June 15, 2018 – News & Notes

Capital News & Notes

For Clients & Friends of The Gualco Group, Inc.

IN THIS ISSUE – “A Double Dose of Sneakiness”


  • Legislature Sends 2018-19 Financial Plan to Brown – $200 Billion & Climbing
  • Legislative Office Building in Budget, $755 Million
  • New Budget: “A Double Dose of Sneakiness”
  • Water Tax Falls in Budget Run-Up


  • Top Campaign Strategist’s Top 10 Primary Election Take-Aways
  • Enviros Celebrate Election Results
  • NY Times: Orange County Is Defiant Ground Zero for Blue v. Red 2018


  • Tulare Water System Fails Drinking Water Standards
  • Tesla Cuts Workforce 9% in Biggest Layoff

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




Legislature Sends 2018-19 Financial Plan to Brown – $200 Billion & Climbing

California lawmakers approved and sent Gov. Jerry Brown a $200 billion state budget on Thursday, using revenue from a rosy economy to build $16 billion in reserves and steer hundreds of millions of dollars in new funding to universities and programs for the homeless.

The budget agreement passed both houses easily despite some Republican opposition. Democratic majorities highlighted a projected $9 billion surplus as a sign of the state’s recovery since the recession a decade ago.

“This is the best position we’ve been in in years,” said Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.

The budget hewed fairly closely to the plan Brown presented in May, boosting reserves by billions of dollars rather than committing money to proposals that would have expanded health care and offered tax breaks to undocumented residents.

The budget includes a $138.6 billion general fund. That’s about $70 billion more than the general fund in the state’s 2011-12 budget.

The new budget provides $78 billion for K-12 education, which is about $30 billion more than the state’s recession budget seven years ago.

The budget also frees up $500 million in grants that cities can use to address homelessness. It increases the value of welfare grants through the CalWORKS program, raising spending there by $360 million.

It boosts ongoing funding for the California State University system by $105 million, and provides of hundreds of millions of dollars more for it and the University of California in one-time allocations.

“We have historic investments in K-12 education, historic investments in our higher education. We now have a budget reserve that is larger than the general funds of 33 states,” said Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Lakewood. “It’s an investment in our future with respect to early childhood education. It’s also really helps to protect a lot of what we really love about the state, with respect to the environment and our great public schools.”

Republicans warned that the budget did not make a serious dent in the state’s unfunded pension commitments, and that those debts could trigger a financial reckoning in the near future.

“We look like passengers on the Titanic,” Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, said.

But Democrats countered that they’ve carefully accumulated reserves to help the state navigate the next financial downturn.

The budget aims to “fill” the so-called Rainy Day Fund, which by law can hold a sum equivalent to 10 percent of general fund revenue. It sets aside another $2 billion for uncommitted reserves, and opens a new “safety net” reserve for social services with an initial $200 million.

“This is what we’re doing to prepare ourselves for the future because a recession is an inevitability,” said Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier.

Some Republicans argued the money would be spent as a rebate to taxpayers. The savings, they asserted, help to lock in high spending that they consider to be irresponsible. “You want a blank check for the future? That’s what this is,” said Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno.

Brown favored one-time expenses, and the budget funds a number of pricey government buildings around the state, such as:

  • Setting aside $1.2 billion to replace the 66-year-old building attached to the Capitol that houses legislative offices and to build a new state building on O Street that would temporarily house legislative staff. Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, called the current Capitol Annex a “death trap” because of its deficiency of safety features like sprinklers and clear emergency exit routes.
  • Putting $100 million toward aCalifornia American Indian Heritage Center in West Sacramento. Tribes would be asked to raise another $100 million for the project.
  • Building new courthouses around the state, including a $460 million building toreplace Sacramento Superior Court. The budget also has money to build new courthouses inModesto and Redding.

Lawmakers sparred over some of those projects, as well as a provision that commits a share of potential future surplus revenue toward rail construction. Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, and several Republican lawmakers tried to block that money from being used on the state’s $77 billion high-speed rail project. A handful of lawmakers also voted against replacing the Capitol Annex.

Those efforts to change the construction plans failed, with Democratic leaders holding to the deal they struck with Brown.

“When it’s all said and done, it’s about the people we represent,” Atkins said after the votes. “I think it is for us a time of unprecedented joy and celebration to be able to take things home to the community — that we did our best to make sure you were front and center when we considered each and every one of those items today.”



Legislative Office Building in Budget, $755 Million

The California state budget frees up $1.6 billion to build new structures in downtown Sacramento, including a long-awaited project that will replace a warren of offices attached to the Capitol and temporarily move legislative staff to a yet-to-be constructed office building on O Street.

Replacing the 66-year-old Capitol Annex is the most expensive of the three projects funded by the $200 billion 2018-19 state budget lawmakers are expected to send to Gov. Jerry Brown today. The state is setting aside up to $755 million to tear down the six-story structure and replace it with a more modern space.

The other new projects are a $460 million courthouse to replace the outdated Sacramento Superior Court, and $420 million to build the O Street building that would temporarily house the legislative offices and later be used by other government offices.

Assemblyman Ken Cooley, D-Rancho Cordova, was a key advocate for the annex project. The existing structure sits on an underground parking lot, which is considered a security risk.

The annex also has crowded hallways and limited access for people with disabilities. Cooley released a study in February on how the state could replace the structure, aiming to create a more inviting setting for thousands of tourists and students who visit the Capitol every year.

The annex is attached to the state’s historic Capitol building. The replacement also will be attached to the original Capitol.

“This is just taking the vision of the original building as a people’s house, a welcoming setting,” Cooley said.

Cooley said the state does not have a timeline to begin construction of the annex. The Legislature and the Department of General Services have a plan to move quickly by simultaneously designing both the annex and the O Street building, DGS spokeswoman Monica Hassan said.

If the proposal moves forward as planned, O Street will have a very different look. The annex plan calls for a new state building on O Street between 9th and 10th Streets.

That’s separate from another new state building under development at 1215 O Street. The building at 12th and O is projected to cost $274 million and house 1,150 state workers. It was funded in the 2017 state budget.



New Budget: “A Double Dose of Sneakiness”

CalMatters Commentary

Senate Bill 863 is a double dose of sneakiness—combining, in just 17 words, two separate efforts to block Californians from knowing what their elected officials are doing.

First of all, it continues the unseemly practice of misusing “budget trailer bills” for purposes that are unrelated to the budget.

When voters decreed a few years back that the state budget no longer needed a two-thirds legislative vote to pass, they unwittingly applied that looser standard to those ancillary measures that traditionally were written to implement the budget’s appropriations.

Since the budget and its trailer bills take effect immediately upon being signed by the governor, and therefore are immune to a challenge by referendum, it was an invitation for governors and legislators to load them up with decrees unrelated to the budget.

Dozens of trailer bills are drafted only a few days, and sometimes a few hours, before their enactment. Because they are also exempt from the usual legislative procedures, such as waiting periods and committee hearings, they have become vehicles for doing things on the sly.

It’s why some folks around the Capitol call them “mushroom bills” that sprout in the dark, fertilized with manure.

In this particular case, Senate Bill 863 suspends, for two years, legislation passed in 2017 requiring local government and school bond measures to give voters some straightforward information about their financial effects.

Voters were to be told, among other things, the property tax rates that would be required to service the proposed bond issues, how many years the additional taxes would be in effect and how much money they would raise every year.

Local officials didn’t like the new transparency requirements and complained that they were too difficult to implement. However, their more likely motive is that they feared voters would reject bonds if their full costs were revealed.

The author of the 2017 legislation, Assemblyman Jay Obernolte, a Big Bear Lake Republican, heard the complaints and introduced another bill to modify the required disclosures. But later, having been informed via this column that bond measures placed on this month’s primary election ballot largely complied with his law, he dropped the second bill as unnecessary.

The opponents of bond transparency still wanted a waiver, however, and that’s where Senate Bill 863 comes into play. This week, just a few days before the budget vote, it was amended to include a two-year suspension of Obernolte’s requirement to tell voters the financial facts about the bond issues they are being asked to approve.

Its 17 pertinent words are: “This subdivision does not apply to a measure authorizing the issuance of bonds until July 1, 2020.”

Although Obernolte is vice chairman of the Assembly Budget Committee, he’s also a Republican, and his spokeswoman said the language was inserted into SB 863 by the majority Democrats without his knowledge.

If enacted, it would take effect just in time for a new crop of local bond issues on the November ballot. Voters would be kept in the dark about how their property taxes would be affected in obvious hopes that they would be more willing to approve the bonds.

The Capitol’s politicians should be ashamed of their double-barreled sneakiness, but that’s simply not in their DNA.



Water Tax Falls in Budget Run-Up

A proposed tax on California’s drinking water, designed to clean up contaminated water for thousands of Californians, was abandoned by Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders as part of the compromise on the state budget.

Lawmakers and Brown’s office scrapped the “Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Act,” which would have taxed residents 95 cents a month to raise millions for cleaning toxic wells. Instead, legislative leaders agreed to spend $5 million from the general fund to deal with lead in drinking water at child care centers. They also plan to allocate $23.5 million from the general fund for “safe drinking water actions later in this legislative session,” according to a Legislative Budget Conference Committee report released Friday.

The tax would have raised an estimated $140 million a year to address a massive statewide problem. About 360,000 Californians are served by water systems that violate state standards for nitrates, arsenic, uranium and other pollutants, according to a recent McClatchy investigation. The issue is concentrated in the San Joaquin Valley, although at least one supplier in 38 of the state’s 58 counties is out of compliance.

The abandonment of the proposed tax was disclosed in the conference committee’s report released soon after the Governor’s Office announced that a deal had been reached with legislative leaders on a new budget.

Brown’s administration said it hasn’t given up on passing a drinking water tax at some point. “The Legislature has indicated a commitment to continue discussions this summer,” said H.D. Palmer, spokesman for Brown’s Department of Finance, in an email. “They recognize that this is a very important issue that will take some more time to work through.”

Residents would have been taxed 95 cents a month, or $11.40 a year, to raise about $110 million a year for cleanup. Agriculture would have contributed another $30 million a year through fees on fertilizer purchases and feedlot and dairy production.

The bill was opposed by the Association of California Water Agencies, which represents more than 400 urban and agricultural water suppliers, and it became clear that finding the two-thirds supermajority needed to impose the tax was proving difficult in an election year.

Many legislators have become wary of approving new taxes, fearing a backlash. Voters in Southern California on Tuesday recalled state Sen. Josh Newman, D-San Dimas, after opponents ran a campaign that highlighted his vote for a new gas tax last year.

In a budget conference committee meeting earlier this week, legislators expressed skepticism that voters would embrace the new tax.

Sen. Richard Roth, D-Riverside, for instance, noted that taxpayers in his district were coping with recently increased water rates. He believed they would oppose a new fee for safe drinking water that largely would help another part of the state.

“They’re going to spend a dollar a month to (go) where, Eureka? Nothing against Eureka, but I doubt people know where that is,” he said.

He argued water districts would be better off throwing in together and proposing regional fees to address their problems. “This really is not about giving a bunch of money to the state of California,” he said. “It’s more about mutual aid and helping your neighbor get clean water.”

While disappointed, supporters of the water tax held out hope that lawmakers will approve the plan at some point. “We are confident the governor and Legislature will not walk away from creating a permanent source of funding,” said Laurel Firestone of the Community Water Center, an advocacy group.

California voters on Tuesday approved Proposition 68, a parks-and-water bond that includes $250 million to clean up unsafe drinking water systems. And a proposition on the November ballot would provide another $500 million for addressing the issue.

But Brown’s administration had argued that more money was needed, and the drinking water tax was the right solution. The tax was introduced a year ago as SB 623 but stalled. It was revived earlier this year by Brown as a budget trailer bill. It was the trailer bill that was abandoned Friday.



Top Campaign Strategist’s Top 10 Primary Election Take-Aways

Fox & Hounds Commentary

Top Ten primary election take-aways from veteran Democrat strategist Darry Sragow, delivered this week to a sold-out room of political junkies:

  1. Democratic and Republican party leaders and their consultants need to get past the grieving stage and accept that the top-two primary is the law of the land.  Instead of debating who benefits and who suffers, they need to figure out how to win under the new rules.
  2. In the open primary, running to finish second is a disastrous strategy.  If you chose not to lay a glove on the presumed front-runner, he or she will emerge unscathed after beating you bloody and eliminating you from second place.
  3. The Republican Party does not have a strategy to resuscitate itself in California.  Its message continues to be that at some point the voters who have abandoned the GOP will discover the errors of their way and return to the fold. They won’t, at least not for a long time and not until the party ceases being anti-immigrant.
  4. Consistent with number three above, Republicans will attempt to drive turn out and convert the fallen by making the fall election about repealing the gas tax.  Gas tax proponents including Gov. Jerry Brown, business and trade union interests have their work cut out. It will be a costly campaign and they may not win.
  5. In the battle for congressional seats held by Republicans but won by Clinton in 2016, both parties were incredibly ham-handed and inept but managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and survive to put their candidates on the November ballot.
  6. Unconscionably, a Republican state legislator who breaks from his or her party line and votes with the Democrats as an act of conscience will likely be hung out to dry by their own party, and by the national Democratic party.  By the same token, a Democratic senator who votes his conscience risks recall if Republicans seize the opportunity.  Long-term damage was done in both instances.
  7. The race for Superintendent of Public Instruction will be expensive and hard fought, ground zero in the battle for supremacy between the teachers unions and charter school advocates.
  8. The best options for Democratic Congressional pick ups seem to be CD48 held by Dana Rohrabacher and CD49, held by retiring Darrell Issa.
  9. The essential ingredients of successful campaigns are timeless:  Consistent execution of a coherent strategy based on solid, reliable data and repetitive delivery of precisely crafted messages.
  10. There are several top flight pollsters doing excellent work in California, but winning Democratic strategists singled out one of them for effusive praise: David Binder



Enviros Celebrate Election Results

Most voters already know that Gavin Newsom and Dianne Feinstein — who easily advanced to the November general election in their races for governor and U.S. senator — were among the big winners in Tuesday’s California primary election.

But there’s another group also popping the champagne this week: environmentalists.

Across California and the Bay Area, environmental groups had one of their best elections ever. They won nearly every major race they contested, securing billions of dollars for parks, beaches, water projects and public transportation, and at the same time helped kill plans to develop Silicon Valley hillsides and a proposal to change the way the state spends money from its greenhouse gas auctions.

“People want open space and parks, they want clean air and clean water,” said Deb Callahan, executive director of the Bay Area Open Space Council, a coalition of more than 50 parks agencies and land trusts. “And clearly people are willing to pay for it. There’s an understanding that you need to invest in priorities.”

The biggest victory statewide for conservation groups was the passage of Proposition 68, a $4.1 billion parks and water bond that voters easily approved 56-44 percent.

The measure only passed in 27 of California’s 58 counties, but it won by huge margins of 65 percent or more in most Bay Area counties and 61 percent in Los Angeles County, which easily offset “no” votes from the Central Valley and counties such as Riverside and San Bernardino, where it narrowly failed.

Proposition 68 is the first statewide funding measure for parks approved by California voters in 12 years, with about $2.8 billion headed to parks and wildlife, and $1.3 billion going to water and flood control projects, much of it to be handed out by the Legislature and state agencies through competitive grants.

Environmental groups donated $6.4 million on the Yes on 68 campaign, with major funding coming from the Nature Conservancy, Trust for Public Land, Save the Redwoods League and the Peninsula Open Space Trust.

Green groups faced opposition from taxpayer groups but no organized campaign against them. They spent heavily on social media, blanketed farmers markets, ran volunteer-driven phone banks and cultivated events with high-profile supporters such as Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

They also secured endorsements from business groups, including the California Chamber of Commerce, Silicon Valley Leadership Group and Orange County Business Council.

The measure will mean millions for urban parks, soccer fields, baseball fields, basketball courts, bike paths and public swimming pools — with a special emphasis on low-income urban areas. Also slated for funding are trails, beaches, forests, visitor centers and campgrounds at state and regional parks, and new funding for groundwater cleanup, flood control and drinking water treatment plants.

Although business groups regularly battle with environmentalists in other states, many in the Bay Area and Southern California are increasingly finding common ground, said Larry Gerston, a professor emeritus of political science at San Jose State University. That’s because they see parks, recreation, clean air and clean water as a “quality of life” selling point to lure and keep talented workers, particularly in the face of high housing costs and traffic.

“There’s a package,” Gerston said. “It’s salary, it’s benefits, but it’s also the weather and a better environment, and the ocean and parks.”

Among the other big wins by environmental groups Tuesday:

  • Proposition 72, a tax break for people who install rain barrels or other systems on their rooftops to conserve water, passed 84-16 percent.
  • Proposition 70 went down in a landslide defeat, 64-36 percent. It would have allowed Republicans in Sacramento more of a say in how the state spends the money it generates from the “cap and trade” permits it auctions to oil refineries, factories and other large emitters of greenhouse gases.  Environmentalists worried it would mean less money for public transit, solar rebates and other conservation measures.
  • Measure B and C in San Jose. An attempt by developers to allow the construction of 910 senior housing units on vacant land in the city’s Evergreen area, failed 58-42 percent. The measure was opposed by environmental groups who said it would transform 200 acres of hillsides into a wealthy gated community without environmental review. San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, who also opposed Measure B, led efforts to qualify Measure C, which makes it more difficult to develop open areas in Evergreen, Almaden Valley and Coyote Valley. It passed 60-40 percent.
  • Regional Measure 3. A $3 toll increase over the next six years at seven bridges that cross San Francisco Bay, but not the Golden Gate Bridge, to raise $4.5 billion for transportation projects, won 54-46 percent. The measure was backed by business groups but also had the support of Save the Bay, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Greenbelt Alliance and the League of Conservation Voters. Although it funds freeway improvements, it also will expand BART, Caltrain, ferry service, buses and bike lanes. “We’ve got to reduce our reliance on cars to cut greenhouse emissions and roadway runoff pollution to the bay,” said David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay.
  • Measure C in Napa County, which would limit the number of oak trees that vineyard owners can cut down on hillsides, narrowly led Friday night 50.1 percent to 49.9 percent, despite farmers and the wine industry heavily outspending conservation groups.
  • In Davis, Measure H, which renewed a $49 annual parcel tax for parks, bike paths, swimming pools and street trees for another 20 years, was approved 73-28 percent percent.
  • In Santa Cruz, 76 percent of voters approved Measure U, an advisory measure that opposes recently announced plans by UC-Santa Cruz to expand campus enrollment by 10,000 students to 28,000 by 2040.
  • In Martinez, Measure I, which requires voter approval to develop areas zoned for open space or parks, led late Friday, but by tiny margin more than Measure F, which requires voter approval for such changes but only on publicly owned land. Measure I had 51.37 percent and Measure F had 50.87 percent of the vote, yet thousands of mail-in ballots in Contra Costa County remain to be counted, so the results could change. The measure with the most votes will prevail if both pass.



NY Times: Orange County Is Defiant Ground Zero for Blue v. Red 2018

California has dug in at the front lines of the resistance to President Trump, suing to overturn his environmental policies, passing legislation to hamstring his immigration enforcement and marching in mass demonstrations of defiance.

Then there is Orange County, a stubborn redoubt of conservatism that keeps defying prognostications that 80 years of Republican dominance will come to an end.

Democrats claimed gains in Tuesday’s statewide primary, securing slots in the November election for three crucial House seats that represent Orange County.

But Republicans also found some assurances. Their voters turned out in greater numbers. Republican House candidates, over all, garnered more votes than their Democratic counterparts, providing conservatives hope that the county will serve as a shore break to the blue wave many of them fear is coming in the general election.

Conservative views, though fading, remain strong across this rectangle of Pacific beachfront and suburban sprawl southeast of Los Angeles.

At least 10 Orange County cities have sided with the Trump administration in its fight with California over a law that forbids state and local law enforcement officials from cooperating with federal immigration agents in many deportation cases.

The Orange County sheriff has flouted the state by posting the dates and times when inmates will be released, in effect creating a tip sheet for federal officials so they can more easily find undocumented immigrants they deem high-risk enough to deport.

And in a show of solidarity that would be unthinkable in most other parts of the state, the county board of supervisors voted to join a Justice Department lawsuit against California and its so-called sanctuary laws.

Many Republicans in the county lack a passionate loyalty to Mr. Trump, even if they generally approve of his leadership. While they are satisfied with individual achievements like the tax cut, they say they could live without his histrionics and his constant use of social media.

Yet they find themselves driven to defend the president because of what they see as an irrational and sometimes hysterical response from Democrats. As the response to the state’s immigration law has shown, many Orange County Republicans who are ambivalent about Mr. Trump believe that Democrats have crossed a line.

“There’s a very palpable sense that the left has overplayed their hand,” said Lanhee Chen, a native of Southern California and a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution who, as a onetime adviser to Mitt Romney, the former presidential candidate, and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, is no Trump apologist.

The sanctuary law debate, Mr. Chen said, along with the perception that places like San Francisco have become overrun with intractable problems like homelessness and housing affordability, are part of the “broader critique of liberal governance having reached a tipping point.”

The vote to join the Justice Department suit, along with the spate of activity in city councils, suggest that Republicans are in the mood to make sure that the county’s leadership doesn’t end up like the state: entirely at the will of Democratic politicians.

The undersheriff for Orange County, Don Barnes, said that Democrats were using localities like his as “a social science experiment” to work out their frustrations with the president.

“This is politics over public policy,” he said.

Mr. Barnes, a Republican who is running for sheriff, shared a story of his trip last fall to Sacramento to lobby against the sanctuary state law on the grounds that it would put arbitrary limits on the sheriff’s office.

He recalled one lawmaker telling him, “I get it, and I agree with you.” Then, Mr. Barnes said, the legislator explained why the law was going to pass anyway: “We want to send a message to Trump.”

Democrats have been eyeing the county for years, betting that demographic shifts have made it far friendlier territory than when Ronald Reagan joked in 1984 it was the place “where the good Republicans go before they die.”

It is definitely no longer that. In 2016, Hillary Clinton became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win it since the Great Depression.

Certainly the long-term prospects for Republicans in Orange County are challenging.

No longer majority white — it is 34 percent Hispanic and 20 percent Asian — the county is full of potential voters that Democrats hope will be turned off by Mr. Trump.

Orange County’s situation is, on one level, an example of how Mr. Trump inflames any issue he goes near and turns it into a referendum on his presidency, no matter how parochial.

After the sheriff started publishing information about when inmates would be released, Mr. Trump praised “the brave citizens” who were defending themselves against “illegal and unconstitutional” state policies. He also hosted a group of officials from California last month at the White House who oppose the state law.

The festering revolt on the question of sanctuary policies points to a broader dynamic that could shape elections across the country. To persuade voters to toss out Republican incumbents, many Democrats believe they need a more compelling reason than their hostility to the president.

At some point, efforts to thwart the president risk becoming a smaller version of the debate over impeachment: It energizes the Democratic hard left but alienates many other voters.

As Orange County shows, Democratic obstinacy can embolden Republicans. In Huntington Beach, a diverse town of upscale outdoor malls and million-dollar condos along the Pacific and, farther inland, middle-class neighborhoods of bungalow-style homes, the Republican-led city government is suing the state over the sanctuary law. Its lawsuit claims that the Legislature exceeded its authority by restricting what the city can and cannot do with its resources like law enforcement, which is now forbidden from communicating with federal authorities on immigration matters.

The mayor, Mike Posey, says he is a fan of the president, but usually only wears his “Make America Great Again” gear around friends, not in public. After all, it is still California.

Mr. Posey mentioned a familiar sentiment among Republicans in Orange County that is motivating them to push back against the Democrats: The sense that no one in state government has taken them seriously.

“We have a Democrat supermajority,” he said. “They don’t even need to talk to Republicans anymore.”

South of Huntington Beach and a few miles inland, the Aliso Viejo City Council lodged its protest by voting to join an amicus brief in support of the Justice Department suit against California in the sanctuary law fight. The mayor, Dave Harrington, proudly introduced himself at a recent Tea Party forum as “mayor of the anti-sanctuary city, Aliso Viejo,” a classification that won him applause.

“We’re not at the table anymore,” Mr. Harrington added, “we’re on the menu.”

Aliso Viejo is one of several Orange County cities that have joined an amicus brief drafted by lawyers for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, an arm of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which wants to sharply reduce immigration. Other cities include Fountain Valley, Mission Viejo and Yorba Linda.

Los Alamitos in northern Orange County, right on the Los Angeles County line, has gone a step further and voted to opt out of the law. Whether it can do that is a matter of legal dispute. The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the city, prompting the mayor to start a fund-raising drive online. So far the drive has raised about $26,000.

The mayor, Troy Edgar, said he supported the president, but was quick to add, “I don’t play that up where I live.” He was one of the local officials invited to the White House to discuss immigration policy.

Mr. Edgar’s concern is not primarily immigration, but the blunt use of political power by a majority party. “This is about checks and balances between state and local agencies,” he said.

Some of the cities that are part of the revolt are far whiter than the rest of the county, like Newport Beach (80 percent white) and Mission Viejo (67 percent). Critics of the sanctuary law backlash also point out that many of the cities are rather small.

Los Alamitos has a population of about 12,000. Aliso Viejo has just over 51,000. The county’s second-largest city, Santa Ana, went in the opposite direction and voted to file an amicus brief in support of the state in its dispute with the Justice Department.

Sameer Ahmed, a lawyer with the A.C.L.U. of Southern California, said the anti-sanctuary movement was “completely out of touch with the present Orange County and the future of Orange County.”



Tulare Water System Fails Drinking Water Standards

Tulare’s water system failed to meet state water drinking standards, city officials reported in a letter sent to residents this week.

It could take three years to completely clear the cancer-causing contaminant from Tulare’s water supply, city officials said.

Samples taken in April and May showed Tulare’s water exceeded the levels of 1,2,3-Trichloropropane, 1,2,3-TCP for short, registering .008-micrograms per liter. The standard is .005.

“Although this is not an emergency, as our customers, you have a right to know what you should do, what happened, and what we are doing to correct this situation,” the letter

Tulare water customers don’t have to find an alternative drinking water source, said Trish Whitfield, Tulare public works director.

Some took to social media and said they’d be buying bottled water until the water meets standards. Others said they already buy bottled water for everyday use.

In total, 17,885 Tulare water customers should receive the letter.

City administrators said the failed test is not an immediate risk. However, those who consume water with exceeded levels of 1,2,3-TCP for a long period of time have an increased risk of getting cancer, according to reports.

It is a man-made chemical found at industrial or hazardous waste sites. It has been used as a cleaning and de-greasing solvent and also is associated with pesticide products, according to the California State Water Resources Control Board.

Tim Doyle, Tulare’s water utility manager, said consumers would have to drink 2 liters of water at the maximum level for 70 years to increase the health risk. Even at that, the chances of getting cancer is one in 100,000, he said.

1,2,3-TCP caused cancer in laboratory animals in a 2009 EPA study. Short-term exposure, though, may cause eye and throat irritation. Long-term exposure has led to liver and kidney damage and reduced body weight in animals studied.

Residents concerned about water consumption may wish to consult a doctor, city officials said.

In 1999, 1-2,3 TCP was regulated with the current 0.005-micrograms per liter standard.

“So, it is not something new that all of a sudden we have in our water,” Whitfield said.

City administrators will deal with wells showing the highest levels of 1,2,3 TCP, Doyle said. Treatment includes installing filtering equipment 8-feet in diameter and 15-feet tall.

Doyle said four filters are needed at each well.

Well 37 needs the water treatment most. Located in east Tulare, the well produces water for neighborhood residents.

“That one, we really need,” Doyle said.

Already, the city has entered into a contract for engineering design and construction services for treatment of TCP contamination at six city wells.

“We anticipate completely resolving the problem before 2021,” the letter said.

Sending the letter is a way for the city to comply with state regulations and is a way to keep users informed.



 Tesla Cuts Workforce 9% in Biggest Layoff

Tesla Inc. is cutting about 9% of its workers — the biggest layoff in its 15-year history — as it burns through cash in an effort to meet production goals for its crucial Model 3 sedan.

The layoffs, which total about 3,600 mainly salaried employees, were disclosed in an email to workers at the Palo Alto electric car maker tweeted Tuesday by Chairman and Chief Executive Elon Musk.

Musk pledged that the cuts would not hurt the automaker’s ability to meet the goals and said they involved no factory workers, which the company is still looking to hire.

He called the job cuts “difficult, but necessary” as the company tries to become profitable, but he did not provide an estimate for how much they would save.

It’s not the first time Tesla has laid off workers. The company let go 400 to 700 workers last fall after completing annual performance reviews, and it laid off a small number of workers in 2008.

In May, Musk announced that he was reorganizing the company by “flattening the management structure” with the goal of improving “communication, combining functions where sensible and trimming activities that are not vital to the success of our mission.”

Musk did not define at the time what “flattening” means but typically it refers to trimming layers of middle management. Musk said in his Tuesday email that the company has “grown and evolved rapidly” over the last several years, resulting in duplication of some job functions, and that the layoffs partly reflect the restructuring.

Tesla has never turned an annual profit in its 15 years of doing business and has posted only two quarters of net profits. But at the company’s annual shareholder meeting June 5, Musk said he expected the company to post profits during the July-to-September and October-to-December periods.

Still, he said in his employee email that the layoffs were primarily driven by Tesla’s motivation to “accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable, clean energy.”

“We will never achieve that mission unless we eventually demonstrate that we can be sustainably profitable,” the email said. “That is a valid and fair criticism of Tesla’s history to date.”

Tesla has spent heavily on technology, manufacturing plants and an extensive car-charging network as it has rolled out its vehicle fleet, which Musk wants to expand by adding a semi, pickup truck and a crossover in the coming years.

But crucial to that success is the Model 3, the company’s first mass-market car, which can top $50,000 with options. The company said a $35,000 version is in the works.

The manufacturing process, however, has been plagued with problems, including the installation of cutting-edge robotics that slowed instead of speeded up production. At the company’s shareholder meeting, Musk suggested that Tesla had worked through many of the problems and was producing 500 cars a day, or 3,500 a week.

Consumer Edge Research analyst James Albertine wrote in a note to investors Tuesday that he views the restructuring and layoffs “as a positive in helping Tesla track toward profitability later this year.”

He wrote that reaching Musk’s Model 3 production goal of 5,000 vehicles a week by the end of June is still the primary driver of profitability.

“A focus on ‘getting lean’ is a positive with respect to Tesla’s guidance for achieving consolidated profitability in 2018, in our view,” he wrote.

The company ended last year with 37,543 employees, more than 12 times its head count five years earlier.

Some of those additional workers were brought on board when Tesla acquired SolarCity Corp., the nation’s largest solar panel installer, in a $2-billion deal in 2016.

Musk’s email also said Tesla is not renewing its agreement to sell solar panels through Home Depot. The majority of Tesla employees assigned to the sales effort will have an opportunity to work at Tesla’s own retail outlets, Musk said.

Workers who are being laid off are being offered “significant salary and stock vesting,” he said, adding the company was “making this hard decision now so that we never have to do this again.”

Musk, 46, who survived an effort at the annual shareholder meeting to oust him as chairman, said he decided to publicly tweet the text of the email because it had been leaked anyway.

Tesla shares dropped on the news. They were up 6.9% in early trading Tuesday but ended the day up $10.67, or 3.2%, to $342.77.


By | 2018-06-15T11:51:57+00:00 June 15th, 2018|Air Quality|