Friday, October 21, 2016

Articles on Solano EDC October 20 Dan Walters breakfast

Political attestant says Capitol makeup is election’s harvest

By Todd R. Hansen From page A3 | October 21, 2016

FAIRFIELD — Dan Walters, the dean of political writers in Sacramento, said the Bay Delta tunnels are dead, redevelopment is alive and the lasting effect of the Nov. 8 election will be how many “BDs” survive the voters.

Walters said the so-called “Mod Squad,” or business-friendly moderate Democrats, have changed the political dynamic of how things get done at the Capitol.

“But they only have power if they have a balance of power between the Democrats and the Republicans,” said Walters, a widely syndicated columnist for The Sacramento Bee who was the speaker at the Solano Economic Development Corporation’s breakfast on Thursday morning.

That political balance, he said, is at stake during the election.

Walters said the ageless struggle of the business interests trying to beat back the annual agenda of the big-four liberal interests – labor unions, environmentalists, trial lawyers and consumer advocates – took a dramatic change when those employer groups changed their election strategy.

Instead of trying to put up conservative Republicans in a losing effort to regain legislative control, they began to support more moderate “business Democrats.”

Aided by the election change that sends the top two vote-getters from the primary to the general election, rather than the top Democrat and the top Republican, it allowed moderate Democrats to challenge more liberal party members for the same seat.

In fact, Walters said he would not be surprised if Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom faced another Democrat for the governor’s office in the 2018 general election.

“It allows the business community to play in Democratic politics,” Walters said.

He pointed to state Sen. Steve Glazer as an example in Contra Costa County and “we might see another one here with Mr. (Bill) Dodd.”

Assemblyman Dodd, a former Republican turned Democrat, is seeking the 3rd Senate District seat. He is challenged by former Democratic Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada, who admits she sits more to the left on the political spectrum than Dodd.

Dodd, who attended the breakfast event, said afterward that he is, in fact, one of the BDs, but prefers to view himself as an independent.

“I think it is a pretty high-level analysis of what is going on,” Dodd said of Walters’ presentation, “but I think most of the people who I represent are more moderate.”

The problem the business community has this year is there is no pressing reason for Republicans to go to the polls and vote.

“There is nothing on the ballot to make Republicans turn out,” said Walters, who noted that the presidential election traditionally brings more voters out, but largely more Democrats.

He said Republicans know Hillary Clinton is going to carry the state, and with no singular ballot measure to motivate them, the election could see the Democrats gaining more seats in the state Assembly and the Senate.

That would lessen the strength of the business Democrats who need Republicans to help carry their agenda.

“It will be a high turnout election, but it will be skewed even more toward Democrats,” Walters said.

He also suggested that if Democrats regain control of the U.S. Senate, Sen. Dianne Feinstein may retire, though she has said she plans to run again in 2018.

Asked about Gov. Jerry Brown’s two-tunnel plan for the California Delta, Walters said the proposal seems to have very difficult environmental, legal and financial impediments and is likely dead.

“Part of the reason is the drought,” Walters said. “You would think it would make it more likely, but in fact, it has made is less likely.”

He spoke of the efforts of Southern California water interests to develop more surface storage as well as San Diego constructing a desalination plant, so the need for a more reliable water source is not as great. Those urban interests are not willing to spend the money for the twin-tunnels project while so many other interests – including the environment and farming – get such a large part of the benefits.

“I think even the governor has backed off of it. He does not talk about it much anymore,” Walters said.

Asked about whether California will bring back redevelopment when Brown leaves office, Walters said: “Redevelopment is back. Didn’t you notice?”

Walters spoke of several pieces of legislation that have enabled specific municipalities to do what redevelopment allowed, but without the shift of school funding.

Reach Todd R. Hansen at 427-6932 or


Backroom power story sets event’s tone

By Todd R. Hansen From page A3 | October 21, 2016

FAIRFIELD — Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan felt a surge of pride Thursday as longtime political columnist Dan Walters set the tone of his presentation with a story about her father.

“You never really see a bill. What you see is a concept that floats around the Capitol looking for a home,” Walters said as he began to recount a story from 30-plus years ago.

It was a story about how the Sunset Scavenger firm wanted to build a landfill in the American River canyon, but needed legislative help to get past the environmental hurdles.

Willie Brown, who had worked as an attorney for the company in some capacity, agreed to find someone who would author the bill. That is when Tom Hannigan was introduced to the narrative.

“He was kind of a no-nonsense kind of guy,” Walters said of Hannigan, a Vietnam veteran and a veteran of the political wars as well.

“He went up to Willie Brown one day and said, ‘Willie, knock it off, this is my district,’ ” Walters said. “And that was all there was to that.”

Erin Hannigan said she has heard a lot of stories about her father, but never that particular one, and was happy Walters included it in his presentation.

Thomas M. Hannigan, a former mayor of Fairfield and former Solano County supervisor, served in the state Assembly from 1978-96, and was majority leader from 1985-95. He served as director of the state Department of Water Resources from 1999-2003.

Reach Todd R. Hansen at 427-6932 or