California lawmakers unanimously passed new legislation Monday to inspect most dams and reservoirs annually, one year after state officials ordered emergency evacuations for hundreds of thousands of residents living below the Oroville Dam.
“More needs to be done to ensure the safety and integrity of our water infrastructure,” said Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City), the bill’s author.
Under current law, state inspectors are required to examine the condition of dams, but don’t have specified timelines. Last year, after strong rainfall across Northern California, the Oroville Dam reached capacity and its main spillway was severely damaged. The threat of the spillway’s failure led to a sudden evacuation order due to fear of flooding and levee failures for miles around the dam.
At the request of California Gov. Jerry Brown, the state’s political watchdog panel on Thursday delayed action on a controversial plan that could transfer power from its full-time chairwoman to give other, part-time commissioners a greater say in key decisions.
The state’s five-member Fair Political Practices Commission is locked in a power struggle in which some part-time members, with support from attorneys representing candidates and elected officials, are proposing that Chairwoman Jodi Remke be required to share oversight power on budgets, court cases, hiring and policy changes.
Peter A. Krause, the governor’s legal affairs secretary, wrote to the panel on behalf of the governor that he appreciates that Commissioners Allison Hayward and Brian Hatch want the part-time panelists to have a bigger role in the agency’s operations.
A gymnasium in East Los Angeles is an odd setting for a Republican summit, but it offered the kind of symbolism former Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes is seeking these days: For the GOP to stay relevant in California, it has to try something new.
So somewhere new is where Mayes, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Ohio Gov. John Kasich found themselves Wednesday at the first meeting of Mayes' centrist advocacy group New Way California. He started it after he stepped down as the leader of his Assembly caucus last summer amid criticism for helping Democrats renew California's landmark climate program.
Civil rights lawyer Valerie McGinty founded a political action committee late last year to help boost the low numbers of women serving in the California Legislature. As it launches in Los Angeles, it will have an additional objective: backing women pursuing the seats left empty by men whose careers were ended by sexual harassment accusations.
Women in California and nationwide have jumped into political races in high numbers since the election of President Trump, and still more female candidates have been inspired to run as the national #MeToo movement brought attention to the need to reverse a culture of sexual misconduct in the political world. The overall mission is to reach gender parity in state representation by 2028, and with the new momentum, McGinty says, that is more within reach than ever.
Republican businessman John Cox has nudged ahead of former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for second place in California's race for governor, while Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has shored up his front-runner status among voters, according to a new poll from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.
The survey released Wednesday night also found that Sen. Dianne Feinstein continues to hold a sizable lead in her reelection bid over fellow Democrat and former state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León of Los Angeles.
It’s too late for Oatman to remove her name from the ballot, but she said in a statement that she hopes “all local activists … can now unite into one mighty force” behind Rouda, a fellow Democrat. She called on the other Democrats left in the Orange County race to drop out, too.
Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) was the only House member who reported using Cambridge Analytica for voter data during the 2016 election cycle.
The firm, which has been facing a storm of scrutiny for using allegedly ill-gotten Facebook data on millions of the site’s users, also provided data for the campaigns of two Republican senators.
Walters’ campaign consultant, Dave Gilliard, said a $20,000 payment was made to Connell Donatelli Inc., an online advertising firm, which in turn paid the money to Cambridge Analytica. The payment was for “voter data for media ads,” according to Federal Election Commission records.
Armed law enforcement officers would be assigned to all school campuses in California at state expense under a measure that advanced Wednesday in response to a series of recent mass shootings across the country.
The measure by Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) was recommended Wednesday by the Assembly Education Committee, which eliminated a proposal that would have allowed private security guards to be used on campuses.
“Why not have these individuals at every school in the state to ensure that there will be someone there [to stop shooting incidents]?” Gallagher asked the panel. “We need to have a first line of defense.”
As she became the new leader of the California Senate, Toni Atkins used her remarks after taking the oath of office as Senate president pro tem to make a direct promise to change the culture of the statehouse when it comes to workplace behavior.
“True culture change — holding ourselves to a higher standard — requires the active, everyday enlightened participation of every person who works in and around this Capitol,” Atkins (D-San Diego) said on the Senate floor Wednesday. “And I pledge to you, that will be our mission and our mandate.”
Atkins, 55, was elected on a unanimous vote of the Senate to succeed the former leader, Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), who is termed out this fall. She becomes the first person since 1871 to have served both as leader of the Senate and as speaker of the state Assembly.
Three candidates challenging California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra in this year’s election criticized the incumbent for skipping a debate Wednesday and also accused him of neglecting other duties they said are needed to protect public safety.
Becerra was appointed to the post more than a year ago by Gov. Jerry Brown to fill a vacancy created when Kamala Harris was elected to the U.S. Senate. In running for election in the June primary, Becerra faces challenges from Democratic Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and two Republican attorneys, Steven Bailey and Eric Early.
“The appointed attorney general is absent today,” Jones said. “That’s disappointing, but this is not the first time he has been missing in action.”
The lead proponent behind a proposed voter measure that would expand online privacy protections for California consumers has a message for Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg: “Put your money where your mouth is.”
In a letter to Zuckerberg, emailed to the social media company and posted on Zuckerberg’s Facebook page, Alastair Mactaggart, chairman of Californians for Consumer Privacy, says he was disappointed to learn Facebook has chosen not to support the privacy ballot campaign — and is pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into an attempt to sink privacy advocates’ efforts.
The letter comes as the Federal Trade Commission has opened an investigation into how a data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, accessed the personal data of 50 million Facebook users, without their knowledge, to help elect President Trump.