Drought trumps Trump

Feb 26, 2020

Trump promised more water to California farmers. But dry weather gets in the way


Sac Bee's RYAN SABALOW: "Turns out President Donald Trump is no match for another California drought.


Less than a week after Trump told San Joaquin Valley farmers in Bakersfield that he was taking bold steps to increase their water supply, his administration announced Tuesday farmers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley may only receive about 15 percent of their contracted water supply for the upcoming growing season.


A profoundly dry January and February has the Sierra snowpack at only about half its average amounts, and no major storms are in the forecast. The new rules Trump signed earlier this month were intended to boost water supply to Trump’s farming allies in the San Joaquin Valley. But they can only do so much, said Ernest Conant, the Bureau of Reclamation’s mid-Pacific regional director."


November ballot plan seeks new school money, would alter Prop. 13 of 1978


AKEMI TAMANAHA in Capitol Weekly: "An initiative to reclaim up to $12 billion for California public schools and local communities could make its way onto the ballot in November 2020. Proponents of the measure say it will force large corporations to pay their fair share in property taxes.


The Schools & Communities First initiative would amend the current property tax law established under Proposition 13 in 1978. The measure has not yet qualified for the ballot, and proponents are in the process of obtaining signatures on petitions.


The 1978 Proposition 13 set a 1% annual property tax cap. It also lowered property taxes by rolling back property values to their 1976 values for tax purposes. Property values could only be reassessed for taxes if there was a change in ownership or new construction."


READ MORE related to Education: Charter school politics still in play in LA Unified school board elections -- EdSource's MICHAEL BURKE


'Now is the time for US' to prepare for worldwide coronavirus spread, CDC says


Sac Bee's ROSALIO AHUMADA/CATHIE ANDERSON/THEODORA YU/DARRELL SMITH: "It’s been a month since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first case of novel coronavirus in the United States, a potentially deadly virus that causes the COVID-19 disease that broke out in China in December.


That man from Washington was healthy when he returned from China in mid-January. At the time of the first confirmed U.S. case, scientists in China reported 300 people there were infected with coronavirus and six people had died. Since then, the death toll has soared past 2,600 people, with all but 134 of them in China.


The World Health Organization in late January declared a public health emergency, saying the new coronavirus – the respiratory illness, with symptoms such as fever, coughing and shortness of breath – poses a global health risk."


READ MORE related to CoronavirusGet ready now for probable coronavirus pandemic in US, federal officials warn -- The Chronicle's ERIN ALLDAY


Most California Democrats have made a presidential pick. Gov. Newsom hasn't


LA Times's PHIL WILON: "With the closely watched California presidential primary just days away, Gov. Gavin Newsom remains cagey about which of the remaining Democratic contenders will earn his vote.


Extremely popular among California Democrats, Newsom could put a leading contender over the top. Or he could shake up the status quo and place his bet on one of the candidates in desperate need of a jump-start.


Either option could be appealing. But by wading into a race that’s become a bruising free-for-all among Democrats, Newsom risks alienating entire factions of his deeply divided party."


PG&E CEO grilled by fire victim


The Chronicle's J.D. MORRIS: "A 2017 wildfire survivor grilled PG&E Corp.’s top executive for about two hours at a public hearing on Tuesday, asking tough questions about the company’s commitment to safety, its plan to exit bankruptcy protection and its role in past disasters.


The encounter between CEO Bill Johnson and Will Abrams, who lost his Santa Rosa home in the Tubbs Fire, took place on the first day of state regulators’ San Francisco hearings about PG&E’s emergence from bankruptcy.


It was a remarkable and likely unprecedented formal exchange between the highest-ranking official at the parent company of California’s largest power provider and a person who lost a home in one of the most destructive wildfires in state history."


California lottery shortchanged schools by $36 million as revenues soared, adult finds


Sac Bee's WES VENTEICHER: "The California State Lottery should pay the state $36 million to make up for not putting enough money toward education, according to a State Auditor’s report published Tuesday.


California voters created the lottery in 1984 to provide money for education. The lottery’s revenue has increased in recent years, but the amount it has put toward education hasn’t kept pace, auditors found.


The lottery’s revenue has more than doubled since 2010, rising from about $3 billion to about $7 billion per year. A decade ago, the lottery sent about $1 billion to California schools. In the 2017-18 state budget year, schools received $1.7 billion from the lottery."


5 takeaways from the South Carolina Democratic debate


LA Times's MARK Z. BARABAK/MELANIE MASON: "Well, that was spunky!


South Carolina has a history of rapscallion politicians and rowdy debates, and Tuesday night’s two-hour throw down in Charleston was no exception.


For those not named Michael R. Bloomberg or Bernie Sanders, the debate may have been the last best chance for candidates to assert themselves before Saturday’s Democratic primary, which could claim several casualties ahead of the balloting blitz on March 3, Super Tuesday."


READ MORE related to Democratic Debate: A week late, Democratic candidates wake up to Sanders' potential to beat them all -- LA Times's DAVID LAUTER; Rivals hammer Bernie Sanders at South Carolina Democratic debate -- LA Times's EVAN HALPER/JANET HOOK/ARIT JOHN; Warren is pressed again on past claims of Native American heritage -- LA Times's ADAM ELMAHREK


Human composting could become legal in California


Sac Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "In California, death could soon get a little greener.


California lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow for human remains to be composted into soil, a process called “natural organic reduction,” with the end result being a nutrient-dense soil “that can be returned to families or donated to conservation land,” according to a statement from bill sponsor Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens.


“This service will provide an additional option for California residents that is more environmentally-friendly and gives them another choice for burial,” Garcia said in a statement. “With climate change and sea-level rise as very real threats to our environment, this is an alternative method of final disposition that won’t contribute emissions into our atmosphere.”


Lyft raises prices on e-bikes, triggering an online revolt


The Chronicle's RACHEL SWAN: "Lyft will raise the prices of its popular street rental e-bikes next month, using a complex system that’s baffled users and prompted a revolt on social media.


Beginning March 2, customers of Bay Wheels, the bike rental company operated by Lyft, will have to pay 15 cents a minute to ride the black and magenta two-wheelers — a sharp jump for people who used to get unlimited rides with their $15 monthly or $149 annual membership fee. Those without a membership will still pay $2 to unlock an e-bike, but under the new pricing scheme, they will also pay 20 cents a minute to ride.


Additionally, Bay Wheels will charge $2 to anyone who parks a rental e-bike at a rack that isn’t an official company dock, with a few exceptions. The company will waive that fee in the San Francisco’s outlying areas, including the southeast neighborhoods and the Outer Richmond, where bike rental docks are scarce. It won’t charge people who park next to a dock if the dock is full."


Newsom is making these sites in Sacramento, Placer available for homeless shelters


Sac Bee's THERESA CLIFT: "During his State of the State address last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he would make 286 state-owned properties across California available to local officials to use for homeless shelters or services.


“The state is stepping up by making land available to cities and counties willing to meet this moment head-on,” Newsom said in a news release. “I invite local leaders to use this land on what works for their community’s homeless needs so that we can begin to make meaningful progress to help individuals experiencing homelessness.”There are dozens of state-owned sites in Northern California the state has made available for potential shelters, according to a map released by the Department of General Services. Here are the sites in the Sacramento region:"


READ MORE related to Homelessness: Sacramento approves new law to clear homeless from levees, but not streets or other areas -- Sacramento Bee's THERESA CLIFT


'Gender neutral' plan for toys would get rid of boys' and girls' aisles in California stores


Sac Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "California department stores that sell children’s products such as toys and clothes would be prohibited from segregating them by gender, under a bill now being considered by lawmakers.


Assembly Bill 2826, by Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, would apply to all retail department stores with 500 or more employees.


The bill would do away with so-called “boys aisles” and “girls aisles,” by requiring that children’s products be offered in a single, gender neutral section, according to Low’s office."


 California gay rights group says Democratic campaign used 'homophobia' against rival


Sac Bee's HANNAH WILEY: "California’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization condemned a Democratic political candidate this week, alleging she used messaging that inappropriately discussed her Democratic rival’s sexual orientation and ethnicity.


The dispute centers on two Democrats running for an Inland Empire state Senate seat: Kris Goodfellow and Abigail Medina.


Equality California alleges that Goodfellow had made false claims against Medina’s “personal life, her family and her sexual orientation.” Medina is a member of the LGBTQ community. She is also the daughter of immigrants, according to her campaign website."