California Supreme Court will hear challenge to state law that requires Trump to release tax returns
From the Chronicle's BOB EGELKO: "The California Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to hear a challenge by Republicans to a new state law requiring President Trump to release his tax returns in order to appear on next year’s primary ballot, a law that Trump is challenging separately in federal court."
"The state justices voted unanimously to take up the case and issued an expedited schedule, with written arguments due from both sides by Sept. 11, followed by a hearing at a date not yet scheduled. The court refused to immediately bar enforcement of the law, but its order was a step forward for Republicans, who could prevail by winning in either state or federal court."
"The law, the first of its kind in the nation, requires candidates for president and governor to file their five most recent tax returns with the California secretary of state in order to qualify for the primary ballot. Trump is the first president in more than four decades to refuse to release his returns."
Anti-vaxxer shoves California lawmaker who wrote vaccine crackdown bill
Sacramento Bee's HANNAH WILEY: "An anti-vaxxer who airs conspiracy theories on social media was cited for a misdemeanor Wednesday afternoon after he shoved state Sen. Richard Pan, a Sacramento Democrat touting a vaccine crack down bill, as the lawmaker was walking to a restaurant near the Capitol."
"In a video that he posted to Facebook, Austin Bennett filmed himself following Pan as he walks to an Asian Pacific Islander Caucus event at Frank Fat’s, a favorite political restaurant in Sacramento."
"Bennett approached Pan, who was walking with Assemblyman Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, and urged him to defend his stance on vaccine safety."
Activists interrupt Pelosi award ceremony in SF, demand she take action to impeach Trump
The Chronicle's LAUREN HERNANDEZ: "Activists interrupted a ceremony in a San Francisco hotel where House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was being honored Wednesday evening and demanded that she spearhead impeachment proceedings to remove President Trump from the White House."
"They stood on dining chairs, unfurled black tapestries with the phrase, “We can’t wait” and chanted “Which side are you on, Pelosi? Impeach!” inside the grand ballroom of the InterContinental San Francisco hotel where the San Francisco Democratic Party was honoring Pelosi with a lifetime achievement award."
"Impeach Trump now!” shouted activists, who initially had been quietly seated in the audience. One woman, Thais Marques, screamed into the packed room that her “people are being killed by white supremacists” across the country. She demanded action from Pelosi. Another activist said, “We are your constituents."
PG&E CEO asks lawmakers to approve $20B debt plan
The Chronicle's J.D. MORRIS/DUSTIN GARDINER: "PG&E Corp. CEO Bill Johnson personally urged state lawmakers Wednesday to let the company take on billions of dollars in new debt to help pay victims of catastrophic wildfires caused by its power lines."
"Johnson traveled to Sacramento to advocate for legislation that would allow PG&E to use as much as $20 billion in tax-exempt bonds as part of the company’s plan to resolve its bankruptcy case. PG&E unsuccessfully tried to get the bonds authorized as part of a different bill the Legislature passed last month to address future electric utility fire costs, and the company is now making a renewed push for the financing tool to help resolve its liabilities from the past."
"Combined with billions of dollars in proceeds from selling new stock in PG&E, the bonds are intended to raise enough money to pay claims from victims of wildfires started by the utility’s equipment, including last year’s historically deadly and destructive Camp Fire. PG&E says the bonds would be paid off with shareholder profits and would not raise customers’ rates."
Dead fish and starving whales: What Trump's hidden report on water means to California
Sacramento Bee's RYAN SABALOW: "Federal scientists pulled no punches in their report: The Trump administration’s plan to send more water to San Joaquin Valley farmers would force critically endangered California salmon even closer to extinction, and starve a struggling population of West Coast killer whales."
"But the scientists’ findings weren’t adopted, nor were they released to the public."
"Instead, two days after scientists passed their findings on to the Trump administration on July 1, his officials responded by calling in a strike team to redo the 1,123-page report, documents and emails show."
READ MORE related to Energy & Environment: To prevent wildfires, LA wants to make it easier to clear homeless encampments -- LA Times's BENJAMIN ORESKES
Kern spill renews oil production controversy
DEREK CATRON in Capitol Weekly: "California has long been a top producer of oil. But that may change."
"Some hope that change will accelerate under Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has called for a decrease in the demand and supply of fossil fuels. A recent massive spill in Chevron’s Cymric oilfield in Kern County, about 35 miles west of Bakersfield, prompted a major regulatory shakeup and could bolster that view."
"The spill leaked intermittently off from May 10 to August 2, according to spokesman Eric Laughlin of the Unified Command, which is comprised of the state Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources, or DOGGR; the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response, Kern County Public Health Services Department, and Chevron USA, Inc."
California bill to ban schools from expelling disruptive students close to becoming law
Sacramento Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "A proposal meant to protect kids from unnecessary discipline by banning expulsions for disobedience in California schools passed out of the Assembly this week, moving closer to becoming a law."
"The Assembly voted 58-17 for Senate Bill 419, which now moves back to the Senate for a vote on amendments before it goes to Gov. Gavin Newsom."
"Under the amended SB 419, schools would be prohibited from suspending any student from kindergarten to eighth grade “who disrupts school activities or otherwise willfully defies the valid authority of supervisors, teachers, administrators, or school officials,” beginning July 1, 2020."
PG&E's CEO could make up to $110M in bonuses if its stock rebounds, investors warn
Sacramento Bee's BRYAN ANDERSON: "PG&E bondholders seeking to get a deal on the company’s stock are raising concerns about the CEO’s pay structure, warning Bill Johnson could earn up to $110 million if the company’s share prices return to their 2017 peak."
"His annual base pay is $2.5 million, but an analysis circulated by some investors shows he could earn substantially more."
"Johnson, who took over PG&E in April, said those estimates are unrealistic and that he didn’t join the company for the money."
5 things to know about the Sanders rally in Sacramento today
Sacramento Bee's THERESA CLIFT: "Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders is holding a rally in Sacramento on Thursday – the first big campaign event since the state’s primary moved to early March instead of at the end of the primary schedule. He likely won’t be the last big event in town before Super Tuesday."
"Here are five things you should know about the event."
"Entry to the rally at Cesar Chavez Park in downtown Sacramento will start at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, and it will begin at 6 p.m., according to Sanders’ website."
Trump attacks California and carmakers over emissions deal, warns of 'business ruin'
McClatchy's EMILY CADEI: "President Donald Trump lashed out at the state of California publicly on Wednesday, a day after a new report detailed his private fury over the state’s deal with four leading carmakers to reduce air pollution."
"In a pair of tweets directed at the carmakers that have been negotiating with California on emissions standards, the president declared that “Henry Ford would be very disappointed if he saw his modern-day descendants wanting to build a much more expensive car, that is far less safe and doesn’t work as well, because execs don’t want to fight California regulators."
"Car companies should know that when this Administration’s alternative is no longer available, California will squeeze them to a point of business ruin,” Trump continued. “Only reason California is now talking to them is because the Feds are giving a far better alternative, which is much better for consumers!"
SF public defender's office slams medical examiner, says Adachi died of natural causes, not drugs
The Chronicle's TRISHA THADANI: "Two doctors and a consultant who reviewed the autopsy on San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi concluded his death was natural — rather than drug induced, as the city medical examiner found in March, the Public Defender’s office said Wednesday."
"The office, in announcing the findings, slammed the medical examiner’s office as “dysfunctional” and “untrustworthy” and questioned why the medical examiner ruled Adachi’s death as accidental."
"In a news release, the public defender’s office said the three medical and forensic experts hired by Adachi family attorney and friend, Robert Chang, conducted “independent reviews” of the autopsy and found Adachi died from “sudden cardiac arrhythmia and acute myocardial infraction (sic) due to coronary artery disease” and that his death was “natural."
Mexican cannabis traffickers are poisoning California forests with a banned pesticide, officials say
LA Times's PIPER MCDANIEL: "California law enforcement has learned that Mexican drug traffickers are using a dangerous pesticide banned in the United States to grow marijuana in remote areas of California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, and are going after their operations."
"The pesticide, carbofuran, is toxic to wildlife and humans and can cause permanent reproductive damage. Law enforcement took reporters on a tour of one of the illegal grow sites on Tuesday, where a bottle of carbofuran could be seen."
"These are federal lands, and they are being systematically destroyed through clear-cutting, stream diversion, chemicals and pesticides,” said U.S. Atty. McGregor Scott at a news conference, where he was joined by federal, state and local officials who were part of the investigation. “It’s a vitally important issue."
READ MORE related to Cannabis: Unlicensed cannabis vaping products eyed in 21 lung disease cases in Calif. -- ERIN ALLDAY; Pot farms in Wine Country? Napa measure will go to a vote -- The Chronicle's MELIA RUSSELL
Test flight launches for Sacramento-Bay Area shuttle
Sacramento Bee's ELAINE CHEN: "Sacramento area business executives might be closer to seeing shuttle flights that can take them to Silicon Valley in as little as 35 minutes."
"On Wednesday, heads of the business councils that are creating the flight service and local business executives rode a test flight that took off from Mather Airport in Rancho Cordova and landed in San Jose International Airport."
"The flight is a “gift of time,” said Joe Gagliardi, president and CEO of the Greater Folsom Partnership, at a news conference before the test flight took off."
READ MORE related to Transportation: BART stations are getting cleaner, especially elevators, passenger survey says -- The Chronicle's MICHAEL CABANATUAN
Disgruntled cook with high-powered arsenal threatened mass shooting at Long Beach hotel, police say
LA Times's ALEX WIGGLESWORTH: "Police in Long Beach thwarted a possible mass shooting this week when they arrested a disgruntled hotel cook they say threatened to carry out violence at his workplace."
"Rodolfo Montoya, 37, who worked at the Long Beach Marriott, was taken into custody Tuesday at his home in Huntington Beach. Officers seized multiple high-powered firearms, including an assault rifle, 38 high-capacity magazines, and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, according to investigators."
"Police said Montoya told a coworker Monday that he planned to come into work and shoot everybody he saw at the hotel. Montoya was angry about a human resources issue, according to investigators."
After Nazi salute video, more racist videos emerge, roiling OC school
LA Times's HANNAH FRY/LILLY NGUYEN: "School officials in Orange County are reopening an investigation into a group of high school students caught on video with their arms raised in a Sieg Heil salute while singing a Nazi marching song as additional racist images continue to surface."
"The initial video, which surfaced Monday and was taken during an off-campus event last year, shows about 10 boys from Pacifica High School in Garden Grove standing in what appears to be a banquet room giving the stiff-armed salute used in Nazi Germany. The song “Erika,” written by German composer Herms Niel during Hitler’s ascent to power, plays in the background."
"The video, taken before the start of an athletics banquet in November 2018, was originally shared among a small group of students on Snapchat. High school administrators learned of the video four months later and addressed the situation with students from the video and their families, Garden Grove Unified School District spokeswoman Abby Broyles said."
Critics blast city's plan to shuffle mental health beds at SF General Hospital
The Chronicle's TRISHA THADANI: "As San Francisco struggles with a mental health and homeless crisis on its streets, city workers slammed a decision by the Department of Public Health to move long-term mental health treatment beds to make room for a temporary respite facility."
"Dozens of long-term beds sit empty at San Francisco General Hospital’s Adult Residential Facility every day, despite intense demand to create more long-term housing for the mentally ill and homeless. To make better use of the space, the department plans to shift some of the long-term spots to add 27 beds at the popular Hummingbird Place, a Navigation Center for mentally ill homeless people that provides temporary services to those in need."
"The move comes as the public health department faces criticism over its behavioral health services, which cost the city about $400 million a year — but still leave an untold number of people without immediate access to services. San Francisco has about 8,000 people living on its streets, a third of which suffer from mental illness."