HIGH-SPEED-RAIL money play panned as ‘disastrous’ — CALIFOR…


THE BUZZ: So much of politics is about money, and we’re not just talking about campaign contributions: Funding has also been a unifying dynamic of California’s open-ended battle with Donald Trump’s Washington.

— Parallel fights over federal dollars illustrated yesterday how the Trump administration has tried to exert leverage over recalcitrant California by cutting us off — and how efforts to protect that money, often spearheaded by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, double as attempts to safeguard California’s policy vision.

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— On the immigration front, Becerra announced that he’d secured a court order stymieing Trump’s attempt to punish California’s sanctuary jurisdictions — those that partition cops from immigration authorities — by revoking law enforcement funds. Becerra touted the fact that California can keep its $28.9 million as a triumph over Trump’s “reckless” attempt to enlist California in “the Administration’s deportation scheme.” The outcome follows a similar win last year.

— The court order frames the money grab within the context of Trump’s broader effort to punish California with prosecution rather than the purse, referencing DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen telling Congress last January that the Department of Justice was “reviewing what avenues might be available” to bring charges. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s warning a month later about an impending ICE raid led Trump himself to muse about charging Schaaf and inspired immigration hardliner Steve King to name a bill allowing prosecution after Schaaf.

— Then there’s high-speed rail, the focus of an ongoing Trump-versus-Gavin Newsom beef over federal funds that has followed Newsom‘s acknowledgment of the ailing project’s shortcomings. The feds want their money back, with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao last week accusing California of a “bait-and-switch”; Newsom says no way.

— California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Brian Kelly protested in a letter to the feds yesterday — the deadline to respond to the Federal Railroad Administration. He said pulling back the money would be “disastrous” for California generally, and the Central Valley specifically. Workers there could be sent home before construction concludes. Kelly said California has met its obligations and argued Newsom’s rhetorical pivot was not a “fundamental change.”

— LAWSUIT 47: Finally, we had a dispute over Title X funding. Flanked by nearly 30 women — including First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom and numerous state legislators — Becerra announced California’s latest legal challenge to the Trump administration, this time over conditions placed on the hundreds of millions of federal dollars that flow to family planning organizations like Planned Parenthood. POLITICO Pro’s Victoria Colliver has that story here.

BUENOS DIAS, Good TUESDAY morning. Angelenos are choosing new school board members who could shape the struggle over charter schools, and Republicans are gathering in Sacramento to chart a new path.

— TWEET OF THE DAY: HuffPo reporter Chris D’Angelo on Trump’s divergent disaster responses: Alabama <——–> California

— QUOTE OF THE DAY: “It is hard to imagine how your agency — or the taxpayers — might benefit from partially stranded assets sitting stranded in the Central Valley of California…. This infrastructure legacy would forever be a travesty.” High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Brian Kelly to the Federal Railroad Administration’s Ronald Batory.

— WHERE’S GAVIN? Nothing official announced.

— FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: TOP DIGITAL INFLUENCERS AMONG CA LAWMAKERS via Sacramento-based Randle Communications analysis, which measured legislative effectiveness on social media – including a lawmakers’ ability to push issues, reach constituents and “better position themselves in the marketplace of ideas”:

In California State Assembly: 1. Lorena Gonzalez @LorenaSGonzalez 2. Wendy Carillo @WendyCarillo 3. David Chiu @DavidChiu 4. Speaker Anthony Rendon @Rendon63rd 5. Phil Ting @PhilTing. The only Assembly member not on twitter: Assemblyman Rocky Chavez.

California State Senate: 1. Scott Wiener @Scott_Wiener 2. Kevin DeLeon @kdeleon 3. Holly Mitchell @HollyJMitchell 4. Mike McGuire @ilike_mike 5. Ben Allen @BenAllenCA. The only senator not active on Twitter: Sen. Jerry Hill. Full Randle report and complete ranking of legislative influencers.

— “Students seen in photo on social media flashing Nazi salute around swastika formed with cups,” by Deepa Bharath in the OC Register: Story

— RESPONSE: “The incident with the Newport Harbor High School students, like so many recent events across the country, is an example of this ruinous ideology trying to become mainstream again,” Rep. Harley Rouda said in a statement.

— HILL CLIMBING: California freshman Rep. Katie Hill’s inclusion in the “Big Six” clique of House Dems distinguishes her as among “the over-achievers in the bunch, the ones most likely to climb into leadership one day,” POLITICO’s Melanie Zanona, Sarah Ferris and Heather Caygle report: Story

— STRIKEOUT: “Report: Giants made $310M offer to Bryce Harper, but California taxes made it tough to compete,” by Yahoo Sports’ Jason Owens: Story.

— “House Dems demand documents on Trump’s communications with Putin,” by POLITICO’s Andrew Desiderio: “The joint request from Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, and Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings comes as Democrats continue to flex their investigative muscles under their new House majority, with a focus on Trump’s posture toward the Kremlin.’” Story.

— “Trump judicial pick facing scrutiny over ‘extreme views’ in past writings,” by POLITICO’s Marianne Levine: “Senate Judiciary Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein and committee member Kamala Harris, criticized the past writings of Kenneth Lee, Trump’s nominee to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Story.

— Big-dollar donors, including Donald Trump, fueled Kamala Harris’ political rise in California, by McClatchy’s Emily Cadei: “The first donation from Trump, for $5,000 in September 2011, came months after he had begun popping up on cable news promoting a conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya, not the United States, something that’s been widely condemned as racist.” Story

— CAGOP’S PATH: The tear-it-down-and-start-over wing of the California Republican Party, whose increased volume and visibility has been a prominent result of a 2018 drubbing, is convening in Sacramento today to confront a dilemma summarized by the planned title of Bill Kristol’s keynote: “Is There a Republican Future?”

— Assemblyman Chad Mayes, former Assembly members Kristin Olsen and Catharine Baker, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — some of whose answers to that question would be a version of “not unless we disavow Trump and expand our shriveled base” — will all be offering their thoughts on what comes next at Sacramento’s Crest Theater. POLITICO will be on the scene.

— CHARTER CHALLENGE: “L.A. school board seat could tip political scales on charter movement,” by LATimes’ Howard Blume: “The winner will join a board that is split on how to deal with the growing number of privately operated charter schools — which compete with district schools for students — and on how to address low achievement and declining enrollment in the district.” Story.

— “ADEMs are crucial — and a bit of a mystery,” by Dave Kempa in Capitol Weekly: “As Democrats in 2019 wield nearly absolute power in state policy, the ADEMs – grassroots, internal elections held every two years designed to connect party insiders with the base – are gaining attention as a battleground between the party’s progressive and moderate blocs.” Story.

— OF COPS AND CLARK: The big three of Gov. Gavin Newsom, Senate President Pro Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon have now all called for some legislative response to the Sacramento DA’s decision to not charge the cops who shot and killed Stephon Clark, with Rendon releasing a statement yesterday.

— None of the three have explicitly backed anything — including a bill that would fortify the standard for law enforcement using lethal force only when it’s necessary to prevent injury or death. Newsom did not mention the use-of-force standard; Atkins committed to “working on California’s law enforcement use-of-force standard,” but did not say what change she supported. Rendon said, “we cannot just nibble at the edges” and “must move forward to change policies on the use of force,” but he’s not committing to a specific bill or proposal.

— BIG RULING: “California public employees’ pension perks can be taken away, court rules,” by Sac Bee’s Wes Venteicher: “The case was seen as a test of the so-called California Rule, a set of legal precedents that have protected public worker benefits from being reduced without new benefits to compensate for the loss of income.” Story.

— JUDY LIN WEIGHS IN: “Everyone is saying they just won a big court case on pensions. What does that mean for you?” via Calmatters: Story.

— BORENSTEIN via Bay Area News Group: “Supreme Court punts on pension rule; Newsom ducks.” — “California’s new governor won’t say whether he will carry on Jerry Brown’s court fight to protect 2012 changes.” Story

— SCHOOL POLITICS: “Day after teachers’ pay raise approved, Oakland Unified cuts $21.75 million from budget,” by Ali Tadayon in the East Bay Times: “Staff said (cuts) are needed to make up for giving raises to about 3,000 Oakland Education Association members and to whittle away at a budget shortfall that’s otherwise expected to reach $59 million by the 2020-21 school year.” Story

— “The life and death of rapper Willie McCoy, ‘executed’ by police,” by the Guardian’s Sam Levin: Vallejo rapper McCoy’s “loved ones, who filed a wrongful death claim on Thursday before a Friday memorial service, have called it an ‘execution by a firing squad’, and the death has sparked outrage across the globe.” Story.

— “Supreme Court lets stand $4-million verdict against L.A. County deputies in shooting,” by LATimes’ David G. Savage: Story.

— CADIZ CLASH: “A massive aquifer lies beneath the Mojave Desert. Could it help solve California’s water problem?” by WaPo’s Scott Wilson: “The debate will help resolve whether private enterprise can effectively manage a public necessity in a state where who gets water and where it originates endures as the most volatile political issue.” Story.

— NET NEUTRALITY: Months after Jerry Brown signed California’s net neutrality bill into law — a decision urged by powerful Californians like Speaker Nancy Pelosi — Democrats in Congress are taking their shot. As with data privacy, the effort could spur warnings about federal law undercutting California vis-a-vis Big Tech. Politico PRO’s John Hendel has the story.

— GOOGLE DRAMA: “Google employees uncover ongoing work on censored China search,” by the Intercept’s Ryan Gallagher: “The development has stoked anger inside Google offices, where many of the company’s 88,000 workforce previously protested against plans to launch the search engine, which was designed to censor broad categories of information associated with human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest.” Story.

— “Google won’t pull controversial Saudi Arabian app from Play store,” by the Verge’s Andrew Liptak: A group of lawmakers headed by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) had written to Google asking it to pull the app, which “allows Saudi men to track female dependents and control their movement.” Story.

— “Google found it was underpaying more men than women for similar jobs,” by CNBC’s Lauren Feiner: Story.

— “CA, AZ cannabis retailers with same name headed to court over trademark,” via Marijuana Business Daily: “Two marijuana companies both named ‘Harvest’ are heading to court over the rights to the title, and both are claiming trademark protections for their respective companies. … The case is coming to a head now in part because the Arizona-based Harvest is in the process of expanding into California.” Story.

— “Bernie Sanders: ‘Too many lives are being destroyed’ by pot policy,” by POLITICO’s Katie Galioto: “His comments marked the most recent example of a 2020 candidate speaking in support of decriminalizing marijuana, an issue that’s moved from the fringes of the last presidential campaign cycle to center stage.” Story.

Hollywood Pays Tribute To Luke Perry: ‘Truly One Of A Kind’,” by Deadline’s Greg Evans: Celebrities including Scott Wolf, Ryan Seacrest, Charlie Sheen, Joss Whedon and Jon Cryer mourned on Twitter following the actor’s death on Monday. Story.

— “Police Arrest 84 After Stephon Clark Protest In East Sacramento,“ by Capital Public Radio: Story

— “Little girls survive 44 hours in Humboldt County forest thanks to 4-H training,” by SFChronicle’s Ashley McBride: Story.

— “Guerneville floods more than anywhere in the Bay Area. Why can’t it be fixed?” by Merc’s Paul Rogers: Story.

— “Can San Francisco’s famed leather district be saved in an era of high property values?” by LATimes’ Maria L. La Ganga: Story.

— “An Oakland school upped spending after a $2.8M donation of Chinese paintings. Then came the appraisal,” by SFChronicle’s Jill Tucker: Story.

— “Sutter County serial killer Juan Corona dies,” by the Appeal-Democrat’s Rachel Rosenbaum: Story.

— “Will wet winters like this reduce California’s wildfire risk? Not likely, say researchers,” by SFChronicle’s Kurtis Alexander: Story.

— “Scotsman facing rape charges may have faked death off California coast, officials say” by LATimes’ Richard Winton: Story.

— Marissa Currie will be manager of public affairs and issues management at Sutter Health. She most recently has been account director at Singer Associates.

Melissa James has founded and is the CEO of a new economic development startup organization called the Hourglass Project. She previously was director of economic initiatives and regional advocacy at the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce.

— SPECIAL POLITICO CALIFORNIA PLAYBOOK VIP Event: What’s ahead on The Hill as partisan battling continues and 2020 approaches? PLAYBOOKERS are invited to a special POLITICO ICM Partners-sponsored bipartisan breakfast discussion between Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), moderated by POLITICO California Playbook’s Carla Marinucci. Tickets are limited, reserve now!

Details: Friday, March 8, 9 a.m.- 10:30 a.m., WeWork Century City Theater, 10250 Constellation Blvd., Los Angeles. RSVP: [email protected]

— Ellie Schafer … GOP admaker Fred Davis, CEO of Strategic Perception

CALIFORNIA POLICY IS ALWAYS CHANGING: Know your next move. POLITICO California Pro has officially arrived. From Sacramento to Silicon Valley, POLITICO California Pro provides policy professionals with the in-depth reporting and tools they need to get ahead of policy trends and political developments shaping the Golden State. To learn more about the exclusive insight and analysis this subscriber-only service offers, click here.

WE’RE HIRING! Politico is looking for a California consumer regulation reporter, a beat that would encompass consumer privacy, weed rules and the nationally influential regulations emanating from the Department of Consumer Affairs. Job posting here.

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