Contorted death penalty ruling + Firefighters protect their jobs + Chad Mayes fights on + Calexit

Jack Ohman teaches Alt-Civil War history. Check out the lesson plan here.

Our take


California Supreme Court stretches to breathe life into death penalty: There won’t be an execution this year, and probably not next year. But the Supreme Court decision ensures the death penalty will be an issue in the 2018 race to replace Jerry Brown.

Sacramento trains EMTs, but they can’t work in city ambulances. Graduates of a worthy apprenticeship program wouldn’t be allowed to join the Fire Department and work in its ambulances without becoming full-fledged firefighters. The union has been blocking paramedics, but the City Council should press the issue in its new contract next year.


Ben Boychuk: Calexit is our state’s latest delusion, all three versions. Autonomy is nice. But true independence is difficult.

Markos Koulanakis, McClatchy D.C.: The Trump strategy is to make sure Afghanistan doesn’t further devolve while he looks to hand off the problem to someone else. Like a distressed property, Trump wants to offload the war and Afghan reconstruction at the right discounted price in a handshake deal. India tops the list.

Andres Oppenheimer, Miami Herald: Why not let the statues of these historical figures stand, and build monuments to their victims right next to them? Why not build, right next to each Robert E. Lee statue, a monument to the victims of slavery in the United States?


Ben Solvesky: U.S. Fish and Wildlife is right about endangered frogs in the Sierra. The agency painstakingly reviewed the best available science on the two frog species and the Yosemite toad, invited extensive input and bent over backwards to assure that the 1.8 million acres of critical habitat would include little private property.

California Forum

Gerald Haslam: I was raised in the Central Valley. Here’s what white pride means to me.

Tom Dresslar: A retired Capitol denizen returns from a pilgrimage to the path of totality in last week’s solar eclipse, and sums it up in three words: “Oh, my God.”

Andy Jones: “Farther along the beach a Middle Eastern couple in their 50s strolled with their daughter in her 20s. Thinking about racial tensions in Charlottesville, I offered a friendly greeting, and they returned it. I didn’t know if they were locals, or if they might have been visiting from 8,000 miles away.” A Davis writer takes a sunset walk near the Mexican border, and finds California’s true colors on the beach.

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Take a number: 13,100

President Donald Trump and the Republican Congress are pushing deep cuts in the domestic budget. Just in time for the final town halls and for Congress reconvening after Labor Day, the California Budget & Policy Center put out a helpful summary of the impact of the cuts on major programs – one for each of the state’s 53 congressional districts. For instance, in the swing Sacramento-area 7th District, represented by Democrat Ami Bera, 13,100 people receive rental assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, 24,400 households receive food assistance and 23,200 individuals get Supplemental Social Security payments. In all, the fact sheets include information on nine programs spanning food and shelter, health care, income support and education. As the advocacy group points out, these potential cuts will particularly hit the poor, disabled and elderly at the same time Trump and Republicans are advocating tax cuts that would mostly benefit the rich and corporations. Voters who care about them still have time to speak out – and they can cite these facts and figures to remind their members of Congress what’s at stake. Foon Rhee, @foonrhee

Their take

Kansas City Star: The possible U.S. Senate campaign pitting Sen. Claire McCaskill against Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley already shows signs of devolving into a meaningless mud fest.

Raleigh News & Observer: Better be careful there, Sen. Thom Tillis. A legislator who asserts his independence while President Donald Trump is in the White House does so at peril of getting rained on by the presidential precipitation known as a “tweetstorm.”

Los Angeles Times: City attorneys are responsible for protecting consumers. Give them the tools to do it by granting them to power to issue subpoenas before they file suits. The Take agrees, writing back in June.

San Francisco Chronicle: A union-backed bill to pad local government payrolls has been steadily diminished by those with the clout to fend off organized labor and its numerous friends in the California Legislature. The state’s cities got a reprieve from the bill en masse. So did San Francisco, the state’s only city and county, and Santa Clara County. All that’s left for the state Senate is to finish the job and kill this misbegotten bill altogether.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Even after eight years of economic expansion, California counties continue to struggle to keep budgets in check under the growing strain of retirement and medical costs for public employees. But that problem would grow substantially worse under a contemptuous bill now working its way through the halls of the state Legislature, Assembly Bill 1250 by Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles.

The Mercury News: It took a few months, but the state Department of Water Resources finally admitted to poor communication in the wake of the Lake Oroville spillway disaster last February. DWR’s ham-handed approach to communication with the public and even other government agencies was bothersome early on, but not surprising to anyone who knows the agency and its history.

Syndicates’ take

Charles M. Blow: We have a president who doesn’t want to lead a country but wants to rule a tribe. We need to look at Southern states that he carried by enormous margins. We have to look at states like Alabama and examine its history and see how white supremacy tracks across time and culminates with Trump.

Gail Collins: We now divide the president’s public addresses into two categories. There are the unremarkable and predictable ones written by someone else and the ones in which he ignores the script and just says what’s on his mind, terrifying and confusing all Americans who are not in his base.

Michael Gerson: The gap between Trump extemporaneous and Trump scripted is canyon-like. But there is no doubt which is his authentic voice, because he leaves no room for doubt.

Nicholas Kristof: Critics are right that we in the national media are often out of touch with working-class America, and distressingly often, we are lap dogs instead of watchdogs. Yet for all our failings, journalism remains an indispensable constraint on power. Trump has systematically tried to delegitimize the institutions that hold him accountable.

Dana Milbank: The movement to remove Confederate monuments can be a healthy one, if done legally, according to the wishes of local citizens and in such a way that preserves this history without glorifying it. But from across this great land come reminders that nothing in America succeeds like excess.

Eugene Robinson: For the nation to heal, Confederate statues must come down. In the South, cities have become increasingly cosmopolitan. And cities are where some of the most prominent Confederate statues and other memorials happen to be. So it was inevitable that those monuments to a lost war fought in defense of slavery – or, if you prefer, symbols of the birth of Jim Crow segregation – would come under critical scrutiny.


“Killing bear cubs in their den, or anywhere else, kills a part of us.” Richard Turner, Sacramento

Chad Mayes takes leave

“Sad day when the Grand Old Party punishes a leader whose only flaw was believing in science & cutting regs, costs & taxes for Californians.” Gov. Jerry Brown @JerryBrownGov, on the ouster of Assemblyman Chad Mayes Assembly GOP leader. Mayes crossed party lines to vote for cap and trade.

In an interview, Mayes did some math: Democrats hold 55 Assembly seats and Republicans hold 25. “The only way we’re going to accomplish anything is to work with Democrats,” Mayes said. Now that he’s no longer leader, Mayes said, he could be freer to find common ground on issues that matter to him and his district. He also intends to continue working to “remake the California Republican Party. I am believer if we don’t reshape it, we’re going to continue down the death spiral.” Here’s another bit of math: 25.9 percent. That’s Republican registration. Decline-to-state voters account for 24.5 percent of the electorate. Republicans have lost 300,000 registered voters since 2007. During that same time, Democrats have gained more than 2 million.