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Monday
May232016

SACRAMENTO: Gun control, Democrats, intra-party battle?: Commentary (George Skelton), "Bullets are flying in gun battle between Democrats" ....

* Los Angeles Times (George Skelton):  "Bullets are flying in gun battle between Democrats" - From the LAT:

A Wild West gunfight is bloodying the state Capitol — a sort of fast-draw face-off between leading Democrats. They’ve all agreed that California needs even stricter gun controls. Too many current restrictions have been shot full of loopholes. What they’re fighting over is who should enact the new laws: The Legislature and governor? Or the voters through a ballot initiative?

This isn’t merely an academic exercise, of course. Shock: Politics is at play. So is pride.

On one side is state Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles). For years, he has advocated tougher gun controls, particularly licensing of ammunition buyers. But he has been shot down by the gun lobby and courts. On the other side is Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who’s running to replace termed-out Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018. Newsom is trying to show the voters bold leadership by challenging the gun lobby with a potent ballot measure.

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) hasn’t taken sides. He’s strongly for more gun control. Three of his cousins have been shot and killed, he says. Five family members in all have been gun victims. But, unlike his Senate counterpart, Rendon isn’t losing sleep over Newsom’s initiative. “To me, it’s all about the policy,” he says. “I don’t have a problem with [the initiative] going forward.”

Brown is watching and probably wincing. He’s leery of the issue. It riles up firearms fanatics. The governor has signed some gun bills and vetoed others. He’s unpredictable.

Republicans? They’re instinctively opposed to all of it. But Newsom’s ballot initiative theoretically could help GOP candidates in competitive districts by drawing gun rights voters to the polls. On the other hand, loose cannon Donald Trump will probably do that by himself. He was endorsed Friday by the National Rifle Assn.

This is the battlefield: ...................

Monday
May232016

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Washington, D.C.): Washington, D.C., "home rule"?: Commentary (Benjamin Freed), "Five myths about D.C. home rule" ....

* Washington Post (Benjamin Freed):  "Five myths about D.C. home rule" - From the WP:

The District of Columbia operates a $13 billion budget, but it can’t technically spend that money without approval from Congress. District residents have been voting for their own mayors and legislators for more than 40 years, but representatives from the hinterlands are still allowed to weigh in on how the city conducts its business, thanks to language in the Home Rule Act of 1973 that treats D.C.’s budget like that of a federal agency.

Voters in 2013 approved a ballot measure claiming self-determination over their local budget, which survived a court challenge and was endorsed by President Obama, clearing the way for the city to enact its first budget without federal hand-holding. But local control was dealt two setbacks this past week: A House committee passed a bill blocking the budget-autonomy measure, which Republicans say violates the Constitution. The same day, a federal judge struck down the city’s concealed-carry gun laws. There may be a constitutional case for Congress’s power over the District, but it’s often defended with inaccurate rhetoric and myths about the city. Let’s dispel some of them ........................

Monday
May232016

LOCAL GOVERNMENT (Bay Area): Oakland, proposed coal terminal/"coal war," commentary (Matier & Ross) ...

* San Francisco Chronicle (Matier & Ross):

   ****

Coal war: With a showdown vote expected next month, developer Phil Tagami and backers of Oakland’s new bulk cargo terminal are intensifying their campaign to keep the City Council from blocking coal shipments from the waterfront. Project loyalists have called a news conference for Monday at which they plan to highlight the thousands of jobs they say will be lost if the council hits the brakes on coal.

“It’s the tech, the marijuana or the port in terms of jobs, and we want to make sure Oakland delivers on its promises of jobs and equity for everyone to live here,” said Ron Muhammad, a West Oakland community organizer. To underscore the point, a coalition of black ministers, community activists and construction trade representatives plans to attend the news conference at the terminal site on the old Oakland Army Base, where construction already has begun. Tagami’s forces even plan to trot out at least one doctor to make the case that nearby residents’ health is more endangered by unemployment than any concerns about coal dust.

Mayor Libby Schaaf and council members initially trumpeted the Army base project, pledging $242 million in taxpayer money to kick-start it. But now they’re under pressure from the Sierra Club and other environmental activists worried about not just the health hazards to local residents but also the climate impacts of burning coal globally. The council is now pondering regulations that could restrict coal from being shipped through the terminal. A vote is tentatively scheduled for June 27. Tagami has warned that blocking coal could sink the entire project. He’s also hinted at possible lawsuits to recover the money invested in the project.

The fight highlights the growing rift that has been emerging nationwide between agenda-driven environmental activists and jobs-focused construction trades — traditionally two of the most loyal Democratic constituencies. For her part, Schaaf, who opposes the coal shipments, said she’s “committed to adopting the strongest health and safety protections allowed by the law for the bulk terminal.” “It’s a false choice to say that we can’t do both.”

Monday
May232016

POLITICS (National): 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump, NRA: "Trump at NRA: 'We're getting rid of gun-free zones' if I'm elected"; also, "Clinton accuses Trump of pandering to the NRA" ....

***2016 presidential election, Donald Trump, NRA....

* The Hill:  "Trump at NRA: 'We're getting rid of gun-free zones' if I'm elected"

* Washington Post:  "Clinton accuses Trump of pandering to the NRA"

Monday
May232016

SACRAMENTO: State agencies, local governments, land-use control?: Commentary (Dan Walters), "California housing shortage sets up battle for land-use control" ....

* Sacramento Bee (Dan Walters):  "California housing shortage sets up battle for land-use control" - From the Bee:

Once upon a time, California city officials used two tools to shape how their communities evolved – setting property tax rates and controlling land use. The former vanished when voters passed Proposition 13 in 1978, not only cutting property taxes by more than half, but sharply limiting future tax bites. In response, city officials relied more on land use to keep their municipal engines running – aggressively seeking profitable development, such as sales tax-generating retail complexes, and using, or misusing, “redevelopment” to subsidize favored developers.

A few years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature repealed redevelopment, saying it was being distorted and had become a vehicle for siphoning property taxes from school districts – about $2 billion a year – that the state had to make up. Meanwhile, cities’ land-use powers have steadily eroded as the state increasingly tells local governments what they can, cannot and must do. Some of that override has been on environmental grounds – based on the assumption that local officials have been too cozy with development interests, to the detriment of environmental quality.

The California Environmental Quality Act, signed by Ronald Reagan, was an early example, requiring cities and other governmental entities to assess and mitigate adverse impacts. A few years later, during Brown’s first governorship, the Coastal Act came into being, giving a commission appointed by the governor and legislators the ultimate authority over land uses in the “coastal zone.” A similar body holds sway over land uses in the Lake Tahoe Basin and another oversees the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Other state agencies, such as regional and statewide water boards, wield indirect power over land uses.

Meanwhile, the governor’s Office of Planning and Research has morphed into a writer of rules under recent state laws seeking to reduce carbon emissions by compelling local governments to favor “transit-friendly,” high-density housing and disfavor low-density housing whose residents drive cars.

California’s chronic and worsening housing shortage will fuel what shapes up as a new clash over state land-use powers.

   ****

City officials, already angered by past incursions, are unlikely to accept a major new dilution of their land-use powers without a fight.