Gas leak: A never-ending story

May 23, 2016

Problems continue with SoCal gas after being ordered by the Department of Public Health to cease cleanup operations on 2,500 Aliso Canyon domiciles when health inspectors discovered the company was ignoring protocols set forth by the state.


Matt Hamilton with LA Times: "The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health ordered Southern California Gas Co. late Sunday to stop cleaning the homes of Porter Ranch-area residents affected by the gas leak at the company's Aliso Canyon facility, concluding that the utility’s contractor was not properly trained or equipped to carry out the cleanup."


"The cleaning program was ordered Friday by L.A. County Superior Court Judge John Wiley, who ruled that the firm must perform remedial cleaning for up to 2,500 homeowners."


"The health department said it sent environmental health specialists to monitor the cleaning performed by the utility’s contractor over the weekend and determined that the contractor and the gas company were not abiding by protocols set forth by the health department."


Republicans are turning into an endangered species in California -- so endangered that it's even got top Democratic officials worried.


Mercury News' Matthew Artz writes: "Losing U.S. Senate races in California is old hat for the GOP. The party has lost every one since 1988."


"But getting wiped out in the June primary to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer would be a new low for a party drifting toward irrelevance in the Golden State -- one that even many Democratic leaders don't want to see happen."


"That, however, now appears increasingly inevitable. With 34 Senate candidates on the June 7 ballot -- and only the top two vote-getters advancing to November's general election -- none of the three leading Republicans in the race have polled close to Democrats Kamala Harris, the state attorney general, and Loretta Sanchez, a 10-term congresswoman from Orange County."


Sanders' supporters are suing Bay Area elected officials as well as Secretary of State Alex Padilla over voter instructions, claiming they are inconsistent and confusing for non-partisan registrants.


Kevin Yamamura reports in Sacramento Bee: "As Bernie Sanders supporters fear their candidate will miss out on crucial votes from independent and crossover voters in California’s June primary, civil rights lawyers filed suit Friday seeking more time for those voters to request a Democratic presidential ballot."


"The lawyers sued in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on behalf of an organization trying to boost turnout for Sanders in his bid against Hillary Clinton. Additional plaintiffs include two individual voters and the American Independent Party, a conservative organization on the opposite end of the political spectrum from Sanders."


"In the suit against Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Alameda County and San Francisco election officials, the plaintiffs contend that nonpartisan voters have received inconsistent and confusing instructions on how to vote in the June 7 presidential primary. They say thousands of voters will be disenfranchised."


With Sanders' campaign trail becoming steeper and harder to climb, Clinton's campaign tries to figure out how to attract potential Sanders' voters to their camp -- a move she believes necessary to secure California. 


John Wildermuth and Joe Garofoli in The Chronicle report: "California and its 548 convention delegates may be the biggest prize of the Democratic primary season, but the party’s two presidential hopefuls are taking very different routes to a potential June 7 victory."


"Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, wants to win, but in a way that doesn’t alienate Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ supporters, because she’ll need them in a fall campaign."


“We don’t want a scorched-earth campaign, especially when the Democratic nomination is all but settled,” said Dan Newman, whose San Francisco political consulting firm is working for Clinton. “We don’t want to create obstacles to unifying to stop (presumptive GOP nominee Donald) Trump in November.”


Sen. Jim Beall and Assemblywoman Nora Campos go head-to-head over Beall's 15th Senate District after receiving some critical donations by major players.


East Bay Times' Eric Kurhi writes: "Up until March, it appeared that state Sen. Jim Beall would ease into four more years of serving Silicon Valley before leaving in 2020. But Assemblywoman Nora Campos -- who will be out of a job come December because of term limits -- had different ideas."


"Campos jumped into the race against her fellow Democrat at the last minute, bringing with her the big-bucks backing of oil companies to what's expected to develop into an interparty brawl leading up to November. That $340,000 in independent funding from the likes of Chevron and Valero was answered by billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer, who ponied up half a million dollars in support of Beall."


"While there are two Republican candidates rounding out the field, money isn't flowing their way. So the June 7 primary, in which the top two will advance to a November runoff, is expected to narrow the contest to the two Democrats."


As Ami Bera's father awaits trial for felony charges of election fraud, the congressman's alleged donor swapping comes under scrutiny and is discovered that the Bera family has been sidestepping donation limits with a legal loophole


SacBee's Christopher Cadelago reports: "Democratic Rep. Ami Bera, whose father is awaiting sentencing on two felony counts of election fraud, for years has engaged in a complex series of campaign donations involving his parents and the families of other congressional candidates, federal records show."


"Beginning six years ago, when he unsuccessfully challenged former Republican Rep. Dan Lungren, Bera and his family wrote checks to other Democrats, almost always for the maximum amount allowed under federal law. Those candidates or their families gave similar amounts to Bera, and the contributions often occurred within days of one another."


"The practice differs from the reimbursement scheme perpetrated by Babulal “Bob” Bera, 83, in which he repaid donors as a way to direct more money to his son’s campaign committee. Federal officials and Ami Bera maintain the congressman, who has represented a suburban Sacramento County district since defeating Lungren in a 2012 rematch, was unaware of his father’s illegal activities."


With immigration in the campaign spotlight, Kamala Harris declared in front of United Farm Workers meeting that undocumented immigrants are not criminals and deserve protection.


Phil Willon writes in LA Times: "U.S. Senate hopeful Kamala Harris, speaking to leaders of the United Farm Workers union, called for fixing the nation’s immigration system and protecting the rights of millions of immigrants in the country illegally."


"Harris told union delegates gathered at Bakersfield’s convention center that immigration is the “civil rights issue of our time,” a phrase she has repeated often at campaign rallies. But the state attorney general offered few specifics on how she would work with the Republican leaders in Congress to pass legislation."


"Harris received the loudest ovation when she said “an undocumented immigrant is not a criminal” in both English and Spanish."


Kamala Harris also acknowledged the issue of fracking at her Saturday Bakersfield meeting, but refused to make a stance on the subject until regulations for the oil extraction process are put forth for review.


The Bee's David Sider reports: "U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris said Saturday that she is “very skeptical” of hydraulic fracturing, while stopping short of calling for a moratorium."


"Speaking to reporters at a United Farm Workers convention in Bakersfield, in the heart of oil-rich Kern County, Harris said she is waiting to review emerging regulations on the controversial form of oil extraction."


“I’m very skeptical of fracking,” said Harris, the state attorney general. “We’re waiting to see what the regulations are going to look like.”

Traditionally, SFPD has investigated the department's use-of-force shootings when an officer has fired a weapon in the line of duty ... but that may soon change in San Francisco
The Chronicle's Vivian Ho writes: "When a San Francisco police officer shoots someone, the investigation is headed up by the officer’s colleagues — a widespread law enforcement practice that has stoked mistrust both here and around the country."


"It’s a practice that, from 2000 through 2015, led to no criminal charges against city officers in 95 shootings, including 40 that were fatal, according to a Chronicle analysis."


"But as controversy grows over recent shootings — including the killing of 29-year-old Jessica Williams on Thursday at the edge of the Bayview neighborhood, which prompted Police Chief Greg Suhr to step down — San Francisco may be on the brink of a historic shift."


And now from our "Open Water" file...


There's plenty of good reasons to stay away from sharks -- no good reasons to get near them. However, a spearfisher was in for the fright of his life after being separated from his boat--and being circled by a nearly 7 foot shark.


"A Florida scuba diver who found himself stranded for hours in the Atlantic Ocean when he became separated from his boat was circled by two sharks."


"Randy Fales, 68, of Satellite Beach, said he was spearfishing Sunday about 17 miles northeast of Sebastian Inlet while his family, including two daughters, a daughter's boyfriend, three grandsons and a granddaughter, waited on a boat above."


"Fales said the situation took a turn for the worse when his anchor line, which connected him both to the boat and to a floating jug meant to mark his location, separated."

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