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California politics news feed

Welcome to Essential Politics, our in-the-moment look at California political and government news. 

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548 posts
  • 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.

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  • 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. 

  • 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.

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  • 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. 

(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

California Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula (D-Fresno), who was arrested Monday on suspicion of misdemeanor willful cruelty to a child, said he was taken into custody by police after he spanked his 7-year-old daughter. 

“Like most parents know, kids at times can act out. We had an incident on Sunday night of that. I did discipline my daughter and I spanked her on her bottom,” Arambula said Wednesday, adding that he spanked the child with his hand.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said Tuesday that Fresno’s Dailey Elementary Charter School contacted child protective services Monday after a student walked into the office with an injury from the night before. Officers responded to the school and interviewed the child. Dyer declined to offer any identifying details about the child or to describe the nature of the injury. 

Gavin Newsom, right, was sworn in as lieutenant governor in 2011 by his father, William Newsom.
Gavin Newsom, right, was sworn in as lieutenant governor in 2011 by his father, William Newsom. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

William Newsom III, a retired appellate court justice and father of Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom, died Wednesday at age 84, the governor-elect’s office announced.

“Justice Newsom was a proud, lifelong Californian, a public servant of profound accomplishment and a powerful voice for individual rights and environmental protection,” Nathan Click, a spokesman for the governor-elect, said in a statement.

The elder Newsom was a lifelong resident of San Francisco and was well-connected in the city’s political circles. He was appointed to the Superior Court by Gov. Jerry Brown in 1975, and later was appointed to the Court of Appeal.

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State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), left, with then-Assemblyman Tony Thurmond in 2016.
State Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), left, with then-Assemblyman Tony Thurmond in 2016. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Californians convicted of serious alcohol-related crimes would lose their firearms for 10 years under legislation proposed Wednesday by state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara).

Jackson’s bill is the latest of a string of gun-control measures proposed after last month’s mass shooting at a Thousand Oaks bar in which 12 people were killed.

Jackson said her bill is based on the findings of a 2017 UC Davis study that found prior convictions for crimes involving alcohol were associated with up to a fivefold increase in the likelihood of arrest for serious offenses including those involving guns.

California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye on Tuesday defended a landmark new state law abolishing money bail, saying it was crafted to ensure courts “do not judge a person based on the size of their wallet or what they have access to in someone else’s wallet.”