Eclipse + Housing + Water + Caltrain

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 surveys our nation’s Donald Trump monuments. See the statues here.

Our take


At last, something to inspire awe: Monday’s solar eclipse will not be a man-made event, like the 1969 moon landing. It will be a moment to remember that we, too, are part of the cosmos, and infinitesimally small.

California’s housing crisis was decades in the making, and needs more than quick fixes: Not wanting to waste a crisis, legislators returning Monday will consider 15 housing related bills in the coming weeks. Grand solutions remain elusive, but incremental progress is better than none.

A housing crisis that’s too easily forgotten: Lawmakers working to ease California’s housing crisis should make sure they address an urgent but easily overlooked need: housing for migrant workers.

Steve Bannon is out, but his sickness still infects White House. President Donald Trump showed this week – in his morally despicable response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va. – that he shares many of Bannon’s divisive and toxic white nationalist views. Trump also showed again that he has no loyalty to anyone but himself.


Erika D. Smith: “Free speech,” the most overused, misused phrase in American politics. After Charlottesville, “free speech” seems to be the all-purpose grievance du jour, whether the argument makes sense or not.


A pro/con on Senate Bill 623:

Tim Johnson: The California Rice Commission, the Western Growers Association and other agriculture industry leaders have stepped up to support Senate Bill 623 to provide emergency relief and also fund water treatment facilities. It calls for a small fee on residential water bills and a fee on farms.

Kathleen Tiegs and Brent Hastey: The Association of California Water Agencies has made it a high priority to develop effective solutions and advance sensible funding strategies. But a tax on water is not the right approach, especially when some are raising concerns about the affordability of water.

Gregory Favre: Words matter. Trump could have asked Nikki Haley for pointers on handling Charlottesville.

California Forum

Maj. Steve Taylor: They risked their lives for their country. Here’s what California could do for them.

Bob Erlenbusch: Sacramento County should be working with the city to leverage funds for homeless programs, not sending law enforcement to the American River Parkway to play whack-a-mole.

Dan Walters: California is writing a new chapter in a century-old state’s rights dispute.

Beth Chapman: Mrs. Dog the Bounty Hunter to rapper Common: Don’t be a sucker on bail reform.

Their take

San Francisco Chronicle: California must summon the will to meet the housing crisis. Senate Bill 35 comes closer to doing so than a comparable proposal by Gov. Jerry Brown last year, partly because legislative leaders and the governor are coupling it with bills enabling billions in government spending on affordable-housing. But it will take this reform and more to change a local political calculus that treats housing largely as a burden to be resisted.

Brian Calle, Southern California News Group: Whatever the public policy, the core of it should be more housing – swiftly, efficiently and sustainably. Let’s hope elected officials in Sacramento take up that mantra.

Treasurer John Chiang: California’s housing shortage is so catastrophic in scale that it not only threatens our economic vitality, but also fuels inequality, poverty and domestic violence, and creates hardship for our veterans. I encourage lawmakers to think big and act boldly to come up with durable solutions to address the housing catastrophe in California. If they do not act, voters will.

Mercury News: A Caltrain tax is popular with voters, but getting it on ballot is complicated. Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, has submitted SB 797. It sets out a scrupulously fair procedure and a high threshold for placing something on the ballot. Lawmakers should approve it quickly, since electrification of Caltrain is now under way.

Los Angeles Times: California’s wet winter eased the immediate water shortages that affected most of the state, giving lawmakers and water agencies a bit of a breather as they craft new policies and design new infrastructure to weather the next big drought (which, for all we know, may already be underway). But neither the rainfall nor the new projects and policies will help hundreds of thousands of Californians whose local water supply is contaminated.

Orange County Register: The politicization of state pension fund investments has once again come back to bite us – this time in coal stocks – harming taxpayers and government employees alike. Under the Public Divestiture of Thermal Coal Companies Act of 2015, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and California State Teachers’ Retirement System were required to divest their coal holdings by July 1, 2017. Unfortunately for taxpayers, this divestment coincided with a strong rebound in coal stocks.

Syndicates take

E.J. Dionne Jr.: President Trump’s decision to let go of his right-wing-populist-in-chief Steve Bannon sends a clear signal that the president’s “populism” has always been a ruse. Bannon committed the cardinal sins of dishing to a liberal journalist and dissing his own base within the Republican Party.

Timothy Egan: Within a generation’s time, nearly all of the 16 million American veterans who served in World War II will be gone. And the biggest insult, the gravest disservice of President Trump giving comfort to Hitler sympathizers, is to those who fought to save the world from evil more than 70 years ago.

Paul Krugman: President Trump makes Caligula look pretty good. Caligula did not, as far as we know, foment ethnic violence within the Roman empire. For another, again as far as we know, Rome’s government continued to function reasonably well despite his antics. But when his behavior became truly intolerable, Rome’s elite did what the party now controlling Congress seems unable even to contemplate: It found a way to get rid of him.

Dana Milbank: The Trump administration’s three ‘court Jews’ disgrace themselves. Gary Cohn, Steven Mnuchin and Jared Kushner let it be known through anonymous friends and colleagues that they are disturbed and distressed by what President Trump said about Charlottesville, but none is speaking publicly about an outrage that makes millions of Americans feel as though they are living a nightmare.

Leonard Pitts Jr.: Charlottesville didn’t spring from nowhere. What you have to remember is that this is said to have been the largest public gathering of white supremacists in many years. There is, it seems, an unmistakable new energy on the extreme right.

Trudy Rubin: A coterie of aides to President Trump have provided their boss with a nationalist, populist ideology designed to win disaffected white voters. If that means ignoring – or quietly cultivating – the support of white supremacists and other radical right extremists, well, never mind.

Letters to the editor

“Without a cultural tsunami under the dome, the jobs, homes and good schools, will be out of reach for Californians.” – Margaret Lewis, Sacramento