California's river water crisis

Oct 24, 2016

Two of California's most recognizable bodies of water are in the midst of a native ecosystem collapse, and now experts are figuring out ways to leave more water in the rivers in the hopes of thwarting the damage.


CAROLYN LOCHHEAD with The Chronicle: "Water users in San Francisco and its suburbs face a day of reckoning as state regulators move to leave more water in California’s two biggest rivers in an effort to halt a collapse in the native ecosystem of the San Francisco Bay and its estuary, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta."


"Even as water allocations to California farmers have been severely reduced, San Francisco water authorities have freely tapped the Tuolumne River, which the city dammed early in the last century at its headwaters in Yosemite National Park."


"Now the State Water Resources Control Board wants the city to help save the estuary by leaving 40 percent of the Tuolumne’s water in the river, a level that the board’s own scientists have said may not be enough to rescue the freshwater-starved bay and delta."


Experts take a look at the various public polling systems in place, and how bad numbers incorrectly influence opinion. 


PAUL MITCHELL and ALAN NIGEL YAN with Capitol Weekly: "This month has seen the release of dozens of new public polls, ranging from the presidential contest to statewide and local races."


"We have seen many of these publicly available surveys, but the vast majority of polling is still private – done by candidates and political action committees. The results are rarely shared with those outside a very small circle of candidates and consultants."


"With public polling, the consumer receives much more information than might have been available previously. But we have no input on the way the surveys are done, and little basis for understanding their potential flaws."


A year after the Aliso Canyon disaster, activists are still more adamant than ever to make sure the failed facility stays shut down.


BRENDA GAZZAR with Daily News: "On the one-year anniversary of the start of the catastrophic natural gas leak at the Aliso Canyon storage facility, environmental activists, Porter Ranch-area residents and political candidates renewed their call Sunday to “Shut. It. All. Down."


"More than 125 people gathered at Holleigh Bernson Memorial Park in neighboring Porter Ranch for a community fair and rally that was followed by a march to Southern California Gas Co.’s Aliso Canyon facility and a “memorial ceremony.” The four-hour event, organized by the group Save Porter Ranch and Food & Water Watch, commemorated the massive gas well blowout that released nearly 100,000 metric tons of methane into the atmosphere over nearly four months, sickened many area residents and prompted the temporary relocation of more than 8,000 families."


"Matt Pakucko, president and co-founder of Save Porter Ranch, said while affected residents want to put the environmental disaster behind them, now is hardly the time to become complacent."


Veteran radical Tom Hayden has passed away in Santa Monica after a bout with illness.


ELAINE WOO with Washington Post: "Tom Hayden, the preeminent 1960s radical who roused a generation of alienated young Americans, became a symbol of militancy by leading riotous protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and added Hollywood glamour to his mystique with an activist partnership and marriage to film star Jane Fonda, died Oct. 23 in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 76."


"Mr. Hayden’s wife, Barbara Williams, confirmed the death to the Associated Press but did not provide an immediate cause. He had heart disease and was hospitalized for a stroke in 2015."


"At a moment in history — June 1962 — before U.S. escalation in Vietnam, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the civil rights March on Washington and the awakening of the environmental and feminist movements, Mr. Hayden emerged as one of the most articulate spokesmen of youthful angst."


READ MORE about Tom Hayden: From the Archives: Tom Hayden is serious about running for governor. So why is he having fun? -- CATHLEEN DECKER with L.A. Times


Multiple cities are on a state-wide watchlist for financial fraud.


RUBEN VIVES with L.A. Times: "The city of Maywood was low on cash and struggling to pay its $15-million debt. With its future looking bleak, state auditors decided to step in."


"In January, the state started auditing the 1.2 square-mile town, finding that its “flawed governance and fiscal mismanagement” had prevented Maywood from recovering -- and made it susceptible to corruption."


"In many ways, the struggling city in southeast Los Angeles County had its neighbor, Bell, to thank for the scrutiny. A city that Maywood had once counted on to bail it out of earlier financial troubles, Bell had become wrapped up in a major corruption scandal in 2010."


President Obama rebukes Rep. Darrell Issa after invoking his name in a campaign mailer.


EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE with Politico: "Note to Rep. Darrell Issa from President Barack Obama: If you want to call him one of the most corrupt presidents in history, say he should be impeached and question whether he was telling the truth about his birth certificate, maybe don’t then brag about working with him in a campaign mailer as you try to hang onto your seat."


"Or at least, don’t use a picture him writing at his desk in the Oval Office as you do."


"Issa, Obama said, is one of the Republicans he blames for fanning the flames that created Donald Trump, and is now trying to run from Trump as the polls plummet. The California Republican is also one of those kind of Republicans, according to Obama, who spits fire at him and then shows up with family members for pictures at the White House Christmas party every year."


READ MORE related to POTUS44: Obama lashes out at Issa in San Diego -- JOSHUA STEWART with Union-Tribune


California's historic cap-and-trade program may get the axe.


DAVID DANELSKI with The Press-Enterprise: "Southern California’s cap-and-trade marketplace that’s been used for 22 years to limit air pollution from the region’s top 275 industrial polluters may be scrapped."


"Under pressure from federal and state regulators, and a lawsuit from a coalition of environmental groups, officials with the South Coast Air Quality Management District are considering phasing out the once-ballyhooed program that gave industry the choice between buying pollution credits or installing pollution controls."


"The change in thinking comes as the air district prepares a 15-year plan to cut pollution to meet looming deadlines to meet the federal health standards for smog that must be approved by state regulators."


Elections in California's Central Valley are driven by the drought and water issues, not the presidential race.


SARAH D. WIRE with L.A. Times: "The signs vie for space with political campaign placards at intersections along State Route 43 as a constant reminder to Central Valley residents. “No water, no jobs.”


"Trees along the roadside are yellowed and shrunken. In the distance a tractor creates a cloud of dust as it makes its way across a field."


"Water=Jobs,” reads one billboard. “Tell Feinstein to pass [the] water bill,” reads another."


First-time Latino voters ponder over their impact on this year's presidential election. 


BEATRIZ VALENZUELA and LISET MARQUEZ in Daily News: "Luis Marcano still remembers Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s first speech as a candidate."


"The Venezuela native said he found Trump disrespectful and brash. And there was also a certain resemblance that he couldn’t shake to Hugo Chavez, ex-president of Marcano’s former homeland."


"Though socialist strongman Chavez may have little else in common with capitalist tycoon Trump, both men hold the media in contempt, Marcano said, and displayed similarly aggressive personalities."


READ MORE related to Voter Impact: Why is an 11-year-old registering his neighbors to vote? It's the water. -- RUBEN TAPIA with KQED


Voters have the opportunity to issue $9b in school bonds come November, but will they?


THERESA HARRINGTON with EdSource: "A decade after the passage of California’s last school construction bond measure, voters will have a chance to approve Proposition 51 on the November ballot."


"The measure will authorize the state to issue $9 billion in new bonds to pay for what supporters say are urgently needed repairs and renovation of existing schools, as well as construction of new ones. The money would be used to pay for charter school facilities, vocational education facilities, and community college construction and renovation."


"About $7 billion would be spent on K-12 schools, with an additional $2 billion set aside for community colleges. Of the $7 billion, $3 billion would pay for new construction, $3 billion would go toward modernization, $500 million would be earmarked for charter schools and another $500 million would fund career technical education facilities."


READ MORE related to Education: No opposition? No matter, school groups raise millions -- TOM CHORNEAU with Cabinet Report


San Diego faces its first tough decision in trying to realize its nationally recognized Climate Action Plan. 


JOSHUA EMERSON SMITH with Union-Tribune: "San Diegans face the first tough decision in trying to realize the city’s Climate Action Plan, which calls for hundreds of thousands of commuters to ditch their cars in favor of walking, biking or using public transit."


"After much public debate, the City Council is set to vote Tuesday on so-called community plan updates for North Park and Golden Hill — the first of dozens of pivotal zoning plans to be updated since the city approved its climate document last year."


"These neighborhood blueprints, which are often not revised for decades, cap building heights and limit the number of commercial and residential units that can be constructed on any given block."


An LAPD officer who fired his gun and killed two people, including a minor, just days apart has brought new scrutiny on national policy.


KATE MATHER with L.A. Times: "This summer, for the first time in his nearly five years as a Los Angeles police officer, Eden Medina shot someone."


"Police say Medina opened fire July 28 as Omar Gonzalez fought with officers after a car chase ended in a Boyle Heights cul-de-sac. Police have released few details about the shooting, but said at least one witness saw the 36-year-old with a gun before Medina fatally shot him."


"Twelve days later, the Hollenbeck Division gang officer fired his gun again, killing Jesse Romero two weeks shy of his 15th birthday. The Aug. 9 shooting prompted protests and criticism of the LAPD, amplified by the renewed national scrutiny over policing as well as conflicting accounts over whether Romero fired a gun at officers before he was shot."


The state has released its latest 'report cards' on health plans and doctor groups.


ANA B. IBARRA with California Healthline: "California’s Office of the Patient Advocate Friday released its annual report cards on health plans and medical groups — tools meant to help guide consumers and employers as they shop for coverage during the upcoming open enrollment season."


"The report cards assign ratings to the 10 largest HMOs and five largest PPOs in the state, based on quality of care and patient experience. It also rates more than 200 physician groups. Quality of care measures include ensuring that heart patients’ blood pressure is well managed and that children get their immunizations."


"Health care is complicated, but it’s important,” said Elizabeth Abbott, director of the OPA. “A lot of consumers are afraid to pick health plans; it’s intimidating."


And now for a page from our "Last Week Tonight" file..


John Oliver explores the depths of the nation's rampant opioid addiction...