Water, water

Sep 18, 2018

Farmers thought they had 20 years to use groundwater as they wished -- maybe not anymore


Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER: "California farmers are laboring under a daunting edict: They must stop over-pumping groundwater from beneath their ranches. The saving grace is that state law gives them more than 20 years to do it."


"Now, however, a landmark court ruling could force many farmers to curb their groundwater consumption much sooner than that, landing like a bombshell in the contentious world of California water."


"For the first time, a California court has said state and county governments have a duty to regulate groundwater usage when it’s clear that the pumping drains water from adjacent rivers."


Just who is an independent contractor?


Capitol Weekly's LISA RENNER: "A sweeping new California Supreme Court ruling restricting who is an independent contractor is shaking up an exceptionally diverse range of industries."


"The ruling, issued in April, affects an estimated 2 million independent contractors working in healthcare, beauty salons, gig economy jobs like Uber and Lyft, journalism, music, real estate, education, financial planning, agriculture, construction, technology, insurance, transportation and more."


"The decision is praised by the California Labor Federation as offering workers protections like minimum wage, unemployment, workers’ compensation and disability insurance. But some independent contractors say they like their freedom and have no interest in being employees."


Mystery Nunes event requires guests to submit to personal search, no cell phone photos


Fresno Bee's RORY APPLETON: "Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, is expected to appear at an invitation-only event at a private residence in the Sanger area on Tuesday, according to his campaign website."


"An online RSVP form was apparently sent out to those on the Republican’s mailing lists."


"It describes several enhanced security measures, including: “All persons and property entering the facility are subject to search,” and “Photos with personal cell phones will not be allowed. An official photographer will be present and will take photos as requested."


Following net neutrality money + increasing CSU mental health help




"Net neutrality may soon become the law of the land in California, if Gov. Jerry Brown signs Senate Bill 822. But the journey to get the bill in its current form was anything but easy."


"MapLight, an organization that aims to reveal the influence of money in politics, is releasing findings today showing how much money telecommunications companies spent on an unsuccessful effort to weaken a net neutrality measure. The bill on Brown’s desk would ban internet service providers from blocking access to legal online content or forcing websites to pay more money for faster speeds."


See where Californians are mostly likely to skip the commute and work from home


Sacramento Bee's PHILLIP REESE: "For more than a million California workers, home is where the office is."


"The number of Californians working from home jumped by about 290,000, or 36 percent, from 2008 through 2017, according to new census figures."


"A decade ago, about 4.8 percent of California workers stayed home. By 2017, that figure had risen to 6 percent, or nearly 1.1 million workers."


Opinion: Trump's FCC chief takes aim at California's net neutrality bill, reviving threadbare arguments


LA Times's MICHAEL HILTZIK: "Ajit Pai, the Trump-appointed chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, is mightily ticked off at California’s effort to impose network neutrality rules on the internet after he worked so hard to kill them."


"We know this thanks to a speech Pai delivered Friday to the right-wing Maine Heritage Policy Center. During the talk, he couldn’t resist taking potshots at the state’s initiative, which is currently on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk awaiting his signature."


"In his talk, Pai called the measure “a radical, anti-consumer internet regulation bill.” Referring to the Obama-era FCC regulations that he had overturned, he groused that the California measure would “impose restrictions even more burdensome than those adopted by the FCC in 2015.” He called the measure “illegal,” and promised to fight it if it’s signed into law."


Lofty promises, limited results


The Chronicle's ERIN ALLDAY/JOAQUIN PALOMINO: "It was an extraordinary political proposal: Approve a $3 billion bond measure to fund the cutting-edge science of stem cell therapy, and soon some of the world’s cruelest diseases and most disabling injuries could be eradicated."


"The 2004 measure was Proposition 71, the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Initiative. The campaign to pass it was led by a Palo Alto real estate developer whose son suffered from an incurable illness that he believed stem cells, the keystones of human biology, could heal. Other supporters included preeminent scientists, Hollywood celebrities, business leaders and elite investors."


"The need was urgent, they said. Federal restrictions had recently been imposed on funding research involving human embryonic stem cells, then the most auspicious field of study."


Why running your washing machine in the evening could soon cost you more money


Sacramento Bee's TONY BIZJAK: "If you like to crank up your air conditioner or dishwasher in the evening, think twice. It’s about to cost you more on your electricity bill."


"The Sacramento Municipal Utility District will launch a new rate system next month that charges residential users higher rates between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. — and lower rates at other times."


SMUD, which provides electricity to more than a half-million residences in Sacramento County, has begun notifying some customers."


UCSF gets $20M to research health effects of e-cigarettes, other products


The Chronicle's ERIN ALLDAY: "UCSF has won a $20 million federal grant to fund research into the health effects of new tobacco products such as electronic cigarettes, the use of which, especially among teenagers, is raising alarm among public health experts."


"The grant, which comes from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health, is the second round of federal funding that UCSF has received for this kind of research. The first $20 million grant came in 2013, when the United States established its first Tobacco Centers of Regulatory Science at institutions around the country."


"The research is meant to inform state and national policy around tobacco control, which has become newly complicated in recent years with the introduction of products marketed as “low-risk” compared with traditional cigarettes. That claim, say public health experts, is not backed by science."


SF schools giving teachers raises without revenue to pay for them


The Chronicle's DOMINIC FRACASSA: "Officials at San Francisco Unified School District may have acted prematurely in raising wages for around 3,600 teachers before the revenue stream to pay for them — generated by a parcel tax voters approved in June — actually kicks in."


"In a letter sent to SFUSD Superintendent Vincent Matthews on Friday, Mayor London Breed called the timing of the wage increase an issue of “great concern,” given unresolved questions about when the money generated by Proposition G will be available, or if it’ll be available at all."


"That could mean that the school district is spending money to raise teacher wages while anticipating revenue that might never materialize."


READ MORE related to Education: UC Berkeley professor in sex harassment case resigns, threatens to sue -- The Chronicle's NANETTE ASIMOV/CYNTHIA DIZIKES


Collecting cable car fares an uphill struggle -- 1 in 4 auditors not asked to pay, study finds


The Chronicle's RACHEL SWAN: "Undercover city workers who joined the crosstown commuters and selfie-taking tourists on San Francisco’s cable cars got 1 in 4 rides for free, according to a city controller’s report released Monday."


"That was a big improvement from the same clandestine operation a year earlier, the report said — but also an indicator of continuing failures."


"The Office of the Controller documented 100 rides on three cable car lines during a 12-month period. On 24 of those rides, conductors didn’t collect fares or seek proof of payment from the auditors."


Protest planned outside cops' convention; a counterprotest is encouraged by sheriff


Sacramento Bee's DANIEL HUNT: "On Tuesday, the six-month anniversary of the police shooting death of Stephon Clark, a group led by the local chapter of Black Lives Matter will protest outside of the Sacramento Convention Center during a conference of law enforcement officials."


"The slate of speakers is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. at a demonstration against fatal police shootings of African Americans — most notably Clark, an unarmed man killed in Meadowview as officers responded to reports of someone breaking car windows."


"We will let them know, not in our streets,” the group said in a news release about the CopsWest Training & Expo, an annual conference of 1,500 officers sponsored by California Peace Officers Association taking place Tuesday and Wednesday."


Feinstein was right to withhold Kavanaugh letter, accuser's attorney says


McClatchy DC's EMILY CADEI:  "California Sen. Dianne Feinstein has come under intense scrutiny for her handling of the letter that is now at the center of a storm over Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. But an attorney for the letter’s author, Palo Alto University Professor Christine Blasey Ford, says the veteran Democratic lawmaker was right to keep the letter confidential for more than a month."


"We do think that Feinstein did well by her, and we do think that people took this decision away from her, and that’s wrong,” Ford’s lawyer, Debra Katz, told the New York Times on Sunday. Ford sent a letter to Feinstein on July 30 detailing an incident from the 1980s in which, she claims, Kavanaugh held her down, groped her and attempted to pull off her clothes. Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the allegations."


"The letter only came to light on Sept. 12 after the Intercept reported that other Senate Democrats were pressuring Feinstein to share its contents. Feinstein’s office was not the source of those leaks." 


READ MORE related to SCOTUS: Who is Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault? -- LA Times's ALENE TCHEKMEDYIAN


Billionaire plans paid moon orbit as SpaceX customer, with friends along for the ride


The Chronicle's CHRISTOPHER WEBER: "Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa said Monday that he plans to blast off on the inaugural private commercial trip around the moon and will invite six to eight artists, architects, designers and other creative people on the weeklong journey “to inspire the dreamer in all of us."


"The SpaceX Big Falcon Rocket is scheduled to make the trip in 2023, company founder Elon Musk announced at an event Monday at its headquarters near Los Angeles."


"Maezawa, 42, said he wants his guests for the lunar orbit “to see the moon up close, and the Earth in full view, and create work to reflect their experience."


Judge who sentenced woman who tried to kill President Ford dies


The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "Retired U.S. District Judge Samuel Conti, whose 45 years on the bench in San Francisco included the sentencing of a would-be presidential assassin, a courtroom performance by a pop music star and a frustrating examination of veterans’ health care, has died at age 96."


"Conti, a former judge in Contra Costa County, was appointed to the federal court by President Richard Nixon in October 1970. When he retired in October 2015, he was the longest-serving jurist in the history of the San Francisco-based Northern District of California."


"Among his high-profile cases was the sentencing of Sara Jane Moore, who pleaded guilty to the 1975 attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford in San Francisco. Moore opened fire on Ford as he emerged from the St. Francis Hotel on Sept. 22, 1975, but narrowly missed. She fired again, but her aim was deflected when a bystander, Oliver Sipple, grabbed her arm."