Gov. Jerry Brown speaks at a San Diego employer forum. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Gov. Jerry Brown signed his final batch of bills into law as governor of California over the weekend, including two big efforts to reform police procedures and several bills inspired by the #MeToo movement. But he also vetoed several measures, leaving progressives disappointed.

Brown signed the landmark bill, co-written by San Diego Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, to require corporate boards to include at least one woman. In a signing message, Brown acknowledged the measure could face legal challenges and might not ever be implemented, but said he was signing it anyway because “recent events in Washington D.C. – and beyond – make it crystal clear that many are not getting the message.”

Brown did not, however, extend that same logic to Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s bill that would have forbid employers from forcing new employees to sign arbitration agreements. In vetoing the bill, Brown said it “plainly violates federal law.”

Brown also vetoed several other sexual harassment-related bills written by Gonzalez. In response, Gonzalez noted that in signing measures related to women on corporate boards and others that would impact women with means, and vetoing measures related to janitorial workers and other working-class women, he prioritized women of “a certain standing.”

“It’s pretty hard to celebrate the gains for women who have the same educational and access advantages as I do, while denying any gains for women like my mom and grandmother who never had those opportunities,” Gonzalez said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Brown signed a major police transparency bill that “allows the public to view investigations of officer shootings and other major uses of force, along with confirmed cases of sexual assault and lying while on duty,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Brown also signed a bill requiring body camera footage of major use-of-force incidents to be made public in most cases.

But the biggest bill to reform police practices, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber’s bill that would have limited when police can legally deploy deadly force, never made it to the governor’s desk.

AG Announces Illegal Growing Busts in San Diego

Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced state, federal and local law enforcement agencies in San Diego County this year have uprooted 11 illegal marijuana grow sites, nearly all of which were on public lands. It was part of an effort across California that led to the eradication of more than 600,000 plants — and demonstrated how much agreement there remains, among law enforcement, on pot.

The federal government continues to treat marijuana as a schedule one narcotic, on par with heroin, while California has a licensed system in place for regulated growers and sellers. But the two governments agree that marijuana shouldn’t be grown on public lands, where drug traffickers have unleashed toxic pesticides.

“If we don’t get a grip on this,” Becerra said, “then the illegal side will overtake the legal side, because the cost of doing it the right way will far exceed the cost of doing it the wrong way.”

I asked Becerra whether he would encourage more cities to regulate dispensaries so that illegal marijuana sellers would have less of a foothold locally. The OC Register estimates that more than two-thirds of cities in California prohibit marijuana businesses.

Becerra said cities and counties would have to decide for themselves whether legalization was right for them.

Later in the press conference, Karen Flowers, the special agent in charge of the San Diego Field Division of the DEA, made no attempt to conceal what she really thinks of pot and its place in the world:

All of us in law enforcement know the dangers of marijuana. Whether it’s legal in California or it’s not, it’s a dangerous drug. It harms minds and robs people of their God-given potential. And it funds the violence that’s happening in Mexico. We are spreading our addiction into Mexico. … You’re seeing Chicago-style violence, gang violence, in the streets of Tijuana and the homicide rate is through the roof. We export a lot of great things in America, and the one thing that we’re doing to our counterparts overseas is we’re exporting our addiction.

Becerra didn’t disagree.

“It is a drug,” he said. “It does have altering effects, as does alcohol and other things and prescription medications. We control it, and we decided not to criminal aspects of it, but there’s no doubt we have to handle it carefully and make sure you understand its use.”

Jesse Marx

Two San Diego Dems Split on Rent Control

Last week, I noted that two of the Legislature’s biggest housing advocates, Sen. Toni Atkins and Assemblyman Todd Gloria, were remaining neutral on Prop. 10, the state ballot measure that would open the door to new rent control policies.

Since then, two more San Diego Democrats have announced positions on the measure – each landing on one side.

City Councilwoman Barbara Bry, who’s mulling a mayoral run, said in a VOSD op-ed that she opposes Prop. 10 because it could stymie new housing construction.

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, meanwhile, said she supports the measure because it allows cities that want rent control to implement it – and cities that don’t can simply keep things the way they are.

Meanwhile, our pal Liam Dillon wrote a great explainer on rent control this week.

De León and Results vs. Likability

Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez has an interesting and revealing cameo in this profile of state Sen. Kevin de León, who’s running as a progressive challenger to Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

A big vote on a nationally watched climate bill de Leon wrote ended up becoming a referendum on de Leon himself.

“You don’t have to like the author,” pleaded Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher of San Diego. She quickly added that she considers him “a great guy,” but the room erupted with knowing laughter.

De León has played up his roots growing up in San Diego’s Barrio Logan throughout his campaign.

Gonzalez says de León “bears the weight of being a very active, very progressive, very out-there leader, and that causes some people discomfort” – a description that would work on her as well.

 Golden State News

Sara Libby was VOSD’s managing editor until 2021. She oversaw VOSD’s newsroom and content.

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