Fire money

Jun 17, 2019

California needs a big pot of money for wildfires. But how big? And who pays?


LA Time's TARYN LUNA: "California leaders are calling for a giant pot of money to help electricity providers pay for wildfires, a critical move to head off another utility bankruptcy and prevent Wall Street from downgrading the state’s utilities again."


"But it could prove difficult to achieve in Sacramento this year."


"With a deadline to take action just weeks away, lawmakers and the governor haven’t settled controversial issues regarding the so-called wildfire fund: How much money does the state need and what portion of that will come out of the pockets of electricity customers?"


California idea to study phasing out gas-powered cars wins new life


The Chronicle's DUSTIN GARDINER: "California is on the verge of spending $1.5 million to study what it would take to “significantly reduce” emissions from vehicles — including phasing out new gasoline-powered cars — after a San Francisco legislator used a budget maneuver to bring the idea back from the dead."


"For two years, Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting has unsuccessfully pushed bills that would clear the way for the state to end the sale of new cars that emit greenhouse gases by 2040. The bills have never even received committee hearings, due to opposition from moderate Democrats."


California mulls adopting portions of Trump tax bill


AP's ADAM BEAM: "California’s liberal Legislature wants to give poor people a lot more money in their state tax refunds each year, including an extra $1,000 for people who earn less than $30,000 a year and have at least one child under 6."


"But to do it, they’ll have to agree — at least partially — with Republican President Donald Trump."


"Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s spending plan would triple how much the state spends on its earned income tax credit to $1.2 billion, making about 1 million more households eligible to get it. To pay for it, California would have to adopt some of Trump’s 2017 tax overhaul that was despised by Democrats, especially in California, because it capped the amount of state and local tax deductions in a move they say disproportionately hit high-income, high-taxed states."


OP-ED: Transition to clean energy will fall to California's drivers, according to Influencers


DAN SCHNUR, the Bee: "Saving the planet is about to get much harder."


"A few years ago, California lawmakers developed an aggressive plan to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. So far, we’re ahead of schedule, mainly because renewable energy sources like solar, wind and hydropower have allowed the state’s electricity grid to move away from traditional fossil fuels."


"California’s often-maligned utility companies deserve credit for driving much of that shift, along with changes in construction codes to incentivize more energy efficient buildings." 


PG&E shareholders to meet in SF, but focus remains on Sacramento


The Chronicle's JD MORRIS: "PG&E Corp. shareholders will assemble Friday in San Francisco, meeting for the first time since the company’s power lines started a historically devastating wildfire and upended the future of the business seven months ago."


"Investors will vote on the makeup of the board of directors and consider expanding its size, including by adding new CEO Bill Johnson to its ranks. The vote is a crucial step toward cementing PG&E’s leadership as the company tries to exit bankruptcy protection, but it’s not expected to be widely controversial among shareholders."


"PG&E had been staring down a potentially bruising fight over spots on the board after the company and its subsidiary, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., decided to file for bankruptcy protection in January. Questioning the wisdom of the bankruptcy filing, a hedge fund proposed its own slate of 13 board members but backed off in April when PG&E agreed to make one of the fund’s picks a director and tap another one to be a special safety adviser."


A political fight over decriminalizing sex workers


Capitol Weekly's ALAN RIQUELMY: "Veronica Loveall, a Sacramento sex worker, isn’t a fan of Kamala Harris."


"Loveall has been involved in sex work for about 10 years. She participated in what she calls “erotic companionship” when – formerly a popular website for sex workers to advertise – was active. She watched as Congress passed legislation that crippled sites like, dismantling what Loveall considered a safety net for people who engage in sex work."


"And she lays plenty of blame for that on former state attorney general and current U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris who, with a number of other law enforcement officials across the country, fought Backpage."


Kamala Harris would lean on presidential power, not Congress, for big plans


The Chronicle's TAL KOPAN: "Kamala Harris has unveiled an ambitious set of policies as part of her presidential campaign that have a common theme: going it alone."


"The California senator is proposing action on long-held Democratic values — legalizing undocumented immigrants, combatting gun violence and ensuring women are paid the same as men for equal work."


"But unlike many of her competitors, Harris would tackle those priorities with a novel set of executive actions that would require nothing from Congress."


Nearly all Dem candidates oppose death penalty as public opinion shifts


The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "Not so long ago, opposing the death penalty was pretty much a death knell for a presidential candidate. Michael Dukakis, for one, sank his remaining hopes in 1988 when he told a debate questioner he would oppose execution even for someone who had raped and murdered his wife."


"Now, in what appears to be another sign of a public turnabout on the issue, nearly all of the Democratic presidential hopefuls — with the notable exception of former Vice President Joe Biden — say they are against capital punishment."


"For example, Sen. Bernie Sanders, independent-Vermont, voted as a House member in 1994 for a bill that substantially expanded the federal death penalty. Sanders said at the time that the bill, sponsored by Biden, was a compromise that included funding for investigation and prosecution of violent crimes against women and a 10-year ban on semiautomatic firearms."


Republicans need to change their product. Californians aren't buiying it


LA Times's GEORGE SKELTON: "Politics is like private enterprise. You either sell your product or perish."


"California voters have not been buying Republican merchandise. So Democrats have monopolized the market."


"It’s not the fault of consumers for not liking what the GOP has been peddling. Nor should the Democratic retailers be blamed."


Cal Fire presses Newsom for more firefighter hires


Sacramento Bee's WES VENTEICHER: "The union that represents state firefighters is airing commercials in Sacramento this week with a two-pronged message: Cal Fire’s firefighters are overworked and you should take steps to protect your home."


"The 30- and 60-second spots are meant to be informative, but Cal Fire Local 2881 President Tim Edwards said more aggressive commercials could follow if fire conditions worsen without the state dedicating more money to firefighters."


“If we start dragging into another long work period, we’ll get into another thing saying look how long we’re working at a time because of staffing shortages,” Edwards said."


$4B in state gov't construction getting underway in Sacramento


Sacramento Bee's WES VENTEICHER: "California state government has launched a historic building boom in Sacramento, scheduling roughly $3.4 billion worth of new construction and renovations over the next five years with more to follow."


"Throw in plans for new towers for the state’s pension funds, and the spending will top $4 billion."


"Something like this — this amount of square footage, this amount of resources, this amount of comprehensive refresh — I think is unprecedented,” said Jason Kenney, who is erseeing most of the projects as deputy director of the Department of General Services’ Real Estate Division."


Big Tomato. City of Trees. What's the best nickname for Sacramento?


Sacramento Bee's MICHAEL MCGOUGH: "Anyone driving northbound into Sacramento on Interstate 5 will see the words emblazoned on the huge water tower to their left: “America’s Farm-to-Fork Capital."


"The change, made in 2017, wasn’t well received at the time. For years the words “City of Trees” were on the tower."


"And in May 2019, a popular television game show has given life to another possible nickname for California’s capital city."


This news chopper crew spotted OJ Simpson's white Bronco, and the chase was on


LA Times's RICHARD WINTON: "O.J. Simpson was a fugitive, and it seemed the whole world was looking for him."


"It was June 17, 1994, and Simpson was supposed to turn himself in to Los Angeles police in connection with the killing of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman."


"Zoey Tur was piloting a helicopter for KCBS-TV and had a hunch: Maybe Simpson had gone to Orange County to visit Nicole’s grave. So she flew in that direction, and she would be the first to start broadcasting the most famous police pursuit in history."


Asian countries take a stand against the rich world's plastic waste


LA Times's SHASHANK BENGALI: "When the MV Bavaria cargo ship chugged out of a Philippine port one morning last month carrying 69 containers of rotted Canadian garbage, it didn’t just end a messy diplomatic spat between the two countries."


"It also signaled a sea change in the global recycling system.'


"After years of pressure, Canada had agreed to take back the waste, which had beenexported to the Philippines beginning in 2013 falsely labeled as plastic scrap. The shipments were part of a decades-old practice in which rich countries including the United States sent used plastic to Asia to be recycled. Often, the shipments included contaminated waste that couldn’t be recycled but made it past customs checks anyway, and countries had few legal avenues to send it back.