California GOP rallies around measure to repeal new gas tax
AP: "Organizers of a campaign to qualify a ballot measure that would repeal the state’s gas tax and new vehicle fees unveiled their growing coalition Wednesday at the state Republican Party headquarters, where GOP gubernatorial candidate John Cox said he will make a “substantial” donation to the effort."
"Cox, a wealthy businessman, declined to give specifics about how much he will donate to the campaign, which named him honorary co-chair."
"To qualify for the November 2018 ballot, organizers of the measure have to collect 584,000 signatures, a hefty lift for any effort. The ballot measure would be a constitutional amendment because it not only repeals the gas tax and vehicle fee increases approved this year, but it also requires voters to approve any future increases."
Listen up, would-be attorneys: The California Supreme Court says no to loosening State Bar exam requirements
The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "California’s bar exam sets its passing score higher than almost any other state — and it will stay that way for now, the state Supreme Court said Wednesday, despite plunging success rates and complaints that potentially good lawyers are being needlessly screened out."
"In a letter signed by all of its justices, the court, which oversees the State Bar and its 261,000 lawyers, said the downward trend appeared to be part of a “broader national pattern” and did not show a need to lower the standards in California."
"Only 43 percent of those who took the July 2016 bar exam passed it, the lowest rate in 32 years, and lower than the success rates in most other states. The results fueled long-standing protests that the exam’s passing score, the nation’s second-highest, was unduly restrictive and tended to reduce the numbers of low-income and minority lawyers."
How did the President's response to four soldier's deaths go so wrong?
LA Times' NOAH BIERMAN/BRIAN BENNETT/WJ HENNIGAN: "President Trump kept silent on the deaths of four American soldiers for nearly two weeks, while finding time to tweet about “fake news” and Republicans’ fundraising, attack Puerto Ricans and a Republican senator, among others, and keep up his complaints against protesting professional football players."
"When he finally spoke up on Monday about the deadliest combat incident of his presidency — and then only in answer to a reporter’s question — Trump started a furor that engulfed his chief of staff, predecessors from both parties, a Florida congresswoman and now one of the grieving families of the soldiers he was being asked to honor."
READ MORE related to Federal: Sessions again refuses to answer questions about his talks with Trump before Comey firing -- LA Times' JOSEPH TANFANI; Court overrules US abortion ban for undocumented teen in custody -- The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO; Doubt that Trump is hurting America by insisting NFL players stand for the national anthem? Just look around. -- Sacramento Bee's MARCOS BRETON
California gun laws and the Las Vegas shooting
Capitol Weekly's LISA RENNER: "With the toughest gun laws in the nation, California has a few regulations on the books that potentially could have lessened the carnage in the Las Vegas shooting if those laws had been enacted in Nevada."
"California outlaws bump stocks and large-capacity magazines, both of which shooter Stephen Paddock used to kill 58 people and wound more than 500 Oct. 1 at a country music festival on the Las Vegas strip."
"While there is no evidence at this point that it would have prevented the tragedy, California also has a gun violence restraining order law that allows family members and law enforcement officers to ask a court to temporarily restrict someone they believe is dangerous from possessing guns."
Northern California fire victims may want to rebuild. But can they find someone to do it?
McClatchy DC's STUART LEAVENWORTH/ANITA CHABRIA: "Kim Bipes spent part of this week sifting through the ashes of her Santa Rosa home, one of thousands destroyed in California’s wildfires. She was looking for any keepsakes she could find, but her attention was also spinning forward to the challenge of rebuilding."
"“We are all going to be competing for contractors,” she said Monday while scavenging for her family’s silver coin collection."
"Thousands of people lost their homes in the fires that swept Northern California last week. As firefighters began to tame the blazes, these refugees were coming to terms not only with the loss of nearly all their belongings, but also with the difficulties that they will likely face as they try to rebuild."
Think Feinstein is a shoo-in for another term? Don't be shocked if voters shake things up.
LA Times' GEORGE SKELTON: "Anyone who thinks U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein has a lock on reelection is ignoring history. It’s rare, but it happens: An esteemed, powerful, senior politician is booted from office."
"The political world is shocked. No one saw it coming — except the voters. They were stewing and wanted something different."
"Don’t read this wrong. Feinstein is a heavy favorite to win her fifth full term next year. She has a solid record and has been a major player on foreign and domestic issues in Congress. She’s important."
READ MORE related to Battle against Feinstein: Feinstein backers mobilize for the real threat. It's not Kevin de Leon -- The Chronicle's MATIER & ROSS; 'The DC playbook is obsolete,' Kevin de Leon says as he takes on Feinsteina -- Sacramento Bee's CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO
Divers begin removing 30-year-old junk reef off Newport Beach coast
AP: "Divers are removing hundreds of old tires, plastic jugs and other junk that was dumped off the Newport Beach coast nearly 30 years ago by a man who thought he was helping the ocean environment."
"The cleanup began last week, the California Coastal Commission said Wednesday."
It was Bob and Harvey Weinstein against the world. Then they turned on each other.
LA Times' RYAN FAUGHNDER: "For the Weinsteins, it had always been Bob and Harvey against the world."
"In 1979, the twenty-something rock promoters brought their unpolished demeanor, fast-talking style, and rough negotiating tactics to the movie business, naming their new film production company after their parents, Miriam and Max."
READ MORE related to Weinstein Scandal: Harassment claim against California legislator cost taxpayers $100,000 -- Sacramento Bee's ALEXEI KOSEFF; OP-ED: The real difference between Trump and Weinstein is the one the GOP won't talk about -- RANDYE HODER in Sacrament Bee
Former USC medical school dean saw patients after using meth, investigators allege
LA Times' MATT HAMILTON/HARRIET RYAN/PAUL PRINGLE: "For more than a year while he was dean of USC’s medical school, Dr. Carmen Puliafito abused drugs on days he worked as an eye doctor in university facilities and “would return to his medical office to see patients within hours of using methamphetamine,” a state investigation alleges."
"Puliafito consumed heroin, methamphetamine and other drugs on a near-daily basis at the Keck School of Medicine campus and in other locations, and the physician supplied drugs to other people, including a teenager and a patient in an addiction treatment facility, according to a filing that details the results of an investigation conducted for the Medical Board of California."
"A Los Angeles Times investigation in July first sparked the state probe. It may have serious implications for both Puliafito, who could lose his medical license, and the reputation of the university that kept a troubled person in one of its most important and sensitive posts."
Conservative group sets sights on state's Voting Rights Act
The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "A conservative who led a successful legal challenge to a core provision of the federal Voting Rights Act is training his sights on California’s version of the law, which allows minorities to challenge the practice of local “at-large” elections on the basis of racial discrimination and seek to switch them to voting by district."
"The 2002 California Voting Rights Act forces cities, counties and school districts “to make race the sole factor in districting,” said Edward Blum, president of the nonprofit Project on Fair Representation, as his Virginia-based group asked a federal judge to overturn the law."
"The contention is related to the reverse-discrimination argument Blum’s group used in 2013 when it persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down the 1965 federal law’s central enforcement provision."
City says tests show tap water in Northern Sacramento now safe to drink
Sacramento Bee's BENJY EGEL: "A day after issuing a “Do Not Drink” advisory for a portion or northern Sacramento where tap water had a purple tint, the city’s Department of Utilities said test results showed the water is safe to drink."
"The department sent notices to residents north of Interstate 80, south of Main Avenue, east of Pell Drive and west of Norwood Avenue cautioning them not to consume tap water until further notice. Instead, residents were advised to wash dishes, prepare food and brush teeth with bottled water."