The California Capitol / Image via Shutterstock

Between Gov. Jerry Brown’s final flurry of bill signings and vetoes as governor of California, and Politifest on Saturday, I’ve been thinking a lot about Sacramento and the Democrats who run the Legislature lately.

People joke about the Democratic supermajority and how easy it is to be a Democrat in Sacramento, but the last legislative session and the measures coming up on the statewide November ballot both show it’s a bit more complicated than you might think.

The clearest example of that is the fact that arguably the three highest-profile bills in the state this year were all bold progressive priorities, and all three failed. One died before most legislators could even vote on it. That was a housing bill from San Francisco Sen. Scott Weiner that would have made it dramatically easier to build dense housing near transit. A bill from San Diego Assemblywoman Shirley Weber would have changed the standards surrounding when police could deploy deadly force — that one passed the Assembly but was shelved in the state Senate. And Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s bill to end forced arbitration clauses as a condition of employment passed, but was vetoed by Brown.

It might be good to be a Democrat in Sacramento, but it’s far from a guarantee that you’ll get what you want.

Politifest, too, highlighted the many ways in which Democrats can diverge on major issues. (There were Republican politicians at Politifest, by the way, but many of the Republicans we invited, including John Cox, Bonnie Dumanis and Diane Harkey, declined.)

The most notable measure dividing Democrats in November is Prop. 10, the statewide ballot measure to usher in the return of rent control. This week, Gonzalez announced she supports it. City Councilwoman Barbara Bry, also a Democrat, said she opposes the measure. And Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg struck an interesting middle ground when he appeared at Politifest: He said he’s opposed to rent control as a long-term solution, but has proposed a temporary rent cap in his city that he believes is necessary until the market corrects itself.

Other measures on the ballot, like a big water bond, have strange bedfellows like Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Cox, the Republican running for governor. And the weird measure to keep Daylight Savings Time year-round is another issue that doesn’t break cleanly along party lines — whether you like working out in the morning or after work is far more likely to determine your preference on that one than your party identification.

What VOSD Learned This Week

Lisa Halverstadt crunched the numbers and found that almost one-fourth of a pot of money meant to help build affordable housing went to other things.

And Kinsee Morlan did her own number-crunching to figure out which types of arts and culture endeavors the city funds the most.


Virtually everyone agrees expanding Terminal 1 at San Diego International Airport is a good idea. But several government agencies blasted the airport’s handling of the renovation is a surprising pile-on.

Another project many local leaders think is a good idea is the SDSU West plan for Mission Valley. The only problem: SDSU can’t say how it will pull off everything in the plan.

Yet another big project moving forward: the Plaza de Panama.


A horrifying report details serious health and safety concerns about a Southern California immigration detention facility – including nooses in cells, a man in a wheelchair left in solitary confinement for days and patients whose teeth were left to rot because dentists declined to fill cavities.


A San Diego lawsuit reveals that the legal marijuana system, set up to bring transparency to the fledgling industry, isn’t that transparent after all, thanks to a loophole that lets some stakeholders in pot businesses remain hidden.


Here’s a rundown of the final bills Jerry Brown signed – and didn’t – as governor. And on the podcast, we talked about the state ballot measure that could bring back rent control.

What I’m Reading

Line of the Week

Cohen is the better candidate for an office that should not exist. If she is elected, the most effective reform she could pursue would be the elimination of her own job.” – From a great endorsement of a state Board of Equalization candidate, with an even better headline.

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

Leave a comment

We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.