Updating . .   

Dozens of PG&E equipment problems reported as Wine Country fires began -- Just before 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 8, a tree branch fell into a power line in the town of Kenwood east of Santa Rosa as sparks were scattered by heavy winds. Local emergency officials contacted Pacific Gas and Electric Co., asking the utility to immediately evaluate the damage because of the evening’s dangerous fire conditions. Joaquin Palomino and David R. Baker in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/27/18

Homeless man almost crushed after San Diego city workers scooped him up and tossed him in a garbage truck -- The shrieking came from inside the jumble of tents and bedding and personal belongings scooped off the street. Arms started flailing and the screams grew louder. In what can only be described as a jaw-dropping blunder, a homeless man scrambled his way out of a San Diego city trash truck and avoided being crushed to death by mere seconds. Jeff McDonald in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 1/27/18

Medical examiner: Homeless deaths on the rise in San Diego County -- Volunteers were out early Friday canvassing the streets, canyons and riverbanks as part of San Diego County’s annual homeless count. But one stat is already known: The number of homeless people dying in the county increased significantly in 2017, according to the Medical Examiner’s Office. Leonardo Castañeda inewsource.org -- 1/27/18

Nurses clash with UC leaders over contract proposals -- Amid an impasse in negotiations, registered nurses all around the University California system rallied Thursday at hospitals and on campuses to protest contract proposals that they say would impede their ability to provide quality patient care and undermine their well-being in retirement. Cathie Anderson in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/27/18

Bill to evade President Trump's tax overhaul gets watered down -- State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) has changed his bill allowing those who donate to a new state-run nonprofit to receive relief on both their state and federal taxes. In the new version of the bill, those who give to the nonprofit will reduce their state income taxes by 85% of the donation plus receive a federal charitable deduction. Liam Dillon in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/27/18

After California pot stockpiles go up in smoke, what's next? -- Like many pot shops in California, the Urbn Leaf in San Diego bulked up its inventory before legal sales began on Jan. 1, stockpiling enough marijuana to last for months because no one knew what the era of legal pot would bring. Michael R. Blood Associated Press -- 1/27/18

Knight: Backroom maneuver making Farrell mayor could be boost for Breed -- On Jan. 20, Aimee Allison stood before thousands of women and supportive men in Civic Center Plaza to address the second annual Women’s March. Allison, who is African American, is president of Democracy in Color, a national group that wants to empower minority progressive voices. She had a simple message for the enthusiastic crowd that was dotted with pink knit hats. “Trust, follow and let black women lead — that was my message,” she recalled. “People were excited. People were cheering!” Heather Knight in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/27/18

What’s that river view worth? City prepares to buy properties for Sacramento River trail -- The view from Don Murphy’s expansive backyard is breathtaking. The Sacramento River rolls gently past as birds float in the mid-winter fog. It is nearly silent, except for the infrequent car driving along a delta road across the river. It’s easy to forget you’re standing in the middle of a major city. Ryan Lillis in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/27/18

Diaz: The ‘California resistance’ intensifies -- Even before Donald Trump was sworn in as 45th president, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra served notice that he was ready to do battle to defend the state’s values. In fact, one of the very reasons that Gov. Jerry Brown selected Becerra to succeed Kamala Harris was the veteran congressman’s legal and political mettle. John Diaz in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/27/18

Massive widening of the 405 Freeway in Orange County is about to begin -- The project will affect the 16-mile portion of the 405 between the 73 Freeway in Costa Mesa and the 605 Freeway near Rossmoor. It is expected to be completed in 2023. Bradley Zint in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/27/18

 

California Policy & Politics This Morning  

Oroville Dam spillway failure cost rises to $870 million -- The cost of the Oroville Dam spillway failure last February has risen to $870 million, according to a new tally released Friday by the Department of Water Resources that includes $210 million of work done by agency staff and consultants. The department said in October that the cost of repairs by construction contractor Kiewitt would hit $500 million, but that estimate did not include the agency's internal costs. Ralph Vartabedian in the Los Angeles Times$ Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee$ Ellen Knickmeyer Associated Press -- 1/27/18

Microbes reportedly corroding submerged Bay Bridge welds -- A report by NBC Bay Area found that corrosion on the piles supporting the foundation — which are made from steel 3 and 3/4 inches thick — show evidence of accelerated corrosion due to these microorganisms, meaning that the projected 150-year life span may not be accurate. Alyssa Pereira in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/27/18

San Francisco shipyard soil samples manipulated or falsified, report says -- The draft “radiological data evaluation findings report,” completed in September but not released publicly because it isn’t finished, found that out of 853 “units” tested at the shipyard, 414 were either “suspect” or showed “potential data manipulation or falsification.” J.K. Dineen in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/27/18

California’s election field could shift dramatically before filing deadline -- The fundraising for California’s June 5 primary is well along, the political debates have begun and the first nasty hit pieces are already showing up on the Internet. But voters might want to be wary before making any nonrefundable election bets. John Wildermuth in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/27/18

Despite Ongoing Threats to the Affordable Care Act, the Head of Covered California Says It’s ‘Here for the Long Haul’ -- Californians have until Jan. 31 to buy a health plan through the state’s health exchange, Covered California. Despite ongoing uncertainty around the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on a national level, the state’s insurance marketplace, Covered California, is recording higher enrollment numbers this year when compared to the same time last year. Laura Klivans KQED -- 1/27/18

Orange County helicopter feud could put patients and taxpayers at risk, documents say -- Bickering between sheriff’s deputies and firefighters over which agency should conduct air rescues in Orange County has led to delays in getting injured people to hospitals, raising concerns that the running feud could impair medical care and put taxpayers at risk of unexpected legal payouts. Jordan Graham and Tony Saavedra in the Orange County Register -- 1/27/18

California's June ballot measures get numbers: Propositions 68, 69, 70 and 71 -- California’s secretary of state assigned numbers Friday to the four propositions on the June primary ballot, proposals crafted by state lawmakers last year. The list includes issues such as borrowing for drought, parks projects and restrictions on raiding new fuel tax revenues. John Myers in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/27/18

The truth behind Villaraigosa’s Herbalife gig and Newsom’s precious metals -- Thursday night’s gubernatorial forum in Los Angeles between six of the major candidates surfaced some of the sharpest critiques that the Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa campaigns have leveled against each other. Christopher Cadelago in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/27/18

Don’t like politicians who smoked weed? These are your guys -- Bill Clinton didn’t inhale. Barack Obama most definitely did. But what about the lesser-known candidates for California governor? Asked late Thursday about their past weed use by moderator Jorge Ramos of Univision, the hands of Democrats Antonio Villaraigosa, John Chiang and Delaine Eastin all went up, with Villaraigosa keeping his aloft for effect. Christopher Cadelago in th Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/27/18

‘It’s a cover-up from the FAA at the highest level’: Cockpit voice recording can’t be used in investigation, source says -- A top Federal Aviation Administration official has forbidden inspectors who are trying to determine why a Horizon Air commercial jet mistakenly landed on a Pullman, Washington, airport taxiway from reviewing “critical” evidence: recorded cockpit conversations between that flight’s pilots, a federal official familiar with the investigation said. Matthias Gafni in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 1/27/18

SANDAG faces nearly $20 billion shortfall for transportation projects -- As more San Diegans shop online and spend more of their income on housing and health care costs, the region is projected to see a troubling decline — some $20 billion — in sale tax revenue collected for roads, highways and public transit. Joshua Emerson Smith in the San Diego Union-Tribune$ -- 1/27/18

#Timesup: Fresno women share their stories of sexism and harassment in the workplace -- An aspiring police officer objectified while doing exercises with her male peers. An attorney called a “little girl” by the opposition in court. A news anchor who gets photos of men’s genitals sent to her Facebook page. Mackenzie Mays in the Fresno Bee -- 1/27/18

‘Anything could happen’: Amid newsroom clashes, Los Angeles Times becomes its own story -- The news has been frenetic lately for reporters at the Los Angeles Times. Massive wildfires swept a region just getting over a historic drought, followed by deadly mudslides, and then the explosive Turpin family child-abuse saga — a chain of events that tested the chops of the prizewinning newsroom. But some of the biggest news at the Times has been coming from within its downtown headquarters. Paul Farhi in the Washington Post$ -- 1/27/18

Taxes, Fees, Rates, Tolls, Bonds 

Two states, and maybe California, plan to join New York in suing to block GOP's tax overhaul -- Andrew Cuomo of New York, Dannel Malloy of Connecticut and Phil Murphy of New Jersey announced Friday that they're talking to leaders of other states that stand to be hurt by the federal tax plan that's expected to cost taxpayers in their states billions of dollars. Associated Press -- 1/27/18

Economy, Employers, Jobs, Unions, Pensions  

Architect Gabrielle Bullock drew lines and then crossed them -- Gabrielle Bullock, 56, is the Los Angeles-based head of global diversity for the international architecture and design firm Perkins+Will, an 83-year-old company with a workforce of more than 2,000 professionals. Ronald D. White in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/27/18

Transit  

Ridership on Metro fell to the lowest level in more than a decade last year -- Passengers on Metropolitan Transportation Authority buses and trains took 397.5 million trips in 2017, a decline of 15% over five years. Metro's workhorse bus system, which carries about three-quarters of the system's passengers, has seen a drop of nearly 21%. Laura J. Nelson in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/27/18

Homeless  

Orange County Supervisors Quietly Deleted Plan to End Homelessness From Goals -- Orange County supervisors this week quietly deleted the central guide for the county commission tasked with reducing homelessness: the Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness, which was the byproduct of years of community input and emphasized expanding the affordable housing supply for homeless people as a “top priority.” Nick Gerda VoiceofOC.org -- 1/27/18

Housing  

Group gets 21,000 signatures for measure on free legal counsel during evictions -- A group of tenants’ rights advocates turned in more than 21,000 signatures to the San Francisco Department of Elections on Friday in an effort to put a ballot initiative before voters that would ensure city-funded legal representation for anyone facing eviction. Voter initiatives need 9,485 validated signatures to appear on a city ballot. Dominic Fracassa in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/27/18

Wildfire  

California lawmakers meet in Santa Rosa to press utilities on wildfire prevention -- The Senate subcommittee hearing, including several North Bay lawmakers, largely sidestepped the most pressing question for authorities in last October’s fires, chiefly whether failed power equipment, including lines and other gear owned and maintained by Pacific Gas & Electric Co., may have been to blame for starting the most destructive blazes. Scores of North Bay residents have sued PG&E, alleging poor maintenance led to power equipment failures that started the fires. Kevin Fixler in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat -- 1/27/18

Education 

SRJC president: ‘Willing to go to jail’ to protect student rights -- Before a crowd of more than 100 civic and business leaders, Santa Rosa Junior College President Frank Chong on Friday vowed to resist federal immigration operations on campus and defy all requests for information about undocumented students, even if it lands him behind bars. Martin Espinoza in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat -- 1/27/18

Cannabis 

Cannabis tourism will take root in 2018 — slowly -- Cannabis is legal in our great state, and maybe you’re ready to scope out the new landscape of cannabis-related tourism. The floodgates have opened, you think, and there’s now a wellspring of pro-marijuana activities, events and venues to frolic through and explore, right? Well, not exactly. David Downs in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/27/18

Immigration / Border 

Fraught debate among Dreamers: Give Trump his wall? -- When Gerardo Gomez of San Francisco opens Facebook these days, he is often confronted by posts raising the same question — one that is largely theoretical but has generated unusually fierce debate in the community of immigrants known as “Dreamers” to which he belongs. Hamed Aleaziz in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/27/18

ICE to see car locations through Bay Area firm’s license plate database -- Federal immigration officers across the country will be able to track where vehicles have been after contracting with a Livermore company that keeps a vast database of license plate scans, officials said Friday. Sophie Haigney in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/27/18

Both sides blast Trump plan to cut legal family-tied immigration -- The Trump administration's proposal for a deal to resolve the status of so-called Dreamers has another aspect to it that would change the way families are reunited under the legal immigration system. Leslie Berestein Rojas KPCC -- 1/27/18

Health 

Nearly 100 people in California have died from flu this season -- The number of flu deaths in California surged to 97 among people younger than 65 in the third week of 2018, according to a report Friday from the state Department of Public Health, and that figure is particularly grim in light of flu death tolls from prior years. Cathie Anderson in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/27/18

California, nation’s flu deaths could reach numbers unseen in nearly a decade, health officials say -- Another 23 people died of flu related illness in California health officials reported Friday, bringing the total number of state deaths to 97, in what federal officials called the worst influenza season to grip the nation in nearly a decade. Susan Abram in the Los Angeles Daily News$ -- 1/27/18

POTUS 45  

Trump's own actions put him at risk for obstruction — if not legally then politically -- At least half a dozen times, President Trump by his actions has invited scrutiny for possible obstruction of justice in the Russia probe, and now comes a report that last year he ordered the firing of the very man investigating him. Chris Megerian and Jackie Calms in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/27/18

 

-- Friday Updates 

How Trump’s pumping plan is dividing California over water – again -- They gathered this week at Sacramento’s federal building on Capitol Mall, carrying protest signs and vowing to resist the Trump administration’s plan to pump more of Northern California’s water through the Delta to the southern half of the state. Dale Kasler in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/26/18

What are the benefits, risks of marijuana use? Experts are just finding out -- During his 25 years of researching cannabis, Dr. Daniele Piomelli has received hundreds of emails from people desperately wanting to know whether the plant can help them with medical problems. He recalls the one he received from the father of a girl with autism who was desperate for help. Brad Branan in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/26/18

Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly to endorse Gavin Newsom for governor today -- Giffords was shot in the head while meeting with constituents in 2011. She and Kelly have become ardent gun control activists since her recovery. Peter Ambler, the executive director of the Giffords’ Courage to Fight Gun Violence group, said the couple is endorsing Newsom because of his history of action on progressive causes, notably Proposition 63. Seema Mehta in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/26/18

If you don’t vote in California, will they take you off the rolls? -- Voting-rights advocates in California and beyond are awaiting a key U.S. Supreme Court decision that could change the way states can legally remove voters from registration rolls. Justices will decide by June whether Ohio’s removal system, which is triggered by a voter not casting a ballot for two years, is an illegal infringement of voting rights as opponents contend. Billy Kobin in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/26/18

Sacramento is poised for a building boom. Now it just needs construction workers -- The Sacramento region needs more than 7,000 workers annually in construction and related fields in the next four years – many of whom can make $30 to $40 an hour without a four-year college degree, according to a new report by Valley Vision and the Centers of Excellence at Los Rios Community College District. Hudson Sangree in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/26/18

California has created 59% of U.S. union jobs since the Great Recession -- Organized labor is a challenged concept nationwide, but California has managed to create roughly six out of every 10 of new union jobs in the U.S. since the Great Recession ended. But that’s not a huge success: The state’s outsized share of unionized job growth comes from a rather modest rebound in U.S. union rolls that represents a tiny slice of all jobs created nationwide. Jonathan Lansner in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 1/26/18

PG&E wants to remove a marina from San Francisco’s Marina district -- Would it still be the Marina district with one less marina? Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has proposed getting rid of one of the San Francisco neighborhood’s two namesake marinas and turning it into a shoreline, complete with a small beach, a fishing pier and tiny islands for roosting birds. David R. Baker in the San Francisco Chronicle$ -- 1/26/18

Why international tourists are avoiding the U.S. as a whole but still coming to Los Angeles -- The county, which draws about 15% of its visitors from foreign countries, escaped the downturn partly because of its geographic position as a major gateway to Asia and its decision last year to reach out to foreign travelers with a message of welcome. Hugo Martin in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/26/18

California will put 5 million electric cars on the road by 2030, Gov. Jerry Brown says -- Brown announced the new goal in his State of the State speech this week, and formalized the target in an executive order issued Friday. “This executive order aims to curb carbon pollution from cars and trucks and boost the number of zero-emission vehicles driven in California,” Brown said in a statement. Liam Dillon in the Los Angeles Times$ Craig Miller KQED Paul Rogers in the San Jose Mercury$ -- 1/26/18

Stuck in traffic? Trucks are major cause of bottlenecks on California freeways, report finds -- A report released Thursday found that Los Angeles County is home to two of the country's top 15 truck bottlenecks. According to the study by the American Transportation Research Institute, seven of the nation's 65 worst truck bottlenecks are in California. The item is in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/26/18

Coast Guard unloads $721 million in cocaine seized since November in San Diego -- Between late November and early January, more than 47,000 pounds of cocaine were seized in 23 separate interdictions by U.S. and Canadian forces operating in international waters off the coasts of Central America and South America, officials said. Karen Kucher in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/26/18

Spike in San Franciscans Seeking Dog Flu Vaccine -- At least 14 cases of the highly contagious illness have been confirmed in the region so far, including the city’s first last Friday. All of those dogs are thought to have been infected by the flu in the South Bay. Sara Hossaini KQED -- 1/26/18

High taxes spark sticker shock for cannabis customers in California -- A picture recently posted to Instagram shows a receipt for a shopping trip to Cookies LA, a licensed marijuana store in Maywood. The receipt shows that the shopper bought an ounce of high-end cannabis, the maximum allowed under state law and enough to roll perhaps 40 joints. His pre-tax tab came to $450. After taxes, the final bill was $587.25. Brooke Edwards Staggs The Cannifornian -- 1/26/18

Pacific coast shark attacks on the rise and kayakers may be most at risk -- There was the shark that flipped a kayak, relentlessly ramming and attacking the vessel and propelling the man inside into the ocean, in shock — an incident in Monterey that was caught on video as beachgoers watched helplessly. In Santa Barbara, there were two attacks – one a kayaker, another a paddleboarder — just a few miles apart. The attacks were on the same day, by different sharks. Laylan Connelly in the Riverside Press Enterprise$ -- 1/26/18

Bretón: Back then, Sacramento was fun loving – and boozy. Remembering Posey’s and its owner -- Jose Luis Ramirez was memorialized Friday at a mass at St. Francis of Assisi Church, a ceremony brimming with love for the Mexican immigrant who did more to bring Democrats and Republicans together in Sacramento than any governor of the last quarter century. Marcos Bretón in the Sacramento Bee$ -- 1/26/18

Hiltzik: The first projections for Trumpcare 2019 are in: Expect rate increases of up to 30% -- If anything is predictable about the vandalism of the Affordable Care Act perpetrated by President Trump and his healthcare henchmen, it's that the costs of their handiwork will be felt by ordinary Americans for years to come. Now, thanks to Covered California, the state's ACA insurance exchange, we have the first estimate of what those costs will be for 2019. The bottom line is premium increases in the range of 16% to 30%. Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times$ -- 1/26/18