PG&E under fire

Jan 18, 2019

Judge blames deadly California wildfires on PG&Es uninsulated power conductors


Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER/RYAN SABALOW: "A federal judge Thursday blamed uninsulated power conductors owned by PG&E for the bulk of Northern California’s wildfires the past two years – including the deadly Camp Fire in Butte County – adding to the legal woes the utility is confronting."


"U.S. District Judge William Alsup, who is overseeing the company’s criminal probation from the 2010 San Bruno natural gas pipeline explosion, said he has tentatively concluded that uninsulated power conductors lie at the heart of the wildfire crisis that has plunged PG&E into bankruptcy."


"Alsup made his tentative conclusion as part of his plan, announced a week ago, to force PG&E to embark on a massive equipment inspection and tree-pruning program in advance of the upcoming fire season. He has given PG&E until next Wednesday to respond to that plan, which could also call for widespread blackouts this summer when winds gust to dangerous levels."


READ MORE related to Energy & Environment: The Camp Fire 911 Calls -- The Chronicle's MEGAN CASSIDY, JOAQUIN PALOMINO and PETER FIMRITE


Newsom offers unemployment bennies to TSA workers, defying Trump admin


LA Times's TARYN LUNA: "In a public display of defiance, Gov. Gavin Newsom encouraged Transportation Security Administration employees to apply for unemployment insurance through the state after the Trump administration warned California that the workers are ineligible for the benefits during the federal shutdown."


“The good news is, we’re going to do it and shame on them,” Newsom said to TSA workers gathered at a hastily planned event at Sacramento International Airport on Thursday. “They are, in essence, threatening us for doing what we’re doing."


"The latest dust-up between California and the Trump administration happened after the Department of Labor sent an email this week warning the state that federal employees who continue to work during the government shutdown cannot apply for benefits, according to the governor’s office."


READ MORE related to Gubernatorial: 'Shame on them:' Gavin Newsom reacts to word that unpaid federal workers can't get unemployment -- Sacramento Bee's MADDY ASHMUN


Custody fights: Who gets the pets?


LISA RENNER, Capitol Weekly: "California judges can now consider what is in the best interests of a pet when deciding animal custody cases in divorce disputes."

"A new law that went into effect Jan. 1 is intended to elevate pets above other community property like furniture or cars."


"While animal-rights advocates love the new rule, family-law attorneys worry it will just give warring spouses one more thing to bark about."


Could Dems' 2020 nominee be someone you've never heard of?


AP's SARA BURNETT: "At 36, Pete Buttigieg is just over the minimum age required to be president of the United States. Outside South Bend, Indiana, the Rust Belt community where he's been mayor since age 29, few people know his name. Those who know it struggle to pronounce it. (It's BOO'-tah-juhj.)"


"None of that has deterred Buttigieg — a Democrat, Rhodes scholar and Navy veteran known to most people as "Mayor Pete" — from contemplating a 2020 presidential bid against a crowd of much better-known lawmakers with more experience and more money."


"He's among a number of potential candidates who believe the 2016 and 2018 elections showed that voters are looking for fresh faces and that the old rules of politics, in which lawmakers toil for years in statehouses or in Congress before aspiring to higher office, may no longer apply. They're benefiting from Democrats' fears about running another member of the party's old guard against President Donald Trump in 2020."


Navigating LAUSD strike is especially tough for parents of students with special needs


LA Times's MATTHEW ORMSETH/LEILA MILLER: "Gloria Perez-Stewart was adamant: Her son would not attend school while his teachers at Eagle Rock Jr./Sr. High School were on strike. But for Perez-Stewart and her son, Aidan Villasenor Walker, skipping school involves much more than filling an extra six hours of free time."


"Aidan, 19, has autism. At school, he has special education teachers, speech and occupational therapists, and a rigid schedule to help him navigate a world he often struggles to understand."


"Losing that network of teachers to picket lines — even briefly — is particularly unsettling for him."


READ MORE related to LAUSD Strike/Education: Strike by LA teachers enters fifth day amid talks -- AP's CHRISTOPHER WEBER; California student debt is way up. New study shows how much -- Sacramento Bee's PHILLIP REESE


Bay Area food banks deliver groceries to unpaid Coast Guard, TSA workers


The Chronicle's TARA DUGGA: "If a Coast Guard member is dealing with an illness or other family emergency, the nonprofit Chief Petty Officers Association steps in to help with extra money or support."


"It doesn’t usually have to help all of its members at once. In the past week, the Alameda chapter of the organization has helped organize two food pantries that fed 1,650 family members of active-duty Coast Guard and civilians employed at the base, who are all working without a paycheck during the partial government shutdown."


"It’s very stressful,” said Danielle Manor, fundraising chair of the Coast Guard Spouses’ Club in Alameda, which has also been organizing donations. Manor, a preschool teacher who has a 6-year-old son and 4-year-old twins, has been both a volunteer and participant at the food pantry. “They ask, ‘Mommy, why are we taking all this food? Why aren’t we going to the grocery store?’ It’s just really hard to explain."


SF General's insured patients suffer further trauma when bill arrives


The Chronicle's HEATHER KNIGHT:  "If you’re shot, stabbed, hit by a car, fall off a roof or suffer any other major injury in San Francisco, you’ll be whisked to San Francisco General Hospital, the only trauma center in the city."


"You’ll probably receive top-notch care at the renowned public hospital. But you may leave with a very unpleasant side-effect: a shockingly high bill."


"That’s because S.F. General — whose patients are overwhelmingly poor and are on Medicare or Medi-Cal, or have no insurance at all — lacks a good way to deal with patients who are actually insured. It exists mostly to serve as the city’s medical safety net, an admirable mission but one that neglects financial fairness for hundreds of patients with health insurance every year."


McConnell/'s maneuvers take backseat to Trump in shutdown


AP's LISA MASCARO/ADAM BEAM: "One of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's guiding principles is: "There's no education in the second kick of a mule."


"Now, deep into a government shutdown he cautioned President Donald Trump against, McConnell is not about to let himself be kicked again."


"The Republican leader has been conspicuously deferential to Trump since the shutdown began. He's waiting on the president and Democrats to make a deal to end it. The result is an unusually inactive profile for the GOP leader who's often the behind-the-scenes architect of intricate legislative maneuvers to resolve bitter partisan stalemates."


Trump reportedly told Cohen to lie to Congress. His own AG pick testified that's a crime


WaPo's ISAAC STANLEY-BECKER: "When Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) asked President Trump's nominee for attorney general, William Barr, earlier this week whether it would be a crime if "the president tried to coach somebody not to testify, or testify falsely," Barr was unequivocal: "Yes," the nominee replied. "Under an obstruction statute, yes."


"Now that an explosive story published Thursday by BuzzFeed News alleges that Trump did just that, by ordering Michael Cohen, his former attorney, to lie to Congress, Barr's answer puts the White House in an awkward position, legal experts observed. In fact, Barr said the same when pushed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), as well as in his own written statements. He has affirmed his view at least three times, both in a once-private memo and in sworn testimony."


"Citing two unnamed federal law enforcement officials, BuzzFeed reported that Trump told Cohen to mislead Congress about business dealings in Moscow in the run-up to the 2016 election. In November, the once-loyal fixer for Trump pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the project. In December, he was sentenced to three years in prison for what a federal judge called a "veritable smorgasbord of criminal conduct." He is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee next month."


READ MORE related to POTUS45/KremlinGate/Trump Shutdown: Why can't Trump make deals? No one trusts him anymore -- LA Times's NOAH BIERMAN; Furloughed IRS workers back on job to send out refunds, and they're not happy -- The Chronicle's STEVE RUBENSTEIN 




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