Trump promises more water for Valley farmers. Newsom promises to sue
Sac Bee's DALE KASLER/BRIANNA CALIX/CARMEN GEORGE: "Gov. Gavin Newsom, in a pre-emptive strike against President Donald Trump, said Wednesday he plans to sue Trump’s administration to block a controversial plan to increase water deliveries to the San Joaquin Valley."
"Newsom’s office said he “will file legal action in the coming days ... to protect highly imperiled fish species close to extinction."
"The announcement came just minutes before Trump appeared in Bakersfield to announce his administration had finalized an order removing regulatory roadblocks and enabling the giant Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta pumps to deliver additional water to the southern half of the state."
CA120: Confusion for independents hoping to vote Democratic
Capitol Weekly's PAUL MITCHELL: "As we have reported previously in Capitol Weekly, there is a serious problem in the upcoming California Democratic presidential primary for independent voters who want to participate in the election."
"Based on our polling, 67% of all independents, and 81% of those considered “likely voters” say that that want to vote in the March 3 presidential primary. Many say they have strong opinions on the candidates and issues."
"To participate in the open Democratic presidential primary, independent voters need to request the partisan “crossover” ballot. To expedite this, counties sent all vote-by-mail independent voters a postcard for them to select their partisan ballot and then return the card to the registrars."
USC offers free tuition to families making under $80K and a break for homeowners
LA Times's TERESA WATANABE: "In a “high-octane” drive to widen access for more middle and low-income students, USC will eliminate tuition for families earning $80,000 or less annually and will no longer consider home equity in financial aid calculations."
"The new policies, announced Thursday by USC President Carol Folt, will place the private campus on par with the public University of California, long known as a national leader in generous financial aid policies and high numbers of low-income students."
"And while other elite private universities, such as Harvard and Stanford, provide tuition-free educations to families earning as much as $150,000 annually, their endowments are far larger. Harvard’s endowment is $40.9 billion and Stanford’s is $27.7 billion, compared to USC’s $5.7 billion."
Homelessness in California must be 'top of our agenda,' Newsom says
The Chronicle's ALEXEI KOSEFF: "Gov. Gavin Newsom called Wednesday for California to strengthen conservatorship laws, exempt housing construction for homeless people from long-standing environmental regulations and redirect hundreds of millions of dollars for mental health services to tackle the “disgrace” of homelessness in the state."
"Newsom focused his second annual State of the State address almost entirely on one topic — homelessness — an unusual move that reflected his intention to move the issue to “the top of our agenda."
"The hard truth is for too long we ignored this problem,” the governor said. “Most of us have experienced homelessness as a pang of guilt, not a call to action."
The days of fast growth are ending for LA and California, report says
LA Times's MARGOT ROOSEVELT: "It wasn’t so long ago that economic growth in California and Los Angeles far surpassed that of the nation."
"Those days are coming to an end, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp., a nonprofit group that works with local businesses."
"In 2018, while the U.S. economy expanded by 2.9%, California’s grew by 4.3% and Los Angeles County’s by 3.7%. In 2019, economic growth slowed to 2.3% in the U.S., 2.6% in California and 1.6% in L.A. County."
Here's how long Californians have to work to pay off taxes -- and how other states compare
Sac Bee's DAVID LIGHTMAN: "California’s tax burden is higher than most states — but a lot of states have it worse."
"That’s the finding of a report from the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. It assigns each state a “Tax Freedom Day,” the day when residents of a state have collectively earned enough money to pay their total tax bill for the year."
"Californians in theory had to work until April 20 last year to pay those bills, four days longer than the national average. The state is in a 38th place tie for highest tax burden, along with Maine and Washington."
Democratic rivals exchange insults in debate
LA Times's JANET HOOK: "The unusually tense, argumentative and personal tone of Wednesday night’s Democratic debate — clearly the most contentious of the campaign — reflected the urgency of the political moment: Most of the candidates on the stage could be out of the race in less than two weeks."
"In past debates, when one candidate was perceived as a front-runner, he or she became the target of attacks and scrutiny. As expected Wednesday, former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg took a lot of the heat. But with so many political crosscurrents buffeting the other five candidates, the attacks flew in all directions, less like a fire hose pointed at one candidate and more like an oscillating sprinkler."
"The multiple exchanges — Sen. Amy Klobuchar against former Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Elizabeth Warren against former Vice President Joe Biden, Biden against Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sanders against Buttigieg, and so on — created a free-for-all that actually looked like a debate. Or maybe a prize fight, as Klobuchar said at one point."
Bloomberg has invested heavily in promoting charter schools in California
EdSource's LOUIS FREEDBERG: "If there is one issue on which Michael Bloomberg and Donald Trump agree, it is on the value of charter schools."
"One difference is that Bloomberg does not appear to back using taxpayer funds to underwrite tuition for private and parochial schools, as Trump does. Another is that Bloomberg has actually been able to implement his pro-charter agenda, when he was mayor in New York City, and in backing pro-charter causes and candidates in other states, most notably in California."
"He has been one of a cadre of billionaires who have poured money to expand charter school in the state — including Reed Hastings, the founder and CEO of Netflix, L.A. philanthropist and businessman Eli Broad, and Walton family members associated with the Walmart empire."
All-white Democratic field tries to connect with diverse Nevada voters
The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI: "Joe Biden teared up."
"He was telling 300 mostly African American congregants at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church about the time he asked his family if he should accept Barack Obama’s invitation to be vice president. His throat caught after mentioning his late son, Beau."
"Sorry,” he said and dabbed at his eyes. As he took a few seconds to compose himself, the congregants clapped. For Stanley Breland, that was the moment he knew he was supporting the right candidate in Saturday’s Nevada caucuses."
Hunting meshes surprisingly well with California's progressive values. And now it's fading away
Sac Bee's RYAN SABALOW: "I stood over the deer as it took its last breath. There were tears in my eyes."
"It had been at least a decade since I’d killed a California deer. The last time I did, my grandfather was with me. He died in 2016 at age 80. Ever since, I’d carried around his hunting knife in my gear. I was waiting to use it on the next buck I’d killed."
"But before I put blood on grandpa’s knife that frosty morning in October, I pulled out of my backpack an orange piece of state-issued paperwork. A “deer tag.” Through tears, I filled it out and tied it to the four-point buck’s antlers."
Housing crisis fix? Proposed state law inspired by homeless Oakland moms aaims to fill vacant homes
The Chronicle's SARAH RAVANI: "State legislation introduced Wednesday aims to reduce the number of empty homes in California and give tenants the right of first refusal to buy foreclosed properties. The bill was inspired by the plight of a group of homeless mothers who recently took up residence in a vacant West Oakland home to call attention to California’s housing crisis."
"State Senator Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, introduced SB1079, which would allow cities and counties to fine corporations that let their properties sit vacant for more than 90 days. The legislation also allows local governments to seize the properties and use them for affordable housing."
"If it’s approved, the bill might spark a legal challenge, and it’s unclear how big of an impact it would have in the Bay Area, where few vacant properties exist."
Flu death toll quietly soared to 328 in California as coronavirus fears gripped US
Sac Bee's CATHIE ANDERSON: "While Americans have been transfixed by concerns about the potential spread of new coronavirus in the United States, a growing number of U.S. citizens have been dying as a result of the seasonal influenza epidemic."
"Public health officials announced Jan. 21 that the first confirmed case of COVID-19 arrived in the U.S. Since then, 14 other cases have been reported. During that same time period, more than 100 people have died of the flu in California."
"All told, the state Department of Public Health reported figures on Friday that show the death toll from the flu is 58 percent higher now than in the comparable period last year. In the 2019-20 season, CDPH said, 328 people died of influenza, roughly 80 percent of them since the new year began."
READ MORE related to Coronavirus: Quartine in US: No booze, movies or view but 'safer' than cruise ship -- The Chronicle's KATHLEEN PENDER
The transition to digital alone will not save local news. Here's what could
Sac Bee's LAUREN GUSTUS: "The Sacramento Bee wrote about the abolition of slavery and continues to cover segregation in local schools. It chronicled the debut of the Model T and keeps readers updated on Tesla, maker of the Model S. We’ve covered some ground over 163 years."
"Five generations of the McClatchy family built parks, high schools, theaters and stopped a freeway cold in its tracks — with the help of then-President John F. Kennedy."
"Newspapers were a public service,” for the family, said Gregory Favre, former executive editor at The Bee, which is one of 30 McClatchy news organizations."
Widow of Black Panther founder Huey Newton fights for monument in West Oakland
The Chronicle's OTIS R TAYLOR JR: "Every week or so, Fredrika Newton receives a flyer with an offer to buy her home."
"Newton, widow of Huey P. Newton, a co-founder of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, lives in West Oakland."
"She sees a connection between the Black Panthers’ fight for social justice for African Americans in the late 1960s and the battle she and her neighbors face just to stay in West Oakland, where home prices are skyrocketing and wealthy buyers are moving in."
Court throws out Bruce Makowsky's $60M lawsuit against Zillow
LA Times's JACK FLEMMING: "A federal district judge in Los Angeles has dismissed developer Bruce Makowsky’s lawsuit against Zillow that claimed that the Seattle-based real estate company had harmed his Bel-Air mansion’s reputation by falsely showing it sold for less than its asking price multiple times."
"The handbag tycoon was seeking $60 million in damages against the online real estate marketplace. But U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II ruled Tuesday that Zillow, as a publisher, is granted immunity from Makowsky’s negligence claim under the Communications Decency Act."
"The controversy began last February, when an unknown user with a Chinese IP address bypassed Zillow’s security measures and toyed with the sale price displayed on the property’s listing."
The job market is hot. So why are half of US grads missing out?
BLOOMBERG's ALEXANDRE TANZI/KATIA DMITRIEVA: "Millions of Americans are seeing little return from their expensive college degrees — even in today’s hot jobs market."
"For the first time in decades, recent college graduates are more likely to be out of work than the population as a whole, according to the New York Federal Reserve. And for the lower-earning half of college grads, the wage premium is shrinking fast."
"Unemployment among Americans ages 22 to 27 who recently earned a bachelor’s degree or higher was 3.9% in December — about 0.3 percentage point above the rate for all workers."
Things Trump said at his Bakersfield rally
Sac Bee's BRIANNA CALIX: "President Donald Trump stopped in Bakersfield on Wednesday to talk about water for farmers, but in his trademark from-the-cuff style he remarked on high-speed rail, the border wall and California politicians."
"Trump signed a decision finalizing new biological opinions and allowing more water to flow through the Delta to southern regions in California."
"Thousands of supporters packed JACO hangar at the Meadows Field Airport. At the end, a chant of “four more years” serenaded the president."
READ MORE related to Trump Rally: Is Trump right that California's high-speed rail project will be 'a mile long?' -- Sac Bee's ANDREW SHEELER
9 murdered in suspected far-right attack in Germany
AP's DAVID MCHUGH/FRANK MORDANS: "A 43-year-old German man shot and killed nine people at several locations in a Frankfurt suburb in attacks that appeared to have been motivated by far-right beliefs, officials said Thursday."
"The gunman first attacked a hookah bar and a neighboring cafe in central Hanau at about 10 p.m. Wednesday, killing several people, before heading about 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) west and opening fire again, first on a car and then a sports bar, claiming more victims."
"Chancellor Angela Merkel said that while the circumstances of the attack still needed to be fully investigated, the shootings exposed the “poison” of racism in German society. Merkel pledged to stand up against those who seek to divide the country."