Good morning, and welcome to the A.M. Alert!
NEWSOM BACK IN RECALL COURT
Via Lara Korte…
A Sacramento Superior Court judge today will hear arguments over whether Gov. Gavin Newsom’s campaign should be able to call the recall a Republican-led effort in the state voter guide.
Original recall proponents Orrin Heatlie and Mike Netter filed a suit against Secretary of State Shirley N. Weber last week, demanding that the governor’s description of the recall be edited to exclude the suggestion that the effort is led by Republicans, and bar him from mentioning his party affiliation in the guide. Newsom and allies for months have painted the recall as a partisan “power grab” led by Trump supporting Republicans.
That’s not true, recall organizers say, citing an elections code statute that says candidate statements must be neutral.
“The guide is not a paid advertisement,” they write in court filings.
In their response, Newsom’s attorneys argue that the description is true and worth including in the guide, pointing out that both Heatlie and Netter are registered Republicans, and that the recall is backed by both the state and national Republican parties.
Furthermore, Newsom’s team argues that the state law recall proponents refer to only applies to voter statements in county voter information guides, not candidate arguments in the state voter guide.
“This shouldn’t come as any surprise. Different statutes govern county candidate statements and state (voter guide) arguments because the statements serve vastly different purposes,” Newsom attorneys say in court filings.
The hearing is set to begin at 1:30 p.m.
CALIFORNIA EYES PRISON REFORMATION
When it comes to running a prison, California would like to be a lot more like Norway. The Scandinavian nation focuses on rehabilitation by making life inside their institutions as close to normal as possible.
“We’re going to put rehabilitation back into the R at CDCR,” Gov. Newsom said when he announced a Valley State Prison project in May, using an acronym for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. “And we’re going to do something big and bold.”
Sacramento Bee Senior Writer Wes Venteicher traveled to Chowchilla last week to take a look at the changes Newsom wants to roll out there and possibly at more institutions in the years ahead.
Coming soon to the medium-security institution are a barbecue patio for inmate family visits, softer furniture, laptops for all prisoners, expanded education and job training opportunities and more spaces for incarcerated people to learn how to manage emotions, navigate relationships and think through the consequences of their actions.
Newsom’s push comes amid other big changes his administration is making to the state’s $17 billion prison system, including closing a prison in Tracy this year and another in Susanville next year.
The corrections department released thousands of inmates early as the coronavirus ravaged state institutions, reducing the prison population to 99,000 from 122,000 in a single year. Tens of thousands more inmates could be eligible for early releases through parole changes the Newsom administration wants to carry out.
District attorneys and victims’ advocates are fighting some of the changes. A group of 44 district attorneys sued the corrections department over the early release plan. Critics say it could impede the rehabilitation effort by releasing inmates who haven’t yet completed the hard work of self-examination and change.
“My biggest fear is we are rushing the rehabilitative process, and you cannot rush the rehabilitative process,” said Ralph Diaz, a former Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation secretary who now runs Stand Up for Victims, a nonprofit dedicated to victims’ advocacy.
Nonetheless, Diaz fully supports the effort at Valley State Prison, which he said he helped spearhead after touring Norway’s prisons with a group in September 2019.
On that trip, Diaz and state lawmakers toured institutions with brightly painted walls, yards filled with trees and ponds and fields where staff and inmates played sports together.
Some felt inspired by what they saw.
“In 2019, it was the most encouraging thing, as far as changing the prison system, that I had ever seen, and I was extremely optimistic, to the point where I was giddy,” said Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles.
ASPCA CALLS ON AG BONTA TO INVESTIGATE COSTCO
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Mercy for Animals called for California Attorney General Rob Bonta — as well as his colleagues in Washington state, Michigan, New York state, Pennsylvania, New York City and Washington, D.C. — to investigate Costco over potential violations of consumer protection and unfair competition laws related to the alleged mistreatment of animals.
The demand follows a report published in The New York Times that “shows that Costco fails to meet animal welfare standards that have been adopted by other retailers and major food companies, despite Costco’s claims that it is ‘committed to maintaining the highest standards of animal welfare,’” according to a statement from the animal welfare groups.
“What we saw in the footage of Costco’s chicken supplier was appalling,” said Leah Garcés, president of Mercy For Animals, a leading global nonprofit working to construct a compassionate food system, said in a statement. “Consumers across the country care about animal suffering. By leading consumers to believe it meets the highest animal welfare standards, Costco may well be violating the law.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“This is a family relationship that goes back 40 years, to NorCal Dem Chair Pelosi and Lt. Gov. Mario Cuomo visiting Italy together after the devastating 1980 earthquake.”
– New York Times reporter Alex Burns, speaking about Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s call for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign, via Twitter.
Best of the Bee:
California workers currently earn a minimum of $13 or $14 an hour, but Larry Elder says he’d get rid of a legal baseline altogether, via Lara Korte.
In a record year for retirement, the University of California is lagging in paying pensions for its new retirees, hundreds of whom won’t be paid on time — and don’t know when they will be paid, via Katherine Swartz.