The midnight hour

Jan 19, 2018

The shutdown of the federal government loomed closer Friday as the midnight deadline came into view, with Republicans and Democrats blaming each other for the impasse. Now there's a surprise.


The Washington Post's MIKE DEBONIS, ED O'KEEFE and ERICA WERNER:  "The House passed a short-term extension of government funding late Thursday after Republican leaders, with help from President Trump, cobbled together enough GOP votes to overcome an internal revolt."


"Still, the possibility of a federal shutdown moved closer to a certainty after Senate Democrats rallied against the GOP proposal, announcing they would not lend their votes to a bill that did not reflect their priorities on immigration, government spending and other issues."


"By Thursday evening, nine Senate Democrats who had voted for a prior spending measure in December said they would not support the latest proposed four-week extension, joining 30 other Democrats and at least two Senate Republicans — and leaving the bill short of the 60 votes needed to advance."


So, what happens if there is a shutdown? The SacBee's ADAM ASHTON takes a look: "It’s not a good weekend to plan that road trip for a wintertime twirl on the ice under Half Dome in Yosemite National Park."


"The prospect of a government shutdown means the park gate – and the vendor who’d rent you those ice skates – might be closed for business as of Saturday, unless Congress can strike a deal to keep the federal workforce running."

"As of Thursday, leaders at federal agencies said they’re still hoping lawmakers can overcome differences to keep their doors open after this weekend. The hang-up appears to be over whether a deal for a new spending bill should also extend immigration protections for people known as “Dreamers” whose parents brought them to the U.S. at a young age."


READ MORE on the Shutdown: Government shutdown looms as stopgap spending measure appears likely to stall in the Senate -- LAT's LISA MASCARO; House Passes Bill to Hold Off Shutdown -- NYT's THOMAS KAPLAN and SHERYL GAY STOLBERG; Looming shutdown raises fundamental question: Can GOP govern? -- WaPo's DAMIAN PALETA and ERICA WERNER; Everything you need to know about a government shutdown -- WaPo's ERIC YODER and KATIE METTLER; Senate in disarray with shutdown hours away -- Politico's BURGESS EVERETT and SEUNG MIN KIM


Speaking of the possible shutdown, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is up for reelection this year, said she doesn't know how she'll vote on the bill.


From the LAT's SARAH D. WIRE: "California Sen. Dianne Feinstein gave conflicting signals Thursday about how she will vote on a short-term spending bill to keep the government open."


"The bill passed the house Thursday evening but will face a tighter margin in the Senate, where Republicans need at least some Democrats’ votes to get the 60 needed to pass the bill."


"On Tuesday, Feinstein’s staff said she planned to vote “no” unless Congress reaches a deal to address the legal status of people brought to the country illegally as children. And Thursday morning, Feinstein’s office released a statement affirming that position."


The fight over net neutrality is heating up, and the repeal battle is a big issue in California.


From Capitol Weekly's CHUCK MCFADDEN: "The latest skirmish in California-vs.-the-Trump-Administration is developing around the repeal of “net neutrality,” in which purveyors of internet access treat all data equally."


"The Federal Communications Commission, chaired by former Verizon executive Ajit Pai, repealed net neutrality in a Dec. 14 ruling on a party-line 3-2 vote, with the Republican commissioners in the majority."


"The language in the ruling called the previously existing net neutrality rule “heavy handed” and argued that it stifled innovation and investment by Internet Service Providers, or ISPs.


Down in L.A., the publisher of the Los Angeles Times is under investigation by the newspaper's parent company for alleged misconduct

The LAT's MEG JAMES tells the tale:
"Los Angeles Times’ parent company, Tronc, said Thursday that it had opened an investigation into past conduct of Times publisher Ross Levinsohn following a detailed report by National Public Radio."


"NPR’s media writer David Folkenflik reported that Levinsohn has been a defendant in two sexual harassment lawsuits and that the executive engaged in “frat-boy” behavior in work settings before joining The Times in August."


"This week, the company learned of allegations of inappropriate behavior by Ross Levinsohn,” Tronc Chief Executive Justin Dearborn said in a note to employees. “Tronc is committed to creating a culture of diversity and inclusion, and we will take appropriate action to address any behavior that is inconsistent with this culture. We are conducting an independent review into these matters. Once that review is complete, we will take swift and appropriate action to address any behavior that falls short of our expectations. Levinsohn didn’t respond to a request for comment."


READ MORE on  Sexual Harassment#MeToo fuels Sacramento Women’s March, but some feel left out -- The Bee's NASHELLY CHAVEZ and TONY BIZJAK; The gossipy Aziz Ansari story shows that journalists need to return to old-fashioned, well-sourced reporting -- National Review's NICOLE GELINAS


Many believe that California needs more water storage capacity, but the plans for new dams and reservoirs have hit a big hurdle


From PAUL ROGERS in the Mercury News: "Signaling trouble for nearly a dozen landmark water storage projects to help California cope with its next drought, state water officials on Thursday announced none of the proposals — including raising Contra Costa County’s Los Vaqueros Dam and building a new Santa Clara County dam near Pacheco Pass — provide the public benefits that their supporters claim, potentially putting their state funding at risk."


"The announcement sent waves of anxiety and concern through California’s water world, and could be a major stumbling block in the efforts to expand the state’s water supply."


"Three years ago, during the depths of California’s historic drought, state voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion bond measure to pay for new water projects, including building more dams and reservoirs."


The legal fallout from that 2016 riot in Sacramento involving neo-Nazis and counterprotesters continues, but not a whole lot is getting done.


From the Bee's DARRELL SMITH: "Attorneys for the counterprotesters arrested at 2016’s infamous clash with neo-Nazis at the state capitol will return in February with new calls to dismiss the case after a bizarrely truncated afternoon hearing Thursday in Sacramento Superior Court."


"About two dozen demonstrators’ shouts, chants and calls for justice for the three facing assault charges – Berkeley teacher and activist Yvonne Felarca, Michael Williams, 56, and Porfirio Paz, 19, a student from Long Beach – rang outside Sacramento County’s Patino Hall of Justice at the main jail."


"But in the end, everyone was left wanting: the rows of demonstrators who filled the courtroom in support of the three protesters arrested during the bloody clash; the defense attorneys who argued their clients are victims of hollow, politically motivated criminal charges; the visibly frustrated county prosecutor; and the Superior Court judge apparently blindsided by a last-minute oral motion by defense attorneys to drop the criminal counts."


Digging out of the mud continues in Montecito, and crews are using explosives to help clear the debris.


The LAT's JOSEPH SERNA and JAVIAR PANZAR report: "Micah Gammons, a licensed blaster with Caltrans, has gotten a lot of practice blowing up boulders recently."


"Last year, there were the 300-ton granite boulders that rolled onto Highway 1 in San Luis Obispo County. Now, he’s busting sandstone boulders bigger than an SUV in Montecito."


“We usually do one to three blasts a year,” said Gammons, the District 5 maintenance superintendent for the California Department of Transportation. “This year … we’ve done well over 30.”


Meanwhile, dozens of California schbool districts with the worst test scores are excluded from extra state help.


JESSICA CALEFATI of CALmatters tells the tale: "Dozens of California school systems with some of the state’s worst test scores and biggest academic achievement gaps won’t get any extra help this year under a support system launched recently by the state."


"The new dashboard system rates districts in several categories that impact student learning. But—mirroring a nationwide shift away from a narrow focus on tests—it offers special help to ones with sagging academics only if they also suspend a high number of students or graduate too few of them."


"If extremely low, declining performance on math and reading exams alone were enough to trigger state support, the number of California districts that could expect it would almost double from 228 to more than 400, a CALmatters analysis shows."


READ MORE on Education: Legislators are paying attention to four-year-olds -- KPCC's PRISKA NEELY;  UCLA fraternities ban booze at in-house events -- LAT's SONALI KOHLI; California lags behind most states in providing timely services to infants and toddlers -- EdSource's ASHLEY HOPKINSON


S.F. Police Commissioners Want ICE Agents to Stop ‘Impersonating’ Police 


KQED's ALEX EMSLIE: "Rumors of mass immigration enforcement actions in the Bay Area spurred San Francisco police commissioners to reiterate Wednesday night that local officers are barred by state and local law from helping U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents round up suspected undocumented immigrants."


"Commissioner Petra De Jesus asked the City Attorney’s Office for guidance on what can be done to stop ICE agents from wearing jackets that say “Police,” and sometimes representing themselves as local law enforcement. Those tactics and attire can hinder local policing, De Jesus said."


“They shouldn’t be calling themselves police,” De Jesus said at a Wednesday night commission meeting. “They’re federal agents.”

READ MORE related to Immigration: Catholic Church uses outreach to help LA Salvadorans with immigration -- KPCC's JOSIE HUANG; California pushes back amid fears of Trump immigration crackdown -- LAT's PATRICK MCGREEVY and JASMINE ULLOA


SDSU lecturer who made disparaging remarks about white student not teaching


From the Union-Tribune's GARY ROBBINS: "San Diego State University lecturer who made disparaging remarks about white people won’t be teaching during the spring semester, the campus said in a statement to the Union-Tribune."


"University officials would not confirm a story in the campus newspaper Daily Aztec that Oscar Monge had been scheduled to teach this semester."


"An investigation by the California Attorney General’s office concluded that Monge sent at least 15 offensive Facebook messages to student Crystal Sudano last year, when she was a student in his Native American studies class."


The Roundup is compiled each weekday by Associate Editor Geoff Howard. Comments? Questions? Complaints? Email him at 

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