PODS (full list coming back soon!):
- SacTown Talks by The Nooner (Gibran Maciel and Scott Lay): What a Week with guest fmr Assemblyman Mike Gatto on his homelessness initiative. (2019-11-29) [YouTube | iTunes | Simplecast]
- SacTown Talks by The Nooner (Gibran Maciel and Scott Lay): Noel Kammermann, executive director of Loaves and Fishes (2019-11-26) [YouTube | iTunes | Simplecast]
IN TODAY’S NOONER:
- The latest pod, also (mostly) on homelessness
- Internment resettlement
- Muni matters (incl.taxes and split roll)
- Cakeday and Classifieds
¡Felíz sabado! It’s another frosty morning here at The Nooner Global HQ preceding lots of rain the next few days. Fortunately, there will be some great college football today–the “civil war” in Eugene at 1pm with the Ducks hosting the Beavers and Cal and UCLA fans try to find something to cheer about to close out the season in Pasadena at 7:30.
Critical conversation on Twitter this morning with the amazing Gustavo Arellano of the LAT (formerly editor of the dying OC Weekly)–are In-N-Out fries the best? Let’s just say that the twitter birds are a’flitter on both sides. I’m agnostic. They are good and more natural. But to me, not fries of growing up in OC were Del Taco (burritos and fries, oh my!) and Naugles (totally old skool). Anyway, just a food “bite” for those of you (all humans) tired of turkey and cranberry talk.
When I worked overnight as an EMT in a couple of roles at Children’s Hospital of Orange County for three years (best job I ever had), I would do the overnight runs to load up at the Del Taco on Chapman. I loved those days.
Meanwhile, you can’t opine on anything relating to Mexican food if Arellano’s book is not on your shelf.
As noted above, we recorded a new pod late yesterday and had our first call-in guest. Former Assemblymember Mike Gatto, who served as Asst. Speaker Pro Tem and powerful chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee joined us via phone to talk about his proposed ballot measure to help address homelessness. The measure tries to strike the balance between the social services (including mental health and substance abuse) and criminal justice silos.
Title and summary for the measure aimed at the November 2020 ballot is due December 19. More information is available at interventionca.org.
I’m glad that we were able to use this week’s two podcasts to address one of the most challenging and escalating issues affecting California–the people who are on our cold, wet, and dangerous streets. There are no easy solutions. They are complicated, multi-faceted, and require collaboration between government, nonprofit including faith, and private organizations. It requires breaking NIMBYism. Solutions can make or break political careers and too many are standing on the sidelines other than dropping change in a red kettle while rushing Black Friday doors
Thank you to both Noel and Mike for engaging in the conversation and sharing your thoughts with our viewers and listeners this week.
PG&E: After full inspections, Pacific Gas and Electric Company says that it found 190 cases of downed tree limbs that likely would have sparked a blaze had it not exercised public safety power shutoffs in late October, reports Wes Venteicher for the Bee. He writes:
In response to questions from a federal judge, PG&E reviewed damage to its lines after the shutoffs of Oct. 23, 26 and 29. The shutoffs each affected from 178,000 to 970,000 customers and thousands of miles of power lines from the Sierra foothills to the North Bay.
PG&E quickly raised it’s hand and said “we likely did it” after the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County broke out on October 23. The fire destroyed 374 structures, including 174 residences, but was precipitously close to destroying the towns of Healdsburg and Windsor and crossing Highway 101 and burning to the Pacific Ocean. The area where the fire started near Geyserville was subject to a public safety power shutoff (PSPS), but only among the lower voltage “distribution” lines that ferry electricity from substations to customers. The higher voltage “transmission” remained on as the predicted windspeed did not meet the PSPS criteria.
I still haven’t seen any definitive report about the Cave Fire although there is broad suspicion that Southern California Edison power lines may have caused it, based on the location of the ignition of the conflagration above Santa Barbara last week. The utility did not execute a public safety power shutoff amid very gusty (82 MPH reported in Montecito) and dry conditions ahead of the wet storm that followed.
INTERNMENT RESETTLEMENT: This really isn’t normal Nooner material, but it’s a great story with a bitter California historical tie. In a LAT Column One long-form article today, Joe Mozingo writes about a test case of bringing home a Japanese-American from internment camp during World War II so she could go to college. Others were released to fight in the European theatre of the war.
The internment camp was surrounded by barbed wire fences and eight machine gun towers. When her family took walks at night, they were hit by floodlights, as if they were criminals. Esther wanted nothing more than to return to California to start college.
That opportunity arrived sooner than expected. On a hot, listless day in the dog days of that summer, an old family friend named Hugh Anderson had come in on the train from Los Angeles with news. The federal government had given him the go-ahead to bring a single Japanese American student back to Southern California to enroll in college. It was a test case for the resettlement of all the detainees of Japanese descent, and he thought Esther, 19, would be a perfect candidate.
Her parents agreed to let her go, putting their fears aside. They needed to show the nation their people’s humanity, and their loyalty. But when Esther boarded the westbound train a few weeks later, her father had a moment of panic: Am I sending my daughter to her death?
The lesser known part of the story was the rutted road to resettlement. Families that had been here for decades and thrived before the war — many turning marginal farmland into some of the state’s most productive soil — returned to find little was left for them. Most had to start from nothing, in the most hostile of times.
Esther Takei Nishio, the first to make that journey home, died last month at her home in Pasadena at the age of 94.
This is journalism. This one long-form story is worthy of an LA Times subscription for a year as it is the quality of a university course. I didn’t learn about our intimate California history with internment until university as it was whitewashed from my public education until then.
My A+ paper in California politics at UC Davis after learning about this was about the conflicting history of Earl Warren–the Supreme Court civil rights lion who as Attorney General (later Governor) of California sent 100,000+ Japanese-Americans to crude internment camps in the rural west. (I’m sure I have the exact number in one of my books here but I’m running out of time.)
As I was refreshing myself on this on a chilly Saturday morning and down a usual research rabbit hole, I learned something fascinating. In law school in a seminar on Law and Race Relations taught by the great Tom Joo, we learned about the “one drop rule.” Under the law, it was acceptable to discriminate against Americans of African descent if they had a drop of African blood (sorry kid of Thomas Jefferson). That’s how we kept our brethren out of public facilities and off trains. (Corollary without a citation but from a recent podcast (more later): the concept of tipping in America began because of non-wage earning black Americans who made their money providing services and relying on tips to survive).
Anyway, we made a lot of progress after Reconstruction. By World War II, the legal definition of being of Japanese descent and thus a suspect alien (although often a citizen and property owner) moved from one drop all the way to 1/16th. One drop was abhorrent so we moved all the way to if your great-grandmother was of Japanese descent, then you were suspect.
Earl Warren never formally apologized for internment but most biographers state that he regretted his actions to his grave. Of course, he was acting during the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
I can’t pretend to imagine the fear faced at that time on the West Coast as people were told to darken their lamps at night for fear of aerial attack but pray that we never have to sort Americans based on drops of blood or multi-generational heritage ever again.
BEZERKELY TRIFECTA: For the East Bay Times, Ali Tadayon reports that the Berkeley Unified School District is going for two parcel taxes and a general obligation bond measure in the March election. Tadavon writes:
One of the proposed ballot measures would require a tax of 12.4 cents per square foot on all properties to give teachers and other district staff a raise, as well as to recruit teachers to fill vacant positions. The Berkeley Federation of Teachers worked out an agreement with the district earlier this month for a 12 percent raise over two years, but only if the measure passes. If it doesn’t, the teachers union and the district will re-open contract negotiations.
That tax would cost the owner of a 1,500-square-foot home about $186 a year, and is expected to annually generate $10 million for the district during its 12-year term.
Another tax measure would pay groundskeepers and fund maintenance of buildings, classrooms, grounds, roofs, and electrical and mechanical/plumbing systems. That tax — 9.1 cents per square foot — is estimated to annually generate $7.3 million for the 10-year-term.
The district also wants voters to approve a $380 million bond measure to seismically retrofit several schools, replace old heating and ventilation systems, install solar panels and construct a new career technical education center.
The average cost of the bond measure would be $45.21 per $100,000 of a property’s assessed value, according to a district staff presentation. The average single family home with an assessed value of $566,766 would pay $253.06 a year.
I’ve never voted against a school measure and spent a lot of my previous life raising money for school and community college ballot measures in partnership with labor.
That said, there’s something about this current labor strategy of bargaining first for money that is contingent on a ballot measure. A lot of the current agreements negotiated this year, some through strikes, are counting on local measures AND the passage of the split roll property tax. I’m a “yes” vote on the split roll measure and would vote for other changes to Prop. 13 if given the chance.
That said, to lock in contracts contingent on ballot measure is just horrible policy and is setting up future strikes hurting kids. Split roll, based on current polling, is a incredibly difficult, well, proposition. Here are the numbers for likely voters in PPIC’s November statewide poll:
Basic ballot measure politics in California is that a measure needs to be in the high 50s (near 60) to have a likely chance of passage. The greater the opposition, the higher the number needs to be.
Again, I will vote for the measure. That said, there’s going to be huge opposition and if I were working on the campaign, I’d be looking at 63-65% on the top line among likely voters at this point.
Rather, we’re collectively bargaining as if its passage is likely. If it fails, we’re likely to have strikes across the state far greater than the ones we saw earlier this year.
Of course, the story is about Berkeley, and the trifecta likely will pass. 54% of the households are renter-occupied. They don’t pay the tax directly and will look to rent control protections to avoid the pass-through.
If anyone tells you that public policy is simple, there’s a bridge in Wasilla, AK for sale.
OAKTOWN: In the Chron, Roland Li reports on what is a surprising boomtown–downtown Oakland. “For the first time in more than a decade, Oakland’s skyline has a new office tower — and many more to come.”