Mendoza in limbo

Feb 20, 2018

Tony Mendoza's day of reckoning may finally be here


Sacramento Bee's CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO: "Accused Sen. Tony Mendoza’s day of reckoning may be drawing closer."


"Mendoza, a Democrat who last week sued the Senate amid an investigation into sexual harassment allegations by three former employees, is on paid leave pending the outcome of the probe. A panel of lawmakers also temporarily stripped him of his committee posts, including his chairmanship of the Insurance, Banking and Financial Institutions Committee."


"Later today, the Senate Rules Committee will finalize its recommendation to the rest of the Senate on what to do about their colleague. Last week the five-member panel of lawmakers reviewed a report on the now-completed investigation. All senators are to receive the facts on Wednesday."


READ MORE related to Me TooSpin the bottle game among newest allegations against female lawmaker -- Sacramento Bee's ALEXEI KOSEFF; Hero, harasser or both? Shaun White's newly complex legacy -- The Chronicle's ERRIN HAINES WHACK; More companies invest in training to prevent sexual harassment -- but it might not be doing much good -- LA Times' ROGER SHOWLEY; Republican state senator charged with extorting sex from a page -- AP

Why California's cannabis growers are staying in the shadows


The Cannifornian's LISA M. KRIEGER: "More than a month after California’s regulation of marijuana, only a small share of the tens of thousands of cannabis growers have joined the system — threatening the state’s shift to a regulated market and the promise of a billion-dollar tax windfall."


"Fewer than one percent of the state’s 68,120 cannabis cultivators have been licensed, according to a new report published on Monday by the California Growers Association, the state’s largest association of cannabis businesses."


"Growers can’t meet the cost of complying with regulations, or are prohibited from growing due to local land-use policies, according to the report, “An Emerging Crisis: Barriers To Entry In California Cannabis."


READ MORE related to CannabisCannabis business, and cannabis' political clout, are growing up quickly -- The Cannifornian's JEFF HORSEMAN/BROOKE EDWARDS STAGGSA public bank for pot entrepreneurs? How about the rest of us? -- LA Times' DAVID DAYENHumbolt County cannabis farmers protest tax -- The Cannifornian's WILL HOUSTON


CA120: Chasing the GOP vote


Capitol Weekly's PAUL MITCHELL: "As reported by CALmatters last week, the Republican side of the governor’s race has become an interesting contest to watch because, if for no other reason, of the way these candidates are trying to differentiate themselves before the June primary election."


"A debate in San Francisco led moderator John Diaz from the Chronicle to exclaim “This is the first time in San Francisco I have heard an argument among people about who most supports Donald Trump!"


"That might be a rare occurrence in San Francisco, but the real audience for these gubernatorial candidates isn’t the average Chronicle reader or Bay Area resident. Their audience was the small sliver of potential debate viewers who are high-propensity voters and projected to be voting on the Republican side of the ticket – a couple million voters, or approximately 5% of the state’s total population."


California Democrats gather this week to chart course for 2018, and hear from candidates for 2020


LA Times' SEEMA MEHTA: "Thousands of California Democrats will gather this week in San Diego for their annual convention, featuring several potential presidential contenders as well as candidates battling for endorsements from the party faithful in advance of the June primary."


"Potential 2020 candidates speaking at the convention include Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Sen. Kamala Harris and billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer."


"One notable California Democrat who repeatedly ran for president is not scheduled to appear: Gov. Jerry Brown, in his final year leading the state. He has previously faced protests and heckling from critics who did not agree with his stance on fracking."


READ MORE related to State Politics: This Tom McClintock rival is stretching the truth about her résumé, investigation finds -- McClatchy DC's EMILY CADEI; Dolores Huerta's legacy and influence are shaping the race for this competitive California congressional district -- LA Times' SARAH D. WIRE


SF firefighters go 'all in' for Breed in mayoral race


The Chronicle's MATIER & ROSS: "The San Francisco firefighters union has opted not to do a ranked-choice endorsement and instead is going “all in” for Supervisor London Breed in the June mayoral race."


"The decision isn’t going over well with supporters of former Supervisor Angela Alioto, who finished second in a vote of the rank and file. But union President Tom O’Connor noted that it was the members themselves who made the call in a show-of-hands vote."


"The endorsement followed a candidates forum attended by about 300 of the union’s 1,500 members, where Supervisor Jane Kim, former State Sen. Mark Leno, Alioto and Breed were questioned on everything from homelessness and drug overdoses to how the reshaping of city streets to accommodate bikes and pedestrians could affect fire trucks and ambulances."


READ MORE related to Local Politics: Oakland citizen oversight in limbo despite $600M bond for repairs -- The Chronicle's KIMBERLY VEKLEROV


Migrant advocates say US is separating parents from children to discourage illegal immigration and asylum requests


LA Times' MOLLY HENNESSY-FISKE: "Thousands of parents who crossed illegally into the U.S. in recent years have been held with their children at immigration detention centers. But the case of a Brazilian woman and her son illustrates what migrant advocates call a harsher approach to immigration enforcement that aims to separate parents and children."


"She's being held in Texas, while her son was taken to a shelter in Illinois. The unspoken goal, advocates say, is to discourage parents from crossing illegally or attempting to request asylum."


"The Brazilian mother — who asked to be identified only as Jocelyn because she was fleeing domestic violence — entered the U.S. last August with her 14-year-old son, who she said was being threatened by gangs. They hoped to apply for asylum."


READ MORE related to Immigration: H-1B visas: How the Trump administration is 'freaking people out' -- BANG's QUEENIE WONG


On pension debt, CalPERS does the right thing -- sort of


BANG's DANIEL BORENSTEIN: "CalPERS, which has cooked the books for years, last week turned down the heat a skosh."


"No one should deceive themselves that numbers from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the nation’s largest plan, will now accurately portray the extent of the pension crisis."


"But the board’s unanimous decision to require that the state and local governments pay down future debt faster was a welcome step that should slightly help long-term shore up the ailing pension plan."


Cameron Park fundraiser raffles off an AR-15 after Florida shooting. Some were 'in shock'


Sacramento Bee's ELLEN GARRISON/TONY BIZJAK/MOLLY SULLIVAN: "A raffle item at a Cameron Park Fire Department crab feed Saturday night made some attendees so uncomfortable that they left the event."


"Firefighters were auctioning off an AR-15 rifle, the type of weapon allegedly used Wednesday by Nikolas Cruz in the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that left 17 dead."


"El Dorado Hills resident Allison Merrill and her friends left the crab feed after expressing their concerns about the gun raffle to the organizers, she said."


READ MORE related to Gun Violence Pandemic: Most Americans say Trump, Congress not doing enough to stop mass shootings, Post-ABC poll finds -- WaPo's SCOTT CLEMENT/EMILY GUSKIN; Fla. school shooting creates urgent push for gun control, bipartisan calls for change -- WaPo's KATIE ZEZIMA; For the weary White House, Florida shooting offered a 'reprieve' from scandals -- WaPo's ASHLEY PARKER/PHILIP RUCKER; After Florida school shooting, Russian 'bot' army pounced -- WaPo's SHEERA FRENKEL/DAISUKE WAKABAYASHI; How banks could control gun sales if Washington won't -- NYT's ANDREW ROSS SORKIN; Why mass shootings don't convince gun owners to support gun control -- Vox's DAVID ROBERTS


Ag Plan strives to preserve Silicon Valley's farming heritage


The Chronicle's SAM WHITING: "For four generations Chris Borello’s family has been farming cherries in the Santa Clara Valley, hopscotching their orchards south as developers bought out their land for housing."


"So it was no surprise when a white van came up the long dirt driveway to his orchard in early February. The visitors were interested in his 115 acres, sure enough, but not as developers or speculators. They were farm preservationists looking to buy his development rights, in what is called an agricultural conservation easement."


"We could farm it forever,” Borello said, “if we can work out an easement.”


READ MORE related to Energy & Environment: Winter bites back: Freeze watch in valley, snow, icy conditions predicted for Sierra -- Sacramento Bee's BARBARA HARVEY; Freezing temperatures hit Bay Area, with lowest still to come -- The Chronicle's SARAH RAVANI/TRISHA THADANI; 'The Birds,' released in 1963, is the movie we need in 2018 -- The Chronicle's PETER HARTLAUB; Wildfires inspire new idea: Charging rural customers more for electricity -- The Chronicle's DAVID R. BAKER; 'I was expecting to see bodies.' Blaze forces dozens to flee ramshackle Lodi hotel -- Sacramento Bee's DARRELL SMITH; Months after fires destroyed property, many victims are still floundering -- Chico ER's LAURA URSENY


Disney World unions file complaint to get $1,000 bonus promised after corporate tax cut


LA Times' GABRIELLE RUSSON: "A coalition of unions at Walt Disney World Resorts filed a federal complaint alleging unfair labor practices Monday, accusing the company of holding employees' $1,000 bonuses hostage during contract negotiations."


"Last month, Walt Disney Co. announced it was giving $1,000 each to more than 125,000 employees. The Burbank media giant, similar to many other companies, planned to give extra money to employees after the GOP federal tax overhaul reduced the corporate tax rate."


"However, the Service Trades Council said Monday that Disney refuses to give employees at the Orlando theme park the bonuses until the union approves a new contract. "If the unionized employees do not accept Disney's offer by August 31, 'the bonus offer will expire,' " according to a news release from the trades council."


READ MORE related to Economy & Development: BART tells A's to forget about a new station at a waterfront ballpark -- The Chronicle's MATIER & ROSS; Under Trump, consumer agency promises to do the bare minimum, and nothing more -- LA Times' DAVID LAZARUS; A stunning chart shows the true cause of the gender wage gap -- Vox's SARAH KLIFF


Are ultra-low mortgage rates going away? What higher interest rates could mean for homebuyers


Sacramento Bee's HUDSON SANGREE: "Mortgage rates hit a four-year high late last week, and it’s looking like the years of ultra-low-cost home loans are coming to an end, experts said."


"I would say this has been a long time coming,” said Dan Starelli, head of Guild Mortgage in Sacramento. “We’ve had interest rates dropping for decades. I think we hit bottom. I don’t think we’ll see rates in the 3s again."


"Interest rates for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages now hover in the 4.5 percent range after a run-up over the past month that was prompted by stock market volatility and strong signs of economic growth."


READ MORE related to Housing & Homelessness: For David Carter, the federal judge at center of clash between OC officials and riverbed homeless, his roll-up-his-sleeves style is nothing new -- LA Times' CHRISTOPHER GOFFARD


UC Hastings expansion will add housing, bring YMCA back to Tenderloin


The Chronicle's JK DINEEN: "UC Hastings College of the Law is embarking on an aggressive expansion of its Tenderloin campus, a five-year project that will include not only new housing and academic buildings, but also a three-level YMCA the school hopes will help strengthen connections with the hardscrabble neighborhood it has long called home."


"Next month, Hastings plans to start construction on the first piece of a long-planned campus makeover, a $58 million, 55,000-square-foot academic building to be erected on a vacant lot the school owns at 333 Golden Gate Ave., between Larkin and Hyde streets."


"That new building will set three projects in motion. Once the new academic building opens in late 2019, Hastings will knock down an existing 1953 structure known as Snodgrass Hall and replace it with a 14-story, 592-unit residential tower that will be split between students from the law school and from UCSF. In addition, Hastings will renovate an existing residential structure at 100 McAllister St."


READ MORE related to Education: Elite or elitist? Why there are so few African-American and Latin-American students in high school AP classes -- Sacramento Bee's ANITA CHABRIA/DIANA LAMBERT; 'Big data' classes a big hit in California high schools -- EdSource's CAROLYN JONES; Countdown to expand ban on 'willful defiance' suspensions in California schools -- EdSource's DAVID WASHBURN


Health care workers to protest possible Kaiser plan to layoff call center employees


SGV Tribune's KEVIN SMITH: "Hundreds of health care workers are expected to gather Wednesday at Kaiser Permanente‘s Baldwin Park facility to protest the provider’s alleged plan to lay off 300 call center employees and move their jobs to other areas of California where the pay is lower."


"The SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West union, which represents more than 55,000 Kaiser employees in California, including 2,149 at Kaiser Baldwin Park, claims the health care organization is planning to lay off those employees plus another 160 call center workers in Woodland Hills and 192 more at its Los Angeles Medical Center."


"The nonprofit plans to move the jobs to Riverside, Fontana and San Diego, the union said, where the positions would pay $2 per hour less, the union says."


Teen girls had no IDs and one-way first class tickets. Why that alarmed airline employee


Sacramento Bee's BENJY EGEL: "Quick thinking from an American Airlines employee at Sacramento International Airport likely saved two teenage girls from lives in captivity."


"American Airlines customer service agent Denice Miracle knew something was awry when two girls from the Vacavillle-Fairfield area, ages 17 and 15, came to her ticket counter on Aug. 31. The girls had no identification, were unaccompanied by adults and had two first-class tickets booked by another person with a fraudulent credit card, according to an airline news release."


"Between the two of them, they had a bunch of small bags. It seemed to me as if they were running away from home,” Miracle said in the release. “They kept looking at each other in a way that seemed fearful and anxious. I had a gut feeling that something just wasn’t right."


New command center strives to tackle homeless issues more quickly in SF


The Chronicle's DOMINIC FRACASSA: "Given the intensifying urgency of San Francisco’s homelessness crisis, it’s perhaps fitting that the vanguard of the city’s efforts to bring people off the streets is now based in the same building where officials and first responders gather together to confront major emergencies."


"For the past month, a quintet of municipal departments has been working side by side within the Department of Emergency Management on Turk Street. Their task has been to create a central hub for the city’s attempts to respond to nonemergency homelessness complaints and to better connect those living on the streets to health and housing services."


"The new project is an exercise in cooperation among city departments designed to respond to and resolve homelessness-related complaints more rapidly. The San Francisco Police Department, Public Works, Department of Public Health, Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing and the city’s 311 system make up the core of what’s been called the Healthy Streets Operations Center. But the project is also receiving support from the city controller, city administrator and the Mayor’s Office of Housing."


Witnesses in Sacramento terror case testify from Pakistan in rare late-night court session


Sacramento Bee's STEPHEN MAGAGNINI: "In what legal experts are calling one of the first cases of its kind, a Sacramento federal courtroom stayed open until 10 p.m. two nights last week to take live video testimony from Pakistani witnesses 7,353 miles away."


"All four Pakistanis testified as alibi witnesses in the evidentiary hearing on whether to free Lodi cherry picker Hamid Hayat, who has spent 12 years in prison after being convicted in 2006 of lying to the FBI and providing assistance to terrorists."


"Hayat’s legal team, led by criminal appellate specialist Dennis Riordan, has been fighting for years to prove that he never attended a terrorist camp in Pakistan and was coerced into confessing during two days of grueling interrogation by the FBI."


SoCal freeway may dedicate a lane for electric vehicles -- and charge them while they travel


Mercury News' STEVE SCAUZILLO: "As part of a $6 billion widening of the 710 Freeway, a Metro committee is asking the transit agency to add a lane dedicated to electric vehicles — cars, buses and trucks — which would use wireless power transmission pads placed in the roadway to recharge their batteries as they travel."


"While wireless charging is being used at transit yards, including in the Antelope Valley to power electric buses, the notion of a freeway lane embedded with devices that continuously recharge a moving vehicle’s battery pack would be a first in the United States."


"I think the technology exists or is about to exist, so we can have both long-haul trucks as well as cars be zero-emission,” Janice Hahn, county supervisor and board member for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority said Monday. “I believe the market will respond to Metro creating that policy."


Biden, in public and private, tiptoes toward a 2020 run


AP's JOSH LEDERMAN: "Former Vice President Joe Biden is tiptoeing toward a potential presidential run in 2020, even broaching the possibility during a recent gathering of longtime foreign policy aides."


"Huddled in his newly opened office steps from the U.S. Capitol, Biden began a planning meeting for his new diplomacy center by addressing the elephant in the room. He said he was keeping his 2020 options open, considering it a real possibility. He insisted he had made no decision, and didn't need to yet, according to five people who either attended the meeting or were briefed on it by those who did."


"Biden also expressed interest in bringing those in the room onto his team if he decides to launch a campaign. At the same time, he gave them an out: There would be no hard feelings if they decided they were content in their current roles outside of government, said the people, who demanded anonymity to discuss a private meeting."


Former Trump aide Richard Gates to plead guilty; agrees to testify against Manafort, sources say


LA Times' DAVID WILLMAN: "A former top aide to Donald Trump's presidential campaign will plead guilty to fraud-related charges within days — and has made clear to prosecutors that he would testify against Paul Manafort, the lawyer-lobbyist who once managed the campaign."


"The change of heart by Trump's former deputy campaign manager Richard Gates, who had pleaded not guilty after being indicted in October on charges similar to Manafort's, was described in interviews by people familiar with the case."


"Rick Gates is going to change his plea to guilty,'' said a person with direct knowledge of the new developments, adding that the revised plea will be presented in federal court in Washington "within the next few days."


READ MORE related to POTUS45/KremlinGate: Trump endorses Romney in Utah Senate race -- AP; How much more humiliation can Melania Trump take? -- LA Times' ROBIN ABCARIAN; Trump criticizes FBI over handling of shooting suspect tip -- AP's CATHERINE LUCEY; State officials say they are told too little about election threats -- NYT's MICHAEL WINES; How unwitting Americans encountered Russian operatives online -- NYT's SCOTT SHANE; Trump tries to shift blame to Obama for not countering Russian meddling -- NYT's EILEEN SULLIVAN; A Facebook executive apologizes to his company -- and to Robert Mueller -- Wired's NICHOLAS THOMPSON; Mueller's interest in Kushner grows to include foreign financing efforts -- CNN's SHIMON PROKUPECZ/KARA SCANNELL/GLORIA BORGER; There's a specific reason why Trump leveled an unprecedented level of frustration toward the Russia probe this weekend -- Business Insider's SONAM SHETH; Fox News's appalling past 72 hours, analyzed -- VOX's ALVIN CHANG; Trump accuser keeps telling her story, hoping someone will finally listen -- WaPo's ELI SASLOW; Tools of Trump's fixer: Payouts, intimidation and the tabloids -- NYT's JIM RUTENBERG/MEGAN TWOHEY/REBECCA R. RUIZ/MIKE MCINTIRE/MAGGIE HABERMAN; OP-ED: Missing Conservatism? Just wait for a Democratic president -- NYT's MATT GROSSMANN


'It's not a war. It's a massacre.' More than 100 killed in Assad regime hospital-barrell bombing campaign in Syrian enclave. 


The Guardian's KAREEM SHAHEEN: "Pro-regime forces continued to bombard the opposition-controlled enclave of eastern Ghouta in Syria on Tuesday, leaving dozens dead, after more than 100 people were killed and hundreds wounded on a day of “hysterical” violence on Monday."


"The surge in the killing came amid reports of an impending regime incursion into the area outside Damascus, which is home to 400,000 civilians. More than 700 people have been killed in three months, according to local counts, not including the deaths in the last week."


"Five hospitals were also bombed on Monday in eastern Ghouta, which was once the breadbasket of Damascus but has been under siege for years by the government of Bashar al-Assad and subjected to devastating chemical attacks. Two hospitals suspended operations and one has been put out of service."


READ MORE related to Syria: Russia's Foreign Ministry says ''several dozens'' of Russians hospitalized after being injured in fighting in Syria -- AP

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