California Sen. Scott Wiener to propose turning PG&E into public utility
Sacramento Bee's DUSTIN GARDINER: "State Sen. Scott Wiener says efforts to restructure Pacific Gas and Electric Co. must include an option to turn the embattled, investor-owned utility into a public entity."
"Wiener said he plans to introduce a bill in the Legislature early next year that would require PG&E to become a government-owned utility, though he said details of the proposal are “still very preliminary."
"PG&E’s current model doesn’t work,” Wiener, D-San Francisco, told The Chronicle on Tuesday. “This company has been irresponsibly run for a long time, and it’s time to refocus it."
California's new gig economy law challenged in court by truck drivers
Sacramento Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG: "The California Trucking Association on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit challenging a new state new that will force businesses to treat more workers as employees entitled to benefits like overtime pay and sick leave."
"The new law is based on a 2018 California Supreme Court ruling that set higher standards for when an employer can classify a worker as an independent contractor. It’s scheduled to take effect next year after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed it in September."
"The association argues the law will deny many truckers the ability to work as independent drivers in California who can profit from their own vehicles while setting their own schedules."
Business partners donated big money to Sacramento politicians as they built cannabis empire
Sacramento Bee's THERESA CLIFT: "Over the past several years, a group of business partners has quietly amassed the largest network of cannabis storefronts in Sacramento, despite city rules designed to prohibit consolidation of the pot industry here under single ownership."
"At the same time they were buying up cannabis storefronts, the investors under the Kolas brand also were courting city and state officials through campaign donations, a Sacramento Bee review has found. The group of investors donated more than $42,000 to Sacramento campaigns, including one ballot initiative, according to an analysis of campaign finance data."
"The donations, from the business partners personally and by their businesses, corporations and LLCs, were given from 2010 through 2018, as the Kolas brand gained nine dispensaries in the city, more than any other group."
Nine deaths has USC trying to quell rumors, prevent triggering students
LA Times's COLLEEN SHALBY/LEILA MILLER/SOUMYA KARLAMANGLA: "The email arrived near midnight Saturday. USC President Carol Folt informed the campus community about a recent series of student deaths."
"She said she wanted to keep the university informed, but also clear up rumors and misinformation."
"People are searching for answers and information as we attempt to make sense of these terrible losses,” Folt said. “There is a great deal of speculation about the causes of these deaths and most are being attributed to suicide. This is not correct."
READ MORE related to Student Deaths: San Diego State freshman died after fall from top bunk, officials say -- LA Times's LYNDSAY W INKLEY/JOHN WILKENS
The Sioux occupation of Alcatraz you don't know about
The Chronicle's BILL VAN NIEKERKEN: "In late November 1969, Native Americans would begin a long, well-documented protest by occupying Alcatraz Island, the site of the decommissioned federal prison."
"In anticipation of the 50th anniversary, a search through The Chronicle’s archives turned up an unexpected discovery — photos of two previous attempts by Native American groups to take over the island, not seen in more than 50 years.
California pulls back cledan-vehicle rebates to point them at lower-income buyers
LA Times's SUHAUNA HUSSAIN: "Starting in December, those looking to buy electric vehicles with a price tag of more than $60,000 won’t qualify for California’s clean-vehicle rebate. The rebate is also disappearing for plug-in hybrids with less than 35 miles of all-electric range."
"The California Air Resources Board approved these changes, effective Dec. 3, as part of a move to distribute the state’s resources toward lower-income communities, and away from wealthy buyers."
"Standard rebates for fully electric vehicles that qualify will be reduced from $2,500 to $2,000, while the rebate for plug-in hybrids will drop from $1,500 to $1,000. Rebates for fuel-cell vehicles will fall from $5,000 to $4,500. Rebates for low- to moderate-income buyers will stay at $4,500 for EVs, $3,500 for plug-in hybrids and $7,000 for fuel-cell vehicles."
CalPERS disability status is protected. Read the judge's ruling
Sacramento Bee's WES VENTEICHER: "A Sacramento County Superior Court judge ruled CalPERS doesn’t have to disclose retirees’ disability status, siding with the pension fund and four unions that defended a Transparent California lawsuit seeking the information."
"Judge Laurie Earl took an unexpected route to her conclusion."
"CalPERS and the unions argued that disclosing disability status, which has its origins in medical records, would represent an unwarranted invasion of privacy. Their attorneys said disclosing the information could lead to harassment, bullying and attempts at “vigilante justice” from people attempting to draw their own conclusions about whether or not a given retired public employee is legitimately disabled."
More than 1,000 California police accessed background check database for personal use
Sacramento Bee's SAM STANTON/DARRELL SMITH/ELLIOT WAILOO: "On June 5, 2013, San Francisco police Sgt. John Haggett was working the 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. shift in a third-floor office at the city’s Hall of Justice."
"At 11:48 that morning, someone logged into the department’s secure database inside that office and used Haggett’s sign-on and password to run a criminal background check on a San Francisco woman through the department’s local records."
"Within minutes, Haggett’s account was used to run a Department of Motor Vehicles check on the same woman, as well as an FBI criminal records check and another background check run through the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System, known as CLETS."
Cannabis case - not guilty plea in slaying of El Dorado Deputy Brian Ishmael
Sacramento Bee's SAM STANTON: "The man accused of overseeing two marijuana gardens that officials say led to the Oct. 23 slaying of El Dorado sheriff’s Deputy Brian Ishmael made his first appearance in court since being indicted last week by a federal grand jury in Sacramento."
"Jorge Lamas, a U.S. citizen who authorities say was being paid $150 a day by someone in Mexico to oversee the marijuana grows in Somerset and Georgetown, pleaded not guilty and had his next court appearance set for Dec. 4."
"Lamas, 25, is being held at the Sacramento County Jail along with three other men - Christopher Garry Ross, Juan Carlos Vasquez and Ramiro Bravo Morales. Each faces federal charges of conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, manufacturing marijuana and discharge of a firearm during a drug trafficking offense and could face up to life in prison."
How walking on the wrong side of the American River bike trail led to a $10M verdict
Sacramento Bee's TONY BIZJAK: "The two teens were working together at a Folsom nursing home. They liked each other. Finally, he asked her out. The movie date started with a stroll on the recreation trail next to Lake Natoma."
"At about the same time, Ken and Carol Korsmo of Fair Oaks, a couple in their mid-60s and avid tandem bicycle riders, set out along their favorite route around scenic Lake Natoma."
"The two couples’ paths converged tragically that spring evening, June 2, 2014, on a twisty and densely wooded section of the American River Parkway trail."
Impeachment is one thing. But 2020 will be about something else.
The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI: "The public phase of the House impeachment hearings starts Wednesday, and everyone thinks they know how this story will end. The question is whether there will be a plot twist that has little to do with Ukraine, “perfect” phone calls or the Biden family. If so, it will be told far from Washington, D.C., many months from now."
"The immediate unfolding is indeed predictable: The Democratic-dominated House will impeach President Trump and the Republican-dominated Senate will not remove him from office. If there’s a twist, it’s going to come in the battleground states that will decide the 2020 presidential election. Will anyone be energized or angered by what’s about to happen?"
"That can be answered in part by what Democrats heard after knocking on 54,000 doors of Democratic-leaning and inconsistent voters last weekend in Wisconsin, which Trump won by 22,748 votes in 2016 — less than one percentage point."
The impeachment show on MSNBC and Fox News: Preparing to prosecute, or defend, Trump
LA Times's JAMES RAINEY: "Republicans forecast a grossly unfair “show trial.” Democrats promise a weighty defense of truth and the Constitution. Many Americans who miss hours of witness testimony in the public hearings of the impeachment inquiry of President Trump will rely on cable television to tell them what happened. But in prime time, they should expect something more like the prosecution and the defense."
"Tune in to MSNBC’s nighttime sessions and you can expect to see the case against President Trump as an out-of-control menace who threatens American freedoms. Flip to the Fox News Channel’s commentators and you will likely see a fond portrayal of Trump as a bold and truth-telling leader facing a veritable coup by “deep state” holdovers from the Obama administration and Democrats embittered by his 2016 upset of Hillary Clinton."
"The public hearings over the next few weeks will focus on allegations that the president used U.S. foreign policy for personal gain. The impeachment inquiry centers largely on a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as the Trump administration was holding up nearly $400 million in aid that Congress had approved."
Block partisan antics. Avoid yawn-inducing testimony. Here's what Dems need to do at today's hearing
LA Times's JENNIFER HABERKORN: "Democrats’ top priority as they open the first public hearing of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump is to keep it serious and straightforward, but also engaging."
"They need to avoid the yawns that followed testimony of former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in July, the circus that surrounded the testimony of Trump ally Corey Lewandowski in September as he defied lawmakers’ questions and the clownish use of a bucket of fried chicken to mock Atty. Gen. William Barr in May."
"They want to prevent Republicans from permanently branding the inquiry as a partisan sham or inquisition of the president."