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Dems to think on fossil fuel, police donations + California recall lessons + Clean Water Act

·5 min read

Good morning and welcome to the A.M. Alert!


A three-hour special meeting of the California Democratic Party’s executive board on Sunday ended in a decision to defer a vote on whether the party should continue accepting money from fossil fuel companies and law enforcement organizations.

The meeting was called to discuss two proposals from the Progressive Caucus, which would solidify the party’s current practice of not accepting the money (no such donations have come in since the 2020 cycle).

Climate change and Black Lives Matter activists backed the proposals.

Under the first proposal, the party would cease accepting financial contributions over $200 from fossil fuel organizations, California-based investor-owned utilities and fossil fuel industry executives, lobbyists and political action committees.

The second proposal would have banned contributions from law enforcement organizations, private prisons, and law enforcement leadership, lobbyists, executives and political action committees

But Betty Yee, the party vice chair and California State Controller, proposed a different solution: allow a subcommittee to hear testimony and study the issue for 120-days, before submitting a report and recommendation at a board meeting in February, at which point members would finally vote.

In the meantime, the party will not accept police or fossil fuel donations.

Opponents accused party leaders of delaying justice, but those like Yee said the party needs time to consider the complexities of law enforcement and fossil fuel donations.

“This process is a strategic process, it is a comprehensive process, and it is a timely approach to answering an important question in our party: how we fund the work of our party in line with the values of our party,” Yee said.


California’s recall election is officially done and dusted. So what lessons can we learn from it?

In a blog post for Public Policy Institute of California, PPIC CEO Mark Baldassare offers several conclusions.

No. 1: Predictions that low voter turnout due to a voter enthusiasm gap turned out to be shockingly off.

“In advance of the September 14 election, every registered California voter received a vote-by-mail ballot. The results were astonishing: 12,892,578 ballots cast (58% registered voters, 52% eligible adults) which is close to the vote total in the November 2018 election when the governor’s race was on the ballot,” Baldassare writes.

No. 2: Gov. Gavin Newsom’s win on Sept. 14 was reminiscent of his landslide 2018 election.

“The 2021 recall is the latest reminder that the outcomes of today’s statewide elections are largely predetermined by two factors: the Democrats’ 22-point advantage over the Republicans in voter registration, and unwavering partisan preferences on both sides,” Baldassare wrote.

No. 3: By and large, voters opted not to choose a replacement candidate.

While Republican frontrunner Larry Elder received more than 3.5 million votes, that was just 28% of the total votes cast.

No. 4: COVID-19 was top of mind for California recall election voters.

“Partisans were deeply divided over pandemic policies and Governor Newsom’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak in ways that were consistent with their recall preferences stated in the March PPIC survey, May PPIC survey, and September PPIC survey. In the end, most election voters opted for staying the course on pandemic policies and keeping Newsom in office,” Baldassare wrote.

The election also offered yet another example of vote-by-mail being a way to engage voters, Baldassare wrote.

As for what it means for 2022 and beyond, the election shows “we can thus expect little drama in the statewide partisan races next year.”

“However, close votes on the recall in Fresno, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties are a preview of competitive House races that will help to determine the party in control of the US Congress after the midterm election. Further, the second part of the ballot—replacement candidates—will be a hot topic as state commissions and legislative committees consider recommendations for recall reforms on the November 2022 ballot,” Baldassare wrote.


The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Friday vacated a President Donald Trump-era rule that curtailed state authority under the Clean Water Act, Attorney General Rob Bonta announced.

The decision comes after California, Washington and New York led a lawsuit challenging the rule, which restricted state authority to approve, impose conditions on or deny certification for federally permitted projects under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act

“As the state records its driest year in nearly a century, Californians are acutely aware of the value of water and its critical importance to sustaining our communities, ecosystems, and agriculture,” Bonta said in a statement. “We’re pleased that the District Court agreed to vacate this unlawful Trump-era rule and restore California’s authority under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. State agencies rely on Section 401 to safeguard our precious resources by ensuring that federal projects meet the state’s robust water quality requirements.”

You can read the court’s decision for yourself here.


“I am disheartened by the Supreme Court’s decision today on the Texas abortion ban. In the words of Justice Sotomayor ‘everyday the court refuses to grant relief is devastating both for individual women and for our constitutional system as whole.’”

- Assemblywoman Mia Bonta, D-Oakland, via Twitter.

Best of the Bee:

  • California certified the results of the gubernatorial recall on Friday, showing that Gov. Gavin Newsom not only defeated the attempt to remove him from office but also won with the exact same margin as his victory in the 2018 election, via Lara Korte.

  • A Kern County Superior Court judge on Friday reinstated a state order that requires certain prison guards to be vaccinated against COVID-19, via Hannah Wiley and Wes Venteicher.

  • Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones will not seek re-election next year, he affirmed in a social media post Thursday, via Michael McGough.

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