Capitol Alert

DMV debacle + Jane Fonda in Sac + PG&E writes a $100K check to Dems

California DMV customers angry over rising wait times

Customers across California are experiencing rising wait times at the Department of Motor Vehicles. People at the Sacramento South field office on July 26, 2018 were particularly frustrated.
Up Next
Customers across California are experiencing rising wait times at the Department of Motor Vehicles. People at the Sacramento South field office on July 26, 2018 were particularly frustrated.


It’ll be a lively afternoon at the Capitol today as lawmakers question the Department of Motor Vehicles over rising wait times. DMV Director Jean Shiomoto will speak on the department’s behalf at a 4 p.m. budget hearing, where she is expected to defend upper-level management and outline steps being made to shorten the lines.

It’s unclear whether Shiomoto will ask lawmakers for more money to address the problem, but she previously told The Bee that the DMV could benefit from additional resources. On July 27, the DMV sent a letter to the California Department of Finance requesting it make $16.6 million available — the amount provided under a budget trailer bill to alleviate wait times.

Today’s hearing is the first of two that will address issues surrounding the DMV. At 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, will present a request for a state audit into DMV management. Two Republican assembly members are already vocalizing their support for the audit. The audit request will likely face a close vote, but Democrats could face rising pressure to support Patterson. Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, complained the process would take too long and thought a budgetary solution would be a better path forward.

“I’m a big believer in the power of the budget committee,” Ting previously told The Bee. “I believe we can get to the issue much faster than an audit.”

According to a Ting spokeswoman, there will be no limit on the time lawmakers can ask questions at today’s budget hearing.


On Friday, PG&E gave the California Democratic Party $100,000 in campaign funds. This comes as the company mounts a campaign to gain public trust and explain what it is doing to address wildfires. PG&E spent $1.7 million on lobbying in the second quarter this year as it pushes to minimize its liability for wildfire property damages.

In July, Gov. Jerry Brown released a plan calling on lawmakers to reduce PG&E’s legal responsibility for wildfire damages. The Conference Committee on Wildfire Preparedness and Response is holding two hearings this week. On Thursday, it will discuss inverse condemnation and electric utilities — issues that could reduce the company’s burden.

PG&E is a prolific contributor to both state parties. From Jan. 1, 2017, to June 30, the utility gave the Democratic party $365,000 and the California Republican Party $500,000.


Jane Fonda is coming to Sacramento today for a panel discussion about the #MeToo movement and its impact on California public policy. She will be joined by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, wife of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gavin Newsom, and Juana Melara, the Long Beach housekeeper who was one of the people listed in TIME Magazine’s “Silence Breakers” edition. The event will be held at 11:30 a.m. at 1029 K St.


With only five months left in his final term, Brown is helping his staff find landing spots outside his office. On Monday, Brown announced 10 appointments to state boards and commissions, including a $153,689-per-year position on the California Gambling Control Commission for deputy press secretary Gareth Lacy and a $153,689-per-year seat on the California Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board for deputy legal affairs secretary Katherine Williams Dodd.

Kathy Baldree, who has been special assistant and director of scheduling for Brown since 2011, was appointed to the State Personnel Board, which pays $48,789 annually, as was Shawnda Westley, former senior strategist for the California Democratic Party. Brown’s director of finance, Michael Cohen, and SEIU Local 2015 President Laphonza Butler were among four appointees to the University of California Board of Regents, which is a prestigious but uncompensated post.

Brown announced two appointments to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors, which comes with a $100 per diem, including Amy Costa, chief deputy director for budget in his Department of Finance.


The Milken Institute, a nonprofit think tank seeking to address economic and health care issues, is hosting a conference from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. today at the Kimpton Sawyer Hotel. There will be a wide range of speakers discussing the economy, housing affordability, gender equality, education and climate change.


Dale Kasler (@dakasler) — “.@realDonaldTrump says California’s water policies are making #wildfires worse. Is he right?”

(The Sacramento Bee fact-checked President Donald Trump’s claim that California’s water policies are making the wildfires worse).


How should California cultivate top-notch educators? Influencers have plenty to say.

“All children, regardless of family’s economic status, deserve and have a right to a quality education. The differentiator for low income students is the lack of an equal opportunity to reach their potential given inequitable and inaccessible resources available in their schools and communities.

“Safe and clean schools, available and culturally appropriate textbooks, and flexible curricula are all necessary elements to a constructive learning environment, but let’s not forget that the most important ingredient to influence a child’s education is a good teacher.

“As in any learning environment, educators with a range of classroom experiences and teaching methods are appropriate and in fact helpful to a child’s learning process. The value of institutional memory and training that experienced, tenured teachers bring to the classroom complements the experiential growth that new and developing teachers can provide to their students. To that end, we must strive to maintain that balance to equip our students with the best resources and learning opportunities possible. This means recognizing the need to provide students with access to the strongest teachers, including respecting the years of work that good, tenured teachers have served in the classroom.

“We have a responsibility to our students to afford them skilled and well-performing new and tenured teachers to support their learning, and also to recognize the value that these teachers provide to a learning community. Teachers plant the roots for a great classroom. Let’s not forget to value and respect them and allow them to support their own families in return, by compensating them for their years of work through a strong, livable wage building toward their own secure retirement as well.”

Andrea Ambriz, chief of staff, Service Employees International Union Local 2015

MUST-READ: 249 nights away at California fires: Firefighter families cope with a ‘new normal’


Kevin Klowden, chairman of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Trade Finance Advisory Council and executive director of the Milken Institute’s Center for Regional Economics, explains how California can survive Trump’s trade war.

The Sacramento Bee Editorial Board says there’s finally a plan for open land in south Sacramento County.

Jack Ohman surveys the California fires. See what else is on fire here.