Dan Morain

Why Phil Serna is bugged about plastic bags

On behalf of The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board, welcome to The Take, your opinion-politics newsletter. Please sign up for it here.

We say so long to termed-out legislators who deserve praise for their accomplishments, and wonder when a future Legislature will establish sensible regulations on the use and release of police video. We marvel at the audacity of Donald Trump, and mull our view on the referendum to overturn California’s plastic bag ban.

Take that

Even with an initiative battle threatening the statewide ban passed in 2014, Californians have made progress in their war on the environmental scourge of single-use plastic bags.

Visiting The Sacramento Bee editorial board on Wednesday, Mark Murray, executive director of Californians Against Waste, said that municipalities throughout the state have passed 151 local plastic bag bans, covering about 45 percent of the state’s population, and reducing the number of plastic bags floating around California from about 30 billion a decade or so ago to about 10 billion. Among them are the city of Sacramento and Sacramento County, whose bans went into effect this year.

Sacramento County Supervisor Phil Serna, who, like Murray, is hoping voters will pass Proposition 67 to uphold the statewide plastic bag ban, says the local effort is aimed at keeping the fluttering plastic menaces from constantly clogging storm drains, littering parks and ponds and getting caught in the gears of recycling machinery.

On a daily basis, Serna is reminded that the cursed bags don’t decompose and can litter and despoil a landscape for years.

“A plastic bag stuck in the sycamore across the street from my office,” said Serna, “has been there for five years.” No wonder he’s so intent on defending California’s bag ban. – Shawn Hubler, @ShawnHubler

Take a number: 5

Led by Hilex Poly Co., a plastic bag maker based in South Carolina, plastic bag makers have raised $5.135 million to block California’s statewide ban on the single-use grocery bags in votes on the Nov. 8 ballot. Environmentalists and grocers defending the ban have raised less than $520,000.

California lawmakers voted to impose the statewide ban in 2014 after scores of cities and counties imposed local bans. Bag makers, believing they can control state legislatures more easily than local officials, have been lobbying in statehouses around the country to persuade lawmakers to prohibit local governments from banning plastic bags. They’ve succeeded in five states: Arizona, Idaho, Missouri, Florida and, most recently, Wisconsin. There, Gov. Scott Walker signed legislation offered by the conservative, business-backed American Legislative Exchange Council.

Our take

Editorial: For two years, the Legislature has been trying to come up with reasonable statewide rules for the use of body cams, only to be thwarted by police unions. For the sake of restoring public trust in law enforcement across California, this needs to change.

Editorial: Mark Leno, Lois Wolk, Fran Pavley, Kristin Olsen and Rich Gordon are five arguments against the faux reform that is term limits. They also prove that even in the artificially abbreviated tenure, talented legislators can bring about important change.

Joe Mathews: Bigfoot is one very scared Californian.

Assemblyman Jose Medina: State should help students abused by for-profit colleges.

Their take

L.A. Times: Donald Trump’s presidential campaign circus has traveled south of the border. Even more surprising, Mexico let him in.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat: Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León’s SB 1234 is is an important step toward ensuring a better quality of life in retirement for many Californians, especially those who spent their working years in low- and middle-income jobs. We agree.

The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.): Donald Trump ventured into the beating heart of Boeing country when he staged a rally in Everett on Tuesday evening. Oddly enough, the Republican presidential candidate didn’t talk about Boeing.

Charlotte Observer: The uncomfortably strong case against President Barack Obama’s transgender protections.

Jonah Goldberg, The National Review: Last week saw one of the most remarkable moments of this most remarkable political season. A major politician defended the conservative movement and the Republican Party from guilt by association with a fringe group of racists, anti-Semites, and conspiracy theorists who have jumped enthusiastically on the Donald Trump train: the so-called alt-right.

Syndicates’ take

E.J. Dionne Jr.: From realism to cynicism to Donald Trump.

Dana Milbank: Donald Trump’s surrogate circus.

Thomas L. Friedman: Win, lose, but no compromise.

Leonard Pitts Jr.: Not my place to absolve Nate Parker.

The Trump follies

If ever there was a day for Donald Trump to delete his Twitter account, Wednesday was it. While the Republican nominee was in the air, flying to Mexico for an unlikely meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto, the Twittersphere lit up with sarcasm, as our friends at The San Francisco Chronicle noted.

“Clearly we’re not sending our best to Mexico,” @robreiner tweeted. “We’re sending liars. We’re sending narcissists. We’re sending sociopaths.”

“Trump is going to visit the president of Mexico today,” @Elizasoul80 tweeted. “I wonder if he’ll tell him how good the taco bowls at Trump Tower are.”

Trump’s closed-door meeting with Peña Nieto appeared to go well. Trump sounded calm and reasonable at a joint news conference after the sit-down, saying: “We did discuss the wall, we didn’t discuss payment of the wall – that will be for a later date. This was a very preliminary meeting.”

As Trump left, however, Peña Nieto tweeted in Spanish: At the beginning of the conversation with Donald Trump I made it clear that Mexico will not pay for the wall. Aka, El Muro.

Delete it. Just go ahead and delete it. – Erika D. Smith, @Erika_D_Smith