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KAMLAGER OUT FRONT
Assemblywoman Sydney Kamlager pulled way ahead in early returns Tuesday night in a special election to represent Senate District 30, the Los Angeles seat formerly represented by Holly Mitchell.
Kamlager claimed 37,231, or 67.6% of the first batch of votes reported. That gave her a hefty lead in a field of seven candidates. She’ll need to hold on to 50% plus one to avoid a runoff.
Culver City Vice Mayor Daniel Lee had the next most votes, with 7,452, or 13.5%.
Kamlager’s allies celebrated after that first batch, with Rep. Jimmy Gomez, Sen. Susan Eggman, Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, Planned Parenthood of Californian and the Los Angeles County Democratic Party quickly tweeting out congratulations.
“Congrats to my friend and colleague @sydneykamlager for becoming the next State Senator in #SD30! She is a fierce fighter for single-payer healthcare, criminal justice and LGBTQ+ equality!” Santiago wrote.
Mitchell, a former Senate Budget Committee chairwoman, backed Kamlager. The seat opened when Mitchell won a seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.
via Sophia Bollag
California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon is donating $10,000 to an effort to fight the Newsom recall campaign organized by the National Union of Healthcare Workers, the union announced Tuesday.
With his donation, which the union says the speaker is making from his campaign committee, Rendon joins a chorus of California Democrats speaking out against the recall. Newsom has toured the state in recent weeks promoting his administration’s vaccination efforts, at each stop hosting a press conference featuring glowing compliments from fellow Democratic lawmakers and local officials.
The anti-recall effort has so far reported $60,000 in donations from the union, according to records filed with the Secretary of State. The union launched the effort in late January and is using it to campaign against the recall and to promote creating a government-run Medicare-for-all health care system. Newsom supported creating a government-run health system in California while campaigning for governor, but has not pushed for a bill to create one since he was elected.
In a statement released by the union, Rendon said the union’s anti-recall effort is “exactly the kind of pushback we need right now to unite Californians against this destructive partisan ploy.”
“The last thing we need is an expensive, partisan recall attempt at the very moment we should be focusing on pressing priorities like reopening public schools safely, expanding access to COVID vaccinations, improving environmental protections, and promoting a rapid and equitable economic recovery,” said Rendon, D-Lakewood.
CALIFORNIA’S FALLING PRISON POPULATION
California’s prison population plummeted in 2020, though overcrowding remains a risk, according to a report from the Public Policy Institute of California.
In January 2020, the prison system housed 122,000 inmates. By December, that number was down to 94,500, according to PPIC.
California was at the high end of 29 states for which there is readily accessible prison data — with population decreases ranging from 9% to 26%. Just three states saw a proportionally bigger population drop than California: Colorado, Connecticut and Illinois.
Texas, which has the nation’s largest prison population (141,000 inmates in January 2020), reduced its prison population by just 14%.
California’s system remains 3% over design capacity, with 10 prisons being at more than 20% over capacity despite the overall population drop last year, according to PPIC.
“Amid COVID-19, capacity conditions pose an acute risk to incarcerated people and workers, and some miscalculations in California led to COVID-19 propagating behind bars. Since the onset of the pandemic, officials confirmed just over 49,000 COVID-19 infections among California prisoners, 211 of whom died—a 0.4% mortality rate. Twenty-six prison workers also lost their lives after contracting the virus,” according to PPIC.
Read the full report here.
JUSTICE GROUP GETS NEW HEAD
Californians for Safety and Justice, a nonprofit group dedicated to criminal justice reform, has a new executive director: Tinisch Hollins.
“When it comes to advocating for and delivering on a new vision for public safety, Californians deserve an empathetic, strategic leader who understands what’s at stake,” said group founder Lenore Anderson in a statement. “Tinisch Hollins’ deep understanding of what communities in our state need to be safe and her long-term commitment to being a servant leader make her the right person to deliver safety for Californians.
Hollins is no stranger to violence — she lost two brothers within five years.
At Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, Hollins advocated for increased protections and support for crime victims. Hollins also was an outspoken critic of the defeated Proposition 20, which would have dialed back California’s recent criminal justice reform efforts.
“There’s so much more we can still do to support communities and crime survivors, building a system better rooted in public health and safety. I’m hungry to get started,” Hollins said in a statement.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
– Gov. Gavin Newsom, speaking via Twitter about Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s decision to lift that state’s mask mandate.
Best of the Bee:
Who should pay for pension mistakes? California Legislature could make a change, via Wes Venteicher
California Corrections Secretary Kathleen Allison faced tough questions from a group of a Democratic lawmakers over a report charging that state prison wardens neglected to use a new system created to handle inmate complaints against guards, via Andrew Sheeler.
Trying to get through to the state’s unemployment agency call center remains a grueling, frustrating chore for many people — yet the Employment Development Department has been warned time and again that the system badly needed fixing, via David Lightman.