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

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California boat fire: 4 dead, 30 missing as massive search continues -- Coast Guard officials said four bodies have been recovered and 30 people are still missing after a 75-foot commercial diving boat caught fire near the shore line of Santa Cruz Island, Calif., early Monday. Mark Puente, Brittny Mejia in the Los Angeles Times$ Trisha Thadani and J.K. Dineen in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 9/2/19

Will Gavin Newsom’s plan lower prescription drug costs in California? -- Eight months ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom released a plan to lower the state’s prescription drug costs. The central idea: By consolidating the market power of state agencies into one statewide pool, California could gain greater leverage to negotiate with drugmakers. In late August, the administration took a first step toward making the proposal a reality. Catherine Ho in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 9/2/19

UC Berkeley chancellor confronts diversity, housing challenges as classes resume -- UC Berkeley, flagship campus of the University of California, is best known for its superlatives: the most Nobel laureates of any public institution. The most Peace Corps volunteers in history. And most famously, unparalleled student activism. But as thousands of brainy undergrads, grads and professors stream back to class, they’re facing other, less welcome extremes, including the worst housing crisis of the nine undergraduate UC campuses and the lowest proportion of underrepresented minority students. Nanette Asimov in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 9/2/19

Pastor’s kidnapping underscores threat to migrants returned to Mexican border towns -- The kidnappers came to the shelter near the U.S.-Mexico border looking for Cuban migrants, favored targets because relatives in the United States are known to pay exorbitant ransoms to free abducted loved ones. In cartel-dominated Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, a gateway to the United States, it’s a lucrative racket: Snatch a migrant from Cuba, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Venezuela or elsewhere; commandeer their cellphones; then call U.S. relatives demanding thousands of dollars. Patrick J. MCDonnell in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 9/2/19

Pay-Access Apps Face Regulatory Test -- A growing industry of financial apps that allow workers to access their pay early is drawing scrutiny from regulators to prove they are different from payday lenders. Several startups have launched services to provide workers with small payments, ranging in size from pocket change to several hundred dollars, to be paid back on the next payday. Yuka Hayashi in the Wall Street Journal$ -- 9/2/19

Downtown Sacramento intersection blocked as Kaiser workers protest -- About 50 members of the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions blocked a downtown Sacramento intersection Monday to protest the healthcare provider’s treatment of its employees and patients. The coalition members protested at the intersection of 5th and J streets in front of Kaiser’s downtown building. Elaine Chen in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 9/2/19

Walters: Unions win in politics, lose members -- One of the more curious anomalies about California is that while labor unions’ political power has increased to virtual hegemony, especially in the last decade, union membership has declined just as sharply. On Labor Day 2019, one can only wonder whether both trends will continue and if so, what the eventual outcome will be. Dan Walters Calmatters -- 9/2/19

Skelton: California’s version of C-SPAN is shutting down. It’s a loss for the Capitol — and the public -- California soon will be pushed back a huge step when cable TV stops telecasting sausage-making in the state Capitol. You recall the old bromide about laws and sausages first voiced by 19th century German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. To paraphrase: If you’re squeamish, don’t watch either being made. George Skelton in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 9/2/19

From the street to the mayor’s office: Assessing L.A.'s new initiative on homelessness -- When Los Angeles city and county agencies introduced an initiative last year to move homeless individuals into housing, they drew upon the cooperation of politicians and other public officials, outreach workers, property managers, business owners and police officers. Thomas Curwen in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 9/2/19

How an L.A. man with cancer got a parking ticket while in the hospital and ended up losing his car -- Joseph Morrissey thought his stay in the hospital for kidney cancer surgery was going to be short. His doctors had anticipated he’d be there about two days to recover from the minimally invasive procedure to remove a tumor and a third of his right kidney. But as he was waking up from surgery, Morrissey suffered a seizure and stroke. Jaclyn Cosgrove in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 9/2/19

What eBikes mean for Yosemite, Point Reyes, Sequoia -- The news that electric bicycles got the go-ahead “to begin zipping around on trails in national parks” sent nightmare visions of hikers getting plowed into by fast riders on now-peaceful trails. In California, a closer look shows that the impacts will be minimal at Yosemite National Park, Point Reyes National Seashore and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park. Tom Stienstra in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 9/2/19

Big tech or big labor? 2020 Democrats line up with unions -- Thousands of miles from the union halls of Pennsylvania and Michigan, organized labor is flexing its muscles in a pitched battle with Big Tech. And the Democratic Party’s 2020 class isn’t being shy about picking sides. Kathleen Ronayne and Steve Peoples Associated Press -- 9/2/19

Schnur: California is experiencing a housing shortage. Why are housing permits down 20 percent? -- This was going to be the year that California’s political leaders fought and won the war against the skyrocketing cost of unaffordable housing. They promised to do everything possible to build more homes and bring down the state’s mind-numbing housing prices. Dan Schnur in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 9/2/19

Orange County plan for vote centers, mail ballots for all headed for state approval this fall -- After holding 29 meetings around the county and collecting thousands of surveys, Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley is close to finalizing plans for the future of county elections. Kelly said he’s going to tweak some elements based on public feedback and put the revised plan out for public review, then send it to the California Secretary of State for final approval in mid-September. Alicia Robinson in the Orange County Register -- 9/2/19

Dianne Feinstein harbors a secret talent -- Every day, hundreds of tourists walk past a nondescript office in a nook of the U.S. Capitol, unaware that inside is one of the most exclusive galleries in D.C. Tal Kopan in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 9/2/19

Forty trains a day through Altamont at up to 125 mph? -- Rail planners are seeking funding for a 3.5-mile tunnel at the pass and other upgrades that would reduce travel times to Bay Area jobs. They envision 30 daily round trips at up to 125 miles per hour as soon as 2026, and 40 trips at some later date. John Holland in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 9/2/19

Fewer immigrants apply for special visa reserved for crime victims -- For the first time in a decade, fewer people are applying for a visa designed to protect immigrant crime victims — a trend that advocates and immigration lawyers say is fueled by policies the Trump administration put in place to clamp down on illegal immigration. Gustavo Solis in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 9/2/19

Trump steers clear of background checks as possible solution on guns -- Following Saturday’s shootings in West Texas, President Donald Trump on Sunday remained firm that his “administration is committed to working with Congress to stop the menace of mass attacks” but did not include universal background checks as part of the solution this time. Bianca Quilantan Politico -- 9/2/19

Trump’s lost summer: Aides claim victory, but others see incompetence and intolerance -- What followed was what some Trump advisers and allies characterize as a lost summer defined by self-inflicted controversies and squandered opportunities. Trump leveled racist attacks against four congresswomen of color dubbed “the Squad.” He derided the majority-black city of Baltimore as “rat and rodent infested.” His anti-immigrant rhetoric was echoed in a missive that authorities believe a mass shooting suspect posted. His visits to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso after the gun massacres in those cities served to divide rather than heal. Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker in the Washington Post$ -- 9/2/1953

People Died in Mass Shootings in August Alone in the U.S. -- The term mass killings is defined by the Justice Department as three or more killings in a single episode, excluding the death of a gunman. There is no legal definition for the term mass shooting, despite its frequent use by gun control groups and the news media. Neil Vigdor in the New York Times$ -- 9/2/19

Another Labor Day arrives without a Harry Bridges statue in SF -- Twenty years after its designation, Harry Bridges Plaza is still waiting for its waterfront statue — and the closest thing to it is still waiting in the front hallway of Richard Mead’s waterfront home in San Leandro. Sam Whiting in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 9/2/19


How California’s voters may have saved Trump from releasing his taxes -- Forty-seven years ago, California’s voters opened the state’s presidential primaries to all nationally recognized candidates. That ballot measure could determine the fate of a new state law requiring President Trump and his competitors to release their tax returns to run in next year’s primaries. Bob Egelko in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 9/1/19

East Bay tenants face eviction as developer converts units to affordable housing -- A San Francisco developer is turning apartments in the East Bay and North Bay into affordable housing that the area sorely needs. But as the company acquires the properties and renovates and readies the units, existing tenants whose income levels disqualify them for the new apartments are being pushed out. Sarah Ravani in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 9/1/19

California’s fight over tailpipe emissions, explained -- As global temperatures climb, the federal government is threatening to blunt a major weapon in California’s fight against climate change: the power to police tailpipe emissions. Tailpipes are the biggest source of greenhouse gas pollution in the state. Rachel Becker Calmatters -- 9/1/19

California Bill Could Allow Rehab Instead Of Jail For Parents Who Commit Certain Crimes -- California lawmakers are set to vote next week on a bill that would allow parents who commit misdemeanors and some felonies to go to rehab instead of prison. Chris Nichols Capital Public Radio -- 9/1/19

Even the buccolic Presidio of SF isn’t immune from vehicle break-ins -- Car break-ins in the Bay Area have become so common that the thought of a police response is almost comical — except to the victims. Phil Matier in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 9/1/19

The U.N. is flying and busing migrants through Mexico back to Central America -- A United Nations agency, with funding from the U.S. State Department, is transporting thousands of immigrants from the U.S.-Mexico border back to Central America in a program that has drawn the ire of migrant legal advocates. The advocates question whether migrants fully understand their rights when they accept free plane and bus tickets home. Molly Hennessy-Fiske in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 9/1/19

California is the friendliest state for marijuana businesses, law firm analysis finds -- The ranking gauged states on eight metrics, including legality and availability of recreational and medical cannabis, availability of commercial cannabis licenses and business opportunities. Andrew Sheeler in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 9/1/19

Unions plan to block downtown Sacramento street in Labor Day protest targeting Kaiser -- Workers in the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions announced they are planning to block a downtown Sacramento intersection in a Labor Day protest that comes amid tense contract negotiations between the health care giant and 80,000 of its organized employees. Cathie Anderson in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 9/1/19

Lazarus: Enough with all the extra fees. Just tell me how much I’m really paying -- Take a close look at your receipt the next time you buy some tunes at Amoeba Music in Hollywood. You’ll see a 35-cent charge tacked on for “wages & benefits.” That’s not a state or local tax. It’s the company simply reaching a little deeper into your pocket to cover its costs of doing business. David Lazarus in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 9/1/19

Risk of Fentanyl Exposure for Emergency Responders ‘Extremely Low’ Public Health Officials Say -- Even as first responders are increasingly likely to encounter the powerful opioid fentanyl on the job, they are highly unlikely to be exposed to toxic levels of the drug, according to a statement released this week by the California Department of Public Health. Annika Cline KQED -- 9/1/19

Truck Makers Apply the Brakes -- The U.S. trucking industry had one of its strongest years ever in 2018, as high demand for freight encouraged transportation companies to expand their fleets. Now, trade tensions and slower global growth are depressing freight volumes. Bob Tita and Austen Huffordin the Wall Street Journal$ -- 9/1/19

The Mysterious Vaping Illness That’s ‘Becoming an Epidemic’ -- An 18-year-old showed up in a Long Island emergency room, gasping for breath, vomiting and dizzy. When a doctor asked if the teenager had been vaping, he said no. The patient’s older brother, a police officer, was suspicious. He rummaged through the youth’s room and found hidden vials of marijuana for vaping. Sheila Kaplan and Matt Richtel in the New York Times$ -- 9/1/19


California Policy & Politics This Morning  

San Jose: Chemical used in apparent suicide at Fairmont hotel sickens nine, causes evacuation of three floors -- An apparent suicide involving a poisonous chemical sent several people to the hospital and prompted the evacuation of three floors of the Hotel Fairmont in downtown San Jose on Saturday, authorities said. Firefighters were called to the hotel around 10 a.m. for a reported suicide after a hotel staff member found a woman dead in a room on the 19th floor and smelled a chemical odor. Nico Savidge and George Avalos in the San Jose Mercury$ J.K. Dineen in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 9/1/19

San Francisco sheriff, Equal Justice Under Law reach settlement to eliminate cash bail -- San Francisco Sheriff Vicki Hennessy and national law nonprofit Equal Justice Under Law have reached a settlement in the years-long legal battle that would eliminate the pre-arraignment cash bail schedule in San Francisco. Lauren Hernández in the San Francisco Chronicle$ Sonja Hutson KQED -- 9/1/19

Targets of Westminster City Council recall campaign accuse opponents of misleading tactics -- The fighting continues. Addressing supporters of a recall campaign, Westminster Mayor Tri Ta called on his opponents this week to “play fair” and denounced what he sees as “bait and switch” tactics used to gather signatures to remove him from office. Anh Do in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 9/1/19

Walters: Can Kamala Harris break the jinx? -- While California is the nation’s most populous and richest state – and has been for a half-century – it hasn’t wielded the level of national political power one might expect from that status. New York, still the nation’s financial center, and Texas, California’s chief cultural and economic rival, have been much more successful in projecting themselves nationally. Dan Walters Calmatters -- 9/1/19

Tracy police arrest suspect in slaying of Sikh grandfather -- Tracy police have arrested a 21-year-old man in connection with the fatal stabbing of Parmjit Singh, a 64-year-old Sikh grandfather, according to ABC10. Anthony Kreiter-Rhoads of Tracy was arrested Saturday and charged with homicide in the death of Singh, who was attacked while on a Sunday evening walk in Gretchen Talley Park in Tracy. Matthew Tom in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 9/1/19

Knight: Deaths on SF’s streets are up. Traffic enforcement is down. ‘It’s hard to believe these aren’t related’ -- When it comes to San Francisco’s Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024, it’s hard to find any reassuring numbers. Heather Knight in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 9/1/19

Willie Brown: SF streets are a tragedy waiting to happen. Do we have the will to head it off? -- People in this town are becoming increasingly disgusted with the behavior they have to deal with on the streets. When there is no law enforcement, even law-abiding people are going to stop being tolerant and humane. They may even take matters into their own hands. Willie Brown in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 9/1/19

Economy, Employers, Jobs, Unions, Pensions  

Delivery app feeds Bay Area households’ hunger for Asian groceries -- Inside a Union City warehouse, you’ll find moon cakes from China, durian fruit from Thailand and pickled chicken feet from Fremont — all things you can order through an app and get delivered to your door by online grocer Weee, a specialist in Asian fare. Mallory Moench in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 9/1/19

Retail isn’t dead: Two shopping centers on list of Bay Area’s most valuable buildings -- Tech headquarters and San Francisco skyscrapers dominate the Bay Area’s most valuable buildings, but two Silicon Valley retail powerhouses show some shopping centers are thriving. Roland Li in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 9/1/19


More proof that Southern California home-price gains are evaporating -- Southern California home-price gains are quickly evaporating, no matter who’s doing the counting. This year’s falling mortgage rates gave house hunters more buying power. Instead, it appears buyers — unnerved by domestic and global economic uncertainty — are not willing to pay up. Jonathan Lansner in the Orange County Register -- 9/1/19

Also . . . 

Trucker pleads guilty to California crash that killed 13 -- A trucker who fell asleep behind the wheel was sentenced to four years in state prison after he pleaded guilty to causing a tour bus crash on a Southern California freeway that killed 13 people in 2016, officials said. Stefanie Dazio Associated Press -- 9/1/19

Point Reyes Lighthouse’s rebirth: Mystery solved, $5 million renovation done -- After 14 months of construction, $5 million spent and the discovery of a 90-year-old mystery box, the Point Reyes Lighthouse in West Marin County is projected to reopen in October, confirmed the National Park Service. Tom Stienstra in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 9/1/19

POTUS 45  

Trump pledged not to use his office to help his business. Then he pitched his Florida club for the next G-7 -- When President Trump decided to keep ownership of his company and continue to do business with foreign governments, he said nobody could stop him. But voters could trust him to police himself, he said. Jonathan O'Connell, Joshua Partlow and David A. Fahrenthold in the Washington Post$ -- 9/1/19

Trump’s 15% tariffs on $112B in Chinese goods take effect -- The Trump administration’s latest round of tariffs on Chinese imports took effect early Sunday, potentially raising prices Americans pay for some clothes, shoes, sporting goods and other consumer goods in advance of the holiday shopping season. Christopher Rugaber Associated Press -- 9/1/19


-- Saturday Updates 

Fairmont Hotel in San Jose partially evacuated after reported suicide by gas -- A portion of the Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose was evacuated Saturday after a suspected suicide involving a poisonous gas sent several other people to the hospital, according to San Jose fire officials. J.K. Dineen in the San Francisco Chronicle$ Nico Savidge in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 8/31/19

Earthquake fault long thought dormant could devastate Los Angeles, researchers say -- Scientists citing new research say an earthquake fault along the Los Angeles coast, previously believed to be dormant, is active and could cause a destructive 6.4 magnitude earthquake if it ruptured. And if it linked with other faults, it could trigger an earthquake in the magnitude 7 range, according to a team of researchers from Harvard, USC and the U.S. Geological Survey. Deborah Netburn in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 8/31/19

Woman dies in Death Valley National Park as temperatures approach 120 degrees -- A woman died in Death Valley National Park this week as temperatures soared to nearly 120 degrees. The extreme heat is expected to continue through this weekend, with highs forecast at 120 degrees for today and 122 for Sunday. Cindy Chang in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 8/31/19

‘Nothing we can do’: Dark prospects for businesses with PG&E shut-offs -- After 41 years as a business owner, Calistoga grocer Bill Shaw is getting ready to do something new. He is preparing to keep his store, Cal Mart, running if and when Pacific Gas and Electric Co. intentionally turns off his power because of weather that could fuel a dangerous wildfire — even if the shut-off lasts, as the utility has warned it might, more than 48 hours. Shwanika Narayan and J.D. Morris in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 8/31/19

Details of Tyler Skaggs’ death could trigger legal battle with millions at stake -- How did Tyler Skaggs come to die with two opioids in his bloodstream, plus enough alcohol that he would have been considered legally impaired? Investigations into that question could determine whether the Angels and the family of one of their most popular players face off in legal proceedings that could take years and be worth tens of millions of dollars — or more. Bill Shaikin in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 8/31/19

He was kicked out of a border militia. Then the FBI found a gun ‘factory’ in his San Diego home -- Joshua Pratchard was enthusiastic about joining Arizona Border Recon, an armed civilian group that patrols the U.S.-Mexico border looking for unauthorized migrants and drug smugglers. A little too enthusiastic, some people inside the group thought. Antonia Noori Farzan in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 8/31/19

Republicans face uphill battle in unseating newly Democratic Assemblyman Brian Maienschein -- Assemblyman Brian Maienschein incited the fury of local Republicans when he left that party and registered as a Democrat in January after the closest race of his political career. His Republican Assembly colleagues labeled him a “turncoat.” Charles T. Clark in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 8/31/19

Oakland says big pot grow in homeless encampment is illegal — but leaves it alone -- City officials say the grow is illegal because McKeel and his friends are trespassing on private property and running a pot farm for profit, but they haven’t done anything to shut it down. The episode highlights the complexities of managing two surging trends in Oakland and other Bay Area cities: homelessness and cannabis regulation. Sarah Ravani in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 8/31/19

Electric bikes could soon be purring along the trails of national parks — not everyone happy -- Electric bicycle riders got the go-ahead from the Trump administration Friday to begin zipping around on trails in national parks, infuriating hiking, equestrian and outdoor user groups. Peter Fimrite in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 8/31/19

Sacramento’s Capitol Mall fountain could be demolished as part of building project -- A proposal by the California Department of General Services to remove the fountain at the center of Capitol Mall has distressed preservationists, who say it is a historic icon that should remain. Elaine Chen in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 8/31/19

Balboa Peninsula’s ‘Duffy’ house sells for more than $35 million, shattering record in Newport Harbor -- Remember the waterfront mansion on Newport Beach’s Balboa Peninsula that generated international buzz with a YouTube video that spoofed Cali Swag District’s viral dance hit “Teach Me How to Dougie?” The video for “Teach Me How to Duffy” helped sell the house for $35.008 million – about 22.2% less than the $44.995 million asking price when it hit the market in Oct. 2018. Even so, the house, which sold on Aug. 28, set a record. Sandra Barrera in the Orange County Register -- 8/31/19