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Brace for Dungeness crab disaster, lawmakers urge

Four of California’s coastal congressmembers are urging Gov. Jerry Brown to be ready to ask the federal government for an economic disaster declaration if the Dungeness crab fishery remains closed for the season.

Reps. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael; Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough; Sam Farr, D-Carmel; and Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, wrote to Brown on Tuesday asking him to closely monitor domoic acid levels in Dungeness crab.

Dungeness crabCrabs off the California coast have abnormally high levels of this toxic acid in their bodies due to an unusually big algae bloom, due in turn to abnormally high water temperatures in the Pacific. Officials have delayed the start of the recreational and commercial crab fishing seasons until the acid decreases to safe levels.

But every passing day is a blow not only to Californians craving the delicacy for their holiday tables, but to coastal communities relying on a commercial fishery valued at $60 million last year.

“The closure of the Dungeness crab fishery would not only make the holidays a little less bright, it would deal a hard blow for North coast fishermen, who have already been impacted by a poor year for salmon landings,” Huffman said in a news release. “While Californians’ Thanksgiving celebrations may not feature Dungeness crab this year, we can at least provide the assurance that federal disaster relief will be available to fishermen and affected communities and businesses if we lose the fishery.”

Huffman said the lawmakers are keeping their fingers crossed for better conditions next month, “ but in the meantime we will be working closely with our state and federal partners — from the Governor’s office to the White House — so that we can respond quickly in the event of a total closure.”

Speier noted some fisherman rely on the crab season for half their annual income, yet still must pay for licenses and boat maintenance. “If the season doesn’t open soon, these men and women deserve a financial lifeline. I urge the governor to start preparing for a disaster declaration now.”

Posted on Tuesday, November 24th, 2015
Under: economy, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jackie Speier, Jared Huffman, Sam Farr, U.S. House | 1 Comment »

Jerry Brown honored by GOVERNING magazine

Gov. Jerry Brown is among nine public officials nationwide honored as the year’s most outstanding leaders in state and local government by GOVERNING magazine.

From the magazine’s website:

Not that long ago, people were questioning whether California could be governed. The state faced multibillion-dollar shortfalls every year, leading to questions about whether California would go broke before Greece. In terms of dysfunction, Sacramento appeared to have beaten even Washington.

Then Jerry Brown returned as governor. When he took office in 2011, the state was $26 billion short. This year, lawmakers were fighting about what to do with a surplus. Much of that had to do with the state’s rising economy, but Brown had helped put the state back on a sustainable course.

In 2012, he convinced voters to raise sales and income taxes. Since then, he has managed to curb the impulse legislators have to spend money as fast or faster than it’s coming in, using his veto power freely and instead diverting the money to the state’s rainy day fund. “His ability to follow through on his promise to voters that he was going to stabilize the financial situation, which every year had been a problem, has made all the difference in the world,” says Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California.

GOVERNING’s profile also praised Brown’s work on benefits and rights for undocumented immigrants, higher education funding, climate change, and combating the state’s historic drought.

“We’re thrilled to be recognizing such remarkable officials,” GOVERNING Executive Editor Zach Patton said in a news release. “These outstanding men and women are tremendous examples of the power of public service, especially at the state and local level.”

“We are all too aware of the daunting challenges facing many of our states and localities and the people who live in them,” said GOVERNING Publisher Mark Funkhouser. “But this year’s award recipients inspire me with great optimism, showing how determined leadership can address even the steepest challenges.”

Posted on Tuesday, November 10th, 2015
Under: Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | 3 Comments »

Jerry Brown blasts states fighting carbon-limit plan

California Gov. Jerry Brown vowed Friday to fight the 25 states and various business groups that are suing to block the Obama administration’s plan to curb carbon emissions from power plants.

“While the world’s scientists warn of the existential threat we face, these misguided political representatives seek to take America into a dark age of climate denial,” Brown said in a news release. “I will do everything in my power to fight this pernicious lawsuit.”

Power plants are the largest emitters of greenhouse gases among stationary sources in the United States, accounting for about a third of all emissions. The Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan sets greenhouse gas emissions guidelines for each state based on current levels of pollution; on average, it would help cut pollution from existing power plants nationwide approximately 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

California already is primed to meet and exceed these new, national reduction targets, having committed to cutting emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 under an executive order Brown issued in April – the most ambitious target in North America and consistent with California’s existing commitment to reduce emissions 80 percent under 1990 levels by 2050.

Brown has been focused on subnational pacts – collaboration between cities, states and provinces around the world – to fight climate change, even as national governments seek a deal ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference next month in Paris.

Posted on Friday, October 23rd, 2015
Under: energy, Environment, Global warming, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | No Comments »

Jerry Brown signs beer-bike bill, goes for a spin

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law Sunday creating inspection and safety standards for pedal-powered quadricycles – sometimes called “beer bikes” – on which up to 15 people can tool around town knocking back drinks.

Off the Chain beer bikeCompanies in cities including Sacramento, San Diego and Palm Springs already have been offering guided tours through tourism and entertainment areas, often including stops at bars and restaurants. But until now they’ve been licensed by host cities without any state involvement, creating some uncertainty about whether the car-sized rigs can lawfully use city streets because there was no existing vehicle definition that covered them, according to a legislative analysis. And while they could stop at bars, no alcohol could be consumed on board.

State Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, pedaled to the rescue with SB 530, which expands the definition of a pedicab to include a device which is primarily pedal-powered, has a seating capacity of not more than 15 passengers, and cannot travel faster than 15 miles per hour.

The new law requires this type of pedicab to have basic safety equipment including seat belts, seat backs, brakes, reflectors, headlights, and grab rails, and to be operated by a 21-year-old adult with a valid California driver’s license. Existing devices have until January 1, 2017, to retrofit with this equipment. The quadricycles still must be authorized by local ordinance and cannot operate on a road with a speed limit greater than 30 mph, and any accidents in which they’re involved must be reported to the California Highway Patrol.

But perhaps most important to keeping the party a’pedalin’, the law now provides for allowing consumption of alcohol on board so long as the locla municipality allows it and the operator provides an on-board adult safety monitor; both this monitor and the driver must have completed the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control’s licensee education program.

The Assembly and state Senate both passed the bill unanimously last month.

But Brown didn’t just sign the bill Sunday. Oh, no – he signed it in style.

Brown signs SB530

Brown signed his name to the new law aboard a quadricycle run by Sacramento’s Off The Chain Bike Bus Tours and then – accompanied by his wife, Anne Gust; his top aide, Nancy McFadden; and Senator Pan – immediately took off on a ride.

Cue the Chris Christie jokes here.

Posted on Monday, October 5th, 2015
Under: California State Senate, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | 2 Comments »

Gov. Jerry Brown creates cybersecurity center

Gov. Jerry Brown signed an executive order Monday to bolster California’s preparedness for cyber-attacks which could disrupt the Golden State’s economy and infrastructure or violate residents’ privacy and lead to identity theft.

The order directs the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services to create a California Cybersecurity Integration Center (Cal-CSIC), responsible for strengthening the state’s cybersecurity strategy and improving inter-agency, cross-sector coordination to reduce the likelihood and severity of cyber-attacks.

The new Cal-CSIC will work closely with the California State Threat Assessment System and the U.S Department of Homeland Security to improve information sharing between local, state and federal agencies, tribal governments, utilities and other service providers, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations.

Cal-CSIC will also establish a multi-agency Cyber Incident Response Team to serve as the state’s primary unit to lead cyber threat detection, reporting, and response in coordination with public and private entities across the state.

Posted on Monday, August 31st, 2015
Under: Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | 2 Comments »

Jerry Brown on Hillary’s emails: ‘Like a vampire’

California Gov. Jerry Brown called Hillary Clinton’s email controversy “a vampire” that she’ll have to stake through the heart, in an interview Friday with NBC News “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd.

Jerry Brown on Meet the Press (NBC NEWS)In a segment that will air Sunday, Todd noted that Brown in March had cautioned that the email problem might not go away on its own, and asked what Clinton should be doing better to deal with it now.

“Well, I don’t know,” Brown replied. “This email thing, it has kind of a mystique to it. You know, an email is just an utterance in digital form. But it has some kind of dark energy that gets everybody excited. So I don’t know how.

“It’s almost like a vampire,” the governor continued. “She’s going to have to find a stake and put it right through the heart of these emails in some way. But I don’t think a leading candidate for president needs the advice of another politician. Generally they don’t follow it, and I think they know everything I can figure out on their own.”

Posted on Friday, August 21st, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Gov. Jerry Brown, Hillary Clinton, Jerry Brown | 9 Comments »

Jerry Brown on Donald Trump: ‘Oh, my God.’

Asked Wednesday what he thought of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign tactics, California Gov. Jerry Brown replied with a pained, “Oh, my God.”

Jerry Brown in Oakland 8-19-15 (photo by Anda Chu)But Brown, questioned during an Oakland news conference on transportation funding, acknowledged The Donald is bringing a lot of attention to the GOP presidential field.

“I did watch that debate from beginning to end,” he said. “I did think that when he raised his hand and said ‘I might run as an independent,’ I think there are very few politicians who would do that.”

Pressed for more opinion on Trump’s trademark bluster – which in recent weeks has involved insulting Mexicans immigrants, prisoners of war, his GOP rivals, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly and (obliquely) most voters’ intelligence – Brown replied, “I think you need to dial it back.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had opined Monday that if Hillary Clinton’s email woes continue to build, other Democrats might choose to enter the race – including Brown. Brown said Wednesday he’s “flattered by what Mr. Gingrich said, but I wouldn’t look to him” for prognostications of candidacy.

Posted on Wednesday, August 19th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | 8 Comments »

Jerry Brown enters the presidential debate fray

California Gov. Jerry Brown threw himself into the presidential debate fray Wednesday morning by pressing the Republican candidates to describe their plans to deal with the threat of climate change.

Jerry BrownBrown wrote an open letter to the 17 candidates and also submitted his question using the “Debate Uploader” on the Fox News Facebook page, through which members of the public can send queries for Thursday’s debates in Cleveland.

“Longer fire seasons, extreme weather and severe droughts aren’t on the horizon, they’re all here – and here to stay. This is the new normal. The climate is changing,” Brown wrote in his letter. “Given the challenge and the stakes, my question for you is simple: What are you going to do about it? What is your plan to deal with the threat of climate change?”

“Continuing to question the science and hurl insults at ‘global warming hoaxers’ and ‘apostles of this pseudo-religion’ [ed. note: Rick Santorum’s words] won’t prevent severe damage to our health and economic well-being,” Brown continued. “Americans, their children and generations to come deserve – and demand – better.”

Brown then describes California’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and details efforts by Republicans – including former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; and current presidential candidate and former New York Gov. George Pataki – who’ve dealt with the issue head-on.

“And lest you think this movement is limited to Democrats and only embraced within our borders, the conservatives in England, the moderates in Germany, and even the communists in China are on board,” he added. “As the fires continue to burn here in California, don’t wait for the smoke to clear. It’s time to act.”

Brown issued an executive order earlier this year to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in California 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 – the most ambitious target in North America, and part of California’s existing commitment to reduce emissions 80 percent under 1990 levels by 2050. Last month, he attended a Vatican symposium on climate change and the Climate Summit of the Americas in Toronto, both as part of his work to build cooperation between cities, states and provinces on climate-change pacts.

Posted on Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
Under: 2016 presidential election, Global warming, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | 4 Comments »

Good news for California beer & spirits lovers

There’s good news from Sacramento this week for Californians who enjoy a sip of this or a shot of that.

beer tastingGov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday signed into law AB 774 by Assemblyman Marc Levine, which will allow limited beer tastings at certified farmers’ markets.

“This bill recognizes that at farmers’ markets brewers meet consumers face-to-face and build a relationship,” Levine, D-San Rafael. “AB 774 allows tastings where brewers are already selling their products at certified farmers’ markets.”

The new law, which also lets nonprofits receive donated beer as items for auction, will give farmers’ market managers full discretion on whether or not to allow beer tastings; limit tastings to one brewery per day per market; allow tastings only in a controlled, cordoned-off area; and limit tastings to eight ounces per adult customer.

Brown one year ago signed Levine’s similar bill to allow wine tastings at farmers’ markets.

Levine also made headway this week with his bill to create a new license for craft distillers so they can sell up to three bottles of distilled spirits per person per day at an instructional tasting; hold private events at the distillery; and have ownership in up to three restaurants. AB 1295 was approved Tuesday by the Senate Governmental Organization Committee.

Current state law prevents distillers from selling their products directly to consumers.

“This historic legislation changes Prohibition-era laws for craft distillers to reflect the modern marketplace,” Levine said, letting craft distillers “operate in a similar manner as wineries and breweries under existing law. This bill helps craft distillers to be competitive with large out-of-state distillers. Growth of the craft distillery industry means jobs in our local communities.”

Bottoms up!

Posted on Wednesday, July 15th, 2015
Under: Assembly, Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | No Comments »

Gov. Jerry Brown will visit the Vatican

Gov. Jerry Brown will visit the Vatican this month to speak at a two-day symposium on climate change and modern slavery.

Brown, who was a Jesuit seminarian way back when, will make the trip one month after Pope Francis issued an encyclical on the environment including his call for a partnership between science and religion to combat human-driven climate change. The visit also comes a few months before world leaders will convene in Paris for the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

“In the spirit of the pope’s encyclical, this unprecedented gathering of global leaders is a wake-up call to face up to the common threats of climate change and human exploitation,” Brown said in a news release. “This is about the future of humanity and how we as human beings live and treat one another and the natural world around us.”

The two-day event, hosted by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences, aims to drive awareness, dialogue and action at the local level on climate change and modern slavery – two pressing, interconnected issues highlighted in the pope’s encyclical. Brown will attend sessions on “Modern Slavery and Climate Change: The Commitment of the Cities” on Tuesday, July 21, and sessions on “Prosperity, People and Planet: Achieving Sustainable Development in Our Cities” on Wednesday, July 22.

It’s a continuation of Brown’s focus on building collaboration among “subnational” governments of states and provinces to combat climate change. He attended the Climate Summit of the Americas this week in Toronto, where Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard signed the “Under 2 MOU,” a first-of-its-kind pact amongst states and provinces around the world to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius – the warming threshold at which scientists say there will likely be catastrophic climate disruptions.

Since the agreement was first signed at a Sacramento ceremony in May, 18 signatories in nine countries and four continents have signed on, collectively representing more than $5.3 trillion in GDP and 130 million people.

Posted on Thursday, July 9th, 2015
Under: Gov. Jerry Brown, Jerry Brown | 2 Comments »