Seeking to distance himself from Republicans in Washington, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer on Monday night issued a lofty mandate for the California Republican Party, calling on leaders to address the housing affordability crisis and decrying recent legislative maneuvers in Sacramento that will raise gas taxes.
“California prides itself on being a place where innovation is born. It’s time for California Republicans to tap into that bold attitude and modernize itself as a state party in step with the residents we want to represent,” Faulconer said in remarks prepared for delivery to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, adding that the state Republican Party “shouldn’t be a carbon copy of the national GOP.”
For a Republican politician in a deep-blue state that went 62 percent for Hillary Clinton, Faulconer has drawn outsized attention this year, in part because of his sharp condemnation of President Donald Trump and his stances, especially on the proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall. Faulconer issued a strong rebuke against the weekend’s violent attacks in Charlottesville, Va., saying Saturday on Twitter that the U.S. “must not tolerate white supremacy or any other racism,” as the president came under fire for declining to immediately denounce white supremacists.
Such stances have propelled Faulconer to the forefront for many in his own party, as Republicans eye him as a possible contender for governor in 2018. Already, a crowded field of Democratic candidates are facing off, with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa seen as frontrunners.
Faulconer has said repeatedly – as recently as late June – that he is not running.
“You know that California is in a desperate need of real fiscal and political restraint, when the strongest counter-balance to Sacramento Democrats is Gov. Jerry Brown,” he said Tuesday. “There must be another way. A better way. And I’m convinced there is.”
He did not mention Trump by name Tuesday night.
For Republicans to be relevant in California, he said, his party must become a “party that fights for the middle class” – one that “wins again.” His comments were critical of recent moves by Gov. Jerry Brown and the Democratic-controlled Legislature that led to passage of a $5.2 billion per-year transportation package that will raise gas taxes and vehicle registration fees. In another move, Democrats, joined by Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes, extended the state’s cap-and-trade program, which is also likely to increase state gas taxes.
“Our party needs to act, and I believe the first step to moving forward is to lay out a new vision,” Faulconer said. “This comes as the people of California are in dire need of a change. ... Democratic politicians have developed a stranglehold on our state that is choking the very people that they claim to protect.
“Their solutions to the problem are the problem,” he added.
“It’s time for today’s California Republicans to stop ignoring climate change,” he said. “If we opt out of the conversation, we’re only going to get extreme one-party solutions. We should be proud to offer our own plans to preserve our environment – plans that don’t plunder the middle class.”
“We must welcome with open arms Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans, Muslims, Christians, Jews and members of the LGBTQ community,” he said. “We must demonstrate that their priorities are our priorities.”
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ALT-RIGHT RALLY: Three San Francisco Democratic lawmakers have asked the National Park Service revoke the permit for the white nationalist event, billed as a “patriot prayer rally” planned for Aug. 26 in San Francisco.
State Sen. Scott Wiener and Assemblymen David Chiu and Phil Ting submitted their formal request Tuesday.
“Our concern is for the safety of the people of San Francisco, and, given recent events in Charlottesville, we are not confident that peace can be maintained at this rally,” their letter reads. “Witnessing the events in Charlottesville last weekend was a horrifying experience that brought feelings of shame and sadness to us all – shame that the president and his administration have enabled and emboldened a disgusting and despicable white supremacist ideology, and sadness that as a country we are seemingly moving backward in our fight against racism and hate. ... The events in Charlottesville, complete with violence and protestors armed with automatic weapons, have moved us past any sense of civil discourse or peaceful assembly. If this rally goes forward, we are extremely concerned for the public safety of the people of our city.
“While we believe in the right to free speech and free assembly, we believe the National Park Service does not have the capacity to safely control this situation and therefore should not be issuing a permit for this rally at Crissy Field.”
FULL SPEED AHEAD: California’s High Speed Rail Authority is poised today to approve more funding to a construction contractor developing 32 miles of tracks in Madera and Fresno Counties – the first significant project to date, according to rail authorities.
High-speed rail staff recommended approval of an additional $6 million to extend the initial $34 million contract six more months for the contractors, PGH Wong Engineering, Inc. and Harris & Associates.
The increase is expected to speed the Central Valley rail work. The High Speed Rail Authority’s work is funded by a combination of revenue from the state’s cap-and-trade program and the Proposition 1A bond approved by voters in 2008 to fund a portion of the bullet train from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
Passenger service from Silicon Valley to the Central Valley is expected to begin in 2025, according to the authority. By 2029, the first phase – a planned route of 520 miles connecting downtown San Francisco, to Los Angeles and south to Anaheim – is expected to be complete. Other portions of the total 800-mile route, stretching from the Central Valley north to Sacramento and from Los Angeles to San Diego, are expected to take longer and potentially cost more.
Current estimates show completion will cost $64 billion over the next 20 years.
RECALLED RECALL RULES?
A California appellate judge dealt a blow to Sen. Josh Newman this week by temporarily halting a new law governing recall elections.
Democrats in the Legislature passed Senate Bill 96 in mid-June to help Newman survive a GOP-led recall. The bill establishes a process for voters to remove their signatures from recall petitions and delays the timeline for an election.
The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed a lawsuit last month arguing that SB 96 is unconstitutional. A judge in the 3rd District Court of Appeal on Monday ordered the Secretary of State to not enforce the new law as the lawsuit plays out in court.
The ruling opens the door for a recall election in SD 29 this year.
IMPROVING CARE: Rep. Ami Bera is in the Sacramento area this week touting ways to improve California’s economy and the nation’s health care delivery system.
Bera, a Democrat from Elk Grove, is expected to speak at a jobs fair in Sacramento beginning at 9:45 a.m., followed by a tour of the Center Point therapy clinic in Fair Oaks.
After high-profile defeats of Republican attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare, Bera argues it’s time for Democrats to work with Republicans to improve the Affordable Care Act after, saying in late July that “we are ready and willing to come to the table with solutions.”
The jobs fair is at 8376 Fruitridge Rd., Building 180 in Sacramento. Other events in the region are planned throughout the week.
MUST READ: The Bee’s Jim Miller breaks down how a Senate Bill from Wiener seeks to speed affordable housing development in California.