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Good morning, Californianssssssssss.

“It is a very amazing impact that our climate has on snakes and snake-human interactions.”— Dr. Grant Lipman, a Palo Alto emergency medicine physician who analyzed 5,365 snakebites, as reported by the Mercury News.

One finding: Mariposa County is California’s snakebite capital.

One suggestion: Never grab “sticks” or “branches” while swimming. Rattlesnakes swim.

State senator gets slapped down for bad behavior

State Sen. Joel Anderson

State Sen. Joel Anderson was tipsy and rubbing a lobbyist’s shoulders during a political fundraiser at a Capitol bar last month when he leaned in close and told her he wanted to “bitch slap” her, the state Senate concluded Tuesday.

CALmatters’ Laurel Rosenhall reports that the public airing is part of the fallout in the California Legislature of the #MeToo movement.

Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, a Democrat from San Diego, instructed Anderson, who resides in the San Diego County town of Alpine and who is running for a Board of Equalization seat, to “interact in a professional manner going forward.”

Senate Republican Leader Pat Bates of Orange County lauded the report: “The behavior exhibited in this incident will no longer be tolerated.  The decision to issue a reprimand in this case is warranted and appropriate.”

The incident took place during the Capitol’s prime time for fundraising, on Aug. 13, in the final month of the two-year session leading into an election.

  • Incumbents, including legislators such as Anderson who are seeking other offices, raised almost $6.4 million in August, by my count.
  • Most fundraisers are held at Capitol-area bars, as detailed in this Sacramento Bee piece.


Strategic. Persuasive. Effective. Working at the intersection of business, politics and policy.

CA kids: Fewer teen moms, but dating violence persists

Fewer teens are having babies, but dating violence remains a risk.

First the good news: California’s teen birth rate has fallen dramatically since 2000, and is now significantly below the national teen birth rate, the state Department of Public Health reported this week.

  • Only 21,617 babies were born to California girls between 15 and 19 in 2016, a rate of 15.7 per 100,000. Nationally, that rate per 100,000 girls was 20.3.
  • By comparison, in 2000, teenage girls in California gave birth to 56,268 babies, a rate of 46.7 per 100,000 girls. That was only slightly below the national rate of 47.7.

Teen pregnancy has been a focus of California’s public health and education departments at least since Pete Wilson was governor, and have developed programs to educate teenagers about risks associated with sex.

  • Contraceptives and abortion services also are available without parental consent under California law.

Dr. Connie Mitchell of the Department of Public Health: “We work to empower youth to have the knowledge so that they can say ‘no’ if they want or they can get services when they need them.”

  • Teenage Latinas account for the largest number of births, 16,106. They and African-American girls have the highest rates of teen motherhood.
  • Teen births declined in every California county between 2000 and 2016. But San Joaquin counties from Kern to Tulare, Fresno and Merced continue to have the highest teen birth rates.  

Meanwhile, #TeensToo: Nearly one in four teenage girls experienced physical or sexual violence or both while dating, the Department of Public Health reminds, citing an earlier report.


It's time to make behavioral health solutions a top priority in California.

What CA is doing about opioid abuse

Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, and Riverside counties accounted for 958 opioid overdose deaths in 2017, more than half the state’s total of 1,882, the California Department of Public Health recently reported.

Opioid abuse is worse in other states. But it regularly claims Californians.

  • One victim was Leo Holtz, 10 months old. He died a year ago after ingested fentanyl at his grandmother’s Point Loma condo, as detailed by the San Diego Union-Tribune earlier this week.
  • Baby Leo’s parents face child endangerment charges. They have pleaded not guilty.

Legislation requiring physicians to offer drugs that can counter opioid overdoses when prescribing opioids to certain patients, was signed earlier this month by Gov. Jerry Brown.  

Awaiting Brown’s decision: Whether to permit San Francisco to open safe injection sites for addicts.

Climate change’s link to Valley Fever

Dust borne Valley Fever has spread beyond the Central Valley.

Valley Fever is spreading across California, an increase many experts link to climate change. This could be the worst year yet, CALmatters’ David Gorn reports.

  • Dust storms are on the rise and can sweep the offending fungus, which typically affects the lungs and is sometimes deadly, across California.
  • It’s no longer a Central Valley fever; it’s showing up in Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and Los Angeles counties.
  • California’s 6,000-plus known cases in 2016 set a record that jumped to 8,103 in 2017. More than 5,000 infections have been reported this year—and most cases are reported between September and November. More go undiagnosed and unreported.

Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed three bills promoting education and research on Valley fever, and the current state budget includes $8 million for those purposes. But the experts say that won’t stop the spread.

CA's preferred wing man: Obama or Trump?

Which presidential endorsement helps more in California?

Donald Trump is president, but Barack Obama holds the honor of serving as the campaign’s best surrogate, California’s top consultants, lobbyists, and other political insiders say.

  • Two-thirds of respondents said Obama would provide a bigger boost to Democratic candidates than Trump would help Republicans, according to the latest installment of the California Target Book Insider Track Survey.
  • That remains a largely untested proposition. The president hasn’t visited California since last spring, though his endorsement of John Cox in the governor’s race helped the little-known businessman from San Diego snag a second place finish in the June primary.

For all of Trump’s unpopularity here, the survey respondents were nearly unanimous on one point: Trump is with us until 2020—at least.

  • “Impeachment” may be a good rallying cry in the state’s bluest districts but 92 percent of the insiders said the president isn’t going anywhere.
  • And 23 percent predict a second term.

Election trends across the American West

With help from CALmatters’ Ben Christopher, The California Sunday Magazine looks at 14 congressional seats and three Senate seats across the American West that are up for grabs.

An increase in voting-age Latinos and a surge in female candidates are among the trends that buoy Democrats’ hopes to flip seats. Christopher focused on Orange County seats.

Commentary at CALmatters

Aerial view of Hollister Ranch

Jerry West: We have a unique opportunity to build an arena that truly belongs to the L.A. Clippers, our players, employees, and fans. This arena is key to our future success. It’s also key to the ongoing success of a city that has seen a tremendous economic turnaround since it was abandoned by professional sports.

Monte Ward: In an era where public confidence in politics and politicians is eroding, signing Assembly Bill 2534, which seeks to open access to beaches at Hollister Ranch, would be short-sighted and dangerous. No policy outcome is worth undermining our democratic institutions and process of governing.

Dan Walters: Gov. Jerry Brown had two opportunities to improve educational outcomes. He embraced one, a bill to extend the ability of some community colleges to award four-year degrees, but vetoed another, which would have protected sleep-deprived adolescents from having to attend early classes.

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