California Forum

Comey speaks, the tragic cost of housing, Dems eat Dems

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., reacts Wednesday during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., reacts Wednesday during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on Capitol Hill. The Associated Press

Good Sunday morning, and welcome to Take Two, our weekly sampler of California opinion, drawn from The Sacramento Bee editorial board’s daily opinion-politics newsletter, The Take. Please go to to sign up.

Takes on Comey

California, like the rest of the nation, was abuzz with the congressional testimony of James B. Comey, the fired FBI director.

California’s senators stood out for different reasons: Dianne Feinstein used her considerable experience to elicit the quote of the hearing: “Lordy, I hope there are tapes,” Comey said.

Kamala Harris introduced herself to a national audience as a former prosecutor and attorney general, and went a long way toward erasing her rep for being an overly cautious politician.

A day earlier, as Harris pointedly questioned Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr rebuked her, saying: “The senator will suspend.” That set Twitter atwitter.

When will the Republican guys in the Senate realize it does not serve them to well to tell women senators to, well, stifle? Nevertheless, they persist.

Not in Kansas

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who heads President Donald Trump’s commission trying to ferret out illegal voting, announced he is running for governor to replace Sam Brownback. Kansans have had quite enough of my-way-or-the-highway thinking. In 2018, candidates must display a willingness to compromise, The Kansas City Star opined. The Star also wrote that Kobach is the front-runner. Oh, man.

Death penalty

The California Supreme Court held oral arguments on the fate of the latest attempt to speed executions in California, via the voter-approved Proposition 66 approved. Never a pleasant topic.

Erwin Chemerinsky, the incoming dean of the UC Berkeley School of Law, offered his expert assessment of how the arguments went, concluding that the new measure would have a devastating effect on the court’s ability to fulfill its constitutional duties.

Silicon Valley

Uber had a no good, very bad week, even as it started cleaning house to restore its reputation. CEO Travis Kalanick never should have let things get this bad.

And then there were different facets of the Bay Area’s housing crisis. Authorities arrested two men in the Ghost Ship fire that took 36 lives, prompting The East Bay Times to wonder why the owners have not been charged, noting that the paper trail makes it very clear that they knew the electrical facilities were inadequate, but continued to accept the rent payments.

The Mercury News was excited by the prospect that Google is planning a campus in downtown San Jose that would bring 20,000 jobs. The San Francisco Chronicle called it great but asked where the workers would live.

LinkedIn’s latest jobs report finds that the Bay Area region remains strong but that hiring was 4.1 percent lower in May 2017 than in May 2016. What’s to blame? Seattle, Portland, Denver, Austin, and Charlotte are booming and they’re cheaper to live in.

We can’t help but think that high-speed rail could ease the Bay Area housing crisis, by connecting the relatively low cost Central Valley.

Veering to the left

The Orange County Register chided the state Senate for its plan to create single payer health insurance in California, noting that whatever the plan’s merits, a responsible vote on it was impossible because it lacked critical details.

The Bee urged insurgent Kimberly Ellis to realize that she lost her attempt to become California Democratic Party chair, noting that for the sake of “the resistance,” she, the California Nurses Association and the other Bernie Sanders-loving supporters, things can’t continue this way.

Last we heard, she was persisting.