Is Newsom campaigning in El Salvador? Trip prompts praise, speculation
Sacramento Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG: "Back at his hotel after touring a busy cathedral Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom sought to explain why he traveled to El Salvador just three months after taking the oath of office as California governor."
“How do you understand California without understanding all the diverse cultures that make it the most diverse state in the world’s most diverse democracy?” he told reporters who had gone with him to the tomb of civil rights leader St. Oscar Romero. “It’s fundamental, it seems to me, to governing a state. That’s why I’m here in my first months, not at the end of my term."
"Newsom said he chose El Salvador for his first international trip because the state’s relationship with Central America is key to California’s future. Nearly 680,000 Salvadoran immigrants live in California, he notes."
READ MORE about Newsom in El Salvador: Newsom seeks to counter Trump as he makes world stage debut in El Salvador -- TARYN LUNA, LA Times; The governor goes to Central America -- ELIZABETH AGUILERA, CALmatters.
Twenty-two ways to ease California health insurance bills are up for debate in the Capitol
DEEP BHARATH/MICHAEL FINCH II/SOPHIA BOLLAG/SAMMY CAIOLA in Sacramento Bee: "Eduardo Contreras thought he would finally see some financial security this year."
"For some time, his family had struggled on an income of about $50,000. Then Contreras got a new job as a cook at a winery, with better pay and more hours. In 2019, he and his wife, a hotel housekeeper, expect to clear $80,000. With an increase in family income of more than 50 percent, they looked forward to some relief from the pressure."
"But then the 46-year-old Orange County resident took a look at his new monthly health insurance premium: $1,045, an increase of almost $700. That’s partly because his wife, who hasn’t been covered before, has been ill and needs insurance. They’ve been able to appeal to Covered California, the state’s insurance exchange for those without employer-sponsored coverage, to get the premium down to about $951 after a subsidy. So far they have been paying the monthly bill, but Contreras fears it may become unaffordable for his family."
Sacramento wants to tax everything
LA Times's GEORGE SKELTON: "To plagiarize T.S. Eliot, April is the cruelest month. But not for the reasons the poet wrote. Rather, for all the taxes."
"And there are bills in the Legislature to make taxes sting even worse."
"By April 10, Californians must pay their local property taxes. Five days later is the deadline for filing state and federal income tax returns. Also, the state and the feds want any initial pre-tax payment that’s required on current earnings."
Why Juul is thriving despite tobacco crackdown
The Chronicle's CATHERINE HO: "For San Francisco vaping company Juul, the outcry from officials at all levels of government seems unrelenting: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is cracking down on e-cigarette sales to minors, California lawmakers are weighing a bill to halt the sale of flavored tobacco like Juul pods, and, in the company’s own hometown, the city attorney is pushing to ban e-cigarettes altogether. Juul itself has yanked many of its most popular flavors off of store shelves."
"Yet Juul’s growth prospects remain strong. The company — by far the largest e-cigarette maker in the U.S. — has a private valuation of $38 billion. That’s more than household names such as Airbnb and Lyft. And it is adding jobs, with expansions planned in Mountain View and Austin, Texas."
"Why is Juul still thriving if many of its users — notably middle and high school students — are now supposedly off-limits?"
Eric Swalwell looks like he's running for president. The question is why
The Chronicle's JOE GAROFOLI: "There’s one question that dogs Rep. Eric Swalwell’s widely expected, perhaps soon-to-be announced run for president: What is he thinking?"
"He’s got a safe East Bay congressional seat, probably for life if he wants it. He’s making a national impression through his presence on two major House committees and his ubiquity on cable TV news shows. Speaker Nancy Pelosi likes him enough to put him on a leadership track."
"So why ditch that to chase the longest of long shots? The 38-year-old Dublin Democrat has no discernible national fundraising base, little name recognition outside of cable TV junkies and people who know where the Livermore outlet mall is, and he’s a straight white guy from the suburbs running in the most diverse field of candidates in history."
2020 Democrats grapple with immigration message as border crossings surge
The Chronicle's TAL KOPAN: "Democrats credit their 2018 midterm success to focusing on pocketbook issues and avoiding engaging with President Trump on immigration. They may not have that luxury in 2020."
"The U.S. is on pace to receive more migrants at the southern border — many of whom are seeking asylum — in fiscal year 2019 than in any year in more than a decade. At current rates, more than 750,000 migrants would either be caught in illegal crossing attempts or show up at official border crossings without authorization to enter. The Trump administration says it is unable to handle the influx; and photos of migrants held in pens under an El Paso bridge last month made national headlines."
"But aside from condemning Trump’s immigration policies as cruel contributors to the problem, Democrats have largely avoided talking about border-security ideas. Most of the party’s presidential candidates have focused on expanding access to health care and other economic measures intended to boost the middle class, and have touched on immigration only in broad strokes."
READ MORE related to Immigration: Adelanto cuts ties to troubled ICE detention center -- and removes a layer of oversight -- LA Times' ANDREA CASTILLO
Campaign fights plan for 'wall of railcars' on Richmond shoreline
The Chronicle's MICHAEL CABANATUAN: "On a recent morning, small waves lapped at the rocky shore, picnickers gathered at tables around a lagoon, and families perambulated along the eastern edge of San Francisco Bay to enjoy a sunny day in Richmond. The scenic escape at Miller-Knox Regional Shoreline was carved out of an industrial waterfront more than four decades ago to provide a refuge from the press of nearby freeways, refineries, chemical plants and factories."
"But a battle between the regional park district and BNSF Railway could soon determine whether the 307-acre space remains a peaceful sanctuary or becomes home to a busy diesel rail line — something many residents adamantly oppose."
"This land should be a park,” said Joe Groom, 71, of Richmond, as he strolled along the unused rails with his dog, Keo. “There’s not very much open space like this in Richmond. The railroad would destroy the ambiance of this place. They’re noisy and they’re dirty, and they don’t really belong in a park."
The California politicians who dominate Twitter
The Chronicle's KIMBERLY VEKLEROV: "Good Twitter game doesn’t necessarily make for a good politician, but popularity on the platform can be a helpful indicator of who’s driving Beltway conversation. On that front, California is well represented."
"The Chronicle checked to see which politicians in the state have amassed the largest followings, and the winner, oddly enough, has been out of office for more than eight years. Two of the most powerful women in Congress took the second and third spots, while the state’s new governor and a longtime U.S. senator from San Francisco round out the top five."
"Most politicians have two Twitter accounts — an official profile and one for campaigns. We went with the account that had more followers to compile the rankings."
California coffers to swell when billion-dollar firms premiere on Wall Street
The Chronicle's CAROLYN SAID: "California’s boom-and-bust budget could soon get a big boost as companies worth billions of dollars rush onto the public markets, bringing huge tax gains for their home state."
“It will be a very impressive (initial public offering) cycle — in absolute dollar values, possibly the largest California has seen,” said Kevin Klowden, executive director of the California Center at the Milken Institute, a think tank."
"All the newly minted California millionaires and billionaires from the likes of Uber, Lyft, Pinterest, Slack, Palantir and Postmates will generate a windfall; taxes are usually due when employees vest stock awards, sell shares or exercise options."
Sacramento paid $2.8M in settlements in 2018. See why and who got paid
Sacramento Bee's THERESA CLIFT: "The city of Sacramento paid about $2.8 million to settle 24 lawsuits in 2018, including four that alleged police officers used excessive force."
"The city said in a statement Wednesday it spent a great deal of time and effort on the lawsuits."
"The City of Sacramento places a high value on fairness and fiscal prudence and remains committed to responding to all complaints with a thorough investigation and vigorous litigation when necessary,” the statement said."
As SF's economy thrives, gap grows between whites and non-white residents
The Chronicle's HEATHER KNIGHT: "In a city with an annual budget of more than $11 billion, small homes selling for $1.5 million and “Help Wanted” signs in every other window, it’s clear that San Francisco’s economy is booming. But it’s also obvious the prosperity is leaving many residents behind."
"A reader emailed me a photo the other day of a homeless man slumped in a Muni bus shelter on Howard Street next to an ad for the San Francisco Giants’ Friday home opener with the team’s slogan, “It doesn’t get more S.F."
"These days, it seems it doesn’t get more S.F. than stark displays of the very rich and the very poor as the middle-class gets squeezed out entirely. That’s why I always look forward to reading reports from the Brookings Institution, a policy research center in Washington, D.C., because they show in hard numbers what we see every day."
TV breaking news was invented 70 years ago with tragic case of Kathy Fiscus
LA Times's SCOTT HARRISON: "On April 8, 1949, Kathy Fiscus, her older sister and two cousins were scampering through an open field in San Marino, not far from the Fiscus house."
"Kathy, 3, fell into an abandoned well on their way home. During the epic, but failed, effort to rescue her, the drama captured the nation’s attention, in large part due to television. It was a watershed moment for the medium."
"Here is a look back from the pages of The Times."
Police use-of-force ads lack context as major bill heads toward hearing
Sacramento Bee's HANNAH WILEY: "Courage Campaign launched two police use-of-force ads this week urging lawmakers to pass Assembly Bill 392 before the controversial bill is scheduled to withstand its first committee hearing on Tuesday."
"AB 392 by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, could revolutionize the way police officers use deadly force on the job. The proposal updates the “reasonable” deadly force standard to a “necessary” requirement, with a criminal liability aspect attached to it."
"Public support for the bill has strengthened in recent weeks, following the Sacramento County district attorney’s decision not to indict officers who shot and killed Stephon Clark in March 2018."
Opinion: It may be time to kiss Biden goodbye
The Chronicle's WILLIE BROWN: "It’s make-it-or-break-it time for Joe Biden’s presidential bid, and he hasn’t even formally entered the race."
"Uncle Joe,” as the 76-year-old former vice president is called, finds himself accused of physical contact with women who didn’t welcome it."
"Hugging. Back rubbing. Kisses on the cheek and back of the head. And in at least one instance, nose rubbing."
Nielsen resigns from Homeland Security chief gig
LA Times's MOLLY O'TOOLE/CHRIS MEGERIAN: "Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, who defended the separation of thousands of migrant children from their families on the southern border, carried out the most sweeping changes to U.S. asylum policy in decades, and saw two Guatemalan children die in her agency’s custody, resigned Sunday."
"President Trump announced the departure in a tweet, after meeting with Nielsen at the White House. He briefly thanked Nielsen for her service and said that Kevin McAleenan, the head of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, would become acting secretary."