Newsom: Investigate skyrocketing gas costs
The Chronicle's SOPHIA KUNTHARA: "Gov. Gavin Newsom directed the California Energy Commission to look into possible irregularities in the state’s gas prices, which have recently soared above $4 per gallon."
"Independent analysis suggests that an unaccounted-for price differential exists in California’s gas prices and that this price differential may stem in part from inappropriate industry practices,” Newsom wrote in a letter to the commission on Monday. “These are all important reasons for the Commission to help shed light on what’s going on in our gasoline market."
"Newsom asked the commission to provide a preliminary analysis by May 15. The commission announced it would start the probe immediately."
Wildfires and warm weather have left the Bay Area with some of the worst air in the country
The Chronicle's MICHAEL CABANATUAN: "Wildfires and warmer weather — both products of climate change — merged to make the Bay Area one of the most smoke- and smog-choked metropolitan areas in the nation, according to a new report."
"The Bay Area ranked fourth of about 200 metropolitan areas across the nation during 2015-2017 for the number of days with unhealthy particulate levels in the air, according to the State of the Air report cardfrom the American Lung Association. The region also ranked sixth for annual particulate pollution and eighth for the number of days with unhealthy ozone levels. The report was released Tuesday night."
"The findings may come as an unwelcome surprise to Bay Area residents who pride themselves on their green-leaning sensibilities and boast of their environmental superiority to Los Angeles, which had fewer particulate pollution days. But it’s part of the reality that’s changing along with the climate."
Judge OK's $235M to PG&E for bonus allocation, despite company's bankruptcy
Sacramento Bee's DALE KASLER: "A federal bankruptcy judge Tuesday approved PG&E’s plans to pay an estimated $235 million in employee bonuses this year, despite objections from lawyers for victims of the 2017 and 2018 California wildfires."
"U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali approved the plan at a hearing in San Francisco. His ruling came two weeks after he delayed making a decision, saying he needed more information from the bankrupt utility about the thresholds employees would have to meet in order to qualify for the incentive payments."
"Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said the payments will be heavily weighted towards achieving safety goals and are necessary to promote stability in the workforce amid the chaos surrounding the company. The payments will go to about 10,000 rank-and-file employees and won’t go to senior management."
California vaccination fight, part deux
LISA RENNER in Capitol Weekly: "Passions are high as a bill meant to tighten the state’s already strict child vaccination law heads to its first hearing before the senate health committee Wednesday."
"Just four years after the state eliminated the personal beliefs exemption that allowed parents to skip vaccinations for their children, a new bill would require the state public health department to review all requests for exemptions for medical reasons."
"Sen. Richard Pan, a Sacramento pediatrician who authored both bills, said the new legislation is necessary to combat a handful of doctors writing fake medical exemptions. “It is clear that a small number of physicians are monetizing their exemption-granting authority and profiting from the sale of medical exemptions,” he said."
Rise in homeless murders leads lawmaker to revive hate crime bill
Sacramento Bee's ANDREW SHEELER: "It’s dangerous to be homeless in the Golden State. Homeless people make up less 1 percent of Los Angeles’ population, yet accounted for 16 percent of the city’s homicide victims last year, according to the Los Angeles Daily News."
"Often, that violence is carried out with extreme brutality, according to National Coalition for the Homeless."
READ MORE related to Homelessness & Housing: Sacramento approves of $23M Capitol Park Hotel homeless shelter -- Sacramento Bee's THERESA CLIFT; SF supes OK finding spot for people living in cars and RVs to park, get help -- The Chronicle's TRISHA THADANI; SF Port Commission OKs homeless Navigation Center on Embarcadero -- The Chronicle's DOMINIC FRACASSA
California housing bill could have 'far-reaching effects' in Los Angeles, report says
LA Times's LIAM DILLON: "More than 40% of the developable land in Los Angeles could be eligible for homebuilding at a greater density under high-profile legislation working its way through the Capitol, according to a new city analysis."
"Senate Bill 50, which faces a key legislative committee hearing Wednesday morning, would require cities to allow four- to-five story apartment complexes near transit, and smaller apartments and town homes in wealthier neighborhoods close to job centers."
Beta O'Rourke opens his California campaign Saturday in LA
LA Times's MICHAEL FINNEGAN: "Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke of Texas will launch his 2020 California primary campaign Saturday with a four-day driving tour of the state."
"The former El Paso congressman will stop at Los Angeles Trade-Technical College downtown for an outdoor rally at 4 p.m. Saturday."
"On Sunday, O’Rourke is planning a town hall at the United Irish Cultural Center in San Francisco, followed by multiple stops in the Central Valley on Monday. He wraps up his visit Tuesday morning with a town hall in San Diego."
In a shift, Trump targets foreign travelers who overstay their US visas
LA Times's MOLLY O'TOOLE: "The White House says it plans to crack down on the hundreds of thousands of foreign visitors who overstay their U.S. visas, a vast challenge that has largely escaped notice as the Trump administration has focused chiefly on blocking migrants on the southern border."
"Experts say so-called overstays by students, au pairs, tourists and others have far outpaced unauthorized border crossings in recent years and form a major portion of the estimated 10.7 million people in the country without permission."
"President Trump signed a memorandum late Monday threatening to ultimately suspend travel from countries with high rates of overstays, and possibly require foreign travelers to post “admission bonds” that would be repaid once they leave the country."
Tom Steyer brings impeachment campaign to Bay Area
The Chronicle's LAUREN HERNANDEZ: "San Francisco billionaire activist Tom Steyer urged dozens of people at a Pleasanton town hall gathering on Tuesday to demand that Congress begin impeachment proceedings against President Trump."
"The Need to Impeach town hall event at the Casa Real of the Ruby Hill Winery falls within Rep. Eric Swalwell’s congressional district — and the location wasn’t a coincidence, Steyer told the crowd."
"We’re looking for real leadership from him and from the other people who are trying to lead the Democratic party and the United States of America,” Steyer said."
California National Guard members inform lawmakers of whistleblower retaliation
LA Times's ALENE TCHEKMEDYIAN: "A proposal to strengthen safeguards for whistleblowers in the California National Guard passed a major step Tuesday as former service members testified at a state Senate committee about what they called a “rampant” culture of retaliation that reaches the top of the organization."
"Among them was former Maj. Connie Wong, who said she and others suffered reprisals after speaking out against the head of the California Military Department, which oversees the air and army branches of the Guard."
“Lives have been ruined,” Wong told lawmakers. “Once you report something, you’re guaranteed to be retaliated against. You’ll be removed from your job and eventually kicked out.”
LA students want to lower voting age in school district elections to 16
LA Times's SONALI KOHLI: "High schoolers this decade have stormed out of their classrooms after the 2016 election, demanding protection for immigrants. They have called for gun control in the wake of school shootings, spurring a nationwide movement."
"In L.A. this year, students picketed with their teachers in the largest teachers strike in recent history. Pockets of students throughout the city are constantly involved in advocacy for better learning conditions."
"Now they want more than a voice — they want a vote."
READ MORE related to Education: California's newest college will blend online and face-to-face job training -- EdSource's LARRY GORDON
Cops and activists fought for competing use-of-force laws. Now they're linked
Sacramento Bee's HANNAH WILEY: "As tearful mothers and activists lined up in the Capitol to oppose a police training bill, they urged lawmakers to instead support a competing proposal that would make it easier to prosecute cops for questionable applications of deadly force."
"What they didn’t know was that the two high-profile proposals that would recast rules for when police can use their weapons had already been changed in such a way that they depend on each other."
"Now, the bill favored by police chiefs and unions that would require more training would become obsolete unless lawmakers also pass a more controversial bill that would raise the legal standard for officers to use deadly force."
Jury trial set for counterprotesters in 2016 Capitol clash with white supremacists
Sacramento Bee's DARRELL SMITH: "A July trial date awaits anti-fascist activists three years after a wild melee between white supremacists and counterprotesters at California’s Capitol that left nearly a dozen injured."
"Trial for Michael Williams, Yvette Felarca and Porfirio Paz was set for July 15 at Sacramento County’s downtown courthouse, blocks from the violent June 2016 clash with members of the white supremacist groups Traditional Workers Party and Golden State Skinheads on the Capitol grounds."
"Each faces assault charges in a case that Berkeley teacher-activist Felarca’s attorney again called a “witch hunt” Tuesday."
Trucker pleads guilty to assault for hitting state inspector with truck
Sacramento Bee's WES VENTEICHER: "A trucker has pleaded guilty to felony assault for hitting an inspector with his vehicle, according to a California Air Resources Board news release."
"Bhupinder Singhbal struck the inspector after an exchange at a Pilot Travel Center in Hesperia in April 2016, according to the Tuesday release."
"Two inspectors noticed Singhbal’s truck, an older-model red Peterbilt, didn’t have a diesel particulate filter that state law requires, according to the release. They identified themselves and asked Singhbal to inspect the truck."