Where Newsom wins and loses in newly passed California budget
The Chronicle's ALEXEI KOSEFF: "The budget proposal that Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced in January gave California’s new leader his first major opportunity to stake out how he would accomplish the ambitious agenda he touted on the campaign trail."
"Many of those plans overlapped with the priorities of the Legislature, and they are reflected in the final $215 billion budget deal reached over the weekend. Lawmakers passed the budget Thursday, sending it to Newsom for his signature. The Senate vote was 29-11, and the Assembly approved it 60-15."
"But several key Newsom initiatives were rejected or still await action in budget follow-up bills that the Legislature will consider in coming weeks. Those differences underline challenges the governor will face to achieve signature campaign promises such as creating a universal health care system and building 3.5 million homes by 2025."
California cities lead the US in inflation. Housing costs are big reason why
LA Times's ANDREW KHOURI: "Nationally, consumer prices are barely moving, with inflation clocking in at just 1.8% for May. But if you live in a major urban area of California, you’ve noticed a much bigger hit."
"Among the chief culprits? Housing costs."
"The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday that a handful of California metropolitan areas saw the greatest jump in the consumer price index in May. San Diego County saw the largest increase, with inflation rising 3.8% from a year earlier. That was followed by Los Angeles and Orange counties, where consumer prices rose 3.1%."
No prison for contrite ex-Stanford coach in admissions fraud
BANG's JOHN WOOLFOLK: "A federal judge Wednesday spared Stanford’s disgraced former sailing coach from prison for his role in the massive college admissions bribery and cheating scandal in which he was the first to be sentenced, a blow to prosecutors who had urged more than a year behind bars."
"U.S. District Court Judge Rya Zobel sentenced former coach John Vandemoer to two years of supervised release with six months of home detention and ordered him to pay $10,000 fine. She credited him with a day already served in prison."
"Making no excuses for himself, Vandemoer, 41, a married father of two, spoke publicly for the first time about the admissions scandal at his sentencing hearing in Boston, where the case was filed."
What's the California Legislature doing about wildfires? Not much yet
Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON: "When the Camp Fire destroyed the town of Paradise and killed 85 people last year, California legislative leaders vowed to make wildfires their top priority when they returned to work in December 2018."
"Senate leader Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, told The Sacramento Bee wildfire issues would be “front and center” because “communities are being devastated,” while Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon cited the state’s housing crisis and wildfires as the two biggest problems lawmakers would focus on going into the legislative session."
"But midway through 2019, California lacks a comprehensive plan to deal with the growing threat. It is still grappling with how to address an estimated $30 billion in liability costs incurred by PG&E in the Camp Fire and wine country fires of 2017."
READ MORE related to Energy, Enviroment & Wildfires: Worry mounts as California braces for another wildfire season -- LA Times's LOUIS SAHAGUN/JOSEPH SERNA
A political fight over decriminalizing sex workers
Capitol Weekly's ALAN RIQUELMY: "Veronica Loveall, a Sacramento sex worker, isn’t a fan of Kamala Harris."
"Loveall has been involved in sex work for about 10 years. She participated in what she calls “erotic companionship” when www.Backpage.com – formerly a popular website for sex workers to advertise – was active. She watched as Congress passed legislation that crippled sites like Backpage.com, dismantling what Loveall considered a safety net for people who engage in sex work."
"And she lays plenty of blame for that on former state attorney general and current U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris who, with a number of other law enforcement officials across the country, fought Backpage."
California DMV budget rises 17% -- $242M -- in Real ID push
Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON: "Millions of Californians have yet to visit the Department of Motor Vehicles for a driver’s license that will soon be required if they want to board airplanes or enter other federal facilities, including prisons and military bases, without a passport."
"To help the DMV promote the federally mandated Real ID program and navigate ongoing implementation challenges, state lawmakers approved a budget on Thursday that will boost the department’s budget by more than $242 million."
"It’s a 17 percent increase that brings the DMV’s total budget to $1.36 billion."
Swalwell makes the cut for Democrats' first presidential debate
The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI: "Rep. Eric Swalwell was among 20 presidential candidates invited Thursday to participate in Democrats’ first televised debate this month, an outcome that was far from assured, as the East Bay congressman struggled to reach the required polling and fundraising targets."
"Swalwell, D-Dublin, and several other Democrats had been on the bubble for qualifying under Democratic National Committee ground rules for the debate, which will be split into two nights of 10 candidates each, on June 26 and 27."
"I’m looking forward to sharing with the nation my ideas for how to go big on issues we tackle, be bold with the solutions we offer and do good again in the way that we govern,” Swalwell said. “I think it’s going to be a great, civil, informative debate on the issues."
New California law makes it easier to adopt kittens
Sacramento Bee's KYUNG MI LEE: "California’s stray kittens can be adopted more easily, thanks to a new law signed by the governor on Wednesday."
"The law will allow people to adopt kittens under 8 weeks old at animal shelters, waiving a mandatory six-day waiting period that California had required for stray cats since 1998."
"Advocates for stray cats worried that the holding period slowed the adoption process and decreased kittens’ chances of finding a home. Animals directly surrendered by their owners are eligible for immediate adoption or transfers for placement."
A silver wave? California braces for elderly boom that could overburden state
Sacramento Bee's MILA JASPER/PHILLIP REESE: "Virginia Kidd has rented her apartment in midtown Sacramento for 12 years. The retired Sacramento State professor lives there with her cats and enjoys helping out at the local library."
"At 78, she said she has been lucky to age with minimal health issues so far, but she sometimes worries about what she would do if she were to need care."
"She thinks about it when she climbs up and down the two sets of stairs in her apartment, which she worries she may not be able to afford if rents rise. “It’s a little harrowing, and I regret not owning,” she said."
Ghost Ship witnesses say defendant wasn't lead organizer of deadly concert
The Chronicle's MEGAN CASSIDY: "Max Harris wasn’t the lead organizer of a 2016 dance party in Oakland where 36 people would die in a monster inferno, according to a witness who testified Thursday in the Ghost Ship criminal trial."
"Defense attorneys for Harris, 29, have sought to counter prosecutors’ accusation that the Ghost Ship’s “creative director” held a key leadership role in the artists collective and is therefore partly to blame for the deadly fire. On Thursday, they called witnesses who not only vouched for Harris’ character, but also suggested several people held events at the warehouse over the years."
"Russell Butler, a DJ invited to play the night of the fire, said it wasn’t Harris but a friend named Jon Hrabko who asked him to perform. Mike Funkhouser, a former Ghost Ship tenant, said he hosted multiple events, and it wasn’t uncommon to have 60 to 80 people attend."
Santa Clara County DA will stop filing charges in most minor drug cases
BANG's ROBERT SALONGA: "In a pivotal policy shift that could go a long way toward unclogging court dockets and jail cells in the South Bay, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office no longer will file charges against most people arrested or cited solely for possessing small amounts of illegal drugs."
"Prosecutors say the aim of the change is to keep one- and two-time offenders out of the court system, diverting them instead to drug treatment programs and reserving bandwidth for more serious addiction cases that cross over to become community nuisances or public-safety concerns. That’s why even under the new policy, a third offense within a year would meet prosecutors’ new threshold for filing criminal charges."
"The vast majority of warrants that we’re spending our time on are low-level, public-health cases,” Assistant District Attorney David Angel said in an exclusive interview with this news organization. “What we’re trying to do is shift that back, so that the public-health cases are handled by the public-health system, and the public-safety cases that we’ll have left are handled by the criminal-justice system."
READ MORE related to Prisons & Public Safety: From 2015-18, Contra Costa cops seized $1.1M from people not charged with a crime -- BANG's NATE GARTRELL/LEONARDO CASTANEDA/ANNIE SCIACCA
Impeach Trump? Many California Democrats aren't convinced
LA Times's DAVID LAUTER: "Much like their elected representatives, California Democrats are divided sharply over whether Congress should move to impeach President Trump, a new poll shows."
"Trump remains deeply unpopular in the nation’s largest state, with its heavily Democratic electorate, according to the new Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll, conducted for The Times."
"More than 6 in 10 Californians — and almost 9 in 10 Democrats in the state — said Trump’s policies have been bad for California. Almost two-thirds of voters in the state said they planned to cast ballots against him in next year’s election."
US says video shows Iranian boat removing mine
LA Times's NABIH BULOS/TRACY WILKINSON/DAVID S CLOUD: "Explosions aboard a pair of oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday heightened regional tensions with Iran in an already volatile showdown with Washington and sent energy prices soaring in jittery global markets."
"U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo quickly blamed Tehran for what he called “a blatant assault” and cited the action as the “terror, bloodshed and extortion” that is part of Iranian strategy."
"The apparent attacks, a month after four other tankers were damaged in mine explosions that the Trump administration also blamed on Iran — without providing evidence — sharply raised fears in the strategically important region that Washington might use such incidents to punish the Islamic Republic even without ironclad proof of its involvement."