Happy Monday! My AroundTheCapitol site is still down and IBM is now being totally unresponsive. Obviously, the server is working if you are reading this, as this domain is on the same server as AroundTheCapitol. It’s a strange problem, with all ATC pages returning “file not found,” even though all the files are still there. I didn’t make any changes but it seems like an overnight software update caused it. Of course, that means that I can’t even email you from the domain.
As I tweeted Saturday, advertising and subscriptions will be extended for the lost days.
Anyway, what a Niners game last night. I think we can say amidst the doubts that they are indeed for real. Gibran and I sit down for a pod this afternoon with Loaves and Fishes executive director Noel Kammermann this afternoon. Obviously, this Thanksgiving week with poor weather forecast makes a great time to check in with the private nonprofit that feeds the hungry and shelters the homeless. They are expecting to feed nearly 1,000 needy folks tomorrow for their biggest meal of the year.
Let’s get some news out.
OH, DEVIN: Yesterday, the news blew up to include allegations that Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) met with the Ukranian prosecutor to seek an investigation of Joe Biden and son Hunter. Laura King reports for the LAT:
“Late Friday, CNN reported that Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of Trump personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, was prepared to tell Congress that Nunes had met late last year in Vienna with Viktor Shokin, formerly the top Ukrainian prosecutor, to obtain information about the Bidens. The network cited one of Parnas’ lawyers as the source of the allegation.
On Sunday, in a Fox News interview, Nunes declined to directly answer a question about that allegation, but threatened to sue CNN for reporting it.“
Of course, he’s a fan of suing those critical of him including the Fresno Bee and Twitter accounts such as @DevinCow.
As Evan Semones reports for Politico, Nunes is expected to be called before the House Ethics Committee with accusations that he used public funds for an essentially political purpose. He was chair of House Intelligence at the time of the alleged meeting.
The NYT’s Catie Edmonson writes:
“Neither Mr. Shokin nor Mr. Nunes has confirmed that the meeting happened, and Mr. Parnas has no direct knowledge of what may have been discussed. But Mr. Shokin had falsely suggested that he was ousted under pressure from Vice President Biden because he was investigating a company where Hunter Biden was a director, and he has subsequently made claims about the United States ambassador to Ukraine, Marie L. Yovanovitch, aligning him with Mr. Trump.”
Eyes are on the 46-year-old Nunes who could elect to retire rather than testify under oath with the threat of perjury.
Meanwhile, CA22 Democratic challengers Phil Arballo and Bobby Bliatout are raising money off the allegations. However, it’s a tough hall in district that Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 9.5% in 2016.
If he is forced to resign, a key date is May 2, as that’s the 180 day mark prior to the November 3 general election. If he steps down before then, there would be a special election for the remainder of Nunes’s current term. After that, the seat would remain vacant pending the November election.
Of course, he has refused to answer the allegation, but there seems to be enough evidence to warrant an Ethics investigation. There are ten members on House Ethics, split evenly among the two parties. There are no Californians on the committee.
There’s a question as to whether House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy will cut Nunes loose, another headache for the Majority Leader who is already dealing with the Duncan Hunter situation.
Just out of speculation, Devon Mathis (R-Visalia) lives in CA22. Assemblyman Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield) lives in Kevin McCarthy‘s district and used to work for the then House Majority Leader. In the State Senate, freshman Andreas Borgeas (R-Bakersfield) lives in the district.
CA15 (Hayward-Pleasanton-Livermore): The Chron’s Tal Kopan reports on Rep. Eric Swalwell‘s role in the impeachment hearings. He’s on both House Intelligence which held hearings last week and House Judiciary, which will likely be drawing up the articles of impeachment next.
Other Californians on Judiciary are Zoe Lofgren, Karen Bass, Ted Lieu, Lou Correa, and Tom McClintock.
CA36 (Coachella): In the Desert Sun, Shane Newell and Colin Atagi report that a potential challenger to Democratic Rep. Raul Ruiz was arrested over the weekend in Indio. They write:
“Gina Chapa, 40, was arrested about 9 a.m. Saturday and released later that day after posting $10,000 bail, according to county jail records. She is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 23 in Indio.
Chapa announced last month she would challenge Ruiz for his congressional seat, but she hasn’t filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission. The Indio resident was the Democratic congressman’s director of constituent services from 2013 to 2015 before a failed bid for Indio City Council in 2016.”
PROP 13: For KQED, Julie Chang looks at the debate over the future of property tax-limiting Proposition 13. In the PPIC poll released last week, 46% of likely voters supported the measure, 45% opposed, and 9% were undecided. Those results definitely disappointed backers, but they don’t intend to give up. Among all adults, support was 55% and 37% opposed.
LAW AND ORDER: The Bee’s Wes Venteicher reports that Governor Gavin Newsom would like to close a prison, although it’s easier said than done. Prisons are a primary employer in many rural areas, including Blythe and Susanville. Venteicher writes:
“I would like to see, in my lifetime and hopefully my tenure, that we shut down a state prison,” he said. “But you can’t do that flippantly. And you can’t do that without the support of the unions, support of these communities, the staff, and that requires an alternative that can meet everyone’s needs and desires.”
Here’s a fascinating report by the Pew Research Center on criminal justice reforms recently enacted by states across the country.
beJUULed: Over the weekend, Julie Creswell and Sheila Kaplan had a great in-depth story in the NYT on the growth of JUUL Labs and whether they focused advertising and promotional events to target youth. They write:
“As youth vaping soared and “juuling” became a high school craze, the company’s top executives have stood firm in their assertion that Juul’s mission has always been to give adult smokers a safer alternative to cigarettes, which play a role in the deaths of 480,000 people in the United States each year.
“We never wanted any non-nicotine user and certainly nobody underage to ever use Juul products,” James Monsees, a co-founder of the company, testified at a congressional hearing in July.
But in reality, the company was never just about helping adult smokers, according to interviews with former executives, employees and investors, along with reviews of legal filings and social media archives.”
Here is the lawsuit filed by Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
EVICTIONS: In the LAT, Liam Dillon reports on the actions of local governments to halt evictions before the new rent-gouging and eviction protections law (AB 1482) takes effect January 1. Dillon writes:
“In the interim, tenants across the state have been complaining that landlords are hiking their rents and issuing no-fault evictions before the law takes effect. And, in response, cities and counties have been passing emergency moratoria to stop it.
In the past six weeks, about three dozen local governments have approved rules to prevent evictions, according to a tally by Tenants Together, a renter advocacy group.”
PG&E: J.D. Morris and Carolyn Said write for the Chron that during the recent public safety power shutoffs, some customers were not affected as the utility experiments with the often-cited solution of “microgrids.”
Microgrids are local generation and storage and are seen as one of the best ways to prevent electricity-caused wildfires, as they can be segmented off the main grid.
FROM THE DESK OF THE DEAN: George Skelton writes in the LA Times that Democrats handed Republicans a victory by pushing through the Trump tax returns bill, which has been sideline by the courts. Skelton writes:
“The Legislature didn’t even consider the state Constitution, the court noted. A 1972 constitutional amendment approved by voters clearly made the primary ballot accessible to all “recognized” presidential candidates.
The Democrats’ law also violated the U.S. Constitution, a federal judge ruled earlier. For one thing, it conflicted with the qualifications clause in Article 2, which states that a president simply must be a natural born citizen who has lived in the country 14 years and be at least 35. Nothing about releasing tax returns.
California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, a Democrat, filed an appeal, but dropped it after the state court ruled against the law.”
BLOOMBERG: Shane Goldmacher tweets that Angelenos are likely to see a lot of presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg during the evenings.
BART: In the Chron, Rachel Swan reports that after a stabbing aboard a BART train, new concerns about the safety of the transportation system are being raised.
CONCEALED CARRY: The Merc News’s Robert Salonga and Thy Vo report on the concealed carry permit scandal in Santa Clara County. They write “The Santa Clara County sheriff’s system for granting concealed weapons permits is so inconsistent — and the record-keeping so fragmented — that it is difficult to discern any public-safety rationale behind a process the District Attorney’s Office is investigating over allegations of political favoritism.”
SACTOWN: Marcos Bretón profiles longtime Capitol figure and Sac councilman Eric Guerra. Bretón writes:
“Nearly a quarter century before he was elected to the Sacramento City Council, Eric Guerra was 4 years old when he was smuggled from Mexico into this country without U.S. government permission. This was an act of desperation by Guerra’s parents, Zeferino and Amparo, who fled the adobe house where Guerra was born in Mexico’s interior state of Michoacan.
Before Guerra would become a star student at Sacramento State, an honors graduate with degrees in electrical and electronic engineering, and a master’s in Public Policy and Administration, he was essentially a child fugitive. More succinctly, Guerra was a refugee. He was economically displaced and politically powerless when his family finally landed in the Yolo County town of Esparto.”