Rail funding battle royale

Feb 20, 2019

Newsom claims 'retribution' after Trump administration demands high-speed rail funds back


Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER/TONY BIZJAK: "The Trump administration, stepping up its fight with California over the state’s struggling high-speed rail project, said Tuesday it plans to rescind a $928 million federal grant."


"The action could imperil the first phase of the project, connecting the major cities of the San Joaquin Valley, which is dependent on federal funding."


"The Federal Railroad Administration, in a letter to the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said it intends to terminate the grant effective March 5, saying state officials had failed to comply with the terms of the funding. Congress appropriated the money in 2010."


READ MORE related to Newsom Administration: Newsom lists his Marin County home for $5.995M as he pivots to life in Sacramento -- Sacramento Bee's DAVID CARACCIO; Trump administration cancels funding for California high-speed rail -- The Chronicle's KURTIS ALEXANDER/ALEXEI KOSEFF; After Huntington Beach lawsuit, Newsom warns cities he'll continue housing law crackdown -- LA Times's LIAM DILLON


Americans are shocked by impact of new tax law


AP's SARAH SKIDMORE SELL: "Wait, I owe the IRS?"


"The first tax filing season under the new federal tax law is proving to be surprising, confusing — and occasionally frightening — for some Americans, especially those accustomed to getting money back from the government."


"Take Andy Kraft and Amy Elias of Portland, Oregon. The couple had grown comfortable getting a small refund each year, a few hundred dollars or more. Then they found out they owe $10,160 this year."

San Diego will study possible bridge over I-5 connecting new trolley line to beaches


From the Union-Tribune's DAVID GARRICK: "San Diego officials say they plan to study building a bicycle-pedestrian bridge or an aerial skyway over Interstate 5 to connect the new Balboa Avenue trolley station to Pacific Beach, Mission Bay Park and Mission Beach."


"The bridge would create San Diego’s first convenient connection between mass transit and the city’s famous beach communities, potentially reducing traffic congestion and parking problems in those areas, advocates said."


"The study was prompted by an outcry in recent months from community leaders who say the lack of a bridge over the freeway is a glaring deficiency in a proposed growth blueprint for the area around the new trolley station."


Suit demands Navy release records of Treasure Island cleanup


The Chronicle's JASON FAGONE/CYNTHIA DIZIKES: "In a battle over transparency and the fate of a $5 billion redevelopment project, an environmental watchdog group is suing the U.S. Navy for withholding information about radioactive substances on Treasure Island."


"The 400-acre island — a contaminated former naval base — is already home to 1,800 people. Two years ago, the city broke ground on a massive real estate effort that aims to fill the island with 24,000 residents by 2035."


"The lawsuit, filed Tuesday by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility in Washington, D.C., seeks records on cleanup projects at Treasure Island."


Stephen Curry, Obama discuss trials of their youth at Oakland event


The Chronicle's CONNOR LETOURNEAU: "Asked Tuesday afternoon how he overcame his childhood struggles, former President Barack Obama glanced toward Warriors guard Stephen Curry."


"Steph,” Obama said with a smirk, “why don’t you tell them about your ankles?"


"That lighthearted jab at Curry’s well-chronicled history of ankle issues was one of many signs that Obama considers the face of Golden State’s franchise far more than an ambassador for the Obama Foundation’s My Brother’s Keeper Alliance. In the past half-decade, Obama and Curry have formed a close friendship over their shared passion for sports and civic engagement."


Anti-vacine talk is an 'attack on our nation's health' and must end, California lawmaker says


Sacramento Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "A California lawmaker and vaccine-advocate has written a letter to the U.S. surgeon general, Vice Adm. Jerome Adams, urging him to make vaccination a public health priority."


"Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, who also is a pediatrician, has been a champion of vaccination laws, including the 2015 California law mandating that parents vaccinate their school-age children."


"Our nation requires your leadership to stop this attack on our nation’s health by addressing the spread of vaccine misinformation causing unwarranted vaccine hesitancy and recommending policies that restore community immunity which protects our children and the most vulnerable among us,” Pan wrote."


'A pretty good season.' What California's winter rain and snow mean for you in 2019


Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER: "It’s shaping up as a wetter-than-usual winter in California, putting to rest fears of another drought hitting anytime soon."


"Depending on where you live, though, you will still likely face some limitations on how much you can water your lawn this summer."


"Last week’s atmospheric river left the Sierra Nevada snowpack and most of the state’s reservoirs in solid shape. There’s more on the way: Another storm, albeit a weak one, is forecast for the Sacramento Valley beginning early Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. The storm is expected to bring up to 8 inches of snow in the Sierra mountain passes and as much as 3 inches in the foothills."


READ MORE related to Energy & Environment: Storms cause millions of dollars in damage to California highways -- LA Times's ALEJANDRA REYES-VELARDE


Secret records of police misconduct and shootings must be released under new law, LA judge rules


LA Times's BEN POSTON/MAYA LAU: "A Los Angeles judge dealt a blow Tuesday to law enforcement unions trying to limit the scope of a landmark transparency law, ruling that records from shootings, use of force and some misconduct by police officers in California are public even if they occurred before the new law took effect this year."


"The decision marks a provisional victory for open-government groups and media organizations that intervened in a case brought by the Los Angeles Police Protective League, which sought to keep records of older incidents confidential."


"Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff’s ruling involves records that fall under Senate Bill 1421 — internal investigations into shootings by officers, severe uses of force and confirmed cases of sexual assault and lying by officers."


UC Berkeley suspends prominent professor accused of sexual harassment


The Chronicle's NANETTE ASIMOV: "UC Berkeley has suspended a prominent professor in the department of East Asian languages and cultures after finding in 2018 that he sexually harassed a student, told her his sexual preferences, described sex fantasies and created a hostile work environment for her, The Chronicle has learned."


"Alan Tansman, a tenured professor who is well known in his field and has written or edited books on Japanese literature and culture, agreed to disciplinary measures on Nov. 20 that were described to his former student in a letter from UC Berkeley Vice Provost Ben Hermalin. It said, in part, that “Tansman will be suspended from his normal duties as a UC Berkeley faculty member for a two-year period.” One year is to be unpaid, and the other partially paid."


"The letter, obtained by The Chronicle, says Tansman’s unpaid suspension “represents a significant loss of income of over $190,000, in addition to a loss of all benefits, including service credit toward his retirement,” while in the second year, “Professor Tansman agrees to forfeit all his sabbatical credits."


READ MORE related to Education: School board pressures Supt. Beutner for details of reform plans -- LA Times's HOWARD BLUME; A school district found about an apple farmer's controversial tweets. He sued when they canceled their field trips -- LA Times's GUSTAVO ARELLANO


US steps up winter-warfare training as global threat shifts


AP's LOLITA C. BALDOR: "Hunkered down behind a wall of snow, two U.S. Marines melt slush to make drinking water after spending the night digging out a defensive position high in the Sierra Nevada. Their laminated targeting map is wedged into the ice just below the machine gun."


"Nearly 8,000 feet up at a training center in the California mountains, the air is thin, the snow is chest high and the temperature is plunging. But other Marines just a few kilometers away are preparing to attack, and forces on both sides must be able to battle the enemy and the unforgiving environment."


"The exercise is designed to train troops for the next war — one the U.S. believes will be against a more capable, high-tech enemy like Russia, North Korea or China. The weather conditions on the mountain mimic the kind of frigid fight that forces could face in one of those future hotspots."


According to multiple lawsuits, Trump's wall would be disasterous for endangered species 


Sacramento Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "The proposed border wall championed by President Donald Trump would pose an ecological disaster threatening “dozens of sensitive plant and animal species that are listed as ‘endangered,’ ‘threatened,’ or ‘rare,’” according to a lawsuit filed against the U.S. government by 16 attorneys general, including California Attorney General Xavier Becerra."


"California’s lawsuit argues in part that the state’s border with Mexico is already barricaded so extensively that the Trump administration cannot extend existing walls without harming rare butterflies, sheep and shrubs."


"San Diego County shares a 60-mile border with Mexico, with 46 miles of that length “already lined with primary fencing,” according to the complaint. "


READ MORE related to POTUS45: Trump chooses Jefferey Rosen for deputy attorney general -- APWhy Trump's tweets could be used against him in California's border emergency lawsuit -- Sacramento Bee's KATE IRBY; Courts hammer Trump for sabotaging Obamacare, in rulings that could cost the Treasury billions -- LA Times's MICHAEL HILTZIK


Family of teen sues WaPo over coverage of Lincoln Memorial confrontation


WaPo's PAUL FARHI: "The family of the Kentucky teen who was involved in an encounter with a Native American advocate at the Lincoln Memorial last month filed a defamation lawsuit against the Washington Post on Tuesday, seeking $250 million in damages for its coverage of the incident."


"The suit alleges that the Post "targeted and bullied" 16-year-old Nicholas Sandmann in order to embarrass President Trump. Sandmann was one of a number of students from Covington Catholic High School in Kentucky who were wearing red "Make America Great Again" hats during a trip to the National Mall when they encountered Nathan Phillips, a Native American activist."


"News accounts, including in the Post, and videos of their encounter sparked a heated national debate over the behavior of the participants."

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