Sacramento Bee: Three Californias measure removed from November ballot by State Supreme Court
he California Supreme Court ruled Wednesday in favor of opponents of a plan to divide California into three, saying the measure should not appear on the November ballot.
The court instructed Secretary of State Alex Padilla to refrain from putting the measure before voters pending further review, “because significant questions have been raised regarding the proposition’s validity, and because we conclude that the potential harm in permitting the measure to remain on the ballot outweighs the potential harm in delaying the proposition to a future election...”
The environmental nonprofit Planning and Conservation League and political attorneys alleged that breaking up the state is a “revision” of the state constitution and requires support by two-thirds of the California Legislature before it can go to the 2018 ballot.
Los Angeles Times: Kevin de Leon wins Democratic Party endorsement over longtime incumbent Dianne Feinstein
California Democratic Party leaders took a step to the left Saturday night, endorsing liberal state lawmaker Kevin de León for Senate in a stinging rebuke of Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
De León’s victory reflected the increasing strength of the state party’s liberal activist core, which was energized by the election of Republican Donald Trump as president.
The endorsement was an embarrassment for Feinstein, who is running for a fifth full term, and indicates that Democratic activists in California have soured on her reputation for pragmatism and deference to bipartisanship as Trump and a Republican-led Congress are attacking Democratic priorities on immigration, healthcare and environmental protections.
De León, a former state Senate leader from Los Angeles, received 65% of the vote of about 330 members of the state party’s executive board — more than the 60% needed to secure the endorsement. Feinstein, who pleaded with party leaders meeting in Oakland this weekend not to endorse any candidate, received 7%, and 28% voted for “no endorsement.”
New York Times: From the start, Trump has muddied a clear message: Putin interfered in the 2016 election
Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.
The evidence included texts and emails from Russian military officers and information gleaned from a top-secret source close to Mr. Putin, who had described to the C.I.A. how the Kremlin decided to execute its campaign of hacking and disinformation.
Mr. Trump sounded grudgingly convinced, according to several people who attended the intelligence briefing. But ever since, Mr. Trump has tried to cloud the very clear findings that he received on Jan. 6, 2017, which his own intelligence leaders have unanimously endorsed.
The shifting narrative underscores the degree to which Mr. Trump regularly picks and chooses intelligence to suit his political purposes. That has never been more clear than this week.
Sacramento Bee: Why California's business leaders are fighting to save the gas tax
It’s not often the California Chamber of Commerce endorses a tax increase.
You are more likely to see such legislative proposals – on high-income earners, on services, on corporations — make the “job killers” list that the state’s largest business advocacy organization puts out each year to beat back bills it doesn’t like.
But when Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic lawmakers last year passed a measure raising fees on transportation fuels and vehicle registration to pay for road repairs, it was because CalChamber, and the larger California business community, helped push it across the finish line.
Their support, along with the money and the bully pulpit it brings, will be essential for the coalition waging an uphill campaign to preserve the tax plan. Public polling indicates that California voters are ready to approve an initiative this November that would repeal the 12-cent-per-gallon hike on gasoline, 20-cent-per-gallon increase for diesel and new annual fee for cars based on their value.
CALMatters: As a Kern County canal sinks 1 inch a month, a $8.9 billion water bond holds out an infrastructure solution
A 152-mile long canal that irrigates pistachios and other crops in the eastern San Joaquin Valley is sinking by an inch a month, the result of groundwater over-pumping by farmers.
The Sacramento Bee described the Friant-Kern Canal as an engineering marvel, but its capacity has been reduced by as much as 60 percent at because of subsidence.
Proposition 3, an $8.9 billion bond on the November ballot, would set aside $750 million to repair the canal, and additional sums to avert subsidence. Gerald Meral, a former water policy advisor to Gov. Jerry Brown, wrote the initiative.
Business groups and farmers, many of them seeking canal improvements, donated $1.75 million of the $2.75 million Meral raised for the initiative so far. Environmental groups attracted by the measure’s promise of billions for habitat restoration have given $1 million.
UnHerd: Are the midterms rigged for the Republicans?
By all rights, Donald Trump should have his power clipped after this autumn’s midterms. Fully 53% of Americans disapprove of his performance so far, and his Republican Party trails the Democrats by over 8% in the polls.
Nonetheless, the Republicans are expected to retain control of the Senate, perhaps even gaining some seats; analysts also reckon the party is in with a fighting chance of hanging on to a slim majority in the House.
How is this possible? In most countries with only two major parties, an eight-point lead would guarantee a strong Democratic majority whether a country used a proportional representation system or an American-style first-past-the-post(FPTP) approach. In both Jamaica’s 2011 elections and the Bahamian 2012 elections, for example, victorious margins of nearly 7% gave the winning parties huge supermajorities of legislative seats.
But America’s unique electoral laws and political geography currently mitigate against the Democrats. The party’s strength is not evenly spread throughout the country. Instead, it is highly concentrated in urban areas, especially in those dominated by ethnic majorities. Democrats will win these seats with extreme margins of up to 90% more than their Republican challengers, but those surplus votes are useless, since they only count within the seats where they are cast.
Republican strength, however, is more evenly spread throughout the country, allowing them to win more seats with fewer votes. We know all this from the 2016 election results.