do and re-do crossword puzzles. The other kind would scream and curse, refuse to dress and throw their feces at the walls. 

The goal in solitary confinement, he said, was to avoid becoming the second kind of inmate. 

“There’s one that’s resilient and one that’s not so resilient,” said the man,  a former member of the Mexican Mafia who asked CalMatters not to use his name for fear of retaliation. “I’ve seen people go over the edge.” 

The former inmate spent several consecutive years in solitary confinement at a California prison — a circumstance some lawmakers want to change. A bill before Gov. Gavin Newsom would limit solitary confinement in California to 15 consecutive days, and no more than 45 days out of 180.

Assembly Bill 2632, named the “California Mandela Act” after former political prisoner Nelson Mandela, would be the most wide-ranging change to solitary confinement of any state, limiting the practice in all California prisons, jails and immigration detention facilities. Its contentious passage through the Legislature ended largely on party-line votes, with Republicans continuing to raise an alarm about the bill’s potential costs.


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Thursday, September 22, 2022

Will Women Rule in the 2022 California Election?

Posted By and on Thu, Sep 22, 2022 at 1:34 PM

Sacramento city councilwoman and Democratic State Senate candidate Angelique Ashby talks to supporters at a campaign event in Sacramento on Sept. 10, 2022. - PHOTO BY RAHUL LAL, CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Rahul Lal, CalMatters
  • Sacramento city councilwoman and Democratic State Senate candidate Angelique Ashby talks to supporters at a campaign event in Sacramento on Sept. 10, 2022.
A gift or a curse? 

For Angelique Ashby, running as a “women’s advocate” in a heated state Senate race in Sacramento might be a little of both.

Her competitor, Dave Jones, a fellow Democrat, went to court to block Ashby from using that as her ballot designation under her name, arguing that it wasn’t her real vocation. 

Jones, a former Assemblymember, won his argument. But Ashby also benefited: The lawsuit fired up some of her supporters and prompted a firestorm on social media. Part of the politics: Sacramento County hasn’t sent a woman to the Legislature since 2014.

For Ashby, it’s also personal: Her story of putting herself through college and law school while a single mom has been her calling card since first running for Sacramento City Council in 2010.     

“If you needed a reminder, you got one today. Women are still marginalized and easily dismissed,” she said in a statement after the ruling. “But I refuse to accept that as our fate. Let this be a rallying cry. Elect more women.”

The Nov. 8 election presents a big opportunity for women. With a number of seats up for grabs due to redistricting and a wave of retirements, the number of female legislators could rise above the current record of 39 of 120 seats. 

The overturning of Roe vs. Wade has also generated more energy among female voters and highlighted the importance of having women in policy-making roles — even in California, where abortion rights ares protected.


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Thursday, September 1, 2022

UPDATE: Planning Director Disputes Developer's Account as More Permit Problems Arise for Schneider

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2022 at 5:26 PM

Travis Schneider's family home has sat partially built under a stop work order since early this year. - SUBMITTED
  • Submitted
  • Travis Schneider's family home has sat partially built under a stop work order since early this year.

UPDATE:
Planning Director John Ford followed up with the Journal this afternoon after publication of this article to say he’d checked his records and wanted to clarify the timeline surrounding his Jan. 19 conversation with developer Travis Schneider.

Ford was adamant that he did not undermine what county planner Cliff Johnson had relayed to Schneider in a letter earlier that day: That if Schneider continued to defy a Dec. 27 county stop work order issued on construction of Schneider’s home due to numerous permit violations and the cutting of an unpermitted road, he’d face fines and possibly even permit revocations. While Schneider has asserted he and Ford “mutually” agreed that day the county would allow work to continue on the property while the permit issues were resolved, the planning director said that was simply not the case.

“I do not remember agreeing to allow him to continue working” as Schneider claimed in a letter presented to the Humboldt County Planning Commission on Aug. 18, Ford said. “I recall that he was adamant about not stopping.”

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PlanCo Staff Recommends Approval of Schneider Permit; Documents Shed New Light on Contentious Meeting

Posted By on Thu, Sep 1, 2022 at 10:41 AM

A couple weeks after the matter spilled cantankerously into public view, Humboldt County and Building Department staff is recommending the Planning Commission approve the permits necessary to allow a local developer to continue construction of his family home, with some revised conditions, at its meeting tonight.

The issue arose after Travis Schneider violated the terms of a coastal development permit needed for construction of his 8,000 square foot family home Walker Point Road near Fay Slough, south of the Indianola Cutoff and east of U.S. Highway 101. Specifically, Schneider began construction on the home with a slightly different footprint than what had been listed on an approved building permit, cleared brush and native blackberry in areas deemed ecologically and culturally sensitive, including one identified more than a century ago as a historical Wiyot village site, and cut an unpermitted temporary construction road on the property. The county issued a stop work order in December and, some weeks later (more on that in a bit), Schneider complied and work has remained halted since.

A county staff report shows how the footprint of local developer Travis Schneider's new family home, as well as a temporary road carved into the property, violate wetland setback provisions of his permit. - HUMBOLDT COUNTY PLANNING AND BUILDING
  • Humboldt County Planning and Building
  • A county staff report shows how the footprint of local developer Travis Schneider's new family home, as well as a temporary road carved into the property, violate wetland setback provisions of his permit.

Schneider and planning staff were optimistic a resolution had been found during an Aug. 2 meeting with the Wiyot area tribes — comprising the Wiyot Tribe, the Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria and the Blue Lake Rancheria — and the California Coastal Commission when the matter was set for a hearing at the Planning Commission’s Aug. 18 meeting. But the day prior to the meeting, the Wiyot Tribe, Blue Lake Rancheria and California Coastal Commission submitted letters urging the commission to reject the permit, saying details remained to be ironed out on generally agreed upon mitigation measures, including who would pay for tribal monitoring efforts and who would hold a proposed conservation easement.


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Wednesday, August 31, 2022

‘Forcing the Hand’: Gavin Newsom Leans into Legislative Agenda as First Terms Nears End

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2022 at 12:49 PM

Gavin Newsom - WIKIPEDIA
  • Wikipedia
  • Gavin Newsom
As California’s legislative session comes to an end tonight, the priorities and focus of the closing days have been heavily shaped by Gov. Gavin Newsom, who in the final year of his first term has taken significant steps to execute his agenda through legislation like never before.

His first three years in office saw Newsom frequently pursue policy through executive orders or in the state budget process, a negotiation with the Legislature that provided him with greater leverage.

But the governor’s biggest priority this year has arguably been the passage of a sweeping proposal, known as CARE Court, to compel people with serious mental health issues into treatment and housing. And in recent weeks, he asked lawmakers to take up ambitious new climate and energy measures, including one that would delay the closure of California’s last nuclear power plant.

A half dozen bills Newsom has sought were sent to his desk this week or await final approval before the Legislature gavels down tonight. They include some of the most complex and contentious issues that remain.



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Monday, August 29, 2022

T-minus 3 Days for California Lawmakers

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2022 at 7:13 PM

The two-year legislative session ends Wednesday at midnight, giving Gov. Gavin Newsom and state lawmakers just three days to hammer out agreements on complex, controversial bills and budget items encompassing everything from nuclear power to abortion to youth vaccination.

According to veteran Sacramento lobbyist Chris Micheli, legislators still need to determine the fate of about 525 bills, or about 175 per day. (Newsom on Friday signed a pile of less contentious bills already sent to his desk.)

Looming over the frenetic negotiations is the Nov. 8 general election, which adds an extra layer of political complexity when it comes to voting on controversial proposals — especially for lawmakers running for contested seats in the state Assembly and Senate.



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Friday, August 26, 2022

‘Close to the Line:’ California’s Top Campaign Finance Watchdog Wants a Deeper Look at Donor Network

Posted By and on Fri, Aug 26, 2022 at 11:57 AM

The state Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. on Monday, Aug. 22, 2022. - PHOTO BY RAHUL LAL, CALMATTERS
  • Photo by Rahul Lal, CalMatters
  • The state Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. on Monday, Aug. 22, 2022.
California’s campaign finance regulator will not investigate a complaint into Govern For California, the subject of a CalMatters investigation that explored the nonprofit’s role influencing legislative elections and “pushing the envelope” of state campaign finance law.

But the chairperson of the Fair Political Practices Commission said he would seek to develop new regulations more clearly defining coordination among affiliated campaign committees, because he has questions about the independence of Govern For California’s network of chapters and whether they could potentially be circumventing contribution limits. 

“I’m troubled by the allegations that were presented in the complaint and I’m troubled by the fact that this organization seems to be, I think, playing very close to the line,” said Richard Miadich, who said he plans to bring up the issue at the September FPPC meeting. “It’s one thing to say you’re independent. It’s another to in fact be independent.”

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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Back to School: California Republicans Bet Big on Local Board Races

Posted By on Wed, Aug 17, 2022 at 9:40 AM

When California Republicans gathered in Anaheim this spring, attention focused on candidate speeches and endorsement battles as the party tries to win its first statewide race since 2006. 

But a little-noticed, hour-long session in a small conference room at the Marriott could very well be more consequential for the state GOP this election.

The meeting focused on running for local school board seats, and it was led by Shawn Steel, a former party chairperson. Now, he’s one of the biggest evangelists for strengthening the GOP by recruiting new candidates and voters in what are, officially at least, nonpartisan races.

“When you’re a minority party, like Republicans in California … you have to think, ‘Well, what can we do as a party to make a big difference?’” Steel told CalMatters. “You see the schools are just in great freefall and chaos. Parents don’t want to send their kids there. So this is the time to get people that are otherwise angst-ridden, upset, powerless.” 

In California, Democrats have long used school boards as a recruiting and training ground for political candidates — with help from teachers’ unions. 

But while the state Democratic party isn’t amping up its school board efforts in 2022, the GOP is going in big with its “Parent Revolt” program — what party officials call their most tailored school board recruitment and training program ever. It includes virtual training sessions that detail how and where to run for office, plus tips for digital campaigns and going door-to-door.


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