Five dead as storm slams Northern California
From SARAH RAVANI, GWENDOLYN WU and STEVE RUBENSTEIN: "Relentless rain pounded Northern California, slicked highways and contributed to two fatal traffic accidents that killed four people in the Sierra foothills and the Wine Country."
"+The rain also was being blamed Wednesday for toppling a tree that fell onto a homeless encampment in Oakland, killing an unidentified person."
"Mudslides, hail, high winds, toppled trees, snow and downed power lines were all part of the biggest storm of the new year as an atmospheric river and cold front grabbed hold of the Bay Area and is not expected to let go until Thursday."
The atmospheric river is here. Here's how to prep for a flood, power outage or other disaster
Sacramento Bee's VINCENT MOLESKI: "With thunderstorms, blizzards and an atmospheric river rolling in to Northern California, the National Weather Service warned Wednesday of possible power outages, flooding and other hazards."
"We’re in the midst of the second large weather system of the year with the biggest storm expected late Wednesday afternoon, and we want to remind our customers to be prepared and have a plan,” PG&E meteorologist Mike Voss said in a prepared statement."
"The Department of Homeland Security recommends putting together an all-purpose emergency kit with essential supplies that may not be available if power is lost or you have to leave your home."
'I can't afford gas in my car:' Furloughed federal workers protest at Sacramento airport
Sacramento Bee's MADDY ASHMUN: "After 26 days working without pay because of the federal government shutdown, Susan Braverman of Sacramento says she’s near her “breaking point."
"Money is tight,” said Braverman, a lead transportation security officer at Sacramento International Airport. I maybe have a couple more weeks left of money before I’m no longer able to pay for childcare."
"On Thursday she joined a group of about 30 furloughed federal workers, allies, and elected officials in front of the Sacramento International Airport to protest what has become the longest government shutdown in U.S. history."
Ex-assemblyman likely made unwanted sexual advances on Capitol employee, investigation finds
LAT's MELANIE MASON, TARYN LUNA and MELODY GUTIERREZ: "Former Assemblyman Sebastian Ridley-Thomas likely made an unwanted sexual advance toward a female Capitol staffer two years ago, according to an Assembly investigation released Wednesday."
"Ridley-Thomas, a Democrat from Los Angeles, resigned in December 2017 citing health issues. The Times reported in August that the lawmaker was the subject of two sexual harassment complaints at the time he stepped down."
"The investigation into those complaints, which consisted of interviews with 15 people and a review of documents, culminated this month with a finding that Ridley-Thomas “more likely than not” made an unwanted sexual advance toward a woman in August 2016 and then attempted to contact her after the incident. The woman described the incident as Ridley-Thomas attempting to forcibly kiss her and said she could feel his erect penis against her leg, according to supplementary notes released by the Assembly."
Married with roommates? Californians share housing struggles with Newsom
The Chronicle's JOHN WILDERMUTH: "Gov. Gavin Newsom met Tuesday with San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and people slammed by the state’s housing crunch in an effort to put a human face on what the governor called an affordability crisis affecting every part of California."
"“It’s not just a coastal problem anymore,” Newsom said, noting that the soaring cost of housing is something people are talking about in places like Stockton and Riverside."
"The governor admitted that there’s no magic solution that will instantly end those concerns but said he’s committed to doing what he can to ease the affordability pain of California residents.."
READ MORE related to Gubernatorial: Newsom gets no honeymoon as PG&E bankruptcy, LA school strike hit -- The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI
SF supervisors look at windfall as potential source of PG&E acquisition money
The Chronicle's TRISHA THADANI/JD MORRIS: "When San Francisco received a multimillion-dollar windfall recently, several supervisors proposed using some of the money in an unexpected way: a $50 million down payment on PG&E electrical transmission equipment, so the city could reduce its reliance on the beleaguered utility."
"Even after Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s bankruptcy announcement this week, Mayor London Breed and other city officials remain skeptical that is the best use of the cash. But some of those supervisors are sticking with their idea, even expanding it by looking at a part of the windfall that was supposed to be off-limits to discretionary spending."
"The total windfall, which comes from excess property tax revenue in a county education fund, is $415 million. But the City Charter requires that more than half the money go toward “baseline” contributions, pools of money for budget reserves and city agencies such as the Municipal Transportation Agency. After those allocations, the mayor and the Board of Supervisors have $185 million to spend as they wish."
Even the ashes of late loved ones were lost in Paradise. Enter archhaeologists and canines
Sacramento Beee's MICHAEL McGOUGH: "Amanda Gehrett stood at the top of the steps that once led to the front door of her Paradise home, her hands clasped, watching below as a handful of men and women in dirty white coveralls sifted through the ruins on a sunny Saturday morning."
"The wreckage of her former home now contained piles of debris 4 feet high clumped against its remaining basement foundation. Her two-story home had no structure left – no walls, no roof, not even a brick chimney as some neighbors’ places did. Nothing that resembled the exterior of a house except the brick entryway on which she stood and the crumpled wreckage of a garage door."
"The Camp Fire blazed through Butte County for most of November, killing at least 86 people. Many were elderly. Some died in their cars as they tried to escape the flames."
READ MORE related to Energy & Environment: California's most famous butterfly nearing death spiral -- The Chronicle's PETER FIMRITE
OPINION: Challenges face lobbying, PR in California's 'blue wave'
ALISON MACLEOD/PATRICK GEORGE in Capitol Weekly: "As the new class of California legislators filled the hallways of the state Capitol on a chilly week in early December, it quickly became clear that political “business as usual” had come to an end."
"The Republican platform received a stinging rebuke from the California electorate in November, with Democrats capturing three-quarters of the seats in the state Assembly and state Senate (29-11)."
"Every statewide officeholder, including Gov. Gavin Newson, is also a Democrat."
Walking out for higher wages: More public employees decide to 'fight back' in California
Sacramento Bee's ADAM ASHTON/KEN CARLSON: "Court reporters in Fresno. UC hospital workers in Sacramento. Teachers in Los Angeles."
"Public employees are striking across the state in a sign that the year is shaping up to a feisty for labor in California government."
"The biggest strike is unfolding in Los Angeles, where some 30,000 teachers walked out of class this week. They want better pay, smaller class sizes and some assurance that they won’t be cast aside for charter schools."
Should children attend full-day kindergarten? California law may soon require it.
Sacramento Bee's SAWSAN MORRAR: "California may soon require that all the state’s kindergarteners attend a full day of school, if a bill introduced last week becomes law."
"Under the legislation, schools must transition from half-day programs to full-day programs by the 2021-22 school year."
"Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, introduced Assembly Bill 197, which proposes that the minimum school day for full-day kindergarten be “the same number of minutes per schoolday that is offered to pupils in 1st grade.”
READ MORE related to Education: What would a deal to end the LAUSD teachers' strike look like? -- LA Times's HOWARD BLUME