September 20, 2019 – News & Notes

For Clients & Friends of The Gualco Group, Inc.

IN THIS ISSUE – “Mortal Threats” & Slam Dunks

LEGISLATION MOVING…

FISCAL AFFAIRS

CAL CULTURE

 

Capital News & Notes (CN&N) harvests California legislative and regulatory insights from dozens of media and official sources for the past week, tailored to your business and advocacy interests.  Please feel free to forward.

Stay current daily!  For our focused updates via Twitter: @jrgualco / @robertjgore / @gualcogroup

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FOR THE WEEK ENDING SEPT. 20, 2019

 

Legislature’s “Helter-Skelter” Final Hours of 2019

CalMatters

Even by the last-minute, helter-skelter standards of the end of California’s legislative session, the final 24 hours were remarkable. It will go down in Capitol lore having culminated in the Senate’s emergency relocation, a woman’s arrest, and a senator’s morning-after visit to the doctor in accordance with “safety protocols for blood exposure.”

At around 5:15 p.m. Friday, an anti-vaccine protester chucked what appeared to be a small cup of blood onto the Senate floor, throwing an unexpected wrench—and what looked like a rubber menstrual cup—into the legislative process.

It was the last day for the state’s senators and members of the Assembly to pass laws, sending them to the governor.

With many of the most controversial bills out of the way, many had expected it to be a quiet evening. Alas.

More than a few senators were splattered with the as-yet-unidentified red liquid, rumored to be menstrual fluid. Included among them was Sacramento Democratic Sen. Richard Pan, the presumed target of the attack — a pediatrician and author of a new state law to crack down on illegitimate vaccine exemptions.

The California Highway Patrol arrested Rebecca Dalelio, 43, from Boulder Creek near Santa Cruz.

livestream video of the incident and its aftermath depicted a woman being arrested. “Vaccines do cause injury and death and I’m doing this for the babies,” she said. “Their blood is on your hands, my blood is on the floor of the Senate.” A tweet by Democratic Sen. Steve Glazer of Orinda, since deleted, depicted what appeared to be a menstrual cup.

Legislators were (understandably) upset. The protests prompted a series of denunciations from both Democrats and Republicans. Despite the fact that Newsom signed Pan’s bill into law on Monday, a small contingent of protesters spent the week inhabiting the halls of the Capitol and occasionally disrupting hearings. But never quite so…viscerally.

While the evening had some signature policy developments—the Legislature passed a sweeping environmental regulatory bill, there was tense debate over the political influence of unions, proposals to cut down on plastic waste and extend last call at bars failed—what Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove coined #MenstrualGate was undoubtedly the dramatic apex of the evening.

So CHP officers sealed off the chamber, a man in a protective suit cleaned up and senators recessed to eat dinner and, in a few cases, shower off. Senate-watching lobbyists and reporters clustered in the halls, impatient, stunned and full of questions: Who was this protestor? What was she hoping to accomplish? How does someone collect that much menstrual blood anyway?

An unexpected side benefit of the incident: It offered a crash course to many male Capitol watchers on 21st century menstrual products.

Throughout the evening and into the wee hours of the morning, lawmakers had plenty of time to kill, which some did with gusto — as when Sens. Bill Dodd of Napa and Maria Elena Durazo of Los Angeles burst into a chorus of “My Girl”:

https://calmatters.org/blogs/inside-california-capitol/2019/09/california-legislature-protest-menstrual-blood-ani-vaccine/

 

Hundreds of Bills On Governor’s Desk

Sacramento Bee

Gov. Gavin Newsom took considerable political heat over the weekend from a pair of unlikely sources — the environmental community and Democratic lawmakers.

Both were angered over his pledge Saturday to veto Senate Bill 1, a proposal that they say would have protected California’s waterways and fish against the Trump administration.

Newsom, who has sparred repeatedly with President Donald Trump and generally sided with environmental interests since taking office in January, said he’ll veto the legislation even though he supports its general principles of keeping California’s air, water and endangered species safe. The bill would have essentially negated every environmental rule proposed by Trump, turning the regulatory clock back to Jan. 19, 2017, the day before he took office.

Environmentalists, however, said California needs every legal resource it can get at a time when the Trump administration is ramping up efforts to weaken environmental standards.

In a matter of days, the federal government is scheduled to release controversial new rules governing the movement of water through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta; the rules are expected to favor the delivery of additional water supplies to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley.

“We know we’re going to need these tools to protect our salmon runs,” said John McManus of the Golden Gate Salmon Association, a group that represents commercial fishermen.

Yet Newsom saw SB 1 as a mortal threat to something he’s been supporting since shortly before he took office: a tentative truce in California’s longstanding water wars.

The truce revolves around the flow of water in and out of the Delta from California’s most important river systems, the Sacramento and San Joaquin.

For years the State Water Resources Control Board, which polices water rights, has been working on an ambitious plan to reallocate the rivers’ supplies, leaving more for fish and less for farms and cities. The water board’s former chairwoman, Felicia Marcus, once said endangered Chinook salmon, Delta smelt were “on the verge of collapse” if something wasn’t done.

Last December, former Gov. Jerry Brown swooped in with a compromise: Cities such as San Francisco, and farms across the Central Valley would cough up some water, although not as much as the water board wanted. The plan also called for $1.7 billion in new spending over 15 years for spawning grounds and other fish habitat improvements, with $800 million coming from farmers and cities.

“This is not a giveaway to agriculture by any means,” said Mike Wade of the California Farm Water Coalition.

But if Newsom had signed SB 1, water agencies — specifically the farm irrigation agencies in the Central Valley — were threatening to pull out of the compromise. They said they were willing to surrender some water — and cash — because Brown’s plan provides more scientific wiggle room in how water is pumped through the Delta to urban Southern California and the farms of the San Joaquin Valley, giving them more water than if the state water board’s more dramatic reallocation scheme were to take effect.

“It represents generational change in how water is managed,” Wade said.

Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, who joined other Valley congressmen and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in opposing the bill, said the bill would have spawned a new round of litigation over water.

“The governor knows these protracted legal battles don’t tend to move the ball forward. It would have left these groups no choice but to go to court,” Costa said in an interview Monday. “The governor explained that to the speaker and others in Sacramento, but they put him in a bad spot.”

Newsom alluded to the compromise in his statement Saturday, saying SB 1 “limits the state’s ability to rely upon the best available science to protect our environment.” He added that SB1 doesn’t give California “any new authority to push back against the Trump administration’s environmental policies.”

Senate President Toni Atkins, the bill’s author, said she was “strongly disappointed” with the governor’s pending veto. Despite what Newsom argued, she said SB 1 would have stiffened California’s legal backbone against Trump’s efforts to erode environmental regulations.

Environmentalists, who generally don’t like the river compromise, said Newsom got snookered by the threats to pull out of the settlement.

“I don’t believe the water agencies want to leave the voluntary agreement process,” said Kim Delfino of Defenders of Wildlife. “They may have had a fit about it, and walked away for a couple of days,” but would then return to the negotiating table.

The Democratic governor has signaled since taking office that he supports the compromise — and wants to reach out to farmers in the Republican-rich Valley.

In his first State of the State address in February, he announced he was replacing Marcus as chair of the water board with Joaquin Esquivel, whom he said would create more balance between farmers and environmentalists. “We have to get past the old binaries,” Newsom said.

Delfino said the SB 1 veto probably won’t permanently sour the relationship between environmentalists and Newsom.

“We are in agreement with him on so many issues,” she said.

Here are some of the other bills that Newsom will need to act on by Sunday, Oct. 13th:

  • SB 24 (Leyva): Requires access to abortion pills for college students at public universities by 2023. Public universities currently offer contraception and pregnancy option counseling, but none offer abortion services.
  • AB 170 (Gonzalez): A last-minute Dynamex exemption for newspaper delivery workers. Newspapers argued switching the workers from contractors to employees would be financially debilitating.
  • AB 681 (Gonzalez): Provides voters with information before a presidential primary about options for switching from no-party-preference in order to cast a ballot in the election.
  • SB 136 (Wiener): Eliminates the automatic addition of prison time to the sentences of some repeat offenders. Supporters argue it will help reduce mass incarceration.
  • SB 328 (Portantino): Requires that middle schools start no earlier than 8am and high schools no later than 8:30am. Gov. Brown previously vetoed a similar bill.
  • AB 48 (O’Donnell): Places a $15 billion bond for preschool, K-12, community colleges, UC and CSU facilities on the March 2020 ballot.
  • AB 218 (Gonzalez): Expands the statute of limitations for childhood sexual assault.

https://www.sacbee.com/article235144122.html#storylink=cpy

 

Newsom Signs First Big Bill – Gig Workers Are Employees

Sacramento Bee

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Wednesday that could reframe the state’s economy by compelling industries to give employment benefits to more workers.

Assembly Bill 5 was shaped by concerns that gig economy giants like Uber and Lyft have exploited workers, but it would affect many other industries as well.

Here’s a look at what the bill would mean for California workers and consumers.

Following a California Supreme Court decision last year, more California workers are entitled to benefits and protections, such as compensation for injuries sustained because of their work, sick leave and minimum wage.

Unions, which have been the top supporters of the bill, say the change is a dramatic improvement for many workers, guaranteeing fair wages and treatment.

Businesses ranging from technology companies to health care providers argue they will struggle to sustain their existing business models under the new rules.

Ride-hailing company Lyft says it might have to employ as many as 300,000 fewer drivers if it must re-classify them as employees. It also says it may have to limit drivers’ ability to set their own schedules by limiting hours or setting shifts.

Meanwhile, ride-share competitor Uber argues the rules won’t affect its drivers, whom it will continue to classify as independent contractors.

AB 5 will take effect January 1, but it’s unclear when many workers may be reclassified, especially given the likelihood of future litigation.

Lawmakers granted carve-outs to some professions under the legislation, many of which lobbied for a reprieve from the new rules.

The bill’s author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, said she and her colleagues chose to exempt industries based on how much workers are paid, whether they operate with autonomy and how much power they have to negotiate with their employers.

Dozens of professions are exempt from the new rules under the bill, including insurance brokers, doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers, veterinarians, accountants, fishermen, real estate agents, cosmetologists, and others. Freelance journalists who do fewer than 35 assignments for a single publication in a year are also exempt. News organizations won a one-year reprieve from treating their paper carriers as employees.

Some companies argue they will be forced cut back on services or raise prices, although labor groups have disputed those arguments.

For example, Lyft says if it isn’t given a reprieve from the new rules it may leave some parts of California. The company also says costs and wait times for rides could increase.

Many other industries would also be affected. Groups representing therapists and counselors argue they should be exempt, just like psychologists are under the bill. They say many of the workers they represent want to remain independent contractors and that the new rules will disrupt their businesses, reducing access to services and driving up costs.

AB 5 makes a 2018 California Supreme Court decision called “Dynamex” part of state law. Justices ruled that a worker should be classified as an employee and entitled to corresponding benefits unless they meet the requirements under a three-part test:

  1. The worker is free from the employer’s direction and control while performing their job
  2. Their work falls outside the scope of the employer’s usual business
  3. The worker typically performs the same type of work as an independent entity

Although employers in California must already follow the guidelines under the decision, AB 5 aims to clarify how the ruling should be carried out in practice. Without it, the exempt professions would generally be subject to the new rules under the Supreme Court decision.

Many interest groups are still pushing for additional professions to be excluded from the new worker classification rules, including the therapist groups.

But any additional exemptions would likely have to wait until next year when lawmakers return from their fall break. Some lawmakers who voted for AB 5 acknowledged that they will need to continue negotiating with various industries and professions next year.

In the meantime, gig-economy companies Uber, Lyft and delivery service DoorDash have pledged to spend a combined $90 million to take the issue to voters if they don’t reach a deal with California lawmakers to explicitly allow them to continue treating their workers as contractors.

That’s a formidable sum, even in the world of California ballot measures, where interest groups often spend millions and aren’t subject to contribution limits.

https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article234948617.html?#storylink=cpy

 

Q: “How Do You Think Gov. Newsom Is Doing?”

A: “OK, Not Great. Jury Is Still Out.”

LA Times commentary

One question invariably asked over lunch around the state Capitol is: “How do you think Newsom is doing?” And the answer almost always is: “The jury’s still out.”

When pressed, the consensus seems to be: “He’s doing OK, but not great.”

Then there’s usually this observation: How could Gov. Gavin Newsom not be doing at least OK? No governor in modern times has entered the office with so many advantages.

The treasury is overflowing with tax revenue, his Democratic Party holds supermajorities in each legislative house, and there are plenty of jobs for voters. The unemployment rate is down around 4%.

And unlike governors before Jerry Brown, Newsom doesn’t need to wage summer-long budget brawls with the Legislature. Lawmakers can pass a budget with a simple majority vote rather than the agonizing two-thirds of old.

In truth, Newsom probably is doing a little better than most people think. It just isn’t noticed that much.

That’s partly because, unlike Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger before him, Newsom isn’t all that stimulating or exciting, even if he is telegenic. But in larger part, it’s because President Trump draws most of the public’s political attention. And what’s left goes to the Democratic presidential candidates.

We’ve reached an important measuring point for Newsom, however: the end of the legislative year. It was his first experience dealing with the lawmakers.

How’d he do? For an answer, it helps to go back and reread his inaugural and State of the State speeches and note the agenda he laid out for himself. Then compare it with what he achieved through the Legislature.

Here are a few agenda items that can be assessed:

Housing

“California should never be a place where only the well-off can lead a good life,” the new governor said. “It starts with housing, perhaps our most overwhelming challenge right now…. If we want a California for all, we have to build housing for all.”

If anything, the problem has gotten worse because home builders are constructing fewer units this year than last. While campaigning for governor, Newsom talked about building 3.5 million new homes by 2025. That isn’t happening.

Newsom and the Legislature budgeted $1.75 billion to help local governments boost housing production. That’s a carrot. There’s also a stick — lawsuits to be filed against local governments dragging their feet on new home construction.

One obstacle to home building has long been abuse of the California Environmental Quality Act, especially by not-in-my-backyard NIMBYs. They and other opponents of projects block them with oft-frivolous lawsuits.

“In recent years we’ve expedited … CEQA for professional sports,” Newsom said. “It’s time we do the same for housing.”

But again, nothing was done about CEQA for housing, except to speed up building some homeless shelters. Unions oppose reform because they use threats of environmental lawsuits to “greenmail” developers for labor concessions.

Neither did Newsom weigh in on a landmark bill to force high-density housing on local governments. It would have required cities to permit mid-rise apartment complexes near rail stations and major job centers. It died without gubernatorial support.

For renters, Newsom and the Legislature teamed up to pass a reasonable anti-gouging bill. It will cap annual rent increases at 5% plus inflation. Apartments built in the last 15 years and most single-family homes won’t be affected. Also, tenants will be protected from being evicted without cause.

Homelessness

Moments after being sworn in, Newsom lamented “a homeless epidemic that should keep each and every one of us up at night.”

Well, there are roughly 90,000 unsheltered homeless people sleeping on the streets in California, including about 59,000 in Los Angeles County. In all, there are an estimated 130,000 homeless people in the state.

Newsom and the Legislature budgeted $1 billion to fight the problem, including $650 million for local governments to build emergency shelters and $265 million for mental health support.

And, hey, Trump is going to help us, right?

“We can’t let Los Angeles, San Francisco … destroy themselves,” the president said Tuesday. But he didn’t have a plan.

Schools

“We need clear and achievable standards of transparency … and accountability for all public schools — traditional and charter,” Newsom said.

To his credit, Newsom brokered a legislative compromise between long-warring charter and traditional schools. It gives school districts more authority to reject petitions for new charter campuses. And it imposes stricter credentialing requirements on charter teachers.

Healthcare

Newsom campaigned on enacting “single-payer” — government-only — health insurance. But he backed way off that as governor.

He and the Legislature, however, expanded Medi-Cal insurance for the poor by offering it to young adults up to age 26, including immigrants living here illegally. Subsidies were also provided to middle-class families so they can buy medical insurance.

State budget

“We will be prudent stewards of taxpayer dollars, pay down debt,” Newsom promised, “and we will build and safeguard the largest fiscal reserve of any state in American history.”

Promise kept. One could quibble. But as the old cliche goes, it was close enough for government work — particularly with a leftist Legislature.

Newsom’s overall grade so far: B-minus.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2019-09-18/skelton-california-governor-gavin-newsom-legislature

 

California’s “Socioeconomic Malady Persists”

CalMatters commentary

As the California Legislature churned toward adjournment last week, its members received another reminder that the state’s most vexing — and shameful — socioeconomic malady persists.

The Census Bureau reported that California still has the highest level of functional poverty of any state, averaging 18.2% of its 40 million residents impoverished during the three preceding years.

The number comes from a “supplemental” method of calculating poverty that includes a wider array of income measures than the long-standing official poverty rate and adjusts for the cost of living.

California’s official rate, 12.5%, is virtually identical to the national rate, but it soars to the top — or bottom — of the supplemental list largely due to its extraordinarily high cost of living.

Our supplemental rate is five percentage points higher than the national rate and is nearly three times as high as Iowa’s rate, 6.8%, the nation’s lowest. It’s also markedly higher than those of neighboring states such as Oregon (11.1%), Arizona (12.8%) and Nevada (13.7%), and arch-rival Texas (14.4%).

The Public Policy Institute of California used a similar methodology to create a California Poverty Measure and tabs it at 17.8% in its most recent report. Strikingly, however, PPIC also calculates what it calls “near-poverty” and finds that another 18.5% of Californians fall into that category.

Overall, therefore, more than 35% of Californians, perhaps 15 million human beings, are living in severe economic distress — a number nearly identical to enrollment in Medi-Cal, the state’s health care program for the poor.

The deepest roots of California’s two-tier society lie in the traumatic evolution of the state’s economy in the 1980s and 1990s from an industrial base to one rooted in services and technology, and the state’s concurrent absorption of millions of often undereducated immigrants.

They filled the low-skill, low-pay jobs that proliferated in the post-industrial economy. But as living costs soared, especially for housing, their modest incomes could not keep up, creating a huge cohort of what’s been dubbed the “working poor.”

Although California’s median household income is slightly above the national median of $63,179, a third of its workers make less than $15 an hour.

Meanwhile, a multi-million-unit shortage of housing grows worse by the moment, driving its costs ever-upward, and housing is not the only cost factor that influenced the Census Bureau poverty calculation.

The California Center for Jobs and the Economy, a business-backed economic research organization, says in a new report that Californians pay the nation’s second-highest prices for gasoline, an average of $1.07 per gallon more than prices in other states. That alone costs California motorists an extra $15 billion a year.

The organization also notes that California’s residential electric power rates are 52.9% above the national average and 7th highest in the nation. Since 2010, the average residential power bill has jumped by 25.5% to $1,247 per year.

Those rates are headed further upward as utilities, one of which is in bankruptcy, apply for increases to comply with state renewable energy rules and pay for wildfire damages.

The organization says that commercial power rates are even more disconnected to those of other states — costs that inevitably find their way into prices for groceries, clothing and other consumer goods and services.

Feeble efforts to raise family incomes, such as increasing the state’s minimum wage or creating an earned income tax credit, or trying to cap rent increases will do little or nothing to lower California’s poverty rate.

Rather, we must confront the root causes while increasing housing construction and moderating other costs of living.

It’s California’s existential crisis.

https://calmatters.org/commentary/high-cost-california-no-1-in-poverty/

 

State Tax Revenue Up, But Slowing

Dept. of Financce

After finishing fiscal year 2018-19 above the 2019-20 Budget Act forecast by $1.04 billion, preliminary General Fund agency cash for the first two months of the fiscal year was $186 million above the 2019-20 Budget Act forecast of $17.539 billion. Revenue for the month of August was $250 million below the forecast of $9.745 billion.

  • Personal income tax revenues to the General Fund for the first two months of the fiscal year were $21 million below forecast. Revenues for August were $289 million below the forecast of $6.213 billion. Withholding receipts were $250 million below the forecast of $5.891 billion. Other receipts were $25 million lower than the forecast of
    $759 million. Refunds issued in August were $19 million higher than the expected $325 million. Proposition

63 requires that 1.76 percent of total monthly personal income tax collections be transferred to the Mental Health Services Fund (MHSF). The amount transferred to the MHSF in August was $5 million less than the forecast of $111 million.

  • Sales and use tax receipts were $129 million below forecast for the first two months of the fiscal year. Receipts for August were $154 million below the forecast of $2.724 billion. August cash includes a portion of the final payment for the second quarter sales, which was due July 31. August receipts also include the first prepayment for third quarter sales.
  • Corporation tax revenues for the first two months of the fiscal year were $181 million above forecast. Revenues for August were $62 million above the month’s forecast of $206 million. Estimated payments were $52 million above the forecast of $114 million, and other payments were $20 million lower than the $174 million forecast. Total refunds for the month were $30 million lower than the forecast of $82 million.

http://www.dof.ca.gov/Forecasting/Economics/Economic_and_Revenue_Updates/documents/2019/Sept-19_Finance_Bulletin.pdf

 

State’s New Financial Management System Price tag Passes $1 Billion

Sacramento Bee

The budget for California state government’s long-developing accounting program has surpassed $1 billion, and more spending will be required before all state departments are using it, according to program updates.

The Financial Information System of California, commonly known as Fi$Cal, received an additional $145 million — bringing the total to $1.06 billion — and a newly extended deadline of July 2020, according to a project oversight report the Department of Technology posted Monday.

The state started work on the project in 2004. Its last approved completion date had been this year. Repeated delays and rising costs made it a poster child for state government’s broader challenges with major technological overhauls, a systemic issue Gov. Gavin Newsom has said he is addressing.

The Department of Technology’s independent review called the new timeline “aggressive,” adding there is “no slack to recover schedule if delays occur,” while changing its status to “green” from “red” on the state’s IT project tracker, indicating improvement.

In departments where it has been successfully implemented, the program has tightened controls on payments to vendors and some employees, added transparency and improved a range of other functions, Miriam Ingenito, the program’s director, told legislators earlier this summer. The state budget has been produced with Fi$Cal since 2016 and about 20,000 state workers now use it, Ingenito noted. About 250,000 people work for California state government.

While the project is 98 percent functional, six departments still depend on legacy systems from around the 1980s to complete necessary financial tasks such as closing out month- and year-end financial statements, she said. Extended delays could threaten the state’s credit worthiness, State Controller Betty Yee told legislators in the spring.

On top of the departments that still depend on legacy systems, seven others have deferred adapting to Fi$Cal. When those seven start using it, more money will be required to get them up and running, Ingenito told told an Assembly subcommittees in June.

The deferred departments are Caltrans, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Water Resources, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the Department of Justice, the Department of Rehabilitation and the California Department of Technology itself — the agency overseeing the project.

A few agencies will never use the system, including CalPERS, CalSTRS, the University of California system and the Legislature.

Richard Gillihan, the Finance Department’s chief operating officer, told legislators the delay is partly due to slow uptake among workers in some departments.

“The project is deployed,” Gillihan said. “We don’t have technology challenges per se with Fi$Cal. This is a massive human change management effort at this point. With the benefit of hindsight and our experience we probably should have come out a little stronger on change management.”

Ingenito said some departments quickly adapted. Larger departments with more resources, capacity and sophistication tended to do better than smaller ones, and departments that appointed a high-level person to take responsibility for changes were the most successful, she said.

Cal Fire and California Highway Patrol are good examples, as is the Department of Parks and Recreation, which holds “Fi$Cal Friday” events to talk over and tackle problems, she said.

Ingenito said that while the Fi$Cal program has designated trained “superusers” across departments, workers in some departments don’t even know who the specialist is.

Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, said at the June hearing that the program still holds promise for the state.

“It’s actually really helped improve our work. We think it’s a very critical project, not just for our budgeting process but really for the entire state … To have one system where we are all integrated would be quite an amazing feat for the state,” Ting said.

https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/the-state-worker/article235186022.html#storylink=cpy

 

“Trapcorridos”: New Music Combines East LA Street & Mexico’s Rancho Cultures

NY Times

LOS ANGELES — When Francisco Rodriguez, 31, was incarcerated in a federal prison near San Diego, he began writing songs. He had grown up in Santa Maria, Calif., listening to corridos, a form of traditional Mexican ballads that his parents and grandparents loved, so that is what he gravitated toward writing.

Corridos are ballads born of an oral tradition of storytelling that goes back to the 19th century. Whether it’s the daring tale of a real-life revolutionary or a romantic saga set in rural Mexico, a corrido comes with a narrative arc. Many are based on real events: The “Corrido of Joaquín Murrieta” tells the tale of a bandit and folk hero from California’s Gold Rush years.

In prison, Mr. Rodriguez wrote some about the lives of his relatives in Mexico but focused more on what he knew from personal experience: the perils of trafficking arms across the United States-Mexico border. He wrote about the street hustlers and drug-dealers that he knew from his neighborhood.

Over time, he also experimented with changing the traditional corrido sound based on his upbringing — namely, infusing the acoustic guitar and accordion accompaniments with a quicker pace, including hip-hop beats based on the music he listened to growing up in Southern California in the 1990s.

That form of music is now taking off. Mr. Rodriguez, who goes by Shrek and has been out of prison for two years, is the lead vocalist of Arsenal Efectivo, one of several popular “trapcorrido” groups influenced by rap and hip-hop.

(Trap, an Atlanta-born rap subgenre, is characterized by sharp snares and booming bass, as well as hazy, minor-key melodies. But the word “trap” has become a common prefix for hip-hop-influenced sub genres, regardless of whether they share the sonic qualities of trap music.)

He was wearing flashy jewelry and a shiny diamond grill on his teeth; his bandmates and friends wore T-shirts with the word “trapcorridos” across their chests.

“When I first started my band, we were dressing in crocodile boots and wearing big tejanas and sombreros,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “But now I’m dressing in blinged-out clothes and blinged-out jewelry, I got a grill in my teeth, and that’s something that has never been seen in our culture — Mexicans who wear a grill and sing corridos.”

Jesus Ortiz Paz, 22, the lead singer of Fuerza Regida, another group from Los Angeles that sings trapcorridos, said: “We’re from the streets. We weren’t born in Mexico, and we’re not singing about the ranchos.”

MORE:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/16/style/trapcorridos-chicano-los-angeles.html?te=1&nl=california-today&emc=edit_ca_20190917?campaign_id=49&instance_id=12437&segment_id=17084&user_id=ebedd9f525ae3910eeb31de6bb6c4da0&regi_id=80823166

By | 2019-09-23T09:38:44-07:00 September 23rd, 2019|Air Quality|