Majority Report

Photo:  With Delaine Easton, candidate for governor. Delaine received a surprising 20% of the California Democratic Party delegate vote. Go Delaine!

“The Blue Wave Starts Here in San Diego?”

On the floor of the sprawling San Diego Convention Center, California Democrats were on an historic, change-making mission. They frankly seek the national leadership mantle in ousting Donald J. Trump and all he stands for, and remove him from the golden cash Brahmin bull he now sits atop. You might remember, ‘the top’ used to be called our federal government. It’s readily apparent from this San Diego gathering that CA Dems are in it for the long-term fight, and perhaps find themselves at the center of a kind of coastal exterior vs. flyover interior post-post-modern-day power struggle. Although Dems did not reach consensus on a Governor, Lt. Governor, U.S. Senate, or Attorney General endorsements, what they did seem to agree upon is that it is their election to lose. Democrats carry overwhelming voter registration numbers in California, occupy every statewide office, and have an easy foil in roundly reviled President Tweet, as they head for the June primaries. The biggest upset vote was Kevin De León besting Sen. Diane Feinstein. He won 54% of the 2,775 delegate votes cast. Former State Schools Superintendent Delaine Easton surprised many by capturing third place in the race for governor, beating a likely favorite, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. In first place was Lt. Governor Gavin Newsome with 39%, followed by State Treasurer John Chiang’s 30%. None of the gubernatorial candidates were even near the 60% threshold needed to capture the party’s endorsement.

The Show

It’s always a raucous display of candidate partisans yelling, sign-waving, and sometimes dancing, in the hallways surrounding the cavernous main hall. They support a multitude of assembly, senate, board of equalization, governor, lieutenant governor, and U.S. senate and house candidates. Sometimes you might wonder if the convention is being held in South Bend or Columbus on football homecoming weekend. It’s always hard for me to believe that delegates could be swayed by such displays of mirth and mayhem, but it happens at every state and national convention. It’s probably to show a legitimate level of support for a given candidate, and if that’s true, repealing Costa-Hawkins and the labor movement seemed to make the most noise. In fact, the roar reached a crescendo outside of rooms 30a and 30b on the convention’s second floor. That’s where the Democrats picked up their ballots, and the long snaking line of delegates became a captive audience. In fact, there were two San Diego police officers, both mentored by our own Santa Cruz Chief of Police Andy Mills, working to keep the halls clear so delegates could pick up their ballots and vote. Small world.

The Rents, the Rents Are Too Damn High!

A large contingent showed up to endorse the repeal of the “Costa-Hawkins Rental Housing Act.” Costa-Hawkins, passed by the legislature and signed into law by then-Governor Pete Wilson, went into effect in 1996 and effectively gutted rent control in the state of California. This act undermined rent control by allowing for “vacancy decontrol.” That is, when a tenant moves out, instead of the next one paying the previously “controlled rent,” the act granted the landlord the ability to set rents at whatever the market will bear. It was previously up to each city to decide upon rent control. What Costa-Hawkins did was severely limit the individual powers of cities. Signatures are now being gathered statewide to repeal Costa-Hawkins. If it is repealed, it will give the Santa Cruz rent control initiative infinitely more teeth, and renters a more comfortable seat at the housing table locally. Will 2018 and 2020 be the most progressive elections in Santa Cruz, state, and U.S. history? The party stalwarts who came to San Diego were angry and aggrieved, but also joyous and organized looking to pick up congressional and senate seats nationally. Democrats in San Diego, 2,857 showed up to vote, are ready for a fight and confident, but also seemingly ready to do the trench work of walking neighborhoods, raising money, and reaching out to voters. On another hand, because Trump is such an easy target, CA Dems have essentially papered over some of their differences. As the Bernie-crats stay left, the party elders move ever so slightly rightward, each side desperately hoping to show Trump to the exit ramp. Statewide, Democratic Party internal battles still abound and they include: single-payer healthcare; a state bank; homeless assistance for cities; repealing Costa Hawkins; and state regulation vs. local control of issues surrounding land use and housing development. And of course, there is righteous support for electing a new U.S. Senator to join Kamala Harris in Washington, D.C.

Stop the Presses, City Putting “U” on Notice: No Más

June vote on enrollment growth may be coming to a polling site near you

The Santa Cruz City Council had a resolution on the February 27th agenda that’s been a long time in coming. “Resolution ordering an election…for adoption of an ordinance to provide early input regarding the Santa Cruz community’s opposition to the proposed enrollment growth at the University of California.” Can I get an Amen! The resolution put forward by councilmembers Mathews, Chase, and Krohn is a just and fair one and includes language requesting the Regents of the University of California to limit overall enrollment to 19,500, and I suspect unlike the Chancellor’s 50% growth throw-away number of 10k more students, the council is serious. But in the end, it will be el pueblo unido–the people united–if we really are going to never be defeated on this one. You can find the council pre-meeting resolution at: https://chriskrohn.org/category/documents/

The Faculty, the Chancellor, and the Future of the LRDP

Chancellor George Blumenthal addressed a crowd of over 200 faculty, staff, and students at Stevenson College last Wednesday. The hot topic was the Long-Range Development Plan (LRDP). Following his remarks, virtually no one in the large crowd applauded. (Why?) Next, what happened I found surprisingly unusual as faculty speaker after speaker appeared skeptical of the 10k student growth envisioned by the chancellor. History of consciousness emeritus professor, Jim Clifford was up first. He spoke in measured tones, part out of respect for the chancellor, but also his words dripped with incredulity about the planned growth. “Talk about the effects of growth on the body and spirit of this campus, which is arguably our greatest creation…building structures on the lower meadow will be an unsightly. What kind of mitigation will there be for that? Are we stuck on this course? Do we have any room for push back?” His statements received loud applause. Later, art professor, Laurie Palmer referred back to Clifford’s questions, because they were not really addressed. She said, “I want to point out the absurd way in which Jim Clifford’s question sits in the room…we are under resourced now, but to bring more students doesn’t make sense.” Psychology professor, Faye Crosby pleaded with the chancellor for transparency and ” when you can’t tell us something, you will say I cannot share that with you. Will you do that?” The chancellor responded, ” Yes, I can live with that…I believe in transparency.” Literature professor, Chris Connery worried about development of the lower campus. He said that this kind of plan “will be a major turn in the aesthetics of this university?” Politics professor, Megan Thomas, echoed city council concerns in calling for more resources if the university is going to bring in more students. “If we are to grow, the major thing we would need are resources for students.” She then asked, “How can you clarify to us what kind of support would be needed at different levels? If you can’t put that in the EIR, then where will they go?” The chancellor, for his part, was circumspect and thoughtfully acknowledged faculty’s concerns. But he did say from his rock-and-a-hard-place position, “Let growth go to Riverside, or Merced, I hear people say…that would lead to…a campus that says not one more student…I don’t think [that campus] will get the resources.”

 

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