Setting the tone

Jan 7, 2019

Newsom stakes out differences from Brown in substance, style

From the Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI: "There were signs in Gavin Newsom’s preinaugural celebration that his time as governor will be markedly different — both in style and substance — from that of his predecessor, Gov. Jerry Brown."


"For one, there was an actual celebration."


"When Brown returned to the governor’s job eight years ago, the highlight of his inaugural celebration was his appearance at a union-sponsored tent, where he was to eat a hot dog and say a few words. Brown grabbed a dog but blew off the speech."

READ MORE related to Gubernatorial Inauguration: Newsom will vow to 'seize this moment,' and swipe at Trump in Monday inaugural address -- LA Times's MELANIE MASON


Jerry Brown interview transcript: On fights worth fighting, runaway legislatures and 'stupid' laws


The Chronicle's JOHN WILDERMUTH: "Days before he was scheduled to leave office after his record fourth term as governor, Jerry Brown met with Chronicle political writer John Wildermuth at the governor’s mansion in Sacramento to talk about his time in office, what he accomplished, what he learned and his plans for the future. The following is a lightly edited transcript of that 43-minute discussion."


"Q: You’re looking back at eight years. You have any regrets about what you didn’t get done? Say they magically came up and said, “Governor, you’ve got four more years in this job.” What needs to get done? What didn’t get finished that you want to see done?"


"A: I can’t think of anything, to tell you the truth. I don’t look back that much. I do reflect on my life over time, but that doesn’t stop with the governor’s office."

Newsom names Bay Area businessman as top economic and business adviser


The Chronicle's JOHN WILDERMUTH: "Lenny Mendonca, an economist and former chairman of the Bay Area Council, has been selected as director of the state’s Office of Business and Economic Development by Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom."


"The appointment was one of several made by Newsom and outgoing Gov. Jerry Brown in advance of Newsom’s inauguration Monday."


"Mendonca, a 57-year-old Half Moon Bay resident, will become the incoming governor’s top economic and business adviser. He’s a retired senior partner at McKinsey & Co., a management consulting firm, and a lecturer at Stanford University’s business school."


At least 3 new faces will join the CalPERS board in 2019. What's ahead for your pension?


Sacramento Bee's ADAM ASHTON: "The board that oversees the nation’s largest public pension fund will get at least three new faces in 2019, marking unusual turnover at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System."


"Two of the newcomers were decided in recent elections. Gov. Jerry Brown this week created a third vacancy when he removed CalPERS board member Richard Costigan from the pension fund."


"Costigan, a lawyer and former legislative director for Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, had served on the CalPERS Board of Administration as a Brown appointee since 2011."


Millions of tons of Camp Fire debris needs to go somewhere -- but no one wants it


LA Times's LAURA NEWBERRY: "The long road to recovery in the town of Paradise starts with removing millions of tons of charred rubble left in the Camp fire’s wake."


"But the question remains: Where will it all go?"


"Disaster officials are scrambling to secure a place to sort and process the remnants of nearly 19,000 structures destroyed in the wildfire that began on Nov. 8 and killed 86 people. The mammoth undertaking has been slowed by staunch opposition in nearby communities eyed as potential sites for a temporary scrapyard, which would receive 250 to 400 truckloads of concrete and metal each day."


State proposal to waive community college fees raises questions about SF's program


The Chronicle's TRISHA THADANI/NANETTE ASIMOV: "When Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom presents his first budget on Thursday, it will call for the state to make a second year of community college free to thousands of California students by waiving the $46-a-credit fee for two years instead of the current single year, according to a source close to the transition team."


"The plan would cost an additional $40 million, on top of the $46 million allocated by Gov. Jerry Brown for the state’s one-year program, which began in the fall. Only first-time college students who enroll full time would qualify for the fee waiver under Newsom’s proposal — that’s about 28,000 students."


"Last month, Democratic lawmakers, including Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, introduced AB2, to extend the California College Promise law to two years. Newsom’s plan mirrors that legislation."


Forbidding terrain and foreboding feelings at remote border crossing


LA Times's MOLLY HENNESSY-FISKE: "Antelope Wells is 170 miles southwest of El Paso, a three-hour drive through forbidding terrain, where stray dogs and deadly snakes roam and where even the water in wells can prove poisonous. It’s at the southernmost tip of New Mexico known as the Bootheel. Once you leave Interstate 10 for the last half of the drive to Antelope Wells, civilization dwindles."


"Last month, Jakelin Caal Maquin, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl crossed the border here with her father and a group of migrants after a bus dropped them on a similarly isolated stretch of north Mexican highway. After they turned themselves in to seek asylum, Border Patrol agents were driving them to the closest station eight hours later when Jakelin fell ill. Shortly after being flown from there to an El Paso hospital, about 27 hours after the crossing, Jakelin had a heart attack and died."


Should state adopt lower passing score for the bar exam? Current one may harm students of color


Sacramento Bee's SAWSAN MORRAR: "Newly released data suggests that the score required to pass the California bar exam is hurting all law school grads, but disproportionately harms African-American and Latino candidates."


"California has the second-toughest standard in the country, requiring a “cut score” of 144. The national average is 135."


"The July 2018 California bar exam scores plunged to a 67-year low, according to data released by the State Bar of California. Only 40.7 percent of test takers passed the exam, roughly a 9 percent drop since July 2017. California has seen more applicants fail than pass the exam since 2013."


Bay Area's low-income transit riders, after long wait, to receive discounts


The Chronicle's RACHEL SWAN: "Ten BART stations and a 15-minute bus ride separate Krea Gomez’s home in North Oakland from her parents’ apartment in San Francisco’s Bernal Heights. But for a mother of six with no car, the cost to get there is crushing."


"It’s $4 to $5 a head, which is a significant amount of money,” said Gomez, who works at a social justice nonprofit. As fares inched up, she cut back family visits, shopping trips and outings to the Exploratorium. These days she often joins casual carpools to commute to her office in San Francisco’s South of Market."


"Bay Area transportation officials have a plan to help: a 20 percent discount for low-income people to use BART, Caltrain, Muni buses and light rail or Golden Gate ferries and buses in the North Bay. Supporters hope to lift a steep, if little noticed, economic barrier for people who don’t live near their workplaces."


Highly paid substitutes, lessons in large spaces -- how LA Unified is preparing for a teachers strike


LA Times's SONALI KOHLI/HOWARD BLUME: "With more than 30,000 teachers union members ready to strike Thursday, the Los Angeles Unified School District is preparing to bring in highly paid substitutes, supervise students in large spaces such as auditoriums and ease background checks for parent volunteers, according to records obtained by The Times."


"The school system probably will also use online instruction in an effort to continue to provide education."


"United Teachers Los Angeles, which has scheduled the strike, also represents substitute teachers. But in October, the Los Angeles Board of Education authorized $3 million to hire thousands of outside substitutes, including teachers, campus aides, special education assistants, nurses and teachers aides to replace absent union members."


Government shutdown: How science research is grinding to a halt


The Chronicle's KURTIS ALEXANDER: "Writing scientific reports can wait, says ecologist Malcolm North with the U.S. Forest Service. But his applications for funding can’t."


"As one of the thousands of federal workers who have been furloughed during the government shutdown, North is worried that he won’t be able to seek out the money necessary to continue his research on California wildfires. He’s studying how to keep fires from turning into deadly conflagrations, and his deadline for submitting a grant request is the end of the month."


"We’re really trying to go after this question of how to reduce fuel loads in the forest with prescribed burns,” said North, who wants to tap a new pot of state financing for fire research. “But at this point, I can’t participate anymore in the grant writing. If we don’t make the grant deadlines, I really have no money to work with.”


Justice Ginsburg, recovering from surgery, misses her first oral argument at Supreme Court


LA Times''s DAVID G SAVAGE: "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, recovering from lung cancer surgery last month, on Monday will miss her first oral arguments since joining the Supreme Court 25 years ago."


"She is recovering at home, a court spokeswoman said."


"The justices are set to hear cases on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and court official said it is likely that the 85-year old justice will not be here this week."

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