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Federal judge: Wildfires show PG&E violated probation terms -- A day after PG&E filed for bankruptcy protection from what could be multi-billion dollar wildfire liability costs, a federal judge Wednesday declared the beleaguered utility in violation of its probation for the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion. Matthias Gafni in the San Jose Mercury -- 1/30/19

Bankrupt PG&E plans $130 million in bonuses for thousands of employees -- Thousands of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. employees are eligible for a combined $130 million in 2018 performance bonuses the utility wants approved as part of the bankruptcy process it entered on Tuesday, court papers show. J.D. Morris in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/30/19

Gas is getting more and more expensive. California lawmakers demand an investigation -- California has the second highest fuel costs in the nation, with gas prices only rising in recent years. A committee working on behalf of the California Energy Commission discovered an “unexplained surcharge” in September 2017 costing Californians over $17 billion since February 2015, or $1,700 for a family of four. Bryan Anderson in the Sacramento Bee -- 1/30/19

San Francisco — where drug addicts outnumber high school academics -- San Francisco has more drug addicts than it has students enrolled in its public high schools, the city Health Department’s latest estimates conclude. Phil Matier in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/30/19

UC’s Napolitano: Proposal would make it easier for sexual predators on campus -- University of California President Janet Napolitano delivered an unequivocal message to the Trump administration this week about the sweeping changes being proposed for how campuses must respond to sexual harassment and assault allegations: Don’t do it. Nanette Asimov in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/30/19

The government shutdown is over, but uncertainty remains for tenants in public housing -- More than 130,000 households in Los Angeles County receive some form of federal rental assistance and were at risk of not being able to pay their rent if the shutdown had lasted through the end of February. But the mere threat of thousands of poor people returning to homelessness in L.A. — and the possibility of that threat happening again — has rattled government officials and affordable housing advocates. Benjamin Oreskes and Doug Smith in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/30/19

Trump’s imaginary friends: Are Democrats for a wall any more real than Jim in Paris? -- President Trump has a long list of imaginary friends. There was Jim, who no longer visits Paris because immigrants have sullied its allure — a character whose existence White House aides were never able to confirm. There were his White House predecessors who, he claimed, told him they wished they had built a southern border wall — an assertion each former president denied. Eli Stokols and Jennifer Haberkorn in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/30/19

Lopez: The new L.A. County sheriff is off to a bumpy start. Makes you wonder why we appoint police chiefs but elect sheriffs -- In 1998, Los Angeles County Sheriff Sherman Block took a fall in his bathtub, suffered a brain hemorrhage and died. But his supporters so detested his reelection challenger, Lee Baca, they kept Block’s campaign alive after his death. The candidate with a pulse prevailed, but 703,178 L.A. County residents cast ballots for the entombed candidate. Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/30/19

Fox: Cost and Taxes in the Green Economy -- The 12th annual Verdexchange Conference kicked off in Los Angeles this week with a discussion on how the recent election results will boost environmental politics and the green economy in California. But in the tradition of the old Rodney Dangerfield joke that, “I went to a fight the other night and a hockey game broke out,” the panel discussion on elections and climate change took a wayward turn and targeted Proposition 13. Joel Fox Fox & Hounds -- 1/30/19

 

California Policy & Politics This Morning  

‘We have been shorted.’ Why wildfire survivors are furious about PG&E’s bankruptcy filing -- Doreen Zimmerman lost her hillside home in the Camp Fire last November, fleeing with a dozen puppies in the family car as flaming embers rained down on Paradise. Now she feels she’s been made a victim again — by PG&E’s decision to file for bankruptcy Tuesday. Dale Kasler and Tony Bizjak in the Sacramento Bee -- 1/30/19

California Lawmakers Vow To Keep Electricity Affordable As PG&E Declares Bankruptcy -- Democratic state Sen. Bill Dodd, who represents much of the Northern California area devastated by wildfires in 2017, said PG&E needs new leadership that prioritizes “a culture of safety.” CEO Geisha Williams stepped down earlier this month just hours before the utility served notice of its plan to file for bankruptcy. Ben Adler, Nadine Sebai Capital Public Radio -- 1/30/19

PG&E Bankruptcy's Ripple Effects Will be Felt Beyond California -- Power-plant operators that sell electricity to its utility are already being downgraded to junk. Federal taxpayers may get stuck with the bill for government loans to renewable-power projects in California if they can’t be repaid. And the shape of the Golden State’s electricity industry could fundamentally change, with delays to a clean-energy mandate and a bigger role than ever before for public power. David R Baker Bloomberg -- 1/30/19

Utility bankruptcy could be costly to wildfire victims -- Faced with potentially ruinous lawsuits over California’s recent wildfires, Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday in a move that could lead to higher bills for customers of the nation’s biggest utility and reduce the size of any payouts to fire victims. Sudhin Thanawala and Cathy Bussewitz Associated Press -- 1/30/19

California has mismanaged its veterans home properties, audit finds -- California has “mismanaged” properties where its state-run veterans homes are located, failing to charge market rents to private users and shortchanging programs that should benefit from the leases, a state audit concluded Tuesday. Patrick McGreevy in the Los Angeles Times Wes Venteicher in the Sacramento Bee -- 1/30/19

What’s in Gov. Newsom’s budget for middle-class Californians? -- Middle-class Californians could find some relief under Newsom’s $209 billion budget, which includes new spending aimed at getting cities to approve more housing. Other proposals could bring down the cost of health care and higher education for Californians who currently make too much to qualify for state help. But middle-class California families won’t find much help shouldering other expenses, like the looming cost of caring for aging family members. David Wagner KPCC via Calmatters -- 1/30/19

Walters: Newsom raises the housing bar on himself -- Gavin Newsom began his governorship this month by promising to confront what he described as California’s most important issue, an ever-increasing shortage of housing. “This is the issue,” Newsom said as he introduced his first state budget. Dan Walters Calmatters -- 1/30/19

Politifact CA: Kamala Harris: Criminal justice reformer, or defender of the status quo? The record is mixed -- U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., kicked off her campaign for president with a speech that, in part, pushed back against critics who believe she failed to challenge shortcomings of the criminal justice system during her career as an elected prosecutor. Louis Jacobson, Chris Nichols Politifact CA -- 1/30/19

Calbuzz: FBI vs. Apple: A Case Study of Kamala Equivocation -- With uncharacteristic hesitation, Calbuzz balks when people around the country ask us whether Kamala Harris is for real, or just the flavor of the week. Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine CalBuzz -- 1/30/19

Dozens of victims rescued and hundreds arrested in human-trafficking sting in California -- Nearly 50 victims of human trafficking, including 14 minors, were rescued during a three-day sting operation across California last week, law enforcement officials announced Tuesday. Marisa Gerber in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/30/19

AG Becerra to Give Spanish-Language Response to Trump's State of the Union -- California Attorney General Xavier Becerra — who has sued the Trump administration 45 times over a wide range of issues — will deliver the Spanish-language response to President Trump's State of the Union (SOTU) address next week. Scott Shafer KQED -- 1/30/19

A bill would end a $5 co-pay that has some California inmates choosing between buying soap or seeing a doctor -- The department first began requiring inmates to share in the cost of their healthcare in 1994 with the intention of reducing unnecessary medical visits, a model similar to that of health insurers outside of prison. But researchers say inmates don’t have the earning power to make the system work. Jazmine Ulloa in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/30/19

Rio Vista: Two cops fired from tiny department over bad arrests, use of force, falsifying reports -- Records released under California’s new police transparency law show two officers in a tiny delta department made bad arrests, tampered with reports and in one case, placed a man in a deadly chokehold that wasn’t necessary. Sukey Lewis, KQED News, Nadine Sebai, Capital Public Radio, Alex Emslie, KQED News and Thomas Peele in the San Jose Mercury -- 1/30/19

Economy, Employers, Jobs, Unions, Pensions  

L.A. plan would guarantee 18 weeks of parental leave -- New and soon-to-be parents working for Los Angeles businesses would be guaranteed up to 18 weeks of paid leave — at as much as 100% of their usual wages — under a new proposal at City Hall. Emily Alpert Reyes in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/30/19

Homeless  

Sacramento mayor wants to spend $36 million on the homeless -- Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg is proposing the city spend $36 million on homeless shelters and services over the next two years, including $16 million in city money. Theresa Clift in the Sacramento Bee -- 1/30/19

Housing  

L.A. approves $120 million to encourage building faster, cheaper homeless housing -- Wanted: Fresh ideas to speed up the construction and lower the cost of housing for homeless people — without cutting quality. Doug Smith in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/30/19

Transit  

Rail line could ferry riders through Sepulveda Pass in 15 minutes, Metro says -- A 15-minute trip from the Westside to the Valley? Even in light traffic, that would be tricky for even the most brazen of LA drivers to pull off, but Metro staffers say rail routes now being considered through the notoriously congested Sepulveda Pass could offer commuters those travel speeds daily. Elijah Chiland Curbed LA -- 1/30/19

Wildfire  

California seeks faster forestry approvals in wildfire fight -- California wildland managers said Tuesday that they want to speed up logging and prescribed burns designed to slow wildfires that have devastated communities in recent years. Don Thompson Associated Press -- 1/30/19

Immigration, Border, Deportation 

Mother’s agonizing wait ends in San Francisco: She’s reunited with baby taken from father by U.S. officials at border -- A Honduran mother in San Francisco was reunited with her 17-month-old daughter on Tuesday night after spending a month desperately pleading with federal immigration authorities for the return of her baby who was separated from her father at the U.S.-Mexico border. Tatiana Sanchez in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/30/19

Lawmakers are uneasy about using military money and active-duty troops at border -- With more than 2,300 U.S. troops still stationed at the southern border, lawmakers pressed Defense Department officials Tuesday to defend the deployment of active-duty members and asked whether President Trump plans on declaring a national emergency so he can use Pentagon funds for a border wall. Molly O'T00le in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/30/19

Education 

L.A. school board seeks pause on charter schools, after teachers' strike -- The Los Angeles school board voted on Tuesday to ask state lawmakers for a moratorium on new charter schools in the area, as demanded by a union for more than 30,000 teachers in a six-day strike that ended last week. Alex Dobuzinskis Reuters -- 1/30/19

Health 

Orange County approves $16.6M for ‘first-of-its-kind’ mental-health center, psychiatric ER -- Orange County approved funding Tuesday for a first-of-its-kind mental health center and psychiatric emergency room, filling a void that has left mentally-ill patients in the county with inadequate treatment and burdened local hospitals. Jordan Graham in the Orange County Register -- 1/30/19

Environment 

City of San Diego joins lawsuit against Trump administration over Tijuana sewage spills -- The city of San Diego decided Tuesday to back California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra’s lawsuit that seeks to hold the Trump administration accountable for sewage and other toxic flows that routinely spill over the border from Tijuana and foul beaches as far north as Coronado. Joshua Emerson Smith in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 1/30/19

Elephant seals took over a Pt. Reyes beach during shutdown. It won't reopen anytime soon -- You know the saying: When the cat's away the mice will play. It appears the Bay Area is ready to coin a new turn of phrase: When the rangers are gone the elephant seals will swarm. Amy Graff in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/30/19

Also . . . 

State report calls for over 40 changes at Sacramento PD in wake of Stephon Clark shooting -- With two criminal probes and a $20 million civil-rights lawsuit pending over last year’s shooting death of Stephon Clark, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released a new report Tuesday urging the Sacramento Police Department to adopt sweeping changes in its use of force training and dozens of other areas. Sam Stanton in the Sacramento Bee -- 1/29/19

LAPD investigates Turkish flags hung at Armenian schools -- The figure in black walked the perimeters of the two private Armenian schools, clutching Turkish flags. In the early morning hours Tuesday, school officials and police said, he hung several flags on the schools’ gates and fled. Alejandra Reyes-Velarde and Alene Tchekmedyian in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/30/19

L.A. County supervisors admonish Sheriff Alex Villanueva for rehiring deputy accused of abusing and stalking woman -- In a rare and stinging public rebuke, Los Angeles County supervisors criticized new Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Tuesday over his reinstatement of a deputy accused of stalking a woman, with some of them questioning whether he was abusing his power. Maya Lau in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/30/19

Police Commission concerned about number of black drivers stopped by elite LAPD unit -- Members of the Los Angeles Police Commission expressed concern Tuesday that the disproportionate number of black drivers stopped by an elite unit is damaging the public’s trust in the police department. Cindy Chang in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/30/19

POTUS 45  

On North Korea and Iran, Intelligence Chiefs Contradict Trump -- A new American intelligence assessment of global threats has concluded that North Korea is unlikely to give up its nuclear stockpiles and that Iran is not, for now, taking steps necessary to make a bomb, directly contradicting the rationale of two of President Trump’s foreign policy initiatives. David E. Sanger and Julian E. Barnes in the New York Times -- 1/30/19

Beltway 

Harris town hall sets CNN viewing record -- The event, moderated by CNN’s Jake Tapper on Monday night in Des Moines, Iowa, averaged 1.957 million views — the most for a single-candidate town hall in the network's history, and 75 percent above its four-week average in the 10 p.m slot, CNN said in a news release, citing Nielsen ratings. Matthew Choi Politico -- 1/30/19

Steven Mnuchin Draws Claims of Conflict of Interest in Decision on Russian Oligarch -- Democrats in Congress raised ethical concerns on Tuesday about connections between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and a billionaire Republican donor who stands to benefit financially from the Trump administration’s decision to lift sanctions on the Russian oligarch Oleg V. Deripaska’s companies. Kenneth P. Vogel in the New York Times -- 1/30/19

 

-- Tuesday Updates 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will not run for president -- Mayor Eric Garcetti will announce in Los Angeles today that he will not run for president in 2020, according to three sources. Garcetti had been considering a presidential campaign for months and traveled the country raising money for Democrats. David Siders, Christopher Cadelago and Daniel Strauss Politico -- 1/29/19

State report calls for over 40 changes at Sacramento PD in wake of Stephon Clark shooting -- With two criminal probes and a $20 million civil-rights lawsuit pending over last year’s shooting death of Stephon Clark, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released a new report Tuesday urging the Sacramento Police Department to adopt sweeping changes in its use of force training and dozens of other areas. Sam Stanton in the Sacramento Bee -- 1/29/19

PG&E bankruptcy: Utility seeks to pay $130 million in bonuses, void green energy contracts -- Tucked inside PG&E’s mammoth bankruptcy filing was a company request that the judge in the case approve payment of $130 million in cash incentives to thousands of PG&E employees, according to U.S. Bankruptcy Court records made public on Tuesday. PG&E also has requested that the bankruptcy court block an attempt by federal regulators to oblige the embattled utility to keep buying wholesale power from two green energy companies, NextEra Energy and Exelon. George Avalos in the San Jose Mercury -- 1/29/19

The big problem this bankruptcy won’t solve for PG&E -- But bankruptcy will by no means solve PG&E’s long-term problems, which will require legislative and regulatory solutions. Because what will be just as important in the months and years ahead is consensus on a fundamental question: When can the utility pass disaster costs on to consumers as wildfires become more frequent and destructive? And unfortunately for PG&E, that’s about public trust. Judy Lin Calmatters -- 1/29/19

PG&E wildfire-linked bankruptcy sparks warnings of higher utility bills, harm to fire victims -- Plus, people who are victims of the infernos that torched the North Bay Wine Country and nearby regions in 2017, as well as those who were victimized by wildfires that roared through Butte County in 2018 will likely find that their liability claims against PG&E could take a back seat to the financing package that PG&E is seeking to help it operate during the bankruptcy. George Avalos in the San Jose Mercury -- 1/29/19

Hiltzik: PG&E's bankruptcy offers a chance to clean a very dirty house -- Lucrative energy contracts may be canceled, layoffs may occur, and higher electric and gas bills may well be in the offing. Then there’s the possible loss of regulatory control by the state as a federal bankruptcy judge becomes the No. 1 guy dictating the company’s future. Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/29/19

L.A. school board to vote on new contract for teachers, resolution on charters -- The Los Angeles Board of Education is scheduled Tuesday to vote on the contract that ended this month’s six-day teachers’ strike. District officials also will consider a resolution calling on state officials to support a moratorium on charter schools. Howard Blume in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/29/19

When children formed a swastika with their bodies, it sparked a conversation on hate -- A black man stood to face his neighbors, choking up as he recounted how, every day, some person or another crossed the street when they saw him coming. In Ojai, a pretty place he calls home, people routinely ignore him. Brittny Mejia in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/29/19

A 20-cent ‘mystery surcharge’ on gas? California lawmakers ask AG to find out why -- Since at least 2015, Californians have been paying a “mystery surcharge” on gasoline that adds roughly 20 cents to each gallon — costing drivers more than $17 billion — and now a coalition of lawmakers is asking the attorney general to find out why. Erin Baldassari in the San Jose Mercury -- 1/29/19

Kamala Harris, other 2020 Democrats move to the Bernie Sanders left -- Sen. Kamala Harris checked all the progressive policy boxes in the first week of her presidential campaign. Does she support Medicare-for-all, single-payer health care? Check. Debt-free public college tuition? She’s in. Joe Garofoli in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/29/19

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera rules out running for mayor — for now -- Herrera’s decision is one fewer hurdle in Breed’s quest to claim a full four-year term. And, if city history is any guide, she’d have a leg up on claiming a second term for a total of nearly 10 years in Room 200. Heather Knight in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/29/19

State officials delaying request for $40.4 million to help the California DMV -- The department asked for the money early this month, when Gov. Jerry Brown was still in office. But now that a new governor has stepped in — and announced aggressive reforms to the beleaguered DMV — finance officials decided it would be prudent to hold off. Rachel Swan in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/29/19

Revenge of the businesses: Thousands of scooters towed and held for ransom -- While some residents have resorted to vandalism (tossing scooters into dumpsters and lakes), two businessmen in Pacific Beach are offering an alternative way to get rid of errant scooters. They pick them up for free and charge scooter companies — Bird, Lime, Jump and Lyft — to get their property back. Brittany Meiling in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 1/29/19

Joshua Trees Destroyed in National Park During Shutdown May Take Centuries to Regrow -- With most of its park rangers furloughed, vandals and inconsiderate guests ran amok. Gates and posts were toppled, new roads carved through the desert by unauthorized off-road drivers, and a small number of the park’s thousands of Joshua trees were outright destroyed, conservationists said. Liam Stack in the New York Times -- 1/29/19

Borenstein: Stop deepening Bay Area transportation, housing crisis -- Here’s the fundamental problem: San Francisco and most of Silicon Valley generally have more jobs than workers living there. The East Bay has more workers than jobs. Dan Borenstein in the San Jose Mercury -- 1/29/19

Fox: Harris would be Smart to Skip NH Primary -- New Englanders tend to win the New Hampshire primary and with two well-known New England senators probably in the presidential race, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, California’s Kamala Harris would have an uphill battle there in her quest for the Democratic nomination. Joel Fox Fox & Hounds -- 1/29/19