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AOC, Sanders unveil ‘Green New Deal’ for housing

News Feed
Thursday, March 21, 2024

Progressives on Capitol Hill believe they have the answer to one of the most vexing policy challenges facing America: another "Green New Deal," this time centering on housing. Today, a group of lawmakers led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will gather to relaunch a so-called “Green New Deal for Public Housing.” The goal of the legislation, Ocasio-Cortez told POLITICO in an exclusive interview, is to “reimagine and reinvigorate public housing in the United States,” while addressing “many of the environmental injustices that public housing residents have faced.” It’s the latest sign that Democrats across the ideological spectrum are zeroing in on housing as an under-addressed issue that could carry a huge upside politically. It comes on the heels of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address in which he outlined a plan to lower housing costs that he’s now taking on the road. But where Biden is addressing housing in general — the goal of homeownership has long been a centerpiece of the American dream, albeit one currently unattainable for many Americans — the progressives are zeroing in on public housing in particular. Ocasio-Cortez sees this as a moment in which those old ways of thinking are becoming “unsustainable” and out of touch with the realities of modern life. “For a long time, we could pass a tax incentive here or there and say, ‘Hey, we've got a great housing policy,’” Ocasio-Cortez told POLITICO. “And everyday people … were supportive because there was still that dream and that idea that ‘I'm going to be buying a home soon … that's within the horizon for me.’ Right now, we have an entire generation — that is ascending into becoming the most powerful electorate, the largest electorate — for which that is decades away.” The bill’s single biggest policy change is that it would repeal the Faircloth Amendment, a rule that is little known to the broader public but familiar to policy wonks: Since its enactment in 1999, the amendment has effectively blocked the Department of Housing and Urban Development from funding new public housing. Beyond that seismic shift, the bill’s latest version being unveiled today has some substantive changes from earlier drafts of the legislation, including directing more money to address the public housing backlog that affects millions of Americans and funding clean-energy improvements to public housing — including language to ensure that any jobs created are unionized. Those policy aspirations face a firewall in Congress, where neither the House nor the Senate is likely to pass the legislation. But as with the original Green New Deal, the goal isn’t simply to pass the legislation; it’s to have the fight and pull the Overton window to the left — reshaping the contours of the conversation about housing in America in the process. “No housing conversation is complete without a conversation around public housing,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “We in the United States have lived under the scourge of the Faircloth Amendment for decades, and that has helped precipitate — and contributed to — the housing crisis that we are living in today. A major part of our housing problem is a supply problem.” Toward that end, dramatically increasing the availability of public housing could ease the overall housing market. And by pumping more resources into revitalizing public housing, the bill’s sponsors hope that the stigma of public housing can be shorn away. “We have seen our counterparts, everywhere from Vienna to Singapore, engage in truly revolutionary public and social housing policies that have bettered the lives of working-class people,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “And the stigma around public housing has prevented everyday Americans from understanding that we can actually really have incredible housing in the United States under a public model.” Progressive groups on the left are already lining up to press their case on this. Analilia Mejia, co-director of the Center for Popular Democracy, told POLITICO that she hopes Biden will use the “power of the bully pulpit” to bring the issue home for Americans. “I think he can be a game changer,” said Mejia. “I think it will cut through the noise for some people.” Asked whether the Biden administration supports the Green New Deal for Public Housing, the White House was decidedly noncommittal. “As he laid out in his State of the Union address and again this week in Nevada, President Biden is laser focused on lowering housing costs for owners and renters alike,” said White House deputy press secretary Michael Kikukawa. “We welcome ideas from members of Congress to build on our strong agenda.” Still, Ocasio-Cortez is optimistic about what she’s seen lately from Biden on housing. “We are starting to see them wade into these waters,” she said. “We saw the president mention housing during his State of the Union. They're starting to do more events explicitly centered on this issue and [talking] about this issue more. I think that we are going to see the White House do more. And we're going to have to do more.”

With homeownership out of reach for many Americans, progressives will make new push to “reimagine and reinvigorate public housing in the United States,” says Ocasio-Cortez.



Progressives on Capitol Hill believe they have the answer to one of the most vexing policy challenges facing America: another "Green New Deal," this time centering on housing.

Today, a group of lawmakers led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will gather to relaunch a so-called “Green New Deal for Public Housing.” The goal of the legislation, Ocasio-Cortez told POLITICO in an exclusive interview, is to “reimagine and reinvigorate public housing in the United States,” while addressing “many of the environmental injustices that public housing residents have faced.”

It’s the latest sign that Democrats across the ideological spectrum are zeroing in on housing as an under-addressed issue that could carry a huge upside politically. It comes on the heels of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address in which he outlined a plan to lower housing costs that he’s now taking on the road.

But where Biden is addressing housing in general — the goal of homeownership has long been a centerpiece of the American dream, albeit one currently unattainable for many Americans — the progressives are zeroing in on public housing in particular.

Ocasio-Cortez sees this as a moment in which those old ways of thinking are becoming “unsustainable” and out of touch with the realities of modern life.

“For a long time, we could pass a tax incentive here or there and say, ‘Hey, we've got a great housing policy,’” Ocasio-Cortez told POLITICO. “And everyday people … were supportive because there was still that dream and that idea that ‘I'm going to be buying a home soon … that's within the horizon for me.’ Right now, we have an entire generation — that is ascending into becoming the most powerful electorate, the largest electorate — for which that is decades away.”

The bill’s single biggest policy change is that it would repeal the Faircloth Amendment, a rule that is little known to the broader public but familiar to policy wonks: Since its enactment in 1999, the amendment has effectively blocked the Department of Housing and Urban Development from funding new public housing.

Beyond that seismic shift, the bill’s latest version being unveiled today has some substantive changes from earlier drafts of the legislation, including directing more money to address the public housing backlog that affects millions of Americans and funding clean-energy improvements to public housing — including language to ensure that any jobs created are unionized.

Those policy aspirations face a firewall in Congress, where neither the House nor the Senate is likely to pass the legislation.

But as with the original Green New Deal, the goal isn’t simply to pass the legislation; it’s to have the fight and pull the Overton window to the left — reshaping the contours of the conversation about housing in America in the process.


“No housing conversation is complete without a conversation around public housing,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “We in the United States have lived under the scourge of the Faircloth Amendment for decades, and that has helped precipitate — and contributed to — the housing crisis that we are living in today. A major part of our housing problem is a supply problem.”

Toward that end, dramatically increasing the availability of public housing could ease the overall housing market. And by pumping more resources into revitalizing public housing, the bill’s sponsors hope that the stigma of public housing can be shorn away.

“We have seen our counterparts, everywhere from Vienna to Singapore, engage in truly revolutionary public and social housing policies that have bettered the lives of working-class people,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “And the stigma around public housing has prevented everyday Americans from understanding that we can actually really have incredible housing in the United States under a public model.”

Progressive groups on the left are already lining up to press their case on this. Analilia Mejia, co-director of the Center for Popular Democracy, told POLITICO that she hopes Biden will use the “power of the bully pulpit” to bring the issue home for Americans.

“I think he can be a game changer,” said Mejia. “I think it will cut through the noise for some people.”

Asked whether the Biden administration supports the Green New Deal for Public Housing, the White House was decidedly noncommittal.

“As he laid out in his State of the Union address and again this week in Nevada, President Biden is laser focused on lowering housing costs for owners and renters alike,” said White House deputy press secretary Michael Kikukawa. “We welcome ideas from members of Congress to build on our strong agenda.”

Still, Ocasio-Cortez is optimistic about what she’s seen lately from Biden on housing.

“We are starting to see them wade into these waters,” she said. “We saw the president mention housing during his State of the Union. They're starting to do more events explicitly centered on this issue and [talking] about this issue more. I think that we are going to see the White House do more. And we're going to have to do more.”

Read the full story here.
Photos courtesy of

America’s most endangered rivers of 2024

A new national report says America's rivers are in crisis.

The United States has a nostalgic and almost mystical connection with its rivers.These vital waterways, many of which are central to the cultural traditions and day-to-day lives of Native American peoples, have also inspired centuries of American folklore, literature, and cinema—from the mighty Mississippi to the Hudson and Potomac rivers.But rather than dreamy, wistful tales of adventure and triumph from long ago, the modern reality of rivers tells a stark tale of pollution and its dire consequences for people, animals, and the environment.A new report detailing the general state of the nation’s rivers and a detailed account of its ten most endangered rivers says they are in crisis.“All water is connected. We cannot allow pollution anywhere without risk to the rivers we rely on for our drinking water,” said Tom Kiernan, President and CEO of American Rivers, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit environmental advocacy organization focused on protecting and promoting the health of the nation’s rivers. “Our leaders must hold polluters accountable and strengthen the Clean Water Act to safeguard our health and communities.”Around 44% of waterways are too polluted for swimming or fishing, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.The country’s 3.5 million miles of rivers supply water to thousands of farms and millions of people. They support a vast number of jobs nationwide and are home to countless animal and plant species. While the days of seeing rivers ablaze due to severe pollution may be behind us, new and equally daunting challenges have emerged, making safeguarding and rejuvenating these lifelines more complex and urgent than ever.Today, the country’s 250,000 rivers face the threat of human-made climate change, fueling more extreme weather, like floods and droughts. Harmful infrastructure projects and rapidly expanding cities have increased the demand on rivers and greatly strained wildlife and the environment.One of the central elements that has improved these threats by preventing environmental protection is lobbyists from a range of industries, including agriculture, energy, chemicals, mining, construction, and transportation.Even the Supreme Court has added to the plight of U.S. rivers, deciding in 2023 that wetlands and ephemeral streams are not part of the 50-year-old Clean Water Act. Wetlands naturally remove pollutants and runoff while also preventing erosion and flooding. Ephemeral streams only have flowing water during floods or heavy rain, transferring pollution to larger bodies of water.Here are the ten most endangered rivers of 2024, which includes a whole state.1. New Mexico’s riversNew MexicoAt risk: clean water, wildlife, habitat, recreation, agriculture, cultural resources.Large parts of New Mexico are often in some level of drought, making its rivers a crucial part of life. They provide clean drinking water, irrigation, fish and wildlife habitat, and rich cultural resources. But American Rivers claims that the 2023 SCOTUS decision harms New Mexico the most out of all the states. Losing the protections could allow more pollution and habitat damage, leading to damage to downstream rivers such as the Rio Grande, Gila, San Juan, and Pecos.2. Big Sunflower and Yazoo RiversMississippiAt risk: Wetlands, birds, fish, and wildlife, local communities.These two rivers are home to wetlands and habitats that support hundreds of species of birds, fish, and other wildlife. They are located in the heart of a major bird migration route known as the Mississippi Flyway. Home to one of the last intact bottomland hardwood forests in the nation, the area is threatened by a project known as the Yazoo Backwater Pumps. The project would damage 200,000 acres of waterfowl habitat and, according to American Rivers, reinforce historical environmental and racial injustices for predominantly Black, poor communities. The Yazoo Pumps proposal was vetoed by EPA under President George W Bush in 2008 due to its environmental impact. It was revived in 2021.3. Duck RiverTennesseeAt risk: Clean water, fish and wildlife habitat.The Duck River in Tennessee holds the distinction of being North America’s most biodiverse river. It is one of the world’s three primary centers of fish and mussel diversity, providing habitat for endangered species. However, rapid development from expanding local communities poses a significant threat to its health. The river supports local needs for drinking water, agriculture, and industrial manufacturing, but escalating demands are surpassing the river’s sustainable capacity. This overuse jeopardizes the future availability of the Duck River’s resources for both people and its diverse aquatic life.4. Santa Cruz RiverArizona and Sonora (Mexico)At risk: community and cultural connection, fish and wildlife.The Santa Cruz River, the tribal home to one of the first communities established in North America, is coming back to life after intensive groundwater withdrawals dried it up in the 1940s. Decades later, partially treated wastewater discharge created harmful conditions for native ecosystems and humans. However, climate change and water scarcity now threaten its path to recovery, while environmental rollbacks to clean water protections at the federal level could add new challenges to the watershed’s long-term health.5. Little Pee Dee RiverSouth Carolina and North CarolinaAt risk: clean water, wetlands, wildlife habitat.The river, primarily situated in South Carolina’s upper coastal plain, is one of the Southeast’s most unique blackwater rivers. Along its 118-mile course, forestry wetlands provide a critical habitat for endangered fish and wildlife species. Until recently, the river remained primarily untouched by development, but that could be about to change as the threat of highway development and poor resource management threaten it and the communities that depend on it.6. Farmington RiverConnecticut and MassachusettsAt risk: clean drinking water, fish and wildlife.The Farmington River supports a diverse range of fish and wildlife and is a vital source of clean drinking water for the region, as well as boating and other recreation opportunities. However, the outdated Rainbow Dam is damaging the river, blocking fish migration and spurring outbreaks of toxic algae blooms that harm people, pets, and wildlife.7. Trinity RiverCaliforniaAt risk: tribal fishing and water rights, clean drinking water, fish and wildlife.The Trinity River’s main threats come from excessive water diversions, new water demands, and the effects of drought and climate change. It’s the largest tributary of the Klamath River and a vital habitat for salmon, steelhead and green sturgeon. Known as Hun’ to the Hoopa Tribe, which has lived on its banks for thousands of years, it’s now at the center of a dispute over tribal rights. The Hoopa Valley and Yurok Tribes have been stewarding and defending the river for generations and fighting for environmental justice for the people and the waters.8. Kobuk RiverAlaskaAt risk: Iñupiaq subsistence traditions and economy, clean water, fish and wildlife.The Kobuk River, free-flowing and situated north of the Arctic Circle in Alaska, winds through the northern edge of the boreal forest beside the colossal Brooks Mountain Range. This river has no road connections or industrial development and provides a unique view of an ancient and rare North American landscape. It runs through the homelands of the Indigenous Iñupiat, who rely on the river’s rich fish and wildlife populations to survive and use it for spiritual and cultural purposes. However, a new road development supporting mining activities seriously threatens the river and tribe.9. Tijuana River/Rio TijuanaCalifornia and Baja California (Mexico)At risk: clean water and public health.The Tijuana River Watershed is home to millions of people on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border and the ancestral and current homeland of the Kumeyaay People. The river was once a favorite spot for families, swimmers, and surfers but is now heavily polluted. It limits coastal access where it meets the Pacific Ocean, hurts ecosystems, forces beach closures, and causes widespread illnesses.Years of mismanagement and poor wastewater infrastructure have led to long-running violations of the Clean Water Act.10. Blackwater RiverWest VirginiaAt risk: Clean water, fish and wildlife habitat, recreation and tourism economy.West Virginia’s Blackwater River is a beloved recreational destination for wildlife and nature enthusiasts, including boaters, cyclists, hikers, hunters, and anglers. However, Blackwater is at risk from a state-proposed four-lane “Corridor H” highway that would divide local communities, destroy delicate habitats, and pollute key tributaries.

Is "3 Body Problem" brainy? Certainly. It's also divisive, depending on who's watching it

Once again the creators of "Game of Thrones" and a "True Blood" writer endeavor to tame the unadaptable

It doesn't take long to decide whether Netflix’s “3 Body Problem” is extraordinary or a disarranged travesty. That decision rests on a variety of personal inclinations, including how open someone who has read author Liu Cixin’s novels may be to D.B. Weiss and David Benioff’s liberal interpretation of the novel’s aspects, along with co-creator Alexander Woo. For one, the book’s main protagonist has been split into a group of scientists called the Oxford Five, all of them young and charismatic with made-for-TV specificity. In case that part escapes us the band’s resident stoner Saul Durand (Jovan Adepo) – there’s at least one in every academic squad, don’t you know – ribs another, Auggie Salazar (Eiza González) by telling her she’s beautiful, but in a “boring way,” like an actress who only qualifies for movies like “Speed 3.”   That seems cruel when read out of context, but it’s a joke she invites willingly, and at a point when the two realize that allowing Fermi’s paradox stand might have been better for humankind: Maybe there is other intelligent life in the universe, and maybe we haven’t met them for good reasons. The question of how much hard science the average viewer wants in their sci-fi is also relevant, although “Game of Thrones” executive producers Weiss, Benioff and Woo make these concepts commonly accessible. Liu’s novels swim through game theory, quantum mechanics and dimensional physics, along with other super-geeky concepts that would combine to create a high bar of entry for the typical viewer. This isn’t my take on the books, since I haven’t read them, but that of someone who has read them and harbors doubts about this interpretation. Their concerns are probably shared by the millions who made Liu’s “Remembrance of Earth’s Past” trilogy international bestsellers after the first book was translated into English a decade ago. Eiza González in "3 Body Problem" (Netflix) Maybe there is other intelligent life in the universe, and maybe we haven’t met them for good reasons. But I doubt others will mind this version’s deviations from a text that studio executives considered to be unadaptable for many years. So was “Game of Thrones,” which Weiss and Benioff distilled into an international blockbuster. As long as an interpretation follows a story’s spirit as it tames sprawling storylines into narratives we can wrap our heads around, people are willing to forgive a great deal. We may have rescinded that for absolution for Weiss and Benioff by the end of “Game of Thrones,” but it started well enough. From the perspective of someone coming into the story cold, the same is true here. Mind you, there will be people who resent the simplification of Liu's plot into what initially presents as a mystery winding between reality and virtual reality, making the two indistinguishable for some. Characters are introduced who are corporeal and do things that only an actual person can do, like light a cigarette or commit murder, but don’t show up on any video recordings. Ditto for the sky, which blinks on and off like a light one night. Everyone on the planet sees this, but mechanical devices don't register any anomalies. Meanwhile inside of a game’s universe humans survive by dehydrating to a flatness that enables others to roll them up and carry them around like a yoga mat. This is not a binge to be undertaken lightly, if at all; frankly, this should have been a weekly drop. Why streaming services insist on dropping entire seasons of shows like this while dribbling out brain candy like “Love Is Blind” incrementally is beyond me. Inevitably, then, some will be turned off by its density. One person’s methodical structuring is what another might deem pokey or too much effort for a piece of entertainment. That isn’t entirely wrong because it takes on quite a bit. Besides interlacing environmental, scientific and social themes that whirl through zealotry and nihilism, it’s also a first-contact scenario that forces a reckoning. This version of cosmic judgment reflects on another paradox, that which is inherent to being human. Trees provide oxygen, yet we destroy forests in the name of progress. We claim to value truth but find lies seductive. Scientific development makes our lives better, but when it questions the universe’s inner workings, we cast it aside. Our lack of consideration for our planet will lead to our undoing. That’s no mystery – we’re soaking in our unwillingness to curb our greed, and right now that’s raising sea levels. “3 Body Problem” simply shifts the equation ever so slightly, placing our doom 400 light years away while convincing humankind that it is real and on its way to us. Liu’s trilogy spans millions of epochs and eventually reaches beyond Earth — a challenge for any TV creator but one Weiss, Benioff and Woo can tackle later. For the majority of these eight episodes, we travel between two timelines, starting in the 1960s with a student-led struggle session during China’s Cultural Revolution. This is where a young woman, Ye Wenjie (Zine Tseng), watches Maoists murder her father, a prominent physicist, and force her mother to denounce him to save her own skin. This lesson worms into Ye’s psyche with greater force than any physics principle. A prodigy in her own right, she’s recruited for a secret Chinese government program. One person’s methodical structuring is what another might deem too much effort for a piece of entertainment. Several decisions she makes during that period alter humanity’s trajectory, influenced in part by a chance meeting with an American environmentalist named Mike Evans (Ben Schnetzer). Another act profoundly resonates decades later, in our present, when lab tests across the globe begin spitting out nonsense. Auggie, who is on the verge of a nanotechnology breakthrough, begins seeing numbers appear out of thin air shortly after her mentor and Saul’s supervisor Vera suddenly kills herself. They reach out to their schoolmates Jack Rooney (John Bradley), who traded in a life of research and academia to create a snack and beverage empire, along with Will Downing (Alex Sharp), who teaches physics to high schoolers. He quietly pines away for Jin Cheng (Jess Hong), Auggie’s best friend, a theoretical physicist for who can’t resist complicated riddles – including the purpose of a futuristic virtual reality visor that Vera’s bereft mother (Rosalind Chao) gives to Jin. Benedict Wong in "3 Body Problem" (Netflix)Vera is one of many scientists worldwide who die by suicide for reasons nobody can explain, and without warning or clues — aside from those visors. Their casts draw the attention of investigator Clarence Shi (Benedict Wong) who is working for an unnamed intelligence agency run by a man named Thomas Wade (Liam Cunningham). Wong’s humor is one of the graces that prevents “3 Body Problem” from collapsing under its self-seriousness despite the overall agreeability of other performances, mainly Adepo’s. Circumstances bring the two actors together later in the season, perhaps setting up future installments linking them more consistently, which is worth anticipating. Balancing them is Tseng’s ranging tumble between sharp agony, quiet rage, and calcified disillusionment, all of it encapsulated in a physically understated portrayal that quietly builds to a small twitch that changes everything. Calling out these performances is necessary in a show where several "Game of Thrones" players draw our attention, including Jonathan Pryce, who plays an older version of Evans. For some those details matter less than the visuals, especially in the alternate universe Jin is drawn into as part of a storyline that for a time distracts us into thinking it holds our salvation. One person experiences the game as a version of Shang dynasty China; for another, it’s Tudor England. (The congruity is that the “boss” of each game is inspired by a hedonistic ruler known for their libidinous nature and their cruelty. Depending on how you feel about Weiss and Benioff's liberal exploitation of sexuality in their previous work, that might be a commentary on humanity or an excuse to tightly focus on a woman’s naked breasts as her dehydrated body reconstitutes. “I just never thought I’d get bored of nudity,” Jack jokes.) Regardless of the era, these are the main stages for the show’s effects, riding the line between realism and a video game sheen quite well. But the true test is in scenes blending practical effects and digital where, for example, we see tons of machinery and everything it carries being unmercifully sliced into layers slowly and without relenting. Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course. It’s an impressive display of effects artistry. The reason we can’t tear ourselves away is because it’s also horrifying – a small visual metaphor within the broader parable. In “3 Body Problem” humanity reacts to a crisis inching toward the planet by giving up or getting religion or acts of extremism and expensive desperation. Some can’t think of anything better to do than purchase the rights to celestial bodies they will never reach, which makes about as much sense as gearing up to fight an enemy we won’t be alive to confront. “Why don’t we all just relax and smoke a J because we’re all going to be dead by then?” someone asks. The response is already familiar to many of us, that we owe it to our descendants to fight for them. Stability and chaos are often separated by thin margins, echoing the refrain of warnings we ignore. Sometimes the universe winks at us and we can’t figure out if that’s a provocation, a flirtation, or the side effects of some strong smoke. This adaptation makes finding out engrossing, if not altogether simple. What theory worth parsing is? "3 Body Problem" streams on Netflix on Thursday, March 21. Read more about this topic

How did Gaza war influence CA primary?

The ongoing Gaza war and worsening humanitarian crisis have led to protests and put politicians on the spot in California and elsewhere. And as the calls for a ceasefire have grown louder, voters have been trying to find ways to make their voices heard. In states including Michigan, Hawaii and Minnesota, Democrats voted “uncommitted” to […]

Protestors march to the state Capitol calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza war on Nov. 17, 2023. Photo by Rahul Lal for CalMatters The ongoing Gaza war and worsening humanitarian crisis have led to protests and put politicians on the spot in California and elsewhere. And as the calls for a ceasefire have grown louder, voters have been trying to find ways to make their voices heard. In states including Michigan, Hawaii and Minnesota, Democrats voted “uncommitted” to protest President Biden’s Gaza war policy. And while Californians who support a Gaza ceasefire did not have that option in the presidential primary, CalMatters Capitol reporter Sameea Kamal and data reporter Jeremia Kimelman looked at the vote counts so far and evidence of protest votes emerging in some pockets of the state.  In Los Angeles County, about 13% of Democrats didn’t vote for Biden. In Sacramento and San Bernardino counties, the total was more than 11%. Some voters were told to leave the presidential race blank, while others were encouraged to vote for Marianne Williamson, who dropped out in February, or Peace and Freedom party candidate Cornel West, both of whom support a ceasefire.  In 39 counties where the numbers were available, at least 160,000 voters in the Democratic presidential primary left the race blank, and another 100,000 voted for Williamson or a write-in candidate. Christian Grose, professor of political science and public policy at the University of Southern California: “It’s always easier to vote for no one than it is to vote for somebody as a protest.” According to some community organizers, efforts in California to rally a notable share of protest votes was difficult for a number of reasons. In addition to California’s huge size, the earlier March primary date made it harder for organizers to get the message out. Arab Americans also make up a smaller portion of the state’s total population than in Michigan. Despite the uphill battle organizers face in rallying for more support, political advocacy around Gaza continues, especially for Californinas who have family there. Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations’ Sacramento and Central Valley chapter: “You feel this guilt that, you know, my taxpayer dollars and U.S. doctrine is killing my people. It’s just a very, very difficult situation…. It’s like a nightmare that’s not ending.” To learn more on the protest vote, read Sameea’s story. And catch up on how the Gaza debate has impacted California politics with CalMatters stories on what happened on the first day of the legislative session and at the state Democratic Party convention. CalMatters events: The next one is scheduled for March 27 in Sacramento on the impact of maternity ward closures and state efforts to protect access. And it’s not too early to put our first Ideas Festival on your calendar, for June 5-6. Other Stories You Should Know CA congressional primaries update Voters cast their ballots at City Hall in San Francisco on March 5, 2024. Photo by Juliana Yamada for CalMatters There’s more news from California’s primary: As it did in 2022, California could again help decide which party controls the U.S. House. That’s because even though Democrats dominate the congressional delegation, there are still a handful of toss-up districts. A key one will again be the 22nd District in the Central Valley that the AP declared Wednesday will be a rematch between Republican Rep. David Valadao and Democrat Rudy Salas. Democrats had feared that they would be frozen out of the November race, if Republican Chris Mathys had grabbed the second slot from the top-two primary. In the latest update by the Cook Political Report, just before the primary, the 22nd was one of four Republican-held districts rated as toss-ups. No seats now held by Democrats are among the 10 toss-ups nationally.  The 20th District is safe Republican territory, but there was still drama in the race to succeed former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Assemblymember Vince Fong had to go to court against Secretary of State Shirley Weber to get on the primary ballot, but he has won one of the two spots for November. And Wednesday, Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux was declared the winner of the second spot, elbowing aside Democrat Marisa Wood. And don’t forget: On Tuesday, there’s a special election to fill the remainder of McCarthy’s term and Fong, Boudreaux and Wood are running in that as well. Unlike the top-two primary, a candidate could win outright next week, if they get a clear majority. Otherwise, there’s a May 21 runoff.  Some other congressional results remain too close to call, more than a week after primary day on March 5. Keep track of some key ones with CalMatters’ Voter Guide page on the U.S. House.  Now, California’s delegation includes 40 Democrats and 12 Republicans. And the GOP holds an overall majority of a mere six seats in the House. That will tighten by one more on March 22, when GOP Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado steps down. In other election news: A power couple’s strategy for both to land legislative seats failed. Wednesday, the AP declared that Assemblymember Carlos Villapudua, a Stockton Democrat, didn’t make the top two in state Senate District 5 and that Edith Villapudua, who switched from that race to seek her husband’s seat, finished third in Assembly District 13. The California Chamber of Commerce announced Wednesday it opposes the new effort to recall Gov. Newsom. Some of the same conservative activists behind the failed 2021 recall launched another try last month. Falling behind on climate goals Vapor is released into the sky at an oil refinery in Wilmington. Photo by Bret Hartman, Reuters California often embraces its perception as a “climate policy leader,” but a new report finds that the state is far behind its goals to reduce greenhouse gases. As CalMatters climate reporter Alejandro Lazo explains, the analysis by Beacon Economics and the environmental nonprofit Next 10 concludes that the state must triple its rate of reducing emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other climate-warming gases over the next six years if it wants to hit its requirement to reduce greenhouse gases to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.  That would require cutting emissions 4.4% every year starting in 2022 — a pace that California has only come close to hitting twice over the last two decades. That was in 2009 and 2020, during major recessions. Otherwise, from 2016 through 2021 the average reduction has been just 1.6% a year. The report comes at a time when California has its eyes on an even more ambitious climate goal, which seeks to cut emissions by 48% below 1990 levels by 2030 and achieve full carbon neutrality by 2045. In the face of proposed budget cuts to climate programs, various institutions, such as the California public university system, continue to work toward decarbonization. But the latest report joins a handful of earlier studies from the Legislative Analyst’s Office and a state advisory committee that cast doubt on California meeting its 2030 goals. Nevertheless, a spokesperson for the state’s Air Resources Board said in an emailed statement that California “will achieve the state’s climate targets.” Learn more about California’s climate change mandate in Alejandro’s story. CalMatters Commentary CalMatters columnist Dan Walters is away. As Willie Brown turns 90, the California political giant reflects on his career and the state of politics. Many still seek his counsel, writes James Richardson, a former senior writer with The Sacramento Bee and author of “Willie Brown: A Biography.” Attention young journalists: The CalMatters Youth Journalism Initiative is holding its second Earth Day commentary contest. You can make an impact on important issues, get advice from CalMatters reporters and, oh, you might win as much as $500. The deadline is March 25. Other things worth your time: Some stories may require a subscription to read. CA lawmakers mull AI limits ahead of November election // San Francisco Chronicle Fatal shooting of autistic teen raises concerns about police response // Los Angeles Times Federal judge strikes down CA limit on gun purchases // The San Diego Union-Tribune Fake blood, gunfire? Shooter drills need new rules, lawmaker says // Los Angeles Times CA’s science test will be added to state school dashboard // EdSource Feds fund farmworker housing, 14 months after Half Moon Bay massacre // San Francisco Chronicle David Mixner, LGBTQ+ activist and major LA political figure, dies at 77 // AP News San Mateo County leaders take stand against AT&T’s bid to scrap landline service // KQED SF Presidio’s will become a construction site in major overhaul // San Francisco Chronicle

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