Faces in the flames

Oct 20, 2017

Faces of the fire victims; As of Thursday, Oct. 19, 32 victims have been identified in the Wine Country conflagerations. More remains (nine, thus far) remain unidentified.


Sacramento bee's RYAN LILLIS/NATHANIEL LEVINE/DALE KASLER/ANITA CHABRIA: "The wind-driven blazes that swept across Northern California in mid-October are now the deadliest series of fires in state history. State officials have found more than 40 victims, and dozens of people are still missing. Here are some of the victims."


READ MORE related to The West is BurningIn aftermath of fires, schools brace for newly homeless students -- EdSource's CAROLYN JONESFull containment on N. Calif. wildfires delayed but hopes rise with rainy forecast -- The Chronicle's JENNA LYONS/STEVE RUBENSTEIN; Sudden oak death likely exacerbated deadly Northern California wildfires -- The Chronicle's PETER FIMRITETrapped as they tried to run: more victims named in Northern California fires -- Sacramento Bee's RYAN LILLIS/ANITA CHABRIA; State lawmaker has grim task of identifying constituents who died in fires -- The Chronicle's MICHAEL CABANATUAN

Campaign grows against sexual harassment at California Capitol


Sacramento Bee's CARYN LUNA/ALEXEI KOSEFF: "Adama Iwu wrapped up a conversation with a group of men at a work event outside the Capitol last week about how they can serve as allies to women and stop sexual harassment when a drunken male approached her. Iwu, the head of Visa’s western U.S. government relations program, said he touched her inappropriately. The men did nothing."

"It enraged me that it happened in front of other male colleagues,” Iwu said. “They said ‘Oh, you hugged him, we thought you knew him.’ That doesn’t mean when I spent the other three minutes pushing him off me that I didn’t want someone to step in and say ‘She said “no,” stop."

"With allegations of rape and assault at the hands of Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein dredging up repressed memories across the nation, Iwu’s experience served as the catalyst for a movement to challenge a culture at the state Capitol that many say has long allowed sexual harassment and assault to be swept under the rug."


READ MORE related to Bro Culture: Harassment claim against California legislator cost taxpayers $100,000 -- Sacramento Bee's ALEXEI KOSEFF; Interactive map: Wine Country fires -- The Chronicle

Senate race: De Leon in steep uphill fight


JONATHAN BROWN in Capitol Weekly: "In October of 2015, Bernie Sanders famously said he was “sick and tired of hearing about (Hillary Clinton’s) damn emails.”  In October of 2017, the Democratic political world is already sick and tired of re-litigating the 2016 Democratic presidential primary."

"But as state Senate Leader Kevin de León announced his challenge to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Clinton’s 53%-to-46% win over Sanders in the California primary has become the logical starting point for our analysis of Democratic voting as we look at the 2018 Senate race." (Here's the link to the toplines of the first major poll of the 2018 Senate race in California .... )


READ MORE from Capitol Weekly: California gun laws and the Las Vegas shooting -- CW's LISA RENNER


Meanwhile, speaking of the Senate race, Democrats strike back at Feinstein challengers


Sacramento Bee's CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO: "California Democratic stalwarts are growing increasingly worried about Kevin de León’s insurgent challenge of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein."

"While de León is praised by allies and activists starved for a liberal firebrand, the Democrats are concerned about a nasty personal feud that exposes deepening rifts and saps resources from their efforts to win Senate and House races across the country. They argue that focusing on Congress will provide the real bulwark against President Donald Trump’s agenda."

"Several expressed that those fears would be further magnified if Tom Steyer, the liberal billionaire donor and environmental activist, enters the race. Not only would his candidacy set the stage for an expensive TV air war, but it could deprive the Democratic Party of tens of millions of dollars in campaign contributions if Steyer determines he can’t be both a Senate candidate and his party’s leading donor."


Cost of Oroville Dam repair nearly doubles as unexpected problems emerge


Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER: "The reconstruction of Oroville Dam’s flood control spillway is likely to cost as much as $500 million, state officials said Thursday, as design changes and unexpected additional work has inflated the cost of the project."

"Originally budgeted at $275 million, the repair has grown to cover a greater level of protection for the dam’s emergency spillway – whose near failure in February sparked the evacuation of 188,000 downstream residents – as well as unforeseen problems in the bedrock beneath the main spillway, said Erin Mellon, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Water Resources."

"Mellon said the state hopes to recover up to 75 percent of the reconstruction costs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But she said water districts that store water behind Oroville Dam, such as the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the Santa Clara Valley Water District and the Kern county Water Agency, will be expected to pick up whatever costs the federal government won’t cover."


SF landlord will pay $1M to residents of burned-out illegal units 


The Chronicle's JK DINEEN: "A landlord has agreed to pay more than $1 million to tenants who were evicted after a fire swept through their illegal apartments in a warehouse space in the Inner Mission District in 2014, the first legal settlement related to the rash of fires that have displaced residents in the neighborhood over the past four years."

"Property owners Albert Joseph and David Kimmel, who own the warehouse at 1441-1451 Stevenson St. in the north end of the Mission District, have agreed to pay $1,050,000 to eight tenants who found themselves homeless after a predawn fire damaged part of the structure in January 2014."

"The settlement could have implications for others who have been kicked out of their homes during a widespread crackdown on illegal living spaces in the wake of the fatal Ghost Ship fire in Oakland in December, said attorney Joe Tobener of Tobener Ravencroft, who represented the displaced tenants."


Public schools must do more to prepare non-college going students for the workforce


EdSource's MIKHAIL ZINSHTEYN: "California’s public schools should be doing much more to prepare students who don’t go to college to enter the workforce, according to registered voters who responded to a Berkeley IGS/EdSource poll. But they are divided in their assessment of how well schools are doing in providing that preparation."

"They also expressed strong support for community colleges and other institutions to offer more vocationally oriented apprenticeship programs that may not lead to a college degree but prepare students for specific jobs."

"A major goal of reforms in California schools, including the Common Core standards and the Local Control Funding Formula, is to prepare students for both college and the workplace. But in the face of compelling research that shows that young people’s long-term economic prospects are far better if they graduate from college, the emphasis in public schools in recent decades has been on preparing students for success in college, at the expense of more vocationally oriented courses or pathways.


Want a truck driving license? Feds say DMV clerks were selling them for bribes


Sacramento Bee's SAM STANTON: "Two state Department of Motor Vehicle workers have been charged in federal court in Sacramento with taking bribes to alter DMV computer records to provide truck-driving licenses to people who had not passed or, in some cases, not even taken the written or behind-the-wheel driving exams."

"A document charging the two Southern California women with conspiracy to commit bribery, to commit identity fraud and unauthorized use of a computer was filed under seal in court Wednesday and unsealed on Thursday morning."

"The document details an investigation during which undercover agents posing as truck-driving students met with the owners of two Southern California truck-driving schools and agreed to pay to obtain licenses without passing the required tests. The truck-driving school owners, identified only as “Broker A” and “Broker B,” subsequently paid off DMV workers to access agency computers in Sacramento and enter passing scores for the would-be truck drivers, court documents say."


California state worker union raising dues to fight Trump agenda 


Sacramento Bee's ADAM ASHTON/TARYN LUNA: "A small California union has big plans to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars a year during the remainder of President Donald Trump’s term to help it support political candidates opposed to labor policies coming out of the White House."

"The California Association of Psychiatric Technicians, which represents about 6,200 state mental health workers, is levying a monthly $6.50 charge to fund extra political activities from Jan. 1, 2018 until Dec. 31, 2020."

"Its leaders voted to raise the political action fee because they worry that the Trump administration and its allies will advance right-to-work laws across the country, undercutting union membership and revenue. Right-to-work laws prevent unions from charging so-called “fair share fees” to cover the non-political costs of representing workers who don’t want to belong to a labor group."


Sylmar hospital evacuated after armed man confronts medical staffer


Daily News: "A female medical staffer at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center said an armed man confronted her early Thursday on the second floor of the Sylmar hospital, prompting an evacuation and search for the suspect that lasted several hours."

"The hospital on Olive View Drive was cleared for normal operations about 12:30 p.m. Thursday after Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies searched the facility for hours after receiving reports of what was called a possible active shooter about 9:20 a.m."

"No shots were fired, and no injuries were reported."


Russia accuses US government of pushing for its Olympic exclusion


AP: "The Kremlin has accused the U.S. government of pushing for Russia's exclusion from the Olympics."

"A day after Russian President Vladimir Putin said "certain U.S. bodies" were pressuring the International Olympic Committee through its sponsors, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov says Putin meant "state (structures), including through social and non-government organizations."

"Putin said the effort aimed to ensure Russia was either barred from next year's Winter Olympics entirely or forced to compete under a neutral flag."


Senate passes $4 trillion budget blueprint


AP's ANDREW TAYLOR: "The Senate has passed a $4 trillion budget blueprint that is a major step forward for President Donald Trump’s ambitious promises for “massive tax cuts and reform."


"The 51-49 vote sets the stage for debate later this year to dramatically overhaul the U.S. tax code, cutting rates for individuals and corporations while clearing away trillions of dollars’ worth of deductions and special-interest tax breaks."

"The tax cuts would add up to $1.5 trillion to the deficit over the coming decade, however, as Republicans shelve worries about the growing budget deficit in favor of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rewrite tax laws."


Ex-Sheriff Joe Arpai blasts Waters, California, predicts an upset


Daily News' KEVIN MODESTI: "Joe Arpaio, the avowed “America’s Toughest Sheriff,” inserted his barbed rhetoric into a Los Angeles-area congressional race Thursday night, predicting an upset victory for Republican Omar Navarro while blasting Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters and other California politicians."

"I don’t know her, but I don’t like her,” the former Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff told about 50 Navarro supporters at a campaign fundraiser at Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes. “If you can’t beat her, Omar, there’s something wrong."

"Arpaio broadened his attacks to include L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who had campaigned against him in Phoenix while wearing an “Arrest Arpaio” T-shirt; sanctuary-city and sanctuary-state policies; and critics of President Donald Trump."


Dodgers slam Cubs, reach first World Series since 1988


OC Register's BILL PLUNKETT: "A mountain impossible to climb for so long turned into a mole hill Thursday night."

"Kike’ Hernandez hit three home runs and drove in an LCS-record seven runs as the Dodgers routed the Chicago Cubs, 11-1, to close out the National League Championship Series in five games and advance to the World Series for the first time since 1988."

"There was going to be no problem getting the Dodgers’ team bus out of Wrigleyville at the conclusion of this year’s NLCS. The Dodgers scored seven times in the first three innings and rolled to the victory, eliminating the defending champions."

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