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594 posts
  • State government
A sign advertises a touch-screen voter registration process at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Santa Ana.
A sign advertises a touch-screen voter registration process at the Department of Motor Vehicles in Santa Ana. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Less than eight months after California’s new voter registration system went online at the Department of Motor Vehicle offices, a leading Republican lawmaker said the beleaguered project should be canceled.

"Enough is enough,” state Senate Minority Leader Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) said in a statement on Monday. “I've been deeply troubled reading the media reports highlighting the failed motor voter program.”

Bates introduced Senate Bill 57, which would return voter registration at DMV offices to a voluntary, “opt-in” process. In April, state officials formally launched the system designed to automatically register those eligible to vote unless they specifically declined.

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  • State government
(Kent Nishamura/Los Angeles Times)

The director of the California Department of Motor Vehicles will retire at year’s end with a number of questions unanswered about the implementation of a major voter registration system and long wait times experienced by customers for much of the past summer.

Jean Shiomoto will not continue in her current role as Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom takes office, and “announced to staff several weeks ago her intent to retire at the end of the year after 38 years in state service,” spokesman Armando Botello said in an email to The Times on Friday.

Newsom’s transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment on who might lead the department in 2019.

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For more than a decade, developers have tried to build new housing on the site of an all-but-empty mall in Cupertino, a city in the heart of Silicon Valley and home to Apple headquarters. A well-organized group of neighbors, upset about traffic, building heights and the potential loss of the community’s suburban lifestyle, turned away every plan.

Now, for the first time, the stalemate might be broken — thanks to a decision made in the state Capitol.

There’s no shortage of watery metaphors to describe the disaster that befell California Republicans this midterm election.

  • California Democrats
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Mark your calendars: Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom has a full slate of events planned around his inauguration, according to save-the-date announcements sent to California politicos this week.

The festivities include a “leadership circle” luncheon and “family celebration” at the California State Railroad Museum in Sacramento on Jan. 6 in addition to a previously announced concert called California Rises that Sunday evening to benefit those affected by recent wildfires.

The swearing-in ceremony itself will be the next day, Jan. 7, at 11 a.m.

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  • California Legislature
Apartments above the 110 Freeway in Los Angeles.
Apartments above the 110 Freeway in Los Angeles. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Last year, legislation that would have allowed for increased apartment construction near transit across California became a national flashpoint for a debate over the future of cities in an era of high housing costs and pressures to address climate change. The bill suffered a quick death in the Legislature.

Now, Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) has brought a version of the legislation back as Senate Bill 50, which would allow four- to five-story buildings near rail lines and loosen local zoning rules near other mass transit and in wealthy neighborhoods.

On this episode of “Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast,” we talk with Wiener about what he learned from last year’s failures, how he has tried to mollify concerns from low-income tenant groups and the expectations for SB 50.

  • State government
(Los Angeles Times)

Officials at the California Department of Motor Vehicles said Friday that the agency failed to send information for 329 new voters to state elections officers in time for the November election, the latest revelation in a string of mishaps regarding voter registration.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla responded with a blistering letter, calling on Gov. Jerry Brown or Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom to replace Jean Shiomoto, the DMV director.

“The Director of DMV has lost my confidence and trust,” Padilla wrote.

  • State government
  • California Democrats

A labor advocate and a San Francisco political operative have accepted positions in Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom’s new administration. 

Angie Wei, a Capitol insider with deep ties to organized labor in California, will serve as a chief deputy cabinet secretary with a focus on policy development.

As a legislative director and chief of staff at the California Labor Federation, Wei has represented more than 1,200 unions and 2.1 million workers in Capitol fights over a host of policy issues including drug pricing transparency and paid family leave. 

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  • 2018 election
Piles of mail-in ballots are readied to be counted Nov. 7 in Santa Ana.
Piles of mail-in ballots are readied to be counted Nov. 7 in Santa Ana. (Nick Agro / For The Times)

California voters turned out for the November election at a higher rate than any similar election since 1982, according to final statewide results certified Friday.

More than 12.7 million voters cast ballots in the Nov. 6 election, representing 64.5% of the state’s registered voters. That represents the highest percentage of voter turnout in a gubernatorial election since Nov. 2, 1982, when 69.7% of voters participated.

It was a dramatic change from 2014, which saw the lowest turnout — 42.2% of registered voters — of any gubernatorial election since 1942.

  • State government

Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom on Thursday picked a veteran Capitol staff member to lead his communications shop when he takes office. 

Daniel Zingale, who previously served as Cabinet secretary to Gov. Gray Davis, senior advisor to former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and chief of staff to Maria Shriver, will serve as Newsom’s senior advisor on strategy and communications. 

In addition to Zingale, Newsom filled several other positions in the latest round of hires for his new administration.