Mental illness, moms, and the separation of church and state


Good morning. On behalf of The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board, welcome to The Take, your opinion-politics newsletter. Please sign up for it here.

Jack Ohman draws Hair to The Chief. Click here to see the hair.

Our take


Psychiatric patients desperately need housing. We’re failing them: Suicides, ER visits, and the number of mentally ill inmates in California prisons rise as housing for psychiatric patients decreases.

The Republican Mother’s Day gift? Higher bills, sicker kids and no choice: The GOP health reform worming its way through Congress is among the most anti-woman, and thus anti-child, pieces of legislation to come out of Washington in a very long time.

San Luis Obispo Tribune: Teachers are forbidden from imposing their personal religious beliefs on a class of, say, 30 or 40 students. Yet they can do so in a student-run, taxpayer-supported newspaper read by hundreds, even thousands, of students? What state-sanctioned hypocrisy.


Erika D. Smith: The right plan to beat Trump? It won’t come from California Democrats. Since retiring, California’s Barbara Boxer has been trying to elect more Democrats to Congress. But besides hating Trump, there’s no plan to win.

Marcos Breton: If there is a worse stretch in downtown Sacramento than the 1000 block of J Street, it’s hard to imagine it.

Dan Walters: California Legislature is making new effort to fix a malfunctioning State Bar. But the fix doesn’t completely separate lawyer licensing agency’s dual roles.

Gregory Favre: For those moms who are with us, we celebrate Mother’s Day with flowers and candy and brunches. For those who are no longer here, we do it by embracing and cherishing our memories.


Michael Madrigal: President Donald Trump’s executive order to review national monument designations include three California desert monuments with great tribal significance. They deserve protection.

Judie Rae: Two bills, sponsored by Alaska Rep. Don Young, a former licensed trapper, seek to increase populations of game animals by killing off predator species.

Jorge A. Aguilar: The new Sacramento City school superintendent plans to give all students an equal opportunity to graduate with the greatest number of postsecondary choices from the widest array of options.

Assemblymen Vince Fong and Jay Obernolte: Without real budget transparency it is difficult to hold state lawmakers accountable for their budgeting decisions.

Take a number: 40 percent

The Stanford Justice Advocacy Project, which helped lead the fight for Proposition 36, the 2012 initiative that overhauled the “three strikes” sentencing law, is turning its attention to mental illness and its role in the criminal justice system, a noble undertaking. In a report that will be issued Monday, the project notes 40 percent of the felons sentenced to prison from Sacramento County have a mental illness diagnosis. It’s worse in Alameda County: 42 percent. San Francisco is even worse: almost 43 percent. By contrast, an estimated 24 percent of people sent to prison from Orange County have such a diagnosis. Which raises the basis question: Why? The answer: It is not clear why, the report says.

Their take

Daniel Borenstein, East Bay Times: The California State Transportation Agency told local law enforcement leaders that it would fund a surveillance system from Richmond to Antioch, along the deadliest stretches of Interstate 80 and Highway 4. Much valuable time was lost as the agency tried to shirk its responsibility.

Orange County Register: Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget proposal, released Thursday, contains too much spending and not enough fiscal discipline.

San Francisco Chronicle: Legislators’ eagerness to carry water for unions and keep taxpayers in the dark illustrates the extent of organized labor’s power in California politics. Especially among the state’s ruling Democrats, politicians depend on union support, financial and otherwise.

L.A. Times: Legislators should work with health care providers and consumer advocates on a compromise that improves provider payments and fulfills the promise made in Proposition 56. If there’s room in this budget to give more to so many other state programs, surely there’s more for both Medi-Cal beneficiaries and providers.

Tacoma News Tribune: Untreated mental illness also factors into two of our region’s biggest scourges: homelessness and opioid abuse. Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland last week called for emergency action to combat the homeless problem; mobile response teams are one promising tactic.

Kansas City Star: A handful of obstinate legislators sealed Missouri’s fate as the only state in the nation without a program to help doctors identify patients abusing prescription drugs.

Detroit News: A very sensible package of bills that would tighten Michigan’s weakest-in-the-nation ethics laws are stalled in Lansing because some key GOP lawmakers won’t come on board.

Raleigh News & Observer: This is Sen. Richard Burr’s moment, his defining moment, and his handling of the investigation is going to be his legacy at the end of his third Senate term and nearly 30 years in Washington almost six years hence.

Charlotte Observer: Republicans will not hold Donald Trump accountable unless he becomes a severe political liability for them. Voters should make sure their representatives hear this: We want the full truth, and for you to live up to this historic moment, regardless of the president’s party.

Syndicates take

Ruben Navarrette: California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León shows how out of practice his party is at defending immigrants.

Dana Milbank: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says he can’t work in an environment where facts aren’t accurately reported? And yet he goes to work for the alternative-facts president.

Kathleen Parker: Something is very wrong at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Inside the Oval Office golden walls, democracy rocks perilously between the forces of light and darkness.

Timothy Egan: We need a Republican in power to call President Donald Trump’s firing of the FBI director what it is: a bungled attempt to obstruct justice.

E.J. Dionne: President Donald Trump proved that we can never be lulled into losing focus on the ways he could undermine the rules and principles of our democratic republic.

Gail Collins: Whatever you do, do not take a job with Donald Trump. Or else you’ll be involved in a national scandal. Or in a bush.

Frank Bruni: We already knew that Donald Trump had no shame. Now we also know that he has no game.

Nicholas Kristof: A moment of truth for GOP moderates has arrived. Will they stand for justice or for obstruction of it?

Ross Douthat: Far too many observers are surprised at Donald Trump. Nothing about his conduct should come as a surprise.

Maureen Dowd: Imagine the conversation between Donald Trump and James Comey, and the beautiful chocolate cake.

Paul Krugman: Circumstantial evidence that a hostile foreign power may have colluded with a U.S. presidential campaign, and all those GOP self-proclaimed patriots have gone silent, or worse.

Leonard Pitts Jr.: When confronted with unwelcome racial or cultural change, many white people seek salvation and retaliation at the polls.


“There is no evidence that our homeless neighbors own certain dog types or violate the leash and licensing laws at any greater rate than the rest of us.” – Jennifer Fearing, Sacramento

And finally,

Jack Ohman: Trump at the “-gate”? This administration is so bad, describing it requires a new language.