The Week in Politics

A weekly round-up of the biggest news in California politics….

Massive Chevron oil spill near Bakersfield is revealed to the public: A massive spill at a Chevron oil field in Kern County has dumped close to 800,000 gallons of oil and water into the landscape, various news outlets revealed last week. (The incident was first reported by KQED News.) The spill began in May this year and has been flowing on and off since then, according to Chevron spokeswoman Veronica Flores-Paniagua. The spill, which Chevron states is approximately one-third oil and two-thirds water, is currently contained in a dry creek bed. Chevron is using vacuum trucks to remove the spilled liquids from the site. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response is monitoring the spill.

Senator Diane Feinstein on Thursday issued a statement that reads in part: “I’m extremely concerned by Chevron’s huge oil spill outside Bakersfield and that it remained unknown to the public for two months. The company states that most of the spill has been recovered, but that still leaves oil and contaminated water in the soil and surrounding environment. The full toll to the area is not yet known, although we’re lucky the spill didn’t take place during a rainy period or the effects on our environment and wildlife would have been even more tragic. Almost as troubling as the spill itself is that it occurred at multiple times for two months, but we just learned about it.”

California Attorney General files brief in Supreme Court in support of Sierra Club in border wall case: California Attorney General Xavier Becerra this week, along with New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the Sierra Club and opposing the Trump Administration’s attempt to overturn an injunction issued by the district court pending appeal in Sierra Club v. Trump. The Trump Administration seeks to reverse a previous ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California blocking the Administration from unlawfully diverting $2.5 billion of Department of Defense funding not authorized for a border wall. On July 3, 2019, the Ninth Circuit denied the Trump Administration’s emergency motion for stay of the injunction.

“Allowing the Trump Administration to move forward with construction of an unlawful and disputed border wall would cause severe harm to our states,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Once this damage is done, it cannot be undone. We ask the Supreme Court to reject this impatient attempt by the federal government to rush President Trump’s previously rejected pet project.”

Governor Newsom announces panel of leaders and experts to advise on homelessness: Governor Gavin Newsom this week announced the names of the regional leaders and statewide experts who will advise the Administration on solutions to address the state’s homelessness epidemic. Once convened, these leaders will join Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas in meetings across the state to assist local governments in crafting their regional strategies to address homelessness, with a particular focus on homelessness prevention and early intervention.

The Governor also announced plans to appoint working groups of other regional leaders, service providers, formerly homeless people and academics around specific geographies or issues affecting homelessness, to work in collaboration with these advisors. These working groups may include experts on mental health, street homelessness or rural homelessness.

Mayor London Breed Announces $9.8 million increase in income assistance for low-income San Franciscans: To help the challenges faced by low-income San Franciscans, Mayor London N. Breed announced that the City budget for 2019-2021 will provide $9.8 million over two years in additional income assistance for residents. The County Adult Assistance Programs provide monthly cash assistance to approximately 4,700 low-income adults without dependent children, including those experiencing homelessness, adults with disabilities, and those who need help finding employment.

“In a city as expensive as San Francisco, every dollar counts. This increased cash assistance can make the difference between someone having enough to eat or going hungry,” said Mayor Breed. “I’m glad that we’re able to increase this funding so that people can afford everyday things like food, toiletries, and medications, while we also connect them with the services they need, like housing placements, education, and jobs.”

Rep. McNerney introduces constitutional amendment to eliminate PACs and dark money: As the 2020 election cycle begins, Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) has introduced a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would change the way political campaigns are financed. H.J. Res 73 would restrict campaign contributions and eliminate Political Action Committees (PACs) and dark money that strongly influence the outcome of our elections. Funding for a candidate or ballot measure would be limited to the use of a public financing system or donations given directly to the campaign by individual citizens.

“Our campaign finance system is broken, and it’s weakening the core of our government,” said Congressman McNerney. “Americans across the political spectrum agree: it’s time to eliminate the corruptive spending that has been poisoning our political system.”

H.J.Res. 73 would also give Congress, states and localities jurisdiction to establish contribution limits, including limits on the amount of money an individual candidate can contribute to their own campaign.

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