The Morning Report
San Diego news and info
you need to take on the day.
It would be easy to forget the death penalty exists in California. It’s been more than 10 years since anyone in the state’s been put to death. In fact, since 1976, California’s executed just 13 people; a condemned inmate is more likely to die of disease or old age.
On Thursday, supporters of the California Death Penalty Reform and Savings Act of 2016 — a pro-death penalty measure that would speed up executions — made this argument at a press conference in front of the San Diego County Registrar of Voters. (Similar press conferences were held in nine other cities to announce the measure had garnered enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot, though the secretary of state still needs to verify the signatures.)
Jack Schaeffer, vice president of the San Diego Police Officers Association, described California’s capital punishment system as “ineffective because of waste, delays and inefficiency.”
The California Death Penalty Reform and Savings Act of 2016 seeks to essentially put capital punishment on steroids — by speeding up the appeals process and moving death-row inmates to less-expensive prison housing (including double-celling). It would also allow a controversial single-drug execution protocol — something death penalty critics say could lead to botched executions and legal challenges. Supporters include a majority of the state’s district attorneys and dozens of police and sheriff’s unions, including San Diego’s. The San Diego County Probation Officers’ political action committee has donated $5,000 to the campaign.
Meanwhile, folks behind a measure to abolish the death penalty say they’ve also collected enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot. At a hearing Tuesday in front of the Assembly and Senate public safety committees, Mike Farrell, the former “M*A*S*H*” star and a longtime death-penalty critic, described capital punishment as “obscenely expensive” and “used exclusively against minorities, the poor and the poorly defended.”
While there’s been one other attempt to abolish the death penalty in California — 2012’s Prop. 34, which lost by a narrow 4 points — this is the first time voters will face two competing capital punishment ballot measures.
That means there’s the possibility both measures could pass. In that case, Schaeffer said Thursday, the measure that gets the most votes wins.
— Kelly Davis
Brown’s Housing Plan Targets Localities
There’s been a lot of talk about affordable housing in Sacramento this week thanks to the revised budget Gov. Jerry Brown unveiled last Friday.
After vetoing legislation last year that proposed spending more money on affordable housing, the governor proposed new measures that would lower the cost of building low-incoming housing by streamlining the permitting process.
Brown’s budget also returns $1.3 billion money saved from the end of California’s redevelopment program to cities and counties, which he suggested could be used for affordable housing, though there is no mandate. He also endorsed a $2 billion bond to help address homelessness.
While there’s a lot to like in the budget revision for housing advocates, the governor’s reforms won’t go far enough, said Stephen Russell, executive director of the San Diego Housing Federation. This sentiment was echoed in a report by the state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office released this week.
Brown’s housing proposal would force local governments to ease up on their reviews of projects that either include 20 percent low-income units, or 10 percent low-income unites for projects near public transit. He also endorsed existing policies, like the state’s density bonus law that allows developers to build extra units and waive other local regulations if they provide a certain amount of low-income units.
“He’s focusing on the homeless and middle class, but the low-income in between those, who are teetering on the edge of homeless or living in cars are still being left out,” Russell said.
To address housing for that group, Russell said, the focus really needs to be on providing new funding for low-income housing.
Brown didn’t include a $1.3 billion budget ask from the Assembly that would provide increased funds for low-income housing, through a combination of tax credits and grants.
A handful of initiatives are still working their way through the Legislature. One bill, written by Assemblywoman Toni Atkins, would spend 50 percent of the money saved from ending the state redevelopment program on low-income housing. The money would otherwise go to the state’s general fund. Another bill from Assemblyman David Chiu, a San Francisco Democrat, would increase state tax credits that help fund low-income housing.
— Maya Srikrishnan
Nonprofits Hate Bill Requiring More Transparency of Nonprofits
A bill that would force nonprofits to include links to the state attorney general’s website in their marketing materials, has, unsurprisingly, generated a lot of opposition from nonprofits, including many in San Diego.
Assemblyman Jim Frazier of Fairfield wrote AB 2855 with an eye toward greater financial transparency in the wake of stories about controversial spending by one of the nation’s largest veteran charities. He’s argued that requiring nonprofits to add a link to the state attorney general’s office on their website and marketing materials would allow for more donor education. The attorney general regulates and investigates charities accused of bad behavior.
Nonprofits statewide hate his idea. They say the link could imply wrongdoing on their part, and that adding the link to their many marketing materials and web pages could be costly.
CalNonprofits, a statewide lobbying group for charities, says more than 800 groups have formally opposed the measure. So they were likely cheering last week when it was announced the bill was going in the suspense file – a sort-of purgatory for any proposed measure that has a price tag attached. That means there will be an analysis of how much the bill might actually cost and whether it’d be a high-priority measure.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee, led by San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, will announce by May 27 whether the bill will come out of its coma and be voted on by the full Assembly.
Many large and small nonprofits from San Diego – from the University of San Diego to the University Heights Library Task Force – have signed letters against the bill and are hoping it isn’t revived.
The Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, an association of Balboa Park institutions, is among the groups fighting the bill.
Peter Comiskey, who leads the Cultural Partnership, dubbed AB 2855 an unnecessary and potentially expensive redundancy since nonprofits already report financial information in their form 990s and to the attorney general’s office.
“It’s additional costs and additional requirements and it’s to deliver a link to a body that should anybody have a question about a nonprofit is the very first link that pops up if you were to do a Google search,” Comiskey said.
USD administrators made similar arguments and added a new one in a letter they sent to Gonzalez earlier this month.
“While not the same as wearing a scarlet letter, we believe that the labeling required in this bill sends a message to consumers that their trust in nonprofits is somehow misplaced,” the administrators wrote.
– Lisa Halverstadt
We Read the Op-Ed Pages So You Don’t Have to
• For the record, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez still hates Donald Trump. (OC Register)
• The Union-Tribune wishes the state Senate were more serious about ethics reform.
• The director of the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s Sacramento Valley chapter writes in support of a bill from Assemblywoman Toni Atkins that would lower the eligibility age for the state-funded Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program. (Sac Bee)
• The head of the San Diego County Water Authority calls San Diego a model for water conservation that could be emulated across the state. (San Jose Mercury News)
Golden State News
• This CalMatters piece does a great job breaking down the schism among California Democrats over education reform.
• The Oakland City Council is examining ways to make the medical marijuana industry more inclusive for black and Latino entrepreneurs. (San Francisco Chronicle)
• A new campaign backed by billionaire Tom Steyer seeks to hike California’s tax on cigarettes by $2 a pack. (L.A. Times)
• Voter registration across the state is still surging compared with the same period in 2012 – especially among Democrats and Latinos. (Political Data)
• A state Senate bill would let women obtain a year’s worth of birth control at once. (L.A. Times)
• Pat Buchanan’s claim that in half of California homes people speak a language other than English goes through the fact-check wringer. (Capital Public Radio)
• High-speed rail is coming along very slowly. (Politico)
States Are Great
This lengthy National Review piece detailing a shift in the conservative Koch brothers’ approach to politics says they’ve realized that the state level is where it’s at:
They had always believed that building the intellectual foundation for libertarian ideas in think tanks and universities — and supporting important public-policy initiatives at the state and local levels — paid greater long-term dividends than spending on elections.