California Rep. Adam Schiff ready to release Democratic memo on Russia meddling
The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI: "Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that he expects to release a memo this week about surveillance and the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election."
"Schiff, D-Burbank, crafted the document as a response to one written by Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, that alleged that federal agents improperly obtained a warrant to monitor former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page as part of its Russian investigation. While President Trump ordered the release of the Nunes memo over the objections of some in law enforcement and intelligence, he blocked the release of the Schiff response because he said it contained classified material."
"We are negotiating with the FBI, and I think we are almost done,” Schiff said Tuesday night during an onstage interview by former East Bay Democratic Rep. Ellen Tauscher at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco."
Zinke promises Brown he'll listen to California on offshore oil drilling
Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER: "The Trump administration promised Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday that it will listen to California's objections to its plans to dramatically expand offshore oil and natural gas drilling."
"Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, traveling to Sacramento for a private meeting at the Capitol, "made it clear that California's views will be taken into account," Brown's press secretary Evan Westrup said in an email."
"Westrup said the meeting followed up on a 20-minute phone call the two had in January, during which Brown "asked for the same consideration Florida recently received."
READ MORE related to Energy & Environment: Facing specter of drought, California farmers are told to expect little water -- Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER; California, drying out again, weighs permanent ban on wasting water -- The Chronicle's KURTIS ALEXANDER; Earthquake early warning: How the US trails Mexico in potential life-saver -- The Chronicle's PETER FIMRITE; Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue gets grounded in California -- LA Times' GEOFFREY MOHAN; OP-ED: Drought? What drought? -- LA Times EDITORIAL BOARD; Here's how food waste at UCI, some supermarkets is being converted into electricity -- SGV Tribune's STEVE SCAUZILLO; Ninth Circuit ruling on the Clean Water Act raises more questions -- Water Deeply's HOLLY DOREMUS; Fight over household wells highlights rural growing pains -- Water Deeply's EMILY BENSON; As fire risk explodes across the West, an Oregon city finds a solution -- Water Deeply's MATT WEISER; Seafood giant tests technology to prevent illegal fishing, worker abuse -- Oceans Deeply's IAN EVANS; The long journey of genetically engineered salmon to your dinner plate -- Oceans Deeply's RICHARD MARTIN; Devil in the data: Study uncovers sharp decline in global fish catches -- Oceans Deeply's ALASTAIR BLAND; New long-term effort to understand impact of rapidly changing Atlantic -- Oceans Deeply's ERICA CIRINO; Sprinklers keep almond orchard temperatures up as they coat the trees with icicles -- Chico ER's STEVE SCHOONOVER
Probe of state Sen. Mendoza finds 'likely' sexually suggestive behavior
The Chronicle's MELODY GUTIERREZ: "An outside investigation into sexual harassment allegations against state Sen. Tony Mendoza found he “more likely than not” engaged in “sexually suggestive behavior” with six women in the Capitol over more than a decade, including legislative staffers, fellows, an intern and a lobbyist."
"A three-page summary of the findings was released Tuesday showing that outside investigators interviewed 47 witnesses, many of whom were former and current staffers of the Democrat from Artesia (Los Angeles County). Investigators said Mendoza cooperated with the investigation and that they interviewed him twice."
"The full report was not released publicly. Senators who want to read the entire report before deciding whether to punish Mendoza will have to do so at the offices of the Legislature’s lawyers."
READ MORE related to Me Too: Pope Francis' sexual abuse commission, hit by resignations and criticism, gets a reboot -- LA Times' TOM KINGTON; Six women were likely subject to unwanted behavior by a California senator, investigation finds -- Sacramento Bee's TARYN LUNA; Google's fired engineer sexually harassed co-workers via memo, says US labor board lawyer -- BANG's ETHAN BARON
Democratic candidates for Congress square off on question of Pelosi as Speaker of the House
LA Times' JAVIER PANZAR: "Five Democrats looking to replace retiring Republican Rep. Darrell Issa squared off at a debate in San Juan Capistrano on Tuesday night, struggling to differentiate themselves in a crowded and open race."
"At least nine candidates are running in the primary and for most of the evening the five Democrats agreed on the issues, from opposing new toll lanes in the district to embracing the need for more gun control."
"One touchy topic caused a rift: Would the candidates vote for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to become Speaker if Democrats win control of the House?"
READ MORE related to State Politics: California Capitol annex needs a $543M replacement, report urges -- Sacramento Bee's ADAM ASHTON/ALEXEI KOSEFF
SCOTUS leaves in place California's 10-day wait for gun buyers, rejects 2nd Amendment challenge
LA Times' DAVID G. SAVAGE: "The Supreme Court made clear again Tuesday that the government has broad power to restrict and regulate firearms, dismissing a 2nd Amendment challenge to California's 10-day waiting period for new gun purchases."
"While the court has ruled that the 2nd Amendment protects the right of law-abiding citizens to own guns, the justices have repeatedly refused to go further by blocking strict gun regulations, including state bans on the sale of semi-automatic weapons or limits on who can carry a weapon in public."
"Dissenting alone, Justice Clarence Thomas said "the 2nd Amendment is a disfavored right in this court."
READ MORE related to Gun Violence Pandemic: Authorities say California school shooting plot thwarted -- AP; A Florida lawmaker's aide called school-shooting survivors 'actors.' Within hours, he was fired -- WaPo's MARWA ELTAGOURI; Trump, citing 'evil massacre' in Florida, starts talking about gun control -- WaPo's JENNA JOHNSON/MARK BERMAN/JOSH DAWSEY; 'I would rather not be alone.' Behind their anger, Florida students are still teens struggling with trauma -- WaPo's JESSICA CONTRERA; Shooting roils gun politics in NRA-friendly Florida -- Politico's MARC CAPUTO; Youth voices represent a wild card in the gun regulation debate -- EdSource's LOUIS FREEDBERG
California's bail system doesn't make us safer, attorney general says
Sacramento Bee's ALEXEI KOSEFF: "California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced Tuesday that he will not appeal a recent court decision on excessive bail, adding his voice to the growing statewide push to overhaul a money bail system that criminal justice advocates argue is discriminatory to poor Californians."
"Late last month, the appeals court in San Francisco ordered a new bail hearing for Kenneth Humphrey, a retired shipyard worker who had been held in jail for more than eight months on $350,000 bail. Humphrey was accused of breaking into a neighbor’s apartment, threatening to put a pillow over his head and stealing $5 and a bottle of cologne."
"In its ruling, the panel said that setting bail so high a defendant cannot pay it is only justified when the suspect is too dangerous to release before trial, and it instructed the trial judge to reconsider what amount Humphrey could afford and whether he posed a risk to public safety."
READ MORE related to Prisons & Public Safety: Family of man killed by BART police releases body cam footage -- The Chronicle's SARAH RAVANI; LA fire chief raises concerns about 'divisive' workplace incidents involving firefighters -- LA Times' DAVID ZAHNISER
Small CalPERS rate hike continues debt reform
CalPensions' ED MENDEL: "CalPERS is speeding up payment of new pension debt, a step toward reforming a policy that pushes current worker pension costs to future generations and helped delay a recovery from a huge investment loss a decade ago."
"The adoption of a new actuarial policy last week, which shortens the payment of new debt from 30 to 20 years, shows how CalPERS has a built-in conflict between the need to quickly repay debt while keeping an eye on the ability of governments to pay pension costs."
"A large rate increase that suddenly takes a big bite out of government budgets could create a funding crisis, fueling a drive for pension reform. Delaying debt payment allows time for the normalization of high pension costs that once might have been shocking."
Alameda County prosecutors aim to dismiss thousands of cannabis convictions
The Chronicle's KIMBERLY VEKLEROV: "Alameda County will dismiss, reduce or seal decades of marijuana-related convictions, District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said Tuesday, clearing thousands of people of activities that California no longer deems crimes."
"Barring unusual circumstances or facts, felony cases will be reduced to misdemeanors, and misdemeanors will be dismissed, O’Malley said. The move is in line with new state regulations that allow prior convictions to be redesignated or erased."
"O’Malley’s timeline differs slightly from that of San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, who said last month he would circumvent the petitioning process and automatically expunge or reduce decades of cannabis convictions."
READ MORE related to Cannabis: Oroville residents won't vote on commercial cannabis but council will -- Chico ER's RISA JOHNSON
Answers to your questions about immigration inspections at SoCal workplaces
The Press-Enterprise's ALEJANDRA MOLINA: "Immigrant-rights organizers have for months been preparing employers in Southern California for the day that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents enter their workplace to verify employment eligibility."
"Those inspections aren’t uncommon — ICE conducted 1,360 in the last fiscal year — but there has been a spate of them in Southern California since last week."
"Immigration agents have been visiting businesses to make sure employers follow the rules for the Form I-9, a document that confirms a worker’s identity and authorization to work in the U.S. These I-9 inspections are not the same as workplace raids, which take place without warning."
READ MORE related to Immigration: SoCal immigrant rights activists fight back against last week's ICE immigration actions -- Daily News' ELIZABETH CHOU/ALEJANDRA MOLINA/CHRISTOPHER YEE; Coming soon: Another showdown over Dreamers in Congress -- Politico's BURGESS EVERETT
Calif. law would impede Trump plan to loosen rules on sale of health insurance
The Chronicle's CATHERINE HO: "State law would partially block a proposed plan by the Trump administration to loosen restrictions on the sale of cheaper, less comprehensive health insurance from taking hold in California, state insurance regulators said."
"The proposed federal rule, announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday, would extend the length of time consumers can be covered by short-term health plans from three months to almost 12 months. However, California law mandates that consumers cannot be on such plans for more than six months. States could continue to apply their own laws regulating these insurance plans, the proposed federal rule says."
"Short-term plans typically cost less but often do not cover essential health benefits or preventive care. They were once meant to help tide people over in between jobs or other changes that would lead to a brief lapse in one’s health coverage. Consumer advocates believe the move by HHS would encourage people to buy what they call “junk insurance” plans that do not cover their health needs and not realize it until it was too late, such as when they need expensive treatment. The Trump administration says the change would lower health insurance premiums and give consumers more choices in deciding which plans to buy."
READ MORE related to Health & Health Care: Surgeon offers free weight-loss operation for 500-pound man rejected by insurer -- LA Times' DAVID LAZARUS; Shulkin says he has White House backing to purge VA -- Politico's ARTHUR ALLEN; Anthem calls on eye surgeons to monitor anesthesia during cataract surgery -- CHL's MICHELLE ANDREWS; Trump administration proposes rule to loosen curbs on short-term health plans -- CHL's JULIE APPLEBY; How single-payer advocates are playing the long game in California -- CHL
High or low end, Bay Area home values continue to climb
BANG's LOUIS HANSEN: "In most parts of the country, inexpensive starter homes are making the greatest gains in value for buyers."
"But once again, the Bay Area is running counter to national housing trends."
"Owners in the San Jose metro area buying into the lower third of the market saw an 18 percent return last year, while high-end buyers saw a slightly higher 18.9 percent appreciation, according to real estate marketplace Zillow."
READ MORE related to Housing & Homelessness: The California Dream is tough to afford if you're under 40 -- BANG's KATY MURPHY; Homeless woman dies at city-sponsored winter shelter -- Sacramento Bee's ELLEN GARRISON; As homeless camps explode in LA suburbs, residents fear they will become permanent -- LA Times' MELISSA ETEHAD; LA wants more money for homeless encampment sweeps -- LA Times' DAKOTA SMITH; After a week without food, skid row activist still hungry to make a statement about housing shortage -- LA Times' STEVE LOPEZ; This program helps homeless families get off Elk Grove streets. Can it work elsewhere? -- Sacramento Bee's ELLEN GARRISON/RENEE C. BYER
Teacher shortages persist in California and getting worse in many communities
EdSource's LOUIS FREEDBERG: "Despite an improving economy and new efforts to recruit teachers, California’s teacher shortage is showing no signs of easing up."
"In fact, shortages are becoming more severe in many communities."
"That’s the conclusion of a new report from the Learning Policy Institute, based on a survey of 25 school districts of different sizes and in diverse locations in the state."
READ MORE related to Education: Suspension rates for African-American male students in California higher for foster youth, rural students -- EdSource's LEE ROMNEY
China sets goal of rapidly suprassing US as AI race heats up
McClatchy DC's TIM JOHNSON: "When a Google computer program beat the world’s best player of an ancient Chinese board game last May, it might have seemed like an incremental milestone."
"But for some, the success of the program known as AlphaGo marked more than a man vs. machine clash. It set up a broader race between China and the United States over artificial intelligence, a competition that could mold the future of humankind just as the widespread arrival of electricity did in the last century."
"The Go tournament took place in Wuzhen, a city of canals that is more than 1,300 years old, a fitting venue for a competition involving the strategy board game Go that has been played for several thousand years. Go is renowned for its complexity, and it is said that there are more variations to the game than there are atoms in the universe."
READ MORE related to Economy & Development: NZ says Pacific trade deal will boost GDP 1 percent -- AP's NICK PERRY; Decision on development impact fee postponed -- Chico ER's DANI ANGUIANO
Drivers see red as 200 intersections in SF suffer error
The Chronicle's JOSH KOEHN: "Two hundred traffic signals in San Francisco malfunctioned Tuesday afternoon, leaving drivers and pedestrians to navigate roughly a sixth of the city’s streets via flashing red lights, officials said."
"The network malfunction occurred shortly before 12:30 p.m. and all lights were back up and running by 1:34 p.m., said Paul Rose, a spokesman for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency."
Rand Paul bids to mold the GOP in his image
McClatchy DC's LESLEY CLARK: "Is Sen. Rand Paul the new Steve Bannon, the former Trump aide who promised to wage a “season of war” on the Republican establishment and champion like-minded conservatives?"
"Paul, a Kentucky Republican, has endorsed two Senate candidates who definitely aren't favorites of GOP standard bearers: Kelli Ward in Arizona and Mike Gibbons in Ohio."
"Ward has suggested Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who is battling brain cancer, should quit the Senate as soon as possible and Gibbons is a novice businessman up against a sitting congressman who has President Donald Trump and the Ohio Republican party's stamp of approval."
With new elections near, US strains to curb Russia meddling
AP's MARY CLARE JALONICK: "The Russians are going to try it again. Even President Donald Trump's intelligence chiefs say so. But with congressional primaries just two weeks away, the U.S. has done little to aggressively combat the kinds of Russian election meddling that was recently unmasked in federal court."
"Special counsel Robert Mueller's surprise indictment last week in his wide-ranging Russia investigation sounded a fresh alarm to the U.S. government, social media companies and state election officials who are readying for the 2018 midterms. Here's what's being done — or not — in the wake of Mueller's revelations:"
"Mueller's indictment charged 13 Russian individuals and three Russian companies in a plot to interfere in the 2016 presidential election through a social media propaganda effort that included online ad purchases using U.S. aliases and politicking on U.S. soil. Congressional committees held hearings on the social media attacks last fall, but legislation to require technology companies to enhance openness for online political ads has stalled amid GOP concerns of overregulation."
Kentucky Democrat wins special election to reclaim seat after lawmaker's suicide
NPR's SCOTT NEUMAN: "The wife of Kentucky state Rep. Dan Johnson, who killed himself last year amid allegations of sexual assault, has lost a bid to succeed her late husband. The special election returned the seat to Linda Belcher, whom Dan Johnson had unseated."
"Belcher — the Democrat who lost to Johnson in a Trump wave that swept Republicans into office statewide in 2016 — easily won the special election for Kentucky's 49th District. She garnered 68 percent of the vote to Rebecca Johnson's roughly 32 percent, member station WFPL reports."
"Johnson's wife announced a day after his death that she would seek the state House seat."
Trump's 'tougher on Russia' claim fits a pattern of striving to one-up Obama
WaPo's PHILIP RUCKER/ASHLEY PARKER: "To hear President Trump tell it, he is tougher than former president Barack Obama. He is smarter than Obama — more shrewd, more effective, more respected. The 45th president is, by his own accounting, superlative to the 44th in almost every way."
"In private and in public, while devising policies and while crafting messages, Trump frequently draws flattering comparisons with his predecessor — and he does not let the truth intrude, as was the case Tuesday."
“I have been much tougher on Russia than Obama, just look at the facts,” Trump tweeted."
READ MORE related to POTUS45/KremlinGate: OP-ED: Whatever Trump is hiding is hurting all of us now -- NYT's THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN; Dutch lawyer pleads guilty to lying about interaction with Rick Gates -- CNN's KATELYN POLANTZ/DAVID SHORTELL/MARSHALL COHEN; Mueller indictment shows the evolution of Kremlin political warfare -- Axios' ALINA POLYAVOKA; 7 legal experts on what Mueller's Russia indictments mean for Trump -- Vox's SEAN ILLING; What could be coming next in Robert Mueller's Russia investigation -- NPR's KELLY MCEVERS/CHRIS BENDEREV/CARRIE JOHNSON; Mueller is taking a closer look at Jared Kushner -- Vanity Fair's ABIGAIL TRACY
Evangelist Billy Graham dies at age 99; reached millions
AP's RACHEL ZOLL: "The Rev. Billy Graham, who transformed American religious life through his preaching and activism, becoming a counselor to presidents and the most widely heard Christian evangelist in history, has died."
"Spokesman Mark DeMoss says Graham, who long suffered from cancer, pneumonia and other ailments, died at his home in North Carolina on Wednesday morning. He was 99."