Bullet train continues to shrink

Oct 21, 2016

The governor's bullet-train project sees some structural downsizing.


RALPH VARTABEDIAN with L.A. Times: "The California bullet train authority has told its design engineers that the future system would have shorter trains and smaller station platforms, reducing the capacity of individual trains by roughly 50% and potentially the capacity of the entire Los Angeles-to-San Francisco route."


"It is the second time that operating parameters have been reduced this year."


"In May, the authority’s managers decided to cut the maximum operating speed of trains inside tunnels from 220 mph to 200 mph, a result of building tunnels with smaller cross-sections. The authority also cut in half the speed of trains as they merge from station tracks onto the system’s main line, a move that would reduce the very long lengths of transition tracks in and around major cities."


READ MORE related to TransportationGoogle group blasts DMV's autonomous-car rules -- GEORGE AVALOS with SiliconBeat


Speaking of Gov. Brown, he will be attending a class reunion at Yale University this weekend and will receive the Award of Merit.


CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO with Sac Bee: "Jerry Brown is taking a long-weekend respite from the campaign to attend his class reunion at Yale Law School, where the Democratic governor will receive the prestigious Award of Merit, his spokesman said."


"Brown left the state Thursday for New Haven, Conn., just 19 days before Californians will vote on his statewide public safety initiative, Proposition 57. Brown also is helping lead the charge against Proposition 53, which could threaten the state’s ability to build large projects he favors."


"Two years ago, Brown made a similar reunion trip, where he appeared on panels, before coasting to a fourth term as governor over Republican Neel Kashkari."


During the traditional Al Smith dinner, Trump and Hillary committed to self-roasting and general satire; however, Trump was booed as his speech carried off into conspiratorial tangents.


BRIAN MURPHY with Sac Bee: "Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump drew boos near the end of his speech at the 71st Annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner in New York on Thursday night."


"The event, which featured Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, is typically a lighthearted affair where the two candidate poke good fun at themselves and each other. It has been a staple on the calendar for presidential candidates for decades, offering a chance for them to show off their sense of humor and take a break from the grind of the campaign."


"But Thursday night’s dinner turned a bit awkward."


READ MORE related to BeltwayTrump's vote-rigging claim disputed by election officials -- MELODY GUTIERREZ with SF Chronicle


Polls show that cannabis legalization is favored to pass on the November ballot. If that happens, how do we implement the new laws?


BEN ADLER with CPR: "There are so many questions about California’s November ballot measure that would legalize recreational marijuana that it’s easy to overlook the most basic question of all: What would the initiative actually do?"


"Well, we’re here to help."


READ MORE related to Ballot: Prop 51 bond measure pits school needs against worries over state debt -- MARY PLUMMER with KPCC; L.A. County Sheriff McDonnell, D.A. Lacey speak out against Prop. 57 -- JOHN ISMAY with KPCC


Kamala Harris' work as the Attorney General of California proves to be a boon for her in the U.S. Senate race.


PHIL WILLON with L.A. Times: "Senate candidate Kamala Harris had a particularly good day earlier this month. In the morning, she landed endorsements from the state’s two U.S. senators and hours later, from her perch as California attorney general, she announced the arrest of an Internet CEO for sex trafficking."


"Both stories attracted a flurry of news coverage up and down the state and across the U.S., providing a lift not only to Harris’ national profile but also to her ongoing Senate campaign against Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez."


"But while trumpeting endorsements is nothing new for a campaign, the publicity Harris received after the arrest of backpage.com CEO Carl Ferrer demonstrated the political advantages high-profile incumbents have while they are appealing to voters for reelection or higher office."


READ MORE related to AG/U.S. Senate Race: Backpage.com goes on attack against Kamala Harris over prosecution -- MATT HAMILTON with L.A. Times


Meanwhile, the focal point of a hotly contested Northern California congressional race has  become candidate character.


SOPHIA BOLLAG with L.A. Times: "In a Northern California swing district, mudslinging and allegations of wrongdoing have been the focal point of what will likely be one of the tightest congressional races in the state."


"Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) faces a tough reelection battle for his seat in the 7thCongressional District against Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, a Republican. Bera is under scrutiny due to revelations that his father illegally funneled money to two of his past campaigns. Jones has been confronted with allegations that he sexually harassed a subordinate at the Sheriff’s Department more than a decade ago, which he denies."


"In Bera’s last election, 39 percent of registered voters were Democrats and 36 percent were Republican, according to data from the nonpartisan California Target Book. Nearly 20 percent registered with no party preference."


Elsewhere, Bernie Sanders tells the soft drink industry to stop using his name and reputation.


JANIE HAR with AP: "Saying that consuming too much sugar is a serious health problem, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders told the soft drink industry to stop using his name in ads fighting proposed soda taxes in the San Francisco Bay Area."


"The Vermont senator said in a statement Thursday that campaign commercials and mailers implying that he opposes soda tax measures on the Nov. 8 ballot in San Francisco and Oakland are false."


"Neighboring Albany also has a penny-per-ounce tax measure on its ballot."


Liberty Mutual must pay a near-$1m settlement for not properly disclosing information to customers in California.


ALI TADAYON with The Press-Enterprise: "The Liberty Mutual Group, Inc, which offers Liberty Mutual auto insurance, will pay $925,000 to three Southern California district attorney’s offices for not properly disclosing in ads that the company’s “accident forgiveness” program was not available in California."


"The settlement was obtained Thursday, Oct. 20, by the Riverside, San Diego and Los Angeles district attorney’s offices, according to a Riverside County District Attorney’s Office news release. The district attorney’s offices filed a consumer protection lawsuit against the Boston-based company in response to a TV ad campaign launched in 2014 for auto insurance that featured actors standing in the foreground of the Statue of Liberty talking about the program and its benefits."


"Though the program is available to Liberty Mutual customers in other states, the California Department of Insurance prohibits “accident forgiveness” provisions in auto insurance policies, the news release said. California law also requires all advertising to “clearly and conspicuously disclose any material facts that viewers need to avoid being misled.”


FAFSA deadline for college students has been extended 3 months this year.


LARRY GORDON with EdSource: "This fall, new federal reforms may ease the anxiety and deadline pressure surrounding what has been a dreaded chore for many families – applying for college financial aid."


"Students and families will get three extra months to work on their application for financial aid, thanks to the new rules. In the past, students could not start filing the online Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, until Jan. 1, and most Californians had until March 2 to submit it. Now most California students have from Oct. 1 through March 2 to send it in. The changes also make it easier to include the required income tax records information."


"But college officials and financial aid experts are waiting to see how many students take advantage of that extra time, procrastinate or, even worse, still miss the deadline. And much attention will be paid to whether aid is actually awarded earlier than in previous years and whether that affects where students apply to college and eventually enroll."


A 'clandestine cross-border tunnel' between Tijuana and San Diego has been discovered.


SANDRA DIBBLE with Union-Tribune: "U.S. and Mexican authorities on Thursday confirmed the discovery of a clandestine cross-border tunnel between Tijuana and San Diego."


"The tunnel’s entrance was found near Tijuana’s A.L. Rodríguez International Airport. A source with Baja California’s Public Safety Secretariat said authorities believe that five tons of marijuana are inside the structure."


"The source said that the tunnel had been in operation, and that an anonymous tip had led Mexican soldiers and members of the state police to its discovery."


A nude statue in San Leandro is turning some heads.


JOCELYN GECKER with AP: "There have long been complaints about the lack of women in the tech industry. Now there's a towering female figure, in a tech park across the bay from San Francisco, although not quite what some people had in mind."


"A 55-foot tall statue of a nude woman unveiled this week in the working-class community of San Leandro is stirring controversy and a lot of conversation."


"At the base of the 13,000-pound statue is a message in 10 languages that says: "What would the world be like if women were safe?"


And finally, it wasn't hard to find the person who had the worst week in California, #WorstWeekinCA. That would be Ron Calderon, the former state lawmaker who pleaded guilty to corruption and faces sentencing today in federal court.