Newsom signs $1B clean-water package for poor areas
The chronicle's ALEXEI KOSEFF: "California will dedicate more than a billion dollars over the next decade to help the estimated 1 million residents who do not have reliable access to clean drinking water."
"Gov. Gavin Newsom traveled to Sanger, near Fresno, on Wednesday to sign SB200, which establishes a fund for communities that are struggling to maintain their water systems."
"Activists have lobbied for more than a decade to create a program that could supplement federal and state grants that provide assistance to small, poor communities to build water treatment projects. Those systems are expensive to maintain, leaving residents with eye-popping water bills they can scarcely afford and sometimes forcing local water agencies to shutter the treatment projects."
State insurance commissioner defends intervening in cases involving his donors
KQED's LILY JAMALI/SAUL GONZALEZ: "State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara defended himself on Wednesday against allegations that he improperly intervened in cases involving companies linked to donors to his 2020 campaign."
"Lara has acknowledged that he took more than $50,000 in campaign contributions from insurance executives and their spouses, even after previously pledging not to take funds from those with ties to the industry he was elected to regulate. In an interview with KQED's The California Report, he said accepting those contributions was a mistake."
"When I found out, I immediately returned the money, and I put a third-party person to make sure we review all checks that come in," Lara said from his office in Los Angeles. "This was an honest mistake that fell through the cracks. My mom says own up to your mistakes and correct them, and that's what I did."
Touring oil spill site, Newsom calls for greater oversight of California petroleum industry
LA Times's PHIL WILLON: "Gov. Gavin Newsom, in the Central Valley on Wednesday for a firsthand look at one of the largest oil spills in California history, vowed to go beyond the state’s already aggressive efforts to curtail the use of fossil fuels and seek a long-term strategy to reduce oil production."
"Newsom also signaled a sharp break with that past by criticizing existing oversight of the oil industry as too permissive. He promised to begin by retooling the state’s top oil regulatory agency, state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources."
"The Democratic governor made the comments after arriving in the Kern County town of McKittrick on a 100-plus-degree afternoon, just a few miles from the Chevron oil well field where roughly a million gallons spilled into a dry creek bed. Chevron officials blamed the spill — with was about two-thirds water and one-third oil — on an old well that the company recently recapped."
READ MORE related to Kern County Oil Spill: California governor encouraged by oil spill cleanup effort -- AP's ANDREW OXFORD
Sacramento charity that sends care packages to troops misused money, California lawsuit says
Sacramento Bee's HANNAH WILEY: "California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against a Sacramento nonprofit that sends care packages to troops, alleging that the organization misled donors and its directors misused charity money for political purposes."
"The lawsuit against Move America Forward alleges that the organization violated Internal Revenue Services regulations because its two directors, Sal Russo and Shawn Callahan, managed separate for-profit groups that “charged fees for services” provided to the nonprofit."
"Becerra argues that the charity engaged in “deceitful solicitation gimmicks,” which he said included using photographs from other organizations, advertising a veteran’s story without his permission and plagiarizing information from other nonprofit campaigns."
READ MORE related to Charitable Misconduct: State lawsuit says charity supporting troops misused donations -- SCPR's JESSICA FLORES
Newsom asks for timeout in PG&E takeover fight war. CA bankrupotcy judge agrees
Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER: "With a feeding frenzy heating up, Gov. Gavin Newsom persuaded a bankruptcy judge Wednesday to postpone the bidding war for PG&E Corp. so state officials can sort out competing proposals."
"Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali, at a hearing in San Francisco, put off for two weeks a decision on whether to allow PG&E’s major bondholders to submit their $30 billion plan to seize control of the company."
"Lawyers for the state Public Utilities Commission, acting on Newsom’s behalf, and the utility itself asked Montali for the delay in an email late Tuesday, arguing that it was necessary to help the company and the Public Utilities Commission consider the competing offers “and determine the most appropriate plan."
CA DMV turns away thousands of customers as offices close for training
Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON: "Thousands of customers across California were turned away when they visited the Department of Motor Vehicles on Wednesday, according to estimates from a “strike team” Gov. Gavin Newsom appointed in January."
"The group said 67,000 people go to the DMV on an average Wednesday, which includes 14,000 individuals who scheduled appointments. With offices closed until 1 p.m. and no appointments available for the day, several thousand people weren’t able to access services."
"At the Carmichael field office, dozens of customers entered through a gate, hopped out of their cars and walked to the front door only to be greeted by a security guard explaining that the DMV was closed for employee training. Signs were posted on the front doors."
READ MORE related to DMV: Newsom now owns DMV's woes -- CALmatters' DAN WALTERS
Presidential hopeful Jay Inslee tells Walnut Creek crowd why climate change is his top priority
The Chronicle's JOHN WILDERMUTH: "For Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, the environment isn’t just a concern, it’s the reason he’s running for president."
"The 68-year-old Inslee told a crowd of about 400 Rossmoor Democrats Tuesday afternoon that he wasn’t looking to get in the race until he saw that none of the other candidates was making the nation’s environmental concerns a priority."
"“My last days on Earth, I wanted to be able to look my three grandkids in the eye and say I did everything possible” to address climate change, Inslee said. It was a sentiment that struck home with many from the senior-living community in Walnut Creek."
Judge blocks Trump asylum restrictions at US-Mexico border
AP's AMY TAXIN/ASHRAF KHALIL: "A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Trump administration to stop denying asylum to anyone who transits through another country to reach the U.S. border, marking the latest legal defeat for a president waging an all-out battle to stem the flow of migrants entering from Mexico."
"The ruling by U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco came hours after another federal judge in Washington, D.C., let the 9-day-old policy stand. The California judge’s preliminary injunction halts the policy while the lawsuit plays out in court."
"The new policy denies asylum to anyone who passes through another country on the way to the U.S. without seeking protection there. Most crossing the Mexican border are from Central America, but it would apply to all nationalities except countries that border the U.S."
READ MORE related to Immigration: Federal ruling could toss hundreds of 'improper' immigrant convictions -- KPBS's MAX RIVLIN-NADLER
Heat watch issued for weekend across Sacramento Valley and foothills: Temps could hit 110
Sacramento Bee's MICHAEL MCGOUGH: "The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat watch for the entire Sacramento Valley this weekend, with triple-digit temperatures very likely throughout much of Northern California."
"The heat watch will be in place from 11 a.m. Saturday through 11 p.m. Sunday, the NWS said Wednesday."
"The latest NWS forecasts now predict a high of 104 degrees in Sacramento both Saturday and Saturday, a 4-degree increase from forecasts earlier in the week."
New protocol for HIV prevention drug reduces the number of pills required
The Chronicle's DAVID TULLER: "Health officials and AIDS advocates in San Francisco hope to expand the use of an effective HIV prevention drug with a new approach that requires fewer pills than the standard once-a-day regimen."
"San Francisco’s Public Health Department and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation have long promoted what is known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, for those at high risk of contracting HIV. With regular PrEP, the daily pill is taken indefinitely. But both organizations now endorse a strategy that requires taking just four pills timed to a specific sexual encounter — two within two to 24 hours before sex and one on each of the two following days."
"They believe this approach will make PrEP more palatable to people who are ambivalent about the medication because of either the cost, fear of potential side effects, mistrust of pharmaceutical companies or a general dislike of taking drugs."
Sacramento deputy accused of molesting ex-boyfriend's teen son will be cleared, attorney vows
Sacramento Bee's DARRELL SMITH: "Sacramento County sheriff’s Deputy Shauna Bishop will be cleared of allegations she sexually molested the 16-year-old son of a fellow deputy, her attorney vowed Wednesday as Bishop’s criminal case continued in a Sacramento courtroom."
"After a thorough investigation, Ms. Bishop will be exonerated,” Bishop’s defense counsel Richard Chan said following the morning hearing in Sacramento Superior Court. “Anybody can make an allegation. It’s my case and it’s not true."
"Bishop, 45, appeared with Chan before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lawrence Brown in her second appearance on the charges: sex with a minor; oral copulation with a minor; and annoying a child, a misdemeanor. Brown had ordered Bishop to have no contact with the alleged victim at her arraignment in June."
READ MORE related to Prisons & Public Safety: On-duty Sutter sheriff's deputy allegedly used his job to coerce women into sex -- Sacramento Bee's MOLLY SULLIVAN
'Home-school charters' let families use state dollars for Disneyland, horseback riding lessons and more
LA Times's KRISTEN TAKETA: "In California, there’s a way parents can use money from the government to buy multi-day Disneyland Park Hopper passes, San Diego Zoo family memberships, tickets to Medieval Times and dolphin encounters at SeaWorld."
"There are a handful of charter schools that give students’ families as much as $2,800 to $3,200 — tax dollars sent to the charter schools — every year to spend on anything they want from a list of thousands of home-school vendors approved by the charters, according to the schools’ websites."
"Some home-school vendors offer tutoring, curricula, books and other traditional educational services. Other vendors sell ticketsto theme parks that are billed as field trips, or extracurricular activities that are billed as P.E., including parkour classes, acting classes, ice skating lessons, horseback riding lessons and more."
How to file a claim for part of the $700M Equifax data breach settlement
Sacramento Bee's SOPHIA BOLLAG: "People whose data was compromised when credit-reporting agency Equifax was hacked in 2017 can now file claims for part of a $700 million settlement announced earlier this week."
"The data breach from mid-May through July 2017 exposed customer names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and some driver’s license numbers. It’s estimated to have affected 147 million people. That’s nearly 45 percent of the U.S. population."
"The Federal Trade Commission is advising people to file claims through the settlement administrator at www.equifaxbreachsettlement.com. From there, people can submit claims requesting free credit monitoring, cash reimbursement for credit monitoring services, and compensation for lost time and money as a result of the breach."
How MS-13 gang's bloody campaign spilled into a Sen Fernando Valley high school
LA Times's HOWARD BLUME/JAMES QUEALLY/RUBEN VIVES: "Panorama High School was already on edge after a 10th grader went missing."
"Then, six students were detained in February 2018 with no explanation. There were whispers that the missing boy had been murdered, but the campus was in the dark about a possible motive and suspect."
"Authorities now say several of the students are linked to the killing of their missing classmate, Brayan Andino, and another man among seven slayings allegedly carried out by a local clique of MS-13."
READ MORE related to Education: Dissent within statewide task force adds tension to California's charter school debate -- EdSource's JOHN FENSTERWALD
Judge rules 'Rideshare Rapist' case can continue even if DNA was improperly obtained
The Chronicle's EVAN SERNOFFSKY: "A San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday that charges can proceed against a man dubbed the “Rideshare Rapist” even if police improperly collected the defendant’s DNA without a warrant during a traffic stop last year."
"Judge Newton Lam said that regardless of the DNA evidence police obtained during the alleged bogus drunken driving stop, there was enough probable cause to support warrants he signed authorizing police to search Orlando Vilchez Lazo’s home and property."
"Lam did not explicitly rule on whether the police collection of Vilchez Lazo’s DNA without a warrant amounted to an illegal search. Instead, he found police were already in the middle of an investigation that included recording Vilchez Lazo’s vehicle circling nightclubs and obtaining his driver’s license and DMV records prior to making him blow into the alcohol-screening device."
A future president visited Sacramento and came u pwith an audacious and moving plan
Sacramento Bee's TONY BIZJAK: "One hundred years ago this summer, a military convoy left Washington D.C. for a historic cross-country trek that would bring it through Sacramento. It was a laborious expedition that would prompt a young lieutenant colonel, Dwight D. Eisenhower, to later launch the biggest public works project in U.S. history – the federal interstate highway system."
"The goal of the 1919 Motor Transport Corps trip was to determine what it would take to move large military contingents to the West Coast in case of a Pacific war. The convoy alternatively was said to have been a promotional event for the military after World War I and an attempt to give America a better sense of cohesiveness."
"A commemorative article in the National Review magazine called it “one of the most audacious expeditions in U.S. history.” The convoy was met with crowds and speeches in towns along the way."
California congressman to Mueller: Where is proof Russian government was behind 2016 trolling?
McClatchy's EMILY CADEI: "California Republican Rep. Tom McClintock accused Special Counsel Robert Mueller of misleading the American people with his report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election and tried to cast doubt about the widely accepted belief that the Russian government was behind Internet trolls that meddled in the campaign."
"The problem we’re having is we have to rely on your report for an accurate reflection of the evidence and we’re starting to find out that’s not true,” McClintock told Mueller in the House Judiciary Committee hearing, the first of Mueller’s two highly-anticipated appearances before Congress on Wednesday."
“For example ... you have left the clear impression throughout the country, through your report, that it was the Russian government behind the troll farms,” said McClintock, who represents California’s 4th congressional district. “And yet when you’re called upon to provide actual evidence in court, you fail to do so.”
READ MORE related to POTUS45/KremlinGate: Mueller testimony brings 'new phase' but no smoking gun for Democrats -- The Chronicle's TAL KOPAN; Mueller's testimony seems unlikely to boost impeachment -- but could vindicate Pelosi -- LA Times's JENNIFER HABERKORN; OP-ED: Mueller said Trump wasn't exonerated but left a key question unanswered -- LA Times's EDITORIAL BOARD; In SD, political and legal experts suspect Mueller failed to sway very many voters -- Union Tribune's MORGAN COOK/PETER ROWE/JEFF MCDONALD