PG&E caused Camp Fire that destroyed Paradise and killed 85, Cal Fire says
Sacramento Bee's TONY BIZJAK/SOPHIA BOLLAG/RYAN SABALOW: "It’s official. Pacific Gas & Electric caused the Camp Fire."
"State fire officials announced Wednesday a six-month investigation has determined what many already thought: PG&E power lines in the high hills of Butte County ignited the devastating blaze that destroyed nearly 19,000 buildings and killed 85 people, almost all in one frantic November day."
"The announcement came during a whirlwind of news at the state Capitol involving the troubled utility company."
READ MORE related to Wildfire Epidemic: Poll: Nearly 70 percent of Sacramento region see wildfires, smoke as 'serious' risk -- Sacramento Bee's MICHAEL MCGOUGH
Trump pardons Pat Nolan, former California Assembly GOP leader, who served time for racketeering
The Chronicle's JOHN WILDERMUTH: "President Trump on Wednesday pardoned former GOP Assemblyman Pat Nolan, who spent more than two years in federal prison after pleading guilty in 1994 in an FBI sting operation looking into corruption in the Legislature."
"Nolan’s experiences with prosecutors and in prison changed his life,” according to a statement from the White House. “Upon his release, he became a tireless advocate for criminal justice reform and victim’s rights."
"Nolan, 68, said his time in prison was a gift from God."
Trump 9th Circuit pick passes Senate vote despite disputed college writings
The Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "The Senate confirmed President Trump’s nomination of attorney Kenneth Lee to the federal appeals court based in San Francisco on a party-line vote Wednesday, over Democratic objections to Lee’s college writings that disparaged minorities and women."
"The 52-45 vote makes Lee the fifth Trump appointee on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which the president has regularly vilified as hostile and biased for its rulings against him on issues such as immigration and birth control and his ban on travel from a group of mostly Muslim nations. The Ninth Circuit now has 16 judges appointed by Democratic presidents, 10 by Republicans and three vacancies."
Newsom pushes individual mandate for health insurance
The Chronicle's ALEXEI KOSEFF: "Hoping to persuade lawmakers to support a state individual mandate for health coverage, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that California needs to stabilize a health insurance market that has suffered a “kneecapping” by the Trump administration."
"Without the mandate, everybody’s premiums go up,” Newsom said. The Affordable Care Act “has been vandalized,” he added. “We’re here to get it back on firmer footing."
"Collecting cash penalties from adults who don’t carry health insurance is central to Newsom’s plan to offer health-care subsidies to people whose incomes now are too high to qualify. The requirement to carry insurance or pay a penalty when filing income taxes was part of the federal Affordable Care Act, but Republicans in Congress repealed it as part of their 2017 tax overhaul."
Assemblyman Arambula depicted as 'Jekyll and Hyde' as child abuse trial goes to jury
Sacramento Bee's RORY APPLETON: "After nine days of testimony, a week of pre-trial discussions and more than five months of public questioning regarding a misdemeanor child abuse allegation against Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, the case was handed to the jury on Wednesday afternoon."
"The Fresno County District Attorney’s office and Arambula’s attorneys made their final pitches over the course of about two hours Wednesday to the six men and six women who will ultimately decide the assemblyman’s guilt or innocence. The jury began its deliberations just after 2:30 p.m. and will have as much time as it needs to reach a unanimous decision or impasse."
"If the decision does not come Thursday, it will be delayed until next week. The court will not be in session on Friday."
OP-ED: Nursing shortage grows -- and state isn't helping any
JAN JONES-SCHENK in Capitol Weekly: "There’s a severe shortage of registered nurses in California, and it’s getting worse."
"Experts predict the state could be short nearly 200,000 nurses by 2030, with rural areas among the most vulnerable to the deficit. Yet, despite this growing crisis, the state has imposed enrollment restrictions that are preventing many California nursing schools from enrolling and training additional qualified students."
"These enrollment restrictions are particularly harmful to adult learners who hope to advance their healthcare careers, build a better life for their families, and serve their local communities. Many live in underserved, rural communities where the need for qualified nurses is most acute, including the Central Valley and Central Coast regions."
READ MORE from Capitol Weekly: CW Podcast: It's the interns' turn -- Capitol Weekly STAFF
SF police chief stands by controversial decision to raid journalist's home
The Chronicle's EVAN SERNOFFSKY: "San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott on Wednesday stood by the decision to raid a journalist’s home last week as part of an investigation into who in his department leaked a report on the death of Public Defender Jeff Adachi."
"At the weekly meeting of the city Police Commission, Scott addressed Friday’s search of freelance videographer Bryan Carmody’s home and office, an action that has become a national controversy and drawn rebuke from First Amendment groups."
"We have to do our jobs and make sure reports are not released when they are not supposed to be released,” Scott said. “If there’s criminal activity that’s proven, we want to get to the bottom of that."
Sacramento City Hall fights over how to spend $40M
Sacramento Bee's THERESA CLIFT: "Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg made his case Tuesday night for setting aside $40 million in public funding every year for the next five years to pay for projects and services he said will benefit the city’s disadvantaged neighborhoods."
"But it’s far from clear whether the City Council is on board."
"While three council members indicated they supported the mayor’s concept, two more – including the longest-tenured member of the City Council – said they opposed the idea because they are worried not enough money will be left for core city services and pension obligations."
Forcing California cities to allow cannabis sales is ignoring the will of voters
LA Times's GEORGE SKELTON: "California’s budding cannabis industry isn’t exactly blossoming. It’s having trouble sprouting. So a San Francisco legislator has some unique ideas."
"Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting, influential chairman of the budget committee, wants the state to break a promise made to voters in 2016 when they approved Proposition 64 to legalize non-medical use of marijuana."
"Voters were told unequivocally there’d be local control over how many pot shops were allowed in their communities and where they’d be located. Many cities and counties have not approved any — not even for medicinal use — although local citizens voted to legalize weed."
Sacramento schools narrow their budget gap -- but will their plan hold off a state takeover?
Sacramento Bee's SAWSAN MORRAR: "Sacramento City Unified School District says it has found a way to cut its massive budget deficit enough to temporarily stave off a government takeover – but it remains unclear whether the plan will fly with county education officials."
"The district has been racing to fill a budget hole estimated as high as $35 million and avoid insolvency, which would trigger state receivership."
"At its meeting Thursday night, the school board will decide whether to approve a 2019-20 budget plan that reduces the deficit to about $20 million, without cutting student programs. The district would use reserve funds to cover the remaining gap."
READ MORE related to Education: Controversial UC Berkeley housing, classroom project clears key hurdle -- The Chronicle's NANETTE ASIMOV; Jackie Goldberg's win changes LAUSD equation for unions, charters and Beutner -- LA Times's HOWARD BLUME
Union workers strike again Thursday, saying UCD cuts them out of jobs at Aggie Square
Sacramento Bee's CATHIE ANDERSON: "By partnering with a private-sector company to build a new rehabilitation hospital, UC Davis Health is subverting labor contracts with its employees and partnering with a company that has a record of suppressing the wages of health care workers, two unions allege in complaints to a California labor board."
"Roughly 39,000 employees of Local 3299 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and Local 9119 of the University Professional and Technical Employeeswill stage a one-day walkout on Thursday at the University of California’s 10 campuses and five medical centers."
"It’s their fifth strike in the last 13 months. This time, union leaders and rank-and-file members, have repeatedly emphasized their concerns about outsourcing."
$8B in offices, retail and housing to be built next to Levi's Stadium
The Chronicle's ROLAND LI: "Related Santa Clara, one of the largest projects in the Bay Area, plans to create over 9 million square feet of offices, housing, hotels and retail on 240 acres next to Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers."
"Developer Related Cos. intends to start construction next year on the $8 billion project, previously known as CityPlace Santa Clara, which survived dueling lawsuits between Santa Clara and its neighbor, San Jose. The first phase is set to open in 2023."
SCOTUS is not eager to overturn Roe v. Wade -- at least not soon
LA Times's DAVID G SAVAGE: "The Supreme Court justices will meet behind closed doors Thursday morning and are expected to debate and discuss — for the 14th time — Indiana’s appeal of court rulings that have blocked a law to prohibit certain abortions."
"The high court’s action — or so far, nonaction — in Indiana’s case gives one clue as to how the court’s conservative majority will decide the fate of abortion bans recently passed by lawmakers in Alabama and Georgia. Republican Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama signed her state's ban into law on Wednesday."
"Lawmakers in those states have said they approved the bans in an effort to force the high court to reconsider Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide."
Trump will pitch immigration plan already facing stiff opposition in Congress
LA Times's MOLLY O'TOOLE/NOAH BIERMAN: "President Trump will announce a sweeping immigration plan Thursday to boost border security and foreign workers while reducing family reunification, but the White House proposal has little chance of advancing in Congress."
"The unveiling of the long-awaited plan, which was prepared by Jared Kushner, will not be accompanied by proposed legislation for Congress to consider, or widespread buy-in from lawmakers whose support would be necessary for it to be enacted."
"Trump has similarly struggled to get Congress to back other border and immigration policies, including appropriating money to build a wall along the southern border, his signature campaign pledge. He declared a national emergency on the border to tap the Pentagon budget and other federal funds instead."