Anthony Kennedy watch, Brown’s new energy measure, and consumer rip-offs

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 takes a ride on the American River Parkway. It’s a vicious cycle, as you can see here.

Our take


Sacramento County swears it’s part of the solution for homelessness. It’s actually the problem: The effort to get people off the street is as gridlocked as ever, in a capital city of a major state with more than its share of resources and policy sophistication. And finger-pointing abounds. But this time, it’s glaringly apparent that, of all the players, the Sacramento County supervisors are largely to blame.

California’s new budget could harm nonprofits – unless Jerry Brown steps in: A California budget provision would harm nonprofits by stripping them of an important funding source. Gov. Jerry Brown should veto it.


Dan Morain: Gov. Jerry Brown prepares for a new climate battle, and it probably will cost you. Brown sees cap-and-trade as a way to reduce greenhouse gases, in time. More to the point, it generates money to fund construction of high-speed rail, which he champions as a way to link the San Joaquin and Silicon valleys.

Marcos Breton: Somewhere out there, the man responsible for the grievous injuries sustained by Bill Finkbeiner is escaping justice.

Sam Quinones: A Mexican journalist named Javier Valdez was shot and killed last month. Valdez chronicled the drug world of Sinaloa in books and in stories for his newspaper, Riodoce. As we examine all the reasons brave people like Javier Valdez have fallen, Mexico needs to look to its local government and build up its local institutions.

Joe Mathews: Can the arts save California’s civic life? California’s arts sector could revive the state’s civic culture, connecting Californians and offering a sense of meaning, accomplishment and even happiness.

Dan Walters, CalMatters: For the powerful five ‘kings’ of Los Angeles County, change is in the air.


Erwin Chemerinsky: Few modern justices have had as much influence on constitutional law as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. For a long time now, it really has been the Kennedy Court. But if Kennedy retires now that the court has handed down the term’s last decision, as is being speculated, Trump’s replacement could create the most conservative court in nearly a century.

Kate Karpilow: How long will women have to wait for pay equity? NASA plans to have humans orbiting Mars before California is expected to close the gender pay gap that pays women less than men, even in state government work. Here are six suggestions to speed fairness.

Gary Feldman and Eric Glassman: Senate Bill 790 would strictly limit gifts and other benefits that pharmaceutical companies can confer on medical professionals. But an unintended consequence will be to limit critical educational opportunities for physicians.

Take a number: 23

Congressional Republicans, placating corporate backers, are trying to strip power from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which seeks to protect consumers against predatory corporate practices. California legislators should step in. One way would be to approve Assembly Bill 814, a bill that has sent Sacramento’s business lobby into a tizzy.

The bill by Assemblyman Richard Bloom, D-Santa Monica, would grant city attorneys in LA, San Jose, San Diego and San Francisco the power to issue subpoenas before they file lawsuits when they have reason to believe, say, Wells Fargo is opening accounts without customers’ knowledge. The California attorney general and California district attorneys already have that authority. LA City Attorney Mike Feuer, who sued Wells Fargo, is sponsoring the bill.

At last count, 23 organizations oppose it, ranging from the California Chamber of Commerce, Technet and Civil Justice Association of California, to groups representing bankers, insurance, health care, telecom, builders, broadcasters, manufacturers, oil companies, and more bankers. The bill is pending before Senate Appropriations Committee. We’re not sure what the cost to the state might be. But clearly there’d be a cost to business.

Their take

Chicago Tribune: Springfield is buried under $251 billion in unfunded employee pension obligations. The state hasn't had a budget in two years, and its unpaid bills now total about $15 billion. Gov. Bruce Rauner is willing to add revenue as Democrats want, but not if Democrats seem willing to keep wasting it. The problem with Illinois isn't just a debt problem, it's a continue-to-spend problem.

San Francisco Chronicle: While the battle between “religious liberty” and LGBT and reproductive rights has been more pervasive in other states, California lawmakers should seize the opportunity to protect its citizenry from discrimination. They should send AB569 to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature.

LA Times: It’s counterintuitive to fight addiction by facilitating drug use. But injection sites, also known as fix rooms, are not opium dens of yore. In fact, they look exactly like health facilities. A bill by Assemblywoman Susan Eggman, D-Stockton, would allow eight selected counties to try the idea out.

Daniel Borenstein, East Bay Times: If anyone knows how to unseat an entrenched Republican representative in a swing congressional district, it’s Ellen Tauscher. Now she wants to apply lessons learned from her stunning 1996 East Bay victory to Central and Southern California in 2018.

Lexington Herald-Leader: The Trump administration’s continued complacency and failure to punish Russia in any meaningful way will leave our elections vulnerable to disruption from afar. At stake is nothing less than our freedom.

The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind: Though they committed the same sin, Democrats are right to highlight Republican secrecy. On top of the complicated mess of Obamacare will be a complicated mess of Republican fixes, and it will be years before the Americans affected will understand it all, if they ever do. Whatever happened to that ironclad “repeal and replace” promise?

Kansas City Star: If Republicans really wanted to do better with African-American and other minority voters, they’d stop doing things like promoting the Faith and Freedom Picnic with the slogan, “Olathe Lives Matter!

Syndicates’ take

E.J. Dionne Jr.: To pass their health care bill, Senate Republican leaders need to get a series of lies accepted as truth.

Maureen Dowd: Donald Trump cannot drag himself away from the mirror. But Democrats cannot bear to look in the mirror and admit what is wrong.

Nicholas Kristof: Children’s lives are at stake as Donald Trump turns his back on Africa. If humanitarian aid is complex and imperfect, it has helped save more than 100 million children’s lives around the world since 1990.

Ross Douthat: There’s no clear constituency for Mitch McConnell’s health care bill, apart from the mostly wealthy voters who will appreciate its rollback of Obamacare’s tax increases.

Gail Collins: The Republican leadership didn’t even bother to toss a token female in their secret health care bill-writing group. That tells you something about the insane level of indifference to women’s issues among the men who are currently running the show in Washington.

Timothy Egan: On almost every single concern, Congress is going against what most of the country wants. And Congress is doing this because there will be no consequences.

Ruben Navarrette: It’s getting harder to tell journalists from performers. If you’re a newspaper reporter sent to cover a riot, and you wind up getting arrested, you’re likely to pop up on the Sunday shows opining about police-community relations, sign a book deal and host a podcast.

Leonard Pitts Jr.: In the era of the smartphone and the dashcam, damning photographic evidence still is not enough. That’s why many of us were unsurprised when Philando Castile’s killer was acquitted.

Joe Scarborough: The Democratic party has been on a historic run over the past eight years – all in the wrong direction. Since Barack Obama’s breathtaking victory in 2008, Democrats have been wheezing their way through one political defeat after another.


“Rather than create another taxpayer fund that gives counties financial incentive to infuse far more resources into early intervention for psychosis and serious mood disorders, why don’t we ensure that the original $400 million already allocated to that purpose achieves it?” DJ Jaffee, New York

And finally,

David Mas Masumoto: We have learned to live with things old, a perspective I appreciate more as I, too, age.