The California Legislature is a hotbed of indecency, on many levels. Decades of vulgarity, obscene tales of trysts and assignations, and the usual gropes and grabs have made the rounds in local watering holes, and on the pages of newspapers. So when more than 150 women wrote an open letter last month condemning the culture of sexual harassment in the Capitol, news reports joined in the condemnation. Since then, more women have added their names to the letter. But it turns out the culture inside the Capitol is even more uncivil and indelicate than previously thought possible.
Following the women’s letter, it was reported that Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León said his office has asked the women’s caucus for further recommendations on “new protections that will encourage those who have been victims or witnesses of harassment to come forward and report—and provide counsel and assistance throughout the reporting process.” Except some of the members of the women’s caucus, along with other legislative leaders, may have been involved in helping to cover up for abusive Senators and Assembly members in their capacity as Rules Committee members and senior members.
The California Legislature has apparently been violating state and federal laws which require employers to provide and maintain workplace safety and security, free from harassment. Government Code §12940(k) requires employers to take all reasonable steps to prevent illegal sexual harassment from occurring in the workplace.
Whew. Isn’t it good to know California employees are protected under state law from harassers… except those working in the State Capitol, where whistleblower protections for legislative employees have been killed every year they are proposed.
Kevin and Tony Were Roomies
“Over the weekend, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León moved out of a Sacramento apartment he shared with Sen. Tony Mendoza on Saturday, the same day the Sacramento Bee published a story in which a former female intern publicly accused Mendoza of inappropriate behavior toward her when she was 19,” the San Jose Mercury News reported. Yet de Leon claims he never knew about the sexual harassment allegations, despite being roommates with one of the Legislature’s alleged harassers.
“A de León spokesman confirmed Sunday that the Senate leader had moved out of the apartment that he shared with Mendoza during the week. He did not provide more information,” the SJMN reported. Yet has anyone asked de Leon’s spokesman, Dan Reeves, about these stories? By all accounts, Dan Reeves is involved in every aspect of de Leon’s role, including the civil rights debacle last year in which Republican Sen. Janet Nguyen was forcibly removed from the Senate floor for speaking about the late Senator Tom Hayden, and his involvement with communists in Vietnam. In an unprecedented move, Reeves, a Democratic staffer, told Sen. Nguyen, an elected member, that she would not be allowed to speak on the issue on the Senate floor.
Senate HR is a Kangaroo Court
I know a little something about Human Resources and labor law issues first hand. For 20 years I was a Human Resources Director for a large manufacturing company. As such, I was tasked with investigating sexual harassment accusations, among many other responsibilities.
While Kevin de León was working as a community organizer and labor union stooge, as Director of Human Resources and a Labor Law Specialist I managed 250 manufacturing, clerical and sales employees, did hiring and terminations, employee evaluations, health and safety policy, regulatory compliance, Workers Compensation insurance and caseload, health insurance, general insurance for business, payroll oversight, OSHA, EDD appeals, and general labor law and legal issues, as well as making sure our large, diverse workplace was free from harassment of any kind, was safe and accident free. I never lost an OSHA or Workers’ Comp appeal, discrimination case or sexual harassment case. And yes, I had to ferret out vindictive female employees falsely accusing male supervisors they deemed tyrannical, versus legitimate sexual harassment problems. I even had to terminate two male employees for harassing female employees, after conducting thorough investigations, all-the-while keeping the female employees safe from retaliation.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
For anyone working at the Capitol who is unsure, “Sexual harassment” is unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is sufficiently persistent or offensive to unreasonably interfere with an employee’s job performance or create an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment. Sexual harassment is defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Guidelines as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
The Associated Press reported that the California Senate announced it will hire an outside legal team to investigate all complaints of sexual misconduct and recommend discipline following new allegations against Democratic Sen. Tony Mendoza. However, hiring an outside law firm to investigate sexual misconduct is really sneaky. The outside law firm would immediately establish attorney/client privilege and maintain confidentiality to work to shield key facts from the public and independent law enforcement evaluation, as my co-author of “California’s War Against Donald Trump: Who Wins? Who Loses?” and attorney, James Lacy explained.
The Senate has typically handled its harassment complaints internally by human resources employees that report to the Senate Rules Committee, made up of five State Senators, in a fox-guarding-the-henhouse arrangement. We’ve seen just how sleazy this Senate Rules Committee can be when one of their own is in trouble with the law.
Remember only three years ago when then-Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg hired an outside law firm to investigate Dina Hidalgo, the Senate Human Resource director, after she was accused in an anonymous letter of gross nepotism and abuse of authority by hiring numerous family and friends? She even hired her own son, one of the Senate’s in-house law-enforcement officers, who was caught with cocaine and marijuana in his system the night he was involved in a fatal off-duty shooting outside his Greenhaven-area home.
Steinberg and the Senate Rules Committee then denied a Public Records Act request by The Associated Press for a copy of the $98,000 taxpayer-funded nepotism investigation, citing special exemptions under the California Public Records Act.
Dina Hidalgo, as head of human resources for the California Senate played a major role in hiring more than 40 friends and relatives. Her immediate supervisor, Greg Schmidt, then was the Senate’s top administrator, had his own nepotism issues:
Schmidt’s son Jeffrey has worked for the Senate since February 2010, during which time his salary increased nearly 63 percent as he changed jobs.
Schmidt’s daughter-in-law Beth Schmidt worked part time for the Assembly for nine years until 2013. During most of her employment in the California Capitol, Beth Schmidt was allowed to work remotely from her home near Salem, Ore.
Schmidt’s nephew Kevin worked for the Senate for three years and then worked for Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The Senate’s long-time chief sergeant-at-arms, Tony Beard, took one for the team when he claimed he had withheld information about Lopez’ drug use from Steinberg, “who only learned of the incident after being asked about it by the press,” Capitol Weekly reported. Uh huh. “Beard, whose father also served as Senate chief sergeant decades earlier, resigned his position.” Greg Schmidt retired.
The Senate HR scandal was child’s play compared with the criminal activities plaguing the Senate in 2013 and 2014 under the “leadership” of then Pro Tem Steinberg. Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, was indicted on federal corruption charges, and Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, was indicted on federal corruption charges, racketeering, and arms dealing, while Sen. Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, was convicted of perjury and voter fraud in January for lying about his legal residence in Los Angeles County.
The involved members of the Senate (and Assembly) attempting to distance themselves (Kevin de Leon) from this latest vile scandal are only trying to save their own pitiful careers, and have no concern for the women who feel they were harassed. De Leon, his predecessor, and his Senate cohorts are not leaders and are grossly mishandling this crisis in their swamp.
I’ve been critical of women who won’t stand up for themselves and smack abusers where they deserve it. But in the face of gross corruption and malfeasance in the California Legislature—again—justice must be done. We can’t count on California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra to focus on anything other than suing President Donald Trump. Perhaps it’s time to bring in Trump’s DOJ to investigate this den of thieves known as California corrupt Democrats. This is the result of decades of the culture of corruption dominated by leftists.
Katy Grimes’s new book, “California’s War Against Donald Trump,” co-authored with Jim Lacy, is available for purchase at Amazon
Katy Grimes is an investigative journalist, Senior Correspondent with the Flash Report, ReaganBabe, and Senior Media Fellow with Energy and Environmental Institute. A longtime political analyst, she has written for The Sacramento Union, The Washington Examiner, Watchdog.org, The Pacific Research Institute’s CalWatchdog, The San Francisco Examiner, The Business Journal, E&E Legal, The Sacramento Bee, Legal Insurrection, Canada Free Press, and Laura Ingraham’s LifeZette, and can be heard regularly on many talk radio shows each week.
‘Blade Runner 2049’ is almost here. Stephen Vaughan/Alcon Entertainment
While full reviews for Denis Villeneuve‘s Blade Runner 2049 are still a week away, Warner Bros. did lift the social media embargo today. That means critics have been able to discuss their reactions to the film and, well, it sounds like the best movie of 2017 (so far) has arrived. Warner Bros.’ dominant year continues.
Admittedly, we’re not that surprised. Blade Runner is considered by many to be the greatest sci-fi film of all time, Villeneuve is one of Hollywood’s best working directors and 2049 put together an absolutely stellar cast. That’s an obvious recipe for success, especially for fans of the original.
Hopefully, the sequel connects with general audiences and can work with It and Kingsman: The Golden Circle to help drag cinema out of a putrid box office summer. At its core, 2049 should have cross-generational appeal thanks to 1982’s original. Pairing Harrison Ford (coming off Star Wars: The Force Awakens) with Ryan Gosling (coming off La La Land) doesn’t hurt its box office prospects either.
Most importantly, though, is that 2049 looks like a real winner. Can it sneak into the Oscars race like Villeneuve’s Arrival did last year? Historically, the Academy has looked down upon the sci-fi, but that paradigm is beginning to change and Villeneuve is known for his emotional storytelling.
Bade Runner 2049 stars Gosling, Ford, Ana de Armas, Robin Wright, Jared Leto, Mazkenzie Davis, Dave Bautista and more familiar faces (we told you it was a stellar cast). It will hit theaters on October 6.
‘Blade Runner 2049’ arrives on October 6. Courtesy of Alcon Entertainment
The fate of an entire production company rests in the hands of the upcoming Blade Runner 2049. Alcon Entertainment is known as a quality studio that consistently produces one-off smaller-scale hits. Past successes include: The Blind Side, Prisoners and P.S. I Love You. But the financial crisis of the 2010s put Alcon into a precarious position: go big or go home.
“If you don’t have repetitive cash flow, which is a fancy way of saying being in the sequel business, you are going to be in trouble eventually,” producer Andrew Kosove told THR.
So the powers that be at Alcon Entertainment decided to swing for the fences and after whiffing badly on the 2015 Point Break remake ($133 million worldwide off a $105 million budget), they’re down to their last strike.
“This is a chips-in-the-center-of-the-table exercise,” Kosove surmised. In order for Alcon to survive and keep making good movies, what kind of money does Blade Runner 2049 need to make?
The picture cost quite a bit at $150 million and insiders tell THR that it will need to gross at least $400 million worldwide to be considered a win. That’s a huge chunk of change, especially for an R-rated sequel arriving 35 years after the first film flopped at the box office. Further complicating 2049‘s path to success is its October 6 release date. That Friday will mark the fourth straight weekend featuring an adult male-skewing wide release following American Assassin, Kingsman: The Golden Circle and American Made. Will audiences be burned out by that time? At first glance, we’re skeptical the movie can reach the $400 million benchmark.
But 2049 does have a lot of good things going for it. First and foremost, the early buzz suggests this movie may very well be a masterpiece and the best of the year. Universally good reviews and strong word of mouth are crucial to box office prospects. The fact that it’s a sequel to the 1982 Blade Runner also helps from a reputation standpoint as the original is widely considered today to be the greatest sci-fi film of all time. There’s going to be a lot of cross-generational interest here.
The talent will draw audiences in as well. Ryan Gosling (fresh off the Oscar-winning La La Land) and original star Harrison Ford (coming off of Star Wars: The Force Awakens) are big leads in their own right. Director Denis Villeneuve is one of Hollywood’s best filmmakers and is coming off the Oscar-nominated Arrival. Those are all heavy hitters.
For what it’s worth: Box Office Pro, which specializes in long range forecasts, projected last month that 2049 would open to $44 million and end with a domestic total of $115 million. Considering the surprisingly leggy Arrival (4.1x multiplier), it’s possible that the movie takes in a bit more domestically. Fingers crossed Blade Runner 2049 lives up to the hype and makes enough money to keep Alcon Entertainment in the business of making good movies.
“If it works, it transforms what we do,” co-producer Broderick Johnson said.
Will ‘Blade Runner 2049’ Be the Next ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’?
What should the studio expect from ‘Blade Runner 2049’ at the box office? Stephen Vaughan/Alcon Entertainment
If Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t earn at least $400 million worldwide, film studio Alcon Entertainment will be in very serious trouble. So is that goal attainable? Let’s break it down.
Deadline is reporting that tracking numbers suggest a domestic opening of $45 million and a worldwide opening of $100 million. Considering that it’s a hard R-rated film, that’s not bad at all. However, Blade Runner 2049 carries with it a production budget of $155 million, with insiders telling Deadline that the real number is closer to $175 million. Given that, you’d like to see a slightly higher take. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that internal estimates over at Sony peg the opening closer to $48 million to $52 million.
Working in the film’s favor are its two strong leads with through-the-roof recency bias appeal in Ryan Gosling (coming off the Oscar-winning La La Land) and original star Harrison Ford (coming off Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Director Denis Villeneuve is one of the best filmmakers in all of Hollywood and the 35-year-old property should have cross-generational appeal. Most importantly, the film is being universally lauded by critics as one of the best movies of 2017.
However, it’s also a dense sci-fi meditation that runs close to three hours, limiting the amount of showings theaters can post in a single day. It also has a handful of still-running and new movie competition that will nibble into its total take.
The best case scenario would be for Blade Runner 2049 to play like Mad Max: Fury Road, another requel of a popular 1980s property that posted solid box office numbers and garnered several Oscar nominations, including Best Picture. Fury Road opened to $45.4 million domestic before going on to earn $378.8 million worldwide, per Box Office Mojo. While not a perfect comparison—Fury Road was a shorter movie in a longer-running franchise—this would be a solid marker of success for 2049.
Let’s assume the Gosling-Ford flick carries the same multiplier as Fury Road (3.3x), approximates the same domestic/overseas splits (40 percent vs 60 percent) and opens on the higher end of expectations ($50 million). By that logic, we’re looking at a domestic total of over/under $165 million and an overseas gross of around $248 million (which is asking a lot of foreign markets). In this scenario, we get a worldwide gross of over/under $413 million, meeting Alcon’s needs. That’s fine and dandy…and likely optimistic
If 2049 opens around Deadline’s $45 million expectations, it may struggle to cross the $400 million mark. If that were the case, Alcon would still be praised for delivering a critically acclaimed feature (Villeneuve’s Arrival snuck into the Best Picture race last year), but would probably ending up losing money. Realistically, the movie may play more like Tron: Legacy, which did well in the U.S. ($172 million off a $44 million opening), but slowed down overseas ($228 million). If that were the case, Blade Runner 2049 may finish its run right around the $400 million mark, but it’ll be close.
So let’s hope for the best, but temper our expectations with this pricey endeavor.