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Politics

07 Nov 2018
Sporting starred and striped jackets and Make America Great Again hats, the California Republicans who gathered on election night in the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego were in a remarkably chipper mood. They cheered when the results came in from Florida, showing the GOP candidate apparently won the narrow race for governor. They lustily booed and jeered when the face of San Francisco Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the likely next speaker of the House, appeared on the monitor. If the assembled party activists were disappointed by the fact that, closer to home, they had lost their bid for every statewide office in the state, most seemed to take it in stride. Certainly, no one seemed particularly surprised. Just as the polls predicted, John…
07 Nov 2018
If you’re thinking about staying up all night to watch California election results, grab some coffee: It will probably be a long night … or week … or month—the price we pay for enabling more procrastinators to vote. The holdup? Voters here prefer voting by mail, and California—unlike most other states that allow mail-in ballots—counts every ballot postmarked by Election Day, even if it arrives up to three days later. Typically, mail ballots must be received before or by Election Day in order to count, according to a review by the National Conference of State Legislatures. Four years ago, California was among the 36 states that required mail ballots to arrive by Election Day, with three states requiring mail ballots to arrive even earlier. But…
06 Nov 2018
The California Democratic Party no longer accepts donations from the oil industry, viewing that as politically unsavory for a party pushing to curb climate change. But that hasn’t stopped oil companies from spending millions to help California Democrats win. Instead of giving money to the party, oil companies are donating directly to Democratic candidates and pouring huge sums into outside groups that campaign for a mix of Democrats and Republicans. The petroleum industry has put at least $19.2 million into California politics in the 2017-18 election cycle, according to a CALmatters analysis of campaign finance data. Much of it is helping Republicans, including $2 million to the California Republican Party. The industry also gave roughly $14 million to independent committees supporting some politicians from both…
01 Nov 2018
It wouldn’t be election season without a bunch of big-money interests trying to tell you how to vote—and with hundreds of millions of dollars rolling into initiative campaigns over housing and health care, California hit a new record this year. The $111 million campaign against Proposition 8 on kidney-dialysis clinics amounts to the most money poured into a single side of a ballot measure in the United States—at least since electronic record-keeping began in 2002, and possibly ever. Here are three industries spending huge sums to influence your vote: Landlords and real estate agents outraising rent-control advocates 3-to-1 Landlords are largely bankrolling the campaign against Proposition 10, which would allow local governments to expand rent control. “They don’t want to see their property values decline;…
01 Nov 2018
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When I spoke to the candidates for Cathedral City’s City Council two years ago, the main concern was economic development—how to generate revenue, grow new businesses, and continue to come back from the devastation of the Great Recession of 2008. Today, the city is undeniably in a better financial position. Revenues from the new and growing marijuana industry have been a boon—but each candidate I spoke to this year acknowledged that Cathedral City still has a long way to go. This year’s election is being done differently: Under threat of a civil-rights lawsuit, Cathedral City—like many other California municipalities—has switched from at-large elections to district-based elections, and three of those five new district seats are up for election this year. The city is also eliminating…
25 Oct 2018
California is politically lopsided: Most of the people live in the south, but most of the political power is based in the north. In recent years, the majority of politicians elected to statewide offices have been northern Californians—including the governor, lieutenant governor, schools superintendent and both U.S. senators. That could change after November’s election, because a striking number of statewide races this year pit a NorCal candidate against SoCal candidate, testing the political power and competing priorities of the Golden State’s two most populous regions. But don’t count on it. Northern California is likely to continue to dominate for reasons that largely boil down to this: People in the Bay Area just vote a lot more than those in Los Angeles. Economic and demographic changes…
23 Oct 2018
Palm Desert was incorporated as a city just 45 years ago—on Nov. 26, 1973, making it the second-youngest city in the Coachella Valley. This November, Palm Desert is poised to become the fourth valley city to approve and regulate cannabis-industry retail sales, commercial cultivation and delivery services within its city limits—presuming voters approve the resolution put on this year’s ballot by the current City Council. Also on the November ballot: Palm Desert voters will choose among five candidates—two incumbents and three challengers—for two seats up for election on the City Council. The Independent recently spoke with four of five candidates. (Matt Monica, who identifies himself as a retired educator on the city’s candidate-information form, did not respond to the Independent.) Incumbent Jan Harnik is winding…
17 Oct 2018
The California Department of Motor Vehicles has given the public a series of piecemeal explanations as it acknowledged making more than 100,000 errors in recent months while registering Californians to vote. Software problems, it said in May. Human errors from toggling between computer windows, it said in September. Data-entry mistakes that were corrected but never saved, it said in October. What DMV officials didn’t acknowledge—and still haven’t—was what may be the underlying problem: The agency rolled out a massive new voter-registration effort with a piecemeal computer system. Instead of the properly integrated computer program that was needed, the agency launched in April with disparate computer systems that didn’t automatically link together, according to advocates who have been working closely with the DMV on the new…