Hurricane Harvey + Arizona’s Arpaio + California’s criminal justice quandaries

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’s California astronomy cartoon is otherworldly. Take his space voyage here.

Our take


In California, poor people go to jail, rich people go free. How long will this go on? A Senate bill from Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Los Angeles, that would greatly reduce the use of cash bail in California will be held this year and brought back next year. The wheels of government often turn slowly. We’re just happy that they’re turning at all on this unjust state of affairs.

The California Supreme Court’s Proposition 66 ruling is a case study in why death penalty law shouldn’t be decided by initiative. There won’t be an execution this year, and probably not next year. But last week’s decision ensures the death penalty will be an ongoing issue, including in the 2018 race to replace Jerry Brown.

The Modesto Bee: Not mentioning the name of the white supremacist who lives in Oakdale – when he’s not in jail or flying off to cause trouble in someone else’s town – was a nice touch by members of the Oakdale community during their anti-hate rally Monday. While Stanislaus State students have every right to protest, we wish they had taken the same approach as the folks in Oakdale. Instead, they interrupted President Ellen Junn’s welcome-back-to-campus speech, also Monday, to demand that Nathan Damigo be expelled, and thus silenced. Such demands betray weakness, not strength.


Dan Morain: Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones expected Oklahoma to sue over his push for fossil fuel divestment. But who knew Oklahoma and Big Coal had a secret weapon – Assembly Democrats?

Erika Smith: After months of protesting racial injustice, ex-San Francisco 49er Colin Kaepernick is still jobless. An NFL boycott is brewing. And Kaepernick the quarterback is now Kaepernick the martyr. The NFL only has itself to blame.

Foon Rhee: After Charlottesville, where do Asian Americans fit in the conversation on race? “I didn’t say I love you because you’re black, or I love you ’cause you’re white, or I love you because you’re from (long pause) from Japan.”

Joe Mathews, Zócalo Public Square: The Bay Area may have SMART trains, but it sure has dumb transit. The region from Silicon Valley to San Francisco made a fortune connecting the planet. Why is connecting its own transportation so hard?

Dan Walters: Restoring the PUC’s tarnished image is going to take some time.


Deborah Goldberg: The stated goal of Senate Bill 17 is to increase transparency by requiring drug companies to give advance notice of price increases. I am concerned that the bill will have unintended consequences.

Their take

Houston Chronicle: We’ve known for many years that a storm surge pushing a wall of water into the Houston area could have cataclysmic consequences, not only for homes in low-lying areas but also for the nation’s largest refining and petrochemical complex. Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush wrote a letter to President Trump earlier this year asking his administration to spend $15 billion on a coastal barrier system. Bush needs help.

Arizona Republic: Donald Trump’s pardon of Joe Arpaio elevated the disgraced former Maricopa County sheriff to monument status among the immigration hardliners and nationalists in Trump’s base. This erases any doubt about whether Trump meant to empower them after the violence in Charlottesville.

San Francisco Chronicle: The Arapaio pardon was a disgrace, and a warning that the basic protections of the U.S. Constitution are not safe from the impulses of a president willing to put loyalty to him above fidelity to the law.

Salt Lake City Tribune: The plan to radically shrink Bears Ears will go nowhere except to court, where it is likely to stay for a very long time, indeed. The tribes won’t have what they want. Neither will the drillers, miners and ranchers, or county commissioners who have pipe dreams of taxing all of the above on land that was, is and, by Ryan Zinke’s recommendation, will remain federal property.

Los Angeles Times: Thursday was Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s deadline for submitting recommendations to President Donald Trump about what to do with more than two dozen national monuments. Though Zinke has indeed presented his plan, neither he nor the White House has bothered to tell the public – you know, the people who own the land – what they have in mind.

Kansas City Star: In 2016, Kansas election authorities discarded 13,717 ballots — more than all but six other states, The reason for tossing so many ballots in the trash seems clear: It’s a reflection of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s relentless campaign to make it harder for Kansans to vote.

Raleigh News & Observer: Republicans in the General Assembly seemed determined to ensure that the judicial branch of government becomes not a check and a balance, but just a supporting player for legislators. That is a woefully wrong philosophy.

East Bay Times: Once again, state lawmakers are placing labor interests ahead of solving California’s serious problems. The latest proposed solution would ease building restrictions, but only if private homebuilders agree to pay union wages. That defies common sense. But this is not about good policy; this is about labor’s tight political grip on the state Capitol.

San Diego Union-Tribune: It’s absolutely unacceptable that some 300 California communities with about 1 million residents have water as unsafe or worse than the water in Flint, Mich. But to wait until the legislative session’s 11th hour and unveil a first-ever tax on tap water to address the problem is also absolutely unacceptable.

Syndicates take

Frank Bruni loves Texas but Texas doesn’t feel the same way toward him.

David Brooks: Throughout our history, the American identity has been shaped by nature, by how our wilderness molds, inspires and binds us. Up until now, most U.S. presidents have somehow been connected to nature.

Nicholas Kristof: Romans initially accepted Caligula’s luxurious tastes, perhaps intrigued by them. The President is nothing like Caligula, right?

Timothy Egan: More than anything else, the white voters who drifted from President Barack Obama in 2012 to Donald Trump last year – a seemingly incongruent transition – sealed the Republican victory. What if Steve Bannon is right that when Democrats focus on identity politics, they lose?

Paul Krugman: Whatever personal feuds Trump may have with the Republican establishment, the same interest groups and ideologues who’ve been driving GOP positions for decades are setting his administration’s policy agenda. This is especially true for environmental policy, where decisions about how to interpret and enforce laws already on the books can have a huge impact.

Dana Milbank: Even deeply conservative Texas, it seems, has no appetite for discrimination against transgender Americans. Yet here comes President Donald Trump with a fresh attempt at just such discrimination.

Kathleen Parker: Why, after all, should we glorify the South’s Lost Cause or the institution of slavery the Confederacy sought to protect? Why should public lands play host to marble, granite and bronze images of men who tried to destroy our relatively new nation?

Leonard Pitts Jr.: That Marcellus Williams didn’t die can be chalked up, not to justice, but to that most transient and fickle of factors, political courage. And make no mistake, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ decision to block the execution took some moral fortitude.


Maybe we should postpone the population surge until after we demonstrate we can produce affordable housing for all.Kevin Coyle, Sacramento

Tweet of the day

@SavetheChildren @GlobalGiving @DirectRelief @Americares @RedCross @IRTeams are helping during #HurricaneHarvey http://bit.ly/2vsPfef”– Charity Navigator‏@CharityNav

Don’t just Take.