Gov. Brown signed into law sweeping changes at the CPUC Thursday after approving five bills and demanding that the agency take swift administrative action to restructure itself.
JEFF MCDONALD with Union-Tribune: "Gov. Jerry Brown signed five bills Thursday aimed at reform for the California Public Utilities Commission and called on the agency to take additional steps to impose changes of its own."
"These important reforms cannot wait another year,” Brown said in a statement announcing his support for the package of bills. “To that end, I am calling on the commission to use its existing authority to take immediate action. Together, these administrative reforms and legislative acts will bring much needed improvement to the commission."
"The signings came almost a year after Brown vetoed six bills that would have imposed a different set of reforms on the commission, which oversees power companies, telecommunications firms, passenger carriers and other public services. He said those bills contained contradictory provisions and did not work as a package."
White supremacy is on the rise and the apparent reason is Donald Trump.
LISA MASCARO with L.A. Times: "David Duke worked the Louisiana gun show like a preacher pursuing souls, cornering potential voters as they picked over firearms and ammo."
"The robes are gone and the rhetoric is softer than during his grand wizard days. But Duke has not shed his relentless proselytizing for the white race, even though voters have repeatedly rejected the former Ku Klux Klan leader’s attempts to regain public office."
"Duke is undeterred. As he sees it, this is the moment. After last running for election in 1999, he’s back with a long-shot bid for Louisiana’s open U.S. Senate seat."
READ MORE related to Beltway: Trump foundation lacks the certification required for charities that solicit money -- AP's JULIE BYKOWICZ in The Chronicle; Clinton's 'nasty' Trump ads are mostly his own words; 'Don't vote for Trump,' says USA Today in first presidential endorsement in its history -- MELANIE MASON in Sacramento Bee; The Latest: Trump praises Germany's Merkel as 'great' leader -- AP in SF Chronicle; Trump injects Bill Clinton scandals into 2016 race -- AP in The Chronicle; Obama arrives in Israel for Shimon Peres memorial service -- KEVIN FREKING with The Chronicle
This year's ballot has seen nearly $400 million in contributions so far for or against the 17 different measures facing voters in November -- but with 6 weeks left, experts expect the funding to increase even more, and possibly break records.
ALISON MOON with AP: "Supporters and opponents of California’s 17 November ballot measures have raised nearly $390 million six weeks before the election, putting the state about $85 million shy of record initiative fundraising with some of the heaviest spending yet to come."
"Reports filed by political donors with the California Secretary of State’s Office before a midnight Thursday campaign reporting deadline showed a whopping $389 million in contributions on hot-button issues such as prescription drug pricing and hospital fees."
"If the fundraising records haven’t been broken yet, they’re about to be,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California and a former chairman of the state agency that regulates campaign finance. He noted that the pace of fundraising and spending accelerates as Election Day nears."
A document reviewed by the AP shows that nearly a third of all calls to the Veteran's suicide hotline are missed or rolled over due to poor work etiquette and systemic problems at the VA.
JEANETTE STEELE with San Diego Union-Tribune: "There’s more bad news for the beleaguered U.S. Veterans Affairs Department’s not-so-hot hotline for suicidal veterans."
"An insider memo newly uncovered by the Associated Press indicates that more than one-third of calls to the national suicide hotline for troubled veterans are not being answered by front-line staffers because of poor work habits and other problems at the VA."
"That’s according to Greg Hughes, former director of the VA's Veterans Crisis Line in Canandaigua, NY."
Alfred Olango, the Ugandan refugee slain in El Cajon earlier this week, had previous run-ins with the law and he was supposed to be deported -- but a snafu in the Ugandan government prevented his extradition.
VERONICA ROCHA and PETER ROWE with L.A. Times: "Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials had twice tried to deport a Ugandan refugee because of drug and firearm convictions before he was shot and killed this week by El Cajon police, authorities said Thursday."
"Alfred Olango, 38, of El Cajon was convicted of transporting and selling narcotics and ordered in 2002 by an immigration judge to be deported, according to an ICE statement."
"Immigration officials said they tried unsuccessfully multiple times to obtain travel documents from the Ugandan government so he could be deported."
READ MORE related to Public Safety: Family demands release of Olango shooting video -- PAULINE REPARD and LYNDSAY WINKLEY with San Diego Union-Tribune
The 9/11 Victims bill that would allow affected citizens from the September 2001 terrorist attack to sue Saudi Arabia continues to churn out more conflicts of interest and would-be scenarios of legal blowback.
LISA MASCARO and MICHAEL A. MEMOLI with L.A. Times: "Less than a day after Congress overrode President Obama’s veto of a bill that would let 9/11 victims’ families sue Saudi Arabia, top GOP leaders said they might need to fix the new law to protect U.S. national security interests."
"Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) both acknowledged Thursday that the bill, which narrows a foreign nation’s immunity from legal challenge, could backfire by exposing the United States to retaliatory lawsuits by foreign victims of terrorism."
"There may be some work to be done,” Ryan told reporters."
The man responsible for the blaze that tore through 45 square miles of the Sequoia National Forest this past August has been hit with a 13 month prison term and $61 million in restitution.
VERONICA ROCHA and MATT HAMILTON with L.A. Times: "Hours after federal prosecutors filed charges against him, a Mexican national pleaded guilty Thursday to starting a wildfire that recently burned more than 45 square miles in the Sequoia National Forest."
"A federal judge sentenced Angel Gilberto Garcia-Avalos, 29, to 13 months in prison and ordered him to pay $61 million in restitution for damage caused by the Cedar fire, according to the U.S. attorney’s office."
"Garcia-Avalos, a resident of Michoacan, Mexico, was driving off-road illegally Aug. 16 when his Nissan Maxima got stuck on a berm and his catalytic converter and muffler ignited dead grass."
Sacramento and 13 other counties could pioneer a poll-less voting system after Gov. Brown signed legislation Thursday that will see ballots mailed to registered voters in 2018.
ELLEN GARRISON with Sacramento Bee: "This November’s presidential election could mark the last time many California voters fill out ballots at a polling place, including traditionalists who have long resisted the trend of voting by mail."
"Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Thursday allowing Sacramento and 13 other counties to eliminate most neighborhood polling places and send ballots to all voters starting in 2018. Sacramento County Registrar of Voters Jill LaVine said this week that she hopes to shift voters toward a mail ballot system in two years."
"Under Senate Bill 450, counties will be required to offer “vote centers” where people can fill out their ballots and turn them in. But based on current voter registration, Sacramento County would only have to open 73 vote center locations instead of the 548 polling places it plans to operate for the Nov. 8 election."
And for the person who had the Worst Week in California, #WorstWeekCA ... Don Neubacher, superintendent of Yosemite National Park, has stepped down during the peak of a harassment scandal that has roiled the National Parks Service.
LOUIS SAHAGUN with L.A. Times: "The superintendent of Yosemite National Park on Thursday announced that he is stepping down amid an ongoing federal investigation into allegations of a hostile work environment in which employees, particularly women, are bullied, belittled and marginalized."
"In a terse statement, Don Neubacher, 63, who has led a crown jewel of the nation’s national park system for six years, said: “I regret leaving at this time, but want to do what’s best for Yosemite National Park. It is an iconic area that is world renowned and deserves special attention."
"Our employees, our park and our partners are some of the best in the nation,” said Neubacher, whose resignation is effective Nov. 1."