Aaron Read
Capitol Web Works
Olson Hagel
CA Leg Analyst
Capitol Weekly


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Local leaders find that supporting Bay Area housing plan spurs anger at home -- In Rohnert Park, hometown of Sonoma State University, the Graton Casino and strip malls packed against Highway 101, the regional housing battle has become personal. Rachel Swan in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/31/19

$2 billion cleanup of Camp Fire begins — a first step toward rebuilding Paradise -- After weeks of soil testing and other preliminary work, crews embarked Wednesday on the largest phase of what is believed to be the costliest disaster cleanup in California history: the $2 billion scraping of 14,000 properties burned in November’s deadly Camp Fire. Tony Bizjak in the Sacramento Bee -- 1/31/19

For wildfire victims, PG&E bankruptcy likely means smaller payouts -- The claims will be rerouted from local courts to a federal bankruptcy court in San Francisco, where the victims will stand in line with other creditors, wait a year or longer, and, if the company’s plan is approved, probably wind up with less than they lost. Bob Egelko in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/31/19

Good news for California’s water supply: Big Sierra Nevada snow pack boost over past month -- Sometimes being average is really good news. California’s statewide Sierra Nevada snow pack was exactly 100 percent of its historical average on Thursday — precisely normal for this date, with roughly two months left in the winter snow season. Paul Rogers in the San Jose Mercury Peter Fimrite in the San Francisco Chronicle Michael McGough in the Sacramento Bee -- 1/31/19

Talks to avoid a messy legal fight over California's emissions rules appear stalled -- Talks between the Trump administration and California over rules requiring automakers to steadily decrease car emissions are no closer to reaching a deal than when they began months ago, setting the stage for a protracted legal battle. Anna M. Phillips in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/31/19

‘A statewide problem.’ How PG&E’s bankruptcy could soil California’s green-energy movement -- It was a milestone worthy of a global stage: At an international climate change conference in New York exactly one year ago Thursday, PG&E Chief Executive Geisha Williams announced that 33 percent of the utility’s electricity in 2017 came from solar, wind and other renewable sources, beating California’s aggressive green-energy mandates by a full three years. Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee -- 1/31/19

Kamala Harris, front-runner? Slow down -- Sen. Kamala Harris has been running for president for less than two weeks, and Fox News is already crowning her the “Democratic front-runner.” Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let’s tap the brakes, people. Joe Garofoli in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/31/19

Climate change should tamp down California's wildfire-fanning Santa Ana winds, study finds -- Scientists have warned that California should brace for more wildfire as global warming drives longer bouts of hot and dry weather. Now researchers at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography have found a positive trend when it comes to Southern California’s battle against destructive blazes. Joshua Emerson Smith in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/31/19

Clusterfest plans to bring back the laughs to San Francisco for third year -- No comedians have been named — Clusterfest officials said lineups will be announced in March, at which point ticket sales will begin — but the festival is scheduled for June 21-23, with performances again taking place on an outdoor stage in Civic Center Plaza in front of San Francisco City Hall and inside the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium. Peter Hartlaub in the San Francisco Chronicle -- 1/31/19

Group in ‘Build the Wall’ gear argues with La Cosecha management, calls restaurant ‘anti-American’ -- A day on the town Wednesday in Sacramento for a band of alt-right activists started with what they called a “fiesta” on the grounds of the governor’s mansion protesting Gov. Gavin Newsom’s immigration stance, continued with a confrontation at a downtown Mexican restaurant and ended with a swarm of angry comments from acolytes on the eatery’s social media pages. Michael McGough in the Sacramento Bee -- 1/31/19

Fox: Changing Prop. 13 Could Worsen Housing Crisis -- For four decades, Proposition 13, the property tax reform that passed in 1978, has been blamed for many of the ills that have befallen California. Joel Fox Fox & Hounds -- 1/31/19


California Policy & Politics This Morning  

Federal judge asks PG&E: Should I ‘let you keep killing people?’ Rules utility violated its felony probation -- U.S. District Judge William Alsup spent Wednesday morning eviscerating PG&E in federal court over wildfires. Matthias Gafni, John Woolfolk in the San Jose Mercury J.D. Morris and Bob Egelko in the San Francisco Chronicle Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee Sudhin Thanawala Associated Press Richard Gonzales KQED -- 1/31/19

San Francisco lawmakers want to block PG&E bailout, seize power infrastructure -- On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted in favor of a resolution demanding that the state repeal laws favorable to Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and prevent customers from having to pay for the bankrupt utility’s wildfire costs. Adam Brinklow Curbed San Francisco -- 1/31/19

Lawsuits by fire victims swept up in PG&E bankruptcy -- Lon Walker blames Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for starting a wildfire that killed his wife Ellen and destroyed their home near the California city of Paradise. Butte County cites PG&E for the same Nov. 8 fire that destroyed parks, schools and myriad other public property and amenities. Paul Elias Associated Press -- 1/31/19

Should San Francisco Buy PG&E Infrastructure? Supervisor Says Yes, But Union Wary -- Hillary Ronen’s proposal would earmark revenue for a city-owned utility that wouldn’t be bound by shareholder profits. But the union representing 17,000 PG&E employees and contractors is worried about disruption to workers. KQED -- 1/31/19

Relief for California wildfire victims tied up in federal talks about the border wall -- Disaster recovery funds for victims of California’s wildfires and other natural disasters has emerged as a bargaining chip in the battle to build President Donald Trump’s border wall. Emily Cadei in the Sacramento Bee -- 1/31/19

Are California’s solar and wind projects at risk in PG&E bankruptcy? -- PG&E has asked a bankruptcy judge for the authority to nullify billions of dollars in contracts with solar and wind farms. Paul Rogers in the San Jose Mercury -- 1/31/19

Once Powerful PG&E Has Few Friends Left in California Capital -- A company that was once one of the most influential in Sacramento and regularly got its way on legislation and regulation now has few defenders left. The reason, Sacramento veterans say, is that years of bad news related to deadly fires and other disasters have made the company unpopular among the public Alejandro Lazo in the Wall Street Journal$ -- 1/31/19

Election officials said DMV wasn’t ready to launch Motor Voter. California went ahead anyway -- As California prepared to launch its new Motor Voter program last year, top elections officials say they asked Secretary of State Alex Padilla to hold off on the roll-out. Bryan Anderson in the Sacramento Bee -- 1/31/19

Thanks to Nancy Pelosi, Californians dominate the new House like never before -- The next two years may mark the peak of California’s power in Congress. It’s not just that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) are both Californians, the first time in U.S. history both posts have been held by leaders from the same state. Sarah D. Wire in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/31/19

With the national spotlight fading, Mayor Eric Garcetti turns to problems in L.A. -- For nearly two years, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti garnered national media attention with his travels around the country, including to key presidential primary states. In speeches, he labeled Washington as corrupt, inept and divisive — and he drew a contrast to L.A. Dakota Smith in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/31/19

Walters: Willie Brown sees protégés rise to the top -- Over a political career that’s well into a sixth decade, Willie Brown has had several incarnations. From a fiery civil rights agitator in the 1960s, Brown evolved into an expert legislative dealmaker during three decades as a state assemblyman – including a record-long stint as speaker – and two terms as mayor of San Francisco. Dan Walters Calmatters -- 1/31/19

Skelton: Kamala Harris aces her first test with campaign rollout — with a few hiccups -- Sen. Kamala Harris vaulted into serious contention for the Democratic presidential nomination with a campaign kickoff that couldn’t have gone much better. George Skelton in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/31/19

Poll: Kamala Harris gaining among Democratic voters -- Kamala Harris made headlines in her first visit to Iowa as a presidential candidate with her firm support for a “Medicare for all” health care plan. A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll suggests the California senator’s stance is connecting with Democratic voters. Steven Shepard Politico -- 1/31/19

Covered California sees largest decline of new signups in six-year history -- The number of Californians signing up for health insurance for 2019 through Covered California — the state agency created by the Affordable Care Act to sell health plans to people who don’t get coverage through their employer — held steady at 1.5 million. But there was a significant drop-off in one key group that the health law has long aimed to get insured Catherine Ho in the San Francisco Chronicle Ana B. Ibarra Kaiser Health News via the Los Angeles Times -- 1/31/19

Sheriff Alex Villanueva has harsh criticism for predecessor's jail reform efforts -- In a speech meant to lay out his law enforcement vision, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva on Wednesday issued a blistering attack on the reforms embraced by the department in the wake of a major corruption scandal, arguing they may have done more harm than good. Maya Lau in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/31/19

Aetna settles California privacy lawsuit over mailings that exposed patients’ HIV status -- Attorney General Xavier Becerra has settled a lawsuit against healthcare provider Aetna, which was in hot water after sending out letters to almost 2,000 Californians that revealed their HIV status through a window on the envelope, according to Becerra’s office. Hannah Darden in the Sacramento Bee -- 1/31/19

L.A. deputy mayor raised money from developers with major projects in downtown, records show -- During his time at City Hall, Deputy Mayor Raymond Chan forged a reputation as someone who cut red tape and cleared away obstacles for real estate developers behind some of the city’s biggest projects. David Zahniser and Emily Alpert Reyes in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/31/19

CSUSB report says hate crimes rise in LA, other largest U.S. cities for 5th year in a row -- Many cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Seattle and San Francisco saw the highest number of hate crimes in a decade, and cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia saw pronounced increases in the second half of the year, particularly around the time of the November mid-term elections. Deepa Bharath in the San Bernardino Sun$ -- 1/31/19

Economy, Employers, Jobs, Unions, Pensions  

Gavin Newsom’s record offers hints about how he’ll handle unions and California pensions -- Gov. Gavin Newsom won election with support from the state’s unions, pledging to at least one of them that he would protect public employee pensions, yet his record and a couple of his key cabinet appointees suggest he’s open to reducing benefits for government workers if money becomes scarce. Wes Venteicher in the Sacramento Bee -- 1/31/19


California doesn't have enough land set aside to meet Gov. Gavin Newsom's housing goals, report says -- Among the hurdles Gov. Gavin Newsom will face in his goal to see 3.5 million new homes built across California over the next seven years is that the state hasn’t set aside enough land for that development, a forthcoming report by UCLA concludes. Liam Dillon in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/31/19

Why your downtown apartment might no longer come with a parking spot -- (San Diego) Downtown leaders have signaled a desire to soon implement parking standards for residential projects that could radically reduce the number of spaces included with future developments. Jennifer Van Grove in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 1/31/19

As sales plunge, LA home prices are inching up at the slowest rate in years -- For Los Angeles’s real estate market, 2018 ended with barely a whimper. Just 5,291 homes sold in December, representing a 20 percent drop since the same time last year, according to a new report from CoreLogic. Elijah Chiland Curbed LA -- 1/31/19

San Francisco Housing Authority decides not to double rent on Section 8 households -- The San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) Commission decided against doubling the rent on some of San Francisco’s poorest families, despite pressure from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to bring in more money to cover budget shortfalls. Adam Brinklow Curbed San Francisco -- 1/31/19

Housing with a side of veggies: Unique development approved in Santa Clara -- Following a four-hour discussion that stretched past 11 p.m., the council on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve plans for 361 homes and a 1.7-acre farm across the street from Westfield Valley Fair and down the road from Santana Row, near the San Jose border. Marisa Kendall in the San Jose Mercury -- 1/31/19

Immigration, Border, Deportation 

Larger group of asylum seekers returned to Mexico as Trump policy gets underway -- Border officials in the U.S. returned about a dozen people, mostly men, to Tijuana on Wednesday on the second day of the Trump administration's policy that requires asylum seekers to remain in Mexico for their immigration court proceedings. Kate Morrissey in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 1/31/19


L.A. school board approves teachers' contract despite financial risks -- Los Angeles school officials on Tuesday approved a new teachers’ contract despite concerns it places the struggling system at increased financial risk, while separately backing a resolution meant to slow down the booming charter school movement that has drained students from L.A. Unified. Howard Blume in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/31/19

LA Unified, teachers still face challenges over contract and charter school moratorium -- But the board’s actions also create challenges and tensions on two new fronts: with the Los Angeles County Office of Education, which is giving the district 45 days to show how the contract it called financially “not sustainable” will pencil out, and in Sacramento, where a charter moratorium would require an amendment to the state’s charter law. The idea will face opposition from a still-strong charter school lobby. John Fensterwald EdSource -- 1/31/19

California schools help unaccompanied immigrant students combat trauma, language barriers -- José Sánchez crossed three borders on his own to get to Oakland, California when he was just 17. But once here, he found another barrier that proved even more difficult to overcome — graduating high school. Zaidee Stavely EdSource -- 1/31/19


Fake Walgreens pharmacist handled over 700,000 prescriptions, state officials say -- For more than a decade, Kim T. Le handled hundreds of thousands of prescriptions while she worked as a pharmacist at three Walgreens stores in the Bay Area. She administered vaccinations, ordered medications, counseled patients on their prescriptions and supervised pharmacy technicians, state officials said. Ruben Vives in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/31/19

Drug-Resistant Bacteria At Tijuana Hospital Reignites Urgency To Find Superbug Treatments -- A drug-resistant superbug outbreak in Tijuana prompted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a second travel warning this week, after nearly a dozen U.S. patients who traveled to the region for selective surgeries between August and December returned with potentially deadly infections. Susan Murphy KPBS -- 1/31/19


Piles of poop, toilet paper 'flowers' greet rangers as parks reopen after government shutdown -- In Death Valley, piles of human feces and hunks of what rangers call “toilet paper flowers” were left scattered around the desert. At Joshua Tree, officials found about 24 miles of unauthorized new trails carved into the desert landscape by off-road vehicles, along with some of the park’s namesake trees toppled. Javier Panzar in the Los Angeles Times -- 1/31/19

Also . . . 

Sacramento Sheriff sued for blocking, banning Black Lives Matter leaders on Facebook, suit says -- The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones for blocking Black Lives Matter Sacramento leaders from posting comments on the sheriff’s official Facebook page, alleging he violated their First Amendment rights. Molly Sullivan in the Sacramento Bee -- 1/31/19

Why Davis police won’t release video footage from Officer Natalie Corona shooting -- Assembly Bill 748, which former Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law last year, only applies to critical incidents in which officers shoot or use force — not when officers themselves are shot. Ryan Sabalow in the Sacramento Bee -- 1/31/19

POTUS 45  

An Angry Trump Pushes Back Against His Own ‘Naive’ Intelligence Officials -- A day after the agencies issued their annual assessment of global threats — warning of malefactors like China and the Islamic State — Mr. Trump reignited a long-simmering feud with his own government, reacting as if the report was a threat to him personally. Mark Landler in the New York Times -- 1/31/19

Undocumented worker who worked for Trump golf course to attend State of the Union -- The choice to invite Morales follows news stories about the Trump Organization’s failure to fully check the work status of all its employees, even as Trump described illegal immigration as a national crisis and demanded funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall. Elise Viebeck in the Washington Post -- 1/31/19

Sarah Sanders: God 'wanted Donald Trump to become president -- Sanders spoke with David Brody and Jennifer Wishon of the Christian Broadcasting Network. Brody during the interview asked the press secretary for a "spiritual perspective" on Trump's presidency. Brett Samuels The Hill -- 1/31/19


Big border deal fades before talks even begin -- Congressional negotiators haven’t even held their first meeting to avert another shutdown, but the prospect of a big deal on border security and immigration is essentially dead. Rachael Bade and Burgess Everett Politico -- 1/31/19


-- Wednesday Updates 

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