Update on Three Good Bills, and Talks with The Moorlach!




Schoolhouse Rock Bill

When we last left the “Bills We’re Rooting For in Sacramento,” some of them had passed (Citizens United Repeal), some had been killed (Open Police Records, More Funds for Police Body Cameras, Moorlach’s ADA Lawsuit Reform or “Right to Cure”), but there were three we were left rooting for.  Checking back in, we’ve got mostly good news about those three bills:

Civil (Asset) Forfeiture Reform Passes Big!

(but how amended WAS it?)

corrupt copI felt particularly close to this one, SB 433, a long-overdue reform of the ability of police forces to fund themselves from the seized money and property of folks who HADN’T EVEN BEEN CONVICTED OF A CRIME, because I’d written the story about possibly the most egregious abuse of this, the attempt of Anaheim (with the feds) to take away Tony Jalali’s $1.5 million office building at Magnolia and Ball, just for renting space to a couple of state-law-abiding medical marijuana dispensaries.

The bill failed last year but passed handily a couple months ago after some amendments that made it more acceptable to law enforcement.  ALL Republicans voted yes, and ALMOST all Democrats including our own Tom Daly, who’d opposed it last year.  (Last year, from our county, only our Republicans Moorlach, Harper and Brough voted yes;  Moorlach says as is his wont “It’s a RIGHTEOUS bill!  I’ve always been against taking the property of people who haven’t been convicted.”)

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-image40970629But…. how amended WAS it, from the former version?  I just started to wonder when I talked to Deputy Chief Julian Harvey after his presentation in favor of putting surveillance cameras in three West Anaheim parks.  (And by the way, even though I like Harvey and think he would make a good Chief, I still found it offensive and manipulative that he would use the tragic drive-by murder of Ximena Meza in his presentation, when surveillance cameras in a park would have done nothing to prevent her death.  Kind of like how politicians love to use 9/11 to justify ANYTHING.)

Anyway, as I was pointing out to Harvey, this “pilot program” (obviously intended to grow to other parks) is to be funded by civil forfeiture funds, and those are probably going to decrease due to this reform bill, and doesn’t that suggest that the APD will be dipping into the general fund in coming years to continue or grow the program?  And he said no, there shouldn’t be much impact from the bill, as most LARGE seizures would continue, and mostly SMALL ones discontinued.  That seemed counter-intuitive.

diane goldsteinSo I asked our own Diane Goldstein, an enthusiastic advocate for the bill, how much WAS it amended, to make police and most legislators drop their opposition?  Was it still a decent reform to be excited about?

And apparently Harvey was right, TO A DEGREE:  the biggest amendment was drawing the line at $40,000 – from THAT amount down assets can’t be seized in Calfornia without a conviction, whether by federal narcotics task force or local law enforcement.  Wait – that wouldn’t even have helped Jalali then, saving his $1.5 million building!  “Well … Jalali won, so he’s okay, but on top of that California can’t seize real property now without a conviction.  The important thing, Vern, is this will exert pressure nationally, and soon will see Congressional action against this.  And from a social justice perspective … we’d seen that MOST seizures are under $5,500, so we decided to protect the ‘little fish’ first.  This isn’t over by a long shot, but it’s a great start!”

Governor Moonbeam has till the end of this month to sign it;  Diane is pretty sure he will.  

DISCLOSE Act loses by one vote, but will come RIGHT BACK.

The Moorlach Abstains, but is trying to save it..

disclose act logoUs clean-money advocates have been fighting to get versions of this passed for about a decade, AB 700 which would make it clear to voters who is funding initiatives and candidates.  This time it passed the assembly (with our Democrat Tom Daly voting yes, and all our Republicans voting no except for – interestingly – Ling Ling Chang.)  But it fell one vote short in the Senate, with Huff and Bates voting no and Moorlach and Janet Nguyen abstaining.  You could almost say The Moorlach killed it.  But there’s more to the story…

I’d spent some time the night before the Senate vote trying to convince him to vote yes, since he’d tended to be a Republican who’d always supported transparency in government.  He replied, “I love the basic idea of this bill, but HAVE YOU SEEN HOW MANY AMENDMENTS GOT ADDED TO IT?  There are pages!  And they dump all of these bills on your desk at 10pm and expect you to vote on them the next day?  I haven’t made up my mind, I don’t think I like some of these amendments.”

moorlach warmYesterday explaining his abstention, he told me, “I’m not just someone who will vote yes on a bill because I like the basic idea, or I like some of it or even most of it.  I want it to be perfect.  And there were things in the amendments that just gave me HEARTBURN.”  He promises to get back to me later today about what those things were after consulting his notes, at which point I’ll update this piece.  But still there’s more to the story…

The Senator has been working closely with the authors of the bill, Levine, Allen, and Gomez, to fix what he sees as its problems, while preserving the essence of it.  And the bill’s advocates at California Clean Money Campaign are happy and satisfied that the bill will come back in very satisfactory form, first thing next session, and will still be ready to go into effect by election season 2018, so thanks to Levine, Allen, Gomez and Moorlach we’ll see this reform:

disclose act examples

AH!  Just in time for publication, an e-mail from The Moorlach:


moorlach sasquatch modifiedAs I stated, I spent most of the evening of August 30th seeking out numerous individuals for input.

I also reviewed a number of documents.

To make my response concise, I agreed with the modified paragraph below, found in a long analysis on AB 700, and see it as an opportunity to draft a bill that both sides of the aisle can agree with.

The opponents, and even the FPPC, believe that there is a simpler way to achieve the goals set out by the proponents without developing a complex bill that sets micro-standards for advertisements. The bill may lead to simpler ads for voters, but the FPPC’s mission includes compliance by regulated parties. It is without any doubt AB 700 is a complex bill that would require a campaign attorney to interpret the law to fully comply with its multitude of new and highly detailed requirements, down to the font type, size, color and location (example: 2.5 percent of the video screen for a certain type of disclosure for a certain type of committee). There is a better way to provide clearer ads to voters and provide simpler rules for compliance.

I agree with the overall intent of AB 700. I just couldn’t vote for new jobs for lawyers.

If I had a lament, it’s that I wasn’t brought in at the front of this process, instead of being hit by its final version hours before the close of Session.

That’s why I committed to Assemblymembers Levine and Gomez and Sen. Allen that I would do my best to craft something in next year’s Session.


Gang Database Reform on Guv’s Desk

Ask him to SIGN IT!

shirley weberFinally, there was Shirley Weber’s AB 2298 which passed recently DESPITE Orange County and is waiting for the Governor’s signature.  This bill would remedy some big injustices in our criminal justice system, making it easier for accused gang members to KNOW about, CHALLENGE, and REMOVE their gang designations, in turn making it much more possible for thousands of people to lead a productive and law-abiding life.  Moorlach, Ling Ling, and Daly ABSTAINED on the bill, and the rest of our OC delegation voted no.

Moorlach tells me, “I always give Shirley Weber’s bills serious consideration, because they’re mostly about liberty and justice, but – I forget – something about this one also gave me heartburn.”  [Again, I will update after he consults his notes and gets back to me.]  “The [Republican] caucus urged a no vote … but there was a lot I liked about the bill so I preferred to abstain.”

daly“Wait – the Republican caucus tells you how to vote?”

“Uh, let me make that clearer.  EACH caucus, Republican and Democrat gives recommendations on most bills.  But I’ve noticed that Senate Republicans feel freer to act independently than Democrats – they don’t get DISCIPLINED for not following the Party line the way Democrats do.”

Is this true?

Wow, Tom Daly must get disciplined a lot!

Call Gov. Brown at 916-445-2841 now, and urge him to sign SB 433 and AB 2298!

jerry brown signing bill


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.