Capitol Alert AM Newsletter

Black Californians don’t trust police + Money and housing politics + Live Mueller report reading

Desiree Denard, of Sacramento on Friday, March 8, 2019 joins participants of a rally calling for the firing of the Sacramento Police officers involved in the shooting death of Stephon Clark last year. The group marched to the house where Stephon Martin was killed.
Desiree Denard, of Sacramento on Friday, March 8, 2019 joins participants of a rally calling for the firing of the Sacramento Police officers involved in the shooting death of Stephon Clark last year. The group marched to the house where Stephon Martin was killed. hamezcua@sacbee.com

It’s Thursday, California! You all weren’t kidding about how hot it gets in Sacramento, were you?

Both the Senate and Assembly are in session this morning at 9:00.

POLL SPEAKS TO ‘RACIAL DIVIDE’

Black Californians by and large lack confidence in their police departments, a new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California shows.

Only 15 percent of black respondents gave an “excellent” review to their local police officers. Another 22 percent said they’re doing a “good” job, while a third said the police aren’t doing great at all.

Those numbers are a stark comparison to 71 percent of white respondents, 60 percent of Latinos and 70 percent of Asian Americans who said police are doing good or excellent work. Overall, two-thirds of Californians said their local police departments are up to snuff.

“The findings are dramatic in terms of the opinions of African Americans,” the institute’s president and CEO Mark Baldassare said. “I think it speaks so much to the racial divide around the issue on the activities of local police and how important it is to keep in mind whenever we are talking about local police.”

The numbers underscore arguments made by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, who is sponsoring a bill that would raise the legal standard for when police can employ deadly force.

Assembly Bill 392 became one of the most high-profile bills in the Capitol this year after Weber reintroduced the legislation that would allow officer shootings “based on the totality of the circumstances” instead of only when “necessary.” Current law allows officers to use lethal force if it’s considered “reasonable.”

During the bill’s floor vote in late May, Weber cited a 400-year history of brutality and oppression against black Americans and has long said the bill addresses the disproportionate number of unarmed people of color shot and killed by officers.

“My community deserves the luxury of calling police and knowing life will get better because of it,” she said, before the Assembly approved the measure.

After contentious debate between policy lobbyists and civil rights groups, AB 392 was modified to earn the support of Gov. Gavin Newsom, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon. It now heads to the Senate, before a likely move to the governor’s desk.

The bill passed the Assembly unanimously with no opposition from law enforcement organizations. Twelve lawmakers declined to vote on it.

The poll included additional statewide opinions on vaccinations, the housing crisis and the presidential race. The institute is hosting an event to unpack its findings, scheduled today from noon to 1 p.m. at the Capitol Event Center. You can register here.

MONEY IN HOUSING

Money and politics, nothing new.

But policy battles between industry lobbyists and activists often leave lawmakers in the middle, and money makes a difference. The liberal nonprofit Courage Campaign said dollar signs influenced an Assembly vote last week that left only one of two tenant protection measures alive.

In its Renter Relief project, the campaign tracked direct and indirect contributions from realtor and landlord groups to lawmakers who declined to vote or voted against Assembly Bill 1482, which caps annual rent increases to 7 percent plus inflation. The group identified vulnerable members based on voting records from a 2018 just cause eviction bill, and it also targeted the lawmakers in Facebook ads.

“It was pretty hard hitting, and they were noticed,” the campaign’s president and executive director Eddie Kurtz said. “I was getting calls and texts from folks in the building who were extremely upset.”

Kurtz said Courage Campaign wanted to track the role of money in politics, what he said is “corruption, plain and simple.”

“I know it’s complicated, but come on people, it’s your job,” he said.

Some members still voted yes on the measure despite raking in thousands of dollars in contributions, including Democratic Assembly members Autumn Burke, Bill Quirk, Al Muratsuchi, Freddie Rodriguez, Jacqui Irwin, Jim Wood, Joaquin Arambula, Jose Medina, and Sydney Kamlager-Dove.

Others did not. Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, voted against the bill and the project noted $21,000 in contributions to her campaign. Assemblyman James Ramos, D-San Manuel Reservation, received $191,600 and did not vote for the bill, the project recorded.

“More regulation is not the solution,” Ramos said in response to questions about his vote. “Years of neglect has put the state where it is now. That’s why I am proud of the Assembly’s proposed budget which stimulates development without the risk of slowing down the home building we desperately need in the Inland Empire. The billions of dollars included in the budget this year to expand housing and reduce homelessness is a promising first step to addressing this crisis.”

Courage Campaign said it pulled data from the California Secretary of State and the Institute for Money in Politics. The numbers represent direct contributions to California Republican and Democratic parties and tracked trickle-down donations from political action committees.You can see how lawmakers voted and what they earned here.

MUELLER REPORT READING

Have any plans for today? If not, a handful of state and local officials, community leaders, performers, activists and organizers are participating in a 17-hour marathon reading of the nearly 450-page Mueller Report.

The event is scheduled to begin this morning at 7:00 at Manny’s in San Francisco. State Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, and Oakland’s Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks, another Democrat, will each have a 30-minute turn to read from the document, Politico reported.

“The Mueller Report is one of the most important political documents of our time, yet so few Americans have actually read it,” the event’s website reads. “In a time when (good) information is more valuable than ever yet harder and harder to find, it’s important that we go straight to the source.”

Bring some snacks, they’re reading “from the first word to the last.”

TWEET OF THE DAY

Clean water advocates traveled to Sacramento on Wednesday to urge support for Safe and Affordable Drinking Water Fund legislation. They participated in a “water strike” for an hour to highlight the public health crisis they say should take priority in the final budget.

Best of The Bee:

Hannah Wiley joined The Bee as a legislative reporter in 2019. She produces the morning newsletter for Capitol Alert and previously reported on immigration, education and criminal justice. She’s a Chicago-area native and a graduate of Saint Louis University and Northwestern.
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