Backing off

Apr 3, 2018

 Metropolitan Water District backs away from plan to finance both delta tunnels


From the LAT's BETTINA BOXALL: " The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is dropping plans to push ahead with a two-tunnel proposal to revamp the state's water delivery system, opting to pursue a scaled-back version instead."


"In a memo to the agency's board on Monday, MWD officials said the decision followed discussions with major agricultural districts that remain unwilling to make any financing commitments for the project, known as California WaterFix."


"Rather than fund much of the full project on its own, the staff will ask the board to vote next week to approve $5.3 billion in funding for a smaller capacity, one-tunnel version."


Trump administration moves on two fronts to challenge California environmental protections


LA Times's EVAN HALPER/JOSEPH TANFANI: "The Trump administration openly threatened one of the cornerstones of California's environmental protections Monday, saying that it may revoke the state's ability under the Clean Air Act to impose stricter standards than the federal government sets for vehicle emissions."


"The announcement came as the administration confirmed it is tearing up landmark fuel economy rules that formed a key part of the effort by the Obama administration and California officials to combat global warming — and as the Justice Department sued to block a state law that limits the federal government's ability to sell any of the 46 million acres it controls in California."


READ MORE related to Energy & Environment: Trump administration sues California over sale of federal lands -- The Chronicle's KATE IRBY/STUART LEAVENWORTH; Trump's EPA moves to roll back emissions rules for cars, trucks -- The Chronicle's CAROLYN LOCHHEAD; After deadly wildfire, a new problem for Santa Rosa: Contaminated water -- Water Deeply's MATT WEISER; Heavy Metal: The new toxic danger posed by ocean plastic trash -- Oceans Deeply's DANIELLE BEURTEAUX


California starts accepting applications for driverless car permits


LA Times's RUSS MITCHELL: "California began accepting applications Monday for permits to deploy self-driving cars on public roads without a human backup driver at the wheel."


"Recent fatal crashes by a self-driving Uber car in Arizona and a Tesla car operating in semiautonomous Autopilot mode in California have put a spotlight on safety, and on Monday the California Department of Motor Vehicles sent out a list of safety requirements that permit applicants must meet."


READ MORE related to Transportation: Testing high-tech cameras where it counts: aimed at carpool-lane cheaters -- The Chronicle's MICHAEL CABANATUAN


State senator says it may be time for law requiring easily understood medical bills


LA Times's DAVID LAZARUS: "Last week, I called for California to pass a law requiring that medical bills be written in clear language so that patients can understand them."


"As it stands, bills from hospitals, doctors and insurance companies are frequently indecipherable with their codes, abbreviations, misleading descriptions and lack of any explanation for why charges are so high."


READ MORE related to Health & Health Care: Psychiatrist stays close to home and true to her childhood promise -- CHL's ANNA GORMAN; Americans have mixed feelings about the ACA's future -- but like their plans -- CHL's RACHEL BLUTH; Don't get tripped up by the IRS' tweak to health savings accounts -- CHL's MICHELLE ANDREWS


Trump administration, seeking to speed deportations, plans to impose quotas on immigration judges


WaPo: "The Trump administration will pressure U.S. immigration judges to process cases faster by establishing a quota system tied to their annual performance reviews, according to new Justice Department directives."


"The judges will be expected to clear at least 700 cases a year to receive a "satisfactory" performance rating, a standard that their union called an "unprecedented" step that risks undermining judicial independence and opens the courts to potential challenges."


READ MORE related to Immigration: As gentrification closes in, immigrants in Lincoln Heights find their American dream slipping away -- LA Times's BRITTNY MEJIA/JOE MOZINGO/ANDREA CASTILLO; 'Knock it off' over DACA reversal, Feinstein tells Trump -- Sacramento Bee's TARYN LUNA; Commentary: Census question becomes another Trump-California conflict -- CALmatters' DAN WALTERS


State senators condemn fatal police shooting of Stephon Clark


LA Times's PATRICK MCGREEVY: "Lawmakers’ tempers flared Monday as the California Senate adjourned in memory of Stephon Clark, an unarmed African American man who was shot to death by Sacramento police officers on March 18."


"Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) denounced the shooting, saying Clark did not get a day in court “because the police chose to be judge, jury and executioner."


"Bradford, who is black, said the shooting was part of a pattern of “brutalization of African Americans by law enforcement."


READ MORE related to Stephon Clark Shooting: Sacramento sheriff says deputy likely did not realize he struck protester -- The Chronicle's ANNIE MA; Stephon Clark shooting will take center stage at Sacramento City Council again -- Sacramento Bee's RYAN LILLIS


SF supervisor's bill would ban pass-through rent hikes for debt service, taxes


The Chronicle's DOMINIC FRACASSA: "San Francisco Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer will introduce legislation Tuesday to eliminate what she and many housing rights advocates call an unjust loophole in the city’s rent ordinance that landlords can use to raise rents so they can pay mortgage loans and property taxes."


"As in many cities, when the costs of operating and maintaining an apartment building in San Francisco outpace the annual allowable rent increases set by the city’s Rent Board, landlords may request permission to pass on some of those expenses to tenants."


"But San Francisco stands alone among major rent-controlled cities in the Bay Area in permitting landlords to pass portions of their property tax bills and debt service — payments on large loans typically taken out to buy buildings — to tenants. If their petition is approved by the Rent Board, landlords can hike rents permanently by up to 7 percent on top of the annual allowable increases. So-called operating and maintenance “pass-throughs” for debt service and property tax increases are banned in San Jose, Oakland and Berkeley."


Feinstein to Facebook: 'Fix it' before the feds do it for you


The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI: "Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on a Senate panel looking into the unauthorized release of millions of Facebook users’ personal data, told the social media giant and other platforms Monday to “fix it” or risk having the federal government intervene."


“I think they are going to have to do some controls. If you don’t control your platform, we’re going to have to do something about it,”Feinstein said at a gathering of 320 Silicon Valley executives in Sunnyvale. “I am hopeful that they will.”


Chronic absence rates high at many California continuation schools


EdSource's NICO SAVIDGE: "California’s continuation high schools are meant to give students a last chance to get back on track for graduation, but state data reveal that many of the schools struggle with a basic challenge: Getting students to attend each day."


"Nearly 60 percent of continuation high school students were considered chronically absentduring the 2016-17 school year, according to an EdSource analysis of state data. At 59.6 percent, the average chronic absence rate at continuation high schools is 4 times higher than the average among all California high schools, and 5 1/2 times greater than the state average for all schools."


"The high levels of absenteeism at continuation schools illustrate how difficult it can be for school officials even in these specialized settings to reach some of the state’s most vulnerable students. A continuation school is an alternative high school for students 16 or older who are at risk of not graduating, often because they have fallen behind in credits."


Amid mounting pressure, OC struggles to craft homeless shelter plan


LA Times's HANNAH FRY: "Two Orange County supervisors Monday urged cities to come forward with possible locations for temporary homeless shelters as pressure mounts to house people removed from Santa Ana River encampments."


"The Board of Supervisors last week moved away from its plan to have county staff study moving hundreds of homeless people to temporary shelters in Huntington Beach, Laguna Niguel and Irvine after receiving pushback from those communities."


READ MORE related to Housing & Homelessness: Force homeless people into institutions, Republican candidate for California governor says -- Sacramento Bee's ANGELA HART; LA Mayor Garcetti taps leader with 'big picture perspective' to tackle homelessness 'challenge' -- Daily News's ELIZABETH CHOU


The political potential of millennials remains untapped because they don't vote. Will Parkland change that?


LA Times's JENNY JARVIE: "Kobey Lofton is 15 — too young to vote, but not too young to get political."


"Over spring break, he plotted with other young activists on the west side of Chicago to set up voter registration booths at school and make regular announcements over the intercom urging his slightly older classmates to vote."


How MLK's death affected a nation, as told by those who remember it


LA Times's COLLEEN SHALBY/MICHAEL LIVINGSTON: "Martin Luther King Jr. had traveled to Memphis, Tenn., in late March 1968 to lead a protest march in support of the city’s striking sanitation workers. Violence had followed, with police descending on the protesters with billy clubs, mace and tear gas."


"The next week, King returned to get court permission for another march. Despite the death threats he had received, and the growing concern for his safety, King pressed to hold a nonviolent demonstration."


"On the night of April 3, he delivered what became known as the “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech, in which he said:"


Former lawyer to be sentenced for lying in the Russia investigation


LA Times's CHRIS MEGERIAN: "Alex van der Zwaan, a former attorney at a prestigious law firm, is scheduled to be sentenced in Washington on Tuesday for lying to federal investigators in the Russia probe, making him the first defendant in the sprawling criminal case to face sentencing."


"Van der Zwaan pleaded guilty in February to lying about his conversations with Rick Gates, who was Donald Trump's deputy campaign manager in 2016, and an unnamed person who prosecutors say has ties to Russian intelligence."


"The former attorney is one of five individuals who have pleaded guilty to charges brought by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is examining whether Trump's team assisted Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. The others are all cooperating with Mueller's investigation."

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