Wine Country fires

Mar 19, 2018

Fingers point at PG&E in Wine Country fires, though causes remain unknown


The Chronicle's DAVID R. BAKER: "California investigators have not — repeat, not — blamed last fall’s deadly Wine Country wildfires on Pacific Gas and Electric Co. power lines."


"But as the sixth-month anniversary of the disaster approaches, many state officials act as if it’s a foregone conclusion. At times, so does PG&E."


"Not content to wait for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, to wrap up its investigation, public officials are taking steps that would make little sense if, say, arson or a few errant campfires sparked the flames."


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Democrats consider attacking their own California candidates to win back Congress


McClatchy DC's EMILY CADEI: "The filing deadline for California’s June primary has passed, but Democrats and their affiliated groups aren’t done trying to shape the field of candidates running to unseat Republican members of Congress."


"Facing the risk that the party could get shut out of the general election race for one or more competitive Republican-held seats, liberal groups formed to attack Republicans now say they are at least considering spending money to support particular Democratic candidates in the primaries. National Democratic officials say all options are on the table in the lead-up to June – including launching negative attacks on members of their own party, a tactic that stirred controversy in the Texas primary."


"Democrats’ efforts in California could determine whether the party wins back control of the House of Representatives this fall."


READ MORE related to State Politics: California's free-for-all primary election rules could surprise everyone in 2018 ... again -- LA Times's JOHN MYERSHow Newsom backers helped pay for an anti-Newsom ad -- The Chronicle's DAN MORAIN; Villaraigosa and his campaigns have benefited from groups that critics say prey upon the poor, people of color -- LA Times's SEEMA MEHTA; Before he died last week, this man changed how we vote in California. Do you know him? -- Sacramento Bee's MARCOS BRETON


SF mayoral candidate Mark Leno has plan to end homeless problem by 2020


The Chronicle's DOMINIC FRACASSA: "San Francisco mayoral candidate Mark Leno laid out an ambitious plan Friday that he claims can end the city’s homelessness problem by 2020."


"At a news conference in U.N. Plaza, which for years has been a backdrop for the city’s homelessness and open-air drug-use problems, Leno laid out a multipronged approach that begins with keeping at-risk people housed. He was joined by BART Director Bevan Dufty, an ex-supervisor and the city’s former “homeless czar,” who has endorsed Leno’s campaign."


"That, Leno said, would involve increasing the city’s investments in “rental and legal assistance to stop unfair, unjust evictions from the Ellis Act. I’ll take speculators who are buying buildings and evicting all tenants illegally to court.”


Capitol Weekly Podcast: Paul Mitchell


Capitol Weekly STAFF: "Political Data’s Paul Mitchell joins the podcast to chat with John  Howard and Tim Foster about Democrat Conor Lamb’s surprise victory in the special election in Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District — a district that the GOP has often won and Trump won in 2016 by 20 points."


"The big question: What does this win mean — if anything — for California? Is this another indication of a national wave election? Will that wave  reach California? In 2010, the Tea Party’s wave didn’t cross the Sierra."


"Democrats hope so: They’ve identified at least seven California congressional districts held by Republicans that are in play, meaning Democrats feel they can grab those seats."


Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is having a moment. But will a war with Trump help or hurt the city?


LA Times's MARK Z BARABAK: "When Mayor Libby Schaaf delivered her most recent State of the City address, she moved the event from Oakland's City Hall to a location rife with symbolism, the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California."


"It was a way of sending a message, about openness and inclusion, that was characteristic of a mayor known more for the quiet details of policy planning than the clenched-fist politics of this urban liberal hotbed."


"What followed a few weeks later, tipping off the community to an impending federal immigration raid, was an even more emphatic statement."


READ MORE related to Immigration: In defiance of Trump, California became a 'sanctuary state.' This OC city may want out -- LA Times's ALENE TCHEKMEDYIAN


More money, bail reform on California chief justice's list


Sacramento Bee's BILLY KOBIN: "California's court system and judges play a big part in the conversation on bail reform."


"It's a good bet California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye will bring up the subject when she addresses the Legislature today as part of her annual State of the Judiciary address."


"Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed state funding for courts in his 2018-19 budget also figures to get some positive attention from the chief justice."


CalPERS retirees are suddenly worried about their pensions. What happened?


Sacramento Bee's ADAM ASHTON: "Call it the Loyalton effect."


"CalPERS’ decision in late 2016 to slash pensions for four retirees from the tiny mountain town startled the state’s public workers so much that their confidence in the $354 billion fund began to plunge to its lowest level in five years."


"It showed in an annual survey conducted by the California Public Employees’ Retirement System that gauges how public employees, retirees and local government leaders feel about the state’s largest pension system."


Students walking out over guns follow in footsteps of Bay Area activists


The Chronicle's OTIS R. TAYLOR JR.: "We live in an area where student activism causes change."


"The Free Speech Movement began with a yearlong protest at UC Berkeley led by Mario Savio after students were barred from fundraising and distributing political flyers on campus. The university eventually relented, but student-led civil disobedience quickly spread to college campuses throughout the country in the ’60s, coalescing into protests of the Vietnam War."


"Tuition for UC and California State University students remained frozen from 2011 to 2016 because Gov. Jerry Brown listened to student protesters."


Here's how many women are part of the workforce, and how their earnings lag behind those of men


OC Register's KURT SNIBEE: "The number of women participating in the U.S. labor force increased from about 15 million in the late 1960s to 48.3 million in 2016. However, since 2000, the rate of women entering the workforce has slowed."


"In 2016, 56.8 percent of women participated in the labor force."


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SF firefighters mop up after major North Beach blaze


The Chronicle's SOPHIE HAIGNEY/TRISHA THADANI: "Firefighters hosed debris from the streets and checked for flareups Sunday after a major blaze ripped through a three-story North Beach building the night before, damaging at least 10 businesses and displacing eight people from their homes."


"The fire was reported just before 7:30 p.m. Saturday at a brick building at 659 Union St., across from Washington Square Park. While the fire was contained to a single structure, smoke damaged neighboring buildings and caused at least 10 businesses to be evacuated."


"Flames soared high into the sky above North Beach, and firefighters brought the blaze under control by around 1 a.m. No one was injured."


READ MORE related to Prisons & Public Safety: Volunteers may soon film cops on Sacramento streets. Will it curb use of force? -- Sacramento Bee's NASHELLY CHAVEZ; Supervisor Aaron Peskin rips SF fire chief as North Beach building burns -- The Chronicle's RACHEL SWAN


Police say no threat was made to Kennedy High, but investigation led to two arrests


Sacramento Bee's NASHELLY CHAVEZ: "The Sacramento Police Department has arrested a man and a 17-year-old teen on charges of possessing an illegal firearm while investigating reports of a possible threat at Kennedy High School Sunday morning, department spokesman Sgt. Vance Chandler announced that night."


"Officers determined no threat to the campus was ever made, but they did find enough evidence to arrest the two men on the gun charges."


"This has been a direct result of an independent investigation that had no direct threat on Kennedy High School," Chandler said."


Here are the top money-wasting habits when buying gas, are you guilty of any of them?


SGV Tribune's KEVIN SMITH: "Southern California motorists are used to high gas prices, but many are overpaying by 20 cents or more per gallon, according to a new survey from GasBuddy."


"The industry price tracker chalks that up to a variety of factors, including procrastination, picking the wrong grade of gasoline — and perhaps worst of all, laziness."


"GasBuddy conducted the study to gain insight into how consumers decide when and where to stop for gas."