Thoughts, prayers, rescues, attacks and apologies

Floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey surround homes and businesses in Port Arthur, Texas, Aug. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey surround homes and businesses in Port Arthur, Texas, Aug. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) AP

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 sacbee.com/site-services/newsletters/ to sign up.

Cali and Texas

California and Texas may be frenemies, politically speaking, but that relationship was trumped last week by Hurricane Harvey. Our hearts go out to the Lone Star State. So, last week, did hundreds of our volunteers and first responders. Never mind California’s official ban on state travel to Texas: Swiftwater rescue teams, nonprofits, celebrities, Golden State politicians Silicon Valley corporations, all were on hand, and not just in a thoughts-and-prayers way. Sadly, that didn’t generate as much press as the antifa thuggery at an otherwise peaceful weekend march in Berkeley. But, as The Bee’s editorial board put it, “news is about the exception, not the norm.”

Regarding antifa

The sternest finger-pointing at California’s anti-fascists has come from the far right, where white supremacists want to change the subject from Charlottesville violence. The Bee’s Marcos Breton and The Mercury News took antifa to task as useful idiots for neo-Nazis. Our Erika Smith defended antifa, but challenged them to go to rural counties and red states, rather than preaching to the choir here.

Church and state

An Oklahoma attorney general would not normally attract our attention, except that the current one, Republican Mike Hunter, wrote an off-the-wall attack on California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones over Jones’ attempt to persuade insurance companies to divest from coal. Or at least score a few points among Democratic voters. Sure enough, Jones used the episode in an email blast this past week. Paid for by one of his campaign accounts, the blast called on his peeps to oppose a bill he originally sponsored, but that insurance lobbyists hijacked in the Assembly. We guess Jones’ email was legal. He is, after all, a Harvard-educated lawyer. To our unpracticed eye, however, we didn’t see much separation between politics and policy.

Republican AGs

Republican Hunter’s weird missive illustrates the power of attorneys general. A state attorney general oversees what amounts to one of if not the largest law firm in any given state. Although Democrats seem not to fully grasp their importance, donors definitely do. The Republican Attorneys General Association raised $7.3 million in the first half of the year, including $190,000 from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; $155,000 from Koch Industries; $250,000 from Altria; and $600,000 from Judicial Crisis Network, which works to help President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees win confirmation. The Democratic Attorneys General Association raised a mere $2.9 million, with only one six-figure donor. No wonder Republicans control national politics.

City’s top cop

Police Chief Daniel Hahn sat down with us for the first time and shared his vision for the department. It wasn’t the usual law enforcement line, as Foon Rhee wrote. Now would every police chief support Sacramento’s latest anti-gang program, which the City Council approved Tuesday with $1.5 million over three years. Advance Peace gives stipends to participants who reach goals such as getting high school diplomas. Critics say it’s too close to paying gang members not to commit more crimes. And it’s a different approach from the Ceasefire program, which Sacramento tried between 2010 and 2012. That gave gang members carrots – job training and other services – but also sticks, such as the possibility of arrest and prison. Hahn says the city must closely track Advance Peace to see whether it actually works.

Harmeet Dhillon

Last week, Take Two ran an item about the Republicans’ shabby treatment of ousted Assembly GOP Leader Chad Mayes, a lawmaker who is being punished for voting his conscience on cap-and-trade. The item included a lame attempt at humor at the expense of Harmeet Dhillon, Republican National Committeewoman and San Francisco attorney. It was gratuitous and insensitive, Ms. Dhillon, and I am sorry. – Dan Morain.